Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Foundations of Indian Philosophy

Foundations of Indian Philosophy

Ratings: (0)|Views: 7 |Likes:
Published by HeatherDelancett
The central philosophical questions of Indian philosophy, or darshana, (meaning “vision” or“worldview”), began much as Western pre-Socratic philosophy did - with seeking the nature of absolutereality. Is it changing? Is it eternal? Is it made of more than one thing, or is it a monism? Is it immanent or transcendent, or both? Of all the diverse religious and philosophical beliefs of Bharat (the Republic of India), the various traditions are primarily divided on how they approach this one central question.
The central philosophical questions of Indian philosophy, or darshana, (meaning “vision” or“worldview”), began much as Western pre-Socratic philosophy did - with seeking the nature of absolutereality. Is it changing? Is it eternal? Is it made of more than one thing, or is it a monism? Is it immanent or transcendent, or both? Of all the diverse religious and philosophical beliefs of Bharat (the Republic of India), the various traditions are primarily divided on how they approach this one central question.

More info:

Published by: HeatherDelancett on May 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOCX, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

05/07/2012

pdf

text

original

 
Heather DeLancett Fall 2009
Dharma, Karma, Yoga: The Foundational Speculations of India
Due to the wide diversity of streams of thought and the holistic connection between religious andphilosophical beliefs in India, it is often daunting to approach any attempt at a summary of thephilosophical content of Indian traditions with conclusive sounding statements. Hinduism is an umbrella term for
the religion of the majority of people in India and Nepal, and of India‟s approximate population
of 900 million people, 700 million identify themselves as Hindu.
1
However, a definition of what Hinduism is, or is not, becomes problematic because the term gathers together many related religions andphilosophies which do not share a single historical founder, a unified system of beliefs or a centralauthority.
2
Additionally, the issue of multiple and differing qualities of translations from Sanskrit, Pali, andHindi languages further complicate understanding. The Western student of Indian philosophy must evenshift the idea of category 
3
to accommodate the diversity and interwoven nature of the subjects involved inthis pursuit. Despite these challenges, we can identify some key commonalities and crucial differences which have played major roles in the development of Indian thought and which continue to be significant in our current time.
1
Gavin Flood,
 An Introduction to Hinduism
, (Great Britain and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pgs. 1, 5. Thisestimate is taken from the March 1991 census of India.
2
Ibid.
3
 
Gavin Flood (ibid. 7,) refers to “prototype theory” as being the most effective in
describing degrees of category
membership where there is relation of “family resemblance” with very fuzzy edges, and where “members of a category maybe related to one another without all members having any properties in common that define the category.”
This theorywas developed: George Lakoff,
Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind 
(Chicago andLondon: University of Chicago Press, 1987).
 
2
The central philosophical questions of Indian philosophy, or
darshana 
, (
meaning “vision” or“worldview”
), began much as Western pre-Socratic philosophy did - with seeking the nature of absolutereality. Is it changing? Is it eternal? Is it made of more than one thing, or is it a monism? Is it immanent or transcendent, or both? Of all the diverse religious and philosophical beliefs of 
Bharat 
(the Republic of India), the various traditions are primarily divided on how they approach this one central question.During the period 600
200 B.C.E. especially, different interpretations of the nature of absolute reality,the nature of self, and solutions to the problem of suffering arose. The most notable and enduring of these philosophical deviances from the main stream are Jainism and Buddhism. The challenges raised b Jainism and Buddhism were integrated
into the “Hindu” foundations
and responded to through the Epics
the most popular being a portion of the
Mahabharata 
called the
Bhagavad Gita 
. These enduring living traditions
Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism
disagree about a few key philosophical issues, but largely share many common concepts.The history of Indian philosophy begins with the collection of sacred texts known as the
Vedas 
.The
Vedas 
can be considered the backbone of 
Hinduism‟s
spiritual and philosophical beliefs andpractices to this day. It is generally accepted that the earliest content within the
Vedic 
collection isprimarily of the Aryan culture
‟s
influence mixed with elements of the Dravidian Indus Valley culture. TheSanskrit speaking Aryan culture came to dominate the Indus Valley over time, and what we presently know of these peoples is from the Sanskrit verses which were passed via oral traditions for many hundredsof years prior to being recorded in any existing writing. These early 
Vedic 
writings are composed of hymns to gods such as
Indra, Varuna 
and
 Agni 
, as well as rituals for ceremonial sacrifices to gain theblessings of these deities, which are primarily personification of features and forces in the natural world.These earlier components of the
Vedas 
are considered to be divinely transmitted and there is a great dealof emphasis on the power of words and language employed to bring about the desired conditions.
“In the
 
3
 Vedas,
brahman 
 
means „prayer‟ or „sacred word‟ a 
nd the power that these contain
.
4
It was believed that our human lives were dependent on the correct ritual interaction with the gods and goddesses, or
devas 
 (shining ones), to secure order and balance in an otherwise hazardous world.
5
Absolute reality in the
Vedic 
 verses is regarded as a cyclical, changing, order which provides structure and rhythm to existence.The cosmic order,
rta/rita,
is an important concept in all of Indian philosophy because it shapes a moralinteraction between humans and a type of divine justice which leads to the widespread acceptance of doing 
one‟s duty to uphold and support existence itself.
6
The concepts of 
dharma 
and
karma 
arise from thismoral interaction with the cosmic order.
Dharma 
, a complex network of inter-related social and moralduties was originally based purely 
on one‟
s place in the caste system and the family, but has changed andexpanded through time as Indian philosophers grapple with the question of how it is best to live.Beginning around 800 B.C.E., a tradition of commentaries upon the hymns and rituals of theearlier
Vedic 
verses took a more philosophical turn. These increasingly philosophical commentaries areknown as the
Upanishads 
. The
Upanishads 
are considered part of the
Vedas 
and are acknowledged to beinspired, but human in origin. The
Upanishads 
were the closely guarded
“secret teachings” of the
Vedic 
 tradition and were passed from a 
 guru 
to student disciples only after extensive proper training. Thetraining prescribed by the
Upanishads 
includes
manana 
(reflection) for obtaining intellectual conviction,and
dhyana 
(meditation) for gaining direct experience.
7
This
dhyana 
 /meditation is a form of 
 yoga 
meant to prepare the student for contemplating the ultimate truth - to enable him to grasp the unity of existenceas directly and compellingly as the multiplicity and diversity of the world is grasped
and for that 
comprehension to become a permanent influence on the disciple‟s life.
8
This form of meditation
4
John Bowker,
Beliefs That Changed the World: The History and Ideas of the Great Religions
(London: Quercus Publishing,2007), p. 102
5
Ibid., p. 100
6
John M. Koller,
 Asian Philosophies
, 5
th
ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2007), p. 12
7
M. Hiriyanna, The Essentials of Indian Philosophy (Bombay: George Allen & Unwin (India) Private Ltd, 1973), p. 26
8
Ibid.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->