Problems of Philosophy and Religion (A Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAG852
Author: R.K. Tripathi
Publisher: Banaras Hindu University
Language: English
Edition: 1971
Pages: 164
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5 inch X 6 inch
Weight 270 gm
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Book Description



The general aim of the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Banaras Hindu University, as that of other similar Centres functioning on an all India basis, is the pursuit and promotion of excellence in philosophical thought. In pursuance of this aim, the Centre offers encouragement to teachers and Fellows attached to it and the Department of Philosophy by publishing monographs and papers embodying the results of their researches in specialized fields. It is not always possible to make commercial publishers take interests in the publication of such specialized studies. Earlier the Centre published Prof. J. L. Mehata’s study of M. Heidegger’s philosophy under the title “The Philosophy of Martin Heidegger.” We are now offering to the scholarly world a collection of research papers by Dr. R. K. Tripathi; a Senior Reader in the Department of Philosophy. Dr. Tripathi is an Advaita-Vedantin by conviction and knows the art of presenting his views with lucidity and force. While he may not succeed in converting the avowed critics and opponents of metaphysics to his view, he deserves credit for having a consistent pattern of concepts embracing important metaphysical and religious issues.


I hope these papers will be found interesting and useful by a wide circle of readers.




Most of the papers included in this volume are published else- where. It would therefore appear that there was no need of reprinting them in the form of a book, specially when the articles are on varied topics and do not seem to have the unity of a book. My apology for reprinting these papers is twofold. Firstly, a number of my friends, both from India and abroad, who appreciated my writings, expressed a desire that I should have collection of papers published. So I am to be blamed only to the extent my friends are to be blamed for their appreciation and encouragement. Secondly, although these papers are on varied subjects, there is a certain underlying unity of thought. A careful reader can easily discern a basic standpoint in the discussion of the various problems.


I do not claim any originality; in the realm of truth originality is a suspect. I may at best claim credit for a certain form of presentation. One may notice here a certain method of treatment; it consists of exposition, comparison, distinction and criticism. The different problems have been attacked from the Advaitic standpoint. The Advaitic view has been not merely stated but also argued out in a manner so as to meet the difficulties of a modern reader. To bring out clearly my point of view, I have drawn parallels not only with Indian schools but also with western systems. But to avoid the risk of misunderstanding likely to be produced by comparisons, I am equally keen about distinctions. Distinctions serve, no less than comparisons, the purpose of clarification. Throughout, the emphasis is more on critical thinking than on mere description and documentation. But criticism is more in the spirit of appreciation than of refutation. It is hoped that these papers will help the reader in appreciating Indian philosophy in general and Advaita Vedanta in particular.


If only to orient ihe reader without entering into arguments, the line of thought which gives unity to these essays may be briefly stated. I hold the view that philosophy is a kind of spiritual awakening following the realisation of the emptiness of the temporal life of self-gratification. Inspired by the feeling of disillusionment about the temporal or the false absolute, philosophy is necessarily a critical search for the true absolute or the eternal. Philosophy therefore either serves this spiritual purpose or is completely useless. As the eternal is not something to be brought about, Karma cannot directly help us; only knowledge can enable us to reach the eternal. This knowledge of the eternal cannot be had with the help of natural pramanas or sources of knowledge as they are necessarily conditioned and confined to time and space. The message of the eternal or the transcendent can be heard only from sruti or scripture, and so sruti or revelation is necessary for philosophy. Reason cannot independently take us to the transcendent; it has the only function of presenting the message of the sruti consistently and of supporting it by meeting possible objectious or doubts. But by sruti, we are not to understand merely somebody’s statement; for us sruti is the eternal message of the eternal.


The eternal or the transcendent though beyond all thought and hence unspeakable is nonetheless not unknowable, and that for two reasons. Firstly, the eternal, being of the nature of pure consciousness, is self-luminous and being our very self, it is open to immediate experience. Appearances constitute the absolute of Bradley and Hegel and so their absolute does not seem to be really transcendent. Nagarjuna’s Sunya though not nihil is nevertheless not identified with our self and therefore seems to be too transcendent to be realised. The Vedantic absolute is at once immanent and transcendent.


