Narach Philosophy


Thus the three principal or the five resultant systems of Philosophy have in all nine points of view. Each of the principal systems has three; and of the resultant systems, Vedanta and Sankhya have one each; Yoga and Nyaya two each; while the Vaisesika has three. We shall see in the course of the following pages how the different systems of Hindu religion correspond to the systems of Philosophy and their different points of view. Principal Vedanta, with its threefold range, corresponds to the three aspects of Vaisnavism Monism (Advaita), qualified Monism (Visistadvaita), and Dualism (Dvaita); the religion of Siva corresponds to the range of principal Yoga; and Buddhism and Jainism to the two divisions of the principal Sankhya, Nyaya-Vaisesika and Sankhya-Nyaya.

Then we shall see how the inter-connection between the principal systems gives us the corresponding inter-connection between the, different systems of religion that had their birth in India. Jainism, with its two divisions, Svetambara and Digambara, corresponds to the last two aspects of the principal Sankhya, related to the senses of knowledge and action; Buddhism, with its two divisions, Mahayana and Hinayana, corresponds to the first two aspects of that system, based on the senses of knowledge and the Mind; and this gives us the connection between Buddhism and Jainism. Then we shall see how Saivism, based on the idea of principal Yoga, enters into the domain of the other two systems of Philosophy and Religion, and so is connected with the qualified monistic and dualistic forms of Vaisnavism on the one hand, and Buddhism and the Svetambara school of Jainism on the other. In the same manner we shall see how Vaisnavism is connected with two aspects of Saivism (associated with Buddhi and Mind), and one aspect of Buddhism, viz., the Mahayana school (associated with the Mind). All these systems of Philosophy and Religion are in their turn rendered in story-form in the Epic of the Mahabharata, and that will be explained in detail in a subsequent volume.

The connection between the creative energies of life and the corresponding systems of Philosophy and Religion will be seen to be as follows:

Creative Energies Soul Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Knowledge
Vedanta and Vaisnavism Soul Buddhi Mind    
Yoga and Saivism   Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge  
Sankhya and Brahmism     Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action
Buddhism     Mind Senses of Knowledge  
Jainism       Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action

The Character of Systems of Philosophy: We have observed that the five systems of Philosophy are based on the character of the corresponding creative energies of life. Again, we have explained that all manifestation takes place through a transformation of a higher energy into a lower one. Hence the higher includes the lower, and the lower contains the properties of the higher one. From this it follows that Vedanta, based on the character of the Soul the highest energy of life, contains the ultimate truth, viz., that God is the sole creator of the universe. It includes the principles of all other systems, and has its own special one besides, viz., that is it is God alone who creates.

Yoga, based on Buddhi, is the nearest approach to Vedanta, for Buddhi is, for practical purposes, identified with the soul. The unmanifest is the eternal, based on the character of the Soul, and that belongs to pure Vedanta alone; while Yoga based on Buddhi, can understand the true nature of the Soul only in so far as it can be identified with Buddhi. Hence Yoga cannot maintain that Nature itself is created by God, for that is the position alone of Vedanta. The highest point to which Yoga can go is to hold that Nature exists, but only as a spectator of the work of God, who really creates. This is its position when, for practical purposes, it is identified with Vedanta, as Buddhi is with the Soul; but in its own separate character it gives a small but real share of creation to Nature or Prakrti too.

Vaisesika, based on the character of the Mind, knows the Mind and all that it includes, viz., the senses of knowledge and action; but it does not fully understand Buddhi or the character of the Soul; and so it maintains that both God and Nature are joint creators of life, and it may be that the share of one is greater than the others, or else both of them have an equal part.

Similarly Nyaya, based on the character of the senses of knowledge, understands what the senses of knowledge, including the senses of action, can teach. But it does not know so well the true character of the Mind, Buddhi, or the Soul. It knows the Mind only in so far as it is associated with the senses, and holds either that all creation belongs to Nature and God, if he exists, is only a spectator of Nature's work, or else it assigns a small share or creation to him, leaving the rest to Nature or Prakrti.

Finally, Sankhya is based on the character of the senses of action and the vital fluid in man. It knows what the senses of action can teach, and understands the creative character of the vital fluid in animals. It does not admit even the full testimony of the senses of knowledge, nor does it understand the true character of the Mind, Buddhi, or the Soul; and so it maintains that all creation arises out of the strength of the vital seed alone. In other words it holds that it is Nature alone that creates, and there is no place for God in its scheme of thought.

The Problem of Philosophy: Thus all systems of Hindu Philosophy are but inter-related parts of one great whole, yet each has its own special point of view bearing on a basic energy of life. The whole idea is essentially founded on the structure and evolution of the organic cell; but the ancient Hindus were concerned even more with the practical problems of life than the speculations of pure Science or an ideal Philosophy; and, while all their philosophical thought is rooted in the eternal, unchanging facts of life, they sought to turn it to practical account, basing on it their systems of Ethics and Religion, equally applicable to the highest flights of reason and devotion, and the ordinary work-a-day affairs of man. They saw that the world was full of sorrow, suffering, and death. They were witness to a mighty civilization, at least as great as ours, and their mind and heart grew sick and weary at so much misery and woe even as is the case with many at the present day. They believed that the one question of all questions for a man to know was how to escape from all this evil and sorrow of the world, and to attain to happiness and peace. Thus the whole question resolves itself into the problem of all Ethics, Philosophy, and Metaphysics relating to God, Nature, and Man (Purusha, Prakrti, and the individual soul), and the final goal of each created being in the world and it was in the light of these fundamental questions that they constructed their great systems of Philosophy and Religion, founding them on the great principles of organic life so that the whole should abide for ever unchanged.

Whither shall we turn, tortured with the agony of life? Is there a place of happiness and peace, within or without this world? Is there an escape from this motion and action, sorrow and pain? Is Death the end of all, or are we born again and again? What are God, Nature, and the human soul? Is there indeed a God in the universe, or is all life created out of the mere union of the male and the female without end? Whence is all this evil and inequality in the world, if it is created by God and he is just and good? These and many more questions would occur to the world-weary heart, and the answer is of as vital interest today as it was in the past. To many an escape from the fret and fever of life meant the abandonment of all action for they conceived of Nature or Prakrti as characterised by incessant action, even as its name implies; and it was from the trammels of Nature or manifest life that they sought to be free. But to others this solution appeared to be negative and incomplete, for they saw that it is impossible to abandon all action in life, and so they sought for something more positive and full, and believed that it is by means of knowledge that we can attain to the highest truth. Others again believed that knowledge and action did not exclude each other, and that it was possible to reconcile them into one harmonious whole.

Thus each system of thought is concerned with the problem of God, Nature, individual soul, and knowledge and action as the goals of life; and all these questions are to be considered in the light of the basic energy of each. This gives us the connection between them, and they form one great body of thought, moving from five different points and attempting to embrace the whole range of life. As each of them examines the whole from its own point of view taken separately and in itself, each must appear to be defective in some part and incomplete. But each is a stepping stone to the other; and, proceeding from the senses of action to the Soul, or the Sankhya to Vedanta, we see all that is possible for the human mind to grasp, beyond which it is impossible to imagine anything. In this quest the two ends, both at commencement and conclusion, are unmanifest, and so unknowable and unknown; but all that lies within the limits of the manifest, and all of the unmanifest that reason can build on the basis of the manifest, or imagination conceive, or the soul divine, is included within these systems. They constitute the limit of human thought all that is possible for man to imagine or understand.