Debate, discussion, dissent and disagreement—four pillars on which rests the mansion of democracy. This is also the essence of Indian culture and philosophy as what we call Indian philosophy, can be both orthodox and unorthodox—following the vedas or not? While, there are six classical systems of Indian philosophy are orthodox: Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Sankya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa and Uttar Mimansa, while three are unorthodox: Buddhism, Jainism and Charvak.
We must remember here that Vaisheshika basically deals with physical sciences and debates the origin of the world as it emphasizes the physical sciences such as chemistry. It includes exploring the elements of earth, water, fire, air and space, as well as time, mind and soul.
Nyaya tries to debate the process of epistemology or theory of knowledge and deals with logic, the process of reasoning. Doubt is considered a prerequisite for philosophical inquiry.
Yoga systematically deals with all of the levels of one’s being, striving to reach to the supreme level of consciousness. It is knotted with the Sankhya system that explores into the origin of the world, dividing it into prakriti (matter) and purusha (consciousness) where one is empty and useless without another.
The fifth orthodox school: Vedanta dwells into the methods of self-inquiry leading to the realization of one’s true nature, that which is not subject to death, decay, or decomposition, meaning leading to Moksha. There can be both dwait and adwait Vedanda, while dwait believes in gods having forms like we, the humans, adwait God is formless like Allah!
The last orthodox system, Mimansa is totally pro-personal god, even then it pursues freedom through action. It has a detailed philosophy related to ritual, worship and ethical conduct, which developed into the philosophy of karma.
Remaining three system of Indian philosophy: Charvaka, Buddhism and Jainism are unorthodox as they reject the authority of the Vedas and also the existence of any supreme being, or God.
Charvaka also rejects metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, the afterlife, an extracorporeal soul, the efficacy of religious rites, other worlds like heaven and hell, fate, and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions and refused to ascribe supernatural causes to natural phenomena.
In fact, even among the six orthodox systems, as many as four are atheistic as there is no place for God in them. Only Vedanta and Mimansa a place for God in it. But, it argued that the Vedas could not have been authored by a deity.
Today, all those fighting for ‘hurting’ their religious sentiments and putting their ‘gods’ above than all other gods, must remember that Sanskrit had a larger atheistic literature than what exists in any other classical language. For instance, Madhava Acharya, the remarkable 14th century philosopher, wrote this rather great book called Sarvadarshansamgraha, which discussed all the religious schools of thought within the Hindu structure. The first chapter is “Atheism” – a very strong presentation of the argument in favor of atheism and materialism.
Even the ultra ‘nationalist’ and ‘supreme patriot, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the president of Hindu Mahasabha, described himself as a Hindu atheist.
All the schools emphasize that the philosophy must have a positive impact on life of humans and have a general agreement on the importance of the Purushartha that is the goal of life: artha, kama, dharma and moksha. The systems advocate that the philosophy should lead a person from darkness and ignorance to light and knowledge and truth and reality should be verifiable: should be substantiated with reasoning and experience.
But, what is happening today is just not against the ethos of India, but against the very essence of Hinduism itself. In fact, it is not Hinduism, but Hindutva, that is the political manifestation of Hindus being supreme and all others, including rational Hindus like me, secondary citizens.
We must resist it and make India argumentative again, else it will be too late and India will become a Xerox copy of Pakistan: a Hindu Pakistan!
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