Vedānta: Scriptural Sources


Author: Rami Sivan, Priest, Dharma teacher, counselor, Gov. Advisor (1998-present)
May 15th, 2020

The Vedānta is based upon 3 scriptural sources known as Prasthāna Trayam:—

1. Upaṇiṣads

2. Bhagavad Gītā

3. Brahma-sūtras

The last sections of each Veda are the texts known as the Upaniṣads and their central topic of investigation is the Ground of Being, called Brahman. These are the sources for all the doctrines taught in Vedānta.

The Gītā is a portion of the epic Mahābhārata and is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna as reported by Sañjaya. It is considered to be a summary of all the Upaṇiṣads.

The principle text of Vedānta is the Brahma-sūtra which is a work which attempts to harmonise, rationalise and systematize the variant teachings found in the Upaṇiṣads Tradition attributes this work to one Bādarāyāṇa[1] whose actual date is unknown. The dates given range from 500 B.C.E. to as late as 200 C.E.

The Existential Problems of the Upanishads

The sages of the Upanishads were concerned with the following metaphysical problems.

· What is Self (ātman)?

· What is the Supreme Reality (Brahman)?

· What is the Source from which all things originate, by which all live and into which all dissolve?

· What is that by knowing which everything can be known?

· What is that by knowing which the unknown becomes known?

· What is that by knowing which one can attain immortality?

These questions in themselves are indicative of the fundamental belief of the Indian scholars that there is an all-pervasive Reality underlying all things; from which they arise, in which they exist and into which they ultimately all return. And that there is some Reality by knowing which immortality or cessation of suffering can be attained.

[1] Some scholars contend that Bādarāyāṇa is an alias for Vyāsa, the celebrated mythical sage who is regarded as the one who originally compiled the Vedas, the Mahābhārata, the Purāṇas, and other portions of Hindu sacred literature as well as the Vedānta-sūtras; but the title Vyāsa (“compiler”) seems to have been given to any great compiler or author.