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Advaita Vedanta (IAST advaita vedānta; Devanagari अद्वैत वेदान्त; IPA [ədvaitə vé:dα:ntə]) is probably the best known of all Vedānta (literally, "end or the goal of the Vedas") schools of philosophy of Hinduism, the others being Dvaita, Viśishţādvaita, and different varieties of Bhedābheda. "Advaita" literally means "not two", and is often called a monistic or non-dualistic system of thought. The word Advaita essentially refers to the identity of the Self (Atman) and the whole (Brahman). The key source texts for all schools of Vedānta are the Upanishads (twelve or thirteen major texts, with many more minor texts), the Bhagavad Gītā, which is part of the Mahabhārata, and the Brahma Sūtras (also known as Vedānta Sūtras), which systematize the doctrines taught in the Upanishads and the Gītā.
- 1 Adi Shankara: the pillar of Advaita
- 2 Salient features of Advaitism
- 3 Are the world and God wholly false?
- 4 Adi Shankara's thoughts in a summary
- 5 The Impact of Advaita
- 6 Advaita and Science
- 7 Mahavakya
- 8 Important books and figures of Advaita Vedanta
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 Other References
Adi Shankara: the pillar of Advaita
The first person to consolidate the principles of Advaita was Shankara (Ādi Śankara, आदि शंकर, pronounced /α:di shənkərə, 788–820 CE). He is also known as Śankarāchārya (शंकराचार्य, pronounced as /shənkərα:chα:ryə/). Continuing the line of thought of some of the Upanishadic teachers, and also that of his own teacher's teacher Gaudapada, (Ajativada), Shankara expounded the doctrine of Advaita — a nondualistic reality. According to Advaitins (followers of Advaita), Shankara exposed the relative nature of the world and established the supreme truth of the Advaita by analysing the three states of experience — being awake (vaishvanara), dreaming (swapna), and being in deep sleep (sushupti). The supreme truth of the Advaita is said to be the non-dual reality of Brahman, in which atman (the individual soul) and Brahman (the Supreme Consciousness) are identified absolutely. (Brahman is not to be confused with Brahma, from Bhakti Hinduism, the Creator and one-third of the Trimurti along with Shiva, the Destroyer and Vishnu, the Preserver.)
Psychologically, Advaita is a state in which the subject and object lose their independent identities — in which one can no longer differentiate on the basis of any material characteristics. The three states mentioned earlier are said to be mere transformations of this (fourth) state of experience of non-duality turiya.
This idea of a fourth state of consciousness is borrowed from the Taittariya Upanishad, dating back to about 1000 BCE. It may be noted that another school of non-dual (but agnostic) thought, Buddhism, also talks of such a similar transcendental state (as vinnanam anidassanam, in the Brahmanimantanika Sutta (Majjhima-Nikaya)). The idea of such a state of enlightenment has been a favorite with ancient Indian philosophers, and still continues to be.
Shankara's contributions to Advaita are crucial. His main works are the commentaries on the Prasthanatrayi and the Gaudapadiya Karikas. Another treatise on Advaita, popularly attributed to him by the more enthusiastic followers of the system, is the Viveka Chudamani. It is to be noted that many other followers believe that this is not the work of Shankara, citing several differences in style and ideas. Many philosophers after Shankara have criticized him of being hypocritical or pracchanabauddha (of being a "Buddhist in disguise"), mainly due to this work. This is because the Buddhist positions which Shankara refutes in the Brahma Sutra Bhashyas seem to be wholly advocated in the Viveka Chudamani.
Shankara is also well known for propounding a system of bhakti (selfless devotion) and composing several bhajans (devotional songs), which he believed brought one closer to God. Some of his well-known bhajans are Bhaja Govindam, Saundaryalahari and Śivānandalahari.
Salient features of Advaitism
Three levels of truth
- The transcendental or the Pāramārthika level in which Brahman is the only reality and nothing else;
- The pragmatic or the Vyāvahārika level in which both Jiva (living creatures or individual souls) and Ishvara are true; here, the material world is completely false, and,
- The apparent or the Prātibhāsika level in which even material world reality is actually true, like illusion of a snake over a rope or a dream.
