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4001279 Indian Philosophy

4001279 Indian Philosophy

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Published by Diego Urfalino

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Published by: Diego Urfalino on Aug 16, 2012
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The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy
Religion evolves as a means to narrate, to gain intellectual grasp, and to enable the seeker after truth tomeditate upon the concepts so as to become free. The six systems of Hindu philosophy are concernedwith intellectual analysis and sharpening of 'reason' necessary to comprehend the true nature of self,God, and universe. These six systems are the Vaisheshika, the Nyaya, the Samkhya, the Yoga, theMimamsa, and the Vedanta. Rishis Kanada, Gotama, Kapila, Patanjali, Jaimini, and Vyasa are believedto be the earliest exponents of these systems respectively.Although exact dates of the origin of these schools of thought are not known they are believed to have been formulated in sutras or aphorisms prior to Buddha. Many put them roughly between 600 and 200BCE. Then the art of writing was unknown and as such these sutras were handed down from teacher todisciples by word of mouth. To minimize the load on memory these aphorisms were rendered as short as possible, an extra dot or letter was ruthlessly deleted. However, this miserliness of words made thesutras unintelligible without commentaries and explanatory notes. Thus, we see many additions to theoriginal text over a period of time.There are certain common features to these six systems of thought; first and foremost is that they acceptthe authority of the Vedas, the feature that distinguishes them from philosophical schools of Buddhismand Jainism. This feature gives them the label of Hindu orthodox systems. Second important feature isthat, although superficially these systems seem to have contradictions amongst them, they in factrepresent a progressive development from lower to higher truth. All the six schools believe in the 'Lawof Karma', rebirth, and attainment of Moksha/Liberation as the highest goal of human struggle. All thesystems are concerned with the nature of true Self, the realization of which through Yoga and other spiritual disciplines makes one free.In the context of modern times, Vaisheshika is not of great importance, while Nyaya and Samkhya arestudied widely for their powerful system of logic and analytical cosmology respectively. Mimamsamostly deals with ritual portion of the Vedas, believing that sutras/verses without correspondingritual/Yajna is incomplete and thus do not yield desired effect. Yoga and Vedanta have caught theattention of students of religion, scholars, as well as lay people for their practicality, rationality, andscientific basis. All Hindus now accept Vedanta as their 'living faith'.
 
Nyaya and Vaisheshika
 These two systems are separate and independent. But for the sake of convenience and because of certaincommonality these can be grouped together. Vaisheshika is older than Nyaya. Rishi Kanada or Uluka inhis sutras maintains that proper object of philosophy is to focus on Dharma, virtue, so that people can prosper in life and character -Abhyudaya- as well as can attain the highest goal/good in life -liberation, Nihshreyasa.This liberation can be attained by direct perception or knowledge of ultimate realities of Self and theuniverse. These ultimate realities - padarthas, or categories - are termed as 1. dravya (substance), 2. guna(qualities), 3. karma (action or motion), 4. samanya (genus), 5. vishesah (species), and 6. samavaya(relation), and additionally 7. abhava (negation).Out of these, dravya is the basic and independent category. On this basic dravya depend all other categories. Dravya, in turn, are nine in number. 1) The Self, 2) Manas or mind, 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.) Earth,water, air, fire, ether, 8. 9.) space and time.Self is the substratum of consciousness. Manas when comes in contact with Self is birth, and when getsdetached from it is death. Man or individual self is jivatman, and is distinct from paramatman or Supreme Self. God is the efficient cause of creation. The law of causation applies here also. Cause andeffect cycle creates new world in each cycle, aarambhavada. Nyaya deals with knowing. It has sixteen categories, dealing with the means to understand the universe.Ignorance bars the way to liberation. Ignorance results from identification of the Self with the body, thesense, and the mind. Thus we become slaves to attachment and hatred. These are the causes of our sinsand sufferings. Death causes rebirth because of our ignorance of the True Self. Transcendentalknowledge of our True Self is Liberation, end of cycle of birth and death, and freedom from misery.To sum up: Nyaya and Vaisheshika systems assert that by leading virtuous life and remaining on the side of Dharma, one will have both growth and fulfillment in life (Abhyudaya) as well as realization of thehighest good - Liberation (Nishreyasa). These systems are dualistic in their conception of God (Supreme
 
Self), Jiva (individual self), and the universe. These units have their own separate objective reality, it issaid. God is seen as the Supreme Ruler of this universe, of which Jiva is a part. Existence of God isaccepted as a ruler, lawgiver, controller, and governor that allows maintenance of order in the universe.According to Nyaya theory the world is more or less as we perceive it. However, the defects in the senseorgans like improper or partial perception of something and the influence of fear, anticipation and other mental conditions lead to inappropriate and defective perception of the same. Nyaya regards that clear  perception in general is a sound means of cognition, which discloses things to us as they really are.
 As can be seen, this all is very complicated to understand and difficult write. I have written on the basisof my reading of the six systems from the book: 'The Spiritual Heritage of India' by Swami Prabhavananda.
 
Samkhya
 Samkhya forms the philosophical basis for Yoga of Patanjali. Therefore, both Yoga and Samkhya can begrouped together, Yoga forming the practical methodology to achieve the goal. Samkhya providesrational analysis of the Truth. Its reasoning is very logical, neat, and scientific that it does not find itnecessary to posit the concept of God to comprehend the Truth and freedom form suffering. Basically,Samkhya is a system based on duality of Purusha and Prakriti. While Purusha is posited as the onlysentient being, ever existent, and immaterial, Prakriti is said to be the material basis of this universe,composed of three basic elements, Gunas, namely Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva.Permutations and combinations of these gunas lead to formation of multifarious world. Not only allmaterial objects fall under this category, but also mind and its functions of language and thoughts arecomposed of matter in the final analysis. Therefore, it is necessary to go beyond -transcend - the mind toreach immaterial sentient reality. This is the goal and endeavor of all human actions and activities, andYoga Sutra of Patanjali explains and guides step by step us to this realization. First, by controlling themind stuff - chitta - the sadhaka tries to minimize modifications of mind. And a stage is reached whensingle pointed mind can be transcended and the state of samadhi reached.
Yoga of Patanjali
Raja Yoga as expounded by Patanjali is the most scientific way to realize our higher consciousness. This

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