STREAMS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY
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
INDIFFERENTNESS AND INCLINATION
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
DOER AND SUFFERER
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.
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.
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.
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.
SUPREMACY OF VEDAS
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
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 -
YATHEHAASTI SUKHAM DUKHAM SUKRITAIDUSHKRITAIRAP
TATHAA PARATRA CHAASTITI MATIRAASTIKYAMUCHYATE ||
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 INFIDELITY
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
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.