Hinduism, considered to be the world’s oldest, does not have a single founder, an exact system of theology, a unified structure of morality, or a central religious institution but has grown to be the 3rd largest religion and claims 13% of the world’s population, numbering about 920 million followers, of which 30 million are scattered around the globe, and a dominant religion in three Asian countries: India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka (Dhalpale and Thite 82). There is still unclear specific definition of what Hinduism or who or what a Hindu really is.
Indian Supreme Court Chief Justice P. B. Gajendragadkar asserts that: When we think of the Hindu religion, Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one god; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion of creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more (Holt 52).
Thus, in this paper, Hinduism will not be treated as a religion but as a philosophical foundation of a culturally and historically enriched way of life (Hayler 129). This way of life is sometimes called Sanata Darma (eternal religion) or Vaidika Dharma (religion of the Vedas), but the most commonly used name is Hinduism, invented by the British colonizers in the 19th century.
Brought to the Indus Valley by Aryan tribes migrating or invading from central and west Asia, a set of philosophical and religious practices and merged with the Harappan view of the sanctity of fertility, Hinduism, through adaptations of beliefs from the Vedas generated multiple religions based primarily of Aryan polytheism and henotheism. The history of Hindu philosophy dates three thousand years and since its inception to the Indian society, various writings, texts, and other philosophical literatures with a very wide array of content emerged, clutched through every aspect of Indian society for thousands of years.
Hindu beliefs were derived from Vedic, Puranic and Upanishad, and epics written by many ancient and classical Hindu philosophers traversing centuries of Indian history (Dasgupta et al. 441). Hindu or Indian philosophical precepts first appeared in India at around 900-500 B. C. during the Upanishad period, though these were not as detailed as what would appear several centuries later, and were conferred in the form of sutras or concise aphorisms intended for oral elaboration, that characteristic gave way for successive written and oral commentaries. Schools of thought were founded radiating from different varieties of interpretation or cognition of the original, similarly voluminous, philosophical literatures. These factors gave birth to the emancipation of a unitary set of beliefs to diffuse into countless Hindu religions (Chaterjee 335).
Hinduism has been known to the western world through karma, yoga, and other transcendental or metaphysical connections with the inner self and universe, however, its philosophical basis had to be clarified first and attempt to present an overview of this philosophy. Tolerance in diversity in belief gained Hinduism’s recognition in the West which has incorporated many of its beliefs in spirituality and health (Hayler 327). To understand the philosophy of the Hindu belief system, it is imperative to take a look on the sacred scriptures, the Vedas, written about 2000-3000 years ago for almost nine hundred years.
The Vedas or the scriptures of “knowledge” has three main transformations that were in contrast with each antecedent, influences the preceding which contributed much to the reforms of the original belief, and each has a unique outlook in life, religion, and the path to enlightenment, beginning in an oral tradition, these beliefs were recited through hymns, songs or poems in religious rituals with the purpose of inculcating to the individual life and all of life’s meanings.
These three main transformations are Samhitas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, which intricately connect with each other (Krsnamurti and Sharma 73). The Vedas are the oldest Sanskrit literary work devoted to and the primary literary text of Hinduism which are according to tradition were directly revealed or what is heard, therefore, not of human agency, further branched into four classes recited in ritual sacrifices: the Rig Veda, Yajurveda and the Samaveda, and the Atharva Veda.
These are further divided into what is known as the four sections: Aranyakas, Mantras, Brahmanas and Upanisads. From these texts and other literary works in the Hindu world a philosophy that has existed for millennia. Six schools of Hindu thought flourished mainly because of: First, the Vedas are not composed with the intention of being systematic treaties on philosophical issues. They leave many issues of philosophy relatively untouched. Secondly, the core Hindu canonical texts are not canonical in the same way for all Hindus.
By and large, those we tend to regard as Hindu accord some type of provisional authority to both the Vedas, and the secondary Vedic literature. However, the authority accorded is something that Hindu thinkers have disagreed upon. Some of the foundational works in systematic Hindu philosophy do not explicitly mention the Vedas (for example, the khya KarikaSan), leaving the impression that these schools were tolerant of the authority of the Vedas, but not philosophically wedded to it in any deep sense (The Internet Encyclopedia of History).
These schools or “darsana”, translated in Sanskrit as “visions”, commonly accepted and referred to as organized philosophical views that fill the history of Indian philosophy, have different expressions of distinct views and from then on, six astikas or Veda recognizing darsanas: Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purvamimamsa, and Vedanta emerged (Krsnamurti and Sharma 476).
Frequently represented as principally apprehensive with logic though it consists an unlimited range of acceptable and unacceptable argumentation, Nyaya, “formal reasoning”, precisely considered of as being concerned with argumentation, is a wide-ranging and independent school of philosophy which also had views on epistemology, metaphysics, theology, logic and rhetoric founded in the 2nd century C. E. by a sage named Gautama. Nyaya-Sutra’s first verse has divulged that the school concentrates to clarify certain issues on sixteen main topics.
Epistemology, ontology, doubt, axiology, paradigm cases that establish a rule, conventional doctrine , premise of a syllogism, reductio ad absurdum, certain beliefs gained through epistemically reputable means, properly performed discussion, sophistic debates intended at defeating the adversary, and not finding the truth, a debate typified by one party’s indifference in establishing an affirmative analysis and exclusively with negation of the opponent’s analysis, convincing but erroneous arguments, iniquitous attempt to oppose a statement by prevaricating its meaning, an unfair response to an argument supported by false analogy, and position for defeat in a debate (Hayler 712). It claims that the Vedas are legitimate due to the reliability of their conveyors, and famed for its position that the reality of God can be acknowledged for all formed things bear a resemblance to artifacts, just as every artifact has a maker, so too must the entire creation has a maker.
