Glimpses of sixteen schools of Indian Philosophy

[This article is written for a rational audience. The interpretations are all my own. They are not intended to impose, influence or comment on prevailing beliefs. I am also not sure that I may not find more revelations in my next reading of the same text.]

Glimpses of sixteen schools of Indian Philosophy


1.       The Chârvâka Darshan

The perceptual world exists. There is nothing beyond or outside its existence. The universe is a complex mix of elements. Intelligence is a function of the body. It perishes when the form is dispersed.


Anything that is proved only by inference is a deception. There is no heaven, no salvation, nor any soul.  The Veda, the rituals and sacrifices are pretentions.


2.       The Bauddha Darshan

 A premise that ‘A’ is where ‘B’ is, and ‘A’ is not where ‘B’ is not, defines inviolate concomitance. Identities, causes and effects of transient dynamics are determinate. All objects can be perceived including the universal void. There are no unknown alternatives. An inquiry ends when it reaches practical absurdity.


There is an entity that exists universally; resides and pervades everything that exists.  Intelligence recognizes itself without an object. For all the rest, the evidence is only the quality of the knowable.


3.       The Ârhata Darshan

 The divine Ârhat is the supreme lord, the omniscient one, with no faults, desires etc – admired by the three worlds, the declarer of things as they are.  Nothing is transient. An object and its perception cannot occur at the same time because the former is the cause and the latter is the effect. So, since, at the time of the object’s existence perception does not exist, and at the time of perception the object does not exist, the world would not exist without their continuity.


Right intuition, right faith and right conduct are the path of liberation. Consciousness is more than just a mirror. It provides knowledge to the intelligence.


4.       The Râmânuja Darshan

The Creator, Soul and Body are the triad. The Soul experiences bondage and emancipation between the formless and the form. Existence and non-existence cannot be at the same time. A non-entity is cognizable, and ignorance cannot be an object of perception. Hence, an inference is impossible.


The Creator is singular, and prevails over the plurality of souls and forms. The Creator, the Soul and the Form are different. The worshipper is an embodied spirit.


5.       The Pûrņa-Pradña Darshan

 The independent and dependent are existents. Three premises prevail between the two – the creator, the created and the difference between them. The duality between the created and the creator is not erased by the created trying to acquire the qualities of the creator or by trying to eliminate the countless differences. Such a unity is not possible. Emancipation is only a relief of the created from depending on the creator.


The universe and life are real. Freedom to live requires proper knowledge of divinity. Inference, if not supported by revelations, cannot prove an assertion.


6.       The Pâśupata Darshan

Sentient creatures engage in work because they depend on the Will of the Creator for happiness. But the cause of the work does not depend on the Creator as He cannot be activated by either desires or the quality of the work. The Creator is the cause of all causes. Emancipation from sorrow is possible with an accurate characterization of the Creator and proper deliverance from dependencies. This cannot be acquired by intuition.


Freedom from personal and impersonal pain is emancipation. Religious exercises are for purifying the body, mind and soul. Omniscience of awareness is the cognition of truth and the resulting intellectual power.


7.       The Śaiva Darshan

Shiva is the God, the master. Shiva is everything. He is the maker and He is the content of the made. The individual spirit is merely a beast held by the fetters of the body. The spirit is incapable of pain or pleasure on its own.


Shiva’s head is Iśâ; mouth is Tatpuruşa; heart is Aghora; the concealed parts are Vâma, and Sadyojâta the feet. Shiva is embodied power; thus worshipped.


8.       The Pratyabhidñâ Darshan

Recognition and union with the nature of Shiva is the aim of devotion. Once achieved, there is no need to act or reflect. Pure knowledge and action are playful activities. Intelligence is a franchise. The soul in bondage recognizes plurality.


The liberated, enlightened soul recognizes all that is cognizable as its own self. The absolute realization of the Soul is when one can say without hesitation, “I am God”. There is no perfection that cannot be realized.


