Advaita Vedanta Survey


Updated: 05-01-2012

Author: Bill Honsberger — This paper will look at the origins and development of the particular Hindu school of thought known as Advaita Vedanta.  I will first look at the medieval roots of Vedanta as founded by Sankara and later critiqued by Ramanuja.  I will then show how Vedanta was transformed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by interaction with colonial and nationalist ideas and by interaction with the world at large.

“I believe in Advaita; I believe in the essential unity of man and for that matter, for all that lives.  Therefore, I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and if one man fails, the whole world fall to that extent…”(1) With these words the Father of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi, revealed the thoughts that were a major influence on him in 1924.  However, the ideas he mentioned date back hundreds of years to the thoughts of an influential thinker named Sankara, and they also reflect the ideas of more modern Indian scholars who were shaping and adapting ancient ideas to a contemporary present.  The terms Advaita, which means non-dualistic, and Vedanta, which literally means the end of the Vedas, together refer to a series of thinkers and ideas that as a school go back at least to the eighth century C.E.

The most notable scholar who is usually seen as the originator and systemizer of Advaita is Sankara (788 – 820 C.E.).  The school of Advaita is described by some as theology and by others as a philosophy.  It seems to have elements of both.   There are some commentators who see Advaita as the culmination not only of Hindu thought, but also of all religious thought.  For example Satprakashanda, a follower of Vivekananda (1863-1902), says, “Strictly speaking, Vedanta is not a particular religion but the common basis of all religions.” (2) While this bit of hubris may seem far-reaching in its scope, it is a logical entailment of the non-dualistic system as proposed in Vedanta.

Vedanta accepts the scriptural authority of the four Vedas, the Upanishads, the two great epics, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana, and the Brahmasutras.  It gives little acknowledgement to the Puranas and Tantras.  In fact, one could argue that in the great ebb and sway of Hindu thought in general, that the Advaita “revolution” was the backlash against a major emphasis on idols and “bhakti” devotion to numerous gods and goddesses.  Amidst the huge sea of millions of deities, Vedanta attempts to synthesize the earlier texts of Hindu scriptures into an overarching system, which, while not totally dismissing bhakti, relegates it to a secondary place in favor of a higher and ultimate unity “behind” or “underneath” all the respective deities.  Advaita was built upon the earlier Mimamsa tradition of exegesis.  This tradition, dating back to the second century C.E., stressed the Vedic tradition of dharma, the ritual understanding of how people are to act in the universe.  As Clooney notes, “Ultimately, the only thing that matters is the event of sacrifice: dharma, the object of Mimamsa inquiry, is the sum of all right relations, the activated, fully understood and rightly connected set of all the small and large activities and things which together constitute the sacrificial whole.” (3) Even though Advaita is modeled on the same paradigm, it does break in some significant ways and claims to have superseded its predecessor.  It is often called the Uttara (later) Mimamsa.

Born into a family of Shiva worshipers, Sankara has been transformed over time into an avatar, a literal incarnation of Shiva himself.  Seen as a child prodigy, his hagiographers state that he had mastered the four Vedas by the age of eight, the age when boys normally begin to study the Vedas!  Even as a young man he showed his desire to become a renouncer, a “sannyasin”, and seek “moksha” or liberation from the wheel of birth, death, and rebirth, or “samsara”.  At sixteen he left his family home and became a sannyasin.  For the next sixteen years he would travel to many parts of India, visiting temples, reading and studying, debating with different groups and writing his commentaries.  There are several legends about the deal his parents made to have a son who would do so much but live only a short life, and Sankara in fact only lived until he was thirty-two.  But in that short time he wrote voluminous commentaries and refuted many opponents from differing traditions.

