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Vedanta is a branch of Hindu philosophy, based primarily on late Vedic writings, especially the Aranyakas[?] and Upanishads. Various interpretations of Vedanta exist, the most important being Advaita[?]. This branch was founded by the Hindu philosopher Shankara[?]. (c. 800 B.C.)

In Advaita, the universe is a singular entity, and the divisions people see between discrete objects in the world are a result of ignorance of true nature. This true nature, Shankara claimed, is identical with the Hindu god Brahman. While in this ignorant state, a being will remain trapped in the illusions of the world. Thus, the being is reincarnated over and over, and is rewarded and punished according to the actions of the previous life. (see reincarnation, karma)

Eventually, Advaita teaches, each person will discover their true as being one with Brahman, and will achieve moksha--release from endless cycles of reincarnation--and perfect oneness with all things. (see Nirvana).

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