A History of Sanskrit Literature/Chapter 15
The beginnings of Indian philosophy, which are to be found in the latest hymns of the Rigveda and in the Atharvaveda, are concerned with speculations on the origin of the world and on the eternal principle by which it is created and maintained. The Yajurveda further contains fantastic cosmogonic legends describing how the Creator produces all things by means of the omnipotent sacrifice. With these Vedic ideas are intimately connected, and indeed largely identical, those of the earlier Upanishads. This philosophy is essentially pantheistic and idealistic. By the side of it grew up an atheistic and empirical school of thought, which in the sixth century B.C. furnished the foundation of the two great unorthodox religious systems of Buddhism and Jainism.
The Upanishad philosophy is in a chaotic condition, but the speculations of this and of other schools of thought were gradually reduced to order and systematised in manuals from about the first century of our era onwards. Altogether nine systems may be distinguished, some of which must in their origin go back to the beginning of the sixth century B.C. at least. Of the six systems which are accounted orthodox no less than four were originally atheistic, and one remained so throughout. The strangeness of this fact disappears when we reflect that the only conditions of orthodoxy in India were the recognition of the class privileges of the Brahman caste and a nominal acknowledgment of the infallibility of the Veda, neither full agreement with Vedic doctrines nor the confession of a belief in the existence of God being required. With these two limitations the utmost freedom of thought prevailed in Brahmanism. Hence the boldest philosophical speculation and conformity with the popular religion went hand and hand, to a degree which has never been equalled in any other country. Of the orthodox systems, by far the most important are the pantheistic Vedānta, which, as continuing the doctrines of the Upanishads, has been the dominant philosophy of Brahmanism since the end of the Vedic period, and the atheistic Sānkhya, which, for the first time in the history of the world, asserted the complete independence of the human mind and attempted to solve its problems solely by the aid of reason.
On the Sānkhya were based the two heterodox religious systems of Buddhism and Jainism, which denied the authority of the Veda, and opposed the Brahman caste system and ceremonial. Still more heterodox was the Materialist philosophy of Chārvāka, which went further and denied even the fundamental doctrines common to all other schools of Indian thought, orthodox and unorthodox, the belief in transmigration dependent on retribution, and the belief in salvation or release from transmigration.
The theory that every individual passes after death into a series of new existences in heavens or hells, or in the bodies of men and animals, or in plants on earth, where it is rewarded or punished for all deeds committed in a former life, was already so firmly established in the sixth century B.C., that Buddha received it without question into his religious system; and it has dominated the belief of the Indian people from those early times down to the present day. There is, perhaps, no more remarkable fact in the history of the human mind than that this strange doctrine, never philosophically demonstrated, should have been regarded as self-evident for 2500 years by every philosophical school or religious sect in India, excepting only the Materialists. By the acceptance of this doctrine the Vedic optimism, which looked forward to a life of eternal happiness in heaven, was transformed into the gloomy prospect of an interminable series of miserable existences leading from one death to another. The transition to the developed view of the Upanishads is to be found in the Çatapatha Brāhmaṇa (above, p. 223).
How is the origin of the momentous doctrine which produced this change to be accounted for? The Rigveda contains no traces of it beyond a couple of passages in the last book which speak of the soul of a dead man as going to the waters or plants. It seems hardly likely that so far-reaching a theory should have been developed from the stray fancies of one or two later Vedic poets. It seems more probable that the Aryan settlers received the first impulse in this direction from the aboriginal inhabitants of India. As is well known, there is among half-savage tribes a wide-spread belief that the soul after death passes into the trunks of trees and the bodies of animals. Thus the Sonthals of India are said even at the present day to hold that the souls of the good enter into fruit-bearing trees. But among such races the notion of transmigration does not go beyond a belief in the continuance of human existence in animals and trees. If, therefore, the Aryan Indians borrowed the idea from the aborigines, they certainly deserve the credit of having elaborated out of it the theory of an unbroken chain of existences, intimately connected with the moral principle of requital. The immovable hold it acquired on Indian thought is doubtless due to the satisfactory explanation it offered of the misfortune or prosperity which is often clearly caused by no action done in this life. Indeed, the Indian doctrine of transmigration, fantastic though it may appear to us, has the twofold merit of satisfying the requirement of justice in the moral government of the world, and at the same time inculcating a valuable ethical principle which makes every man the architect of his own fate. For, as every bad deed done in this existence must be expiated, so every good deed will be rewarded in the next existence. From the enjoyment of the fruits of actions already done there is no escape; for, in the words of the Mahābhārata, "as among a thousand cows a calf finds its mother, so the deed previously done follows after the doer."
