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The Key Concepts of Indian Philosophy Explained

Dive into the rich history of Indian philosophy with this beginner's guide. Explore the major schools of thought and gain a deeper understanding of this ancient tradition.

Indian Philosophy Explained by saint

Introduction to Indian Philosophy

Indian philosophy is a diverse and complex field of study that has been evolving for thousands of years. It encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, from the ancient Vedas to modern-day thinkers. The philosophy of India is characterized by a deep respect for the interconnectedness of all things and a belief in the ultimate unity of the universe. In this beginner's guide, we'll explore the key concepts of Indian philosophy and gain a deeper understanding of this ancient tradition.

The Key Concepts of Indian Philosophy Explained

Indian philosophy is a vast and complex subject that has been studied for thousands of years. It encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, from the ancient Vedas to modern-day thinkers. In this beginner's guide, we'll explore the major schools of thought in Indian philosophy and gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating tradition.

In the Indian context, philosophy is taken to mean Darśana or tattva. Let’s see how the etymological meaning of ‘philosophy’ correlates itself with Darśana tattva. ‘Dr̩ śyate anena iti darśanam’ translates as ‘the one through which it is seen’. From a philosophical point of view, to ‘see’ means to ‘realise’. Darśana, therefore, means to realise. Further, the verb “realise” is a transitive verb.

Philosophy arose in India as an enquiry into the mystery of life and existence.

Indian Philosophy refers to several traditions of philosophical thought that originated in the Indian subcontinent.

orthodox and heterodox indian philosophy

The Major Schools of Indian Philosophy.

Indian philosophy is divided into six major schools of thought, each with its own unique perspective and approach. These schools are Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. Nyaya and Vaisheshika focus on logic and epistemology, while Samkhya and Yoga explore the nature of reality and the self. Mimamsa is concerned with the interpretation of Vedic texts, and Vedanta is focused on the ultimate reality of the universe. Each school has its own set of beliefs and practices, but they all share a common goal of understanding the nature of existence and the human experience.

Six schools of Vedic philosophy

Over centuries, India’s intellectual exploration of truth has come to be represented by six systems of philosophy. These are known as Vaishesika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa and Vedanta or Uttara Mimansa.

These six systems of philosophy are said to have been founded by sages Konada, Gotama, Kapila, Patanjali, Jaimini and Vyasa, respectively. These philosophies still guide scholarly discourse in the country.

The six systems of philosophy were developed over many generations with contributions made by individual thinkers. However, today, we find an underlying harmony in their understanding of truth, although they seem distinct from each other.

Six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy

Orthodox (astika) schools, originally called sanatana dharma, are collectively referred to as Hinduism in modern times. The ancient Vedas are their source and scriptural authority.

Hinduism consists of six systems of philosophy & theology.

Samkhya (Kapila): Samkhya is the oldest of the orthodox philosophical systems, and it postulates that everything in reality stems from purusha (self, soul or mind) and prakriti (matter, creative agency, energy).

Purush cannot be modified or changed while prakriti brings change in all objects.

Yoga (Patanjali): Yoga literally means the union of two principal entities. Yogic techniques control body, mind & sense organs, thus considered as a means of achieving freedom or mukti.

This freedom could be attained by practising self-control (yama), observation of rules (niyama), fixed postures (asana), breath control (pranayama), choosing an object (pratyahara) and fixing the mind (dharna), concentrating on the chosen object (dhyana) and complete dissolution of self, merging the mind and the object (Samadhi).

Yoga admits the existence of God as a teacher and guide.

Nyaya (Gautama Muni): Nyaya Philosophy states that nothing is acceptable unless it is in accordance with reason and experience (scientific approach). Nyaya is considered as a technique of logical thinking.

Nyaya Sutras say that there are four means of attaining valid knowledge: perception, inference, comparison, and verbal testimony.

Vaisheshika (Kanada): The basis of the school's philosophy is that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to a finite number of atoms and Brahman is regarded as the fundamental force that causes consciousness in these atoms.

Vaisheshika system is considered as the realistic and objective philosophy of universe.

The reality according to this philosophy has many bases or categories which are substance, attribute, action, genus, distinct quality and inherence.

Vaisheshika thinkers believe that all objects of the universe are composed of five elements–earth, water, air, fire and ether.

They believe that God is the guiding principle. The living beings were rewarded or punished according to the law of karma, based on actions of merit and demerit.

The Vaisheshika and Nyaya schools eventually merged because of their closely related metaphysical theories (Vaisheshika only accepted perception and inference as sources of valid knowledge).

