SIGMOND FREUD ON DREAMS – Sense and Nonsense in Dream Interpretation


Dr. V.K. Maheshwari, Former Principal

K.L.D.A.V(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Manjul Lata Agrawal. M.A. (History) B.T.

Former Principal S.K.V, Delhi Cantt. Delhi.

Mankind has always been interested in dreams and many attempts have been made to interpret the meaning of them. The reasons for this interest are not difficult to find Dreams are odd and striking phenomenon similar to waking thought in some ways , but quite dissimilar in others . The objects which enter into the dreams are usually everyday kind of objects, similarly the places where the dream occurs is usually a familiar one. Yet what happens in the dreams is often quite unlike the happenings of everyday life.

In addition, dreams often have a very strong emotional content. This is obvious enough in the case of the nightmare, but even in the case of more ordinary dreams, strong emotions, both pleasant and more usually unpleasant, may be called forth.

Factual information is quite scant. When large numbers of dreams of people are examined, the settings in which the dreams occur, the characters appearing in them, the actions through which they go, and the emotions which they betray. Most dreams have some fairly definite setting, where the dreamer is in a conveyance such as an automobile, a train, an airplane, a boat or is walking along a street or road. Few dreams are set in recreational surroundings: amusement parks, at dances and parties, on the beach, watching sports events, and so on. More frequent than any of these settings, however, is the house or rooms in a house; Apparently the living-room is – the most popular, followed in turn by bedroom, kitchen, stairway, basement, bathroom, dining-room, and hall. Another are set in rural and out-of-doors surroundings. Men’s dreams tend to occur more frequently in out-of-door surroundings, women’s more frequently indoors. The remainindreams are difficult to classify with respect to their settings.

Multiple Aspects of Dreams

By taking into account the setting, Psychoanalysts often try to interpret certain aspects of the dream. The dream occurs in a conveyance, for instance, is interpreted in terms of the fact that the dreamer is going somewhere, is on the move; movement represents ideas such as ambition, fleeing from something, progress and achievement, breaking family ties, and so forth. Trains, automobiles, and other vehicles are instruments of power, and are thus interpreted as symbols for the vital energy of one’s instinctual impulses, particularly those of sex.

Recreational settings are usually sensual in character, being concerned with pleasure and fun, and imply an orientation towards pleasure rather than work.

All kinds of emotions are attached to the actions and persons making up the dream, as well as to the settings. Quite generally unpleasant dreams are more numerous than pleasant ones, and apparently as one gets older the proportion of unpleasant dreams increases. The unpleasant emotions of fear, anger, and sadness are reported twice as frequently as the pleasant emotions of joy and happiness. Emotion in dreams is often taken to be an important aid in interpreting the dream. In this it differs very much from color; about one dream in three is colored, but the attempt to find any kind of interpretation whatsoever for the difference between colored and black-and-white dreams has proved very disappointing.

In addition to a setting, the dream must also have a cast. Sometime in dreams no one appears but the Dreamer himself. Sometimes two characters appear. Most of these additional characters are members of the dreamer’s family, friends, and acquaintances. Sometimes the characters in our dreams are strangers; they are supposed to represent the unknown, the ambiguous, and the uncertain ; sometimes they are interpreted as alien parts of our own personality which we may be reluctant to acknowledge as belonging to us. Prominent people are seldom found in dreams ; this may be because our dreams are concerned with matters that are emotionally relevant to us.

As far as actions in dreams are concerned, in dreams some cases are engaged in some kind of movement, such as walking, driving, running, falling, or climbing. Mostly these changes in location occur in his home environment. In another, passive activities such as standing, watching, looking, and talking are indulged in. There appears to be an absence of strenuous or routine activities in dreams – there is little in the way of working, buying or selling, typing, sewing, washing the dishes, and so forth. When energy is being expended in the dream it is in the service of pleasure, not in the routine duties of life. Women, generally speaking, have far fewer active dreams than men.

For majority of dreams such explanations are clearly insufficient, and we encounter two great groups of theories which attempt to interpret and explain dreams.

Probably the most common view of dreams which has been held by mankind is that the , dreams are prophetic in nature ; they warn us of dangers to be encountered in the future, they tell us what will happen if we do this or -that; they are looked upon as guide-posts which we may heed or neglect as we wish.

If we take this hypothesis at all seriously, then a study of the art of dream interpretation clearly becomes of the greatest possible importance. The pattern was set by an Italian scholar called Artemi- dorus, who lived in the second century of the Christian era. His book was called Oneirocritics, which means The Art of Interpreting. Essentially, books of this nature are based on the view that the dream is a kind of secret language which requires a sort of dictionary before it can be understood. This dictionary is provided by the writer of the dream book in the form of an alphabetical list of things which might appear in the dream, each of which is followed by an explanation of its meaning. Thus, if the dreamer dreams about going on a journey, he looks up ‘Journey’ in his dream book and finds that it means death. This may of course be rather disturbing to him, but he may console him- self by the consideration that it need not necessarily be his own death which is being foretold in this fashion.

Few people would take this kind of dream interpretation very seriously; it is obviously analogous to astrology,   and palmistry, in its unverified claims and its generally unlikely theoretical basis. Nevertheless, some scientists have taken the possibility of precognition seriously, One of the best known of these is J.W.Dunne, whose book An Experiment with Time was widely read in the twenties and thirties of 19th century.

Theory of Dream Interpretation

Freud’s argument of the meaningfulness of dreams is directly connected with his general theory that all our acts are meaningfully determined; a theory which embraces mispronunciations, gestures, lapses, emotions, and so forth.

The second part of Freud’s doctrine, view that the dream is always a wish fulfillment. – This is linked up with his general theory of personality

According to the Freudian theory dreams do not reveal anything about the future. Instead, they tell us something about our present un resolved and unconscious complexes and may lead us back to the early years of our lives.There are three main hypotheses in this general theory:

The first hypothesis is that the dream is not a meaningless jumble of images and ideas, accidentally thrown together, but rather that the dream as a whole, and every element in it, are meaningful.

The second point that Freud makes is that dreams are always in some sense a wish fulfillment; in other words, they have a purpose, and this purpose is the satisfaction of some desire or drive, usually of an unconscious character.

Thirdly, Freud believes that these desires and wishes, having been repressed from consciousness because they are unacceptable to the socialized mind of the dreamer, are not allowed to emerge even into the dream without disguise. A censor or super-ego watches over them and ensures that they can only emerge into the dream in a disguise so heavy that they are unrecognizable.

The idea that the dream is meaningful is, follows directly from the deterministic standpoint: i.e. from the view that all mental and physical events have causes and could be predicted if these causes were fully known.

Let us look at these three propositions in turn. The idea that the dream is meaningful is very ancient one. For Freud it follows directly from the deterministic point of view, i.e. from that point of view all mental and physical events have causes and could be predicted if these causes are fully known. This cause effect relationship is beyond the limits of time for example Hindus who believe in reincarnation and continuity of consciousness even relates it with previous birth events or experiences.

Freud’s argument of the meaningfulness of dream is directly connected with his general theory that all our acts are meaningfully determined; a theory which embraces mispronunciation, gestures, lapses, emotions, and so forth.

Roughly speaking, Freud recognized three main parts of the brain functioning in the personality : one, which he calls the id, is a kind of reservoir of unconscious drives and impulses, largely of a sexual nature; this reservoir, as it were, provides the dynamic energy for most of our activities. Opposed to it we have the so-called super-ego, which is partly conscious and partly un- conscious and which is the repository of social morality. Intervening between the two, and trying to resolve their opposition, is the ego(like the servant in between the two masters) i.e. the conscious part of our personality.

  • The Id
  • The Ego
  • The Super-ego.


The Id works in keeping with the pleasure principle, which can be understood as a demand to take care of needs immediately. Just picture the hungry infant, screaming itself blue. It doesn’t “know” what it wants in any adult sense; it just knows that it wants it and it wants it now. The infant, in the Freudian view, is pure, or nearly pure id. And the id is nothing if not the psychic representative of biology.

According to Freud, the Id directs basic drive instincts. It is unorganized and seeks to obtain pleasure, or avoid pain, at times when increased arousal of tension takes place.

Freud described the Id as such: “It is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the dream-work… and most of that is of a negative character… We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations… It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle”.

The Id, according to Freud, “’knows no judgements of value: no good and evil, no morality… [It is] the great reservoir of libido”. From the outset (i.e. birth) the Id includes all the instinctual impulses as well as the destructive instinct.

The ego, unlike the id, functions according to the reality principle, which says “take care of a need as soon as an appropriate object is found.” It represents reality and, to a considerable extent, reason.

The Ego seeks to please the instinctive drive of the Id but only in realistic ways that will benefit in the long term. The Ego, says Freud, “attempts to mediate between id and reality”. The Ego comprises organized structure of one’s personality. In other words, the great majority of the Ego’s operative duties are at a conscious level (e.g. defensive, perceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and executive functions).

There are two aspects to the superego: One is the conscience, which is an internalization of punishments and warnings. The other is called the ego ideal. It derives from rewards and positive models .The conscience and ego ideal communicate their requirements to the ego with feelings like pride, shame, and guilt.

The Super-Ego aims for perfection. Freud said: “The Super-ego can be thought of as a type of conscience that punishes misbehaviour with feelings of guilt. In other words, the Super-Ego, in its role of moral authoritarian, is the opposite of the Id.

Where the Id is entirely about satisfying instinctive need with no regulation over morals to achieve that objective, the Super-Ego operates in accordance with social conformity and appropriateness. Due to these extremes, the Ego  is constantly striving to regulate balance between the two. In all, the Super-Ego regulates our sense of right and wrong. It helps assimilate into the social structure around us via making us act in socially acceptable ways. It acts as our conscience, maintaining our sense of morality.

As stated above, Freud theorized that the Ego is constantly under the strain of causing discontent on two sides (i.e. the Id and Super-Ego). The role of Ego is like a servant in between two masters .Ego has a  role to minimize conflicts whilst simultaneously pretending to care about the said same reality.

The Super-Ego is the Ego’s constant watchdog and if/when it (the Id) steps out of line, the Super-Ego punishes it with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and inferiority. However, the Ego will then employ mechanisms to defend itself such as denial, displacement, intellectualization, fantasy, compensation, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, regression, repression, and sublimation. These mechanisms are not undertaken at a conscious level, they kick in when the Id’s behaviour conflicts with reality .

As  unconscious or Id cannot be probed directly , efforts are made to know about it through indirect or disguised  techniques. These techniques can be analysed in two forms;

  1. Pseudo-scientific techniques- like Physiognomy, palmistry, serology ,astrology etc
  2. Scientific techniques,-  These can further be divided into three forms;

A-subjective techniques-Like biography, case study etc.

B-Objective techniques=Like questionnaire, rating scales etc.

C-Projective techniques- Like story writing, thematic apperception tests, Rorschach ink blot test, Free- association, word- association, Dream interpretation etc.

The Freudian concept can very simply linked up with his theory of dream interpretation. The forces of the Id (unfulfilled biological, anti-social desires) constantly trying to express themselves or to say trying to gain control  of the Ego and to force themselves into consciousness . During  the individual waking life , the Super-Ego firmly repress them and keeps them unconscious; during sleep however the Super-Ego is less watchful and consequently some of the desires start up in the Id and are allowed to escape in the form of dreams . However the Super-Ego may nod , but it is not quite asleep and consequently these wish-fulfilling thoughts require to be heavily disguised . This disguise is stage-managed by what Freud calls the dream work. Accordingly, it is necessary to distinguish between the manifest dream, i.e. the dream as experienced and perhaps written down, and the latent dreams ,i.e. the thoughts, wishes, and desires expressed in the dream with their disguises removed.

A dream is a disguised fulfilment of a repressed wish. The interpretation of dreams has as its object the removal of the disguise to which the dreamer’s thoughts have been subjected. It is, moreover, a highly valuable aid to psycho-analytic technique, for it constitutes the most convenient method of obtaining insight into unconscious psychical life. (From: On Psychoanalysis).

According to Freud the dream has two parts.

The manifest content and the latent content.

The manifest content can be thought of as what a person would remember as soon as they wake – what they would consciously describe to someone else when recalling the dream. Freud suggested that the manifest content possessed no meaning whatsoever because it was a disguised representation of the true thought underlying the dream.

On the other hand, the latent content holds the true meaning of the dream – the forbidden thoughts and the unconscious desires. These appear in the manifest content but will be disguised and unrecognizable.

Connecting the Freud’s theory of personality and his theory of dream interpretation is quite simple: the forces of the id are constantly trying to gain control of the ego and to force themselves into consciousness. During the individual’s waking life, the super-ego strongly represses them and keeps them unconscious; during sleep, however, the super-ego is less watchful, and consequently some of the desires start up in the id and are allowed to escape in the form  of dreams. However, the super-ego may nod, but it is not quite asleep, and consequently these wish-fulfilling thoughts require to be heavily disguised. This disguise is stage- managed by what Freud calls the DreamWorks. Accordingly, it is necessary to distinguish between the manifest dream, i.e. the dream as experienced and perhaps written down, and the latent dream, i.e. the thoughts, wishes, and desires ex- pressed in the dream with their disguises removed.

The process by which the latent content is transformed into the manifest content is known as the “dream work”. The dream work can disguise and distort the latent thoughts in the following four ways:

1: Condensation:

Mechanism acting in the dream work is said to be that of condensation. The manifest content is only an abbreviation of the latent content. As Freud puts it ‘The dream is meager, paltry, and laconic in comparison with the range and copiousness of the dream thoughts.’ The images of the manifest content are said by Freud to be over-determined: i.e. each manifest element depends on several latent causes and consequently expresses several hidden thoughts.

This is the process in which the dreamer hides their feelings or urges by contracting it or underplaying it into a brief dream image or event. Thus the meaning of this dream imagery may not be apparent or obvious. Two or more latent thoughts are combined to make up one manifest dream image or situation. Dreams can put layers of complex meaning within very simple manifest content.

2: Symbolism:

This is characterized when the dreamer’s repressed urges or suppressed desires are acted out metaphorically. Where complex or vague concepts are converted into a dream image. For this, the mind may use the image of a similar sounding (more recognizable) word instead or use a similar looking less intrusive object. According to Freud, dream symbols are for the most part sexual in meaning thus many dreams (but not all) have a sexual correlation. – In the course of investigating the form of expression brought about by the dream-work, the surprising fact emerged that certain objects, arrangements and relations are represented, in a sense indirectly, by “symbols”, which are used by the dreamer without his understanding them and to which as a rule he offers no associations. Their translation has to be provided by the analyst, who can himself only discover it empirically by experimentally fitting it into the context. It was later found that linguistic usage, mythology and folklore afford the most ample analogies to dream-symbols. Symbols, which raise the most interesting and hitherto unsolved problems, seem to be a fragment of extremely ancient inherited mental equipment. The use of a common symbolism extends far beyond the use of a common language. (From: Two Encyclopaedia Articles).

3: Displacement:

It is a process whereby the emotional content is detached from its proper object and attached instead to an unimportant or subsidiary one. This occurs when the desire for one thing or person is symbolized by something or someone else.   Instead of directing the emotion or desire toward the intended person or object it is transferred onto a meaningless / unrelated object in the manifest dream. . Dream content is not used in dream thoughts in the same way it manifests in the dream. “That which is clearly the essential thing in the dream thoughts need not be represented in the dream at all. The dream, as it were, is eccentric; its contents are grouped about other elements than the dream thoughts as a central point”.

Critical Appraisal of Freud’s theory,

The central piece of Freud’s whole theory, the one bit that is original and not derivative, is the notion that symbols and other dream mechanisms are used to hide something so obnoxious, so contrary to the morality of the patient, that he cannot bear to consider it undisguised, even in his dream. This notion seems so contrary to the most obvious facts that it is difficult to see how it can ever have been seriously entertained.

The task of the analyst and interpreter on this view is to explain the manifest dream in terms of the latent dream. Freud uses two methods. The first is the method of symbolic interpretation and the other is the method of association

For the task of the analyst and interpreter on this view is to explain the manifest dream in terms of the latent dream, Freud uses two methods.

The first  is the method of symbolic interpretation. The other method, – of much greater general interest and importance, is the method of association.

Freud uses the theory of Symbolism, very much like the old dream books, Freud provides whole lists of symbols standing for certain things and certain actions. Freud concentrates almost exclusively on sex and sexual relations. The male sex organ is represented in the dream by a bewildering variety of symbols. Anything that is long and pointed – a stick, a cigar, a chimney, a steeple, the stem of a flower – is so interpreted because of the obvious physical resemblance. A pistol, a knife, forceps, a gun – these may stand for the penis because they eject and penetrate; similarly a plough may become a sex symbol because it penetrates the earth. Riding a horse, climbing stairs, and many, many other common-sense activities stand for intercourse. Hollow objects and containers are feminine symbols: houses, boxes, saucepans, vases – all these represent the vagina. Members of the family are frequently said to be symbolically represented in the dream; thus the father and mother may in the dream appear as king and queen.

A more reasonable alternative theory is based on the method of free association. The technique of free association is based on the belief that ideas became linked through similarity or through contiguity and that mental life could be understood entirely in terms of such associations. If ideas are linked in a causal manner, as is suggested by this theory, then we should be able to find links between manifest and latent phenomena by starting out with the former and, through a chain of associations, penetrate to the latter. In other words, what is suggested is this : starting out with certain unacceptable ideas which seek expression, we emerge finally with unintelligible ideas contained in the manifest dream. These, having been produced by the original latent ideas, are linked to them by a chain of associations, and we shall be able to re-discover the original ideas by going back over this chain of ideas. In order to do this, Freud starts out by taking a single idea from the manifest dream and asking the subject to fix that idea in his mind and say aloud any- thing that comes into his mind associated with that original idea. The hope is that in due course a chain of associations will lead to the latent causal idea.

Nevertheless, the idea of using the method of association in exploring the contents of the mind is a highly original and brilliant one, and much credit must go to the man who first introduced it into psychology. This man, contrary to popular belief, was not Freud, however, but Sir Francis Galton. He has many claims to be called the founder of modern psychology Galton tried out on himself an elaborate system of word association tests and reached conclusions very similar to those later popularized by Freud and Jung.

Making use, then, of these methods of symbolic interpretations and of association, both discovered long before his time, Freud proceeded to analyse the nature of the dream. He discusses his discoveries in terms of so-called- mechanisms which are active in the dream. The first of these mechanisms he calls that of dramatization. This simply de- notes the fact, already familiar to most people, that the major part in dreams is played by visual images, and that conceptual thought appears to be resolved into some form of plastic representation. Freud likens this to the pictorial manner in which cartoons portray conceptual problems. The cartoonist is faced with the same difficulty as the dreamer. He cannot express concepts in words, but has to give them some form of dramatic and pictorial representation.  In addition to visual images, verbal ones also may appear, and here the material meaning of words may often be associated with a rather uncommon meaning.

Let us list some of these objections. In the first place, the notion which is expressed symbolically in one dream may be quite blatantly and directly expressed in another. We have a highly symbolic and involved dream which is interpreted as meaning that we want to kill a relative or have intercourse with someone, only to find that in another dream these ideas are expressed perfectly clearly in the sense that we do actually kill our relative or have intercourse with this girl. What is the point of putting on the masquerade on one occasion, only to discard it on another?

A second objection is that the symbols which are supposed to hide the dream-thought very frequently do nothing of the kind. Many people who have no knowledge of psycho-analysis are able to interpret the sexual symbols which occur in dreams without any difficulty at all. After all, let us face the fact that there are many slang expressions in use referring to sexual activities and sexual anatomy, and that these slang terms are only too often identical with Freudian symbols. There seems to be little disguise in a person’s dreaming about a cock, symbolizing the penis, when the very same person would not even know the term penis and always refers to his sex organ as his ‘cock’. Freud seems to have been singularly remote from the realities of everyday life.

A last point of criticism has been raised by Calvin S.Hall, He asks why there are so many symbols for the same referent. In his search of the literature he found 102 different dream- symbols for the penis, ninety-five for the vagina, and fifty five for sexual intercourse. Why, he asks, is it necessary to hide these reprehensible referents behind such a vast array of masks?

Let us see to what extent Freud’s theory is in fact supported by the dream we have quoted. First of all let us take the young lady nicknamed ‘ Chevap, who at the last moment frustrated three determined efforts at seduction by her boy friend, only to have the success of the enterprise presented to her in a dream in symbolic form. According to the Freudian theory, we would have to believe that the notion of actually having intercourse with her boy friend was so shocking to this young lady, and so much outraged her moral instincts and training, that she could not even contemplate the idea in her sleep, thus having to disguise it in symbols. This, surely, is a very unconvincing argument; to imagine that a young girl, who would several times running indulge in such heated love-making that she was on the point of losing her virginity, could not bear to contemplate the possibility of having intercourse, and had to repress it into her unconscious, could surely not be seriously maintained, even by a psychoanalyst following obediently in the steps of the master.

According to C.S.Hall- Plausible theory , , symbols in dreams are not used to hide the meaning of the dream, but quite on the contrary, are used to reveal not only the act of the person with whom the dreamer is concerned, but also his conceptions of these actions or persons.

The same objective fact – say sexual intercourse may have widely different meanings to different people. One conception might be that of a generative or reproductive activity; another one might be that of an aggressive physical attack. It is these different conceptions of one and the same objective fact which are expressed in the special choice of symbolism of the dream. Dreaming of the ploughing of a field or the planting of seeds is a symbolic representation of the sex act as being generative or reproductive. Dreaming of shooting a person with a gun, stabbing someone with a dagger, or running down with an automobile, symbolizes the view of the sex act as an aggressive attack

If a person dreams of his mother, and if his mother in the dream is symbolized by a cow or a queen, Freud would interpret this to mean that the dreamer is disguising his mother in this fashion because he cannot bear to reveal, even to him- self, the wishes and ideas expressed in the dream and connected with the mother figure. In terms of Hall’s theory, the interpretation would be that the dreamer not only wishes to represent his mother, but also wants to indicate that he regards her as a nutrient kind of person (cow), or a regal and remote kind of person (queen). The use of symbols, then, is an expressive device, not a means of disguise, and it is note-worthy that in waking life, symbols are used for precisely the same reason: a lion stands for courage, a snake for evil, and an owl for wisdom. Symbols such as these convey in terse and concise language abstruse and complex conceptions.

Certain symbols, on this theory, are chosen more frequently than others because they represent in a single object a variety of conceptions. The moon, for instance, is such a condensed and over-determined symbol of woman; the monthly phases of the moon resemble the menstrual cycle ; the filling out of the moon from new to full symbolizes the rounding out of the woman during pregnancy. The moon is inferior to the sun; the moon is changeable like a fickle woman, while the sun is constant. The moon controls the ebb and flow of the tides, again linking it to the family rhythm. The moon, shedding her weak light, embodies the idea of feminine frailty. Hall concludes : ‘Rhythm, change, fruitfulness, weakness, submissiveness, all of the conventional conceptions of woman, are compressed into a single visible object.’

This suggests that all theories of dream interpretation may have a certain limited amount of truth in them, but that they do not possess universal significance, and apply only to a relatively small part of the field. This conclusion is strengthened when it is further realized that quite probably the person whose dreams are being analysed begins to learn the hypothetical symbolic language of the analyst and obediently makes use of it in his dreams. This may account for the fact that Freudian analysts always report that their patients dream in Freudian symbols, whereas analysts who follow the teaching of Jung report that their patients always dream in Jungian symbols, which are entirely different from the Freudian symbols.

There is one further difficulty in accepting the symbolic interpretations presented by so many dream interpreters. How, it may be asked, do we know that a motor-car stands for the sexual drive; might it not simply stand for a motor-car? In other words, how can the poor dreamer ever dream about anything whatsoever, such as a house, a screw, a syringe, a railway engine, a gun, the moon, a horse, walking, riding, climbing stairs, or indeed anything under the sun, if these things are immediately taken to symbolize something else? What would happen if you took a very commonplace, everyday event such as a train journey and regarded it as an account of a dream? The reader will see in the following paragraph how such a very simple and straightforward description is absolutely riddled with Freudian symbols of one kind or another. Relevant words and phrases have been italicized to make identification easier.

To begin with, we pack our trunks, carry them downstairs, and call a taxi. We put our trunks inside, then enter ourselves. The taxi surges forward, but the traffic soon brings us to a halt and the driver rhythmically moves his hand up and down to indicate that he is stopping. Finally we drive into the station. There is still time left and we decide to write a postcard. We sharpen a pencil, but the point drops off and we test our fountain pen by splashing some drops of ink on to the blotting-paper. We push the postcard through the slot of the pillar-box and then pass the barrier and enter the train. The powerful engine blows off steam and finally starts. Very soon, however, the train enters a dark tunnel. The rhythmic sounds of the wheels going over the intersections send us to sleep, but we rouse ourselves and go to the dining-car, where the waiter pours coffee into a cup from a long- nosed coffee-pot. The train is going very fast now and we bob up and down in our seats. The semaphore arms on the signal masts rise as we approach and fall again as we pass. We look out of the window and see cows in the pasture, horses chasing each other, and farmers ploughing the ground and sowing seeds. The sun is setting now and the moon is rising. Finally the train pulls into the station and we have arrived.

It will be clear that there is practically nothing that we can do or say on our journey which is not a flagrant sex symbol. If, therefore, we wanted to dream of a railway journey, the thing would just be impossible. All we can ever dream about, if we follow the Freudian theory, is sex, sex, and sex again.

The critical thinker may feel at this point that while the discussion may have been quite interesting at times, it has not produced a single fact which could be regarded as having scientific validity. Everything is surmise, conjecture, and interpretation; judgements are made in terms of what seems reasonable and fitting. This is not the method of science, and that is precisely what is missing in all the work we have been summarizing so far.

There is always a necessity of having control groups in psychological investigations. No control group has ever been used in experimental studies of dream interpretation by psychoanalysts, yet the necessity for such a control would be obvious on reflection. According to Freud’s theory, the manifest dream leads back to the latent dreams in terms of symbolization and in terms of free association. This is used as an argument in favour of the view that the alleged latent dream has caused the manifest dream, but the control experiment is missing. What would happen if we took a dream reported by person A and got person B to associate to the various elements of that dream? Having performed this experiment a number of times, I have come to the conclusion that the associations very soon lead us back to precisely the same complexes which we would have reached if we had started out with one of person B’s own dreams. In other words, the starting point is quite irrelevant; so a person’s thoughts and associations tend to lead towards his personal troubles, desires, and wishes of the present moment.

Actually, it would not be quite correct to say that no experimental work on dreams had been done. There are a number of promising leads, but, as might have been expected, these have come from the ranks of academic psychologists and not from psychoanalysts themselves. Of particular interest is the work of Luria, a Russian psychologist who attacked the problem of dream interpretation as part of a wider problem, namely the experimental investigation of complexes. His technique consisted in implanting complexes under hypnosis and observing the various reactions, including dreams, of the subjects after they had recovered from the hypnotic trance. The implanted complexes were of course unconscious in the sense that the subject knew nothing about them on being interrogated, and had no notion of anything that had transpired during the hypnotic trance.

An example may make clearer just what the procedure is. It is taken from a study of  H. J. Eysenck carried out to check some of the findings reported by Luria. The subject, a thirty-two-year-old woman, is hypnotized and the following situation is power- fully impressed upon her as having actually happened. She is walking across Hampstead Heath late at night when suddenly she hears footsteps behind her; she turns and sees a man running after her; she tries to escape but is caught, flung to the ground, and raped. On waking from the hypnosis, she is rather perturbed, trembles a little, but cannot explain the cause of her uneasiness ; she has completely forgotten the event suggested to her under hypnosis. She is then asked to lie down and rest; after a few minutes she falls into a natural sleep, but is immediately woken up and asked to recall anything she might have been dreaming of. She re- counts that in her dream she was in some desolate spot which she cannot locate and that suddenly a big Negro, brandishing a knife, was attacking her; he managed to prick her thigh with it. The symbolic re-interpretation of the hypnotic trance in the dream is clear enough and tends to substantiate the fact that dreams express in dramatized and symbolic form certain thoughts which in the waking state would probably be conceptualized in a more direct form.

This method of investigation has considerable promise, but unfortunately very little has been done with it. Realizing, then, that nothing certain is known, can we at least propound a general theory which summarizes what we have said and is not contradicted by any of the known facts? Such a theory might run as follows : The mind tends to be constantly active. In the waking state most of the material for this activity is provided by perceptions of events in the outer world; only occasionally, as in problem-solving and day-dreaming, are there long stretches of internal activity withdrawn from external stimulation. During sleep such external stimulation is more or less completely absent, and consequently mental activity ceases to be governed by external stimulation and becomes purely internal.

In general this mental activity is very much concerned with the same problems that occupy waking thought. Our wishes, hopes, fears, our problems and their solutions, our relationships with other people – these are the things we think about in our waking life, and these are the things we dream about when we are asleep. The main difference is that mental activity in sleep appears to be at a lower level of complexity and to find expression in a more archaic mode of presentation. The generalizing and conceptualizing parts of the mind seem to be dormant, and their function is taken over by a more primitive method of pictorial representation. It is this primitivization of the thought processes which leads to the emergence of symbolism, which thus serves very much the function Hall has given it in his theory.

This symbolizing activity is, of course, determined to a large extent by previous learning. In general, symbols are relative to the education and experience of the dreamer, although certain symbols, such as the moon, are very widely used because they are familiar to almost all human beings.

Until evidence of a more rigorous kind than is available now is produced in favour of this hypothesis, we can only say that no confident answer can be given. If and when the proper experiments are performed, due care being given to the use of control groups and other essential safeguards. At the moment the only fit verdict seems to be the Scottish one of ‘not proven’.

Many other alternative theories could be formulated and would have to be tested before anything decisive could be said about the value of the Freudian hypothesis. In the absence of such work, our verdict must be that, such evidence as there is leads one to agree with the many judges who have said that what is new in the Freudian theory is not true, and what is true in it is not new.

“A dream is a work of art which requires of the dreamer no particular talent, special training, or technical competence. Dreaming is a creative enterprise in which all may and most do participate.” – Clark S. Hall


Fisher, S., & Greenberg, R. P. (1996). Freud scientifically reappraised: Testing the theories and therapy. John Wiley & Sons.

Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams. S.E., 4-5.

Freud, S. (1915). The unconscious. SE, 14: 159-204.

Freud, S. (1920). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE, 18: 1-64.

Freud, S. (1923). The ego and the id. SE, 19: 1-66.

Freud, S. (1961). The resistances to psycho-analysis. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923-1925): The Ego and the Id and other works (pp. 211-224).

Tulving, E. (1972). Episodic and semantic memory. In E. Tulving & W. Donaldson (Eds.), Organization of Memory, (pp. 381–403). New York: Academic Press.




Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off




Dr. V.K.Maheshwari M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India.

Manjul Lata Agrawal. M.A. (History) B.T.

Former Principal S.K.V, Delhi Cantt. Delhi.

The first and foremost is to define the concept of beauty. From the lay-man point of view ,beauty is the effect one  feel after receiving or perceiving any stimulus, concrete or abstract. This effect can be pleasing or repulsive.

Actually the above point refers only about the effect of beauty, but” what” aspect of the basic question is still unanswered. Actually beauty is nothing but an equilibrium among the various inherent  components in anything, may it be music. Painting, literary work , a thought in philosophy or anything in nature including biological structure or social and cultural impact factors.



The first and foremost is to define the concept of beauty. From the lay-man point of view ,beauty is the effect one  feel after receiving or perceiving any stimulus, concrete or abstract. This effect can be pleasing or repulsive. We shall answer, briefly and precariously, that beauty is any quality by which an object or a form pleases a beholder. Primarily and originally the object does not please the beholder because it is beautiful, but rather he calls it beautiful because it pleases him.

Any object that satisfies desire will seem beautiful. The pleasing object may as like as not be the beholder himself; in our secret hearts no other form is quite so fair as ours, and art begins with the adornment of one’s own exquisite body. Or the pleasing object may be the desired mate; and then the aesthetic beauty-feeling sense takes on the intensity and creativeness of sex, and spreads the aura of beauty to everything that concerns the beloved one to all forms that resemble her, all colours that adorn her, please her or speak of her, all ornaments and garments that become her, all shapes and motions that recall her symmetry and grace. Or the pleasing form may be a desired male; and out of the attraction that here draws frailty to worship strength comes that sense of sublimate satisfaction in the presence of power which creates the loftiest art of all.

Finally nature herself with our cooperation may become both sublime and beautiful; not only because it simulates and suggests all the tenderness of women and all the strength of men, but because we project into it our own feelings and fortunes, our love of others and of ourselves relishing in it the scenes of our youth, enjoying its quiet solitude as an escape from the storm of life.

Actually the above point refers only about the effect of beauty, but” what” aspect of the basic question is still unanswered. Actually beauty is nothing but an equilibrium among the various inherent  components in anything, may it be music. Painting, literary work , a thought in philosophy or anything in nature including biological structure or social and cultural impact factors.

Another problem area is determining the nature of beauty, is it subjective or object oriented/ objective? The supporters of subjective nature give some significant arguments like,” for the mother, her child is the  most beautiful child” or  “ why we feel attracted towards one person in one situation and for the same person we may feel the opposite in different situation”

The supporters of the object oriented view argue like, “The sculptures of Ajanta cave , paintings of Leonardo ,  classical music, or poetry of Rabindra Nath Tagore are beautiful ,if you fail to appreciate them , it is due to your ignorance . So the fault lies in you not in the object.

Both types of arguments carry weight. So it can be concluded that the nature of beauty is both subjective as well as object- centred/ objective.

The primitive sense of beauty

Primitive man seldom thinks of selecting women because of what we should call their beauty; he thinks rather of their usefulness, and never dreams of rejecting a strong-armed bride because of her ugliness. The Red Indian chief, being asked which of his wives was loveliest, apologized for never having thought of the matter. “Their faces,” he said, with the mature wisdom of a Franklin, “might be more or less handsome, but in other respects women are all the same.” Where a sense of beauty is present in primitive man it sometimes eludes us by being so different from our own.

“All Negro races that I know,” says Reichard, “account a woman beautiful who is not constricted at the waist, and when the body from the arm-pits to the hips is the same breadth ‘like a ladder,’ says the Coast Negro.” Elephantine ears and an overhanging stomach are feminine charms to some African males; and throughout Africa it is the fat woman who is accounted loveliest.

