The Philosophies of India, China and Japan

  • Vedic Age (1500-700 BCE): The first civilization was Indus Valley civilization. Aryans(1700-1500 B.C.E.) established Aryan philosophies.
  • Few believe that Dravidians lived before Aryans. Vedas developed as a result of 1500 sacred teachings.There are 4 parts in Vedas: hymns, ritual works, forest writings and Upanishads. Vedic literature is directly heard(sruti) .Teachings given to seers directly were committed to memory so that they pass down orally to future generations. The literature in later ages –epics,shastras,sutras etc. reflect works of memory or smrti.Smrti emphasizes written teachings and are viewed as sacred though not as important as Sruti.

    Rigveda is the oldest and most important of all Vedas.Written in 1500-900 B.C.E. it contains seeds of philosophical speculation.1000 hymns given in verse form are divided in sections of ten called ‘mandalas.’

    Aryans respected Indra as Rain God.

    Upanishads: Literally meaning ‘sitting down near’ these embody the substance of Vedic thought and also provide the cornerstone for most of indian thought in general.These convey sense of receiving instruction ‘which is secret and disclosed through special transmission’ by the teacher.Out of 108 Upanishads(written in 800-300 B.C.E.) 11 are principal Upanishads. To explain reality of nature, the description of Atman and Brahman are described. Atman is the stage of self realization.Brahman is the stage of growth.For a person Avidya or ignorance is a hindrance to self realization.A person who realizes self will be free from the endless cycles of birth and death(samsara)

    1. Epic Age (800 B.C.E.-200 C.E): This was an age of creative ferment .The authority of Vedas were challenged at this time.

    Ramayana and mahabharata are notable epics that display victory of virtue and truth over evil. In addition, they are stories of heroism and moral conflicts.

    Bhagwada Gita had deepest influences on Indian thought.

    1. Age of Sutras (400 B.C.E.-500 C.E): Thought and reflection became self-conscious.Philosophies were summarized in sutras (axioms).

    Sutras are generally epigrammatic sentences written in verse-form to preserve and transmit the ‘treasure of philosophies’ expressed in massive ancient works.Veda Vyas one of the greatest scholars who wrote Brahma-Sutra, also known as Vedanta-Sutra

    1. Age of Commentaries (400 C.E.-1700 C.E): Vedas and Sutras were difficult to follow .This encouraged scholars to write commentaries on the ancient literature in general and on the Sutras in particular.
    This entry was posted in Philosophy Essay and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.