Delhi University: How is Vedanta different from philosophy?

Acharya Prashant
10 min readOct 11, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): I am studying philosophy at Hansraj College, and I have read that Hegel’s philosophy was that mankind has been increasing its power by increasing its knowledge about itself and its surroundings. This kind of philosophy might suggest that our projected purpose is to become the most powerful or knowledgeable being possible. So, why is it that, according to spirituality, the purpose of life is liberation? Why can’t knowledge or power be the purpose of life?

Acharya Prashant (AP): It is not about your opinion versus somebody else’s opinion. It is not about Hegel versus Vedanta or something. It is about reality. If knowledge or power can give you fulfillment, by all means, go for knowledge and power.

The purpose of life is a very, very subjective thing, right? And when I say subjective, I don’t mean variable as per the subject; I mean it is something that is intimately got to do with the subject, and you are the subject. You are the subject because we are talking of your life, we are talking about the purpose of your life.

Why do we need to talk of the purpose of life? Because we don’t feel alright as we are and where we are. Because we don’t feel alright where we are, therefore we need to be somewhere else. Because we don’t feel good about the way our self-concept and our self-image is, therefore there is a need for change, right?

So, it all starts from you. It doesn’t start from the Upanishads or Hegel or Kant or Voltaire; no, not from there. It starts from you. What is it that would fulfill you? Because you are the one who is restless. Over the millennia, countless people have tried power, and countless have tried money and knowledge and prestige and adventure and sex — you name it. Man has tried all kinds of possible means to come to a certain fulfillment because there is a gaping hole within. We are not at rest. We are not alright.

The child is born crying. Human beings are always running hither thither to gain some satisfaction, which in itself is a far cry from fulfillment. But we all are looking for something, no? The eyes are continuously wandering in search of something, the ears want to hear…