Ajai R. Singh MD

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Indian Philosophies: Spirituality as Component and Analysis as Method

Enter subhead content here

Paper presented at World Philosophy Conference, Platinum Jubilee Celebration of Indian Philosophical Congress, Dec.28, 2000 to January 01, 2001, New Delhi, India.

 

                                                                             Shakuntala Singh*

 

 

                                                   I

What is it characterizes Indian philosophy as a distinct body of thought? Even if their concerns appear diverse, their methods different, there is a centrality that pervades all these systems. This, according to most authorities, is a predominant, if not constant, concern with liberation or moksa1, whether it is samkhya’s prakrti-purusa viveka, Bhartrhari’s language-analyasis, Nyaya’s analysis of thought-structure, the Vedantin’s idealism, the Buddha’s eight-fold path, the Jaina’s ethical realism – all these, following various different pathways, are united in their conviction that they all seek liberation2.

            Now, what is this liberation? These are various nuances to the concepts of moksa, amaratva, mukti, kaivalya, nirvana, nihsreyasa, apavarga (as also to a limited extent jivanmukta, samadhi and sanyasa) which we could study and analyse at a later stage. That is not the point at issue here. The point at issue is: Is the concept of liberation not one that, in its essence, is connected with the disembodied person or the incorporeal being, the non-material part of the self? And if the spirit stands for that which is the disembodied self or the incorporeal being3, is not the concept of liberation a spiritual one? I think we have to accept that it is so. In fact it cannot but be so. Liberation is a spiritual concept, spiritual as distinct from, though connected with, the corporeal, material, physical world in which we live4. Hence we can say that a spiritual concept like liberation is the predominant concern of most Indian Philosophy. It may not be that obvious at a certain stage of their elaboration – for example, it may not appear to be the predominant concern of a Nayayayika when he is engaged in tracing the intricacies of logic or a Grammarian when he is doing similarly with vakya. But it runs as a strong under-current even in these thought streams. Proof for this, if proof be needed, is their continuous emphasis that analysis, whether of logical structure or of language, is the pathway to perfection, release from bondage, and therefore, liberation5.

            Having understood the central importance of a spiritual concept in almost all Indian philosophies, let us go on to another aspect of Indian life. Religion           

            What is it that characterizes religion? Religion involves dogma, creed, followers, belief in a divinity, God, after-life etc. But there can be religion without God or belief in an after-life. There can be religion which is non-dogmatic in the sense that it allows for reason and does not expect blind obedience to scriptural or canonical authority. Still a minimum of dogma, with a group of followers and a creed are essential to religion. But they are not characteristic only of it. They are necessary even for most political ideologies, for example. Even an element of dogma and faith are essential for political ideologies. So it is not these that are its distinguishing characteristics, although they do form part of religion.

            If it is not dogma, faith, followers, God, after-life etc. that characterize religion, then what is it that does? (By characterize we mean as serving both to stress its essential characteristics as also to distinguish it from others.) We shall be led to the thought that every religion has some characteristic concept that is other-wordly, non-corporeal, non-material – in other words, of the spirit, the spirit as distinct from the body and the physical objects of this world. Religion may regulate the affairs of this world, may be very much concerned with such regulation and the good life. But it bases such regulation on some spiritual concept of what man’s existence and his state following it (call it heaven, hell, liberation, union with the divine, whatever) is all about. The essence of religion, therefore, is spirituality. Now this spirituality can take various forms. For some it amounts to belief in God, for others in an after-life, for someone else in karma, for others still in heaven and hell, and for still others in moksa, liberation, nirvana, kaivalya, apavarga etc.  All these can be subsumed under the broad category of spirituality.

