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Title: Śaṅkara's soteriological tradition : aspects of the divine from the perspective of the witnessing self
Author: Schmitt, Jean-Marie
ISNI:       0000 0000 6440 4339
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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This study attempts to show that an appeal to the 'perspective of the witness' is essential to better understand the way Sankara makes sense of the richly diverse Vedanta material. It goes beyond the general understanding that Sankara 'conveniently' arranges such material into the categories of the conventional and the absolute placing texts speaking of the Absolute (Brahman) with properties in the conventional/relative category. It suggests that the fundamental properties associated with a theistic conceptualisation of the Absolute, which all authoritative texts attest to, need not be seen as dogmatic tenets that Sankara has to contend with while expounding his non-dual system of thought. Instead, it argues that they should be regarded as meaningful devices that have for their sole purpose to lead the spiritual seeker to the realization of the absolute unity of being, a result that the Advaita tradition holds as the highest goal of life. Three key conceptions of Brahman are explored: Brahman as the cause of the world, as an entity who is gracious towards his devotees, and as an object of devotion. It is argued that all three can be better understood and appreciated when considered in their proper and larger pedagogical context, whose climax is 'the perspective of the witness.' The first three chapters of this thesis are mainly concerned with epistemological and didactic means that are associated with demonstrating the 'perspective of the witness.' The fourth and fifth chapters evaluate how much help such a standpoint can provide us in our appraisal of these three aspects of the Absolute in the context of Sarikara's writings.
Supervisor: Clooney, Francis X. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Hindu philosophy ; Vedanta ; Self ; Religious aspects ; Hinduism