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Advaita Vedanta


Often times I have come across some text or some person trying to explain Advaita Vedanta and had a sense that what they are explaining is not really Advaita. The literal translation of the Sanskrit word Advaita is non-duality. One enthusiastic Yoga teacher once explained to me “Non duality means you and I are connected on some level. We are all the same.” While that may be the logical development of Advaita principle, it is not the principle itself.

The simplest explanation of Advaita Principle, the way I understand it, is as below. This is my understanding after reading “Geeta Rahasya” ¬†(Secrets of Geeta) by Lokmanya Tilak.

Normal logic -> one + one = two

Advaita logic-> one + sense of being two = two

Advaita abstracts the duality. It does not necessarily negate the duality. From the Advaita standpoint, it’s the same super being that imagines itself as divided into multiple beings. So the division, or the fragmentation is imaginary. And when that imagination, or that dream, ends, it ends in the realization of being one again. This is how Advaita reconciles the subjective experience of life we all have with the general experience in the material world that almost always what we perceive as multiple entities are just different forms or expressions of the single primal entity.

“So does it mean that we all are nothing but God/super being having multiple personality disorder according to Advaita philosophy?” you will ask.

The answer is yes, and unlike human multiple personality disorder, all these multiple personalities can be present at the same time. But we call something disorder when it interferes with what we consider living normal life. In case of the supreme being experiencing multiple personalities, it is not disorder because it does not interfere with life. In fact it constructs the interactive life, and the interactive world as we know.

3 Responses

  1. I have come across people who claim that the advaita actually mean that God and us are the same .
    This is not what the philosophy means.. it means that when ego disappears -a ll forms of conscious entities become one.
    It is jungian and refers to collective consiousness .
    It also means that 1= 0 =1
    Now the funny thng is Advaita philosophy admits he fact that God (which itself is a reflection of ego) developed and got enamoured by his /its/ her own ego ..which is an act of ignorance.

    • My problem with Advaita is its explanation of reality through maya. To me, its explanation of why an ultimate truth should “exixt” appears to be just plain old “causality”. To make things worse, it sort of tries to give an “algorithm” to achieve transcendence via “no, no..”. But if you compare with other more structured Indian philosophies like “Nyaya” , structure in advaita is very simplistic. This makes it a perfect tool for television yogi wannbes.

      • The trouble is when they say that the Brahman is an anubhava vakya or satya ( experential truth) _ thereby washing hands off the job of trying to relate that experience to another person.
        And at the same time – they all seem to know the procedure of reaching that state which cannot be expressed by words or thoughts?!!
        How is that possible?.
        I do not know much about Nyaya – Perhaps you can enlighten me as to the sources of that knowledge

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