ANCIENT INDIAN PHILOSOPHY: AN INTRODUCTION

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The ancient Indian philosophical system has ten schools of thought, which could be the highest number of thought processes in the world. Many of the leading western philosophers were inspired by these systems and borrowed the principles for their own thought processes. There are six Orthodox and four Heterodox systems.

Orthodox Schools consist of:

1. The Nyaya System 2. The Vaisesika System 3. Sankhya System 4. Yoga System 5. The Purva Mimansa 6. The Uttar Mimansa.

Heterodox Schools consist of:

1. Carvaka System 2. Buddhism 3. Jainism 4. Arthashastra

Orthodox Schools

The Nyaya System

The Nyaya System applied the analy­tical and rational method of ethical matters. It took up the ordinary stock notions of conventional philosophy as space, time, cause, matter, mind, soul and awareness, and after inquiry set forth the results in the form of a theory of the universe. Nyaya System strives towards a logical and analytical investigation of Indian philosophy with a belief to rationally synthesizing the ends of life and of spirituality, to creating a logical rela­tionship between body and soul, and exhibiting a way of redemption.

Western scholars have highly praised this system and called it “an idealism with virtue and practical consistency, of which there are few instances.” Nyaya school exercised a sincere influence on the advancement of Indian thought and scientific scrutiny by indicating the pitfalls to be prevented and the tenets of ethical wisdom to be observed.

The Vaisesika System

The Vaisesika was virtually a system of explicitness and derives its name from its doctrine of atomic individualities (viseshas) and is also known as the ‘Philosophy of Discrimination’. The first standardized exposition of this system is found in the sutras of Kanada.

The physical theory is formulated in connection with the five substances viz. earth, water, light, air, and akasha. According to this system, the ultimate constituents of concrete aspects are atoms(pramanus). Four classes of ‘Pramanus’ responding to the four great classes of material objects earth, water, light, and air. It holds that there can­not be lasting destruction. The structures may disappear but the atoms with their qualities continue to exist.

The most significant contribution of this school of Indian philosophy is its concept of the atom, its examination of the incredible world, its theory of propagation of sound and its observations of heat and light.

Sankhya System

This is probably the oldest of the six systems of Indian Orthodox philosophy. We find some explanation of it in the Bhagavad-Gita as well as Upanishads. Its founder is sage Kapila. The earliest existing text of this system is Sankhya-karika of Isvarakrsna of the fourth century A.D. This system dismisses the stringent categories of the Nyaya-Vaisesika system as insufficient instru­ments for establishing the universe. It substituted evolution for creation.

It proclaims that there prevail in the universe two active principles named Purusha and Prakriti. The Purusha or Soul is the pure spirit, which in its natural state is bereft of all attributes, is indestructible, and is unaffected by sentiments and sensations. But deceived by Maya and captivated by the glamour of Prakriti, the Purusha plunges into the former and gets entangled in the web of samsara and karma.

The Prakriti is evolved out of three Gunas—Sattva (goodness, truth, purity, etc.), Rajas (passion for activity) and Tamas (inertia, stolidity, obstruction, etc.). These Gunas do not prevail individually but generally blend with one another. Sattva and rajas are contained by tamas.

This system exercised significant leverage on philoso­phies in other countries. Western philosophers believe that ‘Plato, Schopenhauer, and Hermann are full of Sankhyan thoughts’.

Yoga System

The term has been employed in the Upanishads and in Bhagavad-Gita to indicate the union of the soul with the Supreme. The Yoga system accepts the philosophy of Sankhya but does not give that much significance to knowledge as a means of liberation. It, on the other hand, holds that emancipation can be attained only by devotional exer­cises and mental discipline.

It thus initiated the concept of God. The Chitta is the source of Yoga and its distraction has to be solely regulated. Yoga assists in the development of super-sensory perception by bolstering the body and transforming the psychic organism. It helps the individual to go beyond the barriers of sense perception and attain Samadhi or the stage in which the soul gets a blissful vision.

The Yoga system does not avoid the physical part of presence, because it is through the body that spiritual life is expressed. To overcome the obstacles in the way of the growth of spiritual life, the Yoga system proposes an eightfold method: Yama (abs­tention), Niyama (observance), Asana (posture), Pranayama (regu­lation of breath), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dhyana (fixed attention) and Samadhi (concentration).

The Purva Mimansa

This school of Indian philosophy differs from other schools in so far as it is purely a school of illustration, instead of liberation. Its principal objective was to illustrate the vali­dity of Dharma(duty) by regulating the teachings of the Vedas. The initial work of this school is the sutras of Jaimini, which were presumably written in the second century B.C.

It’s principal is based on, that the soul is a reality, and is distinct from the body and the senses. The soul can be liberated only by faithfully pursuing the orthodox rites, and ceremonies stipulated in the Vedic texts, which are divinely inspired, sacred, indefinite and infallible.

