Who to Follow in Advaita: Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, or Raman Maharshi?

Introduction

Advaita is a school of Hindu philosophy that teaches the nonduality of the Self (Atman) and the Absolute (Brahman). This means that there is no separation between the individual soul and the Supreme Being. We are all one with God, and the world around us is an illusion.

There have been many great teachers of Advaita throughout history, but three of the most prominent are Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, and Raman Maharshi. Each of these teachers offered a unique perspective on Advaita, and they all have something to teach us.

Adi Shankaracharya

Adi Shankaracharya was a 8th-century Indian philosopher and theologian who is considered the founder of Advaita Vedanta. He is said to have traveled all over India, debating with scholars and establishing four monasteries (mathas) to spread the teachings of Advaita.

Shankara’s writings are some of the most important texts in Advaita philosophy. His most famous work is the Brahma Sutra Bhasya, a commentary on the Brahma Sutras, which are a collection of philosophical aphorisms. Shankara also wrote commentaries on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

Shankara’s Advaita is a rigorous and intellectual philosophy. He argues that the world is an illusion (maya) and that the Self is identical to Brahman. He uses logic and reason to refute the arguments of his opponents.

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was a 19th-century Indian monk and philosopher who was a disciple of Ramakrishna. He is best known for his lectures in the West, where he introduced Advaita Vedanta to a new audience.

Vivekananda’s Advaita is more accessible and practical than Shankara’s. He emphasizes the importance of experience and intuition over logic and reason. He also teaches that Advaita can be used to solve the problems of the world, such as poverty, inequality, and violence.

Vivekananda was a charismatic and inspiring speaker. He had a gift for communicating complex philosophical ideas in a way that was easy to understand. He also had a deep compassion for humanity and a commitment to social justice.

Raman Maharshi

Raman Maharshi was a 20th-century Indian sage who lived in a cave in Tiruvannamalai, India. He is considered one of the most important teachers of Advaita in recent times.

Raman Maharshi’s Advaita is simple and direct. He taught that the Self is already perfect and complete, and that there is nothing to do or achieve. He also taught that the only way to realize this truth is through self-enquiry (atma vichara).

Raman Maharshi was a silent sage. He rarely spoke, and when he did, his words were often cryptic and enigmatic. However, his presence was deeply transformative. People from all over the world came to him for guidance, and many experienced profound spiritual awakenings in his presence.

Who to Follow?

So, who should you follow in Advaita? The answer is: it depends on you. Each of the three teachers mentioned in this blog post has something unique to offer. Shankara’s Advaita is rigorous and intellectual, Vivekananda’s Advaita is accessible and practical, and Raman Maharshi’s Advaita is simple and direct.

The best way to decide who to follow is to read the works of all three teachers and see who resonates with you the most. You may also want to attend satsangs or workshops with teachers who are inspired by these three masters.

Ultimately, the goal of Advaita is to realize the nonduality of the Self and the Absolute. No matter which teacher you follow, the most important thing is to practice self-enquiry and to remain open to the possibility of awakening.

Conclusion

Advaita is a profound and transformative philosophy that can lead to the highest level of spiritual realization. The three teachers mentioned in this blog post are all great examples of how Advaita can be lived in a practical and meaningful way.

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