Abstract

This article revisits a debate about the nature and function of anubhava or intuition in Advaita Vedānta. In their presentation of Indian thought to the West, neo-Vedāntins such as Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan emphasized intuitive experience as a unique means to brahmajñāna, or Brahman-realization. In so doing, they distanced themselves from the tradition’s emphasis on the role of scripture in revealing Brahman. Detractors claim that such an account misrepresented Śaṅkara’s epistemology and led to a facile characterization of Advaita as a form of mysticism. It is argued here that the issue rests upon a confusion about the function of anubhava, and an understanding is proposed of intuition as a distinctive mode of cognition that mitigates the neo-Vedāntin claim that it is an independent means to brahmajñāna, yet that does not undermine the common view of Advaita as a system of thought whose fundamental claims about the nature of reality can be realized only in mystical experience.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 718-739
Launched on MUSE
2014-09-17
Open Access
No
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