Archive for May, 2010

Darshan (Philosophy) VII

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Dvaitadvaita philosophy (contd.)

Dvaitadvait philosophy of Nimbarkacharya (contd.):

Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy believes in three categories of souls, namely, baddha (means, bounded by sansār or māyā), baddha mukta (means, liberated from the bondage of sansar or maya), and nitya mukta (means, forever liberated or who never came into this sansar or maya, can be called as anādi mukta). “…muktancha baddham kila baddhamuktam, prabheda bahulya mathapi boddhyam ||” (Vedant Dash-Shloki by Nimbarkacharya: Shlok: 2)

Secondly, according to Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy, everything is done or achieved by the grace of God (Ishwar Krupā).

Nimbarkacharya believes that God and Brahm are not different and maintains worshiping personified God. Like Ramanujacharya who believed in and worshiped Vishnu (Narayan) as Sriman Narayan – the spouse (pati or nāth) of Laxmi (also spelled Lakshmi), as the Godhead of the universe, Nimbarkacharya also believed in Lakshmi-Narayan and worshiped Him as Shri Hari, Gopāl, Mādhav, Krishna etc. specifically with his consort Rādhā, both surrounded by a group of Gopis as their devotees (bhakta) in the divine place called Vrindāvan dham. In Nimbarkacharya’s period Radha was not worshiped as the consort of Shri Krishna (Krishna’s principal wife was Rukmani) just as Lakshmi was the consort of Vishnu, but Radha was worshiped as Krishna’s dearest, topmost, and true devotee or bhakta. Radha is considered the latent power (Shakti) of Krishna (Shaktimān). Both cannot be separated. “Upāsaniyam nitram janayhi sadā, prahannaye agyāna tamo anuvratte | Sanandadhyir munibhisthoktam, shrināradayakhila tatva sakshine ||” (Vedant Dash-Shloki by Nimbarkacharya: Shlok: 6) Meaning, “One should constantly reside in and meditate upon this dual (yugal) form of bhakta and Bhagwan (Parabrahm) – Shri Radha-Krishna. Mere concentrating or contemplating on them removes the basic ignorance. Shri Sanakādik Rishis had bestowed this very same knowledge to Shri Nārada.” “Radhayo sahito devo madhvo vaishavottamaih, archyo bandyashcha dhyeyashcha shrinimbarkapadanugaih ||” (Shri Nimbarka-Sudha) Meaning, “For the followers of Shri Nimbarkacharya, the worshiping form is “Radha sahita Madhava” (uttam bhakta sahita Bhagwan), which should be worshiped, prayed to, and meditated upon.”

Thus, Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy suggests a major change in Hinduism in the way of worshiping God, in two ways. One, worshiping the current or present form of God (Krishna) is valued more in salvation than worshiping the past form of God (Vishnu). Secondly, worshiping God with His dearest, nearest, and truest devotee or bhakta is more important than worshiping God alone. This kind of worshiping of God with His choicest and the best devotee (bhakta) is known as “Yugal Upāsanā”.

Nimbarkacharya writes in the “Dash-Shloki” on the worship of Radha-Krishna:

Ange tu vāme Vrishabhānujām mudā, virājamānam anuroopsoubhagām | Sakhi sahastraihi pari sevitām sadā, smarema devim sakaleashta kāmadām ||”(Vedant Dash-Shloki by Nimbarkacharya: Shlok: 5) Meaning, “We remember Radha (the daughter of King Vrishabh) – the most beautiful and as glorious as Shri Krishna, who is on the left side (vame) of Him, and who is served or worshiped by thousands of sakhis (bhaktas).”

According to Nimbarkacharya, the devotion means total self-surrenderance or complete submission to God known as prapatti, also known as sharanāgati or nyasa. Prapatti should have five or six constituents or qualities (angas) fulfilled: 1. Anukulasya sankalpa – resolution of total submission to God, to do only things that pleases God, 2. Pratikulasya varjanam – avoidance of all negatives in submission, not to entertain any bad thoughts, not to do anything that displeases God, 3. Maha Vishwas (Rakshisyati iti vishwasa) – faith that only God shall provide protection and grant liberation (moksh), acceptance of only God as the savior, 4. Gopatratva varanam – praying for the protection and granting salvation (moksha), 5. Atmanikshepa – total sacrifice of one’s self to God, to leave everything up to God (ātma nivedanam, ātma samarpan, bhāra samarpan, and phala samarpan), 6. Karpanya – feeling of helplessness or incapability to perform bhakti or devotion and to get salvation by one’s own efforts only and without the grace of God.

In Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy, as a personified God, the Lord of all, the controller of all, the Highest Reality, is known as Hari, Narayan, or Krishna (God). As the sole cause of creation, maintenance, and destruction of the universe, as the basic material cause (upādāna) and the efficient cause (nimitta) it is known as Brahm.

In Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy, Brahm is believed to be the sole cause of the creation. Nimbarkacharya describes two aspects of Brahm. In one aspect Brahm is eternal, transcendental, the greatest, and the creator of all. In another aspect it is abode of all good virtues, qualities, beauty, bliss and charm. Brahm as God have four nirgun forms or “vyuh”, namely, Vāsudev, Sankarshan, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. Vāsudev Narayan is considered as the original form. (It looks like the word “view” may have origin in the word vyuh (also spelled as vyuha.) In worshiping God, Dvaitadvait philosophy is also a bhakti marg. Later philosophies does not differ much in philosophical (tāttvik) aspect, that is, number, status, or relationships of the three realities, of Hinduism but it mainly differ in the worshiping aspect of Hinduism, that is, the form of worshiping deity (ishtadev) and the way of worshiping.

