Professor Surendranath Dasgupta (1885-1952) earned his PhD from the University of Calcutta as well as from the University of Cambridge. He held many positions throughout his life, such as the Principal of Sanskrit College, Calcutta, ex-officio Secretary of the Bengal Sanskrit Association, and the King George V Professor of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. He represented Cambridge University at the Congress of Philosophy in Paris in 1921, and Calcutta University at the International Congress of Philosophy at Naples in 1924 as well as at Harvard in 1926. An authority on Sanskrit and philosophy, he travelled widely all across India to gather ancient texts and combine various streams of philosophical thought. His life's work was the compendium, originally published in five volumes—the last, posthumously.
The old civilisation of India was a concrete unity of many-sided developments in art, architecture, literature, religion, morals, and science so far as it was understood in those days. But the most important achievement of Indian thought was philosophy. It was regarded as the goal of all the highest practical and theoretical activities, and it indicated the point of unity amidst all the apparent has diversities which the complex growth of culture over a vast area - inhabited by different peoples produced. It is not in the history of in foreign invasions, in the rise of independent kingdoms at different n times, in the empires of this or that great monarch that the unity of, India is to be sought. It is essentially one of spiritual aspirations an and obedience to the law of the spirit, which were regarded as superior to everything else, and it has outlived all the political changes through which India passed.
The Greeks, the Huns, the Scythians, the Pathans and the Moguls who occupied the land and controlled the political machinery never ruled the minds of the people, for these political events were like hurricanes or the changes of season, mere phenomena of a natural or physical order which never affected the spiritual integrity of Hindu culture. If after a passivity of some centuries India is again going to become creative it is mainly on account of this fundamental unity of her progress and civilisation and not for anything that she may borrow from other countries. It is therefore indispensably necessary for all those who wish to appreciate the significance and potentialities of Indian culture that they should properly understand the history of Indian philosophical thought which is the nucleus round which all that is best and highest in India has grown. Much harm has already been done by the circulation of opinions that the culture and philosophy of India was dreamy and abstract. It is therefore very necessary that Indians as well as other peoples should become more and more acquainted with the true characteristics of the past history of Indian thought and form a correct estimate of its special features.
But it is not only for the sake of the right understanding of India that Indian philosophy should be read, or only as a record of the past thoughts of India. For most of the problems that are still debated in modern philosophical thought occurred in more or less divergent forms to the philosophers of India. Their discussions, difficulties and solutions when properly grasped in connection with the problems of our own times may throw light on the course of the process of the future reconstruction of modern thought. The discovery of the important features of Indian philosophical thought, and a due appreciation of their full significance, may turn out to be as important to modern philosophy as the discovery of Sanskrit has been to the investigation of modern philological researches. It is unfortunate that the task of reinterpretation and revaluation of Indian thought has not yet been undertaken on a comprehensive scale. Sanskritists also with very few exceptions have neglected this important field of study, for most of these scholars have been interested more in mythology, philology, and history than in philosophy. Much work however has already been done in the way of the publication of a large number of important texts, and translations of some of them have also been attempted. But owing to the presence of many technical terms in advanced Sanskrit philosophical literature, the translations in most cases are hardly intelligible to those who are not familiar with the texts themselves.
A work containing some general account of the mutual relations of the chief systems is necessary for those who intend to pursue the study of a particular school. This is also necessary for lay readers interested in philosophy and students of Western philosophy who have no inclination or time to specialise in any Indian system, but who are at the same time interested to know what they can about Indian philosophy. In my two books The Study of Patanjali and Yoga Philosophy in relation to other Indian Systems of Thought I have attempted to interpret the Sarrildiya and Yoga systems both from their inner point of view and from the point of view of their relation to other Indian systems. The present attempt deals with the important features of these as also of all the other systems and seeks to show some of their inner philosophical relations especially in regard to the history of their development. I have tried to be as faithful to the original texts as I could and have always given the Sanskrit or Pali technical terms for the help of those who want to make this book a guide for further study. To understand something of these terms is indeed essential for anyone who wishes to be sure that he is following the actual course of the thoughts.
