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Diving deep into the philosophy of the land of Kerala

Hinduism is the most popular religion in Kerala, with Hindu factions accounting for 54.8 percent of the state's population. An integral part of Hindu traditions is their philosophies, which are widespread across the state of Kerala. They are: 


In Sanskrit, the word, ‘Samkhya’ stands for enumeration or number. It is one of the six philosophical schools (darshans) in Hinduism. There is a constant connection between matter (Prakriti) and the immortal spirit (Purusha) according to the Samkhya school of thought. Purusha and Prakriti are initially distinct, but over time, Purusha accidentally corresponds itself with facets of prakriti. Purusha's potential to differentiate itself from Prakriti is defined as correct knowledge. This school of thought speaks of an endless number of common but distinct purushas, with all of them being revered equally. The Purusha is all-pervasive, all-knowing, immovable, unalterable, inconsequential, and devoid of desire. Prakriti is the universal and nuanced nature governed solely by temporal and spatial elements. 


Its impact can be found in several other systems of Indian thought. Its foundational text is Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Yoga's practical elements are more essential than its literary value, which is based primarily on Samkhya philosophy, except the fact that Yoga does not assume the concept of God, who serves as an example for the aspirant seeking spiritual release. Yoga, like Samkhya, believes that transcendental emancipation (moksha) takes place when the spirit (Purusha) is liberated from the subservience of matter (Prakriti) born of ignorance and pretense. The Samkhya perspective of the world's development through discernible phases leads Yoga to try to overturn this order, so that a person can gradually dehumanize the self until it reverts to its authentic state of peace and consciousness.


The word ‘Nyaya’ in Sanskrit means ‘rule’ or ‘order.’ Nyaya is well-known for its evaluation of reasoning and moral philosophy. The Nyaya system's significant contribution is its meticulous examination of the method of wisdom known as deductive reasoning. Nyaya, like the other systems, is introspective as well as religious. Its eventual goal is to put a stop to human misery born of ignorance of the truth. Enlightenment is attained through correct knowledge. Thus, Nyaya is associated with the means of correct knowledge. Nyaya is related to the Vaisheshika structure in its epistemology, and the two schools were frequently merged in the past. Its main text is the Nyaya-sutras, which are attributed to Gautama.


Meaning ‘particular’ in Sanskrit, the Vaisesika school of philosophy is known for realism, which distinguishes it from all other schools of Indian thought. The school was founded by the Sanskrit scholar Kanada Kashyapa, who propounded its hypotheses. Prashastapada, Udayanacharya, and Shridhara wrote significant later opinion pieces on this school of thought. Following a period of independence, the Vaisheshika school merged completely with the Nyaya school. Following that, the merged school was known as Nyaya-Vaisheshika. The Vaisheshika school of thought aims to describe, catalog, and categorize the entities and their relationships that appear to human perspectives. An atom, according to the Vaisheshika system, is the smallest, indivisible, and untouchable part of the world. The atoms, which are dormant and immobile in themselves, are propelled into motion by God's will, via the unknown forces of moral merit and demerit.


Translated from Sanskrit, Mimamsa means ‘reflection’ or ‘critical system.’ Mimamsa, the earliest out of the six darshans, is foundational to Vedanta, one of the other six, and has had a massive impact on the conceptualization of Hindu law. Mimamsa's goal is to provide guidelines to interpret the Vedas, Hinduism's oldest teachings, as well as a rational basis for Vedic ritual adherence. Mimamsa is also known as Purva-Mimamsa ("Preceding Investigation") or Karma-Mimamsa ("Investigation of Deeds") because it is involved with the early chapters of the Vedas (called the Karmakanda). Uttara-Mimamsa ("Posterior Study") or Jnana-Mimamsa ("Theory of Knowledge") refers to Vedanta, which interacts with the later fraction of Vedic literature known as the Upanishads.


Vedanta in Sanskrit means "ending" (anta), which is perceived as attribution to the end of the Vedas, India's oldest known holy writings. The Upanishads are the end of the Vedas and are commonly known by the name of Vedanta as well. As a result, Vedanta is also known as Vedanta Mimamsa ("Perceptions on Vedanta"), Uttara Mimamsa ("Representation of the Later Parts of the Vedas"), and Brahma Mimamsa ("Interpretation of Brahman"). Adi Shankara, an important scholar of this philosophical school, who was born in Kerala was responsible for the birth and spread of Advaita Vedanta. 


Q1. According to Hindu philosophy, what are the three ways in which Moksha can be attained?

As per Hindu philosophical schools, there are three distinct paths to attain Moksha, they are - Jnana (knowledge), Bhakti (devotion) and Karma (action).

Q2. In Hinduism, what are the five goals of earthly life? 

Hinduism speaks of 4 significant goals of life, which are - artha (wealth), kama (desire), dharma (righteousness/duty), and moksha (liberation).