Darshan (Philosophy) V

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Vishishtadvaita philosophy

Vishishtadvaita philosophy and almost all of the “Vaishnav” philosophies of Hinduism are based on Panchratra scriptures – one of the four kinds of Vaishnav Agams (Vaishnava Agamas). Agamas are a separate class of authoritative Hindu scriptures than Nigams (Nigamas) or Vedas. Panchratra scriptures are divided into seven groups, namely, Brahma, Shaiva, Kaumara, Vashishtha, Kapila, Gautamiya, and Naradiya. The Naradiya Panchratra is in the Shanti Parva section of the Mahabharat and is considered as the earliest source of Panchratra philosophy. The followers of the Vaishnav tradition regard Panchratra scriptures, especially of Naradiya origin, as the most authoritative, in which Vishnu is mentioned as the Supreme Lord.

Panchratra scriptures:

As against Vedanta understanding of Brahm, there is a major philosophy of Parabrahm Narayan (God) described in the “Panchrātra” shastras (scriptures). Vaishnav Panchratra shastras glorify God as Vishnu. According to Panchratra Shastras, there is one Supreme God (suggesting the monotheistic nature of Hinduism) known as Purushottam Narayan who assumes or reveals Himself in five different ways: 1. Para – the original form in His abode, 2. VyuhChatur Vyuh (four nirgun forms) in brahmand for the worship, 3. Vibhuti Avatar – an incarnation on the earth, 4. Antaryāmi – inner controller or indweller, and 5. Archā (murti or pratimā) – an image or object for the worship. He manifests or emanates in brahmand as four forms (chatur vyuh) of Vāsudev, Sankarshan, Aniruddha, and Pradyumna. Sankarshan, Aniruddha, and Pradyumna forms of Vāsudev are the major controlling forms during the destructive, sustaining, and the creative phases of brahmand (universe), respectively. It is he who assumes, manifests, or reveals himself as an avatar on this earth. Murtis are described of eight kinds. The ninth kind is chal murti generally known a Brahmanized or God-realized Sant in whom God resides fully. According to Panchratra, one, who offers nine kinds of devotion (bhakti) to him, attains the liberation (mukti or moksha).

Vishishta Advait philosophy of Ramanujacharya:

As against Shankaracharya’s Advait philosophy or non-dualism of Nature (Prakruti) and Brahm or the soul and the Brahm, there is also another major philosophy called Vishishta Advait or qualified non-dualism of Ramanujacharya (c. 1017-1137). It is based on the spiritual and physical experience and realization of God by offering utmost devotion (bhakti) to God, instead of just knowing the nature of self and God (brahmgnan). The same illusory world of Maya of Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya is used for offering the devotion or bhakti towards personified (sakar) God. According to this philosophy, the soul and God are both qualitatively or characteristically similar but ontologically quite distinct entities and not the one and same or part and parcel. This dual or paradoxical understanding of both the realities makes it special or “Vishishta” and separates it from the Shankaracharya’s Advait philosophy. Secondly, it clarifies the distinction between the Creation (Prakruti or Nature) and the Creator (Ishwar or God). Ishwar is transcendental to both jiv (soul) and jagat (Nature). The philosophy still falls short of clarifying the ontological distinction between the jiv (soul) and jagat (Nature) even though characteristically both are opposite of each other.  One is chit, chaitanya, essence, sentient, indestructible, indivisible, unchangeable, and non-decayable while the other is achit, achetan, jad, insentient, destructible, divisible, changeable, and decayable. It considers jiv (soul) and jagat (nature) are two modes of one reality called Brahm. According to this philosophy, the soul is “Chit-Brahm” meaning chaitanya or sentient being and the jagat (Prakruti or Nature) is “Achit-Brahm” meaning achetan, jad or insentient being. According to this philosophy, soul and nature, both as Brahm, are the body (sharir) of God (Parabrahm). In this way Brahm (sharir) and Parabrahm (shariri) make the two, respectively, penultimate and the ultimate, dependent and independent, transcendental eternal realities. Thus, according to this philosophy, there are mainly three fundamental realities, called “Tattva”, namely, Chit or Jiv (soul), Achit or Jagat (universe), and Ishwar (God). The triad of jiv, jagat, and jagadishwar (jagat + ishwar = jagadishwar, meaning, ishwar or lord of the jagat) is generally known as Brahm – the one and only. Thus, it does not differ much from the Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya. The apparently minute or subtle (sukshma) but the philosophically major difference between the two philosophies is that, Ishwar is considered different than Brahm in the Vishishtadvaita philosophy, whereas, there is no difference between Ishwar (God) and Brahm in Advait philosophy. Vishishtadvaita philosophy considers Ishwar as an essence or substantive part of Brahm, whereas, jiv and jagat are considered the two modes of Brahm. Ishwar is transcendental to both jiv and jagat. Ishwar (God) has dual characteristics: he resides or is present as a principle, universal spirit, and as an inner controller inside all beings, at the same time, all beings reside within him. Vishishtadvaita philosophy is generally known as the Path of devotion or bhakti (Bhakti Mārg) because it stresses more on devotion to God rather than to Brahmgnan or mere knowledge of Brahm. The devotion to God exceeds simple union of the individual soul with Brahm without any devotion to God. Shankaracharya’s “Gnan Marg” does not involve much of the devotion or worship of God instead it stresses more on the knowledge and the union of the soul with the Brahm – the Supreme authority. Just as the Advaita philosophy of Shankaracharya has become synonymous with Vedanta, the Vishishtadvaita philosophy of Ramanujacharya has become synonymous with Vaishnavism (Vaishnav theology). The word “Vaishnav” has come from worshiping Vishnu as God or the Supreme Being.

