An Introduction to Indian Philosophy

An Introduction to Indian Philosophy

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Book Specification

Item Code: NAC041
Author: Satischandra Chatterjee and Dhirendramohan Datta
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788129111951
Pages: 422
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 390 gm

Book Description

Preface to the First Edition

The object of this book is to provide a simple introduction to the Indian systems of philosophy. Each one of these systems has had a vast and varied development and cannot be treated adequately in a brief work like this. An attempt has been made to introduce the reader to the spirit and outlook of Indian philosophy and help him to grasp thoroughly the central ideas rather than acquaint him with minute details. Modern students of Philosophy experience great difficulty in understanding Indian problems and theories. Their long experience with university students has helped the authors to realise this and they have tried to remove them as far as possible. This accounts for most of the critical discussions which could otherwise have been dispensed with.

The book has been primarily written for beginners. The first chapter which contains the general principles and basic features of Indian philosophy, as well as a brief sketch of each system, gives the student a bird’s-eye view of the entire field and prepares him for a more intensive study of the systems which are contained in the following chapters. It is hoped, therefore, that the book will meet the needs of the university students at different stages, well as of general readers interested in Indian philosophy. It serve the needs of B.A. Pass students who may be required have a brief general acquaintance with Indian philosophy a whole, as well as those of Honours students who may be expected , have a more detailed knowledge of one or more systems.

It is the firm conviction of the writers that Reality is many sided and Truth is manifold; that each system approaches Reality from one point of view or level of experience, and embodies one aspect of Truth. They have tried to approach each system with sympathy and justify it, rather than dismiss it with a customary criticism. They believe that a sympathetic insight into the great systems will enable the student to grasp their truths more easily and give him a sound philosophical outlook.

While an attempt has been made to bring out the significance of Indian views in terms of modern Western thought, care has always been exercised to preserve their distinctive marks, such as their spiritual and practical outlook, their recognition of the different levels of experience.

The authors are grateful to Dr. Syamaprasad Mookerjee, M.A., D.Litt., B.L., M.L.A., Vidyavacaspati, Barrister-at-Law, ex-Vice-Chancellor, Calcutta University, at whose suggestion the work was undertaken, and to Sir S. Radhakrishnan, Kt., M.A., D.Litt., George V Professor of Philosophy, Calcutta University, Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, Oxford University, who has very kindly gone through the manuscript and made valuable suggestions. They are also indebted to Professor Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya, M.A., with whom they discussed some of the problems treated here and received much light and guidance. They are grateful also to the authorities of the Calcutta University, and especially to the Registrar, the Superintendent of the Press and his energetic colleagues, for the publication of the work.


The authors feel encouraged by the demand for a second edition of this book within such a short time. They are grateful to the many universities which have adopted this compendium as a textbook, and to the many lay readers who have intimated their appreciation of the book as a suitable introduction to Indian Philosophy. But at the same time the authors realise once more the great difficulty of compressing into such a volume all that is important in the arguments and theories of schools which have evolved through nearly two thousand years, and developed intricacies which defy easy exposition. They are, therefore, painfully aware of the many shortcomings of the book, and very eagerly avail themselves of this opportunity of a second edition to remove defects, as far as possible, by addition, alteration, omission and rearrangement of topics. In this work of improvement they have received great help from teachers and scholars who have favoured them with detailed opinions and suggestion. The authors are thankful to all of them; but they are especially indebted, in this respect, to Professors Khangendranath Mitra, Haridas Bhattacharyya, Jadunath Sinha, Surendranath Goswami, Kalidas Bhattacharyya and Mr. Anilkumar Ray Chaudhury. If some of the suggestions could not be carried out, it was mainly because of the limitation of the original scope of the book, the necessity for economising paper, and the desire for avoiding difficulties that might embarrass the beginner.

The chapter on the Vedãnta has been partly rewritten. Sañkara and Rãmãnuja have been dealt with successively (and not side by side, as before). The rationale of argumentative side of the Vedãnta has been substantially reinforced by the addition of many new paragraphs in small print. The authors hope that this will be useful to the advanced reader, while the simplicity of the original treatment, and the interest of the beginner, will remain unaffected.

It is necessary to mention that instead of following the ordinary translation practice of rendering ‘Isvara’ into ‘God’ and ‘Brahman’ into ‘Absolute’, the authors have used the word ‘God’ also for Brahman’. Just as ‘Brahman’ (without adjectives) is used, even by the Upanisads and Sankara, for both the immanent, personal aspect, and also for the transcendent, impersonal aspect, similarly God’ also has been used in English in this wide sense, and, therefore, sometimes for the Absolute (e.g. of Hegel), the Indeterminate Substance (e.g. of Spinoza), the Primordial Principle (e.g. of Whitehead). The exact sense in which ‘God’ has been used in this book will be clear from the context. Confinement of ‘God’ only to the Deity of Religion, and of ‘Absolute’ to the ultimate philosophical principle, while convenient in one respect, suffers from the disadvantage of suggesting as though they stand for two distinct realities, and not for two aspects of the same reality, as is the case in the Vedãnta.


