Vedanta talks of oneness of the individual with the Lord, writes SWAMI DAYANANDA SARASWATI
The vision of Vedanta is an equation of the identity between the jiva, individual, and Isvara, the Lord. This vision of oneness, aikya, is not available for perception or inference. Nor is the oneness that is unfolded by Vedanta contradicted by perception or inference. Oneness is purely in terms of understanding the equation. Vedanta does not promise salvation to the soul. In its vision, the atman, the soul is already free from limitations. Freedom from limitation is a fact and the release of the individual from this sense of limitation is the outcome of understanding the equation, therefore, the entire teaching of Vedanta can be expressed in one sentence — tat tvam asi, that thou art. All other sentences in the Upanishads are only meant to prove this equation.
The proofs consist of a number of methods, prakriyas, adopted by the Upanishads, and by the teachers in that tradition, to communicate the vision of the mahavakyas, tat tvam asi, the sentence revealing the oneness of the individual and the Lord. To unfold this identity between the jiva and Isvara, Vedanta employs these prakriyas.
If a system of philosophy is formulated based on these prakriyas, the whole purpose of Vedanta, which is to reveal the reality, vastu, is defeated. Therefore, Vedanta is a pramana only to reveal the oneness of atman, the self, with Isvara. Vedanta is not a pramana to prove the existence of atman, for the only self-existent, self-evident thing in this world is oneself, atman….
One of the main prakriyas is karana-karya vada. Brahmn is presented in the Upanishads as the cause of everything: “From which all these elements have come, by which all these are sustained and unto which all these go back, understand that to be Brahmn.” Further, Brahmn the cause of the world is satya.
The jagat presented in the sruti in the form of five basic subtle and gross elements, is the effect, karya, of satya, the karana. Jagat being an effect, karya is mithya as revealed by the famous vacarambhana-sruti. The sruti presents the karya as neither satya, that which exists; nor tuccha, that which does not exist; but as mithya, that which has a dependent existence. The jiva’s physical body, mind and senses are all within the karya and are, therefore, mithya, but the jiva is not created and its svarupa, nature, is satyam jnanam ananiam, the limitless consciousness that is the reality of everything.
If a product, karya, is non-separate from the karana, the material cause, then the cause and effect are not two separate things; the effect is not separate from the cause and the cause, being what it is, is independent of the effect.
Knowing The Brahmn
The Chandogyopanishad, therefore, makes an opening statement, pratijna, that knowing one thing everything would as well be known. This pratijna is established by proving that the karya is essentially the karana. A clay pot is but clay. If the elemental jagat which includes my physical body, prana senses and mind is from one non-dual Brahmn, then that jagat, being an effect, is non-separate from the cause, Brahmn. Brahmn is the uncreated tvam, you, the self, which is satyam-jnanam-anantam.
The recognition of this fact that I am that satyam brahma and that this jagat is non-separate from me, while I am independent of the jagat, is the result of the teachings of Vedanta. That recognition of oneself as sarvatman, as the whole, is the ultimate end, called moksha. The Upanishads, praising the one who has the knowledge of oneself as everything, say, ‘that one crosses sorrow.’ The Upanishads rightly say that there is no samsara for the person because he is free from all sense of limitations.
Teaching Tradition Of Advaita Vedanta, Arsha Vidya Research And Publication Trust, Chennai