If one tries to understand God only by studying Panchratra shastras (scriptures), God is realized as purely human being like us, simply because common people or non-devotees cannot see or find any divinity in His worldly routine activities. Secondly the personal form of God gets all the limitations and becomes localized in one place at one time and not as the forever universal inner controller (sarva-antaryami) form and all-perfect (paripurna) form.

Darshan (Philosophy) IV

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies:

Advaita philosophy

Kevala Advaita philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya

Many sub-philosophies have been developed under the heading of Vedanta (Uttara Mimamsa) philosophy – the philosophies based on Prasthan Trayi, since the beginning of the Common Era. Out of them one is the Advait Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya.

Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya:

Advait philosophy is given by Adi Shankaracharya (788 CE-821 CE?). “Advait” means “not two” or “non dual”. The word “Advait” doesn’t mean “one”. It is different than Monism, because Monism is defined little differently. As against Sankhya philosophy, the Advaita philosophy believes that Purush (soul) and Prakruti (nature) are one and same as Brahm. It is because of Maya, avidyā, or agnān (ignorance or illusion) that they look different. According to this philosophy, there exists only one reality called Brahm. “Sarvam khalv idam brahm” (Chhāndogya Upanishad: 3.14.1) Meaning, “All that we see in the world is Brahm.” Everything, what we see, feel, observe, and experience is revelation of attributeless “nirgun,” formless “nirakar” Brahm. The real meaning of nirgun, nirakar is “without any worldly trigunatmak form”. This material world is merely an illusion or untrue, meaning, it is destructible, changeable but not the permanent truth. The root cause of all the ignorance, called “Avidyā” or “Maya”, is the belief that this material world is real or the truth. The ultimate liberation comes when one establishes unity of one’s individual soul with the universal soul or Brahm by solidifying one’s knowledge (gyan) that, “Aham Brahmāsmi” (Brahadaranyaka Upanishad: 1.4.10) meaning, “I am Brahm” and “Tat tvam asi” (Chhandogya Upanishad: 6.8.7) meaning, “You are that (Brahm).” It is true that one can identify one’s soul with Brahm, because both are described to be having similar characteristics in the scriptures. When Shankaracharya said everything is Brahm, he meant it. He had a vision to see everything as Brahm or filled with Brahm, just as a scientist sees everything as well organized structures made just of atoms or quarks. Just as everything in the nature is quarks or atoms in the eyes of scientists, everything was Brahm in the eyes of Shankaracharya. If we see this object is mine and that is yours, this object is prettier and that object is ugly, if we have partiality for some and impartiality for others then we haven’t reach that stage. According to the Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya, soul is Brahm, the Nature or Prakruti (the Creation) is Brahm, and the Creator of the Creation is also Brahm. In that way Advait philosophy is a kind of Monism. Advaitists believe that the whole universe is evolved from Brahm or God. For some these changes in Brahm are real, while, for others these changes or differentiations in Brahm are only apparent or superficial and not real. Advaitists believe that individual souls are created by Maya, in reality they are one with the Brahm. The removal of the veil of ignorance (Maya) makes this truth clear – the state being known as “Jivanmukti” (the living freedom). Shankaracharya’s path is generally known as the Path of Knowledge or “Gyān or Gnān Mārg.” In Vedanta philosophy there was no worshiping of Brahm, but still worshiping of God was there. God was considered Brahm. In Shankaracharya’s period, most of his followers were Brahmins and Brahmins were “shaivites” or “shaivas” meaning they worshiped Shiv (Shankar or Mahesh) as the Supreme Being or God. Shankaracharya himself was the devotee and firm believer of Shiv. So he continued that practice. In Rigved, the word Rudra is used for Shiva. Rudra is described as the last son of Brahmā. (Kurma Puran: 1.10.21,22; Linga Puran: 1.41,42,43; Shiva Puran: 7.1.12. 31, 32; Bhagwat Puran: 3.12.6-10; Skanda Puran: 5.1.2. 24-26; Mahabharat: 1.60.1-4) The same Rudra is described to be born of Prajāpati in the previous kalpa (eon or age of universe). Currently, Vedanta and Shankaracharya’s philosophy has mostly become synonymous.

