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Indian Philosophy Lessons

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3/1/2016 2:55:12 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
In Indian context, philosophy is taken to mean darshana or tattva. We shall
consider how the etymological meaning of "philosophy" correlates itself with
darshana or tattva. "Drisyate anena iti darshanam" - the one through which it is
seen. The word seen can be understood either literally or philosophically. Though
the difference is irrelevant, let us consider only the latter. To "see" in philosophic
sense means to "realise". Darsana, therefore, means to realise. Again, the verb
"realise"is a transitive verb. We always realise "something"whenever we realise.
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 unfolds itself in due course. Before proceeding in
this direction, we should know what "tattva" stands for.

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".
Introduction to Indian
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. The word "it", which appears in the meaning of darshana
stands for tat, i.e., ultimate reality. Since darshana , is 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 darshana
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. So 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.


Indian thought is essentially pluralistic as regards arguments which give an
exposition of reality. First, we can begin with types of reality and this can be
done from two different angels.

Table 1:

Table 2:

Theories of Reality

Secular Spiritual

Physical Non-Physical Theistic Non-theistic

Theories of

Monistic Dualistic Non-Dualistic Pluralistic

Let us try to understand what Table 1 says. But before doing so, it is better to
answer the question; what is reality? Indeed, this is the most difficult question to
answer. To start with, "reality" can be defined as the one which is the ultimate
source of everything and itself does not have any source. It also can be taken to
mean that which is independent. This definition itself is hotly debated in
philosophical circles. If we take this as a working definition of reality, then we
find to our surprise that ancient Indians offered various answers resulting in
"proliferation of an ocean of theories", to use the phrase used by Feyerabend.
Contrary to widespread belief prevailed in the past, all Indian thinkers did not
recognize reality as spiritual. Nor did they unanimously regard it as secular. A
complex discipline like philosophy does not allow such simple division. Surely,
some thinkers accepted only spiritual reality and on the contrary, some other
thinkers accepted only "secular" reality. However, in many cases, these two
divisions crossed and the result is that in those cases we discover that reality has
two faces, secular and spiritual. An upshot of this conclusion is that thinkers in
India neglected neither this world nor the "other"(if it exists). This is a significant
aspect to be borne in mind.

Curiously, at Level 2, the divisions of secular and spiritual theories are mutually
exclusive and totally exhaustive, i.e., physical and non-physical, on the one hand
and theistic and non-theistic, on the other. Though within secular range (and
similarly within spiritual range) the divisions exclude each other any division of
secular theory can go with any division of spiritual theory without succumbing
to self-contradiction. Accordingly, we arrive at four combinations which are as

1) Physical " Theistic
2) Physical " Non-Theistic
3) Non-Physical " Theistic
4) Non-Physical " Non-Theistic

Now let us get to know the meaning of these terms. A theory which regards the
independence of physical world is physical. Likewise, a theory which regards
the independence of any other substance than physical world is non-physical.
The former need not be non-theistic. A theory of reality can accord equal status
to this world and god. Surely, it does not involve any self-contradiction. The
Dvaita and the Vaisesika illustrate the former, whereas charvaka illustrates the
latter. A diagram illustrates the point.

Physical Theistic
(A) (C)
Non- Physical Non-theistic
(B) (D)

What is to be noted here is that A and B lack connectivity; and so also C and D.
In western tradition, the term "mind" replaces the term non-physical. However,
in Indian context such usage is inaccurate because, at least, some schools regard
mind as sixth organ. The Sankhya is one school which regards mind as an evolute
of prakriti. Hence, it is as much physical as any other sense organ. The Vaisheshika
is another school which has to be bracketed with the Samkhya in this regard. At
this stage, we should get ourselves introduced to two key metaphysical terms,
realism and idealism; the former with all its variants regards the external world
as ultimately real, whereas the latter with all its variants regards external world
as a derivative of mind. Of course, here mind is not to be construed as sixth
organ. The Yogachara, a later Buddhistic school is one system which subscribes
to idealism.

Now it is clear that (A) and (B) are mutually exclusive and totally exhaustive.
Under (D) there are two sub-divisions; atheistic and agnostic. (C) on the one
hand, and atheistic and agnostic on the other hand are mutually exclusive and
totally exhaustive. Since, atheistic and agnostic doctrines are philosophically
different, 2nd and 4th types are further split into two each. So, instead of 4, we will
have six theories. Each theory differs from every other theory. The differences
are, sometimes gross and some times subtle.
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3/1/2016 2:56:06 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
It is, now, more than obvious that Indian philosophy does not lend itself to simple
and easy categorization. Complexity and variety must be regarded as salient
features of Indian thought. This aspect is further compounded when table 1 and
table 2 intersect. Before considering such intersection we should first elucidate
table 2.

Table 2 explicates theories of reality and distinguishes theories on the basis of
number, i.e., the number of substances, which are regarded as real, becomes the
criterion to make any distinction. Monism asserts that reality is one. The assertions
of dualistic and pluralistic theories can be ascertained without difficulty, since
they stand for "two" and "more than two" respectively. Non-dualistic theory, i.e.,
The Advaita is unique. It does not make any assertion about number, but only
negates dualism (if dualism is inadmissible, then pluralism is also inadmissible).
The Upanisads are monistic and The Vaisesika is pluralistic.

