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Indian philosophy refers to philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. A traditional classification divides orthodox (āstika) and heterodox (nāstika) schools of philosophy, depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Vedas as a valid source of knowledge; whether the school believes in the premises of Brahman and Atman; and whether the school believes in afterlife and Devas.
There are six major schools of orthodox (astika) Indian Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta, and five major heterodox (nastika) schools—Jain, Buddhist, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Charvaka. However, there are other methods of classification; Vidyaranya for instance identifies sixteen schools of Indian philosophy by including those that belong to the Śaiva and Raseśvara traditions.
The main schools of Indian philosophy were formalised chiefly between 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era. Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative years, especially between 800 BCE and 200 CE. Some schools like Jainism, Buddhism, Yoga, Śaiva and Vedanta survived, but others, like Ajñana, Charvaka and Ājīvika did not.
Ancient and medieval era texts of Indian philosophies include extensive discussions on ontology (metaphysics, Brahman-Atman, Sunyata-Anatta), reliable means of knowledge (epistemology, Pramanas), value system (axiology) and other topics.
Indian philosophies share many concepts such as dharma, karma, samsara, reincarnation, dukkha, renunciation, meditation, with almost all of them focussing on the ultimate goal of liberation of the individual through diverse range of spiritual practices (moksha, nirvana).They differ in their assumptions about the nature of existence as well as the specifics of the path to the ultimate liberation, resulting in numerous schools that disagreed with each other. Their ancient doctrines span the diverse range of philosophies found in other ancient cultures.
Many Hindu intellectual traditions were classified during the medieval period of Brahmanic-Sanskritic scholasticism into a standard list of six orthodox (Astika) schools (darshanas), the "Six Philosophies" (ṣaḍ-darśana), all of which accept the testimony of the Vedas.
These are often coupled into three groups for both historical and conceptual reasons: Nyaya-Vaishesika, Samkhya-Yoga, and Mimamsa-Vedanta. The Vedanta school is further divided into six sub-schools: Advaita (monism/nondualism), also includes the concept of Ajativada, Visishtadvaita (monism of the qualified whole), Dvaita (dualism), Dvaitadvaita (dualism-nondualism), Suddhadvaita, and Achintya Bheda Abheda schools.
Besides these schools Mādhava Vidyāraṇya also includes the following of the aforementioned theistic philosophies based on the Agamas and Tantras:
The systems mentioned here are not the only orthodox systems, they are the chief ones, and there are other orthodox schools. These systems, accept the authority of Vedas and are regarded as orthodox (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy; besides these, schools that do not accept the authority of the Vedas are heterodox (nastika) systems such as Buddhism, Jainism, Ajivika and Charvaka.This orthodox-heterodox terminology is a construct of Western languages, and lacks scholarly roots in Sanskrit. According to Andrew Nicholson, there have been various heresiological translations of Āstika and Nāstika in 20th century literature on Indian philosophies, but quite many are unsophisticated and flawed.
Several Śramaṇic movements have existed before the 6th century BCE, and these influenced both the āstika and nāstika traditions of Indian philosophy.The Śramaṇa movement gave rise to diverse range of heterodox beliefs, ranging from accepting or denying the concept of soul, atomism, antinomian ethics, materialism, atheism, agnosticism, fatalism to free will, idealization of extreme asceticism to that of family life, strict ahimsa (non-violence) and vegetarianism to permissibility of violence and meat-eating. Notable philosophies that arose from Śramaṇic movement were Jainism, early Buddhism, Charvaka, Ajñana and Ājīvika.
Ajñana was one of the nāstika or "heterodox" schools of ancient Indian philosophy, and the ancient school of radical Indian skepticism. It was a Śramaṇa movement and a major rival of early Buddhism and Jainism. They have been recorded in Buddhist and Jain texts. They held that it was impossible to obtain knowledge of metaphysical nature or ascertain the truth value of philosophical propositions; and even if knowledge was possible, it was useless and disadvantageous for final salvation. They were sophists who specialised in refutation without propagating any positive doctrine of their own.