The central point of Advaitism is that unless the world of plurality and change is regarded as unreal or false, Mukti or liberation will not be possible, at least not by knowledge. Knowledge can destroy only ignorance and its product the false and nothing else. Not only Mukti but also Sarvajnatva or omniscience of man and incarnation of God cannot be made intelligible unless the world of appearance is false. Man can know everything only in the sense that he knows the essential unity of everything and not the details. God can be born in this physical universe only if the physical universe does not bind Him, and that is possible only if it is false. God cannot really become a finite being like man. Futher, it is only the Advaitic view of reality that can give unity to the Upanisadic teachings and can make the key- statements (such as the ‘knower of Atman crosses suffering’, ‘the knower of Brahman becomes omniscient’ , ‘the knower of Brahman becomes Brahman) of the Upanisads intelligible.


The Advaitic method is neither that of pure a priori speculation of the rationalists nor that of pure dialectic (Bradley and Nagarjuna) nor that of common sense (Nyaya Vaisesike). The method followed is that of critical analysis ( in depth) of experience directed by Sruti, Philosophy is born with the rejection of common sense; it must also reject reason as empty. But negation is not enough. There must be also the positive assurance of the Sruti about the nature of the transcendent. The accptance of sruti necessitates the acceptance of Isvara as the eternal knower and teacher of the eternal truth. The place of Isvara in Advaita Vedanta is important. Isvara is not false like the world (jada jagat). Isvara is Brahman knowing Himself as Brahman eternally.


When it is found out that the snake is false and the rope is real, what is meant is not that the rope had changed in the form of snake nor that the snake becomes rope again, nor that the snake is elsewhere, nor that the snake was not even seen but that the snake made a false claim of having independent reality. Its relation to the rope is only onesided; the rope need not appear as snake. The same is the relation of the world and Brahman, and freedom means not the attainment of any status but only the realisation of the true status of Being. All problems or experiences of suffering emanate from our consciousness of duality, and so they are all dissolved when there is the experience of unity (Brahman). Very often Sanskrit terms have been used as English terms and I am aware that this is very inconvenient for the western reader. But anyone writing on Indian philosophy knows that the use of Sanskrit terms cannot he helped. However, I have taken care to translate the Sanskrit terms wherever they have been used. I am thankful to Dr. N. K. Devaraja, Director, Center of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Banaras Hindu University, for his interest in the publication of this collection. He has been good enough to sanction the publication of this book by the Centre. I must also express my grateful thanks to Prof. Eliot Deutsch, Editor, Philosophy East and West, Prof. T. M. P. Mahadevan, Editor, Philosophical Annual, Prof. N. K. Devaraja, Editor, Anviksiki, Shri Murugesa Mudaliar, Editor, Saiva Sidhanta, and the Editor of Dr. Bhagavan Das Centenary Volume, Kashi Vidyapitha for permission to reprint the articles published in their respective journals. I cannot adequately thank my friend and colleague Shri Kamalakar Mishra, lecturer in the Department of Philosophy for his help in various ways. I am grtaeful to Prof. K. D. Bhattacharya of Visva Bharati for his kind encouragement and appreciateon.




The Concept of Philosophy


The Meaning of Metaphysics


Non-Speculative Metaphysics


The Unspeakable in Metaphysics


The Problem of Method in Philosophy


Whither Philosophy Today?


The Central Problem of Indian Metaphysics


The Problem of Interpreting the Upanisads


The Concept of Isvara in Indian Philosophy


The Nature of Divine Goodness


Omniscience (Sarvajnatva)


The Concept of Maya


Karma and Rebirth




Negation in Indian Philosophy


Nagarjuna or Sankara ?


The Concept of Avaktavya


Can Sruti be False?



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