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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -3




Indian Philosophy has been studied recently in a scholastic manner. This erudite expositions of philosophers of this subject have the air of arm-chair speculativeness and coupled with their inability to understand the inner springs of philosophic drives has made for barren and meaningless theories about Indian Philosophical systems. The very close attention paid to the texts of philosophical commentaries without a proper spiritual and moral equipment on the part of the modern expositors, perhaps of the earlier exponents as well, has led to peculiar doctrine incapable of being helpful to the attainment promised by these darsanas. The understanding of the darsanas as if they are but theoretical speculations without any goal of attainment of Reality and Liberation has ended up in that paradoxical condition of intellectual inertia or vacuity or acuity which has become meaningless to man. The revulsion against philosophical theoretical puzzlings has been continuous during the scholastic periods. This is also the cause for the revulsion against the jnana-marga or speculative theoretical intellectual dialectics or logistics with which it has been identified in the minds of people. The truer jnana-marga required equipment that the commoner scholastic form of it hardly acquired or attempted to acquire. Justifiable therefore has been the revolt against the intellect, not reason, for intellect itself has become irrational. This is the nemesis of intellect. So is this the truth about all the disciplines yoked to theoretical dialectical cleverness called subtlety or casuistry. The story of this development in scholastic times has hardly been studied by Indian philosophers who have been satisfied in merely echoing the mistakes of the commentators who seem to be much concerned with preserving somehow the ancient texts rather than maintaining the spirit of the original.

The study of the darsanas from the sources of thought in India as it has flowed down the centuries is a rewarding experience in itself. The points of view developed in respect of the triple factors of experience, the individual, Nature and God, or the subject and object and the knowledge that is their inter-relation and their consummation, or the problem of the individual and the world which is his conditioning or limitation or bondage or field of being, and freedom of, and from of the individual in a reality greater than both or higher development, are verily exciting adventures of thought and ideas.


Every intelligent man seeks to know the world around him as also more about himself. The first cannot be understood without the second nor can the second be known and understood apart from the first. From the dawn of history man has been attempting to know both these aspects and this has taken the shapes of science and psychology. This process of tattva jijnasa or understanding enquiry into the nature of the physical world without and psychical world within has been continuous in India.

We can hazard the guess that in India both these had a continuous cooperative history and form the basis of all so called systems or darsanas which attempt to interpret the nature of Reality as a whole from the several points of view. We can either see that these several views of Reality as complementary facets of the One transcendent Reality or we can see them as a graduated hierarchy of view-points which either supplement or absorb or integrate each other so as to present finally the Ultimate System of Knowledge.


Indian thought means all thought that indigenously grew and matured in India without any extraneous influences. To this belong the vast Vedic literature comprising the mantras, brahmanas, aranyakas, and the Upanishads. To this belong also the remembered tradition and history regarding customs and laws and case law and speculations known as smrtis Itihasas, Agamas, and Puranas. This vast body of literature has become the common heritage of traditional knowledge, known under the general terms Sruti and smrti, the latter being only less important than the former. The sruti pramana or Sruti simply as the source of right knowledge was cultivated by all earlier thinkers and has been the pramana par excellence in India. However, there have been dissidents even in ancient times who mainly due to their being unable to accept the ritual-killing (yajna) taught in the Brahmanas, were agreeable to accepting the high moral truths and even psychological discoveries of the Upanishads. The real difference then between the Brahmanas and the Upanishadic teaching was thus ‘discovered’ ; and two sets of thinkers arose, those who accepted the unity of thought and activity between the Brahmanas and the Upanishads, and those who claimed divergence  and opposition between them. Thus arose the so-called class-conflict between the Brahmanas and the Upanishads, which later modern researchers have claimed to be the conflict between priests and kings, brahmanas and kshatriyas.

Those who did not accept the rituals (activity or karma or dharma), however found that karma was the principle of bondage or the cycle of cause and effect or a chain of effects whose ceasing was claimed to be liberation. This process was claimed to be done by pure reasoning or inference, which is independent of sruti or scriptural revelation and perception.

Buddhism and jainism grew up as independent methods of arriving at ultimate liberation by denying the validity and use of brahamanas (or karma) and by affirming the primacy of pure reasoning and personal meditation or tapasya or askesis, as means (upaya) to it.

There have been always a large number of persons who have relied on their own perceptual experiences or observations for gaining the knowledge of the world and persons around them. To them the question of liberation would appear meaningless and the acceptance of life with all its perpetual changes and change of fortune is the only way to happiness. Their aim is happy life within the context of the world. Such knowledge as helps this achievement is good. Happiness and good life is what every body seeks and ought to seek. A careful consideration of one’s personal sensory and effective experience will show that all inferential thinking beyond these for getting a life free from all change and free from all sorrow is meaningless. There is no need for such a kind of inference nor sruti. Thus have arisen some schools of thought which depend entirely on perception as the source of knowledge of the world around us and of ourselves.

We shall consider briefly the several kinds of thoughts based on the tattva or object of knowledge (prameya) and pramana (source of right knowledge) and purusarthas (Purusartha:)

Goal of life:

Indian thinkers did not divorce the goal of life from their views of life. A view of life grows and matures by a need to attain some ends of life. Thus philosophy or view of life (tattvajnana) is a means to attain the goal of life (purusartha). A philosophy remains just philosophy when it does not take into consideration the goal of life: this is the western view of knowledge for knowledge-sake. But Indian thought considers knowledge to be the means to emancipation from bondage or ignorance, or cycle of birth and death or unhappiness. Knowledge passess from level to level of purusarthas; that is to say, we get knowledge to achieve wealth and power; then with these we get knowledge to achieve comfort or fulfilment of desires; with these desires fulfilled we seek knowledge of right conduct or performance of rites or sacrifices which will bring greater sense of liberation; and with these achieved we seek still higher and vaster knowledge to achieve the highest goal or Liberation or Moksa which is self-realisation or God-realization. These knowledges or philosophies are instrumental and help in achieving ends of men; and these philosophies can be either economic or political, hedonistic or ethical or based on the goal of self- realisation or Reality realisation. Thus, philosophies can be explained  pertaining to as artha, kama, dharma and moksa. Thus in India we have arthasastras, Kama-sastras, dharma-sastras and moksa-sastras.

Classification of Philosophies:

We can thus see that there can be three major kinds of divisions or classifications of philosophies according to prameya (object of reality), pramana (instrument of knowing) and purusartha (goal of man).

Thus a vast complexity of systems prevailed in India; and even today we can see that we can classify and trace the several philosophies according to the threefold scheme adumbrated above. In India there are about nine schools of thought namely Charvaka, Jaina, Buddha, Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Purva or Karma Mimamsa and Uttara or Brahma or Sariraka Mimamsa.

The first three are said to be Nastika, or those who deny the authoritativeness of Veda pramana, but may accept any other human authorities, and the last six are said to be astika or those who accept the authority of the Veda as conclusive pramana, superior to the other pramanas or as of equal validity with other pramanas as an instrument towards gaining right knowledge about the subject matter relevant to it.