His teachings on Advaita center on several important ideas.  The most important is “The Brahman is real; the world is unreal. The “jiva”(individual soul or spirit) is verily Brahman and no other.”  This needs to be unpacked quite a bit.  The Vedas teach about many gods, but to Sankara, the key is Brahman.  Using many Vedic and Upanisadic texts, Sankara argues that all the deities mentioned in the scriptures are merely hints of the one real god.  When Sankara argues in this way, his point is not that the other gods are not gods, but rather, they really represent the one true reality of the universe – Brahman.  In the same way, all that appears in the world to the senses is “unreal”.  In this sense, Sankara thought that the world is “Maya”, the dream or illusion.  Maya also means, “that which measures”, and is used in the sense that Maya measures the unmeasurable, diversifies the undiversified, and changes the immutable.   The world is illusion because of “avidya” or ignorance of the true nature of things.  The jiva is the individual soul or “atman”.  Each bit of the world is atman.  So in essence Brahman really is all that there is, but the individual is blinded by his/her own ignorance into thinking that he/she, as an individual, is separate from the universal one.  Maya blinds from the true or higher nature, and through knowledge of the truth “tat tvam asi” (that art thou) the atman recognizes what is real and Maya has no more power over the enlightened mind.

There are several other important ideas for Sankara.  The first is Nirguna Brahman.  By this he meant that Brahman is pure being, consciousness and bliss (Sat-cit-ananda), and without attributes.  This Satcitananda is not three qualities or attributes of Brahman; rather it is “its essential nature.  Looked at ontologically, we realize the Being or “Sat’ aspect of Brahman.  From the epistemological viewpoint, Brahman is revealed as “chit” or consciousness.  And from the point of view of the highest value Brahman is “ananda” or bliss itself.” (4) The idea of nirguna Brahman is in direct contrast with Saguna Brahman or God with attributes.  In bhakti devotion it is common to speak of the grace, mercy, love, or anger of the deity.  Many of the deities were known for their “specialties” in that they fulfilled certain roles for their devotees.  For example, Ganesha the elephant-headed deity was (and is) prayed to for help in starting new endeavors, as Ganesha will clear the path of all obstacles.  Brahman for Sankara was beyond all these worldly things.  The attributes of Ganesha were of Maya; they were not the ultimate reality.  Brahman is also beyond form (nirakar).  Brahman could not be perceived in the world of forms.  This was quite radical in a time of overwhelming idol devotion among the masses.

Brahman also involves thinking about transcendentally.  Brahman is the all-pervading Self-immanent in the phenomenal world.  In this sense Nirguna Brahman is manifested as Saguna Brahman in relation to the created universe.  So Sankara could argue that Nirguna Brahman was “present” in all of creation but not in the sense of reality, but “behind” or underneath the false perception of reality – maya.
The goal of life is to realize or recognize the unity of Brahman and the identification of the individual self with the ultimate self.  This one thing should dominate one’s life.  There are different methods of recognition of the true reality, but the ultimate path for Sankara is that of self-knowledge (jnana) through textual study and meditative experience.  Moksha or liberation comes in the ultimate sense when the atman/jiva recognizes its true self. Man must realize this liberation intuitively because Brahman is without physical senses.  This also cannot be done by reason, whose only role is to show the impermanence of Maya. This liberation is not attained by works or devotion but rather through wisdom and realization.  Once liberated, the atman is released from Maya and is absorbed into Brahman consciousness.  The individual is under bondage and liberation does not literally cause he/she to be absorbed, because that would mean that there is change in Brahman.  The famous illustration is that of the “snake-rope”.  One thinks one sees a snake but the illusion vanishes when one realizes the true nature of the rope.  But there still are physical consequences in Maya, such as shortness of breath from fear and so on.
Others think that Sankara saw the soul or atman also as an impermanent entity.  As in Theravada Buddhism, Menon sees that “The Jiva is the Self immanent in the material mind, but it is not itself the Self…the Self has no individuality or manifoldness or limitations and admits of no divisions.”  (5) So absorption (atman returning to Brahman as the drop into the ocean) is really a metaphor for a change of thinking.