The Uttar Mimansa

The Uttar Mimansa, most famously known as Vedanta is the most significant of the six schools of philosophy. In fact, most of the central features of modern intellectual Indian philosophy were contributed by this school. The essential text of this system is Brahma Sutras attributed to Badarayana, written early in the 1st century AD. In this work, he made an endeavor to organize the teachings of the Upanishads. Perhaps the best exposition was composed by Sankara, a Saivite scholar of South India.

According to this philosophy, the Brahma is an utmost Reality and is the source, support, and liquidator of the universe. The individual soul or the atman is only a fraction of the Brahma and is not different from it. Brahma is shapeless and formless, and it assumes different names and forms.

Heterodox Schools

Carvaka

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Also known as Lokayata, Carvaka is an atheistic school of thought. Its founder was Carvaka, author of the Barhaspatya Sutras in the final centuries B.C., although the original texts have been lost and the available knowledge is based largely on the critique of the ideas by other schools. As early as the 5th Century, Saddaniti and Buddhaghosa correlated the Lokayatas with the Vitandas (or Sophists), and the term Carvaka was first documented in the 7th Century by the philosopher Purandara, and in the 8th Century by Kamalasila and Haribhadra. As a vital philosophical school, Carvaka appears to have disappeared sometime in the 15th Century.

Buddhism

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Buddhism is a non-theistic system of principles based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama(Buddha), in the 5th Century B.C. The point of God is primarily incidental in Buddhism, and it is primarily based on the denial of certain orthodox Indian philosophical notions (although it does share a belief in karma). Buddhism endorses a Noble Eightfold Path to end suffering. Its philosophical principles are known as the Four Noble Truths (the Nature of Suffering, the Origin of Suffering, the End of Suffering, and the Path Leading to the End of Suffering). Buddhist philosophy deals greatly with difficulties in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.

Jainism

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The main tenets of Jain philosophy were founded by Mahavira, in the 6th Century B.C. A basic principle is an anekantavada(many-sidedness), the idea that truth is recognized differently from different points of view, and that none of the views are entirely true. As per the Jainism, only Kevalis, those who have endless wisdom, can know the true answer, and that all others would only know a part of the answer. It stresses spiritual freedom and the parity life, with specific priority on non-violence, and propagates self-control, vital for achieving the fulfillment of the soul’s true nature.

Arthashastra

The Arthashastra, associated with the Mauryan minister Chanakya in the 4th Century B.C., is one of the earliest Indian texts dedicated to political philosophy, and it examines the ideas of statecraft and economic policy.

Conclusion

It is intriguing to note that most of the inquiries, which western philosophers delved into only in the age of enlightenment, had been asked and answered over two to three millennia ago. This clearly show the openness of society and the practice of holding dialogue and debates in ancient India. The vibrant intellectual life started falling apart after the invasions from Central and Middle East Asia.

References:

1. The Upanishads: Translations and Commentary by Sri Aurobindo

2. The Bhagavad Gita

3. Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar

4. The Dhammapada by Eknath Easwaran

5. The First and Last Freedom by J Krishnamurti

6. Chanakya Neeti: Translation and Comments by Vishwamitra Sharma

7. The Nyāya theory of knowledge by Satischandra Chatterjee

8. Matter and Mind: The Vaisesika Sutras of Kanada by Subhash Kak

9. Samkhya Karika by Brahmrishi Vishvatma Bawra

10. Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini by Pundit Ganganath Jha

11. Six Systems of Indian Philosophy by F. Max Muller

 

197 thoughts

  1. quite an informative post.
    these schools of thought did exist in ancient India.
    however, they were not necessarily always open to healthy debates & discussions. sometimes there used to be intense fightings too even to the extent of killing and annihilating one another.
    Moreover, the utility of any philosophy should be measured in terms of its success and transformative approach in achieving equity, justice, fairness, bridging the class divide, income inequality, etc in a given society.
    Otherwise, it may have some utility for sophists and philosophers but none for the masses.
    Praise be to the God Almighty who has given the capacity to think and reason to Humankind. Alhamdulillah!
    Best wishes!

    1. Thank you so much, Atul Depak for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. You brought out very correctly that a society is a dead one if it has no debate, and no capacity to endorse distinct viewpoints.

    2. I wonder if there is any “one” philosophy that measures up
      “..in terms of its success and transformative approach in achieving equity, justice, fairness, bridging the class divide, income inequality, etc”

      1. That is why we are so fortunate in India to have so many types of schools of thoughts and their acceptability.
        Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  2. I worked in a yoga studio when I was in Dubai last year and I got introduce to the practice of meditation and doing asanas. Also met yoga teachers that taught me things that I found useful to use in the long run. This is an interesting post. Always wanted to take YTT in Rishikesh, that’s one of my goals soon!