            Now the problem is as follows.  The most important characteristic of Indian philosophies we saw was their spiritual concerns.  We however find that the most important characteristic of religion also is spiritual concerns.  Are we then to believe, as a group of thinkers still believes, that the Indian philosophies are nothing but religion? And if it is nothing but religion, can it be the proper concern of philosophy as an analytical discipline?  It can be the concern of philosophy as an analytical discipline?  Can therefore there be an Indian philosophy which has concepts to contribute in all the major disciplines commonly attributed to philosophy – epistemology, metaphysic, ethics, aesthetics, language analysis etc?  Are not the attempt of present-day Indian ‘philosophers’ to show that Indian ‘philosophy’ does have these sub-divisions only culling out stray strands of analytical thought in the all encompassing ocean of Indian religion, the former always a part, and a subservient part, of the latter?  Is not therefore Indian ‘philosophy’ either only religion, or at most philosophy of religion?

            There is nothing really new about these questions 6.  In fact they have been raised, and raised ad nauseum for some, in that only reflecting probably an identity-search that characterizes most post-colonial societies.  The obsessive concern with such questions often approaches a hypochondriacal malady.  This is so because the concerns, rather than helping to get done with them and get on with further concerns, have helped to entangle and preoccupy the meanderer who appears enmeshed in these questions for their own sake.

            Be that as it may.  We may say that different thinkers have tried to answer this question in their own ways.  But we could perhaps resolve this difficulty by accepting that there is an essential difference between composition and method.  By composition I mean what goes to compose a certain system, its components, its subject matter.  By method, I mean the means  or instrument one uses to compose or study these components.

            That such differentiation is essential in the study of the Indian philosophies, as of most other branches of philosophy, will be clear in a minute.  Spirituality is characteristic of the Indian philosophies as much as of religion is true as far as spirituality as a component of both is concerned.  As regards the method used to understand or study this spirituality, religion and philosophy are markedly different.  Whilst religion would use the methods of prayer, rituals, bhakti, belief etc. to achieve what it considers spiritual goals, the philosopher would use analysis, understanding, conceptual clarification as his method 7.  Ofcourse one can trace instances where these appear commingled.  But that is only proof that both philosophy and religion are enterprises of man, and man is a composite being, not wholly analytic, not wholly believing, using both for different occasions, and occasionally erring in so doing by mixing them up.  That is of course the reason why the philosopher as a man cannot be totally rid of methods that are non-analytic: this may be considered his weakness as a philosopher, meaning thereby the strength of his philosophising would be indirectly proportional to the amount of non-analytic thought process he allows in his thinking and convictions.  The more he allows for belief and faith, the more religious he becomes.  The more he allows for reason and analysis, especially in matters which can be only settled by faith, the less religious he is likely to find himself.  How probably should man, who is not only a believer but also a analyser, for man who is not only a philosopher but also a living, breathing, overawed microcosm in this vast universe, conduct himself and his enquiries into his own mysteries, as well as the mysteries of this world will have to be settled by each one at his own personal, highly individual, plane; and settled only to appear constantly unsettled.  But this much can surely be said.  If philosophy as a branch must be differentiated from religion, then its differentiation is possible only by the method it employs. And the mark of a philosopher would rest in how far and how well he can use this analytical method to study the concepts that come within his compass.  It is not that the religious man may not also analyse. But his analysis is always subservient to his predominant concern -  that of justifying a transcendental concern.  For the philosopher, however, the analysis is not subservient to anything – it may become the means to achieve transcendental concerns, as it does in the Indian philosophies where it is the means to achieve liberation.  But it is not subservient to it; it is not its hand-maiden.  If analysis is carried out, by a Nyayayika of thought structure for example, properly, for its own sake, fully and totally, it would lead to nihsreyasa: it would lead to nihsreyasa almost automatically – the end must follow.  In this there is no need to think, or believe, that understanding of the sixteen categories of Nyayasutra 1.1.1 is subservient to the attainment of the highest good.  In fact such an understanding of Nyaya is rendering religious meaning into the Nyaya text which amounts to corrupting it.

