- ANCIENT HISTORY – CASTE SYSTEM – 05
ANCIENT HISTORY - CASTE SYSTEM - 05
Nine Philosophical Systems : Side by side with the development and spread of Upanisadic though and its popularization through the Epics and the Puranas there arose great philosophical systems, founded by great thinkers who looked upon man and the universe with an unbiased, free and rational mind.
A Large number of such schools of thought must have been prevalent in ancient times. We know nine of them as the most important and influential. They are the Carvaka, Jaina, Buddha; Vaisesika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Mmamas and Vedamta systems. They fall into two groups, Astika and Nastika, the former believing in the authority of the Vedas and the latter discarding it. The first three systems are Nastika and all others Astika. It is difficult to say when and in what temporal order these systems originated. They refer to each other and seem to have originated and grown up simultaneously.
Carvaka System: The Carvaka system also called Lokayata Darsana (the philosophy of the masses) propounds gross materialism. Senseperception is the only source of knowledge; unconscious matter in the form of the elements of earth, water, fire and air is the only reality; the physical king is the only God; death is the only end of man; and the enjoyment of sense-pleasures the only object in life. There is no conscious entity like mind or soup apart from human body in which consciousness arises temporarily by virtue of a certain fusion of elements. There is no life beyond death, no heaven or hell and no fear of after-death consequences of good or evil deeds done in this life. There is no ‘Law of Karman’ and no rebirth.
Jainism is a philosophy based on the teachings of Mahavira, a senior contemporary of Buddha. It takes Reality to be a multiple comprising two main kinds of objects : the Jivas (souls) and the Ajivas (non-souls). The Jivas are infinite in number. They vary in their capacity for knowledge, power and joy. The esence of a Jiva is consciousness power and bliss. Potentially every Jiva has these qualities in infinite magnitude but actually it displays them in varying degrees, being overpowered by the material particles of Karma pudgala with which the souls ate intermixed from time immemorial like iron with one.
Both the Jivas and Ajivas have been existing eternally. The world was never created. It is eternal. Jainas do not therefore, believe in the existence of a Creator. Instead of believing in God, they believe in the existence of perfected souls abiding in the highest region of the world with fully developed consciousness, power and bliss.
The Reality as a whole is both one and many, static as well as changing, from different points of view. In fact, the Reality has an infinite number of aspects and attributes (ananta-dharmatmakarneva tattvan). This dectrine of Jaina philosophy is called Anekantavada. The Jaina doctrine of Syadvada asserts that statements must be made with caution, keeping in veiw that they cannot be absolute and that opposite statements are plausible. Jainism recognizes five sources and kinds of knowledge : Mati, knowledge obtained through sense-perception and inferencel Sruti, knowledge conveyed by others through intelligible symbolsl Avadhi, knowledge acquired by some supernormal means, such as clairvoyance and clairaudience; Manahprayaya, knowledge of other minds gained by means of telepathy; and Kevala Janna, knowledge of the perfercted souls who have acquired omniscience. The Jainas lay great emphasis on Ahimisa (non-violence) both in theory and practice.
Buddhist philosophy, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, has these main tenets : Life is characterized by suffering (sarvam duhkham); every being in the world is momentary, changing and unstable (sarvam ksanikam); everything is caused by something else; nothing has an absolute existence of its own (samudaya satyam and karana satyam); and there is a way out of suffering (marga satyam). These are the four noble truths.
Buddhism believes in the ‘law of Karma’ operating in this life and in the next. Every effect is caused and every cause has an effect. The Buddha discovered the twelve-linked cliain of causation (of cause and effect) which is Ignorance (Avidha), Impressions of past actions (Samskaras), Consciousness (Vijnana), Psychophysical Organism (Nama-rupa), Senseorgans and the mind (Sadayatana), Contact of the Sense-organs with objects, (Sparsa), Sensations (Vedana), Thirst for Sense-enjoyments. (Trsna), Clingning to the enjoyments (Upadana), Will to be born (Bhava), Birth or Rebirth (Jati) and Old age and Death (Jara-marana).