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The curriculum for vedānta or spiritual philosophy is referred to as prasthana tray, it includes the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, and Brahma sutras. Bhagavad Gita is the compendium on non secular philosophies using Sri Krishna. Upanishads are determined in the Aranyaka portion of the Veda. Of the 108 Upanishads, ten vital ones are studied. Brahma sutras are given by way of badarayana.

There are 3 foremost faculties of vedānta (or nonsecular philosophy):


 data and


All 3 receive the authority of texts and assets of information. They are specific interpretations of the Vedantic texts. The reason and approach of introduction, the relation between jiva and iswara, and the role of Prakriti are visible otherwise through those schools. The most important proponents of those colleges (Sankara in the case of Advaita, Ramanuja in the case of viśiṣṭādvaita, and made in the case of data) have written commentaries at the prasthana tray.

However, although these are the important ones, there are numerous other schools like

 achintya bhedabheda (gaudiya Vaishnava),

 shuddadvaita (valuable sampradaya)

 dvaitadvaita (nimbarka sampradaya)

There are three major concepts (vandals) that explain the cause of the universe: Arambha, Parinama, and Vivarta. According to

Arambha vada, the universe is seen as eternal.

Parinama vada, Brahman is said to create/become the Universe.

Vivarta Vada, Brahman is said to be without change but only appears as the Universe,

   through the play of Maya.

In the six darśanas, Nyaya and Vaiseshika are Arambha vada. Sankhya and Yoga hold Parinama Vada. Mimamsa, esp. Uttara Mimamsa is said to contain Vivarta Vada. The dramatic schools of Vedānta too, hold Parinama vada. According to them God becomes or creates the Universe just the way a spider creates its web from its body. In Vivarta Vada the Universe is not created or destroyed - it only appears as it is, by the play of Maya. Realizing Brahman puts an end to the apparent.

The cause of creation or any phenomenon (karana) is said to be of two kinds - nimitta (nominal) and upadana (substantial). If we take the famous example of making a pot, the potter is said to be the nominal cause, and mud which is the substance of the pot is said to be the substantial cause.



Advaita (literally, 'not-two', 'not dual') is the oldest school. Adi Sankara is considered to be the best exponent of the Advaita philosophy. Some schools differentiate Advaita as Sankara and Sankara-Purva (the one that existed before Sankara) advaita.

Advaitins accept all six pramanas: pratyaksha, alumina, upamana, arthapatti, saba, and anupalabdi.

Advaita is found as an independent school of spiritual philosophy, not closely related to any of the religions. Many flavors of religions including Saiva, Sakta, and Tantra (though all these are not mutually exclusive), are advaitic in nature.

Brahman - Jiva - Maya

Advaita, especially Sankara Advaita completely stands by Vivarta Vada. The universe is empirically true - vyavaharika satya. But it is not what it appears to be. It appears so, because of the veil caused by Maya. This is of two types, veiling (covering the Truth) and projection (appearing to be True). These are called avarana and vikshepa. Maya is neither real nor unreal, it is inexplicable. It is not real because it ceases to exist when Brahman is realized. It is not unreal in the empirical sense. Maya is the cause of "creation". Brahman is the nominal cause (nimitta karana) for creation, Maya does creation. The substantial cause (upadana karana) for creation too, is Brahman. The only difference the pot-potter example has from creation is that the substance of creation is the same as that of the potter. Thus Brahman is not only nimitta and upadana but also abhinaya (undifferentiated) Karana for creation.

Jivatma, the individual soul, is nothing but Brahman. It is untouched, unmanifest, neither conscious nor unconscious, beyond qualities (nirguna), and Avaya (the one without the second). It is only a witness of action and experiences, but not the one that experiences. Avidya (nescience) caused by Maya is cause for binding. This is the reason for atma appearing as non-atma. Differentiating atma from non-atma and thus realizing atma, is liberation.