Now we shall integrate table 1 and table 2. An integration of this sort yields in all
twenty four systems. This is not to imply that twenty-four systems dominated
the scene. But majority of them did flourish at one time or the other.

Consideration of questions in respect of reality should make it clear that no
qualitative difference can be discerned between the Indian and the western
traditions. Questions are alike; because problems are alike. But the same set of
questions may elicit different answers from different minds at different times
and places. Always, spatio-temporal factor plays a major role in determining
solutions. The last aspect becomes clear after we consider issues in respect of
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3/1/2016 2:58:24 PM
Posted: 7 months ago

Desire to know is not an extraordinary quality of man. This is an instinct which
can be discerned in any animal. However, differences lie elsewhere. The extent
of knowledge acquired or capable of being acquired varies from species to species.
This is one difference. Second, man"s motive to acquire knowledge and his
concept of knowledge differ from culture to culture. Previous statement, surely,
does not imply ranking of culture. It only shows that 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, post-renaissance age heralded the contrary principle
"knowledge is power". This dictum propagated by Bacon changed for ever 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 reason, neither purely
spiritual nor purely mundane, in order to perform yagas to meet practical ends
and yajnas to achieve spiritual gain. At any rate, ancient Indians never believed
in 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 Charvaka system which can be regarded as the Indian counterpart of

In a restricted sense, the Indian philosophy of knowledge comes very close to
the Baconan philosophy of knowledge. Truly, Indians regarded knowledge as
power because for them knowledge (and thereby, philosophy) was a way of life
and this is the reason why for them knowledge was never intrinsic. But, then, it
is absolutely necessary to reverse the connotation of the word "power". While
the Baconan "power" was meant to experience control over nature, the Indian
"power" was supposed to be the instrument to subjugate ones 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 stage).
On the other hand, ancient Indian believed in identifying himself with nature.

We should carry further our analysis of Baconian "power" vis-"-vis the Indian
"power". The repetition of what was said earlier is only to reinforce the critical
importance of consequences. Knowledge was not only "power" but became a
powerful weapon for the westerners to address their economic and political
agenda. At no point of time did westerners look upon knowledge as a means to
achieve anything even remotely connected to spiritual goal. Just as the charvaka
is an exception in Indian context, Socrates and Spinoza can be regarded as
exceptions in western context. Indians, however, did not regard worldly pleasure
as ultimate. For them there was something more important and enduring and
therefore the conquest of nature never mattered. Precisely, this attitude has
generated 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 present 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; goes beyond it. This point becomes
clear in the third chapter.

Evidently, Indian tradition maintains a certain hierarchy of values unlike western
tradition. 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. It points to
the fact that ignorance or avidya is a hindrance to attain spiritual goal 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. It was not necessary that personal life of a
philosopher should match his philosophy, in the sense that a philosopher"s life
need not be a role model for lesser mortals to emulate. 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 inseparable, whereas in
the west it is not so. A philosopher, in the west, can be (not that there are) worse
than a hardened criminal. But in Indian context it is inconceivable.

This sort of emphasis upon values led to a hermeneutic blunder. Without batting
his eye lid the critic, just like protagonist, argued that in Indian philosophy was
never distinct from religion. Hence in India there was no philosophy at all worth
the name according to critics. That there was no religion in India (with the
exclusion of tribal religion) is a different story. 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 philosophyand 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 "committed" Hindus. It is true that
a few philosophers in India became the heads of religious groups or sects (eg.
Ramanuj or Madhva). But then we have St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, etc. in the
west also. But nobody characterizes their philosophy as Christian philosophy.
But surely, we have Buddhist or Jaina philosophy because neither Buddhism nor
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 Sanatana dharma " or
Hindu dharma as it is popularly known as " but it is the other way round.
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3/1/2016 2:59:03 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Therefore, in sharp contrast to western tradition, Indian philosophy is essentially
spiritual. When it was said earlier that in India also knowledge is regarded as
power, what was meant was that knowledge was regarded as spiritual power;
spiritual which is totally non-religious in its nature.

It is an error to assume that spiritual overtones can be discerned only in knowledge.
The concept of reality and aesthetic values also are endowed with spirituality.
The Upanisadic orAdvaitic notion of Brahman is a classic example. It is spiritual
because it is neither worldly (physical) nor religious. If knowledge is spiritual,
then its prama (object) also must be spiritual. "Raso vai sah" (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; Para Vidya (higher knowledge) and Apara vidya (lower knowledge).
Since knowledge is spiritual, only the former is true knowledge, whereas the
latter is not knowledge at all in the strict sense of the term. Though the Upanisads
subscribe to this view, subsequent systems, (with the exception of Purva
Mimamsa) which are supposed to be commentaries on the Upanishads, regarded
perception, for example, as a way of knowledge. Upamana is another pramana.
Not only lower knowledge, but also erroneous knowledge was seriously
considered as species of knowledge (e.g., akhyati) by systems of philosophy.
Therefore even Apara Vidya retained its place.Does Indian philosophy integrate
spiritual life with worldly affairs? If the claim, that upholding of the former is
not tantamount to the rejection of the latter, then it does not. The truth is that the
former does not entail the latter. Therefore these two had to be fused and it was
achieved in a remarkable manner; purusartha scheme clarifies that only through
Dharma, i.e., righteous means, man should acquire artha (wealth) and satisfy
kama (any sensuous desire), the very same means to attain moksha (liberation).
The law of parsimony is very well adhered to as regards the questions of social
philosophy and moral philosophy.
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3/1/2016 3:01:30 PM
Posted: 7 months ago

