`The Wisdom of Vedanta' is a wide-ranging introduction to the non-dual philosophy of Advaita and should be of particular interest to those who have been brought up in a background of Christianity but who have never been altogether comfortable with the interpretation given by the established church.
Some of the material reads like a modern scriptural text, with prayer-like `meditations' at the end of each chapter, but the word `God', used throughout, refers to our own essential nature and not to some remote and separate, omniscient being.
The book is a collection of lectures on a variety of topics, which do not need to be read sequentially. Many of these are commentaries on Upanishads and on `advaitic treatises' by the key philosopher, Shankara. In particular, there is an excellent complete commentary, in three lectures, on Shankara's important work on the nature of the self - Atmabodha. There is also a chapter comparing Vedanta and Buddhism and there are frequent references to Jnaneshvar, the thirteenth century Hindu poet, on which Abhayanananda has also written a book.
All religions have to begin from where we are and then lead us gently to the truth. Unfortunately, over time, there is a danger that the metaphors will be read as literal and the hidden, non-dual message will be lost. This is what has happened with Christianity and there is a need for books such as this to point the misguided back to the truth.
As with his other book `The Supreme Self', this will appeal most to those of a bhakta nature. It lacks intellectual rigour and occasionally makes statements that are not pedantically in accord with Shankara's vision of Advaita but this is a minor quibble over a book that can be heartily recommended to those unfamiliar with the subject.
Dennis Waite, author of "Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita"