The schools of Indian Philosophy
The schools of Indian Philosophy can be studied by the traditional method of bifurcating it into orthodox and heterodox schools. The orthodox schools are the school that accepts the supreme authority of Vedas. While the nastika schools do not accept the Vedas supreme authority.
Philosophy in Indian Subcontinent is one of the ancient some claim it to be the most ancient one in the world. The stories of the metaphysical realm and knowledge used to be passed from generation to generation, through Guru – Shisya Parampara( Teacher-Student Tradition). When this knowledge was passed from mouth to mouth conversation they used to call it shruti. For example, VEDAS are categorized as SHRUTI. When in later ages this knowledge was compiled and written, they called it Smriti. Almost all written Brahmanical texts are under the category of some kind of Smriti. For example- VEDANGAS, PURANAS, EPICS, etc. Historically after the Indus Valley civilization, the advent of Aryans has happened. They started the so-called Vedic age in the Indian subcontinent.
The Vedic age was the age of Vedas as the supreme authority. There are 4 Vedas said by 4 faces of LORD BRAHMA as Shruti. Vedas are described as APURUSHAYA. Not by Purusha(human). The sage Ved Vyas was credited as the compiler of Vedas and Upanishads. Ved Vyas was the grandson of Sage Vashishta who was one of the Gurus during the war of 10 empires. Sage Vyas is also the biological great grandfather of Pandavas and Kauravas of epic Mahabharata. There are 4 Vedas and each Veda can be divided into 4 parts – SAMHITAS-ARANYAKAS-BRAHAMANAS-UPANISHADS.
The early Vedic age was not very rigid to the varna system(caste). Later, it become rigid and stayed that way till the Independence of the modern-day Republic of India. Because of the varna system and other exploitations by the Brahmanical class( Varna system with decreasing authority level – Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra), other classes started a resistance movement known as the SHRAMANA movement leading to the existence of Non – Brahmanical schools.
Those who believe in the supremacy of Vedas are called ASTIKA. Astika schools are orthodox schools. There are 6 Astika schools(SHAD DARSANA). They are- SAMKHYA, NYAYA, VAISHESHIKA, YOGA, PURVA MIMAMSA, AND UTTAR MIMAMSA AKA UPANISHAD. These are sometimes put in pairs as SAMKHYA- YOGA, NYAYA-VAISHESHIKA, and PURVA MIMAMSA – UTTAR MIMAMSA.
There were numerous NASTIKA schools during the SHRAMANA movement. The most popular ones are- BUDDHISM, JAINISM, AND CHARVAKA. Other popular ones – AJIVIKA, AJNANA, LOKAYATA, SASSATAVADA, AKRIYAVADI etc.
Ancient Brahmanical texts state 6 pramāṇas as correct means of accurate knowledge and truths.
- Pratyakṣa – Direct perception
- Anumāṇa – Inference or indirect perception
- Upamāṇa – Comparison and analogy
- Arthāpatti – Postulation, derivation from circumstances
- Anupalabdi – Non-perception, absence of proof
- Shabda – Word, testimony of past or present reliable experts
VEDAS- CONSIDERED AS SHRUTI+APAURUSEYA. VEDA=WISDOM,
4 VEDAS- RIG VEDA/ YAJUR VEDA/ ATHARVA VEDA/ SAMA VEDA
PARTS OF VEDAS–
ARANYAKAS(RITUALS, SACRIFICE, AND CEREMONIES)
BRAHMANAS(FOREST RITUALS, MEDITATIONS S AND CEREMONY)
UPANISHADS(MEDITATION, PHILOSOPHY)- MUKHYA
FOUNDER- SAGE KAPILA
CLASSIFICATION- RATIONALISM, DUALISM
TEXTS- SAMKHYAPRAVACHAN SUTRA, SAMKHYAKARIKA,
CONCEPTS-PURURSHA , PRAKRITI, GUNA, SATKARYAVADA
EPISTEMOLOGY-Samkhya is the oldest among orthodox schools. Accepts 3 of 6 pramanas( epistemology). Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference) and Sabda (Āptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources).