“Most savages says Briffault, “have a preference for what we should regard as one of the most unsightly features in a woman’s form, namely, long, hanging breasts.” “It is well known,” says Darwin, “that with many Hottentot women the posterior part of the body projects in a wonderful manner . . .; and Sir Andrew Smith is certain that this peculiarity is greatly admired by the men. He once saw a woman who was considered a beauty, and she was so immensely developed behind that when seated on level ground she could not rise, and had to push herself along until she came to a slope. . . .According to Burton the Somali men are said to choose their wives by ranging them in a line, and by picking her out who projects furthest a tergo. Nothing can be more hateful to a Negro than the opposite form.”  In Nigeria, says Mungo Park, “corpulence and beauty seem to be terms nearly synonymous. A woman of even moderate pretensions must be one who cannot walk without a slave under each arm to support her; and a perfect beauty is a load for a camel.”If the sense of beauty is not strong in primitive society it may be because the lack of delay between sexual desire and fulfilment gives no time for that imaginative enhancement of the object.



Sculpture is a fine arts discipline that produces artwork in three dimensional forms. Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions and one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since modernism, shifts in sculptural process led to an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling.

Sculpture has been central in religious devotion in many cultures, and until recent centuries large sculptures, too expensive for private individuals to create, were usually an expression of religion or politics.Sculpture, like painting, probably owed its origin to pottery: the potter found that he could mold not only articles of use, but imitative figures that might serve as magic amulets, and then as things of beauty in themselves. The Eskimos carved caribou antlers and walrus ivory into figurines of animals and men.  Again, primitive man sought to mark his hut, or a totem-pole, or a grave with some image that would indicate the object worshiped, or the person deceased; at first he carved merely a face upon a post, then a head, then the whole post; and through this filial marking of graves sculpture became an art. So the ancient dwellers on Easter Island topped with enormous monolithic statues the vaults of their dead; scores of such statues, many of them twenty feet high, have been found there; some, now prostrate in ruins, were apparently sixty feet tall.



The first known humans to make clothing, Neanderthalman, survived from about 200, about 30,000B.C.E.During this time the earth’s temperature rose and fell dramatically, creating a series of ice ages throughout the northern areas of Europe and Asia where Neanderthal man lived. With their compact, muscular bodies that conserved body heat, Neanderthals were well adapted to the cold climate of their day. But it was their large brain that served them best. Neanderthal man learned to make crude but effective tools from stone. Tools such as spears and axes made Neanderthals strong hunters, and they hunted the hairy mammoths, bears, deer, muskoxen, and other mammalsthat shared their environment. At some point, Neanderthals learned how to use the thick, furry hides from these animals to keep themselves warm and dry. With this discovery, clothing was born.

Evidence of the very first clothing is mostly indirect. Archeologists (scientists who study the fossil and material remnants of past life) discovered chipped rock scrapers that they believe were used to scrape meat from animal hides. These date to about 100,000B.C.E.Archeologists believe that these early humans cut the hides into shapes they liked, making holes for the head and perhaps the arms, and draped the furs over their bodies. Soon their methods likely grew more sophisticated. They may have used thin strips of hide to tie the furs about themselves, perhaps in the way that belts are used today.

Clothing was apparently, in its origins, a form of ornament, a sexual deterrent or charm rather than an article of use against cold or shame.  The Cimbri were in the habit of tobogganing naked over the snow.  When Darwin, pitying the nakedness of the Fuegians, gave one of them a red cloth as a protection against the cold, the native tore it into strips, which he and his companions then used as ornaments; as Cook had said of them, timelessly, they were “content to be naked, but ambitious to be fine.”” In like manner the ladies of the Orinoco cut into shreds the materials given them by the Jesuit Fathers for clothing; they wore the ribbons so made around their necks, but insisted that “they would be ashamed to wear clothing’” An old author describes the Brazilian natives as usually naked, and adds: “Now already some doe wear apparel, but esteem it so little that they wear it rather for fashion than for honesties sake, and because they are commanded to wear it; … as is well scene by some that sometimes come abroad with certain garments no further than the navel, without any other thing, or others only a cap on their heads, and leave the other garments at home.”” When clothing became something more than an adornment it served partly to indicate the married status of a loyal wife, partly to accentuate the form and beauty of woman. For the most part primitive women asked of clothing precisely what later women have asked not that it should quite cover their nakedness, but that it should enhance or suggest their charms. Everything changes, except woman and man.

The Cosmetic painting of the body-



Body painting is a form of body art where artwork is painted directly onto the human skin. Body painting with a grey or white paint made from natural colors including clay, chalk, ash and cattle dung is traditional in many tribal cultures. Often worn during cultural ceremonies

Body painting is a form of art that followed us from the ancient prehistoric times when human race was born, to the modern times where artist use human body as a innovative canvas that can showcase human beauty like no art style before it. Many believe that body painting was the first form of art that was used by humans, and archaeological evidence is close to support it.

Records of various ancient and modern tribes from Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia show clear records of their body painting heritage. By using natural pigments from plants and fruits, ancient people decorated themselves with ritual paintings, tattoos, piercings, plugs and even scarring. According to many historians, body painting was the important part of the daily and spiritual lives, often showcasing their inner qualities, wishes for future, images of gods, and many natural or war themes. There, body paint was often applied for weddings, preparations for war, death or funerals, showcasing of position and rank, and rituals of adulthood. In addition to temporary body paints, many cultures used face paint or permanent tattooing that could showcase much larger details than paintings made from natural pigments.

Indeed it is highly probable that the natural male thinks of beauty in terms of himself rather than in terms of woman; art begins at home. Primitive men equalled modern men in vanity, incredible as this will seem to women. Among simple peoples, as among animals, it is the male rather than the female that puts on ornament and mutilates his body for beauty’s sake. In Australia, says Bonwick, “adornments are almost entirely monopolized by men”; so too in Melanesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Britain, New Hanover, and among the North American Indians.  In some tribes more time is given to the adornment of the body than to any other business of the day.

Apparently the first form of art is the artificial colouring of the body sometimes to attract women, sometimes to frighten foes. The Australian native, like the latest American belle, always carried with him a provision of white, red, and yellow paint for touching up his beauty now and then; and when the supply threatened to run out he undertook expeditions of some distance and danger to renew it. On ordinary days he contented himself with a few spots of colour on his cheeks, his shoulders and his breast; but on festive occasions he felt shamefully nude unless his entire body was painted.

In some tribes the men reserved to themselves the right to paint the body; in others the married women were forbidden to paint their necks.  But women were not long in acquiring the oldest of the arts cosmetics. When Captain Cook dallied in New Zealand he noticed that his sailors, when they returned from their adventures on shore, had artificially red or yellow noses; the paint of the native Helens had stuck to them.” The Fellatah ladies of Central Africa spent several hours a day over their toilette: they made their fingers and toes purple by keeping them wrapped all night in henna leaves; they stained their teeth alternately with blue, yellow, and purple dyes; they colour their hair with indigo, and pencilled their eyelids with sulphuret of antimony.” Every Bongo lady carried in her dressing- case tweezers for pulling out eyelashes and eyebrows, lancet-shaped hair- pins, rings and bells, buttons and clasps.

Tattooing, scarification



In the past, a woman or man would have scarification marks that will distinguish her/him from anyone else, tell her/his rank in society, family, clan, and tribe, and symbolize her beauty or strength. In some African tribes, it was like wearing your identity card on your face. True, some may hate that, but this was a mark of pride, not shame. In most African cultures, it was a major aesthetic and cultural component as can be seen on sculptures in museums around the world. Scarification patterns on sculptures are not only marks of beauty, but marks of one’s lineage as well, and in some cases protection against evil spirits. Lastly, in Africa like in Polynesia, scarification is more visible on darker skinned people than say, tattoos.

Scarification is a long and painful process, and a permanent modification of the body, transmitting complex messages about identity and social status. Permanent body markings emphasize social, political, and religious roles. Beautiful and complex designs depend on the artist’s skills but also on a person’s tolerance to pain.  Facial scarification in West Africa was used for identification of ethnic groups, families, individuals but also to express beauty; scars were thought to beautify the body.

Scarification is a permanent procedure meant to decorate and beautify the body.Artists used the body as their canvas and the results became socially valuable. The operation of cutting and raising scars was common, as ‘tattooing’ was not an effective way to decorate dark pigmented skins.The process of African scarification involved puncturing ‘or cutting’ patterns and motifs into the epidermis of the skin. Different tools produced different types of scars, some subtle, others profound. Scarification served as a symbol of strength, fortitude and courage in both men and women. Scars were used to enhance beauty and society’s admiration .Ash and certain organic saps might be added to a wound to make the scarring more prominent and or embellished. Climate and custom permitted negligible clothing – which intern promoted body art.

The primitives invented tattooing, scarification and clothing as more permanent adornments. The women as well as the men, in many tribes, submitted to the colouring needle, and bore without flinching even the tattooing of their lips.

In Greenland the mothers tattooed their daughters early, the sooner to get them married off.” Most often, however, tattooing itself was considered insufficiently visible or impressive, and a number of tribes on every continent produced deep scars on their flesh to make them- selves lovelier to their fellows, or more discouraging to their enemies. As Theophile Gautier put it, “having no clothes to embroider, they embroidered their skins.”  Flints or mussel shells cut the flesh, and often a ball of earth was placed within the wound to enlarge the scar. The Torres Straits natives wore huge scars like epaulets; the Abcokuta cut themselves to pro- duce scars imitative of lizards, alligators or tortoises.  “There is,” says Georg, “no part of the body that has not been perfected, decorated, dis figured, painted, bleached, tattooed, reformed, stretched or squeezed, out of vanity or desire for ornament.”” The Botocudos derived their name from a plug (botoque) which they inserted into the lower lip and the ears in the eighth year of life, and repeatedly replaced with a larger plug until the opening was as much as four inches in diameter.  Hottentot women trained the labia mlnora to assume enoromous lengths, so producing at last the “Hottentot apron” so greatly admired by their men.  Ear-rings and nose-rings were de rigueur; the natives of Gippsland believed that one who died without a nose-ring would suffer horrible torments in the next life.

It is all very barbarous, says the modern lady, as she bores her ears for rings, paints her lips and her cheeks, tweezes her eyebrows, reforms her eyelashes, powders her face, her neck and her arms, and compresses her feet. The tattooed sailor speaks with superior sympathy of the “savages” he has known; and the Continental student, horrified by primitive mutilations, sports his honorific scars.



From the beginning both sexes preferred ornaments to clothing. Primitive trade seldom deals in necessities; it is usually confined to articles of adornment or play.” Jewelry is one of the most ancient elements of civilization; in tombs twenty thousand years old, shells and teeth have been found strung into necklaces.” From simple beginnings such embellishments soon reached impressive proportions, and played a lofty role in life. The Galla women wore rings to the weight of six pounds, and some Dinka women carried half a hundred weight of decoration. One African belle wore cop- per rings which became hot under the sun, so that she had to employ an attendant to shade or fan her. The Queen of the Wabunias on the Congo wore a brass collar weighing twenty pounds; she had to lie down every now and then to rest. Poor women who were so unfortunate as to have only light jewellery imitated carefully the steps of those who carried great burdens of bedizenment.”



Pottery tends to arouse strong emotions in archaeologists: they either love it or hate it. For some it has an indefinable fascination, and is potentially full of information, which has to be teased out by careful and painstaking study. At the other end of the scale, it is seen as the most common of archaeological materials, whose main functions are to slow down the real business of digging, fill up stores, and behave as an archaeological black hole for post-excavation resources.

For archaeologists, anthropologists and historians the study of pottery can help to provide an insight into past cultures. The study of pottery may also allow inferences to be drawn about a culture’s daily life, religion, social relationships, attitudes towards neighbours, attitudes to their own world and even the way the culture understood the universe.

The first source of art, then, is akin to the display of colors and plumage on the male animal in mating time; it lies in the desire to adorn and beautify the body. And just as self-love and mate-love, overflowing, pour out their surplus of affection upon nature, so the impulse to beautify passes from the personal to the external world. The soul seeks to express its feeling in objective ways, through color and form; art really begins when men undertake to beautify things. Perhaps its first external medium was pottery. The potter’s wheel, like writing and the state, belongs to the historic civilizations; but even without it primitive men or rather women lifted this ancient industry to an art, and achieved merely with clay, water and deft fingers an astonishing symmetry of form; witness the pottery fashioned by the Baronga of South Africa,  or by the Pueblo Indians.

When the potter applied colour designs to the surface of the vessel he had formed, he was creating the art of painting. In primitive hands painting is not yet an independent art; it exists as an adjunct to pottery and statuary. Nature men made colours out of clay, and the Andamanese made oil colours by mixing ochre with oils or fats.  Such colours were used to ornament weapons, implements, vases, clothing, and buildings. Many hunting tribes of Africa and Oceania painted upon the walls of their caves or upon neighbouring rocks vivid representations of the animals that they sought in the chase.

The Dance



Primitive dance” is a dance which is considered as dance in its purest form because this particular dance form has not been refined, developed, trained, or guided by an artist.

Primitive dance was done mostly for worship. The people worshiped elements of nature or some gods. Another reason why they danced was to keep themselves warm. They didn’t have heated homes, of course and it was pretty cold then as it is now.  Another characteristic of primitive dance was that they imitated their daily activities, like fishing or hunting. Their entire life evolved around these activities so of course that would show in the dances they did. The dances were also wild like another person said in here. They had jerky and animal like movements. They also imitated the sounds and movements made by animals and birds. The primitive dance was not done for social interaction and it was performed by men alone. They had a leader who would give the calls. The leader was called a shaman and he was respected by everyone in the tribe.

Even in early days, and probably long before he thought of carving objects or building tombs, man found pleasure in rhythm, and began to develop the crying and warbling, the prancing and preening, of the animal into song and dance. Perhaps, like the animal, he sang before he learned to talk,” and danced as early as he sang. Indeed no art so characterized or expressed primitive man as the dance. He developed it from primordial simplicity to a complexity unrivalled in civilization, and varied it into a thousand forms. The great festivals of the tribes were celebrated chiefly with communal and in-

Individual dancing; great wars were opened with martial steps and chants; the great ceremonies of religion were a mingling of song, drama and dance. What seems to us now to be forms of play were probably serious matters to early men; they danced not merely to express themselves, but to offer suggestions to nature or the gods; for example, the periodic incitation to abundant reproduction was accomplished chiefly through the hypnotism of the dance.

Spencer derived the dance from the ritual of welcoming a victorious chief home from the wars; Freud derived it from the natural expression of sensual desire, and the group technique of erotic stimulation; if one should assert, with similar narrowness, that the dance was born of sacred rites and mummeries, and then merge the three theories into one, there might result as definite a conception of the origin of the dance as can be attained by us today.



Prehistoric music (previously primitive music) is a term in the history of music for all music produced in preliterate cultures (prehistory), beginning somewhere in very late geological history.Prehistoric music is followed by ancient music in different parts of the world, but still exists in isolated areas.

Prehistoric music, sometimes called primitive music, covers the first cultural periods of the human species particularly the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, from its birth to the Ancient Music era that started around 2000-3000 BC, generally considered to coincide with the first appearance of written materials. These eras cover the birth of human cultures comprising chants and instrumental music.

The music probably started with vocal sound experimentation and playing (basic voice playing ie. primitive singing, shouting, crying, murmuring…) that were then structured and used for children’s lullabies, rituals, funerals, celebrations and other kinds of ceremonies. The first wind instruments and percussion instruments appeared during the Paleolithic eras. Some of them were discovered and have been reconstructed. They consist of: bone flutes, ivory flutes, wooden and bamboo flutes; bone whistles like whistling phalanx; bone or wooden rhombus, also named bullroarer, a weighted aerofoil consisting of a rectangular thin slat of bone or wood attached to a cord that is rotated vigorously above self; primitive string instruments like musical bows; primitive percussion instruments like wooden or bone scraper artefacts used with a wooden stick or small bone, seeds, shells, primitive drums with recipients, and other kind of wooden or bone tools hit or knocked over different stones, shells, bones, horns or wood pieces.

From the dance, we may believe, came instrumental music and the drama. The making of such music appears to arise out of a desire to mark and accentuate with sound the rhythm of the dance, and to intensify with shrill or rhythmic notes the excitement necessary to patriotism or procreation. The instruments were limited in range and accomplishment, but almost endless in variety: native ingenuity exhausted itself in fashioning horns, trumpets, gongs, tamtams, clappers, rattles, castanets, flutes and drums from horns, skins, shells, ivory, brass, copper, bamboo and wood; and it ornamented them with elaborate carving and colouring. The taut string of the bow became the origin of a hundred instruments from the primitive lyre to the Stradivarius violin and the modern pianoforte. Professional singers, like professional dancers, arose among the tribes; and vague scales, predominantly minor in tone, were developed.”

With music, song and dance combined, the “savage” created for us the drama and the opera. For the primitive dance was frequently devoted to mimicry; it imitated, most simply, the movements of animals and men, and passed to the mimetic performance of actions and events. So some Australian tribes staged a sexual dance around a pit ornamented with shrubbery to represent the vulva, and, after ecstatic and erotic gestures and prancing, cast their spears symbolically into the pit. The northwestern tribes of the same island played a drama of death and resurrection differing only in simplicity from the medieval mystery and modern Passion plays: the dancers slowly sank to the ground, hid their heads under the boughs they carried, and simulated death; then, at a sign from their leader, they rose abruptly in a wild triumphal chant and dance announcing the resurrection of the soul.  In like manner a thousand forms of pantomime described events significant to the history of the tribe, or actions important in the individual life. When rhythm disappeared from these performances the dance passed into the drama, and one of the greatest of art-forms was born.

Art is the creation of beauty; it is the expression of thought or feeling in a form that seems beautiful or sublime, and therefore arouses in us some reverberation of that primordial delight which woman gives to man, or man to woman. The thought may be any capture of life’s significance, the feeling may be any arousal or release of life’s tensions. The form may satisfy us through rhythm, which falls in pleasantly with the alternations of our breath, the pulsation of our blood, and the majestic oscillations of winter and summer, ebb and flow, night and day; or the form may please us through symmetry, which is a static rhythm, standing for strength and recalling to us the ordered proportions of plants and animals, of women and men; or it may please us through colour, which brightens the spirit or intensifies life; or finally the form may please us through veracity because its lucid and transparent imitation of nature or reality catches some mortal loveliness of plant or animal, or some transient meaning of circumstance, and holds it still for our lingering enjoyment or leisurely under- standing. From these many sources come those noble superfluities of life song and dance, music and drama, pottery and painting, sculpture and architecture, literature and philosophy.



BRIFFAULT, ROBERT: The Mothers. 3V. New York, 1927

GEORG, EUGEN: The Adventure of Mankind. New York, 1931

GROSSE, ERNST: Beginnings of Art. New York, 1897.

LOWIE, R. H.: Primitive Religion. New York, 1924.

LOWIE,R. H.: Are We Civilized? New York, 1929.

LUBBOCK, SIR JOHN: The Origin of Civilization. London, 1912.

MASON, W. A.: History of the Art of Writing. New York, 1920.

MULLER-LYER,F.: History of Social Development. New York, 1921.

PI JOAN, JOS.: History of Art. 3V. New York, 1927

PRATT, W. S.: The History of Music. New York, 1927.

RATZEL, F.: History of Mankind. 2v. London, 1896.

RENARD, G.: Life and Work in Prehistoric Times. New York, 1929.

SPENCER, HERBERT: Principles of Sociology. 3V. New York, 1910.

SUMNER, W. G. and KELLER, A. G.: Science of Society. 3V. New Haven, 1928.

SUMNER, W. G.: Folkways. Boston, 1906.





Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Carvaka-The Ancient Indian Rebel Philosophy


Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Manjul Lata Agrawal. M.A. (History) B.T.

Former Principal S.K.V, Delhi Cantt. Delhi.

“Fire is hot, water cold; refreshingly cool is the breeze of morning By whom came this variety? They were born of their own nature This also has been said by Brihaspati: There is no heaven, no final liberation, nor any soul in another world, Nor do the actions of the four castes, orders, or priesthoods produce any real effect. If he who departs from the body goes to another world, how is it that he comes not back again, restless for love of his kindred? Hence it is only as a means of livelihood that Brahmans have established here all these ceremonies for the dead, — there is no other fruit anywhere.”


Atheists and  and materialists were apparently common in ancient India, for the Hindu scriptures found it necessary to respond to the arguments of non-believers on many occasions. The materialist systems were often called “Lokayata,” or ”Carvakas” which means “that which is found among people in general.”

The word ‘Carvaka’ is associated with the word ‘materialist’. Thus it is connected with materialism. According to materialism matter is the only reality. According to ‘Carvaka’ matter is the only reality of this world andeverything of this world including mind and consciousness is the product of matter. Accounts of the ‘Carvaka’ system are found inSarvadarsanasamgraha and saddarsana-samuccaya.

Carvaka is a heterodox or non-vedie systems of Indian philosophy. They are known as hedonists, atheists, positivists and materialists.  It does not believe in the authority of the Vedas nor also in God. Regarding the founder of this system many opinions are there. According to some thinkers, there was a sage named ‘Carvaka’ who first propounded this philosophy and the followers of that sage are called the Carvakas. According to others,

Brhaspati, is the founder of this system. This system is known as Lokayata Darsana. Again some conclude that Brpaaspati is the teacher of the gods,founded this philosophy with a view to deceiving the giants, the enemies of the god. The Carvaka philosophy is a philosophy of free-thinking. There is no law of Karma, no permanent soul, nor any future life, nor transmigration. Hell, Heaven, merits, demerits everything are meaningless.

The earliest known Indian materialist was Brhaspati,. He had no positive system to advance, but merely denied orthodox views of theology, ethics, and dualism. He said: “The whole Hindu system is a contrivance of the priesthood to secure a means of livelihood for themselves.” Because of him, earliest Indian materialism was sometimes called “Brhaspatya.”

Out of the aphorisms of Brihaspati came a whole school of Hindu materialist, named, after one of them, Carvakas. They laughed at the notion that the Vedas were divinely revealed truth; truth, they argued, can never be known, except through the senses. Even reason is not to be trusted, for every inference depends for its validity not only upon accurate observation and correct reasoning, but also upon the assumption that the future will behave like the past; and of this, as Hume was to say, there can be no certainty,perception as the only means of valid knowledge, and they reject the validityof inference. They also reject the authority of the Vedas and the supremacy of the Brahmanas. They are known as naturalists and accidentalists and rejectfinal causes and universality of causation.

Another early materialist was Ajita Kesakambali (6th century B.C.), who lived as an ascetic despite denying the afterlife, karma and morality. Ideas like generosity are the concepts of a stupid person. He who speaks of their existence, his words are empty and confused; a cry of desperation.

Payasi Suttanta (6th century B.C.). denies dualism, reincarnation, and karma. Payasi says he has known some very evil men and some very good men, and he made them promise to tell him of their experiences if they died and were reincarnated. But many of them have died, and Payasi has not heard from any of them. So he doubts reincarnation.

Carvakas hold that some objects are eternal, some are non-eternal, and some are in mixed nature. The special characters of these objects are controlled by their natures which in inherent in them.  The Carvaka also denies any causal relation between two events. One event cannot produce another event, to produce means to exert a power. But as no such power is perceived as existing objects, the reality of productive power is inadmissible. It cannot also be established by perception that there is any invariable and unconditional relation between two events.

The Carvaka thinks that whatever happens in the world, that is accidentally. There is no existence of conscious purpose behind the world. The two events are found together on numerous occasions, and therefore produce an expectation in the mind that they will always go together. This accidental conjunction of an antecedent and a consequent can not ensure vyapti, which is the ground of inference.

Carvaka theology

Carvaka theology tries to explain the world only by nature. It is sometimes called naturalism and sometimes called mechanism (Svabhavavada and yadrecha vada) because it denies the existence of conscious purpose behind the world and explains it as a mere mechanical combination of elements. The Carvaka theory on the whole may also be called positivism, because it believes only in positive facts or observable phenomena.

According to Carvaka, material elements produce the world, and the supposition of a creator is unnecessaiy. The objection may be raised : can the material elements by themselves give rise to this world ? It is seen that at the time of production of an object like an earthen jar requires, in addition to clay which is its material cause, a potter who is the efficient cause, that shapes the material into the desired form. The four elements supply only the material cause of the world. Like the efficient cause of the jar, there should be an efficient cause behind the world who turns the material elements into this wonderful world. In that case, the Carvaka states that the material elements themselves have got each its fixed nature. It is by the natures and laws inherent in them that they combine together to form this world. There is thus no necessity for God. There is no proof that the objects of the world are the products of any design.

What is not perceived by the senses, said the Carvakas, does not exist; therefore the soul is a delusion and Atman is humbug. We do not observe, in experience or history, any interposition of supernatural forces in the world. All phenomena are natural; only simpletons trace them to demons or gods. Matter is the one reality; the body is a combination of atoms; the mind is merely matter thinking; the body, not the soul, feels, sees, hears, and thinks. “Who has seen the soul existing in a state separate from the body?” There is no immortality, no rebirth.

The Charvaka opine that there is no such rebirth of a so called permanent soul. The body-soul perishes and disappears with death. They argue that if there was such a ‘live’ soul which transmigrates to another body, in that case, the soul of elephant and a horse will be one and the same, but it is not. Moreover, if such a soul existed at all, every child would have remembered the activities of his past life which is never seen.

Charvaka as Materialism:


The germs of materialism are found in the hymns of the R.g. Veda. According to Carvaka, there are four gross material elements these are earth, water, air and fire. Carvakas reject ether because ether is not perceptible. Man is composed of these four elements. Radhakrishnan in his book. Indian philosophy vol. – II refers that “Man is composed of four elements. When man dies, the earthly element returns and relapses into the earth; the watery element returns into the water; the fiery element returns into the fire, and airy element returns into the air, the senses pass into space. Wise and fool alike, when the body dissolves, are cut off, perish, do not exist any longer.” Manu also refers two types of materialists i.e. riastikas (nihilists) and Pasandas (heretics). The classic authority on the materialist theory is known as the sutras of Brhaspati.

Carvakas accept that body is the combination of material elements. Carvakas believe in the existence of atoms. The sense- organs are produced by the atomic arrangement of the elements. Consciousness is produced by the material elements, (earth, water, air and fire) by a chemical process these elements produces consciousness in the body. Consciousness is found in the body due to the modifications of the gross elements just like, when betel, ariea nut and lime are chewed combindly then the red colour is produced.

Carvakas believes that the sense organs and other objects are the mere aggregates of earth, water, fire and air. These are foundby” our perception. According to carvakas there is an invariable relation between two things and they are causally connected with each other, one is the material cause of the other which is known as effect. Lamp and light are always found together. Lamp is the material cause of the light. There is an invariable relation between lamp and light similarly there is an invariable relation between body and consciousness. So body is the material cause of consciousness.

According to the Carvakas, matter is the only reality because it alone is perceived. The Carvaka Theory of reality follows from the epistemological conclusion just discussed. It rationally asserts only the reality of perceptible objects. God, Soul, Heaven, Life before birth or, after death, and any unperceived law (like adrsta) cannot be believed in, because they are all beyond perception, Material objects are the only objects whose existence can be received and whose reality can be asserted, They assume that the soul is the body,and deny pre-existence, future life, Law of Karma, Heaven and Hell bondage and release and the existence of God. According to them only gross matter isthe reality of this world,

Religion is an aberration, a disease, or a chicanery; the hypothesis of a god is useless for explaining or understanding the world. Men think religion necessary only because, being accustomed to it, they feel a sense of loss, and an uncomfortable void, when the growth of knowledge destroys this faith. Morality, too, is natural; it is a social convention and convenience, not a divine command. Nature is indifferent to good and bad, virtue and vice, and lets the sunshine indiscriminately upon knaves and saints; if nature has any ethical quality at all it is that of transcendent immorality. There is no need to control instinct and passion, for these is the instructions of nature to men. Virtue is a mistake; the purpose of life is living, and the only wisdom is happiness.


In their ethics, the Carvakas upheld a kind of hedonism: the only goal people ought to pursue is maximizing sensual pleasure in life while avoiding pain—the kind that proceeds from over-indulgence and instant gratification. As is common with confrontational schools of thought, they were accused of “immoral practices” and depicted as “hedonists advocating a policy of total opportunism; they are often described as addressing princes, whom they urged to act exclusively in their own self-interest, thus providing the intellectual climate in which a text such as Kautilya’s Arthashastra a text that elevated the material wellbeing of both the nation and its people and favored an autocratic state to realize it.  In accordance with the dictates of policy and enjoyment, the mass of men consider wealth and satisfaction of desire the only ends of man. They deny the existence of any object belonging to a future world, and follow only the doctrine of Carvakas. Hence another name for that school is Lokayata—a name well accordant with the thing signified [that only the material world, loka, exists].

Carvakas is often depicted as denying spiritual values and is accordingly “represented as discarding morality, and preaching what is reproachfully described as the principle of ‘good digestion and no conscience”. However, some scholars believe, however, that this is a misunderstanding of the Carvakas position since “no serious thinker could have included such a teaching” .Carvakas believes not in the notion of stringent philosophy, but in liberal beliefs. Hence, they refute most of the already-established rules in the context of Indian philosophy. The prime importance is laid on the likes and dislikes of humans. As a result, Carvakas believe in the perceived knowledge of the present life, and not in rebirth and past life. According to them good deed is not much necessary to perform in one’s lifetime, as is instructed by the crafty priests. The basic thought of the Carvakas is to obtain worldly pleasure by making merry, as there is no hell where one can be hurled. Pleasure and pain are the central facts of life. Virtue and vice are not absolute but mere social conventions. The Carvakas suggested,

While life is yours, live joyously;

None can escape Death’s searching eye:

When once this frame of ours they burn,

How shall it ever again return?

One scholar writes about the Carvakas belief system as, “Of the four ‘purusdrthas’, the Carvakas reject ‘dharma’ (virtue) and ‘moksa’ (spiritual freedom). They regard only wealth (artha) and pleasure (kdma) as the rational ends of man. Of these too, wealth is not the ultimate end; it is good only as a means to pleasure. Pleasure, then, is the ‘summum bonum’. The wise man should squeeze the maximum pleasure out of life. He should not let go a present pleasure in the hope of a future gain. These are the maxims which the Carvakas give: “Rather a pigeon to-day than a peacock tomorrow”;” A sure piece of shell is better than a doubtful coin of gold.” These are in the spirit of the saying – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

The Carvakas have emphasized that pleasure and pain are the central themes of life and it is not possible to separate life from all these. They have also claimed that virtue is nothing more than a delusion and enjoyment is the only reality. The Carvakas School of Thought believed that life is the end of life. Unlike the Upanishads the Carvakas or the materialist philosophy asserts the doctrines of uncontrolled-energy, self-assertion and reckless disregard for authority. Carvakas believe not in the notion of stringent philosophy, but in liberal beliefs. Hence, they refute most of the already-established rules in the context of Indian philosophy.

The prime importance is laid on the likes and dislikes of humans. As a result, Carvakas believe in the perceived knowledge of the present life, and not in rebirth and past life. According to them good deed is not much necessary to perform in one’s lifetime, as is instructed by the crafty priests. The basic thought of the Carvakas is to obtain worldly pleasure by making merry, as there is no hell where one can be hurled. What is meant by heaven is the pleasure we have in eating, drinking, singing and in the company and embrace of women. And hell is the pain we experience in this world itself. There is no point in trying to obtain salvation and a life of eternal quietude; there is an end to life at death and all will be quietude then. The differences between castes and their distinctive duties are falsely laid down by interested persons. There are no objective ethical laws, so one can do what one likes, provided he is careful that his actions do not bring pain as a consequence. The Carvakas do not seem to have advocated pleasures of the moment, because pleasures of the moment and over-indulgence may result in pain and pain has to be avoided. It is also said that, because pleasure is associated with fine arts like music, they encouraged them and contributed much for their development. And because they were unwilling to kill animals, some of the Charvakas are also believed to be vegetarians.

But the peculiar contribution, which this philosophy seems to have made to the philosophy of life, was the philosophical justification it tried to furnish to any kind of action for the sake of pleasure. Of course, pleasure is not possible in the absence of wealth (artha). By spending money one can obtain pleasure (kama). The value of dhartna (duty) and the value of salvation (moksha) were firmly rejected by the Carvakas School. The Carvakas denied the validity of dhartna (self-dharma, righteous duty) in any form. Action when completed, the Carvakas would say, ends there. Apurva or the latent potential form which action takes, or merit and demerit cannot be perceived by anyone atall. They are therefore not real. It is foolish to think that past actions become a kind of unseen force (adrsta) and determines one`s future births. In fact, according to the Carvaka way of life, there is no rebirth. Humans have only one birth and that is the present one. If there is rebirth, one ought to remember it; no one remembers his/her previous births

Nothing is recognized by this school as a duty. A man can do anything – beg, borrow, steal or murder – in order to accumulate more wealth and more pleasure. But the state laws prevent a man from doing whatever he desires and punish him when he disobeys them. If he is clever enough to outsmart them, then his action is justified. Otherwise, he should follow them to avert the pain of punishment. Kings, who have the power over the state’s laws, themselves can do whatever they like and do anything for increasing their wealth, power, pleasure and dominion.

Asvaghosa elaborately discusses the Svabhiva vada .Accordingly all good and bad things originate due to their own nature. The same is the case of life and death.

Madhava also says in his sarvadarsanasamgraha that common people follow the well known view that a person should live a happy life so long as he is alive. He regards that the common people always hanker for material property and material enjoyment and follow only the doctrine of carvaka as a result of which, this doctrine has become very popular

The Carvakas believed there was nothing wrong with sensual indulgence, and that it was the only enjoyment to be pursued. That the pleasure arising to man from contact with sensible objects, is to be relinquished because accompanied by pain— such is the reasoning of fools. The kernels of the paddy, rich with finest white grains, what man, seeking his own true interest, would fling them away because of a covering of husk and dust?

The only end of man is enjoyment produced by sensual pleasures. Nor may you say that such cannot be called the end of man as they are always mixed with some kind of pain, because it is our wisdom to enjoy the pure pleasure as far as we can, and to avoid the pain which inevitably accompanies it. Thus the man, who desires fish takes the fish with their scales and bones, and having eaten the parts he wants, desists. Or the man, who desires rice, takes the rice, straw and all, and having taken that which he wants, desists. It is not therefore for us, through a fear of pain, to reject the pleasure which our nature instinctively recognizes as congenial. Men do not refrain from sowing rice because there happen to be wild animals to devour it; nor do they refuse to set the cooking-pots on the fire, because there happen to be beggars to pester us for a share of the contents. if any one were so timid as to forsake a visible pleasure, he would indeed be foolish like a beast,

Carvaka ethics urged each individual to seek his or her pleasure here and now. “As long as you live, live life to the fullest,” said Carvaka. “After death, the body is turned to ashes. There is no re-birth.” These words, so full of love for humanity and life, are strikingly reminiscent of the life-enhancing philosophy of EpicurusWhat is meant by heaven is the pleasure one has in eating, drinking, making merry and singing. And hell is the pain one experiences in this world itself. There is no point in trying to obtain salvation and a life of eternal quietude; there is an end to life at death and all will be quietened then.