According to Shankara, God, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit or Brahman (pronounced as /brəh mən/; nominative singular Brahma, pronounced as /brəh mə/) is the One, the whole and the only reality. Other than Brahman, everything else, including the universe, material objects and individuals are false. Brahman is at best described as that infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, incorporeal, impersonal, transcendent reality that is the divine ground of all Being. It (grammatically neutral, but exceptionally treated as masculine), though not a substance, is the basis of the material world, which in turn is its illusionary transformation. Brahman is not the effect of the world. Brahman is said to be the purest knowledge itself, and is illuminant like a source of infinite light.
Due to ignorance (avidyā), the Brahman is visible as the material world and its objects. The actual Brahman is attributeless and formless (see Nirguna Brahman). It is the Self-existent, the Absolute and the Imperishable (not generally the object of worship but rather of meditation). Brahman is actually indescribable. It is at best, "Sacchidananda" (merging "Sat" + "Chit" + "Ananda", ie, Infinite Truth, Infinite Consciousness and Infinite Bliss). Also, Brahman is free from any kind of differences. It does not have any sajātīya (homogeneous) differences because there is no second Brahman. It does not have any vijātīya (heterogeneous) differences because there is nobody in reality existing other than Brahman. It has neither svagata (internal) differences, because Brahman is itself homogeneous.
Though Brahman is self-proved, some logical proofs have also been proposed by Shankara:
- Shruti — the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras describe Brahman in almost exact manner as Shankara. This is the testimonial proof of Brahman.
- Psychological — every person experiences his soul, or atman. According to Shankara, Atman = Brahman. This argument also proves the omniscience of the Brahman.
- Teleological — the world appears very well ordered; the reason for this cannot be an unconscious principle. The reason must be due to the Brahman.
- Essential — Brahman is the basis of this created world.
- Perceptible feeling — many people, when they achieve the turīya state, claim that their soul has become one with everything else.
Māyā (/mα: yα:/) is the most important contribution of Shankara. Māyā is that complex illusionary power of Brahman which causes the Brahman to be seen as the distinct material world. It has two main functions — one is to "cover up" Brahman from the human minds, and the other is to present the material world in its stead. Māyā is also indescribable. It is neither completely real nor completely unreal—hence indescribable. Its shelter is Brahman, but Brahman itself is untouched by the profanity of Māyā, just like a magician is not tricked by his own magic. Māyā is temporary and is destroyed with "true knowledge". This Māyāvāda of Shankara was highly criticized and misunderstood. Bhaskaracharya, a Hindu mathematician, described Shankara to be indebted to the Buddhists for his concept of Māyā. But Guff, Cowell and other writers claim to find the concept of Māyā in a germinating form in the Vedas and the Upanishads. Shankara had used the terms Māyā and avidya (ignorance) in the same sense, but the later Advaitins called Māyā as the positive force of God and avidyā as a negative knowledge.
The concept of Māyā seems to be a hypothesis. Since according to the Upanishads only Brahman is real, but we see the material world to be real, Shankara explained the anomaly by the concept of this illusionary power Māyā.
Ishvara (pronounced as /ī:sh vərə/, literally, the Supreme Lord) — when man tries to know the attributeless Brahman with his mind, under the influence of Maya, Brahman becomes the Lord. Ishvara is Brahman with Maya — the manifested form of Brahman. Shankara uses a metaphor that when the "reflection" of the Cosmic Spirit falls upon the mirror of Maya, it appears as the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is true only in the pragmatic level — his actual form in the transcendental level is the Cosmic Spirit.
