This book is an attempt to evaluate ‘Lokayata’ by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya Lokayata is the interpretation of history of Indian philosophy from Marxist view point. This critical evaluation of it attempts to show that Marxist interpretation of history is not an ideal frame-work, especially so, for the history of Indian Philosophy. This book refutes Marxist interpretation by showing its drawbacks and effects, as well as it gives positive aspects of Indian Philosophy.
Dr.(Mrs.) Shubhada A.Joshi is presently in the Department of Philosophy, University of Bombay.
The Late Prof. (Dr;) Debiprasad Chattopadhyay was a renowned scholar and was one of our progressive intellectuals of yesteryear. His book 'Lokayata' is known all over the world of Philosophy and has been translated into most of the languages of the erstwhile Socialist (communist) countries. It is a book which attempts a Marxist interpretation of Indian Philosophy and culture. Similar attempts were made by the late comrade Shripada A. Dange, Prof. S.R. Gadgil, Mr. Mohan Lal Bajaj (his bulky one on Glta. Prof. S.R. Gadgil's book has a foreword by the late Pt. Laxman Shastri Joshi. (It is quite unusual that the foreword is highly critical of the contents of the book.)
Prof. Debiprasad's book is a scholarly and a very closely argued work. It is very well documented. It was therefore, a venture to take up this work (Lokayata) of the then living author for a thorough evaluation. Prof. Dr. (Mrs.) Joshi took up this challenging task and has almost succeeded in bearding the lion in its own den. Her book 'Indian Spiritualism' (Reaffirmed) is a critical evaluation ofIndian Philosophy, from the Vedas to Port-Sankara Vedanta, Sarnkhaya, Tantra, Lokayata, Buddhism, Taoism and Jainism. Again, he has referred to a large number of western scholars with reference to Marxism, social Anthropology and Evolution.
The Book 'Indian Spiritualism (Reaffirmed) by Prof. (Mrs.) Joshi was originally written as a Doctoral Thesis, whose title was 'Lokayata' (a critical study) and was a lengthy one. It has however, been abridged, edited and revised before publication and has been given appropriate title viz, 'Indian Spiritualism' (Reaffirmed).
The author Mrs. Joshi has examined Debiprasad's method with reference to Dialectic Materialism, Social Anthropology and Evolution. She has pointed out how they are not suited for the study of Indian Philosophy and culture. She has further brought out a possible confusion in Debiprasad's thinking. Debiprasad often refers to pre-Vedic society, whereas he is interested in pointing out to the proto-materialistic classless Vedic society. He describes the Vedic man as a Hung Savage, praying for food, progency, rains, cattle etc. Early Vedic Society, according to him was classless and there was social ownership. This society had no idea of private property. It was at the level of development of the aboriginals like Dinkas and others. Vedic thinkers were materialistic their yagas and yajnas were magical rites. Their religion was animistic and spritualism or Idealism was a later graft on this materialist philosophy of the Vedas. Even Samkhya was materialistic. Purusa of Sarnkhya is a useless appendage. Debiprasad has not spread the Upanisads. He takes up the story of Baka Dalbhya and the chanting dogs from the Chandogya Upanishad and uses it with some advantage.
Mrs. Joshi in this book, points out that the vedic man was not a 'hungry savage' and further that there is no evidence about the pre-vedic society. Earlier Mandalas viz. mandalas II and VII do refer to the varna system. Vedic people accepted marriage as an institution. They had private property. There are references to inheritance of property. They were maritime people and their trade links were far and wide. They had idea of currency as Niskas (golden coin). They knew textiles, matallergy, leather tanning etc. Agriculture of course was their primary occupation.
They classified houses as Harmya. Prasadas etc. and there are reference to storeyed buildings. There are also references to cots (Paryanka) to sleep.
Debiprasad in one breath refuses to accept Mandala X as being later addition, but quotes from it approvingly when it suits him. Sometimes he quotes out of context, twists the mantras to support his position, or quotes mantras which do not seem to exist.
Prof. (Mrs.) Joshi was pointed out that Western definition of spiritualism as Idealism does not hold well in Indian context. Spiritualism according to us does not preclude the existence of matter. It only means primacy of spirit or consciousness. As so understood the Vedic philosophy and all the other systems (except Lokayata) of Indian Philosophy are spiritualistic systems.
Mrs. Joshi has clearly distinguished between Religion and Magic and pointed out the true significance of Yajnas. Again, Moksa, was as much a Purusartha of the Vedic people, as Dharma, Artha, Kama were. She has also explained the symbolism involved in vedic-upanisadic, Myths, allegories, parables and stories and unravelled the spiritual sig- nificance of these Myths, Allegories and Parables.
It is not my intention to summerise her book. My interest has been to show how effectively the subject has been handled by Prof. Joshi. Her work 'Indian Spiritualism' dismantles the so called impregnable citadel of Prof. Debiprasad, brick by brick and lays bare the hollowness of his claims. It vindicates the spiritual claims of Indian Philosophy.
It gives me great pleasure to recommend this book to scholars and students of Indian Philosophy.
