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Idealistic Thought In Indian Philosophy

Idealistic Thought In Indian Philosophy
Item Code: NAE544
Author: Shuchita C. Divatia
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 812460021X
Pages: 288
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
weight of the book: 350 gms
About The Book

The development of Drsti-Srsti-Vada from its emergence till its establishment has been systematically presented in this book entitled ‘Idealistic Thought in Indian Philosophy’. The author has attempted to show how the Idealistic thought of a primary stage reached its acme step by step. The book explains what Idealism signifies in its different shades with special reference to the Idealistic schools of Indian philosophy and also speaks about the rise and growth of Idealistic thought from the Vedic times till the final establishment of Drsti-Srsti-Vada in the Kevaladvaita Vedanta vis-à-vis the Drsti-Srsti-Vada of the same school.

Drsti-Srsti-Vada of the Kevaladvaita Vedanta represents the culmination of Idealistic thought. Idealism, rooted in the Upanisadic era, reached its zenith in the Drsti-Srsti-vada and was finally established in the sixteenth century A.D. by Prakasananda. Drsti-Srsti-Vada totally denounces the reality of the wordly phenomena and puts them on a par with the dreaming world. This theory emphasizes that the world of appearance has no substantiality but exists only when it is perceived. In other words srsti and drsti are both identical. Drsti-Srsti-Vada multifies the unapprehended existence of the world and is an unique theory of solving the riddle of the world of appearance, even while upholding the Absolute Reality of the ultimate Reality.

About The Author

Dr. Suchita Divatia born in a well known Nagar Grihastha Divatia family did her graduation and post-graduation with specialization in Sanskrit. A first class first in M.A from the Gujarat University, she is also a gold medalist and scholarship holder. She did her Ph.D in Indian Philosophy at the Gujarat University under the able guidance of Padmasri Prof. Dr. Esther A.Solomon and is presently teaching at the St.Xavier College, Ahmedabad. She is invited by the All India Radio to give talks on Sanskrit Literature and philosophy.


The alluring phenomena of the world have been a subject of inquiry from time immemorial. Could the world with its diversities have been created by some Almighty Ominiscient Lord? Or has it always been there and will continue to exist even though changes may occur? Or is it a big illusion? And also is it, that is deluded? How many ultimate entities could be there? Such questions certainly compel an inquisitive mind to think that there should be at least two entities — sentient and non-sentient, or consciousness and matter. But at the same time doubt arises, how could there be any inter-relation between entities so opposed to each other? Now, if there is only one ultimate entity, it should necessarily be sentiency, which could appear to be matter also. Further, another inquiry may arise, could this one eternal sentient principle be capable of modification or change? Or is it eternally unchanging?

If the first alternative is accepted, it should either be divisible and so non-eternal, or it should cease to exist giving place to something else. And if it is eternally unchanging, how could the world phenomenon be accounted for? So far as the world phenomenon is concerned, we all experience it with its dealings and so they have to be accepted. But at the same time, what proof or warranty is there for their existence, except that they appear in our perceptions, or are known through other means of knowledge based on perception. But this does not necessarily prove the reality of the world around. We experience things in a dream. Which do not exist as a matter of fact, being a fiction of our imagination. Similarly, could the world of the waking state also be a fiction of our imagination? But we all experience the same world phenomenon. Could it then be the imaginary construct of one supreme being? How then would we individual selves be related to that supreme being of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss?

Indian philosophical thought tried to tackle such problems in different ways with the result that a number of philosophical systems came into existence and developed by virtue of mutual influence. As a student of Vedanta Darsana, I was much interested in studying carefully how Kevalädvaita Vedanta has handled this problem of the unreality of the phenomenal world. I have tried to detect the slightest hint in Vedantic works beginning with the Upanisads, which could gradually show the way to the doctrine of Drsti-Srsti.. I have taken up some pre-Sankara and post-Sankara Vedantic works as well as Idealistic schools of Buddhism, and have tried to trace the line of development leading to Drsti-Srsti-vada.

