Long acknowledged as a classic, this pioneering survey of Indian thought charts a fascinating course through an intricate history. From the Rig Veda to Rmanuja, Radhakrishnan traces the development of Indian philosophy as a single tradition of thought through the ages. Individual philosophers and their views are interpreted in the light of this broad argument. The author shows ancient philosophical texts at their best and relates them to contemporary issues of philosophy and religion. The prevent meaning and significance from being obscured by detail. Parallels between Indian and western philosophical traditions are regularly drawn.
This volume, a general introduction to Indian philosophy, covers the Vedic and Epic periods, including expositions on the hymns of the Rig Veda, the Upanisads, Jainism, Buddhism and the theism of the Bhagvadgita. Scholarly yet lucid, this book is an absorbing read for the general reader interested in Indian philosophy.
S. Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), distinguished scholar, statesman, and author, taught for many years at Oxford University before becoming the President of India in 1962. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954.
Excerpts from Review:
'S. Radhakrishnan's Indian philosophy (first published in 1923) is the first substantial work, in modern idiom, on the vast corpus of Indian philosophical thought. Over the past decades it has acquired the status of a classic. There is still a great deal in it both for the young philosophy undergraduate and for the serious researcher.'
- Mrinal Miri,
North Eastern Hill University, (NEHU), Shilong, India
'The Work gives a clear and rational account of the highest conceptions of Hinduism
[a] happy blend of Eastern conceptions with Western terminology.'
-Times Literary Supplement
In this volume, which is devoted to the discussion of the six Brahmanical systems, I have adopted the same plan and method of treatment as in the first. I have tried to adopt, what is acknowledged to be, the true spirit of philosophical interpretation, viz to interpret the ancient writers and their thoughts at their best and relate them to the living issues of philosophy and religion. Vacaspate Misra, who commented on almost all the systems of Hindu thought, wrote on each, as if he believed in its doctrines. In presenting intelligently tendencies of thought matured long ago and embodied in a number of difficult works, it has been necessary to select, emphasize and even criticize particular aspects, which naturally betrays the direction in which my own thinking runs. Involving as the work does so many decisions on points of detail, it is, perhaps, too much to hope that the book is free from errors of judgment; but I have endeavored to give an objective treatment and avoid playing tricks with the evidence.
I should repeat here that my discussion is not to be regarded as complete in any sense of the term, for almost every chapter deals with a subject to which a fully equipped socialist devotes a lifetime of study. Detailed discussions of particular systems require separate monographs. My task is the limited one, of sketching in broad outlines the different movements of thought, their motives and their results. I have made practically no attempt to deal with secondary variations of opinion among the less important writers of the various schools. My treatment of the Saiva, the Sakta and the later Vaisnava systems, which belong more to the religious history than to the philosophical development of India, has been brief and summary. I shall be thoroughly satisfied if I succeed in conveying an idea, however inadequate, of the real spirit of the several phases of Indian speculative thought.
If this volume is slightly more difficult is not entirely of my making, but is to some extent inherent in the subject and in the close thinking which its study involves. To condense a mass of facts into a clear narrative which can be followed by the reader without bewilderment or boredom is a task which I felt to be more than what I could compass. It is for the reader to judge how far I have succeeded in my attempt to steer a middle course between looseness and pedantry. To help the general reader, the more technical and textual discussions are printed in small type.
In the preparation of this volume I have found, not only the Sanskrit texts of the different schools, but also the writings of Deussen and Keith, Thibaut and Garbe, Ganganath Jha and Vidyabhusan Aiyar and Professor J.S. Mackenzie, for their kindness in reading considerable parts of the MS. and the proofs, and making many valuable suggestions. Professor A. Berriedale Keith was good enough to read the proofs, and the book has profited much by this critical comments. My deepest thanks, however, are due, as in the case of the first volume, to the General Editor, Professor J.H. Muirhead, who gave to work much of his time and thought. But for his generous assistance, the defects of the book- whatever they maybe- would have been very much greater. The printing of the work involved considerable trouble, and I am glad that it has been extraordinarily well done.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's India Philosophy, first published in 1921-3 is a classic which has inspired generation of scholars and intelligentsia alike, in and outside India, to know the vast treasures of Indian philosophical thought. Based on Sanskrit sources and written elegantly, using the diction of his contemporary philosophical style, the two volume work has continued to educate and inform generation of philosophers in India. It is with great enthusiasm and pleasure that I welcome this new edition.
