- Source: A
Dictionary of Advaita Vedanta, by Swami Harshananda, Ramakrishna
Math, Bangalore, India. (This is an excellent reference book for
everyone interested in Advaita). This is available through
Ramakrishna Mission Publications. To explain Advaita Vedanta,
these words are useful but they are neither necessary nor
sufficient! These terms are specifically chosen to indicate a
brief outline of Vedantic Philosophy.
- Advaita means
non-dual, one without the second. Specifically, it refers to the
Vedantic philosophy advanced by Sankara. According to Sankara,
Brahman the Absolute is the only reality. Advaita denies the
permanent existence of the world and individual souls.
Also Atman is described as pure consciousness (also known as
sat, cit, ananda).
The living being in the state of bondage and undergoing
transmigration. According to Vedanta, the jiva is a reflection
of the pure consciousness through buddhi, the intellect. The
bondage is caused by ajnana or ignorance and jiva can get
liberation through jnana or spiritual knowledge.
They are the waves constantly arise in the mind and are
obstacles to yoga or perfect concentration on the Atman or Self.
They can be directed toward Atman through Sadhana in the course
Sadhana represents the means of spiritual enlightenment and the
four sadhanas are Viveka (discrimination), vairagya
(renunciation), samadi-satka (the group of six spiritual
attributes), and mumukstutva (desire for liberation).
Discrimination between real and the unreal.
Vairagya represents the spirit of a detachment mostly to the
objects of pleasure.
Samadi-satka consists of sama (tranquillity), dama
(self-control) uparati (cessation of external organs from the
pursuit of sense-objects), titiksa (endurance), samadhana
(concentration), and sraddha (faith).
The desire for liberation and is the most important among the
Represents the general aspects of the functioning of manas, a
resolve of the type, ‘I will do this,' ‘I shall have it,' etc.
In Hindu religious rituals, sankalpa is the statement of the
purpose and mode of performance of a ritual.
Yoga is the mode of sadhana to keep the mind from vrtti (thouht
waves). The word ‘yoga' derived from the root yuj has two
senses: Samadhi or superconscious experience through
concentration of the mind; yoking or uniting the individual self
- Nirguna and Saguna
Guna means quality or attribute and Nirguna means without
quality or attribute. In Advaita Vedanta, the Brahman, the
Absolute has no gunas (qualities or attributes). The dualistic
and theistic schools accept the Brahman with Saguna or full of
- Nirvikalpaka and
Vikalpa means distinction between ‘me,' the Brahman and the
Nirvikalpaka means without distinctions.
Savikalpaka means the persistence of the distinction between
‘me,' and ‘Brahman' and the world.
The total absorption in the object of concentration. In Vedanta
the object is the unity of Atman with Brahman. Samadhi is of two
kinds: savikalpaka and nirvikalpaka. In the savikalpaka samadhi
the consciousness of one's own personality as distinct from
Brahman, persists, however declined it may be. In the
nirvikalpaka state, however, all awareness of multiplicity
including that of oneself as distinct from Brahman is completely
- Mukti, Mohsa,
Kaivalya or Nirvana
The state of freedom or liberation from all bonds due to ajnana
(ignorance) or maya (illusory power). It is characterized by
bliss and cessation of rebirths.
- Brief Outline of
Vedantic Philosophy of Human Life
The goal of Vedanta is to help the jiva (human life) to attain
mukti. Jiva's bondage starts with the vrtti (waves of thoughts
in the mind), for example the sight of a banana. When banana is
seen just as a banana, it denotes the state of nirvikalpaka
vrtti. At the state of savikalpaka vritti, banana is seen with
distinct attributes such as good banana, bad banana, rotten
banana, big banana, small banana etc. The decision to eat and/or
taste the banana represents the sankalpa state. Yoga becomes
necessary to get rid of the sankalpa and reprogram the mind to
deny the influence of vrtti. Sadhanas are the essential
components of Yoga and the practice of Yoga helps reach the
state of Samadhi and ultimately mukti.
- Note: This is just
an outline and there are lots of ifs and buts and they are left
for contemplation and for discussion.