The cycle of existences (saṃsāra) is regarded as having no beginning, for as every event of the present life is the result of an action done in a past one, the same must hold true of each preceding existence ad infinitum. The subsequent effectiveness of guilt and of merit, commonly called adṛishṭa or "the unseen," but often also simply karma, "deed or work," is believed to regulate not only the life of the individual, but the origin and development of everything in the world; for whatever takes place cannot but affect some creature, and must therefore, by the law of retribution, be due to some previous act of that creature. In other words, the operations of nature are also the results of the good or bad deeds of living beings. There is thus no room for independent divine rule by the side of the power of karma, which governs everything with iron necessity. Hence, even the systems which acknowledge a God can only assign to him the function of guiding the world and the life of creatures in strict accordance with the law of retribution, which even he cannot break. The periodic destruction and renewal of the universe, an application of the theory on a grand scale, forms part of the doctrine of saṃsāra or cycle of existence.
Common to all the systems of philosophy, and as old as that of transmigration, is the doctrine of salvation, which puts an end to transmigration. All action is brought about by desire, which, in its turn is based on avidyā, a sort of "ignorance," that mistakes the true nature of things, and is the ultimate source of transmigration. Originally having only the negative sense of non-knowledge (a-vidyā), the word here came to have the positive sense of "false knowledge." Such ignorance is dispelled by saving knowledge, which, according to every philosophical school of India, consists in some special form of cognition. This universal knowledge, which is not the result of merit, but breaks into life independently, destroys the subsequent effect of works which would otherwise bear fruit in future existences, and thus puts an end to transmigration. It cannot, however, influence those works the fruit of which has already begun to ripen. Hence, the present life continues from the moment of enlightenment till definite salvation at death, just as the potter's wheel goes on revolving for a time after the completion of the pot. But no merit or demerit results from acts done after enlightenment (or "conversion" as we should say), because all desire for the objects of the world is at an end.
The popular beliefs about heavens and hells, gods, demi-gods, and demons, were retained in Buddhism and Jainism, as well as in the orthodox systems. But these higher and more fortunate beings were considered to be also subject to the law of transmigration, and, unless they obtained saving knowledge, to be on a lower level than the man who had obtained such knowledge.
The monistic theory of the early Upanishads, which identified the individual soul with Brahma, aroused the opposition of the rationalistic founder of the Sānkhya system, Kapila, who, according to Buddhist legends, was pre-Buddhistic, and whose doctrines Buddha followed and elaborated. His teaching is entirely dualistic, admitting only two things, both without beginning and end, but essentially different, matter on the one hand, and an infinite plurality of individual souls on the other. An account of the nature and the mutual relation of these two, forms the main content of the system. Kapila was, indeed, the first who drew a sharp line of demarcation between the two domains of matter and soul. The saving knowledge which delivers from the misery of transmigration consists, according to the Sānkhya system, in recognising the absolute distinction between soul and matter.
The existence of a supreme god who creates and rules the universe is denied, and would be irreconcilable with the system. For according to its doctrine the unconscious matter of Nature originally contains within itself the power of evolution (in the interest of souls, which are entirely passive during the process), while karma alone determines the course of that evolution. The adherents of the system defend their atheism by maintaining that the origin of misery presents an insoluble problem to the theist, for a god who has created and rules the world could not possibly escape from the reproach of cruelty and partiality. Much stress is laid by this school in general on the absence of any cogent proof for the existence of God.