            For religion, on the other hand, every analytic concern is necessarily guided, nay limited, in this manner.  In fact that is the reason why the man of religion limits his analysis, and limits the questionings of those who come within his power, to impress upon them the futility of logical or analytic pursuits, which he considers impediment, beyond a certain reasonable limit, to the attainment of liberation.  The Nyayayika and the Grammarian put no such limits or impediments to their analytic concerns.  In fact they firmly believe that the analysis of thought structure and language structure in all their nuances are the legitimate pathways to achieving liberation; they would thus seek to further and further utilize the analytical method till they reach their goal.  (Ofcourse one can quote here numerous instances wherein logic and reasoning have been criticized in Indian thought, in the texts of the Mahabharatha, Ramayana and Manusmriti, for example; but they are obviously referring to use of logical method for improper ends, use of arguments not because they lead to enlightenment either of the inquirer or his debater, but as means to put down of refute the superior thought content of the other by dishonest tricks of debate 8

            So, whereas for the man of religion, any analysis is subservient to his transcendental concern, for a philosopher his analytical concerns are a means to achieve transcendental concerns.  This differentiation is quite clear-cut in thought systems like Nyaya and Grammarians, although it may not remain that clear-cut in some of the more idealistic systems.  But even there it should be possible to separate out the religious from the philosophical concerns, if such a differentiation is considered necessary.  In fact it may help both the Indian philosophies and religion.   For when both know their legitimate domains, good neighbourly relations and healthy give and take can follow.  Good neighbours are neighbours, they give and take, but they know their boundaries, and remain within them.  They do not merge boundaries, or identities.  This could very well happen with the Indian philosophies and Indian religion; and, come to think of it, may be a worthwhile, nay necessary, enterprise.

            Hence it is in their method that Indian religion and Indian philosophy differ. Although the religious thinker may study and mouth philosophical  concepts, he does so within the predominant concerns of his religious belief system. Similarly although the Indian philosopher may study and mouth religious concepts, he does so within the predominant concerns of his philosophical-analytic system.

            Would it not therefore be better to characterize the Indian philosophies as distinguished not by their spirituality, because their spirituality, rather than distinguish them from religion, makes them seem dangerously close to it? Would it not be better to characterize them by its method, by the fact that they utilize analysis and reason which therefore are what are their distinguishing characteristics?  This would, moreover, further underscore their affinity to the universal body of thought that goes in the name of philosophy everywhere, and would therefore be doubly beneficial?

            This is again a very important point which we must take up here.  Ofcourse philosophy is characterized by conceptual analysis.  But it is philosophy that is characterized. When we add the word Indian to the philosophies, we are adding a componential word, a word that seeks to qualify what the subject-matter of their philosophies has to be. In other words, in the two words Indian and philosophies of the concept Indian philosophies, if the word philosophies stands for the analysis of concepts, the word Indian stands for the components or subject-matter of such analysis. And what, as we saw, was the essential characteristic of this component or subject-matter in the case of most Indian philosophies? It is spirituality. Whether we like it or not, whether we care for spirituality or transcendental concerns or not, whether we are theists or atheists, we cannot escape this conclusion (which is probably why all Indian Philosophers are not Indian philosophers. See Karl Potter, 1985, in this connection)9. We therefore cannot but be led to the conclusion that most Indian philosophies’ distinguishing characteristic is their involvement with the analysis of spiritual concepts. By undertaking analysis they differentiate themselves from religion. By tackling spirituality, however, they manifest their affinity to it. This diversity of perception is to be grasped and understood.

            Once this is done, questions like: Are Indian Philosophies philosophy at all, or are they religion? Are they spirituality? Are they only a philosophy of religion? - become answerable. Indian philosophies are philosophy because they analyse concepts, concepts that go to form philosophical systems which include epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and theory of value, philosophical method, aesthetics etc. They are not religion, because, although they tackle spirituality, they analyse it, do not only accept it as part of a belief system. They are spirituality in the sense that their subject matter is spirituality. They are not spirituality in the sense of using the method of a spiritual saint or monk - of prayer, bhakti, rituals, meditation on or communion with a supreme power or deity etc. Are they only philosophy of religion? They are philosophy of religion, for they analyse the concepts that go to form religion. But they are not only philosophy or religion, for although they deal with spirituality which is their dominant characteristic (as it is of religion), they analyse it, and while so doing tackle all the various facets of man’s cognitive enterprise that are available to him – the empirical, the ethical, the aesthetic and the metaphysical.  The spirituality is pervasive, but it is not all.  It is often times only an under-current and then likely to the forgotten.  In fact it can even at times not be given any consideration, like for example when discussing the technicalities of a logical argument of Nyaya or the linguistic analysis of Bhartrhari. But the moment we extrapolate from this and say that this is all there is to Nyaya or Bhartrhari, all the rest being mere window-dressing, we err in taking the part for the whole, and lose our grasp over the essential component of this distinctive style of philosophising.

