Brahman is the Reality, the universe is an illusion, and the living being is Brahman alone, none else.
❖ Brahma Satyam (“Brahman is the Reality”): In Vedanta, the word “Satyam” (Reality) is very clearly defined and it has a specific significance. It means, “That which exists in all the three periods of time (past, present and future) without undergoing any change; and also in all the three states of consciousness (waking state, dream state and deep-sleep state).” This is therefore the absolute Reality — birthless, deathless and changeless — referred to in the Upanishads as “Brahman.”
❖ Jagan Mithya (“the world is an illusion”): The world appears “real” only in the “waking state;” but it is negated (it disappears) in the dream and deep-sleep states. Hence, it is not real, according to the definition above. Therefore, the world is said to be Mithya by the Acharya.
❖ However, many people seem allergic to the word, “Mithya,” when it is used to refer to the perceptible world. For this reason, perhaps, the Acharya, in his later works, like Brahmasutra Bhashya, calls it “vyavaharika satta” (relative reality) or “pratibhasika satta” (apparent reality), as if to accommodate them.
❖ Jiva brahmaiva napara (“the jiva is Brahman alone, none else”): “Jiva” refers to the sentient principle in all living beings, including human beings. In the deep-sleep state, the body, senses, mind and intellect are all negated (rendered totally ineffective or insentient). Hence, the jiva is one with the sentient, inner life-principle, which revives the body, senses, mind and intellect after sleep. This life-principle is the pure consciousness that is the same in all beings. The all-pervading Brahman of the Upanishads is that pure consciousness present in all jivas as their antaryami (inner spirit).