Purva Mimamsa (Jaimini): This philosophy encompasses the Nyaya-vaisheshika systems and emphasises the concept of valid knowledge. According to Purva Mimamsa, Vedas are eternal and possess all knowledge.

According to Mimamsa philosophy Vedas are eternal and possess all knowledge, and religion means the fulfilment of duties prescribed by the Vedas.

It says that the essence of the Vedas is dharma. By the execution of dharma one earns merit which leads one to heaven after death.

Vedanta: The Vedanta, or Uttara Mimamsa, school concentrates on the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads (mystic or spiritual contemplations within the Vedas), rather than the Brahmanas (instructions for ritual and sacrifice). The school separated into six sub-schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own series of sub-commentaries:

Advaita (Adi Shankara): It states that both the individual self (Atman) and Brahman are the same, and knowing this difference causes liberation.

Visishtadvaita (Ramanuja): It believes that all diversity is subsumed to a unified whole.

Dvaita (Madhvacharya): It considers Brahman and Atman as two different entities, and Bhakti as the route to eternal salvation.

Dvaitadvaita (Nimbarka): It states that the Brahman is the highest reality, the controller of all.

Shuddhadvaita (Vallabhacharya): It states that both God and the individual self are the same, and not different.

Achintya Bheda Abheda (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu): It emphasizes that the individual self (Jīvatman) is both different and not different from Brahman.

The Concept of Dharma.

Dharma is a central concept in Indian philosophy, and it refers to the moral and ethical principles that govern human behavior. It is often translated as "duty," but it encompasses much more than that. Dharma is seen as a universal principle that applies to all beings, and it is believed to be the foundation of a just and harmonious society. In Hinduism, dharma is one of the four goals of life, along with artha (material wealth), kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation). The concept of dharma is also important in Buddhism and Jainism, where it is seen as a path to enlightenment and liberation from suffering.

The Concept of Karma.

Karma is another key concept in Indian philosophy, and it refers to the idea that every action has consequences. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, karma is seen as a fundamental law of the universe, and it is believed that every action, thought, and word contributes to a person's karma. Good actions lead to positive karma, while bad actions lead to negative karma. The consequences of karma can be experienced in this life or in future lives, depending on the belief system. The concept of karma is closely related to the idea of reincarnation, which is the belief that the soul is reborn after death.

The Concept of Moksha.

Moksha is a central concept in Indian philosophy, particularly in Hinduism. It refers to the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. According to Hindu belief, the ultimate goal of human life is to achieve moksha, which is seen as a state of eternal bliss and freedom from suffering. The path to moksha involves the pursuit of knowledge, the practice of self-discipline, and the performance of good deeds. Different schools of Hindu philosophy have different views on the nature of moksha and the means of achieving it, but all agree that it is the highest goal of human existence.

 Heterodox schools of Indian philosophy

Schools that do not accept the authority of Vedas are by definition unorthodox (nastika) systems. The following schools belong to heterodox schools of Indian Philosophy. 

Charvaka (Brihaspati): Charvaka is a materialistic, sceptical and atheistic school of thought.

According to Charvaka there is no other world. Hence, death is the end of humans & pleasure is the ultimate object in life. It is also known as the Lokayata Philosophy-the philosophy of masses.

Buddhist philosophy (Siddhartha Gautama): Buddhism is a non-theistic philosophy whose tenets are not especially concerned with the existence or nonexistence of God. Buddha considered the world as full of misery and considered a man’s duty to seek liberation from this painful world. He strongly criticized blind faith in the traditional scriptures like the Vedas

Jain philosophy (Mahavira): A basic principle is anekantavada, the idea that reality is perceived differently from different points of view, and that no single point of view is completely true.

According to Jainism, only the Kevalins, those who have infinite knowledge, can know the true answer, and that all others would only know a part of the answer.

Whenever we realise, we always realise ‘something’. To say that we realise ‘nothing’ is to admit that there is no realisation at all. If we recollect whatever that was said about ‘know’, then it becomes clear that to a great extent ‘to realise’ corresponds to ‘to know’, and hence realisation corresponds to knowledge. This correspondence is nearly one-to-one; i.e., it is nearly isomorphic. This aspect shall unfold itself in due course.

