Darshanas - AN INTRODUCTION
By Dr. Gururaj Mutalik
The edifice of Vedic philosophy built on the Shruti’s, Smriti’s and to some extent on works called Agamas, Purana, Itihasa, and other related scriptural texts. The three main pillars of this exalted edifice are the Prasthana –Trayee– Upanishads, Brahma-sutras and Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.
In this edifice, there cohabit a number of faiths, practices, traditions and on the intellectual plane, systems of philosophy. The last named come a group of well defined six systems of philosophy which constitute the classic darahana’s. These are : Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Poorva-Meemaamsa, Uttara-meemaamsaa ( Vedanta). These six systems are called ‘Astika Darshanas’. These are based on the implicit validity and authenticity of Vedic system with its inherent premise of the existence of a Supreme Being.
There are other counter point –disciplines which deny this basic premise, including the existence of God, which are called as Naastika darshana’s. Prominent amongst the ‘Nastika darshanas’ are the systems attributed to Charvaka, Jainism and Buddhism.
The spirit of Darshanas is to be understood as intellectual works with their own epistemological and ontological boundaries and are meant for scholars, thinkers and those who are capable of understanding abstract thoughts. For the vast majority of others , is the vast literature which describes the path ways for self enlightenment, spiritual progress and ultimate liberation derived from commentators and sub commentators of cardinal works of vedic literature, and importantly the works of great saints who simplified the teachings of vedic wisdom in song, music, dance and drama. A unique combination of these is called Keertana, were brought to the heart and home of the people by these saints which flourished in post -middle ages. Kabir, Meera, Jnaneswar, Tukaram, Purandara dasa, Kankadasa, Jagannatha dasa, and Tyagaraja and a number of other regional saints are the jewels in this literature.
The darashana’s, thus are not for the ordinary common folks! Another way of looking at Darshana is to consider the various Darshanas in an ascending order of evolution from Samkhya to Uttara meemaamsaa, the last named being considered as the most authentic and mature conclusion of Vedic teaching.
A series of articles by our scholar writer Professor Subramanya Korada portrays various Darshanas in his characteristic objective and lucid style.
With these articles concludes our web overview of the vast terrain of Vedic systems.