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.



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