1.   Charvakas accept one substance that is Matter. Advaita Vedanta accepts only one substance and that is spirit. Charvaka is materialistic monism; Advaita Vedanta is spiritualistic Monism. Jaina accepts two substances namely, Matter and Spirit. It is a dualism. So also Samkhya, Vaiseshika and Purva Mimamsa. But they are also called pluralistic because they accept matter in the form of many atomic substances (Samkhya however is monistic with respect to matter) and spirit of the form of plurality of souls. Yoga accepts three ultimate substances: matter, Souls, and Iswara. So also Visistadvaita and Dvaita vedantas and Naiyayikas. Buddhism accepts none; for it accepts Sunya as the ultimate substance. Thus it is nihilistic monism in a sense.

2.   Pramana classification: Charvaka accepts pratyaksa alone. Buddhism only anumana. Jainas accepts pratyaksa, anumana and agama (their own scripture). Samkhya, Yoga, Visistadvaita Vedanta accept three, pratyaksa, anumana (in which is included upamana), and sabda (that also includes smrti etc.,). Naiyayikas accept four, pratyaksa, anumana, upamana and sabda. Purva or Karma Mimamsa accepts five, pratyaksa, anumana, upamana, sabda and arthapatti. Vedanta of Advaita schools accept six including anupalabdhi.

3.   Purusartha classification: Charvaka accepts kama purusartha and may accept artha purushartha also as instrumental to the first. Jainas accept power but that is something that gives up all craving for wealth, desire and so on. Thus they seek moksa from matter and action. The fourth or moksa purushartha is their aim.

Buddhism also aims at moksa from existence of the form of misery. Nihilsm or abolition of self and all process of desiring are its means. Thus moksa is its basic aim.

Samkhya aims at freedom from identification with prakriti and change. Moksa thus is its aim. It is the regaining by the soul of its status of non-change and of pure consciousness without prakritic influences.

Yoga also has a similar aim.

Vaiseshikas and Naiyayikas aim at freedom from duhka or sorrow. Purva Mimamsa aims at happiness in the worlds of the Gods after death. Even here it seeks to get happiness through divine agencies and ritual-sacrifices. Thus it can be called spiritualistic hedonism.

Advaita Vedanta seeks Brahmanirvana, and vimukti from maya - avidya. Visistadvaita Vedanta seeks Brahma-sariraka and Brahmikya and Brahma-kainkarya. Dvaita seeks Brahma-samipya and purna brahmanubhava through service to Him alone. In all these cases the liberation from prakriti and avidya and karma is had through the grace of Brahman. Thus Moksa is also the aim of all Vedanta.

Thus we can say broadly two schools: (i) schools which seek Moksa and (ii) those which seek happiness or pleasure. All except Charvaka and Karma Mimamsa seek moksa or liberation from misery.


Charvaka darsana is said to have been taught by Charvaka, who was said to have been the pupil of Brhaspati. This darsana is therefore said to be pleasant having been spoken by the sweet tongued teacher, as his name implies. It is also called lokayatika darsana or that which appeals to all men. Indeed it is so.

It prescribes pratyaksa as the only means of right knowledge (pramana). It points out that it is difficult to establish anumana (or inferential reasoning) which depends on the observation of invariable concomittance between any two events (vyapti), for in our experience no two experiences are alike, no two objective occurrences the same. The world is in continual flux, everything is constantly changing. Nothing recurs. Therefore, it is impossible to get at any permanent thing. Nothing is permanent. Things are born and things perish continuously. Indeed the man who promised to repay the debt he took is not the same person who was later asked to repay it: nor the person who gave the money the same as the man who asks for repayment.

Physical nature is in continuous process of change. All things arise due to the combination of sensorially determined elements conceived as ultimately indivisible particles (anus) such as air, fire, water and earth, corresponding to the sensations of touch, light (form), taste and smell. Destruction is a process of disintegration of these combinations. The atoms are the original substances out of which all other things have been made, and these are in continuous motion or change. All sensations are due to interaction between different kinds of matter. Consciousness is a product of these combinations; loss of consciousness is a result of the disintegration of the combinations. New properties come into existence which are not originally present in the components, due to combinations. They compare this arising of consciousness with the red colour that arises from the combination of green betel leaf, white chunam and brown areca nut. This doctrine thus is a kind of sensory materialism and atomism and of momentaryness, of all existence.

Regarding the life-goal or ethical life, Charvaka doctrine teaches that pleasure is the goal of all life. We must increase pleasure and minimise pain. It is true that change is painful and loss of pleasure is also painful. But it does not follow that all is pain. Happiness or pleasure can be got if not permanently at least temporarily; and it is certainly worthwhile seeking pleasure. We can not have permanent pleasure but that is not reason why we should not enjoy the pleasure that one in fact gets and can get. The wise man is one who seeks pleasure now and avoids pain now since he lives according to Nature. This charvaka doctrine can end up in a kind of egoistic hedonism or individualistic hedonism though it does not rule out a kind of universalistic hedonism.

The charvaka does not distinguish between different kinds of pleasure such as we do now, such as physical or sensory or intellectual or spiritual. Each man obviously seeks pleasure according to his need. Some needs are pretty common to all and these are of the physical nature.

To get at pleasure the means adapted also should not be unpleasant. Pleasant should be the means to pleasure. Tapas and other austerities or strenuous efforts of all kinds are meaningless. Nor should we seek pleasure in an after life in heaven for neither such a place as heaven nor life therein are capable of being known through our observation. Nor is this pleasure to be secured through God. Since he is not an object of perception, God is created by man’s imagination. God does not exist. The world of Nature works mechanically.

Lokayatika doctrine thus is a kind of naturalism. It is materialistic, sensate and hedonistic. Its most essential features reveal that it has been on the one side the revolt against supernaturalism and sabdha and mere theoretical speculation and on the other it had challenged the other darsanas to give critical accounts of the philosophy of nature, self and God.


Jainism is said to be an ancient system of thought founded by Jainas. The last of them in recorded history was Vardhamana Mahavira (540 BC) of Vaisali. He was very early attracted to the life of renunciation and became a conqueror over the process by which man’s soul is entangled and saturated with matter. All objects or things are either jiva or ajiva. Matter (ajiva) also includes time (kala), space (akasa), motion (dharma) and rest (adharma) and soul (jiva) are the two tattvas accepted. Matter is of the form of atoms. Matter also is produced by action or karma. The soul is a spiritual substance which is in its pure state infinite but due to the different kinds of particles of karma-matter limited to the body it inhabits. Body then is a limitation on the size of the soul. Jaina system claims to purify this soul of its karma-matter (pudgala)* by means of the practice of absolute non-injury to all living creatures. Indeed in one sense karma seems to be the process of injury to living creatures (a limited concept with reference to ritual killing as in the Vedas) but it was extended by Jainas to all killing. And when it is so conceived it becomes possible to think that all karma was by nature capable of creating obstructive and binding matter and thus giving rise to avidya and loss of consciousness. Real knowing is direct knowledge without the instrumentality of matter-made sense-organs. Jainas had profoundly analysed all kinds of life and origination. They accepted the atomic nature of all matter for they conceived all matter of the form of minutest particles or energy concentrations which could enter and occupy consciousness and thus limit it even to the maximum of making it extremely little (infinitesimal) as in the lowest and minutest forms of life. Altogether they accepted in a sense the atomic theory of matter and conceived of all matter in terms of rest and motion (dharma and adharma).