Earlier, it was said that in India philosophy itself was regarded as a value and
also that value and human life are inextricably blended. What is the aim of life?
Against this backdrop, it is easy to discover solution to this quest in Indian
philosophy. It is not so easy to reach the same in western tradition (it is true that
existentialism attempted the same, but it remained a sort of island and was
obliterated by analytic tradition). The aim of life according to 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. However, they concur on one issue, i.e., the aim
of life. (It is a commonplace practice to regard them as vedic and non-vedic
schools though it is not very satisfactory to regard so). The dispute between
these two poles did not prevent them from embracing a common goal. 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. Answer 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 Jnani 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 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 constitutes happiness. Even within heterodox system the idea of
happiness differs. The Charvaka school maintains that happiness consists in
pleasure whereas the Buddhism asserts that happiness consists in nirvana if
happiness is to be construed as elimination of misery.

Earlier, it was mentioned that spirituality is the essence of Indian philosophy.
Against this background, let us analyse what happiness is. Neither this physical
world nor earthly pleasure is permanent. Nor are they 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 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 moksha, nirvana, etc. In its ordinary sense vairagya means
renouncing happiness. But in real sense what has to be renounced is not happiness,
but pleasure. Vairagya in conjuction with knowledge leads to eternal happiness.
Hence in Indian context vairagya 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. Vairagya
should be construed as elimination of greed and inclusion of contentment in life.
This is the hidden meaning of vairagya. What happened, in course of time, was
that both dimensions were wrongly interpreted leading to the conclusion that
vairagya 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.

At this point, it is necessary to digress; In the twentieth century, westerners
believed that in India there was noting 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
afflicting Indian society. 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.

But the criticisms of those scholars, who admit that in ancient India there was
philosophic movement, merit our considerations. According to one criticism,
Indian thought prompted negative outlook and therefore, is self-destructive only
because it negates the reality of 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 noting 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". Precisely
this principle was upheld by Popper.
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3/1/2016 3:03:17 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Second criticism is as follows; it 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. First, the desire to escape from misery was misconstrued as
the desire to escape from external world. Second, it discourages earthly pleasure.
Let us consider the second source first. Negation of earthly pleasure is not
tantamount to the negation of happiness because pleasure and happiness are,
evidently, different. Moksha is simply 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 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 practical standpoint any philosophy which regards moksha as ideal ceases
to be pessimistic.

Now let us turn to the first source. Desire to escape from this world describes the
mindset of an escapist. There are references to rebirth. Rebirth may only be a
myth and something beyond verification. But when attainment of moksha is
regarded as a possibility during the lifespan of an individual (this is what is
called jivanmukti), 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 moksha and it led to the cardinal mistake of treating
external world as evil.

One more objection can be raised to moksha. Is moksha a meaningful ideal? In
the first place moksha 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 moksha. Then it
remains an ideal. 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 moksha in this respect. Progress in right direction is
true progress. Therefore, knowing fully well that it is humanly impossible to
achieve a goal like moksha, man pursues moksha. Thereby man progresses from
lower level to higher level. This is a singular advantage of accepting something
like moksha as an ideal.

In the western tradition only Greeks believed in the immortality of soul. It became
totally alien to modern western philosophy, though it found favour with
Christianity. The paradox is that immortality of soul is a common theme to
Christianity and Indian philosophy, whereas it ought to have been a common to
western philosophy and Christianity because 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.


Philosophy is derived from two Greek words which mean love of knowledge or
wisdom. In Indian tradition philosophy means Darshana or tattva. Indian outlook
is essentially different from western outlook. In terms of problems there is no
difference between Indian and western philosophical traditions. Indians perceived
knowledge as power in a different perspective. Bacon regarded knowledge as
the means to establish authority over external world. On the other hand, Indians
regarded knowledge as essential to establish control over ones 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 Charvaka, all other
systems of philosophy in India accepted liberation in one or the other sense.
Moksha, is one such ideal. Philosophy is independent of religion. However,
religion may or may not be independent of philosophy.
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3/1/2016 3:04:44 PM
Posted: 7 months ago

Yagas and Yajnas : Yagas amd Yajnas are sacared rituals done to appease
God, performed during the Vedic period.

Pessimism : Pessimism, from the Latin "pessimus" (worst), is a painful
state of mind which negatively colours the perception of
life, especially with regard to future events. Value
judgments may vary dramatically between individuals,
even when judgments of fact are undisputed.


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3/1/2016 3:22:07 PM
Posted: 7 months ago

In this unit, you are exposed to the sources of Indian culture. However, the study
material excludes prominent texts like the Vedas (also called Sruti) sources of
the Buddhism and the Jainism since there are other units reserved for these sources.
This unit, therefore, includes only the following:

vedangas and

Since they only belong to the periphery of philosophy, mere cursory reference
will suffice.