    1. Thank you so much, Marron, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It’s a vast ocean. We have to be deliberate in our efforts to understand the deep meaning behind different schools of thought.

      1. I remember studying school of thoughts during our Asian History when I was in highschool but can’t really remember. It’s so interesting and this whole quarantine makes it perfect to go through each deeply. Thanks again for sharing this!

    1. Thank you so much, Ishaan, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I am glad that you enjoyed reading it.

      1. You are welcome sir.
        One question sir. Considering that buddhism disagreed with the vedas, can they be considered a part of hinduism?
        Also I read somewhere that buddhist leaders have disassociated themselves with hinduism.
        What is your view on this?

      2. Buddhism follows the path of Karma and many such concepts of Indian schools of thought. It was the Mughals, followed by British Raj which started identifying them as a separate religion, so as to divide and rule. Till the time invaders had not come to India, every differing thought process was considered a path(panth). Religion as a word is alien to the concept of India. Of course, the Indian populace of that era is equally blameworthy, for falling for those petty gains.

      3. Declaring anyone an incarnation was a kind of political settlement of that age. That used to keep the fold together avoiding schism. Just google dasavatars of Hinduism and you would get the answer. Dasavatar is also based on evolution theory, which later inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution.

      4. Yes I am aware of the dasavtara, but there is confusion over who is the original 9th vishnu. Some say Balarama is 8th and Krishna 9th, others say Krishna is 8th and Buddha 9Th.
        But thanks for answering.

      5. It is listed out, in one of the Upnishads. Which one, I will have to dig out? I will update you, in case, I come across the factual, documented information. Let us not depend upon Google.

      6. I have read the mukhya upanishads, by Sri Aurobindo. But they rarely even refer to Vishnu.
        Guess I will read some of them again.
        Also, Upanishads are supposed to be made in the Satyuga, so I wonder if they could name the Vishnus of future.

      7. No Upnishads were not written in Satyuga. Though no one can say anything with certainty, Upnishads date back, maybe 3000 years. Kalayuga is 3,20,000 years long and it began maybe around the same time.

      8. From a historical perspective, I agree that upanishads were written at that time.
        But considering that Upanishads are a part of Vedas and Vedas are said to be made at the beginning of this world, I would say it must be from satyuga. Also, Manusmriti mentions that Satyuga is going on at the time of its being made and Manusmriti mentions vedas.

        Also, many people believe 3102 BCE to be the start of Kaliyuga, based on the astrological data given in Mahabharat.

        All this creates confusion as it doesn’t match with the historical view point.

      9. Upnishads are a commentary on Vedas. So they are written much later than the Vedas. Vedas are surely the oldest manuscripts in human history. What mesmerizes me is the fact that if the rest of the human race was hunter-gatherers or maybe living in stone/bronze age, then how their contemporaries in this part of the world were able to churn out such deep and advanced thoughts, which mesmerize people of the so-called modern age.

      10. Indeed the ancient indians seem like a super race. The hindu units of time mention the exact age of earth and universe, and distances between sun, earth moon and other bodies.
        It also mentions Big bang in many ways and like you mentioned, evolution through dasavtara.

      11. Our worst started around the turn of the last millennia when Turks and Central Asians started invading India. In the 12th century, the army of Khilji ransacked and looted Nalanda University. Thousands of monks were burnt alive and thousands more were beheaded. The great Library was put on fire and its massive collection of books and manuscripts were burnt for three months. We lost a treasure trove of manuscripts forever.

      12. That is extremely disheartening. But what is more disheartening is that despite now being independent, people are ignoring out heritage. Very few people are reading the ancient scriptures of hinduism.

      13. Absolutely correct. My writing this introduction was with this very basic idea. Today if you ask someone to name the Vedas, they would fumble. I am not even talking about the contents of various manuscripts. The good news is that I see a lot of youngsters are showing tremendous interest in these topics.

      14. Yes I agree.
        If you ask someone the names of greek gods, they would remember them clearly.
        On the other hand, they don’t know difference if devata and Bhagwan. And most have never heard about dashavatar.

      15. Absolutely. When I exposed the similarities between the Dasavatar and Darwinism to some very learned people, they just refused to believe me.

      16. There is no point talking to such people.
        And probably they would call you names and ignorant, along with presuming your political standings.
        It is very common for people who disrespect our culture to have a superiority complex.

      17. I know, all of a sudden we have become apologists. When I tell people that our Puranas are our history. Maybe not very accurate but no history is perfect, they say, let it be the way it is, why to disturb the way it.

