The Fundamentals of K. C. Bhattacharyya’s Philosophy is the only exhaustive exposition of Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya’s seminal philosophical ideas. Kalidas Bhattacharyya,
son of Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya, had the opportunity of a prolonged critical exposure to this unique tradition. This monograph deals with Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya’s
epistemic and metaphysical line of thought from the definite to the indefinite, from the objective level to the higher levels of subjectivity, and from association to dissociation or
freedom leading to an alternation between knowledge and freedom. Both definiteness and indefiniteness have been identified. The two, however, do not have a coordinate status.
There is an alternation between them. One and the same situation could be alternatively understood as definite or as indefinite. This leads to Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya’s well-
known philosophical position of “Alternative Standpoints”.
The indefinite has to be made definite through layers of transcendental knowledge. The absolute-as-transcendental-knowledge is related to the understanding of the absolute-as-
transcendental-will. “The predatory outlook of the scientific intellect” has been referred to and insightful correctives have been offered. Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya’s style of
writing is commensurate with the rigour and subtlety of his philosophy. The uninitiated requires a roadmap. This need is amply fulfilled by the present work. The monograph
focuses on epistemology and metaphysics.
The insights gained through this faithful commentary will help advanced readers to develop their own philosophical pursuits and the beginner will receive a good grounding.
Kalidas Bhattacharyya (1911-84), an eminent philosopher of India, taught philosophy at many reputed institutions of learning, including Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan where he was
Director, Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy and later Vice-Chancellor. He was awarded “Deshikottam” by the same university. Author of many books and articles published
in India and abroad, his published works include: Alternative Standpoints in Philosophy (Kolkata : Dasgupta & Co., 1953); K.C. Bhattacharyya Memorial Volume (co-edited)
(Amalner : Indian Institute of Philosophy, 1958); Philosophy, Language and Logic (Bombay: Allied Publishers, 1965); Presuppositions of Science and Philosophy and Other
Essays (Santiniketan: Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Visva-Bharati, 1974); Possibility of Different Types of Religion (Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1975); A Modern
Understanding of Advaita Vedanta (Ahmedabad: L.D. Institute of Indology, 1975).
The Fundamentals of K.C. Bhattacharyya’s Philosophy by Kalidas Bhattacharyya is being reprinted with a new Introduction and an index section. Wherever possible sources of
quoted material have been provided, inaccurate quotes have been corrected, Kalidas Bhattacharyya’s interjections within quoted material have been marked by third brackets.
Kalidas Bhattacharyya’s unconventional use of the same footnote number on several occasions when the corresponding note remains the same has been retained. All quoted
material is cited from Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya (second revised edition), Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1983.
In the following pages I have tried to give an account, as clear and connected as possible, of the fundamental tenets of K.C. Bhattacharyya’s philosophy. The University of
Calcutta invited me to deliver at least two lectures either on his philosophy direct or on any philosophical topic connected with that. I preferred the former. But as it was impossible
to cover even a few fundamentals of his philosophy in two lectures, I could not keep confined to that limitation. Needless to add, I am grateful to the University for this kind
K.C. Bhattacharyya’s writings are extraordinarily terse, though pointing every time straight to what he intends. It is only because what he intends is always of profound depth, and
also because his analyses are almost bafflingly subtle, that readers often find it difficult to follow him. I had the good fortune, however, of listening direct to his own exposition for
years together and , even after that, I have gone through his writings several times with meticulous care, not skipping a single word or article or preposition. I claim, therefore, that I
know his philosophy better than many others, though I am never sure yet that I have understood him fully, or even always correctly.
In my case there is a special difficulty unknown to others. Whatever elsewhere I have claimed a my thinking, be it of any worth or not, has only been a cheap edition of K.C.
Bhattacharyya’s philosophy, with some of his points omitted and some points expanded, may be added too for the sake of clarification. My own thinking has thus been so much
in line with his that not unnaturally, though always unawares, I may have, in the work, mixed up my trash-ideas with his profound thoughts and thus misinterpreted him. Yet I
venture to add that I have nowhere misinterpreted him wholly. I claim I have presented (interpreted) his philosophy correctly so far at least as broad outlines are concerned.