There is also somewhat different philosophy than the Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya, which is known as “Shushka (sushka) Vedanta.”  Shushka means dry, baseless, or bijless (nirbij, bij means seed or the essence). The followers of Shushka Vedanta or modern Vedantis, unlike followers of Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya, do not believe in or worship (bhakti) any God at all nor do they believe in many of His divine forms, and His abode, thinking that after becoming one with the Brahm, one need not worship or bow down to any God. They become so arrogant that they no longer have fear committing any seen. They do not even believe in any scripture-described moral or do’s and don’ts called “Vidhinishedh”. They only believe in nirakar nirgun Brahm, which itself has assumed the form of all mobile and immobile objects. Shushka Vedantis forget the controversy created by their own belief that along with jiv and all mobile and immobile objects of the universe Brahm also has to undergo births and deaths. Their own liberation thus is refuted by their own beliefs. Shushka Vedantis are those who think themselves as Brahm having still harboring lust, anger, greed, infatuation, jealousy, ego, etc and without even having attained the highest status of Brahm. They forget that Shankaracharya had truly attained the highest brahmanized state, he himself had become one with the Brahm, and he was surely and meaningfully seeing the whole creation as one, before saying the same to the others. So, Shankaracharya’s Advait Vedanta theory is widely accepted but the kind of understanding that is seen in Sushka Vedanta is largely condemned by the main stream Hinduism. Just by saying, “I am Brahm” or believing to be Brahm one cannot be like Brahm, by completely knowing about Brahm from the scriptures also one cannot be like Brahm, but by achieving or cultivating all the qualities of Brahm one can be like Brahm. Shankaracharya had truly become one with the Brahm.

If one tries to understand the form of God through Advaita Vedanta philosophy only, then God is realized as formless or abstract (nirākār) because of His description as nirgun (without any worldly mayik qualities or attributes), sarva-vyāpak (all-pervading), and sarva-kāran (cause of all). But not as having the “eternally forever divine form” (sadā divya sākār) as opposed to the any worldly form with which God’s form cannot be compared. Secondly we cannot realize that divine form of God that listens to us, talks to us, watch us, answers to our prayers, forgives us, gives us pleasure and joy, and accepts our services and devotion (navadhā bhakti). How God can talk and listen to us person-to-person, if He is not in person and we are in person and if He is formless and we are having form? If He can take any form in Nature, He sure can take the human form.

Darshan (Philosophy) III

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Mimamsa and Vedanta:

Purva Mimamsa (Mimamsa):

Mimamsa is also known as Purva Mimamsa, as against Uttara Mimamsa. Mimamsa was developed by rishi Jaimini and was described in his text “Mimamsa Sutra.” Mimamsa means detail investigation or analysis of the subject. According to Mimamsa, the correct performance of the Vedic rites or rituals is the means of salvation. It discusses in detail the nature of ritual obligations (karma-kānda) and ethical and moral duties (dharma) based on correct interpretation of the scriptures. It deals with linguistic methods. It describes critical analysis and explanations of scriptural texts – words, sentences, and the language as whole. We can say that, like Nyaya (system of logical analysis) and Vaisheshika (system of particles and cosmic analysis), Mimamsa is a creditworthy ancient Hindu scientific system of linguistic analysis for the study of scriptural texts. When any ritualism over the time becomes monotonous and meaningless, that is, losing its original meaning, the further detailed study and reanalysis of it is surely warranted. The origin of Mimamsa was timely when the Vedic system of ritualism was marginalized by many religious, historical, and political factors. Mimamsa has tried to reestablish the validity of Vedic ritualism portion which had become monotonous and meaningless over the time. For that, Mimamsa has used the science of Nyaya system for its Vedic interpretation. Mimamsa believes not in proving the truth of the knowledge rather in disproving the falsity of the knowledge.  Just take out the untruth from a system, and what remains is the truth.

Mimamsa has gone in every detail of the meanings of the words rather than sentences of the Vedic literature and the actions prescribed by them. In this manner it has emphasized more of the “yāgnic karmakānds”, leaving behind the essence of knowledge contained in Upanishads – the end parts of the Vedas for the Vedanta philosophy to be originated in future. Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa never contradict with each other.

Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta):

Vedanta marks the “trivenisangam” – meeting point of three understandings of the Vedic scriptures, namely, pantheistic understanding of Vedic Arya society, atheistic understanding of Buddhism and Jainism, and monotheistic understanding of mainstream Hinduism. It also marks the beginning of the separate identification of Brahm and Parabrahm. Vedanta means the end (“anta”) part of the Vedas. The philosophies based on the end part of Veda are known as Vedanta philosophies or in short “Vedanta”. Thus, Vedanta is not just one philosophy but the group of philosophies that include Advaita (Non-Dualism), Vishishtadvaita (Qualified Non-Dualism), Dvaita (Dualism), and other philosophies having the same common source. Vedanta is also called Uttara Mimamsa, because the term Vedanta had become almost synonymous to Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Shankaracharya. All Vedanta philosophies are developed around the teachings of Upanishads and Aranyakas rather than the hymns (mantras) and the ritual parts (karma kānds) of the Vedas. The texts “Vedanta Sutras” or “Brahm Sutras” were composed by rishi Bādarāyan, also known as Vyasa. According to some Vedanta there is one Absolute Reality called “Brahm.” According to other Vedanta the Absolute Reality is called “Parabrahm,” “Purushottam,” or “Narayan.” Other realities are merely an illusion, like a dream, meaning, not the permanent. The object of life is to realize that Truth by knowledge, intuition and experience. According to Vedanta, Brahm is all pervading, (sarva-vyāpak), omnipresent, the cause of all (sarva-kāran), supporter of all (sarvādhār), beyond any qualities or attributes (nirgun), non-dual (advaita), untainted or without any impurities of maya (niranjan), the all-doer (sarva-kartā) yet appear to be non-doer (akartā) (meaning, kartā thakā akartā), and without any worldly attributes but possessing divine attributes. By describing Brahm having no attributes the followers of some Vedanta (Vedantis or Vedantists), believe that Brahm is “nirākār” or formless. By describing Brahm having no worldly attribute doesn’t mean Brahm do not have any form. In the same scriptures Brahm is described to have divine attributes, “divya sākār” form. In fact the scriptures describe Brahm having two forms at the same time, one impersonal and the other personified. When Brahm is described as the abode of God and supporting brahmands it is described as impersonal. When Brahm is described as the consort, “shakti”, companion, best Bhakta, or humble servant of God, it is described to have personification.   

