The work documents the discussions and debate around some of the most vital issues relating to Mimamsa, Vedanta and Nyaya in Indian Philosophy. Does Mimamsa really believe in the Doctrine of Karma as understood in the Indian tradition, or consider it as a purvapaksa which has to be refuted in order to understand the nature of the Vedic Yajna? Did Vedanta really exist as an important School of Indian Philosophy before Sankara appeared on the scene, or is it a Post Sankara phenomenon which has been retrospectively superimposed on the history of Indian Philosophy by those who have written on the subject? Is Nyaya 'Realist' as everyone seems to term is understood in the Western Philosophical tradition? What is Aharya Jnana, and if it is really a jnana what happens to jnana or 'knowledge' as understood in the Indian Philosophical traditions?
These and many other issues are debated and discussed by outstanding traditional Pandits and modern scholars such as Pattabhirama Sastri, Ramanuja Tattacarya, Romella Suryaprakasa Sastri, D. Prahalada Char, V. Venkatachalam, Fritz Staal, R. Balasubramanian, J. N. Mohanty, Sibajiban Bhattacharyya, and others whose names are well-known to the English-knowing 'world' of Indian Philosophy.
Indian Philosophy can never remain the same after one has read these discussions and debate on issues so central to Indian Philosophy.
Daya Krishna is the Editor of the Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research from which the discussion and debates on Mimamsa, Vedanta and Sankhya have been selected.
He has written extensively on Indian Philosophy and his major works include Indian Philosophy: A Counter-Perspective (1991,96), New Perspectives in Indian Philosophy (2001), Indian Philosophy: A New Approach (1992).
His most recent works on Indian Philosophy include Developments in Indian Philosophy from 18th century Onwards: Classical and Modern (2002) and The Nyaya Sutras: A New Commentary on an Old Text (2004). He has also edited India's Intellectual Traditions (1987,2003), Bhakti: A Contemporary Discussion (2002), and has authored A Prolegomena to Any Future Historiography of Cultures and Civilizations (1997).
A collection of his philosophical writings has been published under the title The Art of the Conceptual: Explorations in a Conceptual Maze over Three Decades (1989).
A work on his 'philosophy' has been published entitled The Philosophy of Daya Krishna (1996).
The present selections from the journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research deal primarily with issues relating to Vedanta, Mimamsa and Nyaya in the Indian Tradition. Normally, most writers on Indian philosophy, including acknowledged scholars of the subject, present a picture of these ‘schools’ as if there were no issues or problems in respect of the ‘understanding’ of what they are supposed to have said. But this just is not the case, and the present collection is the ‘story’ of this discovery. It documents, step by step, the unfolding of the drama which, in retrospect, is unbelievable even to one through whose ‘instrumentality’ the events may be said to have unfolded.
The story started, as it always does, by a ‘chance’ encounter with a ‘stray’ quotation from Staal by Wendy O’Flaherty in her Introduction to the Volume on Karma edited by her. The quotation seemed to present, at least prima facie, a view of oblation in the Vedic sacrifice, or dravya-tyaga, which was mistaken. The obvious solution was to find from reputed Mimamsa scholars the ‘authoritative’ view on the subject and in case it conflicted with Staal’s interpretation, send the same to him so that he could defend his own interpretation against theirs. Accordingly, Staal’s view was translated into Sanskrit, sent to Pt. Pattabhiram Sastri, Remella Suryaprakasa Sastri, Ramanuja Tatacharya and Professor KT. Pandurangi. They all cooperated in the experiment and their comments along with Professor Staal’s reply were published in different issues of the JICPR and are reprinted in this collection for the reader’s benefit.
The ‘exploratory’ and ‘dialogical’ character of the ‘experience’ so gained and the cooperative response it elicited from the traditional masters of the philosophical craft in India led us on into the unending adventure whose results are reported in this Volume.
The discussion on Karl H. Potter’s article The Development of Advaita Vedanta as a School of Philosophy and Daya Krishna’s ‘Vedanta in the First Millennium AD’ and their replies to the comment on what they had written constitute the centre piece on the School of Vedanta in this collection. Similarly, besides the piece on Dravya-Tyaga we have detailed discussion on such important issues in Mimamsa as whether the doctrine of Karma is treated as a purvapaksa in the system, while in Nyaya we have the continuing controversy on the issue whether Nyaya is realist or idealist in the current accepted sense of these terms.