The souls are of the nature of consciousness. Their knowing when absolutely free from all matter is perfect perception and there are degrees of mediated knowledge through senses or mind or even buddhi or reason. Thus pratyaksa means for Jainas not sense- mediated knowledge but direct atma saksatkara; and anumana is mediated by reasoning and sense-knowledge is mediated by sense organs. Therefore the lower kinds of knowledge are not trust- worthy, but the Jainas felt that our knowledge is not merely determined from one point of view but by multiple points of view. Thus they conceived of seven points of view as the maximum number. (not infinity of points of view). This conception of seven-fold predication (sapta-vidha bhandi or saptabhangi) is one of the most interesting philosophical methods to arrive at a comprehensive and all round knowledge of reality. It however, also reveals that any one point of view though real is not wholly real but only relatively real, that is real only from that particular point of view. It may become utterly false when applied to the nature of total reality, which contains other points of view as well. Thus all knowledge is expressed in terms of seven-fold predication, and each predication is said to be a possible or ‘may-be’ predication. Therefore this seven-fold predication is also called syad-vad the doctrine of ‘may be’ (true). A thing can be said to be existent in one sense (syad asti) and in another sense as non-existent (syad nasti). Combining these two points of view one may say that it is syad asti syad nasti ca: may be existent and may be non-existent; this would be the third kind of predication. The fourth would be that it is indescribable Syad anirvachaniya or avaktavya. The fifth may be expressed as syad asti syad avaktavya, and sixth syad nasti avaktavya and the seventh syad asti, syad nasti, syad avaktavya. Thus with regard to the nature of a thing or category whether is existing from the point of space or time and state or cause, there can be simultaneous predications of different kinds. The defect of this kind of contradictory predications lies when one does not take them to refer to different points of view, of space or time or state, etc.. These points of view are called nyayas. The attainment of this comprehensive knowledge leads to our spirit of tolerance as all points of view are equally true or may be.

The method of liberation is by a double process of preventing karma matter from entering into oneself and by throwing out the already present karma matter within oneself. The principle of ahimsa or non-injury in every form helps this. The jainas admit that the soul in its purity has total jnana and total darsana or is itself jnana. It has knowledge through mahaparyaya (direct knowledge of others’ thoughts etc.) and also kevala or perfect knowledge and in its bond or imperfect state of knowledge through mati, sruti and avadhi. As the impurities are being thrown out by ascetic practices one gets the purer states of knowledge samyag darsana. The practice of truth speaking, non-stealing, chastity and non-attachment are strictly counselled as they indeed affect the two-fold processes of nirjara * and samvara**. In the state of liberation the soul enjoys divine qualities of perfect santi (Tranquility), perfect jnana and perfect power. They taught the tri-ratna.

There are, of course, kinds of Jainas namely the white robed Svetambara and the non-robed or Digambara, the latter is a much more advanced state of Kevala or liberated existence, than the former. The laypersons are to help the renounced ones and follow however the strict rules of ahimsa, asteya, aparigraha, satya, brahmacharya.

In philosophy and ethics then they set two great standards of synoptic or comprehensive or total knowledge and perfect love and purity in all behaviour.


Buddha and Mahavira were contemporaries. It is said that Buddha also belonged to a line of Buddhas and he himself was known as Gautama Siddhartha Sakyamuni.

Buddhism is the philosophy of withdrawal from samsara which is the source of all suffering. Thus it has a practical interest. Gautama the Buddha saw that all things are filled with misery. Our true aim should be the getting rid of this suffering. Some say that since Buddha held that all is misery he is a pessimist. It is not so. He, like all those who went before him, found that every one seeks to get rid of misery and which is of different degrees. All experiences even the apparent pleasurables turn out to be only momentary enjoyments leading to greater unhappiness. Practices of penance or tapasya or brahmacharya or performances of rituals and yajnas are in fact irrational since they do not discover the cause of this misery. Once we know the cause of misery it is possible to find the means with which the misery can be got rid of. The earlier thinkers might have known the causes but they either thought of them in a magical or supernatural way and thus to get rid of the same they adopted magical or supernatural methods. Buddha was the first thinker to affirm that misery can be got rid by natural means provided we can find out the natural cause. This natural cause he found was desire. He discovered or analysed the chain of causes and effects issuing from this primeval or beginningless desire which leads to misery through avidya. The whole body of ours is just a conglomerate (skandha) or grouping of desires (trishna) and it is perishable. All things change continuously and thus perish or have a momentary existence. It may well be said that kshanika or doctrine of momentary-ness is linked up with the doctrine of misery arising from lack of any permanence in things created. The soul or ego is perishable even as the body. Thus Buddha discounted the existence of a permanent soul or ego, though he affirmed the existence of a perpetual stream of karma from one individual to another. The chain of causes and effects he called pratitya-samutpada; this arising that arises and so on. An unconscious will to live is the beginning of avidya which leads to samskaras and that leads to awareness or consciousness, namarupa, sense-experiences, sparsa, vedana, trishna, upadana or indulgence, bhava, jati or janana, jaramarana and then back again to avidya.

The real avidya then is not to know that all is suffering, not to know the cause of suffering, not to know that this suffering can be got rid of, and lastly not to know the path which leads to the cessation of suffering. Thus Buddha taught vidya to be the knowledge of the fourfold noble (arya) truths: that all is suffering, that the cause of suffering is desire, (the will to live), that this suffering is terminable and lastly that the path towards the state of non-suffering is by means of the eightfold path: (i) the first requisite is right view: sammaditthi, that all are transitory, pain-producing, and therefore fundamentally unsuitable for us. (ii) Samadhi or bringing together which leads to right resolution or seeing; (iii) right recollectendness, satipatthana, (iv) right speech (v) right conduct (vi) right means of subsistence (giving up wrong occupations and getting one’s livelihood in the proper way (desirelessly), (vii) right effort (strenuous endeavour to overcome all faults and evils or evil qualities) and try to develop good qualities, and (viii) right resolution (renouncing sensual pleasures and malice and injury to living creatures).

The foremost thing is the getting at the first two stages through the other six practices. Buddha laid emphasis on the samadhi through jnana (dhyana).

If Jainism emphasized the ascetic mode of life and tapasya, Buddha emphasised the monk-life of homelessness. Buddhist is one who cultivates the highest states of consciousness through samadhi that leads to Nirvana or the dissolution of the chain of causation and the cycle of births, and the extinguishment of the ego (the will to live).