This is, in short, about the six basic philosophical systems of Hinduism. They were developed on different bases of the same original authentic Vedic scriptures in such a way that they become complementary to each other. Sankhya took care of the psychological or thinking aspect of the Vedic knowledge while Yoga took care of the physiological or behavioral aspect of the Vedic knowledge; Nyaya took care of the logical aspect of the Vedic science while Vaisheshika took care of the physical aspect of the Vedic science; Purva Mimamsa took care of the ritual aspect of the Vedas while Uttar Mimamsa took care of the intellectual aspect of the Vedas. The beauty of Hinduism is that, any of its six systems never contradicted to each other instead they added to each other in understanding the “Truth” or “Absolute” of Hinduism. Even though having total diversity in understanding and in practice, Hinduism has remained one religion and has flourished under one umbrella of main stream Hinduism. This is probably, due to its inherent belief in tolerance and freedom – 1. Freedom of religion – freedom of both the aspects of religion: freedom of religious practice and freedom of philosophical thinking. 2. Freedom from worldly attachments – freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Hinduism has always remained open to the mankind. It has never tried to enforce its doctrine on others. On the contrarily it has remained rather more conservatively among the intellectual class, in well control practicing and in letting others learn its Sanskrit language. These could be the two main reasons of its major loss of its lots of wealthy information.

Darshan (Philosophy) II

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Nyaya and Vaisheshika:


The other two philosophical systems of Hinduism, namely, Nyay (Nyaya) and Vaisheshik (Vaisheshika) are more or less scientific systems developed to understand God and His Creation simply because we cannot fully test or reproduce both of them in our laboratory systems. To understand all that we see, observe, feel, think, and experience with our five senses and four antahkarans (mind) the Vedic Hindu thinkers or philosophers had developed theses two alternative systems in ancient times. Nyay is a system of logic or rules whereas Vaisheshik is system of cosmology or particles (Kan or Kana), though the evolution of universe from Prakruti is elaborately discussed in Sankhya Shashtras. Historians of science have shown unawareness about the contribution of Hindu scriptures in the fields of logic, physics, mathematics, philosophy, language, sociology, psychology, cosmology, etc. or in science in general.


Nyaya or the system of logic was developed by rishi Gautam. According to Nyaya, obtaining the valid knowledge through logic helps to attain liberation. Nyaya philosophy describes 16 systems or points of understanding, called “Padārtha,” to extract “basic meanings” of any entity. These are: 1. Pramāna (evidences), 2. Prameya (theorem or analysis), 3. Samshaya (doubt or questioning), 4. Prayojana (aim, goal, or purpose), 5. Drashtānta (examples), 6. Siddhānta (conclusion or abstract), 7. Avayava (subdivisions, part, or sections), 8. Tarka (logic or hypothetical reasoning), 9. Nirnaya (descision, final verdict, or settlement), 10. Vāda (doctrine, principle, or arguments), 11. Jalpa (debate, hot discussion), 12. Vitanda (quibble or caviling), 13. Hetavābhāsa (gross purpose), 14. Chhala (fallacy or tricking), 15. Jāti (kind or descent), and 16. Nigrahasthāna (point of defeat). All 16 padarthas are further explored. For example, Nyaya school describes four types of reasoning or evidences (pramāna): A. Evidences in favor of validity of the knowledge are: direct perception (pratyaksh pramana), inference or guess work (anumāna pramana), comparative evidence (upamāna pramana), and verbal or testimonial evidence (shabda pramana). B. Evidences in favor of invalidity of the knowledge are: memory (smruti), doubt (samshaya), errors, variability, or vicissitudes (viparyāya), and hypothetical reasoning (tarka). All kinds of the evidences are further explored. For example: direct perception. It can also be of two kinds: laukika or sādhārana (ordinary or sensory), and alaukika or asādhārana (extra ordinary or extra sensory). Both are further explored. For example, ordinary perceptions can be divided into six categories, namely, auditory, tactile, visual, gustatory, olfactory, and mental. Extra ordinary perceptions are further divided into three varieties: sāmanya-lakshana (common sense or intuition), gnān-lakshana (calculated or knowledge based from the previous experience), and yogaja (ESP). Perceptions are also divided into: savikalpa (relative) and nirvikalpa (absolute).

This is just to have its idea. Voluminous information can be found from the Nyaya texts.