In Sanskrit treatises the style of argument and methods of treating the different topics are altogether different from what we e find in any modern work of philosophy. Materials had therefore e to be collected from a large number of works on each system and 11 these have been knit together and given a shape which is likely to be more intelligible to people unacquainted with Sanskritic ways f of thought. But at the same time I considered it quite undesirable 1 to put any pressure on Indian thoughts in order to make them appear as European. This will explain much of what might appear quaint to a European reader. But while keeping all the thoughts s and expressions of the Indian thinkers I have tried to arrange them in a systematic whole in a manner which appeared to me strictly faithful to their clear indications and suggestions. It is only in very few places that I have translated some of the Indian terms by terms of English philosophy, and this I did because it appeared to me that those were approximately the nearest approach to the Indian sense of the term. In all other places I have tried to choose words which have not been made dangerous by the acquirement of technical senses. This however is difficult, for the words which are used in philosophy always acquire some sort of technical sense. I would therefore request my readers to take those words in an unsophisticated sense and associate them with such meanings as are justified by the passages and contexts in which they are used. Some of what will appear as obscure in any system may I hope is removed if it is re-read with care and attention, for unfamiliarity sometimes stands in the way of right comprehension. But I may have also missed giving the proper suggestive links in many places where condensation was inevitable and the systems themselves have also sometimes insoluble difficulties, for no system of philosophy is without its dark and uncomfortable corners. Though I have begun my work from the Vedic and Brahmanic stage, my treatment of this period has been very slight. The beginnings of the evolution of philosophical thought, though they can be traced in the later Vedic hymns, are neither connected nor systematic.
Nine years have passed away since the first volume of this work was published, and the present volume has been in the press for more than two years. During the last seven years bad health has been responsible for many interruptions. In the first volume manuscripts were sparingly used, but in the present work numerous unpublished and almost unknown manuscripts have been referred to. These could not be collected easily, and it took time to read them; many of them were old and moth-eaten and it was not often easy to decipher the handwriting. It has not always been possible, however, to give an elaborate account of the content of all these manuscripts, for in many cases they contained no new matter and had therefore only been mentioned by name, a fact which could be ascertained only after long and patient study, since records of them were previously unknown. A considerable delay was also caused in the writing of this volume by the fact that large portions of what will appear in the third volume had to be compiled before the manuscripts had left the author's hands. In any event, the author offers his sincere apologies for the delay.
The manuscript of the third volume has made good progress and, barring illness and other accidents, will soon be sent to press. This volume will contain a fairly elaborate account of the principal dualistic and pluralistic systems, such as the philosophy of the Paiicaratra, Bhaskara, Yamuna, Ramanuja and his followers, Madhya and his followers, the Bhagavata-puratta and the Gaudiya school of Vais4avism. The fourth and the fifth volumes will deal with the philosophy of Vallabha and some other lesser known schools of Vaisnavism, the philosophy of the Purkias, Tantras, the different schools of Saivas, Saktas, Indian Aesthetics, the philosophy of right and law and the religious systems that have found their expression in some of the leading vernaculars of India.
A new impression of the first volume is now in the press. The present volume contains four chapters on Sankara Vedanta, the Medical Speculations of the Ancient Hindus, and the Philosophy of the Yoga-vasigha and the Bhagavad-Gita. A good deal of the Saiikara Vedanta, especially in regard to its controversy with Bhaskara, Ramanuja, Madhya and their followers, still remains to be treated in the third volume.
A word of explanation may be needed with regard to the inclusion in a work on Indian philosophy of the speculations of the Indian medical schools. Biology has recently played a great part in liberating philosophy from its old-world ideas. In ancient India, Biology had not grown into a separate science; whatever biological ideas were current in India were mixed up with medical, osteological and physiological speculations, the only branches of study in ancient India which may be regarded as constituting an experimental science. It was therefore thought that a comprehensive work on the history of Indian philosophy would be sadly defective without a chapter on these speculations, which introduce also some distinctly new ethical and eschatological concepts and a view of life which is wholly original. The biological notions of growth, development and heredity of these schools are no less interesting, and their relations to the logical categories of Nyaya are very instructive.
