What are the Different Schools
The different schools of
Vedanta vary around whether they consider the Divine Reality
(Brahman) to be a pure unity, or whether there is some degree of
duality between the soul and the Divine. All are spiritual
philosophies emphasizing the Divine as the supreme reality. Advaita
Vedanta or non-dualistic Vedanta, whose most important traditional
teacher is Shankaracharya, teaches that the soul and God are
Visishtadvaita, or qualified
non-duality, based on the works of Ramanuja, teaches that the soul
and God are both the same and different. Dvaita, or dualistic
Vedanta of Madhva, teaches that God and the soul though deeply
related are different, like lover and beloved. Lord Chaitanya's
school of Acintyabhedabheda accepts both difference and
non-difference and says Truth is indescribable. There are several
other schools as well.
All these systems accept the
law of karma, the importance of surrender to God, ethical
disciplines like non-violence, and the practice of various yogic and
meditational methods. Even dualistic Vedanta is not dualistic in the
sense of Western religions, which in the case of Christianity may
require the resurrection of the physical body and the soul living in
that body in Heaven worshipping God in the distance.
Dualistic Vedanta conceives
the difference between God and the soul to be very subtle. All
systems of Vedanta see the true relationship between God and the
soul to occur only in Samadhi or a state of deep spiritual
absorption which goes far beyond the limitations of the ordinary
mind and senses, in which the physical body is all but forgotten.
They all regard that we can experience God much more vividly than
anything else we have ever known.