Vedanta Philosophy of
Shankaracharya (509-477 BCE) was the originator and main teacher of advaita vedanta
His philosophy forms the basis for the teachings of the path of jnana.
Shankaracharya was the very first or "Adi" Jagadguru. In all his writings he stated that
the soul and maya are not separate powers. The soul is God.
He described God as formless,
without attributes, a non-performer of action and without any kind of internal or external
distinctions. God has only one kind of nature. He is eternal and pure existence, unlimited
knowledge and Divine bliss.
The world is just an indescribable illusion. The individual soul is the radiance or reflection
of God and is also the same as God. In the state of ignorance, the soul is the combined effect
of brahm (God) and maya (illusion). After the soul attains liberation, it realizes its original
nature as brahm.
To illustrate the soul's relationship to God, he used the example of the space in a clay pot.
If the space inside a pot represents the soul, the space outside the pot represents God.
If the pot is broken, the internal space merges with the external space, and the
distinguishing and separating characteristics of the mind end. At this point the
soul becomes God.
To attain this nondual realization, he advised reflecting on "Tatvamasi" - A Vedic
mantra which means, "You are that (God)." According to his teachings, true understanding
of this comes from listening to (shravan) and repeatedly reflecting on this statement
(manan) and absorbing oneself in meditation through its practical experience (nididhyasan).
Eventually, in the ultimate stage of gyan, this evolves into "Aham brahmasmi," or "I am God."
His philosophy became the base for the philosophy and teachings
of the path of jnana, and also were the preceding proposition for the other Jagadgurus
to reveal a more complete and reconciled description of God, soul and maya.