Moksha is realizing oneself to be atma and atma to be Brahman. The Jiva is already liberated in its true nature - thus realizing the true nature of oneself (jiva) is liberation. Thus, one can be liberated even though one is wearing a body. This is called jivanmukti (getting liberated even while "living" in a body). Videha mukti is achieved eventually after jiva leaves the body.



Viśiṣṭādvaita is qualified non-dualism. Though the school existed much earlier, Ramanujacarya was the best proponent of the school. Hence it came to be known as Ramanuja darśana. Specifically, his commentary on Brahma Sutras is called Sri Bhashya.

Viśiṣṭādvaita is closely related to Sri Vaishnava, hence it is seen more as a philosophy of religion rather than an independent spiritual philosophy that is followed by any religion.

Viśiṣṭādvaita as the term indicates is Advaita that accepts viseshas. Visistadvaitins accept basic Advaita or non-duality of jiva and para. In the liberated state jiva is para. Jiva has vises has of consciousness in the unliberated state, unlike in Advaita where jiva is just a witness even in the unliberated state (in fact liberation is not for the jivatma, it is for the entity jiva consisting of sukshma sarira, etc, which is bound by Prakriti or Maya).

Visistadvaitins accept three pramanas or sources of knowledge: pratyaksha, alumina, and saba.

There are three Tatvas (Tatva-trays) - Isvara, Jiva, and Prakriti. Isvara or Brahman is the only independent reality. Jiva and Prakriti are realities dependent on Brahman.


Both nirguna brahman and Isvara are accepted and worshipped. The entire world is the play or Lila of Isvara. And Isvara hence could be worshipped as Sakara. This can also be understood in the light that Viśiṣṭādvaita is religion + philosophy. Both upasana and Vedānta are closely knit.

The eternal is said to be five-fold, and worshipped in these five forms:

Para - The eternal being. This is Sri Maha Vishnu in times of non-creation in Vaikuntha, sleeping

   in the coils of infinity.

Vyuha - The one with four aspects, Sankarshana, Vasudeva, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha (Vishnu

   Sahasranama praises Him as caturvyuha, or having four vyuhas).

Antaryamin - The One (as soul) that pervades all creation.

Vibhava - The glorious incarnations of God, such as Sri Rama and Sri Krishna.

Arca - The forms of worship, such as incarnations, and idols. An example of Arca-avatar is



Jiva (individual soul) is said to be anu (indivisible), avyakta (unmanifest), Jacinta (unthinkable), nirvana (having no distortion or transformation), and jnanasraya (the abode of knowledge). Jiva is an indivisible part of Isvara.

There are three types of Jivas, bound, liberated, and eternal. Any Jiva before liberation or moksha is said to be bound. Post liberation the Jiva is mukta, and merges in Isvara. There are eternal jivas too, that are not bound but exist - such as devatas, consorts, servants, and vehicles of Vishnu (Garuda, Java-Vijaya, etc).


Prakriti is the cause of manifestation. It causes the three consciousness qualities, sattva, rajas, and tamas. There are two forms of data, suddha sattva, and Misra sattva. Suddha data is not touched by rajas and tamas - this is the one that manifests in Vaikuntha, creating the "eternal" beings like Garuda and Ananta. This is said to be nitya vibhuti. The phenomenal world is caused by misra satva, a combination of all the three qualities. This is said to be Lila Vibhuti.


Viśiṣṭādvaita does not accept the jivanmukti concept of Advaita. According to Viśiṣṭādvaita, liberation is possible only after the jiva leaves the body. There are different types of this. One is reaching Isvara after death. Another is reaching higher worlds (like swarga) after death, and moving to still higher worlds and ultimately reaching Isvara Sannidhya. This is called krama (gradual, stepwise) mukti.

There are four kinds of Isvara sandhya, in ascending order of evolution:

Salokya - Living in the world of Isvara (ex. Vaikuntha)

Sameepya - Living close to Isvara

Sarupya - Looking just like Isvara

Sayujya - Becoming one with Isvara

Moksha sadhana

There are three concepts in a path to liberation, Tatva, white, and purushartha. Tattvas are three as discussed. Hita is fivefold, swa-swarupa (knowing the nature of self), para-swarupa (knowing the nature of the eternal), purushartha swarupa (fulfillment of purposes or goals of life - dharma, Artha, kama, and moksha), upaya swarupa (means methods or paths to moksha) and Hiroshi swarupa (obstacles in attainment of moksha).

