A HISTORY OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

By

Surendranath Dasgupta, M.A., Ph.D.,

Professor of Sanskrit, Government College, Chittagong, East Bengal (at present in Bangladesh)

Lecturer in Bengali in the University of Cambridge (Great Britian)

Printed by Cambridge University Press in Five Volumes

Volume I

1922 AD

निखिलमनुजचित्तं ज्ञानसूत्रैर्नवैर्यः स्रजमिवकुसुमानां कालरन्ध्रैर्विधत्ते ।

स लघुमपि ममैतं प्राच्यविज्ञानतन्तुं उपहृतमतिभक्त्या मोदतां मे गृहित्वा ॥

May He, who links the minds of all people, through the apertures of time, with new threads of knowledge like a garland of flowers, be pleased to accept this my thread of Eastern thought, offered, though it be small, with the greatest devotion.

Extracts from the Preface

(By Surendranath Dasgupta)

 

The old civilization of India was a concrete unity of many-sided developments in art, architecture, literature, religion, morals, and science so far as it was understood in those days. But the most important achievement of Indian thought was philosophy. It was regarded as the goal of all the highest, practical and theoretical activities, and it indicated the point of unity amidst all the apparent diversities which the complex growth of culture over a vast area inhabited by different peoples produced. It is not in the history of foreign invasions, in the rise of independent kingdoms at different times, in the empires of this or that great monarch that the unity of India is to be sought. It is, essentially, one of spiritual aspirations and obedience to the law of the spirit, which were regarded as superior to everything else, and it has outlived all the political changes through which India passed.

 

The Greeks, the Huns, the Scythians, the Pathans and the Moghuls who occupied the land and controlled the political machinery never ruled the minds of the people, for these political events were like hurricanes or the changes of season, mere phenomena of a natural or physical order which never affected the spiritual integrity of Hindu culture. If, after a passivity of some centuries India is again going to become creative, it is, mainly, on account of this fundamental unity of her progress and civilisation, and not from anything she may borrow from other countries. It is therefore, indispensably, necessary for all those who wish to appreciate the significance and potentialities of Indian culture that they should, properly, understand the history of Indian philosophical thought which is the nucleus round which all that is best and highest in India has grown. Much harm has already been done by the circulation of opinions that the culture and philosophy of India was dreamy and abstract. It is, therefore, very necessary that Indians as well as other peoples should become more and more acquainted with the true characteristics of the past history of Indian thought and form a correct estimate of its special features.

 

But it is not, only, for the sake of the right understanding of India that Indian philosophy should be read, or only as a record of the past thoughts of India. For most of the problems that are still debated in modern philosophical thought occurred in more or less divergent forms to the philosophers of India. Their discussions, difficulties and solutions when, properly, grasped in connection with the problems of our own times, may throw light on the course of the process of the future reconstruction of modern thought. The discovery of the important features of Indian philosophical thought, and a due appreciation of their full significance, may turn out to be as important to modern philosophy as the discovery of Sanskrit has been to the investigation of modern philological researches. It is unfortunate that the task of reinterpretation and revaluation of Indian thought has not yet been undertaken on a comprehensive scale. Sanskritists, also, with very few exceptions have neglected this important field of study, for most of these scholars have been interested more in mythology, philology, and history than in philosophy. Much work, however, has already been done in the way of the publication of a large number of important texts, and translations of some of them have, also, been attempted. But, owing to the presence of many technical terms in advanced Sanskrit philosophical literature, the translations in most cases are, hardly, intelligible to those who are not familiar with the texts themselves.

 

(Continued in next serialized parts)

 

 

Reproduced by the Bhaktirasavedāntapīṭhādhīśvara Gurupādācārya Svāmī of BRVF

 

(Disclaimer – Not all thoughts presented by the author Dr. Surendranath Dasgupta in this book may, necessarily, be considered part of the spiritual/religious ideology of BRVF and its Master)

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