Living & Dead Systems

Balaji Hebbar bhebbar at EROLS.COM
Sat May 22 02:42:17 UTC 1999


I  continue  to  maintain  (despite  your  esteemed  views)  that  every
system  of  Classical  Indian  thought,  except  Jainism  and  VedAnta
are  dead!  Let  me  point  out  a  few  things.  The  NyAya  and  the
Yoga  are  "alive"  in  what  in  the  USA  is  referred  to  as  "in  a
cannibalized  form".  Just  before  an  old  conked-out  car  is  taken
to  the  scarpyard,  it  is  stripped  of  its  still  useful  and
servicable  parts  which  are  later  fitted  to  cars  needing  spare
parts.  Similarly  is  the  case  with  the  donated  organs  of  a
dead  person.  Yes,  in  this  sense,  the  NyAya  and  Yoga  are
"alive"  but  NOT  in  their  old  vintage  form  as  full-fledged
alternatives  to  the  VedAnta.  Beyond  a  shadow  of  a  doubt,  the
VedAnta  in  its  various  manifestations  has  taken  over  the  Indian
religio-philosophical  scene.  In  fact,  it  is  quoted  in  a
VedAntic  work  itself  where  it  is  said  that   "as  soon  as  the
lion  of  VedAnta  entered  the  forest  of  Indian  Philosophy,  the
rest  of  them  fled  away  like  jackals".  (I'll  get  you  the
citation  later).  All  Yoga  teachers  today  are  mostly  Advaitins,
B.K.S. Iyengar  and  few  others  like  him  are  excepted!  Moreover,
Hatha  Yoga  is  NOT  ALL  of  Yoga.  Today,  it  has  been  clearly
stripped  of  its  SAnkhyan  context.  NyAya  again  is  used  by  all
3  principal  schools  of  VedAnta  to  the  extent  that  it  can  be
useful  to  them  and  nothing  more!  The  philosophers  of  all  three
schools  of  VedAnta  have  rejected  vintage  NyAya.  One  need  only
go  through  the  KhaNDanakhANDakhAdya  of  ShrIharSha  (Advaita),  the
NyAyaparishuddhi  of  VedAnta  Deshika  (VishiShTAdvaita)  and  the
TarkatANDava  of  VyAsatIrtha  (Dvaita).  In  fact,   there  is  a
humorous  story  about  the  TarkatANDava.  It  is  said  that
VyAsatIrtha  wrote  the  NyAyAmRta  against  the  Advaitins.  He
immediately  received  a  "congrats"  message  from  the
NyAya-VaisheShika  philosophers  in  Bengal.  Thereafter,  he  wrote
the  TarkatANDava  against  the  N-V  system.  This  time  the  N-V
philosophers  wrote  back:

"NyAyAmRtArjita  kIrtishca  tANDavena  vinAshitA"  roughly  meaning
whatever  fame  you  earnt  amongst  us  for  writing  the  NyAyAmRta
you  destroyed  it  by  writing  the  TarkatANDava!

For  example,  all  three  schools  of  VedAnta  reject  the  5-fold
syllogism  of  the  NyAya  etc.

Prof.  Hiriyanna  states  that  the  NyAya  has  3  phases  to  it.  The
first  one  as  the  old  NyAya.  The  second  as  merged  with  the
VaisheShika  and  the  third  as  purely  servicing  the  VedAnta (i.e.
logic  only,  stripped  of  its  metaphysics,  theology  etc.)  (vide
p.225  Outlines  of  IP,  Motilal  edition)

Prof. Hiriyanna  again  implies  that  the  only  two  systems  of
Indian  thought  that  are  still  living  in  India.  These  are
Jainism  and  VedAnta.  (vide  p. 17  Outlines)

I  have  a  bias  toward  Prof.  Hiriyanna  who  was  my  maternal
grandfather's  "walking"  friend  in  Mysore  City  in  the  1930s.
They  used  to  go  for  long  walks  together.  In  fact  when  the
"Outlines"  was  written  devoid  of  a  chapter  on  Dvaita  VedAnta,
my  grandfather  and  Prof.H.N.Raghavendrachar  (a  MAdhva  scholar  who
wrote  a  book  called  "Dvaita  Philosophy  and  its  place  in  the
VedAnta")  took  him  to  task  on  this.  He  apologized  and  wrote
the  "Essentials  of  IP"  some  time  later.  It  contains  a  section
on  Dvaita  VedAnta!

With  regard  to  modernization  of  the  dead  systems  like
VaisheShika,  SAnkhya  etc.,  I  agree  with  Prof.  Ruzsa  that  it  is
high  time  we  do  so.  Actually  Prof. Ninian  Smart  pointed  this
out  long  ago  when  he  said  that  "Indian  philosophy  need  not
Westernize  but  it  certainly  needs  to  modernize!"  But  then,  one
would  have  to  modernize  Jain  metaphysics  as  well  which  is  very
similar  to  that  of  the  VaisheShika.  You  will  meet  with  some
STIFF  opposition  you  will  see  when  you  try  to  even  suggest
that!  Any  meddling  with  the  teachings  of  the  Jinas  or  any
VedAntic  systems,  you  will  soon  find  out  how  sacred  these  are
to  their  followers.  With  systems  which  are  dead  one  can  do
whatever  one  want  in  terms  of  modernization.  No  emotions
aroused,  no  sacred  feathers  ruffled.  Not  so  with  the  living
systems!  This  itself  will  prove  as  to  what  is  living  and  what
is  dead!

A  CASE  IN  POINT:  At  a  meeting  of  Madhvite  laymen  from
different  walks  of  life,  a  question  came  up.  As  per  Dvaita
VedAnta,  Space  (desha)  and  Time  (KAla)  are  two  distinct
substances.  These  are  substantiated  through  all  3  pramANas
accept  by  the  system.  One  of  the  laymen,  a  physicist  by
profession,  said  that  in  modern  physics  Space  and  Time  are
considered  as  one.  So  Space-Time.  The  other  gentleman  who  was
also  a  scientist  but  a  deeply  religious  man  stood  up  to  the
first  man  and  said  that  we  must  not  tamper  with  Shrimad
AcArya's  (Madhva's)  sacred  thought  and  must  be  left  as  is.  The
two  almost  over  the  course  of  verbal  exchanges  came  to  fist
fights.  You  see  what  I  mean.  So,  one  can  modernize  the  dead
systems,  nobody  will  bother.  as  for  the  living  systems  it
would  be  an  entirely  different  story.

Finally  to  come  back  to  my  original  point,  NyAya  and  Yoga  are
"living"  no  more  than  a  dead  man's  liver  and  kidney  are
living  in  some  other  human  being  who  has  received  it!


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