Is your gold ring real? Of course yes. But is it really real? To find out, let’s look at it more closely.
If we melt the gold ring, what do we get? Gold. Where did the ring go? Well, ring was just a “name” and “form” which got resolved into gold upon melting. If we take out the gold from the ring, what is left? Can ring exist separate and apart from gold. No. So, properly speaking, ring is “dependently” real. Does the existence of gold depend upon the existence or non-existence of ring. No. Then gold is really real, or independently real.
Vedanta uses the word “mithyaa” for dependently real objects. In its vision, from the tiniest atoms to grandest galaxies, all creation is dependently real, mithyaa–real and unreal at the same time. At the relative level, the world is real since it is experienced. At the absolute level, it is mithyaa since it has a borrowed existence. It depends upon the observing Consciousness to reveal its existence. The Absolute Consciousness which is One, without a second, is called Brahman. This Conscious-Principle, Brahman, is our inmost self, essence, and is referred to as Self or Atman.
It was in this sense Sri Shankara said “Brahma satya, jagan mithyaa, jivo bhahmeva na parah:” The Brahman is real, the world is non-real, and individual self is non different from universal Reality.
This is one summary of Vedanta. Vedanta says: Know the Brahman as your inmost Self and be free!