Vaisheshik system was developed by rishi Kanād, from whose name the particles got the name “Kan” or “Kana.” His teaching was that liberation can only be achieved or attained by thoroughly understanding the nature and our existence. Vaisheshika accepts the cosmology or the evolution of the Nature or Universe. Prakruti is considered to be the cause of cosmic evolution. Prakruti has three constituent qualities (guna), namely, sattva, rajas, and tamas in equilibrium. That is why it is also known as “trigunātmikā.” According to Vaisheshika, all objects in nature (Prakruti) are made of tiniest, indivisible, invisible, indestructible, and eternal particles that are neither created nor destroyed (meaning they were there at the beginning of the creation and they will be there at the end of dissolution) and are called “paramānu.” They are like elementary particles of modern physics. Paramanus make anu. Two paramanu make one dvyanuka. Two, three, four, and more dvyanuka make one tryanuka, chaturanuka, and so on. These anu possess continuous vibratory motion which can be regarded as the spin or wave function. These paramanus are distinct from the soul. Each atomic substances has individual (vishesha) characteristics which distinguishes them from other non-atomic substances (dravyas), such as time (kāl), three dimensional space (dig, dishā) (directions or dimensions), soul (ātmā or ātman), and mind (manas). Vaisheshika has definitions for, ākāsh, time, and space. They have no lower constituents, meaning they are elementary. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.1.27-31) The qualities of akash are: sound, number, dimension, distinctness (individuality or separateness), conjunction, and disjunction. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 7.1.22) Time marks past, present, and future; succession, lateness and earliness. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.2.6) Time marks beginning, persistence, and end. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.2.9) Space is the cause of directions and dimensions between two objects. Vaisheshika clearly defines and describes the principle of cause (kāran) and effect (kārya).

Time can flow at different rates for different observers. Time and space are not absolute. Space and time are relative. There exist countless universes with their own Brahmā, Vishnu, and Mahesh. The universal is taken to be timeless and ubiquitous. Whatever can be defines with respect to space and time cannot be a universal. The processes that mark the passage of time on an object would thus be relative. It is only the universals which are true for all time and space are absolute or transcendental. The only such universals are Brahm and Parabrahm. These ideas are elaborated in the Purans, Agama Shashtras, and in the books such as Yoga-Vashishtha.

Substances can be grouped according to their actions or activities, common characteristics, specific characteristics, and their relationships with the cause and effect. According to Vaisheshika, there are six basic categories (padārtha) associated with reality: dravya (substance), guna (quality or characteristic), karma (motion or actions), sāmānya (common or general), vishesha (specific), and samavāya (inherent or comparative).

Dravyas include 9 basic realities, namely, Pruthwi (earth or solid), Jal (water or liquid), Tej (light or fire), Vayu (air or gas), Akash (ether or void), Desh or Dishā (place or the three dimensional space), Kal (time), Mana (mind), and Atma (soul or spirit).

Seventeen kinds of gunas (qualities or characteristics) of objects are originally described. They are: Rupa (appearance or form), Rasa (taste), Gandh (smell), Sparsh (feel or touch), Sankyā (number), Parimāna (dimensions, size, or quantity), Pruthakatva (individuality, separateness, or isolation), Samyoga or sanjog (conjugation), Vibhāga (parts, divisions, or disjunctions), Paratva (remoteness, farness or superiority), Aparatva (nearness or inferiority), Buddhi (intelligence or judgment), Sukha (happiness or pleasure), Dukha (unhappiness or pain), Ichchhā (desire), Dvesha (aversion or animosity), Prayatna (effort –  easy or hard).

Karma means action, activity, motion, or work done. It has four features: Akash (in space or in vacuum), Kāl (time), Dik or Dishā (direction), and Atman (inherent – size, magnitude, etc).

Darshan (Philosophy) I

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Shad Darshan – Sankhya and Yoga:


Since Hinduism has its base in Vedas and Vedas are considered words of God directly revealed to the great Rishis, Hinduism is not considered as a philosophy. Hinduism is the Vedic way of describing the Absolute Truth. Vedas are considered eternal (without any origin), authorless (apaurusheya – means not the work of mankind or beyond human imagination), and infallible (never wrong). The directly revealed words of God are considered as the form of God. “mada vāni, mada rupam”, meaning, “My words are my form.” It is considered as one of the ways of understanding or claiming the Truth, just like any other religious philosophies. It will be surprising to know that almost all religious philosophies agree to believe that the “Truth” or “Absolute” is one, but it is equally surprising that the claimants or claimers are many! Because, Hinduism is not considered as a philosophy but is considered as the first hand or direct information about the truth, the philosophies developed on the bases of the Vedas – the words of God, are called “Darshans.” Darshans are philosophies – philosophical interpretations about the Truth by the great scholars. Darshans literarily means the views, visions, or philosophies and are also known as “Tattvagnān” (also spelled as “Tattvagyan” or “Tattvajnan”). Hinduism is not the “Darshan” or “Tattvagnān.” “Shad” means six and “Darshan” means philosophy. The six major philosophies of Hinduism developed from Vedas and Upanishads are: Sānkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaisheshika, Purva Mimānsā (Mimamsa), and Uttara Mimānsā (also known as Vedanta.”) All these philosophies were basically developed before the Common Era except the few major philosophies based on Vedanta.


Sankhya” is the oldest classical philosophical system of Hinduism founded by rishi Kapil. According to Sankhya, there are basically two realities: Prakruti and Purush. Prakruti means the Nature which consists of 24 elements (tattvas). Purush means the essence or the controller of Prakruti. It is ontologically and characteristically distinct from Prakruti and is considered as the 25th element that is transcendental to all other elements. The responsibility of exploring or knowing in detail and further describing the Nature or Prakruti has been taken up by the Science, The responsibility of knowing and describing God or Purush has been taken up by the Religion.

