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  • ANCIENT HISTORY – CASTE SYSTEM – 06

ANCIENT HISTORY - CASTE SYSTEM - 06

To get out of this chain of causation one must aim at Nirvana (cessation of birth and death and of suffering consequent upon them). Nothing more can be said of Nirvana than that there is complete cessation of suffering in it and of all that is regarded as evil in life. To enter Nirvana one has to give up Trsna completely, and to follow the Eightfold Noble path (the Astangi Arya Marga) : Right Faith (Samyak Drsti), Right Resolve (Samyak Sankalpa), Right Speech (Samyak Vak), Right Action (Samyak Karmanta), Right Living (Samyak Ajiva), Right Effort (Samyak Vyayama), Right Though (SamyakSmrth) and Right Concentration (Samyak-Samadhi). In some place the Buddha is said to have summarized the whole process in a triple formula, namely, Sila (Right Conduct), Samadhi (Right Concentration) and Prajna (Right Knowledge). The first two lead to the last which is the direct cause of Nirvana or Liberation. The Buddha advocated “The Middle Path” in which the extremes are avoided.

After the death of the Buddha his teachings were collected, revised and interpreted differently. Several schools of Buddhist thought come into distance, four of which are well-known : the Vaibhasika, the Sautrantika, the Vijana – Vada and the Madhyamika (Sunya-Vada). The alst two schools have played a great role in the later development of Indian the renowned leader of Vijnana-Vada and Nagarjuna that of the Sunya-Vada.)

The Vaisesika system is a realistic, analytic, and objective philosophy of the world. It tries to distinguish various kinds of ultimate things from one another and to classify all the objects under distinguishable categories. All the objects of knowledge, according to this system, fall under six categories (Padarthas) namely, substance, (Dravya), attribute (Guna), action (Karma), genus, (Nati), differentia (Visesa) and inherence (Samavaya). There are nine differents – Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Ether-existing in the form of Atoms, Time, Sapce, Minds and Selves. The world is a complex and composite formation of these substance, which comes into being and is destroyed at times. 

The Niyaya system acepts all the categories recognized by the Vaisesika system and adds aone Abhava (negation). It also accepts all the substances admitted by the Vaisesika system, and considers God to be the creator (designer) of the world as the efficient cause. He is a soul (Atman) free from the ‘Law of Karman’ and rebirth. His wisdom, desire, and effort are unbounded. He is the author of the Vedas. He cannot create or destroy any of the substances which exist eternally. The ‘Law of Karman’ operates independently of Hi. He creates the complex, objects of the world out of the pre=existing atom. The soul is co=eternal with God and is infinitely extensive in dimension. (Vibhu), but in itself it is not conscious. Consciousness is a quality which arises or emerges in the soul when the  latter comes in contact with the mind, senses and the body.

Nyaya makes a detailed study of the sources of Knowledge (Pramana) which it recognizes to be four, namely, Perception (Pratyksa), Inference (Anumana), Comparsion (Upamana) and Verbal Testimony (Sanda). The study of the Pramanas and Hetvabhasa (fallacies) are the special features of this school. That is why it is called Nyaya (Logic).

The Samkhya system is dualistic in its ontology. It believes in two ultimate realities – Prakrti and Purusa. The entire manifested world, both material and mental, with all its objects and processes, is regarded as transformation of Prakrti the Primordial Substance, the original stuff of all that there is amn and universe except the Purusas or the Selves which the independently real. The Prakrti is constituted by a triad of fundamental attributes (Gunas) – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, the basic causes of though, movement, and inertia. All modifications or transformations of these Gunas.

The Purusa becoming active and the Prakrti becoming conscious as it were. purusas are infinitely many one behind each individual. They are eternal. The Prakrti works purposively for the enjoyment and release of the Purusas. it is all in all and works itself without any guidance from God, who is  not required in the system for any purpose whatsoever. The Purusa in bondage gets released by the efforts of Prakrti in the form of Buddhi (intelligence) which, when purified by moral action and metaphysical thinking, gives rise to discrimination (Viveka) in the Purusa. The released Purusa is free from all sufferings and stays in the form of pure consciousness.

The Yoga system is more or less applied Samkhya. It has devised a systematic method of brining about the release of Purusa from Prakrti by purifying and controlling and ultimately nultigying the modification of the mental mechanism (antahkarana or citta) and thereby letting the Purusa stand and shine in its own pristine purity. The method is called the Astanga Yoga which consists in the practice of Yama (Self-control), Niyama (observanee of certain principles), Asana (fixed postures of the body) Pranayama (breath-control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses and the mind from the objects of enjoyment), Dharana (fixation of mind on some chosen object), Dhyana (controlled and continued attention to the object) and Samadhi (mergence of the mind in some object and then dissolution of it in the Self). In the state of Samadhi the Purusa gets its own experience and realizes its true nature. The Yoga system admits the existence of God as an eternally freed Purusa, who is the teacher and guide of Yoga and on being invoked can help those who practice Yoga.

The Mimanisa system is not really a philosophy in the sense of tacking ontological, epistemological, cosmological, atciological or theological questions freely and logically on the basis of one’s experience and observation. It is a philosophy of interpretation, application and use of texts of the Samthita and Brahmana portions of the Vedas. It has devised certain principles according to which the Vedic mantras and their application in the field of sacrifices (yajnas) could be understood in a systematic manner.

Ancient Indian though reached its culmination in the philosophy of Sankaracarya. Sankara wrote a large number of works including his well-known commentaries on the Upanisads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad-Gita. The philosophical views in his writings came to be known as Advaita Vedanta. The word Vedanta originally meant the Upanisads, the last (anta) portions of the Vedas. The Brahma Sutras of Badarayana testify to an attempt at synthesizing and systematizing the teachings of the Upanisads. The Bhagavad-Gita is said to present the essence of the thought of the Upanisad and also goes by the name of Upanjad. Hence the views in Sankara’s commentaries on these three works, namely, the Upanisads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita constitute Vedanta Philosophy (Vedanta Darsana). As Sankara held that all these works teach that the Ultimate Reality is One, Only One, and without a second by its side, the Vedanta philosophy eicpounded by him goes by the name of Advaita (Secondless) Vedanta.

The Ultimate Reality, according to the Advaita Vedanta, is Brahman. The Brahman is the cause of the world and is changeless within itself. All the attributes that we ascribe to Brahman are conceived from our own points of view.

The world as a whole, and in all its parts, shows signs of purposiveness, intelligence and organization and, therefore, presupposes a Creator and Governor. This creator is God (Isvara) or a cosmic form of the Absolute Brahman. He creates a particular world order out of Himself, like a spider spinning a web, and governs it justly in accordance with the ‘Law of Karman’ which is the expression of his own will for justness and impartiality. He is not a Second reality to the Brahman. He is the Brahman limited or associated by its own Creative Power, which brings forth the world of plurality from within itself. This power is called Maya. The world comes out of it as a tree comes out of the seed.

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