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15 Feb 2021

Indian philosophy, which has a distinctive character of its own, originated in the speculations of Vedic sages and reached its final fruition in the Advaita Vedanta of Sankara and his followers.

The two different schools of philosophy are:

  1. Orthodox Schools
    • According to them:
    • Vedas were the supreme revealed scriptures that hokd the secrets to salvation.
    • They had six sub-schools called Shada Darshana.
  2. Heterodox Schools
    • They do not believe in Vedas.
    • They questioned the existence of God.
    • They had three sub-schools.

Samkhya School

  • Founded by Kapil Muni.
  • Samkhya literally means ‘count’.
  • Samkhya Sutra was written by Kapil Muni.
  • It rejects the rites and sacrifice.
  • According to it, the soul as long as it is associated with the body is subject to passions and desires and afflicted by pain. Even after death the soul is caught in the cycle o rebirth with the body.
  • The realization of the true nature of the body and soul helps one to cast off the body and attain freedom from pain.
  • According to this school, salvation could be attained through the acquisition of knowledge. This knowledge can be acquired through:
    • Pratyaksha: Perception
    • Anumana: Inference
    • Shabda: Hearing
  • It believed in Dualism or dvaitavada: it means the soul and the matter are separate entities.
  • Purusha: Attributes of male related to consciousness which cannot be changed and forms the basis of reality.
  • Prakriti: Attributes of woman like though, movement and transformation.
  • Two phases of development in the Samkhya School are:
    • Original Samkhya View
      • It is early Samkhya Philosophy that considers that the presence of divine elements is not necessary for the creation of the universe. It believed in a rational and scientific view of the creation of the universe.
      • It is a materialistic school of philosophy.
    • New Samkhya View
      • It includes new elements in the older Samkhya philosophy.
      • According to this view, presence of divine element is necessary for the creation of the universe.
      • It believed in the spiritual view of the creation of the universe.
      • Thus, it is a spiritual school of philosophy.

Yoga School

  • Founded by: Patanjali
  • Patanjali wrote Yoga Sutra
  • Yoga may be considered a sequel to Samkhya. Unlike Samkhya, Yoga believes in the existence of God, who is associated with an absolutely pure mind.
  • Apart from this, all the ideas about psychology and the theory of knowledge found in Patanjali are taken from Samkhya.
  • According to Yoga, the human soul should free itself from the bonds of nature, from its own body, from karma and Samsara (cycle of rebirth) and attain the realization of truth and the state of absolute peace of mind.
  • This state of peace can be attained by means of prayer and spiritual exercise.
  • A definite system of moral and religious restraints is the first step towards the ultimate achievement of complete detachment and perfect peace.
  • Asans: Various postures for exercises that help humans to control their mind, body and sensory organs.

Nyaya School

  • It was formulated by Gautama in around the beginning of the Christian Era.
  • It was essentially a school of logic, maintaining the view that clear thinking was essential for salvation.
  • Nyaya deals with proof and that which is to be proved.
  • It propounds the idea that the soul is eternal and has a parallel existence with God and the world.
  • According to Nyaya Sutra:
    • By using logical tools like inference, hearing and analogy a human can verify the truth of a proposition or statement.

Vaisheshika School

  • It was originated by Kanada.
  • It is close to Nyaya School.
  • The school was based on a system of atomism, explaining the cosmic process in which the soul is involved. It believed in the physicality of the universe.
  • According to this school, everything in the universe was created by the five main elements fire, air, water, earth and ether (sky). All these materials together are called Dravya.
  • They developed an atomic theory:
    • Like the Samkhya, the Vaisheshikas held that the soul was wholly different from the cosmos and that its salvation lay in fully realizing this difference.
    • The first stage is to realize the atomic character of the universe, that the universe is a complex, endlessly changing pattern of atoms, combining and dissolving according to certain principles.
    • At the end of the cosmic cycle, the atoms revert to a state of complete equilibrium.
    • This school also believed in the theory of Karma.

Mimansa School

  • Mimamsa derives its inspiration from the Vedas.
  • It was founded by Jamini around 200 BC.
  • This school believes  that the Vedas are revealed and therefore are true and accurate. Thus, their injunctions must be obeyed.
  • It concerns itself with the verses dealing with rites and ceremonies, hymns and prayers rather than with the theology or the ethics of the Vedas.
  • It propounds that the soul which is eternal and distinct from the body must be active through performing rituals without which knowledge is useless.
  • It does not consider belief in god as necessary.

Uttaramimansa or Vedanta

  • It is based on Badarayana’s Brahma Sutras.
  • Vedanta is made of two words – ‘Veda’ and ‘ant’ i.e. the end of the Vedas.
  • This school stressed on the significance of the Upanishads.
  • According to this school, Brahma is the reality of life and everything else is unreal of Maya.
  • The attempt was to harmonise the Upanishadic teachings into a consistent body of doctrine.
  • It also believed in the theory of Karma. It also believed in the theory of Punarjanama or rebirth.
  • The term aphorisms of the Brahma Sutras were elliptical and ambiguous enough to have given rise to different commentaries and interpretations of which Sankara’s Advaita, Ramanuja’s Vshistavatta and Madhva’s Dvaitavada are the most famous.

Charvaka School or Lokayata

  • Founded by Brihaspati.
  • It is mentioned in Vedas and Brihadarankya Upnishad.
  • It denied the existence of any soul or pure consciousness, which is admitted by all schools of Hindu thought.
  • Consciousness, it held, was an emergent function of matter mixtures and hence nothing remained of man after death.
  • The school of materialism denied the infallibility of the Vedas, the doctrine of Karma and rebirth.
  • Charvakas do not consider ‘ether’ as one of the five essential elements.
  • According to them, there is no world after death.