      18. The indians were very meticulous when recording history. Yet western indologists say that Indians didn’t care about history. Because they disregard puranas and itihasas. Indian texts mentioned millions of kings. But they are simply ignored. The only reason we remember Chandragupta Maurya today is because of Megasthenese’s accounts. Had he not mentioned The Maurya dynasty, the historians would have treated them as another character of fiction. People claim that King Bharata is fictional. Who names a nation after a fictional man? I don’t thing there will ever be a nation called Harry Potter.
        But even the history books of our nation have disregarded our culture. I was shocked when I read NCERT textbook openly criticising Ramayana, Mahabharata and Manusmriti as being discriminatory, without any basis.

      19. All the western invaders and colonizers have taken advantage of the Varna system to divide society. I am against any discrimination, and Puranas very clearly mention about a certain person who changed his Varna twice in the same lifetime, due to his deeds and not due to his birth.

      20. Agreed. Even Upanishads had a story of an orphan boy adopted by Shudras who became a Brahmin.

        Even Lord Krishna proclaims that he belongs to all 4 varnas due to his various karmas throughout the life, implying that karma decides varna.

      21. “Who names a nation after a fictional king ?” –
        just painful to hear !

        Is history in NCERT books written in English or local language ? Writers writing in foreign language have a natural tendency to refer (or copy) foreigner historians. And other than deliberate causes, it is very natural for foreigners to not know or misunderstand local history. The same propensity applies if a foreigner visits England in this era, mentioning Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth, but not the last crowned Anglo-Saxon King Harold.

      22. It is written in English as well as local languages but written but left-leaning historians.

      23. NCERT is written in english, by left leaning Indian historians.
        It is not about not knowing. It is deliberate covering up of facts and cherry picking.

      24. Trying to understand what gains left-leaning could get :

        Left > communism > rule classless > declassify society.
        For example with two classes, educated and uneducated, 2 ways to declassify :
        (i) educate the uneducated – time consuming
        (ii) “de-educate” the educated i.e. claiming the past education is wrong – shortcut

        Hence, denial of true history. The gain is reign.

      25. Ancients divided the time into four periods. Sat Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwaper Yuga, and Kal Yuga. Sat means truth, Yuga means period(roughly). In this Yuga, everyone was pure and truthful. Thus all the souls who existed in that period were Devtas. Another way of looking at Devtas is that they are basically demi-Gods. Now, this is not a permanent post. As time progresses new Yugas start. Kal-Yuga is worst of all the Yugas where a human being is corrupt, selfish and with all the other bad attributes. However, this is the best time to progress as a soul. A demi-God can fall from the grace as per his/her Karmas. That is what I can tell you in short.

      26. Devata simply refers to a greater natural force. For example agni, meaning fire, vayu meaning wind etc. Devatas are the personification of these forces, and they have control over them.
        Bhagwan refers to a supreme lord.
        Devata is said to be derived from ‘deta’ meaning anyone who gives you anything or helps you.

        Bhagwan is beyond and greater than all devatas. Also, even devatas are stuck in the cycle of rebirth, though their lives are extremely long. But god is beyond all this.

        Devata is just like a super race. Other such races are asuras, daityas, nagas. However devatas are good and these races are usually bad.

        Devatas are not worshipped prominently now, because Lord Krishna asked the people to start praying directly to the supreme lord. Praying to devatas gives instant and small benefits, like asking Indra Deva for rain etc. While praying to Bhagwan gets you liberation, freedom from rebirth, Moksha and the true knowledge.

      27. I deliberately avoided the topic of Asuras. For a specific reason. Daityas are a different entity and should not be categorized here, may be you wanted to say Danavas.

      28. I am afraid I have read only 1 or 2 puranas, so I don’t know much about the races. In case you have time, I would like to know the difference amongst daityas and danavas?

      29. “Personification of natural forces” – very well explained.

        So, as far as I interpret, in Satyug, the mind and health was so “pure” that the personification was essentially a tool to transcend mere prayers into a psychic ability to virtually “mould climate” – a feat that is rarely seen today but in sci-fi like Heroes. Sci-fi characters are shown to “control” weathers whereas in reality, it requires “humility” – a state of mind that generates the right frequency in brain to “access the Akashic records”.

        If your health is young enough, like less than 25 yrs, perhaps you could try meditating on it, that may require a scientific outlook too, to avoid straying away.

      30. Thank you!

        Well yes, the vedic hymns suggest that the men back then had great abilities. For example, a hymn mentions that an animal can be sacrificed only if it is brought back to life with the power of mantras.
        But it doesn’t need to be satyuga to communicate with the devatas. There are instances of these acts in Kaliyuga.
        Yes, infact, The scriptures suggest that great powers can be gained by meditation.

        In hinduism, spirituality and science go hand in hand. Major portions of the holy texts are devoted to study of jyotisa shastra (astronomy), Ganita Shastra (Maths), Bhugol shastra(Geography. Note that bhugol means round world, implying Indians knew Earth was round since almost forever.)

        I think age has nothing to do with your spiritual ability. There are many sages in himalayas who are over a hundred years old.

