The beauty of Vedanta lies in its tolerance towards world view. In relation with realization of the eternal truths – there are not one but three broad perspectives that find place next to each other. When observed superficially they not only seem unique but many a times contradictory to each other. However these three schools of thought have been in existence and have been recognised and followed by a large set of believers.
The first school of thought is that of Advaita as propounded by Shri Adi Shankara. This school puts forth the thought that man, god and universe (objects) are all manifestation of the same force. It talks about non-duality. It talks about the ONENESS of atman and Brahman. In essence it says ‘You are God’
The second school of thought is that of Visishtadvaita, qualified non-dualism wherein Brahman alone exists but is characterised by multiplicity. It realises the independent manifestation of Ishvara in the sentient (Jiva) and the Jagat (insentient). This school of thought as put forth by Ramanujacharya, considers matter and souls are real and are creation of God. Both these manifestation are eternally real and distinct.
The third school of thought that finds its place in Vedanta is Dvaita or dualism. This doctrine by Madhavacharya considers a strict distinction between GOD and his creations. This school of thought considers GOD to be a supreme power with substantial distinction from Jiva (soul) and Jagat (material energy). Ishwara is independent while the other two are dependent entities.
As one looks at the expanse one can see the canvas with strokes from thought of absolute oneness to one that talks about marked separation.
However each of these schools of thought perfect within themselves the method of realising one’s inner SELF. A follower from any school can reach fulfilment and realization.
It is surprising to note that while these three different approaches are independent and complete, none of the schools of thought seem to be indulging in corrective action on the others. There is a healthy co-existence amongst the principles that allow acceptance of alternate world-view even if it sounds contradictory to one’s beliefs. The magnitude of openness practiced by the founders of these paths – to further their individual thinking while allowing others to experiment theirs is something that you seldom find in the ‘REAL’ world among the lesser mortals!
When one studies Vedanta to pick up lessons on life, one also gets touched by these lessons for life that makes life not only complete but more enjoyable!