Buddha negated individual soul’s permanent existence. He did not speculate on the Ultimate Nature of Reality, which he negatively described as the Sunya or Nirvana, where there is total extinguishment of all change and process. Buddha thus is said to have taught the doctrine of an-atma or non-at-man. He was also against the sacrificial means for getting out of misery. He did not therefore accept the authoritativeness of the Veda. He did not admit of anything permanent in this world. He however aimed at arriving at a state of non-change or nirvana which he saw is possible only through the annihilation of the ego, which he found to be just a conglomerate (skandha) of material elements which are bound by karma-avidya or trishna.

Buddhism however developed about four schools of thought: namely Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Yogachara and Madhyamikas. From the three canons (Tripitaka), collected together of all the sayings and lectures of Gautama Buddha, who taught that Buddha is the only refuge: Dharma is the only refuge, and the Buddha Sangha is the only refuge: there arose bhasyas or commentaries on the teachings, and Sutras or pithy sentences which were of the same form as the sutra literature in the Hindu schools, and one must believe that there are Yoga techniques by people given to practice of right meditation, recollectedness and so on.

All the schools accept the momentariness of all things, and yet they all accept in a sense the reality of the perishing experiences, though the Yoga-caras and Madhyamikas would consider them to be mental states or irrational states, respectively. Thus it is usual to say that the Vaibhasikas and Sautrantikas are realistic whereas Yoga-cara is said to be idealistic. These metaphysical views about Nature and soul and Isvara are not really relevant to the discovery of the causes of suffering nor do they have anything to do with the means of cessation of suffering. It appears however that they had to accept the view that there was an original non-being or asat that was the womb of all being. This is opposed to the fundamental causal view that out of nothing, nothing comes. The search for causes of suffering seems to be almost contradicted by this view that out of Nothing, anything can come.

The value of Buddhism lies in the fact that it expresses a new meaning of dharma, contrasting it with karma. Dharma means the essential principle of motion or activity which reverses the karma-wheel, till all karma is extinguished and this is nirvana. Ethical life is the method of attainment of cessation of suffering both individual and collective. Dharma in the new sense comprising the eightfold path without the Vedic dharma, became the most excellent truth of this system.

Buddha’s ethical doctrine leads to a self-naughting way of life that is other than the life of misery, though latter Buddhism became more and more addicted to the personal worship of the Buddha and the other personalities called Bodhisattvas. Its psychological discoveries became more and more filled with magical, mystical and religious symbols and instruments and developed a new mythology. This development of Buddhism reached its peak in the so called Mahayana or Greater vehicle and spread over the whole of Japan, China, Burma and other far Eastern countries.

The close followers of the Vaibhasika and Sautrantik methods of interpretation became known as the Hinayana or lower or lesser vehicle. It spread to South India and to Ceylon.

By about the 500 A.D. whatever lived in India of Buddhism had become indistinguishable from either Vedantism or Materialism or a kind of hedonism which usually succeeds loss of faith in the permanent existence of a soul or self or hyper intellectualism that culminates in scepticism. Thus it got assimilated and lost in the systems of Indian Philosophy.


So far we have discussed briefly the three nastika systems. Now we shall describe the six astika systems. The six astika systems can be considered in the following manner:

The Nyaya system mainly concerns itself with the nature of the instruments of right knowledge (pramana). It means rule of right knowledge. It in fact concerns itself with the nature of Buddhi or intellect. Knowledge is dependent on the different kinds of objects known and instruments of knowing. There is a correlation between the instruments of knowing and the objects known (prama). Thus it is necessary to know the suitability of the means or pramana to the object of knowledge. There are limits to each pramana. The distinguishing of these pramas and pramanas is necessary. Every system thus has a logic or a critical statement of the means with which it arrives at the system.

Thus Nyaya is known as logic and every system then has its own logic; we saw how Charvakas had their own logic, how Buddhism developed its own logic and Jainism its own logic. The first is the logic of perception, the second the logic of contradiction and third the logic of comprehensiveness.

The Nyaya system assists all other darsanas. Mainly it has been concerned with defining the nature of the pramanas (buddhi) and was known as anviksiki – going beyond the perceivecd. It was also known as tarka: a method of inference by which the opposite positions are shown to be untenable because absurd. It is in argumentation and debate that this method is greatly used. Thus tarka instead of being an instrument by which it could be shown that any contradictory point is absurd or untenable became a powerful instrument in controversy and debate. Thus later Nyaya became a system of argumentation which includes the rules of debate and discussion. Many categories of Nyaya belong to this order. In regard to its metaphysics or physics it had been usually associated with the Vaiseshika school – a realistic philosophy of Nature. In the sphere of enquiry into the psychological nature of the self it became Samkhya or discriminative inference, and in respect of the scriptural facts it became Mimamsa.

The name of Nyaya may thus be considered to be a general name of tarka (in debate), samkhya (in psychology) of mimamsa (scriptural knowledge). The Nyaya darsana accepts four pramanas:


1. Pratyaksam

2. Anumana

3. Upamana and

4. Sabda

Pratyaksa or sense knowledge is knowledge of objects granted by means of sense-contact with them: indriyartha – sannikarsa Janya Jnanam pratyaksam. The external nature is known immediately by this. Nyaya system accepts two stages in respect of definite knowledge namely the stage of indefinite or indeterminate knowledge and the stage of determinate sense knowledge (savikalpaka) got at by comparison etc. or of full knowledge. All truth according to Nyaya system must be definite knowledge; indeterminate knowledge (nirvikalpaka pratyaksa) is doubtful. All knowledge must be free from doubt (samasya). Anumana is the means of inferential knowledge (anumiti). Inferential knowledge is new knowledge of a thing on the basis of knowledge of invariable connection between things belonging to the same class as the one under consideration and this. Thus we infer that a mountain has fire because this mountain is a case of smoke which is always accompanied by fire (All cases of smoke being known and observed many times and invariably as being accompanied by fire).

The central necessity in inference then is the knowledge of the invariable concomitance (vyapti). Nyaya also distinguishes here between inference for oneself and inference for others or demon-stration. The inference for others or demonstration is capable of utilising five steps such as pratijna (which one wishes to prove or undertakes to prove), hetu (reason), udaharana (the statement of the general invariable connection between hetu and sadhya as illustrated from experience known to both the hearer and the speaker), and the application (upanaya), and finally the conclusion (nigamana). The inference for oneself may dispense with some steps since in form the pratijna and nigamana are identical, the first sets out to prove whereas the last concludes that the proof has been given. Hetu and Upanaya are in form identical, but the former states the connection between the subject and the hetu, whereas the upanaya states the actual existence of the hetu in the paksa. It is the view of Nyaya that for the best demonstration of any inference for others or for oneself all the five steps (angas) are necessary. This makes for both formal and material truth of any inference.

Modern Nyaya (navya-nyaya) writers Gangesa etc. have worked out deeply the implications of the vyapti and its importance. The third source of knowledge is Upamana, an argument based on similarity. The knowledge gained through the recognition of similarity between any two things on the basis of information  received and naming it called Upamana. Thus a forester says that a particular animal in the forest is called Gavaya and that it resembles a cow. One who goes to the forest seeing the animal calls it Gavaya. This knowledge is called Upamiti-Jnana.

