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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Indian Philosophy (Vedas, Upanishads and Carvaka)


   Indian Schools of Philosophy
        i.            Schools rejecting Vedic authority (Heterodox or Nastika)
Carvaka, Buddhism, Jainism
      ii.            Schools not rejecting Vedic authority (Othodox or Astika)
a)      Schools directly based on Vedic texts:
Mimamsa (It emphasizes ritualistic aspect of the Vedas)
Vedanta (It emphasizes speculative aspect of the Vedas)
b)      Schools based on independent grounds:
Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisesika
The meaning and scope of Indian Philosophy
Indian philosophy denotes the philosophical speculations of Indian thinkers, ancient or modern, Hindus or non-Hindus. As far as philosophy is concerned in India it is not to be associated with only Hindu religion and if you do so then it should be on the basis of geographical description, i.e., people who lived in India but not a follower of some religious faith known as Hinduism, the supposition would be wrong and misleading.
Indian philosophy, is marked, in this respect, by a striking breadth of outlook which only testifies to its unflinching devotion to the search for truth. Though there were many different schools and their views differed sometimes very widely from each other. Let us begin our study of these schools one by one.
The Vedas and the Upanisads
                                                            The Vedas
The Vedas are the oldest extant literary monument of the Aryan mind. The origin of Indian Philosophy may be easily traced in the Vedas. Indian Philosophy, as an autonomous system, has developed practically unaffected by external influences.
Ø  Meaning of philosophy in etymological sense is ‘love of wisdom’ or ‘love of learning’.
Ø  ‘See the self’ ( ātmā vā are dras̩t̩avyah̩) : It is the key note of all schools of Indian Philosophy.
Ø  All Indian Philosophy schools focus on annihilation of three kinds of pains namely−
1.      Ādhyātmika: physical and mental sufferings produced by natural and intra-organic causes.
2.      Ādhibhautika: physical and mental sufferings produced by natural and extr-organic causes.
3.      Ādhidaivika: physical and mental sufferings produced by super natural and extra-organic causes. Realization of supreme happiness is the end.
Ø  Shravana: hearing and truth
Ø  Manana: intellectual conviction after critical analysis
Ø  Nidhidhyāsana: practical realization
(these are the means to achieve salvation from the above mentioned pain)

Ø  ‘Veda’ (knowledge) stands for mantras and the Brāhman̩as (mantra-brāhman̩ay or veda-namadheyam).
Ø  Mantra means a hymn addressed to same god or goddess.
Ø  Samhitā: collection of mantras. It is said that there are four samhitas and these are compiled to fulfil the needs of four main priests−
(i)                             R̩k means a verse, it is for Hotā.
(ii)                           Sāma means song, it is for Udgātā.
(iii)                         Yajuh means prose message, it is for Adhvaryu.
(iv)                         Atharva for the Brahmā
Ø  Sometimes the vedas are referred to only as ‘Trayī’, omitting the atharva.
Ø  Samhita-bhaga or mantra portion of veda is the hymnology addressed to the various gods and goddesses.
Ø  Rk samhta is regarded as the oldest and the most important.
Ø  Rsis of the vedas are not the authors, but only the ‘seers’ of the mantras. (rsayo mantra-drastarah).
Ø  The concluding portions of the aranyakas are called the Upanishads.
Ø  Mantras and Brahmanas are called karma kaanda.
Ø  Karma-kaanda: the portion dealing with the sacrificial actions.
Ø  Aranyakas and the Upanishads are called the jñāna-kān̩d̩a. It deals with the knowledge.
Ø  Aranyakas represents a transition from Karma-kaanda to jñāna-kān̩d̩a.
Ø  Upanishads are also known as’ vedānta’ or the ‘end of the vedas.’ Because they are the concluding portions of the vedas and they are the essence, the cream, the height of the vedic philosophy.
Ø  We can notice a transition from the naturalistic and anthropomorphic polytheism through transcendent monotheism to immanent monism in the pre-upanishadic philosophy..
Ø  The real essence of God is one.
Ø  The same real is worshipped as Uktha in Rk, Agni in the Yajuh, Mahavrata in Sama.
The Upanishads
Ø The name Upanishads is derieved from the root ‘sad’ which means : (i) to sit down, (ii) to destroy, (iii) to loosen.
Ø  ‘Upa’ means near by and ‘ni’ means devotedly.
Ø  Thus the word means sitting down of disciple near his teacher in a devoted manner to receive instructions about highest reality which loosen all doubts and destroys all ignorance of the disciple.
Ø  There are all in total 108 Upanishads.
Ø  But ten or eleven Upanishads are regarded as important on which shankaracharya has commented. These are isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundakya, Mandukya, Taittiriya, aitareya, Chhandogya and Brhadaranyaka.
Ø  Fundamental doctrine: monistic idealism or idealistic monism.
Ø  The Upanishads develop the monistic ideas scattered in the samhitas.
Ø  Mundaka tells us ‘two kinds of knowledge must be known’: the higher and the lower, former is that which the Rk, Sama, Atharva, the ceremonial grammer and the latter is that by which the immortal Brahman is known.
Ø  Surya signifies intelligence, agni signifies will, soma signifies, feeling, ashvamedha signifies meditation.
Ø  Svarajya- true spiritual autonomy.
Ø  ātman: the word atman meant life-breadth. Shankracharya says: which pervades all; which is the subject and which knows, experiences and illuminates the objects and which remains immortal.
Ø  Materialism: founder- Brahaspati
Ø  Carvaka- chief disciple of Brhaspati and founder of Carvaka school of Indian philosophy.
Ø  Carvaka is a common name given to a materialist who believes in ‘eat, drink and be merry’, or person who is ‘sweet tongued’.
Ø  Another synonym of carvaka is Lokayata− c commoner and therefore by implication, a man of low and unrefined taste.
Ø  Nastika-shiromani: an arch-heretic is another name for a materialist.
Ø  Lokayat is the only shastra; perception is the only authority.
Ø  Elements- earth, water, fire, and air are the only elements.
Ø  Enjoyments- the only end of human existence; mind is only a product of matter.
Ø  Death- liberation, there is no other world. Death is liberation for Carvaka.
Ø  Soul- it is nothing but a conscious body.
Ø  Epistemology- study of knowledge.
Ø  Valid knowledge: Perception is the only source of valid knowledge.
Ø  Inference is mere leap in the dark.
Ø  Deductive inference: it is vitiated by the fallacy of petitio principii. And it is merely an argument in a circle since the conclusion is already contained in the major premise.
Ø  Inductive inference: it undertakes to prove the validity of the major premise of deductive inference.
Ø  Carvaka in short:
i.                    World is made up of four elements: air (vayu), fire (agni), water (ap), earth (ksiti). Carvaka rejects eather (akasa)
ii.                  There is no soul.
iii.                There is no God.
iv.                Ethics- a good action is one which leads to a bad action in one which brings about more pain than pleasure−Hedonism (pleasure is the highest goal).
v.                  Carvaka rejects last two of the four purusarthas i.e., dharma and moksa.
vi.                Enjoyment is the ultimate end.



    1. Sabda-epistemology of Mimamsa School of Indian philosophy has been updated.