Vedanta (Devanagari: वेदान्त, Vedānta) is a principal branch of Hindu philosophy. The word Vedanta is a tatpurusha compound of veda "knowledge" and anta "end, conclusion", translating to "the culmination of the Vedas". Vedānta is also called Uttara Mimamsa, or the latter enquiry, and is often paired with Purva Mimamsa, the former enquiry. Purva Mimamsa, usually simply called Mimamsa, deals with explanations of the fire-sacrifices of the Vedic mantras and Brahmanas, while Vedanta explicates the esoteric teachings of the Āraņyakas and the Upanishads.
Vedānta literature consists of the Āraņyakas (the "forest scriptures"), and the Upanishads, composed from ca. the 6th century BC until modern times.
While the traditional Vedic 'karma kanda', or ritualistic components of religion, continued to be practiced through the Brahmins as meditative and propitiatory rites to guide society to self-knowledge, more jnana- or knowledge-centered understandings began to emerge. These are mystical streams of Vedic religion that focused on meditation, self-discipline and spiritual connectivity rather than on rituals.
Etymologically, veda means "knowledge" and anta means "end", so the literal meaning of the term "Vedānta" is "the end of knowledge" or "the ultimate knowledge" or "matter appended to the Veda". In earlier writings, Sanskrit 'Vedānta' simply referred to the Upanishads, the most speculative and philosophical of the Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vedanta came to mean the school of philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedanta considers scriptural evidence, or shabda pramana, as the most authentic means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyakssa, and logical inference, or anumana, are considered to be subordinate (but valid).
The systematization of Vedantic ideas into one coherent treatise was... [continues]
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