The Essence of Vedanta: The Ancient Wisdom of Indian Philosophy

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Living at the Source Pertinent selections from Swami Vivekananda arranged by subject. What Religion Is A short, concise book illuminating the essence of religion. Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. It will especially appeal to those who want religion to make sense. Never have the casual and unstudied utterances of a great religious teacher been set down with so minute a fidelity…. It teaches us of the life of the spirit. Jnana Yoga Swami Vivekananda explains how to use the mind and intellect as tools for God-realization.

The question seems particularly pertinent in cases like Buddhist and Jain philosophy, which have all had rich philosophical histories. As a rule, systematic Indian philosophy Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism was recorded in Sanskrit, the pan-Indian language of scholarship, after the end of the Vedic period.

While scholars are confident about the approximate dates that the texts of systematic Indian philosophy handed down to us were written cf. Moreover, most of the schools of Hindu philosophy have existed side by side. Thus, the order of explication of the systematic schools of Hindu philosophy follows the conventional order of explication and not any particular historical order.

The founder of this school is the sage Gautama 2nd cent. Perception arises when the senses make contact with the object of perception.

Science of Karma? How does Karma start? ~ Swami Sarvapriyananda ~ VedantaZenOneness

This applies as much to mundane objects, as it does to the self, and God. The opening verse states that the topic of the text is the elaboration of dharma ethics or morality. It is attributed to the legendary sage Kapila of antiquity, though we have no extant work left to us by him. It is eternally distinct from Nature, but it enters into complex configurations of Nature biological bodies in order to experience and to have knowledge.

It lacks the ability to be an agent.

... and realise It

Prima facie , the bronze quality appears to correspond to tamas , silver to rajas , and sattva to gold. While Indian philosophers had an important impact on the course of ancient Greek philosophy through Pyrrho of Elis, who traveled to India in the 3rd cent. This suggests that both Plato 4th cent.

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A relatively important point of cosmological difference is that the Yoga system does not consider the Mind or the Intellect Mahat to be the greatest creation of Nature. In order to facilitate the calming of the mind, the Yoga system prescribes several moral and practical means. The eight limbs include:.

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When [one] becomes steadfast in… abstention from falsehood, [one] gets the power of obtaining for [oneself] and others the fruits of good deeds, without [others] having to perform the deeds themselves. When [one] becomes steadfast in… abstention from theft, all wealth comes.

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In this penultimate state, the aspirant has all their past sins washed away by a cloud of dharma virtue, or morality. Critics of the Yoga system charge that it cannot be accepted on moral grounds for it has as its ultimate goal a state of isolation.

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On this view, kaivalya is understood literally as a state of social isolation see Bharadwaja. Given the uncommon journey that the yogi takes, it is also natural to conclude that the state of kaivalya is the state characterized by having no peers, owing to the radical shift in perspective that the yogi attains through yoga. Foundationalism is the view that certain knowledge claims are independently valid which means that no further justificatory reasons are either possible or necessary to justify these claims , and moreover, that these independently valid knowledge claims are able to serve as justifications for beliefs that are based upon them.

Such independently valid knowledge claims are thought to be justificatory foundations of a system of beliefs. If the word ceased to exist as soon as uttered then no one could speak of any thing to others….


From this it follows that the word denotes the Class. If they do not have their meaning eternally and independent of subjective associations between referents and words, communication would be impossible. The latter portion of the Vedas is a vast corpus that does not elaborate a single doctrine in the manner of a monograph. Rather, it is a collection of speculative texts of the Vedas with overlapping themes and images. These are the 8th century C.

These three are not the only commentaries. They principally differ on the metaphysics of individual selves and Brahman , though there are also some striking ethical differences between these schools as well. However, in and of itself, it has no power to make its will manifest. Brahman , on all three accounts, steps in and grants the fruits of the desires of an individual. Thus while on this account individuals are agents, they are really also quite impotent. Madhva in contrast is reputed to have been a staunch opponent of animal sacrifices, who held that such rituals are a result of a corruption of the Vedic tradition.

The following explication will be restricted to such works. From this argument from superimposition, the ordinary human psyche which self identifies with a body, a unique personal history, and distinguishes itself from a plurality of other persons and objects comes about by an erroneous superimposition of the characteristics of subjectivity consciousness, or the sense of being a witness , with the category of objects which includes the characteristics of having a body, existing at a certain time and place and being numerically distinct from other objects. And hence, the conflation of the two categories is fallacious.

However, it is also a creative mistake. Past actions cloud our true nature and force us to act out their consequences. Hindu philosophy did not develop in a vacuum. Rather, it is an inextricable part of the history of Indian philosophy. Hence, other Indian philosophical movements did not only influence Hindu philosophy, but it also arguably had an influence on their development as well. The most salient manner in which Hindu philosophy was influenced by other Indian philosophical developments is in the realm of ethics.