The objective of Sankhya is to obtain discriminative knowledge of the manifest (vyakta) nature (prakruti), the unmanifest (avyakta) nature (prakruti), and the knower (purush). “Tadviparitaha shreyān vyakta-avykta-gna-vignānāt ||” (Sāmkhya Kārikā: 2) According to Sankhya, Vyakta prakruti includes Mahattattva, Buddhi, Ahamkar, five Tanmatra, ten Indriya, and five Mahabhut. Avyakta prakruti is Pradhān. The knower (gnaha) is known as Purush.

Sankhya philosophy maintains multiplicity of Purush. “janana-marana-karanānām pratiniyamādugapatpravruteshcha | Purushabahutvam siddhim traigunyaviparyayāshchaiva ||” (Sāmkhya Kārikā: 18) “Everybody does not born at the same time, does not die at the same time, everybody does not do same activity (karma) at the same time, everybody does activities (pravrutti) according to their psychological state of mind (gunas), such as some do virtuous activities (dharma), some do wicked activities (adharma);  some do cultivate detachment from the worldly object (vairagya) some not; some gain knowledge (gyān), some not. These diversities themselves show the plurality of purushas.”

Sankhya does not separate jiv or soul from sharir or the body. It considers jiv or soul as a part of 24 elements of Nature (also called Pradhān Prakruti) because jiv is intermingled or blended with them so closely that it cannot be separately identified. The 24 elements along with jiv are considered as the field called “Kshetra” and Purush is considered as the fielder called “Kshetragna.” They have controlee and controller relationships, respectively. This can be compared to the Dualism. But, the dualism of body and its life force (soul, atma or jivatma) or the dualism of cosmos (Prakruti) and its super-soul (Purush) and not the dualism of body and mind (According to Hinduism mind or antahkaran is part of the body – ontologically same element or reality) as against Monism. In Sankhya, the intellect or conscious is called “mahat” (mahattattva). Sankhya describes three kinds of proofs or evidences called “Pramānas,” namely, “Pratyaksha pramana” meaning direct perception, “Anumāna pramana” meaning logical inference, and “Sabda pramana” means verbal testimony.

Sānkhya is the eyes (ānkhya) to visualize the Truth. The message of Sankhya is to utilized this material world for improving one’s understanding about the Truth, at the same time developing the detachment from it, and hence to uplift the soul considering that this material world is not that important, permanent, or giver of the happiness or the bliss. It can just give comfort at the most. It is called the Nature or Prakruti – the jad (lifeless), aparā (non-transcendental) Prakruti which is “nāshvant” meaning destructible. The real essence is its life force, motivating force, its cause, its controller called Purush, Ishwar, or God. One should cultivate the attachment with the Truth. Sankhya generally believes in unrestricted use of nature or the worldly products of the nature and then either to forget it or to rationalize it to remain permanently detached from it so that one always remains in the state of bliss and avoid pain and sufferings.

In Sankhya, the question of salvation remains open. If Purush is God and Prakruti is His creation then salvation of Purush is out of question. If Brahmand is Prakruti (Pradhān) and its chief controller is Purush and if there is only one brahmand then the separation of Purush from its brahmand happens at the dissolution. But it doesn’t explain multiplicity of Purushas. If there are many brahmands, and hence many Pradhāns then it explains existence of many Purushas. But then it does not explain the supremacy of one God. One needs to add or explain the existence of the supreme reality. If Prakruti is body and Purush is its essence, called Jiv or soul, then it explains many bodies and many souls – a separate soul for each living being. But then the soul becomes the 25th element and what about God? What about salvation? Who gets salvation and who gives salvation? If souls get salvation, then who gives them salvation? The above ontological questions or flaws in Sankhya philosophy creates the necessity of at least one more reality, either soul or God, which is explained by the next philosophy.


Yoga was developed by rishi Pātanjali for creation of the spiritual bonding or union of a soul with the God. But now it has taken a 360 degree turn to help built physical health globally. The principals of Yoga are mentioned in his text of “Yoga Sutra.” Patanjali’s yoga system accepts the principles and concepts of Sankhya about the 24 kinds of physical elements. Patanjali’s Yoga texts (Yoga Shāshtras) go one step further. According to yoga, soul or jiv is ontologically different than the 24 kinds of physical, material, or worldly elements. So soul or jiv can be considered as the 25th element and God automatically becomes the 26th element. God is still maintained superior to all that makes up the topmost transcendental element or fundamental entity constituting the creation. God in Yoga is personified, Supreme, and of the nature of soul, that is, purely spiritual. He facilitates the attainment of liberation of the souls of His devotees. He remains non-doer or “akrtā.” Meaning, He doesn’t do anything directly by Himself and remain detached from its creation. He is called “Ishwar.” In Yoga, Ishwar is described as one, “in whom there is the seed (bij) or source of unsurpassed (nirātishayam) quality of all-knowing (omniscience),” “Tatra niratishayam sarvagnatva-bijam” Meaning Ishwar is omniscient or all-knower (sarvagna) (Yoga Sutra: 1.25) and “Sa purveshām-api guruhu kālenānavachchhedāt” (Yoga Sutra: 1.26) Meaning, “who is Guru (mentor or the ideal) of also ancient ones (primary creators, such as Brahmā and others), for, He is unbounded (pierced) by time (for He has no beginning and end, meaning eternal, whereas others have beginning and end).” Ishwar is “Purush-vishesha” (Godhead) untouched, unaffected, and free from the “klesha” (afflictions), “karma” (deeds or actions), “vipāka” (fruits of the deeds or actions), and “āshaya” (intentions or desires). “Klesha karma vipākāshayair aparāmrushtaha purusha-vishesha ishwaraha” (Yoga Sutra: 1.24). Souls are pure, eternal, immutable, and are countless in number. They remain attached to the world and worldly things. Souls assume innumerable embodied forms in the cycle of birth and death. In Yoga, the intellect or conscious is called “chittva” (chitt). Unlike the unrestricted use of nature in the Sankhya system, Yoga believes in the restricted use of the nature or in the well controlled and willing (not the forceful and against one’s will) suppression (nirodh) of the thoughts (vruttis) of the conscious (chitt). To understand the elements let us take only one kind of element, say the “Pruthwi” element. It consists of particulate form of more than 112-118 elements of the periodic table. Yoga also describes perceptions, but only of two kinds: “Savikalpa” meaning relative and “Nirvikalpa” meaning absolute perception.