The world is maintained to be real, and that from all eternity; for the existent can only be produced from the existent. The reality of an object is regarded as resulting simply from perception, always supposing the senses of the perceiver to be sound. The world is described as developing according to certain laws out of primitive matter (prakṛiti or pradhāna). The genuine philosophic spirit of its method of rising from the known elements of experience to the unknown by logical demonstration till the ultimate cause is reached, must give this system a special interest in the eyes of evolutionists whose views are founded on the results of modern physical science.
The evolution and diversity of the world are explained by primæval matter, although uniform and indivisible, consisting of three different substances called guṇas or constituents (originally "strands" of a rope). By the combination of these in varying proportions the diverse material products were supposed to have arisen. The constituent, called sattva, distinguished by the qualities of luminousness and lightness in the object, and by virtue, benevolence, and other pleasing attributes in the subject, is associated with the feeling of joy; rajas, distinguished by activity and various hurtful qualities, is associated with pain; and tamas, distinguished by heaviness, rigidity, and darkness on the one hand, and fear, unconsciousness, and so forth, on the other, is associated with apathy. At the end of a cosmic period all things are supposed to be dissolved into primitive matter, the alternations of evolution, existence, and dissolution having neither beginning nor end.
The psychology of the Sānkhya system is specially important. Peculiarly interesting is its doctrine that all mental operations, such as perception, thinking, willing, are not performed by the soul, but are merely mechanical processes of the internal organs, that is to say, of matter. The soul itself possesses no attributes or qualities, and can only be described negatively. There being no qualitative difference between souls, the principle of personality and identity is supplied by the subtile or internal body, which, chiefly formed of the inner organs and the senses, surrounds and is made conscious by the soul. This internal body, being the vehicle of merit and demerit, which are the basis of transmigration, accompanies the soul on its wanderings from one gross body to another, whether the latter be that of a god, a man, an animal, or a tree. Conscious life is bondage to pain, in which pleasure is included by this peculiarly pessimistic system. When salvation, which is the absolute cessation of pain, is obtained, the internal body is dissolved into its material elements, and the soul, becoming finally isolated, continues to exist individually, but in absolute unconsciousness.
The name of the system, which only begins to be mentioned in the later Upanishads, and more frequently in the Mahābhārata, is derived from saṃkhyā, "number." There is, however, some doubt as to whether it originally meant "enumeration," from the twenty-five tattvas or principles which it sets forth, or "inferential or discriminative" doctrine, from the method which it pursues.
Kapila, the founder of the system, whose teaching is presupposed by Buddhism, and whom Buddhistic legend connects with Kapila-vastu, the birthplace of Buddha, must have lived before the middle of the sixth century. No work of his, if he ever committed his system to writing, has been preserved. Indeed, the very existence of such a person as Kapila has been doubted, in spite of the unanimity with which Indian tradition designates a man of this name as the founder of the system. The second leading authority of the Sānkhya philosophy was Panchaçikha, who may have lived about the beginning of our era. The oldest systematic manual which has been preserved is the Sānkhya-kārikā of Īçvara-kṛishṇa. As it was translated into Chinese between 557 and 583 A.D., it cannot belong to a later century than the fifth, and may be still older. This work deals very concisely and methodically with the doctrines of the Sānkhya in sixty-nine stanzas (composed in the complicated Āryā metre), to which three others were subsequently added. It appears to have superseded the Sūtras of Panchaçikha, who is mentioned in it as the chief disseminator of the system. There are two excellent commentaries on the Sānkhya-kārikā, the one composed about 700 A.D. by Gauḍapāda, and the other soon after 1100 A.D. by Vāchaspati Miçra.
The Sānkhya Sūtras, long regarded as the oldest manual of the system, and attributed to Kapila, were probably not composed till about 1400 A.D. The author of this work, which also goes by the name of Sānkhya-pravachana, endeavours in vain to show that there is no difference between the doctrines of the Sānkhya and of the Upanishads. He is also much influenced by the ideas of the Yoga as well as the Vedānta system. In the oldest commentary on this work, that of Aniruddha, composed about 1500 A.D., the objectiveness of the treatment is particularly useful. Much more detailed, but far less objective, is the commentary of Vijnānabhikshu, entitled Sānkhya-pravachana-bhāshya, and written in the second half of the sixteenth century. The author's point of view being theistic, he effaces the characteristic features of the different systems in the endeavour to show that all the six orthodox systems contain the absolute truth in their main doctrines.