An interpreter has always the freedom to differ on details with the original thinker; but he will have to adhere to the latter’s broad outlines. The proper task of an interpreter, in the
field of philosophy, is to present these broad outlines, and only the necessary details in addition, in the light of current philosophical doctrines. I claim I have interpreted K.C.
Bhattacharyya’s philosophy on that line; only regarding the necessary details and the current philosophical doctrines I have exercised my choice. Other interpreters have equal
freedom to exercise their choice. Philosophical interpretation should always be in the line of constructive criticism.
K.C. Bhattacharyya’s major writings have been edited, with adequate summary of the main arguments, by Prof. Gopinath Bhattacharyya under the title Studies in Philosophy (vols.
I and II, published by Progressive Publishers, Calcutta). We are all grateful to him for this. In my interpretation of K.C Bhattacharyya’s philosophy I have not taken note of all his
writing collected there. I have clean omitted consideration of his “ Studies in Vendantism”, “Studies in Kant”, “Studies in Sankhya Philosophy”, “ Studies in Yoga Philosophy”,
“The Concept of Rasa”, “Advaita and Its Spiritual Significance”, “Objective interpretation of Percept and Image” and “Reality of the Future”. I had to omit these simply because I
could not prolong discussion indefinitely.
I have carefully gone through whatever other accounts and interpretations there are of K. C. Bhattacharyya’s philosophy in print. I am indebted to the authors for all these
accounts and interpretations, though I have often felt I do not agree with them. I am indebted particularly to George B. Burch, Fr T. Kadankavil, Prof. Daya Krishna, Prof. N.V.
Banerji, Dr B.K. Lal, Prof. D.M. Datta, R.B. Das, P.J. Chaudhary, Prof. A. Basu, Prof. P.T. Raju, Dr R.P. Pande, Shri P.K. Ray, Shri K.K. Bagchi, and Prof. S.S. Roy. If I have
not agreed with them, this does not mean that they are wrong and I am right. Mine is just another interpretation. It is for the careful reader to judge who is right and who is wrong.
My labour will be amply rewarded if a study of these interpretations, including mine, facilitates a better understanding of the original writings of K.C. Bhattacharyya which are as
profound in depth as right in details.
I specially thank Dr A.K. Chatterjee of Banaras Hindu University and my student-guide Shri Manoranjan Basu for their unfailing encouragement and frequent enlightenment I
received from them. I am also grateful to Shri Basu who devoted a large part of his valuable time to seeing the book through the press.
I acknowledge special indebtedness to the authorities of Saraswat Library who took so much interest in publishing this book.
More interested in the architectonic plan of his philosophy, and uneasy about the growing size of the present monograph, I have tried to keep as aloof as possible from the details
of his subtle analyses, though I am painfully conscious that these latter constitute full-one-half of the beauty of his writings. For many years I have been thinking of writing a
detailed commentary, in several volumes, of all the works of K.C. Bhattacharyya, line by line. I only pray that I have time and opportunity for this.
In this monograph I have something quoted long passages from his writings verbatim. I did this mostly because I could not make them clearer, they being already as clear as
possible, and sometimes, I confess, because I could not understand some of his points fully.
It is because in the present monograph I am more interested in the architectonic plan of Bhattacharyya’s philosophy than in the multitude of details he has worked out that when I
have summarized some of his essays I have just given the broad outlines and have not always cared to elucidate his pointes. My central task has been to show how his philosophy
has developed through his writings at different stages. Sometimes, however, it will be found that I have elucidated some of these points later and in quite other contexts.
I wish that this monograph is read along with my A Modern Understanding of Advaita Vedanta, published by the L.D. Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad.
The Fundamentals of K.C. Bhattacharyya’s Philosophy by Kalidas Bhattacharyya (KDB) was first published in 1975 by the Sarawat Library, Calcutta. The book never really
reached the national market, not to speak of the international audience, and now it is out of print. Very few exhaustive commentaries have been written on the philosophy of
Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya (KCB) and that too by someone who is not only a sympathizer of his position but a follower as well. Studies in Philosophy edited by Gopinath
Bhattacharyya contains the collected papers of KCB written in English. This collection, however, is not complete. The editor submits, “the present editor has with him an immense
mass of unpublished documents containing reflections, studies, fragments, notes, etc. on a large variety of subjects and at different stages of completion”. KDB’s discussion of the
fundementals of KCB’s philosophy is based on KCB’s Studies in Philosophy and does not refer to his unpublished works. Some of the unpublished works of KCB in Bengali
have subsequently been published by his grandson Kalyan Kumar Bhattacharyya. KDB admits of being selective in his discussion of topics included in Studies in Philosophy—in
his Preface to this book he gives a list of the topics he has omitted. A discussion on “The Concept of Rasa” is not included. Recently, however, “The Concept of Rasa” has
reached a wider international audience through its inclusion in Indian Philosophy in English: From Renaissance to Independence.