While life remains, let a man live happily, let him feed on butter though he runs in debt; when once the body becomes ashes how can it ever return again?.

The Carvakas way of life speaks that the differences between castes and their distinctive duties are laid down misleadingly by interested people. There are no objective ethical laws, so one can do what one wishes to, provided he is careful that his actions do not bring pain as an outcome.

Saint Brihaspati, pioneer of materialism, during the age of the Rig Veda, believed that fire worship, ritualism, practising the Vedas, smearing ashes all over the body, etc., were antics performed by those who considered themselves powerful and learned

The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons. All the well-known formulae of the pandits, jarphari, turphari, etc. and all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in Aswamedha, these were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to the priests, while the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by night-prowling demons.

This revolutionary philosophy of the Carvakas put an end to the age of the Vedas and the Upanishads. It weakened the hold of the Brahmans on the mind of India, and left in Hindu society a vacuum which almost compelled the growth of a new religion. But the materialists had done their work so thoroughly that both of the new religions which arose to replace the old Vedic faith were, anomalous though it may sound atheistic religions, devotions without a god. Both belonged to the Nastika or Nihilistic movement; and both were originated not by the Brahman priests but by members of the Kshatriyas warrior caste in a reaction against sacerdotal ceremonialism and theology. With the coming of Jainism and Buddhism a new epoch began in the history of India.

The Carvakas mocked religious ceremonies, calling them inventions of the Brahmins to ensure their own livelihood. The authors of the Vedas were “buffoons, knaves, and demons.” Those who make ritual offerings of food to the dead, why do they not feed the hungry around them?

The Agnihotra, the three Vedas, the ascetic’s three staves, and smearing oneself with ashes, these are but means of livelihood for those who have no manliness nor sences Like the other two heterodox schools, Jainism and Buddhism, they criticized the caste system and stood opposed to the ritual sacrifice of animals. When the Brahmins defended the latter by claiming that the sacrificed beast goes straight to Swarga Loka (an interim heaven before rebirth), the Carvakas asked why the Brahmans did not kill their aged parents to hasten their arrival in Swarga Loka. “If he who departs from the body goes to another world,” they asked, “how is it that he comes not back again, restless for love of his kindred?

If a beast slain in the Jyothishtoma rite will itself go to heaven,

why then does not the sacrificer forthwith offer his own father?

If the Sraddha produces gratification to beings that are dead,

then why not give food down below to those who are standing on the house-top?

Dharmakirti, a 7th century philosopher deeply influenced by  carvaka philosophywrote in Pramanvartik.  Believing that the Veda are standard (holy or divine), believing in a Creator for the world,Bathing in holy waters for gaining punya, having pride (vanity) about one’s caste,Performing penance to absolve sins,Are the five symptoms of having lost ones sanity.

Carvakas thought also appears in the Ramayana. In the epic, Rama is not the god that he later became, but an epic-hero, who, as Sen. Notes, has “many good qualities and some weaknesses, including a tendency to harbor suspicions about his wife Sita’s faithfulness.” In the epic, a pundit named Jabali “not only does not treat Rama as God, he calls his actions ‘foolish’ (‘especially for’, as Jabali puts it, ‘an intelligent and wise man’)”. Echoing Carvakas doctrine, Jabali even asserts that “there is no after-world, nor any religious practice for attaining that … the injunctions about the worship of gods, sacrifice, gifts and penance have  …

The Carvakas denounced the caste system, calling it artificial, unreal and hence unacceptable. “What is this senseless humbug about the castes and the high and low among them when the organs like the mouth, etc in the human body are the same?”

The Carvaka way of life speaks that the differences between castes and their distinctive duties are laid down misleadingly by interested people. There are no objective ethical laws, so one can do what one wishes to, provided he is careful that his actions do not bring pain as an outcome..

Hence, it can be concluded saying that the materialist philosophy had a lot to do with regard to the repudiation of old system of religion and custom of magic. The Carvakas Philosophy is in fact a man’s return to his own spirit and rejection of all those which are external and foreign. It also says that nothing needs to be accepted by an individual which do not find its place in the way of reason.

Lokayata’s skepticism about karma, reincarnation, and theology came from its epistemology. Lokayata held that perception is the only valid source of knowledge, for all other sources like testimony and inference are unreliable. Perception revealed only the material world, made of the four elements: air, fire, water, and earth. Minds and consciousness were, too, the products of matter. Souls, gods, and the afterlife could not be perceived, and thus could not be said to exist. Religious rituals were useless, and scriptures contained no special insight.

Thus, the only purpose of life was to enjoy pleasure and avoid pain. Critics described the ethics of the Lokayata as egoistic, hedonistic, or even nihilistic.

Some Lokayata were accidentalists, in that they thought the world was ruled by chance: fire may come from fire or from flint, so there is no fixed cause-effect relation.

But most Lokayata were naturalists. They believed things moved and transformed because of their inherent natures, according to lawful necessity. Their fundamental principle was nature (svabhava).

The Carvaka philosophy is similar to the Epicureans Philosophy of Greece. Both of them include hedonism which concludes that pleasure is the ultimate goal of human life. Through this principle they only earned hate. Skepticism occupies an important place in the history of philosophy. The Carvaka philosophy, saved Indian Philosophy from falling into the pitfalls of dogmatism. Carvaka rids us of the blind fascination for the past, and paves, on the otherhand, the way for the establishment of critical philosophy by opening the flood-gate of free and rational thinking.

The Carvaka was that explosive force. Every system of India  thought tried to meet the Carvaka objections. In this way. every India I system has got ihe opportunity to rid itself of traditions and establish itself 01 the sound rock of reason and criticism. The value of Carvaka Philosophy therefore, lies in supplying new philosophical problems and in compelling other philosophers in giving up dogmatism, and become more critical and careful in speculation and statement of their own views.

The Carvaka philosophy in India, like the Epicureans of Greece, ha^ been more hated than understood. ‘Carvaka’ in the mind of people at large  a term reproach. Indian philosophy owes something from the carvaka Specially the germ of skepticism or agnosticism is found in the carvaki philosophy

References and Bibliography

             Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1976). What Is Living and What Is Dead in Indian Philosophy. New Delhi: People’s Pub. House

             Debiprasad(1959). Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism. New Delhi: People’s Pub. House Monier-Williams (1899); the name literally means “speaking nicely”, from cāru “agreeable” and vāk “speech”

             Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa was an 8th or 9th century Indian philosopher (dated to ca. 770-830 by Franco 1994), author of the Tattvopaplavasimha (tattva-upa.plava-simha “The Lion that Devours All Categories”/”The Upsetting of All Principles”). The manuscript of this work was discovered in 1926 and published in 1940 (eds. Sanghavi and Parikh). ..

             Madhavacharya, the 14th-century Vedantic philosopher from South India starts his famous work The Sarva-darsana-sangraha with a chapter on the Carvaka system with the intention of refutation

             R. Bhattacharya, Carvaka Fragments: A New Collection, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Volume 30, Number 6, December 2002, pp. 597-

             Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; and Moore, Charles A. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press; 1957. Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989.

             Riepe, Dale. The Naturalistic Tradition of Indian Thought (Motilal Banarasidas, Varanasi) p.7



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

BHARTYA DARSHAN (Indian Philosophy) – An Introduction


Dr. V.K.Maheshwari M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Manjul Lata Agrawal. M.A. (History) B.T.

Former Principal S.K.V, Delhi Cantt. Delhi.

In Sanskrit, the philosophy is referred to as  ‘darshana’.    From the Indian viewpoint, Philosophy or ‘darshana’ is concerned with the vision of ‘truth and reality’.

The Sanskrit word ‘darshana’ has its root in the word ‘drs’ that means ‘to see’, ‘to look’ or ‘to view’. “Seeing” or “viewing” the reality and the facts of experience forms the basis of philosophy. Senses, mind and even consciousness are involved in this ‘seeing’. “Seeing” also encompasses “contemplation”. Seeing is not simply a sensory activity. ‘Seeing’ may primarily be a perceptual observation. But it may also concern the conceptual knowledge or an intuitional flash.

All systems of Indian philosophy are ranged by the Hindus in two categories:

The History of Indian Philosophy

The philosophies develop over long spells of time.  We can outline the history of Indian philosophies, as per Dr. Radhakrishnan,  as follows:

(1)    The Vedic Period: (1500 B.C. to 600 B.C.) This period can be regarded as the dawn of civilization in the world.  The literature of the Vedic period is considered to be the most ancient in the world. It consists of the four Vedas, namely, Rig Veda, Yajur  Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Each of the Vedas is divided into four parts: The Samhitas (the Mantras) , the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads.

(2)    The Epic Period: (600 B.C. to 200 A.D.) It is the period of the development of the early Upanishads and the darshanas and is concerned with the enriching of intellect of man. The darshanas paved the way for the growth of the systems of philosophies in India. The invaluable dharma -shastras, the great treatises on ethical and social philosophy, are the gifts of this period.  The period is very significant because it witnessed the rise and early development of Shaivism and Vaishnavism as well as that of Jainism and Buddhism.

(3)    The Sutra Period: (200 A.D. to 1700 A.D.) The  scholars made efforts to safeguard the rich heritage. That is how the illustrious Sutras were written. The Sutras are, mostly, epigrammatic sentences in the verse-form. The Sutras laid the foundation of the different systems of philosophies in India. The six orthodox systems based on the Sutras are Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva-Mimamsa and Uttar-Mimamsa.

(4)    The Scholastic Period: ( From Sutra Period to 17th century ) With the passage of time, the ancient literature became nearly incomprehensible.. Thus a number of commentaries were written. Chief among them were Shamkaracharya, Ramanujacharya and Madhavacharya. Incidentally, three schools of Vedanta were developed: Shamkaracharya’s Advaita Vedanta, Ramanujacharya’s Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and Madhavacharya’s DvaitaVedanta.


Three  Approaches of Darsanas

There are three different approaches that these Darsanas follow: Arambha Vada- holds that the universe is created, Parinama Vada- holds that the universe is not created or destroyed but it only transforms. Particularly, it is transformation of the manifesting form of the immutable absolute and Vivarta Vada- holds that the Universe as it appears is but because of the limitation of observer and it appears so, because of Maya.

The Samkhya Darshan

Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya (Sanskrit: सांख्य, : sāṃkhya – ‘enumeration’) is one of the six schools of classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible. It is regarded as one of the oldest philosophical systems in India.This is the most significant system of philosophy that India has produced.”  Professor Garbe, who devoted a large part of his life to the study of the Sankhya, consoled himself with the thought that “in Kapila’s doctrine, for the first time in the history of the world, the complete independence and freedom of the human mind, its full confidence in its own powers, were exhibited.”

Its earliest extant literature, the Sankhya-karika of the commentator Ishvara Krishna,dates back only to the fifth century A.D., and the Sankbya-sutras once attributed to Kapila are not older than our fifteenth century; but the origins of the system apparently antedate Buddhism itself.

Kapila is  once a realist and a scholastic. He rejects as inadequate the attempt to elude suffering by physical means; he refutes, with much logical prestidigitation, the views of all and sundry on the matter, and then proceeds to construct, in one unintelligibly abbreviated sutra after another, his own metaphysical system. It derives its name from his enumeration of the twenty-five Realities (Tattivas, “Thatnesses”) which, in Kapila’s judgment, make up the world.

The Samkhya philosophy combines the basic doctrines of Samkhya and Yoga. However it should be remembered that the Samkhya represents the theory and Yoga  represents the application or the practical aspects.

The Sankhya system is based on Satkaryavada. According to Satkaryavada, the effect pre-exists in the cause. Cause and effect are seen as different temporal aspects of the same thing – the effect lies latent in the cause which in turn seeds the next effect.

The Sankhya system is  an exponent of an evolutionary theory of matter beginning with primordial matter. In evolution, Prakriti is transformed and differentiated into multiplicity of objects. Evolution is followed by dissolution. In dissolution the physical existence, all the worldly objects mingle back into Prakriti, which now remains as the undifferentiated, primordial substance. This is how the cycles of evolution and dissolution follow each other.

Samkhya is dualistic realism. It is dualistic because it advocates two ultimate realities: Prakriti, matter and Purusha, self (spirit). Samkhya is realism as it considers that both matter and spirit are equally real.  According to Samkhya the cause is always subtler than the effect.

Prakriti is the non-self.  It is devoid of consciousness Prakriti is unintelligible and gets greatly influenced by the Purusha, the self.  It can only manifest itself as the various objects of experience of the Purusha

Prakriti is constituted of three gunas, namely sattvarajas and tamas. The term guna, in ordinary sense means quality or nature. But here, it is to be understood in the sense of constituent (component) in Samkhya. Sattva is concerned with happiness. While rajas is concerned with action, tamas is associated with ignorance and inaction.

Sattva is the guna whose essence is purity, fineness and subtlety. Rajas is concerned with the actions of objects.

Tamas is the constituent concerned with the inertia and inaction. In material objects, it resists motion and activity.

Samkhya maintains that the three gunas of Prakriti are also associated with all the world-objects. Prakriti is the primordial and ultimate cause of all physical existence. Naturally the three gunas which constitute Prakriti also constitute every object of the physical world. Prakriti is never static. Even before evolution, the gunas are relentlessly changing and balancing each other. As a result, Prakriti and all the physical objects that are effected or produced by Prakriti, are also in a state of constant change and transformation. This is further confirmed by the scientists today.( It is now proved beyond doubt that ultra-minute particles of objects – like electrons – are in a state of incessant motion and transformation.)

According to Samkhya, the efficient cause of the world is Purusha and the material cause is the Prakriti. Here Purusha stands for the ‘Supreme spirit’ and Prakriti stands for ‘matter’. Purusha (spirit) is the first principle of Samkhya. Prakriti is the second, the material principle of Samkhya.

Prakriti is the material cause of the world. Prakriti is dynamic. Its dynamism is attributed to its constituent gunas. The gunas are not only constituents, nor are they simply qualities. The gunas are the very essence of Prakriti. Gunas are constituents not only of Prakriti but also of all world-objects as they are produced by Prakriti. Prakriti is considered homogeneous and its constituent gunas cannot be separated. The gunas are always changing, rendering a dynamic character to Prakriti. Still a balance among three gunas is maintained in Prakriti. The changes in the gunas and in the Prakriti may take two forms: Homogeneous and Heterogeneous. Homogeneous changes do not affect the state of equilibrium in the Prakriti. As a result, worldly objects are not produced.  Heterogeneous changes involve radical interaction among the three gunas. They disturb the state of equilibrium. This is the preliminary phase of the evolution. As the gunas undergo more and more changes, Prakriti goes on differentiating into numerous, various world-objects. Thus it becomes more and more determinate. This is what is termed as evolution.

In evolution, Prakriti is transformed and differentiated into multiplicity of objects. Evolution is followed by dissolution. In dissolution the physical existence, all the worldly objects mingle back into Prakriti, which now remains as the undifferentiated, primordial substance. This is how the cycles of evolution and dissolution follow each other.

The evolution  results in 23 different categories of objects. They comprise of three elements  of  Antahkaranas or the internal organs as well as the ten Bahyakaranas or the external organs.

Among all these, the first to evolve is Mahat(the great one). Mahat evolves as a result of preponderance of sattva. Since it is an evolute of Prakriti, it is made of matter. But it has psychological, intellectual aspect known as buddhi or intellect. Mahat or intellect is a unique faculty of human beings. It helps man in judgment and discrimination. Buddhi can reflect  Purusha owing to these qualities.

The second evolute is ahamkara (ego). It arises out of the cosmic nature of Mahat. Ahamkara is the self-sense. It is concerned with the self-identity and it brings about awareness of “I” and “mine”.

According to the Samkhya there emanates two sets of objects from ahamkara. The first set comprises of the manas (mind), the five sense-organs and the five motor organs. The second set consists of the five elements which may exist in two forms, subtle and gross.

The five subtle elements are also called tanmatras. These five subtle elements or tanmatras are: elemental sound, elemental touch, elemental colour, elemental taste and elemental smell. They are shabda, sparsha, rupa, rasa and gandha respectively. The gross elements  arise as a result of combination of the subtle elements.

The five gross Elements are Space or Ether (Akasa), Water, Air, Fire and Earth.

It should be noted here that the manas or the mind is different from Mahat or the buddhi. Manas or the mind in co-ordination with the sense-organs, receives impressions from the external world, transforms them into determinate perceptions and conveys them to the experiencer or the ego. Thus manas is produced and is capable of producing also. But though Mahat is produced, it can not produce.

As we have seen ahamkara produces both the subtle and the gross elements. These gross elements are produced by various combinations of subtle elements The five gross elements combine in different ways to form all gross objects. All the gross elements and the gross objects in the world are perceivable.

The evolution obeys causality relationships, with primal Nature itself being the material cause of all physical creation. The cause and effect theory of Sankhya is called Satkaarya-vaada (theory of existent causes), and holds that nothing can really be created from or destroyed into nothingness – all evolution is simply the transformation of primal Nature from one form to another.

The evolution of matter occurs when the relative strengths of the attributes change. The evolution ceases when the spirit realizes that it is distinct from primal Nature and thus cannot evolve. This destroys the purpose of evolution, thus stopping Prakrti from evolving for Purusha.


Samkhya and the Theory of Knowledge

Samkhya accepts three sources of valid knowledge: Perception, inference and testimony.

According to Samkhya, the manas(mind), the Mahat (intellect = buddhi) and the purusha play a role in ‘producing’ knowledge. When the sense-organs come in contact with an object, the sensations and impressions reach the manas. The manas processes these impressions into proper forms and converts them into determinate percepts. These percepts are carried to the Mahat. By its own applications, Mahat gets modified. Mahat takes the form of the particular object. This transformation of Mahat is known as vritti or modification of buddhi. But still the process of knowledge is not completed.Mahat is a physical entity. It lacks consciousness so it can not generate knowledge on its own. However, it can reflect the consciousness of the Purusha(self). Illumined by the consciousness of the reflected self, the unconscious Mahat becomes conscious of the form into which it is modified (i.e. of the form of the object.

Samkhya cites out two types of Perceptions:

Indeterminate (nirvikalpa) perceptions and determinate  (savikalpa) perceptions.

Indeterminate perceptions are sort of pure sensations or crude impressions. They reveal no knowledge of the form or the name of the object. There is vague awareness about an object. There is cognition, but no recognition.

Determinate perceptions are the mature state of perceptions which have been processed and differentiated appropriately. Once the sensations have been processed, categorized and interpreted properly, they become determinate perceptions. They can lead to identification and also generate knowledge.

Samkhya and God

Kapila, the proponent of the Samkhya School, rules out the existence of God. He asserts that the existence of God can not be proved and that God does not exist. Samkhya argues that if God exists and if God is eternal and unchanging as is widely claimed, then he can not be the cause of the world. A cause has to be active and changing.

Bondage and Salvation

Like other major systems of Indian philosophy, Samkhya regards ignorance as the root cause of bondage and suffering.  According to Samkhya, the self is eternal, pure consciousness.  Due to ignorance, the self identifies itself with the physical body and its constituents. Once the self becomes free of this false identification and the material bonds, the salvation is possible.

The Yoga

The Yoga system of philosophy was founded by Patanjali. He authored the Yoga Sutras or the aphorisms of Yoga. Samkhya  system is based on atheism but Yoga believes in God.

The Yoga system of philosophy accepts three fundamental realities, namely, Ishwara, Purusha and Prakriti or the primordial matter. Patanjali says that scriptures are the sources of the existence of Ishwara. Ishwara is omniscient and is free from the qualities inherent in Prakriti. Patanjali defines Yoga as ‘Chittavriitinirodha’. Yoga is the restraint of the mental operations. Patanjali names some obstacles to the path of Yoga. They are called ‘Antarayas’ and they include Vyadhi (illness), styana (apathy), Samsaya (doubt), Pramada (inadvertence), Alasya (laziness), Avirati (incontinence), Bhrantidarshana (wrong understanding), Alabdha Bhumikatva (non-attainment of mental plane) and Anavasthitatva (instability). In addition to the obstacles mentioned above, Patanjali accepts five more obstacles called Dukha (pain), Daurmanasya (frustration, Angamejayatva (fickle limbs), Svasa (spasmodic breathing in) and Prasvasa (spasmodic breathing out). Patanjali speaks about Jatyantara Parinama or the phenomenon of the evolution of one species or genus into another species or genus.

Matter is the root of ignorance and suffering; therefore Yoga seeks to free the soul from all sense phenomena and all bodily attachment; it is an attempt to attain supreme enlightenment and salvation in one life by atoning in one existence for all the sins of the soul’s past incarnations.

Such enlightenment cannot be won at a stroke; the aspirant must move towards it step by step, and no stage of the process can be understood by anyone who has not passed through the stages before it; one comes to Yoga only by long and patient study and self-discipline.

The Stages of Yoga are Eight:

I. Yama, or the death of desire; here the soul accepts the restraints of ahmsa and Brahmacharia, abandons all self-seeking, emancipates itself from all material interests and pursuits, and wishes well to all things. Yama means restraint. One must turn to ethics by refraining himself from immoral activities. This is the first step towards self–discipline. Niyamameans observance. It refers to the cultivation of values and virtues in life. These two anga –Yama and Niyama – protects the aspirant from irresistible temptations and desires and offer a protection from the distractions.


II. Niyama, a faithful observance of certain preliminary rules for Yoga: cleanliness, content, purification, study, and piety.

The next two steps, asana and pranayama, prepares the physical body for the Yogic practice.

III. Asana, posture; the aim here is to still all movement as well as all sensation; the best asana for this purpose is to place the right foot upon the left thigh and the left foot upon the right thigh, to cross the hands and grasp the two great toes, to bend the chin upon the chest, and direct the eyes to the tip of the nose.

IV. Pranayama, or regulation of the breath: by these exercises one may forget everything but breathing, and in this way clear his mind for the passive emptiness that must precede absorption; at the same time one may learn to live on a minimum of air, and may let himself, with impunity, be buried in the earth for many days.

V. Pratyahara, abstraction; now the mind controls all the senses, and with- draws itself from all sense objects. Pratyahara is concerned with the withdrawal of the senses. The senses, by their inherent nature, remain focused on the external world. Pratyaharahelps to detach the sense organs from the objects of the world. The isolation from the world objects facilitates the concentration of the mind on any particular object.

VI. Dharana, or concentration the identification or filling of the mind and the senses with one idea or object to the exclusion of everything else. The fixation of any one object long enough will free the soul of all sensation, all specific thought, and all selfish desire; then the mind, abstracted fromthings, will be left free to feel the immaterial essence of reality .

VII. Dhyana, or meditation: this is an almost hypnotic condition, resulting from Dharana; it may be produced, says Patanjali, by the persistent repetition of the sacred syllable Om.

VIII. Samadhi, or trance contemplation; even the last thought now disappears from the mind; empty, the mind loses consciousness of itself as a separate being;  it is merged with totality, and achieves a blissful and god- like comprehension of all things in One. Samadhi is the ultimate stage of Yogic practice. Now all self-awareness of the mind disappears The illusion is gone. This is the ultimate, nirbeej Samadhi. There is the unification of the subject and the object. Now there is no object at all.  The duo, the subject and the object, mingles into unity. They are no separate entities. There is only one, but it is not an object.  There is oneness devoid of material existence; it is pure Consciousness.

Nevertheless it is not God, or union with God, that the yogi seeks; in the Yoga philosophy God (Ishvara) is not the creator or preserver of the universe, or the rewarder and punisher of men, but merely one of several objects on which the soul may meditate as a means of achieving concentration and enlightenment. The aim, frankly, is that dissociation of the mind from the body, that removal of all material obstruction from the spirit, which brings with it, in Yoga theory, supernatural understanding and capacity.

To the extent to which the soul can free itself from its physical environment and prison it becomes Brahman, and exercises Brahman’s intelligence and power. Here the magical basis of religion reappears, and almost threatens the essence of religion itself the worship of powers superior to man.

Vaisheshika Darshan

Kanada, a learned sage, founded this system. This system is believed to be as old as Jainism and  Buddhism.  Kanada presented his detailed atomic theory in Vaisheshika-Sutra. Basically, Vaisheshika is a pluralistic realism. It explains the nature of the world with seven categories:

Dravya (substance), guna (quality), karma(action), samanya(universal), vishesha (particular), amavaya(inherence) and abhava (non-existence).

Vaisheshika contends that every effect is a fresh creation or a new beginning. Thus this system refutes the theory of pre-existence of the effect in the cause. Kanada does not discuss much on God. But the later commentators refer to God as the Supreme Soul, perfect and eternal.  This system accepts that God (Ishvara ) is the efficient cause of the world. The eternal atoms are the material cause of the world.

Vaisheshika recognizes nine ultimate substances : Five material and four non-material substances.

The five material substances are: Earth, water, fire, air and akasha.

The four non-material substances are: space, time, soul and mind.

Earth, water, fire and air are atomic but akasha is non-atomic and  infinite.

Space and time are infinite and eternal.

The concept of soul is comparable to that of the self or atman. This system considers  that  when the soul associates itself to the body, only then it ‘acquires’ consciousness. Thus, consciousness is not considered an essential quality of the soul.

The mind (manas) is accepted as atomic but indivisible and eternal substance. The mind helps to establish the contact of the self to the external world objects.

The soul develops attachment to the body owing to ignorance. The soul identifies itself with the body and mind. The soul is trapped in the bondage of  karma, as a consequence of actions resulted from countless desires and passions.

Nyaya Darshan

The term “nyāya ( Sanskrit: “Rule” or “Method”)  traditionally had the meaning “formal reasoning,” though in later times it also came to be used for reasoning in general, and by extension, the legal reasoning of traditional Indian law courts. Opponents of the Nyāya school of philosophy frequently reduce it to the status of an arm of Hindu philosophy devoted to questions of logic and rhetoric. While reasoning is very important to Nyāya, this school also had important things to say on the topic of epistemology, theology and metaphysics, rendering it a comprehensive and autonomous school of Indian philosophy.

The founder of this school is the sage Gautama (2nd cent. C.E.)—not to be confused with the Buddha, who on many accounts had the name “Gautama” as well. He is also called Akshapada

The metaphysics that pervades the Nyāya texts is both realistic and pluralistic. On the Nyāya view the plurality of reasonably believed things exist and have an identity independently of their contingent relationship with other objects. This applies as much to mundane objects, as it does to the self, and God. The ontological model that appears to pervade Nyāya metaphysical thinking is that of atomism, the view that reality is composed of indecomposable simples (cf. Nyāya-Sūtra IV.2.4.16).

The Nyāya’s acceptance of both arguments from analogy and testimony as means of knowledge, allows it to accomplish two theological goals).

Its most famous text is the Nyaya Sutra. The sutras are divided into five chapters, each with two sections.  , 10 ahnikas and 528 sutras. It accepts 4 pramanas and 16 padarthas. According to Nyaya, midhya jnana (nescience) causes sansara and tatva jnana (gnosis) brings liberation.The work begins with a statement of the subject matter, the purpose, and the relation of the subject matter to the attainment of that purpose. The ultimate purpose is salvation—i.e., complete freedom from pain—and salvation is attained by knowledge of the 16 categories: hence the concern with these categories, which are means of valid knowledge (pramana); objects of valid knowledge (prameya); doubt (samshaya); purpose (prayojana); example (drishtanta); conclusion (siddhanta); the constituents of a syllogism (avayava); argumentation (tarka); ascertainment (nirnaya); debate (vada); disputations (jalpa); destructive criticism (vitanda); fallacy (hetvabhasa); quibble (chala); refutations (jati); and points of the opponent’s defeat (nigrahasthana).

Nyāya is often depicted as primarily concerned with logic, but it is more accurately thought of as being concerned with argumentation.

The words knowledge, buddhi, and consciousness are used synonymously. Four means of valid knowledge are admitted: perception, inference, comparison, and verbal testimony. Perception is defined as the knowledge that arises from the contact of the senses with the object, which is nonjudgmental, or unerring or judgmental. Inference is defined as the knowledge that is preceded by perception (of the mark) and classified into three kinds: that from the perception of a cause to its effect; that from perception of the effect to its cause; and that in which knowledge of one thing is derived from the perception of another with which it is commonly seen together. Comparison is defined as the knowledge of a thing through its similarity to another thing previously well-known.

It is called Nyaya because it is constituted of five “laws” – Pratijna, Hetu, Udaharana, Upanaya, Nigamana. Nyaya includes formal logic and modes of scientific debate. It explains the logical constructs like antecedent and laws of implying. It expounds various modes of scientific debate and methods for debate, like tarka, vitanda, chala, jalpa and so on.

Nyaaya is greatly concerned with logic and elaborates on the principle of inference based on syllogism, of course logic is only one of the many subjects it deals with. Nyaaya preaches that a statement should only be accepted if it passes the test of reason. So according to it, error and ignorance are the causes of pain and suffering. The road to wisdom is to develop the process of logical thinking.

Of the four main topics of the Nyaya-sutras (art of debate, means of valid knowledge, syllogism, and examination of opposed views), there is a long history. There is no direct evidence for the theory that though inference (anumana) is of Indian origin, the syllogism (avayava) is of Greek origin. Vatsayana, the commentator on the sutras, referred to some logicians who held a theory of a 10-membered syllogism (the Greeks had three). The Vaisheshika-sutras give five propositions as constituting a syllogism but give them different names. Gautama also supports a five-membered syllogism with the following structure:

1.            This hill is fiery (pratijna): a statement of that which is to be proved).

2.            Because it is smoky (hetu)statement of reason.

3.            Whatever is smoky is fiery, as is a kitchen (udaharana) statement of a general rule supported by an example.

4.            So is this hill (upanaya:) application of the rule of this case.

5.            Therefore, this hill is fiery (nigamana) drawing the conclusion.


As far as the question of epistemology, the Nyāya-Sūtra recognizes four avenues of knowledge: these are perception, inference, analogy, and verbal testimony of reliable persons. Perception arises when the senses make contact with the object of perception. Inference comes in three varieties: pūrvavat (a priori), śeṣavat (a posteriori) and sāmanyatodṛṣṭa (common sense) (Nyāya-Sūtra I.1.3–7).

According to the first verse of the Nyāya-Sūtra, the Nyāya school is concerned with shedding light on sixteen topics: pramāna (epistemology), prameya (ontology), saṃśaya(doubt), prayojana (axiology, or “purpose”), dṛṣṭānta(paradigm cases that establish a rule), Siddhānta (established doctrine), avayava(premise of a syllogism), tarka (reductio ad absurdum), nirnaya (certain beliefs gained through epistemic ally respectable means), vāda (appropriately conducted discussion), jalpa (sophistic debates aimed at beating the opponent, and not at establishing the truth), vitaṇḍa(a debate characterized by one party’s disinterest in establishing a positive view, and solely with refutation of the opponent’s view), hetvābhāsa (persuasive but fallacious arguments), chala (unfair attempt to contradict a statement by equivocating its meaning),jāti (an unfair reply to an argument based on a false analogy), and nigrahasthāna (ground for defeat in a debate) (Nyāya-Sūtra and Vātsyāyana’s Bhāṣya I.1.1-20).

Among the Navya-Nyaya philosophers, Raghunatha Shiromaniin Padarthatattvanirupana undertook a bold revision of the traditional categorical scheme by

(1) identifying “time,” “space,” and “ether” with God,

(2) eliminating the category of mind by reducing it to matter,

(3) denying atoms (paramanu) and dyadic (paired) combinations of them (dvyanuka),

(4) eliminating “number,” “separateness,” “remoteness,” and “proximity” from the list of qualities, and (5) rejecting ultimate particularities (vishesha) on the grounds that it is more rational to suppose that the eternal substances are by nature distinct. He added some new categories, however, such as causal power (shakti) and the moment (kshana), and recognized that there are as many instances of the relation of inherence as there are cases of it (as contrasted with the older view that there is only one inherence that is itself present in all cases of inherence).

Nyayas most important contribution to Hindu thought is its elucidation of the pramanas (tools of epistemology). Nyaya Metaphysics¢ It developed a system of logic adopted by other Indian schools of philosophy.

Purva Mimamsa

The first major orthodox philosophical system to develop was Purva Mimamsa. The other one to follow was the Uttar Mimamsa. The orthodox systems accept the authority of the Vedas. Jaimini is credited as the chief proponent of the Mimamsa system. His glorious work is Mimamsa-Sutra written around the end of the 2nd century A.D.  Mimamsa-Sutra is the largest of all the philosophical Sutras. Divided into 12 chapters, it is a collection of nearly 2500 aphorisms which are extremely difficult to comprehend.

The Sanskrit word ‘mimamsa means a ‘revered thought’. The word is originated from the root ‘man’ which refers to ‘thinking’ or ‘investigating’. The word ‘mimamsa’ suggests “probing and acquiring knowledge” or  “critical review and investigation of the Vedas”.

Each of the Vedas is considered to be composed of four parts: The Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads. The first two parts are generally focused on the rituals and they form the Karma-kanda portion of the Vedas. The later two parts form the Jnana-kanda (concerned with knowledge) portion of the Vedas.

Purva-Mimamsa is based on the earlier (Purva = earlier) parts of the Vedas.

Uttar-Mimamsa is based on the later (Uttar = later) parts of the Vedas.

Purva-Mimamsa is also known as Karma Mimamsa since it deals with the Karmic actions of rituals and sacrifices. Uttar-Mimamsa is also known as Brahman Mimamsa since it is concerned with the knowledge of Reality. In popular terms, Purva-Mimamsa  is known simply as Mimamsa and Uttar-Mimamsa as Vedanta.

This system out rightly accept the Vedas as the eternal source of ‘revealed truth. Mimamsa system attaches a lot of importance to the Verbal testimony which is essentially the Vedic testimony. Jaimini accepts the ‘Word” or the ‘Shabda’ as the only means of knowledge. The ‘word’ or the ‘Shabda’ is necessarily the Vedic word, according to Jaimini. This system strongly contends that the Vedas are not authored by an individual. Since they are ‘self-revealed’ or ‘apaurusheya’, they manifest their own validity.

The system is a pluralistic realist. It endorses the reality of the world as well as that of the individual souls. The soul is accepted as an eternal and infinite substance. Consciousness is an accidental attribute of the soul. The soul is distinct from the body, the senses and the mind. The earlier mimamsakas do not give much importance to the deities. Hence they do not endorse God as the creator of the universe. But later mimamsakas show a bent towards theism.