From the beginning of our era down to recent times the Sānkhya doctrines have exercised considerable influence on the religious and philosophical life of India, though to a much less extent than the Vedānta. Some of its individual teachings, such as that of the three guṇas, have become the common property of the whole of Sanskrit literature. At the time of the great Vedāntist, Çankara (800 A.D.), the Sānkhya system was held in high honour. The law book of Manu followed this doctrine, though with an admixture of the theistic notions of the Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta systems as well as of popular mythology. The Mahābhārata, especially Book XII., is full of Sānkhya doctrines; indeed almost every detail of the teachings of this system is to be found somewhere in the great epic. Its numerous deviations from the regular Sānkhya text-books are only secondary, as Professor Garbe thinks, even though the Mahābhārata is our oldest actual source for the system. Nearly half the Purāṇas follow the cosmogony of the Sānkhya, and even those which are Vedāntic are largely influenced by its doctrines. The purity of the Sānkhya notions are, however, everywhere in the Purāṇas obscured by Vedānta doctrines, especially that of cosmical illusion. A peculiarity of the Purāṇic Sānkhya is the conception of Spirit or Purusha as the male, and Matter or Prakṛiti as the female, principle in creation.
On the Sānkhya system are based the two philosophical religions of Buddhism and Jainism in all their main outlines. Their fundamental doctrine is that life is nothing but suffering. The cause of suffering is the desire, based on ignorance, to live and enjoy the world. The aim of both is to redeem mankind from the misery of mundane existence by the annihilation of desire, with the aid of renunciation of the world and the practice of unbounded kindness towards all creatures. These two pessimistic religions are so extremely similar that the Jainas, or adherents of Jina, were long looked upon as a Buddhist sect. Research has, however, led to the discovery that the founders of both systems were contemporaries, the most eminent of the many teachers who in the sixth century opposed the Brahman ceremonial and caste pretensions in Northern Central India. Both religions, while acknowledging the lower and ephemeral gods of Brahmanism, deny, like the Sānkhya, the existence of an eternal supreme Deity. As they developed, they diverged in various respects from the system to which they owed their philosophical notions. Hence it came about that Sānkhya writers stoutly opposed some of their teachings, particularly the Buddhist denial of soul, the doctrine that all things have only a momentary existence, and that salvation is an annihilation of self. Here, however, it should be noted that Buddha himself refused to decide the question whether nirvāṇa is complete extinction or an unending state of unconscious bliss. The latter view was doubtless a concession to the Vedāntic conception of Brahma, in which the individual soul is merged on attaining salvation.
The importance of these systems lies not in their metaphysical speculations, which occupy but a subordinate position, but in their high development of moral principles, which are almost entirely neglected in the orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. The fate of the two religions has been strangely different. Jainism has survived as an insignificant sect in India alone; Buddhism has long since vanished from the land of its birth, but has become a world religion counting more adherents than any other faith.
The Sānkhya philosophy, with the addition of a peculiar form of mental asceticism as the most effective means of acquiring saving knowledge, appears to have assumed definite shape in a manual at an earlier period than any of the other orthodox systems. This is the Yoga philosophy founded by Patanjali and expounded in the Yoga Sūtras. The priority of this text-book is rendered highly probable by the fact that it is the only philosophical Sūtra work which contains no polemics against the others. There seems, moreover, to be no sufficient ground to doubt the correctness of the native tradition identifying the founder of the Yoga system with the grammarian Patanjali. The Yoga Sūtras therefore probably date from the second century B.C. This work also goes by the name of Sānkhya-pravachana, the same as that given to the later Sānkhya Sūtras, a sufficiently clear proof of its close connection with Kapila's philosophy. In the Mahābhārata the two systems are actually spoken of as one and the same.
