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Vidya Sagara / Our Tradition / Advaita Vedanta / Origin and development of Vedanta

Origin and development of Vedanta

Происхождение и развитие Веданты

Vedanta literally means the end, the anta-end of the Vedas. Initially, this word was understood as the Upanishads, but later it acquired a broader meaning, and the word "Vedanta" began to call all the basic philosophical ideas and principles that emerged from the Upanishads. Why is it precisely the Upanishads that receive such close attention? Because the Upanishads contain eternal postulates that do not change (over time). And Something that is not subject to the ravages of time, like diamonds, is valued above all else. That which in later literary, philosophical and religious works (for example, in the Puranas) is in a processed and diluted state, is contained in the Upanishads in a concentrated, extremely condensed form. These sacred texts are literally teeming with the most incredible, amazing revelations and mystical insights. The Upanishads are the quintessence, the pinnacle, the culmination of the centuries-old Vedic Knowledge. The Upanishads can be considered the completion of the Vedas in different ways. First, the Upanishads were the last literary works of the Vedic period (although the chronology of ancient Indian literature is for the most part rather arbitrary). In general, at that time there were three types of works: the earliest were the Vedic hymns (suktas), or mantras collected in various samhitas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, and later Atharva); then the brahmanas appeared, which were treatises containing guidelines for performing sacrifices (i.e., vidhi-prescriptions) and encouraging (arthavada) Vedic rituals, and, finally, the Upanishads, where the most subtle philosophical and psychological problems were considered. All these three types of works (both poetic and prosaic) were considered the texts of the divine Revelation (Shruti), and sometimes were also called the Vedas in the broad sense of the word. The ancient Aryan sages-rishis, kavi, in a state of mystical trance, self-deepening, self-knowledge, discovered and implemented these sacred texts, which were not thus their personal writings, but, rather, were the embodied voice of God himself, who dictated to the illuminated sages these timeless Revelations ... Second, the Upanishads were studied last as the most important. As a rule, samhitas were studied in childhood and adolescence; then the person entering into life and obliged to perform the rituals (kalpa) prescribed for the grihastha householder was to study the brahmanas; The Upanishads (which in some cases were called "aranyaks" - "forest treatises"), necessary for a person when he retired from worldly life and led the life of a hermit in the forests, trying to understand the higher meaning of life and reflecting on the spiritual secrets of the Universe, were studied in the last turn. Third, the Upanishads can be seen as the completion of the Vedas also in the sense that they represent the culmination point (i.e., the metaphysical peak) of Vedic thinking and reasoning. The Upanishads themselves say that even after studying the Vedas and other branches of knowledge (for example, Vedangs), a person's education cannot be considered complete (and perfect) until he becomes acquainted with the instructions of the Upanishads, i.e. with the ideology of Vedanta.

Literature of Vedanta

The word "Upanishad" means either "that brings a person closer to God" or "that brings a person closer to a teacher" (upa-ni-shad). The last meaning of the Upanishads takes place because their doctrines were known only to initiates, that is, they were transmitted by the teacher to his chosen and close disciples (upashakas) under the strictest confidence. The Upanishads were considered the internal, secret meanings (rahasya) of the Vedas, and therefore their instructions were sometimes called the Vedopanishad, the innermost secret of the Vedas. The Upanishads were relatively numerous (for example, the collection "Muktika" contains 108 Upanishads), because they were developed by various Vedic schools (sakhas), and were created at different times and in different places. Despite the inner unity of the general worldview and contemplative mood, the problems they considered and the proposed solutions were formally different. Therefore, over time, the need arose to systematize various teachings in such a way as to bring them to the inner unity underlying them. This problem was apparently solved by Badarayana in the Brahma Sutra (also known as the Vedanta Sutra, Shariraka Sutra or Shariraka Mimansa Sutra, and Uttara Mimansa Sutra). Badarayana made an attempt to present the unified teaching of the Upanishads and to protect them from possible and real objections. But his sutras, being very short, vague and dark (as if mysterious), allowed various interpretations. Perhaps they were presented in just such a form in order not to embarrass any Vedantin who tries to convey through (i.e. through) his ideas about the main problems solved by Vedanta. Some researchers identify Sutrakara Badarayana with Dvaipayana Vyasa (who ordered the Vedas), but in fact this is weakly confirmed.

