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In the field of philosophy, India has an unmatched contribution. The streams of Indian philosophy are said to be an eternal message of India’s learned sages. Ancient Indian philosophers have expressed their essential thoughts in a special style bound in well-balanced symbolic stanzas. In all, there are six streams of Indian philosophy known as Shaddarshan. Principles and subject matters of each of these six streams have been discussed explicitly.

The Sanskrit word ‘Darshan’ means to see, to reflect and to have faith as well. Because of natural curiosity, human being has given philosophy, a supreme importance in his life. In fact, human’s whole outlook for life has been nothing but philosophy. Every human being has a different philosophy for life. It is natural instinct of the human being to learn more and more about his ambience. A wave of curiosity constantly pricks his mind with questions like: What relation do I have with my surroundings? Who defines this relation? What is the means to know this who? These intriguing curiosities inspires human being to reflect over the happenings in his surroundings.


The greatest feature of Indian philosophy is that it is based on sorrow. Seeking of enjoyment is a natural tendency of every organism. Human being is no exception to this rule. Almost every stream of philosophy that developed in ancient India tends to find the ways towards enjoyment and overcome sorrow. The whole biosphere is a vast field of actions for all the organisms and according to the quality of action, every creature receives mental, physical and metaphysical results.

The mundane affection has one special feature that a single part leads to removal of sorrow and attainment of comforts. But what is comfort? The whole knowledgeous discussion seems to be very much in confusion. Receiving one item of comfort kindles the desire for another. Thus, the first item becomes a source of sorrow. Similarly, comfort of one person may be the source of sorrow for another. The joy one gets receiving an ephemeral item is instantaneous and short-lived. There are unaccountable items each is more in qualities than the other is. But despite the availability of countless objects of comforts, a human being never feels satisfied.


The main purpose of philosophical streams is to find such a way to attain the supreme joy. This way should also be able to remove the physical discomforts as well. Almost, every stream of philosophy identifies the frequency of sorrows as bounding and the removal of these sorrows i.e. attainment of supreme joy has been identified as salvation. Thus, sorrow and salvation form the main theme of Indian philosophy. Salvation is nothing but destruction of sorrow and creation of supreme joy. Vedas also discuss the ways to attain salvation. But many philosophers have very logically reflected over this and compiled their thoughts in the treatises of philosophy. In the opinion of Vedas, religion is the best way to attain salvation. Adi Shankaracharya regards Atmagyan (knowledge of self) as a means to attain salvation. Buddhist school of philosophy regards four Aryasatya (birth, disease, old age and death) as the basis of knowledge.


Four things have greatest importance in life. These are Dharma (religion), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasure) and Moksha (salvation). Of these, three- Dharma, Artha and Kama are the basic means to run one’s life. Hence, all these three are related to desires. But the fourth one i.e. Moksha is desireless. The desire for Moksha cannot be defined as a physical desire. Moksha is in fact, a means to attain supreme fortune.

Interestingly, Western philosophy is silent on the question of salvation. That is why, Western philosophers find a new direction as Moksha or salvation in Indian philosophy. Though some western philosophers have tried to rise above the surface of physical existence and venture into entirely metaphysical world but they have not been successful to attain the gravity that is a trademark of Indian philosophy. The basic reason behind this difference is that in Aryavarta (ancient name of India), philosophy had always been an integral part of people’s life. Whether it be infidel, Charvak or Vedanti Shankaracharya, all of them have based their philosophy on life. Contrary to western philosophy, Indian philosophy doesn’t simply reflect on the physical elements. Instead, it annihilates subjects related to human behaviour, action and salvation. Knowledge is an excellent appearance of mind.


Meaning- the intellect striving for salvation is knowledge. Indian philosophy is complete and all encompassing and there is neither any need nor any scope for amendments today. Indian philosophy successfully describes existence of world, life and god. Regarding salvation, it covers a journey from the thoughts of Charvak to the philosophy of monotheism proposed by Adi Shankaracharya. Despite great differences of opinions, almost all the streams of Indian philosophy are unanimous regarding salvation that it is possible only through one’s identification of the basic element.


Means have been assembled as evidences to have a sight of this basic element. As per their knowledge or interest, philosophers have fixed the numbers of these evidences differently. The originator of infidel community Charvak says: Only what is visible is evident.

