CHENNAI: Advaita philosophy upholds that the Supreme Brahman alone exists and hence is the only reality and truth. All else is mere illusion and hence unreal. The rope and the snake analogy is used to illustrate this truth — a false assumption is believed to be true until such time when the error is accepted and the truth recognised. It only shows that very easily our ignorance can influence our thought and action and hence we should pursue the truth guardedly. This world and its attractions are evanescent and one should strive for the permanent goal.

Among Adi Sankara's disciples who propagated this through their works and teachings, Sureshwara, in his work Naishkarmya Siddhi encapsulates this philosophy in a brief and telling manner. Salvation is the goal of life and this implies freedom from the cycle of birth that is attained only by dissolving the ego sense that every Jivatma possesses. Spiritual disciplines include listening to teachings of the Vedanta where the nature of the Supreme Brahman, the universe that is a manifestation of Him and of the Jivatma who is subjected to the cycle of birth until salvation, etc., are taught.

In a lecture, Sri N. Veezhinathan said that though the knowledge of Vedanta can explain these truths, they will remain mere words until the aspirant is able to internalise them as an intuitive experience. Only when the veil of ignorance is cut asunder by meditation on the Self, can the truth that the Self is the essence of the ever-effulgent consciousness, pure and blissful be known.

The path of Karma offers the Jivatma the options of engaging in the path of action, or refraining from action or choosing to do the action in a different manner. Prahlada advises the Asura boys on the merits of engaging in detached actions when all duties are performed with the notion of dedicating them to God. This is the only way by which the senses can be controlled.

This is known as purification of the mind (Chitta Suddhi) that is a prerequisite for Jnana. Lord Krishna rightly advises not renunciation of duties but the renunciation of the fruits of one's actions.