 

                                                            II

                  Having now disposed of this point for the present let us come to the second important question, which is linked with it. What shall we do with the Indian philosophies? Shall we allow them to retain their pluralistic thrust, a pluralism that appears heterogenous but is sustained by a homogenous substratum of spirituality? Shall we allow the diversity of their concepts, their belief-systems and rationalities to manifest themselves in all their splendour? Or shall we attempt to extract from this plurality a homogenous substratum and reject all the residue? And if such a homogenous substratum has to be extracted, shall it be its spirituality that shall become our concern or its analysis? (10)

The question here is apart from our justification or ability to undertake an enterprise like this, whether we are really sure what is this homogenous stratum that we seek to extract. The question is of clarity of concepts. If we are to assume that the homogenous substratum of Indian philosophies that must be salvaged from the plethora of anarchical mushroomings is the analysis of concepts wherever they occur -- Samkhya, Nyaya, Vedanta, Mimamsa, Carvaka, Jaina, Buddhist, whatever -- we may be able to extract a homogenous substratum and reject all the residue all right. But though this substratum appears homogenous, it will be so only from a certain view point of philosophy -- that concept of philosophy which considers both the domain and the method of philosophy to be necessarily restricted by the analysis of concepts. That philosophy is a cognitive enterprise is not to he questioned. But cognition is a method, it is not the subject-matter of analysis. At least not the only  subject matter of analysis. The subject matter of analysis can be as varied as the thought expanse of the human mind. In this subject matter, what characterizes the Indianness of thought cannot but be brought into that school of cognitive enterprise that goes by the name of Indian philosophies. And that Indianness of thought is its spiritual concern.

Let me try to put the case a little differently. If one wishes to concentrate on the analysis of concepts wherever they occur in the Indian philosophies, we give the analytical part supreme importance and consider ‘Indian’ as only a geographical concern, That is, a thought is Indian purely because it originates from a geographical area, India. We need not give it any greater distinctness purely because it originates there. If it has any distinction, anything worthwhile, we will no doubt discover it as we analyse all the concepts that it stands for, and sift the chaff from the grain as we do so. We need consider Indian as of no greater value that this.

Now such an approach to the Indian philosophies would be anathema to one who would want to consider Indian not only from a geographic but also from a cognitive context. For him, Indian thought is the thought that originates in the Indian context.  The thought, the context mind you, and not only its geographic with its important origins; with its important and distinguishing characteristics which cannot be separated from its geography except artificially, which artificiality itself landing one into error unless one accepts that it is an artificial arrangement. Not only accepts but is constantly in the know that this arrangement, even if acquiesced in, is for a temporary purpose, to concentrate solely on the technicalities that preoccupy one at a certain moment. If from such a temporary arrangement, the temptation to generalize and identify the artificial itself with the real is ‘developed, the whole analysis that follows can be vitiated and lop-sided. Thus, Indian philosophies are not only analysis of concepts that originates in the Indian sub-continent. It is analysis of those facets of Indian thought that characterize it, make it significant and also serve to identify and distinguish it from all other thought streams. The Indian is necessarily only geographical for one, the Indian is necessarily cognitive for the other.

The question now is: which of the two approaches is proper, or better?  If one realizes the reasons why one adopts a certain approach to the Indianness of the Indian philosophies, both approaches have their points of relevance. Those who consider Indian only geographically will be able to extract the analytical substratum and will best help to correlate it with the analytical substratum pervading elsewhere. Those who believe in the concept Indian as cognitive necessarily will be best able to identify and articulate the distinctive thought streams that signify the Indian philosophies and steer their thought pattern, as well as those of their followers, on a path of pluralistic heterogeneity. So both approaches can be proper if they retain this perspective and know at what stage they become irrelevant. They become irrelevant, for example, when the analytical minded attempts to do what comes almost naturally with the acceptance of analysis -- to reject the other way of doing philosophy. Similarly the cognitive minded about the Indian philosophies become irrelevant when they reject the analysis that the conceptual minded can present, perhaps better than they themselves. For the student of the Indian philosophies who would want to do both, a continuous guard about where he remains true to which concern, conceptual or cognitive, and where he is able to do the same about the other researchers who he comes face to face with, should be the touchstone on which the worth of his
philosophizing need be judged.