The system supports the law of karma. It believes in the Unseen Power or ‘apurva’. Apart from accepting the heaven and the hell, the system supports  the theory of liberation.

Uttar Mimamsa/ Vedanta

Uttar Mimamsa is the Vedanta, one of the most significant of all Indian philosophies.

The word ‘Vedanta’ usually refers to the Upanishads. The word is a compound of ‘Veda’ and ‘Anta’.  It means the ending portion of the Vedas. However, the word ‘Vedanta’, in a broad sense, covers not only the Upanishads but all the commentaries and interpretations associated with the Upanishads. All these works constitute the Vedanta philosophy.

The great scholar Badarayana(?500-200 B.C) initiated the efforts to simplify the Upanishadic philosophy. Badarayana is also known as Ved Vyasa. Badarayana’s work is known as Brahma-Sutra or Vedanta-Sutra. It is also referred to as Uttar-Mimamsa-Sutra. ”. Baadaraayan claims that he has not put anything new – all was only the summary of Upanishadik teachings – but the claim does not seem to be totally justified. Complicating the matters further, there have been three Aachaarya, famously known for three systems of metaphysics, are known consecutively as A-Dwait, Vishisht A-Dwait and Dwait, explaining the relationship between man and God.

The Brahma-Sutra has 555 sutras. Most of them are aphoristic and almost unintelligible at first sight. Thus, we have three major schools of Vedanta based on the philosophy of the distinguished trio: Advaita(non-dualism) of Shamkaracharya, Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism) of Ramnujacharya andDvaita(dualism) of Madhvacharya.

The Vedanta philosophy is focused on the Jagat(the universe), the Jiva(individual soul) and the Brahman (the Supreme Being). Brahman is the repository of all knowledge and power. Jivas are trapped in the Jagat. Attached to the physical world and driven by passions and desires, they remain chained to ceaseless actions (karma). As a result, they subject themselves to countless births in various forms. Their transmigration from this birth (life) to the next depends on the karma (the quality of action). Moksha or  mukti (liberation) is the goal of life. This philosophy, in general, is accepted by all the three schools. Now let us understand the basic difference among the three schools.

Dvaita refers to ‘two’. Dvaita school is based on the concept of dualism. Madhavacharya emphasizes the distinction between God and individual soul (Jiva). In addition, the school differentiates God from matter as well as the soul from matter. The school maintains that the God, Jiva and the Jagat are three separate and everlasting entities. God governs the world and has control over the souls. The souls in its ignorance remains shackled in the world. By devotion and God’s mercy, the soul can migrate to the Heaven above. It can obtain Mukti from the cycle of life and death and live with God forever in the Heaven.

Vishishtadvaita literally means “qualified non-dualism”. Ramanujacharya stresses that God alone exists. He says that Brahman is God. He is not formless. The Cosmos and the Jivas form his body. When the Jiva (soul) realises that he is a part of Paramatman (God), the soul is liberated. On liberation, his soul enjoys infinite consciousness and infinite bliss of God. The soul is in communion with God, but it does not share the power of the creation or destruction.

Advaita means “non-dualism”. Brahman is the sole Supreme Reality. Brahman, Jagat and Jiva are not different, separate entities.

Advaita philosophy denies the reality of the truth of name and form as presented by the sense organs, and so it cannot rely upon the knowledge acquired through-senses nor can it make any use of it in support of its contentions, however helpful such knowledge may be in every-day life. Thus according to Samkara, all means of knowledge and all knowledge acquired through them, are unreal from the transcendental standpoint. But one cannot deny their importance in the practical world from the practical standpoint.

In Vedanta, ‘prama’ means the valid knowledge which is uncontradicted. Prama does not include knowledge through memory. It is that knowledge only which has never been attained before. question of the antecedent and subsequent.

According to Vedanta, there are three pramanas,

1. Perception: The identity of the subject and object consciousness by chitta concomitance adopting the form of external object and the object become identi­cal, because in fact both are the same consciousness. The subject and the object remain separate due to the covering of ignorance.

2. Tark or inference: Inference is the knowledge which results from the past impressions based upon the awareness of concomitance between two terms. The awareness of concomitance leaves the impressions on the chitta and when these impressions are awakened by perceiving that object again, the result is inference.  Samkara admits only three premises of an inference. These are as follows:

(1) Pratijna:Everything different from Brahman is unreal.

(2) Hetu:Because all things are different from Brahman.

(3) Udaharana:So all things are unreal as seeing of silver in nacre.

(4) Sruti or Scripture:In Advaita, Agama or Veda has been admitted as an independent testimony and source of knowledge. The Vedas are impersonal and eternal. According to Advaita philosophy, the Vedas begin with the beginning of the creation and disappear with its disappearance. Advaita philosophy does not admit any need to prove the absoluteness of the Vedas. The Vedas are self-proved. Memory is true only when it is based upon scriptures.

The Advaita Vedanta focuses on the following basic concepts:

Brahman, atman, vidya (knowledge), avidya (ignorance), maya, karma and  moksha.

(1)            Brahman is the Ultimate, Supreme Reality. 

In Vedanta philosophy, the svaroop of Brahman is referred to as Sachchidananda. Brahman is Sachchidananda i.e. Sat-Chitta-Ananda(Pure Existence-Pure Consciousness-Pure Bliss.
(2)       Atman is the inmost Self or Spirit of man but different from the ‘empirical ego’. Atman is the fundamental, ultimate, eternal, immutable pure consciousness.
(3)       Maya is the unique power (shakti) of BrahmanMaya is trigunatmika; it has three gunas or attributes.

(4) Brahman manifests itself in the world with the help of Maya. Maya has created the world of appearances. So the world is illusion.

(5)       Avidya (ignorance) has its seat in the human intellect. Avidya means not only absence of knowledge, but also erroneous knowledge.

(6)       Moksha is freedom from bondage of ignorance. Man suffers in the grip of incessant desires and ignorance.  Upon realization of the self, one becomes free from the shackles of desires, aspirations, passions, karma and avidya. This is Moksha (kaivalya) or liberation

(7)       Knowledge and truth are of two kinds: the lower one and the higher one. The lower, conventional knowledge and truth is referred to asvyavavahrika satya. It is a product of the senses and the intellect. The higher one is referred to the paramarthika satya. It is absolute. It is beyond words, thoughts, perception or conception.

(8)       Advaita  Vedanta recognizes the six  pramanas (sources and criteria of valid knowledge) on the basis of the  Mimamsa school of Kumarila Bhatta. They are as follows:

(1) Perception (pratyaksha) (2) Inference (anumana)


(3) Testimony(shabda)


(4) Comparison(upamana)


(5) Postulation(arthapatti)


(6) Noncognition(anupalabdhi)



In short it can be said that Classical Indian philosophy extends from approximately 100 BC to AD 1800, which marks the beginning of the modern period. Ancient Indian thought, which is also philosophic in a broader sense, originated as early as 1200 BC and appears in scriptures called Veda. Ancient Indian philosophy also includes the mystical treatises known as Upanishads (700 to 100 BC), early Buddhist writings (300 BC to AD 500), and the Sanskrit poem Bhagavad-Gita (Song of God, about 200 BC). Classical Indian philosophy is less concerned with spirituality than ancient thought; rather, it concentrates on questions of how people can know and communicate about everyday affairs.

In ancient Indian philosophy (before 100 BC), philosophy and religion cannot be meaningfully separated, primarily because of the cultural integration of religious practices and mystical pursuits. For example, ceremonies celebrating birth, marriage, and death, performed with recitations of Vedic verses (mantras), were important for bonding within ancient Indian societies. Later in classical Indian philosophy, different social practices developed. Thus, the orthodox classical schools of thought are distinguished from nonorthodox classical schools by their allegiance to established forms of social practice rather than to the doctrines of the Veda. Buddhism, for example, constitutes much more of a break with Vedic practices than with the ideas developed in Vedic traditions of thought. In fact, the Upanishads, mystical treatises continuous with the Vedas, foretell many Buddhist teachings. In ancient India, religion did not entail dogma, but rather a way of life that permitted a wide range of philosophic positions and inquiry.



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Metaphysics – The What Aspect

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Se. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

“Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum.”

( I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am )

Rene Descartes

French Mathematician, Philosopher and Scientist

Philosophy is the systematic inquiry into the principles and presuppositions of any field of study.  From a psychological point of view, philosophy is an attitude, an approach, or a calling to answer or to ask, or even to comment upon certain peculiar problems.  Philosophy is a persistent attempt to gain insight into the nature of the world and of ourselves by means of systematic reflection.

Philosophy starts with bewilderment, astonishment, amazement about the world, life, and ourselves. Philosophy arises from the workings of an inquisitive mind which is bewildered by seemingly common things or by those that appear to be entirely impractical. It emerges out of readiness to follow the call of human intellectual curiosity beyond common sense acquaintanceship with the world

Philosophy does not stay by pure bewilderment and amazement. Philosophers articulate their initial amazement by formulating questions (mostly what- and why-questions and what ought to be) that guide their curiosity toward comprehension of the problem.

“The great virtue of philosophy is that it teaches not what to think, but how to think. It is the study of meaning, of the principles underlying conduct, thought and knowledge. The skills  are the ability to analyze, to question orthodoxies and to express things clearly

When we speak of philosophy we use a term which may be viewed in two senses. The first of  these is that of  the word itself which literally means  “ love of wisdom” .But to love wisdom does not necessarily make one a philosopher .Today, we think of philosophy in a more limited sense as man’s attempt to give meaning to his existence through the continued search for a comprehensive and consistent answer to basic problems .It is this second sense of the word which makes the philosopher an active person; one who seeks answers, rather than one who simply sits around engaging in idle and frivolous speculation. Nowadays, most philosophers are actively concerned with life. THEY SEEK ANSWERS TO BASIC PROBLEMS. Thus we find that philosophers are doing as well as thinking, and it is their thinking which guides their doing .What they do is rooted in the search for answers to certain types of problems and the tentative answers they have formulated.

Philosophy is a persistent attempt to gain insight into the nature of the world and of ourselves by means of systematic reflection. The three great problems of philosophy are the problems of reality, knowledge, and value-Philosophy deals with these in three aspects. The three great problems of philosophy are the problems of reality, knowledge, and value-

This way philosophy deals with three basic areas

  1. .Area related with what aspect ,it is METAPHYSICS
  2. .Area related with how aspect ,it is EPISTOMOLOGY
  3. Area related with what ought to be aspect, it is AXIOLOGY


Metaphysics: The Study of Reality

Metaphysics (derived from the Greek words “ta meta ta physika biblia”) – meaning ‘the book that follows the physics book’. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that goes beyond the realms of science and is    concerned with the study of “first principles” and “being” . Meta means above; this is the study of the nature of things above physics.(What comes after Physics) Metaphysics covers the kinds of things most people probably think of if asked what philosophy covers

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that goes beyond the realms of science. It is concerned with answering the questions about identity and the world. The name is derived from the Greek words, Meta which means beyond or after, and Physika which means physics. Aristotle, one of the most well-known philosophers, acknowledged Thales as the first known meta physician. The main branches of metaphysics are ontology, natural theology and universal science.

In popular parlance, metaphysics has become the label for the study of things which transcend the natural world — that is, things which supposedly exist separately from nature and which have a more intrinsic reality than our natural existence. As a result, the popular sense of metaphysics has been the study of any question about reality which cannot be answered by scientific observation and experimentation.

The branch of philosophy which deals with the problem of reality what is the nature of the universe in which we live? Or in the last analysis, what is real? Is termed as Metaphysics Metaphysics as a disicpline was a central part of academic inquiry and scholarly education even before the age of Aristotle, who considered it “the Queen of Sciences.” Its issues were considered no less important than the other main formal subjects of physical science, medicine, mathematics, poetics and music. Since the beginning of modern philosophy during the seventeenth century, problems that were not originally considered within the bounds of metaphysics have been added to its purview, while other problems considered metaphysical for centuries are now typically subjects of their own separate regions in philosophy,.

In popular parlance, metaphysics has become the label for the study of things which transcend the natural world — that is, things which supposedly exist separately from nature and which have a more intrinsic reality than our natural existence. This assigns a sense to the Greek prefix meta which it did not originally have, but words do change over time. As a result, the popular sense of metaphysics has been the study of any question about reality which cannot be answered by scientific observation and experimentation.

Questions Asked in Metaphysics:

  • Do abstract concepts (like numbers) really exist?
  • Does Free Will exist?
  • Is there such a process as cause and effect?
  • What is out there?
  • What is reality?

Branches of Metaphysics:

Metaphysics covers  those ‘big questions’, such as, is there God, why are we here, what is the ultimate nature of the universe, and so on. Another important area of metaphysics is the nature of substance, that is, what is the universe really made of,

Aristotle’s book on metaphysics was divided into three sections: ontology, theology, and universal science.

Theology, of course, is the study of gods — does a god exist, what a god is, what a god wants, etc.

“Universal science” is a bit harder to understand, but it involves the search for “first principles” — things like the origin of the universe, fundamental laws of logic and reasoning, etc.


Because of this, these are the three traditional branches of metaphysical inquiry there, what are its properties, etc.


The word is derived from the Greek terms on, which means “reality” and logos, which means “study of.”

Ontology deals with the study of the nature of reality: what is it, how many “realities” are. Ontology is the branch of philosophy which deals with the study of the nature of reality: what is it, how many “realities” are there, what are its properties, etc. The word is derived from the Greek terms on, which means “reality” and logos, which means “study of.” Atheists generally believe that there is a single reality which is material and natural in nature.

Ontology features in the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy from the first millennium BCE. The concept of guṇa which describes the three properties (sattva, rajas and tamas) present in differing proportions in all existing things, is a notable concept of this school.

It is the theory of reality, the inquiry into what is real as opposed to what is appearance, either conceived as that which the methods of science presuppose, or that with which the methods of science are concerned; the inquiry into the first principles of nature; the study of the most fundamental generalizations as to what exists, and the meaning of existence as such. and the questions relating,

  • Space-time or Nature as identical with existence.  to explain reality in terms of  matter or physical energy. (e.g., naturalism and physical realism).
  • Explanation regarding Spirit or God as identical with existence. To explain Existence in terms of Mind or Spirit, or to be dependent upon Mind or Spirit. (Especially true of idealism.)
  • To evaluate Existence as a category and its  validity. As held by those, especially the pragmatists, who insist that everything is flux or change and there is nothing which fits into the category of existence in any ultimate sense.

Types of Ontology

Philosophers can classify ontologies in various ways, using criteria such as the degree of abstraction and field of application:

  • Domain ontology: concepts relevant to a particular topic, domain of discourse, or area of interest, for example, to information technology or to computer languages, or to particular branches of science
  • Interface ontology: concepts relevant to the juncture of two disciplines
  • Process ontology: inputs, outputs, constraints, sequencing information, involved in business or engineering processes
  • Upper ontology: concepts supporting development of an ontology, meta-ontology


The word “theology” comes from two Greek words that combined mean “the study of God.” Theology is derived from the Greek theologia (θεολογία), which derived from Τheos (Θεός), meaning “God“, and -logia (-λογία),[4][5]meaning “utterances, sayings, or oracles” (a word related to logos [λόγος], meaning “word, discourse, account, or reasoning“) which had passed into Latin as theologia and into French as théologie. The English equivalent “theology” (Theologie, Teologye) had evolved by 1362.[6] The sense the word has in English depends in large part on the sense the Latin and Greek equivalents had acquired in patristic and medieval Christian usage, although the English term has now spread beyond Christian contexts.

Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as “reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity”;[7] Richard Hooker defined “theology” in English as “the science of things divine.

Theology is the study of deities or their scriptures in order to discover what they have revealed about themselves. Theology, of course, is the study of gods — does a god exist, what a god is, what a god wants, etc. Every religion has its own theology because its study of gods, if it includes any gods, will proceed from specific doctrines and traditions which vary from one religion to the next. Since atheists don’t accept the existence of any gods, they don’t accept that theology is the study of anything real. At most, it might be the study of what people think is real and atheist involvement in theology proceeds more from the perspective of a critical outsider rather than an involved member.

search for “first principles” — things like the origin of the universe, fundamental laws of logic and reasoning, etc. For theists, the answer to this is almost always “god” and, moreover, they tend to argue that there can be no other possible answer. Some even go far as to argue that the existence of things like logic and the universe constitute evidence of the existence of their god.

Universal science-

niversal science (GermanUniversalwissenschaft; Latinscientia generalis, scientia universalis) is a branch of metaphysics. In the work of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the universal science is the true logic. Plato‘s system of idealism, formulated using the teachings of Socrates, is a predecessor to the concept of universal science. It emphasizes on the first principles which appear to be the reasoning behind everything, emerging and being in state with everything.

The branch of “universal science” is a bit harder to understand, but it involves the search for “first principles” — things like the origin of the universe, fundamental laws of logic and reasoning, etc. For theists, the answer to this is almost always “god” and, moreover, they tend to argue that there can be no other possible answer. Some even go far as to argue that the existence of things like logic and the universe constitute evidence of the existence of their god

Originally, the idea of Universal Science came from Plato’s system of idealism, formulated using the teachings of Socrates.  it -  moves beyond the compartmentalization of standard science, and seeks to provide a bigger picture, even a complete picture, of the cosmos and all it’s component realities.  As such Unified Science tends towards grand theories of metaphysics, and estoteric world- views.  It would however be simplistic and incorrect to call theories of universal science ” esoteric” and conventional science ” exoteric”.  Rather universal paradigms of science are more strongly intuitive based, and in many cases are science-inspired systems of metaphysics.

Theories of Metaphysics-

Theories of the nature of reality-

( Cosmology )

Theories of the nature of the cosmos and explanations of its origin and development. It deals with the origin and structure of the universe. It accepts the principles of science and attempts to find the principles of existence, in whatever form they may take.

Some considerations in cosmology are:


a . Causality.

The nature of cause and effect relationship,  the nature of time and the nature of space. Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is what connects one process (the cause) with another process or state (the effect),[ where the first is partly responsible for the second, and the second is partly dependent on the first. In general, a process has many causes,[2] which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future. Multiple philosophers have believed that causality is metaphysically prior to notions of time and space.

Causality is an abstraction that indicates how the world progresses, so basic a concept that it is more apt as an explanation of other concepts of progression than as something to be explained by others more basic.

b Evolutionism

Universe evolved by itself.  ”Evolutionism” means different things to different people. Evolutionism describes the belief in the evolution of organisms. Its exact meaning has changed over time as the study of evolution has progressed. In the 19th century, it was used to describe the belief that organisms deliberately improved themselves through progressive inherited change.

c .Creationism. The universe came to be as the result of the working of a creative cause or Personality. A doctrine or theory holding that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing and usually in the way described in Genesis.

Theories of nature of man as one important aspect of Reality.

The problem of essential nature of the self. There are no particular terms but there are divergent answers which can be identified with general viewpoints.

  1. The self is a soul, a spiritual being. A principle of idealism and spiritual realism
  2. The self is essentially the same as the body. A principle of naturalism and physical realism
  1. The self is a social-vocal phenomenon. A principle held especially by experimentalists

Theories of Problem of the Relation of Body and Mind



Mind and body are 2 different kind of reality, each of which can affect the other. Interactionism or interactionist dualism is the theory in the philosophy of mind which holds that matter and mind are two distinct and independent substances that exert causal effects on one another. Interactionism is a dualist position in the philosophy of mind which argues that

(1) mind and body are separate, but that

(2) there is causal interaction between the two. Cartesian dualism, the position of René Descartes is the most famous example of interactionism.


Mind and body are two different kinds of reality which do not and cannot affect each other. But in some unknown way, every mental event is paralleled by a corresponding physical event. parallelism (or simply parallelism) is the theory that mental and bodily events are perfectly coordinated, without any causal interaction between them. Parallelism, or psychophysical parallelism (meaning that mind and body are parallel) is a form of dualism which denies any interaction between mind and body.

Parallelism is a difficult position to hold, since it does little to account for the fact that the brain and mind seem to regularly interact, and that changes in one appear to affect the other. If the two are separate substances in a dualist view, then the idea that there is no causality between them, yet obvious changes in both simultaneously, seems counter-intuitive. For this reason it is not a commmonly held belief, but merely a presentation of the third possibility, the others being two-way interaction (as in interactionism) and one-way interaction, as in most forms of physicalism.


Mind is merely a function of the brain, an overtone accompanying bodily activity. It is an onlooker at events, never influencing them.  Epiphenomenalism is a position in the philosophy of mind according to which mental states or events are caused by physical states or events in the brain but do not themselves cause anything. Epiphenomenalism is a theory concerning the relation between the mental and physical realms, regarded as radically different in nature. The theory holds that only physical states have causal power, and that mental states are completely dependent on them. The mental realm, for epiphenomenalists, is nothing more than a series of conscious states which signify the occurrence of states of the nervous system, but which play no causal role.

Double Aspect Theory.

Double-aspect theory, also called dual-aspect theory, type of mind-body monism. According to double-aspect theory, the mental and the material are different aspects or attributes of a unitary reality, which itself is neither mental nor material. Mind and body are two aspects of a fundamental reality whose nature is unknown. In the philosophy of mind, double-aspect theory is the view that the mental and the physical are two aspects of, or perspectives on, the same substance.

Emergence Theory.

Mind is something new which has been produced by Nature in the evolutionary process, neither identical with body, parallel to it, nor wholly dependent upon it. The basic idea of emergence is that there are properties – perhaps even “laws” – at the upper hierarchical levels of nature that are not derivable from or reducible to the properties and laws of the lower levels. The most central concept in this new emergentism is irreducibility. The idea is that although mental properties depend on physical properties and supervene on them, they can never be reduced to them.


Spiritualism is a philosophy that attempts to understand people, their physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual being. As Spirit is the moving force of the Universe, so Spiritualist philosophy embraces the whole realm of nature.   (A definition common to most idealists and spiritual realists.) Mind is more fundamental than body. The relation of body and mind is better described as body depending upon mind, as compared to the common-sense description according to which mind depends upon body. Spiritualism. Spiritualism, in philosophy, a characteristic of any system of thought that affirms the existence of immaterial reality imperceptible to the senses.

Theories of problem of freedom


Man is not free. All of his actions are determined by forces greater than he is. Determinism, in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes.  The theory holds that the universe is utterly rational because complete knowledge of any given situation assures that unerring knowledge of its future is also possible.

Free Will.

Man has the power of choice and is capable of genuine initiative.  Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded. Free will is closely linked to the concepts of responsibility, praise, guilt, sin, and other judgements which apply only to actions that are freely chosen. It is also connected with the concepts of advice, persuasion, deliberation, and prohibition. Traditionally, only actions that are freely willed are seen as deserving credit or blame. There are numerous different concerns about threats to the possibility of free will, varying by how exactly it is conceived, which is a matter of some debate.

Third alternative

There is a third alternative proposed especially by the experimentalists, for which there is no name. Man is neither free nor determined; but he can and does delay some of his responses long enough to reconstruct a total response, not completely automatic but not free, which does give a new direction to subsequent activity. n any conflict, the 1st Alternative is my way, and the 2nd Alternative is your way. The usual outcomes are either a war or a compromise. Compromise stops the fight — but without breaking through to amazing new results. A 3rd Alternative is that kind of breakthrough.

3rd Alternative thinking doesn’t just resolve a conflict, it transforms the conflict. It’s not about putting Band-Aids on the old reality, it’s about creating a new reality. With a compromise we all lose something, but with a 3rd Alternative we all win.

Theories  Regarding Conception of God


B. Atheism. There is no ultimate reality in or behind the cosmos which is Person or Spirit. Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. … Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

G. Deism. God exists quite apart from, and is disinterested in, the physical universe and human beings. But He created both and is the Author of all natural and moral law. Deism is the belief in a supreme being, who remains unknowable and untouchable. God is viewed as merely the “first cause” and underlying principle of rationality in the universe. Deists believe in a god of nature — a noninterventionist creator — who permits the universe to run itself according to natural laws.

C. Pantheism.  a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God.

the worship or tolerance of many gods. All is God and God is all. The cosmos and God are identical. Pantheism, the doctrine that the universe conceived of as a whole is God and, conversely, that there is no God but the combined substance, forces, and laws that are manifested in the existing universe. The cognate doctrine of panentheism asserts that God includes the universe as a part though not the whole of his being.

A. The conception of God as emerging, for which there is no common name. God is evolving with the cosmos; He is the end toward which it is moving, instead of the beginning from which it came. God is affected by the pain of creatures, is genuinely responsive to their calls, acquires experiences as a result of these interactions that were not present beforehand — all ideas familiar to readers of process theology.

D. Polytheism. Spiritual reality is plural rather than a unity. There is more than one God. Polytheism is the worship of many gods.  Polytheism (from the Greek: polus, many, and theos, god) refers to belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or deities. This mode of belief is an extremely common form of religious expression. Most ancient religions involved belief in pantheons of deities ruling over various aspects of life. Further, these polytheistic beliefs remain a vital part of HinduismShintoism and many other religious traditions into the present day.

The term “polytheism” is sometimes applied to a wide variety of religious traditions with a range of divergent theological stance

E. Theism.  The term theism (from the Greek theos, or “god”) commonly refers to belief in God, the view that all finite things are dependent in some way on one supreme, self-existent reality who is typically spoken of as having personal identity Ultimate reality is a personal God who is more than the cosmos but within whom and through the cosmos exists. Theism, the view that all limited or finite things are dependent in some way on one supreme or ultimate reality of which one may also speak in personal terms.

F. Teleology.  Philosophies holding that there has been purpose in the universe from its beginning, and /or purpose can be discerned in history, are teleological philosophies. Considerations as to whether or not there is purpose in the universe. Teleology or finality is a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose, or goal. It is derived from two Greek words: telos and logos. A purpose that is imposed by a human use, such as that of a fork, is called extrinsic.Philosophies holding that the world is what it is because of chance, accident, or blind mechanism are no teleological.

Theoretical  Considerations relating to the constancy, or lack of it, in reality.


Fundamental reality is constant, unchanging, fixed, and dependable


Reality is a changing thing. So called realities are always relative to something or other.

Theories Related with Problems of quantity. Consideration of the number of ultimate realities, apart from qualitative aspects.



A theory or doctrine that denies the existence of a distinction or duality in a particular sphere, such as that between matter and mind, or God and the world.The doctrine that only one supreme being exists.

Reality is unified. It is one. It is mind, or matter, or energy, or will but only one of these.


Dualism in Metaphysics is the belief that there are two kinds of reality: material (physical) and immaterial (spiritual). In Philosophy of Mind, Dualism is the position that mind and body are in some categorical way separate from each other, and that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical in nature. Reality is two. Usually these realities are antithetical, as spirit and matter, good and evil. Commonly, the antithesis is weighted, so that one of the two is considered more important and more enduring than the other.

Pluralism. Pluralism is a term used in philosophy, meaning “doctrine of multiplicity”, often used in opposition to monism (“doctrine of unity”) and dualism (“doctrine of duality”). The term has different meanings in metaphysics, ontology, epistemology and logic Reality is many. minds, things, materials, energies, laws, processes, etc., all may be considered equally real and to some degree independent of each other.



  • Butler, J.Donald, Four Philosophies and Their Practice in Education and Religion. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1957
  • Cotter, A.C. ABC of Scholastic Philosophy. Weston, Massachusetts: Weston College Press, 1949
  • Maritain, Jacques,” Thomist views on Education,” Modern Philosophies of Education. National Society for the Study of Education, Fifty-Fourth yearbook, Part I. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955.
  • Weber, Christian O., Basic Philosophies of Education. New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1960. This book, especially in chapters 11-
  • Broudy, Harry S., Building a Philosophy of Education. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1961..
  • Frank Thilly, “A History of philosophy”, Central Publishing House, Allahabad.
  • Rusk, R.R., “Philosophical Basis of Education” p-68, footnote, London, University of London Press, 1956.


Mrs. Manjul Agarwal for being scribe for this article.