In order to make his system more acceptable, Patanjali introduced into it the doctrine of a personal god, but in so loose a way as not to affect the system as a whole. Indeed, the parts of the Sūtras dealing with the person of God are not only unconnected with the other parts of the treatise, but even contradict the foundations of the system. For the final aim of man is here represented as the absolute isolation (kaivalya) of the soul from matter, just as in the Sānkhya system, and not union with or absorption in God. Nor are the individual souls here derived from the "special soul" or God, but are like the latter without a beginning.
The really distinctive part of the system is the establishment of the views prevailing in Patanjali's time with regard to asceticism and the mysterious powers to be acquired by its practice. Yoga, or "yoking" the mind, means mental concentration on a particular object. The belief that fasting and other penances produce supernatural powers goes back to remote prehistoric times, and still prevails among savage races. Bodily asceticism of this kind is known to the Vedas under the name of tapas. From this, with the advance of intellectual life in India, was developed the practice of mental asceticism called yoga, which must have been known and practised several centuries before Patanjali's time. For recent investigations have shown that Buddhism started not only from the theoretical Sānkhya but from the practical Yoga doctrine; and the condition of ecstatic abstraction was from the beginning held in high esteem among the Buddhists. Patanjali only elaborated the doctrine, describing at length the means of attaining concentration and carrying it to the highest pitch. In his system the methodical practice of Yoga acquired a special importance; for, in addition to conferring supernatural powers, it here becomes the chief means of salvation. His Sūtras consist of four chapters dealing with deep meditation (samādhi), the means for obtaining it (sādhana), the miraculous powers (vibhūti) it confers, and the isolation (kaivalya) of the redeemed soul. The oldest and best commentary on this work is that of Vyāsa, dating from the seventh century A.D.
Many of the later Upanishads are largely concerned with the Yoga doctrine. The lawbook of Manu in Book VI. refers to various details of Yoga practice. Indeed, it seems likely, owing to the theistic point of view of that work, that its Sānkhya notions were derived from the Yoga system. The Mahābhārata treats of Yoga in considerable detail, especially in Book XII. It is particularly prominent in the Bhagavadgītā, which is even designated a yoga-çāstra. Belief in the efficacy of Yoga still prevails in India, and its practice survives. But its adherents, the Yogīs, are at the present day often nothing more than conjurers and jugglers.
The exercises of mental concentration are in the later commentaries distinguished by the name of rāja-yoga or "chief Yoga." The external expedients are called kriyā-yoga, or "practical Yoga." The more intense form of the latter, in later works called haṭha-yoga, or "forcible Yoga," and dealing for the most part with suppression of the breath, is very often contrasted with rāja-yoga.
Among the eight branches of Yoga practice the sitting posture (āsana), as not only conducive to concentration, but of therapeutic value, is considered important. In describing its various forms later writers positively revelled, eighty-four being frequently stated to be their normal number. In the haṭha-yoga there are also a number of other postures and contortions of the limbs designated mudrā. The best-known mudrā, called khecharī, consists in turning the tongue back towards the throat and keeping the gaze fixed on a point between the eyebrows. Such practices, in conjunction with the suppression of breath, were capable of producing a condition of trance. There is at least the one well-authenticated case of a Yogī named Haridās who in the thirties wandered about in Rājputāna and Lahore, allowing himself to be buried for money when in the cataleptic condition. The burial of the Master of Ballantrae by the Indian Secundra Dass in Stevenson's novel was doubtless suggested by an account of this ascetic.