However, one more question remains. When we began our discussion on what should we do with the Indian philosophies, we of course wanted to know what to do with its pluralistic thrust or the attempts by some to extract a homogenous substratum and reject the residue. But before that we had also considered a question whether it would be better to characterize the Indian philosophies by their method, by the fact that they utilize reason and analysis which therefore underscore their affinity to the universal body of thought that goes in the name of philosophy everywhere. Or, to put the same question differently, is not there a commonality to man’s cognitive enterprise? What is it that is therefore common to all philosophies everywhere? Is it not the analysis of concepts that is common to them all? Should we not therefore be concerned with a similar analysis of concepts in Indian thought to highlight the essential one-ness of all world thought, or at least of a world-view of all philosophies?

Such questions we would realize again take us back to the earlier paragraph. They are legitimate parameters for a type of philosophy, the philosophy we shall identify as conceptual, and must indeed be furthered within its own parameters and domain. But it is improper to consider it the sole, or only, method of philosophizing. That would amount to application of universal principles out of context.  It may be the sole, or only, method of philosophizing suitable for oneself, or those who believe that this way of philosophizing best helps them to articulate their legitimate concerns. But that can be their concern, and the concern of their philosophizing. It cannot become the sole, or only, concern of philosophy itself.  For there are as many approaches to philosophy, even the Indian philosophies, as there are cognitive shades and awarenesses. This we shall label the cognitive approach to philosophy. The only criteria that should he strictly adhered to by all shades of thought is that though they seek to legitimize their awareness, they do not necessarily delegitimize other awarenesses, unless they can be conceptually so refuted. And during such conceptual refutation, the attempt cannot be only to highlight one’s own strong-point.   It should also be to highlight the strongest point of one’s opponent, and then prove how the opponents’ strongest point also does not stand critical scrutiny. The classical way in which purva-paksa was supposed to be represented. This alone will help one to steer clear from mouthing those of our cognitions that are based on our needs and our biases, which a philosopher must continuously guard against, and steer clear of.
            So, one may say that whilst, on the one hand, a conceptual exercise is useful, nay necessary, to articulate or believe that that level is the only level --
and not only the only level, to believe that it alone characterized what is philosophy (rather than saying it characterizes one’s brand of philosophy) which therefore negates that there can be different, and equally legitimate ways to philosophizing -- this is the error of generalizing from particularities and partial convictions. In our concern with method, we cannot forget that a cognitive enterprise involves both a method and a subject-matter.  Accepted, it is the method alone that the philosopher has, and therefore he is that much more likely to give it primacy. But that is all the more reason to beware of his subjectivities.  He must remember that in any cognitive enterprise -- which philosophy definitely is -- he must utilize his method on a subject matter. This subject matter exists, is independent of his method, and in an objective world, and he cannot therefore deny its existence, or allow it to be swallowed up by the perpetually unsatisfied appetite of conceptual analysis. His attempts at stressing the primacy of method should not become a means of denying the existence of a subject matter that exists apart from it. Whenever he does so, he transgresses the limits of his calling, converts a cognitive enterprise into an affective one, and cannot but find himself indulging in intellectual dishonesty, whether unconsciously or otherwise.

Hence, although the instruments are with the philosopher, the subject matter is given to him by the particular spatio-temporal canvas on which he works. This canvas, in the case of Indian thought, happens to be spiritual concepts as much as the mundane ones. The characteristics of this canvas are clear when we realize that whilst the Nyayayika for example talks of pramana prameya and its nuances, he has as his goal not only its analysis, but through its analysis the goal of supreme good -- nihsrevasa.  And further on to apavarga – final release. This analysis is important, true.  But this is only a partial truth.  This analysis is also important as a step, a stage in the final liberation a Nyayayika seeks  through the analysis of the structure of thought. Which is what Nyaya is all about.

