Vedantha Philosophy and Dharma Sasthra of Sage Vyasa and explanations
by Acharyas are the basis of Our Faith and Practice. Sri Sankara
gave us the Advaitha theory of "Unity of the Human and
Divine Soul" and the Path of Knowledge [Jnana Yoga].
At the same time, he also gave us the rules of worship of God
in six forms as in Agamas for daily practice. Sri Ramanuja
gave us a theory that separates the Divine Soul to be reached
by prayers through the Path of Devotion [Bhakthi Yoga].
Other Acharyas gave many other theories.
also had a Path of pious living Meditation and concentration [Raja
Yoga] with the standards for the Hindu ethics and the Spiritual
Discipline. The Path of Action [Karma Yoga] was given as
the first and early step of the Spiritual Discipline for the uninitiated.
They taught us the rules of doing the duties without greed, lust
or attachment to the fruits of our action. These four paths of
spiritual disciplines and the rituals and prayers as in Vedas
and Agamas were the basis of the practice of culture by the Hindu
In the later age, the concept of devotion developed with various
levels of intense Bhakthi to God in many forms. Many rituals evolved
over the years for daily activities and family events like birth,
marriage and death. These changed from time to time with the arrival
of alien cultures. Many changes occurred in the way of life in
large section of the population with the pressure of material
benefits, greed, lust and ignorance along with alien culture and
education. Religious study got the least preference, as it was
least understood and least beneficial.
first systematic exponent of Advaitha is Sage Gaudapaada,
who is said to have lived in the 8th century A.D. His pupil Govinda
later became the teacher for Sankara. [Some Hindu historians and
scholars claim Sri Sankara lived in the 6th century B.C.] The
Adhvaitha system of Sri Sankara was developed as a commentary
on Vyasa Maharishi's Brahma Suthra and the Vedhantha Philosophy.
Advaitha taught by Sankara is a rigorous, absolute one. Whatever
is, is Brahmam. It is absolutely homogenous by Itself. "Brahmam,
the Absolute, alone is real; this world is unreal; and the Jiva
or individual soul is non-different from Brahmam." It has
contributed to the vast majority of Smartha, Saiva and Saktha
followers, closely following their traditions with some features
of rituals, modifying the Poorva Mimamsa system.