2 points | Post submitted by suyash95 155 days ago | 4 comments
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How many main systems of Hindu philosophy are there?
The current systems of Hindu philosophy can be divided into two main branches:– Vedānta and Tantra.
The Schools of Vedānta are in order of the number of adherents:–
The schools or lineages of Tantra are:–
(A) Vaiṣṇava there are 2 lineages with minor differences — Pañcarātra & Vaikhānasa
(B) Śaiva schools are 9 also with minor differences between them mainly in deities and mantras. Their philosophy is a variation of the three core Vedānta types viz. Dualism, Non-dualism and Qualified non-dualism:–
All schools of Hindu philosophy are based on elements of the Saṅkhya view of the world with modifications. Puruṣa and Prakṛti and guṇas and evolution.
Advaita Vedanta in its pure form rejects all rituals - worship of images and mantras - rituals are allowed as a temporary practice which must ultimately be given up for meditation.
Visiṣṭhādvaita Vedānta and Dvaita is a blend of pure Vedānta and the ritual system of the Pañcarātra Āgama - ritual is an essential ingredient and consists of mantras, mudras, yantras, maṇḍalas and mūrtis.
All the other schools of Tantra are either dualist - like the Vedanta schools but with the Ultimate being Shiva, and non-dualism which is similar to that taught in Advaita but with the impersonal Brahman being a lower form of Shiva. The difference between the various schools of Tantra is the deities and mūla-mantras used.
Non-dual Hindu Tantra seems to have shared a lot with the Mahayana.
Why are Hindus in India superstitious despite Advaita philosophy which is of recent origin?
Sadly Hindus are overwhelmingly superstitious. This is due to lack of education among the country folk and because of the force of “tradition” and “custom & Usage”. Families are still strong and the group reinforces many wrong ideas and out-dated values. There is a vast difference in what the lay-people believe and what Hindu philosophy teaches.
Advaita is not of recent origin by the way - it has a history of at least 1500 years. Hindu philosophy in general (Vedanta) goes back over 3000 years.
Hindu philosophy - specifically the school of Nyāya (The Logicians) - is very much evidence based. The various schools of philosophy accepted a variety of sources for evidence but the three basic ones were:–
The process is like your standard criminal investigation movie like NCIS.
The team arrives and find a body - they begin photographing, examining the area and collecting evidence for the lab.
The team then goes back to base and begins to workshop the murder - identifying suspects, motives, time-lines and trying to put together possible scenarios.
Finally they call in the witnesses and interrogate them - testing their authenticity, honesty and sincerity and any conflict of interest.
So according to Hindu philosophy all our firmly held beliefs should be tested according to these three pramāṇas.
śabdam also refers to the Scriptures. So the scriptural teaching is resorted to in those instances which cannot be validated by either direct perception and experience or by logic. Veda is considered as āpta-vākya because the sages had no personal interest or secret agenda in their teaching - they were sincere guides.
BUT — this is where we differ from our competitors — we cannot accept a teaching from scripture if it conflicts or contradicts perception and logic! And we don’t seek in scripture validation of something which is self-evident.
So for example we do not need a Vedic verse to tell us that fire is hot or water is wet! Even if the Veda says the earth is flat or carried on the back of 8 elephants standing on a turtle — we forthwith REJECT such statements since they conflict with perception and reason.
So superstition flourishes when reason and critical thinking are absent.
Which is true, Advaita or Dvaita?
They are two variations on the same theme - both are equality true from their unique perspective.
Both systems accept three fundamental Tattvas or postulates:-
Brahman and Ātma are not self-evident knowable things, and knowledge of them is obtained through Śruti i.e. Upaṇiṣads.
Jagat of course can be studied and known through scientific research and there is no need to resort to Śruti for knowledge thereof, although in Rāmānuja and Śankara’s time - 1000 years ago there was no “empirical science” being done and so this knowledge too was gleaned from Śruti.
Nevertheless the Upaṇiṣads were the records of teachings of many different sages like Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka Aruni, Shvetaketu, Shandilya, Aitareya, Balaki, Pippalada, and Sanatkumara etc. with input from women, such as Maitreyi and Gargi.
So they had differing opinions and did not all agree - so there is no systematic philosophy or consensus of opinion reflected in the Upaṇiṣads.
So the Vedānta Ācāryas starting with Bādarāyana tried to systematise the teachings into a coherent body of knowledge and so he wrote the Brahmā-sūtras. But sūtras are terse statements without explanation and require an elaborate commentary by learned ācāryas. And the sūtras are such, that different slants can be given and different shades of meaning extracted.