Unless we accept this as a legitimate understanding of the Indian philosophies, the over-riding spiritual concern of all the Indian darsanas (11) will fail to make sense to us. Our attempts at extraction of homogenous substrate will continue to include all the considerations which land us into error, and which need not do so; even if the activity of such extraction has to continue. And it is only when we understand this distinctive feature of the Indian darsanas that we will be able to acknowledge the spiritual concern of a Nyáyayika as legitimate, in fact as legitimate as his concerns with the analysis of the sixteen categories. Then alone will Gautama’s Nyayasutra 1.1.1, for example, in which the understanding of the sixteen categories is supposed to lead to nihreyasa as the supreme good, and any attempts at further subdividing a ‘supreme’ good, whether into drsta or adrsta or as different from apavarga, will stop assuming as great a significance to prove the supremacy of analysis as it may have earlier seemed. (12)

 

 


Notes and References

  1. “Philosophical system building in India is almost invariably connected by its creators with the gaining of perfection, which has various names in Indian thought but which we shall here call regularly ‘liberation’”. Karl H. Potter, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Vol. II, p 18, 1977, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.
  2. In this connection it would be better to record here two contrasting views on Nyaya and Vaisesika. Ingalls, for example, believes, It has often seemed to me that the teachings of the early Nyaya might be called a philosophy of man rather than an exposition of logic”, quoted in Karl H. Potter, op. cit., p 19. Diametrically opposite is the thought of Faddegon who says that the Vaisesika “owes its origin to a purely theoretical attitude of mind and not to the craze for liberation which dominates nearly all forms of Indian thought”, (Potter op. cit., p 18); or the view of Daya Krishna, ‘... many schools of philosophy have literally nothing to do with moksa. Nyaya, Vaisesika and Mimamsa would predominently come within this group”, (Potter, op. cit., p 19). Faddegon and Daya Krishna are answerable to how the concepts of nihsreyasa and apavarga come to lay the foundation of the Nyaya systems since they are stressed right in Nyayasutra 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 respective1y. We shall reserve a detailed analysis of both for a later stage.
  3. Spirit is the “animating or vital principle of person or animal ... disembodied soul, incorporeal being …” See J.B. Sykes, “The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, VII Edn, 1982 (Reprinted 1985), p 1023, Oxford Uni. Press, N. Delhi. Of course spirituality is also understood differently. For example, Daya Krishna writes, “A philosophy is usually characterized as ‘spiritual’ or ‘non-spiritual’ because of the way it conceives of the nature of ‘reality’ and not because of the manner in which it conceives of the ultimate or highest ideal of man. It is its answer to the question about the reality of matter that determines whether a philosophy is to he considered ‘spiritual’ or not, and not its answer to the question about the supreme end which human beings ought of pursue.
    “Thus a philosophy would not be entitled to be called ‘spiritual’ if it posits as the highest or ultimate goal for man the freeing of himself or itself from the bondage of matter or the involvement in the embodied
    state
    and all the problems that it involves. Rather it would be entitled to that title if and only if it denies the reality of matter and argues for the ultimate reality of only conscious ness or that which is more akin or analogous to consciousness in our experience then of what we call matter”. See his “Indian Philosophy and Moksa: revisiting and old controversy”, JICPR, 11:1, 1984, p.52.
    Now this is an extraordinary understanding of the concept ‘spirituality’. It means that for something to be called spiritual not only should it involve affirming of a disembodied state but denial of matter and its reality. The reason that prompts such an understanding is probably to present the exact opposite of a materialist paradigm. The materialist not only affirms the presence of matter as real, he simultaneously goes to great pains to deny that which is of the spirit. In contrast, therefore, the spiritual should not only affirm that which is of the spirit but deny that which is off the matter. Now