Jain philosophy is the oldest Indian philosophy that separates body (matter) from the soul (consciousness) completely.Jainism was revived and re-established after Mahavira, the last and the 24th Tirthankara , synthesised and revived the philosophies and promulgations of the ancient Śramaṇic traditions laid down by the first Jain tirthankara Rishabhanatha millions of years ago. According to Dundas, outside of the Jain tradition, historians date the Mahavira as about contemporaneous with the Buddha in the 5th-century BC, and accordingly the historical Parshvanatha, based on the c. 250-year gap, is placed in 8th or 7th century BC.
Jainism is a Śramaṇic religion and rejected the authority of the Vedas. However, like all Indian religions, it shares the core concepts such as karma, ethical living, rebirth, samsara and moksha. Jainism places strong emphasis on asceticism, ahimsa (non-violence) and anekantavada (relativity of viewpoints) as a means of spiritual liberation, ideas that influenced other Indian traditions. [ self-published source? ]Jainism strongly upholds the individualistic nature of soul and personal responsibility for one's decisions; and that self-reliance and individual efforts alone are responsible for one's liberation. According to the Jain philosophy, the world ( Saṃsāra ) is full of hiṃsā (violence). Therefore, one should direct all his efforts in attainment of Ratnatraya, that are Samyak Darshan, Samyak Gnana, and Samyak Chàritra which are the key requisites to attain liberation.
Buddhist philosophy is a system of thought which started with the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, or "awakened one". Buddhism is founded on elements of the Śramaṇa movement, which flowered in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE, but its foundations contain novel ideas not found or accepted by other Sramana movements. Buddhism and Hinduism mutually influenced each other and shared many concepts, states Paul Williams, however it is now difficult to identify and describe these influences.Buddhism rejected the Vedic concepts of Brahman (ultimate reality) and Atman (soul, self) at the foundation of Hindu philosophies.
Buddhism shares many philosophical views with other Indian systems, such as belief in karma – a cause-and-effect relationship, samsara – ideas about cyclic afterlife and rebirth, dharma – ideas about ethics, duties and values, impermanence of all material things and of body, and possibility of spiritual liberation (nirvana or moksha).A major departure from Hindu and Jain philosophy is the Buddhist rejection of an eternal soul ( atman ) in favour of anatta (non-Self).
The philosophy of Ājīvika was founded by Makkhali Gosala, it was a Śramaṇa movement and a major rival of early Buddhism and Jainism.Ājīvikas were organised renunciates who formed discrete monastic communities prone to an ascetic and simple lifestyle.
Original scriptures of the Ājīvika school of philosophy may once have existed, but these are currently unavailable and probably lost. Their theories are extracted from mentions of Ajivikas in the secondary sources of ancient Indian literature, particularly those of Jainism and Buddhism which polemically criticized the Ajivikas.The Ājīvika school is known for its Niyati doctrine of absolute determinism (fate), the premise that there is no free will, that everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is entirely preordained and a function of cosmic principles. Ājīvika considered the karma doctrine as a fallacy. Ājīvikas were atheists and rejected the authority of the Vedas, but they believed that in every living being is an ātman – a central premise of Hinduism and Jainism.
Charvaka or Lokāyata was a philosophy of scepticism and materialism, founded in the Mauryan period. They were extremely critical of other schools of philosophy of the time. Charvaka deemed Vedas to be tainted by the three faults of untruth, self-contradiction, and tautology.Likewise they faulted Buddhists and Jains, mocking the concept of liberation, reincarnation and accumulation of merit or demerit through karma. They believed that, the viewpoint of relinquishing pleasure to avoid pain was the "reasoning of fools".
The Indian traditions subscribed to diverse philosophies, significantly disagreeing with each other as well as orthodox Hinduism and its six schools of Hindu philosophy. The differences ranged from a belief that every individual has a soul (self, atman) to asserting that there is no soul,from axiological merit in a frugal ascetic life to that of a hedonistic life, from a belief in rebirth to asserting that there is no rebirth.
