Absolutism and Relativism in Advaita

Vivek Anand Ganesan v_ganesan at YAHOO.COM
Mon Apr 3 16:28:16 CDT 2000

Hello all :

    I have enjoyed the discussions on confessionalism et.
al. on the "Advaita and Christianity" thread very much.
To facilitate a more "focussed" discussion, I have taken
the liberty to move the discussion away from "religion"
towards "philosophy", so as not to offend any religious
sentiments. I hope list members would tolerate my

    The big question I have is : "Is Advaita Absolutist or
relativist?".  By using the shruti statement, "Ekam Sad;
ViprA bahudha vadanti", are we to understand that there are
many valid expressions of truth and Advaita is just one
among the many?  This would naturally be the stand of the
philosophical relativist.

    But, Advaitins do not seem to have taken the relativist
stand.  Judging by the quality of polemics
by Advaitins, they seemed to have been more than eager to
defend Advaita from its critics.  So, it seems to me that
Advaita is an absolutist philosophy with a very clear
conception of truth.  In that case, how are we to
"Ekam Sad; ViprA bahudha vadanti"?

    This leads to my second question : Can conflicting
philosophies be "resolved" within Advaita?  I have heard
that even dvaita and vishishTadvaita have a place in
Advaita. But, as a philosophy Advaita is **opposed** to
dvaita and vishishTadvaita. Right?  So, how can there be a

Thanks in advance,


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