In recorded history perhaps the person with the greatest contribution to the Vedanta tradition and Hinduism in general could be none other than Adi Shankaracharya. There is no unanimity among scholars regarding the date of Shankara. Some scholars assign Shankara to the 5th century B. C, some others fix the date as 8th century A. The official website of Sringeri Matha, a centre of learning started by Adi Shankara in South India, mentions his birth year as 8th century.
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It makes you slap yourself on the forehead and say- Of course! It stands to reason! I love the homeliness of the ideas and the staggering magnificence of the Idea. This book is exactly what it says on the cover-understanding the fundamental problem, meaning, it is not so much about Vedanta itself, but why we need Vedanta, the purpose of it, how we should approach the study, how it differs from material knowledge.
This book is a refreshing and new way of looking at ourselves. Swami Dayananda uses the word "inadequate" to describe the human problem, that we continuously see ourselves as Swami Dayananda gives a very simple and thorough introduction to Vedanta. Swami Dayananda uses the word "inadequate" to describe the human problem, that we continuously see ourselves as inadequate, searching to become adequate.
This word conveys the fundamental human problem, and Swami Dayananda does a beautiful job of expanding on this idea. One of the things that resonated with me, was, how we humans use methods that are limited to achieve results that are limited in hopes of making us feel complete, never realizing our limitlessness that is already there, but covered by ignorance, of which only knowledge can rid us of that ignorance.
It is a beautiful way of understanding that what we seek is already within us, but we always look outside of ourselves for peace, happiness, and fulfillment. I appreciate that he gives the definitions and expands on Sanskrit terminology.
This book is based on opening talks Swami Dayananda gave at the start of a 3-year course on Vedanta in in California, so it makes sense that he reviews what he has already gone over in each chapter for us, as readers as he builds on ideas and brings them together to give more well-rounded knowledge.
My favorite chapter, if I had to choose one, is the last chapter on Vedanta. He makes clear that Vedanta, refers to the end chapter in each book of the Vedas Rigveda, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva , also the second section of each book. He explains the differences in the first section and second section in the Vedas and who is fit for the study of Vedanta.
There are so many other nuggets of wisdom in this book- I highly recommend you read it for yourself! This is a quick read I read it in a couple of days.
Introduction to Vedanta
1.4 The Role of Vedanta