Advaita-Vedanta and Sri Ramana: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar
Advaita is a Sanskrit term and means “not two”. It refers to the philosophy of nondualism. There is a lot of literature on Advaita Vedanta that can be found in any good library and, of course, the Internet.
Excellent and reliable information on classical Advaita-Vedanta and the saints associated with that tradition can be found at the following links.
Usually you will see the term Advaita Vedanta, where Advaita serves as an adjective for Vedanta (Nondual Vedanta). Dvaita is the Sanskrit term that refers to Dualism.
The best known modern exponent of the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, who tied it to the practice of persistent Self-Inquiry, is Ramana Maharishi, the Sage of Arunachala. The method of Self-Inquiry involves asking oneself the question, “Who Am I” and reflecting deeply on the source of one’s identity that is felt in everyone as the sense of simply being or existing. See the following article for more details on Self-Inquiry as the Science of Self-Realization.
Ramana went to the sacred hill of Arunchala when he was around 17 and stayed there for more than half a century. During that period, he answered questions on Vedanta and other philosophical and religious systems. He taught that the philosophy of Advaita-Vedanta is given practical application through Self-Inquiry.
Sri Ramana emphasized the system of Self-Inquiry while expressing support for the techniques of meditation, yoga and pranayama. He advocated that until the mind was ripe enough to engage in full time Self-Inquiry, one should make use of and engage in other spiritual practices such as mantra japa, prayer, concentration, and meditation.
Self-Realization in Advaita refers to the recognition of our innate state of awareness which by its very nature is that of perfection and freedom. The ancients called it the Heart. It is also referred to as Sat-Chit-Ananda or Knowledge, Consciousness, and Bliss.
According to Advaita, this Absolute Consciousness is with us all the time and is, in fact, our true nature. That is who we are. Due to the fluctuations of the mind, the true nature of the Self is not recognized.
In Yogic practice, the Self reveals It Self in Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Self-Recognition becomes crystal clear as the Self simply shines forth in its own nature.
One cannot go beyond Nirvikalpa Samadhi for final liberation, if the karmas (desires) have a strong hold. According to the classic teachings, many great yogis have to be reborn because they are not fully able to transcend their attachments. See for example, the story of Jada Bharata as told by Professor V. Krishnamurthy.
Beyond Nirvikalpa Samadhi, there is Sahaj Samadhi only. Not much can be said about it. It refers to the final liberation, the Sahaj or “natural” state. The Sahaj state describes the realization of the Sage for whom nondual consciousness has become natural and divine communion is continuous (unbroken by any other state of consciousness including deep sleep, dream sleep or Superconscious states of any type).