Development of Moral Philosophy in India

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Item Code: IRP17
Author: Surama Dasgupta
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1994
ISBN: 8121506271
Pages: 260
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0" X 6.0"
Weight 470 gm
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Book Description

About the Book:

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.






    Religion, Philosophy and Morality
    Standard in the Vedic Samhita
    Standard in the Upanisads
    Standard in the Sutras and the Smrtis
    The Inscriptions of Asoka
    Standard in the
    The Standard of Conduct in the Ayurveda
    Standard of Conduct in the Materialistic School of Thought
    Standard in the Different Philosophical Systems
    Ethics and Mechanism of Action
    The Doctrine of Grace.


    Concept of the Good and Future Existence as related with it
    Virtues and Vices
    Dana or Offering of Gifts
    Sins and their Expiation


    Forms of Karma, Good and Evil, Tapas and Substitution Meditation
    The Tapas


    The Self
    Prabhakara's Conception of Self and Knowledge
    Self-Validity of Knowledge
    Intermediary between the Sacrifice and its Effect
    An Analysis of the Imperative Nature of a Vedic Mandate


    The Authority of the Smrtis
    Validity of the Practices (Acara) of Good Men
    Karmaphala in Manusamhita
    Expiation (Prayascitta)
    The General Duties, the Caste Duties and the Asrama Duties
    The Last three Stages of Life (The last three Asramas)
    The Smrti View of Merits and Demerits and their Transference


    The Gita
    The Pancaratras and the path of


    Knowledge and Karma according to Sankara, Bhaskara, Ramanuja and Vijnanabhiksu
    The Means of Emancipation according to Sankara
    Brahma-Knowledge (the Highest Good) and the Cessation of Avidya (according to Citsukha, Madhusudana and Vimuktatman)


    The Samkhya-Yoga Ethics
    Classification of Actions: Its Principle
    Vasana and Samskara
    The Klesas as the Root Cause of all Actions
    The Means to Emancipation


    Preliminary Remarks
    Nature of Emancipation
    Attainment of Liberation
    The Agent
    Karma and its Results
    How a Karma Produces its Results
    False Knowledge and its Removal
    Motivation of Action
    Nyaya View of Volition distinguished from the Prabhakara School of Thought


    The Doctrine of Karma according to the Pali Texts
    Scepticism regarding Karma and Rebirth and its Refutation in Pali Texts
    Historical Introduction to the Abhidharmakosa
    General Principles of the Philosophy of the Abhidharmakosa
    The Agent
    Karma as Vijnapti and Avijnapti
    Diverse Considerations about Karma and Karmapatha, Path of Acts
    The Philosophy of Karma in the Mahakarmavibhanga
    The Path of the Bodhisattva
    The Career of the Bodhisattva
    The Paramitas
    Jhana or Dhyana (Meditation)


    The Jaina Categories
    The Jiva
    Classification of Selves (Jiva)
    Ajiva (Matter)
    Punya and Papa (Good and Evil)
    Free Will and Determinism
    Virtue and Vice and the Value of Actions
    Asrava (Passions)
    Bandha (Bondage)
    Samvara (Control)
    Nirjara (Release)
    Moksa (Liberation)
    Yoga and Other Virtues



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