      31. If you read the book Autobiography of a Yogi and Living with the Himalayan Masters, they mention Yogis up to the ages of 400 years. Yes, it sounds science fiction but these Yogis are very advanced and beyond our physical world.

      32. What surprises me is not their age, but that despite meditataing for 100s of years, they haven’t yet attained moksha. It must be quite difficult.

      33. Indeed this is not so easy and takes many lifetimes. That is why one should keep doing small progress every day. Realized ones have identified 5 ways to redemption. From low to high are Gyan, Seva, Bhakti, Dhyan, and Samadhi. Each having its own advantages, and downsides. However, the biggest distractions are Siddhis. The realized ones, ask us to steer clear of them.

      34. No, they are distractions and diversions. They indicate progress, but if someone gets stuck with them, siddhis drag those people down.

      35. No, I haven’t. Due to my present professional commitments, that is not possible. But I have been reading the commentaries, by various learned people for decades. All of them have brought out this very important aspect, in very clear terms.

      36. That’s very kind of you, Ishaan. My profession is something else, and expertise is in geopolitics. But yes I am passionate about Indian culture and ancient philosophy. I have not developed any independent thought process till now, all I have is borrowed knowledge. But surely, when I have more time at hand, I would like to evolve my independent thought process. It was a pleasure interacting with you.

      37. Absolutely correct and very well put. The present Yuga is the best Yuga for humankind to progress spiritually.

    1. Yes, Priscilla, it is a bit complex at first, but if one pays attention and absorbs each and every aspect at a slow pace, just like Yoga, it is very enlightening.

    1. Most of the commentators are from the South. Maybe you missed out that aspect. Aryan invasion is another myth propagated by vested interests. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      1. The North-South divide was created by new-age historians, on behalf of their political master. Else, historically there is no such divide.

      2. Agreed.
        The itihasas and puranas make no such mentions. Also, vedas never talked about a great migration as propogated by westerners.

        The only divide, I believe, would be the rivers like godavari

      3. None of the ancient books have any mention of the Aryan invasion. They fabricated myth has done enough damage to unrealized minds.

    1. I agree with you that it sounds complex, but if you go through it at a slower pace, you would be amazed at the practicality of the concepts. Thank you so much, Martina, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      1. I very much like the sentence under Jainism:the idea that truth is recognized differently from different points of view! Thank you very much for your help!

      2. That is the essence of humanity, what you picked, so ingeniously out of the whole write-up. In fact, Jainism is the toughest branch of Indian philosophy in a true sense.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope, I would be able to throw some more light, on these amazing concepts, in the near future.

  3. Thanks, Sandeep for kindling interest in knowing about ancient Indian value systems practised for centuries. It is a vast sphere of knowledge which could be well understood only when one does systematic research.
    Humankind lived in South Asia attained utmost specialization in all fields and walks of life as the proof is visible & highlighted in these different systems quoted by you. If we also appreciate the perfect mastering achieved by Indians many centuries ago in astronomy, as one of the fields among these ancient systems, in predicting celestial events with accurate precision, where no school of thought was prevalent at that time in the western world.

    1. Absolutely correct, Ramki. You have touched up some of the aspects in its utmost magnificence. Surely, the subjects are very vast and sometimes may take a lifetime to master them. Thank you so much, once again for stopping by and give your most profound analysis.

  4. Fantastic read Sandy sir. The world around is slowly but surely accepting the facts brought out in your conclusion. Looking forward to the next one.

    1. Thank you so much, Vinod, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. There are facts, and there are universal truths, we have a choice here.

  5. Very interesting introduction of such a vast and complex subject of Indian philosophy ! There is so much depth n untapped information that can take an entire life time to even cover a small part of it . Thanks for sharing .

    1. You have pointed out very correctly, the subject is very vast but equally rewarding. Plunging into the depth of these philosophical thoughts should be done at a very slow pace so as to enjoy the beauty of such contrasting views existing concurrently. This kind of acceptance of differing views is not seen in most of the societies of the world.

  6. This is fascinating to me. Here in the west we know very little of this. It amazes me the fluxes of enlightenment and being exist in such dramatic ways. It seems no matter how much we progress we eventually wind up in the same mess—like we’re writing the same book over and over.

    1. Thank you so much, Jim, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It is really amazing that more we go forward, more we refer backwards. It is mindboggling to think that 3-4000 years back people could be exchanging such esoteric thoughts.