In contrast with the two older and intimately connected dualistic schools of the Sānkhya and Yoga, there arose about the beginning of our era the only two, even of the six orthodox systems of philosophy, which were theistic from the outset. One of them, being based on the Vedas and the Brāhmaṇas, is concerned with the practical side of Vedic religion; while the other, alone among the philosophical systems, represents a methodical development of the fundamental non-dualistic speculations of the Upanishads. The former, which has only been accounted a philosophical system at all because of its close connection with the latter, is the Pūrva-mīmāṃsā or "First Inquiry," also called Karma-mīmāṃsā or "Inquiry concerning Works," but usually simply Mīmāṃsā. Founded by Jaimini, and set forth in the Karma-mīmāṃsā Sūtras, this system discusses the sacred ceremonies and the rewards resulting from their performance. Holding the Veda to be uncreated and existent from all eternity, it lays special stress on the proposition that articulate sounds are eternal, and on the consequent doctrine that the connection of a word with its sense is not due to convention, but is by nature inherent in the word itself. Owing to its lack of philosophical interest, this system has not as yet much occupied the attention of European scholars.
The oldest commentary in existence on the Mīmāṃsā Sūtras is the bhāshya of Çabara Svāmin, which in its turn was commented on about 700 A.D. by the great Mīmāṃsist Kumārila in his Tantra-vārttika and in his Çloka-vārttika, the latter a metrical paraphrase of Çabara's exposition of the first aphorism of Patanjali. Among the later commentaries on the Mīmāṃsā Sūtras the most important is the Jaiminīya-nyāya-mālā-vistara of Mādhava (fourteenth century).
Far more deserving of attention is the theoretical system of the Uttara-mīmāṃsā or "Second Inquiry." For it not only systematises the doctrines of the Upanishads—therefore usually termed Vedānta, or "End of the Veda"—but also represents the philosophical views of the Indian thinkers of to-day. In the words of Professor Deussen, its relation to the earlier Upanishads resembles that of Christian dogmatics to the New Testament. Its fundamental doctrine, expressed in the famous formula tat tvam asi, "thou art that," is the identity of the individual soul with God (brahma). Hence it is also called the Brahma- or Çārīraka-mīmāṃsā, "Inquiry concerning Brahma or the embodied soul." The eternal and infinite Brahma not being made up of parts or liable to change, the individual soul, it is here laid down, cannot be a part or emanation of it, but is the whole indivisible Brahma. As there is no other existence but Brahma, the Vedānta is styled the advaita-vāda, or "doctrine of non-duality," being, in other words, an idealistic monism. The evidence of experience, which shows a multiplicity of phenomena, and the statements of the Veda, which teach a multiplicity of souls, are brushed aside as the phantasms of a dream which are only true till waking takes place.
The ultimate cause of all such false impressions is avidyā or innate ignorance, which this, like the other systems, simply postulates, but does not in any way seek to account for. It is this ignorance which prevents the soul from recognising that the empirical world is mere māyā or illusion. Thus to the Vedāntist the universe is like a mirage, which the soul under the influence of desire (tṛishṇā or "thirst") fancies it perceives, just as the panting hart sees before it sheets of water in the fata morgana (picturesquely called mṛiga-tṛishṇā or "deer-thirst" in Sanskrit). The illusion vanishes as if by magic, when the scales fall from the eyes, on the acquisition of true knowledge. Then the semblance of any distinction between the soul and God disappears, and salvation (moksha), the chief end of man, is attained.
Saving knowledge cannot of course be acquired by worldly experience, but is revealed in the theoretical part (jnāna-kāṇḍa) of the Vedas, that is to say, in the Upanishads. By this correct knowledge the illusion of the multiplicity of phenomena is dispelled, just as the illusion of a snake when there is only a rope. Two forms of knowledge are, however, distinguished in the Vedānta, a higher (parā) and a lower (aparā). The former is concerned with the higher and impersonal Brahma (neuter), which is without form or attributes, while the latter deals with the lower and personal Brahmā (masculine), who is the soul of the universe, the Lord (īçvara) who has created the world and grants salvation. The contradiction resulting from one and the same thing having form and no form, attributes and no attributes, is solved by the explanation that the lower Brahmā has no reality, but is merely an illusory form of the higher and only Brahma, produced by ignorance.