9.       The Raseśvara Darshan

The body is divine and must be preserved because liberation after death cannot be perceived. A non-decaying, mercurial (rasa) body is imperishable. A celestial body is immortal. Rasa and air restore the dead to life. The universe is pure intelligence.


A healthy body, exempt from decay, is liberated. Vishnu is existence; Vishnu is the knowledge and the knowable. Vishnu is the life in a body.


10.   The Vaiśeşika or Aulūkya Darshan

There cannot be an end to pain without the knowledge of Shiva. Enunciation, definition and investigation are the three steps in the method of acquiring knowledge. Substance, quality, activity, genre, specifics (viśeşa) and relationships are the six types of enunciation. Non-existence is not a substance; hence, not considered. Duality is the quality of the knowledge as it exists between the perceived and the perceiver.


The Soul, Space and Time are all pervasive. Non-existence, like darkness, is perceivable; there are two types – relative non-existence and reciprocal non-existence. Antecedent, emergent and absolute non-existences are relative. Reciprocal non-existence is the negation of an identity.


11.   The Akşapâda (or Nyâya) Darshan

Righteous justice is bliss. ‘Proof’ is that which is evidenced by the right knowledge. Right knowledge is accurate comprehension. Final justice is delivered by the knowledge of truth. Perception, inference, analogy and testimony offer four types of surmises.


Rational, logical, reasoning eliminates falsehoods and errors of knowledge. This is liberating.  Eternal happiness (freedom from pain) cannot be proved; hence, unacceptable.


12.   The Jaimīnīya Darshan

Righteous conduct is in sincere practice of duty. Rites, rituals and sacrifice are a duty. Procedures and rules ensure the benefits of performance. Benefits may be tangible or intangible. They cannot be both tangible and intangible at the same time, except when the procedure is a rule.


Duty is prescribed by authoritative knowledge which may be imposed or cognitive. The Word is not an inference. It is self-evident.


13.   The Panīnīya Darshan

Propriety of speech is in the discipline of words. Appropriate words are a sign of prosperity. There are four kinds of basic words – Nouns, verbs, prepositions and particles – and three periods – past, present and future. Words are of two types – natural or contrived. Voice is the voice of Brahma.


Letters with an affix make a meaningful word. The purpose of all words is finally the realization of Brahma – the quality of perfect knowledge. The exposition of words is the means of final bliss; the science of all sciences.


14.   The Sâńkhya Darshan

There are four existents – the evolved, the evolving, the evolved and evolving, and neither. The evolved is Prakriti, the universal nature – that which is the material cause of the evolving. The five gross elements are the evolving. The ‘evolved and evolving’ are subtle qualities such as consciousness, intellect and ego. The Soul is neither the evolved nor the evolving – it is absolute and imperishable.


Every cause has an effect and so does every effect have a cause. There is no existence of a non-existent and there is no non-existence of an existent (Bhagwat Gita). Final bliss, absolute emancipation, is in the realization of the difference between Nature and the Soul.


15.   The Patañjali Or Yoga Darshan

This is the discipline of concentration, of practice, of yoga – the concurrence of the body, mind and the soul. “Yoga is Samâdhī” (Vyasa) – Samâdhī is the fusion of the individual soul and Brahma. Yoga trains the mind to concentrate and preserve its potential. Meditation in Samâdhī concentrates on itself and suppresses all the faculties such as intellect and attitudes that are activated by external stimuli. For those who are afflicted, yogic exercises are the means; for those who are dispassionate, mere tranquility achieves Samâdhī.


Practical yoga is in physical training, recitation of sacred texts and piety.  There is no austerity superior to the regulation of the breath. He, who acquires the knowledge of righteousness and the soul, achieves supremacy over all existents.


16.   The Śânkara Darshan

Brahma is all there is. He is the creator and the created. The ephemeral world is merely a perception. One who realizes the self as Brahma attains salvation. Aham Brahmaasmi | Tat twam asi || I am Brahma | So are you ||


Reality deceives the senses. Life is pre-occupied by suffering and sorrow that are caused by the illusions of living. Brahma is the all pervading, universal spirit.


