Based on primary sources this book presents a survey of development of Moral Philosophy in India and offers an authentic account of Indian ethics from the point of view of Vedas, Upanisads, Mimamsas, Smrtis, the Bhagavad-gita and the Pancaratras, Vedanta, Samkhya-Yoga, Nyaya-Vaisesika, Buddhism and Jainism. Indian ethics has taken a positive attitude towards life in its concrete and varied aspects as is evident in the discussions of karma, rebirth, nirvana, and moksa. Life has to be lived for harmonious development of our character for a spiritual end. Indian ethics has therefore a positive goal to achieve freedom of the self from its bondage of passions and desire this is the message of India and is the essence of all her moral thought. The study will, no doubt, prove invaluable to the scholars and general readers as well.
About the Author:
Surama Dasgupta was educated at Calcutta University. She also obtained her doctoral thesis from the same university. She taught philosophy at Lucknow University from where she retired as Professor.
The book was written several years ago under close personal supervision of the late Professor Surendra Nath Dasgupta while he was the Principal, Sanskrit College, Calcutta. The late Professor as is well-known from his works to many, had always placed before himself and those whom he guided in their research, a standard of his own. It was his opinion that any work to have some worth should be so exhaustive and complete in its treatment of the subject that it would not require the labour of anyone else for the completion of the investigation already undertaken. India has a cultural history extending over four to five thousand years and as such any investigation in a particular branch of study has to be a very painstaking one which easily spreads over several years. So with the kind assistance and supervision of the late Professor, the work undertaken by me required a number of years for its completion. The book entitled originally "Good, Evil and Beyond" extended over 842 pages in typed script. Later on the Ph.D. degree of the Calcutta University (equivalent to its D.Litt. degree by the present revised standard) was awarded to me on the merit of the work.
The war started in 1939 and even long after it was over, conditions for publication of books were very difficult both in India and England. From 1945 to 1950 we stayed in England but we could only see through the press the fourth volume of the late Professor's A History of Indian Philosophy. We came back to India in 1950 and in 1952 Professor Dasgupta passed away while working on the fifth volume of his History.
All our life we never made any distinction between the researches undertaken by ourselves and worked together on almost every subject that interested both or either of us. After the demise of m y husband, I had to take over the task of editing, completing and arranging to publish his unpublished works complete or incomplete. Naturally therefore, I could not turn my attention to the publication of my own books. Publication expenses and difficulties being as hard as ever, the present work had to be revised and reduced further and further till I could bring it to its present size. This means that I had to leave out much important materials which may later on constitute another volume. I had also to leave out the Sanskrit and Pali quotations indicating only the references. Should there be any suitable opportunity for reprinting the book, all these may be re-introduced and the unpublished materials incorporated. The texts that were used in the writing of the book belong to different periods of India's cultural history and some of these had to be brought to Calcutta from outside for the completion of the work. A number of these texts was not available at the time of its publication. Situated as I was far away from the facilities available at the Calcutta libraries, this difficulty could not be solved. References from the books mentioned below could not be re-checked owing to this difficulty; other references have all been duly checked.
For the study of the large number of texts in Sanskrit and Pali, published and unpublished, and their interpretation in connection with the present work, I am under a very heavy debt of obligation to my husband, the late Professor Surendra Nath Dasgupta. Had it not been for his constant help, guidance and encouragement, the work could not have been completed by myself alone. The introduction to the book, which is fairly comprehensive since it gives an outline of the different views of the various systems covering different areas of the history of Indian culture, was written at the kind suggestion of the late Professor F. W. Thomas of Oxford University, for the convenience of readers. The concluding chapter gives a critical evaluation of the basic assumptions of Indian thought.
India is particularly known for its sacred tradition of scholarship and knowledge, a spiritual heritage which passed from teacher to pupil through long generations. It is for the advancement of knowledge and wisdom that the ancient savants of India had dedicated their lives in the past. With reverence for such wisdom, I present this book to the modern reader so that some communication with the past, which was always full and rich with intellectual investigations, may be fruitfully revived. As regards thoughts and ideas, I do not think that there can be any limit of time, any demarcation such as past and present, ancient and modern or any geographical limitations. Whatever is ancient was also fresh and new and can ever be of great help as some of the ideas presented by modem thinkers may be. Human thoughts and values are ageless and may be true for all time only with perhaps some modifications due to the prevailing situation in a country. Moral philosophy in India in its practical bearing on life is one such basic thought which holds good for all people of all ages and the message of India, therefore, can be placed forward to all those who feel interested in such a quest.
It may be of some interest to the readers to know that the present work, by a woman author, has been printed perhaps for the first time in India, in a Press run by a woman pupil of hers. My sincerest gratefulness and best wishes go to Dr. A.K. Gayen, a devoted young friend of both my husband and myself and his wife, Shrimati Krishna Gayen, M.A., one time my pupil and a dear friend for ever. It is through their active co-operation and enthusiasm that the publication of the book has been possible.
I am grateful to Mr. Tara Singh, the Deputy Librarian and Mr. S.D. Sharma, M.A. of the Lucknow University Tagore Library, for their kind assistance in lending me books liberally for the correction of references. I beg the forgiveness of readers for any printing mistakes that might remain.
THE GITA AND THE PANCARATRAS
NYAYA AND VAISESIKA
THE JAINA SYSTEM OF THOUGHT
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