Sankaradeva Movement: The Clash of Ideologies

The history of Sankaradeva’s faith and movement can be viewed as a clash of ideologies. Here, there are two (primary) ideologies, the dharmic and the bhaktic.

Karma refers to certain acts that are to be compulsorily performed by members of the dharmic system. They are in the nature of positive injunctions. They may be more precisely translated as: ‘the ordained acts of the Vedas’ or ‘the prescribed duties of the Vedas.’

In contrast to the dharmic system, the bhaktic path is characterized by the absence of such karmas. It is the path of pure devotion (bhakti). But what is the philosophy at the core of each of these systems that has led to this critical difference between them? It is the following:

While the dharmic system has its origin in the material conception of man, the bhaktic one regards man to be spiritual in nature. The dharmic system, being pantheistic, makes no difference between spirit and matter. The bhaktic system, on the other hand, is monotheistic. It differentiates between spirit and matter.

These critical differences between the two systems—philosophical as well as practical—can be shown in tabular form as follows:

Dharmic Bhaktic
Views man as part of matter and nature. Materialistic conception of man. Views man as part of God (Supreme Spirit).
Spiritual conception of man.
Pantheistic. Monotheistic.
Characterized by doing of karmas (‘Veda-ordained duties’). Rejection of karmas (‘Veda-ordained duties’).





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