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off



Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Aryabhatta and Varaha Mitra, not only adopted the Greek zodiac and its divisions, but made use of the Greek names slightly orientalised. There were many routes by which this intercom- munication of ideas, religious, artistic, and social, could have taken place. There was the well-known route by the Persian Gulf through Palmyra, a city which became so renowned that Aurelian, jealous of its wealth and power, razed it to the ground in 273 A.D., and carried off its Queen Zenobia. Arab mariners also sailed from India and the further East, keeping close to the coast till they reached Berenice in the Red Sea, whence the goods were transported to Coptos, thence down the Nile to Alexandria. Under such emperors as the cruel and dissipated Corn- modus, the plundering barbarian Caracalla, and the infamous Eleogabalus, the wealth that came from the East through Alexandria to the imperial city of Rome passed away to Constantinople, founded in 320 A.D., and to the rising cities along the Medi- terranean.
So the trade between the East and the West grew and flourished till suddenly a new power arose, claiming for itself the temporal and spiritual supre- macy over the whole known world.
From the deserts of Arabia came forth the haughty message to Christendom, that Muhammad had pro- claimed himself as the only Prophet of the One True God. To all idolaters he gave the choice between accepting his mission and teachings, and of being put to the sword ; while all Christians and Jews were to be subdued and made to pay tribute to his followers, who now came swarming from their tents, drunk with a new religious fanaticism, eager to seek fresh homes in the stately palaces of the lands they were soon to overrun.
Within the space of eight years Bostra, Damascus, Heliopolis, Jerusalem, Aleppo and Antioch fell before the Crescent, and Syria passed for the next three hundred years under the sway of the followers of Muhammad, Persia falling in 636 A.D., after the battle of Kadesia. In 640 Amru marched into Egypt and took possession of Alexandria, leaving the Arabian conquerors in command of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, the two great trade routes from the East. One route alone remained by which Eastern pro- duce could reach the cities of the Mediterranean free from the prohibitory dues exacted by the Muham- madan conquerors : that by the Indus along the ancient route by the banks of the Oxus, across to the Caspian, thence to the Black Sea, Constantinople, and the Mediterranean. To gain possession of this route, and to avoid the duties enforced at Alexandria, amounting to one-third the value of all produce exported, Venice, founded in 452 A.D., on the islets of the Adriatic by fugitives from North Italy, strove incessantly, knowing well that alone by a command of the Eastern trade could she rise to be mistress of the seas. To the pilgrims of the Fourth Crusade she agreed to give shipping if they would but for a time forget their holy mission and aid in reducing her rival Constantinople. The compact was made. In 1204 Constantinople fell, the rich homes of its peace- ful citizens being given over to rapine and flames, its art treasures, the finest and most prized that the world has ever known, being broken in pieces and trampled underfoot by the marauding crusaders and hired mercenaries of the merchants of Venice. Count Baldwin of Flanders was enthroned Emperor of the East, the Venetians holding the forts to gain command over the Eastern trade. Of these advantages on the Black Sea Venice was, however, soon deprived by Genoa, Pisa, and Florence — cities now eager to enter into the competition for the monopoly of the gems, spices, and silks of India sent to the further West in exchange for Easterling or sterling silver. Pisa gave up the struggle after her defeat at Meloria in 1284, and in 1406 fell subject to Florence, which, under the Medici, had become the city of bankers for all nations. Genoa fought on down to the fifteenth century when Venice again became supreme, selling the valued products of India to the Flemish mer- chants who sailed with them to Sluys, then the seaport town of Bruges, to Bergen in Norway,
Novgorod in Russia, to the many associated towns of the Hanseatic League, and also to their steel- yard or warehouse on the Thames.
In these Western cities it was known that the costly goods they so prized came from the East, but the way there was unknown. In Portugal Prince Henry the Navigator spent his life in endeavouring to discover how his ships might reach the Indies by sailing round Africa. In i486 Bartholomew Diaz went south with three ships, and discovered what he called ” The Cape of Tempests,” renamed in joy ” The Cape of Good Hope ” by King John II.
In 1492 Columbus, a Genoese, after offering his services in vain to Genoa, Portugal, and England, sailed away to the West, hoping thus to reach India, and discovered America.
When Emmanuel succeeded John II. as King of Portugal, he resolved to send a gentleman of his household, Vasco da Gama, to find out if land lay beyond the wild southern seas.
On the 8th of July, 1497, Vasco da Gama sailed from the Tagus with three small ships, the Sam Gabriel the Sam Rafael, and the Sam Miguel each of some 100 to 120 tons burden, having crews amounting in all to 170 men.
By the time Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope the pilots and sailors were so wearied from the incessant labour of working the pumps to keep the frail ships afloat, and so terrified by the heavy seas, that they mutinied and demanded that their leader should turn back and no further seek to brave the unknown perils of a trackless ocean. Vasco da Gama at once placed the pilots in irons, threw all the charts and instruments of navigation overboard, declaring that God would guide him, and other aid he required not ; if that aid failed, neither he nor any of the crews would ever again see Portugal. So the ships had to toil on, many of the sailors dying of scurvy, a disease now heard of for the first time in history. Their labours were at length rewarded. Eleven months after they had left home they sighted the west coast of India, and cast anchor near the city of the Zamorin, or Ruler of the Seas, whence many people came crowding to the beach, wondering greatly at the Portuguese ships.
The Zamorin and his Indian subjects were willing to open up a friendly intercourse with Vasco da Gama and his sailors, but the Arab mariners, or Moors, as they were called, who for many centuries had held in their own hands the trade between the west coast of India and the Persian Gulf, or Red Sea, were unwilling to see any rivals in their lucrative business. Having succeeded in inducing Vasco da Gama to come on shore, they carried him off on various pretexts through the malarious lagoons bor- dering the coast, hoping that he might resent their treatment and so give them some excuse to slay him and drive away his ships. By quiet patience he eluded all the plots laid against him, until his ships were laden with such scanty stores of pepper, cinnamon, and spices as his captains were able to purchase. Vasco da Gama at length obtained his release, and departed from Calicut, vowing to come back and wage a war of extermination against the Moors — a vow which he and his successors ever afterwards barbarously and ruthlessly endeavoured to fulfil. From Calicut he sailed back towards Cannanore, where we hear, as recorded by Gaspar Correa l in his account of Vasco da Gama’s voyages, of one of the many strange prophecies told in the East. It is there recorded, ” In this country of India they are much addicted to soothsayers and diviners. . . . According to what was known later, there had been in this country of Canna- nore a diviner so diabolical in whom they believed so much that they wrote down all that he said, and preserved it like prophecies that would come to pass. They held a legend from him in which it was said that the whole of India would be taken and ruled over by a very distant king, who had white people, who would do great harm to those who were not their friends ; and this was to happen a long time later, and he left signs of when it would be. In consequence of the great disturbance caused by the sight of these ships, the King was very desirous of knowing what they were ; and he spoke to his diviners, asking them to tell him what ships were those and whence they came. The diviners conversed with their devils, and told him that the ships belonged to a great king, and came from very far, and according to what they found written, these were the people who were to seize India by war and peace, as they had already told him many times, because the period which had been written down was concluded.”
The king and his counsellors were so assured of the truth of this prophecy, that they received the Portuguese with great honour and friendship, pressing on them more presents and goods than could be stored away in the ships, which were soon able to sail away with ample cargoes of pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, and nutmegs.
Such was the commencement of the modern history of commerce between the East and the West. Vasco da Gama reached Portugal in 1499 to the great delight of the king, who immediately assumed the title of ” Lord of the Conquest, Navigation, and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and China,” a title confirmed in 1502 by a Bull from Pope Alexander VI.
The profits of the voyage being found to be sixty times the expenses incurred, King Emmanuel deter- mined to send to the East ” another large fleet of great and strong ships which could stow much cargo, and which, if they returned in safety, would bring him untold riches.”
Vasco da Gama never forgave the Moors for their treatment of him on his first arrival at Calicut. When he visited the coast again, in 1 502, he captured two ships and sixteen small vessels, and having cut off the hands and ears and noses of eight hundred unfortunate Moors, who formed the crews, he broke their teeth with staves, placed them all in a small ship which he set on fire and allowed to drift ashore, so that the Zamorin might judge of the fierce wrath of the Portuguese sailors. No wonder the Portuguese historian writes, as recorded in the Introduction to the Hakluyt Society’s account by Correa, ” The con- quest of India is repugnant to us, and strikes us with horror, on account of the injustice and barbarity of the conquerors, their frauds, extortions and san- guinary hatreds ; whole cities ravaged and given to the flames ; amid the glare of conflagrations and the horrid lightning of artillery, soldiers converted into executioners after victory.”
The native princes were determined not to sur- render without one final struggle. Against Cochin, where Duarte Pacheco, a Portuguese captain, had been left in command of a little over one hundred Portuguese soldiers and three hundred Malabar native troops, the Zamorin of Calicut advanced at the head of an immense army of fifty thousand troops and numerous cannon, aided by a sea-force of some three hundred ships.
For five months he strove to drive the handful of Portuguese from India. Time after time his troops were defeated, ten thousand of them being slain, and all his ships sunk save four. He at length retreated, finding that his undisciplined native troops could not avail against European soldiers, and Duarte Pacheco was left victorious, the first to show to the West the possibility of founding an empire in India, and the first of the long line of heroes whose services to their country were repaid by neglect or insult, poverty or death.
Before the trade from the East finally passed to the Atlantic the Portuguese had to fight one more fight. The Sultan of Egypt, seeing that the course of commerce, through his dominions to the Medi- terranean ports, was passing to the new route round the Cape of Good Hope, resolved to gather together a great fleet and send it to India to destroy the Portuguese ships now trading at Cochin, Cannanore, and Ouilon. Dom Lourenco de Almeida, aged eighteen, son of Dom Francisco de Almeida, the first great Portuguese Viceroy of India, met the Egyptian and an allied native fleet off Chaul, where, after two days’ fighting, the Portuguese were defeated and forced to retreat.
Dom Lourenco’s ship was surrounded, and he him- self wounded. Disdaining to yield, he fell fighting amid a brave band of heroes.
With fierce wrath the Viceroy hastened to avenge the death of his son. He ravaged and burned the hostile city of Dabhol, scattered the Egyptian and allied native fleet of two hundred ships, plundering and burning them all with the exception of four, and slaying three thousand of the Moors, thus establishing the supremacy of the Portuguese in the Eastern seas. The same sad fate, allotted to so many who strove to knit together the East and the West, followed the footsteps of the first great Viceroy of India. De- prived, by orders from home, of his command, he departed from India in proud anger to meet with an ignominious death in a petty fray with some Kaffir savages at Saldanha Bay in Africa — perhaps a happy release from the slow, cankering life of neglect and contumely meted out to Pacheco, La Bourdonnais, Dupleix, Lally, Clive, Hastings, and many others who lived to be judged by their fellow- countrymen, whose fight they had fought and won.
For a century the Portuguese held the ” Gorgeous East in fee,” trading unmolested from the Cape of Good Hope to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, to the Spice Islands and China, their possessions along the Atlantic, in Africa and Brazil, filling up the full measure of a mighty empire destined to fall to pieces and sink to decay when the trade from the East passed from its hands.
Francisco de Almeida, the first Viceroy, saw clearly that Portugal could never establish a great colonising empire in India, that territorial possessions would prove too heavy a drain on her population and resources. His constant admonition to King Em- manuel was that the trade with India would ulti- mately fall to the nation whose forces ruled the seas.
His successors, brave and wise men as many of them were, saw but the immediate present ; they possessed not the divine gift, granted but to few of India’s early administrators, such as Almeida, Dupleix, Clive, and Hastings, of viewing all events that passed before them as mere phases in the world’s history, directed and moulded by the irresistible principles which govern the destiny of nations, and not as springing from the irresponsible actions of men or chance decision of battles.
Alfonso de Albuquerque, the next Viceroy, deemed that by the prowess and valour of his European soldiers he could establish a lasting empire for his people in the East. In 1510 he captured Goa, which soon grew to be the wealthiest and most powerful city in the East ; he reduced Ormuz, thus closing the Persian Gulf to the Arab traders ; he built a fortress at Socotra to command the Red Sea, and left the coast from the Cape of Good Hope to China in the hands of his successors.
Portugal held the commerce of the East, sending its goods north to Bruges, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Nuremberg, and Augsburg, until she became united with Spain in 1580, when the Dutch, who, under William of Orange, had in 1572 shaken off the Spanish yoke, could no longer trade with Lisbon. It was then that the Dutch, determining not to be de- prived of their share in the Eastern trade, sent their navigators to the north-east, hoping to discover some new route to India and learn something of its com- merce.
The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 left the seas free for the Dutch and English to sail south round the Cape of Good Hope and take part in the commerce of the Eastern world, independent of Portugal.
In 1595 one Jan Huygen van Linschoten, a West Friesland burgher, who had travelled to India with the Archbishop of Goa, returned home after thirteen years’ residence in the East and published a celebrated book, in which he gave a full account of the route to India as well as of the commerce carried on there by the Portuguese. In 1595 the Dutch de- spatched four ships under Cornelius Houtman to sail round the Cape of Good Hope ; in 1602 trading factories were set up in Ceylon and along the west coast of India, and in the farther East from Batavia in Java to Japan and China.
By this time news had also reached England of the wealth of India. Thomas Stevens, the first English- man who ever visited India, had sailed from Lisbon to Goa in 1579 and had become Rector of the Jesuit College at Salsette. From there, in a series of letters written to his father, he aroused the interest of the English people in the East by the vivid account he gave of the trade of the Portuguese and the fertility of the land.
In 1583 three English merchants, Ralph Fitch, James Newberry, and William Leedes, started over- land for India. They were made prisoners by the Portuguese at Ormuz, to the despair of Newberry, who wrote : ” It may be that they will cut our throtes or keepe us long in prison, God’s will be done.” They were, however, spared, and sent on to Goa where they saw Thomas Stevens and the celebrated Jan van Linschoten. Escaping, after many adventures, from Goa, they travelled through a great part of India, giving in letters home an interesting account of the country and the customs of the people, all strange and wonderful to these first English travellers. From Bijapur, Fitch writes that there ” they bee great idolaters, and they have their idols standing in the woods which they call Pagodes. Some bee like a Cowe, some like a Monkie, some like Buffles, some like peacockes, and some like the devill.” Golconda is described as ” a very faire towne, pleasant, with faire houses of bricke and timber.” Fitch then made his way to Masulipatam, on the east coast, ” whether come many shippes out of India, Pegu and Sumatra very richly laden with pepper, spices and other commodities.” Agra is described as ” a very great citie and populous, built with stone, having faire and large streetes.” ” Fatepore Sikri and Agra are two very great cities, either of them much greater than London and very Populous. Between Agra and Fatepore are twelve miles and all the way is a market of victualls and other things as full as though a man were still in a towne.” ” Hither,” we are further told, ” is a great resort of merchants from Persia and out of India, and very much merchandise of silke and clothe and of precious stones, both Rubies, Diamonds and Perales.”
John Newberry departed from Agra for home, journeying through Persia ; William Leedes took service as jeweller with the Emperor Akbar, and Ralph Fitch continued his travels, proceeding towards Bengal, noting the power and influence of the Brahman priests, who, he says, are ” a kind of craftie people worse than the Jewes.” The myriad temples, the bathing ghats, and sacred wells of Benares call forth his wonder.Travelling from Benares towards Patna he found that the road was infested with bands of robbers ; nevertheless he managed to reach Bhutan in safety, returning, to ” Hugeli, which is the place where the Portugals keepe in the country of Bengala,” and thence sailing for home he arrived at Ceylon, where the king was very powerful, ” his guard are a thousand thousand men, and often he commeth to Columbo, which is the place where the Portugals have their fort, with an hundred thousand men and many elephants. But they be naked people all of them, yet many of them be good with their pieces which be muskets.”
Fitch reached home in 1591, after an absence of eight years from his native country, where, in the meantime, more certain and accurate knowledge of the route to India and the Portuguese commerce had been gained.
In the year 1587 a large Portuguese ship named the San Filippe had been captured by Sir Francis Drake off the Azores on its way from Goa to Lisbon, and amid great rejoicing towed into Plymouth, where its papers were examined and its cargo of Eastern produce found to be of .£108,049 value.
A few years later another great ship, the largest in the Portuguese navy, the Madre di Dios, was also cap- tured off the Azores on ks way home from India, brought into Dartmouth, and her cargo of jewels, spices, nutmegs, silks, and cottons sold for .£150,000; the papers found in her giving a full account of the trade and settlements of the Portuguese in the Eastern seas.
In 1591 three ships, the Penelope, the Merchant Royal, and the Edward Bonadventure, sailed under command of George Raymond and James Lan- caster, on the first voyage to India from England. By the time they reached the Cape of Good Hope scurvy had so weakened the sailors, and the tem- pestuous seas and storms so damaged the ships, that the Merchant Royal had to be sent home with fifty of the crews. Six days after, on ” the 14th of September, we were encountered,” witnesses James Lancaster in his account as recorded by Hakluyt, ” with a mighty storme and extreeme gusts of winde, wherein we lost our general’s companie, and could never heare of him nor his ship any more.” So Lancaster had to sail on, the Bonadventure alone being left out of the three ships to encounter more sore perils and trials, for ” foure dayes after this uncomfortable separation in the morning toward ten of the clocke we had a terrible clap of thunder, which slew foure of our men outright, their necks being wrung in sonder without speaking any word, and of 94 men there was not one untouched, whereof some were stricken blind, others were bruised in the legs and armes and others in their brests, others were drawen out at length as though they had been racked. But (God be thanked) they all recovered saving only the foure which were slaine out right.”
Lancaster reached India, cruised about for some time in the Eastern seas, pillaging such Portuguese vessels as he captured, and then sailed for home, passed the Cape, reached the West Indies and the Bermudas, where he and nearly all his remaining sailors landed on a desert island, ” but in the night time, about twelve of the clocke, our ship did drive away with five men and a boy onely in it ; our carpenter secretly cut their own cable, leaving nineteen of us on land without boate or anything, to our great discomfort.”
From this position Lancaster and the few survivors of the ill-fated expedition were rescued by a French ship, and arrived at Dieppe on the 24th of May, 1594, having “spent in this voyage three yeeres, five weekes and two dayes, which the Portugals performe in halfe the time.”
In 1596 a second effort was made to reach India, Captain Benjamin Wood sailing in charge of the Bear, the Bears Whelp, and Benjamin, but neither he nor his ships were ever heard of again. Renewed and more vigorous efforts were now necessary, for the Dutch, were gradually monopolising the trade with the East. In 1599, they raised the price of pepper in the English market from 3s. to 8s. per pound, and the Lord Mayor of London imme- diately called together a meeting of the principal City merchants to consider what course should be pursued. On the 22nd of September, Sir Stephen Soame, the Lord Mayor, sundry aldermen, and others of less dignity, such as grocers, drapers, vintners, leather- sellers, skinners, and haberdashers, met together at Founders’ Hall, Lothbury, and there agreed —  with their own hands to venter in the pretended voyage to the EastIndies, the which it may please the Lord to prosper.”
One year after the merchants of London had first assembled together they received the announcement that it was Her Majesty’s pleasure ” that they should proceed in their purpose,” the Lords of the Council shortly after admonishing them “that you should therein use all expedition and possible seeded to advance the same, knowing that otherwise you may much prejudice yourselves by your staggering and delaies.”
Four ships, the Malice Scourge, of 600 tons, the Hector, of 300 tons, the Ascension, of 260, the Susan, of 240, and a small pinnacle were accordingly purchased and made ready for sailing when a difficulty arose. The Lord Treasurer strove to place Sir Edward Michelborne, a Court favorite, in charge of the expedition — a proposal which the City merchants objected to, giving as their reason that ” they purpose not to employ antigen in any place of charge or commandant in the said voyage,” their intention being ”to sort their business with men of their own quality.” The Malice Scourge, rechristened the Red Dragon, was placed in charge of James Lancaster, with a crew of 202 men, Captain John Davis, the famous North- West navigator, being pilot; John Middleton was made commander of the Hector, with 108 men ; William Brand commander of the Ascension, with 82 men ; and John Heywood commander of the Susan, with 88 men ; the Guest, a small vessel of 1 30 tons, being purchased to accompany the fleet as a victualled.
On the 31st of December, 1600, the merchants received ” The Charter of Incorporation of the East India Company by the name of the Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies,” with power to export ^”30,000 in bullion out of the country, the same to be returned at the end of the voyage, the Charter being granted for a term of fifteen years.
On the 2nd of April, 1601, the four ships started on their memorable voyage, having on board the sum of .£28,742 in bullion, and £6,860 worth of British staples, such as cutlery, glass, and hides, wherewith they hoped to open up a trade in the Eastern seas. This laudable enterprise they commenced, after the fashion of the times, by capturing, on the 21st of June, a Portuguese ship bound from Lisbon to the East Indies, and taking from her 146 butts of wine, much oil and other goods, ” which was a great helpe to us in the whole voyage after.” By the time the ships reached Saldanha Bay, now known as Table Bay, the crews of three of the ships were so weakened by scurvy, from which disease 105 in all died, that they had not strength left even to let go their anchors, the crew of the Dragon alone escaping, as they abstained as much as possible from eating salt meat and drank freely of lemon juice. James Lancaster went ashore to ” seeks some refreshing for our sicken and weaken men, where he met with certain of the Country people and gave them divers trifles, as knives and pieces of old iron and such like, and made signs to them to bring him down Sheep and Oxen. For he spoke to them in the chattels Language, which was never changed at the Confusion of Babell, which was Mouth for oxen and kina, and Baa for Sheep, which language the people understood very well without any interpreter.”
Recovering their health and strength they sailed
and on the 5th of June anchored off Achin. Here a treaty of peace was drawn up between James Lancaster and the King, who took more interest in cock-fighting than in listening to the letters from Queen Elizabeth to ” her loving brother, the great and mighty King of Achem.” Seeing that he could obtain but small store of goods or pepper, on account of failure in the previous year’s harvests, ” the generally daily grew full of thought how to lade his shippers to save his own credit, the merchants’ estimation that set him awoke, and the reputation of his country: considering what a fouled blot it would be to them all in regard to the nations about us, seeing there were enough merchandise to be bought in the Indies, yet he should be likely to return home with empty ships.” Sailing away to the Straits of Malacca a Portuguese ship of 1,900 tons was sighted, on the 3rd of October, and, as told in the journals of the voyage, transcribed in ” Purchas his Pilgrims,” published in 1625, “within five or six daies we had unladen her of 950 packs of Calicoes and Pintados, besides many packets of merchandise: she had in her much rice and other goods whereof we made small account.” In the simple narrative we are further told that ” the General was very glad of this good hap, and very thankful to God for it, and as he told me he was much bound to God that had eased him of a very heavy care, and that he could not be thankful enough to Him for this blessing given him. For, saith he, He hath not only supplied my neces- sities, to lade these ships I have ; but hath given me as much as will lade as many more shippers as I have, if I had them to lade.’
Delighted at their good fortune they sailed on to Bantam, in Java, where ” wee traded here very peace- ably, although the Javians be reckoned among the greatest Pickers and Thieves in the world.”
The ships returned to England in the summer of 1603, the Court Minutes of the Company stating that on the 1 6th of June of that year the Ascension appeared in the river with a cargo of 210,000 lbs. of pepper, 1,100 lbs. of cloves, 6,030 lbs. of cinnamon, and 4,080 lbs. of gum lacquer. The Lord High Admiral demanded one-tenth of the value of the prizes taken at sea, and a further sum of £917 had to be paid for Customs dues; nevertheless, the voyage was successful enough to encourage the East India Company to subscribe together a sum of ^60,450 for a second expedition which sailed in 1604 in charge of Henry Middleton.
Reaching Bantam, two of the four ships which formed the fleet were laden with pepper and the other two sailed on to Amboyna. The Portuguese and Dutch were here found to be engaged in a fierce war. Each was determined to gain the mono- poly of the trade in the Moluccas, but both were equally determined to combine against a new com- petitor. Middleton, finding himself unable either to open up factories, or enter into friendly negotiations with the natives, was obliged to depart with his ships unladen. Although one of the ships was lost at sea, the Company, on casting up their accounts, found they had made a profit of 95 per cent, on the entire capital subscribed for their two first ventures.
This lucrative source of wealth soon brought forth competitors eager to share in its profits. In 1604 James I., in direct contravention of the Company’s exclusive right of trading with the East, gave permis- sion to Sir Edward Michelborne, whom the London merchants had refused to place in charge of their first expedition, to sail on a voyage of discovery to China, Japan, Corea, and Cathay. Starting with the Tiger, a ship of 240 tons, and a small pinnace, the Tiger’s Whelp, Sir Edward Michelborne sailed east, where he captured and pillaged some Chinese vessels. The voyage is memorable for the fact that the simple-souled John Davis, the North-West navigator, who accompanied the expedition, was treacherously slain by some Japanese pirates whom he allowed to come on board his ship under the belief that they were peaceable traders bringing some useful information.
Notwithstanding the interference of these private traders or ” interlopers ” the Company continued to send their ships to the East. In 1606 three ships went to Bantam for pepper and to Amboyna for cloves ; the latter sold in England for .£36,287, the original cost being £2,947 J 5 S – The two ships sent out on the fourth voyage in 1607 were lost, nevertheless the Company made on its third and fifth voyages a net profit of 234^ per cent.
By degrees trade was opened up at Surat and Cambay, where cloths and calicoes were purchased and carried to Bantam and the Moluccas to be ex- changed for the more valued spices and pepper. The Charter, as renewed by James I. in 1609, granted the Company not only the exclusive right in perpetuity of trading to the East Indies but also the right of holding and alienating land — concessions which inspired so much confidence that the subscriptions for the sixth voyage reached the sum of .£82,000. The sixth voyage is memorable for the fact that the largest merchant ship then in England, the Trades Increase, of 1,100 tons, was sent out to the East.
The Portuguese made strenuous efforts to pre- vent the adventurers trading at Surat, whereon the English commander, Sir Henry Middleton, captured one of their ships laden with Indian goods, so that the profits of the voyage amounted to £121 13s. 4d. per cent. The Trades Increase, however, struck on a rock and subsequently capsized — a calamity which so affected Sir Henry Middleton that he died of grief.
The power and trade of the Portuguese had rapidly waned from 1580, when they were united with Spain under Philip II.; but in the East they still strove to hold their once opulent settlements. In 161 2 four Portuguese galleons and twenty-five frigates attacked the English fleet under Captain Best at Swally, off Surat, and were driven off with heavy loss. In 161 5 they made one final effort to drive from the vicinity of Goa and Surat the English, whom they describe in a letter to the King as “thieves, disturbers of States, and a people not to be permitted in a commonwealth.” Eight galleons, three lesser ships, and sixty frigates came up with the New Year’s Gift, the Hector, the Merchant’s Hope, and the Solomon, off Swally, the natives anxiously looking on to see the contest between the two great European powers. Three of the Portuguese ships drew alongside
the Merchant’s Hope, which was boarded, but after an obstinate fight they were driven off with a loss of some five hundred men, the three ships set on fire and allowed to drift ashore, the rest of the fleet retreating during the night after a severe cannonade.
For many reasons it was impossible that Portugal could ever have established a permanent empire in India. The union with Spain, the smallness of her population, the deterioration of her soldiers from habits of pampered luxury and intermarriage with native women, added to their heavy losses in war, are facts lying on the surface. Recent researches have brought to light graver reasons why the native powers themselves were nothing loth to be relieved from the contamination of a so-called civilization introduced by foreigners who had lived amongst them and grown wealthy for a period of over one hundred years. The Portuguese historians tell how the tomb of the great Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francisco de Almeida, was. for many years after his death, visited both by Muhammadans and Hindus, who prayed that he might rise up and defend them from the barbarities, cruelties, and greed of his successors. From 1 560 the tortures and the burnings at the stake of supposed witches, sorcerers, and Christians suspected of heresy, native and European alike, not only made every per- son within its jurisdiction fearful for his honour, life, and liberty, but also sent a shudder of horror through Europe when the full tale of its iniquities was made known. The whole history is summed up by the Portuguese editor of Correa’s history: “Perfidy pre- siding over almost all compacts and negotiations conversions to Christianity serving as a transparent veil to covetousness: these are the fearful pictures from which we would desire to turn away our eyes. … It was, therefore, to this moral leprosy, to these internal cankers, that Gaspar Correa chiefly alluded, and to which Diogo do Conto attributed the loss of India, saying that it had been won with much truth, fidelity, valour, and perseverance, and that it was lost through the absence of those virtues.”
From their settlements and fortresses in the Eastern seas the Portuguese were rapidly driven out by the English and Dutch. In 1622 Ormuz, at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, was captured by the English fleet, assisted by a Persian army under Shah Abbas, the Portuguese population of over two thousand souls being transported to Muscat. The prize-money due to the Company from this conquest was estimated at ,£100,000 and 240,000 rials of eight, of which James I. claimed ;£ 10,000, his share as King, and the Duke of Buckingham ^10,000, his share as Lord High Admiral, the Company not being permitted to send any ships from England until they consented to pay these amounts.
A few years later, in 1629, the Emperor Shah Jahan captured the Portuguese settlement at Hugh’, carried off some four thousand men, women, and children, slew over one thousand of the garrison, and took three hundred ships of the fleet. From all sides disaster soon followed. Goa was blockaded by the Dutch, who gradually gained entire control over the
trade in the Spice Islands, Java, Ceylon, and on the mainland, leaving Portugal by the middle of the seven- teenth century stripped of her wealth and deprived of her commerce.
As the trade in the East gradually fell from the hands of the effete and degenerate descendants of the early Portuguese adventurers the struggle commenced between the Dutch and English, each eager to seize this source of wealth, the true value of which was yearly becoming more apparent. In the nine voyages made by the Company up to 161 2, the average profit on each share held by the London merchants had been 171 percent. From 161 3 to 161 6 four voyages were made, the subscriptions being united as an in- vestment for the joint benefit of all the proprietors. Owing to the opposition shown by the Dutch to the English trade in the Spice Islands the profits made on each of these four voyages fell to ^89 10s. per share of .£100. In spite of this the subscriptions increased to.£1,600,000, subsequently expended in three voyages on a second joint stock account.
In 1621 the subject of the Eastern trade excited so much controversy in England that Thomas Nun issued his celebrated tract as a counterblast to the growing contention that ” it were a happier thing for Christendom (say many men) that the navigation of the East Indies, by way of the Cape of Good Hope, had never been found out.” He pleaded that, as a result of the discovery of the route to India by the Cape, ” the Kingdom is purged of desperate and unruly people who, kept in awe by the good discipline at sea, doe often change their former course of life and so advance their fortunes.” He then asserts that the new trade with the East “is a means to bring more treasure into the Real me than all the other trades of the Kingdom (as they are now managed) being put together.”
Respecting the ships which had been employed in the Eastern seas he gave the following succinct information : ” Since the beginning of the trade until the month of July last, anno 1620, there have been sent thither 79 ships in several voyages, whereof 34 are already come home in safety richly laden, four have been worn out by long service from port to port in the Indies, two were overwhelmed in the trimming thereof, six have been cast away by the perils of the Sea, twelve have been taken and surprised by the Dutch, whereof divers will be wasted and little worth before they be restored, and 2 1 good ships doe still remayne in the Indies.”
The profit made by the voyages is summed up as follows: ” First there hath been lost ,£31,079 in the six Shipps which are cast away, and in the 34 shapes which are returned in safety there have been brought home £356,288 in divers’ sorts of wares which hath produced here in England towards the general stock thereof £1,914,000.  So there ought to re- main in the Indies to be speedily returned hither £484,088.” Elsewhere he shows in detail how pepper, mace, nutmegs, indigo, and raw silk, which would have cost £1,465,000 if purchased at the old rates, could now be purchased in the East Indies for about £511,458.
The opposition of the Dutch to English enterprise  in the East yearly became more openly aggressive until finally, in 1623, the Massacre of Amboyna sowed the seeds of that bitter animosity which sprang up between the two nations, leading to a long series of conflicts for the supremacy of the seas.
At Amboyna, in the Moluccas, Captain Towerson and his English factors, eighteen in number, occupied a house in the town, the Dutch holding a strong fort garrisoned by two hundred of their soldiers. Suddenly Captain Towerson and his assistants were seized on a charge of conspiring to surprise the Dutch strong- hold. It was in vain that the prisoners protested their innocence; the torture of the rack, according to the barbarous custom of the day, was applied until they were forced, in their agony, to admit the truth of the accusation. Captain Towerson, nine English sailors, nine natives of Japan, and one Portuguese were be- headed, praying forgiveness from each other for having in their torment confessed to the false accusation. The indignation excited in England on receipt of news of this outrage was carefully heightened by the Directors of the East India Company who widely distributed a picture depicting, in all the exaggerated extravagance capable of being conjured up by the imagination of the time, the tortures inflicted on the English factors, coupled with the statement that the Dutch had sued the London Company for the ex- penses of a black pall wherewith the body of Captain Towerson had been covered.
The oppression of the Dutch, however, continued, the English trade gradually decreasing until by 1628-9 the Company had incurred debts to the amount of .£300,000, shares of £100 falling down to j£8o, although previously shares of £60 had been sold ” by the candle ” for as much as .£130.
To add to the depression permission was given, in 1635, to a rival Company under Sir William Courten to trade with the East. In 1640 the King, as usual in grievous want of money, forced the old Company to sell him on credit all the pepper they had in store for the sum of ^63,283 lis. id., which the King imme- diately sold for ,£50,626 17s. id., ready cash ; it does not appear that the Company ever received any com- pensation, beyond some .£13,000 owing for Custom dues.
The Company, driven by the Dutch from the Eastern Archipelago gradually commenced to estab- lish factories and settlements along the coast of India. In 1632 a factory was reopened at Masulipatam under an order known as the ” Golden Firman,” obtained from the Muhammadan King of Golconda. This settlement soon became the chief place of trade in India, its affairs being regulated by a Council. The Chief of the Council, Mr. Francis Day, made a visit to the Portuguese settlement at St. Thome, the supposed place of martyrdom of St. Thomas the Apostle, and founded there in 1640 a new factory and center of trade known as Madras town. A more important concession was obtained in 1636 by Mr. Gabriel Boughton, surgeon of the Hopewell. He was sum- moned to attend the Emperor’s daughter who, through her clothes catching fire, had been badly burned. De- lighted with the rapid recovery of his daughter, under the hands of the skillful English surgeon, the Emperor Shah Jahan, at Mr. Boughton’s request, granted the Company permission to establish a factory at Hugh’ and to make a settlement lower down the coast at Balasor where a fort was built which soon became the strong- est position held by the Company on the east coast.
Bombay, given by the Portuguese to Charles II. on his marriage with Catherine of Braganza, as part of her dower, was leased by the King in 1669 to the Company on a rent of ^10 per annum — a possession which from 1685 grew to be the chief port of trade on the west coast.
While the London merchants were thus establish- ing centres of trade abroad, efforts were being made by the home Government to undermine the growing enterprise of the Dutch who, in 1622-3, had founded New Amsterdam, now New York, in America, and in 1650 commenced the colonization of the Cape of Good Hope. By the Navigation Act, passed in 165 1, Cromwell not only prepared the way for the future extension of English shipping and commerce, but struck a decisive blow at the prosperity of the Dutch, then the carriers of the world’s sea-borne trade. By this Act no goods from the East, from Africa or from America, were allowed to be imported into Great Britain unless carried in ships belonging to England and her colonies.
In the war which ensued the Dutch had much to lose ; attacks could be made on their rich merchant ships and their supplies cut off. England, on the other hand, had but little carrying trade to defend and was secure in her own agricultural resources. The Dutch fleet, under Martin Tromp, was defeated by
Blake off Dover in 1652 — a defeat retrieved by the end of the year when Tromp won a decisive victory, afterwards sailing down the Channel with a broom flying at his masthead to show that he had swept the P2nglish from the seas. In March, 1653, Blake and Monk defeated Tromp and De Ruyter in the three days’ fight off Beachy Head. In August Tromp was killed in the engagement off the Texel peace being afterwards concluded between the rival powers, neither able to gain much advantage by continuing the conflict.
France was now commencing her struggle for participation in the commerce of the world. As early as 1604 French companies had been formed and ships sent out to the East, but no serious efforts had been made to interfere with the Dutch and English. It was not until the year 1664 that Colbert, successor to the celebrated Minister Mazarin, suc- ceeded in arousing the interest of Louis XIV. in a scheme for enriching France by a fostering of her resources and development of her commerce. The exclusive right of trading to the East was granted to a powerful Company, formed with a capital of fifteen million francs, while as a basis for naval operations in the narrow seas, Louis XIV., in 1662, purchased from Charles II. the fortress of Dunkirk taken by England in 1658 from the Spanish Nether- lands.
In 1664 France laid claim to the whole of the Spanish Netherlands — a claim which, if enforced, would have enabled her to open up the Scheldt to navigation and divert the commerce from the Dutch at Amsterdam to Antwerp, whence the trade had drifted after its sack in 1576 by the Spaniards. The whole history of the next fifty years centres round this policy of Louis XIV., which by its failure left the trade to the East and the supremacy of the seas in the undisputed possession of England.
At first France met with a short but brilliant suc- cess, typical of all her subsequent enterprises to gain an Eastern Empire. Colbert fixed on an adventurer, Francois Caron, formerly cook and chief steward on a Dutch man-of-war, who by his erratic versatility had risen to be Member of Council of the Dutch settle- ment at Batavia, to inaugurate the new policy, and dispatched him to India, in 1667, as Director-General of French commerce. Caron succeeded in establish- ing factories at Surat and Masulipatam, earning for himself the order of St. Michel from Louis XIV. as a reward for the rich cargoes he sent home. Em- boldened by his success he seized the Dutch settle- ment at Trinkamali in Ceylon, and took St. Thome from the Portuguese, only to find his adventurous career cut short by his recall on the news reaching Colbert that the Dutch had recaptured Trinkamali and ignominiously driven the French out of Ceylon. Caron, on his way home, heard that his failure had sealed his fate ; in endeavoring to escape, the ship in which he sailed foundered and he was drowned, thus escaping the ignominious fate of his successors La Bourdonnais and Dupleix who strove with all the power of their imaginative genius to accomplish a task foredoomed to failure — the foundation of French supremacy in India. It was not in the East but in
Europe that the real struggle took place between the Western nations for maritime supremacy on which command over the destinies of India could alone be based.
In England the policy of weakening the commercial prosperity of the Dutch continued incessantly with a fixedness of purpose which seemed inevitably to work towards its result, success. Charles II. continued the commercial policy of Cromwell, enacting by his Navi- gation Act, which ruled the importation of goods into England down to 1 849, that no goods of Turkey or Russia should be carried into England unless borne by British ships, while a long list of scheduled goods were absolutely forbidden, under any conditions, to be imported from Germany, Holland, or the Nether- lands.
The commercial rivalries soon led to open hostilities, culminating, early in 1665, in a declaration of war between England and Holland. The English fleet beat the Dutch off Lowestoft, only to meet with a disastrous reverse in the famous four days’ fight off Dover — a reverse retrieved by the defeat of the Dutch off the North Forelands and the burning of the Dutch ships in their harbours. Content with this suc- cess Charles II. neglected his navy, allowing many of his best ships to be paid off. The day of awakening, however, came when De Ruyter appeared at Graves- end and in the Medway, burned the English ships at Chatham and seized Sheerness.
The Plague and the Great Fire had already broken the spirit of the English nation ; the fires from the burning ships in the river completed the disasters.
Peace was restored by the Treaty of Breda in 1667, England gaining New York and New Jersey, the Dutch once more consenting to salute the English flag on the high seas.
Holland too was glad to be at peace. Not only was her maritime power threatened but her very existence as a nation was at stake. Louis XIV. had finally rejected the statesmanlike policy of Colbert — a policy pressed on him by Leibnitz who, with prophetic insight, pointed out how the trade from the East would be held by the nation wise enough to com- mand the immediate and ancient route by way of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea — a route England is obliged to hold to-day in order to safeguard her own commercial supremacy. ” The possession of Egypt,” wrote Leibnitz, ” opens the way to con- quests worthy of Alexander ; the extreme weakness of the Orientals is no longer a secret. Whoever has Egypt will have all the coasts and islands of the Indian Ocean. It is in Egypt that Holland will be conquered ; it is there she will be despoiled of what alone renders her prosperous, the Treasures of the East.”
England remained the supreme maritime power to pursue her career and gain, without chance of failure, the monopoly of the commerce of the East. Holland was crippled ; the subsequent efforts made by France are merely interesting as historical facts, for without a command of the seas she was powerless to compete with England in the East. In India itself the Com- pany had but little to fear. The Mughal Empire was falling to pieces, the people separated from each other by differences of race, religion, language, customs, and local tradition, lacked the essential elements where- with to combine in a national sentiment of opposition to the invasion of a foreign power whose resources and strength were secured on the seas. In 1693 the Old English Company had lost its Charter, notwithstanding the fact that it had ex- pended ^90,000 in efforts to bribe the Privy Council, for a new Company, known as the London Company, had lent the Government two millions sterling at 8 per cent, and in return had been granted the exclusive right of trading to the East. In 1702 a compro- mise was effected by the exertions of Godolphin, the two Companies being amalgamated under the title of the United Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies — a Company better known as “The Honourable maintained down to the Mutiny when the Crown assumed direct control


1 ” Lendas da India,” translated by the Hon. E. J. Stanley for the Hakluyt Society.
East India Company,” under whose rule the British Empire was established in India and 2.  OLD EAST INDIA HOUSE. (From “Gentleman’s Magazine,” 17S4.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

ROBERT CLIVE.- The Architect of British Empire in India

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

.Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Clive was born on the 29th of September, 1725, near Market Drayton in Shropshire. Wayward and reckless as a schoolboy, he early showed signs of those talents which he afterwards so conspicuously exercised. Legend loves to tell how he climbed the high steeple of Market Drayton, and there, to terrify the townspeople, seated himself on the edge of a projecting stone. The story is also well known how he levied blackmail on the shopkeepers, threatening to break their windows unless they submitted to his demands and those of his schoolfellows.
In the year 1744 he landed at Madras as a writer in the service of the East India Company. There he listened in gloomy silence to the empty talk of his brother writers whose lives were wasted in idle folly and reckless dissipation. In bitter grief he wrote home, ” I have not enjoyed one happy day since I left my native land.” At length his proud spirit, finding no relief from its surging thoughts, sought refuge from inaction in death. The pistol, well loaded and primed, was twice pointed at his head, twice it missed fire ; a moment aftenvards a friend entered the room, and seeing Clive sitting morose and silent, raised the pistol and discharged it from the window at the first touch of the trigger. From that day Clive woke to life. He was well assured in his own mind that he had been spared for some great purpose, to take some great part in the history of his people — a part he afterwards played with a recklessness which can only be accounted for on the supposition that he believed he bore a charmed life. In Malcolm’s ” Life of Clive ” it is told how, during a duel with an officer whom he had accused of cheating at cards, he missed his antagonist, who thereupon advanced, and holding his pistol to Clive’s head threatened to fire unless an apology was at once made. ” Fire and be d d,” said Clive ; ” I said you cheated, and I say so still.”
During the siege of Pondicherry, having obtained a temporary commission as ensign, he greatly distin- guished himself, but on the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had to return to the uncongenial employment of measuring cloth and checking office accounts. A welcome relief soon came. The native ruler of Tanjore, Raja Sahuji, being deposed, appealed to the English to reinstate him. As a reward for this service he offered to bear all the expenses of the war and on reinstatement to surrender to the Company the fort and lands around Devikota. The English failed in their efforts to restore Sahuji ; still, they determined to have their promised reward. Major Lawrence, with six ships, fifteen hundred native troops and eight hundred Europeans, sailed up the Coleroon and having breached the fort directed Clive, who had again obtained a temporary commission as lieutenant, to advance with the native troops and thirty-four Europeans across a deep rivulet to storm the breach and capture the fort. Clive charged at the head of his troops ; the sepoys held back, and of the Europeans twenty-six were cut to pieces by the enemy’s horse- men. Clive, however, escaped, having, in the words of Lawrence, behaved with ” a cool courage and a presence of mind which never left him in the greatest danger. Born a soldier, for without a military education of any sort or much conversing with any of the profession, from his judgment and good sense, he led an army like an experienced officer and brave soldier.” The fort was afterwards taken and with the sur- rounding lands, which brought in a revenue of 36,000 rupees, given over to the Company. TR1CHIN0P0LL
Clive was next directed to proceed from Madras with one hundred English and fifty sepoys, to the relief of the force at Trichinopoli where Muhammad All, was hemmed in by the French and the army of Chanda Sahib. For this duty Clive was nominated by the Governor, Mr. Saunders, the order in Council stating, ” We will give him (Mr. Robert Clive) a brevet to entitle him to the rank of Captain, as he was an officer at the siege of Pondicherry and almost the whole time of the war distinguished himself on many occasions, it is conceived that this officer may be of some service.”
The genius of Clive shone ever brightest in times of extreme danger and in situations where others might well deem all was lost, when by a clear and quick perception of all surrounding facts he rapidly evolved plans for safety or victory which his calm courage and inflexible determination sooner or later enabled him to carry into execution. He saw that the situation at Trichinopoli was hopeless, but he noticed that Chanda Sahib, in over-eagerness to crush the English, had summoned all the troops from the capital at Arcot, leaving its weak fortifications de- fended by only 1,100 sepoys. Clive at once deter- mined to make a bold dash for the capture of Arcot, intending to hold it until Chanda Sahib and the French should be compelled to come to its rescue and raise the siege of Trichinopoli. Hurrying back to Madras, he persuaded the Governor to place at his disposal all the available troops, two hundred English and three hundred sepoys, with whom and three small guns he set out on his heroic enterprise.

