Home | Ved


Previous | Next

4-Vedaant or Prasthaan-Trayee
See  also  Darshan

The term "Ved" has been derived from the Sanskrit word "Vid" which means "to know" and "Ant" means "the end"; so Vedaant means "the end of wisdom". Or Vedaant means "The ultimate knowledge", or "The End of Ved" or "After Ved", or "Concluding Part of Ved". All this is philosophy. It is the system of Indian philosophy that expounds the theory of non-dualism. It is alternately called "Uttar-Meemaansaa" and is one of the 6 Hindu philosophies (see Darshan) discussing the nature of the Universe and man. Three books - Upanishad, Bhagvad Geetaa, and Brahm Sootra; are said to be Vedaant. Together they are called Prasthaan Traya - triple cannon of Vedaant.

(1) The Upanishad constitute the revealed text (Shruti - the heard ones), thus are called Shruti Prasthaan.
(2) The Bhagavad-Geetaa, since it is a part of Mahaabhaarat, which is classified under Smriti (secondary text taken from Ved), is called Smriti Prasthaan. A popular verse compares Upanishad with cow, Geetaa with milk, Krishn to the milkman, Arjun to the calf and the wise people to who drink that milk.
(3) The third one, the Brahm-Sootra is regarded as Nyaaya Prasthaan, because it sets forth the teachings of Vedaant in logical order. It is also known as Vedaant Sootra, or Shaareerik Sootra, or Bhikshu Sootra, or Uttar Meemaansaa Sootra. Brahm Sootra is written by Badaraayan. It is divided into four chapters (Adhyaaya), each chapter consists of four Pada (parts) and each part has a number of sections (Adhikaran), and each Adhikaran has one or more Sootra (Shlok or verse). According to Aadi Shankaraachaarya, its number of sections is 192 and number of Sootra is 555. And all the three combined are called "Prasthaan-Trayee".

(2) A term first used by Baadaraayan (690-610 BC) for the knowledge contained in the Upanishad regarding man, God and their relationship Vedaant is also called Uttar Meemaansaa and is one of the six Hindu philosophies discussing the nature of the Universe and man. It is solely based on the genuine Upanishad. Vedaant was expounded by Shankaraachaarya (830 AD) as A-Dwaitvaad (non-Dualism); by Raamaanuj (1100 AD) as Vishisht A-Dwaitvaad (Qualified non-Dualism); and by Madhwaachaarya (1270 AD) as Dualism (Dwaitvaad), See also Darshan.

Vedaant Saar
Commentary on "Vedaant Sootra" of Baadaraayan by Raamaanujaachaarya.

Vedaant Sootra
Name of the work by Baadaraayan, also called Brahm Sootra, claiming to present the entire contents of the genuine Upanishad in the form of 555 short aphorisms in four chapters. [By comparison Shree Mad Bhaagvat contains 18,000 full Shlok.] The term Vedaant has recently become more popular meaning "the Final Message of the Ved".

It is sometimes possible that we forget the real meaning of some of the common and popular terms. The term Vedaant is one such example. While some people understand the term as useless discussion or some thing not understandable, others consider that all that concerns Adhyaatm is Vedaant. Vedaant means the last part of Ved (Ved + Ant). Among the parts of Sanhitaa, Braahman, Aranyakaa and Upanishad, the last one is Upanishad. According to Meemaansak, the part of Ved which relates to its definite meaning (Vedaarth) is Vedaant. "Ant" also means Nirnaya (decision). (Vedo Vedaarth, tasyaanto nirnayah).

According to Meemaansak - "Mantraashch braahmanam cha Vedah" - Mantra are helpful for Yagya etc, and Braahman provide us the rules, explanations, stories, instances etc. While the Aaranyak are the discussions part and these end in the Upanishad. The discussions on the Braahman constitute the Poorv Meemaansaa and those that discuss on the Aaranyak and the Upanishad constitute the Uttar Meemaamsaa. Uttar Meemaansaa is also called as Vedaant Meemaansaa which indicates that these discuss the Upanishad.

Mantra Braahman which are useful for the Yagya and other rituals are termed as Karm Kaand; and
the Aaranyak - Upanishad which do not attach importance to the Karm are called Gyaan Kaand.

The number of Upanishad according to Muktikopanishat is 1108.
According to Weber, the number is 235.
As per Max Mueller, it is 170.
But all these are not parts of the Ved and so they are not Vedaant.

As per tradition and from times immemorial, the number of Upanishad which are considered as as parts of the Ved is only 13.
Six Aaranyak Upanishad, 4 Sanhitaa Upanishad and 3 independent Upanishad.

Aitareya, Ken, Chhaandogya, Taittireeya, Brihadaaranyak, and Kausheetikee - these 6 Upanishad are Aaranyak Upanishad.
Eesh, Kath, Shwetaashwatar and Mytraayan - these 4 Upanishad are the Sanhitaa Upanishad.
Mundak, Maanddookya and Prashn - these 3 Upanishad are 3 independent Upanishad.

Shankar recognized only 10 of these and excluded Kausheetikee, Shwetaashwatar and Mytraayan in his Bhaashya although he has quoted from the first two Upanishad in his Sootra Bhaashya. Mytraayan is not touched either by Shankar or Baadaraayan.

The Vedaant thus depends on these Upanishad and derives strength from the Brahm Sootra of Baadaraayan.
When one looks casually at the Upanishad, they look like encouraging different philosophies.
However, if a detailed study is made, these reflect a single philosophy only as demonstrated by Baadaraayan.
This was later elucidated by Shankar.

The Upanishad (Shruti Prasthaan), Bhagavad Geetaa (Smriti Prasthaan), and Brahm Sootra (Nyaaya Prasthaan) constitute in essence the Vedaant Shaastra.

There were several great men like Jaimini, Ashmaratya, Oudulomi, Kaashakritsna, Baadaree, Kaarshnaajinee etc, before Baadarayan also who had defined Vedaant. However, Vedaant got a firm foundation because of Baadaraayan. But the Sootra got the status of a Darshan after Shankar came up with his Bhaashya. Shankar wrote his Bhaashya with the sole purpose of showing the Upanishad Darshan (Samanjasamidam Upanishadam Darshanam). He effectively demonstrated that, "na saankhya Gyaanen ved nirapekshan yogamaargena vaa nihshreya samaadhi gamyate, shrutirhi vaidikaat Aatmaikatwa vigyaanaadanyat nih shreyas saadhanam vaarayati" (BS Shankar Bhaashya 2.1.3.)


Home | Ved


Previous | Next

Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 03/20/13