Sage Sri, Sankara said:~ Talk as much philosophy as you like, worship as many gods as you please, observe ceremonies and sing devotional hymns, but liberation will never come, even after a hundred aeons, without realizing the Oneness.
There are three kinds of audience: ~
- The ordinary ones who desire the transitory heaven and other pleasures obtained as a result of ritual sacrifices follow religion.
- Middling intellect who desire peace and wellbeing follow yogic path or meditation.
3. The more advanced seeker who seeks to know the ultimate truth follow the Atmic path. The Atmic path with its emphasis on the Advaitic wisdom is meant for those who wish to go beyond the form, time, and space.
Only through deeper self-search beginners and intermediates gradually become aware ‘what is what’. Only after they have realized the fact that the ‘Self’ is not ‘I’ but the ‘Self’ is the Soul, which is present in the form of the consciousness, they ready for the inner journey towards the reality, which is beyond the form, time, and space.
Upanishad:~ “They alone in this world are endowed with the highest wisdom who are firm in their conviction of the sameness and birthlessness of Atman. The ordinary man does not understand their way”. (Chapter IV — Alatasanti Prakarana 95-P-188 in Upanishads by Nikilanada)
If you are seeking truth you have to know the ‘Self’ is not you but the ‘Self’ is the Soul, which is present in the form of the consciousness.
Sage Sri, Sankara says the world is an illusion; it includes birth, life, and death, which happens within the world. Thus, the seekers main aim is to mentally trace the formless substance of the illusion, which is also the witness of the illusion.
Sage Sri Sankara, in Bhaja Govindam says: ~ “(Jnana Viheena Sarva Mathena Bajathi na Muktim janma Shatena)” - One without knowledge does not obtain liberation even in a hundred births, no matter which religious faith he follows.
Thus, it proves that religion is not the means to ‘Self’-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana. Because Self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana is universal knowledge meant for the humanity. Self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana does not belong to any religion.
The religious based Advaita is nothing to do with ultimate truth or Brahman or God.