Sada Darshan

Sada Darshan the six systems of Hindu philosophy based on the vedas. The philosophies developed in India are divided mainly into two categories: theistic and atheistic. Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaishesika, Mimamsa and Vedanta philosophies accept the authority of the Vedas and are therefore theistic. They are collectively known as sada darshan. carvaka, Buddhist and Jain philosophies do not believe in the Vedas and are called atheistic. Belief in God is not, however, a determining factor. For instance, Samkhya and Mimamsa acknowledge the authority of the Vedas but do not acknowledge God as the creator of the universe. Even in Vaishesika philosophy there is no direct reference to God. Although Samkhya and Yoga recognise the soul and nature as the creator of the universe, yoga also believes in the independent existence of God. Nyaya believes in the soul and God but also recognises the independent existence of the universe. According to Vedanta, the only truth is Brahma, everything else is untruth. Consequently, it may be seen that there are differences among the six systems of Hindu philosophy on certain matters although they draw from the same source.

The atheistic philosophies do not believe in God; they are materialistic. According to the Carvakas, all knowledge derives from the senses and since God cannot be perceived he does not exist. Buddhist philosophy deals with human life and its only objective is to eliminate sorrow. According to buddhism, everything in the world is transient and change is the only truth. Since nothing is eternal, there cannot be an eternal soul. Jain philosophy is dualistic, dividing all matter into astikaya and nastikaya. That which has volume and form is astikaya such as living beings and inanimate objects; that which has no volume or form is nastikaya such as time. All the above philosophies were more or less practised in Bengal, particularly nyaya and navya nyaya for which Bengal was once famous throughout India.

Samkhya philosophy, regarded as the oldest of Indian philosophies, was introduced by Kapila Muni. It is generally agreed that this philosophy evolved before Gautam Buddha, around the 8th century BC. From its special mention in the mahabharata, puranas, Charaksanghita, Manusanghita, bhagavadgita and other books it is assumed that it once had significant influence on Indian society.

Opinions differ on the meaning of the term 'samkhya'. According to one view, this philosophy was so named as its doctrines were numbered (up to 25). Another view is that 'samkhya' means comprehensive knowledge, which includes the knowledge of the secret of nature and the soul. On attaining such knowledge one achieves liberation or freedom from earthly attachments. It is believed that the philosophy is called Samkhya for its advocacy of this doctrine.

Very little is known about Samkhya books and philosophers. Kapila's first disciple was Asuri. Asuri's disciple was Panchashikha, who is credited with having greatly expanded Samkhya philosophy. Samkhyakarika or Samkhyasaptati by Ishvarakrsna (4th/5th century AD) gives an authentic account of Samkhya philosophy. This text was also known in China. Among its many commentaries are Juktidipika and Tattvakaumudi. There is another book on Samkhya philosophy: Samkhyasutra or Samkhyapravachanasutra. Bijnanbhiksu wrote a detailed commentary on it and by quoting many examples from the Puranas he tried to reconcile the opposing views of Samkhya and Vedanta philosophies. He also wrote an independent book by the name of Samkhyasara.

According to Samkhya philosophy, there are two basic doctrines: the conscious soul and inanimate nature. Nature (which gives rise to this world) has three qualities: existence, activity, and darkness. Creation begins when nature and the soul combine to destabilise the symmetry of the three qualities. From nature emanates rationality, from rationality emanates pride, from pride emanates the mind, as well as the five senses of action (speech, hand, feet, anus and genitals), five senses of knowledge (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and organ of touch), and five acute degrees (of beauty, flavour, smell, touch and sound). From very acute degrees emanate the five great constituent elements of earth, water, heat, air and space).

According to Samkhya philosophy, sorrows are of three kinds: spiritual, biological and supernatural. Eternal relief from sorrows is liberation (mukti). Only studying the scriptures can attain the faculty of discretion that brings about mukti. It is owing to ignorance that man regards soul and nature as a single entity. Soul does not accommodate pleasures and sorrows, it is like consciousness, devoid of consequences, non-acting and non-involved. To enjoy and exercise authority is the job of intelligence, not of the soul but due to ignorance man ascribes it to the soul. The result is that man suffers worldly life and sorrows. But when the knowledge of truth is attained, man can distinguish between the soul and nature and only then gains mukti. The diversity of the soul, concepts of virtue, transformation etc are known as Samkhya philosophy's distinctive resolutions.

