Exploring the Different Schools of Thought in Sanatan

0
161
Man Holding Container With Smoke

Sanatan Dharma, also known as Hinduism, is one of the world’s oldest and most diverse religions. It encompasses a vast array of philosophical, spiritual, and cultural traditions, and its various schools of thought offer a rich tapestry of insights into the nature of reality, the human condition, and the ultimate goal of existence. In this blog post, we will explore some of the different schools of thought within Sanatan, from Advaita Vedanta to Bhakti, and examine their key tenets, practices, and contributions to the wider Hindu tradition.

Advaita Vedanta: The Path of Non-Dualism

Advaita Vedanta, founded by the 8th-century philosopher Adi Shankaracharya, is perhaps the most influential school of thought within Sanatan. Its central tenet is the concept of non-dualism, or the idea that the ultimate reality of the universe is a single, undifferentiated consciousness known as Brahman. According to Advaita Vedanta, the world of appearances is illusory, and the true nature of the self is identical to the nature of Brahman.

To attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death, Advaita Vedanta teaches the practice of Jnana Yoga, or the path of knowledge. This involves the cultivation of discernment, discrimination, and detachment from worldly attachments, in order to realize the true nature of the self and attain union with Brahman.

Vishishtadvaita: The Path of Qualified Non-Dualism

Vishishtadvaita, or qualified non-dualism, is a school of thought within Sanatan that emerged in the 11th century. Unlike Advaita Vedanta, which posits a non-dualistic reality in which the individual self is ultimately identical with Brahman, Vishishtadvaita holds that the self retains its individuality even in union with Brahman.

According to Vishishtadvaita, the self is not merely an illusion, but a real entity that is qualitatively one with Brahman, while still maintaining its own unique identity. The path to liberation in Vishishtadvaita involves the cultivation of devotion, or Bhakti Yoga, which involves the loving worship of a personal deity or deities.

Dvaita: The Path of Dualism

Dvaita, or dualism, is a school of thought within Sanatan that emphasizes the fundamental distinction between the individual self and Brahman. According to Dvaita, the self is a separate, individual entity that exists in a relationship of dependence on Brahman.

The path to liberation in Dvaita involves the cultivation of devotion, or Bhakti Yoga, which involves the loving worship of a personal deity or deities. This devotion is seen as a means of developing a loving relationship with God, and ultimately attaining union with Him.

Tantra: The Path of Transformation

Tantra is a school of thought within Sanatan that emerged in the early medieval period, and is associated with esoteric practices such as ritual, mantra, and visualization. Unlike other schools of thought within Sanatan, Tantra does not emphasize renunciation or detachment, but rather embraces the world of appearances as a means of transformation.

According to Tantra, the body and the senses are not obstacles to spiritual realization, but rather instruments of transformation. The path to liberation in Tantra involves the use of various techniques such as meditation, visualization, and the chanting of mantras, in order to awaken the dormant spiritual energies within the body and attain union with the divine.

Conclusion

Sanatan Dharma is a rich and diverse tradition, encompassing a vast array of philosophical, spiritual, and cultural traditions. From the non-dualism of Advaita Vedanta to the transformational practices of Tantra, each school of thought offers a unique perspective on the nature of reality and the path to liberation.

While there are certainly differences between these various schools of thought, there are also common threads that run throughout the Sanatan tradition. For example, the practice of Bhakti Yoga, or devotion to a personal deity or deities, is a central feature of several schools, including Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita. Similarly, the cultivation of inner awareness and detachment from worldly attachments is emphasized in both Advaita Vedanta and Tantra, albeit in different ways.

Ultimately, what unites these different schools of thought is a shared commitment to the pursuit of spiritual realization and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Whether through the path of knowledge, devotion, or transformation, each school of thought offers a unique set of practices and insights that can help the seeker to realize their true nature and attain union with the divine.

As Shashi Tharoor once said, “Sanatan Dharma is a religion that has no founder, no single scripture, no single set of beliefs, and no single path to salvation.” It is a vast and complex tradition that defies easy categorization, and yet it continues to inspire and enrich the lives of millions of people around the world.

In exploring the different schools of thought within Sanatan, we have only scratched the surface of this rich and multifaceted tradition. But by studying the teachings of these various schools, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity and complexity of Sanatan Dharma, and perhaps even gain some insights into the nature of our own existence and the ultimate purpose of life.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.