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by SS Yogi.
The Vedanta philosophy, as it is generally called at the present day, really comprises all the various sects that now exist in India. The word Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas – the Vedas being the scriptures of the Hindus.
The Vedas are divided mainly into two portions; the Karma kanda and Jnana kanda – the work portion and the knowledge portion.To the karma-kanda being the famous hymns and the rituals of Brahmanas. Those books which treat of spiritual matters apart from ceremonials are called Upanishads. Upanishads belong to the Jnana-kanda, or knowledge portion. It is not that all the Upanishads were composed as a separate portion of the Vedas. Some are interspersed among the rituals and at least one is in the Samhita, or hymn portion. Sometimes the term Upanishad is applied to books which are not included in the Vedas- e.g. the Bhagavad Gita; but as a rule it is applied to the philosophical treaties scattered through the Vedas. These treaties have been collected, and are called the Vedanta.
The Vedanta, then practically forms the scriptures of the Hindus, and all the systems of philosophy that are orthodox have to take it as their foundation. Even the Buddhas and Jains, when it suits their purpose, will quote a passage from the Vedanta as authority. All schools of philosophy in India, although they claim to have been based upon the Vedas, took different names for their systems. The last one, the system of Vyasa, took its stand upon the doctrines of Vedas more than the previous systems did, and made an attempt to harmonize the preceding philosophers, such as the Sankhya and the Nyaya, with the doctrines of the Vedanta.So it is specially called the Vedanta philosophy; and the Sutras or aphorisms of Vyasa are, in modern India, the basis of Vedanta philosophy. Again, these Sutras of Vyasa have been variously explained by different commentators. In general there are three sorts of commentators in India now; from their interpretations have arisen three systems of philosophy and sects. One is the dualistic, or Dyaita, a second is the qualified non-dualistic, or Vishishtadvaita; and a third is the non-dualistic, or Advaita. Of these the dualistic and the qualified non-dualistic include the largest number of Indian people.
All the Vedantists agree on three points. They believe in God, in the Vedas as revealed, and in cycles.The belief about cycles is as follows. All matter throughout the Universe is the outcome of one primal matter called Akasha; and all force, whether gravitation, attraction or repulsion , or life, is the outcome of one primal force called Prana. Prana acting on Akasha is creating or projecting the universe. At the beginning of a cycle, Akasha is motionless, unmanifested. Then Prana begins to act, more and more, creating grosser and grosser forms out of Akasha – plants, animals, men, stars and so on. After an incalculable time this evolution ceases and involut
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