Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/398

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

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