The Advaita Worldview

God, World, and Humanity

By Anantanand Rambachan

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Paperback : 9780791468524, 158 pages, August 2006
Hardcover : 9780791468517, 158 pages, August 2006

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Table of contents

1.The Human Problem

The Limits of Knowledge
The Limits of Wealth
The Limits of Pleasure
The Reflective Life

2. The Requirements of Discipleship

The Necessity of Virtue
Sādhana Catustaya and the Immediacy of Knowledge
Eligibility for Discipleship and the Caste System

3. The Nature of the Ātman

Overcoming the Human Problem
Who Am I?
The Ātman and the Body
The Ātman and the Mind
The Ātman as Awareness
The Ātman as Timeless
The Ātman as Ānanda
The Ātman as Non-dual

4. The Source of Valid Knowledge

The Significance of a Valid Means of Knowledge
The Limits of Perception and Inference
The Vedas as the Means of Knowledge for Brahman
Knowledge and the Attainment of Brahman
The Self-Revealing Nature of Brahman
Ignorance as Incomplete Knowledge of Brahman
Knowledge and Experience
The Dilemma of Knowing the Knower
Non-dual Experience and Non-dual Knowledge
The Teacher and the Text
Brahman as Ultimate Mystery

5. Brahman as the World

Denying the Reality and Value of the World
The Origin of the World from Brahman
Brahman as Intelligent and Material Cause
The Universe as Non-different from Brahman
The Doctrine of Māyā
Asymmetrical Relationship between Brahman and World 
Is the World an Illusion?
World as Celebrative Expression of Brahman 
Seeing the One and the Many

6. Brahman as God 

Brahman as Nirgunand Saguna 
Are Hierarchies in Brahman Necessary? 
The Problem of Change and Activity in Brahman 
The Problem of Substance and Attributes 
The Problem of Purpose
The Value of the Creation of Brahman

7. Liberation

The Nature of Ignorance 
Liberation as Identical with the Nature of Brahman 
Embodied or Living Liberation
Liberation as Freedom from Desire
Liberation as the Attainment of Fullness of Self 
Liberation as Freedom from Mortality
Liberation as Freedom from the Cycles of Rebirth 
Liberation as Freedom from Karma
Liberation as Freedom in Action
Liberation as Identification with All Beings
Liberation as Knowing Brahman to be Self and God


A new interpretation of Hindu tradition focusing on the nature of God, the value of the world, and the meaning of liberation.


2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

In this book, Anantanand Rambachan offers a fresh and detailed perspective on Advaita Vedanta, Hinduism's most influential and revered religious tradition. Rambachan, who is both a scholar and an Advaitin, attends closely to the Upanisads and authentic commentaries of Sankara to challenge the tradition and to reconsider central aspects of its current teachings. His reconstruction and reinterpretation of Advaita focuses in particular on the nature of brahman, the status of the world in relation to brahman, and the meaning and relevance of liberation.

Rambachan queries contemporary representations of an impersonal brahman and the need for popular, hierarchical distinctions such as those between a higher (para) and lower (apara) brahman. Such distinctions, Rambachan argues, are inconsistent with the non-dual nature of brahman and are unnecessary when brahman's relationship with the world is correctly understood. Questioning Advaita's traditional emphasis on renunciation and world-denial, Rambachan expands the understanding of suffering (duhkha) and liberation (moksa) and addresses socioeconomic as well as gender and caste inequalities. Positing that the world is a celebrative expression of God's fullness, this book advances Advaita as a universal and uninhibited path to a liberated life committed to compassion, equality, and justice.

Anantanand Rambachan is Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College and is the author of several books, including The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Vedas.