      1. I have been engaged in my own thought processes these past few years. As a former Christian now atheist, I had to take this journey alone, avoiding the professionals and the expert opinions to see if one person, me, could see the world in a contradictory free vision of by my own observations.
        IMO there are no gods, but is there nothing at all? Am I to discount billions of esoteric perceptions and say there is nothing at all but this life? It didn’t set right with me, and my acute case of atheism has slowly evolved into many of the thoughts you’ve shared today. It’s an interesting process I would encourage more to explore.
        What has interested me that in the many interactions and posts, the commenter will tend to think I’m Buddhist, although I’ve never studied it. That seems to be where the evidence has led. That were all a part of a single entity and there is no monarchial boss in yonder heavens, just a happening that’s been going on for a long, long time.

      2. That’s so wonderful to know about your journey and the thought process. Ancient India was more open to ideas than what we can think of today. The Carvaka philosophy was the atheist path of ancient India, where Buddhism and Jainism were middle paths.

      3. Wow – an introspective journey on faith ! It’s good to meet you.

        You may find some common questions, I tried to answer myself, in my articles under category “Temple” (not specific to any religion).

        “Seek the light within.”

        Eagerly waiting for your comments on the same.

      4. I will have some time scattered throughout the day today, but right now on my way to work. Thanks for the tip and I look forward to checking it out. All the best!

      5. I work in a business that was deemed essential to continue operating the country. I have a private office and a locked door. Prison really, forced labor for pay. Ha ha Ha.

      6. Wow, a salute to you. Stay safe and healthy in these trying and stressful times.

      7. I read your first post on death. Since the comments are closed we can discuss it here if that’s ok? Here is the gist of my thoughts on this.
        Life is what happens between death. If you think about it, you have spent far more time dead than alive. Death is actually our most normal state of being. This life, bookended by two unknowns is probably the only interesting thing left for an infinite being to participate in.
        What could possibly entertain an infinite being (one with all the knowledge and experience of the universe at his disposal) do to relieve the boredom of infinite living? Enter into a realm of not knowing . The game would get you every time.
        Essentially dying is the same as surviving a harrowing experience. If you survive? Whoa, what a rush. But if you “die” and, break back through to the other side? Whoa! I’m sure it would be quite entertaining realizing the game had got you again.
        This also solves the problem of evil and suffering. A test of endurance and an experience in the unknown, it wouldn’t matter to what station you were born or how miserable life was, the game would be the only interesting ticket in town.
        All the worlds indeed a stage, and we are merely players, performers and portrayers, each another’s audience.
        These are my feelings. Maybe if we get the chance we can discuss why, and what led me to these conclusions over time. Anyone’s thoughts are welcome. I’ll try to keep up.

      8. There are two very vital points of Indian philosophy, Karma, and Mithya. Knowingly, or unknowingly, you have just spelled out those concepts.

      9. I know these can get fairly lengthy, but I am not familiar with those concepts in Indian philosophy. I don’t want you to write a book, but can you give examples of what you mean?

      10. Mithya means that this world is not real. We come and go, and play different roles in different lives. Karmas are the deeds we perform, good or bad while playing these roles. The next life depends upon the deeds performed in the past lives. One gets stuck in the false world forever, assuming that is a reality. The subject is very vast, so cannot be shorter than this.

      11. Rediscovering Newton’s law of gravitation, prior to reading the chapter in book of Physics – means “the light within” is now accessible. That’s what I thought at school – “If newer generations are likely to be more evolved, then shouldn’t we be able rediscover a law ourselves ?” After all, rediscovering means better understanding, rather than merely learning by heart for exams.

        Keep seeking. 😀

      12. Despite the fact, Britain had very close contact with the Indian populace and supposedly should have benefited the most from the ancient Indian philosophy, but instead, it was German thinkers and writers. Their scholars even learned Sanskrit, so as to read the original manuscripts, rather than a translation.

      13. Oops ! I had never thought my posts would be read by people even after so long, and with such a great comment ! Have reopened the comments section now, for all posts.

        So, you believe in rebirth. As for me, I hope to find it true, because one life is just not enough, for one who wants to witness the evolution of living beings in the long run. Cycles of rebirth, if valid like a multiverse, are materially separate and unconnected, hence never provable physically. Therefore, considering the hypothesis to be true, these cycles, being sequential in contrast to parallel, form a cascaded universes of lives, each receiving an input, but being materially disconnected, their inputs can only be of information instead of “matter”, from the outputs of previous ones, that can be interpreted as the fruits of past life, which are actually mere seeds carried forward into the next life to grow into a fresh plant in a new garden viz. new nation, new family etc. The flesh of the fruits are obviously left behind, in terms of the materialistic wealth and physical possessions acquired in past life.

      14. Indian philosophy believes in fourteen parallel universes where we take birth. Ours is in the middle and supposedly most productive and progressive for a soul.

