Philosophies of India

Non-Vedic systems:

Those who don’t believe in Vedas are said to be Nastikaas.Non-Vedic systems: Those who don’t believe in Vedas are said to be Nastikaas.

1. Chaarvaak: This philosophy believes in only that which is seen. They don’t believe in God or Karma.

Source of Knowledge: Sense Perception only.

Purusharth (Destination): Materialistic pleasure. Lazy people indulge in  rituals of Vedas, intelligent people enjoy their life.

2. Buddhism: Their philosophy is of ‘Shunya-vaad.’ Nothing is real. Nothing is created or born. All the external appearances are untrue. Nothing exist for more than a moment.
Source of Knowledge: Knowledge is not permanent but keeps changing. What was true a second before, is not true now.
Objection: I may say that Buddhist philosophy was true a second before, not now. If you say that there is nothing, then who is the observer to ensure that there is nothing? Certainly there is something that is not untrue, which observes the untrue.

3. Jainism: Jainism doesn’t believe in Vedas because as per them, Vedas encourage animal-sacrifices. They believe in ‘karma’ and ‘rebirth. Knowledge about life and happiness is hidden due to Karma.
Source of Knowledge: Whatever you see in front of your eyes didn’t really exist in past, neither in present, nor will be in future.
Purusharth (Destination): Those who clear their karmas, which keeps accumulating from birth to birth; one gets liberated, becomes Yog-Siddhas. Yog-Siddhas look after the world.

4. Agamas: Panchratra aagma has been proved to be Vedic in Vyas’s Vedant-sutra. Also, in Mahabharat and other purans, Panchratra is help to be strictly in accordance of Vedas. However, Pashupatha Agama runs counter to the authority of Vedas. ‘Paashupati deeksha’ renders anyone as Brahmin. Everyone is Shiva himself. There are 36 principles and Pashupati is the Paratatva in this system.

Authenticity of Panchratra

Vedic systems

Vedic System: Those who believe in Vedas are said to be Aastikaas.

1. Nyaay: Propounded by Akaashpaad Gautam. (not Buddha). Nyay means analytical investigation. However, don’t accept Brahman as soul cause of universe and inner soul of all.

Source of Knowledge:

a) Pratyaksha: direct perception with senses and mind.

b) Anumaan: Inference based Knowledge.

c) Shabd: Verbal testimony i.e. Vedas are given the highest place. Ex- If there is smoke, there must be fire.

d) Upamaan: Comparison.

2. Vaisheshik: Propounded by Sage Kanaad.  Acording to him, Akaash is eternal. Based on Atomic School. Combination of atom-size particles of ‘Panch-Bhutas’ give rise to materials in the universe. Deluge means all the compounded things return to their original size and state.Excepting the atman, all things are achetan (non-sentient).

Source of Knowledge:He promoted argumentative techniques and mode of cognition.

Destination: Jivas undergo karma and in any particular birth, owing to knowledge of the nature of universe, the aatman gets liberated.

3. Sankhya: Propounded by Sage Kapil. It is based on the school of enumeration. It enumerates 25 principles (Purusha) and 1 prakriti. Prakriti is the first cause of creation (seed matter) representing subject and object. The world was like this before and will continue to be so in future too. Karma has to be gone through to earn falam finally. The term for cosmic consciousness is ‘Mahat’.

Source of Knowledge:Pratyaksh, Anumaan and Shabd Pramaan.

Destination: Not to do things prohibited in Vedas and carry out daily chores to be able to enjoy heavenly pleasures.

4. Yoga: Propounded by Sage Patanjali. It is based on ‘Sankhya’ school of enumeration and Meta-Physics. The term for cosmic consciousness is ‘Chitta’.  There is no subtle body (mind, intelligence) but Purusha contracts or expands to lower or increased consciousness. Ishwara, included among males, is dependent on Prakriti  and responsible for creation and deluge. Doesn’t accept Brahman as sole cause of universe and inner soul of all.

Destination: This theory is based on 7 Chakras (Kundilini) or hidden energy in our body which lies at the base of the spine.

Meemansha Darshan

For the sake of comprehension and interpretation, Vedas have been divided into two parts- Purv-Meenasha and Uttar-Meemansha. There are 20 chapters in Meemansha darshan out of which 16 chapter lies in Karm-Kand or Purv-Meemansha and 4 lies in Brahm-Kand or Uttar-Meemansha.
5. Purv-Meemasha (Karm-Kaand): Meemansha means investigation or interpretation of Vedic injunctions. This section has been dealt by JAIMINI. It’s not much about philosophy but details of rituals and yagnas performed to to invoke devtaas or gods.