At Arcot, sixty-nine miles from Madras, consternation reigned. Travelers brought in word that Clive and the English soldiers were advancing ; that they had been seen marching unconcerned through a fearful storm of thunder, rain, and lightning. On receipt of the news the garrison fled, leaving the fort to Clive and his small band of Europeans and sepoys. For fifty days Clive held out against the allied troops sent against him. He repelled assault after assault ; he led charges to drive the enemy from their advanced entrenchments; he even marched out to protect some new guns coming to his aid from Madras. The sepoys, in this memorable de- fence of the fort of Arcot, stood side by side with the English soldiers to whom they gave their scanty portion of boiled rice, saying that they could live on the water in which it had been boiled.
The brilliant stratagem conceived by the master- mind of Clive succeeded : Chanda Sahib and his French allies were obliged to send troops to aid in the siege of Arcot, thereby weakening the forces before Trichinopoli and infusing fresh courage into Muhammad All and his dispirited supporters. The fort was breached, by aid of the newly arrived troops, and Clive was left with but eighty Europeans and one hundred and thirty sepoys to defend the dis- mantled walls one mile in circumference.
On November 14th the enemy, intoxicated with bhang and drunk with the fury of their religious fanaticism, advanced in four divisions ; two divisions headed by elephants with iron plates on their fore- heads to break in the gates, two divisions to mount the breaches. Clive and his handful of heroes fought for their lives along the crumbling walls. From post to post they hurried, driving back the swarming foe, Clive, with his own hands working the guns, at one shot clearing seventy men off a raft on which they strove to cross the moat. After an hour’s fight the besiegers were driven back, having lost four hundred killed and wounded in their attack, while of the defenders only four Europeans and two sepoys fell. Clive was reinforced from Fort St. David with two hundred Europeans and seven hundred sepoys, and at once marched out from behind his ramparts, captured the fort of Timeri, joined a band of one thousand Marathas under Morari Rao, and fought his first decisive battle against the French and their allies, beating a force double his own in numbers at Ami, seventeen miles south of Arcot. He then drove the French from Conjeveram, reinforced Arcot, and returned victorious to Fort St. David to receive the congratulations of the Governor and Council.
The French and their allies followed, raiding the country up to St. Thomas’ Mount, but when Clive sallied forth against them from Madras at the head of 380 Europeans and 1,000 sepoys, with three field- pieces, they retreated to Kaveripak, a village lying ten miles east of Arcot. There they concealed their artillery^ and cavalry in a dense grove of mango-trees by the side of the main road, along which they knew Clive must advance, and in a deep. channel on the other side they hid away their infantry. As Clive and his troops marched leisurely down the road, in easy confidence, they were suddenly met by a fire from a battery of nine guns, which swept their ranks at not more than 250 yards’ distance.
Clive, undoubtedly, over and over again led his troops with reckless carelessness into positions such as this, from which nothing but his own genius, which seemed to draw inspiration from the very presence of danger, could have ever extricated them. It is easy to cavil at his conduct and tell the tale of disaster that might have followed if he had failed ; but fail he never did, for with a charmed life he faced his enemies amid the smoke and hurry of battle with the same cool determination with which he afterwards faced his opponents in the Council Chamber.
It was late in the afternoon when Clive and his troops marched into the midst of their enemies at Kaveripak, and little time remained for action. With a small body of infantry and two guns he held back the enemy’s cavalry, directing the rest of his troops to seek shelter from the guns in the water-channel by the roadside, and thence keep up a fire on the French infantry.
For two hours the artillery fire continued, the cavalry repeatedly charging Clive’s guns and baggage. At length it was discovered that the French had neglected to defend the back of the grove where their guns were posted. Clive secretly dispatched two hundred Europeans and four hundred sepoys to within thirty yards of the French battery, whence they poured in a volley among the gunners, who fled, leaving their guns behind them. The victory, though decisive, was dearly won ; forty of Clive’s European troops and thirty sepoys lay dead. The newly won prestige of the French in the south had, however, been shattered. Clive, before he returned to Madras razed to the ground a city Dupleix had founded and called after his own name, overturning the triumphal column therein erected, on which was emblazoned in many languages a full record of the French victories
From Trichinopoli the French, heedless of the remonstrances of Dupleix, retreated to the neigh- bouring island of Sn’rangam, leaving Chanda Sahib to his fate. To cut off their retreat and to prevent reinforcements reaching them, Clive took up a posi- tion in the village of Samiaveram, eleven miles north of the island, where now the French were practically isolated.

On the night of April 14, 1752, Clive, wearied from a long day’s operations he had carried out in order to prevent a relieving force from Pondicherry break- ing through the English and joining the French, lay- down to sleep in a rest-house near the entrance gateway of the village temple. The camp was quiet : the English soldiers, Maratha troopers, and allied sepoys were sleeping uneasily in and near the temple, while close at hand the sentinels, but half awake, paced to and fro. In the dead of night seven hundred of the enemy’s sepoys and eighty Euro- peans stole silently towards the camp, guided by a band of deserters from the English. The drowsy inquiries of the sentinels were answered by whispers that the force was a relief sent from Lawrence. Silently making their way to the front of the temple gate, the enemy first gave notice of their presence by pouring volley after volley amid the sleeping soldiers. In an instant the camp awoke in startled surprise. Moans from the dying and confused cries from the awakened soldiers were mingled with the clatter of arms and heavy boom of the enemy’s muskets. Through the shed where Clive lay sleeping, the bullets flew ; a soldier by his side was shot dead, and a box at the foot of his cot was shattered to fragments. Deeming that the firing close at hand came from his own troops, blindly repelling some imaginary attack, Clive rushed forward and beat down the guns with his hands, commanding the firing to cease. He was attacked by six Frenchmen, seriously* wounded, and summoned to surrender. Wounded and faint though he was, he grasped the situation in a moment. Raising himself, he cried out to the French soldiers that they were surrounded, and
ordered them to surrender. His tone and manner carried instant conviction ; the six Frenchmen in the confusion gave up their arms. The native troops broke away to fly from the vengeance of the fierce Marathas, who were afterwards heard to declare that not a single sepoy who entered the camp that night escaped with his life. The remaining French soldiers with the European deserters sought refuge in the temple where, as it was found impossible to dislodge them, they were shut in till dawn. In the morning the temple was stormed, and after the French had lost twelve men, Clive, weak and faint from his wound, was led to the temple gate by two sergeants who stood by his side supporting him. As he stood swaying to and fro offering terms one of the deserters fired ; the shot missed Clive, slaying the two ser- geants who were standing slightly in front. Horrified by the treacherous act the French threw down their arms and capitulated.
Shortly after the entire French troops under Captain Law surrendered to Lawrence, and the re- lieving force under d’Auteuil to Clive, who, now completely broken down by the arduous campaign, returned home in 1753.
Dupleix remained still striving to re-establish the French influence with the native rulers of the south. But the French Company realised not the value of his *■ acquisitions, and knew not the meaning of his policy. Traders they were, and their profits were now falling fast. Acquisition of territory or bearing of Eastern titles by their Governors in the East had for them no interest. In vain Dupleix pleaded for time  in vain,


in order to carry out his designs, he expended the wealth he had accumulated by private trade or gained from foreign princes ; he was ignominiously recalled, and his successor Godeheu, who arrived in 1754, re- signed the exclusive right over the rich and fertile Northern Circars which Dupleix had succeeded in gaining for the French, and gave up all claim to the sounding titles so eagerly sought after by his predecessor. Insulted and laughed at at home as an impostor when he pressed his claims for the return of the money he had spent in the service of his country, Dupleix sank deeper and deeper into poverty and dejection, until at length, three days before his death, he wrote in the bitterness of despair, ” My services are treated as fables, my demand is denounced as ridiculous ; I am treated as the vilest of mankind ; I am in the most deplorable indigence.”
Clive, on the other hand, had been feasted and toasted by the Court of Directors, and presented with a diamond-jilted sword, ” as a token of their esteem and of their sense of his singular services,” which he refused to receive until his old friend and commander, Major Lawrence, was also likewise honored.
Clive soon grew tired of an inactive life in England. The excitement of a contested election led to nothing but loss of time, patience, and money, so in 1755 he sailed again for India, having accepted a commission of lieutenant-colonel in the British Army, the appointment of Governor of Fort St. David and the succession to the Governorship of Madras. He reached Fort St. David on the 20th of June, 1756. the day of the dire tragedy of the Black Hole of Calcutta.
Siraj-ud-Daulah, Viceroy of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, had long watched, with growing distrust and haughty anger, the dominant position gradually acquired by the English and French traders in his dominions. Forts had been built, fortifications raised, refuge given to those flying from his wrath or cupidity, while round Calcutta the famed Maratha ditch had been laboriously dug, though never completed, to keep out the Marathas, who levied chauth from all villages in reach of their flying cohorts.

Not satisfied with the assurances given him by the Governor of Calcutta that the new fortifications had not been raised against the native powers, but in view of the coming war between France and England, Siraj-ud-Daulah first captured the English factory at Kasimbazar, and then marched for Calcutta at the head of his forces, followed by the robber-bands in the neighborhood to the number of some forty thousand, all eager to share in the sack of the rich city of the English traders. Of riches there were but little at Calcutta, and of defenses virtually none. There were obsolete shells and fuses, dismantled guns, walls too weak to support cannon, and warehouses built in the line of fire to the south. The garrison consisted of one hundred and eighty men, of whom only one-third were Europeans. Gallantly the handful of English- men set to work to erect outlying batteries, and dig trenches, they were even reduced to seek ammunition and help from the French and Dutch factories — an aid, however, withheld. The women and children took refuge in the ships lying in the river, two Members of Council, officers of militia earning un- dying infamy, and subsequent dismissal for desertion, by volunteering to accompany the fugitives and re- fusing to return even when taunted for their cowardice. The Commandant, Captain Minchin, likewise fled, accompanied by the Governor, Mr. Drake, who unluckily escaped the parting shots fired after him by his comrades, with whom he lacked courage to re- main as they slowly turned to meet the foe. Well might it be imagined that history could never hand down a tale of fouler shame and infamy. So might the garrison have thought were it not for the fact that as they turned, with despair in their hearts, to meet their swarming foes, they saw the last of the ships sail out of sight, Captain Young of the Dodolay finding courage sufficient to declare that it would be dangerous to wait near or even to send a boat to take off his countrymen. Prayed to return and bear away the wounded, he refused ; prayed to send a boat with ammunition, for that in the fort was all but exhausted, he refused ; prayed to throw a cable to the Prince George, which had stranded in endeavouring to return, he refused, saying he needed all he had for the safety of his own ship. For five days the garrison, headed by the famed civilian, Mr. Holwell, held out until out of one hundred and seventy men fifty were wounded and twenty-five killed. At length Holwell had to sur- render, delivering up his sword to Siraj-ud-Daulah on a promise that no harm should befall his followers. To those who have not lived in the burning plains of India during the long months, when the brazen rays of the sun pass away towards the close of evening, and the blasts of the hot winds cease, only to be succeeded by the dead, stifling heat when even the birds fall to the ground gasping with open beaks for breath, no pen can ever convey an idea of the suffer- ings of those who died in agony on that night of the 20th of June, when Calcutta was surrendered to Siraj-ud-Daulah.

As the night approached the prisoners, one hundred and forty-six in number, all wearied and many wounded, were gathered together in the fort. In the guard-room a space of eighteen feet square had been walled in to form a prison cell. It had but two small iron-barred windows, opening into a low verandah. Into this cell, known to history as ” The Black Hole of Calcutta,” the prisoners were driven at the point of the bayonet.
It is possible that Siraj-ud-Daulah may have known nothing of the events that transpired during the night, but when details of the slaughter were brought to him in the morning he displayed neither emotion nor regret, venting his rage at finding but ^”5,000 in the Treasury by ordering that Holwell and the European survivors should at once quit Calcutta under pain of having their noses and ears cut off.

On news of the disaster reaching Madras Clive was directed to hasten with all available troops to Bengal, accompanied by the English fleet under Admiral Watson. It was not until the end of the year that the ships sailed up the Hugh’ and landed Clive and his troops at Maiapur. After a weary march of fifteen hours over swampy land the force arrived late at night within one mile and a half of the fort of Baj-baj, twelve miles from Calcutta, where, weary and tired, they lay down to rest in the bed of a dried-up lake, intending to attack the fort in the morning. They were here surrounded by the enemy, who, as soon as all were sleeping in the camp, opened fire and seized the guns, which had been left unpro- tected and unguarded. Clive had again, with careless indifference, marched straight into the midst of the enemy, but again his presence of mind saved him. Advancing his soldiers the guns were recovered, the foe driven off with heavy slaughter, and in his own words, ” the skirmish in all lasted about half an hour, in which time … 9 private men were killed and 8 wounded.” In the meantime the guns from Admiral Watson’s fleet breached the fort, and a body of sailors landed to co-operate with Clive. One of the sailors, named Strahan, being intoxicated, lost his way, and stumbled about until he reached the fort, which he entered through one of the breaches. Finding him- self alone in the midst of the garrison he fired his pistol, and cut right and left with his cutlass, crying lustily that he had captured the fort. The sepoys, deeming they had been surprised, seized their arms, fired random shots in all directions, and then fled. The English troops, hearing the strange commotion, came to the rescue and took possession of the fort. So the night of strange accidents closed, and, on Strahan being ordered up for punishment in the morning, he indignantly swore that if he was flogged, he would never again so long as he lived, take another fort by himself.
The fort at Hugh’ was captured by Captain Eyre Coote with a loss of two Europeans and ten sepoys, after which the avenging force raided the surrounding country, returning to Calcutta with a booty of some ;£ 1 50,000.
Siraj-ud-Daulah, raging at the insult offered to his power, at once collected together troops to the number of 40,000, and marched again towards Calcutta, his course being marked by the smoke and flames from the villages his followers burned and plundered. Clive collected together all his troops — 650 European soldiers, 600 sailors from Watson’s fleet, 14 field- pieces, with 1 50 European artillery, and 800 sepoys — and started on February 4th, at three o’clock in the morning to drive Siraj-ud-Daulah’s immense army from before Calcutta. In a dense fog he marched on, his troops pausing now and then to fire, they knew not where, to their right and left. A rocket from the enemy’s outposts exploded the ammunition in the cartouche-box of one of Clive’s sepoys, and was followed by explosions from the ammunition of other sepoys close by. Still they pressed on, the guns in the rear mowing down their own troops in front, none recognising friend or foe in the dense mist. The cavalry of Siraj-ud-Daulah, riding close up to Clive’s troops, broke back when met by a volley fired at random in the direction of the charging horses. In the early morning, on the fog rising, Clive retired and reached Calcutta towards noon, having lost two field-pieces, twenty Europeans, and one hundred sepoys in his daring assault.
The enemy was thoroughly cowed. Siraj-ud-Daulah withdrew his troops and sued for peace, for not only did he fear the next move of Clive, but from the north came the dreaded news that the Afghans, under Ahmad Shah Durani, had invaded the land and captured the imperial city of Delhi.
Clive was nothing loth to enter into a truce. War had been declared between Great Britain and France, and he was anxious to obtain the aid and consent of Siraj-ud-Daulah to an attack on the French settlement at Chandranagar. A treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, against all common foes, was accordingly entered into. Siraj-ud-Daulah agreed to give up all the factories and property he had taken. The Company was granted permission to fortify Calcutta, to coin money at their own mint, and to carry their merchandise through native territory without payment of tolls.

Admiral Watson was, however, not to be thus trifled with. He at once demanded that Siraj-ud- With or without the consent or aid of the Viceroy it was at length decided that Chandranagar should be attacked before Bussy could come to the rescue.

At Chandranagar the French had but a feeble garrison of 146 Europeans and 300 sepoys, supplemented by 300 civilians and sailors hastily armed. Against these Admiral Watson brought up his fleet — The Kent, of 64 guns ; The Tiger, of 60 guns ; and The Salisbury, of 50 guns — while Clive advanced by land with 700 Europeans, 1,500 sepoys and artillery. Defence was not long possible ; treachery showed Watson a safe passage for his ships, the bastions were swept of their defenders, 100 of the garrison were slain, and on the 23rd of March, 1757, the fort surrendered.
This success of the English so roused the fear and anger of Siraj-ud-Daulah, that he wrote to Bussy, praying him to march from the Deccan to his aid. The letters fell into the hands of Clive, who summed up the situation by declaring ” the Nawab is a villain and cannot be trusted ; he must be overset or we must fall.”
Mir Jafar, the Commander of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s force, was bribed with the promise of being made Viceroy if he could succeed in bringing over his troops to the side of the English and aid in deposing Siraj-ud-Daulah.
The contemplated treachery of Mir Jafar was known to many, but the secret was well kept, Amin- chand, a wealthy Hindu banker, being the chief agent in carrying out the negotiations. At the last moment Clive found his carefully laid plans likely to fail, for Aminchand suddenly declared that he would reveal the plot to Siraj-ud-Daulah unless he received a promise that his share of the spoil should be 5 per cent, on all the treasures at Murshidabad, or a sum of 30 lakhs of rupees, more than .£300,000. Clive bought the silence of Aminchand, promising to give him all he desired, and to sign a deed to that effect. To Watts, Resident at the Viceroy’s Court, and chief agent in the revolution, Clive wrote : ”Omichund is the greatest villain upon earth . . . to counter-plot the scoundrel and at the same time to give him no room to suspect our intentions enclosed you will receive two forms of agreement, the one real to be strictly kept by us, the other fictitious.” The real treaty, signed by all the allies, was on white paper, the fictitious treaty was on red paper, similarly signed, with the exception of the signature of Admiral Watson, which was forged when he bluntly refused to have anything to do with the intrigue. Clive, when afterwards asked before the House of Commons to defend his action, haughtily replied that he thought ” it warrant able in such a case, and would do it again one hundred times.” The announcement of the forgery was, after the battle, made in the following words : ” Omichund, the red paper is a trick ; you are to have nothing.”
In after years, when the Duke of Wellington traced out on the field of Plassey the lines on which was fought the first great battle, establishing the supremacy of the English in India, his admiration for the genius of Clive must have been mingled with feelings of sorrow that the fame of the great General would ever be tarnished by that one act of calculated deceit.
At Plassey Clive stood with nine small guns and a band of 3,000 men, of whom 2,100 were native troops, surrounded by 35,000 infantry, 15,000 cavalry of fierce and warlike Pathans, 53 pieces of artillery, and a body of Frenchmen forty to fifty in number. Clive paused long before venturing to attack, for he knew that if Mir Jafar again turned traitor and joined his forces to those of the Viceroy none among the British troops would escape to tell the tale.
The danger of the situation is seen from the fact that Clive for the first time called together a council of his officers, to whom he proposed the question, ” Whether, in our present position, without assistance, and on our own bottom, it would be prudent to attack, or whether we should wait till joined by some native power ? ”
Clive ‘s own name heads the list of those who voted for no further advance, Eyre Coote’s name heads the list of those who voted for immediate attack. When the Council broke up Clive wandered apart by him- self, and after some hours spent in solitary meditation beneath the shade of the trees by the river bank he returned to tell his officers to prepare their men to cross the river on the following morning, for he had determined to risk all in one great effort to establish the supremacy of the English in India

On the 23 rd of June, 1757, as the first rays of the hot morning sun blazed across the wide field of Plassey, Clive ascended to the roof of a small hunting hut in which he had lain without sleep during the night. To his right were the troops of the wavering traitor, Mir Jafar, now biding his time to cast in his lot with the side likely to win. Should Clive be defeated, Mir Jafar’s cavalry were ready to sweep down on his rear and pillage his baggage ; should the hosts of Siraj- ud-Daulah fall back, the troops of his trusted Com- mander-in-Chief would range themselves beside those of Clive. From where stood the camp of Mir Jafar, 38,000 of the enemy, with the French and their guns in the centre, stretched in a semicircle round the soldiers of Clive, still sleepmg quietly in a large mango grove guarded by a ditch and strong mud banks. As Clive watched the scene in front of him the first shot from the French guns woke the English and laid low two of their number. Soon the heavy artillery of the enemy was in full play, answered back by Clive’s six light guns. Eagerly the serried masses of Siraj-ud-Daulah pressed forward to drive the handful of English into the deep Bhagi’rathi, but Clive’s soldiers lay safe behind the shelter of the mud banks, and the shells and shot sang harmlessly over- head amid the branches of the mango-trees. By noon the rain came down in torrents, and the enemy’s ammunition, soaked through and through, was ren- dered useless, so that their fire gradually slackened, while Clive’s guns and ammunition had been covered up and kept dry.
Mir Madan, chief of the native cavalry, loved and trusted by Siraj-ud-Daulah, determined in one brave effort to silence the English gunners, but as he charged at the head of his cavalry he fell dead before the flying grape-shot With frantic haste Siraj-ud- Daulah gave orders for the troops to fall back. He called Mir Jafar to his side, told him of his loss, and casting his turban at the traitor’s feet, prayed him to fight against the foreign foe. Mir Jafar, vow- ing that he would bring up his troops and defend his chief, hastened away to send word to Clive to advance and win the day. The English charged from their entrenchments, taking care to fire now and then on the treacherous troops of Mir Jafar to make them keep their distance. By five o’clock the whole army of Siraj-ud-Daulah was in full retreat, the brave band of Frenchmen in the centre standing firm until Clive drove them from their position and captured their guns. The Viceroy fled, leaving behind his wealth, baggage, cattle, elephants, and artillery, and five hundred of his troops dead and wounded on the field.
After the battle of Plassey, in which the English lost seven Europeans and sixteen sepoys, Mir Jafar presented himself to receive the reward of his treachery. As the English soldiers presented arms he started back in alarm at the rattle of the muskets, but his coward heart took courage when Clive advanced and saluted him as Viceroy of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa.
At Murshidabad, the capital of the Viceroy, the rich merchants and bankers came forward and bowed down in lowly supplication before their conquerors, praying that their city might be spared the horrors of rapine and plunder. To the right and left of Clive was stored up the long-accumulated wealth of the richest provinces of India. In the treasure-house of Siraj-ud-Daulah gold and silver were heaped high. The custodians came forward and crowned Clive’s head with jewels. In after years, when he was charged before the House of Commons with over-greed, he boldly exclaimed, ” By God, Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation ! ”
For the Company he claimed the right to hold all the lands south of Calcutta, 882 square miles, on payment of the usual rent. He claimed a sum of 10,000,000 rupees as compensation for previous losses and for the expenses of the campaign. For those who had suffered during the capture of Calcutta by Siraj-ud-Daulah he claimed 8,000,000 rupees. For the army 2,500,000 rupees, for the navy 2,500,000 rupees, and other large sums for the Governor and Select Committee at Calcutta. For himself he demanded besides 280,000 rupees as Member of the Committee, 200,000 rupees as Commander-in-Chief, and 1,600,000 rupees as a private donation — in all, 2,080,000 rupees. Be it remembered that at the time when these awards were made the rupee was worth two shillings and sixpence.
Mir Jafar, wh’o had put Siraj-ud-Daulah cruelly to death, was left to raise these sums from his subjects as best he could. The result was a rebellion, to quell which Clive was called on for aid, and in return received further rights for the Company. It was not long before the new Viceroy had again to plead for the assistance of the Company’s troops in repelling a threatened invasion of his dominions by the son of the Emperor of Delhi and the Nawab Wazi’r of Oudh. In return Clive was granted a right to retain in his own hands the rent of the lands south of Calcutta which, according to the agreement after Plassey, had been annually paid by the English to the Viceroy. By this agreement Clive virtually became landlord to the East India Company. The amount, some ^30,000 yearly, was paid to him from 1765 until his death in 1774, when the right to collect and keep the rent passed to the Company.


The supremacy of the Company firmly established in Bengal, the richest province in India, needed but to be maintained and supported by the care- ful husbanding of the resources and revenues of the newly-acquired lands, so that it might finally grow powerful enough to triumph over all rivals. The Dutch still had their settlement at Chinsurah, twenty miles above Calcutta, and in the Deccan the French under Bussy supported the Nizam, or Viceroy, Salabat Jang, the revenues of the ” Northern Circars,” or districts of Ganjam, Vizagapatam, Godavari, and Kistna, some seventeen thousand square miles in extent, having been assigned to them for the main- tenance of their troops.
On Bussy being summoned south for the purpose of joining in a French attack on Madras, Clive entered into an alliance with the local Raja of Vizianagram, and sent a force under Colonel Forde, to the Northern Circars. Masulipatam fell, position after position was speedily captured, and the French  driven out of the Northern Circars and deprived of their main source of revenue.
The Dutch at Chinsurah, finding Give’s forces weakened by the absence of Forde and his troops, demanded that their ships should be allowed to pass Calcutta without being searched and placed under the charge of an English pilot as was the custom, and that the trade in saltpetre, then kept exclusively in the hands of the English Company, should be thrown open. Receiving no satisfactory reply to their demands, the Dutch openly declared war by capturing some English ships in the river. Clive at once collected together a body of armed volunteers, hastily recalled Forde from the Northern Circars, while Admiral Cornish, with three men-of-war, sailed up the river, and destroyed six of the Dutch ships, the last of the squadron being captured at the mouth of the river. As soon as Colonel Forde reached Calcutta he marched out with 320 Europeans, 800 sepoys, and 50 European volunteers. At Biderra, near Chinsurah, he found himself opposed by a Dutch force of 700 Europeans and 800 Malays. Seeing the force assembled against him he wrote to Clive for advice. Clive, who was playing whist, sent back a hurried message in pencil, ” Dear Forde, fight them immediately, I will send you the order in Council to- morrow.” Forde fought on November 25, 1759, only 50 Dutch and 250 Malays escaped, and the struggle by the Dutch for supremacy in India was ended.
The French were now alone left to struggle for a short time longer against the growing power of the English,