According to the Buddhist and Jain philosophies, apparent and estimate are two evidences. Followers of Madhva community regard apparent and sound as evidences. Sankhya, Yoga as well as Ramanuja regard estimate as separate and discuss three evidences- apparent, sound and comparison. Experts of evidences, the followers of Nyay philosophy regard all four i.e. apparent, estimates, comparison and sound as evidences. Maheshwar community also indirectly regard these four as the evidences.

The proponents of Mimansa philosophy regard absence of wealth and materials as evidences apart from these four though in the opinion of Prabhakar, there is no existence of absence. Shankaracharya also accept the existence of these six evidences. Apart from these six evidences, the followers of Puranas also recognize the possibility and tradition as the evidences. Effort is respected as the ninth evidence exorcists and litterateurs. Though, apparent or direct existence of an evidence is the top most among all the nine evidences yet there are subjects, perfection of which is possible to estimate and sound. Brahmasiddhi is an example of such a subject in which ,sound is the top most evidence.

In the criterion of the evidences of Indian philosophy, two kinds of philosophers have been recognized. These are Tarkik (those who put logic for everything) and Shraut (who believe in the words of Vedas). Philosophers like Shankaracharya, Jaimini, Panini etc. who investigate the basic element through Vedas are regarded as Shraut or Vedic philosophers and those who use logic in the investigation of the basic element are Tarkik philosophers. Logic is in fact just another name for estimate. The logical philosophers test the theory of Vedas on their tough criteria. Even logical philosophers have two categories. 1) Clear logical and 2) Unclear logical. Clear logical philosophers use pure logic to test the existence of essential element. Unclear logical philosophers in fact believe in the words of Vedas but use logic to test the existence of supreme being.

Ramanuja and the originator of Madhva sect, who have explained the Brahmasutra of Vaadaraayan Veda Vyasa, are purely logical philosophers. Proponents of philosophical streams such as Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshik etc. are purely logical in nature. There is no basic difference between the direct evidence and the evidences given in the Vedas regarding the existence of supreme power. Practically however, believe in the existence of evident things is proper. In this view, theory of polytheism is also correct. But in the broader view, existence of Vedas is primary and monotheism is believed to be true here.


Things, the existence of which can be proved with evidences, are known as rational. Mainly three things are rational- life, world and God. Some of the philosophers accept materialism in all these three things whereas some accept the existence of only two of these three things. Still some philosophers believe in the existence of only one of these three things. According to their depth of knowledge, our learned philosophers have shown these three things either separately or aggregately. This field forms the body of philosophical thinking.


In the eye of Charvak, only the king is the God though he has an ephemeral body. Followers of Buddhism and Jainism regard Buddha and Mahavir as the God respectively. In the opinion of Panini, explosion of sound in the supreme state is God. Ramanuja regards God as a separate entity and the controller of all the organisms. Madhavacharya believes God as the cause of the existence of the whole world.

Maheshwar sect and Vaisheshik as well as Naiyayik streams of philosophy also believe in the same principle. Thus, there is a marked difference of opinion among the various streams of philosophy regarding the existence of God. Some streams believe that God doesn’t expect actions nor takes actions into account while deciding over the results of one’s deeds. Other streams believe that in the eye of God, actions are supreme for the whole creation. God of Yogadarshan is a non-entity whereas in the view of Shankaracharya, there is no other entity than God.

It should be noted here that when the existence of God and the world is considered as separate, the relation of cause and effect is also absent between them.


In the opinion of Charvak, physical body of an organism is life. Buddhists believe that life exists in special knowledge. According to the opinion of Jains, life is distinct from the body but its existence is within the perimeters of the body. Naiyayek and Vaisheshik streams believe that because of its faulty virtues, life is itself faulty. Followers of Mimansa also believe in this theory. Bhatt sect among the followers of Mimansa see the life both as active and inert forms. Followers of Shaiva, Sankhya, Yoga and Vedanta see the life as knowledge. Of course, in the opinion of the followers of Sankhya, Yoga and Vedanta who believe in monotheism, soul is a non-entity. Followers of Naiyayik, Vaisheshik and Vedanta, who believe in dual existence of God, regard soul as a distinct entity.

