There is a famous saying that states the entire system of advaita-vedanta can be summarized in half a verse: brahma satyamjagan mithya, jiva-brahma iva-na param. It means that brahman is the only Reality. The world is ultimately illusory and the individual soul is not different from brahman. Brahman and atma are identical and the world is the creation of maya.
The embodied Soul on account of its inherent avidya or ignorance, imagines itself to be different from brahman and thus lives in a world of plurality, imagining itself to be a separate entity. The truth is that everything is brahman and it is only illusion that makes brahman appears to be non-brahman, just as the rope is mistaken to be a snake due to illusion. Avidya vanishes with the dawn of knowledge - the oneness with brahman leading to liberation.
The illusory nature of the world, maya, is perceived after a stage of realization. This was given great importance by Sri Sankara, as the experience was very vivid to him. This maya is His Cosmic play or Lila. According to Sri Aurobindo, the word lila includes the idea of maya and also exceeds it. God is one, but this oneness does not limit him. He appears to be many, because, He so wills. Outside manifestation, He transcends definition and cannot be defined either as one or many. This is the teaching of the Upanishads that further say He is limited and limitless, one without a second and whatever is perceived is He.The manifest world is the play of His consciousness in its infinite aspect and is thus Real. Everything is God.
God is everywhere and each embodied Soul with its seemingly separate individuality is He. God is the first being and He united with para-prakrti or maya, God is its master and can withdraw it into Himself and project it out of Himself whenever He so wills. According to one school of thought,maya and He are identical; according to another school, both are separate and maya always exists, whether latent or manifest. Only by realizing God can all doubts be cleared.
Brahman cannot be expressed by speech or cognized by the mind. It cannot be described, as it is beyond description. It can be expressed only by the term sat-cid-ananda - existence,consciousness and bliss. It is both personal and impersonal.
Being the imminent inner ruler, He is called antaryami, the Soul of Souls - also the Soul of prakrti. Being trascendental, He transcends the universe. He is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe, symbolically represented by Brahma, Vishnu and Siva respectively. He is the origin of all and the end of all. He is the object of devotion and inspirer of morality. He is, in short, all in all.
Brahman or atma, is the only Reality, the unqualified Absolute. There is no duality, no diversity. Even doubt about the Self rests on the Self, as all means of cognition are founded upon It. For the knower, there is no change. Eternal existence is his very nature. He who knows brahman becomes brahman, for It is unknowable by finite intellect. Only by the removal of avidya can the non-separation form brahman be perceived.
The invisible Self is the presiding deity of a person abiding in the center - guiding, sustaining and preserving him. Hindus worship this invisible Self in the form of several deities, like Siva, Kali, Durga, Krishna, Ganesh and Surya. This is not image worship, but the worship of the Self in the form of images. Moreover, as God is all-pervading, we do not have to establish Divinity in the images. It is already present. The ego of a person and the Self are contradictory in appearance, but the basis of the existence of the ego is the Self. Without the Self, nothing exists.
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