METAPHYSICS–DUALISM– UNIVERSE AS PURUSHA(CONSCIOUSNESS) AND PRAKRITI(NATURE). JIVA (living being) is that state in which CONSCIOUSNESS is bonded to NATURE in some form. as a result to the existence of BUDDHI(Intelligence) AND AHANKAR(Ego).
GUNAS-QUALITIES- Are of 3 types.
Sattva -being good, compassionate, illuminating, positive, and constructive.
Rajas guna is one of activity, chaotic, passion, impulsive, potentially good or bad.
Tamas is the quality of darkness, ignorance, destructive, lethargic, negative.
Everything has these gunas but in different proportions. This creates character.
SOTERIOLOGY – The goal is the realization of Puruṣa is different from Prakriti. This knowledge of the SELF is held to end transmigration and lead to absolute freedom-KAIVALYA.
FOUNDER– SAGE PATANJALI
CLASSIFICATION- DUALISM, SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
TEXTS- YOGA SUTRA, YOGA YAJNAVALKYA
CONCEPTS- YAMA, NIYAMA, AASANA, PRANAYAMA, PRATYAHARA, DHARANA, DHYANA, SAMADHI
EPISTEMOLOGY-Same as SAMKHYA. Accepts 3 of 6 pramanas( epistemology). Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference) and Sabda (Āptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources).
METAPHYSICS– DUALISM– UNIVERSE AS PURUSHA(CONSCIOUSNESS– SEER, EXPERIENCER) AND PRAKRITI(NATURE- SEEN, EXPERIENCED). JIVA (living being) is that state in which CONSCIOUSNESS is bonded to NATURE in some form. This lead to the existence of BUDDHI(Intelligence) AND AHANKAR(Ego).
SOTERIOLOGY -JNANA(knowledge) is a sufficient means to moksha.
FOUNDER- SAGE GAUTAMA AKSHAPADA
CLASSIFICATION- REALISM, LOGIC, ANALYTICAL PHILOSOPHY
TEXTS- NAYAYA SUTRA , NYAYA BHASHYA
CONCEPTS- PRATAKSHYA, ANUMAN, UPAMANA,
EPISTEMOLOGY-Accepts 4 out of 6 prāmaṇas as reliable means of gaining knowledge.
Pratyakṣa (perception), anumāṇa (inference), upamāṇa (comparison and analogy) and śabda (word, testimony of past or present reliable experts)
METAPHYSICS– Human suffering results from mistakes produced by activity under wrong knowledge (notions and ignorance).
SOTERIOLOGY – Right knowledge will lead to Moksha.
FOUNDER- SAGE KANNADA
CLASSIFICATION- NATURALISM, ATOMISM
TEXTS- VAISHESHIKA SUTRA, PADARTHA DHARMA SAMGRAHA,
CONCEPTS- PADARTHA, DRAVYA, SAMANYA, VISESA, SAMAVAYA, PARMANU
Accepts only two means to knowledge as reliable – perception and inference.