In this book I have treated the rise and growth of Idealistic thought from the Vedic times till the final establishment of Drsti-Srsti-väda in Kevalädvaita Vedanta vis-a-vis the Srsti-Drsti-vada of the same school. The Rgveda represents a very primary stage of Idealistic thought. Glimpses of Idealism are certainly found in the Upanisads, which assert in clear terms the reality of the non-dual sentiency. On the other hand, some minor Upanisads emphasise the subjective trend of thinking which can lead towards the type of Idealism that demolishes the reality of the phenomenal world. The Brahma-sutra declares the one non-dual sentiency as the Ultimate Reality. Both the Madhyaniika as well as the Vijnanavada schools do not regard the objective world as real. The Madhyamika school points out the faultiness of each one of our empirical concepts and the unreality of the organs of proof. The Vijnanavada school clearly supports the subjectivistic thought and this appears to have helped the Idealistic thought of Vedanta in its onward development. Besides, it is noteworthy, that the law of simultaneous apprehension (Sahopalambhaniyama) and Drsti-Srsti-vãda and to show how both these concepts represent the culmination of the Idealistic thought. From my study I have derived that Drsti-Srsti-vãda is not a direct development of the views of Sankara. Besides, I have tried to make it clear that Ekajivavãda is not identical with Drsti-Srsti-vãda though in the Siddhantabiudu, Ekajivavida is considered as an identical theory of Drsti-Srsti-vda.

Before I end here, I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to the Rsis of the Sanskrit lore for the knowledge I have been able to attain from the original Sanskrit works. I also express my gratitude to the great scholars, from whose works I have been benefited much. I must express my deep gratitude to Padmasri Prof. Dr. Esther A. Solomon who has been my inspiration throughout. I should also not forget to mention my loving parents and husband who encouraged me throughout my work. And last but not the least, I am extremely thankful to the management of D.K. Print world, New Delhi, who took the task of publishing my book. Besides, my heart-felt gratitude is certainly there to all who have helped me in various ways in my research.


A common-sense view of the world tells us that it can be classified into two divisions Mind or consciousness and Matter.Matter could further be classified into Solid, Liquid and Gaseous or Substance, Quality, Action, etc. (as the Nyaya-Vaiseika system has attempted to do). On deeper thought it is felt that the wordly poenomena could be traced back to just one final or Utimate Principle — either Matter or Consciousness. Philosophical thinkers have exercised their thinking in both these directions. Most thinkers having an idealistic tendency have felt that Matter could emerge from consciousness if its potencies are suppressed, but consciousness could certainly not emerge from matter which has no innate potency for it. Moreover, Matter can never be established apart from consciousness. We know, the existence of material things only through our knowledge of them, whereas knowledge or consciousness is self-established or self-luminous. Two totally diverse things can have no relation, so it is consciousness that is prime thing from which all Matter gradually emerges, and is illuminated by it. This consciousness is a transcendental Universal Entity of which our apprehensions are diverse modes.

Another question that arises in regard to consciousness is whether this consciousness is one, or there are as many consciousness-units as there are living beings, and if there be innumerable such units, whether these are integrally related to Supreme Consciousness or the Supreme Consciousness does not exist at all, these consciousness-units being the sole factors manipulating Matter and its numerous modifications which have evolved in dependence on them.

Philosophers all over the world have deeply thought about such problems. In India, Vedic thought passing through gradual stages got stabilised in the concept of one Eternal- Transcendental-Consciousness as the Ultimate Reality and explained the emergence of the worldly phenomena from it. The Samkhya thought recognised a plurality of ubiquitous principles (purusas) and along with it ubiquitous Matter (Prakrti) which undergoes modification as Mahat (Intellect), Ahamkãra (Ego principle) and so on up to the five mahabhutas.

The Buddhists, like other thinkers, accepted this to some extent. But they started thinking on a different line. If a thing is modified, how could it still retain its original identity? Either there is no change or there is total change and a new entity comes into existence every moment. Of course depending on the previous one and also on supporting conditions. Only this could change be accounted for. Thus if any eternal thing is to be recognised, it is just the continuum that is eternal and not any substance-sentient or non-sentient. There is no eternal soul but an eternal continuum of consciousness (Vijnana). But as thought progressed, some felt that such consciousness exists by itself and there is no need to hypostatise the existence of any Matter along with it as apart from consciousness there is no proof of its existence. In a dream we see things outside us without there really being any external objects. The same could be the truth about the external world. The things we feel outside are nothing but projections of our own ideas and have no existence apart from them.

The only distinguishing factor here is the common experience of the world that people have. A table is a table for all. How could it be said to be a construct of any individual mind? This the Buddhists explained in numerous ways — all by chance having the same idea, or one mind influencing other minds and so on. This they had to resort to as they did not recognise Transcendental-Universal Consciousness.

Another line of approach of the Buddhists was that no means of knowledge or proof can be said to be valid and to yield true knowledge as all our concepts and definitions are faulty and suffer from the faults of self-dependence, interdependence, argument in a circle and so on. Thus our knowledge cannot vouchsafe for the existence of anything. Put to the test of Reason, everything including that of bondage and liberation topples down like a house of cards. These Madhyamikas are called Sunyavadins as according to them all empirically recognised entities are void of essence. But they were not Nihilists, for Sunyavada also signified that what is beyond the realm of all empirical proof is devoid of what we know as empirical realities. (Only they did not stress this sufficiently as it is beyond empirical proof and verbal usage).

