On Tarka

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 17 13:02:42 CST 1999

>1. While nyaya, yoga, mimamsa & vedanta are part of the Indian
 >  philosophy, where does 'tarka' fit in ? Is it a shastra or a
 > generic 'dos and don'ts' manual for those engaged in philosophical
 >  debates in those days ?

Tarka itself would fall in the field of logic. And NyAya is the school
which almost set the standard for Indian syllogism. So learning NyAya
would include tarka too.

>2. Why were vaiseshika & sankhya not mentioned as major areas of
Ø study as much as other four systems ?

SAmkhya is in most part integrated within VedAnta itself. If the
theistic version of SAmkhya is what we have in the Gita, we can see the
relation between it and VedAnta. It can be used as a preliminary to
ascend to the higher teachings of VedAnta.

Vaishesika is the Indian school of Atomism. Atomism using the ancient
five elements is the most natural theory for a scientific explanation of
the world and naturally KanAda^Òs Vaishesika is one of the oldest
darshanas of BhArath. In their early phases, they were supposedly
atheistic, but later integrated an Ishvara in their philosophy when they
joined forces with NyAya (who too support the atomic theory) to fight
the nAstikas.

Philosophically the distinguishing weakness of the NyAya - Vaishesika
combine, is that whatever they cannot explain by logic and reason, they
take refuge in ^Ñadhrsta^Ò - the Lord^Òs mysterious power!

Apart from this, Vaishesika atomic doctrines have been heavily
criticized by all - Bauddhas, ShankarAcharya etc Indian philosophy after
a period of time moved away from atomism. Even the old nAstika darshanas
- JainA and Bauddha - initially started out with atomic theories from
which they progressed more 'spiritually'.

Otherwise, the NyAya school is popular due to refining Indian syllogism
and setting standards in logic. So naturally all schools of Indian
philosophy (even nAstikas) integrate it in their scheme of things.

Yoga follows SAmkhya in its metaphysics, but in psychology has much in
common with VedAnta. VedAnta^Òs founder VyAsa himself has written a
bhAshyam on Patanjali^Òs Yoga SUtrAs, on which ShankarAcharya has written
a sub commentary. Hence greater significance of Yoga to VedAnta. Apart
from this, traditional yogic practices have always been used by almost
all schools of Indian philosophy (Astika and nAstika), for discipline
and mental conditioning.

Purva MImAmsa adheres to the karma kAnda of the shruti and hence its
significance is evergreen. VedAntists consider it as a preparatory
purifying phase before taking up VedAnta itself. Ofcourse KumArilla and
PrabhAkara have their own ideas!

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