Vedanta

Definition - What does Vedanta mean?

Vedanta is a school of philosophy which takes its teachings from the Upanishads, which form the final section of the literature of the Vedas. The term is sometimes used to describe Indian philosophy in general. It also draws upon the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras, as well as ideas from yogic philosophy and Nyaya.

Vedanta comes from the Sanskrit veda, which means “knowledge,” and anta, which means “end.” Therefore, it may be translated as "the end goal of Vedic literature." The term can also be used to denote someone who has mastered the original four Vedas.

The core teaching of Vedanta is to experience one's true nature: the individual soul as a part of the universal or supreme Soul.

Yogapedia explains Vedanta

Vedanta is a philosophy which emphasizes the harmony of all religions. It teaches that all beings are members of a single family and any apparent differences are just superficial. The supreme Soul is within everyone, and one form of worship is to recognize the Divine in all beings.

The role of Vedanta is to provide the knowledge that can lead to freedom. Understanding that the individual soul is limitless and all-pervasive brings about the direct experience of this reality.

Yogic techniques, such as pranayama, asana and following the yamas and niyamas of yogic philosophy, help to cultivate the contemplative mind, which is necessary to understanding this ultimate Truth.

Vedanta has at least 10 schools, including Advaita Vedanta and Vishishtadvaita. These all vary in interpretations of the literature, but share several common beliefs:

  • Brahman is eternal, in all beings and the Absolute Truth.
  • Knowledge or devotion is superior to action.
  • All beings are bound in samsara.
  • To be delivered from this cycle of death and rebirth is to achieve liberation.

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