Through all these contests Clive had the sea-power of England to support him. With unerring insight he had turned from the south, where no advance into the heart of India was possible, and firmly established the British power in the rich, alluvial tracts of Bengal amid a tame and law-abiding populace, where the Company might in peace consolidate its strength, make surer its foothold, and slowly, at its own chosen time, advance further and further, each step being secured before the next was attempted, until finally their power had crept all over the land, up the Ganges to Benares, further on to the Himalayas, gaining wealth, power, and strength, to raise armies to subdue the south and west, plant the British standard by the Indus, sweep in the garnered wealth of Oudh, and then hand over the dominions and trade its servants had won and fostered to the safe-keeping of the Queen-Empress.
On the 25th of February, 1760, at the age of thirty- five, Give sailed for England, where he received from George III. an Irish Peerage as Lord Give, Baron Plassey, as a reward for the services he had rendered to his country, for, in the words of Earl Stanhope, ” Whatever gratitude Spain owes to her Cortes, or Portugal to her Albuquerque, this — and in its results more than this — is due from England to Give. Had he never been born, I do not believe that we should — at least in that generation — have conquered Hindoo - stan ; had he lived longer, I doubt if we should — at least in that generation — have lost North America.”
Give remained in England, and the Government of Bengal passed into the hands of Mr. Vansittart. The French were still fighting in the south. The sums Mir Jafar had agreed to pay after the battle of Plassey had not been fully paid, and the money was wanted. English writers on £5 a year, factors on £15 a year, junior and senior merchants on .£30 and £\o a year, a president on ^300 a year, his coun- sellors on from .£40 to .£100, were engaged in trade, all determined, more or less, to make a speedy fortune and return to England, while the army was growing, and the pay of the soldiers in arrears. Some method to meet the growing expenses had to be found. Accordingly Mr. Vansittart wrote to the Court of Proprietors that in consequence of ” the general confusion and disaffection of the country, and the very low state of the Company’s treasury, one or other of these resolutions was immediately necessary — either to drop our connexions with the country Government and withdraw our assistance : or to insist on more ample as well as more certain provision for the support of the Company’s expense.”
The Viceroy was old, said to be debauched and indolent, while his son-in-law, Mir Muhammed Kasim bid high for the post. In the dead of night, Mir Jafar was removed and Mir Kasim installed on condition that he should pay the arrears due to the Company, grant the revenues of Bardwan, Midnapur, and Chittagong, and 50 lakhs of rupees towards the expenses of the war in the south. The Governor, Mr. Vansittart, was to receive .£30,000, Mr. Holwell, £27,000, others sums of £25,000, £20,000, and £13,000. The revenues of the whole of Bengal were now in the hands of the servants of the Company. Having the right of free passage, without payment of tax or toll, for the inland produce, in which they traded, they commenced for a consideration to smuggle the goods of native traders ; they even forced the villagers to buy and sell at prices fixed by themselves.
The new Viceroy daily became more alarmed Unable to obtain redress, and unwilling to allow the power to pass from his hands without a struggle, he commenced to prepare for war, now inevitable, by
organising his troops under two soldiers of fortune, Reinhardt an Alsatian, and Markar an Armenian. When two ships from Calcutta appeared at Mungi’r carrying arms for the English troops at Patna, he detained the ships and placed the officers in charge under guard. Mr. Ellis, the English Governor, re- torted by seizing the city. The Viceroy’s troops under Reinhardt and Markar came to the rescue. Ellis and his followers were hemmed in, cap- tured and placed in imprisonment. War was at once proclaimed. Mir Kasim’s forces were defeated by Major John Adams at Katwa and Gheria, forty thousand of them being driven back with fearful slaughter from the fortress at the gorge of Undwa Nala. Mir Kasim, incensed at the success of the Company, gave orders that Mr. Ellis and the prisoners should be instantly executed. On the 5th of October, 1763, Walter Reinhardt, sur- named Sambre by his companions, and Samru by the natives, forced two companies of his sepoys to carry out the order, and Ellis, with two hundred unarmed men, women, and children, were foully massacred. Patna was soon afterwards cap- tured by Major Adams ; but Mir Kasim escaping, under the escort of Samru, sought protection in Allahabad with Shuja-ud-Daula, Nawab Wazir of Oudh, where the Emperor, Shah Alam, driven from Delhi by the Afghans, had also taken refuge. Between the three, an alliance offensive and de- fensive against the English was entered into, and with fifty thousand followers they advanced to Baksar near Patna. From here Mir Kasim was driven forth by his allies, weary of his cowardice and inability to raise the funds he had promised towards the expenses of the war. He  died soon afterwards in abject poverty.
Hector Munro, having with prompt and unrelent- ing severity quelled the first Sepoy Mutiny in India by blowing from the guns twenty-four of his mutinous troops, advanced against the allied forces whom he defeated with terrible slaughter in the decisive battle of Baksar on the 23rd of October, 1764.
Benares immediately surrendered, and Allahabad capitulated to Sir Robert Fletcher, leaving the Nawab Wazir of Oudh, deserted by Samru, no alternative but to sue for peace on terms to be dictated by the English. The result of this decisive victory, second only to Plassey,was fully recognised by Clive, who wrote to Pitt, in 1766, “It is scarcely hyperbole to say, to- morrow the whole Mogul Empire is in our power.” Mir Jafar, again installed as viceroy, died soon after- wards, and left a legacy of 5 lakhs of rupees to Clive, who handed the amount over to the treasury at Calcutta to form a fund for the relief of officers and soldiers invalided or disabled during service, as well as for widows of officers and soldiers dying on service — a fund known for over a century as ” Lord Clive’s Fund,” which reverted to the heirs of Clive when India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown.
On the death of the Viceroy, Mr. Vansittart and his Council, in direct contravention of a recent order from the Court of Directors prohibiting their servants from receiving any presents, installed the illegitimate son of Mir Kasim on receiving a sum of 10 lakhs of rupees to be divided among them as they should elect.
The Court of Directors in London was now thoroughly alarmed at these arbitrary proceedings of the Calcutta Council, as well as at the rapacity and private trade of their servants which threatened financial ruin to the Company’s own affairsThis determination was  conveyed to the Council at Bengal in the following words : — ” The General Court of Proprietors having, on account of the critical situation of the Company’s affairs in Bengal, requested Lord Clive to take upon him the station of President, and the Command of the Company’s Military forces there, his Lordship has been appointed President and Governor accordingly.”
Clive landed at Calcutta on the 3rd of May, 1765, having full power to act with a Select Committee of four members independent of the Bengal Council. When one member of the old Council, Mr. Johnstone, ventured to ask some questions respecting the new power of the committee, Clive, as he himself writes, haughtily asked him ” if he would dare to dispute our authority ? Mr. Johnstone replied, that he never had the least intention of doing such a thing ; upon which there was an appearance of very long and pale countenances, and not one of the Council uttered another syllable.”
Within two days of Clive’s arrival every act of the Council, especially their indecent haste in installing a new Viceroy, and their reception of presents, had been censured by Clive, who sums up his judgment on their procedure by writing, “Alas! how is the English name sunk ! I could not avoid paying the tribute of a few tears to the departed and lost fame of the British Nation (irrecoverably so, I fear).”
Clive landed on Tuesday ; the following Monday the Select Committee directed that a covenant not to take bribes or presents for the future should be signed by all Members of Council, and by all the Company’s servants, who, as Clive writes, ” after many idle and evasive arguments, and being given to understand that they must either sign or be suspended the service, executed the covenants upon the spot.” Soon after Clive was able to write respecting the future of the Company’s affairs in India, and his words are as applicable to-day as they were then : ” I am persuaded that nothing can prove fatal, but a renewal of licentiousness among your servants here, or intestine divisions among yourselves at home.”
How far the general corruption and laxity had spread during his absence may be judged from one of his letters home, in which he declares, ” I fear the Military as well as Civil are so far gone in luxury and debauchery, that it will require the utmost exertion of our united Committee to save the Company from destruction.”
Noteworthy are his words as he viewed with alarm the position which he was sent out to face : ” If ideas of conquest were to be the rule of our conduct, I foresee that we should by necessity be led from acquisition to acquisition until we had the whole Empire up in arms against us.” He dwells carefully on the great danger that may arise if once the natives throw off their ” natural indolence,” combined to carry on a ” war against us in a much more soldierly manner than they ever thought of.”
Having placed the internal affairs of the Company on a firm basis, Clive proceeded to conclude peace with the Nawab Wazi’r of Oudh, for, at that period, he conceived it essential, as he wrote, ” to conciliate the affections of the country powers, to remove any jealousy they may entertain of our unbounded ambition, and to convince them that we aim not at conquest and dominion, but security in carrying on a free trade.”
The territories of the Nawab Wazi’r of Oudh were restored on his paying half a million sterling for the expenses of the war. Allahabad and Kora, yielding a revenue of 2,800,000 rupees yearly, were retained and given to the Emperor Shah Alam in exchange for the perpetual right, or Diwanship, over the entire revenues of Bengal, Behar, Orissa, and the Northern Circars, the Emperor receiving in exchange an annual tribute of ^260,000, and the new Viceroy an annual allowance of £600,000 wherewith to pay his dancing girls. The collection of the revenues in these districts was left in the hands of the native agents, for, as the Directors wrote, they were aware ” how unfit an Englishman is to conduct the collection of revenues and to follow the subtle native thought, all his art is to conceal the real value of his country, to perplex and elude the payment.” By this arrange- ment Bengal, Behar, and Orissa virtually became the property of the Company — a property likely, in the opinion of Clive, to yield a yearly revenue of two millions sterling. The acquisition, in fact, exceeded everything that could have been conceived by the wildest imagination of Dupleix and in the words of Clive, ” To go further is, in my opinion, a scheme so extravagantly ambitious, that no Governor and Council in their senses can accept it unless the whole system of the Company’s interests be first entirely new remodelled.”
As a barrier between the limits of the Company’s territories and the north of India, the puppet sovereign of Oudh was left in power, while the Emperor held the strong fortress of Allahabad, to keep in check all Maratha and Pathan invaders. Nothing remained for the Company but to consolidate their position, secure themselves in their own pos- sessions, conciliate the natives, train, discipline, and augment their army, hoard their resources, and be prepared for what the future might bring forth.

In order to carry out the policy of the Directors, Clive reorganised the entire system of the inland trade.
Clive remained in India one year and a half, during which time, in the words of Macaulay, he ” effected one of the most extensive, difficult and salutary reforms that ever was accomplished by any statesman.”
His health breaking down he determined to return home, notwithstanding that the Directors urged him to remain, for as they wrote : ” The general voice of the Proprietors, indeed, we may say, of every man, will be to join in our request, that your Lordship will continue another year in India,” their opinion being : ” Your own example has been the principal means of restraining the general rapaciousness and corrup- tion which had brought our affairs so near the brink of ruin.”
Clive, however, could not be induced to remain. He left India finally on the 29th of January, 1767.
By 1773 the Company were virtually bankrupt. An application to the Government for a loan of ;£ 1,000,000 to enable them to carry on their business led to an inquiry into the whole affairs of the Com- pany, and an impeachment of Give’s administration, particularly his dealings with Siraj-ud-Daula and Mir Jafar.
As a result it was ruled by the Commons that all the acquisitions made by military force in India, or acquired by treaty with foreign powers, did by right belong to the State, while, with regard to Clive, contenting themselves with passing a resolution that ” Robert, Lord Clive, did render great and meritorious services to his country ” — a resolution which did little to soothe the worn-out spirit of the victor of Plassey, who died by his own hand, after great physical suffering, at his house in Berkeley Square in 1774.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off



Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

FOR long the Dutch, French, and English trading Companies had been content to restrict themselves to commerce; their interests not travelling outside the  limits of their settlements along the sea coast. Their servants were merchants engaged in trade, drawing  but a poor salary. The English president of a factory such as Surat received ^500 a year, the head  merchants £40 a year after they had first served for five years as writers on a yearly salary of £10, and  then for three years as factors on ^”20 a year.

These merchants were for the most part unnoticed by the Mughal Emperors, though they were sometimes harassed by the native governors who ruled over the territories in the vicinity of their settlements. Neither the English nor Dutch ever dreamed of interfering in the internal politics of the country, or even of acquiring land more than sufficient for the defence and pro- tection of their trading stations.

The English settlement started at Madras in 1639, on land granted by the ruler at Chandragiri, gradually extended itself five miles along the coast and one mile inland. North and south of Madras from the river Kistna to Cape Comorin, the land was known as the Karnatik ruled by a native Governor or Nawab, subordinate to a Viceroy or Nizam of the south, who held his office direct from the Emperor at Delhi. Tanjore and Trichinopoli were under the charge of their native Rajas, or Chieftains, who were accountable to the Nawab.

In 1672 when the last native ruler of Bi’japur, Sher Khan Lodi, found himself in want of money, he borrowed it from the French, and, according to Oriental custom, gave them in return the right to collect the revenues arising from the district around Pondicherry. Here Francis Martin fortified his position, making it secure against the raids of wandering Marathas who in 1677 swept past Madras and pillaed the interven- ing villages.

In 1740 these Marathas to the number of ten thousand came swarming down on the south and slew the Nawab of the Karnatik. Safdar All, his successor, deemed it wise in the disturbed state of affairs to send his mother and family to the safe keeping of the French at Pondicherry — a precaution also adopted by Chanda Sahib, Raja of Trichinopoli, who sent there his wife and property.

The next year the Marathas, on their annual raid, carried off Chanda Sahib to their northern fortress of Satara, leaving one of their own leaders, Morari Rao, with fourteen thousand picked troops in charge of his territories. The Viceroy of the south, Nizam-ul-Mulk, drove out Morari Rao, and in place of Safdar All who had been assassinated, nominated in 1743, one Anwar-ud-Din, a soldier of fortune, to the governor- ship of the Karnatik.

When England became involved in war with France, on the death of Charles VI. of Austria, respecting the succession of Maria Theresa, the English ships appeared in 1745 off Pondicherry, then held by its new Governor, Joseph Francois Dupleix. Anwar-ud-Din, remembering the services rendered by the French to the former Governor of the Karnatik, and to Chanda Sahib, in protecting their families from the Marathas, at once came to the rescue and threatened vengence against the English unless their ships departed from before the factory of his friends and allies. The English ships sailed away, and on returning the next year found that the French Admiral La Bourdonnais had arrived from Madagascar with a fleet of nine ships having on board 3,342 men, including 720 blacks. After a fight at long range, lasting from four in the afternoon until seven in the evening, the English admiral deemed it advisable to retire to Ceylon, leaving the French fleet to sail for Madras, then held by some three hundred men, including two hundred so-called soldiers. The chief of Madras, Governor Morse, applied in vain to the native Governor of the Karnatik for protection. Forgetting the Eastern maxim that those seeking favours should not appear before kings or rulers with empty hands, his envoys carried no presents with them, nor did they bring, like the French, any record of services rendered in the past, so they returned to Madras with their mission unaccomplished. On September 18th the French batteries and ships opened fire, and Fort St. George sur- rendered on the 2 ist after having lost five men.


Dupleix had promised the Governor of the Karnatik to hand over to him Madras when taken. Unfortu- nately the French Admiral La Bourdonnais had agreed to restore Madras to the English for the sum of .£421,666, payable in Europe in six months, and, as it was afterwards alleged, for a personal present of .£40,000 — a false charge of which he was acquitted by his own Government.

The quarrel between the French admiral and French general waged fierce and long, Dupleix striving with all the tenacity, skill, and finesse of which he was so perfect a master, to oppose La Bourdonnais and prevent Madras being restored to the English. In the midst of their disputes the annual monsoon storm burst, on the night of October 1 3th, and of the admiral’s eight ships four foundered, two were virtually destroyed, and two rendered un- seaworthy, while over twelve hundred of his men perished in the seas.

The plans of La Bourdonnais were wrecked. He hastened home to add his name to the long list of those whose fame and life have been sacrificed in their efforts to found their countries’ fortunes in the East. He was cast into the Bastile, where he lay for three years in solitary confinement, dying shortly after his release of a broken heart.

Dupleix was left with Madras to sell or to destroy. He tore the treaty of La Bourdonnais in pieces, and sent the English garrison in captivity to Pondicherry, a few daring spirits escaping to find a refuge in Fort St. David — a weak fortress twelve miles south of Pondicherry — garrisoned by a handful of soldiers, one hundred Europeans, and one hundred sepoys.


The Governor of the Karnatik was, however, determine:! that the French should not hold Madras. He advanced at the head of six thousand horse and three thousand foot to compel Dupleix to keep his promise, certain that the host he commanded was sufficient to drive all foes out of his territories.

For one hundred years the foreigners had been overlooked by the native rulers. As traders they had come and gone peacefully. If they dared to transgress the will of the Emperor or disobey the dictates of his Viceroy in the south, there were ten thousand native soldiers, foot and horse, for every foreign soldier then in India.

The rude awakening was now to come. Four hundred of the French garrison sallied out with two small field-pieces to meet the charge of the native cavalry. Slowly the French force opened out, and seventy of the foremost native troopers fell before the rapid fire of the French guns. The Nawab and his army turned and fled, leaving the French masters of the field without the loss of a single man.

The weakness of native troops, when not under the discipline and firm rule of European officers, had been shown by the Portuguese in 1 504, when Pacheco, with a little over one hundred Europeans and a few hundred native soldiers of the King of Cannanore, defeated the Zamorin of Calicut, driving back an army of fifty thousand with heavy loss. It was pointed out by Leibnitz to Louis XIV. ; it was known to Dupleix ;

it was afterward recognised by De Boigne when he counselled Scindia’s invincible Maratha infantry never to dare face the Company’s troops ; it was seen later by Baron Hiigel, who told Ranji’t Singh that the Sikhs would inevitably fall back defeated before the English battalions.

While the army of the Nawab halted on the banks of the Adyar river, wondering over its defeat, the brave but ill-fated Mons. Paradis marched forth against it from Pondicherry with two hundred and thirty Europeans and seven hundred sepoys. The French were now without guns, yet, rushing through the river, they drove the terror-stricken army before them, the pursuit continuing through the streets of St. Thome. Fresh troops from Madras appeared on the scene and completed the rout. Those left of the Nawab’s forces found refuge behind the walls of Arcot, whence they spread the tidings far and wide of the newly discovered power of the foreign traders.

There was none now to stay the advancing tide of French supremacy. The English entrenched at Fort St. David were but a few hundred in number, sup- ported by some hastily armed peons or servants.

There they held out, although the French advanced against them four times, until Rear- Admiral the Hon. E. Boscawen, who had arrived from England with fourteen hundred regular troops, joined the fleet of Admiral Griffin, and came to the rescue with thirty ships, of which thirteen were ships of war. The English were now in turn able to lay siege to Pondicherry ; but after an investment, lasting from September 6th to October 17th, during which they lost one thousand and sixty-five men, and the French but two hundred Europeans and fifty natives, the mon- soon storm burst and the fleet had to sail away, leaving Pondicherry safe in the hands of the French. By the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle peace was restored, and, to the mortification of Dupleix, Madras was given back to the English in exchange for Cape St.Breton.

In 1748 the Viceroy of the south died, leaving the succession to his son Nasir Jang — a succession disputed by Muzaffar Jang, a grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk. Dupleix again played his game with consummate skill. Throwing in his lot with Muzaffar Jang, who had been joined by the Marathas and Chanda Sahib, freed from his imprisonment at Satara, the combined army advanced against Anwar-ud-Din, Governor of the Karnatik.

At Ambur Anwar-ud-Din was shot through the head by a stray bullet, his army scattered, his son, Muhammad Ali’, escaping to Trichinopoli to seek the protection of the English. Chanda Sahib was immediately proclaimed at Arcot as Governor of the Karnatik, and the French were given as a reward for their aid eighty-one villages near Pondicherry.

Dupleix had succeeded at length in gaining political influence over the internal affairs of the south, standing forth as the friend and ally of the Viceroy, Muzaffar Jang, and the Nawab Chanda Sahib. The English, on the other hand, had cast in their lot with the two defeated candidates, Nasir Jang and Muhammad Ali Whichever side, French or English, would now succeed in successfully supporting their rival claimants might ultimately hope to reign supreme over the whole political affairs of the south of India.

The French quickly followed up their success by capturing, in the night-time, with the loss of but twentymen, the fortress of Gingi, a stronghold of Nasi’r Jang, always held to be impregnable — a success whichenabled them to induce most of the native troops to forsake the cause of Nasi’r Jang, who soon afterwardswas shot through the heart by one of his own allies.

Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib were at once, amid a scene of Oriental pomp, respectively installed Vice-roy of the South, and Governor of the Karnatik, Dupleix receiving in return the title of Commanderof Seven Hundred Horse and the right to coin money current all over the south.The French were now dictators over the affairs of the Karnatik, ruling in the name of Chanda Sahib.

As the new Viceroy Muzaffar Jang was being escorted by Mons. Bussy and three hundred Frenchsoldiers to his capital at Aurangabad he was attacked by some opposing native forces and slain, piercedby a javelin in the forehead. The position was at once retrieved by Bussy. Salabat Jang, a son ofNizam-ul-Mulk, was proclaimed Viceroy, Bussy remaining with his troops at Aurangabad to supportthe new administration.

The policy of Dupleix had succeeded beyond expectation ; the English were left without allies,their only friend, Muhammad All, aided by six hundred Englishmen, was closely besieged at Tri-chinopoli by nine hundred Frenchmen and the army of Chanda Sahib. The position seemedhopeless. There was, however, one Englishman forthcoming who, by his reckless daring, doggedtenacity, and stubborn perseverance, not only succeeded in thwarting the diplomatic ingenuity bywhich Dupleix had made the French influence supreme in the native states but in establishing, forthe first time, the prestige of the English in India. This man was the ill-fated Robert Clive.



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Ganesh – India’s God of Good Fortune

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India



Ganesh, is one of the most popular and loved Gods in Hindu culture. Etymologically, ‘Ga’ symbolizes intellect (Buddhi),while ‘Na’ symbolizes wisdom (Vijanana), in addition to the fact that, in some parts of India, his consorts were Buddhi, Riddi (prosperity), and Siddhi (attainment), showed that he was the Master of Wisdom and Intellect. The Hindu title of respect Shri (Sanskrit: श्री;  śrī; also spelled Sri or Shree) is often added before his name.

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words Ganna (gaṇa), meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha (īśa), meaning lord or master. The word gaṇa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaṇas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva, Ganesha’s father.

Ganesh  is the Lord of Good Fortune who provides prosperity, fortune and success.  He is the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles of both material and spiritual kinds.  Interestingly, he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.


Born as the son of Shiva the Destroyer and his consort Parvati, there are numerous stories in the Puranas (3rdth Century AD), which tell different stories of Ganesh’s birth.He is said to be created by both Shiva and Parvati, but there are stories where he may have been created by only Shiva, or by Parvati, or may have just been discovered by Shiva and Parvati.

Ganesha also has another brother called Skanda or Kartikeya, who is worshipped in South India as the older brother as the manifestation of courage, poise, and determination to do right. His lack of popularity in North India puts him down, literally, as the younger brother of Ganesha.

Ganesha’s marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories but the popularly held belief is that he was married just like the other prominent Gods of Hinduism. One lesser-known and unpopular pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried Brahamchari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India.] Another  pattern associates him with his consorts named Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); essentially, qualities personified as goddesses, and are Ganesha’s wives. He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi).

Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Saraswati (corsort of Brahma) or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the BBengalregion, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

The Shiva puran says that Ganesha had begotten two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit). In northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha(auspiciouness) and Lābha.] Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma the goddess of satisfaction


There exist a large number of legends, myths and stories relating to Ganesh and his appearance.   It is said that the goddess Parvati, wishing to bathe, created a boy and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom.  When her husband Shiva returned from one his interminable battles, he was denied access by Ganesh and killed the boy in a fit of petulant rage, striking his head off with his sword. Parvati was understandably upset and so to soothe her Shiva sent out his warriors to fetch the head of the first dead creature they found, which happened to be that of an elephant. The head was attached to the body of the boy and he was brought back to life  And because of his role as his mother’s doorkeeper, he is often placed facing doorways to keep out the unworthy.

One popular story about his broken tusk is that he broke it off himself in order to write down the  Aahabharat one of the world’s longest epic , as it was dictated to him by the sage Vyasa.  In the process of writing, Ganesh’s pen failed and so he snapped off his tusk as a replacement in order that the transcription not be interrupted.  Another version of the broken-tusk story is that his father Shiva decided to take a nap and asked Ganesh to guard him.  A proud Brahmin warrior named Parashuram came to visit Shiva but was stopped from waking him by Ganesh.  Parashuram was furious and fought with him, finally throwing his ax at his head. Ganesh stopped the ax with his tusk which broke, giving him the nickname Eka-danta, or “One Toothed.”

Another common icon associated with Ganesh is that of the snake.   Ganesha simply wrapped the serpent king Vasuki around his neck. Ganesh may also be portrayed using the snake as a sacred thread, aloft in both hands, coiled at his ankles or as a throne.  However, the best known story of all concerns Ganesh wrapping the snake around his stomach as a belt.  Ganesh went from house to house accepting offerings of sweet puddings.  Out on the road his mount the mouse stumbles, having seen a snake and become frightened, with the result that Ganesh tumbles off. His stomach bursts open and all the sweet puddings fall out.  Unwilling to leave them on the ground for all to see , Ganesh stuffs them back into his stomach and, catching hold of the snake, ties it around his belly.  The moon in the sky, on seeing this, has a hearty laugh at his expense. Annoyed, Ganesh pulls off one of his tusks and hurls it at the moon.  Once again, the symbology behind the mouse, snake, Ganesh’s belly and its relationship to the moon on his birthday is highly significant, his belly representing as it does the entire cosmos which is held together by the cosmic energy of the snake kundalini.

Upon Ganesha’s forehead may be a third eye  or the sectarian mark ( TILAKA), which consists of three horizontal lines.The Ganesha Purana prescribes a tilaka mark as well as a crescent moon on the forehead. A distinct form of Ganesha called Bhalachandra (bhālacandra; “Moon on the Forehead”) includes that iconographic element.

Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) in five of them, a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation as Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as VighnarajaMohotkata uses a lion, Mayūreśvara uses a peacock, Dhumraketu uses a horse, and Gajananauses a mouse, in the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock.[

Ganesha is often shown riding on or attended by a mouse, shrew or rat. The rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Ganesha in central and western India during the 7th century; the rat was always placed close to his feet.

The mouse is interpreted in several ways.  "Many interpret Gaṇapati's mouse,  negatively; it symbolizes tamogunaas well as desire". it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. The rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ(stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāma-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places

In South India and some parts of North India, Ganesha is known to be Brahmacharin, however, he still has his three consorts – Buddhi, Siddhi, and Riddhi in some myths.

The panchatyatana puja are known to represent the five aspects of God – the five elementsof Earth, Air, water, Fire and Ether. Ganesha is supposed to represent water, which is why is he associated with creation, according to Ganapatya belief and Hindu cosmology.

Since he is the ‘Lord of Beginnings’, every Hindu prayer and Tantric worship starts with a dedication to Ganesha, to please him into blessing and providing an easy path to glory. Ganeshais the Lord of all Creatures, the Lord of Success, and the Lord of Education, Knowledge and Wisdom. He has a rat as his vehicle, which, as legend goes, was actually a demon that Ganesha defeated by stomping upon him and transforming into a rat. Additionally, Ganesha is also the God of Intellect and Wisdom, the Destroyer of Selfishness and Pride. It is said that he is the personification of the elemental universe in all of its different forms and figures.

A patron of Letters and the Arts, he is often depicted as a dancing figure, surrounded by musicians to please and entertain his parents. He is also associated with the first chakra, the Muladhara Chakra, representing preservation, survival and health.

Ganesha was a non-Vedic, Dravidian God. Although a few references were made in the Rigveda (1500BC – 1000BC), to Ganesha’s character, to describe the power of Indra (and his being addressed to as Ganapati), healing nature of Indra’s friend Brahmanaspati and the fierce destructive nature of the Maruts, Ganesha himself wasn’t specifically named until the Puranas (3rd - 16th century AD), which is what allows us to tracback the extent of his popularity to early times. The confusion  between the different references to Brahmanspati and Ganesa is what led to the wisdom trait of Brahmanaspati to transfer onto the Ganesha we know now.

Those who go by this train of thought also firmly believe that Ganesha was originally amalevolent deity who later became benevolent as he became more prominent and his cult grew. Scholars also believe that Ganesha was a Non-Aryan God, who was originally a demon – he was even known as Vinayaka which means evil spirit – because of his constant associations with demons and other evil spirits like Sala,Katamkata, and Devayajana and other spirits mentioned in theYajnavalkya Smrti and Manava Grhyasutra

Ganesha additionally has four  evil types of spiritual representations of himself also known as Vinayakas, who are said to possess peopleand and bring bad luck, as mentioned in the Manava Grhyasutr Originally,Ganesha’s traits were portrayed as primitive and non-Aryan, but as time progressed, he was granted a few aspects of Krishna in the  Brahmavaivartta Purana (10th CenturyAD) to bring him up to the level of the other Gods.

Ganesha’s varied names prove him to be the head of Vinayakas (evil spirits) and Ganas. His references in the Puranas also show that Ganesha was originallya malevolent demon himself. His appointed role of the placer and remover of obstacles means that he puts problems in front of enemies of the gods, and remove them on behalf of the gods, to prevent over crowding in the heavens. Appointed byParvati, he is believed to create desires for wealth in people to divert them from the path of pilgrimage to heavens.

Known for his elephant head, Ganesha’s many names all correspond to what he is known for. While the name is used in North India, South India prefers to call him Ganapati, which means ‘Lord of the Hosts’ as he is the appointed head of Shiva’s regime of Ganas.

His other names Ekadanta or Pillaiyar  are derivedfrom his appearance of having only one tusk (both Danta and Pella mean tooth and tusk), having removed one of his tusks to write the epic Mahabharata (400 BCE - 400AD).

His other name Vignaharta is in reference to his Puranic title as the ‘Remover of Obstacles,’ although, originally, he was a malevolent deity known as Vignakarta asthe ‘Lord of the Obstacles’ as he was appointed by the Gods in the heavens to create hurdles for the people so that the heavens wouldn’t be over crowded. Ganesha, in this case, was originally a negative character around the 4th Century BCE, who soon turned good in the Puranic times (1st Century AD - 18th Century). Ganesha’s dual role of being the ‘Lord’ and ‘Remover’ of Obstacles shows the transformative nature of the deities’ different portrayal in different texts.

While there are myths saying that Shiva’s spirit gave birth to Ganesh, in the Vamana Purana(450–900 AD) and Matsya Purana (250–500 AD), Ganesh is Parvati’s creation. Whereas, a completely different school of belief is the popular Vaishnavite belief is that Ganesha is said to be Krishna’s incarnation.

As the times progressed, different medieval icons of Ganesha were developed. In the Ganapati Upanishad , Ganesha is called the ‘Supreme Self’, and 32different icons arose, to which different people pray to different icons according to what aspect they consider to have the most significance. The 32 forms of Ganesha are

  1. ,Dhvija Ganapati,
  2. Bala Ganapati,
  3. Bhakti Ganapati,
  4. Dhundi Ganapati,
  5. Durga Ganapati
  6. DvimukhaGanapati,
  7. Ekadanta Ganapati,
  8. Ekakshara Ganapati,
  9. Haridra Ganapati,
  10. 10.Heramba Ganapati,
  11. Kshipara Prasada Ganapati,
  12. KshipraGanapati,
  13. Lakshmi Ganapati,
  14. Maha Ganapati,
  15. Nritya Ganapati,
  16. Rinamochana Ganapati,
  17. Sankatahara Ganapati.
  18. Shakti Ganapati
  19. Siddhi Ganapati,
  20. Sinha Ganapati,
  21. .SrishtiGanapati,
  22. Taruna Ganapati,
  23. .Trimukha Ganapati,
  24. TryaksharaGanapati,
  25. .Ucchista Ganapati,
  26. Uddandta Ganapati,
  27. Urdhva Ganapati,
  28. Varada Ganapati,
  29. Vighna Ganapati,
  30. Vijaya Ganapati,
  31. .Vira Ganapati,
  32. Yoga Ganapati,


Out of these 32 forms, certain specific icons gained more popularity than the rest, based on what they depicted, provided and represented. Theyrose to such great extents that the 6 most popular icons of Ganesha lead to thedevelopment of six different sects in the Ganesha cult who each worshipped the 6different aspects of Maha, Haridra, Ucchista, Laxmi, Shakti and Heramba.

An interesting thing to note would be that a female form of Ganesha exists which is known as Vinayaki or Ganeshvari, an elephant headed Hindu goddess.Despite her mythology and iconography being undefined, she is a definite Matrika goddess, as a Brahmanical consort of Ganesha because of her elephant headed appearance.

Iconographically, Ganesha’s representations have changed drastically over the collective time. As mentioned before, the depictions of Ganesha have developed from a simple elephant in early depictions, to elephant headed figures in the Puranictimes, to the current Ganesha with his potbellied figure, four arms, and characteristic elephant head.

Shown in ornamental Brahmanical attire, Ganesha’s hair in put up in Kirit Mukuta, in a gold crown to show his divinity.

In most sculptures and paintings, he is portrayed as standing in Samapada posture or seated, although there are depictions of him dancing to show him in the act of entertaining his parents. Generally,he is depicted with four arms, each holding his characteristic attributes – his broken tusk in his lower right hand, a noose in the upper left hand, a bowl of modaks (a Maharashtrian sweet) in his lower left hand, and an axe or goad in the upper righthand.

In some modern depictions, the lower right hand doesn’t hold the tusk, but is in Abhay Mudra, providing protection to the devotee.

Each item has its own symbolic significance, however Ganesha’s attributes could change to include a water lily, rosary,or a spear.

Furthermore, each attribute of Ganesha has its own significant symbolism,which provides explanations to why and what Ganesha is known for. The noose indicates bondage of passions (which is also symbolized by his belt of a snake over his belly), and how he captures all the obstacles to remove them, while the axe represent  destruction and war.

If a goad replaces the axe, it represents control over one’s own emotions, and specifically to Ganesha – creates obstacles.

The broken tusk is a symbol of sacrifice and proves his patronage of arts and letters, because he had to purposely break off his own tusk to write the epic Mahabharata because it was dedicated to him by the sage Vyasa.

The bowl of modaks, or sometimes laddoos,shows how he has the ability to bestow prosperity upon his devotees.

His trunk is usually turned to his left, towards the bowl of sweets, showing his childish greed toadd a relatable and human touch to his name.

A popular belief of the Ganesh cult is that the four arms collectively show how Lord Ganesha is omnipresent in all directions, and the right side symbolizes reason while the left side symbolizes emotion, showing how he has control over mind and heart, together.

Another belief states that the four arms represent the mind, ego, intellect and conscience – attributes originalassociated with Brahma, whose title of the Creator is passed onto Ganesha for the Ganesha cult followers.

In the Ganapati Upanishad  (Mid-17th Century), Ganesha’s head symbolizes the soul (Atman), which is the most supreme of all of man’s reality, while his human body (Maya) symbolizes the earthly materialistic living of humans.   "The elephant head also symbolizes wisdom and understanding, traits commonly associated with elephants, while the human body shows that he feels human kindnessand compassion for others. According to the folktales, Ganesha’s big ears are supposedto advise people to listen more, small mouth is to talk less, and small eyes are to focus on small details. His fat belly, which gives rise to his name

Lambodara, signifies how man should be able to digest all the good and bad things in life.

Even the colour of the red/yellow attire worn by Ganesha holds meaning – Red symbolizing worldly activity and chaos, while yellow symbolizes peace, happiness and truth. In addition to representing control over passions, the snake around his belly also represents hisrestraint over all forms of energy.

The extent of his popularity has boosted him to be included in the Hindu pantheon, the Panchayatana Puja, consisted of the five main cults:

The Vishnu cult,

The Shiva cult,

The Shakti cult,

The Surya cult and

The Ganesha cult which started spreading in 6th Century AD and reached its peak prominence in the 9th Century AD.

The first and most popular sect of the Ganesha cult worshipped ‘the Great’Maha Ganesha, a red skinned, three eyed, ten armed figure carrying his broken tusk, a pomegranate, a club, Kama’s sugarcane bow, noose, blue lotus, a jewel box, a paddysprig, discus and a mace, which can all be seen in the picture above

, depicting this specific aspect. Accompanied by a white ‘Shakti’ on his left, he is the representation ofGanesha as the Supreme Being, and stands for happiness, prosperity and brilliance.

The Maha Ganapatyas believe that he existed before the Universe, created it, and willcontinue to live even after it has been destroyed.   "?

The second sect of the Ganapatyas are the Haridra Ganapatyas whoworship Haridra Ganapati (also known as Ratri Ganapati), whose picture can be seenabove

. Golden in color, dressed in yellow clothing, and sitting on an ornamentalgolden throne, the four armed and three eyed Haridra Ganapati, holds his tusk, amodak, a noose to bring his devotees forward and a goad to push them on.

Sanagala, Naveen.

Haridra Ganapati

The third sect is the Ucchista Ganapatyas who follow the deity of ‘Blessed Offerings’ and the ‘Tantric Guardian of Culture’, as pictured above.

Six armed and blue complexioned, he holds a vina, pomegranate, a paddy sprig, a blue lotus and arosary.

Accompanied by his consort, Ganesha has his trunk on her lap, and is oftenseen as an erotic form because of her often nude appearance. This particular aspect isworshipped when the devotee is in the sacrilegious state (Ucchista) state to get what isdesired.

The fourth sect is the Lakshmi Ganapatya sect which worships the Lakshmi Ganapati for his Intelligence and Accomplishment, as pictured above.

Commonly seen in pure white, in varada mudra – symbolizing boon giving, he holds agreen parrot – sign of intelligence, a sword, pomegranatae, noose, vase, goad, a creeper

and a jewel box in his eight arms. On his two sides, he is seen embracing his twoconsorts Buddhi and Siddi (Intelligence and Achievement).The fifth sect is the Heramba Ganapatya which worships the Herambaaspect for protecting the weak. This sect is particularly popular in Nepal, where theTantric worship of Ganesha is most popular. As seen above, he is depicted with fivefaces – four facing the four directions and one raised to the top, looking upwards - inwhite, riding a big lion to protect the weak.

His hands are in varada and abhay mudrato show protection and boon giving, while holding a rosary, noose, his tusk, a modak, a battle-axe and mallet. He is worshipped with Devi or Shakti as his consort, which arereincarnations of his mother Parvati.

Lastly, the sixth most popular sect of the Ganesha cult is the ShaktiGanapatyas which worship the aspect which combines the Maha, Urdhava, Ucchista,Lakshmi and Pingala aspects into one Tantric form

Eight armed and white, the Shakti Ganapati holds a parrot, a pomegranate, a lotus, a water vessel, a goldset with rubies, goad, noose. He embraces his consort Sakti on his left knee, and isknown for guarding the household. His right hand is in abhay mudra representing protection and hence, the Ganapatyas worship this aspect to bring peace and safety totheir households.

In terms of power, Ganesha was speculated to be the sole leader of the animal cult, because of his rat vahana’s possible nature of being an emblem of different Dravidian tribes, and because scholars see elephants as ‘determinants’ below anthropomorphic symbols of godly potential.

