Advaita literally means non-dualism. The terms
Jagat or the universe, Jiva or the individual
soul and Brahman or the Supreme Being are not
really separate entities. Reality is one without
a second. It is existence, knowledge, bliss and
is infinite. It has the intrinsic power of manifest
itself as the Jagat and Jiva. The inherent power
goes by the name of Maya or illusion. Brahman
and Maya are inseparable. This is the implication
of the word "Advaita". It is because
of the ignorance that the Jiva fancies that he
is separate from the Universe. With the dawn
of knowledge, this feeling of difference vanishes.
The reality alone exists. Because of its Maya
shakti, it manifests itself as the Jiva and Jagat.
Resolving this Shakti into itself, it also remains
unmanifest. In its kinetic state, it is Saguna
Brahman (conditioned Reality) in the static nirguna
(Absolute Reality). As the wave subsides into
the ocean, the individual soul dissolves into
the Absolute. This is emancipation according
to the Advaita system of philosophy.
It is rather difficult for the majority of the
people to understand the full implications of
the Advaita truth that the world is a lie, a
Maya or illusion. This school of philosophy was
propounded by the great philosopher Adi Shankara.
However his teachings have been misunderstood.
Adi Shankara only asserted that the phenomenal
world is an illusion. He did not state it is
asat, non-existent or unreal. Adi Shankara made
three distinctions with regard to metaphysical
deliberations about truth. These are Satya, Asatya
and Falsehood As regards the first, satya or
truth, the great Acharya affirmed that there
is only one ever- existing Atman. It can be thought
of also as Brahman that alone is the changeless,
eternal omniscient and omnipresent But we see
the world ever in a flux, changing in a constant
tide of ebb and flow. Not only the worldly phenomena
but our minds too are ever changing, flirting
from one thought to another, like the monkey's
leap from branch to branch. How can the definition
of Satya (truth) be given to these fleeting changes?
Nor could he define it as asatya (untruth), which
would then mean that the world does not exist.
It is very much there perceptible to our five
As the world is neither satya, meaning
eternal truth, nor asatya or non-existent , the
great Acharya defined it as Mitya, a mental ground
of illusion, a phenomenal appearance.. Shankara
conceived of three kinds of truth and that Which
did not belong to the three was asatya. The three
are : Paramartika Satya - the non-dual Brahmic state of bliss: Vyavaharika Satya - the every
day life of activity in the world: Pratibhasika
Satya - the matter of our dreams. When enlightenment
dawns, both the vyavaharika satya and pratibhasika
satya turn out to be false, even as the mistaken
belief of a snake is known to be only a rope
seen in twilight. Only the paramartika satya
is eventually true, which Shankara affirms in
all his writings, and this is known as Advaita
It signifies that there is no other, not two,
but only the Brahman, infinite, eternal, without
beginning or end and beyond time and space.
According to the Dvaita school, the universe,
the individual Soul and God are three separate
and everlasting entities. God rules over the
universe and the souls. The souls in their ignorance
are entangled in the universe. Through devotion
to God and through his mercy obtained thereby,
The souls must free themselves from the bondage
of the World and attain the realm of God. The
state of living with God in heaven is termed
as mukti or liberation. There, the Jivas are
eternally in the presence of their Lord. Their
individuality is not lost because of mukti.
Vishishtadvaita literally means qualified non-dualism.
God Alone exists according to it. The cosmos
is his body. The Jivas exist as innumerable life-cells
in that cosmic body. As the rays of the sun are
inseparable from it, the individual souls cannot
be separated from God. With the dawn of initiative
knowledge, the Jiva realizes that the Paramatma
(God) is the whole and he an infinitesimal part
of it. The attainment of this knowledge leads
to emancipation. Complete surrender of oneself
is the means for the attainment of this goal.
In the state of mukti, the jiva is ever aware
that he is a limb of the Lord.
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