There are five avarodhas (Hiroshi) or obstacles in the path of evolution: Obstacles in realizing the self, in realizing God, in liberation, in following means to realization, and in the attainment of goals

Moksha Upaya is fivefold:

Karma - this includes karma kanda, panca maha yajnas, dhyana, japa etc.

Jnana - This includes vairagya, dhyana, nididhyasana etc found in jnana marga.

Bhakti - This includes devotion and worship. There are seven aids for bhakti, Viveka

  (discrimination and purity), vimoka (detachment), abhyanga (practice), kriya (works, specifically the

   panca maha yajnas), Kalyana (truthfulness, peace of mind, gentleness, etc), anavasada (untouched by

  sorrow or disappointment), and Harsha (untouched by excitement).

Prapatti (or sarangi) - Prapatti is consecration and surrender. This includes surrender of ego,

   doing things only to please God and abstaining from all that action that on the contrary (take one

   towards worldliness), having faith and attributing one's caretaking to Isvara.

Acaryabhimana - Having faith in, respecting, and following teachers' words.



Dvaita vada or the school of dualism is popularized by Madhvacarya, also called Ananda Tirtha Swami. His darśana is also called Purna prajna darśana, Tatva vada, Bheda vada, Bimba-pratibimba vada. This school too, is closely related to Vaishnava mata, and Maha Vishnu is held to be the supreme Godhead.

Dvaitins accept three pramanas: pratyaksha, alumina, and saba.

There are three Tatvas, Jiva, Isvara and Prakriti. Isvara is the only independent (swatantra) reality. Jiva and Prakriti are realities dependent (paratantra) on Isvara. Dependent and independent are the two categories dvaita expounds. Everything other than Isvara - time, matter, or action, is dependent on Isvara. Isvara is sentient and jiva is sentient. Prakriti is insentient. Jiva is sentient by the grace of Isvara.

Dvaita holds that jiva and para are not the same and that they are different. The universe is real and runs by the grace of Isvara. What makes jiva and Prakriti function is also Isvara.

There are five differences between Tattvas:

1. Isvara and Jiva

2. Isvara and Prakriti

3. Prakriti and Jiva

4. Jiva and another Jiva

5. One element of Prakriti and another

Understanding these differences is the qualifying knowledge for Mukti.

Dvaita holds a multiplicity of jivas. Jivas are multiple and of three types - the ones that are born, the ones in various worlds above the earth, and the liberated. The jivas are of different levels and capabilities and fall in a hierarchy that ranges from Manushya to Isvara. The gradation is given by Madhvacarya, starting from Vishnu at the top, followed by Sri Lakshmi, then Brahma, and so on till manushyas. Thus Dvaita is closely knit with theology, along with Tatva and Vedānta.

Vyasa Tirtha, a follower of Madhvacarya condensed Madhva Darsana as:

1. Vishnu is supreme

2. The universe is real and not illusory

3. The five differences are real

4. The leagues of jivas are subordinates of Vishnu

5. Jivas are different and of different levels

6. Mukti is the experience of one's innate bliss

7. Mukti is achieved through wisdom and devotion to the Supreme

8. There are three pramanas - pratyaksha, anumana and agama (sabda)

9. Vishnu is the supreme and primary entity described in Veda.


There is liberation for Jiva, but even liberation does not unite Jiva with Isvara. It elevates Jiva to higher worlds and ends the miseries. In a liberated state, jiva experiences existential bliss and is free from bondage as well as misery. However, the jiva exists separate from Isvara even in a liberated state. Jiva is immutable and is bound by misery because of false identification. By realizing the five tatvic differences one gains wisdom and eventually mukti, by the grace of Isvara.


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