Destination: Aatnman is the subject to births and deaths due to ‘Karma’. Performance of Dharma or Karm-kand separates the aatman from mind and it goes to Brahm-Loka. There it remains till the end of the days and the end of the world.

6. Uttar-Meemasha (Gyaan-Kaand or Brahm-Kaand): It is also termed as Upanishads or Vedanta. It is dealt by Badraayan/ Ved-Vyaas in his Brahm-Sutra or Vedant-Sutra.

Which is the Object of Worship? ——- Upanishads.

What is worship?—————– Purv-Meemansha.

Both the Meemanshas, totaling 20 chapters form one single unitary Meemansha system. Many sages including Bodhayan and Ramanuj have declared so in no uncertain terms. Brahm-sutras are highly condensed presentations of Upanishadic texts and give a synoptic insight of its author. It deals with the many of systems discussed above and have been refuted by the Sutras.

The sutrakaar is none other than Ved-Vyaas, the author of Mahabharata. He was called Ved-Vyaas, a sage revered as unifier of Vedas. He was also Known as Krishna Dvaipaayan. Krishna means dark-black and dvaipayan means born in island. He was born in the month of ‘Aashaad.’ He is also called BADRAYAN as he used to be moving in the hills and jungles around his ashram in Badri.


Broad division and Structure:

It comprises of 4 chapters and then further sub-divided into Padas. Each Padas has several Adhikarans. Adhikarans are the group of Sutras who form a central meaning.

1st chapter (Samanvay Adhyay) expounds the nature of Brahman as the ultimate ground of the universe of Chit (Aatman) and Achit (Non-sentient).

2nd chapter (Avirodha Adhyay) refutes non-Vedic theories.

3rd chapter (Sadhana Adhyay) deals exclusively with Saadhana or means to attain Brahman.

The last chapter i.e. 4th, (Phala Adhyay) deals with ‘Purusharth’ or ‘phala.’ It reveals the nature of ‘mukti’ and end-result of whole philosophical enquiry.

Different commentators have divided Brahm-Sutra into different number of Sutras.

Shankar- 555 sutras.

Ramanuj: 545 Sutras.

Madhav: 564 sutras.


There is no room for contradiction in Vedas. Each and every shloka of Vedas are sacred and equally important. Not any one part of Vedas can be taken and said to be superior to other.

Adhikaari-bheda means differences arising from the levels of interpretations by the readers. While Vedas seems to be mutually contradicting, they give non-contradictory message actually. Abhed shruti talks about one-ness of Jeevatma and Parmatma while Bhed Shruti talks about difference between Jeevatma and Parmatma.  Are Vedas mutually contradicting? No, Vedas themselves provides the solution in form of Ghatak-Shruti which combines both Abhed-Shruti and Bhed-Shruti. That’s the contribution of Sri Ramanuja to Vedant philosophy. When Ramanuj arrived in the scene, there was utter darkness all around. He appeared like a becon-light in the dark-phase.

We would discuss about Bhed, Abhed and Ghatak shrutis in coming articles.


Vedant Philosophy:

1. Advait by Adi Shankaracharya.

2. Dvait-Advait by Bhashkaracharya and Yadava Prakash.

3. Vishishtadvait by Swami Ramanujacharya.

4. Dvait by Madhavacharya.

5. Dvait-Advait by Nimabark Swami.

6. Suddhadvait by Vallabhacharya.

7. Achintya Bhed-Abhed by Sri Chaitnya Mahaprabhu

8. Purna-Advait by Sri Aurbindo Ghosh

9. Modern-Vedant by Sri RamKrishna Paramhansh (Swami Vivekanad)

We would discuss about these philosophies in coming articles.

Author: ramanujramprapnna

studying Ramanuj school of Vishishtadvait vedant

5 thoughts on “Philosophies of India”

  1. Thanks for a very detailed post prabhu.
    For Jainism,it is heard that they believe universe to be self sustaining without anyone’s control over it.
    Can you please explain in other posts the conflicting points between jainsim and vedic schools and how Shankaracharya and sri Ramanujacharya saved the vedic school from the Buddhism and Jainism non vedic schools respectively.
    Eagerly waiting for this 😊


  2. Nameste Prabhu,
    If there are vedic schools ,who donot accept that brahman as the cause of creation and inner soul of all,then are they still considered vedic,given that their statement is against bhagvadgeetha?


    1. That’s why Ramanuja calls them as avaidikas. They accept some parts of Veda and deny another. Still they are considered vaidika traditionally as their philosophy is based on Veda. Aastika means having faith in Veda. Nyaay school too doesn’t consider Vedas as anaadi. But still they are considered vaidikas in debates. Acharyas defeated them using only the parts of veda they accept.

      Liked by 1 person

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