    , of course, such polarization would be possible only in the case of absolute materialist or absolute spiritual systems. For example, the Carvaka system on the one hand and the Buddhist idealism on the other. (Potter, 1985, in fact interprets Daya Krishna’s understanding of spiritual as “what we more normally call ‘idealist’, one who denies the mind- independent reality of  matter”, rather than “in the more common sense of one who recognizes supernatural forces beyond our understanding (p. 148; see note 10). In most other systems, spirituality is a component, just as matter is another, as also manas, antahakarana, jiva, atma and sarira. The system is spiritual insofar as it has a formulation to offer about the disembodied self. But insofar as it has also a formulation to offer about objective reality and its existence aside and apart from the disembodied self, it reflects non-spiritual concerns. In being concerned with non-spiritual concerns, it does not have to deny spirituality. Non-spiritual is not equal to denying spirituality. All it means is that the focus of attention at that particular moment is matter.  At a certain other stage in thought, the focus may be on spirit when the thought would be categorized as spiritual. Nyaya, for example, because it tackles spiritual concepts like nihsreyas and apavarga is spiritual. But Nyaya is also realist insofar as it allows for objects of knowledge in the material world and the methods to understand these objects of knowledge. There is no reason to believe that just because it is spiritual with regard to one concept it cannot be realist with regard to another. In fact any complete philosophical system cannot but deal in concepts both of the matter and the spirit. Hence spirituality need not deny matter, just as materialism need not deny spirit. Wherever they in fact do, they transgress their legitimate parameters.
  4. In the light of our foregoing discussion, liberation is a spiritual concept distinct from but not denying the physical world in which we live. To be distinct from you I do not have to deny you.
  5. For example the very first two sutras of Gautama’s Nyayasutra say: “It is knowledge of the real essence (or true character) of the following sixteen categories that leads to the attainment of the Highest Good...” (i.e. nihsreyas), 1.1.1. Also, “There is a cessation of each member of the following series Pain, Birth, Activity, Defect and Wrong  Notion the cessation of that which follows bringing the annihilation of that which precedes it; and this ultimately leads to Final Release”, (i.e. apavarga) 1.1.2. See ‘The Nyaya-sutras of Gautama’ by M.M. Ganganatha Jha, Vol. 1, p 37 and 83, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1984. Similarly, Bhartrhari in his Vakyapdiya  1.1 is the first grammarian to systematically equate Brahman (the Absolute) with language (sabda), going on to argue that everything else arises as a manifestation  of this one Sabda Brahman. Similarly the Rg Veda 1.164 states in its Asyavamiya Hymn that the ultimate abode of language (vac) is Brahman. Moreover Rg Veda 1.164.10, 41 and 45, mention that three quarters of language remains hidden in a cave, while the fourth part fashions creation. See also, K.A. Subramania Iyer, ‘Bhartrhari on vyakarana as a Means of attaining moksa’, Adyar Library Bulletin. Brahmavidya, 28, 1964, p 112—131. Also, C. Ramachari, “Renunciation, the final Import of the Satakatraya of Bhartrhari,” Jr. of Mysore Uni, 18, l958-59, p 13-20.
  6. A recent article that raises such issues is K.J. Shah’s ‘Philosophy, religion, morality, spirituality: some issues’, JICPR, VII:  2, 1990, p 1-12.
  7.   That this is so can be illustrated in Nyaya, for example, Gautama’s Nyayasutra 1.1.9 considers apavarga i.e. final release itself as a object of cognition, along with soul, body, sense organs, Things, Apprehension, Mind, Activity, Rebirth, Fruition and Pain (see Jha, op. cit, p 210).