Reality is composed of four substances (earth, water, air, and fire). Each of these four is of two types: atomic (paramāṇu) and composite. An atom is indestructible (anitya), indivisible, and has a special kind of dimension, called “small” (aṇu). A composite is anything which is divisible into atoms. Size, form, truths and everything that human beings experience as a whole is a function of atoms, their number and their spatial arrangements, their GUNA(quality), karma (activity), sāmānya (commonness), viśeṣa (particularity), and amavāya (inherence, inseparable connectedness of everything
5. PURVA MIMAMSA- KARMA MIMAMSA/ KARMA KANDA/MIMAMSA
MEANING– REFLECTION – EXAMINATION OF VEDIC TEXTS- PURVA STANDS FOR THE EARLIER PART OF VEDAS A.K.A KARMA KANDA ( CONTAINS RITUALS AND CEREMONIES)
FOUNDER- SAGE JAMINI
CLASSIFICATION- EXEGESIS, PHILOLOGY, RITUALISM
TEXTS- PURVA MIMAMSA SUTRA
CONCEPTS- APAURYSEYATVA, ARTHPATI, ANUAPALABDHI, SATAHPRAMANYAVADA
EPISTEMOLOGY WITH SUB-SCHOOLS-
- PRABHAKAR SUB SCHOOL-
EPISTEMOLOGY-5 PRAMANAS- PRATYAKSA, ANUMAN, UPAMANA,ARTHAPATI, SABDA
2. BHATTA SUB SCHOOL-
EPISTEMOLOGY- 6 PRAMANAS-ADDED ANUPALABDHI
METAPHYSICS- DHARMA- THROUGH MANTRAS, RITUALS, AND CEREMONY (KARMA KANDA)-LANGUAGE FOCUSED- Human beings seek niratisaya priti (unending ecstatic pleasure, joy, happiness) in this life.Aso after death( Swarga aka heaven) and upcoming lives(punarjanam aka rebirth). They stated highest good is the result of one’s own ethical actions (DHARMA). Such actions are what the Vedic sentences contain and communicate. Therefore, it is important to properly interpret and understand Vedic sentences, words, and meaning. Centrally focused on language.
6. UTTAR MIMAMSA/ VEDANTA/ UPANISHAD-GYAN KANDA
- VEDA – refers to the four sacred vedic texts.
- ANTA – this word means “End”.
UTTAR MIMAMSA- REFLECTION/ ENQUIRY ON LATER PART AKA UPANISHADS / JNANA(GYAN) KAND
Common features of all schools of Vedanta-
- Pursuing knowledge into BRAHMAN AND ATMAN.
- REBIRTH AND MOKSHA.
- Theory of Satkāryavāda– the effect is pre-existent in the cause.
- PRASTHANTRAYI as basis of Vedanta. Prasthantrayi-
- The UPANISHADS or Śruti prasthāna; considered the SRUTI the “heard” (and repeated) foundation of Vedanta.
- The BRAHMA SUTRA(by BADARYAN) or Nyaya prasthana / Yukti prasthana; considered the reason-based foundation of Vedanta.
- The BHAGVAD GITA or Smriti prasthāna; considered the SMRITI (remembered tradition) foundation of Vedanta.
Vedanta philosophies discuss 3 fundamental metaphysical categories and the relations between the three.
- BRAHMAN OR ISHVARA: the ultimate reality
- ATMAN or JIVATMAN: the individual soul, self
- PRAKRITI/ JAGAT: the empirical world, ever-changing physical universe, body and matter
Advaita Vedanta accepts all six pramanas. Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita accept only three pramanas.
All Vedanta schools differ in their views on ONTOLOGY, SOTERIOLOGY, AND EPISTEMOLOGY. Among them the most popular traditions of Vedanta are:
- BHEDAABHEDA (difference and non-difference) by BHASKARA.
- DVAITADVAITA or Svabhavikabhedabheda (dualistic non-dualism), founded by NIMBARKA.
- ACHINTYA BHEDA ABHEDA (inconceivable one-ness and difference), founded by CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU(1486–1534 CE).
- ADVAITA(monistic), most prominent scholars are GAUDAPADA (~500 CE) and ADI SHANKARACHARYA (8th century CE).
- VISHISHTADVAITA (qualified monism), prominent scholars are NATHAMUNI, YAMUNA AND RAMANUJA(1017–1137 CE).
- AKSHAR PURUSHOTTAM DARSHAN (Akshar and Purushottam), founded by SWAMINARAYAN (1781-1830 CE).
- DVAITA (dualism), founded by MADHAVACHARYA (1199–1278 CE).
- SUDDHADVAITA (purely non-dual), founded by VALLABHA (1479–1531 CE).
Dandekar, R. (1987) MacMillan Encyclopedia of religion.
Flood, Gavin Dennis (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press