Disputes exist regarding the expansion of soul. Buddhists believe the soul has unlimited expansion. In the eyes of Ramanuja, Madhva and Vallabh sects, soul has an ‘atom like’ expansion. Followers of Nyay, Sankhya, Vaisheshik, Patanajali and Advait Vedanta believe that the soul is omnipresent. Charvak and Jains say that expansion of soul is somewhere between atom like dimension and omnipresence.


Regarding the relation of these two, followers of Naiyayik and Vaisheshik believe that the duty of the soul is truth. Followers of Ramanuja and Madhva sect also believe like that but don’t regard it as natural. Instead, they regard it as the cause. Advait Vedanta believes that soul is the doer itself. In Sankhya and Yoga philosophies, nature is said to be the only doer. It is because of soul’s relation with nature that the latter is seen as a possible doer. Therefore, the nature is regarded as both the doer and the sufferer.


In the view of Charvak, inanimate matter is the basic reason for the existence of universe. Followers of Buddhism, like Charvak, regard the presence of four basic elements, earth, water, fire and air necessary for the existence of creation. Followers of Jainism also agree with this point of view that the universe is basically composed of four basic elements. In Nyay and Vaisheshik philosophies, universe is said to be born out of the atoms that generated from the dust particles. In the view of Mimansa and Vyakaran, sound is the source of universe. According to Sankhya and Yoga, nature is the cause of the universe. Ramanuja also recognizes this doctrine. In the view of Advait Vedanta, soul is the base of universe.


Entrepreneurship is the basic requirement for the success of human life. Four things- Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha together constitute what is known as entrepreneurship. In order to train each of these four things, our great sages have created separate discourses. Scriptures like Smritis are the discourses that help one train the religion. Arthashastra of Chanakya describes the ways to train economic matters. Kamashastra of Vatsyayana and Jotireeshwar describes the intricate matter related to carnal relations between a woman and a man and the ways to improve them for a healthy society.

The last thing i.e. Moksha or salvation is the most cryptic in nature but at the same time, most sought after thing. Indian philosophy painstakingly describes the ways to attain salvation. Though basically same in approach, it is highly ironical that Indian philosophy has developed six different streams as per the thoughts and interests of the philosophers. These six streams in due course attracted a large number of followers who constituted the different but distinct sects. The system of Guru-Shishya (teacher and disciple) played highly important role in the development of these philosophical sects.


There is great difference of opinion among the exponents of different philosophical sects regarding the supremacy of Vedas. Some of them have full faith in the supremacy of Vedas whereas a few question it. Those who believe in the supremacy of Vedas are known as fidel whereas those who have no faith in the supremacy of Vedas are known as infidel. In this context, Shiva Purana says -


Meaning- Such as one gets comforts and discomforts in this world as a result of his good and evil deeds; similarly, one gets comforts and discomforts in the heaven as per his good and evil deeds. Such kind of thinking can be described as fidelity and the supporters of it as the fidel.


Philosophy of Charvak is famous as a proponent of infidelity. But this philosophy has failed to attract supporters in Hinduism. It has maximum supporters in Buddhism and Jainism. All the four sects of Buddhism like Madhyamik; Yogachar, Sautantric and Vaibhashik as well as both the sects of Jainism like Swetambar and Digambar support the philosophy of infidelity despite minor differences among them.


In the tradition of fidelity, six streams of Indian philosophy have been recognized. Together, these six streams constitute what is known as Shaddarshan. These are as follows- Nyay, Vaisheshik, Mimansa, Vedanta, Sankhya and Yoga Darshan. Akshapad Gautam was the originator of Nyay. Vaisheshik was developed by Kanad. Jaimini was the exponent of Mimansa. It is also known as Purva Mimansa. Vedanta Darshan was given by Veda Vyasa. It is also known as Uttar Mimansa. Kapil Muni created Sankhya Darshan while Patanjali developed Yoga Darshan.

Rameshwar Prasad invites you to the Wonderful Spiritual World


Engineer Rameshwar Prasad     (B.Tech., M.Tech., P.G.D.C.A., P.G.D.M.) VAASTU INTERNATIONAL
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