Secondary Hinduism Page 5


An Attempt to give a rational explanation to the spiritual experiences of the Rishis form the schools of Hindu philosophy:

Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta are the three schools that have stood the test of time


 Samkhya is 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 philosophy.


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 broad categories.


v      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.

v      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.

v      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 personalized God.


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.


Bhagavad Gita is 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 enlightenment.


An ancient Vedic Verse:  The Nasadiya Sukta

Nasadiya Sukta is 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.”






















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