Exploring the Rich Tapestry of Eastern Philosophy: From Ancient Origins to Modern Influence

Through which the real essence is experienced, that is philosophy. The English word philosophy literally means “affection for knowledge”. Philosophy in the broadest sense is a way of examining things, nature and man in their origin and purpose. Philosophy is a powerful belief about life. Philosophy is related to knowledge and philosophy expresses knowledge. In the Upanishad period, the definition of philosophy was that which can be seen, that is, the truth can be seen, that is philosophy. According to Dr. Radhakrishnan, philosophy is the logical explanation of the nature of reality. Philosophy first developed in the Western world in Greece. In the beginning, the field of philosophy was wide, but as the field of knowledge developed, philosophy became limited as a discipline. According to Plato, a person who wants to acquire all kinds of knowledge and is eager to learn never stops being satisfied, in fact that is the philosopher. According to him, “Philosophy is the knowledge of the eternal nature of things.” 

According to Aristotle, “Philosophy is that science which investigates the true nature of the ultimate things.” According to Kant, “Philosophy is the science of perception and its criticism.” According to Marx, philosophy is the science of understanding and changing the world. In the words of Comte – “Philosophy is the science of science.” In the words of Herbert Spencer, “Philosophy is the synthesis of science or universal science.” According to B. Russell, “The main purpose of philosophy is the acquisition of knowledge, like any other genre.” According to Sellers “Philosophy is the continuous effort to gain knowledge about the world and human nature through systematic thought.” According to John Dewey, “A serious consideration of philosophy reveals the importance of acquiring knowledge, which affects the conduct of the enlightened life.” 

According to Henderson, “Philosophy is a tightly controlled and guarded analysis of the most difficult problems that confront humans. According to Brightman, philosophy is an attempt to think truthfully about all human experience. What is clear from these discussions is that there is a fundamental difference between Eastern and Western approaches to philosophy. But According to the basic consensus definition of philosophy, philosophy is the branch in which the true nature of the creation of the entire universe and human race, the living world, the means of acquiring knowledge and ignorance, and the cause and effect of man are rationally analyzed. However, due to the great changes in Western philosophy in the modern era, now from the search for that original element. There is a tendency towards logical discussion of various branches of knowledge. Nowadays, philosophy is considered to be the science of science and the science of criticism.

The foundation of philosophy, i.e. philosophical thinking, can be found in those basic questions, in which lies the question of finding the elements of the meaning of the desire to live with the origin of the world. Beginning with the act of searching for the secrets of nature, this thinking focuses on the importance of the desire or goal of human flow to be social. Man acquires different types of knowledge in his life. That knowledge certainly has some purpose. Philosophy is considered important mainly from the point of view of making life useful. 

According to both Eastern and Western thought, philosophy is the first requirement of life. Every person thinks whether he is learned, has acquired common knowledge or is ignorant. A person remembers the events of his life and derives benefit from them for future events. This experience gives him a unique outlook on life and this becomes his philosophy of life. 

Another form of philosophy is also found in economics, which is also called economic philosophy. There is a kind of control over economic activity. It is used in personal and national life. As a result, both benefit. Frugality is an idea and its example. This philosophy is the basis of personal and national planning. There is also economy in the field of education. Because of this, the plan is made keeping in mind the benefits. Different political systems have different philosophies. Philosophical perspectives and theories are formed in different ways. Philosophy establishes national values and develops them progressively. Culture is the art of living and it is the sum of methods. 

Philosophy can be said to be the result of these methods. Culture is introduced through philosophy. As knowledge of Eastern or Western culture can be derived from its philosophy. In the Eastern tradition, hedonism has no place, the place of renunciation and penance is paramount, that is why Yogic ideals are found in Eastern philosophy and this philosophy is also idealistic. Philosophy is the art of thinking and reasoning about life, life’s problems and their solutions. Everyone needs to know this.

According to Eastern beliefs, there is no difference between philosophy and life. Therefore, the whole life is considered as the subject area of philosophy. Philosophy is perceived mainly as subtle knowledge as a critique of life and an explanation of life’s actions. The subjects under philosophy are studied as a scripture. Various questions related to the soul are discussed in philosophy. What is the soul? What is the nature of the soul? What is an organism? What is the relationship between body and soul? Etc., etc., etc. Philosophy tries to find answers to questions related to God. Like what is God? Does it exist or not? What is the nature of God? Etc. Etc. and so on. 