Ishvara is Saguna Brahman or Brahman with innumerable auspicious qualities. He is all-perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal, independent, Creator of the world, its ruler and also destroyer. He is causeless, eternal and unchangeable — and is yet the material and the efficient cause of the world. He is both immanent (like whiteness in milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He may be even regarded to have a personality. He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma. However, he himself is beyond sin and merit. He rules the world with his Maya — his divine power. This association with a "false" knowledge does not affect the perfection of Ishvara, in the same way as a magician is himself not tricked by his magic. However, while Isvara is the Lord of Maya and she (ie, Maya) is always under his control, the living beings (jīva, in the sense of humans) are the servants of Maya (in the form of ignorance). This ignorance is the cause of the unhappiness and sin in the mortal world. While Ishvara is Infinite Bliss, humans are miserable. Ishvara always knows the unity of the Brahman substance, and the Mayic nature of the world. There is no place for a Satan or devil in Hinduism, unlike Abrahamic religions. Advaitins explain the misery because of ignorance. Ishvara can also be visualized and worshipped in anthropomorphic form as deities such as Vishnu, Krishna or Shiva.
Now the question arises as to why the Supreme Lord created the world. If one assumes that Ishvara creates the world for any incentive, this slanders the wholeness and perfection of Ishvara. For example, if one assumes that Ishvara creates the world for gaining something, it would be against his perfection. If we assume that He creates for compassion, it would be illogical, because the emotion of compassion cannot arise in a blank and void world in the beginning (when only Ishvara existed). So Shankara assumes that Creation is a sport of Ishvara. It is His nature, just as it is man's nature to breathe.
The sole proof for Ishvara that Shankara gives is Shruti's mentions of Ishvara, as Ishvara is beyond logic and thinking. This is similar to Kant 's philosophy about Ishvara in which he says that "faith" is the basis of theism. However, Shankara has also given few other logical proofs for Ishvara, but warning us not to completely rely on them:
- The world is a work, an effect, and so must have real cause. This cause must be Ishvara.
- The world has a wonderful unity, coordination and order, so its creator must have been an intelligent being.
- People do good and sinful work and get its fruits, either in this life or after. People themselves cannot be the giver of their fruits, as no one would give himself the fruit of his sin. Also, this giver cannot be an unconscious object. So the giver of the fruits of Karma is Ishvara.
The soul or the self (Atman) is exactly equal to Brahman. It is not a part of Brahman that ultimately dissolves into Brahman, but the whole Brahman itself. Now the arguers ask that how can the individual soul, which is limited and one in each body, be the same as Brahman? Shankara explains that the soul is not an individual concept. Atman is only one and unique. It is a false concept that there are several Atmans. Shankara says that just as the same moon appears as several moons on its reflections on the surface of water covered with bubbles, the one Atman appears as multiple atmans in our bodies because of Maya. Atman is self-proven, however, some proofs are discussed—eg., a person says "I am blind", "I am happy", "I am fat" etc. So what is this ego here? Only that thing is the ego which is there in all the states of that person — this proves the existence of Atman, and that consciousness is its characteristic. Reality and Bliss are also its characteristics. By nature, Atman is free and beyond sin and merit. It does not experience happiness or pain. It does not do any Karma. It is incorporeal.
When the reflection of atman falls on Avidya (ignorance), atman becomes jīva — a living being with a body and senses. Each jiva feels as if he has his own, unique and distinct Atman, called jivatman. The concept of jiva is true only in the pragmatic level. In the transcendental level, only the one Atman, equal to Brahman, is true.
Liberation or Moksha (akin to Nirvana of the Buddhists) — Advaitins also believe in the theory of reincarnation of souls (Atman) into plants, animals and humans according to their karma. They believe that suffering is due to Maya, and only true knowledge (called Jnana) of Brahman can destroy Maya. When Maya is removed, there exists ultimately no difference between the Jiva-Atman and the Brahman. Such a state of bliss when achieved while living is called jiva mukti. While one is in the pragmatic level, one can worship God in any way and in any form, like Krishna as he wishes, Shankara himself was a proponent of devotional worship or Bhakti. But Shankara believes that while Vedic sacrifices, puja and devotional worship can lead one in the direction of jnana, true knowledge, they cannot lead one directly to Moksha.
- The famous mantra of Shankara was "Brahma Satyam Jagat Mithyā, jīvo Brahmaiva nāparah", ie, Brahman is the only truth, the world is unreal, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self.
