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The greatest teacher of the Vedanta philosophy was Shankârachârya. By
solid reasoning he extracted from the Vedas the truths of Vedanta, and
on them built up the wonderful system of Jnâna that is taught in his
commentaries. He unified all the conflicting descriptions of Brahman and
showed that there is only one Infinite Reality. He showed too that as
man can only travel slowly on the upward
road, all the varied presentations are needed to suit his varying
capacity. We find something akin to this in the teachings of Jesus,
which he evidently adapted to the different abilities of his hearers.
First he taught them of a Father in heaven and to pray to Him. Next he
rose a step higher and told them, "I am the vine, you are the branches",
and lastly he gave them the highest truth: "I and my Father are one",
and "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." Shankara taught that three
things were the great gifts of God: (1) human body, (2) thirst after
God, and (3) a teacher who can show us the light. When these three great
gifts are ours, we may know that our redemption is at hand. Only
knowledge can free and save us, but with knowledge must go virtue. From Jnana Yoga.