In philosophy, abstract existence or elemental nature of objects is studied – like- What are the mortal elements of the universe? What are the letter elements of the universe? And so on. In philosophy, problems related to the creation and development of the universe are considered – such as – Is the creation or the universe made of material elements? Is the universe made of spiritual elements? And so on. In philosophy, the origin of the universe is discussed – like- how did the universe or the world originate? Is it composed? If so, who composed it?

Philosophy seeks to solve problems related to true knowledge – such as what is true knowledge? What is the means of obtaining this knowledge? Can human intelligence acquire this knowledge? And so on. It studies matters related to the pure and impure conduct of a person. Like what is the policy? How should people behave? Which behaviour of people is against the policy? And so on. It deals with the topic of logical thinking – like how is logical thinking done? What is the method of reasoning? What is the nature of logical thinking? And so on. It seeks answers to questions related to aesthetics – such as – What is beauty? What is the standard of beauty?. 

Thus philosophy is the science that studies the relationship between man and the world. Philosophy is the criticism of life and explanation of life activities, where philosophy studies the world and what is the relationship of man with the various activities of the world. Life is related to this world, society and society’s economic, political, cultural, educational, etc. activities. Therefore, social philosophy, economic philosophy, political philosophy and educational philosophy, cultural philosophy, religious philosophy, etc. have also become subjects of study. Along with the study of problems in all these subjects, ideals and values are established in them.

Philosophy is an attempt to know the secret of life. Philosophy began with wonder, especially in the West. The East seems to have started with mystery and wonder. In the Vedic period, seeing the beautiful objects, events and activities of nature, people wondered how the sun, moon, stars, light, storms, rain, heat and all other nature and human beings originated. People wanted to understand this wonder. Then he imagined supreme power. He made a distinction between Atma (Soul) and God (Param) and continued to try to find a reciprocal relationship between the two. Mankind saw the Supreme Power as pervading the entire animal world and constantly tried to realize or understand it through contemplation. Then the attainment of that supreme power is called the attainment of liberation. Eastern philosophies often persisted in the pursuit of this supreme power.

Philosophy is constantly trying to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. The Greeks also marveled at the workings of nature and a curiosity to know the origin of the world was born. Thales considered water, Anaximander air and Heraclitus fire as the source of origin. In fact, these three elements are considered the origin of the creation of the world. This element is also considered the basic element of creation in Eastern philosophy, although Sky is considered the fifth element. Philosophy always tries to remove doubt through logic. Philosophy is born with doubt. True knowledge is not gained by merely accepting one’s point of view unless it is proven by reason. Descartes says – I think, therefore I exist. That is, he considered the soul to be without doubt. The soul is inherent in man. Philosophy paves the way to real knowledge. 

According to the Eastern view, the goal of philosophy is to discover truth. This truth can be related to nature and to soul. According to the Greek philosopher Plato, philosophy is the acquisition of knowledge of the eternal form and the true nature of things. According to Aristotle, the goal of philosophy is to investigate the nature of beings and to discover the natural qualities inherent in them. According to Wundt, philosophy is the integration of all knowledge acquired by scholars into a harmonious unity. Hence “philosophy is total knowledge.” 

The goal of philosophy is to guide the entire universe into all reality. Philosophy criticizes and interprets life. One of the goals of philosophy is to criticize and explain life in modern terms and to derive certain concepts that benefit life. The purpose of philosophy is broad and related to various fields. Philosophy creates the ideals of life. From ancient times to the present day, the goal of philosophy everywhere has been to create ideals of life. Philosophy refers to the decision towards life made by a person.

Man is a thinking creature and is distinguished from animals by his unique thinking ability. Due to the predominance of intelligence, people are constantly trying to gain information about the nature of various objects in the world by looking at them. It is this intelligence of man that makes him capable of knowing about many questions. 

How did anything originate? Does the world have a purpose or not? What is the existence and nature of soul, life, God? What is the proof of God’s existence? What is the goal of life? What is the nature of power? What is the means of knowledge? What are the nature and limits of true knowledge? What are auspicious-inauspicious, proper-improper, good-bad, big-small, infinity, subtlety, etc.? What is the subject of moral judgment? What is the relationship between individuals and society? What is the relationship between life and world? Did the creation of the universe itself or did someone do it or is there any reason for its origin? People are always trying to know and understand hundreds of questions etc. Philosophy tries to give rational answers to these various questions. Intelligence is used more than emotion or faith to answer these questions. 

