What is Vedanta?


Uluru, the huge rock monolith, is the geographical and spiritual heart of Australia. In many ways it symbolizes the grandeur of Vedanta. Surrounded by the timeless, brooding, silence of the Australian outback Uluru's rich ochre colour highlighted at the auspicious times of dawn and dusk reminds us of the colour of renunciation in Eastern monasticism.

What is Vedanta?

EVEN IF you've never heard of Vedanta chances are you already know something about it.

If you’ve been to a yoga class, if you’ve ever tried to meditate, if you’ve read any books by Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Aldous Huxley or Joseph Campbell, if you’ve moved away from the "old man in the sky" view of God, if you’re seeking to connect with your spiritual potential, if you believe there are many pathways to spiritual fulfilment; then you’re already tapping in to the ancient Vedantic tradition.

Vedanta emphasizes that belief and faith are not enough, rather, direct experience, even a glimpse or an inkling of our divine nature, is far more important.

Vedanta philosophy evolved from the teachings of the Vedas, a collection of ancient Indian scriptures. It does not owe its origins to any particular person or prophet. Vedanta is universal in its application and is equally relevant to all countries, all cultures, and all religious backgrounds.

The Basic Principles of Vedanta are:

  1. Each soul is potentially divine. The essence of all beings is divine Spirit, omnipresent and eternal, identical with the inmost being and reality of the universe.
  2. The goal of life is to manifest this divinity. Because we are divine, we have infinite strength and wisdom at our command. This can be gradually uncovered and experienced through prayer, meditation and living a disciplined life.
  3. “As many religions, so many paths.” Vedanta accepts all the great religions of the world as true. Different religions suit different races, cultures and temperaments. All of them are different paths to the same goal.
  4. God is One, Sages call It by various names.” Vedanta reveres all the great prophets, teachers and sons of God, and all those personal aspects of the Ultimate Reality worshipped by different religions. Accepting all, it does not seek to make converts. It only seeks to clarify our thoughts and help us to have a true appreciation of our own religion and its ultimate aim.

Suggested further Reading:

  • Wishing Tree – by Christopher Isherwood
  • Realizing God – Swami Prabhavananda
  • Vedanta Voice of Freedom – Swami Chetanananda Ed.