The fourth kind of knowledge is called sabda or hearsay. True sabda is from aptas or experts and knowers or authoritative persons. It is of two kinds, laukika (natural) and supernatural (alaukika or intuitive God-given knowledge).

The Naiyayikas with the help of these pramanas also stated the conditions of logical propositions or vakyas that the vakya is made up of words, and these words, in order to grant meaning, must possess the three characteristics of akanksa, yogyata, and sannidhi, and the general meaning of the sentence.

They had also mentioned the following as the topics of tarka (discussion or debate) Pramana, Prameya, Samasya, Prayojnana, Drstanta, Siddhanta, Avayava, Tarka, Nirnaya, Vada, Jalpa, Vitanda, Hetvabhasa, Chala, Jati (futility)  and nigrahasthana.

The Goal of life according to Nyaya is nisreyasa (freedom from consciousness of matter) and the only means to arrive at it is through perfect knowledge and for the sake of that perfect knowledge it is necessary to have a perfect critique of the pramanas. The soul’s connection with matter is the cause of its misery. It produces rebirths through activity in connection with matter which leads to desire. Perfect knowledge liberates the soul from its contact with matter and thus removes all pain or duhka.

Gautama is the author of the Nyaya Sutras, in which he clearly analyses the nature of prakrti, of the soul and the pramanas. Later Naiyayikas like Udayana explained the problems of Isvara as the creator of the world and as the first expounder and maker of the Vedas. The world is created by God out of the materials in the form of atoms and the souls. This view suggests that the effect was not previously present in any form in the cause but was brought into being by God. This view is called Asat-karya- vada or Arambhavada.


The Vaiseshika darsana can be considered to be the first philosophy of Nature (prakrti). Starting with the same question or problem of what is the goal of nisreyas; it also holds that the knowledge of the truth about Nature can grant us deliverance. The founder of this school of thought was Kanada whose sutras form the basis of this system.

It accepts pratyaksa, anumana and sabda, with the help of these pramanas it arrives at the knowledge of the six padarthas which comprise all reality. The padarthas are: Dravya (substances), Guna (quality), Karma (activity), Samanya (genus or generalities), Visesha (particularity) and samavaya (inherent relations). Some include also a seventh padartha, namely, Abhava (non-existence). Since non-existence enters into every kind of assertion about existence it is reckoned as an entity or padartha. We can perceive that these padarthas are analytical categories of the nature of any apprehended whole, or experience.

Dravya is the substance which has or is the abode of qualities (gunas), it is that which is stated to be either in a state of motion or rest or some activity; secondly we can speak about a dravya or substance belonging to a class of objects and this class then becomes a predicate. It is called jati or class or genus. The individual objects then are particulars under the genus or groupable under a genus (generality or samanya or jati). All description or definition about an object thus will include the statement about its quality, activity, genus or class. The nature of each object is its particularity. Undoubtedly this particularity cannot be a predicate and cannot be treated as a class because it is its existence as distinct from other objects. So much so this particularity is made to be identical with its very nature of the ultimate atoms and atmans or souls. Thus the system of Kanada is called as Vaiseshika, because it definitely asserts the particular (visesa) reality of the individual, whether atom or atma. This reveals the essential affirmation of pluralism as the truth of every component of the Universe. There cannot be a generality of particularity, though in another sense we can perceive that as a dravya it can be an abode of all qualities, of activity and of genus also. In this sense viseshya is a dynamic concept and should not be mistaken with viseshana or attribute or quality.

Samavaya is a kind of relation which obtains between a dravya and its quality, or quality and samanya. Thus samavaya is a metaphysical relation, not a physical relation. Physical relation obtains between two substances or dravyas. This can be either separable or inseparable. But in metaphysical distinction or division, one cannot take away quality from the substance or genus from quality. We cannot even take the dravya apart from the quality or quality apart from the dravya, except imagine their distinctness by a process of abstraction. Not so in the case of physical division or partition. Since the whole system proceeds on the basis of analysis of the elements of rational experience, it states this relation as different from the relation that is external to two objects. Here it is a kind of internal or inherent relation, between terms of two different kinds. Being not in itself a quality or genus it cannot be that there should be a relation between this and other padarthas.

Abhava is a perceived fact not merely an inference. Abhava is necessary for logical determination of anything or object. The peculiarity of abhava is that when one wants to get definite knowledge we have recourse to explaining it in terms of space and time and existence or cause and effect. This involves the constant use of negation (abhava): that a thing was, is not, or will be, or will not be or is or was not. The question of space is regarding here, or not here, there or not there, or no where: and in terms of causality, that the effect was not but has come into being, that the cause was but is not now, or that there is continuing cause or persisting cause and so on.

Simply considered definite knowledge is what one must get in order to be able to get over the ignorance in everything and attain the highest knowledge, that liberates man from the thraldom to the Nature. They believed that in perception itself one proceeds from less or indefinite knowledge to complete definite knowledge through the sixfold sannikaras; from the cognition of the genus in the quality that is inherent in the dravya, and the cognition of the abhava with respect of its location in place and time and the cognition of name or sound and its genus (samanya).

It holds that regarding dravya that the five kinds of elements in the form of atoms or minutest particles (pruthivi, apas, tejas, vayu, akasa) manas, souls, time and space form the nine kinds of substance. The material substances or atoms can exist either alone or as aggregates giving rise of the principles of aggregation or combination or disintegration or separation. The time and space are also divisible. Souls are infinite in number. They are naturally infinite in size, though they come to know of the many objects through the (finite) or minute mind-organ which is so made so as to enable us to know them one by one. All knowledge of objects is with the instrument of the mind. Finite knowledge then or knowledge of the finite is with the help of the manas (or mind). It operates through the sense organs.

The creation of the world is due to the principle of Unseen Force (adrista) not God. Nature thus aggregates and disintegrates. The material cause of the world is the atoms and other dravyas, such as the souls and manas. The efficient cause of the world is the Unseen force which brings about the activities or karma into play. Indeed adrishta is in each and every dravya operating to bring into being aggregates and organising all or bringing out effects according to nature. Aggregates produce new qualities or effects not previously present in the material elements composing the new effect. Here we see the transformation of materialism as also the acceptance of it. Thus it accepts the view of asatkaryavada, that the cause does not contain the effect but that creation is an origination, not from nothing but from the original elements. The souls are not products of union of the material atoms but self-conscious, infinite but they are before their union with matter in a state of self which resembles unconsciousness – pasanavat – like stones, and it is held that their return to that state of bare tulya selfness is moksa (nisreyas without consciousness of objects.)


We have discussed the nature of the world as seen from the point of analytical reason and observation. Samkhya (enumerative discrimination) is the darsana that seeks to understand the nature (Prakrti) from the point of view of individual psychological consciousness. It interprets physical experiences and objects from the psychological analysis. It studies the organism of the individual and analyses the different levels and functions of the organism firstly as a natural psycho-physical composite and also the nature of the environment or the world known from the psychological point of view – as an object of individual experience and the world within which the individual lives and moves and grows.