Through these questions man’s love or longing for knowledge is revealed. That is why the special meaning of philosophy is love of knowledge (philos = love and sophia = knowledge). What is clear from this is that the whole world is the subject of philosophy. The answers to these questions have been the subject of constant search since the beginning of mankind and will continue to be so in the future. It is human nature to know and understand the answers to these questions. So we are all philosophers in one way or another, skillfully or unskillfully.

According to Eastern belief, the knowledge that can perceive the elements is considered philosophy. According to Eastern philosophy, the main objective is not only to explain the element intellectually but to realize that element. Through both sensory and non-sensory experience, spirituality is considered higher than intellectual knowledge and the knowledge that keeps the essence in a state of realization is called philosophy. Eastern philosophy is believed to have been created with the aim of solving life’s problems. It seems that when people find themselves surrounded by suffering, they adopt this kind of philosophy to get rid of that pain and suffering. 

Therefore, Western philosophy is considered to have started out of wonder or curiosity, while Eastern philosophy seems to be for the reduction of moral and material evils. Therefore, Eastern philosophy seems to have developed in connection with the search for an end to the suffering of life and the prevalence of philosophical questions. Eastern philosophy seems to have developed based on salvation or relief from suffering or the absence of all suffering. Apart from Charvaka philosophy, it seems that all Eastern philosophy has the practice of the soul. The reason for this is that in this philosophy, the soul is considered the basis of salvation. 

That is why Eastern philosophy is also called self-knowledge. As Western philosophy was born from wonder, this philosophy is considered as mental exercise, knowledge acquisition, scientific method, theoretical, materialistic, intellectual, logical, analytical, spiritual, etc. Eastern philosophy is influenced by egoistic, spiritual, anti-suffering, salvation, piety, self-restraint, synthesis, transcendental, etc. According to the Eastern thought, the realization of the element is not possible through the senses and it is sensual, so its knowledge is possible only through spiritual experience. Spiritual knowledge is superior to intellectual knowledge and in it both the knowable and the known are united. According to the belief of Eastern philosophy, it is to gain knowledge of the Supreme Being and to attain enlightenment.

Eastern philosophy is very comprehensive. It includes ancient-archaic, Hindu-non-Hindu, theist-atheist, etc. It includes Sathadarshan (Sankhya, Vaiseshika, Yoga, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Vedanta) to Charvaka, Buddhist, Jain philosophies to Vedic and Gita philosophies. The outlook of Eastern philosophy is broad and somewhat liberal. All the philosophical systems criticize each other and develop a new method of discussion. In this particular method first comes the premise followed by the refutation and finally the answer or principle. Opposite or other aspects are considered or explained in the foreground. On the rebuttal side it is refuted or reasoned. On the theoretical side, the philosopher presents his side. Since Eastern philosophy is very profound and rich liberal and broad in outlook, other philosophies are also deeply thoughtful according to its method.

Eastern philosophies seem to be divided into two main groups, theists and atheists. Theistic philosophy includes Sankhya, Vaisheshika, Yoga, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Vedanta philosophy. Even in theistic philosophy, not everyone believes in God. However, all theistic philosophies consider the Vedas. Sankhya and Vaisheshika philosophies do not believe in God, but they are considered theists because they believe in the Vedas. Since the number of theistic philosophies is 6, they are collectively known as Sathadarshan. Thus, according to the Eastern tradition, Vedic philosophy is considered a theistic philosophy. Among them, Sankhya, Vaisheshika, Yoga and Nyaya philosophy are considered to be philosophies arising from cosmic thought. 

The philosophies that originated from Vedic thought are also divided into two parts – Purva-Mimamsa (Mimamsa) based on Vedic rituals and philosophy based on Vedic knowledge – Uttar-Mimamsa (Vedanta). Similarly, Charvaka, Jain and Buddhist philosophies, which do not follow the Vedas, are shown as atheistic philosophies. Atheists and theists are divided into two meanings, those who believe in God and those who do not believe in God, and the worldly and the transcendental. 

Theist means one who believes in God and an Atheist means one who does not believe in God. Therefore, it seems that they are divided on the basis of theistic and atheistic beliefs. Theism includes Mimamsa, Vedanta, Nyaya and Yoga philosophies, while Atheism includes Sankhya, Vaisheshika, Charvaka, Jain and Buddhist philosophies. A theist believes in the afterlife, while an atheist does not believe in the afterlife, that is, he believes in this world. According to the belief of the next world, Sankhya, Vaiseshika, Yoga, Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Buddhism and Jain philosophies also come, while the only Charvaka philosophy is included in this world category. 