The doctrines of the Vedānta are laid down in the Brahma-sūtras of Bādarāyaṇa. This text-book, the meaning of which is not intelligible without the aid of a commentary, was expounded in his bhāshya by the famous Vedāntist philosopher Çankara, whose name is intimately connected with the revival of Brahmanism. He was born in 788 A.D., became an ascetic in 820, and probably lived to an advanced age. There is every likelihood that his expositions agree in all essentials with the meaning of the Brahma-sūtras. The full elaboration of the doctrine of Māyā, or cosmic illusion, is, however, due to him. An excellent epitome of the teachings of the Vedānta, as set forth by Çankara, is the Vedānta-sāra of Sadānanda Yogīndra. Its author departs from Çankara's views only in a few particulars, which show an admixture of Sānkhya doctrine.
Among the many commentaries on the Brahma-sūtras subsequent to Çankara, the most important is that of Rāmānuja, who lived in the earlier half of the twelfth century. This writer gives expression to the views of the Pāncharātras or Bhāgavatas, an old Vishnuite sect, whose doctrine, closely allied to Christian ideas, is expounded in the Bhagavadgītā and the Bhāgavata-purāṇa, as well as in the special text-books of the sect. The tenets of the Bhāgavatas, as set forth by Rāmānuja, diverge considerably from those of the Brahma-sūtras on which he is commenting. For, according to him, individual souls are not identical with God; they suffer from innate unbelief, not ignorance, while belief or the love of God (bhakti), not knowledge, is the means of salvation or union with God.
The last two orthodox systems of philosophy, the Vaiçeshika and the Nyāya, form a closely-connected pair, since a strict classification of ideas, as well as the explanation of the origin of the world from atoms, is common to both. Much the older of the two is the Vaiçeshika, which is already assailed in the Brahma-sūtras. It is there described as undeserving of attention, because it had no adherents. This was certainly not the case in later times, when this system became very popular. It received its name from the category of "particularity" (viçesha) on which great stress is laid in its theory of atoms. The memory of its founder is only preserved in his nickname Kaṇāda (also Kaṇabhuj or Kaṇa-bhaksha), which means "atom-eater."
The main importance of the system lies in the logical categories which it set up and under which it classed all phenomena. The six which it originally set up are substance, quality, motion, generality, particularity, and inherence. They are rigorously defined and further subdivided. The most interesting is that of inherence or inseparable connection (samavāya), which, being clearly distinguished from that of accident or separable connection (saṃyoga), is described as the relation between a thing and its properties, the whole and its parts, genus and species, motion and the object in motion. Later was added a seventh, that of non-existence (abhāva), which, by affording special facilities for the display of subtlety, has had a momentous influence on Indian logic. This category was further subdivided into prior and posterior non-existence (which we should respectively call future and past existence), mutual non-existence (as between a jar and cloth), and absolute non-existence (as fire in water).
Though largely concerned with these categories, the Vaiçeshika system aimed at attaining a comprehensive philosophic view in connection with them. Thus while dealing with the category of "substance," it develops its theory of the origin of the world from atoms. The consideration of the category of "quality" similarly leads to its treatment of psychology, which is remarkable and has analogies with that of the Sānkhya. Soul is here regarded as without beginning or end, and all-pervading, subject to the limitations of neither time nor space. Intimately connected with soul is "mind" (manas), the internal organ of thought, which alone enables the soul to know not only external objects but its own qualities. As this organ is, in contrast with soul, an atom, it can only comprehend a single object at any given moment. This is the explanation why the soul cannot be conscious of all objects simultaneously.
The Nyāya system is only a development and complement of that of Kaṇāda, its metaphysics and psychology being the same. Its specific character consists in its being a very detailed and acute exposition of formal logic. As such it has remained the foundation of philosophical studies in India down to the present day. Besides dealing fully with the means of knowledge, which it states to be perception, inference, analogy, and trustworthy evidence, it treats exhaustively of syllogisms and fallacies. It is interesting to note that the Indian mind here independently arrived at an exposition of the syllogism as the form of deductive reasoning. The text-book of this system is the Nyāya-sūtra of Gotama. The importance here attached to logic appears from the very first aphorism, which enumerates sixteen logical notions with the remark that salvation depends on a correct knowledge of their nature.
