From the Jacket :
The problem of reconciliation of mutually incompatible Upanisadic statements on some of the basic problems had attracted the attention of almost all the major philosophers of Vedanta.
One such problem is about the nature of relationship between Brahman and the world of empirical experience. And in their attempts to reconcile the reality of Brahman with that of the world of empirical experience almost all the philosophers of Vedanta have resorted to reason. They have not only tried to provide rational justification of their positions and views but have also used reason freely in analyzing and criticizing the rival position and views. In this process several arguments which are subtle and cogent are developed. However, some of the Vedantins who have shown critical spirit and acumen in understanding and criticizing the rival arguments and positions are not so critical about their own arguments and positions. Thus the Vedantins who came after Sankara have made his position (advaita) their major Purvapaksa without, however, trying to make their own positions a possible Purvapaksa.
This is an attempt to trace the philosophical development of Vedanta starting from Badarayana to Sri Aurobindo, and to understand and evaluate critically their arguments and positions.
About the Author :
A. Ramamurthy is a retired professor of philosophy, University of Hyderabad. He has worked on classical Indian philosophy, particularly Vedanta, and on religion. His other publications are: Advaitic Mysticism of Sankara; The Central Philosophy of Rgveda; Advaita: A conceptual Analysis; The Philosophical Foundation of Hinduism and Indian Philosophy of Religion.
THE problem of reconciliation of mutually incompatible statements of the Upanisads, on all important problems discussed in the Upanisads, has attracted the attention of almost all the major philosophers of Vedanta. The Upanisadic statements in which the nature of Brahman is indicated are not compatible with the statements which express the nature and reality of the world of empirical experience. They even contradict each other. Thus, the basic problem in developing the philosophy of the Upanisads or in interpreting them is how to reconcile the reality of Brahman, as indicated or shown in the Upanisads, with that of the world of empirical experience, or vice versa. Several problems of philosophic importance are analysed and, discussed in the Upanisads. and, different views which are not consistent with each other are freely expressed in them. And we do not find in the Upanisads any view or doctrine being endorsed by them. However, what is commonly expressed in all the texts of the Upanisads is a world-view or an ontological vision. And one significant thing about the Upanisads is that they are mostly pedagogic in character, and have adopted or developed several literary devices and methods to serve the purpose of instruction. The Upanisads are not revelations in the sense that they give us something definite and final for our acceptance on faith. They teach us something which is not unknown to anyone. Their main object is to reveal the nature of the divine or Brahman as it reveals itself at the human level or within the reality of man (adhyatma).
In their attempts to reconcile the reality of Brahman with that of the world of empirical experience almost all the philosophers of Vedanta have resorted to reason, Badarayana, the first person to develop a coherent philosophy on the basis of the Upanisads, has recognized the role and value of reason in understanding the philosophy of the Upanisads. As we do not find in the Upanisads any definite or conclusive statement or view on most of the basic problems, we have to depend upon reason for understanding the philosophy of the Upanisads. It is a different thing whether reason can really help in reconciling the Upanisadic statements or in under- standing the meaning of the Upanisads. But all the interpreters of Vedanta have resorted to reason in understanding the philosophy of the Upanisads. They have developed rational justification in support of their philosophical or metaphysical positions, and used reason freely in criticizing the rival positions. In this process several arguments which are subtle and cogent are developed. However, most of the interpreters who have shown philosophic zeal and critical spirit in understanding and criticizing the rival positions and arguments are not so critical about their own positions. Thus, the Vedantins who came after Sankara, and have made his position (Advaita) their purva-paksa, have not, however, tried to understand their own positions as critically as they have tried to understand the rival position.
This is an attempt, though brief but comprehensive, to understand the philosophic aspect or side of the development of Vedanta. I have chosen for the purpose five major philosophers of Vedanta who represent different approaches, and, the discussion is limited to their ways of reconciling the reality of Brahman with that of the world of empirical experience.
I take this opportunity to thank Sri Susheel K. Mittal, the director, D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd., New Delhi for his friendly attitude, and for publishing this work.
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