In ancient philosophy, theist is said to be pro-Veda and atheist is said to be anti-Veda. Buddhist and Jain philosophies are considered anti-Vedic and atheistic. Since the Charvak philosophy is anti-Vedic, agnostic, and secular, it can be considered an atheistic philosophy from any point of view.

Kapil is the originator of Sankhya philosophy under theistic (Vedic) philosophy, while its foundational text is the oldest philosophy Sankhyakarika. Patanjali is the originator of Yoga philosophy and its basic text is Yoga Sutra. The originator of Nyaya philosophy is Gautam (Akshapada) and its basic text is Nyaya Sutra. Kanada is the originator of Vaisheshika philosophy and its basic text is Vaisheshika-Sutra. 

The originator of Purva-Mimamsa i.e. Mimamsa philosophy was Jaimini and its basic text was Mimasa Sutra. The basic texts of Vedanta (Uttar-Mimamsa) and the philosophical system based on it and its originators are found in large numbers. Its basic texts are Upanishads, Srimad Bhagwat Geeta, Brahmasutra, etc. Under the philosophical system based on Vedanta, Shankaracharya is the originator of monism and the commentary is called Shankaracharya. The originator of Vishishtadvaitavaad is Ramanujacharya, the commentary should be Sri Bhashya. 

Madhvacharya is the originator of dualism and the commentary is Purvaprajnabhashya. The originator of Shuddhadvaitavad is Vallabhacharya, even if the commentary is Anubhavashya. The originator of Bhedabhedva is Nimbarkacharya and the originator of Bhashya Vedanta is Parijat Saurabh. Similarly, Acharya Brihaspati was the originator of the Charvak (Lokayat) philosophy under atheistic (Veda-disagreeing) philosophy, but no systematic literature has been found on it. Buddha is the originator of Buddhist philosophy, its basic texts are Tripitaka and other Buddhist literature. The originator of Jain philosophy is 24 Tirthakar, Mahavir Swami, whereas its basic text is Jain religious literature.

Thus, there are nine main philosophies under Eastern philosophical thought. They mutually criticize collaborate and enrich each other. Among these, there is also a strong connection in thought between Nyaya and Vaishesika, Sankhya and Yoga, and Mimamsa and Vedanta philosophies. 

Although there are a few differences between Nyaya and Vaisheshika philosophy, both have many similarities. such as ideas about God and salvation. That is why both are sometimes collectively called Nyaya-Vaishesika philosophy. Similarly, Sankhya and Yoga philosophies are sometimes called Sankhya-yoga philosophies. Kapil’s Sankhya philosophy is called Sankhya without God and Patanjali’s Yoga philosophy is called Sankhya with God. Mimamsa and Vedanta developed directly from the Vedas. Since Mimamsa is the ritualistic form of the Veda and Vedanta is the epistemological form, they are connected to each other. In this way, the Eastern philosophy has been developed by criticizing and cooperating with each other, existing together, refining itself and developing even if they believe in the Vedas, those who do not believe in the Vedas, theists, atheists, believers in God, and those who do not believe in God.

The Vedas are regarded as the primordial literature of Eastern philosophy. To understand Eastern philosophy, it is necessary to understand Vedic literature. Theistic philosophy is Vedic, although atheistic philosophy is also believed to have developed in opposition to, or in conflict with, Vedic thought. In Eastern philosophy, on the one hand, there is a theistic philosophy based on the Vedas, while on the other hand, there are three philosophies (Charvaka, Jain and Buddhist) that are anti-Vedic.

 Even in Shaddarshan (6 philosophies) which considers the Vedas, four philosophies (Sankhya, Vaisheshika, Nyaya and Yoga) have been developed from worldly thought, but these philosophies are worldly thought philosophies. The two parts of the Vedas, ritualism and wisdom, have been thought of in philosophy. Both these philosophies are called Mimamsa as Mimamsa means serious contemplation or thought. To distinguish them, they are called Purva-Mimamsa and Uttara-Mimamsa, and if Purva-Mimamsa is called only Mimamsa, its subject matter is Vedic rituals. In the Uttara-mimamsa, the upanishads (Vedanta) are discussed as the subject of knowledge, so it is called Vedanta philosophy.