What about all the changes in the world?  How is it that the world has a beginning and ages and seems to be changing if in fact Brahman does not change?  Shankara replied to these questions:

To the ordinary ignorant people, – who under the influence of avidya resolve the underlying unity into the multiplicity of the changes and thus identifies the two, – the multiplicity of the changes is the only Reality…But those who have realized the truth that the underlying is untouched by the evolving multiplicity of changes – do not regard these changes as something separate and apart from Brahman, do not look upon them as so many independent and self-sufficient things complete in themselves… (6)

Sankara thus has set up in essence a two-tiered universe.  The lower tier consists of Maya brought about by avidya.  For this reason, the physical universe appears the way it does.  People trapped in this tier by their ignorance think that they exist as separate atmans.  But ultimately enlightened souls are liberated from their ignorance and “see” that this world can be transcended and are not ultimate, and finally recognize that they are not separate but rather identical to Brahman.  In this moment their consciousness changes and they now still may live on in the second tier, but remain unaffected by all that happens in it.  Good, evil, life, death, and all the rest have lost their hold on them.  The upper tier is pure being, consciousness and bliss.  This is the true and ultimate reality of Brahman.  One famous Advaita illustration is the ocean and raindrops.  The hydration cycle pulls the water from the ocean and the clouds move the water over land.  Then the water is released as rain drops to fall to the ground.  But somewhere in the process the individual drops forgets that they were part of the ocean.  They  mistakenly thought that they were individual drops.  So the raindrops fall and then sweep into streams and rivers and finally return to the ocean.  It is their return to the ocean, which is moksha and Samadhi (absorption into Brahman) all at once.  They don’t change and become the ocean.  They merely lose their illusory bondage and return to their pristine state.

So how does one live in this two-tiered reality?  It is interesting to note here that Sankara often worshipped publicly in temples and gave prayers and devotions to different deities.  Many have speculated on the lack of consistency at this point. In some of his writings Sankara also criticizes bhakti devotion as basically the point of view of a child or foolish person.  But then he would also say that idol worship was better than no worship at all as it still moved one towards the ultimate realization of Advaita.  This type of inconsistency haunted much of Sankara’s writings and, as we will see later, it is also typical of many modern Advaitans.  Ravi Zacharias, in commenting on the story of “Arjuna’s dilemma” from the epic Bhagavad-Gita, recounts an old story about Sankara’s duplicity on this point.  Sankara had just finished lecturing the King on the deception of the mind and its delusion of material reality.  He goes on “The next day, the King let loose an elephant that went on a rampage, and Shankara ran up a tree to find safety.  When the King asked him why he ran if the elephant was nonreal, Sankara, not to be outdone, said, ‘What the King actually saw was a nonreal me climbing up a nonreal tree!”  (7) One might add here that modern Advaitins look both way before they cross the street too.

In rejection of these teachings but staying within the same scriptural traditions as Sankara, comes Ramanuja (1017-1137).  He was a devotee and leader of a Vaisnava community.   He is considered the leader thinker of Visistadvaita Vedanta.  This means qualified non-dualism.  Like Sankara, Ramanuja is concerned with scriptural adherence and claims that Sankara has misread many of the important Vedic passages.  Sankara’s hermeneutic involved seeing a two-tiered system of understanding the text.  The higher meaning always refers in some way to monistic Brahman.  The lower meaning refers to Brahman as incarnate deities.  Ramanuja rejects this distinction and call for an even reading of all texts.  His own commentary on the Brahmasutras rebuts Sankara on several points.  As one writer puts it:

Ramanuja’s theory of language is a decisive element in his philosophy. He repeatedly expresses opinions to the effect that language mirrors reality. He writes, for example, “the plurality of words is based on plurality of meanings; the sentence, therefore, which is an aggregate of words expressing some special combination of things, and hence has no power to denote a thing devoid of all difference.” To say the same thing in the recently developed paradigm-case argument jargon “here is a jar” is meaningful if there is a jar. But ‘here is a jar’ is meaningful. Therefore here is a jar. This stance with regard to language leads Ramanuja to reject as meaningless all sentences that do violence to the elementary laws of logic. Hence his arguments “tend to refute the view that there is a difference and absence of difference at the same time.” (8)