|Ājīvika||Early Buddhism||Charvaka||Jainism||Orthodox schools of Hinduism|
|Samsara, Rebirth||Affirms||Affirms||Denies||Affirms||Some school affirm, some not|
|Ascetic life||Affirms||Affirms||Denies||Affirms||Affirms as Sannyasa|
|Rituals, Bhakti||Affirms||Affirms, optional |
|Denies||Affirms, optional||Theistic school: Affirms, optional |
|Ahimsa and Vegetarianism||Affirms||Affirms,|
Unclear on meat as food
Vegetarianism to avoid
violence against animals
|Affirms as highest virtue,|
but Just War affirmed
Vegetarianism encouraged, but
choice left to the Hindu
|Atman (Soul, Self)||Affirms||Denies||Denies||Affirms :119||Affirms|
|Creator God||Denies||Denies||Denies||Denies||Theistic schools: Affirm |
| Epistemology |
|Various, Vaisheshika (two) to Vedanta (six): |
Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy),
Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation),
Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof),
Śabda (Reliable testimony)
|Epistemic authority||Denies: Vedas||Affirms: Buddha text |
|Denies: Vedas||Affirms: Jain Agamas |
|Affirm: Vedas and Upanishads, |
Affirm: other texts
|Samsdrasuddhi|| Nirvana |
|Siddha,||Moksha, Nirvana, Kaivalya|
Advaita, Yoga, others: Jivanmukti
Dvaita, theistic: Videhamukti
| Metaphysics |
|Śūnyatā|| Anekāntavāda ||Brahman|
The Arthashastra, attributed to the Mauryan minister Chanakya, is one of the early Indian texts devoted to political philosophy. It is dated to 4th century BCE and discusses ideas of statecraft and economic policy.
The political philosophy most closely associated with modern India is the one of ahimsa (non-violence) and Satyagraha, popularised by Mahatma Gandhi during the Indian struggle for independence. In turn it influenced the later movements for independence and civil rights, especially those led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Progressive Utilization Theory is also a socio-economic and political theory.
In appreciation of complexity of the Indian philosophy, T S Eliot wrote that the great philosophers of India "make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys".Arthur Schopenhauer used Indian philosophy to improve upon Kantian thought. In the preface to his book The World As Will And Representation , Schopenhauer writes that one who "has also received and assimilated the sacred primitive Indian wisdom, then he is the best of all prepared to hear what I have to say to him" The 19th century American philosophical movement Transcendentalism was also influenced by Indian thought
Nirvāṇa is commonly associated with Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism and represents its ultimate state of soteriological release, the liberation from repeated rebirth in saṃsāra.
The Upanishads are late Vedic Sanskrit texts of religious teaching and ideas still reverred in Hinduism. They are the most recent part of the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, that deal with meditation, philosophy, and ontological knowledge; other parts of the Vedas deal with mantras, benedictions, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices. Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions. Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are widely known, and their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hinduism.
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means inner self, spirit, or soul. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism, Ātman is the first principle, the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual. In order to attain Moksha (liberation), a human being must acquire self-knowledge. For the different schools of thought, self-realization is that one's true self (Jīvātman) and the ultimate reality (Brahman) are: completely identical, completely different, or simultaneously non-different and different.
Eastern philosophy or Asian philosophy includes the various philosophies that originated in East and South Asia including Chinese philosophy, Japanese philosophy, and Korean philosophy which are dominant in East Asia and Vietnam, and Indian philosophy which are dominant in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, and Mongolia.
Saṃsāra is a Sanskrit word that means "wandering" or "world", with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change. It is also the concept of rebirth and "cyclicality of all life, matter, existence", a fundamental belief of most Indian religions. In short, it is the cycle of death and rebirth. Saṃsāra is sometimes referred to with terms or phrases such as transmigration, karmic cycle, reincarnation, and "cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence".
In Buddhism, the term anattā (Pali) or anātman (Sanskrit) refers to the doctrine of "non-self", that there is no unchanging, permanent self, soul or essence in phenomena. It is one of the seven beneficial perceptions in Buddhism, and one of the three marks of existence along with dukkha (suffering) and anicca (impermanence).
Hindu philosophy refers to philosophies, world views and teachings that emerged in ancient India. These include six systems (shad-darśana) – Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta.
Ajivika is one of the nāstika or "heterodox" schools of Indian philosophy. Purportedly founded in the 5th century BCE by Makkhali Gosala, it was a śramaṇa movement and a major rival of Vedic religion, early Buddhism and Jainism. Ājīvikas were organised renunciates who formed discrete communities. The precise identity of the Ajivikas is not well known, and it is even unclear if they were a divergent sect of the Buddhists or the Jains.