Samkhya utilises even like Vaiseshika only three pramanas, pratyaksa, anumana and sabda. Paradoxically as it may appear, it uses upamana or analogical  reasoning but such analogical reasoning is included by it under anumana.

Samkhya is said to be a system of thought founded by Risi Kapila. It is clear that the Samkhya system and its categories had their first beginnings in the Upanishad period itself and Kapila was Vedic seer. (Rg. V.X.27.16).  Svetasvatara Upanishad mentions the nature of Prakrti as three gunas. The Samkhya is also mentioned in the Atharvana (Sam.X.8.43). “The knowers of Brahama know that the spirit which resides in the lotus with nine gates invested with the three Gunas” (also A.V.X.ii.32). There are obviously references in the Prasna and Katha Upanishads.

The original Samkhya system seems to have been theistice accepting all the three categories of Nature, Soul and God; but later Samkhya dispenses with the concept of Isvara and tends to become naturalistic. Indeed there is as in Vaiseshika no acceptance of Isvara as a logical cause of the process of the world since as in the other case, all that Prakrti does need is only the contact or nearness of the Soul, in place of the naturalistic adrista or unseen power, of that system.

All Reality comprises purusas and prakrti, conscious persons and unconscious matter.

Samkhya explains that prakrti or Nature is the material cause out of which all elements of the outer world as well as the psychic organs or apparatus of the individuals arise by a process of evolution or manifestation. All these effectuations are in a subtle condition in the original matter. The original matter is called pradhana avyakta because it is undistinguished, it has constant change as its nature or it is active; it comprises three constituents or x strands (gunas) namely sattva, rajas and tamas in a state of equilibrium. It is set into inequilibrium by the nearness of the soul or purushas. Once this equilibrium is disturbed the changes that take place are in the following order: buddhi (intellection) in which the purusha or soul is mirrored or reflected; this has the preponderance of sattva (illumination or lightness and brightness capable of reflecting soul’s nature, which is consciousness, pure and inactive, and unchanging); ahamkara or egoity – I-ness and the objective consciousness, that is to say consciousness is represented as having a localised nature. It may be represented as having rajas as dominant quality (activity and force). The next evolute is rather two-fold : on the subjective or psychic side we have the emergence of manas, sensorium and affective apparatus, the five sense-organs of eye, ear, skin, tongue and nose, which give us the sensations of light-form, sound, touch (heat-cold, soft, hard), taste and smell, connected in a sense with the external subtle objects 5 tanmatras and 5 elements, of sabda-akasa, sparsa-vayu, tejas-rupa, rasa-apas, and gandhaprthvi, and the five motor organs, karmendriyas of hands, feet, excretion, enjoyment (sexual) and speech.

These evolutions give us the account that Nature indeed is the entire body and its functions. Psycho-physiology is psycho- physics, and the real spiritual entity which is pure consciousness does not at all enter into the whole process except as a reflection,in which it perhaps takes interest. Indeed the whole evolution is said to have the only purpose of pleasing or existing for the enjoyment of the soul or consciousness. Prakrti is said to be not-conscious, jada, and in fact the analogy used is that the relation of soul and matter or purusha and prakrti is that between a lame man and blind woman who carries him under his directions. Such a traffic however much cooperative unfortunately produces duhka or sorrow. The soul does not relish this fare and this movement. Samkhya thus states that prakrti reverses her process of evolution after being satisfied that the soul does not take any delight in its evolutions and thus the soul gets liberated. The soul however must understand these evolutes of Prakrti fully in order to be freed utterly from further involvement of reflection and identification with its reflections.

The soul is accepted as an independent individual who is the real subject of all prakrtic experiences, though more often its reflections in Buddhi and the formation of the egoity-manas-sense organ-motor organ groupings forming the subtle body (lingasarira) are mistaken for it. All transmigrations from birth to birth is gone though by this lingasarira though the bhautika or physical body gets destroyed after each cycle of existence.

The samkhyans had not reckoned prana or life force or breath as separate categories, though it is plausible that it partakes of the nature of rajas that mediates between the activities of the mind or manas and sense-organs and the tan-matras and the bhutas. The control of the prana in the body and in respect of the manas leads to the practices of higher cognition.

The souls are innumerable in number. Souls once liberated or which have gone through the evolutionary and involutionary process do not get entangled once again. Prakrti becomes indifferent to them. The doctrine of only one Purusha does not get accepted as it is clearly seen that the liberation of one soul does not mean the liberation of all other souls; at the same time. Enjoyments are different; experiences are different; and different parts of prakrti affect the different souls. There is however only one prakrti capable of infinite divisibility or diversification to cater to the experience of different souls. However there are spaces of prakrti which are untouched by change but waiting for change or that which become indifferent. But the order of change once taking place is same everywhere. That is the common universe in which all souls find their experience.

PURUSA    PRAKRTI(Sattva-Rajas-Tamas)Changeful,

inactive,       active Consciousness

changeless   BUDDHI


                        & 5 Jnanendriyas          5.Tanmatras
                        (Eye, ear, skin, tongue    (Subtle particles)
                        and nose)                      Sabda, Sparsa, Rupa,
                                                            Rasa, Gandha,

                   & 5 Karmendriyas      5.Bhutas
                        (Hands, feet, Excretory  Akasa, Vayu, Tejas,
                                    organ, genitals and         Ap, Prthvi
                                    mouth (Speech).                              

Samkhya thus enumerates twenty-four tattvas or categories (excluding the purusas) which could be analysed in organic existence. Freedom from organic existence is liberation for the soul.

Samkhya thus is also a naturalistic school in so far as it explains all phenomena of individual evolution and organic existence except consciousness in terms of Nature, conceived as capable of evolution from subtle to gross condition and back again thus revealing that in Nature the two processes of evolution and involution have a cyclical character conditioned by the satisfaction of the individual ‘souls’. In other words we have also the self-regulative mechanism of involution-evolution determined by the consciousness or soul.

The analysis of the nature of the psycho-physical existence of the individual has been accepted by all the latter thinkers who have paid more attention to this aspect in so far as the pre occupying consideration has been release from bondage. Ignorance of the categories of the psychic order leads to misery. To know Nature and Oneself is to attain freedom from misery.

Samkhya opposed the sacrificial killing as a means to liberation. Its enumeration of the kinds of duhka and their causes is one of greatest psychological importance.

Samkhya also has investigated the powers that come about by the practice of Yoga, but it has consistently also shown that to use them involves more misery.


Yoga Sastra is one of oldest systems. The author of Yoga Sutras is Patanjali. It is concerned with the withdrawal of the activities of the Chitta, which is said to be the cause of all misery. The putting an end to the movements of chitta then is Yoga, Chitta-vritti nirodha Yogah. It shows that the attainment of the ultimate state is the state of Samadhi, which is changeless, motionless, thoughtless state of consciousness. This is the state of the soul in its perfect nature. Thus the nature of the soul in Yoga Darsana is identical with the state of the soul taught in the Samkhya, as consciousness, changeless and activityless. Thus it is presumed that Yoga accepts the nature of the prakrti or matter with all its twenty-three modifications. It also accepts that the souls are infinite in number. The peculiar contribution of Yoga is the technique by which that Ultimate state of Samadhi is gained. This state is the state of release or liberation from the changing processes of thought.