      15. Interesting. I guess I should’ve been a little clearer. I actually believe nothing and have made no conclusions. I think belief tends to be the the most destructive attribute of humanity. Belief may be the biggest obstacle ever placed before mankind. Not so important what one believes, but that they believe. Think of the appeal to faith by Christianity. Faith, or merely believing, has in the western world become the pinnacle of the religious experience and falls short of any form of enlightenment.
        These ideas I have are simply an exploration at this point. Belief especially in the group setting sets one at odds with a neighbor he would normally accept if he hadn’t surrendered to belief-led conformity. I look at belief like a guru challenge. And until humanity can surpass belief mode we will never be ready to wield the power we actually possess. The appeal to faith has stunted the process by making a waypoint to enlightenment a virtue.
        A true religion would prepare its adherents to turn them loose—like the rites of passage or vision quests of many indigenous peoples. Anything actually true would be true for believer and non alike.
        Are these parallel universes an Indian philosophy, or is this an idea you’ve discovered elsewhere?

      16. As far as turning loose is concerned, that is the essence of Indian philosophy.

      17. And real faith is actually the opposite of today’s religious beliefs. It is not clinging, but letting go. It’s total trust that the universe knows what it’s doing regardless of whatever dogmas we decide to attach ourselves to.

  7. “Religion as a word is alien to the concept of India” – well noted !

    As far as I understand by delving into the language, though the word “dharma” is nowadays translated into “religion”, the word “dharma” originally meant “characteristic”, as in “property of a material object that identified it in physics, the concept of which when extended to living beings, referred to their regular duties that identified them as functional roles in society, so as to study the people as groups, just as material objects are classified into metals and non-metals. It was this classification, that was misinterpreted as disjunctive groups called religions.

    1. In short, Dharma means duty. A King used to follow his Dharma, and the populace it’s own. It is a big list of things expected out of each and every individual. The era was of hunter-gatherers, and those ancients could write monumental manuscripts like Vedas over 4000 years ago. That is an inquiry in itself. God was not the same entity as it is today, but was discussed in more esoteric contexts. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  8. A very pleasant diversion from Geopolitics. You may consider linking Geopolitics with philosophy and extend this thread on Indian Ancient Philosophy. The statement from your article “the idea that truth is recognized differently from different points of view, and that none of the views are entirely true” is very apt and least understood by humans at large. Thanks for generating stimulating fodder for thought.

    1. Thank you so much Atul for giving a completely different line of thought. Giving every differing viewpoint a space in the society has been the strength of and idea of India.

      1. Nice Article.

        Gives us good insite into Ancient Indian Philosophy 👌

  9. The well Researched article referring light house of enlightenment such as Geeta Upnishad and Chanakya neeti is a well done job by author… There are few school of thoughts written which have not even heard by many of us… Overall an article worth investing time and interest to read… 🙏🙏

    1. You are absolutely correct, 95% or, maybe more Indians are not aware of this rich cultural heritage. In fact, the idea of writing this essay came from these people only, and they inspired me to author this introductory commentary. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  10. This is not a comment on the post. But could not find another way of contacting, therefore using this possibility.

    Could you please help me make my blog look as simple and nice as yours? I don’t know much about these things. Just write. If willing to help please contact on rdhankar@gmail.com
    Thanks and regards.

    1. Hello Rohit. My account is a business account. It comes with lots of built-in features. I had to just do my selection of templates and other settings by pressing a few buttons. So I don’t have much knowledge otherwise. You may get in touch with some web designers if you are not happy with the settings you have.

  11. Bonjour Ami
    J’ai un cœur, tout tendre qui bat
    Un petit cœur qui pourtant est grand comme ça
    Il y a toujours une place pour une personne

    Mon petit cœur est peux-t être fragile
    Il m’a dis un jour
    Que tu as réussi à trouver le mot de passe pour venir sur mon blog

    Que ce code n’était pas très compliqué
    Il est fait d’amour et d’amitié , de tendresse et de douceur
    Ce n’est pas parce que on ne se voit pas ,que cela n’existe pas
    https://i.postimg.cc/X74VX4Nj/coeur-1.jpg

    Mon petit cœur te souhaite une bonne journée en ce Vendredi
    Un bon week-end
    Prends soin de toi, Bisous Bernard

    1. Merci beaucoup, Bernard. Restez en sécurité et en bonne santé en ces temps très éprouvants et stressants. C’est encourageant de voir un commentaire de votre part. Cordialement.

  12. Very interesting read. I have learned a lot from this write-up. I was not aware of most of the aspects discussed here.

  13. This is fascinating. With so many philosophies Were they practiced as a grab bag? Since they don’t directly conflict as in opposites, it would seem to me you could search for the higher plan=in in many ways, not just a simple practice. The second question comes from more modern beliefs, Were they the basis for wars and conflicts?

    1. Olden days there was a tradition of massive debating in the public arena. Many times Kings and the princely families used to attend these debates. There were differences and heated arguments, but there is no recorded history of any war due to these debates. Though the schools of thought look similar, when one goes into the details, they are quite different. For example the atheist line of thought, Carvaka, I am sure must have received a lot of opposition. However, the Carvaka tradition did not die down, until the invasions from ME and Central Asia.