Plurality of the Nyaya view applies to worldly things as it does to the self and God based on the belief that they have independent identities in relation to other objects and the ontological model that appears to pervade that reality is composed of indecomposable simples, called atomism, make Nyaya metaphysics both realistic and plural (Eck 408). Kanada, whose name exactly means atom-eater, originated the Vaisesika which is tremendously concerned with the metaphysical problem. In his Vaisesika Sutra he elaborated the darma which results to the Supreme Good generally recognized in the Indian philosophy as Liberation. Aided by Sankara –Mistra, a philosopher from the 15th century, an incomprehensible third verse was supplied which asserts that the authority of the Vedas is in the illumination of the dharma (Flood 904).
While the fourth accounts metaphysical realism, further expounding that matter, characteristics, actions, and relation of inherence have their own irreducible reality which are divergent from the particularities and universals and overall, the dharma’s worth to the totality of the system (Potter 1041). Sankara-Mistra suggest that withdrawal from the world is a kind of sagely leniency and is the dharma understood in its fastidious presentation in the Vaisesika system, but giving credence to the ontological matters, its firmness that it seek s to detail the dharma would be somewhat extraneous. As some reviewers examine that a particular dharma of a person who is set off into the system is his moral virtue based on the premise that “knowledge of truths”, “knowledge of the categories”, or “knowledge of the essences” – the fruits of the Vaisesika system, yielding the highest good (Potter 981).
The oldest systematic Indian school of philosophy is the Sankhya, which means “enumeration” – its methodology of philosophical analysis – credited to the sage Kapila of antiquity, which, as it shows, dates back to the Vedic period amiably cultivated corresponding with the Vedic tradition and disparate from many systematic schools of thought, it does not unambiguously align itself with the clout of the Vedas, and states that materiality is the basis of a natural entity called “mentality” which is in nature the closest to man (Potter 471). Nature and Person, which are two metaphysical entities, created the cosmos whenthey came to a mutual contact. Nature being the material principle has three qualities: one which is enlightening, lighthearted and the source of happiness; another is the motivating, forceful and a source of suffering; and the last is the tranquil, insidious and source of coldness.
The Person, ceaselessly separate from Nature has the quality of consciousness and in order to experience and achieve knowledge penetrates the composite design of Nature –biological bodies. The Person lack the capacity to be an agent for the reason that it is a just pure eyewitness and the mind, which is the outcome of the compound association of matter, is not a part of it, so persons, in reality, are not making decisions except we lend consciousness to the condition. Nature and Person perpetuates a contact so that the Person may, through enlightenment assume a prevailing position in a bodily constitution, accomplish the liberation when the Person is no longer imprisoned by his body’s constitution, and realize the knowledge of his nature (Halbfass 410).
Yoga philosophy can be traced from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra late in the epic period, about 3rd century C. E. This philosophy was articulated in the Bhagavad Gita, shares dualistic cosmology with Sankhya and does not try to plainly derive its influence from the Vedas though revert from important moral and metaphysical end: nature of agency, and its weight on realistic way to achieve liberation. On the issue of interaction between Nature and Person and the acceptance that Nature has the three qualities, much like with the Sankhya, the Yoga system just called these different names and permits the ascendance of pleasure in a person’s mind so that the nature of the self will come to light (Krsnamurti and Sharma 277).
The person, however, is an agent not just a witness because according to Yoga, the self is the “master of the mind” and the effort of the empowered Person to liberate himself is the Yoga. Facilitating the calming of the mind is the practice of coming to those with energy and prescribes moral and practical means of which Astanga Yoga is the core practice that is setting out the eight limbs in the practice of Yoga. The eight limbs are: 1) abstention from evil doing, harming others, telling falsehoods, acquisitiveness, greed and envy, and sexual restraint 2) various observances including cultivation of purity, contentment and austerity, 3) posture, 4) control of breath, 5) withdrawal of the mind from sense objects, 6) concentration, 7) meditation, and 8) absorption in the self (Dhadphale and Thite 145).
They must be practiced without any reservations as to time, place, purpose, or caste rules…The failure to live a morally pure life constitutes a major obstacle to the practice of Yoga… When [one] becomes steadfast in… abstention from harming others, then all living creatures will cease to feel enmity in [one’s] presence. 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. … Moreover, one achieves purification of the heart, cheerfulness of mind, the power of concentration, control of the passions and fitness for vision of the Atma [self, or Purusa] (Dhadphale and Thite 655).
The Hindu school of philosophy interested with the early query, Purvamimamsa, is one of the most traditional since it sought to convolute and preserve the early rite-oriented branch of the Vedas and focuses primarily on duty or ethics. Its line came from the wisdom of a 1st century C. E. philosopher; Jaimini written in Mimamsa Sutra, beginning with the declaration that the explanation of the dharma is its main concern – conveying in relation to welfare through dharma that is a ruling and has the merit to bring such. Purvamimamsa’s foundationalism, that is viewing that the Vedas are epistemically introductory and that definite knowledge claims had the capacity to be provided as the rationalization for beliefs, situates it distant from other Indian philosophical schools with the exception of the Vedanta system (Dasgupta et al. 883).