  8.  See, for example, Manu, Adhyaya 2, verse II, wherein he enjoins excommunication of those dvijas or twice- borns who disregard the Vedas and Dharma-sutra relying upon the support of Logic (hetu-sastra). Similarly Valmiki, in the Ramayana (Ayodhya Kanda, Sarga 100) criticizes those of perverted intellect (durbuddhaha) who indulge in the useless frivolities of debate and logic (anviksiki). Vyasa in the Mahabharata (Santiparva, Adhyaya 180) tells of the repentant Brahman who, addicted to tarka-vidya and anviksiki, revi1ed and opposed priests in arguments about Brahman, who was an unbeliever and doubter of all who thought himself a pundit. Actually he was a counterfeit pundit, since he was a rationalist and critic of the Vedas. He is referred to as nastika, sarvasańki, murkha etc. Vyasa, again, in another passage in the Shantiparva  (adhyaya 246), warns the followers of Vedanta against communicating their doctrines to a believer in tarka-sastra.
  9. Karl H. Potter “Are all Indian philosophers Indian philosophers? J1CPR, Vol. 2:2, 1985, p 145-149. His last paragraph is worth attention, “The term ‘Indian philosophy’ as darsana becomes inapplicable, however, when addressed to enquiries, such as are standard nowadays in India, in which the entire world view of karma, samsara and moksa is clearly not in point. While such enquiries may well be philosophical and may be carried on by Indians, they do not constitute Indian philosophy as that subject has been understood in the literature on Indian philosophy. But then, ‘American philosophy’ meaning pragmatism, transcendentalism and other peculiarly American contributions is a different use from ‘American philosophy’ meaning anything philosophical carried out by an American. I am an American philosopher, but probably not an American philosopher Can’t Daya be happy being an Indian philosopher who is not an Indian philosopher?” (p. 149). Voila.
  10. The essence of the Karl Potter - Daya Krishna controversy is this attempt to guide the Indian philosophies “on a course of pluralistic heterogeneity or seek to extract a homogeneous substratum and reject all the residue”. See, Ajai R. Singh and Shakuntala A. Singh’s ‘A Peep into man’s histority: the lessons for today’, JICPR, Vol VII : 3, 1990, p 23-.46 quote on p 24. The attempt being made here is to carry forward this thought and analyse its implications. Those who would want to follow the recent articles that reflect this controversy could profit by beginning with Karl H. Potter’s chapter on ‘Theory of Value’ in Encyclopedia of India Philosophies Vol. II, p 19-37, op. cit., then go on to Daya Krishna’s, ‘Indian Philosophy and Moksa’, op cit.  which severely criticises Potter’s position, to which the latter offers his rejoinder in the form ‘Are all Indian Philosophers Indian Phi1osophers’, 1984, op.cit.
  11. The word ‘darsana’ is specifically used here to stress that most of the Indian philosophical corpus is darsana i.e. undertaken in the service of liberation from karma and samsara (see Potter, 1985, op. cit., p 145)
  12. A significant attempt at differentiating between apavarga and nihsreyas, wherein the latter has a wider meaning than the former and  includes it, “the state of liberation being merely one of the kinds of nihsreyasa,” is made by Mrinalkanti Gangopadhyaya in an All India Seminar on “What is Dead and what is Living in Indian Philosophy,” Andhra University, 1975 (Quoted by Debiprasad Chattonadhyave in his introduction to Nyaya: Gautama’s Nyaya-sutra with Vatsyayana’s Commentary (Tr. by Mrinalkanti Gangopadhyaya, Indian Studies, Calcutta, l892).He then goes on to differentiate between drsta and adrsta-nihsreyasa, wherein the author believes that in Nyayasutra 1.1.1 Gautama is concerned with drsta nihsreyasa  alone, while it is adrsta  nihsrevasa which can be considered synonymous with apavarga, if at all. Also worth noting is Chattopadhyaya’s contention that the concepts of nihsreyasa and apavarga in 1.1.1, 1.1.2 and 1.1.9 are “insertions of the metaphysics of liberation in our text (i.e. Nyayasutra (that) violently go against the spirit of the philosophy”, (p ixii), the person  responsible being Vatsyayana. This view obviously subscribes to the school of thought that Nyaya, and such other ‘secular’ disciplines, have nothing to do with metaphysical ‘concepts like Moksa. He even does that with Yoga’s samadhi concept which he quotes in the same ‘Introduction’ (p. lvi), “we are aware that many Indian philosophers believe in it (i.e. Samadhis), though there are others like the plain-speaking materia1ists and the Purva-mimamsakas to laugh at it as some kind  of humbug.”

 

 

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