The word "smriti" means "that which is in memory." The texts, which are called
"smriti", appeared in written form at the initial stage itself because it was not
regarded as blasphemy to put it in written form unlike sruti. The age of smriti,
followed the age of Vedas. Since the Vedic period stretches to several centuries,
it is also likely that smriti might have appeared during the closing period of the
Vedas. Consequently, all smritikaras (the founders of smriti) claimed that their
works drew support from the Vedas and also that their works are nothing more
than clarifications of the Vedas. However, we can easily discern in smritis lot of
variations from Vedas. Evidently, such deviations do not get any support from
the Vedas.


Smriti is also known as Dharma Shasthra, which means code of conduct. The
code of conduct has three divisions; rituals, discharge of social responsibility
and atonement for sins which include crimes. It is important to note that there is
no mention of rights " fundamental or any other type. The emphasis is upon
"prescription and proscription" only. The code of conduct is identical with the
"constitution" and so it is the same as penal code formulated by the present-day
governments. Hence, smriti emphasizes two aspects of life; "Dharmic" and social.
The former does not simply exist without the latter. The role of ritual is restricted
to individual life; household work to be precise. All these dimensions together
constitute "Dharma Shastra". Though it is claimed that there were several Smritis,
history has recorded only a few. Among them only three are well known;
sometimes for wrong reasons. Vidhi and Nishedha were codified by three persons,
Manu, Yajnyavalkya and Parashara, and consequently, the smritis were named
after them. A cursory reference to these Smritis is enough.

An important aspect of smriti is its rigidity. Fixation of duties and emphasis
upon duties resemble, to a great extent, the directive principles enshrined in the
constitution. While four-fold division of society is one type, four fold division
of individual life is another. Smriti is very clear about not only four classes, but
also four stages (brahmacharya, garhastya, vaanaprastha and samnyasa) in the
life of an individual. There is no scope for switching from one position to another
in a random manner. The last division, viz., atonement for sins deals precisely
with this sort of prohibited switching. The upshot of this discrimination is that
liberty took back seat, but stability in society was prioritized. This will help us to
infer the kind of political system which smriti supported. Surely, smriti did not
support democratic system, though during Vedic age democratic system flourished.


Mythology and History in India, it is claimed, are indistinguishable. Mythology
in Sanskrit means "purana". This word has two slightly differing etymological
meanings; pura (past), ateetam (Lost), anaagatam (about to happen) " is one
meaning. pura (past), bhavam (happened) is another. In terms of structure purana
consists of five components. They are listed as follows:

1) Description of nation or nations and their history
2) History of creation
3) History of re-creation
4) Description of dynasties
5) Story of each Manu (Manvantara)

First and fourth components do incorporate elements of history. However, there
is a vital difference, history follows a certain method and therefore, at some
point to time or the other, it is possible to dispute what a historian claims, because
history tries to gather as many evidences (not facts) as possible. Puranas, however,
are altogether different. The relevance of evidences is totally alien to puranas. It
is, therefore, impossible to refute what puranas claim. Nor can we defend the

Puranas are eighteen in number. Since they are not relevant philosophically, it is
not even necessary to list them. In addition to five components mentioned earlier,
many puranas deal with cosmology. Perhaps this is the only topic common to
philosophy and puranas. Interestingly, one purana, viz., vayu-purana attempts
at geography, music, etc. Apart from the neglect of evidence, puranas suffer
from one more defect.All puranas combine legends related to gods and demons, Indian Scriptures
life after death, etc. which disqualify mythology from becoming worthy of serious
philosophical study.

In defence of puranas, it can be said that though puranas are related to mainly
theological issues, they include almost all activities of life and hence they ought
to occupy an important position in the list of disciplines. But this all inclusiveness
itself is a serious defect.


Vedangas are also known as shadangas, which means six organs. The function
of these six organs is to explicate the intricate thoughts of the Vedas. Those
organs are shiksha (phonetics), vyakarana (grammar; to be more specific, Vedic
grammar), chandas (prosody), nirukta (etymology and dictionary), jyautisha
(astronomy) and kalpa (rituals).

It was believed that proper understanding of the Vedic texts is possible only
when all these organs are strictly followed. Two extraordinary characteristics of
the Vedas form the background of these organs. In the first place, the Vedas were
held to be apaurusheya (independent of man). Therefore, no change in any form
for any reason was admissible. Secondly, it was also believed that the Vedas
should be taught and learnt only orally. Consequently, it took several centuries
for Indians to put the Vedas in writing. Without going into the merits and demerits
of this particular prescription, we should examine the role played by Vedanga in
protecting the Vedic tradition.
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3/1/2016 3:26:21 PM
Posted: 7 months ago

Sayana, in his Rig-Veda Bhashya, has defined shiksha as follows; "that which
teaches pronunciation in accordance with swara (vowel) and Varna (letter) is
called shiksha. Clarity in speech and ability to listen correctly are the pre-requisite
to learn the Vedas. This is the reason why the Vedas are also called "anushrava
(that which follows listening). The emphasis upon clear pronunciation is perfectly
understandable because due to unique structure of the Vedic language, which is
the most primitive form of Sanskrit language set by very different grammar,
even the slightest variation in pronunciation could lead to total change of meaning.