Simultaneously, the word tattva is derived from two words ‘tat’ and ‘tva’. Tat means ‘it’ or ‘that’ and tva means ‘you’. Therefore tattva, etymologically, means ‘you are that’. What is important is to know what tat stands for in Indian thought. It means reality or ‘ultimate’ reality. This is also what one division of philosophy, i.e., metaphysics talks about. Now, since Darśana is about knowing reality, it involves not only an important metaphysical component but also an important epistemological component. Hence, the summation of these two components more or less satisfactorily completes the description of philosophy as Darśana in Indian context.

There is yet another component that remains to be understood. Obviously, ‘you’ (tva) stands for knower, i.e., the epistemological subject and by identifying the epistemological subject with reality, we arrive at an important corollary. Indian thought did not distinguish between reality and the person or epistemological subject and hence etymologically, knowledge in Indian thought became inward (however, it must be emphasized that it outgrew the etymological meaning in its nascent stage itself). But what is of critical importance is the philosophical significance of the above mentioned corollary. Wherever man is involved, directly or indirectly, value is involved, hence axiology surfaces. When man is identified with reality, it and the whole lot of issues related to reality gain value-overtones. Hence, in Indian context, value is not merely a subject matter of philosophy, but philosophy itself comes to be regarded as ‘value’.

Consequently, the very approach of Indian thinkers to philosophy gains some distinct features.

 Knowledge in Indian philosophy

Desire is not an extraordinary quality of man. This is an instinct which can be discerned in any animal. However, human beings have a very powerful desire to know. The extent of knowledge acquired or capable of being acquired varies from species to species. This is one difference. Second, human’s motive to acquire knowledge and their concept of knowledge differ from culture to culture, thus the concept of knowledge is relative to culture. The essence of philosophy consists in these two principal factors; motive and idea.

Indian and western concepts, whether ancient or modern, are best understood when they are compared and contrasted. Ancient Greeks believed in the principle ‘knowledge for the sake of knowledge’, which gave impetus to birth and growth of pure science. In contrast, the post-renaissance age heralded the contrary principle ‘knowledge is power’. This dictum propagated by Bacon changed forever the very direction of the evolution of science. However, ancient Indians exhibited a very different mindset. While medicine and surgery developed to meet practical needs, astronomy and mathematics developed for unique reasons, neither purely spiritual nor purely mundane, in order to perform yajñas to meet practical ends and yajñas to achieve spiritual gain. At any rate, ancient Indians never believed in the Greek dictum. Nor did they, perhaps, think of it. If we regard knowledge as value, then we have to conclude that it was never regarded as intrinsic. On the other hand, it was mainly instrumental. The only exception to this characterization is the Cārvāka system which can be regarded as the Indian counterpart of Epicureanism.

In a restricted sense, the Indian philosophy of knowledge comes very close to the Baconian philosophy of knowledge. Truly, Indians regarded knowledge as power because for them knowledge (and thereby, philosophy) was a way of life and was never intrinsic. But, then, it is absolutely necessary to reverse the connotation of the word ‘power’. While the Baconian ‘power’ was meant to experience control over nature, the Indian ‘power’ was supposed to be the instrument to subjugate one’s own self to nature. This is the prime principle which forms the cornerstone of early Vedic thought. This radical change in the meaning of the word ‘power’ also explains the difference in world view which can be easily discerned when the belief-systems and attitudes of Indians and Europeans (for our purpose ‘west’ means Europe only) are compared and contrasted. Post-Baconian Europe believed that this universe and everything in it is meant to serve the purpose of man because man is the centre of the universe. (The spark of this thought did characterize a certain phase in the development of Vedic thought, only to be denounced at later stages). On the other hand, ancient Indian philosophers believed in identifying themselves with nature. For the western thinkers, knowledge was not only ‘power’ but became a powerful weapon to address their economic and political agenda. At no point in time did they look upon knowledge as a means to achieve anything even remotely connected to a spiritual goal. Just as the Cārvāka is an exception in Indian context, Socrates and Spinoza can be regarded as exceptions in western context. Most Indian philosophers did not regard worldly pleasure as ultimate.

For them there was something more important and enduring and therefore the conquest of nature was never a goal. Precisely, this attitude has generated a lot of needless controversy. This characterization, which, no doubt, is true, was grossly misunderstood and, consequently, it was argued that the Indian thought rejects altogether this world and presents life as totally irrelevant and insignificant. This argument, which stems from total misunderstanding, is altogether unwarranted. To say that x is more important than y is not to say that y is insignificant. If something is more important, then it means that something else is ‘less’ important. In other words, Indian tradition, surely, includes the ‘present’ life, but it is not restricted to it only rather goes beyond it.

