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Religion Library: Hinduism


Written by: Jacob N. Kinnard

Likewise, Ramanuja (1017-1137), another great theological commentator, is often seen as a "founder" in that he articulated a complex theological and devotional system known as Vishishtadvaita Vedanta (qualified non-dualism), which, like Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, had a tremendous influence on later Hindu thought and practice. Ramanuja argued, in contrast to Shankara, that there is an essential difference between the world and the divine, although individuals contain a fragment or portion of the divine. For the followers of Ramanuja, knowledge is not as essential as devotion (bhakti).

Founder: Shankara AcharyaFounder: Ramanuja
School: Advaita VedantaSchool: Vishishtadvaita Vedanta
Belief: the material realm and the divine cosmos are essentially the sameBelief: the material world and the divine are different

Again, Hinduism is not a single institution, but a vast, complex collection of schools, subschools, sects, subsects, etc., that together make up what is known as "Hinduism." As such, there can be no single founder, but rather a diverse group of men and women who have contributed, over the course of two millennia, essential philosophical and ritual and devotional principles that, together, can be understood to make up the whole of the religion.

Study Questions:
1.     Who was Manu?
2.     What was Shankara Acharya's contribution to Hinduism?
3.     Who was Ramanuja, and how did his teachings conflict with those before him?
4.     Why is it incorrect to classify Hinduism as a single institution?


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