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A History of Sanskrit Literature by MacDonell

Even in the attribution of their text book to Brihaspati


Nyaya system is only a development and complement of that of Kanada, its metaphysics and psychology being the same. Its specific character consists in its being a very detailed and acute exposition of formal logic. As such it has remained the foundation of philosophical studies in India down to the present day. Besides dealing fully with the means of knowledge, which it states to be perception, inference, analogy, and trustworthy evidence, it treats exhaustively of syllogisms and fallacies. It is interesting to note that the Indian mind here independently arrived at an exposition of the syllogism as the form of deductive reasoning. The text-book of this system is the Nyaya-sutra of Gotama. The importance here attached to logic appears from the very first aphorism, which enumerates sixteen logical notions with the remark that salvation depends on a correct knowledge of their nature.

Neither the Vaiceshika nor the Nyaya-sutras originally accepted the existence of God; and though both schools later became theistic, they never went so far as to assume a creator of matter. Their theology is first found developed in Udayanacharya's Kusumanjali, which was written about 1200 A.D., and in works which deal with the two systems conjointly. Here God is regarded as a "special" soul, which differs from all other individual eternal souls by exemption from all qualities connected with transmigration, and by the possession of the power and knowledge qualifying

him to be a regulator of the universe.

Of the eclectic movement combining Sankhya, Yoga, and Vedanta doctrines, the oldest literary representative is the Cvetacvatara Upanishad. More famous is the Bhagavadgita in which the Supreme Being incarnate as Krishna expounds to Arjuna his doctrines in this sense. The burden of his teaching is that the zealous performance of his duty is a man's most important task, to whatever caste he may belong. The beauty and the power of the language in which this doctrine is inculcated, is unsurpassed in any other work of Indian literature.

By the side of the orthodox systems and the two non-Brahmanical religions, flourished the lokayata ("directed to the world of sense"), or materialistic school, usually called that of the Charvakas from the name of the founder of the doctrine. It was regarded as peculiarly heretical, for it not only rejected the authority of the Vedas and Brahmanic ceremonial, but denied the doctrines of transmigration and salvation accepted by all other systems. Materialistic teachings may be traced even before the time of Buddha, and they have had many secret followers in India down to the present day. The system, however, seems never to have had more than one text-book, the lost Sutras of Brihaspati, its mythical founder. Our knowledge of it is derived partly from the polemics of other schools, but especially from the Sarvadarcana-samgraha, or "Compendium of all the Philosophical Systems," composed in the fourteenth century by the well-known Vedantist Madhavacharya, brother of Sayana. The strong scepticism of the Charvakas showed itself in the rejection of all the means of knowledge accepted by other schools, excepting perception. To them matter was the only reality. Soul they regarded as nothing but the body with the attribute of intelligence. They held it to be created when the body is formed by the combination of elements, just as the power of intoxication arises from the mixture of certain ingredients. Hence with the annihilation of the body the soul also is annihilated. Not transmigration, they affirm, but the true nature of things, is the cause from which phenomena proceed. The existence of all that transcends the senses they deny, sometimes with an admixture of irony. Thus the highest being, they say, is the king of the land, whose existence is proved by the perception of the whole world; hell is earthly pain produced by earthly causes; and salvation is the dissolution of the body. Even in the attribution of their text-book to Brihaspati, the name of the preceptor of the gods, a touch of irony is to be detected. The religion of the Brahmans receives a severe handling. The Vedas, say the Charvakas, are only the incoherent rhapsodies of knaves, and are tainted with the three blemishes of falsehood, self-contradiction, and tautology; Vedic teachers are impostors, whose doctrines are mutually destructive; and the ritual of the Brahmans is useful only as a means of livelihood. "If," they ask, "an animal sacrificed reaches heaven, why does the sacrificer not rather offer his own father?"

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