Fundamental Aspects of Sankaradeva's Religion - Monotheism
As is implied in the principle of Eka-Sarana, Sankaradeva's creed is based on the worship of Krishna - the One God, the supreme entity who is suddha, satya. All other deities are subservient to Him.
Sankaradeva's Krishna is Nārāyana, the Supreme Reality or Parama Brahma and not merely an avatara of Visnu. Krishna is God Himself. Krishna, Visnu and Nārāyana are synonymous:
Krishnastu Bhagavan Swayam
The guiding principle of the Eka-Sarana religion is:
eka deva eka seva;
eka vine nāi keva.
One God, One to be Worshipped
None else but One.
The worship of deities other than Krishna is strictly prohibited:
anya devi-deva nakaribā seva
murttika nachāibā tār;
prasāda nākhaibā grihaka napasibā
bhakti haibe vyavichār.
Do not bow down before other gods and goddesses,
Partake not of their offerings;
Look not upon their images, enter not their temples,
Lest thy faith be vitiated
[Sankaradeva, Bhāgavata, II, v.545]
The source of this is the Padma Purāna (Uttara Khanda, 282/58,63) and the Hārit Smriti (5/80-81, 8/261, 262). The above couplet also conforms to the teachings of the Bhāgavata.
nanyam devam tu vikseta brahmano na ca pujayet
nanyam prasadam bhunjita nanyasyayatenam viset
Any deviation from this stand amounts to moral turpitude:
anācāra kari aparādhi mora nuhi
ānadeva puje yito sei mora drohi.
yito mahāmleccha khāy kukkuraka mari
tāto kari apavitra sito ahamkāri.
dekhi bura diba lāge nāi tāta citra
candālaro asprisya ehise apavitra.
[Sankaradeva, Bhakati Pradip, 35ff]
(Krishna says) one becomes accountable to Me by worshipping other gods or goddesses. Such self-centered persons are more impure than very vile people who eat the flesh of dogs. There is no wonder that one has to take bath at the sight of such people, for they are untouchable even for those who are outcaste.
It is further stated:
tirthaka sevana devi āsana dharma-karma-yāga-yoga Rāma Krishna nāme sakalo sijaya nalāge eka udyoga.
Krishnara nāmata dharma-karma-yata savāra āsraya sthāna.
All (other) religions and paths take shelter in the Name of Krishna
Attitude towards other deities
All gods and goddesses like Brahmā, Siva and Lakshmi are mere manifestations of Narayana and hence their worship as independent deities is uncalled for. The existence of the Hindu pantheon is not denied, however, and their activities occasionally surface in the writings of Sankaradeva.