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A Bridge to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s Geetanjali

[This article is written for a rational audience. The interpretations are all my own. I am only sharing my impressions. They are not intended to impose, influence or comment on prevailing beliefs. I am also not sure that I may not find more revelations in my next reading of the same text.]



I am attempting a metaphoric bridge to “Geetanjali”. Every line represents one song in the same order as the song occurs in Tagore’s work. The speaker is feminine.


A Bridge to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s “Geetanjali” – By Sudhir


Your boundless creation makes my song immortal. Your calling fills me with vain pride. I am daunted by your compositions. I pledge my allegiance to your truth. I pray for a moment’s harmony to begin. Come; hold my hand lest I falter. So my songs can stay simple and sincere. Mother, do not imprison me with worldliness. I shall not be shaped by material yearning.


Devotion is obstructed by pride so often. This deliverance is realized only by effort. I must search far and wide for myself. My song remains unsung. Though sufferings make me abandon worldly desires. I seek honor only through my song. I have lived my karma in this world. I am waiting now for your call. I am restless in anticipation. I await the awakening. I have failed my insights often before. This waiting on emptiness seems futile. I hope Truth does not evade me tonight. Where are you?


I am weary of this struggle. I am not prepared for worship. I sleep in ignorance. Pray, awaken me with your enlightenment. Futile attachments and inhibitions tear me asunder. I am enveloped by walls of selfdom. My own self follows me everywhere. I have imprisoned myself thus. Love is not love that does not liberate.


Your blessings are invaded in the night by naive guests. But I am happy to remain in the bonds of your love. Into that heaven of freedom, father, let me awake! I pray for the strength to liberate myself. Your song is everlasting. I seek to attain you, nothing else. You are my holy spirit, my life, my strength. Your fervor burns me all over. Where are you?


My songs are emancipated by your silent attention. I found you today. This is my life, my delight. I have always known you thus. I feel your presence. I awaken myself in you. I look back with a smile at my fear of this journey. You heard the song of a simple novice.


I regretted saving myself from you. You came so in a dark dreadful night. You gave me the gift of disengagement. It is more precious than all my virtues. Our love is seamless. May this joy fill our being! Thus is our love undivided. Our love pervades all, like light over life. This is the joy that needs no words for expression. Your love fills my being so!


Life is a sport, death is an appointment. Life begets life as love begets love. Now I marvel at the charms of your creation. Now I know the truth of your immortality. Now I know the futility of surrendering this divinity to obscurity. I am nothing if I am not divine love. This is my inner self whom I have always preserved.


Life of all lives, your radiance is eternal. Benevolence is benevolent because it lets evil be. Life is eternal. Ephemeral joys live and die in this everlasting association. You are the life of my life. I am not tempted by illusions for emancipation. I am captivated by your music. I am mortal; you are the meaning in all. When I am done with this mortality I shall be with you. Like a child with a parent. This is the perfection.


Let me suffer my pain in silent seclusion. I am merely a pawn of destiny. If not for you, my life would have no purpose. My fear of time is dispelled by your timelessness.


Mother, bless me again with your grace. This severance is the cause of all suffering.


The rewards of life are not taken after death. Yet I shall welcome death as humbly. But now I am unable to find myself anywhere. Where am I, the deity of my own temple? In a world of useless inconsequence I find no pleasure in good or evil. Death can deprive me of nothing. Yet I wait for death as a bride waits for her groom. Amid prospects of death, I see how precious everything is in this world.


I bid a peaceful farewell. I shall part with empty hands. Death is as unknown to me as life was when I came. Remember that I have known the imperishable. I did not know it as divine till I saw the world bow to it in worship. In death too I shall not escape unconquered. I am now wiser; I shall not struggle in vain. My music is now boundless; my songs are now immortal. I found you through my songs. Yet, even now, I cannot describe your meaning.


I salute thee, my God.



[Here is Tagore’s anthology Geetanjali. It starts on page 15.]

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