The Hindu Philosophy

This article gives a brief introductory idea about the Hindu and all the Hindu schools of philosophy.

Recently, I saw many question here at ISC regarding Hinduism. Many people have doubts regarding Hinduism. All those questions and doubts propelled me into writing this article.

One thing is universally accepted, that Hinduism is that great religion which has survived the leaps of time to become one of the few ancient religions of the world which still survive. The prime reason is that the Hindu philosophy has never preached any fixed ideas or principles and it has accommodated many schools of philosophy. The beauty of Hinduism is that it is an amalgamation of many school of thoughts and its philosophy can be considered as a roof under which all the different views, however extreme they may be, exist secularly.

The Hindu philosophy is divided into many school of thoughts. The schools(views) may be called Darshanas in Sanskrit.
Their broad classification can be done as-

1. Astika(orthodox) schools
2. Nastika(heterodox) schools

The prime difference between these two is that the Astika school of thought is considers Vedas as the supreme revealed scriptures, while the nastika schools do not agree on the authority of Vedas.

There are six Astika and three nastika school of thoughts.

The six astika schools are-

1. Samkhya- This is the oldest philosophical system. it has dualistic nature and postulates that everything is composed of Purusha(atma or soul) and Prakriti(creative energy, matter). Prakriti further consists of 3 gunas(qualities): Rajas, Tamas and Sattva. The interactions between the purusha and the three gunas causes the world to evolve.. Moksha(salvation) is attained when the soul realizes that it is above of all three gunas. This theory denies the existence of any supreme being as God.

2.Yoga- Though the yoga philosophical school accepts the Samkhya system and all what is doctrined by it. But it is much more theistic than Samkhya. Yoga teaches one how to reach kaivalya(detachment or solitariness). It aims that the practitioners look at the world from a different angle altogether. Moksha can only be achieved after kaivalya. Patanjali was the one who postulated Yoga sutras.

3. Nyaya- This school of philosophy is based on the Nyaya sutras. This school believes in the system of logic. The Nyaya school believes that the only way to be released from all the sufferings is to attain the supreme knowledge. It defines the sources of knowledge as perception, inference or conclusion, comparison and testimony. Nyaya school believes in analytic philosophy. Followers of Nyaya school even gave the proofs of existence of God.

4. Vaisheshika- This school of philosophy advocates that all the entities in the physical universe are reducible to mere atoms of some types, the force, or to be more precise, the fundamental force which is responsible for consciousness is the Brahman. This school was founded by Kanad.

5. Purva Mimamsa- This school is regarded as pioneer in Vedic interpretation and it advocated the authority of Vedas. This school also preached the effectiveness of mantras and yajnas. They believed that one can only attain Moksha by strictly adhering to the Vedas. because of its strict principles, it hasn't reached much scholarly attention.

6. Vedanta- This school gained much attention in the 19th and 20th centuries pioneered by spiritualists like Swami Vivekananda. It focuses on the Upanishads and advocates self discipline, spiritual connectivity and meditation.

The nastika schools are-

1. Buddhism- The Buddhist school of philosophy is mostly based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Various Buddhist schools vary on their interpretations of salvation. But all believe that Karma(action) is the force driving the Samsara.
Their three Jewels/Treasures/Refuges are-
Sangha, or the community of those who have achieved enlightenment.

2. Jainism- The fundamental ideas of Jainism are that the soul needs some self effort to lift it up into enlightenment/liberation. A soul having achieved liberation attains the state of supreme existence and is termed as a Jina(conqueror). To achieve liberation soul needs to defeat its self enemies. Jainism philosophy dates back even before the Indo-Aryan era.

3. Carvaka- This schools has very few of its teachings still left today. Most of them are lost. It has materialistic approach towards existence and therefore was shunned by scholars. It believes in-
There is no life after death.
All things happen by nature as the natural scheme of consequences no God exists.
There is nothing wrong in sensual pleasure for human beings and they should indulge in, and enjoy materialism.
Religion is just a man made concept and nothing more.

Throughout this article, I only aimed at creating the basic awareness regarding the Hindu philosophy. I genuinely hope that the above text propels us all to research about Hindu philosophy deeper and further. Though I worked hard to ensure the correctness of all the facts, I still would apologize for any shortcomings in this article or any conceptual or factual errors noted by the readers.


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