The core or essence of Vedanta can be said as - "All that is, is Divine." It is appropriately expressed in the words of Saint Namdev -
Sab Gobind Hai, Sab Gobind hai,
Gobind bin nahi koi."
It means: Each and everything is divine, there is nothing other than divine.
It may be a form of matter, nature, living beings; anything that exists is the form of divine and has it's origination in the Divine. Except the tradition of Jainism and Buddhism; all other religions accept that all creatures are made up of Divine. All that can be seen or felt is nothing but the Ultimate source. Though there are differences in the form, color or appearance of different beings but the formless residing within each of us is the same.
It is rightly said in the words of Shankeracharya -
"Brahma Satyam, Jagat Mithya."
It means: "The existence of the divine is real, is the truth; and that of the world is fake."
The world seems to exist but in actuality it is not. For example, a goldsmith makes different ornaments of gold having different shape and size, but each of them is gold. Similarly, there is difference in creatures when we look at them from outside but within them lying is the same divinity. Lord Krishna has revealed the secrets of Vedanta in Bhagwad Geeta.
Jesus says - "In the beginning there was Word, logos and the entire world is created from that Word - the Logos." This Word, the Logos, existing within each of us is the Godliness that we all are composed of.
The last prophet of Islam, Hazrat Mohammed says:
"LA ILLAH IL LALLAH,
It means: The creatures created by the creator are not different from Itself; and the term Mohammed means the one in whom the divine has illuminated its Light, is like a mirror that reflects Godliness." Any enlightened being, or a Master, or a Buddha, or a Tirthankar, or a Paigambar are those one's who have had a communion with the divine. It is the Light of the Divine that descends in Him. He does not exist any more; in Him is the abode of the Divine.
There are 5 pillars of the Islamic religion - "Toheed (Non-duality), Roja, Namaj (Holy Prayer), Jakat (contributing for religious cause) and Qurbani (Sacrifice)."
Hazrat Mohammed has placed Toheed - non-duality as the most important one. This feeling of oneness is also the base of Vedanta. Non-duality means - everything is Divine and all the forms are created from that Divine source only. The different Acharyas or Gurus while explaining the concept of Non-duality have made slight differences. Some have said that the Existence rules through itself and some others have said that Maya is it power. The conscious as well as the unconscious all are its forms. The visible and the invisible all have its source in the divinity. And the Masters of all religions have accepted the existence of Brahma. Gautama Buddha and Mahavir have not in reality denied the existence of the Ultimate. They have either not spoken about this or have used some other term for the same. But giving different names for that eternal and infinite does not deny the reality. Experiences of all different saints are one and the same. All those who have known, have realized the same thing that we all are composed of the same source. This is the ancient historical background of Vedanta.
Veda literally means knowledge. All those who have known have brought them together in a proper order. But in true sense, the actual Vedanta can never be compiled in books.
Vedanta actually occurs between a Master and the disciple. Where a Master sits, where a satsang occurs, meditation, Sumiran and Samadhi takes place, is where Vedanta is re-lived. And during the journey within, whatever experiential takes place is known as Vedanta, as it is beyond the Vedas. A Veda can be engulfed in scriptures but the experience of Vedanta cannot be.
Initially I said, Upanishad, Brahmasutra and Bhagwad Geeta are the books of Vedanta. But truly speaking, there is no book of Vedanta; it is a pure experience. Vedanta is not a bookish knowledge. Vedanta is beyond Vedas, religious books and scriptures; it is the experience of the saints.
Holy books and scriptures prove to be helpful to the seekers before the experience of the Ultimate self. They are essential to awaken the thirst.
And when a quest, a thirst to know the self has awakened, a seeker is not away from the experience of Vedanta. The term Upanishads means to sit besides the one who has known. And in this way, when a disciple sits besides a Master and follows the instructions and works properly in His guidance that leads him to Meditation, Sumiran - Remembrance of the Divine, Samadhi and the experience of the self is called as Vedanta.
ARE THE DIVINE AND WORLD OPPOSITE TO EACH OTHER?
Shankeracharya had created the concept or distinction of the divine and world, matter and God. Sankhya says - there is creator and creatures; of Existence and God. And in this way it propagates the perception of duality.
But in Vedanta, Shankeracharya says - that creatures and the creator are composed of the same stuff. Ultimately, He has said that Maya is the creating power or energy of God through which It accomplishes the task of creation of this entire Existence. In this way, the Maya - Illusion and the Brahma - the Divine are connected, they are not opposites but the illusion is formed out of the divinity.
All that is visible in the world - may it be dead or alive, living or non-living are made up of the same consciousness dwelling everywhere. Thus, instead of calling them opposite of each other, it is better to call them complimentary of each other. In the vision of Saints, the world is not different from the creator but they have considered the world the expansion of the divine energy itself.
Kabir Sahib says-
"Man Maya to Ek Hai, Maya Malahu Samaya.
Teen Lok Sanshay Pada, Kaha Kahu Samjaya."
It means: Mind and Illusion are the same. Illusion is contained in mind itself. The whole world is unnecessarily in dilemma. I do not know how to make them understand.
To know the witnessing Self within is Vedanta.
ACCORDING TO THE VEDANTIC PHILOSHOPHY, HOW SHOULD WE LEAD OUR LIFE?
In reality, Vedanta is experiential. To live with a Master and following his guidelines, to live a life of meditative awareness and realize one’s own self - is what Vedanta is.