So thus we have different schools of Vedānta evolving from these discrepancies - Non-Dualism, Qualified Non-Dualism and Dualism which further fragmented into 8 schools of Vedānta:–
Their principal disagreements are on the exact nature and relationship among the three postulates mentioned above.
Some hold with “Impersonalism” and others with “Personalism”, some hold that the Individual Self is identical with the Supreme Self, others say they are different, some say the Universe is real others say it is Unreal, some like Rāmānuja find a compromise between the two extremes and form a middle path.
What is the difference between Dvaita Vedanta and Vishistadvaita Vedanta?
Thank you for the question, and since you are a Muslim I can answer using some concepts from Islamic theology which deals with the identical metaphysical matters.
ADVAITA is similar to the waḥdat-al-wujūd associated principally with the thought of the Andalusian philosopher Ibn ‘Arabi. It is the “Unity of Being” or “Unity of Existence”. Wujūd refers to God. So this is an echo of the dictum of the Upaṇiṣads - sarvam khalvidam brahma – All is God, God is all. Nothing exists which is separate from the Divine Essence. Both the Sūfi and the Advaiti can boldly declare -”ana alḥaq!” or “aham brahmāsmi!”
So according to Advaita - ātman and Brahman (soul and God) are ONE- advitiya and the Universe of experience is an appearance (māyā) and has no substantial reality.
DVAITA on the other hand is a theology of waḥdat ash-shuhūd, meaning "Apparentism" or "Monotheism of Witness". And is the exact opposite of Advaita. Dvaita holds that God and his creation - consisting of souls and matter, are entirely separate from each other, and hence it is also known as Bheda-vāda - the philosophy of difference and is closest to the Abrahamic theologies.
The Dvaita school postulates five fundamental, eternal and real differences which are:–
VISISHTADVAITA is the middle path - “Qualified non-dualism”.
So VA agrees that everything is ONE in essence but has organic differences which are not as pronounced as in Bheda-vāda.
The examples used are of the rose - it’s colour, shape, smell are all different but together they cause the “rose” - any of these elements alone is not a rose.
A more modern similitude would be a water molecule - which is one substance but is actually comprised of three atoms 2 of H and 1 of O.
The classical example is the “body-occupier-concept” - śarīra-śarīri bhāva. The body, mind and soul are one existential entity but contain internal differences. So the material body is the vehicle of the soul and different from the soul but the two are mutually dependant being connected through the mind. The soul depends on the body for self-expression and the body depends on the soul for its existence.
Likewise the Universe of particles and fields and modes of consciousness (souls) constitute the “śarīra” of God (Sriman Nārāyaṇa). He expresses himself in joyous līlā (play) through them - which are dependant upon him for their existence.
So the multiple and vast Universe of billions of Galaxies is “real” and not “apparent” as in Advaita, and is the “body” of God - known in philosophy as pan-en-theism.
The souls known as jīvātmas are innumerable like the stars in the Universe or particles of matter - and are all non-different from each other. They are all like photons of light or atoms of consciousness (prakāra) which is the nature of the Self. The Self or “soul” is defined by consciousness.
Together all the atoms of light comprise the Sun - which is a similitude of the Supreme Being known as Śrīman Nārāyaṇa. A name which bears profound significance for followers of this school.
Śrīman denotes that he is inseparable from his primary energy - compassion and love (ānanda) represented by the Goddess Lakṣmī and which characterises his Being (sat).
Nara denotes all atoms of consciousness (jīvas) and the material matter (acit) which they pervade.
Ayana means the “Ground” or “Field” in which all exist.
So Nārāyaṇa means the “Unified Field” or the “Ground of Being” or “The Matrix”.
The dominant school of VA is Vaishnava but there is also school of Shaivism which adheres to the same philosophy.
This can be seen as a spectrum with 8 variant schools thought on the spectrum ranging from pure Non-dualism to Dualism. All of them are based on the Upaṇiṣads, Bhagavad Gītā and the Brahma-sūtras (collectively known as the Prasthāna-trayam).
This is about the simplest way I can describe a very complex philosophy/theology.
For those gentle readers who would like to explore the comparison of Muslim/Hindu mysticism and metaphysics I recommend this book which is a great contribution to a better inter-faith relationship between Hindus and Muslims.
Hindu And Muslim Mysticism : R. C. Zaehner : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
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