The authors feel highly gratified that the book is now being widely used in India, America, Great Britain and other countries, and that another edition has been called for so soon. This gives an opportunity for further revision and improvement. The authors are grateful to Professor Charles A. Moore of the University of Hawaii and all other teachers of Philosophy who favoured them with their opinions and suggestions for some improvements in the previous editions. They also express their thanks to Sri S. Kanjilal, Superintendent of the Calcutta University Press, and his colleagues for their help in bringing out this edition in time.


This seventh edition offered further opportunities for revision. We are much obliged to Professor Pradyotkumar Mukhopadhyay of Visva-Bharati for some suggestions, and to Sri S. Kanjilal and his colleagues for bringing out the book under very difficult circumstances.

Back of the Book

An Introduction to Indian Philosophy, termed by Srila Prabhupada as ‘very authoritative’, while introducing the reader to the spirit, vast ocean of knowledge and outlook of Indian philosophy, also helps him to grasp thoroughly the central ideas. Philosophy, in its widest etymological sense, means ‘love of knowledge’. It tries to search for knowledge of himself, the world and God, and describes the Indian way of life as we know it.

Indian philosophy denotes the philosophical speculations of all Indian thinkers, ancient or modern, Hindus or non-Hindus, theists or atheists. Some believe ‘Indian philosophy’ to be synonymous with ‘Hindu philosophy’, However, this would be true only if the word ‘Hindu’ were taken in the geographical sense of ‘Indian’. But if ‘Hindu’ means the followers of a particular religious faith known as Hinduism, the supposition would be wrong and misleading.

The authors have with considerable merit, highlighted the significance of Indian views in terms of modern Western thought. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy is a seminal work covering topics as varied as the Carvaka, Jaina, Vaisesika, Mimamsa, Bauddha, Sankhya Systems, amongst other.

Satischandra Chatterjee (Ph.D.), formely worked as Head of the Department of Philosophy, Calcutta University.

Dhirendramohan Datta (Ph.D.), Formerly worked as Professor of Philosophy, Patna College, Patna University.