The next three organs are not unique in the sense that the role, which they play
with regard to the Vedic language, is very much similar to the role of grammar or
dictionary in any other language. Since no language is possible without grammar,
Vedic grammar must be as old as the Vedas. If the Vedas are apaurusheya, then
the Vedic grammar also ought to have been apaurusheya. However, it is not the
case. Among the extant works of grammar, Panini"s work "ashtaadhyaayi" is the
oldest one. It is said that this is a fourth Century A.D. work. However, earlier
Vedic dictionaries mention other vaiyakaranas. Since the dictionary is more
ancient than Panini"s work, it is obvious that other vaiyakaranas"works are more
ancient. The mention of these aspects shows that grammar is paurusheya. Hence
language should be paurusheya. However, one grammarian by name Shakatayana
maintains that even grammar is apaurusheya. According to him, the oldest work
on grammar is aindra vyakarana. It is named so since, according to the legend,
men received it from Indra.

The source of prosody is "chandassutra" by one Pingalacharya. Nothing is known
about this author. This work includes both Vedic and non-Vedic prosody. Generally,
the Samhitas are bound bydefinite prosody. Only Krishna-Yajurveda and AtharvaVeda samhitas are occasionally prosaic.

Hence, prosody occupies a prominent
role in the study of the Vedas. Panini says, "chandah padau tu vedasya". Which
means prosody is the very foundation of Vedas. In course of time, the Vedic
language itself became prosody. The Vedic prosody has one unique feature, which
is mentioned by Katyayana. He says, "yat akshara parimanam tat chandah". It
means, "the one which determines the number (or quantity) of letters, that is
prosody. It should be noted that this is not the case with secular Sanskrit. It is
said that the latter evolved from the former.

The Vedic prosody consists of what is called paada or quartet. Generally, a quartet
is supposed to possess four letters. This, perhaps, became a characteristic at the
later stage because there are eleven principal prosody, which differ not only in
the number of quartets, but also in the number of letters in each quartets, whereas
trishtup chandas consists of four quartets with eleven letters in each of them. A
prosody may differ from another as regards the pattern of quartets. For example,
kakup chandas has eight letters in the first and third quartets and twelve letters
in the second. This difference shows that there is a little freedom here which is
conspicuous by its absence elsewhere.

Nirukta provides the meaning of the Vedic terms. In the first step, terms were
collected which constituted dictionary. Mere synonym or lexical meaning would
defeat the very purpose of compiling terms. Nirukta does not provide just this
sort of meaning. What it indulges in is hermeneutic exercise. Hence it is more
than any ordinary dictionary.

Let us start with the structure of dictionary. A lexicographer, by name Yaska
collected these terms and provided the most authentic interpretation. The
dictionary consists of in all 1770 terms spread over three kaandas. First kaanda
consists of three chapters, which is called "naighantuka", second and third
consisting of one chapter each are called "naigama and daivata. Nirukta is an
interpretation of these terms mainly and to some extent he has quoted some
mantras and interpreted the same. Nirukta itself consists of fourteen chapters of
which first six chapters deal with naighantuka kaanda and Naigama Kanda and
the next six chapters deal with Daivata Kanda. Last two are somewhat like


Astronomy evolved in ancient India out of necessity. Yajnas and yagas could not
be performed at the discretion of any one. In the strict sense of the term, it was
seasonal. Every varna (except shudra) had a fixed season to perform yajnas.
Taittiriya Brahmana spoke so, "vasante brahmanaha, (Brahman during spring),
agnimaadadheeta (ignite holy fire), greeshme rajanyaha (Kshatriya during
summer), aadadheeta, sharadi vaishyaha (Vaishya during post-monsoon)
aadadheeta". Igniting holy fire is very important because only it ought to set any
programme in motion. Not only was season important, but also exact time of
starting yajnas was important for which it was necessary to track the movement
of not only the sun but also all celestial bodies. Most important among them are
twenty-seven stars. This could be done only with adequate knowledge of


Kalpa sutras are so called because whatever material is provided by them is all
in the form of formulas. The explanation Kalpa sutras is the same as that of
Brahma Sutra; alpaksharam (brief), asandigdham (unambiguous or
incontravertible), saaravat (complete in essence), vishwato mukham (all
inclusive). Kalpa sutra literally means action " indicating formula. Action is of
four types, shrauta, grihya, dharma and shulba. The last one differs, more or
less, in type from the rest. Hence, let us consider it at the end. The first three are
common to Rig, Yajur and Sama. But all three Kalpa Sutras differ from one
Veda to another as regards prescriptions and scope. For example, Ashwalayana
and Shankhayana sutras of Rig Veda cover all three Kalpa sutras. Since every
class of sutra has distinct commands, they constitute rituals. Let us consider
each Kalpa separately and represent membership using tables.
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3/1/2016 3:29:13 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Let us examine what these sutras are about. Ashwalayana sutra was founded by
Ashwalayana, a student of Shaunaka. Likewise, many sutras are known after
the names of the founders just as many laws and theories in science are named
after scientists like Newton"s Laws of Motion, etc. All shrauta sutras specify the
manner in which yajnas and yagas have to be performed. They are essentially
prescriptive which do not allow any room for deviation. The very fact that there
are several shrauta sutras, which subscribe to different Vedas, indicates that
there were several ways in which yajnas were performed.

Two aspects deserve mention. Yagas were performed solely with the motive of
reaping worldly benefits. Second, man was ineligible to perform Yaga in the
absence of wife, which means she enjoyed equal status if not more.

