Monthly Archives: July 2014
Prasthānatraya of Vedānta
The Upaniṣads, the Bhagavadgītā, and the Brahmasūtra are known as the prasthāna–traya – the triple foundation/cannon of Vedānta. Prasthāna means ‘foundation’ and thus, these three constitute the three foundations of – Śruti – revelation, Smṛti – remembrance, and Nyāya – reason. They are respectively known as, the Upaniṣads or Śruti-prasthāna, the Bhagavadgītā or Smṛti-prasthāna, and the Brahmasūtra or Nyāya-prasthāna.
Vedas are referred to as Śruti, and since the Upaniṣads form part of the Vedas, their name as Śruti–prasthāna is justified. The Bhagavadgītā stands next to the Upaniṣads with reference to authoritativeness, and is considered almost an equal. Bhagavadgītā or ‘Song of the Lord’ – contains the message of Lord Kṛṣṇa to the humanity. It forms part of the epic, the Mahābhārata, which is a Smṛti or remembered text. Thus, Bhagavadgītā is known as the Smṛti–prasthāna. The Brahmasūtra represents the standpoint of reason because; it sets forth the Vedāntic teachings in a logical order. It is also calledUttara-Mīmāṃsā-Sūtra since it is an enquiry into the final sections of the Vedas; Vedānta-Sūtra since it is the aphoristic text of Vedānta; Śārīraka-Sūtra since it is concerned with the nature and destiny of the embodied jīva; and Bhikṣu-Sūtra since those who are most competent to study this are the Sannyāsīs, or renunciates who are bhikṣus.
Thus, we see that the basic sourcebook of Vedānta, and its basic doctrine is based upon Śruti, and supported by Smṛti and reasoning (Nyāya). In light of this, the central teaching of all three sourcebooks will be posited to be one and the same, i.e. Brahman. Read the rest of this entry