Buddhism and Jainism were both critical of the practice. Buddhism as a philosophy devoted to the alleviation of suffering is disposed to see animal sacrifices as involving unnecessary suffering. Jainism might very well have been the first religio-philosophical movement in India staunchly wedded to vegetarianism. And while vegetarianism was alien to early Hindu practice, it has become an integral part of Hindu orthodoxy in many parts of India.

The Essence of Vedanta: The Ancient Wisdom of Indian Philosophy | Advaita Academy

Now, for many Hindus, the very idea of eating meat is the very archetype of immoral and irreligious behavior. The shift in the general attitude of many Hindus arguably goes to the credit of Jainism, a once prevalent religion in India, which has been a source of tireless criticism of violence. While it is possible that these precepts have a third common source, or that they are indigenous to the Yoga tradition, it is also highly probable that they were incorporated, early on, into the Yoga tradition by way of influence of Jain thought.

Increasingly, in the context of latter Indian Buddhism, there is a movement away from a seeming agnosticism to an affirmation of the Ultimate in terms of a master concept, which designates both the grounding and the source of all. While this doctrine gets its clearest explication in the context of latter day Buddhist thought in India, it seems that it has its precursor in Vedic speculation. A famous formulation of the doctrine of Neo-Hinduism is the simile that likens religions to rivers, and the oceans to God: as all rivers lead to the ocean so do all religions lead to God.

Similarly, Swami Nirvenananda in his book Hinduism at a Glance writes:. All true religions of the world lead us alike to the same goal, namely, to perfection if, of course, they are followed faithfully. Each of them is a correct path to Divinity.

The Essence of Vedanta: The Ancient Wisdom of Indian Philosophy

The Hindus have been taught to regard religion in this light. Nivernananda, p. Ours is the universal religion. It is inclusive enough, it is broad enough to include all the ideals. III p. The view identified as Neo-Hinduism here might be understood as a form of Universalism or liberal theology that attempts to ground religion itself in Hindu philosophy. Neo-Hinduism must be distinguished from another theological view that has a long history in India, which we might call Inclusivist Theology.

According to Inclusivist Theology, there are elements in any number of religious practices that are consonant with the one true religion, and if a practitioner of a contrary religion holds fast to those elements in their religion that are correct, they will eventually attain the Ultimate. Neo-Hinduism, in contrast, makes no distinction between deities, religions, or elements within religions, for all religions operate at the level of the practical, while the Ultimate, ex hypothesi , is transcendent.

There is no religion, or no portion of any religion, which is incorrect, on this view, for all are equally human efforts to strive for the Divine. Neo-Hindus do not typically regard themselves as forming a new philosophy or religion, though the doctrine expressed by Neo-Hinduism is characterized by theses and concerns not clearly expressed in classical Hindu philosophy. While the higher Brahman is the eternally existing reality, lower Brahman is a result of the same creative error that results in the construction of normal integrated egos in bodies: superimposition. While personal deities are considerably devalued on this account, the result is a liberal theology that is closed to no religious tradition, in principle, for any religion that personalizes God will be approaching the highest Brahman through the lens of superimposed characteristics of object-qualities on Brahman.

Critics of Neo-Hinduism have noted that while Neo-Hinduism aspires to shun the sectarianism that characterises the history of religion in the West through a spirit of Universalism, Neo-Hinduism itself engages in a sectarianism, in so far as it identifies Hinduism with the true perspective that understands the quality-less nature of the Ultimate cf. Halbfass, Tradition and Reflection pp. In defense of Neo-Hinduism, it could be argued that it is a genuine, modern attempt to re-understand the philosophical implications of earlier Hindu thought, and not an attempt to reconcile the various religions of the world.

Neo-Hinduism, the critic might argue, is historical revisionism. In response, Neo-Hinduism might defend itself by insisting that it is not in the business of providing an account of the history of all of Hindu philosophy, but only a certain strand that it regards as the most important.

Hindu philosophers have taken varied views on many important issues in philosophy. Hindu philosophers, for instance, are not in agreement as to whether God is a person. They have not all agreed upon the nature and scope of the epistemic validity of the Vedas, nor have they all agreed on basic questions of axiology, such as the content of morality. All Hindu philosophers are not in agreement on whether there is anything like liberation. While all Hindu philosophers hold that there is something like an individual self, they differ radically in their account of the reality and nature of this individual.

Such differences have made Hindu philosophy into a sub-tradition of philosophy within Indian philosophy, and not simply one comprehensive philosophical view amongst many.

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Hindu philosophy is not a static doctrine, but a growing tradition rich in diverse philosophical perspectives. Contrary to some popular accounts, what is presented as Hindu philosophy in recent times is not simply an elaboration of ancient tradition, but a re-evaluation and dialectical evolution of Hindu philosophical thought. Far from detracting from the authority or authenticity of recent Hindu speculation, what this shows is that Hindu philosophy is a living and vibrant tradition that shows no sign of being fossilized into a curiosity from the past, any time soon.

Shyam Ranganathan Email: shyamr yorku. The history of Hindu philosophy can be divided roughly into three, largely overlapping stages: Non-Systematic Hindu Philosophy, found in the Vedas and secondary religious texts beginning in the 2nd millennia B.