Preface to the First Edition xv
Preface to the Second Edition xvi
Preface to the Sixth Edition xviii
Preface to the Seventh Edition xviii
1 The Basic Features of Indian Philosophy 1
1 The Nature of Philosophy 1
2 The Meaning and Scope of Indian Philosophy 3
3 The Schools of Indian Philosophy 5
4 The Places of Authority and Reasoning in Indian Philosophy 7
5 How the Indian Systems Gradually Developed 9
6 The Common Characters of the Indian Systems 12
7 The Space-Time Background 22
II A Brief Sketch of the Systems 24
1. The Carvaka System 24
2. The Jaina System 26
3. The Bauddha System 29
4. The Nyaya System 32
5. The Vaisesika System 35
6. The Sankhya System 38
7. The Yoga System 42
8. The Mimamsa System 43
9. The Vedanta System 46
I Its Origin and Scope 52
II The Carvaka Epistemology 53
1. Inference is not Certain 54
2. Testimony is not a Safe Source of Knowledge 57
III. Metaphysics 58
1. The World is made of Four Elements 58
2. There is no Soul 59
3. There is no God 60
IV. Ethics 61
V. Conclusion 63
I. Introduction 68
II The Jaina Theory of Knowledge 70
1. The Nature and Kinds of Knowledge 70
2. The Carvaka View Criticised 73
3. The Jaina Theory of Judgment 74
(i) Syadvada or the Theory that Every
Judgment is Relative 74
(ii) Saptabhanginaya or the Seven Forms of Judgment 77
III The Jaina Metaphysics 81
1. The Jaina Conception of substance 82
2. Classification of Substances 85
3. The Soul or Jiva 87
4. The Inanimate Substances or Ajivas 90
(i) Matter or Pudgala 90
(ii) Space or Akasa 91
(iii) Time or Kala 92
(iv) Dharma and Adharma 93
IV. The Jaina Ethics and Religion 94
1. Bondage of the Soul 94
2. Liberation 97
3. Jainism as a Religion without God 103
I Introduction 106
II The Teachings of Buddha: The Four Noble Truths 108
1. The Anti-speculative Attitude 108
2. The First Noble Truth about Suffering 110
3. The Second Noble Truth about the Cause of Suffering: The Chain of Twelve Links 111
4. The Third Noble Truth about the Cessation of Suffering 114
5. The Fourth Noble Truth about the Path to Liberation 118
6. The Philosophical Implications of Buddha’s Ethical Teachings 123
(i) The Theory of Dependent Origination or Conditional Existence of Things 124
(ii) The Theory of Karma 125
(iii) The Doctrine of Universal Change and Impermanence 125
(iv) The Theory of the Non-existence of the Soul 127
III. The Schools of Bauddha Philosophy 129
1. The Madhyamika School of Sunya-vada 132
2. The Yogacara School of Subjective Idealism 137
3. The Sautrantika School of Representationism 140
4. The Vaibhasika School 142
IV. The Religious Schools of Buddhism: Hanayana and Mahayana 143
I. Introduction 149
II. The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge 156
1. Definition and Classification of Knowledge 156
2. Perception 159
(i) Definition of Perception 159
(ii) Classification of Perception 160
(iii) Extraordinary Perception 161
(iv) Three Modes of Ordinary Perception 163
3 Inference 165
(i) Definition of Inference 165
(ii) The constituents of Inference 166
(iii) The Grounds of Inference 169
(iv) The Classification of Inference 175
(v) The fallacies of Inference 180
4. Upamana or Comparison 183
5. Sabda or Testimony 185
(i) The Nature and Classification of Sabda 185
(ii) The Logical Structure of a Sentence 187
III. The Nyaya Thecry of the Physical World 189
IV. The Individual Self and its Liberation 191
V. The Nyaya Theology 196
1. The Idea of God 197
2. Proofs for the Existence of God 198
(i) The Causal Argument 198
(ii) The Argument from Adrsta 200
(iii) The Argument from the Authoritativeness of the Scriptures 202
(iv) The Testimony of Sruti 203
3. Anti-theistic Arguments 207
VI. Conclusion 209
I. Introduction 211
II. The Categories 213
1. Substance or Dravya 213
2. Quality or Guna 218
3. Action or Karma 221
4. Generality or Samanya 222
5. Particularity or Visesa 224
6. Inherence or Samavaya 225
7. Non-existence or Abava 227
III. The Creation and Destruction of the World 230
IV. Conclusion 234
I. Introduction 237
II. The Sankhya Metaphysics 238
1. Theory of Causation 238
2. Prakrti and the Gunas 241
3. Purusa or the Self 246
4. Evolution of the World 250
III. The Sankhya Theory of Knowledge 257
IV. The Doctrine of Liberation 262
V. The Problem of God 267
VI. Conclusion 269
I. Introduction 271
II. Yoga Psychology 274
III. Yoga Ethics 277
1. The Nature and Forms of Yoga 277
2. The Eightfold Means of Yoga 280
IV. The Place of God in the Yoga 285
V. Conclusion 287
I. Introduction 290
II. The Mimamsa Theory of Knowledge 291
1. The Nature and Sources of Knowledge 292
2. Non-perceptual Sources of Knowledge 293
(i) Comparison (upamana) 293
(ii) Authority or Testimony (sabda) 296
(iii) Postulation (arthapatti) 299
(iv) Anupalabdhi or non-perception 301
3. The Validity of Knowledge 302
4. What is error? 304
III Mimamsa Metaphysics 306
1. General Outlook 306
2. The Theory of Potential Energy (sakti and apurva) 308
3. The Mimamsa Conception of Soul 309
IV. Mimamsa Religion and Ethics 311
1. The Place of the Vedas in Religion 311
2. The Conception of Duty 312
3. The Highest Good 313
4. Is Mimamsa Atheistic? 314
I. Introduction 317
1. Origin and Development of the Vedanta 317
2. How the Vedanta Developed through the Vedas and the Upanisads 320
3. The Unanimous Views of the main schools of the Vedanta 330
II. The Monism of Sankara (Advaita) 336
1. Sankara’s Conception of the World 336
(i) The Rational Foundation of Sankara’s Theory of the World 351
(ii) The Advaita Theory of Error 351
(iii) Criticism of Sankara’s Philosophy of the World 355
2. Sankara’s Conception of God 357
(i) The Rational Basis of Sankara’s Theory of God. 362
3. Sankara’s Conception of the Self, Bondage and Liberation 367
III. The Qualified Monism of Ramanuja (Visistadvatta) 382
1. Ramanuja’s Conception of the World 382
(i) Ramanuja Criticis, of the Advaita Theory of Maya 385
2. Ramanuja’s Conception of God 387
3. Ramanuja’s Conception of the Self, Bondage and Liberation 390
A Select Bibliography 399

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