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ANCIENT INDIAN PHILOSOPHICAL SCHOOLS

Updated on October 2, 2010

 

Indian Philosophical Schools

FOCUS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

In ancient India, philosophy was known by different names. Around 900 BC philosophy was known as BRAHMODYA that is speculative discussion of BRAHMAN, the holy power and ultimate reality.  Between 800 to 600 BC it was known as ATMAVIDYA that is knowledge of the self. Around the same time philosophy had other synonyms like PARAAVIDYA, which means supreme transcendental knowledge and BRAHMAVIDYA which means knowledge of BRAHMAN. Brahman incidentally is the Absolute Reality or universal substrate (not to be confused with the Creator god Brahmā). Itis considered eternal, omnipotent,omniscient, omnipresent, and cannot be described in human language.

 The above synonyms of philosophy where on the basis of the focus of study. Studies centered around questions like what is ‘self’. What is ‘BRAHMAN’? What is bliss? But irrespective of this.  Philosophy is called ‘DARSHANA’ which means a view or vision of the truth, and was considered the supreme knowledge. This is reflected in the Sanskrit saying “Adhyatma-vidya vidyanaam’ meaning Philosophy is knowledge par excellence.

Indian philosophy is the world’s oldest philosophical tradition, and  has witnessed the longest and most continuous development

SCHOOLS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

There are six schools of philosophies which accept the authority of Vedic scriptures. They are

MIMASA and VEDANTA which are wholly Vedic.

SAMKHYA, YOGA, VAISESIKA and NYAYA have their seeds in the Vedas

All these  six schools are classified as ASTIKA and come under the ORTHODOX category

Jainism and Buddhism however does note accept the authority of Vedas and are therefore called NASTIKA and belong to the HETERODOX school

GOALS OF LIFE

Indian philosophy is not merely an enquiry into the nature of truth, but a path that will  release man  from the snare of time, space ,  relationships and  cycles of birth and death. This is called MOKSHA or release.

The goals of life are

ARTHA – material gain

KAMA - pleasure

DHARMA – Virtue and morality

MOKSHA – freedom and  spiritual enlightenment

Indian philosophy is closely intertwined with religion and ethics and each school of philosophy is a paradigm of thought called SASTRA

These are explained in the form of aphorisms and are called SUTRAS. This is in order to facilitate memorization and easy comprehension

Being very pithy statements they have been interpreted differently over time by various philosophers

.

THE VARIOUS SCHOOLS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

School of Philosophy      SAMKHYA

Founder   KAPILA

Focus

SAMKHYA (Enumeration) philosophy highlighted the dualism of matter (PRAKRITI) and soul (PURUSHA). It was basically an atheistic school of thought, because it did not hypothesize the existence of God. It is the oldest of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy

 

School of Philosophy   YOGA

Founder    PATANJALI

Focus

YOGA (application) believes that knowledge of the ultimate reality can only be achieved by perfect control over the body. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras,is the main source  where he describes Raja Yoga

 

School of Philosophy      VAISESIKA

Founder      KANADA

Focus

VAISESIKA (particular characteristics) emphasized the distinct nature of  matter and soul. They believed that universe was created from atoms and that there were separate universes of matter and soul.

 

School of Philosophy      NYAYA

Founder     AKSHAPADA GAUATAMA

Focus

NYAYA (Analysis) was based on logic. established in the Nyaya Sutra by Gautama. They believed that only valid knowledge could release a person from the cycle of suffering. So by using logic they attempted to weed out invalid knowledge from valid knowledge

 

School of Philosophy    MIMASA

Founder    JAIMINI

Focus

MIMASA (Enquiry) tried to assert the authority of the Vedas which its protagonists felt was neglected due to the rise of post-Vedic heterodox schools. It is also known as PURVA MIMASA and emphasized the importance of rituals contained in the MANTRAS

 

School of Philosophy    VEDANTA

Founders   BADARAYANA and VYASA

Focus

VEDANTA (end of Vedas) .It is also known as UTTARA MIMASA though it accepted the authority of Vedas believed in the existence of the absolute soul in all things. It propagated the view that the goal of life was the union of the individual with the absolute soul which was known as BRAHMAN

 

LINKS

http://www.friesian.com/six.htm

http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ind-phil.html

http://everything2.com/title/The%2520Six%2520Orthodox%2520Schools%2520of%2520Indian%2520Philosophy

http://www.swamij.com/six-schools-indian-philosophy.htm

http://www.iias.org/winter_School.html

 

ancient india
ancient india
nyaya sutra
nyaya sutra
Patanjali
Patanjali
vaisesika school of philsophy
vaisesika school of philsophy

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    r basu 

    5 years ago

    Sir ,u may include bhuddism,jainism ,it will be very nice !

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    6 years ago from India

    Thank you Pavi, I'm also happy to know that you have written articles on similar topics.Such articles are needed to understand our heritage.

  • profile image

    pavi 

    7 years ago

    Enjoyed your article very much. I also like the map and pictures very much. I see that you have written several articles on these topics I will go through all of them one by one. I already saw your interesting article on Carvaca's philosophies.

    I also wrote some days back an article on similar topics

  • profile image

    soumyasrajan 

    8 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

    Hi! Ram

    Enjoyed your article very much. I also like the map and pictures very much. I see that you have written several articles on these topics I will go through all of them one by one. I already saw your interesting article on Carvaca's philosophies.

    I also wrote some days back an article on similar topics

    https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Truth-wha

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