The system is qualified non-dualism because in some important ways Ramanuja still agrees with Sankara, even while he criticizes him. Ramanuja would agree that Brahman is the ultimate reality and that Maya hides that ultimate reality. He would agree that moksha from Samsara is the central goal of life. But his critique of Sankara is centered on the fact that for all intents and purposes idol worship, bhakti devotion, has now been relegated to a secondary status or even worse – to the thinking of children and fools. Ramanuja’s understanding of Brahman is Brahman is Atman, and that means that each bit of Atman really is Brahman. Therefore Brahman permeates the universe with his presence. As such Brahman has qualities. He is Saguna Brahman. Ramanuja claimed this was not pantheism because he still wants a distinction between creator and creation. His own Vaisnava beliefs saw moksha as being with Vishnu is heaven, saturated by the grace of Vishnu but not identical with Vishnu. So Brahman pervades the universe but is in some way not the universe.

His view of Maya is also distinct from Sankara. This “soft” version of Maya sees avidya as the real problem and liberation coming through realization, but liberation can also come through bhakti. Since the idol really does “contain” deity in some meaningful way, then devotion is just as appropriate as self-realization. Maya still hides the reality of divinity, but itself has some existence. Ultimately at the end of the day Ramanuja still wants to agree with Sankara that Brahman in undivided, but that in some sense is eschatological. During the present age Brahman permeates the universe and so Ramanuja “saves” idol worship from the ravages of the iconoclast Sankara.

Now I want to turn from the medieval roots of Vedanta and go to more recent representatives. Some important historical information must be mentioned here. In the mid 1700’s India was colonized by the British Empire. The effects on India were dramatic, and one could say that is true on the British as well. Without going into great detail various groups arose in the 1800’s, which in their own ways opposed the colonizers and reacted to the outsiders. The reason this is important is that in India religion is life. It is the very sine qua non of the population. So political movements reflect the character of the country. Groups like the Brahmo Samaj, the Arya Samaj and others tried (and still do) to instill a sense of nationalism, a “pan-India” consciousness. This attempt to develop this broad consensus of nationalism has primarily been centered on “Hinduism for India – India for Hindu”. But what is Hinduism? Is it Advaita or Dvaita? Is it the more central deities like Vishnu, Shiva and Krishna or the ancient deities of Indra and Agni? Is it focused on Dharma for Brahmins or do the Untouchables have a role as well? All of these questions are troubling (for the student of religion as well! ? ) for those trying to marshal the whole of the populace to throw out the oppressors.

One notable influence on these “reformers” of Hinduism is that many of them had deep and meaningful contacts with western ideas and religion through the British schools and government agencies. Many of them went to the schools and were confronted with Christianity, western philosophy, and new technologies. According to Andrew Fort “the connection of neo-Vedantins to the Hindu tradition came after a Western, Christian-influenced and English-language-based intellectual formation”. (9) In some ways these influences help shape the type of Hinduism that is produced by them. What some scholars refer to as “syndicated” Hinduism models this approach. A synthesis of what seems to be foundational across the board to all the diverse groups that comprise Hinduism.

The first prominent reformer is Rammohun Roy (1774-1833). He was the founder of the Brahmo – Sabha. He was trained in many languages and had “sympathies” with both Christian and Islamic thought. His attitude towards the Vedas is interesting and problematic. His commentators are very divided about his attitude as to whether the Vedas are divinely inspired or not. Regardless of this contention they agree that for Roy the doctrines of the Vedas are more important than the texts themselves. This openness allowed him to view non-Vedic literature with an eye to whether they taught the proper doctrines. So then he was willing to go far beyond the Vedas. In one of his earliest Persian tracts entitled Tuhfatu’l al-Muwahhidin (A Gift to Deists), Roy gives a very minimalist outline of Vedantic faith, which he saw as a general outline for all faiths. The outline included “the existence of God, which is derived from the design of the universe and the human being’s innate capacity to infer God from it, and a morally accountable soul existing after death, a belief necessary for the maintenance of social order. The minimal moral principle was a concern for the welfare of mankind.” (10) It is this matter of social welfare that will be a contentious point for the later Vedantic tradition. The rest of the ideas are very controversial depending upon how they are defined, but a classical Vedantist could say they agree with all of them, within their own understanding. Roy also championed the idea of brahmanistha grihastha (the pious householder), which went against the traditional idea that access to the Vedas should be denied to the majority of India’s people. This precedent marks many of the later reformers.

