[Advaita-l] shaDdarhana and other unorthodox schools

Ram Garib garib_ram at yahoo.co.in
Thu Jan 18 18:11:46 CST 2007

Sri Ramesh Krishnamurthy wrote:

> But more importantly, the term darSana refers mainly
> to philosophical
> schools rather than sects. The difference between a
> philosophical
> school and a sect is somewhat blurred but it is
> still a very useful
> difference to keep in mind while looking at the
> traditional Hindu
> schools. 

There is in fact a dominant view among philosophers
that questions whether India has produced any
philosophy at all! This may sound shocking but it
remains true that Indian philosophical systems can
never be studied bereft of their religious and
cultural context. Outside India, Indian schools are
studied as systems of theology rather than philosophy.

Secondly, Indian systems are built on the presumption
that truth cannot be a first time discovery by anyone.
A seer can only claim to present what was known to
countless others prior to him. Even Buddhism and
Jainism have had the need to add a series of
a-historical figures before their actual founders. In
Indian systems, new growth of knowledge comes not by
adding anything to Veda or Buddha or Mahavira, but by
presenting the same teachings in new ways. 

The conformism to original has however not prevented
subsequent thinkers from intellectual adventures.
Growth of various subsects and even diametrically
opposite interpretation of the same texts such as
prastahana-trayi by dvaitins and advaitins attests to
their intellectual adventurism. However at the end of
the day, without fail they have considered it
necessary to assert their conformism to the original

Thirdly, and it is a serious charge on Indian schools,
that they are rarely interested in honest analysis of
any issue. Their sole concern is upholding the banner
of their own school and prove it corrrect at the
expense of intellectual integrity. Dispassionate
analysis of issues with a goal of finding the truth is
lacking. Even Logic and Epiestemology have been used
as subservient to the metaphysics of the school. The
only Indian school that can probably be counted as a
philosophical system is of Navya Nyaya. It is
therefore more appropriate to use the traditional term
"darSana" with Indian schools rather than trying to
retrofit them to the definitions of philosophical

With regards,
Ram Garib

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