Advaita Vedanta is a school of Hindu theory and religious practice, and one of the exemplary Indian ways to profound realization. The term Advaita alludes to its thought that the spirit (genuine Self, Atman) is the same as the supernatural Reality (Brahman). As indicated by the conviction, the devotees look for otherworldly freedom through obtaining vidyā (knowledge) of one’s actual way of life as Atman, and the identity of Atman and Brahman.
Advaita Vedanta is the oldest surviving sub-school of Vedanta,which is one of the six Hindu philosophy of insight. Despite the fact that its underlying foundations follow back to the first thousand years BCE, the most noticeable type of the Advaita Vedanta is considered to be eighth century researcher Adi Shankara.
Advaita Vedanta gives importance to Jivanmukti, the possibility that moksha (flexibility, freedom) is achievable in this life as opposed to Indian philosophies that underline Videhamukti, or moksha after death.The school utilizes terms, for example, Brahman, Atman, Maya, Avidya, contemplation and others that are found in real Indian religious traditions, yet translates them in its own specific manner for its hypotheses of moksha. Advaita Vedanta is one of the most studied classical Indian thoughts.
Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta.
According to this theory, the different categories of consciousness are classified as:
- absolute consciousness (brahma–caitanya)
- cosmic consciousness (īśvara-caitanya)
- individual consciousness (jīva-caitanya)
- indwelling consciousness (sāksi-caitanya).
However,the true nature of consciousness is by singular and non-dual. Advaita Vedanta says that other than than energy (prāna), there is another stratum of the universe called brahma-caitanya, which is even finer than energy. The strtum is further composed of sat–cit–ānanda:
- absolute existence (sat)
- pure consciousness (cit)
- bliss (ānanda).
The question that arises in our mind is that just how did absolute consciousness (unchanging and stationary) become this world of multiplicity and change?
Shankaracharya introduced an answer for this mystery with his hypothesis of superimposition. From the definitive point of view, absolute consciousness did not turn into this world; it just seems to have done as such. Shankara gave the great case of the snake and the rope:
We see a snake on the road at night, but as we approach the snake and flash a torch on it, we realize that it is actually a rope.
In the previously mentioned illustration, the snake is our universe and it is a superimposition on the rope which is Brahmin(absolute consciousness).
There is no more causal relationship between this world-appearance and Brahman than there is between the snake and the rope. However, the universe has no existence apart from Brahman, just as the snake has no existence apart from the rope. Since it is possible for a rope to be mistaken for a snake, it is also possible for something to apparently exist without being real.
Advaita Vedanta states that the world both exists and does not exist. By the ‘does not exist’, it is not supposed that the world is an illusion without a basis or a shadow without substance.It means that the world as it appears to us is unreal because this world-appearance has no absolute existence. This superimposition is due to Maya. Maya is often compared to a veil, a cloud, or a screen.
Comparison between Mind and Consciousness in Western Psychology and Advaita Vedanta.
The most significant difference between western and eastern psychology is that the eastern psychology differentiates the mind from consciousness and western psychology does not.
In fact western psychology understands mind in terms of consciousness, i.e. the consciousness is a component of the mind. In this case, consciousness and mind are equal in our ordinary experience but not in the absolute consciousness. When we talk about ‘mind’ in Vedanta, we refer to what is later explained as the ‘inner instrument’ (Antahkarana) as different from the ‘outer instruments’ (Bahyakarana).
The term Mind bears a narrower as well as a wider meaning in the sāstras. Thus in the saying ‘from where speech together with mind (Manas) withdraws failing to reach’ (referring to Brahman) the word Manas (mind) is evidently used for the whole ‘Inner Instrument’. In strictly philosophical literature however, the term Manas is almost always used in a defined sense so that it cannot be translated into ‘Mind’ as understood by Western psychologists. It is only then one function of the inner instrument. Indian ‘Mind’ is distinguished from Western Mind in this that the former as such is not Consciousness but a material force enveloping Consciousness, the two in association producing the Consciousness-unconsciousness of Western Mind. Pure Consciousness (Cit) is not an attribute of Mind. It is beyond Mind being independent of it. It is immanent in Mind and is the source of its illumination and apparent Consciousness.
According to the Vedanta … Cit is pure consciousness Itself. Mind is a real or apparent negation or limitation or determination of that. Mind in fact, in itself, that is considered as apart from Cit (from which in fact it is never separate) is an unconscious force which in varying degree obscures and limits consciousness, such limitation being the condition of all finite experience. Cit is thus Consciousness.