Vedanta is one of the world’s most ancient and comprehensive philosophies. Based on the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India, Vedanta affirms the oneness of existence, the divinity of the soul, and the harmony of religions. Vedanta is the philosophical foundation of Hinduism; but while Hinduism includes aspects of Indian culture, Vedanta is universal in its application. It is equally relevant to individuals from various countries, cultures, and religious backgrounds.
The word “Vedanta” is a combination of two words: “Veda” which means “knowledge” and “anta” which means “the end of” or “the goal of”. In this context, knowledge is not intellectual—the limited knowledge we acquire by reading books. Rather, it refers to the knowledge of God—impersonal (infinite existence, infinite consciousness, and infinite bliss) or personal (assuming name and form)—as well as the knowledge of our own divine nature—which is pure, perfect, and free from limitations. Therefore, Vedanta means the goal of realizing God as well as our own divine nature. Not only is this possible, it is inevitable.
Vedanta affirms that all religions teach the same basic truths about God, the world, and our relationship to one another. Thousands of years ago the Rig Veda declared: “Truth is one, sages call it by various names.” The world’s religions offer varying approaches to God, each one true and valid, each religion offering the world a unique and irreplaceable path to God-realization. The conflicting messages we find among religions are due more to doctrines and dogmas than to the reality of spiritual experience. While dissimilarities exist in the external observances of the world religions, the internals bear remarkable similarities.