T.R.V. Murti was an original and leading thinker among the Indian philosophers of the twentieth century. He had a brilliant philosophical mind, a love of analysis and argument, and a respect for texts, especially the ones with which he disagreed, as seen in his most important book, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. With both traditional "Shastri" training and a western style Ph.D., Murti was able to bring both strengths to his writing and teaching. Murti knew everything by heart, all the Sutra texts, the Upanisads and other philosophical classics, Panini's grammar, and Patanjali's "Great Commentary" and other core texts. Upon that foundation, he evaluated doctrines and ideas. Though a philosopher of the classical type, he was also alive to the latest philosophical currents of his day and effectively related the wisdom of traditional teaching to contemporary questions. It was this last quality that made him a most sought after teacher by students from around the world. Murti spoke with such eloquence and authority that few would dare to interrupt him. He represented the best of the Indian philosophical tradition to the world through his teaching at places such as Oxford, Copenhagen, Harvard, Hawaii, and McMaster University in Canada. This book offers an overview and assessment of Murti's scholarship on Buddhism in its Brahmanical context, Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism, Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Spirit. The book begins with a biography of Murti and a discussion of the philosophical influences upon him. Also included is a complete list of Murti's writings.
About the Author:
Harold Coward Completed his Ph.D. on the Grammarian Philosophy of Bhartrhari under the supervision of Professor T.R.V. Murti in 1973. Resulting publications from that study include: Bhartrhari (Boston, 1976), The Philosophy of the Grammarians (Princeton, 1990, vol. V, The Encyclopaedia of Indian Philosophies, edited by Karl Potter). His many other books include: Jung and Eastern Thought (Albany, 1985), Derrida and Indian Philosophy (Albany, 1985), Pluralism in World Religions (Oxford, 2000), and Scripture in World Religions (Oxford, 2000). Professor Coward is Director, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria, British Columbia and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
About the Series:
The Philosophical concepts and categories associated with Sankhya, Vaisesika, carvaka, Jaina, and Bauddha systems are as old as the Vedas. However, the formulation of different systems must have taken place later on. Unfortunately, we do not know about the historical development of these ideas prior to the systematic presentation of them in the form of sutras (aphorisms) which serve as the basic text for each of these schools. Because of the brevity of the sutras, it is difficult to understand the sutra-work without the help of a commentary. Then came the commentaries and sub-commentaries of various kinds on the texts, all of them being interconnected starting from the basic sutra text. Texts, both expository and polemical, were written defending the basic doctrines of each system and also criticizing the views of other systems; and these texts are also commentaries.
A commentary is much more than an exegesis. It is also creative while doing the work of interpretation. The text taken up for interpretation has a context or horizon of its own; the interpreter, too, has a horizon of his/her own. The interaction between the two horizons is a basic element in every kind of interpretation. This interaction between the two horizons, which goes on whenever a text is explained, "enriches" the text and makes it both purportful and purposive. So a commentary is as much original as the text it is commenting on. Indian philosophy was built and developed, strengthened and shaped by the commentarial tradition.
Contemporary Indian philosophy, academic as well as non-academic, have enriched the tradition in several ways. Like classical commentators, they are "builders" of Indian philosophy in the two areas of pure and applied philosophy. The monographs in this series called "Builders of Indian Philosophy" are intended to elucidate and highlight their contribution to Indian Philosophy.
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