In some cases, he is also seen as the combined embodiment of Shiva and Vishnu, to symbolize the camaraderie between the two sects. In the Kusana age (140BC – 1BC), Vaishnavites and Shaivites believed thatthe two Gods were in Ganesha, as hypothesized by Shiva holding Vishnu’s emblem ona Kusanic coin. In the Mahabharata, Shiva is referred to as Ganesa, while Vishnu is called Ganesvara, which could suggest Shiva and Vishnu being alike, acting as inspirations for Ganesha’s creation.

The earliest representation of Ganesha was the sculpture elephant headedyakshas in ancient Mathura art, which are suspected to be prototypes of later Ganeshaiconographical representations in later periods.

Trying to trace the historical origins of this god, scholars believe that have traced the inception of the Ganesha cult to harvest season. The different attributes of Ganesha were critically analysed to search for meaning and connection to farming – the fast multiplying nature of his rat vahana symbolizes the fertility and fecundity of the lands, the name ‘Ekadanta’ representing ploughshare, the yellow colour of Ganesha which is characteristic to a corncob whichsignifies good harvest,

Ganesha being the ‘Mother of the Lands’ Ambika’s son in theTalavakara Upanishads (1200 – 500 BCE),  and Ganesha being in control of his ‘rat’vehicle, which is considered a pest in farming, all portray Ganesha as the Lord of the Harvest, which is logical as he was originally worshipped by the lower castes whoworked in such areas

In the Manusmriti (5th century BCE), the collective Ganesha cult was initially a Shudra cult because of the popularity among the lower castes and relevanceof the deity to their livelihood. The Ganapatyas, who mostly developed in the state ofMaharashtra. The main festival celebrated all around India to honour Ganesha isknown as Ganesh Chaturti, which is mainly celebrated in Andra Pradesh, Gujarat  Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. As the times changed and India got more and moreurbanized, the ‘Shudra’ majority of the Ganesha cult began to decrease, and more andmore people of higher power began to follow Ganesha, which is precisely the reasonwhy there are more temples dedicated to Ganesha than any other deity in India.

Essentially, the sculpture, now seen in the Mathura Museum, is divided into three horizontal sections: the first section has a fenced design, while the second section has five worshippers under six arches over their heads, while the five headed yakshas are below the worshippers in the most damaged third section. Varanasi, however, is a religious place filled with different Ganesha sculptural representations. The most popular sculptural representation is the Panch-Ganesha sculpture depicting 4Vinayakas and 1 elephant right in the middle. The 4 Vinayakas are replicas of each other, all seated in Lalitasana and carrying the typical Ganesha attributes of modaks, a battle-axe, etc., while the central elephant figure is standing.

This particular sculpture of Panca Ganesa is seen in many places – in carvings of the red sandstone shine replicain Laksmi Kunda, dated to around 900 AD, and in a Shiva temple at Jamaroli, Jaipur,dated to around 11th Century, and the Somesvara temple at Kirandu, around the sametime. Varanasi itself has at least four sculptures of the same variety, with two similarsculptures in Khadwaha in Madhya Pradesh. The four Vinayaks are said to representthe four directions (Diskshas), whereas collectively, the middle figure could also beseen as the ‘Lord of the Vinayakas’ because of its central and standing position.   "Outside India, the most famous Ganesha sculpture was in a Buddhist stupain Sri Lanka, dated to the 1st Century BC. Scholars theorize that it’s possibly due to thecontact between the Sri Lankan Buddhists and the Amaravati Buddhists in AndraPradesh. Ganesh became the Indian commercial traders’ primary deity, as he was theGod of New Beginnings. Hence, the more they travelled and more Indians migratedaway, the word of Ganesha spread to other parts of the world. In Afghanistan, theGanesh cult was easily embraced, as elephants were already considered sacred. We know from sculptures dated back to 531 AD, in Tibet and China, Ganesha was to beworshipped by Buddhists, who later brought it to the Japanese, where it was embraced by the Japanese Shingon School of Buddhism which developed a popular cult around two elephant headed figures in embrace.

Even though there is no specific area in which the Ganesha cult is most concentrated, since the deity’s popularity is said to have originated from Maharashtra, one of the most important places of Ganesha worship are the eight religious sites around Pune called the Ashtavinayaks (ashta (eight) and vinayaks (Vinayaka)). The eight temples are:

  • Ø BallaleshwarTemple,
  • Ø Chintamani Temple,
  • Ø Girijatmaj Temple,
  • Ø Mahaganapati Temple.
  • Ø Moreshwar Temple,
  • Ø Siddhivinayak Temple,
  • Ø Varadavinayak Temple,
  • Ø VighnaharTemple

In all eight temples, there are sculptures of Ganesha made out of a single rock, and are hence, said to be self manifested.

The most famous temple is the Moreshwar temple, closely followed by the Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai.

These eight Ganesha temples, arranged together to form a circle around Pune, making Pune the direct center of the circle, which meant that in the 10th Century BC, when the Ganesha cult rose to prominence, Pune was the centre for Shastra and Sanskrit education because the eight temples guarded Pune’s spiritual and material power. Hence, Ganesha became the town’s deity –Gramadaivata itself.

In addition to places of worship, the festivals of worship are important as well. The most important festival of the Ganesha cult is the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi

, which is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, celebrating the birth ofGanesha. It’s observed between mid August to mid September, in the month of‘Bhadra’ and is celebrated for 10 days straight with lights, elaborate decorations,dancing, and then the final immersion of a giant statue of Ganesha on AnantaChaturdashi to symbolize the departing of the deity to go to his home of heavens.

Hymns from the Rig Veda (1500 BCE), and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad  (mid 17th Century) are chanted, while final offerings of coconuts and flowers are made to the deity for his blessings.

An interesting tradition to note about Ganesh Chaturthi is the superstition to not look at the moon. As the myth goes, one day, at night, Lord Ganesha was on his way back from a feast and was quite full. Suddenly, his rat vehicle stumbled over a snake, so Ganesha fell down and his stomach burst open and all the food spilled out. Ganesh dusted himself off, collected everything, put it back into himself, and used the snake as a belt to keep his stomach together, hoping no one saw. Unfortunately, the Moon, Chandra had seen everything from the sky and was laughing at the God.Ganesha got angry put a curse on her that she would no longer shine. A few days later, upset at the disrupted balance of light, the other Gods went to negotiate the terms ofGanesha’s curse on Chandra so that she may go back to normal, so Ganesha modifiedhis curse and allowed her to wax and wane. Therefore, all because of Chandra’s  laughter at Ganesha, people think it is inauspicious to look at the moon on Ganesh’s birthday, so that he remains on their side and brings them luck and good fortune.

In contrast to the Brahma cult which has now declined completely, the Ganesha cult is still going strong. One of the main reasons why the cult is still prominent is because its rise coincided with the escalation of tantric worship in other parts of India, in the post Gupta period, which further influenced each other in the worship.

The Ganapatyas worship Ganesha as the ultimate God, following the Ganapati Upanishad  (mid 17th Century) where Ganesha is praised as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the worlds. They believe that Ganesha is the Lord of the Five Elements, and that chanting ‘Om’ will please and placate him to provide them with blessings.

As mentioned earlier, the earliest representation of Ganesha was seen inancient Mathura art where a 5 headed elephant sculpture was discovered, dating backto around 4th Century AD. The damaged quality of the sculpture prevents us from knowing if it was a sculpture of the forms of Vinayakas or Gajasirsa Yakshas ,however, the elephant shaped heads are clearly in reference to Ganesha worship.

The symbol of ‘Om’, associated with Ganesha, is said to have been the inspiration for the creation of Ganesha as Parvati pictured two elephants mating when she saw the symbol, from which Ganesha was created. Since every mantra begins with ‘Om’ which is considered to be the seed of the universe, Ganesha is the rebirth of the entire cosmic universe.

However. apart from Vinayaki, Ganapatyas individually worship all other forms of Ganesha, focussing on some specific forms like the Ucchista Ganesha or the Urdhava Ganesha or the Lakshmi Ganesha, depending on what sort of blessing they hope to get. By following the tantric way of living, the Ganapatyas worship Ganesha asthe Supreme Lord, to ask for his help to purify things, rectify mistakes, sacrificethemselves or get his blessings before starting something new.

The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the worship of Ganesha. However, Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of the god of wealth, Kubera Jain ties with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up Ganesha worship as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century.[ A 15th-century Jain text lists procedures for the installation of Ganapati images. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The development of Ganesha is said to have originated from the worship of the elephant in the Kabul Valley in 4th Century BC ,while there is evidence that the elephant was even worshipped by the Vedic Aryans .The Ganesha cult developed comparatively late, some time in the post Gupta age (500-750 AD).

The Japanese form of Ganesha – Kangiten, late 18th-early 19th-century painting by Shorokuan Ekicho

Hindus migrated to Maritime Southeast Asia and took their culture, including Ganesha, with them. Statues of Ganesha are found throughout the region, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in the Hindu art of JavaBali, and Borneo show specific regional influences.] The spread of Hindu culture throughout Southeast Asia established Ganesha worship in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side by side, and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and among the Hindu classes of the Chams in Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles. Today in Buddhist Thailand, Ganesha is regarded as a remover of obstacles, the god of success.

Before the arrival of Islam, Afghanistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. Examples of sculptures from the 5th to the 7th centuries have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha.

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as Heramba, is popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahakal,(Shiva) a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, and sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, where Ganesha is known as Kangiten, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806.

In Indonesia, Ganesha was portrayed as almost demonic because it was heavily influenced by the Javanese Tantricism.

There is also evidence of an elephant headed god in Mexico, and sculptures dating back to early Aryan period, in Oxonian excavations in the United Kingdom.

In Cambodia and Vietnam, Ganesha is usually independently worshipped in his classical ‘Ganesha’ form, but if seen with Shiva, is referred to as Vinayaka.Central Asian Buddhists preferred to worship Ganesha by his Vinayaka form, while South East Asians followed the Hindu form. Essentially, Ganesha is the only Go far that has spread so far and has so many versions of itself related to other religionslike Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.

Within India itself, it is said that the Ganesha cult evolved from Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, the growth and development of the Ganesha cult hadthree booms of popularity which lead to the current widespread nature of the cult. Thefirst boom was the appropriation of Ganesha by the ruling classes. Hence, when the Peshwa clan overthrew the Marathi kings, they appropriated Ganesha to be their family emblem to promote themselves. By using Ganesha as their kuldaivata, they built numerous temples and built several traditions for Ganesha’s worship to bring significance to their name and to gain political power. Even currently, the traditions are still upheld in the Ashtavinayak sites in the name of Ganesha, as the Peshwas had almost made Ganesha the national deity of Maharashtra.

Originally, a non-brahmanical God, he was worshipped as a rural deity in Maharashtra, by the lower castes since he was an idol of the masses, representing what was exclusive to the lower castes He is also said to be one of the main reasons how and why animal worship popularized in India because of his therianthropomorphic appearance.

The second boom was when freedom fighter, Lokmanya Tilak was  released from prison and began using Ganesha to round up support. In 1893, helaunched the first ever Ganesh festival. There, in order to find some sortof support against the British, Tilak discovered relentless support in promotingGanesha to a higher stance. Not only did he achieve his goal of elevating Ganesha’s importance to the public, but the festival also constructed the present day taste in Marathi theatre. Other individuals also contributed in increasing the popularity of  Ganesha. Famous poet Ramadasa dedicated many of his poems and songs to Ganesha,which helped spread the word about Ganesha, in the 1600s.

The third and final boom was in 1990, when Pune’s political party leade rdecided to appropriate the festival of Ganesha Utsava to ‘Ganesha festival’ in anattempt to shape his career. While the locals had strong opinions about the change taking away the traditions and portraying the age old festival as something unnecessarily new and exotic, the globalizing effect of the modern world soon raised the popularity of Ganesh through word of mouth.

From here, the glory of Ganesha soon grew to other parts of India and then later spread to other Asian countries. Indian shrines dedicated to Ganesha exist everywhere – from Kanchipuram to Trichy, from Nagapattinam to Varanasi, from Mayurapuram to Tiruvanthapuram. Scholars have speculated that such shrines only exist in places where there could be a danger to life. Places with steep slopes, dense forests and deep rivers often have hundreds of pilgrims travelling to show their determination to worship the deity and prove their worth. Even in temples dedicated to other deities, a sculpture of Ganesha is placed outside as the protector of the entrance. The three most important pilgrimage sites in India are the Ganesh temple below the Hariparbat Hill near Srinagar, the Ganeshghati temple on a cliff along the Kishenganga river and the temple over the Lidar Lake in Ganeshbal.


As far as the reference of  Ganesh in Vedic and epic literature,the title “Leader of the group” (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda. Equally clearly, the second passage refers to Indra, who is given the epithet ‘gaṇapati‘, translated “Lord of the companies (of the Maruts).” Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha.

Two verses in texts belonging to , Maitrāyaṇīya Saṃhitā (2.9.1) and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (10.1), appeal to a deity as “the tusked one” (Dantiḥ), “elephant-faced” (Hastimukha), and “with a curved trunk” (Vakratuṇḍa). These names are suggestive of Ganesha, and the 14th century commentator Savna explicitly establishes this identification. The description of Dantin, possessing a twisted trunk (vakratuṇḍa) and holding a corn-sheaf, a sugar cane, and a club, is so characteristic of the Puranic Ganapati that Heras says “we cannot resist to accept his full identification with this Vedic Dantin”.

Ganesha does not appear in the  literature that is dated to the Vedic period. A late interpolation to the epic  Mahabharata says that the sage Vyāsa asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him.Story of Ganesha acting as the scribe occurs in 37 of the 59 manuscripts consulted during preparation of the critical edition. Ganesha’s association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa‘s dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation.  The term vināyaka is found in some recensions of the Śāntiparva and Anuśāsanaparva that are regarded as interpolations.A reference to Vighnakartṛīṇām (“Creator of Obstacles”) in Vanaparva is also believed to be an interpolation and does not appear in the critical edition.

In Puranic period Stories about Ganesha often occur in the Puranic corpus references to Ganesha in the earlier Puranas, such as the Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, are later interpolations made during the 7th to 10th centuries.

Ganesha’s rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of  Smartism. The 9th-century philosopher AdiShankar popularized the “worship of the five forms”  system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition.] This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya.Adi Shankara instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalized the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

In Scriptures Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Brahmanism, some Brahmins chose Ganesha as their principal deity. They developed the Ganapatya tradition, as seen in the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana.

The date of composition for the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana—and their dating relative to one another—has sparked academic debate. Both works were developed over time and contain age-layered strata. Anita Thapan reviews comment about dating and provide her own judgment. “It seems likely that the core of the Ganesha Purana appeared around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries”, she says, “but was later interpolated.”] Lawrence W. Preston considers the most reasonable date for the Ganesha Purana to be between 1100 and 1400, which coincides with the apparent age of the sacred sites mentioned by the text.

Ganesh Sahastranamais part of the Puranic literature, and is a litany of a thousand names and attributes of Ganesha. Each name in the sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha. Versions of the Ganesha Sahasranama are found in the Ganesh purana.

One of the most important Sanskrit texts, that enjoys authority in Ganapatya tradition states John Grimes, is the Ganapati Atharvashirsa

In conclusion, as humble were the beginnings of this half human – half animal deity, it was the same humble beginnings that lead to the rise of such a massive following in current times, as without appealing to the lower parts of society, there would have been no way the Ganesha cult would have gotten to where it is today as one fifth of the Panchayatana Puja, affecting so many people all across the world

Collection of Ganesh Mantra

Vakratunda Ganesh Mantra

One of the most important and also one of the most common Ganpati Mantras, this is the Ganesh mantra for wealth, and is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Goddess Riddhi (Hindu Goddess of Prosperity) and Goddess Siddhi (Hindu Goddess of spiritual enlightenment).

“Vakratunda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvadaa ||”

Meaning :

Vakra – means one that is not straight.
Vakratunda – means curved trunk.
Mahakaya – means large body, if we see that in a more divine sense it means most powerful.
Suryakoti – means ‘Surya’ or sun and koti means crore.
Samprabha – means ‘prabha – aura, grandeur’ , ‘sama- like’.
Suryakoti samprabha – means whose aura is like light of crores of sun put together.
Nirvgnam – obstacle free.
Kurume – give me.
Deva – means God.
Sarva – means all.
Karyeshu -work.
Sarvada -always.

Full meaning : “Oh god with curved trunk, large body whose aura is like light of crores of sun, Please make my entire work obstacle free, forever.”

Ganesh Gayatri Mantra

In a fight with Guru Parashuram, he threw an axe at Lord Gajanan which was a gift to him by his father. So to honor this gift, Ganesha chose to bear the axe’s blow instead of destroying it. Ganesha thus lost one his tusk, but gained humility and modesty.

“Aum Ekadantaya Viddhamahe, Vakratundaya Dhimahi,
Tanno Danti Prachodayat

Meaning :

Ekadantaya – The one with the single tusked elephant tooth.
Viddhamahe – who is omnipresent.
Vakratundaya – Curved trunk.
Dhimahi – We meditate upon and pray for greater intellect.
Tanno Danti – We bow before the one with the single tusked elephant tooth.
Prachodayat – Illuminate our minds with wisdom.

Full meaning : “We pray to the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth who is omnipresent. We meditate upon and pray for greater intellect to the Lord with the curved, elephant-shaped trunk. We bow before the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth to illuminate our minds with wisdom.”

Ekadanta referring to one tusk in the elephant face means that God broke the duality and made us to have a complete one-pointed mind.

Ganesh Mool Mantra

The Ganesha Mool Mantra is also known as the Ganesha Beeja mantra or the Bija mantra. In Hindi, ‘Beej’ means seed – the source of everything in the universe. This powerful mantra combines several of the Ganpathi beeja mantras, especially the beeja or the seed sonic vibration associated with Lord Ganpati –Gam’.

“Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Glaum Gam Ganapataye Vara Varad Sarvajan janmay Vashamanaye Swaha Tatpurushaye Vidmahe Vakratundaye Dhimahi Tanno Danti Prachodyat Om Shantih Shantih Shantihi”

Meaning : The Ganesh Mool mantra is the most succinct and powerful Lord Ganesha mantra of all. This mantra celebrates the unique and divine form of God Ganpati (Ganesha) and his powers. The Ganesha Mool (root) Mantra, beginning with the incantation of ‘Om’ evokes positivity, purity, energy and the presence of Lord Ganpati in one’s life.

Basic Ganpati Mantra

“Om Gam Ganpataye Namah”

Meaning : It means bowing down to the Almighty Ganpati with all our existence and accepting all his great qualities in our self being.

Namavali Mantras

Lord Ganesha is known by his many names. All his names signify the meaning or qualities associated with him.

i. “Om Ganadhyakhsaya Namah”

Meaning : Ganadhyaksay – Gana means ‘a group’ and ‘Adhyaksh’ means ‘one who is leader of the group’.

ii. “Om Gajananaya Namah”

Meaning : Gajanan here means One who carries the elephant head. In Sanskrit, gaj means elephant. This Mantra says that if God can carry the elephant’s head to survive and fulfill his duties, even we should put aside our ego and live our lives dutifully.

iii. ”Om Vignanaashnay Namah”

Meaning : Ganpati is also worshiped to remove obstacles from one’s life. Here vigna means obstacles and nashnay means One who removes obstacles.

iv. “Om Lambodaraya Namah”

Meaning : Ganesha is known to love his food, and has a big, round belly. ‘Lambodar’ thus refers to him as a God who has a big belly.

v. “Om Sumukhaya Namah”

Meaning : Sumukh means ‘One with a pleasing face’. Lord Ganesha lost his head, and replaced it with that of an elephant’s. However, his good spirit and pure soul shone through even on his elephant face, and this made him look beautiful and calm.

vi. “Om Gajkarnikaya Namah”

Meaning : Gaj means Elephant and Karnikay means ears. With the elephant’s head and elephant ears, Ganesh was unable to listen to everything from all sources.

vii. “Om Vikataya Namah”

Meaning : Here ‘Vikat’ means ‘difficult’.

viii. ”Om Vinayakaya Namah”

Meaning : ‘Vinayaka’ is the name of Ganesha in the golden age. Vinayaka means ‘something under control’ and also means ‘the Lord of resolving problems’.


More Ganpati Stotra

The Rinn Harta Mantra

“Om Ganesh Rinnam Chhindhi Varenyam Hoong Namaah Phutt”

Meaning : ‘Rinn Harta’ is another name for Lord Ganesha and the English meaning of which is ‘The giver of wealth’. In Hindi, the meaning of Rinn harta or Rhinaharta is derived from the words ‘Rinn’ or ‘Rinnam’ meaning ‘debt’ and ‘harta’ meaning ‘remover’.

Siddhi Vinayak Mantra

The Siddhi Vinayak mantra is also one of the most important Ganesh mantras.

“Om Namo Siddhi Vinayakaya Sarva kaarya kartrey Sarva vighna prashamnay Sarvarjaya Vashyakarnaya Sarvajan Sarvastree Purush Aakarshanaya Shreeng Om Swaha.”

Meaning : The word ‘Siddhi Vinayak’ in Hindi means ‘the God of Achievement and Enlightenment’. The Mantra in English, therefore, means – “O Lord of Wisdom and Happiness, only you make every endeavor and everything possible; You are the remover of all obstacles and you have enchanted every being in the Universe, you are the Lord of all women and all men, amen.”

The Shaktivinayak Mantra

“Om Hreeng Greeng Hreeng”

Meaning : In Hindi, Shakti means power and Vinayak means ‘the Supreme master’.


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

An Avatar – God Manifestation , as an incarnated being


Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India



The term avatar refers to a soul who has been freed from maya (delusion) and is sent by the will of God back into manifested existence to help others, like the founders of major world religions like Jesus Christ, Buddha, and Krishna.   Actually an avtar is born not to show us how great he was, but to give us hope that the state of consciousness he had attained, we too can attain. An avatar (from the Sanskrit avatāra: meaning “downcoming”) refers to a “descent” of the divine into the realm of material existence, usually for the purpose of protecting or restoring dharma (cosmic order, righteousness). .

.An Avatar is also called a Savior, that is a person who saves or rescues mankind from the danger of deterioration. When a savior appears on this Earth all are saved through his grace.In this aspect God manifests himself upon earth as an incarnated being. He lives amidst people, undergoes the same experiences as the earthly beings, distinguishes himself by his deeds and words and interacts with them as one of their own kind. Although an incarnated being lives amidst people and acts like them, he is not subject to the law of karma, nor bound by the limitations of nature. He may disguise his powers willingly, but not subject to the laws of Prakriti either. Through his actions and words, he personifies the highest ideals of mankind and serves as a role model for his devotees to follow

The term Avatara also mean  one who was descended. Avatar means those who descended to Earth from the Spiritual world for the establishment of Dharma, preservation of the human race. Avatar means the person who descends, as a fully or partially empowered incarnation of Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi, from the spiritual realm for a particular mission

An Avatar is also called a Messenger of Divine Mother because an Avatar transmits pure unselfish Divine Love from the Divine Mother to man and gives a taste of the unadulterated nectar of heavenly bliss to the arid souls scorched by the fire of worldliness. Avataris a fully freed soul incarnating directly from God on this physical planet or elsewhere. An Avatar fulfills a highly spiritual task in the name of God and returns to God after accomplishing his task. His Love for God and his creation is beyond description and imagination, his faith in God absolute as there is no difference between an Avatar and God.

Traditional Hindus believe an avatar to be a direct manifestation of God, rather than a re-incarnation or re-appearance on earth of a soul that has been liberated. This is somewhat analogous to the understanding that many Christians have of Jesus Christ, who they consider as having never been in human form before he was Jesus Christ. Avatar, is not that Divine Consciousness, which has never known imperfection, appears in human form to show us a reality completely alien to our own. Krishna, Jesus Christ, and all other avatars are not only manifestations of Spirit. They are descents also in the sense of knowing, from experience, what it is to be human beings who attained oneness with the Divine. Their example shows us our own divine potential.Krishna, who some Hindus consider to be a full incarnation (purna avatar) of Vishnu, stated to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita that “You and I, Arjuna, have passed through many births. I know them all, even if you do not.” (Thus Krishna himself declared that he had incarnated previously.

The standard list of the Dasavatars bears striking resemblances to the modern scientific theory of Evolution. Matsya, the fish, represents life in water, and Kurma, the tortoise, represents the next stage, amphibianism (although technically, a tortoise is a reptile, not anamphibian). The third animal, the boar Varaha, marks the development of life upon land. Narasimha, the Man-Lion, represents the further development of mammals. Vamana, the dwarf, symbolizes the incomplete development of human beings, while Parashurama, the forest-dwelling hermit armed with an ax, connotes completion of the basic development of humankind, perhaps in the form of barbarism. Rama indicates humanity’s ability to effectively govern nations, while Krishna, allegedly an expert in the sixty-four fields of science and art, indicates advancement in culture and civilization. Buddha represents the further intellectual advancement of man, culminating in the realization of even greater spiritual truths.

Thus, the avatars represent the evolution of life and society with each epoch from Krita Yuga to Kali Yuga. This progression of animal life from the sea creature to the intellectually enlightened human is not incongruent with modern evolutionary theory. This connection gets particularly interesting when taking into considerations descriptions of Kalkin, who has sometimes been described as being a yantra-manava, or a “machine-man,” which could be interpreted to suggest the future development some sort of technologically enhanced human being which is as of yet unknown.

Many religions speak of a coming leader who will consummate the fulfillment of the divine will on earth. He will manifest in his person the righteousness and compassion of God. The Hebrew title Messiah – ‘Christ’ in Greek means ‘anointed one,’ that person who will be specially chosen by God for this mission and empowered to accomplish it . Religions call him by various names: Jews long for the promised Messiah; for Christians the Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth, who has already come and ascended to heaven but will reappear (perhaps in a new guise) at his Second Coming. Muslims also expect the second advent of Jesus, who will come as a Muslim Imam, and among Shiite Muslims there are variousexpectations of a future Imam Mahdi. Buddhist sutras prophesy the coming of the Maitreya Buddha; Vaishnavite Hindu scriptures prophesy the future descent of an avatar named Kalki; Zoroastrian scriptures prophesy the coming of the Saoshyant; and some Confucian texts speak of a future True Man who will finally bring peace to the world by perfectly instituting the Way of Confucius.”

For Hindus, the concept of avatar is associated mostly with Vishnu, who represents the aspect of God as preserver in the Hindu trimurti. The other two aspects of trimurti are Brahma as the creator and Shiva as the destroyer, or dissolver of creation. There are also avatars of other Hindu deities in the Puranas, including avatars of Shiva, Devi (or Divine Mother), and Ganesha. The Linga Purana describes twenty-eight avatars of Shiva. The Devi Bhagavata Purana tells of the avatars of Devi, and the Ganesha Purana describes the avatars of Ganesha.

As per the doctrines of our ancient Rishis of yore, there are sixteen rays or sixteen digits or sixteen planes of manifestation or sixteen expanding Kalas emanating from Adhiparasakthi, the Supreme Brahman. One ray is needed to maintain the animal kingdom. Two rays maintain the animal kingdom and five to eight rays are required for human beings. One can rise from savage to a higher spiritual status only according to the number of rays. For Avatars, nine to sixteen rays emanate from the Supreme Mother. Avatars are classified according to the number of rays. The different kinds of Avatars are as follows:

Purna Avatar
Amsa Avatar
Lila Avatar

Purna Avatar means full Avatar, in whom all sixteen rays are present. Lord Krishna was a Purna Avatar. There are also Amsa Avatars with partial incarnations. Sri Sankaracharya was an Amsa Avatar. Lord Rama was a Lila Avatar with fourteen rays. Ancient Rishis, modern philosophers, and theosophists mention seven rays, twelve rays and so on when they describe the stage of spiritual development of their Gurus, Spiritual Masters and Adepts.There is a decline of righteousness from the Satya Yuga, or Golden Age, to Treta Age, Dvapara Age and Kali Age respectively. In the Satya Age, Dharma, or righteousness, flourishes. In Treta Age the decline begins and becomes rapid in Dvapara Age. In Kali Age, the most evil of the ages, unrighteousness or Adharma prevails. In this age the God,  manifests Herself for the establishment of righteousness.

Types of incarnation/Avatars

The Hindu  Vishnuites classify the incarnations of God variously as direct and indirect, or major and minor or primary and secondary incarnations. In the former God descends into our plane either fully or partially, described as purnavataras and amsavataras respectively For the purpose of clarity and understanding, his main incarnations are called Vibhavas and his minor incarnations vibhavantaras. The major incarnations are ten in number and known as the ten incarnations (dasavataras) of Vishnu.

They are:

1. Matsyavatara.

In this incarnation In Hindu mythology, Matsya saved Manu Vaisvasta, the eventual creator of the human species, by rescuing him from tempestuous waters during a great flood which ravaged the primordial earth  by carrying his boat to the top of a mountain.

2. Kurmavatara.

In this incarnation, Vishnu assumed the form of a tortoise, the kurma. Kurma offered his broad shell so the mighty churning stick could be firmly set upon it. and held the Mandhara mountain from beneath as the gods and demons used it to churn the oceans for the sake of amrit, the elixir of life.

3. Varahavatara.

In this incarnation He assumed the form of a boar and slew a demon named Hiranyaksha Varaha  battled and defeated the demon Hiranyaksa beneath the cosmic ocean, then proceeded to rescue the earth goddess Prthivi from a watery grave by placing her on his tusk and swimming to the surface. when he carried away the goddess earth to the nether worlds.

4. Narasimhavatara.

In this incarnation He helped his young devotee Prahlada when he was tortured by his demon father, Hiranyakasipu for his intense devotion. Listening to the calls of his young devotee, He sprang out of the pillar of a building as Man¬Lion (Nara-Simha) and slew the demon.Narasimha used his status as neither fully human nor fully beast to defeat Hiranyaksipu, another oppressive demon who was invulnerable to both human beings and animals.

5. Vamanavatara.

In this incarnation Vishnu took birth as a dwarf to sl ay the demon Bali and restore the heavenly kingdom of Indra back to him. Vamana asked Bali for all the territory he could encompass in three strides. Bali gladly agreed,. Vamana assume his cosmic form as Vishnuand traverse the entire universe with his three steps. With one step he covered the whole earth. With another he covered the whole empyrean and with his third he pushed Bali’s head deep into the world.

6. Parashuramavatara.

In this incarnation He assumed the birth of a priestly warrior to exterminate the Kshatriyas who grew wicked and tyrannical and neglected their duties in upholding the dharma and protecting the people.. In a number of battles, Parashurama defeated the Kshatriyas, and restored the priority of the priestly caste, the Brahmins, who had been oppressed by their traditional underlings, the warriors.

7. Sri Ramavatara.

In this incarnation He took birth as the prince of Ayodhya to kill the demon Ravana who became invincible by virtue of the boons he got from Lord Siva and became a menace to the three worlds and their inhabitants. Rama, defeated Ravana and thereby freed the world from the demon’s clutches, instituting a reign of virtue and prosperity. This kingdom would serve as an ideal societal structure for rulers in every generation that followed.

8. Sri Krishnavatara.

The eighth incarnation, Krishna (meaning “dark colored” or “all attractive”), is the only avatar to have appeared in the Dwapara Yuga. During his appearance on earth, Krishna defeated the oppressive demon Kamsa while aiding the Pandava brothers to victory over their malevolent cousins, the Kauravas. This battle is recorded in the great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, which is best known for a poem included within it, the Bhagavadgita, wherein Krishna elucidates the path of righteousness for Arjuna, a Pandava warrior.

9. Buddhavatara.

The identity of the ninth avatar is disputed. Normally, the Buddha is listed as the ninth avatar but sometimes Krishna’s brother Balaramais listed instead. For instance, the Bhagavata Purana claims that Balarama was the ninth incarnation.[2] However, traditionally it is the Buddha who fulfills this role as the ninth avatar, albeit it should also be noted that Buddhists do not accept this doctrine and deny that the Buddha was an avatar of Vishnu. Some scholars suggest that the absorption of the Buddha into the Vaisnavite theological framework was a polemic effort to mitigate the appeal of Buddhism among the Hindu masses.

10. Kalkyavatara

The tenth avatar, Kalkin (“Eternity” or “The Destroyer of foulness”) has set to arrive at the end of the Kali Yuga,. Due to his pending arrival, Kalki is the most mysterious of the avatars, though he is described as a rider upon a white horse wielding a comet-like sword. It is said that Kalki will bring the world to its end, rewarding the virtuous, while punishing the wicked.


the Minor Incarnations are partial or minor incarnations of God in which He imparted His knowledge, powers or qualities to several advanced Jivas, either directly or indirectly, for the benefit of the mankind. The list of minor incarnations of Vishnu is exhaustive. The following contains some of his most important vyuhantaras.

  • Dattatreya
  • Dhanvantari
  • Gopi¬Krishna
  • Hayagriva
  • Kapila
  • Mohini
  • Nara¬Narayana
  • Prsnigarbha
  • Rishabha.
  • Sri Varadaraja
  • Trivikrama
  • Visvakshena
  • Vyasa
  • Yajna

The Avatars of the Puranas

The Puranas list twenty-five avatars of Vishnu in total. In addition to the ten listed above, these avatars include the Catursana, the four sons of Brahma who are together considered one incarnation;

Narada, the traveling sage; Yajna, an incarnation within whom Vishnu temporarily assumed the role of Indra; Nara-Narayana, twin brothers; Kapila, the philosopher; Dattatreya, the combined avatar of theTrimurti);

  • Balarama, Krishna’s elder brother.
  • Dhanvantari, father of ayurveda;
  • Hamsa, the swan;
  • Hayagriva, a horse;
  • Mohini, a beautiful woman;
  • Prithu, monarch of the solar pantheon who introduced agriculture to humankind;
  • Prsnigarbha, creator of the planet known as Dhruvaloka;
  • Ramachandra, the king of Ayodhya;
  • Rishabha, father of King Bharata;
  • Vyasa, writer of the Vedas, and

In current times, the famous south Indian guru, Sathya Sai Baba (c. 1926-present), is believed by his devotees to be an avatar of Shiva,Shakti, and Krishna.

Some Hindus with an inclusivist outlook perceive the central figures of various non-Hindu religions to be avatars. Some of these religious figures include: Jesus (4 B.C.E.-c. 33 C.E.), the founder of Christianity, Zoroaster (a.k.a. Zarathustra), the founding prophet of Zoroastrianism, Mahavira (599-527 B.C.E.), promulgator of the tenets of Jainism, , as well as Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892 C.E.) the founder-prophet of the Bahá’í Faith, who is believed to be Avatar.





Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off