Brahma Su­tras

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The Vedas are the well­springs of In­dian lit­er­a­ture and phi­los­o­phy. The Upan­ishads are like se­cret doc­trines con­tained in the Cedas. In­spired by the con­tent of the Upan­ishads, philoso­pher Badarayana wrote Brahma Su­tras. Since they were un­in­tel­li­gi­ble to most, they were re­de­fined by Shankara, Ramanuja and Mad­hwacharya.

Shankaracharya for­mu­lated the doc­trine of ad­vaita or non-du­al­ism — that only the ul­ti­mate prin­ci­ple is real and all other phe­nom­ena are ephemeral. For Shankara, the ap­par­ent re­al­ity is il­lu­sive and the only re­course to dis­pel this il­lu­sion is self-re­al­i­sa­tion with the help of knowl­edge. Ramanuja’s Shrib­hashya is a clas­sic Vaish­nava text. Ac­cord­ing to him, Brahmn is the cause of all ap­par­ent re­al­ity. The ma­te­rial world is achit or un­con­scious, but be­cause of be­ing an in­te­gral part of Vishnu, ap­par­ent re­al­ity in­clud­ing the hu­man soul, can never be sep­a­rated from Brahmn. The means to sal­va­tion is not knowl­edge but faith or love of Vishnu. Mad­hwacharya pro­pounded the the­ory of du­al­ism. Ac­cord­ing to him, though Brahmn is the cause of the world, he is es­sen­tially dif­fer­ent from the in­di­vid­ual soul.

As long as one is caught in the cy­cle of birth and death, it is fal­la­cious to think that the jiva or the in­di­vid­ual soul is iden­ti­cal to the Brahmn. They can­not be cou­pled as long as the in­di­vid­ual soul is en­gaged in the pur­suit of ma­te­rial hap­pi­ness. How­ever, once ‘jiva’ has tran­scended all the or­deals of worldly de­sires, a re­union be­comes pos­si­ble.

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