Advaita Vedanta is the
most well-known school of Indian philosophy. Based on the
ancient scriptures, namely the Upanishads and the
Bhagavad Gita, and following the rules of interpretation
of the Brahmasutras, Advaita Vedanta is at once a school
of philosophy, a religion, a theology and a doctrine of
salvation. All these roles are only different aspects of
the various schools of Vedanta, and Advaita stands as the
most important and oldest school of Vedanta.
The Advaita teaching aims at liberation through a dissolution of all individuality, along with the cessation of misery, arising from the unitary knowledge of the Atman's identity with Brahman. All of this is extremely difficult for an ordinary human being, who clings to his individuality as if it were a precious treasure. Therefore, the Gurus in the Advaita tradition prescribe that an earnest student of Advaita Vedanta has to satisfy many qualities, such as patience, fortitude, keen concentration, continence, devotion to God and the Guru, and an ability to discriminate between the eternal and the ephemeral. In order to cultivate such sterling qualities, Vedic study, Yogic practice, and the worship of Isvara in time- honored forms are advised. Thus, Advaita Vedanta synthesizes the study of the ancient Vedas, popular Bhakti-oriented religion and Yoga with a sharp philosophical thinking, to form a solid bed-rock upon which a lot of contemporary Hindu religion rests.
In addition to the traditional Advaita monasteries in India, a number of institutions that draw inspiration from Advaita Vedanta have recently been established. These have an international presence also, and are included in the links below.