Indian Epistemology: As Expounded in the Tamil Classics (An Old & Rare Book)

Indian Epistemology: As Expounded in the Tamil Classics (An Old & Rare Book)

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Book Specification

Item Code: UAN039
Author: Dr. S. N. Kandaswamy
Publisher: International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai
Language: English
Edition: 2000
Pages: 402
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 440 gm

Book Description

Epistemology is the outcome of analytical thinking, rational outlook, keen observation, empirical experience, clear insight and critical judgement. The factors of cognition, sources of valid knowledge and their practical utility in the establishment of a particular system of thought constituted the main themes of discussion in the discipline of epistemology Pursuit of truth is the purpose of knowledge which should find out solutions to alleviate the distress and ills of society, according to the moral Tamil philosopher Tiruvalluvar (BC 50-A.D.50). Even the monarchs followed the advice of the possessor of knowledge, "G", as revealed in the Sangam poetry. The Tamil savants and scholars were not dogmatic but discerning and discriminating. Great thinkers and intellectuals developed the theory of knowledge from the hoary past through the means of discussions and debates and their success has been hailed as one aspect of Vakai-t-tinai in Tolkappiyam (B.C.500), the carliest Tamil source for the study of Indian Epistemology.

Even before the Greek thinkers Plato and Aristotle embarked on the study of philosophical theory of knowledge, the Indian dialecticians and logicians nurtured the art of debate and thus contributed to the development of epistemology. Scholars so far based their studies on Indian Epistemology, mainly focussing on the materials, collected from Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese sources. The main objective of the present research is to bring to the limelight the abundant materials, embedded in the Sangam classics (B.C.500 A.D.300), the Buddhist and Jain Tamil Epics (A.D. 300-AD.900), the Saiva devotional and philosophical works and their rich commentaries (A.D.500 A.D.1800) and to interpret and expound the essential principles of epistemology as elaborated by the erudite Tamil metaphysicians. According to the specialists, the great exponents of Indian Epistemology including Dramila Vatsyayana 1 (A.D.400-A.D.450), the Sautrantika Yogacara Buddhist logicians Dignaga (A.D.450), Samkara Swamin (A.D.500), Dharmapala (A.D.500-4) Dharmakirti (A.D.625) and other reputed luminaries in the firmament of Indian thought were natives of Kanchi, the citadel of the Imperial Pallava dynasty and the centre for advanced learning, occupying exalted positions not only at the regional and national levels, but also at the international level, as evidenced by their works translated into Chinese and Japanese, long long ago. It is a historical fact that some of the Buddhist logicians of Kanchi were invited in the North to preside over the destiny of the world renowned Nalanda University. The Buddhist Tamil epic Manimekalai bears evidence to the halls of intellectual tournaments, labelled as Pattmantapam and to the philosophical discussions, establishing the supremacy of Buddhism, at the centre of Kanchi. It is appropriate to note that the Tamil logicians and philosophers freely mingled with their counterparts in all quarters of India. exchanging views and enriching the field of epistemology. Consequently Indian thought was nourished also by their interaction and mutual influence.

Since the present author has already carried out his research on Buddhist Epistemology, as embalmed in the Tamil Epic Marimekalai (A.D.500) as a part of his doctoral dissertation in the year 1970 at the Annamalai University, it is quite natural that he felt the necessity of exploring all the relevant Tamil classics and their commentaries for a comprehensive study, with a view to assessing the contribution of the Tamil scholars to the domain of Indian Epistemology. He has undertaken this ambitious project during his tenure of one year (1998-99) as Visiting Professor at the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai.

The author is beholden to Dr.M.Tamilzhkkudimakan, the Honourable Minister for Tamil Official Language, Culture and Hindu Religious Endowment, who has been instrumental for the creation of Visiting Professorship at the Institute for which he is the Chairman. Next in order, his sincere thanks are due to the Chairman and members of the Selection Committee, for inviting him as Visiting Professor to the Institute. He is immensely thankful to Dr. S.S.Ramar Ilango, Director of the Institute for his affectionate treatment, administrative help and unabated interest which sustained him to successfully complete the project within the time-frame.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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