Monday, August 4, 2008


Vedanta (Sanskrit veda,”knowledge”; anta,”end”), one of the six orthodox philosophies of Hinduism, chiefly concerned with knowledge of Brahman, the universal supreme pure being. Vedanta is based on the speculative portion of late Vedic literature, primarily the treatises known as Aranyakas and Upanishads.

Differing Indian traditions ascribe the first truly Vedantic manuals, the Vedanta sutras (also called Brahma sutras), to two semilegendary figures: the philosopher Badarayana and a vaguely identifiable sage named Vyasa. To the latter these same traditions also ascribe definitive compilations of the Vedas, as well as a compilation of the later epic poem Mahabharata. Most modern scholars, without totally rejecting the traditions, state that the Sanskrit name Vyasa has been applied to many ancient Hindu authors and compilers.

Whoever first formulated the Vedanta set down its teachings in aphorisms so pithy that they are virtually unintelligible without the aid of interpretation. Different interpretations have given rise to numerous schools of Indian philosophy, the most important being Advaita, or nondualism, founded by the Hindu philosopher and theologian Shankaracharyya.

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