Evidently, Indian tradition maintains a certain hierarchy of values. Knowledge, as a way of life, encompasses not only all sorts of values but also it changes one’s own perspective. Accordingly, the so-called spiritual goal in life can be attained only by one who has acquired knowledge of the truth. It points to the fact that ignorance or Avidyā is a hindrance to attain spiritual goals in particular and any other goal in general. One who has acquired true knowledge or knows truly, acts and thinks, very differently, different from ignorant, a characteristic

Socratic thought in Indian attire. However, this characteristic is conspicuous by its absence in western tradition. In this context, while Socrates and Spinoza are at one end of the thread, Bacon and Heidegger are at the opposite end. The point is that in Indian tradition, philosophy and value are inseParāble, whereas in the west it is not necessarily so.

This sort of emphasis upon values led to a hermeneutic blunder. Consequently, many western thinkers argued that Indian philosophy was never distinct from religion. Hence, according to critics, in India there was no philosophy at all worth the name, that there was no religion in India (with the exclusion of tribal religion). However, the so-called Hindu dharma cannot be mistaken and ought not to be mistaken for religion. This confusion arose because many scholars mistakenly identified religion with spirituality. An analogy may clear the mist surrounding Indian philosophy. Western philosophy is not divided into Christian philosophy and Jewish philosophy, though all western philosophers (excluding Greek philosophers) in loose sense are either Christians or Jews. Likewise, it is highly inappropriate to talk about ‘Hindu philosophy’, though majority of Indian philosophers were Hindus. It is true that a few philosophers in India became the heads of religious groups or sects (eg. Rāmānuja or Madhva). But then there are medieval philosophers like St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, etc. in the west also. But surely, we have Buddhist or Jaina philosophy because neither Buddhism or Jainism is a religion in the strict sense of the term. At this point, a pertinent question arises, if there is Buddhist philosophy, then why not Hindu philosophy? To believe that there is such philosophy amounts to putting the cart in front of the horse. Philosophy in India did not originate from Sanātana dharma — or Hindu dharma as it is popularly known as — but it is rather the other way round.

Therefore, in sharp contrast to western tradition, Indian philosophy can be spiritually oriented. The concept of reality and aesthetic values also are endowed with spirituality. The Upanis̩ adic or Advaitic notion of Brahman is a classic example. It is spiritual because it is neither worldly (physical) nor religious. If knowledge is spiritual, then its pramā (object) also must be spiritual. ‘Raso vai sah̩ ’ (that is, indeed, rasa) is an example for spiritual status of aesthetic value.

In this case ‘that’ according to, at least one interpretation means ‘Para Brahma’ or highest reality and Rasa may be taken to mean beauty. The metaphysical or spiritual element involved in philosophy must have been hijacked by religions to formulate their notions of gods (and perhaps to counter their rivals).

Let us return to knowledge again. Indian philosophy recognizes knowledge at two levels; Parā Vidyā (higher knowledge) and Aparā Vidyā (lower knowledge). Since knowledge is spiritual, only the former is true knowledge of reality, whereas the latter is slightly inferior, it refers to worldly knowledge. Though the Upanis̩ ads subscribe to this view, subsequent systems, (with the exception of Pūrva Mīmāṁsā) which are supposed to be commentaries on the Upanis̩ ads, regarded perception, for example, as a means of knowledge. Upamāna (comparison) is another pramān̩ a (means of knowledge). Not only lower knowledge, but also erroneous knowledge was seriously considered as species of knowledge (e.g., akhyāti) by systems of philosophy. Therefore even Aparā Vidyā retained its place. Parā Vidyā and Aparā Vidyā have their own place in the Indian thought, however they have been reconciled in Indian ethics in a remarkable manner. The concept of the purus̩ ārtha clarifies that only through Dharma, i.e., righteous means, man should acquire artha (wealth) and satisfy kāma (any sensuous desire), the very same means to attain moks̩ a (liberation).

The law of parsimony is very well adhered to in regard to the questions of social and moral philosophy in the Indian context.

Nature of life philosophy

We have seen that in Indian philosophy value and human life are inextricably blended. Now, the next pertinent question is: what is the aim of life according to Indian philosophers? To understand it simplistically, the aim of life according to the Indian tradition is to make a pilgrimage from ‘misery to happiness’. This is a single thread which runs through the whole gamut of Indian philosophy.

