[Advaita-l] shaDdarhana and other unorthodox schools

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Jan 28 16:57:23 CST 2007

>However when our sages(and their disciples) use
>completely secular tools such as logic or mathematics
>or epiestemology, shouldn't they be tested on the same
>bench mark as reserved for western philosophers? When

How about testing Western philosophers on the benchmarks reserved for 
traditional Indian philosophers? It requires a great deal of self-confidence 
to do that.

By the way, I do understand and agree with your sense of frustration about 
the quality of academic output in Indian philosophy. The same holds true for 
any field of the arts, humanities and social sciences, as far as we look at 
institutions established in the 19th-20th centuries. For example, the 
Government Music College in Chennai has not produced a great musician or 
musicologist in decades. There was a glorious start when the best talents 
were taken in as teachers, but that is about it. Today, if you want to point 
to a genuinely talented and creative musician in south Indian classical 
music, you would not be looking at alumni of the college.

The same holds true for people who have genuine interests in Indian 
philosophies too. Look outside the ICPR and affiliated institutions; look to 
the surviving traditional institutions if you want to find sharp minds with 
philosophical acuity.

>the great AchAryAs of indian schools established their
>systems, they probably used whatever cutting edge
>tools were available to them at that time in other
>branches of philosophy. Today, those branches have
>grown much beyond anyone's imagination, however, our
>arguments continue to be based on a logic and
>mathematics that is now only of historical interest in
>the west. For example advaita and dvaita both use

I fail to understand this preoccupation with what is relevant to the West.

>their distinctive epiestemology (largely based on
>mImAmsA) yet none of them actually define 'logical
>necessity', thus leaving enough scope for anyone with
>a clever mind to keep playing with the arguments.
>Then how can we say that academic's opinions about our
>darshana-s mean nothing?

It is a question of how your society is structured. For most of the academia 
in the West, philosophy is a way to keep publishing clever papers and 
disagreeing with one another, teaching a few required courses, attending 
conferences and getting tenured at a university. Trying to fit traditional 
Indian philosophies into Indian universities that attempt to mimic Western 
universities has therefore not been successful. What follows is the 
disillusionment that someone like Daya Krishna exhibits.

As for what academics say or do not say about our darshana-s, the situation 
is not going to change in any kind of future, short-term or long-term. There 
are multiple reasons behind it, not the least of which is the high level of 
difficulty in separating "religion" from "philosophy" in the Indian context. 
However, one can turn around and ask, whose purpose does it really serve, to 
separate these out? Is it merely to serve some abstract principle of Western 
ideals? If one neglects the core concerns of the various darshana-s in order 
to use the state-of-the-art tools in science, mathematics, logic etc., what 
use is that and to whom?


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