CHAPTER-29 : Developments in Philosophy

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Four Goals of Life (Purusharthas) and Hinduism’s Diverse Philosophies

The Four Purusharthas:

  • Dharma:Social order, fulfilling one’s duties and responsibilities.
  • Artha:Economic resources, material well-being.
  • Kama:Physical pleasures, enjoyment of life.
  • Moksha:Liberation, freedom from the cycle of rebirth.

Texts on Worldly Life:

  • Arthashastra (Kautilya):Treatise on economics and statecraft.
  • Dharmashastra:Law codes governing social order.
  • Kamasutra:Ancient text on sexuality and relationships.

Six Darshanas (Schools of Philosophy):

  • Samkhya (Dualism):
    • Originally atheistic, later included “purusha” (spirit) with “prakriti” (nature) as co-creators.
    • Salvation through knowledge gained by perception, inference, and hearing.
  • Yoga (Union):
    • Salvation through meditation, physical postures (asanas), and breathing exercises (pranayama) for control.
  • Nyaya (Logic):
    • Emphasizes logic and reasoning.
    • Validates knowledge through inference, hearing, and analogy.
  • Vaisheshika (Atomism):
    • Focuses on material elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether).
    • Pioneered atomic theory: all objects are made of atoms.
  • Mimamsa (Ritualism):
    • Vedas hold eternal truth, salvation through Vedic sacrifices.
    • Supported Brahminical social hierarchy.

Vedanta (Non-Dualism):

  • Means “end of the Vedas,” core text is Brahmasutra (2nd century BC).
  • Two main interpretations:
    • Shankara (Advaita Vedanta):Brahman (ultimate reality) is without attributes, knowledge (jnana) is key to salvation, self (atman) is one with Brahman.
    • Ramanuja (Vishishtadvaita Vedanta):Brahman has attributes, salvation through devotion (bhakti).
  • Introduced concept of karma (actions and consequences) and rebirth (punarjanma).

Charvaka and Materialism:

  • Counters the idealistic philosophies.
  • Lokayata school emphasizes worldly life and rejects belief in an afterlife.
  • Materialistic ideas emerged during economic and social growth (500 BC – 300 AD).
  • Overshadowed by idealistic philosophies by 5th century AD.

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