Schools of Vedanta

Therefore, for the further development of the doctrine of Vedanta, the most prominent Acharyas wrote various commentaries (bhashyas), in each of which an attempt was made to prove that his position is the only one compatible with the texts of the divine Revelation (Shruti) and sutras. The authors of each of these major commentaries were the founders of independent schools of Vedanta. This is how the schools of Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha, Nimbarka, and others arose. But the majority of scholars and specialists (for example, J. Thibault, S. Radhakrishnan, P. Deissen, St. Gambhirananda, and others) are quite unanimous in recognizing the fact that Shankara expressed the Essence better, more accurately and deeper than all other interpreters of Vedanta texts. and the Spirit of these canonical sacred Revelations.

Practical followers of Vedanta

Each school of Vedanta consists not only of philosophers who theoretically adhere to its views, but also of a large number of monks (sannyasins) and ordinary followers who strive to lead a life that is appropriate (to the principles of Vedanta). It is in this respect that Vedanta in its various forms - especially Advaita - continues to exert a powerful influence on the lives of millions of people around the globe.

After the emergence of the main commentaries, Vedantic literature developed further in countless sub-commentaries (e.g., Anandagiri), dictionaries and stand-alone treatises written by leading thinkers in each school in defense of their views and to refute the views of other schools. Thus, the total volume of Vedantic literature is extremely large, although only a small part of it has been published.

The main question on which the Vedanta schools differ is

The most general question on which the Vedanta schools disagree is the question of the relationship between the self (i.e. the conscious personality (jiva)) and God (Brahman). Some argue that I and God are completely different entities; this view is called dualism (dvaita). Representatives of other schools (for example, the Shankara school) believe that I and God-Brahman are absolutely identical. Shankara always emphasizes that the differences between the human Soul and God are temporary and illusory, due only to ignorance. This view is called monism (Advaita). Still others, like Ramanuja, argue that I and God relate to each other as part and whole; this view can be called limited monism (visishta-advaita). Many other points of view were expressed, each of which in its own way defined a special type of identity-nondifference (abheda), difference (bheda) or identity in the difference (bheda-abheda) between I and God. Bhaskara, Yadavaprakasha (the direction of bheda-abheda), Audulomi (satyabheda), and so on were ranked among the philosophers who did not completely agree with either Dvaita or Advaita. The so-called achintya bheda-abheda (incomprehensible difference in the One) of Krishnait Chaitanya was also an attempt to dialectically express the inexpressible simultaneous unity and difference between the jiva and Brahman. But the most famous Vedanta system is the famous school of Sri Shankaracharya, which will be discussed below.

Three periods of development of Vedanta

Proceeding from this, it is possible to establish three stages in the development of Vedanta: 1) the creative stage of spontaneous spiritual creativity, represented by the texts of the divine Revelation of Shruti - Vedic works, consisting mainly of Upanishads; the main (basic) Upanishads tradition numbers from 10 to 15, for 10 Upanishads (Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aytareya, Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka; and Shankara did not comment on the original text of the Mandukya Upanishad, and the commentary (Kariku) on it by the famous Vedanta Teacher Gaudapada) was precisely interpreted by Shankara in his bhashyas, and the authorship of the remaining commentaries is still under discussion and controversy. For example, the Ramakrishna Math quite definitely attributes the authorship of Shvetashvataropanishad-bhashya to Shankara. The main ideas of Vedanta are expressed here mainly in the form of poetic divinations and mystical intuitions of the enlightened rishis prophets; 2) the stage of systematization, represented by the Brahma Sutra, which collects (compiles), systematizes and defends (defends) the ideas expressed at the previous stage; 3) the stage of development, represented by all works - from the main comments to those ideas and arguments that took their own philosophical forms, referring not only to early authority, but also to independent reasoning. Although it is possible to consider the philosophical problems of each of these periods separately, however, due to lack of space, we will consider them in one part. The orthodox Indian authors themselves consider the ideas of these successive stages as a single, integral, inseparable from the source, developing and branching in its development stream. Now consider in general terms the development of Vedanta in the Vedas and Upanishads.

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