- Shankara also explicitly condemned the caste or varna system of the Hindu society, calling it utterly foolish. This is in contrast to other schools like Vishishtadvata, Dvaita and Mimamsa who believe that since caste is based upon one's karmas in previous life, it should be unscrupulously followed. Shankara also condemned many other superstitions.
- Shankara established four monasteries (mathas) in the four corners of Hinduism to guide the Hindu religion in the future. Each matha was assigned one Veda. The mathas are Jyothir Math at Badrinath in northern India with Atharva Veda; Sharada Math at Shringeri in southern India with Yajur Veda; Govardhan Math at Jagannath Puri in eastern India with Rig Veda and Kalikā Math at Dwarka in western India with Sama Veda. Each of the abbots of these four mathas also have the title of Jagadguru Shankaracharya, and are regarded as Patriarchs of Hinduism by many Hindus. The title of Shankaracharya is also (sometimes controversially) applied to the abbot of the Kamakoti Math at Kanchi.
Are the world and God wholly false?
Status of the world
People often get confused by Advaita teachings that the universe is false. Shankara says that the world is not true, it is an illusion, but this is because of some logical reasons. Let us first analyse Shankara's definition of Truth, and hence why the world is not considered true.
- Shankara says that whatever thing remains eternal is true, and whatever is non-eternal is untrue. Since the world is created and destroyed, it is not true.
- Truth is the thing which is unchanging. Since the world is changing, it is not true.
- Whatever is independent of space and time is true, and whatever has space and time in itself is untrue.
- Just as one sees dreams in sleep, he sees a kind of super-dream when he is waking. The world is compared to this conscious dream.
- The world is believed to be a superimposition of the Brahman. Superimposition cannot be true.
On the other hand, Shankara claims that the world is not absolutely false. It appears false only when compared to Brahman. In the pragmatic state, the world is completely true—which occurs as long as we are under the influence of Maya. The world cannot be both true and false at the same time; hence Shankara has classified the world as indescribable. The following points suggest that according to Shankara, the world is not false (Shankara himself gave most of the arguments):
- If the world were false, then with the liberation of the first human being, the world would have been annihilated. However, the world continues to exist even if a human attains liberation.
- Shankara believes in Karma, or good actions. This is a feature of this world. So the world cannot be false.
- The Supreme Reality Brahman is the basis of this world. The world is like its reflection. Hence the world cannot be totally false.
- False is something which is ascribed to inexistent things, like Sky-lotus. The world is a logical thing which is perceived by our senses.
Consider a scientific logic. A pen is placed in front of a mirror. One can see its reflection. To our eyes, the image of the pen is perceived. Now, what should the image be called? It cannot be true, because it is an image. The truth is the pen. It cannot be false, because it is seen by our eyes.
Status of God
Some people claim that in Shankara's philosophy, there is no place for a personal God (Ishvara), because Ishvara is also described as "false". He appears as Ishvara because of the curtain of Maya. However, as described earlier, just as the world is true in the pragmatic level, similarly, Ishvara is also pragmatically true. Just as the world is not absolutely false, Ishvara is also not absolutely false. He is the distributor of the fruits of one's Karma. In order to make the pragmatic life successful, it is very important to believe in God and worship him. In the pragmatic level, whenever we talk about Brahman, we are in fact talking about God. God is the highest knowledge theoretically possible in that level. Devotion (Bhakti) will cancel the effects of bad Karma and will make a person closer to the true knowledge by purifying his mind. Slowly, the difference between the worshipper and the worshipped decreases and upon true knowledge, liberation occurs.
Status of ethics
Some claim that there is no place for ethics in Advaitism, because everything is ultimately illusionary. But on analysis, ethics also has a firm place in this philosophy—the same place as the world and God. Ethics, which implies doing good Karma, indirectly helps in attaining true knowledge. The basis of merit and sin is the Shruti (the Vedas and the Upanishads). Truth, non-violence, service of others, pity, etc are Dharma, and lies, violence, cheating, selfishness, greed, etc are adharma (sin).