The Nyāya Sūtras is an ancient Indian Sanskrit text composed by Akṣapāda Gautama, and the foundational text of the Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy. The date when the text was composed, and the biography of its author is unknown, but variously estimated between 6th-century BCE and 2nd-century CE. The text may have been composed by more than one author, over a period of time. The text consists of five books, with two chapters in each book, with a cumulative total of 528 aphoristic sutras, about rules of reason, logic, epistemology and metaphysics.
Āstika and Nāstika are concepts that have been used to classify Indian philosophies by modern scholars, as well as some Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina texts. The various definitions for āstika and nāstika philosophies have been disputed since ancient times, and there is no consensus. In current Indian languages like Hindi, āstika and its derivatives usually mean 'theist', while nāstika and its derivatives denote an 'atheist'; however, the two terms in Ancient- and Medieval-Era Sanskrit literature do not refer to 'theism' or 'atheism'. The terms are used differently in Hindu philosophy. For example, Sāṃkhya is both an atheist and āstika (Vedic) philosophy, though “God” is often used as an epithet for consciousness (purusa) within its doctrine. Similarly, though Buddhism is considered to be nāstika, the Gautama Buddha is considered an avatar of Vishnu in some Hindu traditions.
The Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad is the shortest of all the Upanishads, and is assigned to Atharvaveda. It is listed as number 6 in the Muktikā canon of 108 Upanishads.
Smarta tradition (स्मार्त) is a movement in Hinduism that developed during its classical period around the beginning of the Common Era. It reflects a Hindu synthesis of four philosophical strands: Mimamsa, Advaita, Yoga, and theism. The Smarta tradition rejects theistic sectarianism, and it is notable for the domestic worship of five shrines with five deities, all treated as equal – Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Ganesha, and Shakti. The Smarta tradition contrasted with the older Shrauta tradition, which was based on elaborate rituals and rites. There has been considerable overlap in the ideas and practices of the Smarta tradition with other significant historic movements within Hinduism, namely Shaivism, Brahmanism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism.
Buddhism and Jainism are two ancient Indian religions that developed in Magadha (Bihar) and continue to thrive in the modern age. Mahavira and Gautama Buddha are generally accepted as contemporaries. Jainism and Buddhism share many features, terminology and ethical principles, but emphasize them differently. Both are śramaṇa ascetic traditions that believe it is possible to attain liberation from the cycle of rebirths and deaths (samsara) through spiritual and ethical disciplines. They differ in some core doctrines such as those on asceticism, Middle Way versus Anekantavada, and self versus no-self.
Śramaṇa means "one who labours, toils, or exerts themselves " or "seeker, one who performs acts of austerity, ascetic". The term in early Vedic literature is predominantly used as an epithet for the Rishis with reference to Shrama associated with the ritualistic exertion. The term in these texts doesn't express non-Vedic connotations as it does in post-Vedic Buddhist and Jain canonical texts. During its later semantic development, the term came to refer to several non-Brahmanical ascetic movements parallel to but separate from the Vedic religion. The Śramaṇa tradition includes Jainism, Buddhism, and others such as the Ājīvikas, Ajñanas and Cārvākas.
Dhyana in Hinduism means contemplation and meditation. Dhyana is taken up in Yoga exercises, and is a means to samadhi and self-knowledge.
Brahmā is a leading god (deva) and heavenly king in Buddhism. He was adopted from other Indian religions such as Hinduism that considered him a protector of teachings (dharmapala), and he is never depicted in early Buddhist texts as a creator god. In Buddhist tradition, it was the deity Brahma Sahampati who appeared before the Buddha and urged him to teach, once the Buddha attained enlightenment but was unsure if he should teach his insights to anyone.
In the Vaishnavism sect of hinduism, the historic Buddha or Gautama Buddha, is considered to be an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. Of the ten major avatars of Vishnu, Vaishnavites believe Gautama Buddha to be the ninth and most recent incarnation.
Brahman connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.
Anātman in Sanskrit means that "which is different from atman" or "non-self". In Hinduism, the former definition is found in some texts, while in Buddhism, anātman or anattā means non-self.
Advaita Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism share significant similarities. Those similarities have attracted Indian and Western scholars attention, and have also been criticised by concurring schools. The similarities have been interpreted as Buddhist influences on Advaita Vedanta, though some deny such influences, or see them as expressions of the same eternal truth.
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