  14. A vey crisp and tidy article giving glimpse of ancient Indian philosophy. Short and sweet, leaves you with curiosity to know more. May be, that is a reason why few of us find it too complex to understand. But the vastness of the subject does not allow it to be covered comprehensively. What, however, is enthralling that it did generate very active and complimentary discussion. It is quite heartening to know people do have an interest in the subject.
    During the times in discussion, people from across the regions travelled to ancient Indian seat of learning, Nalanda, to imbibe that philosophy and in exchange left their imprints. That may be a reason why there are so much commonality amongst oriental cultures.
    Nice change from geopolitics, Sandy.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It was a tough task, to dig out information from various scriptures/books, and then seal them together, to give a uniform shape and narrative. I also double-checked the etymology with Sanskrit Shabdkosh, to avoid any translation errors. Nalanda University was the biggest university in the world, of its time. The loss of important books and scriptures due to invasions is an irreparable loss. I learned one very important lesson during this research, that I am just scratching the surface of a very vast subject.

  15. Great effort, Sandy. No doubt, translation of a language is a difficult task. One, more often than not, is not able to find an exact replacement of a word. I feel it is better to use the original word and then explain the context/meaning rather than finding a replacement.
    I have been reading a bit on the ancient Indian civilization, culture and scriptures. Also on Out of Africa migration of early and modern humans, genetic lineage and Aryan invasion theory. It is difficult to find an unbiased view on these subjects. Writer tend to conclude according to his bias. If any, very few factual work is available. History is no different. As they say history is written by the winner. I would add to that even destroyed by the winner.

    1. Absolutely correct. Since this is not a lab test, there could be fault lines existing in the whole proposition. However, every hypothesis, about the manifestation of cosmos by the most learned scientists, also has been a theory only. Till now there hasn’t been any conclusive answer.

    1. That is the exact principle of Jainism, anekantavada(many-sidedness), the idea that truth is recognized differently from different points of view, and that none of the views are entirely true.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Eventually, we all are going to submerge into that Paramatma(Supreme Soul). Indian philosophy teaches us one very powerful reality, that is Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi, “I am the Absolute”. God and human being we all are same and we would remain the same, here, or in the Shunyata(Singularity).

    1. That’s very kind of you, Aruna. The best principle out of all I like is that of, anekantavada(many-sidedness), the idea that truth is recognized differently from different points of view, and that none of the views are entirely true.

  16. Hi there. I wanted to invite you to stop by my blog. I share stories from my book The Driveway Rules. These are my memoirs detailing what is has been like dealing with life and love while having undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome. Hope to see you there!

  17. Brief, yet so concisely done.
    I mean dealing with ancient scriptures is a massive task.

    What intrigued me more was seeing a post from you on ancient philosophy and not geopolitics. 😀
    Kudos to your diverse spectrum of knowledges. ☺️

    1. Thank you so much, Naman. Digging deep into ancient Indian philosophy is my passion for yore. The lockdown gave me time to write more, and that’s how I could write this piece. People dedicate their lives to one subject alone, so one or two paragraphs can never do justice to such a vast subject. However, I knew that very few Indians know our own heritage well. Therefore this was just a cursory overview to draw some attention. I hope to add on more, in the future. Take care.

      1. This is definitely nice and balanced initiative from your end to draw some attention to our own ancient philosophy.
        I myself had a brief yet informed reading into our ancient scriptures, so yes i do agree that the young and dynamic minds of the nation and across should get exposure to the ancient thoughts and practices.
        I believe, a reasoned mind should have the understanding of the ancient past, to walk through the present into the future.

        It’s always insightful and motivating to interact with a dynamic mind like yours Sandeep. 🙂
        Yeah, keep educating the masses of the world.
        Stay safe. Take care.

    1. Thank you so much, Indrani, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I am glad that you liked it.

  18. You straddle a really wide spectrum – ancient India ioodern China, Vedas to bioweapons. And display a keen analytic mind. Lobe reading.your write ups.

    1. That’s very kind of you, Raman. Studying geopolitics has been my passion, and Indian history; & philosophy have been my quest. So just trying to quench the thirst.

    1. Thank you so much, Frances, for stopping by and sharing your wisdom. We, humans, are conditioned to reckon that time moves in a linear fashion. That is why we feel, that a person born in an earlier era can not be more advanced than we are today. But that is restricted thinking since time has no beginning and no end, is the only absolute reality. Warm regards.

    1. Do visit my path-breaking article in two parts. It has crossed 340000 views worldwide and counting.
https://insightful.co.in/2020/04/28/beware-the-war-is-getting-uglier/
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Warm regards.

      1. 👍 Life is a progression of becoming who we are. So just trying to figure that out. 😁

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