The Section on Nyaya contains besides the controversy about its being ‘realist’ or ‘idealist’, issues regarding ‘identity statements’ such as ‘ghato ghatah’, the nature of aharya jnana, the problem of Sabdabodha in the case of complex sentences where it is difficult to distinguish between the main and the subsidiary clauses, or what is mukhya or pradhana and what is gamma in the linguistic construction. The exposition of a little-known genre of Nyaya writing called the Krodapatras and the discussion thereon is an added bonus in this section.
There has perhaps never been a galaxy of such illustorious participants in the exploration of an issue, such a sustained questioning of the beliefs which were held to be indubitable by almost everybody up till now, or such an ‘open’ debate in which traditional pandits who knew only Sanskrit or their regional language engaged on ‘equa1’ terms with those who only wrote in English, the later including in their fold both Indians and foreigners.
Samvada was the first experiment of this type, planned and executed by Professor M.P. Rege, who is now no more. His death on the 28th of December, 2000 has deprived the philosophical world of one of the most ‘imaginative’ experimenters who brought the active practitioners of the two philosophical traditions, the Indian and the Western, in a dialogical situation where each was ‘forced’ to ‘existentially’ face the ‘living’ tradition of a different way of philosophizing.
The Rege experiment which occurred at Poona has had slow, but lasting, effect on the ‘understanding’ of Indian philosophy in this country. The discussions and debate collected in this volume are a continuation of that ‘experiment’ and an evidence of its influence over the intervening years. An ‘invisible’ change has, however, occurred during this period as the focus of attention has shifted from the ‘external’ ‘reference point’ of Western philosophy to something that was ‘internal’ and immanent to the tradition of Indian philosophizing itself. The debate with the exponents of Indian philosophy in the West is still marginally there, but gradually the students and practitioners of Indian philosophy in India are discussing and rediscovering a rich field of diversity, conflict and ambiguity in the tradition that challenges debate, discussion and exploration resulting in a ‘new’ partnership between traditionally trained Pandits and modern University trained philosophy persons in the country. This has already resulted in incalculable benefit to both the parties concerned, as Indian philosophy becomes once again, a matter of ‘living concern’ to the practising ‘philosophers’ in the country. Who could have imagined even a few decades ago, that Pandits of the status of Pattabhirama Sastri, Ramanuja Tatacharya, Remella Suryaprakasa Sastri, D. Prahalada Char, V. Venkatachalam would engage in an active controversy on issues in Vedanta, Mimamsa and Nyaya with scholars such as Fritz Staal, Karl H. Potter, V.N. Jha, N.S. Dravid, G.C. Pande, R. Balasubramanian, J.N. Mohanty, Sibajiban Bhattachaiyya and others whose names are well-known to the English-knowing ‘world’ of Indian philosophy.
The debate and the discussion in these pages makes Indian philosophy alive once more and it is hoped that the philosophically—inclined readers will not only enjoy the arguments and counter—arguments on the issued debated, but themselves participate in carrying the unending enterprise of philosophis-ing in the Indian tradition further.
It may be added that all the issues raised and debated in the pages of the JICPR have not been included in this collection. The interesing discussion on Professor Hesterman’s thesis that renunciating practices are found in the Veda as an intergral part of the Vedic ritual and hence need not be ascribed to the Sramana traditions as has been done up till now, is one such example.
There are others scattered in the pages of the Notes and Queries Section of the various issues of the journal. They have not been included as they did not evoke much controversy or response from those interested in the subject. The responsibility for the selection is that of Professor R.S. Bhatnagar who has been associated with the JICPR in perhaps the most ‘intimate’ way possible as he, and he alone, has prepared its Subject and Author Index over the last so many years. He has been helpful in many ways, and it has been his suggestion that the material on Indian philosophy be published separately from the one on Western philosophy.
Accordingly, the discussion and debate on issues in Western philosophy has been deferred and it is hoped that they will be brought together and published in a separate volume later.
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