Shankara's theory of creation
In the pragmatic level, Shankara believes in the Creation of the world through Satkaryavada. It is like the philosophy of Samkhya, which says that the cause is always hidden into its effect—and the effect is just a transformation of the cause. However, Samkhya believes in a sub-form of Satkaryavada called Parinamvada (evolution)—whereby the cause results in an action. Instead, Shankara believes in a sub-form called Vivartavada. According to this, the effect is merely a superimposition of its cause—like its illusion. eg., In darkness, a man often confuses a rope to be a snake. But this does not mean that the rope has actually transformed into a snake.
At the pragmatic level, the universe is believed to be the creation of the Supreme Lord Ishvara. Maya is the divine magic of Ishvara, with the help of which Ishvara creates the world. The serial of Creation is taken from the Upanishads. First of all, the five subtle elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) are created from Ishvara. Ether is created by Maya. From ether, air is born. From air, water is born. From water, earth is born. From a proportional combination of all five subtle elements, the five gross elements are created, like the gross sky, the gross fire, etc. From these gross elements, the universe and life are created. This series is exactly the opposite during destruction.
Some people have criticized that these principles are against Satkaryavada. According to Satkaryavada, the cause is hidden inside the effect. How can Ishvara, whose form is spiritual, be the effect of this material world? Shankara says that just as from a conscious living human, inanimate objects like hair and nails are formed, similarly, the inanimate world is formed from the spiritual Ishvara.
Comparison with the Buddhist school of Madhyamika
Similarities between the two:
- The world is not believed to be eternal, nor true.
- Both have defined different levels of truth. the Madhyamikas have defined two levels of truth.
- The Madhyamikas believe that the eternal voidness (Shunyata) is the cause of this material world. This occurs because of illusion.
Differences between the two:
- The Shunyata of the Madhyamikas is neither real nor false—it cannot be described at all. In contrast, Brahman is infinite Truth, infinite Consciousness and supreme Bliss.
- The soul is believed to be false in the Madhyamika school, but true in Advaitism. However some texts of advaita, such as Ashtavakra Gita, deny the existence of both God and soul.
- Some people interpret the Shunya to be falsehood. So the world of these Buddhist seems to evolve from a void—from a false thing. In Advaitism, the world evolves from the true Brahman. Shankara had given only one criticism against the Madhyamikas—The Shunyavada, "being contradictory to all valid means of knowledge, we have not thought worth while to refute." 
- In Advaitism, the personal God (Ishvara)is the manifestation of the Brahman (God). Among the Madhyamikas, there is no place for a personal God.
Adi Shankara's thoughts in a summary
Adi Shankara's treatises on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras are his principal and almost undeniably his own works. Although he mostly adhered to traditional means of commenting on the Brahma Sutra, there are a number of original ideas and arguments. He taught that it was only through direct knowledge of nonduality that one could be enlightened.
Shankara's opponents accused him of teaching Buddhism in the garb of Hinduism, because his non-dualistic ideals were a bit radical to contemporary Hindu philosophy. However, it may be noted that while the Later Buddhists arrived at a changeless, deathless, absolute truth after their insightful understanding of the unreality of samsara, historically Vedantins never liked this idea. Although Advaita also proposes the theory of Maya, explaining the universe as a "trick of a magician", Shankara and his followers see this as a consequence of their basic premise that Brahman is real. Their idea of Maya emerges from their belief in the reality of Brahman, rather than the other way around.
Shankara was a peripatetic orthodox Hindu monk who traveled the length and breadth of India. The more enthusiastic followers of the Advaita tradition claim that he was chiefly responsible for "driving the Buddhists away". Historically the decline of Buddhism in India is known to have taken place long after Shankara or even Kumarila Bhatta (who according to a legend had "driven the Buddhists away" by defeating them in debates), sometime before the Muslim invasion into Afghanistan (earlier Gandhara).
Although today's most enthusiastic followers of Advaita believe Shankara argued against Buddhists in person, a historical source, the Madhaviya Shankara Vijayam, indicates that Shankara sought debates with Mimamsa, Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika and Yoga scholars as keenly as with any Buddhists. In fact his arguments against the Buddhists are quite mild in the Upanishad Bhashyas, while they border on the acrimonious in the Brahma Sutra Bhashya.
