perhaps the most ancient philosophy in the world. It is authored by Sage Kapila, it is almost impossible to date this work. Kapila attempted to classify the world into different
categories such as matter, the sense organs, the mind, the intellect etc.
Some of the findings of modern science fit with the teachings of Samkhya. For the first time it classifies spirit as
something different from matter. It states that the universe is a combination
of: Matter or Prakriti and Spirit or Purusha. There
is no reference to a God in the Samkhya school of
Yoga is the school of philosophy propounded by Sage Patanjali. He slightly modified the Samkhya
system of Kapila.
The Yoga school has adopted most of the teachings of Samkhya, with the addition of a further category: God.
The practice of Raja Yoga, or the path of reaching God through meditation, is
a practical experiment suggested by the Yoga school of philosophy.
Vedanta is reputed to be the most contemporary school of
Hindu philosophy, as it is the
theology that has represented Hinduism for the past two millennia. The word
‘Vedanta’ literally means the ‘conclusion of the Vedas’. Its teachings are
supported by the Upanishads, and attempts to explain the relationship between
man, God and the universe. Vedanta can be subdivided into the following three
Dvaita- Vedanta: This is
‘dualistic’ Vedanta. It talks of God as the supreme personality. God, all
souls and the physical universe are considered eternal yet distinct categories. God, Universe and individual souls are all different
and will remain different.
Advaita-Vedanta: This is ‘non-dualistic’ Vedanta. It states
that there cannot be more than one eternal and infinite ultimate category;
else the categories would limit each other. By definition there cannot be
more than one ultimate. It therefore concludes that essentially the
individual souls, the universe cannot be different from God*. The difference
we observe is only in appearance. The same ultimate reality appears as many, due to ignorance. Hence
essentially we are God.
Vishisthadvaita-Vedanta: This is
called qualified non-dualism. It agrees with Advaita
but qualifies it by saying that as long as we do not feel like God, we should
adopt a more humble stance of saying: God is the fire while we are merely the
sparks of the same fire (but not the fire). Hence though we are like God we are
actually not God.
Reconciling the different Systems of Vedanta: Swami Vivekananda suggests that
these differences reflect different interpretations of the same spiritual
experiences. Different approaches were promoted by different spiritual
teachers in different time frames, and were adapted to fulfill the needs of
their societies. Spiritual needs keep changing over time, and this is the
reason for this variation in this philosophy. For example in modern times spirituality as a principle underpinning everything
is more likely to be attractive to the youngsters than the idea of a
Scriptural support for these philosophies:
Upanishads are the sacred texts that form
the basis of Vedantic teachings. The word
‘Upanishad’ literally means ‘to sit at the feet of the teacher’. There are
one hundred and eight Upanishads, eleven of which are considered central. The
Upanishads occur at the conclusion of the Vedas, and explain the real nature
of man as ‘Atman’, and the real nature of the universe as ‘Brahman.’ They then
discuss the relationship between these.
a key Hindu philosophic text that synthesizes the Upanishadic
teachings and presents them in a comprehensible manner. The term ‘Bhagavad Gita’ literally means
‘the song the divine’, and occurs in the form of a spiritual dialogue between
Krishna and Arjuna
in the epic the Mahabharata. It has seven hundred verses. Its central
teachings are ‘renunciation’ and ‘devotion to Krishna’,
and explain how to practice religion in daily life. The Bhagavad
Gita is sometimes called ‘practical Vedanta’. Great
emphasis is placed on Krishna as Godhead; for example Chapter Eleven is
devoted to the cosmic form or ‘Vishvarupa’ of Krishna. Love, adoration and submission to the divine
will of Krishna are offered as a way to
An ancient Vedic Verse:
The Nasadiya Sukta
found in the ‘Rig Veda.’ It deals with the theory of creation. In questioning
the reason for creation, it concludes that God alone knows why this
creation…or perhaps he does not know!
“Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows
whence it has arisen? Whence this creation has arisen perhaps it formed
itself, or perhaps it did not the one who looks down on it, in the highest
heaven, only he knows or perhaps he does not know.”