According to Farquhar, ‘There is practically no ethical philosophy within the frontiers of Hindu thinking’. Ethics has not been allotted the paramount pedestal in Indian philosophy. Spirituality is considered superior to ethics and religion. The liberated person (Mukta-Purusa) transcend the ethical barriers. Moksa is beyond the frontiers of the good and the bad. So it is evident that the aim of Indian philosophy was higher than mere ethics. but at the same time it has not overlooked ethics. The theory of ‘Adhikari Bheda’ explains the whole position. A person who has attained perfection in spiritual field, no longer which precludes the possibility of sin and error for good. But before the attainment of this stage of spiritual consummation, ethical considerations are necessary for human beings according to all Indian philosophical systems. All Darshans including Jaina, Buddha, Vedanta and Sankhya have taken points to explain different ethical principles in detail. Thus , Indian philosophy gives proper, though not paramount place to ethics.
It is said that Indian philosophy is bogged down in old ruts. But the mere fact, that all Indian philosophy have based their thoughts on the Upanishads and the Gita does not expose it to this charge of unprogressive-ness. A change not in the matter, but in the form of philosophical problems, has been a concomitant to changes in the realm of science. The truths, with which philosophy deals, are eternal and they are comprehended by intuition. They do not charge in the wake of scientific progress. hence the Gita and Upanishads are as inspiring today as in the past since they put these philosophical truths in new forms according to the changes of time and place. The Upanisads and the Bhagawad Gita have been interpreted in their own way be different philosophers like Shankara, Ramanuja and Sri Aurobinda.
Of course, these were periods in the history of Indian philosophy when its pace was very slow or was even arrested for a while. But taking a panoramic view of the stream of Indian Philosophy, one find it, on the whole dynamic and moving. The philosophers, belonging to different philosophical schools like Bauddha, Jain, Nyaya, Vaishesika, Sankhya, Yoga and Vedanta have not only put forth their on theories but also refused the theories of their opponents. The history of these different schools is, in itself, an ecoquent testimony to the essentially progressive nature of Indian philosophy are thus, one-sided and fallacious, it is hearting to note that now most of them have been debunked.
The Practical Nature of Indian Philosophy:
Philosophy i India has been more a practical attempt to realize the truth than a mere theoretical discussion of ultimate principles. Indian philosophy began in wonder. The sages of the Vedas wondered. Why the hard black cow gives the soft white milk?” All rivers flow to the sea but the sea is never full. Thus Indian sages looked to Nature with awe and wonder and tried to discover the reality behind it. But the aim of this Endeavour was not only to satisfy an intellectual curiosity. It aimed at finding out a way for a better life, a truer, higher and more happy life.
Emphasis on realization of truth:
The extroversion of the Veda was replaced by introversion in Upanishads. Their aim was not knowing but being. They wanted to realize the truth to incorporate it in their life. The rshis of Upanishads prayed, “Lead me from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality. And it is Upanishads which are the sources much emphasized the realization of truth as its knowledge. Gautam, the Buddha, laid more emphasis on eightfold path than the discussion of soul and rebirth. Not metaphysics but ethics is the acme of Buddhism. Nirvana was the ultimate end which Buddha preached. Jainas also aimed at the renunciation from all kinds of Karma. ‘Tri Ratna’ or three jewels of right realization, right knowledge and right character were prescribed for the attainment of liberation. Right character includes five great vows viz., Non-violence (Ahimsa), truth (Satya), non-stealing (Asteya), Celibacy (Brahmacharya) and non-covetousness (Aparigraha). It also includes ten Dharmas and many other ascetic principles. The Jainas observed non-violence in its extreme sense.
Buddha and Jain are nastik when they have laid emphasis on practices then what to say of Astik schools. The summum bonum of life, according to all the six traditional systems of Indian philosophy, is liberation. Yoga is the practical aspect of Sankhya philosophy. The philosophy to the world. it leads to a unique concentration of human energy by which yogis could achieve tasks otherwise impossible. But the aim of the yoga was not to achieve impossible tasks. its aim was the cessation of the various impulses of the mind and to make it claim. India is a country of yogis. From Patanjali to Sri Aurobindo Indian yogis constantly experimented to improve this method of yoga to harness the powers in man and to transform and divinize him. In India yoga was essential for philosophy since philosophy was not a mere love of wisdom but a realization of Ultimate Reality.
Shankara’s Fourfold Means:
Even the great logicians Shankara has prescribed a fourth fold means (Sadhana Chatustaya) as a prelude to study Vedanta. These four fold means are as follows:
- Distinction between eternal (Nitya) and perishable (Anitya).
- Leaving the craving for all mundane and supra-mundane pleasures (Ghamutratha bhoga vira gah)
- Attainment of the six means of Sharma, Dama, Shraddha Samadhana, Uparati and Titisha (Shama Dam Adisadhana sampad).
- A living desire for liberation (Mumukratvam). Even after the acquisition of these four fold means, hearing of scriptures (Shravana), meditation (Manana) and concentration (Nididhyasana) is necessary for the aspirant in Vedanta. Thus, like other schools of Indian philosophy, Advaita Vedanta also lays great emphasis on practical means.
Surrender in Qualified Monism:
Ramanuja, on the other hand, was one of the greatest devotees of god. Devotion, is the life blood of his philosophy. Devotion leads to surrender (Prapatti) which has six aspects as follows:
- Thought, will and action in-tune with god.
- Leaving thought, will and action against God.
- Faith in divine protection.
- Prayer for divine protection.
- Complete surrender to God.
- Feeling of absolute dependence on God.
This elaborate description of the Sadhana aspect amply demonstrates that Indian philosophy is practical. Even the materialist Charvakas did not only indulge in mere talks but sought to find a better and more certain path to achieve pleasure. This can be seen in Kama Sutra of Vatsyana which is a classical work on the art of pleasure. Thus Indian philosophy synthesizes theory with practice thought with will and action. It seeks to make human life better, happier and more integrated, a sure sign of all true knowledge.