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Earliest Recorded Advaita Vedanta Texts

Advaita Vedanta, a philosophical school within Hinduism, traces its roots back to the ancient scriptures known as the Upanishads, which are considered the culmination of Vedic thought. The Upanishads, composed over a period spanning several centuries, contain profound metaphysical insights into the nature of reality, the self (Atman), and the ultimate truth (Brahman).

While the Upanishads form the philosophical foundation of Advaita Vedanta, the earliest available texts solely dedicated to explicating its principles are attributed to Gaudapada, a philosopher who lived in the sixth or seventh century CE. Gaudapada's work primarily revolves around the Mandukya Upanishad and its elucidation of the concept of "AUM" (OM) as a symbol of the ultimate reality.

Following Gaudapada, the most prominent figure associated with Advaita Vedanta is Adi Shankaracharya, who lived in the eighth century CE. Shankaracharya's commentaries on the principal Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras, collectively known as the Prasthanatrayi, provide systematic expositions of Advaita Vedanta's doctrines. Shankara's philosophical treatises and debates played a pivotal role in popularizing Advaita Vedanta and establishing it as a prominent philosophical tradition within Hinduism.

However, it's essential to acknowledge that the teachings of Advaita Vedanta permeate various ancient Hindu scriptures, including not only the Upanishads but also texts such as the Yoga Vasistha, the Mahabharata (which contains the Bhagavad Gita), and the Ramayana. These texts, dating back to antiquity, contribute to the broader philosophical landscape within which Advaita Vedanta emerged and evolved. Therefore, while Gaudapada and Adi Shankaracharya are pivotal figures in Advaita Vedanta's intellectual history, its foundations are deeply rooted in the diverse literary and philosophical traditions of ancient India.