Grihya sutras prescribe household duties. The point to be noted is that all Grihya
sutras agree on one particular count, i.e., what ought to be done. But they differ
on another count, i.e., how it ought to be done. No Grihya sutra disagrees, for
example, with the relevance of, say, marriage. But they disagree with the manner
in which it is to be performed. Secondly, all four sutras are complementary to
each other. So there is neither choice nor contradiction. To fulfill his obligation
one has to perform all rituals in the manner prescribed.

The rituals pertaining to Grihya sutras are of two types. One type of rituals has
to be performed only once in life (in some cases, there are exceptions). Second
type of rituals has to be performed everyday or once in a year. There are sixteen
such obligations which are called "shodasha samskaras". There are four classes
of such samskaras; samskaras to be performed before birth, after birth, to begin
the learning of the Vedas and to prepare man for marriage, etc. It should be noted
that there are separate samskaras for men and women.

It is not necessary to consider all these samskaras. What is important is to know
the manner in which they were followed and qualifications which were held as
necessary. The characteristic of these samskaras is that they were (or are) not
regarded as common to all Varnas. Two types of discrimination are well known.
One discrimination is Varna based; i.e., Brahmana, Kshatriya, etc. Second
discrimination is gender based. The first category of discrimination must have
eventually led to the caste system. It, also, might have resulted in hierarchy.
Secondly, gender based discrimination did not affect men. In a way, it was
inconsequential as far as man was considered. But it was not so in the case of
women. One argument is that women, like shudras, were denied of education
because they were not entitled to some crucial samskaras. It is insignificant that
men were not entitled to some samskaras to which women were entitled because
this limitation did not really affect men. But it was not so in the case of women.
One particular samskara deserve special mention. Brahmopadesha, for example,
is not permissible for shudras and women, even to this day. It is this particular
samskara which makes Brahmin caste, in particular, a distinct caste. It also
explains why brahmin is called "DWIJA" (twice born) after the completion of
this samskara. It is said that before this samskara is performed, brahmin is not a
brahmin at all and so this samskara is supposed to give second birth to him.

Surely, even within the framework of chaturvarnya (Four-fold Varnas) system
this particular argument is not endorsed by all. The fact that the argument, being
referred to, is at variance with some established or accepted norms set by smritis
was totally ignored while speaking about brahmins. Our purpose, surely, is not
go into the merits and demerits or chaturvarnya or caste system, but to
demonstrate structural changes which took place in belief-systems, perspective
in which age old customs came to be understood, and consequently rapid changes
which affected the society because this is what precisely happened over centuries
in Indian society.

If we consider the literal meaning of the word "samskara", then it becomes evident
that it is meant to uplift man (or woman) spiritually. It is argued that they also
produce other class of positive results; physical well being is one. If so, why was
a certain class (or classes) denied of this benefit? It is not possible to discover
any answer to this question within the framework of philosophy. A psychologist
or sociologist may throw some light on such questions.

In spite of the fact that samskaras were spiritual in nature, the ulterior motive
behind adherence to them is mundane. It is very easy to discover in the samskaras
some spiritual support, if not any foundation, for all aspects of earthly life. For
different reasons the samskaras did not receive support from the Upanishads
and heterodox systems. The Upanishads disapproved the samskaras because
the goal was this-worldly. The heterodox systems strongly reacted to the
samskaras because they claimed affinity to the Vedas. Despite difference in their
philosophy, both the Upanishads and the heterodox systems adhered to life in
monastery. Their apathy to anything connected with earthly life is behind their
antagonism to the samskaras. This discussion also brings to the surface an
important fact that philosophy and religion do not coincide always if religion is
understood as Dharma. While samskaras stand for Dharma, the Upanishads
stand for philosophy.

Kaushika Sutra of Atharvaveda is unique because this sutra does not deal with
any type of spiritual matter unlike previously mentioned sutras. It throws some
light on herbal plant and thereby it helps in understanding ancient system of
Indian medicine.

There is a sharp distinction between Grihya sutras and Dharma sutras. While
Grihya sutras regulate man"s actions which are restricted to family, Dharma
sutras have societal leaning. Gautama"s Dharma sutras appears to be the earliest
one. These sutras specify not only the obligations within the frame-work of
chaturvarnya, but also "Raja Dharma" " the duties of ruler. In Indian context
morality is essentially based upon what the Dharma sutra specifies. Hence the
limits and defects of Dharma sutras have distinct bearing on the acceptability of
moral principles.

Last one to be considered in this section is Shulba sutra. Though this Sutra also
is relevant in the context of performing yagnas, it is restricted to geometrical
aspects only because in the absence of adequate knowledge of geometry it was
impossible to construct the Vedic atlas. Shulba sutra is an example of primitive
technology developed by ancient Indians to meet the demands of ecclesiastical
dimension of life.
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3/1/2016 3:31:48 PM
Posted: 7 months ago

Though the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two epics which have influenced
literature for several centuries in all parts of India, the Ramayana is not significant
philosophically, unlike the Mahabharata and we are not concerned with the
literary value of these two epics. So it is sufficient if we notice that the Ramayana
accepts the principles of Sanatana Dharma and duties of ruler in particular.
Since there is nothing philosophically new in this work, we need not consider it.
It will serve our purpose if we concentrate on philosophical component of the

Logic and epistemology which constitute any philosophical tradition have noting
to do with us when we study culture literature, etc. The Mahabharata is not an
exception. We can trace however, two philosophical issues in this work; one is
expounded in the Bhagavad-Gita, rather in a very unsatisfactory manner, because
it is mainly a work in theistic tradition. Second one is morality and polity
expounded by two prominent characters; Vidura and Bheeshma. But these
philosophical issues in this work suffer from a serious drawback " draw back
from philosophical point of view. Nowhere in this work do we find discussion,
or criticism which is the hallmark of philosophy. More than anything else, what
we find is only a sermon. Therefore brief reference to these elements is enough.