At one point of time, vertical split occurred in philosophical tradition leading to the birth of orthodox and heterodox schools of thought, yet, they concur on one issue, i.e., the aim of life. The dispute between these two poles did not prevent them from embracing a common goal. But in what sense is this goal a philosophical issue? This is one question which arises in this context: how can two opposing schools of thought have a common denominator? This is another.

Answers to the first question can be construed as follows. Knowledge as value is unique by itself. If the instrument which gives thrust to the quality of lifestyle has any economic value, then from a different perspective, if any, knowledge which reforms lifestyle also must possess value. Therefore knowledge became ‘the’ value in Indian thought. A Jñāni (knowledgeable person) in Socratic sense perceives not only routine life, but also the world in which he lives, differently because knowledge changes his world view. This type of change carries with it moral value. It means that the aim of life becomes an ethical issue. In this sense it becomes a philosophical issue.

Answer to the second question is still simpler. All schools of philosophy unanimously admit that the pursuit of happiness is the sole aim and unanimity stops there. But these two poles differ when they specify what happiness is. An example may make the point clear. All political parties, in their election manifesto, proclaim that their sole aim is uplifting the downtrodden. But the mechanism of doing so differs from one party to the other. Now the position is clear. Orthodox and heterodox schools differ on what happiness is and on what constitute happiness. Even within the heterodox system the idea of happiness differs. The Cārvāka School maintains that happiness consists in pleasure whereas Buddhism asserts that happiness consists in nirvān̩ a if happiness is to be construed as elimination of misery.

As we have mentioned that spirituality is the essence of Indian philosophy. Against this background, let us analyse what happiness is. Neither is the physical world nor is earthly pleasure permanent or ultimate. Hopefully, no one entertains the illusion that this world is eternal. However, not many care to think whether or not everlasting peace or happiness is possible within the bounds of a finite world. Indian philosophy is characterized by this thought. The desire to attain eternity is common to the Greek and the Indian traditions. However, in the latter case this desire takes a different form. Hence eternity is tantamount to permanent liberation from misery. A permanent liberation from misery is tantamount to attainment of permanent happiness and this it eternity. It is variously designated as moks̩ a, nirvān̩ a, etc. In its ordinary sense vairāgya means renouncing happiness. But in real sense what has to be renounced is not happiness, but pleasure. Vairāgya in conjunction with knowledge leads to eternal happiness.

Hence in Indian context vairāgya is ‘renounce worldly pleasure and attain eternal happiness’. It is possible that the very idea of renunciation invites strong objections. But in one definite sense such a renunciation is desirable. Vairāgya should be construed as elimination of greed and inclusion of contentment in life. This is the hidden meaning of vairāgya. What happened, in course of time, was that both dimensions were wrongly interpreted leading to the conclusion that vairāgya is not only negative but also is the sign of pessimism. It did not stop at this stage, but extended to the whole of Indian philosophy.

Moreover, in the twentieth century, westerners believed that in India there was nothing like philosophy, but only myth and casuistry in the garb of philosophy. While the western scholars argued that in India, philosophy was totally corrupted by religion, some Indian scholars under the influence of Marxism failed to separate philosophy from custom and tradition. The merits and demerits of their arguments and counterarguments are not relevant presently. But the sense, in which the world religion has to be construed, if it has to be regarded as philosophically constructive, is important. If the word religion is taken to mean tribal religion, then its association with philosophy spells doom to the latter. In India, philosophy was not influenced by religion in this sense. On the other hand, various religious sects, which grew later, were influenced by philosophy.

Now, let’s take the criticisms of those scholars, who admit that in ancient India there was a philosophical movement, merit our considerations. According to one criticism, Indian thought prompted a negative outlook and therefore, is self- destructive because it negates the reality of the physical world. This criticism can be rebutted in two stages. In the first place, Indian philosophy does not deny the physical world in absolute terms. A particular system of philosophy does not become a negative doctrine just because it regards the world as impermanent and that what is impermanent is regarded as not ultimately real. No scientist has ever dared to say that the universe is eternal. If the critic’s argument is admitted, then Plato’s philosophy also becomes negative in character. Indian philosophers, like Plato, admitted something permanent. Impermanence and permanence are relative terms; relevance of any one of them demands the relevance of another. Secondly, what is relative is always relative to something different. There is nothing like absolute relativity. The last two statements which, actually, explicate the essence of the theory of relativity holds good here also.