In Yoga, Ashtang Yoga or meditation (dhyān) is used as the means of communion with the Divinity or God. Divinity or self is the object of meditation. Yoga recommends considering the soul, jiv or atma as the distinct (chaitanya) entity from the physical or worldly (lifeless) objects or entities and to develop “Atmabhāv” or “Atma-realization”; and then to worship Paramatma (God) who has definite form (sākār). If we have a physical form, then God has to have, physical but divine (divya sakar), form otherwise the union cannot be strong and fruitful. This is called “sajātiya” union, meaning the union “of a kind” or “of the same kind,” because, Soul and God both are believed to share ontologically common traits. The message of Yoga, as compared to Sankhya, is not to utilize this material world at all or at the minimum necessary level to keep one’s body, mind, and soul healthy and long-lasting keeping in mind that it is just the vehicle in developing the union with the Truth called God or Narayan and attaining the liberation.

Thus, Yoga emphasizes for spiritually leveling or uplifting the “Atma to God” or “Jiv to Shiv (God)” or “one eternal to another eternal” (shāswat) objects, rather than downgrading oneself with the worldly, material, destructible (nāshvant) objects by thinking or being as a part of a physical elements. If a person thinks him or herself as a part of the material world and worships God then his or her union or bonding with the God does not become complete, strong, and permanent. There always remains a flaw or hanging sward over that union and ultimately it breaks with even a trivial reason.

Yoga philosophy explains three basic or fundamental realities and salvation of souls, but it creates one more issue. If one understands Ishwar from Yoga only, being defined as Purush form, God as a person gets many limitations in understanding. One cannot get it how personified God can be all-knower or omniscient (sarvagna), all-controller, inner-guide of all (sarva antaryāmi), all-pervasive (sarva vyāpak), present everywhere at the same time (omnipresent) and absolutely perfect (paripurna).

Yoga was meant for the union of the atma (self or soul) with Paramatma (God) and the object of meditation was self or God. But in modern period of times, the object of meditation is changed from the divinity to diversity and yoga has just remain one of the means of attaining or maintaining well being of the body only, not even of mind and the soul.

Hinduism – Philosophy:

Saturday, May 1st, 2010


Dear reader:

Philosophy is the heart of a religion. Religion is based on God’s words revealed directly to the great people. They put them in the words for all human beings. Scholars and Godly people interpreted them for the salvation and good for the common people. Yet, in studying these philosophies, one should keep in mind that the world’s great philosophers and philosophies were misunderstood and misinterpreted first by their own people, by taking their words literarily when they were not to be taken literarily and by taking them metaphorically when they were not meant for or to be conceived as a metaphor, before the rest of the world later knows about the true or real meaning of these words.

Herewith, in the following articles, we will try to present various major philosophies of Hinduism for the general information. Details of particular philosophies can be studied from the authentic text books. It is not necessary for everybody to agree with everything presented here. Readers may agree or disagree with any or all of the philosophies, yet one should keep oneself open to study other philosophies to seek the Truth. For the serious readers, it is advisable to refer to the original scriptures. We are sure that they would find for themselves some new understandings about the subject. We shall also try on our side to provide the references as much as possible, but we are afraid that it might make the articles uninteresting or boring. Also, please, pardon us for our unintentional typos and grammatical errors.

The beauty of Hinduism is that one can keep one’s faith or religion and still study and follow the universal laws of peace and harmony from it. Sincere seeker of the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth – Brahm and Parabrahm (God), should find and follow the great Sant or personality as Guru. The information only becomes knowledge after understanding and putting into practice the scriptural words of God. Salvation only occurs by practicing, and not just discussing, God’s words in one’s day to day life. Without putting those words into practice even masters would not enjoy the bliss of God.

Shad Darshans are the six major philosophies of Hinduism. They are all supportive to each other and each one is centered on any one particular ideology from the Vedas. The Vedanta philosophy is one of the six major philosophies of Hinduism. There are many philosophies under this heading. Vedanta philosophies are mainly based on Prasthantrayi and Agamas texts. Agamas are the body or religion part of Hinduism, whereas, Nigamas (Vedas and Upanishads) and Prasthantrayi, are the essence or heart, meaning, philosophical part of Hinduism.

In the coming pages we will try to present as many from the above philosophies of Hinduism as possible.