It is known to the students of Indian Philosophy that there are six main orthodox systems. They are Sankhya, Yoga, Vaisesika, Mimansa and Vedanta. Besides those, there are the so called heterodox systems. They are three in number, Viz the Charvaka system, the Jaina system and the Buddha system. The present work, the Atmatattvaviveka, belongs to the domain of the Nyaya system.
Udayacharya the author of the Atmatattvaviveka was a great philosopher. He was a maithila Brahmana by birth. He flourished in the second half of the tenth century A. D. Besides the Atmatattvaviveka, Kiranavali, Laksanavali, Tatparyaparisuddhi, Nyayaparisista and Boddhasidhi, have come down to us from his pen.
The Buddhists did not believe in the existence of God or the individual self. They held that the thing which is known as self or which is understood by the term ‘I’ is not the permanent soul but the composite of the five skandhas. This went against the theistic view of the orthodox Hindus. It, therefore, became necessary for them to defend their view. Kuarila, Sankara many others strove hard to prove the existence of the Supreme God and the permanent individual self. Udayana looked at the problem for the view point of the Nyaya school He wrote the Atmatattvaviveka in defence of the permanent soul theory. It is divided into four Paricchedas. In the first parichheda he author has try to refute the theory of momentariness of the world . in the second pariccheda he has examined the subjectivism of the idealists. In the third pariccheda he has discussed the theory of nonexistence of substance apart from its qualities. In the fourth pariccheda he had attacked the theory of nonexistence of things in this world. It is here that he gives his arguments to prove the existence of God and the individual self.
What is a self is a question which has been troubling the mind of the philosopher all over the world. Ancient and modern thinkers devoted their time of study the problem but none could convince the world by his arguments about the nature of self. The Naiyayikas believe in the existence of the permanent soul. They make it the substantive of the qualities desire, pain, pleasure etc. they believe in the plurality of selves. They assert that there is God and He is the creator of the world. The Vaisesikas also hold the same view. The latter differ from the former in as much as they say that the self can be perceived directly. The Sankhyas believe in the existence of Purusas. They say that they are conscious and permanent (Aparinami). They are incapable of movement. They simply watch the activities of Prakrti. They do not believe in the existence of a separate God. The Yoga school holds the same view. It, however, assert the existence of a supreme God.
The Mimansa school assert the existence of the individual self. Is says that the selves are numberless, permanent and conscious. As regards God the Mimansakas differ among themselves. The older school does not believe in the existence of God though it agrees with the theistic view of the Vedas. The Vedant school holds that the Brahmana is the absolute reality. It is conscious, omniscient and omnipresent. The theory of plurality of selves is maintained. The existence of God ia also supported.
Of the three heterodox schools, the Charvakas hold that the body is all in all. They do not worry about anything else. The Buddhists do not assert the existence of individual soul or God. For them the individual self is a bundle of the skandhas perceptions, sensations and emotions. The Jainas hold the different view from the former two. They assert the existence of the individual selves and believe in their plurality. They say that the selves are permanent and conscious. They, however, believe that they have dimension and are as big as their respective bodies. They do not believe in the existence of supreme God in that sense in which the orthodox Hindus do. They hold that every man may become a god by accumulation of merits. Gods do not differ from human beings and animals in kind, but they do so in degree of perfection. All Tirthankars are gods because they are perfect.
As the Atmatattvaviveka refutes chiefly the Buddhists views regarding self, it will not be out of peace to give a brief history of Buddhism and its school. The Buddhism arose in the sixth century B. C. in Magadha, when, perhaps, Bimbisara ruled there Bmbisara and his followed supported it. During the time of Nandas and Chandragupta Maurya Brahamanism came in the foreground. Asoka patronized Buddhism and spread it far and wide. The Sungas, the Kanvas and the Andhras did not patronize it. It was, therefore, thrown in the background in their time Before long it again found a patron in Kaniska, who gave it a different shape. The period of the Gupta kings was a period of the revival of Vedic reglion and Brahmanic learning, but the Buddhism did not disappear from India, because the Gupta monarchs were tolerents in religion. After him the country was divided into many small states with an independent king of its own. Most of these kings patronised the orthodox Hinduism. Buddhism continued to linger in Bihar and Bengal during the reign of the Pala Kings. It was in this period that Udayanacharya was born.
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