Gandhi vs Aurobindo

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The essential question with regard to Hinduism is if it is in fact a single religion or if “Hinduism” is a blanket term for a vast array of cultures and traditions? In essence this question pits Gandhi against Aurobindo. In a nutshell, Gandhi held a simplistic view of Hinduism while Aurobindo acknowledged its complexity. Moreover, these two great thinkers embody the age-old duel between monism and dualism. Despite having grown up in front of similar backdrops, each man responded in a different way—forming two distinct philosophies. The foundation of Gandhi’s thoughts was the Advaita Vedanta. Gandhi believed Brahman alone was reality— everything else was non-existent. Like Shankara, he was a monist. Furthermore, of the three yogas discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, Gandhi viewed jnana, spiritual insight, as the most important. Karma, simply a social action to Gandhi, was second and bakthi was last, the least important. He believed that bakthi, devotion, only got you so far, that “devotion ultimately rested on an intellectual failure to realize the true and utterly transcendent nature of ultimate reality,” (Glucklich 204). It was his strong belief that insight was what allowed a person to realize one reality, truth, Brahman—call it what you want. It was also insight and the recognition of truth that allowed for one to develop the foundational principle of social ethics, ahimsa. Aurobindo, on the other hand, based his beliefs on Santana-dharma—the eternal dharma. This philosophy encompassed all. We shall devote ourselves not to politics alone, not to social questions alone, nor to theology or philosophy, or literature or science by themselves, but we include all these in one entity which we believe to be all-important, the dharma, the national religion which we also believe to be universal (Glucklich 209) It was Aurobindo’s view that modernizing India was a spiritual process, another point where him and Gandhi differed. He placed emphasis on all the three yogas....
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