Yoga states that by the suppression of the mental modifications (chitta being considered to be that material formation or evolute manas) one can attain mastery over material powers as well as knowledge and power over the other modifications of prakrti. The control of mental modifications, may have to be preceded by the control of the motor organs and sensory organs from running after objects which grant them their satisfaction and stimulation. Withdrawal from objects of the senses are called yama and niyama. These disciplines are given so as to make the senses act according to self-regulation. The most important method of control is not merely to abstain from the lower activities to which the senses are accustomed but also to provide higher types of activity. The principle of substitution or right kinds of thought and action in place of the wrong thoughts and action, helps the final suppression of mental activities which are naturally turned outwards. Introspection can only start this way, by displacing external ways of behaviour by introspective means. Thus Isvara-dhyana or pranidhana or surrender to God becomes very necessary as niyama. Asana or control of physical postures or steadiness in seat is also insisted upon. Pranayama is a means to control the mind. Breath is regulated so as to establish a harmony. This consists of puraka, kumbaka and rechaka, filling in, retaining and expelling breath respectively. These are all physical purifications, leading to the real thing namely control of the chitta. Pratyahara, dharana and dhyana are the further stages when the mind having been detached from the sensory and motor activities retraces to the control of the ahamkara and buddhi, which is achieved by a gradual concentration on one single object and finally on  no object at all. Thus awareness of the objective world of prakrti and her evolutes and motions cease and the contemplation of ones self arises.

Thus a graduated series of exercises are given to achieve the nivritti or involution starting with the physical cleaning and ending with the final withdrawal of interest from prakrtic evolution. There is glorious chapter on the extraordinary powers of the order of miracles, occult and supersensory, telepathic and extrasensory, which are achieved when the process of cittavritti-nirodha takes place. But as these powers were precisely the factors which led to the grossening of the individual and has led through the pleasure that they gave by their use, these are asked to be discarded.

Isvara is accepted in this system as the original Teacher or Guru of this path of return. This is a royal path once the Guru is accepted or accepts the individual soul, the several steps are made easy. The samkhyan view that Nature herself withdraws or brings about the involution is replaced by the view that Isvara, the ever liberated, omniscient, spiritual being, master of the knowledge of Prakrti, is the person who helps the liberation of the individual souls who had got into the meshes or activities of Prakrti.

Isvara is not here considered as the creator but as an exceptional spirit always master of prakrti and knower of it, on whom nature can hardly have any effect or influence. Knowledge of Prakrti is said to lead to liberation, but this requires the aid of the ever-liberated Ideal Purusa, the Isvara.

Liberation is the purusartha, and it means realisation of one’s own nature, freedom from one’s avidya or ignorant identification with Prakrti, and devotion to Isvara, the Guru.


Mimamsa system is a system of interpretation of the Vedic texts. The Veda comprises two sections, namely, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The Brahmanas give the methods of performance of rites (yajnas) and yagas, like darsapurnimasa, agnistoma, and asvamedha, purushamedha etc.. The different mantras of the Veda are applied in the contexts of the rituals, for every rite involved the yajamana, the rtviks, adhvaryus, Hotas, udgatas. There grew several divergent lines in the performances due to differing circumstances (sakhas) and that meant that as between the different lines of instruction or traditional kinds of interpretation some kind of uniformity has to be arrived at. There were different types of symbolism also and they had to be absorbed into the unity of the Vedic yagna. The Mimamsa then meant the enquiry into the systematic character of  the Vedic authorities both ritual and philosophical, and that meant in turn the formulation of certain fundamental logical laws which could well have been the basis of Nyaya. Indeed Nyaya at one stage meant a rule; an analogy also. If Anviksiki meant mediate inference based on pratyaksa or visual observation or sensory knowledge, nyaya meant the analogical mediated knowledge. Mimamsa in a sense does not share this perceptual dependence. Its concern is to elucidate the unity and meaningfulness of the Vedic commands during the ritual or the coherence of the scriptural texts taking this to mean the whole body of texts of the revealed literature.

The purpose of the Mimamsa sutras (both the purva and uttara) thus is to show not only the detailed interpretations to be made in the branches of study taken up for consideration such as Brahmanas and the Upanishads respectively, but also to lay bare the principles which should govern such interpretations. It is clear that they have provided rules for interpretation of the Sabda or Veda.

There is an opinion that the Purva and Uttara Mimamsa sutras form one continuous sastra, though the Purva refers to karma or dharma and the latter refers to the Brahman or the Self of all Reality (sariraka). Whilst not denying this view, it is stated by another school of thinkers that the Purva Mimamsa is a different system and the study of it is not necessary for the understanding of the Uttara Mimamsa. The philosophical view of the Purva Mimamsa is the same as that of the Vedic literature. Its concern is with the fundamental faith in the sacrificial performances which are ordained by the Vedic scriptures which is said to be dharma. The sacrifices themselves produce such results as the attainment of the riches and happiness of this world as well as the heavenly bliss or happiness after death. The magical efficacy of the sacrificial performances was thus assumed. The sacrifice seems to generate a special force called apurva which continues to exist after the sacrifices have been concluded and bring about the effect after death. Thus the causal theory of the effect coming into being after the cause ceased to exist is an important innovation.

The sacrifices are performed according to the  strict prescriptions, vidhis, and once they are perfomed in the proper way, they have the power to bring about the desired results. Though the Gods are addressed, such as Indra, Agni, Varuna, etc. the Gods have no power as it were not to grant the results of sacrifices. Thus though the entire world of the sacrificial view was peopled by Gods of the earth, atmosphere and the sky, mighty and omniscient, even the greatest of them is compelled as it were by the Vedic order to obey the law of causality (Karma). Thus we find a parallel between the scientist and the magician or a sacrificial priesthood, the belief in strict causality; if the cause is present the effect is present. The only necessity is to see that obstructions to casual activity are removed.

To prove that there is strict causal necessity between the performance of the sacrifice and the effect-resultant, the Vedic sacrificer was forced to assert that the Vedic injunctions or texts are self- evident and absolutely authoritative and not man-made. In other words, the Veda had to be accepted as absolute unconditional pramana. Thus they did not accept the view that the Vedic authority was derived even from God, as the Naiyayikas had averred. It is apauruseya. Since God was needed by Naiyayikas to create the Veda and the world, the purva mimamsa having ignored the Gods or subordinated them to causality, also dispensed with God as an unimportant entity in his search for dharma or sacrificial performances according to the Veda.

The authority of the Veda is paramount. Veda is apauruseya, not made by any person; the Vedic word and its meaning is original, uncreated and it has been transmitted from teacher to disciple in continuous succession, without any break. This is unique. There is no author of the Veda. Even the Gods remember no such author but recite the Veda and become teachers of the Veda having seen it. The purva mimamsakas believe that to grant authorship to the Veda is to commit it to mistakes.

