In the history of Virasaiva literature the Srikarabhasya of Sripati, a commentary on Brahma-Sutra, is a very important work. Sripati (14thcentury A.D.), was one of the greatest philosophers of Virasaiva school of Saivism.
The present book is an effort to highlight the philosophy of Sripati and his contribution towards Indian philosophy, especially in the field of Virasaivism.
Beginning with some fundamentals like historical approach of Saivism,development of the idea of RudraSiva, Saivism amongst the kings and great authors, classification of Saivism, life of Sripati, it discusses all the important philosophical aspects of Virashaivism and as well as Saddarsana.
The philosophical aspects i.e., theory of knowledge, Brahman, Jiva, Jagat, and Liberation etc. have been analysed and compared with that of other schools of Saivism and Advaita school of Indian philosophy. Further, in this work efforts have made to include various views of Şaddarsana, to bring out a critical analysis of Sripati’s philosophy in all the relevant fields. The book is thus essentially analytical, critical and comparative in nature.
Dr. Bharati Goswami is Associate Professor and Head in the Department of Sanskrit, B. Borooah College, Guwahati, Assam. She has done her Graduation, Post-Graduation, M. Phil and Ph.D. from Gauhati University. Besides writing numerous popular articles Dr. Goswami has authored a number of research papers on ancient Indian culture, philosophy and literature and participated in several National and International seminars and conferences on Sanskrit and related studies. She has co-authored four text books in Sanskrit and two Sanskrit grammars meant of high school students under Secondary Education Board of Assam. She has substantially contributed in the preparation of study-materials for degree-level students in Sanskrit under KKH Open University. Dr. Goswami has co-edited a book titled "Lauhityatirat Sanskrit Carca", a collection of research articles in Assamese about the study of Sanskrit in Assam, published by Sanskrit Department of B. Borooah College and edited a number of Journal and magazines.
India has made an immense contribution in this world of thought particularly in the field of philosophy and religion. For over a period of four thousand years, Indian ascetics developed their system of philosophy. Philosophy in India is essentially spiritual. The spiritual motive dominates life in India. Indian philosophy always emphasizes the need of practical realization of truth. It signifies a natural and necessary urge in human beings to know themselves and the world which they live and move and have their being. The philosophical thinking began with the Rgveda itself, prominently revealed in the hymns like Devisukta, Purusasukta and the suktas ascribed to Dirghatamas. The Purusasukta and the Devisukta show the germs of monistic idealism and the suktas of Dirghatamas contain the germs of the dualistic realism. Thus, as a result of this nucleus, there arose six Indian philosophical systems, based on either monistic idealism or dualistic realism. These six schools are namely the Purvamimamsa or the Mimamsa school of Jaimini, the Uttaramimamsa or the Vedanta school of Badarayana, the Samkhya system of Kapila, the Yoga school of Patanjali, the Nyaya system of Gautama and Vaisesika school of Kanada. These six schools of Indian thought are known as astika (orthodox) or vaidika (Vedic) on account of their recognising Vedic authority as well as the existence of God. Side by side with these orthodox schools, there developed three nastika (non-orthodox or heterodox) or avaidika (non-Vedic) schools of philosophy as they came to defy the authority of the Veda and the existence of God. Those are Bauddha, Jaina and Carvaka darsanas.
We have to add here that other minor systems like Vaisnavism, different schools of Saivism like Pasupata-Saivism, Pratyabhijna-Saivism, Virasaivism etc. also cropped up in support of the main trends in the arena of Indian philosophy.
The present treatise is restricted to an elaborative discussion on the contribution of great philosopher Sripati of Virasaivism, an important school of Saivism. It is due to the efforts of Sripati that Virasaivism has occupied a predominant place in Saivism school of Indian philosophical thought. In an endeavour to reveal the perspective of Saivism in Indian philosophy a discussion on it has been made from a historical standpoint.
Historical Approach of Saivism
The Vedas are the earliest literary and philosophical documents of the Aryans. The Vedic culture is the main foundation of the Indian civilisation. All the philosophical ideas that we find in India have their roots in the Vedas. Unfortunately our knowledge of the Vedic period is, even to this day, too meagre and imperfect. The absence of chronological data, the complete indifference of the ancient Indians towards personal histories, the archaic character of the Vedic Sanskrit, are some of the main reasons due to which our knowledge about this period remains mostly shrouded in mystery.
The name 'Veda' stands for mantras and the Brahmanas. Mantra means a hymn addressed to some god or goddess. The collection of mantras is called Samhita. There are four Samhitas Rk, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. The rsis of the Vedas are not the authors, but only the seers of the mantras. The Brahmanas, unlike the mantras are written in prose. They deal with the rules and regulations laid down for the performance of the rites and the sacrifices. There is little philosophy in these, though some philosophical ideas flash here and there in the course of some speculative digressions. The appendages to these Brahmanas are called Aranyakas. The Aranyakas mark the transition from the ritualistic to the philosophic thought. The concluding portions of the Aranyakas are called the Upanisads. These are intensely philosophical and spiritual and may be rightly regarded as the cream of the Vedic philosophy.
Though we find a little philosophical thought in the pre-Upanisadic stage, the seeds of the important philosophical trends might be easily traced there. Moreover there has been a gradual development of the philosophical thought from the mantras and the Brahmanas through the Aranyakas to the Upanisads. It is said that one can notice a transition from the naturalistic and anthropomorphic polytheism through transcendental monotheism to immanent monism in the pre-Upanisadic philosophy. The personified forces of nature first changed into real gods and these later on, became mere forms of one personal and transcendental God, who Himself later on passed into the immanent Purusa. The Upanisads develop this Purusa into Brahman or Atman which is both immanent and transcendent. In the Veda we find some natural phenomena which are recognized as the objects of religious worship. Some of the phenomena of external nature are pleasing, benignant, vivifying etc. and others are terrible, discouraging and destructive. All these phenomena are artistically conceived as gods and goddesses. Gradually all these phenomena are transformed into mythological characters in the Rgveda such as - Surya, Soma, Agni, Dyaus, Maruts, Vayu, Usas, Prthvi etc. The earlier hymns of the Rgveda are addressed to the lovely goddess Usas (dawn), the Surya (sun), the Soma (moon), the Dyaus (sky) etc. All of them are actually friendly god for the people at that time. All the gods vivify them to do work, to live etc. The earliest seers of the Vedic hymns were essentially of a poetic temperament. Due to this temperament they looked at things of nature with such intensity of feeling and force of imagination that these things of nature became instincts with souls. To them nature was a living presence. They regarded the moon and stars, the sea and the sky, the dawn and the nightfall as divine. This worship of nature was the earliest form of Vedic religion. But soon there was an unconscious effort to penetrate into the inner nature of things. In moments of his utter dependence on the mighty forces of nature, he feels the reality at the presence of God in those natural forces.
The people in the earlier days have to face some terrible and destructive phenomena which are usually known as storm. These phenomena accompanied by thunderbolt uproot trees, demolish houses, strike down men and beasts dead in a moment. In this phenomenon the Aryans noticed God Rudra, who went about howling with the stormy winds ( maruts). From Rgveda we know that Rudra is the father of the storm-gods. But, it is noteworthy that human beings do not believe in the purely malignant power ruling in the whole Universe. The wrath of a god can be appeased by prayer, praise and offerings. Then the god becomes benignant, i.e. Siva. Thus the idea of the god Rudra-Siva became established in India in ancient times.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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