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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Advaita

Sanskrit for “non-dual.” Generally, it is used to refer to a philosophic position which claims that our ordinary perception of the world (which implies a duality between subject and object) is incorrect — is, in some sense, an illusion. In this general sense, Theosophy is non-dual, since one of its basic principles is that there is, in the words of The Secret Doctrine, “one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being” (SD I:14); it further says that “once we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of . . . Subject and Object” (SD I:15). This same idea of non-duality occurs in the early Upanisads in which duality is denied in the phrase “neti, neti” (Brhadaranyaka Up. 4.5.15) or in which the identity of the self (atman) and underlying reality of the world (Brahman) is asserted in the phrase “tat tvam asi,” i.e., “that [Brahman] thou [atman] art” (Chandogya Up. 6.9.4, 6.10.3, etc.). But more commonly, the term is used to refer to the philosophic position known as ADVAITA VEDANTA. Some early Theosophists, most notably T. Subba Row, were avowed Advaitins in this philosophic sense, although his version of Advaita is much more “theosophical” than that found in the major philosophical texts of the school. In one of his letters to Alfred P. SINNETT, the Mahatma KOOT HOOMI states, “We are not Adwaitees, but our teaching respecting the one life is identical with that of the Adwaitee with regard to Parabrahm [i.e., Parabrahman]” (ML, p. 271).

R.W.B.

 

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