There is however difference between two schools of Purva Mimamsa namely the school of Kumarila Bhatta and the school of  Prabhakara; the former school tries to establish the self-evident authority of the Veda without postulating God or admitting his authorship of the Veda; the latter school on the other hand asserts that God is the author of the Veda, and that this has been proved by the authority of the Vedas themselves.

The Purva Mimamsa believes in the separate existence of each individual soul. He is distinct from his body, senses and mind; his essential qualities are intelligence, will and effort. The Jivatman according to some mimamsakas is said to be all-pervasive but in the original sutras it is not mentioned either way, either as infinite or atomic.

The goal of life is the attainment of Heaven which is the abode of unalloyed bliss. Since the Vedas tell us that the performance of sacrifices, the offering of oblation and charity are the means of attaining heaven, and since the present body cannot enjoy those things on this earth, there is no doubt that the soul is eternal, and distinct from the body. The soul does not get extinguished in emancipation.

The Universe existed from eternity; there is no absolute dissolution of the world. Thus the Purva mimamsakas, accepted the complete validity of the Veda and the eternity and reality of the souls and the world or universe. They accepted the existence of Gods and God also, though not as the author of the Veda, but as its Teacher without beginning.


The Vedanta is the philosophy of the Upanishads. By a continuous tradition the vedas were transmitted from teacher to disciple. The basic features of this Veda were well known; revelation always had to be explained and indeed every one aimed at one time or other to arrive at that point of revelationary vision for oneself. The alleged intellectual processes then were precisely the manner of communi-cation to the disciple which helped the disciple to attain that illuminative point for himself. Rishis were thus leading the disciple to the final experiences of the Ultimate Reality which they called Brahman. This philosophical concept contained all the rich connotations of the Vedic godheads and pointed to that understanding that goes beyond the karma and which indeed gave to karma itself a new direction and transformation. Thus to one who knows or attains Brahman, the Omnipervading person or reality, karma is not a hindrance; it does not bring about bondage; indeed it in conjunction with vidya leads to utter transcendence over death and leads to the immortal condition.

There are some who hold that the divergent trends of the Upanisha-dic thought or teachings cannot be comprehended in any systematic philosophy. However, Indian thinkers following Badarayana had felt that the Upanishads do offer a single comprehensive system of metaphysics. Thus we have the origin of the Vedanta Sutras. Badarayana seems to have been identified in the consciousness of the Indian thinkers with Veda Vyasa.

Though the synthesis or samanvaya of the Upanishads had been attempted by Badarayana (Sutra; tattu samanvayaat) yet there have arisen several apparently divergent views such as those of Sri Sankara’s advaita, Sri Ramanuja’s Visista-advaita, Sri Madhwa’s Dvaita, and Sri Bhaskara’s Bhedabheda and so on. Each claims a tradition of interpretation.

Main acceptances:

Brahman is the one Reality. Brahman is pure and ultimate Self. Sat Cit and Ananda. He is beyond all description and determinations but He is indeed verily the power and reality that makes all possible. Thus he is nirguna, beyond all qualities and yet He is al omnipervasive, omnipotent, omnibeneficient and Isvara and so on. He is subtler than the subtle and greater than the great. He is this immanent in all and transcendent to all. In other words He is both the material and efficient cause of the Universe.

The souls are to discover this Self of everything, knowing which they will know everything else. He is the self of one’s Self and all. The souls are empirically finite and ignorant, and find themselves separate from Brahman. They are bound by karma and avidya. They can get beyond the bondage of karma and avidya by knowing that Brahman is the One Reality, and that the world of differences including oneself are appearances. Nature is a mysterious inexpressible power which renders the ignorance possible and thus makes us perceive ourselves and Nature as independent of Brahman.

Thus three terms emerge, the Brahman, (who also is Isvara – the omnipervading Being Isa), the souls and Nature. Brahman is stated to be All- sarvam khal vidam Brahman. The souls are stated to be of the nature of consciousness and therefore identical with Brahman. Tat tvam asi: So’ham asmi. Thus the identity of nature between the Souls and Brahman is being affirmed. The Universe is the objective world of action. It is stated to be created out of Brahman Himself tajjalan: from whom all have their generation and dissolution. He is the One Being without a second in this regard. Ekam eva advitiyam. These passages of the Upanishad vidyas had been the bone of contention in interpretation. These passages are utilised to show the Ultimate Monism of Brahman. The passages that details differences and creations of every other, or the emergence of differences of name and form are to be dealt with as of empirical but not absolute worth.

That they could be interpreted in an organistic way by showing that they refer to a spiritual Being who has the multiplicity of souls and the mutable Nature as its modes or body which absolutely subserve the purposes of that Ultimate spirit, and are manifested, supported and enjoyed by that spirit alone, was shown by reference to the Antaryami Brahman: The changes in the modes do not affect the spirit that supports them. The Self Nature or Brahman entails the existence of the modes which can by no means be dissolved in the absolute Spirit, which remains without any change even when supporting these changes.

Yet another method is to show that the Souls and Nature are dependent existences and are incapable of being independent of the One Spirit or Ultimate Godhead, who is ruler and creator and redeemer of the souls.

The concept of existence as independent leaves only God or Brahman or Self as the only existent. Others derive their existence from Him. They derive their freedom from Him.

Thus it is clear that Vedanta leaves much room for different levels of Experience.

The several upasanas or methods of meditation on Brahman, the absolute Being, which grants being to all souls and nature, are methods at once of knowledge and meditation or devotion, which culminate in this Divyanubhava, or Purnabrahmanubhava, which is not merely release from the bondage to nature and ignorance or mutability or subjection to it, but also the attainment of the changeless state of Brahman. It is not a pasanatulya state but a state of attainment of bliss. Of freedom from all recurrence of avidya and karma there is no doubt to one who has known Brahman and has attained Him.

Sri Ramanuja considers that the highest end of man is the joy that comes from the devotion and service to God. This too is the view of Sri Madhva. It is something that comes after the realisation of freedom from one’s own egoity and limitations of nature.

It is sometimes stated that the three Vedantas may refer to three kinds of adhikaris or it may refer to three poises of the individuals in respect of the God-head who takes up the respective threefold poises. The transcendent nature of Brahman has however to be affirmed even as the threefold poises of the Brahman in respect of the threefold adhikaris.

A synoptic insight would affirm the reality of all poises of Brahman as well as the souls and Nature and show that identity and diversity have to be integralised in a transcendent sense which intellectual logic can hardly explain with its neat principles of coherence and consistency.

The ethical life of the Vedantin then depends on the fundamental principles of satya, asteya, aparigraha, ahimsa, brahmacharya, and Isvarapranidhana. It also fully endorses that the performance of karma is for the sake of purification, especially the pancha- maha yajnas and the welfare of the world depends on the performance of them. Though they grant transitory fruits of celestial happiness yet they also help the growth of knowledge of God of the Ultimate. The contemplation and hearing and practice of srutis also goes a long way to cultivate that state of mind that makes intuition of the highest Brahman possible. Thus work and Jnana together lead to sraddha and upasana (bhakti) and lead to release, the Ultimate or fourth purushartha.