From the point of view of ethics, it is desirable to regard some characters as
personification of virtue. Vidura and Bheeshma belong to this category. In contrast
to these characters in the Mahabharata, we have other characters which are
regarded as personification of evil. Why should any epic portray evil characters?
This is one question. Are they in a broader perspective, really evil forces? This is
another question. The second question is much deeper philosophically and cannot
be answered easily. First one is slightly easier to handle. An epic must be vast.
Hence it ought to include all facts of world and all aspects of life. So evil characters
ought to find place in any epic worth the name.

Vidura"s exposition of moral principles begins with a clear distinction between
shreyas (desirable) and preyas (pleasing). He compares shreyas with medicine
which is not palatable. It is immediately followed by a second analogy to
demonstrate the status of pleasure which is invariably accompanied by evil. To
make this concomitant relation explicit, Vidura compares pleasure with honey,
pleasure seeker with one who collects honey and evil with abyss and says that
the pleasure hunter is busy only in seeking honey unmindful of impending danger
of falling into the abyss.

In the Mahabharata, Vidura plays his role on three occasions. On second occasion,
Vidura plays the role of a counselor. His counseling has moral base. He makes
an explicit distinction between two states of mind; those of wise man and ignorant.
While Plato speaks of four cardinal virtues, Vidura speaks of six cardinal vices.
Greed is one among them. He makes out a case for wise man by listing the
remaining vices - lust, anger, irrational attachment, arrogance and jealousy "
which he does not possess. There is no need to describe the personality of one
who is free from these vices. It is very interesting to note that Vidura concurs
with Plato, when he describes ignorant person. He is the one who neglects his
duty, but tries to perform what is not his job. Secondly, he cannot distinguish
between a true friend and enemy. All qualities attributed to an ignorant person
can be found in Thrasymachus who indulges in violent attack on the ideas of
Socrates. In the end of this particular session Vidura makes a list of Ten
Commandments in which one Commandment is identical with Plato"s
classification of men into three classes; guardians (philosopher kings), soldiers
and artisans. Both of them argue that these three classes ought to perform duties
assigned to them only. It means that justice, according to Plato and Dharma
according to Vidura consists in everyman doing his own duty and this is the
cardinal principle of welfare state. This is the essence of Vidura"s moral philosophy
In the last session, Vidura talks of death and the need to accept the same. Death
and fear are nearly inseparable if man does not accept that death is inevitable. In
this context Vidura accepts reality, i.e., human nature and maintains that man
hardly follows wisdom. There is striking correspondence with what the Buddha
says: trishna (desire) is the cause of misery, and remedy consists in the realisation
of truth and that is knowledge of philosophy. In this respect, Vidura, the Buddha
and Plato held an identical view. It is precisely in this sense that in Indian tradition
philosophy always was regarded as a way of life.


There is a sharp difference between western model of political philosophy as
understood and practised today and ancient Indian concept of polity. The
difference essentially consists in shift from one end to the other, i.e., from rights
to duty, with duty as the focuss of serman. Even democracy, the most liberal
form of government prioritizes duties of citizen in spite of the fact that every
citizen is entitled to fundamental rights. There is absolutely no gainsaying in
holding the view that directive principles form the backbone of any democratic
set-up. Bhisma"s advice to Dharmaraya , on the other hand,provides a very
different picture. He specifies only the duties and responsibilities of ruler with
no mention of the duties of citizen. Against this backdrop, it becomes obvious
that in real sense, citizen is the king and ruler is his guardian. Several centuries
before Plato visualized the role of guardians, the Mahabharata portrayed king
in a similar fashion. Bheeshma"s lecture not only explicitly mentions king"s
qualities and duties but also it is first ever treatise on public administration. Let
us consider these aspects briefly.

King should be proactive, truthful and straightforward. According to Bheeshma,
these are the most important qualities of king. He should be compassionate but
not too soft. It is interesting to note that Plato starts from the other end, but
arrives at the same result. According to him, guardians should be given moderate
physical training coupled with music lest they will transform to beasts. The essence
of "rajadharma" is safe-guarding the interests of citizen. In fact, Bheeshma lists
thirty-six qualities in an ideal king which are necessary to follow Rajadharma
without which the citizens do not receive protection from the king.

