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philosophy of which the world has a record. It is the earliest

attempt on record to give an answer, from reason alone, to the
mysterious questions which arise in every thoughtful mind
about the origin of the world, the nature and relations of man
and his future destiny. The human intellect has gone over the
same ground that it occupied more than two thousand years
ago. Hopkins says: Both Thales and Parmenides were indeed
anticipated by Hindu sages, and the Eleatic school seems but a
reflection of the Upanishads. Schlegel says: Even the loftiest
philosophy of the Europeans, the idealism of reason as it is
set forth by the Greek philosophers, appears in comparison
with the abundant light and vigor of Oriental idealism like a
feeble Promethean spark in the full flood of heavenly glory
of the noonday sun, faltering and feeble and ever ready to be
The Orient India in particular is the home of the
Idealistic Philosophy which is now exerting such an influence
on Western thought. So closely identified with idealism is
the highest Hindu philosophy that to the average person all
Hindu philosophy is identified with idealism. But this is quite
wrong. India, the home of idealism, and whose thought has
carried that doctrine to its last refinement of tenuity, is also
the home of every other form of philosophical thought which
has ever been evolved from the mind of man. As far back as
the time of Buddha, we find there had been in existence for
many centuries various schools of philosophical thought far
removed from idealism, many of which have been revamped
or rediscovered by modern Western thinkers. We find some
of the oldest Buddhistic writings vigorously combating these
heterodox schools and pointing to their errors. The following
quotation from Dr. J. E. Carpenter will surprise many readers:
He says:
The eagerness with which the speculations concerning the self
were pursued may be inferred from the conspectus of sixty wrong
The Oriental Fount.
views about it, according to the Buddha. On the other hand, there
were teachers daring enough to deny the first principles on which the
Brahmanical were all based, viz., karma. Such among the Buddha s
contemporaries were the agnostic Sanjaya, who repudiated all
knowledge of the subject; the materialist Ajita of the hairy garment,
who allowed no other life, rejected the claim to knowledge by higher
insight, and resolved man into the four elements earth, water, fire,
air which dispersed at death; the indifferentist Purana Kassapa, who
acknowledged no moral distinctions, and consequently no merit or
reward; and the determinist Makkhali of the Cow-pen, who indeed
recognized the samsara (the chain of rebirth and phenomenal
existence), but admitted no voluntary action, and hence no karma (the
fruit of action), each individual only working out the law of its nature
which it could not modify or control, the sole cause of everything
being found in niyati, destiny, impersonal necessity, or fate.
In addition to the schools mentioned above, the Hindu
school of materialism, the Charvakas, or Lokayatikas, was
founded about three thousand years ago, and has always
had a following, although despised by the orthodox Hindu.
The Charvakas not only held to the material nature of the
universe and all things contained therein, but also held that
the individual perished at the death of the body, there being
no such thing as a soul. They held to the ideal: Eat, drink and

be merry, for to-morrow we die. They denounced the priests

as impostors, and all religions as fallacies designed to delude
and rob the people, and reviled the Vedas, or Sacred Books, as
drivel and falsehood cleverly formulated to delude and control
the people. These doctrines will have a familiar sound to the
Western reader of to-day and yet they were current in India
from five hundred to one thousand years before the Christian
era, and have had followers ever since.
In philosophy, and in religion, India has given birth to the
highest possible and lowest possible conceptions. There have
been no heights to which the Hindu mind has feared to climb,
The Crucible of Modern Thought
and there have been no depths into which it has not descended.
The most refined ideals and the most gross conceptions have
been entertained by the Hindus. The mental and spiritual soil
which has given nourishment to the noblest philosophical
plants and trees, from which have come the fairest flowers and
the richest fruits, has also given life to the most noxious weeds
and the most poisonous varieties of mental and spiritual fungi.
In the garden of Oriental thought, one searching for the rarest
and most beautiful flowers and richest fruit will find it but
he must beware of the mental toad-stools, spiritual deadly
night-shade, and psychic loco-weed which beset the paths.
In Hindu thought the extremes meet it is the land of the
spiritual paradox.
While it is true that the various orthodox Hindu schools of
philosophical thought apparently differ materially from each
other, it will be found that these differences are but upon
points of interpretation and theories of the manner in which
the One reality manifests as the Many of the phenomenal
world. In other words, the differences are regarding the how
of the manifestation, rather than the fundamental principles
themselves. Under the various schools of the Hindu thought
will be found a common fundamental principle of the One Life
and One Self of the universe. All true Hindu thought believes
that the ultimate Reality is One, and that the phenomenal
universe is composed of manifold and varied manifestations,
emanations, or reflections of that One. It is the same
fundamental thought that caused the Grecian conception of
the World-Spirit. Whether this One be called the Absolute,
Brahman, Krishna, or simply That, by the various Hindu
schools, it is always regarded as One.
The Hindu philosophy is essentially monistic. It holds that All
is One, and One is All that the One is all that is, ever has been,
ever will be, or ever can be. Beyond the One there is held to
be but Nothing illusion, maya, mortal mind. It is more than
monistic it is ultra-monistic.