Ramakrishnan (1836-86) was a Hindu mystic who unlike most of the other reformers did not have Western training. He grew up in a Vaisnava family and then become a priest at a temple for Kali. Known for his fanatical devotion to Kali, he claimed to have an experience of Kali, which gave him a vision for the underlying truth of all religions. He became a bhakti devotee to Allah, Jesus, Buddha and a host of other religious figures. He did not travel far, had limited reading and writing skills but was very influential primarily because of his discipleship of Vivekananda. His version of Vedanta emphasized experience over Vedic texts, and this is a big break with both Sankara and Ramanuja. According to Swami Satprakashananda, Ramakrishnan simplified Vedanta into the following teachings:

  1. To realize God is the goal of human life.
  2. The methods of God-realization differ according to the seekers’ capacities and conditions of life.
  3. By following a progressive course of discipline an individual can proceed towards God from any sphere or level of life.
  4. Every religion is a pathway to God-realization.
  5. There should be harmony among the followers of different religions.
  6. God dwells within man as the inmost self.
  7. Man is to be served in the spirit of worshipping God.

One can immediately see some affinity with Sankara and also some with Ramanuja. With Sankara, Ramakrishnan affirms God-realization, but contrary to Sankara he affirms a more egalitarian approach to enlightenment. With Ramanuja he affirms the validity of many different paths, all of which shared their own reality as well as a central reality among them all. But as a modern Vedantist, he shows his desire to help the masses.

The next modern Vedantist we will look at is Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950). His personal life is an interesting study in itself in that he started as a political activist and was involved in armed rebellion. But then in the midst of his life he switched profoundly, renounced violence and political agitation, and became a Guru. As Aurobindo started having mystical experiences and expanded his practice of yoga, he learned from his visions that India would be independent and there was no longer any need for armed resistance. His religious vision was still infused though with nationalistic language and purpose. He also developed a system of spiritual evolution, which paralleled biological evolution as described by Charles Darwin, which was also seen and accepted by Vivekananda, Yogananda and others.

This “ontological” structure included the following:

  1. Sachchidananda – the Absolute; existence, consciousness, bliss.
  2. Supermind – Dynamic aspect of the Absolute.
  3. Overmind – Mediating plane between Individual Mind and Supermind.
  4. Intuitive Mind
  5. Illumined Mind
  6. Higher Mind
  7. Mind – Capable of intellectual knowledge, moving towards intuitional knowledge, through the higher levels approaching Supermind.
  8. Soul or Psyche – Inner self, True Self, Essential Self.
  9. Life – Vital level, Organic level.
  10. Matter or Body – The Inconscient. (12)

Yoga for Aurobindo had a slightly different twist as well. Usually it is seen as a method of moksha, but for him it was a method of transformation. Following Ramanuja here, he saw the body not as something to be rejected or escaped from, but rather as a partial manifestation of the divine. Like the other reformers he affirms the Advaita traditions and scriptural standards but also adds some Tantric and Vaisnava texts as well. He also affirmed a universal religion. “A religion of humanity means the growing realization that there is a secret Spirit, a divine Reality, in which we are all one, that humanity is its highest present vehicle on earth, that the human race and the human being are the means by which it will progressively reveal itself here.” (13)

Another more conservative voice among the reformers is Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950). Ramana taught a very conservative version of Advaita, along the lines of Sankara. Considered a Bhagavan (God) by many of his followers, he also stressed some non-Sankaran ideas. Like many of the modern reformers he stressed the value of personal experience over yoga or bhakti or even over textual knowledge. He also assumed a universalistic position in regards to the world’s religions. What makes this position rather controversial is that Ramana tried to argue that this sort of open-mindedness was also the position of Sankara himself. His back to the Vedas approach to his faith caused him to differ from other reformers in that he rejected social concern as a major issue for the enlightened one. His favorite question was to ask “Who am I?” and using that as a starting point for a discussion on the need for the individual to spend one’s life in self-discovery. His position on social concern can be seen when he would say things like “Because you wrongly identify yourself with the body, you see the world outside you and its suffering becomes apparent to you; but the world and its sufferings are not real. Seek the reality and get rid of this unreal feeling.” (14) He would also question the motives of some of his contemporaries who seemed so motivated by social issues.