Foreign policy is another aspect of public administration. Foreign policy involves
two forces, enemies and friends. The role of friends is not much highlighted. But
he emphasizes that king should know how to deal with enemy. Prudence is always
the guiding force. Bheeshma makes it very clear that war is not the solution. Nor
did he mean that enemy can be spared. Constant vigil, concealing one"s own
weakness and proper judgment only can ensure safety and security. All these
descriptions apply under normal circumstances, whereas in distress even enemy
should enjoy compassion because a humanitarian treatment may destroy enmity.
Ultimately, humane outlook scores over other considerations.
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3/1/2016 3:34:48 PM
Posted: 7 months ago

The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred Indian scripture. It comprises roughly 700 verses,
and is a part of the Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Krishna,
and is referred to within the text as Bhagavan, the Divine One. The content is the
conversation between Krishna and Arjuna taking place on the battlefield before
the start of the Kurukshetra war. Responding to Arjuna"s confusion and moral
dilemma about fighting his own cousins, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties
as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic
philosophies. Thus, it is often being described as a concise guide to Hindu theology
and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. It is also called Gitopanishad,
implying its having the status of an Upanishad, i.e. a Vedantic scripture. Since
the Gita is drawn from the Mahabharata, it is classified as a Sm?iti text. However,
those branches of Hinduism that give it the status of an Upanishad also consider
it a"7;ruti or revealed text.As it is taken to represent a summary of the Upanishadic
teachings, it is also called "the Upanishad of the Upanishads."

Three features are prominent in the Gita; knowledge, social obligation and
devotion. The confluence of these principal features constitute what is popularly
known as YOGA. There is no need to consider its role in life which the Gita has
explained.What is important is its position in philosophy. But there is no reference
to its philosophical foundation anywhere in the Gita. For example, consider
"devotion" (bhakti). Devotion is sensible only when "Bhakta" is distinct from
Paramatma; not otherwise. In other words the refutation of the Advaita is a
prerequisite to accept the relevance of bhakti. But nowhere do we find any
reference to Dvaita or Advaita in the work. On the contrary, the Gita concludes
by merging obligation or karma and knowledge in Bhakti.

One point becomes clear from the Gita; no one can attain moksha if he or she
renounces this world. Renouncing the world is tantamount to renouncing
obligations. Hence in defence of the Gita one assertion can be unhesitatingly
made, that the Gita does not prioritize spirituality at the expense of worldly life.
However, neither the charge that it does so nor the countercharge that it does not,
is philosophically insignificant. But this point is mentioned because attainment
of moksha in relation to karma has primary importance in the Gita.

Let us drop "bhakti" and concentrate only on Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga. While
Jnana stands for realization at highest level, Karma assumes a very different
meaning. During the Vedic age, Karma meant only performing Yajna. But in the
Gita it has come to mean social obligation. Yoga came to be understood as
dedication. Hence, Karma Yoga may be understood as discharging duty with a
sense of commitment.

The most important element in the Gita is the doctrine of nishkama karma which
consists in discharging obligations in an impersonal manner. This attitude literally
debars yagas because one performs it with selfish motive. The Gita however,
never advocated that karma should be renounced. What it clearly asserts is that
"Karma Phala" should be renounced. It only sidelines personal interest and
upholds societal interest. Thus individual becomes the means and society the
end.An impersonal approach to duty does not affect the performer in any manner,
i.e., neither success nor failure affects him or her. This attitude is "SAMATVA
MANOBHAVA" " equanimity of mind.

It is necessary to clarify the relation between the meaning of karma and varna.
At this stage, chaturvarnya (four-fold classification) becomes relevant. Translated
into ordinary language, it means commitment to profession. "chaturvarnyam
mayasrishtva gunakarma vibhagshcha". It means guna (quality) and karma
(profession) determine Varna. To this statement we can add another, quality
determines profession. Commitment to profession is what Dharma is.
The Gita makes a clear distinction between commitment and interest.
Commitment is impersonal, whereas interest is personal. Vested interest is wellknown. But there is noting like vested commitment. When vested interest affects
an individual, one may resort to prohibited means. But impersonal commitment
does not result in this sort of selection. The maxim "ends do not justify the means"
is implicit in the Gita.

One more aspect remains to be mentioned. There is a mistaken notion that there
is hierarchy in profession. It is not the case as far as the Gita is concerned. But
there is a distinction between "good" and "bad" or "constructive" and "destructive".
It is good to discharge duty which is in conformity with one"s own nature.
Otherwise, it is bad. Clearly, there is division of labour, and it is in the interest of
society that such division is made mandatory. Therefore qualitative distinction
in profession is strongly disapproved.


Indian Scriptures mainly have determined the life-style of Hindus, who belong
to the first three varnas. There are four sources which prescribe the way of life.
Among these sources, the smritis, whether consciously or inadvertently,
institutionalized caste system and women were downgraded Smritis correspond
to modern day constitution. What demarcates history from mythology is blurred.
The vedangas explicate the intricate thoughts of the Vedas. They specify
intonation, grammar, structure, etc.According to the vedangas chanting mantras
after knowing the meaning is very important. Kalpa sutras are four in number.
They mainlydeal with what rituals are to be observed, how they are to be observed,
etc. The Mahabharata possesses not only literary value, but also it is the first
ever treatise on polity. The Gita has minor importance as a philosophical work.
It gives priority to society at the expense of individual.


Sutra : S$3;tra literally means a rope or thread that holds things
together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or
line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the
form of a manual.


Kane, P.V. History of Dharma Shastra. Vols I & II. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental
Research Institute, 1999.
Pandey, Rajabali. Hindu Samskaras. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas, 2002.
M. Hiriyanna. Outlines of Indian Philosophy. London: GeorgeAllen and Unwin,
S. Radhakrishnan. Indian Philosophy. Vol. I. New Delhi: Oxford University Press,
Thachil, J. An Initiation to Indian Philosophy. Alwaye: Pontifical Institute of
Philosophy and Theology, 2000.