The most popular school of Hinduism is the neo-Vedanta school, which is a modern interpretation of Hinduism based on the teachings of Indian freedom-fighter Vivekananda, who incorporated many beliefs of Western philosophy into Hinduism.

Neo-Vedanta is considered unorthodox and heretical by the orthodox followers of Vedanta.

The tenets of neo-Vedanta are:

  • Belief that caste is determined by external behavior and not birth
  • Rejection of all scriptures other than the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita as man-made
  • Belief that all religions are equal
  • Anti-Brahminism, or hatred or aversion to Brahmins
  • Anti-Rishi. Vivekananda criticized Rishis like Vedavyasa by saying that he "cheated the poor shudras."
  • Anti-Vedic animal sacrifice
  • Incorporation of many western beliefs regarding morality, like the belief that all men have equal rights
  • Support of homosexual intercourse
  • Indifference to eating meat. It is well known that its founder, Vivekananda, was a meat-eater.
  • No strict adherence to scriptural injunctions and practices.

There are a lot of commentaries by neo-Vedanta followers on the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, but are there any commentaries on the Brahma Sutras?

Given the above listed beliefs, I'm curious to know what they would say on sutras like "Shastra yonitvat," or "From shastra Brahman is known." Do they intrepret shastra to mean shastras of all religions like Christianity and Islam?

And what about the section in the Brahma Sutras called "Apashudradhikaranam", or "qualification of shudras", which says that Shudras are not qualified to meditate on the Brahma Vidyas?

Or do they reject the entire Brahma Sutras because it was authored by Vyasa, and Vivekananda thinks Vyasa has "cheated the poor shudras"?

  • 1
    Can you justify your statement that Vivekananda hated Vyasa?
    – user16581
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 14:51
  • 2
    @LazyLubber Perhaps I can't determine if he actually hated Vyasa, but Vivekananda did say "Vyasa cheated the poor Shudras," because Vyasa prohibits them from meditating on the Brahma Vidyas in the Brahma Sutras.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 14:58
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    They are not anti-Brahmin. Vivekananda's Guru was a Brahmin.
    – user9969
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 15:32
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    @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury Not any different than the "I'm not racist, I have a black friend," white American racists always say. Look at many of Vivekananda's statements about Brahmins, he has a strong dislike of Brahmins as a class.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 17:02
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    your question is actually a commentary with many misleading statements and facts, are rude and abusive, and meant to sow discord. please read the forum rules. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 6:58

1 Answer 1


Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is one commentator on the Brahma Sutras who can be regarded as "Neo-Vedantic".

This is what he writes about the Varna-based restrictions in Adhyaya 1 Pada 3 of the Brahma Sutras:

The different methods of gaining salvation, meditation, devotion which lead to Brahma-knowledge are open to all. The restrictions with regard to Vedic study cannot be defended. If we take our stand the potential divinity of all human beings, whatever be their caste or class, race or religion, sex or occupation the methods of gaining release should be open for all.

As the commentary proves, Neo-Vedantins don't reject the Brahma Sutras in whole. They only reject the part about Varna-based restrictions.

You can read his commentary "The Philosophy of Spiritual Life" here.

  • 1
    I wonder if Radhakrishnan would consider himself a 'neo-vedantin'. i wonder if anyone does... Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 7:01
  • He wouldn't. It's a term used by his critics. @SwamiVishwananda
    – user9969
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 7:03

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