Now let us consider the second stage of refutation. Is it legitimate to categorize any doctrine as negative? Refutation is an important step in arguments, but it is not final. If science can be characterized as ‘satisfying a negative requirement such as falsifiability’ (Karl Popper, 1959, p.41), then philosophy, whether Indian or western, also is entitled to the same benefit or status. To a great extent Indian philosophy followed the principle of ‘Assertion through refutation’.

The second criticism is about the accusation that Indian philosophy is pessimistic. Any theory, which negates this world and life in absolute sense, ought to be pessimistic. The very fact that this criticism draws support from two sources of error shows the degree of misunderstanding. The desire to escape from misery was misconstrued as the desire to escape from the external world; it was ultimately a matter of discouraging merely earthly pleasure. Negation of earthly pleasure is not tantamount to the negation of happiness because pleasure and happiness are, evidently, different. Moks̩ a is simply the Sanskrit version of happiness. Pleasure is not only momentary but also is not pure in the sense that pleasure always comes with pain. If we consider British philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s criteria, then these criteria satisfy not pleasure but happiness. Duration, intensity and purity do not, in reality, characterize pleasure but happiness. Perhaps proximity alone satisfies pleasure. If so, even from a practical standpoint any philosophy which regards moks̩ a as ideal ceases to be pessimistic.

Desire to escape from this world perhaps appears to be escapist. However, in the Indian context, to move beyond this world is to liberate oneself from the cycle of birth and death and indulgence in the world. Yet, attainment of moks̩ a is regarded as a possibility during the lifespan of an individual (this is what is called jīvanmukti), there is no reason to regard the external world as an evil. It is, however, true that not only critics, but also the votaries of Indian philosophy misunderstood the concept of moks̩ a and it led to the cardinal mistake of treating the external world as evil.

One more objection can be raised to moks̩ a. Is moks̩ a a meaningful ideal? In the first place moks̩ a must be possible, and secondly, its realisation must be humanly possible. In the absence of either of them does it not cease to be meaningful? Let us assume that it is humanly possible to attain moks̩ a, then it remains an ideal. But then nothing is lost. If we pursue an unattainable ideal, then we progress towards that ideal. What matters is progress. Plato’s Utopia is an example which comes very close to the ideal of moks̩ a in this respect. Progress in the right direction is true progress. There is no way to know if one can truly achieve moks̩ a in one’s lifetime, however all one can do is pursue a life towards moks̩ a almost like an ideal which shall help one live a more morally fulfilling life.

In the western tradition only Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul. It became totally alien to modern western philosophy, though it found favour with Christianity. The Paradox is that immortality of the soul is a common theme to Christianity and Indian philosophy, whereas it ought to have been common to western philosophy and Christianity because the west happens to be the mainland of Christianity. It illustrates one crucial factor. Religion does not determine philosophy. On the other hand, philosophy has the required potential at least to influence religion, if not determine the same.

We saw that moks̩ a, nirvān̩ a, cessation of all kinds of misery are the goals of Indian philosophical schools. Some scholars say that Indian Philosophy has a soteriological purpose. But the idea that the central thought of Indian philosophy is soteriological purpose is not free from dispute. Some people consider it a philosophy of life and declare it philosophy on this basis, some declare it different from philosophy on the same basis. Indian Philosopher Bimal Kr̩s̩ n̩ a

Matilal considers it philosophy by establishing epistemology as the central element and also considers it equivalent to Western philosophy, while Daya Kr̩s̩ n̩ a declares it philosophy on the basis of “Conceptual Confusions and Conceptual Clarifications”, that is, philosophy contemplates on concepts from arguments and so does Indian philosophy, that is the reason to call it darśan (philosophy).

Thus there are many ideas in this regard as to why Indian philosophy is philosophy. Although a detailed study can be done in this regard from the reference list and it is sufficient to state it here as an indication for this unit, so that whatever historical and characteristic description is done, there will remain no doubt as this is the only idea and it is accepted to all.

Philosophy is derived from two Greek words which mean love of knowledge or wisdom. In Indian tradition philosophy means Darśana or tattva. Indian outlook is essentially different from western outlook. In terms of problems there is no difference between Indian and western philosophical traditions. Indian philosophers perceived knowledge as power in a different perspective. Bacon regarded knowledge as the means to establish authority over the external world.

On the other hand, Indians regarded knowledge as essential to establish control over one’s own self. Indians recognized philosophy itself as a value. Therefore philosophy, in India, was accepted as a way of life. With the sole exception of the Cārvāka, all other systems of philosophy in India accepted liberation in one or the other sense. Philosophy is independent of religion. However, religion may or may not be independent of philosophy.

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