The publication of volume one of Indian Philosophy in 1921, in the Muirhead Library of Philosophy series, shot the young scholar to international fame. The same year Sir Asutosh Mukerjee appointed him to the prized King George V Professorship in Philosophy at the University of Calcutta. The Department of Philosophy in Calcutta had such stalwarts as Hiralal Haldar, K.C. Bhattacharya, and S.N. Dasgupta. It created a stir that a young and relatively unknown scholar from the south was placed above them. But soon this young man proved his worth and endeared himself to all by his gentle and courteous lectureships abroad, all crowned by appointment concurrently with his position in Calcutta, to the Spalding Professorship in Eastern Religion and Ethics at the University of Oxford.
India Philosophy followed the footsteps of Madhava Achayra's Sarvadarsanasamgraha. Expositions of the 'Six system' were followed by a chapter in Saiva, Sakta, and later Vaisnava theistic schools, capped by a brilliantly written concluding chapter. Three chapters were devoted to the Vedanta: one on the Vedanta sutras, and two others on Advaita Vedanta of Samkara and the theism of Ramanuja respectively. Clearly the author's own preference was the Advaita of Samkara. The entire exposition of the systems was geared towards it as the immanent telos operating through them. As in the case of Madhava Acharya's demography, they all, that is all the other systems, pointed towards their culmination in Advaita Vedanta.
In order to appreciate Radhakrishnan's interpretive point of view, it is important to bear in mind the general intellectual and spiritual climate in India. 1921, the year of publication of the Indian Philosophy, was also the year when Mahatma Gandhi launched his first movement of non-cooperation against the British rule. A few years earlier, Rabindranth Tagore had won the Noble Prize for literature. Radhakrihnan had already written a monograph on the philosophy of the Upanishad to which Tagore wrote the foreword. Indian Philosophy was nurtured by both the rising self -conscious on the part of India, as well as contributed to it. Besides being an academic philosopher, Radhakrishnan was drawn into the public philosophical discourse in which he excelled. His writings and speeches inspired the intelligentsia of the country.
Philosophically, the dominant ideas during Radhakrishnan's philosophical training in Madras, flowing from the British universities into India, were Hegelian in origin. Hegelianism of various brands obtained in Oxford, and then in Calcutta. An idealistic monism, for which Reality is one and spiritual, manifesting itself in and through the world and history, prevailed. Radhakrishnan was impressed by the close affinity between Hegelian monism and the Advaita, but he was painfully aware of Hegel's misinformed critique of Indian thought as being a product of 'abstract understanding' Amongst British neo-Hegelians, F.H.Bradley impressed him most and he saw in Bradley's Appearance and Reality a close approximation, leaving out Plato and Hegel to Advaita, while he did not fail to note their differences. The University of Calcutta, already full of such neo-Hegelianism (the already mentioned Hiralal Haldar was the author of the first exposition and critique of neo-Hegelianism), was a fertile ground, already for Radhakrishnan's ideas.
In this climate, Radhakrishnan's interpretation of Indian thought was characterized by several underlying beliefs. First, he believed in the development of philosophy, in India, following a logical sequence, never at rest, but always on the move. So even in the twentieth century, after thousands of years of movement, it is still not complete; there is room for further development. The beauty of philosophy is in the process. In this, he opposes the conservative, who look upon the darsanas as providing complete systems, each by itself and in totality as well, to which nothing can be added and form which nothing can be taken out. But Radhakrishnan also opposes the liberalism which looks upon the ancient modes of thinking as errors, to be replaced by ideas from the West. His great admiration for the Indian tradition is matched by his recognition that Indian philosophy has to learn from, and profit by, lesions from the West. Furthermore, the history of philosophy in India has been a story not only of progress but also of decline. The most important thing is the future. We need to build upon the achievements of our ancestors.
Perhaps, the most characteristic feature of Radhakrishnan's interpretation is the emphasis on the movement of thought from logical reasoning to spiritual intuition. Logical reasoning marks the progress from consciousness to self -consciousness, but self-consciousness is to be transcended by intuition which he sometimes calls super-consciousness. The contrast between reason and intuition pervades all his writings, and has influenced generation of philosophers in India, but has also been a point for criticism by the younger hard-headed thinkers. There is no doubt that here too he was influenced by Hegel whose Phenomenology of Spirit, of 'consciousness' 'self-consciousness' ' Reason' and 'Spirit'. Thus in Radhakrishnan's view, philosophy has to leave us at a point where religion based, not on fact but on religious experience, takes over. The idea of this higher 'experience' was popularized by him. Modern, rather post- modern, critics have wondered if this is truly Indian, based on Sanskrit sources.
Radhakrishnan is a supreme example of Indian modernity. In the age of post- modernism, his thinking has come under attack by the analytic philosophers, by grammarians by Navya Naiyayikas as well as by a lot of other post-modern thinkers. But none of these critics have risen to that height of nobility and grandeur in writing and in speech which he achieved, which influenced and inspired generation of his countrymen and which in this 'self -contradictory' age of globalizations and fragmentation, we may need to revisit.
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