Apta-vachana (authentic or trustworthy or authentic words of sages), imagination and tactics are used to solve the questions raised in Eastern philosophy. Here also an attempt is made to understand the invisible with the help of the direct and this direct knowledge is the basis and means of philosophy. Regarding whose knowledge is considered direct, there are two opinions: common people’s direct experience and apta-vachan. Most of the philosophies consider the direct experience of ordinary people as apta-vachan or give it a lot of importance. 

This category includes Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya and Charvaka philosophy. Buddhist and Jain philosophies also place great importance on direct empirical knowledge. According to the belief of another class of philosophers, the empirical knowledge of ordinary people is not considered to be valid (proof) because the knowledge of elements cannot be obtained on the basis of temporal knowledge. Therefore, according to the belief that Apta Purusha has direct experience of philosophy, the experience is considered useful for them. Their knowledge is found in scriptures. Under which are pre-Mimamsa and Vedanta philosophies. Jain and Buddhist philosophies also accept the authenticity of Apta-vachana.

Yukti (argument, method or method) is considered as a means of acquiring knowledge in philosophy. For the basis of direct knowledge, whatever is the experience or apposition of common people, the tactic is used. The only difference is in the technique used. In Nyaya, Vaishesika, Samkhya and Charvaka philosophies, yukti is used to confirm the support of temporal experience, while in Purva-Mimamsa and Vedanta philosophies, yukti is used to confirm and support apta-vachanas.

The origin and development of Eastern philosophy has been gradual for centuries. When a philosophical opinion was promulgated, its followers also came into existence along with it and their sects were also established. Followers of special philosophies made those ideas a part of life and propagated them. These philosophical sects continued the continuity of philosophy and became an unbroken tradition of thought from generation to generation. Since the nature of Eastern philosophy is not self-centred, they used to exchange ideas or study with different philosophical views. 

This tradition has been going on since the post-Vedic period and it seems that this tradition is getting stronger in the post-Vedic period. Philosophers seem to be constantly active with the aim of making their ideas free from error, free from confusion, and clear. As a result, every philosophy seems to be enriched by debate or criticism. Philosophical literature developed in this process. Sutra literature was created after Vedic literature in theistic philosophy. The scattered ideas of the Vedic literature were brought together in the form of sutras and made order. Then, first of all, the sutra-grant comes in the orderly form of philosophies. Since the ideas of philosophy in the Vedic literature are scattered and in no orderly form, it was made a Sutra literature. These ideas were formulated in a concise and orderly manner. 

Badarayana’s Brahmasutra related to Vedanta philosophy, Jaiminized Mimansa Sutra related to pre-Mimamsa, Krishna’s Sankhyakarika related to Samkhya philosophy, Patanjali’s work Yogasutra related to Yoga philosophy, Gautama’s Nyayasutra related to Nyaya philosophy and Kanada’s Vaishesika-Sutras related to Vaiseshika philosophy are the sutras related to philosophy. These sutra-granthas were brief, concise and comprehensive and they were not easily comprehensible. Over time, commentaries and commentaries were written on them. Tika means a critical description, i.e. an examination based on arguments on a work, while Bhashya means a detailed explanation of a work. 

Brahmasutra is annotated by Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Ballabh, Nimbarka, etc. It is the Mimansa Sutra enunciated by Abraswami. Gaudpa’s Sankhyakarika, Vachspati’s argument-Kaumudi, Vigyan Bhikshu’s Sankhyapravachan commentary and Sankhya essence and this whole is called Sankhyakarikasutra. Vyasa’s Vyasabhashya is the Yogasutra. Nyayabhashya of Vatsayana is Nyayasutra. Prashatpada’s Samatradharmasangraha Tika is a Vaisheshik Sutra.

Thus philosophy enriches or glorifies the civilization and culture of any society or country. The influence of location on the origin and development of philosophy is clearly visible. Eastern philosophies Purushartha-dominant, quick relief from suffering, optimism and pessimism, morality, truth and indestructibility authoritarian, a priori, invisible or immaterial, yogic, gnostic, philosophical, libertarian, reincarnation, pragmatism, root cause of ignorance, importance of knowledge, continuous thinking, giving importance to practice and yoga, taking the world as a stage, self-restraint, coordinator of action and philosophy, proof-science, worldview, vision of the future, etc. is a philosophical and characteristic philosophy.

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