Popular essays in indian philosophy

While going through the second volume, I started thinking and wishing for a similar volume on Indian philosophy. As far as I knew, there was no such volume written for curious educated reader interested in getting introduced to Indian thought — ancient, medieval and modern. Then I thought of making a fresh search again and did so. The result largely remains the same. In the process, I also decided that it is something on which I should comment. And the result is this essay! There are good numbers of books available on Indian Philosophy, and I had made attempts earlier also to make myself aware of this field, and had tried going through a couple of those books.

I found most of them very dry, written not in an engaging style, often difficult to understand and haphazardly organized. Most easily available ones like many books by Y. Masih this writer appears to be an assembly line producer of text books on all types of philosophies: eastern, western, Greek; you name it, perhaps he has written a book on it , book by Chandradhar Sharma and few others are typical Indian textbooks, which one would read only when one is forced to!

So, for an educated, curious mind, looking for an interesting and engaging book, options are very limited. The most popular and one of the classic book on Indian Philosophy available is the two volume set written by the thinker, statesman and president of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. These books were written well before independence in fact, by , they will be completing the centenary , and thus are very old, yet they serve as excellent introduction and an advanced look into the Indian philosophical tradition and thought.

However, there are three main issues with these volumes. First, obviously, they are very old, and reflect the though and understanding of early twentieth century, and therefore, not updated with subsequent research, understanding and debates. Second, they are largely concerned with religious philosophy or with the problem and analysis of world in relation to God, largely ignoring other philosophical issues like questions relating to logic, science, mathematics, epistemology, language and ethics etc.

Further, the first volume, which mostly discussed Vedic gods, rituals and worship practices, Vedas and Upanishads, including Buddhist and Jain thoughts is more pronounced in this regard. The second volume covers the six system of Indian philosophy, namely Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimansaa and Vedanta, but again, though analytical and not critical the coverage is limited mostly to metaphysical issues. There are few other books by Radhakrishnan on Indian thought and philosophy.

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Though I have not read them, but from what I know about them, they are good. Clearly, they were again written almost a century ago, and largely concerns themselves with question of God, religion etc, and in that sense are limited in their scope and coverage.


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I remember reading another old book by Chatterjee and Dutta long back. It was than published by University of Calcutta.

Originally published in , it is a reasonably good book for having a meaningful introduction of Indian philosophy, the six systems, as well as Buddhist and Jain thoughts. However, it also suffers from the same shortcomings; being almost a century old, written in textbook style, and in a very traditional fashion. I found that it is still available, now in a paperback edition from Rupa Publications. There is another classic encyclopedic book of five volumes on Indian philosophy by Surendranath Dasgupta.

Popular essays in indian philosophy

However, as like other good books, it was written during the early period of 20 th century , to be precise , and due to its huge size more than pages does not serve the purpose of being a popular intelligent introduction to Indian philosophy and thought. I should not be closing this section without mentioning a book by Late Heinrich Zimmer, professor of philosophy at Columbia University.


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Although it is also an old book, in the first glance, it appears to be more broad based discussing issues like philosophy of power, and of success, political geometry, universal king etc. However, the neglect of science and related explorations of Indian philosophy at the cost of focus on god, metaphysics and politics is present here too. One qualification is required here. My survey and search is confined to the books available in English.

However, in respect of Hindi, and other regional languages of India, I am reasonably certain that situation is not much better, perhaps worse than that found in English. The decline of Hindi language and literature in past century is well known and we are also well aware of the plight of Hindi language authors and academicians. Further, other regional languages have done better, and therefore, the situation there might be better. Again, due to my limited knowledge and research, I am not in a position to offer any worthwhile comment on this.

I can be questioned on my wish of seeing philosophy divorced from religion and question of God. In all civilizations, philosophy originally developed within the confines of religious thought.

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The quest of human mind to understand and explain this world, the world beyond, the universe, and various phenomenon within all this led to development of philosophical enquiry understood in broadest sense , and if I may say so, also led to the development of idea of God. In this light, it is a fair claim that it may not be possible to meaningfully separate Indian thought and philosophy from ancient Indian religious thought.

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Though I would agree to this claim at one level, I still think that it is possible to have understanding of philosophical issues by expanding our analysis beyond question of existence, purpose of this life and God. In fact, if we look closely, the western tradition of philosophy was developed even more strongly within the confines and limitations of Greco-Roman religious tradition and subsequently within Christian religious worldview.

Ideas of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophists, Stoics, Sceptics and others were developed within the boundaries of pagan world view of Greco-Roman religious thoughts. Similarly, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and other medieval philosophers were Christian priests and thinkers. And I would also like to point out that thinkers like Descartes, Galileo, Copernicus, Erasmus, Hypatia and many others have to suffer a lot including death for their inquisitive mind and unorthodox views, and often have to propound their theories as just imaginary tales to evade the ire and Inquisition of church.

Such was the attitude of church towards non-conformist views during medieval and renaissance period, even during enlightenment and beyond. In comparison, Indian thought and philosophical tradition have always accommodated and if I may also say, encouraged all types of heterodox, non-conformist thinking, ideas and approaches.

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Indian pluralism has a very long and rich history. And therefore, I would say that it is very much possible to examine and analyse Indian philosophical ideas fruitfully too, largely divorcing it from the questions about God. A related idea is of critically analysing ancient and not so ancient thinkers and philosophers and commenting on their theories, worldview, metaphysics and philosophies. This is another area, where we need to learn from western liberal traditions. Even Gottlieb is not shying away from critically analyzing and examining various theories and ideas of earlier philosophers, at times, even inferring as to why and how they thought the way they thought, looking at historical, social, political and cultural factors.

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The Philosophy of Vedas Essay

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Subjects Hindu philosophy. Philosophie hindoue. Inde -- Religion.

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Be the first. Chubb, G. R Malkani, G. Herbert, Navjivan Rastogi and Ruth Reyna. In his Introductory essay, Hari Shankar Prasad presents, in brief, a critical evaluation of the Indian philosophical Views of time, and reconstructs the Philosophy of time showing its linguo-centricity and subjectivity. He treats time as the underlying a Priori explanatory principle of all changes, events, happenings, processes, and subsistence of beings, and as the single most coordinating Factor of all Experiences and reflections. Prasad denies cosmic significance and Metaphysical Truth of time, and thinks that reality of time is a source of metaphysical confusions; but he accepts the Cultural significance of the myths and Images of time which serve the Purpose of revealing reality to human beings; and in this sense, he takes them as indicative of truth.

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