Yoga philosophy was introduced by Patanjali (2nd century BC); it is also known as 'Patanjal philosophy'. Patanjali wrote four books on yoga. The first book discusses the characteristics of Yoga and meditation, while the second discusses matters such as yama that must be observed before embarking on the deeper spiritual aspects as well as different asana or postures. The third book discusses perception, meditation, concentration and their results and prosperity. The fourth book discusses five kinds of attainments and the supreme necessity of liberation.

According to Yoga, the supreme being is the soul free from pain, action, the fruit of action and obligation. Playfully, he assumes many bodies to introduce worldly and Vedic communities and shows compassion to human beings suffering the sorrows of worldly existence.

Yoga has eight branches: yama, set of rules, sitting, breath-control, abnegation, comprehension, meditation and concentration. Ahimsa and brahmacharya or abstinence are known as yama. Cleansing of the body and contentment are part of the rules. The different sitting postures keep the body stable and at ease. Breath-control means controlling inhalation and exhalation. Abnegation means freeing the five senses from worldly matters and directing them inward, to the supreme soul. Fixing the mind to something is comprehension. Meditation means the constant flow of knowledge and concentration means restraining all the instincts of the mind.

Now-a-days more emphasis is laid on the physical exercises of Yoga than on its philosophical aspects. Many people engage in Yoga exercises to keep themselves physically fit. Different organisations, such as Ironman Publishing House of Kolkata, have been publishing illustrated books giving details of Yoga exercises. There are a number of centres for Yoga exercises in Calcutta - such as Ironman Health Home - and since 1976 the West Bengal Secondary Education Board has made Yoga exercises part of the curriculum up to class X. In Bangladesh as well a number of people practise Yoga exercises at home. In this way Yoga philosophy has turned into a regimen of exercise to keep the body healthy.

Nyaya philosophy was introduced by Maharsi Gautam. It is founded on his Nyayasutra (3rd century BC). The three processes of gaining philosophical knowledge leading to attaining Liberation are listening, conceiving and profound meditation. Nyaya is the main instrument to analyse spiritual knowledge after it has been acquired through listening.

Vaishesika philosophy was propounded by Kanada or Uluka. Many believe that the name of this philosophy was derived from the fact that this philosophy accepts an additional object called individuality. Another opinion is that the first Indian philosophy that gained currency in China was Samkhya. This was followed by Vaishesika philosophy, which was so-named because the Chinese considered it to be distinct from Samkhya and better. Vaishesika philosophy is believed to have evolved from the 6th century BC. At one time Vaishesika philosophy was regarded as benignant to all scriptures. Its original book was Kanada's Vaishesikasutra and therefore its other name was kanada or oulukya philosophy.

It is difficult to decide on the correct reading of the basic laws of this philosophy as well as their chronology, number and significance. The most accepted of the commentaries on Vaishesika laws is Prashastapadabhasya or Padarthadharmasanggraha (6th century). Extensive and important commentaries on the text include Vyomavati, Nyayakandali and Kiranavali. Other extant commentaries include Chandrananda's Prachina Vrtti and Sankar Mishra's Arvachina Upaskara (15th century).

Vaishesika philosophy accepts the existence of seven matters: matter, property or quality, karma, the commonplace, individuality, combination and want. Everything in the universe is part of these matters. Supreme knowledge of matters gained through the knowledge of similarities and dissimilarities leads to achieving highest excellence. Vaishesikas were famous as great followers of examples.

Mimamsa philosophy was introduced by Maharsi Jaimini (4th century BC/2nd century BC), the first book on the subject being his Mimamsasutra. This philosophy is entirely based on the Vedas and its literature is the most extensive. It is also known as 'purvamimamsa' as its subjects are based on the events of the Vedas. It is said karma comes first and then comes knowledge. Therefore a philosophy based on karma is purvamimamsa. The concluding part of the Vedas is called jvanakanda or vedanta, so vedanta is also known as 'uttaramimamsa'.

The principal object of Mimamsa philosophy, as stated in the first sutra of Jaimini's book, is to determine the features of religion, meaning the rites as prescribed by the Vedas. It is the function of Mimamsa philosophy to rationalise the Vedic sacrificial rites and the ceremonies connected with those rites. According to Mimamsa, man's principal duty is to perform the yajvas or sacrificial rites. It therefore narrates the correct rules of the yajnas, and speaks of achieving paradise-like bliss and liberation as a result of performing these yajnas.

Mimamsa is materialistic and believes in the diversity of God. It accepts as true the existence of whatever is perceived by the senses. In addition, however, the soul, God, heaven, hell etc are also regarded as true. The elements of the world are constant and the creation and running of the world are regulated by karma. Mimamsa does not recognise the Buddhist doctrine of sunyavada or nothingness nor the Vedanta's mayavada. It recognises six ways of acquiring knowledge: perception, inference, sound, analogy, circumstantial evidence and incomprehension.