Probably the best know modern Hindu reformer and also perhaps the first Hindu missionary to the west, was Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902). Known for his quick wit, charm, and ability to captivate a crowd, Vivekananda become a world known figure when he appeared before the 1893 Parliament of World Religions. Having been a participant in the 1993 Parliament, I can note that he was in many ways the star of that second Parliament as well. He grew up in Calcutta and was extremely successful in school, astonishing his British teachers with his breadth of his readings and grasp of western philosophy. This educational emphasis makes it even more ironic that he became a disciple of someone like Ramakrishnan who had so little interest in education. One of the more frustrating things about Vivekananda was his maddening way of contradicting himself over the course of his life. For example even thought his master was supposedly everything to him, he belittles Ramakrishnan’s mystical experiences shortly after his death. Even more ironic when one considers that Vivekananda had his own mystical experience, which, like his master, convinced him of the oneness of all religions. (15)

Another example of his mercurial thought process was his understanding of Advaita. At some points in his life he was a classic non-dualist, sounding very similar to Sankara in his denunciation of idols. In a letter to an American disciple he wrote, “He who is eternal, without limits, omnipresent and all-knowing is not an individual person, but only a consciousness. You, I, and everyone else are but manifestations of that consciousness. Finally everyone must become his image in full…and then in reality everything will become one. Religion is nothing but this. The obsolete and lifeless rituals and notions regarding godhood are but ancient superstitions”. (16) But he also told a monastic order that they need to worship only Ramakrishna. (17) He told another friend “…I wish I could be an Advaitist, calm and heartless…” (18) His trip to America changed the world; his trip was an abject failure, and so on.

One persistent and consistent theme of Vivekananda was his interest in raising the status of the people in India. His trip to the west had inspired him and he was always commentating as to how the people in the west could benefit those in the east with their technological expertise while the people in the east could help those in the west with their spiritual expertise. One example of his egalitarian message was in his break with classic Advaita thought on the accessibility of Self-Knowledge. One of his admirers notes “he proclaimed this message of the divine nature of man to one and all, to the seekers of temporal values as well as to the seekers of Self-knowledge”. (19) This in Vivekananda’s mind would lead to societal liberation. His motto for his Ramakrishna Order was Atmano moksartham jagaddhitaya ca. (while striving for his own liberation the seeker should work for the good of the world as well). While his statements about Advaita would seem to go back and forth, his passion to bring about change in India never seemed to waver.

In so many ways modern India and therefore modern Advaita Vedanta, has been influenced by western thoughts. All of them and many others that we did not look at saw scriptural warrant, particularly from the Vedas for what they espoused. Many of them affirmed what their contemporaries denounced. For example many would affirm a “kindler, gentler” version of the caste system while others would denounce it for the social horror that it is. But the dilemma is so clearly illustrated here. How can one be Hindu and Indian and deny what has been a major part of the culture for so long? For many, the answer is that it is impossible. For Ramana, Maya is the key and one should not be attached to the current state of affairs, while for Vivekananda the Vedas can be shaped into such a way that social concern was always a part of Advaita! The contradictions continue to this day. As Fort points out “Ideas seen as laudable to the West, Such as this-worldly technological progress, valuing ecological harmony with nature, or caring for and actively providing humanitarian social service to all persons without distinction, are claimed to be present but go without support (or even reference) in the classical texts”. (20) When Paul Hacker surveyed ethical teachings in Sanskrit literature he found no evidence at all that the phrase “tat tvam asi” was ever used to justify practical ethical concerns, which was Vivekananda’s claim for years. (21) All of this aside, one thing that can be said about Advaita Vedanta as well as the whole of Hinduism, is that it has an amazing ability to adapt and change to the wishes of its practitioners. Called “the embrace that smothers” Hinduism has absorbed many “foreign ideas” before and made them her own and it is clear that the reformers of the past two centuries have done just that, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future.


