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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

The Nyaya sutras attributed to Gautama


style="text-align: justify;">and the _Vedanta sutras_. Of these the system of Ramanuja has great philosophical importance.

The _Nyaya sutras_ attributed to Gautama, called also Ak@sapada, and the _Vais'e@sika sutras_ attributed to Ka@nada, called also Uluka, represent the same system for all practical purposes. They are in later times considered to differ only in a few points of minor importance. So far as the sutras are concerned the _Nyaya sutras_ lay particular stress on the cultivation of logic as an art, while the _Vais'e@sika sutras_ deal mostly with metaphysics and physics. In addition to these six systems, the Tantras had also philosophies of their own, which however may generally be looked upon largely as modifications of the Sa@mkhya and Vedanta systems, though their own contributions are also noteworthy.

Some fundamental Points of Agreement.

I. _The Karma Theory._

It is, however, remarkable that with the exception of the Carvaka materialists all the other systems agree on some fundamental points of importance. The systems of philosophy in India were not stirred up merely by the speculative demands of the human mind which has a natural inclination for indulging in abstract thought, but by a deep craving after the realization of the religious purpose of life. It is surprising to note that the postulates, aims and conditions for such

a realization were found to be identical in all the conflicting systems. Whatever may be their differences of opinion in other matters, so far as the general postulates for the realization of the transcendent state, the _summum bonum_ of life, were concerned, all the systems were practically in thorough agreement. It may be worth while to note some of them at this stage.

First, the theory of Karma and rebirth. All the Indian systems agree in believing that whatever action is done by an individual leaves behind it some sort of potency which has the power to ordain for him joy or sorrow in the future according as it is good or bad. When the fruits of the actions are such that they cannot be enjoyed in the present life or in a human life, the individual has to take another birth as a man or any other being in order to suffer them.

The Vedic belief that the mantras uttered in the correct accent at the sacrifices with the proper observance of all ritualistic


details, exactly according to the directions without the slightest error even in the smallest trifle, had something like a magical virtue automatically to produce the desired object immediately or after a lapse of time, was probably the earliest form of the Karma doctrine. It postulates a semi-conscious belief that certain mystical actions can produce at a distant time certain effects without the ordinary process of the instrumentality of visible agents of ordinary cause and effect. When the sacrifice is performed, the action leaves such an unseen magical virtue, called the _ad@r@s@ta_ (the unseen) or the _apurva_ (new), that by it the desired object will be achieved in a mysterious manner, for the _modus operandi_ of the _apurva_ is unknown. There is also the notion prevalent in the Sa@mhitas, as we have already noticed, that he who commits wicked deeds suffers in another world, whereas he who performs good deeds enjoys the highest material pleasures. These were probably associated with the conception of _@rta_, the inviolable order of things. Thus these are probably the elements which built up the Karma theory which we find pretty well established but not emphasized in the Upani@sads, where it is said that according to good or bad actions men will have good or bad births.

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