Outlines of Indian Philosophy

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PREFACE

THIS work is based upon the lectures which I delivered for many years at the Mysore University and is published with the intention that it may serve as a text-book for use in colleges where Indian philosophy is taught. Though primarily intended for students, it is hoped that the book may also be of use to others who are interested in the Indian solutions of familiar philosophical problems. Its foremost aim has been to give a connected and, so far as possible within the limits of a single volume, a comprehensive account of the subject; but interpretation and criticism, it will be seen, are not excluded. After an introductory chapter summarizing its distinctive features, Indian thought is considered in detail in three Parts dealing respectively with the Vedic period, the early post-Vedic period and the age of the systems; and the account given of the several doctrines in each Part generally includes a brief historical survey in addition to an exposition of its theory of knowledge, onto-logy and practical teaching. Of these, the problem of know-ledge is as a rule treated in two sections, one devoted to its psychological and the other to its logical aspect. In the preparation of the book, I have made use of the standard works on the subject published in recent times; but, except in two or three chapters (e.g. that on early Buddhism), the views expressed are almost entirely based upon an independent study of the original sources. My indebtedness to the works consulted is, I trust, adequately indicated in the footnotes. It was not possible to leave out Sanskrit terms from the text altogether; but they have been sparingly used and will prsent no difficulty if the book is read from the beginning and their explanations noted as they are given. To facilitate reference, the number of the page on which a technical expression or an unfamiliar idea is first mentioned is added within brackets whenever it is alluded to in a later portion of the book.

There are two points to which it is necessary to draw attention in order to avoid misapprehension. The view taken here of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism is that it is pure nihilism, but some are of opinion that it implies a positive conception of reality. The determination of this question frgrn Buddhistic sources is difficult, the more so as philosophic considerations become mixed with historical ones; Whatever the fact, the negative character of its teaching is vouched for by the entire body of Hindu and Jaina works stretching back to times when Buddhism was still a power in the land of its birth. The natural conclusion to be drawn from such a consensus of opinion is that, in at least one important stage of its development in India, the Madhyamika doctrine was nihilistic; and it was not considered inappropriate in a book on Indian philosophy to give prominence to this aspect of it. The second point is the absence of any account of the Dvaita school of Vedantic philosophy. The Vedanta is twofold. It is either absolutistic or theistic, each of which again exhibits many forms. Anything like a complete treatment of its many-sided teaching being out of the question here, only two examples have been chosen—one, the Advaita of garhkara, to illustrate Vedantic absolutism, and the other, the Vigistadvaita of Ramanuja, to illustrate Vedantic theism. I have, in conclusion, to express my deep gratitude to Sir S. Radhakrishnan, Vice-Chancellor of the Andhra University, who has throughout taken a very kindly and helpful interest in this work, and to Mr. D. Venkataramiah A Bangalore, who has read the whole book and suggested various improvements.

Introduction

THE beginnings of Indian philosophy take us very far back indeed, for we can clearly trace them in the hymns of the Rgveda which were composed by the Aryans not long after they had settled in their new home about the middle of the second millennium before Christ. The speculative activity begun so early was continued till a century or two ago, so that the history that we have to narrate in the following pages covers a period of over thirty centuries. During this long period, Indian thought developed practically unaffected by outside influence; and the extent as well as the importance of its achievements will be evident when we mention that it has evolved several systems of philosophy, besides creating a great national religion-Brahminism, and a great world religion—Buddhism. The history of so unique a development, if it could be written in full, would be of immense value; but our knowledge at present of early India, in spite of the remarkable results achieved by modern research, is too meagre and imperfect for it. Not only can we not trace the growth of single philosophic ideas step by step; we are sometimes unable to determine the relation even between one system and another. Thus it remains a moot question to this day whether the Sankhya represents an original doctrine or is only derived from some other. This deficiency is due as much to our ignorance of significant details as to an almost total lack of exact chronology in early Indian history. The only date that can be claimed to have been settled in the first one thou-sand years of it, for example, is that of the death of Buddha, which occurred in 487 B.C. Even the dates we know in the subsequent portion of it are for the most part conjectural, so that the very limits of the periods under which we propose to treat of our subject are to be regarded as tentative. Accordingly our account, it will be seen, is characterized by a certain looseness of perspective. In this connection we may also perhaps refer to another of its drawbacks which is sure to strike a student who is familiar with Histories of European philosophy. Our account will for the most part be devoid of references to the lives or character of the great thinkers with whose teaching it is concerned, for very little of them is now known. Speaking of Udayana, an eminent Nya.ya thinker, Cowell wrote:I `He shines like one of the fixed stars in India's literary firmament, but no telescope can discover any appreciable diameter ; his name is a point of light, but we can detect therein nothing that belongs to our earth or material existence.' That description applies virtually to all who were responsible for the development of Indian thought; and even a great teacher like 8arhkara is to us now hardly more than a name. It has been suggested2 that this indifference on the part of the ancient Indians towards the personal histories of their great men was due to a realization by them that individuals are but the product of their times—`that they grow from a soil that is ready-made for them and breathe an intellectual atmosphere which is not of their own making.' It was perhaps not less the result of the humble sense which those great men had of themselves. But whatever the reason, we shall miss in our account the biographical background and all the added interest which it signifies.

If we take the date given above as a landmark, we may divide the history of Indian thought into two stages. It marks the close of the Vedic period3 and the beginning of what is known as the Sanskrit or classical period. To the former belong the numerous works that are regarded by the Hindus as revealed. These works, which in extent have been compared to 'what survives of the writings of ancient Greece,' were collected in the latter part of the period. If we overlook the changes that should have crept into them before they were thus brought together, they have been Introduction to Kusumatali (Eng. Translation), pp. v and Vi. SS. p. 2. 3 It is usual to state the lower limit of the Vedic period as 200 B.C., including within it works which, though not regarded as 'revealed' (Srut1), are yet exclusively concerned with the elucidation of revealed. texts. We are here confining the term strictly to the period in which Vedic works appeared. preserved, owing mainly to the fact that they were held sacred, with remarkable accuracy; and they are consequently far more authentic than any work of such antiquity can be expected to be. But the collection, because it was made chiefly, as we shall see, for ritualistic purposes, is incomplete and therefore fails to give us a full insight into the character of the thoughts and beliefs that existed then. The works appear in it arranged in a way, but the arrangement is not such as would be of use to us here; and the collection is from our present standpoint to be viewed as lacking in system. As regards the second period, we possess a yet more extensive literature ; and, since new manuscripts continue to be dis-covered, additions to it are still being made. The information it furnishes is accordingly fuller and more diverse. Much of this material also appears in a systematized form. But this literature cannot always be considered quite as authentic as the earlier one, for in the course of long oral transmission, which was once the recognized mode of handing down knowledge, many of the old treatises have received additions or been amended while they have retained their original titles. The systematic treatises among them even in their original form, do not carry us back to the beginning of the period. Some of them are undoubtedly very old, but even they are not as old as 50o B.c., to state that limit in round numbers. It means that the post-Vedic period is itself to be split up into two stages. If for the purpose of this book we designate the later of them as 'the age of the systems,' we are left with an intervening period which for want of a better title may be described as 'the early post-Vedic period.' Its duration is not precisely determinable, but it lasted sufficiently long—from 50o B.c. to about the beginning of the Christian era—to be viewed as a distinct stage in the growth of Indian thought. It marks a transition and its literature, as may be expected, partakes of the character of the literatures of the preceding and of the succeeding periods. While it is many-sided and not fully authentic like its successor, it is unsystematized like its predecessor.

**Contents and Sample Pages**