- Paperback: 222 pages
- Publisher: Franklin Classics Trade Press (3 November 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0344649717
- ISBN-13: 978-0344649714
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.2 x 23.4 cm
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A History of Indian Philosophy; Volume 5 Paperback – Import, 3 Nov 2018
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This work cannot, of course, by itself give one a complete understanding of all the complexities of Indian Philosophy. But what is amazing about it is that it is more than just an introduction; Dasgupta often goes into great detail about the incredibly intricate debates which raged between various schools of Indian thought over the centuries. In volume 4 of his work, for example, he devotes a hundred and fifteen pages to describing the arguments and conter-arguments of the monists (Advaita Vedantins) and the dualists (Dvaita Vedantins). Much of this part of his work deals with very complicated and abstruse arguments, and I was never able to completely digest it. But I have found that, by reading other works on Indian philosophy, I am able to understand more and more of Dasgupta's great work, and so, after being away from it for a while, I periodically return to it, as if to discourse again with a great master about the most profound topics raised by the gurus of old.
This treatise is, in short, a gem. Not only is there no other comparable work on Indian philosophy as a whole (Radakrishnan's Indian Philosophy being a pale second to Dasgupta's work), there is nothing comparable to it on Western Philosophy. Scholars of Indian thought, as well as any one who wishes to risk attempting to begin to seriously study this great and ancient tradition, must be eternally grateful to Motilal Banarsidass Publishers for reprinting this magisterial work at such a bargin price.
A brief summary of the book is as follows: The earliest Sanskrit philosophical literature in which Saivism is mentioned is in a bhasya of Sankara on Brahma-Sutra II.2.37. Sankara refers to a doctrine called Siddhanta written by the God Mahesvara. It states that God, Lord Siva, also known as Pasupati, is both the instrumental and material cause of the world. In his bhasya, Sankara refers to one particular system of Saivism. But Saiva Philosophy was widely known long before eighth century A.D., (before the time of Sankara.) Different sects of Saivism also existed from ancient times; the Pasupata Saivism of Gujarat, Agamic Saivism of Tamil region, Pratyabhijna Saivism of Kashmir, and Vira-Saivism of Kannada speaking region of the South defines the length and breadth of Saivism in India. Major Siva temples in Nepal, Kashmir, Benares, Kathiawar, Calcutta and Ramesvaram illustrate the popularity of Saiva culture.
The concept of Pasupati may have evolved at the earliest times of Indus Valley Civilization. The statue of Siva sitting on a bull surrounded by snakes and other animals has been found in pre-Vedic times, and ancient Indians worshipped the lord of pasus (animals) or Pasupati. Siva is also mentioned in Vedas and Upanishads, especially Svetasvatara Upanishad, and also in Mahabharata and Puranas.
Siva Mahapurana refers to Saiva-Agama as the original instructions of Lord Siva, but unfortunately these texts are lost. Most writers of Saivism believed that Siva was the author of all Saiva literature which includes Agamas, the earliest scriptures of Saivism. There is a list of 28 Sivacaryas in Vayaviya-samhita of the Siva Mahapurana, which consists of 100,000 verses in seven sections and Siva is known to be its author. The gist of the Agama teaching is that all individual souls are infected with the impurities of Maya or karma. These are ultimately destroyed by the grace of God after being initiated into the worship of Siva. The Agama literature strongly supports a highly moralistic life coupled with the worship Lord Siva.
The doctrine of Pasupata-sutra provides the spiritual and traditional practices in the worship of Siva. This text has some metaphysical elements, but largely spiritual in nature. It is believed that Siva re-incarnated himself as Nakulisa and wrote Pasupata text. In the bhasya of Pasupata-sutra, sage Kaundinya vividly describes the spiritual path of Saiva life. Kaundinya is known to have written his bhasya of Pasupata anywhere between fourth and sixth century B.C.
Saiva philosophy of Srikantha is another subject widely discussed in this book. His ideas are expounded in the commentary on Brahma-sutra and later by Appaya Dixita. Srikantha illuminated his views by the interpretation of Brahma-sutra by accepting the supremacy of Upanishads, but he suggested that Lord Siva is the personal form of Brahman.
I enjoyed reading the vast literature covered in this book, especially Chapter XXXVI/VII about the philosophy of Saivism. This is an exhaustive review of the Saiva literature and the author expounds the interpretation of several scholars like Sankara, Srikantha and Appaya Dixita with respect to Brahma Sutra and Lord Siva as the Supreme Personality Godhead. I found the discussion very fascinating and deeply engrossing.