Adi Shankara

SHANKARA– He was born in a Brahman family in Kaladi village (Kerala) and was a disciple of Govindapada. For his intellectual eminence, he is referred as the greatest philosopher among the Indian thinkers.

  • Advaita Vedanta – Brahman is the only Reality and the world is the creation of Maya.
  • Brahman – Brahma (Pure Consciousness) is devoid of all attributes and all categories of intellect. It is absolutely indeterminate, non-dual, and beyond speech and mind. The moment we try to bring this Brahman within the categories of intellect, it no more remains Unconditioned Consciousness, but becomes conditioned. This Brahman reflected in or conditioned by Maya is called God.
  • God – God is the Existence- Consciousness-Bliss. He is the Perfect Personality, Lord of Maya, and the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of this universe. He is the object of devotion and the inspirer of moral life.
  • Individual self – The self is non-different from Brahman. Out of ignorance individual has false impression of duality which is a major impediment in realization of true nature of self. When one is awakened by the Shruti, he realizes that he is not the body, senses or mind but is the non-dual universal Self.
    Bondage – Man¡¦s state of bondage and suffering is due to ignorance. Owing to ignorance, the soul erroneously associates itself with the body, gross and subtle. In this state, it forgets that it is really Brahman, and identifies itself with a finite body and mind which leads to the conception of the self as the (‘Ego’ or ‘I’)
  • Liberation – Liberation is a state of oneness with Brahman which is nothing but only the realization of our own true. It is not really the absence of misery but a state of Positive bliss. Shankara compared liberation to the finding of the necklace on the neck by one who forgot its existence there and searched for it here and there.
    Tat Tvam Asi – There is an unqualified identity between the soul and God (Unqualified monism). All distinctions between objects and objects, subject and object, self and god are the illusory creation of Maya.
  • Knowledge – Moksha is attained through Jnana¡-Yoga (Acquisition of knowledge). Karma and Upasana are just catalyst which urges us to know Reality and prepare us
    for that Knowledge by purifying our mind but ultimately it is Knowledge which can enable us to attain liberation.

According to Shankara, Ignorance is the root cause of Bondage. Shankara says that just as light is opposed to darkness and light alone can dispel darkness, in the same manner knowledge alone can destroy ignorance. According to Shankara the study of the Vedanta helps man to destroy ignorance completely. He further argues, Knowledge is not possible without a Guru, thus one who aspires for liberation should first go to a Guru who has realized Brahman.