The Vishistadvaita and Dvaita schools believed in an ultimately saguna Brahman. They differ passionately with Advaita, and believe that his nirguna Brahman is not different from the Buddhist Sunyata (wholeness or zeroness) — much to the dismay of the Advaita school. A careful study of the Buddhist Sunyata will show that it is in some ways metaphysically similar as Brahman. Whether Shankara agrees with the Buddhists is not very clear from his commentaries on the Upanishads. His arguments against Buddhism in the Brahma Sutra Bhashyas are more a representation of Vedantic traditional debate with Buddhists than a true representation of his own individual belief. (See link: Shankara's arguments against Buddhism)
The Impact of Advaita
Advaita Vedanta philosophy had a tremendous impact on the Hindu system of Tantra and also served to bolster Yogic (see Yoga) ideas of the ultimate Self, Brahman/Atman, being One. Advaita rejuvenated much of Hindu thought and also spurred on debate that led to the expounding of Vishishtadvaita (qualified nondualism) and Dvaita (dualism). Advaita served to bring to the fore the Hindu/Vedic philosophy whose seed can be seen in the Rig Vedic statement "Truth is One, though the sages see it as many." Advaitism is definitely a very influential philosophy of India, secondary in global outreach only to Madhyamika of Buddhism. Even today, pious Hindus regard material wealth and money as "Moha-Maya".
Advaita and Science
According to some followers of Advaita, it may very well be a place where the scientific world intersects with the spiritual world. They point to the relationships between mass, frequency, and energy that 20th century physics has established and the Advaitic 'Unity of the Universe' as the common ground. They feel that these relationships, formalized as equations by Planck and Einstein, suggest that the whole mesh of the Universe blend into a One that exhibits itself as many (namely, mass, energy, wave etc), and that this follows Advaita's view that everything is but the manifestation of an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent "One". It must be remembered however, that none of these physicists have talked of an 'omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent "One"'.
They also connect the De Broglie waves of modern physics to Aum in Hindu philosophy. However, scientists in India and abroad clarify that the de Broglie waves (or matter waves) are neither optical nor acoustic waves, but are "just functions of a probability distribution of finding a particle, which may be represented as a Fourier sum of constituent probability waves."
However, notable scientists like Erwin Schrödinger and Robert Oppenheimer were also Vedantists. Fritjof Capra's book, The Tao of Physics, is one among several that pursue this viewpoint as it investigates the relationship between modern, particularly quantum physics and the core philosophies of various Eastern religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism.
It must be noted that Advaita does not share the same ground on science as other schools of philosophy do. For example, Shankara rejected the idea of momentariness of the universe in his Brahma Sutra commentary since Brahman is immanent in the Universe, while Buddhists affirm that the universe on its own accord, due to the causality of the dharmas, is constantly changing. The Dvaita-enthusiasts on the contrary, blame Shankara for inconsistency, since he adopts the view that the Universe is momentary in many of his other works like the Upanishad Bhashya. Dvaita-enthusiasts see the Universe as a creation of God, while Advaitins see it as a manifestation of Brahman; Buddhists on the other hand see it as a flux of changes, originating from natural phenomena leading to its formation.
Mahavakya, or "the great sentences", state the unity of Brahman and Atman. They are four in number and their variations are found in other Upanishads.
|1||प्रज्नानम ब्रह्म prajnānam brahmā||Brahman is knowledge||aitareya||Rig Veda|
|2.||अहम ब्रह्मास्मि Aham brahmāsmi||I am brahman||brihadāranyaka||Yajur Veda|
|3.||तत्त्त्वमसि tattvamasi||That thou art||chhandogya||Sama Veda|
|4.||अयमात्मा ब्रह्म Ayamātmā brahmā||This Atman is Brahman||mandukya||Atharva Veda|
Important books and figures of Advaita Vedanta
Founders and key texts
- Sri Adi Shankaracharya - (attributed work) Viveka Chudamani, the Brahma Sutra Bhashya Bhagavad Gita Bhashya, Upanishad bhashya.
