The first doctrine presented by Hinduism is what the absolute Self, Brahman, is. The second doctrine is the identity of the absolute Self with Brahman. According to the second of these doctrines (whose profundity makes the services of an expounder and a commentator so useful), the inmost Being of man, Atman, is divine and perfect, as is the cosmic Being of the Lord, Ishvara. The third doctrine is that the universe is maya, an illusory thing that has no ultimate reality. The fourth doctrine is that history is not a meaningless scramble of happenings, but flows through karma--God's law--and through avatars--God's incarnations. The traditional mission of all the Shankaras has been to guard, protect, or preach the doctrines and beliefs, from the simple commandments for illiterate peasants to the higher mystical experiences of the yogis and metaphysical teachings of Advaita.
-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 2: India > # 354
-- Perspectives > Chapter 15: The Orient > # 52