  1. Rukmani, T.S. Shankaracharya. New Delhi, India. Publications Division, Ministry of Information, Government of India, 1994. P.1
  2. Satprakashananda, Swami. Swami Vivekananda’s Contribution to the Present Age. St. Louis, MO. The Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1978. P.112
  3. Clooney, Francis X. Theology After Vedanta: An Experiment in Comparative Theology. New York, NY, SUNY, 1993. P. 24
  4. Rukmani. P.60
  5. Menon, Y. Keshava. Allen, Richard F. The Pure Principle: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Shankara. Lansing, MI. Michigan State University Press, 1960. P.26.
  6. Vidyaratna, Kokileswar Sastri. An Introduction to Advaita Philosophy: A Critical and Systematic Exposition of Sankara School of Vedanta. Varanasi, India. Bharatiya Publishing House, 1979. P.173.
  7. Zacharias, Ravi. Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message. Nashville, TN. Word Publishing, 2000. P.119.
  8. Pappu, Rama Rao. Ed. Perspectives on Vedanta: Essays in Honor of Professor P.T. Raju. Leiden, The Netherlands. E. J. Brill, 1988. P.57.
  9. Fort, Andrew O. Jinvanmukti in Transformation: Embodied Liberation in Advaita and Neo-Vedanta. New York, NY. SUNY, 1998. P. 130. This book showed some very interesting material on the issue described in my paper. An excellent read.
  10. Rambachan, Anantanand. The Limits of Scriptures: Vivekananda’s Reinterpretation of the Vedas. Honolulu, HI. . University of Hawaii Press, 1994. P. 17
  11. Satprakashananda. P.76
  12. O’Connor, June. The Quest for Political and Spiritual Liberation: A Study in the Thought of Sri Aurobindo Ghose. Cranbury, NJ. Associated University Presses, 1977. P. 32.
  13. O’Connor. P.119
  14. Fort. P.143
  15. Sil, Narasingha P. Swami Vivekananda: A Reassessment. Cranbury, NJ. . Susquehanna University Press, 1997. P104.
  16. Radice. William. Ed. Swami Vivekananda and the Modernization of Hinduism. Delhi, India. Oxford University Press, 1998. P. 2. I found this text very helpful on understanding some of the tensions in colonial India and how the reformers struggled with the bifurcation of their world.
  17. Radice. P.3
  18. Sen, Amiya P. Swami Vivekananda. London, England. Oxford University Press, 2000. P.97.
  19. Satprakashananda. P.96
  20. Fort. P.172
  21. Fort. P.177


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  2. Clooney, Francis X.  Theology After Vedanta: An Experiment in Comparative Theology. New York, NY,  SUNY,  1993.
  3. Flood, Gavin.  An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge, England. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  4. Fort, Andrew O.  Jinvanmukti in Transformation: Embodied Liberation in Advaita and Neo-Vedanta. New York, NY. SUNY, 1998.
  5. Gupta, Bina.  Perceiving in Advaita Vedanta: Epistemological Analysis and Interpretation. Cranbury, NJ.  Associated University Presses, 1991.
  6. Menon, Y. Keshava.  Allen, Richard F.  The Pure Principle: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Shankara. Lansing, MI. Michigan State University Press, 1960.
  7. O’Connor, June.  The Quest for Political and Spiritual Liberation: A Study in the Thought of Sri Aurobindo Ghose. Cranbury, NJ. Associated University Presses, 1977.
  8. Pappu, Rama Rao. Ed. Perspectives on Vedanta: Essays in Honor of Professor P.T. Raju. Leiden, The Netherlands. E. J. Brill, 1988.
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