Neither the Vaiçeshika nor the Nyāya-sūtras originally accepted the existence of God; and though both schools later became theistic, they never went so far as to assume a creator of matter. Their theology is first found developed in Udayanāchārya's Kusumānjali, which was written about 1200 A.D., and in works which deal with the two systems conjointly. Here God is regarded as a "special" soul, which differs from all other individual eternal souls by exemption from all qualities connected with transmigration, and by the possession of the power and knowledge qualifying him to be a regulator of the universe.
Of the eclectic movement combining Sānkhya, Yoga, and Vedānta doctrines, the oldest literary representative is the Çvetāçvatara Upanishad. More famous is the Bhagavadgītā, in which the Supreme Being incarnate as Kṛishṇa expounds to Arjuna his doctrines in this sense. The burden of his teaching is that the zealous performance of his duty is a man's most important task, to whatever caste he may belong. The beauty and the power of the language in which this doctrine is inculcated, is unsurpassed in any other work of Indian literature.
By the side of the orthodox systems and the two non-Brahmanical religions, flourished the lokāyata ("directed to the world of sense"), or materialistic school, usually called that of the Chārvākas from the name of the founder of the doctrine. It was regarded as peculiarly heretical, for it not only rejected the authority of the Vedas and Brahmanic ceremonial, but denied the doctrines of transmigration and salvation accepted by all other systems. Materialistic teachings may be traced even before the time of Buddha, and they have had many secret followers in India down to the present day. The system, however, seems never to have had more than one text-book, the lost Sūtras of Bṛihaspati, its mythical founder. Our knowledge of it is derived partly from the polemics of other schools, but especially from the Sarvadarçana-saṃgraha, or "Compendium of all the Philosophical Systems," composed in the fourteenth century by the well-known Vedāntist Mādhavāchārya, brother of Sāyaṇa. The strong scepticism of the Chārvākas showed itself in the rejection of all the means of knowledge accepted by other schools, excepting perception. To them matter was the only reality. Soul they regarded as nothing but the body with the attribute of intelligence. They held it to be created when the body is formed by the combination of elements, just as the power of intoxication arises from the mixture of certain ingredients. Hence with the annihilation of the body the soul also is annihilated. Not transmigration, they affirm, but the true nature of things, is the cause from which phenomena proceed. The existence of all that transcends the senses they deny, sometimes with an admixture of irony. Thus the highest being, they say, is the king of the land, whose existence is proved by the perception of the whole world; hell is earthly pain produced by earthly causes; and salvation is the dissolution of the body. Even in the attribution of their text-book to Bṛihaspati, the name of the preceptor of the gods, a touch of irony is to be detected. The religion of the Brahmans receives a severe handling. The Vedas, say the Chārvākas, are only the incoherent rhapsodies of knaves, and are tainted with the three blemishes of falsehood, self-contradiction, and tautology; Vedic teachers are impostors, whose doctrines are mutually destructive; and the ritual of the Brahmans is useful only as a means of livelihood. "If," they ask, "an animal sacrificed reaches heaven, why does the sacrificer not rather offer his own father?"
On the moral side the system is pure hedonism. For the only end of man is here stated to be sensual pleasure, which is to be enjoyed by neglecting as far as possible the pains connected with it, just as a man who desires fish takes the scales and bones into the bargain. "While life remains, let a man live happily, let him feed on ghee even though he run into debt; when once the body becomes ashes, how can it ever return again?"
The author of the Sarvadarçana-saṃgraha, placing himself with remarkable mental detachment in the position of an adherent in each case, describes altogether sixteen systems. The six which have not been sketched above, besides being of little importance, are not purely philosophic. Five of these are sectarian, one Vishnuite and four Çivite, all of them being strongly tinctured with Sānkhya and Vedānta doctrines. The sixth, the system of Pāṇini, is classed by Mādhava among the philosophies, simply because the Indian grammarians accepted the Mīmāṃsā dogma of the eternity of sound, and philosophically developed the Yoga theory of the sphuṭa, or the imperceptible and eternal element inherent in every word as the vehicle of its sense.