Gopinath Bhattacharyya has introduced each essay appearing in the Studies in Philosophy. The analytic contents, added by the editor, preceding each article are useful in
understanding the text. However, the editor has been cautions in restating KCB’s position, he has not ventured into an interpretation or further elaboration of the points contained in
the tracts. One reason for this circumspection may be that Gopinath did not subscribe to KCB’s genre of philosophy whereas his younger brother Kalidas did. In his later days,
KDB had once remarked, “I do admit.... that the notion of alternative absolutes, which I too immaturely, and only in rudiments, took over from my father K.C. Bhattacharyya and
developed in my own way in my first systematic book, has remained with me till this date.....” It would be useful to read Gopinath’s summary analysis along with KDB’s
exposition in his The Fundamentals of K. C. Bhattacharyya’s Philosophy. KDB also suggests that we conjointly read his A Modern Understanding of Advaita Vedanta, published
by the L.D. Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad. Side by side one could profitably supplement this reading with KDB’s” Different Notions of Freedom Compared and Evaluated”
and his Bharatiya Samskriti O Anekanta Vedanta. The latter two texts provide a creative expansion of KCB’s thesis.
Since the turn of the present century, scholars have been looking back to the contribution of thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth of centuries. The shoddiness
exhibited in the preservation of our heritage has few parallels in world history. Now that we want to make amends we find a chaotic scenario at us in our face. KCB’s philosophy is
a case in point. For decades now India universities have been teaching a course on “Recent and Contemporary Philosophy” at the postgraduate level. In most instances KCB’s
philosophy is included in this syllabus. Apart from the specific article included in the syllabus, in most cases, teachers and students do not have a clue to the fundamentals of
KCB’s philosophy. This is perhaps what prompted KDB to remark, “I claim, therefore, that I know his philosophy better than many others...” In his personal correspondence too,
he remarks that he fears to comment on the philosophical positions of other thinkers but not on KCB since on one seems to know anything about KCB’s position. This may be
taken as a sweeping casual remark, even though it is by and large true, there been a few exceptions.
KDB himself has acknowledged the works of several KCB scholars in the Preface to The Fundamentals of K .C. Bhattacharyya’s Philosophy. These references would have been
more useful to a researcher, if in addition to the stated institutional affiliations of the scholars, titles of their contributions with bibliographical details were also mentioned. Similar is
the case with the compilation of KCB’s own writings. In Studies in Philosophy we find the date of publication of the articles but further bibliographical details are missing.
Secondary sources on KCB also remain obscure. A special issue of the Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (JICPR) was devoted to KCB. Nothing before or
after has been published on KCB by the Council apart from J.N. Mohanty’s English translation of KCB’s Bengali article. “Kantdarshaner Tatparya”. The republication of The
Fundamentals of K.C. Bhattacharyya’s Philosophy may be taken as a step towards removing both an error of omission as well as an error of commission perpetrated by us, the
members of the Indian philosophy community.
By putting together stray pieces of information we come to know that some of KCB’s articles were published abroad, and we gather that KCB was the editor of the Indian
Philosophical Quarterly, some of the issues under his editorship were published from Calcutta as well. We also know that KCB gave the Presidential Address for the Metaphysics
Section, at the Indian Philosophical Congress, Bombay Session, in 1927. KCB was eager to have a dialogue with his readers. This is evident from his response to his students
were Sushil Kumar Maitra, T.R.V. Murty, J.N. Chubb, Dhirendramohan Datta, surendranath Dasgupta, Rasvihary Das and Nikunja Vihari Benerjee, KCB was an acarya (preceptor)
in the true sense of the term.
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