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Main Indian philosophies

Nyâya

The Nyâya school of philosophical speculation is based on a text called Nyâya Sûtra. It was composed by Gautama Aksapada (not to be confused with Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism), around the fourth or fifth century BC. The important contribution brought by this school is its method. It is based on a system of logic that was later adopted by most other Indian schools (orthodox or not), in the same way that Western science, religion and philosophy can be said to be largely based on Aristotelian logic.

The Vaiçeshika

The system of Vaiçeshika, founded by the sage Kanada, postulates an atomic pluralism. According to the precepts of this school of thought, all the objects of the physical universe, the material substances, are reducible to a certain number of atoms, except the five intangible substances: time, space, ether (âkâsha ) the mind and the soul. The constituent atoms of material substances are the atoms of fire, earth, air and water.

The Sāṃkhya

The Sāṃkhya is generally considered the oldest of the Indian philosophical systems, it was founded in the 7th century BC by Kapila, or three centuries earlier, according to A. Daniélou. It is, historically, the first known description of the complete model of the universe and the constituents of man in the form of principles, both scientific and metaphysical. His philosophy views the universe as consisting of three eternal realities, which are the principle of space (âkâsha), the principle of intelligence (Puruṣa), the principle of nature (Prakriti) and twenty-two other principles. . It is from the principle of nature indirectly influenced by Purusa and its three inherent qualities that are sattva, rajas and tamas in imbalances that the whole creation develops.

The Vedānta

Bodnath (Bodnath)

The school of Uttara Mimamsa (new research), generally known as Vedānta, focuses on the philosophical teachings of the Upaniṣad rather than on the ritualist injunctions of the Brahmanas. But there are more than one hundred Upanishads that do not form a unified system. Their systematization was undertaken by Badarayana, in a work called Vedānta Sūtra.

The obscure manner in which the aphorisms of the Vedānta texts are written leaves the door wide open for a multitude of interpretations. This led to a proliferation of Vedānta schools. Each of them has interpreted the texts in its own way and has produced its own series of sub-comments – while claiming to be the only one faithful to the original.

Jaïnism

“Jaïnism” is an Indian philosophy based on non-violence (ahimsa) or respect for all life (human, animal, plant) and tolerance (anekantavada) or recognition of the multiplicity of points of view. It involves three main principles that are:

  • the right vision of realities (tattvas),
  • the right conduct,
  • the right knowledge.

His main great philosophical and spiritual master or 24° Tirthankara was Vardhamana said Mahavira (the great hero) who lived in India in the 6th and 5th centuries BC.

Buddhism

Buddhism is one of the great Eastern systems of thought and action, born in India in the 6th century BC. It is based on the Three Jewels: Buddhists declare to take refuge in the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, in the Dharma, the Buddha’s doctrine, and in the Sangha, the community of adepts.

Originally, Buddhism is not really a philosophy or a religion, but a “lesson in things” (dhamma in Pali, dharma in Sanskrit), this term referring to both reality, its law, and its exposition. Moreover, when we speak of dharmas we designate various particular natural laws.

The four noble truths that are at the origin of Buddhism are:

  • the truth of the suffering or the inherent dissatisfaction,
  • the truth of the origin of the suffering engendered by desire and attachment,
  • the truth of the possibility of the cessation of suffering by detachment, among others,
  • and finally the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering, which is the middle way of the noble eightfold path.

However, these classical teachings, of spiritual rather than philosophical significance, are only the starting point of what will become a rich plurality of philosophical and religious traditions. After all, Buddhism had “conquered” all of Asia, from Japan to Afghanistan, integrating and/or adapting to these different cultures. In philosophy in particular, the whole spectrum of possible positions and options has, at one time or another, been the subject of elaboration and debate. He therefore knew his “realism”, his “atomism”, his “nominalism”, etc.

Hinduism, which shares a certain philosophical background with Buddhism, also has such a variety. Similarly, and like Western scholasticism, all philosophy falls within the framework of religion. Specifically, Buddhist philosophies never lose sight of soteriological concerns.

At the end of this historical process, there remain only two great philosophical schools, especially in Buddhism called mahāyāna, they are the Cittamātra (mind only, just mind), and the Madhyamaka (middle way).

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