No attempt has been made to draw any comparisons or contrasts with Western philosophy, since in a work of this type it would most likely have been misleading and would have obscured the real philosophical issues. The study here presented is strictly faithful to the original Sanskrit texts within the limits of the present writer's capacities. Often the ground covered has been wholly new and the materials have been obtained by a direct and first-hand study of all available texts and manuscripts. Nevertheless some sources, containing, possibly, valuable materials, inevitably remain unconsulted, for many new manuscripts will be discovered in future, and our knowledge of Indian philosophy must advance but slowly. In spite of the greatest care, errors of interpretation, exposition and expression may have crept in and for these the author craves the indulgence of sympathetic readers.
Since the publication of the first volume of the present work, many treatises on Indian philosophy have appeared in India and elsewhere. But it has not been possible to refer to many of these. The present attempt is mainly intended to give an exposition of Indian thought strictly on the basis of the original texts and commentaries, and not to eradicate false views by indulging in controversy; and, since the author takes upon himself the responsibility of all the interpretations of the texts that he has used, and since he has drawn his materials mostly from them, it has seldom been possible to refer to the efforts of his fellow-workers in the field. n Occasionally, however, he has had to discuss and sometimes to n borrow the views of other writers in the assessment of chronological n facts, and he also expresses his indebtedness to such other writers who have worked upon some of the special problems of Indian it thought. It has been suggested to him that it would have been better if the views of other writers had been fully criticized, but however it that may be, such criticism has been considered as beyond the scope of this work, which, as at present planned, will cover some 3000 e pages when completed.
The chronological views regarding the antiquity of the GTO may y appear heretical, but it is hoped that they may be deemed excusable, s for this is an age of toleration, and they are not more heretical than the views of many distinguished writers on Indian chronology. In s the chapter on the Grta, some repetition of the same views in different contexts was inevitable on account of the looseness of the s structure of the GTO, which is an ethic religious treatise and not a system of philosophy. This, however, has been studiously avoided 1 in the other chapters. Neither the Yoga-vaiytha nor the GTO are systematic works on philosophy, and yet no treatment of Indian s philosophy can legitimately ignore their claims. For in a country where philosophy and religion have been inseparably associated, the value of such writings as breathe the spirit of philosophy cannot be over-estimated, and no history of Indian philosophy worth the name can do without them.
I have no words sufficient to express my gratitude to my esteemed friend, Dr F. W. Thomas, Boden Professor of Sanskrit, I Oxford, who went through the proofs in two of their stages and thus co-operated with me in the trouble of correcting them. I fear that in spite of our joint efforts many errors have escaped our eyes, but had it not been for his kind help the imperfections of the book would have been greater. I must similarly thank my friend, Mr Douglas Ainstie, for help with the proofs. My thanks are also due to my pupils, Dr M. Eleade (Bucharest), Mr Janakiballabh Bhattacharyya, M.A., and my other friends, Messrs Satkari Mookerjee, M.A., Durgacharan Chatterjee, M.A., Srish Chandra Das Gupta, M.A., and my daughter, Miss Maitreyi Devi, for the assistance they rendered me in getting the manuscript ready for the Press inserting diacritical marks, comparing the references and the like, and also arranging the index cards. But as none of them had the whole charge of any of an occasional nature, the responsibility for imperfections belongs to the author and not to them.
The third volume of the present series was published in 1940. 1 The manuscript of the fourth volume was largely ready at that time and it would have been possible to send it for publication at least by 1942. But the second World-War commenced in 1939 and although the Cambridge University Press was prepared to accept the manuscript even during war-time, the despatch of the manuscript from Calcutta to Cambridge and the transmission of proofs to and fro between England and India appeared to me to be too risky. In 1945, after retiring from the Chair of Philosophy in the Calcutta University, I came to England. But shortly after my arrival here I fell ill, and it was during this period of illness that I revised the manuscript and offered it to the University Press. This explains the unexpected delay between the publication of the third volume and the present one. The promises held out in the preface to the third volume, regarding the subjects to be treated in the present volume, have been faithfully carried out, But I am not equally confident now about the prospects of bringing out another volume. I am growing in age and have been in failing health for long years. The physical and mental strain of preparing a work of this nature and of seeing it through the Press is considerable, and I do not know if I shall be able to stand such a strain in future. But I am still collecting the materials for another volume and hope that I may be able to see it published in my lifetime.