The Vedantins with their - firm belief in Advaita — an ultimate-non-dual sentient principle; regarded consciousness as evolving in two different directions — individual souls and Matter, both these being non-different from the Ultimate and yet having some identity of their own. This could be regarded as some type of bhedbheda but some among the Vedantins, who were very open in their outlook and could appreciate the reasoning of others and even imbibe their views, felt that t. is was not in the true spirit of Upanisadic thought which recognised one non-dual eternally immutable sentient principle as the Ultimate Reality.

The Buddhist argument that an ubiquitous entity cannot undergo any change or perform any successful activity, and that change or activity is possible only if things are recognised as momentary must have appealed to these thinkers, so also the argument that the external world need not be accepted as real on account of its knowledge. Some Absolutist Vedantins therefore felt that the world has to be looked upon as unreal even as a mental construct like the dream-world. The authors of the Yoga-vasistha and the Gaudapadakarika adopted this line of thought in conformity with the Upanisadic doctrine of the non-dual Absolute principle.

Sannkaracarya realised that even then a number of difficulties would have to be faced, as the common-sense view compels us to admit the existence of the external objects, of a plurality of souls, and of God who can be regarded as the cause of the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the world. He recognised all this from the empirical point of view, and propounded the view that from the transcendental point of view, the Ultimate Reality — Brahman is eternally unchanging sentiency, and it is due to Avidya that the world-phenomenon is brought about. Brahman conditioned by Avidya can be said to be the cause of the phenomenal world, which is experienced by the individual souls, which themselves are really non-different from Brahman but seem to be different due to the functioning of Avidya in its various capacities. Thus the external world was recognised as something superimposed upon Brahrman by virtue of cosmic Avidyd and this could justify the common experiences of living beings. This theory was later more precisely systematised by the followers of Sañkara, and given the name of “Srsti-Drsti-vada” — the doctrine that held that there is perception of things that have already been created. That is to say, things can exist even when not apprehended by individual views, as they are the creation of God.

Other followers of Sankara, notable among them — Prakãsananda seemed to hold that this could not be regarded as a faithful representation of Sañkara’s philosophy. Things could be either real (Brahman) or unreal (dream). There could not be something that is, in addition to these; empirically real but transcendentally false, and there is no need to distinguish between ephemeral existence and empirical existence which arc both equally unreal. In a way these thinkers were right, because the early Sunyavadins and even Sañkara seem to admit two grades of existence, of course the unreal one can be further subdivided into empirical and ephemeral, to account for universal illusion (the outer world) and illusions that are only in the case of individual views (e.g., rope-serpent, dream). But these are both unreal. The Buddhist theory of Sahopalambha (that a thing and its knowledge are always apprehended simultaneously; and so knowledge which is self-luminous and self-established is alone real, and not also its object which cannot be established Independently of Its apprehension), greatly influenced such thinkers and Drsti-Srsti-vãda came to have a footing in Sâñkara Vedãnta.

The term ‘Drsti-Srsti’ signifies that the creation is a product the perception. This would mean that existence consists in being perceived; and there are no durable things existing independently of the conscious being. Things do not exist while unperceived.

Obviously, this theory seems shocking as we are very sure of the existence of the things which are perceived by our sense organs. Of course, to a lay man this seems absurd to consider a thing as existing only when it is perceived. But philosophers all over the world have deeply thought about this problem; whether things exist independently of mind or not? Some have arrived on conclusion that things of the world are in some sense dependent on the mind or consciousness which perceives them. On the other hand some do believe that things exist independently of the mind or consciousness. The former who hold that perceptions are in some sense dependent upon the mind of the perceiver may be broadly called Idealists.


Table of Transliterationxi
1Idealistic Thought in the Vedas and the Upanisads11
2Idealistic Thought in the Brahma-Sutra29
3Idealistic Thought in the Madhyamika and the Vijnanavada Schools of Buddhism35
4Idealistic Thought in the Yoga-Vasistha65
5Idealistic Thought in the Gaudapadakarika91
6Idealistic Thought in the Vivekacudamani107
7Idealistic Thought in the Brahma-Sutra-Sankara-Bhasya119
8Idealistic Thought in the Brahmasiddhi145
10Drsti-Srsti-vada in the Vedanta Siddhanta Muktavali183
11Defence of Drsti-Srsti-Vada219
Select Bibliography263

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