This book is an attempt to evaluate 'Lokliyata' by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya. Lokliyata is the interpretation of history of Indian Philosophy from Marxist view point. The critical evaluation of it attempts to show that marxist interpretation of history is not an ideal frame-work, especially so, for the history of Indian Philosophy. This book purports to refute Marxist interpretation by showing its drawbacks and effects, as well as it gives positive aspect of Indian Philosophy.
'Purvapaksa Lokayata restated', presents the summary of Debiprasad's 'Lokliyata' . It includes the chapter on 'Rg'Veda, Upanisada, Sarnkhya, Tantra and Asura view i.e. Lokayata,
'Lokayata : its methodology, examined' deals with the methods and theories used is Lokliyata. Being a Marxist thinker, Debiprasad has used
Marx's dialectical materialism in order to interpret history of Indian Philosophy. He has also reinforced his arguments by means of comparative method of anthropology. In this chapter historical materialism as well as comparative method are evaluated.
'Second look at 'RgVeda I' includes accounts of 'RgVedic society viz. marriage, family, Vedic woman, caste system, private property and 'Rg'Vedic economy viz. trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, etc.
Against this background of advanced Vedic society and economy, it is discussed whether Yajna was a magical ritual.
Second look at 'Rg'Veda II' begins with the discussion of 'RgVedic
Language and education: This part is concerned with cultural and philosophical aspects of "Rg'Vedic period. In this part, concept of four Purusarthas is discussed along with the 'Rg'Vedic philosophy of life as well as 'RgVedic ethical concepts. This part further deals with philosophy of 'Rgveda. It is shown that even in 'Rgveda, philosophical thought has reached its highest. It answers Debiprasad's arguments regarding Vedic primitivism as well as absence of abstraction and spiritualism. The last part of the chapter is regarding 'fall of Varuna and loss of 'RTA' It is stated in this Part that it is not correct to maintain that
Vedic primitivism comes to an end with fall of Varuna and 'Rta.
'Udgitha and philosophy of Chandogya' mainly discusses philosophy of Chandogya Upanisad. Debiprasad thinks that the term Udgitha and the story of dogs’ occurring in Chandogya speak about Upanisadic to temism and primitive materialism. So to answer this, various meanings of Udgitha (As they are explained is Chandogya itself are discoused in detailes. It is shown that Udgltha is Om and not only Chandogya but all Upanisads and even 'RgVeda sing the glory of Om i.e. Highest.
The discussion of Vedic and Upanisadic symbolism explain the secret meanings of animal symbols. It is in the light of this the symbolic meaning of dog is explained and the discussion is concluded by showing that even Chandogya was also full of spiritualism.
'Samkhya and non Vedic materialism' discussion about heritage of Samkhya , sources of Samkhya, place of Purusa in Samkhya and its relation with Tantra. It shows that place of Purusa is equally important and it is not the philosophy of female principle only. It is not the philosophical restatement of Tantra.
'Tenets of Tantra' includes discussion regarding the basis tenets of Tantra and its philosophical meaning. Symbolism of Tantra is discussed with special reference to sandhya bhasa, The meaning of Tantra rituals is explained in the light of similar study of Vedic sex rituals, by Dr. S.A. Dange, with the help of Dr. Dange's work it is shown that Tantra rituals were deeply rooted in Tantra philosophy of Spiritualism.
Lokayata restated gives the picture of Lokayata thinkers and thought. Debiprasad has equated Lokayatas with primitive materialists. But Lokayatas were far more advanced empiricists. This is stated with the help of accounts of Lokayata literature, ethics, their criticism of ritualism, etc.
The evaluation of work by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya was not simple a task. It took long time to collect the material for my Thesis, as it involved the study of the whole gamut of Indian Philosophy from 'Rg'Veda onwards. Many times the thought of giving up this task came to my mind, but only because of encouragement and able guidance of my Guru Dr. S. G. Mudgal, the thought did not materialise. It is because of his mastery over Indian philosophy, I could regain my faith of deep rooted spiritualism of Indian philosophy. What I owe to Dr. Mudgal cannot be expressed in words. It is because of his fatherly affection, I could understand not only Indian Philosophy in a better way but also the life.
Along with Dr. Mudgal, I must mention the name of his wife, late Mrs. Taramati Mudgal. It is hard to believe that she is not amongst us. She was a real Guru-patni. She would have been really pleased having seen my work in print.
My thanks are also due to Dr. S.A. Dange (Former, Head of the Department of Sanskriti, Bombay University) for his helpful and able guidance, regarding the study of ritualism.
Special thanks are necessary to Dr. A.G. Modak, Reader, Deptt of Soviet Studies, and Bombay University who has provided with all the books and reference for the study of dialectical materialism.
I am also thankful to my friends and colleagues from Ruia College, Mrs. Jyotsna Deshpande, Prof. Miss Rita Doctor, Head, Deptt of Philosophy, Ruia College, Prof. (Mrs.) Pratibha Bhide and her daughter Miss Jayashree Bhide, for their useful suggestions as well as kind help. Special thanks are due to Dr. Kala Acharya, Director, K.J. Somaiya Bharatiya Sanskriti Peeth, for sparing her valuable time to correct the Devanagari printing of various rks of 'Rg'Veda.
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