The present volume deals with the philosophy of the Bhagavata-purava, the philosophy of Madhya and his followers, the philosophy of Vallabha and the philosophy of the Gaudiya school of Vaisnavism. So far as I know, nothing important has yet been published on the philosophy of the Bhagavata-purlina and that of Vallabha. Two important works by Mr Nagaraja Sarma of Madras and Professor Helmuth von Glasenapp on the philosophy of Madhya has been published in English and German respectively. But so far nothing has appeared about the philosophy of the great teachers of the Madhya school such as Jaya-tirtha and Vyasa-tirtha. Very little is known about the great controversy between the eminent followers of the Madhya school of thought and of the followers of the Sankara school of Vedanta. In my opinion Jaya-tirtha and Vyasa-tirtha present the highest dialectical skill in Indian thought. There is a general belief amongst many that monism of Satikara presents the final phase of Indian thought. The realistic and dualistic thought of the Samkhya and the yoga had undergone a compromise with monism both in the Puranas and in the hands of the later writers. But the readers of the present volume who will be introduced to the philosophy of Jaya-tirtha and particularly of Vyasa-tirtha will realize the strength and uncompromising impressiveness of the dualistic position. The logical skill and depth of acute dialectical thinking shown by Vyasa-tirtha stands almost unrivalled in the whole field of Indian thought. Much more could have been written on the system of Madhya logic as explained in the Tarka-tavdava of Vyasa-tirtha. In this great work Vyasa-tirtha has challenged almost every logical definition that appears in the Tattva-cintamani of Gange§a, which forms the bed-rock of the new school of Nyaya logic. But this could have been properly done only in a separate work on the Madhya logic. Of the controversy between the monists of the Sankara school and the dualists of the Madhya school, most people are ignorant of the Madhya side of the case, though there are many who may be familiar with the monistic point of view. It is hoped that the treatment of the philosophy of Madhya and his followers undertaken in the present volume will give new light to students of Indian thought and will present many new aspects of dialectical logic hitherto undiscovered in Indian or European thought.
The treatment of the philosophy of Vallabha which is called viguddhadvaitu or pure monism presents a new aspect of monism and also gives us a philosophical analysis of the emotion of devotion. Though readers of Indian philosophy may be familiar with the name of Vallabha, there are but few who are acquainted with the important contributions of the members of his school.
I have not devoted much space to the philosophy of the Bhc7gavata-purava. Much of its philosophical views had already been anticipated in the treatment of the Samkhya, yoga and the Vedanta. As regards the position of God and His relation to the world the outlook of the Bhagavata-purava is rather ambiguous. The Bhagavata-purava has therefore been referred to for support by the Madhvas, Vallabhas and thinkers of the Gaudiya school. The Gaucliya school seems to make the Bhagavata-purava the fundamental source of its inspiration.
The chief exponent of the Gaucliya school of thought is Caitanya. He, however, was a religious devotee and very little is known of his teachings. He did not produce any literary or philosophical work. But there were some excellent men of letters and philosophers among his disciples and their disciples. The treatment of the Gaucliya school of Vaisnavism thus gives a brief exposition of the views of Rupa Goswami, Jiva Gosvami and Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Dr S. K. De has contributed a number of important articles on the position of Jiva Goswami, though it does not seem that he cared to put an emphasis on the philosophical perspective.
In writing the present volume I have been able to use the huge amount of published materials in Sanskrit as well as a number of rare manuscripts which I collected from South India on my journeys there on various occasions.
My best thanks are due to my old friend, Dr F. W, Thomas, who, in spite of his advanced age and many important pre-occupations, took the trouble to revise some portions of the manuscript and of revising and correcting the proofs, with so much care and industry. But for his help the imperfections of the present work would have been much greater. I also have to thank Dr E. J. Thomas for the many occasional helps that I received from him from the time of the first inception of the present series. My best thanks are also due to my wife, Mrs Surama Dasgupta, M.A., Ph.D. (Cal. et Cantab), Sastri, for the constant help that I received from her in the writing of the book and also in many other works connected with its publication. I am also grateful to Dr Satindra Kumar Mukherjee, M.A., Ph.D., my former pupil, for the help that I received from him when I was preparing the manuscript some years ago. I wish also to thank the Syndics of the University Press for undertaking the publication of this volume at a time when the Press was handicapped by heavy pressure of work, and by great difficulties of production.
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