The main commentator on Mimamsa philosophy was Shavara Svami (57 BC). Some other well-known commentators were Kumarila Batta (7 AD), the writer of Vartika, his disciples Mandanamishra, who wrote Vidhiviveka and Mimamsanukramani, and Pravakar, who wrote Vrhati; Parthasarathi Mishra (9 AD), writer of Shastradipika, Tantraratna and Nyayaratnakara, Apadeva (17 AD), writer of Mimamsanyayaprakash, and Khandadeva (17 AD), writer of Bhattadipika and Mimamsakaustubha.

Vedanta literally meaning the end of the Vedas, implies the essence of the Vedas. The Upanisad is called Vedanta, because it deals with the essence of the Vedas, ie adhyatmavidya.

Vedanta consists of three schools: shrutiprasthana, smrtiprasthana and nyayaprasthana. The Upanisadas belong to the first school, the Bhagavadgita to the second and the Vedantasutra to the third. The Vedantasutra (consisting of 555 sutras), also known as Uttaramimamsa, was propounded by Vadarayana (c 500 BC). It is called Brahmasutra as it is an exposition of the doctrine of brahma and also Sharirakasutra, as it deals with the embodiment of the unconditioned self.

There are seven commentaries (bhasyas) on the Brahmasutra: Nimvarka's Vedantaparijatasaurabha, Sankara's Sabkarabhasya, Ramanuja's Xhribhasya, Vallava's Anubhasya, Madhva's Purnaprajvabhasya, Valadeva's Govindabhasya, and Bhaskara's Brahmasutrabhasya to which the doctrines of Advaita, vishistadvaita, shuddhadvaita, dvaita, dvaitadvaita, bhedabheda and achintyabhedabheda have been inducted respectively. Consequently, seven distinct schools of Vedanta have developed. Advaita Vedanta is more popular than any other system, as it blends the philosophical concepts with the religion of India. Prakashatma, Sureshvara and Vachaspati propounded three sub-schools of Advaita Vedanta.

gaudapada first formulated the doctrine of absolute Brahma, which was then elaborated by Sankara. According to Advaita Vedanta, Brahma is the only reality. Worldly phenomena have no separate self apart from Brahma. The Advaitins admit three levels of reality: transcendental (paramarthika), empirical (vyavaharika) and apparent (pratibhasika). The pratibhasika vastus get cancelled by normal experience and vyavaharika vastus by the realisation of Brahma. Brahma (Existence, Consciousness and Bliss) is transcendentally real. The objects of the world are false, because they are perceptual (drshya), and exist at some time, in some place and are determined by some things. They are neither real (sat), nor unreal (asata) nor both, but indescribable (anirvachya). They are real in their own spheres, but false in the higher level of existence. God also is empirically real, but transcendentally false. The name-and-form world is an apparent modification (vivarta) of Brahma, but a transformation (parinama) of ajvana. Due to ignorance, one Brahma seems to be manifold. When truth dawns in respect of Brahma through the process of shravana, manana and nididhyasana, ignorance is removed. From Brahma all false objects come into being, in Brahma they live and unto Brahma they return. Jvana (knowledge) is the only means of attaining moksha (liberation) while karma is performed for the purification of the mind.

Sankara refers to three sources of jnana: pratyaksa, anumana and shabda. Later writers add upamana, arthapatti and anupalabdhi. Scriptural testimony is an independent pramana, whereas other pramanas depend on the scriptures for their validity. The witness-self (saksi) perceives directly the objects of illusion and memory through avidyavrtti and indirectly the objects of pramana with the assistance of antahkaranavrtti. The Advaitins introduce the theory of shabdaparoksa into their scheme. Prakashatmana's Pavchapadika-Vivarana, Vachaspati's Bhamati, Chitsukha's Pratyaktattvapradipika, Shriharsa's Khandanakhandakhadya, Vidyarana's Pavchadashi and Madhusudana's Advaitasiddhi are notable works on Advaita Vedanta. [Amarnath Bhattacharya, Nirmalya Narayan Chakraborty, and Mrinal Kanti Gangopadhyay]

Bibliography Max Muller, Sacred Books of the East, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1993; Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, Macmillan Co, New York, 1956; Sritarakchandra Ray, Bharatiya Darshaner Itihas, Calcutta, 1960; Prajnanananda Saraswati, Bedanta Darshaner Itihas, Rajendranath Gosh ed, Calcutta, 1969; Sri Pramodbondhu Sengupta and Others, Bharatiya Darshan (xiv. Ed), Calcutta, 1996.