- Vedanta Sutras
- Traditional life history of Adi Shankara - Historical record accepted by scholars worldwide. Written by Madhava Vidyaranya, English translations by Swamy Tapsyananda of Ramkrishna Ashram, Mylapore, Chennai.
Sages and saints of advaita
- Shri Dattatreya
- Shri Ashtawakra
Later teachers and proponents
- Shri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) well-known modern proponent of Advaita; the primary source book, Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna (Shri Ramakrishna Kathamrita), was written by an eyewitness devotee 'M'. It documents his later life and conversations with disciples/devotees and serves as the key reference for his philosophy/teachings
- Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharathi Mahaswamiji Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetha  (1865-1912);a realised Yogi; initiated many into Shankaracharya's philosophy including Sacchidanandendra Saraswati- founder of Adhyatma Prakashana Karyalaya ;known as "Abhinava Shankara" because of his many tours around Bharatvarsha spreading the Advaita philosophy and Hindu Dharma
- Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji Jagadguru of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam  (1894-1994); Considered an avatara of Adi Shankara, an embodiment of the ancient wisdom of Bharatavarsha.
- Sri Chandrashekhara Bharathi Mahaswamiji Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetha (1912-1954); A well known Jivanmuktha; One of the greatest saints ever to take birth in this land
- Sri Abhinavavidya Tirtha MahaswamijiJagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetha (1954-1989); A great Yogi and master of scriptures; blessed with realisation early in life; In His many tours of Bharatvarsha and also Nepal He established many maths, shrines and temples.
- Sri Bharathi Tirtha MahaswamijiJagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetha (1989- );A distuinguished sage and present Jagadguru of Shringeri Peetha, Sringeri, Karnataka.
- Sai Baba of Shirdi (c. 1838-1918), a mystic philosopher of Maharashtra, he was followed devotedly by Hindus and Muslims alike and practiced a blend of Vedantic Hinduism and Sufi Islam.
- Shri Narayana Guru (1856-1928)- Vedic scholar, mystic philosopher, prolific poet and social reformer, who, after Adi Shankara, was the next greatest proponent of Advaita Vedanta from the present-day Kerala.
- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), disciple of Shri Ramakrishna, wrote books on four Hindu Yogas: Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda contains a complete collection of transcribed lectures. Spoke at the 1893 Parliament of Religions at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.
- Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950) Bengali philosopher-sage who synthesized Advaita thought with Western theories of evolution.
- Shri Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) the silent sage of Tamil Nadu who had a profound realization of nonduality
- Shri Swami Tapovan Maharaj - A virakta mahatma
- Shri Swami Sivananda (1887—1963), Divine Life Society. Bestowed samyasa initiation of Swami Chinmayananda, scholar, and author of over 300 books on Hinduism, many available on the web.
- Shri Swami Chinmayananda Jnana diksha bestowed under Shri Swami Tapovan Maharaj in Uttarkashi. Disciples founded the Chinmaya Mission. 'Chinmaya' = "pure consciousness of bliss".
- Shri Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a contemporary Advaitin who united disparate Hindu sects under a single body known as the Arya Samaj.
- Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj A twentieth-century master of Neo-Advaita
- Shri Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Mediation programme and movement, which have practices and philosophy firmly routed in the Advaita tradition. The TM initiation puja references Adi Shankara and the monastery set up by his devotee Trotakacharya at Jyotir Math. This was the same monastery reestablished by Shri Brahmananda Saraswati, Maharishi's master, often referred to as "Guru Dev."
- Tat tvam asi
- Tat tvam asi: Advaita interpretation
- God's Debris
- Advaita Vedanta — Maya veil of ignorance
- Advaita Vedanta Homepage
- Website of Shringeri sharada Peetham
- Mishra, M., Bhāratīya Darshan (भारतीय दर्शन) by Mishra, M., Kalā Prakāshan.
- Sinha, H. P., Bharatiya Darshan ki ruparekha (Features of Indian Philosophy), 1993, Motilal Benarasidas, Delhi–Varanasi.
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