Classical Indian Philosophy Advaita Vedantafor Competitive Exams

Doorsteptutor material for competitive exams is prepared by world's top subject experts: get questions, notes, tests, video lectures and more- for all subjects of your exam.

Complete Video at - Advaita Vedanta - Introduction and concept of Brahman: Classical Indian Philosophy (Philosophy)


  • Advaita means monism, or one reality.
  • Shankaracharya is regarded as the founder of the Advaita Vedanta school.
  • It was originally known as Purushavada.
  • It is the oldest sub-school of Vedanta (or Uttar Mimamsa) and is one of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy.
  • It is regarded as an orthodox school because it accepts the authority of the vedas and the Vedic literature.
  • The central premise of Advaita Vedanta is the highest reality called Brahman, the concept of Atman, Jiva or the individual self, the concept of maya, his conception of Bondage and Liberation, etc.

Complete notes and preparation module at doorsteptutor. com

The Concept of Brahman

  • According to the school, ultimate reality is Brahman which is nothing but pure consciousness (jnana-svarupa) or consciousness of the pure self (svarupa-jnana) .
  • Shankara believes that the pure self or consciousness is devoid of all attributes and all categories of intellect.
  • In other words, it means, the Brahman is nirguna and nirvishesha in nature.
  • Brahman is the paramarthika-satya, the absolute truth.
  • When Brahman is associated with its potency, i.e.. maya then it appears as qualified Brahman.
  • In other words, it appears as saguna Brahman, savishesha Brahman or apara Brahman or as Ishvara (god/lord) who is regarded to be the creator, preserver and destroyer of the world.
  • In short, Brahman transcends all categories.
  • The best way to describe Brahman can only be done via negative terms.
  • So, Brahman is neti-neti or neither this-nor that.
  • The phrase, neti-neti negates all the characteristics of Brahman but it does not negate Brahman itself. But, even if one tries to describe Brahman in positive terms then nothing more than this can be said than this, that Brahman is, “pure consciousness or Sat Chit Ananda.”
  • That means, Brahman is Pure Existence or Pure Being, Pure Consciousness and Pure Bliss- all in one.
  • Hence, Brahman is the paramarthika-satya, the absolute truth and the knowledge of absolute truth is possible via self-inquiry.

The Concept of Atman

  • Atman Is The Same As Brahman, It Is Pure Consciousness.
  • It Is The Self Which Is Said To Be Self-Luminous.
  • It Also Transcends The Subject-Object Duality.
  • The Sanskrit Word Atman Means The Real Self, The Conscious Self, The Individual, The Soul, Etc.
  • According To Advaita Vedanta, The Two Concepts, Soul/Atman And Brahman Are Synonymous And Can Be Interchangeably Used.

Atman-Brahman Relation

  • According to Shankara, the atman is the same as Brahman, it is pure consciousness.
  • In other words, atman is identical to Brahman.
  • This is clearly expressed in the Mahavakya, “Thou art That,” “Tat Tvam Asi.”
  • Both, self and Brahman are hence, one reality.
  • There is no scope for duality and diversity.
  • Shankara avers, “He knows knows the self, knows Brahman” and “he who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman. He who knows the self, becomes the self.”
  • So, the concept of self or atman is self-proved, it can never be negated because all the sources of pramanas or means of knowledge are founded on it.
  • As a result, Shankara says that both Brahman and atman are one, they seem different at the empirical or the phenomenal level of reality, but this difference is only an illusion.
  • At the absolute level, or at the highest level of reality, both of them are identical.

Bondage & Liberation

  • Shankara believes in “Jnana-kanda” or liberation is possible only via knowledge.
  • Knowledge removes ignorance which results in liberation.
  • Ignorance according to him is taking both, atman or soul and Brahman to be different from each-other.
  • On the other hand, knowledge results in realising that atman is non-different from Brahman.
  • Simply put, liberation means removal of ignorance via knowledge.
  • Shankara repeatedly asserts that the Absolute can be realised through knowledge and knowledge alone.
  • According to him, karmas or performing of religious actions and upasana are subsidiary in nature as they only help in purifying the mind (sattva-shuddhi) and help us in urging us to know the reality.
  • According to Purva-Mimamsa which accepts the “Karma-kanda,” liberation results from performing sacrificial rites and rituals (or yajnas) and via upasana or devotion towards God.
  • But, according to Shankara, ultimately it is knowledge alone which destroys ignorance, and enables us to be one with Brahman or the absolute.
  • As a result, Shankara says that knowledge and actions are opposed like light and dark.
  • Actions or religious acts are prescribed for those who are still in ignorance and not for those who are enlightened.
  • Knowledge removes ignorance and then reality shines forth by itself.
  • This state is called Jivan-mukti.
  • According to Shankara, final release or Videha-mukti is obtained only after the death of the body.
  • He writes, “just like a potter՚s wheel goes on revolving for sometime even after the push has been withdrawn, similarly, the body may continue to exist even after attaining the knowledge or even when the knowledge has dawned.”
  • Hence, Shankara believes in the concept of both, Jivan-mukti and Videha-mukti.


1. Shankara believes in


A. Videha Mukti

B. Jivan Mukti

C. Both A and B

D. None of these

Answer: C

2. According to ________, karmas or performing of religious actions and upasana are subsidiary in nature


A. Kumarila

B. Ramanuja

C. Prabhakara

D. Shankara

Answer: D

3. Advaita Vedanta accepts


A. Karma Kanda

B. Jnana Kanda

C. Both A and B

D. None of these

Answer: B

4. Brahman is


A. Paramarthika satya

B. Vyavharika satya

C. Both A and B

D. Saguna Brahman

Answer: A

5. ________ is also known as Purushavada


A. Purva Mimamsa

B. Uttar Mimamsa

C. Advaita Vedanta

D. Vedanta

Answer: C

  • We learnt about: