Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan was born in 1911 and was educated in Madras. Since his graduation in philosophy, with a brilliant First Class Honors in 1933, been engaged in intensive research and teaching. Several of his works, noted for their width of range and depth of insight, deal with Hindu scriptures and religion in general. In 1948-49 Dr. Mahadevan lectured at Cornell and other American universities on Indian Philosophy. He has participated in several international conferences, including the cultural meeting of the Royal National Foundation at Athens in 1966.
He was the General President of the Indian Philosophical Congress held at Nagpur in 1955. He is the Area Secretary of the Union for the Study of Great Religions. After, he became the Director of the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, in the University of Madras. In recognition of his services to the cause of religion, philosophy, and culture at home and abroad, the Government of India gave him the award of Padmabhushan in 1967. Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan passed way in 1983 at the age of 72. Overview Indian Philosophy, along with Chinese philosophy, is one of the foremost Eastern traditions of abstract inquiry.
Indian philosophy, expressed in the Indo-European language of Sanskrit, comprises many diverse schools of thought and perspectives and includes a substantial body of intellectual debate and argumentation among the various views. Among the main classical schools of Indian thought are the so-called orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy and the Buddhist schools. Indian philosophy also comprises the materialist and skeptical philosophies of Carvaka and the religious schools of Jainism. Classical Indian philosophy extends from approximately 100 BC to AD 1800, which marks the beginning of the modern period.
Ancient Indian thought, which is also philosophic in a broader sense, originated as early as 1200 BC and appears in scriptures called Veda. Ancient Indian philosophy also includes the mystical treatises known as Upanishads, early Buddhist writings, and the Sanskrit poem Bhagavad-Gita. Classical Indian philosophy is less concerned with spirituality than ancient thought; rather, it concentrates on questions of how people can know and communicate about everyday affairs. Indian philosophy is extensive, rich, and complex. Scholars analyze not only its significance and its insights, but also its classical teachings about knowledge and language.
Meanwhile, the majority of Western students of Indian thought have been drawn to its religious and mystical teachings. In “Social, Ethical, and Spiritual Values in Indian Philosophy”, Mahadevan sums up philosophy is just one word, values. The knowledge for philosophy ends in the attainment of values. Sorrowless lives, he goes on to describe, are the goals of all the schools of Indian philosophy. It goes beyond logic, and becomes an affair of one’s life. Values in-depth Self-purification through the development of moral and spiritual qualities is the chief profit gained from the proper performance of duties to society.
The individual’s perfection is a continuous lifelong process in which all stages are of equal importance. Indian culture generally speaks of four human values; dharma, righteousness; artha, wealth; kama, pleasure; and moksha, liberation or spiritual freedom. Dharma is considered a primary virtue in Indian culture. It sustains individual life as well as society. It is regarded as the highest social value on which is to be based the other two social values of wealth and legitimate pleasures as well as the spiritual value of ultimate freedom, Moksa. Indian thought does not attempt to suppress the desires and emotions… its purpose is to let them flow within bounds… so one may reach higher levels of experience. ” (Mahadevan 155) The subject of morality, in Indian philosophy, is often critiqued by many modern philosophers. However, scriptures called the Upanisads are sought after to provide better explanations and answers. The Upanisads were created during a period of intellectual ferment and philosophical speculation. They contain a reformulation and rethinking of the earlier materials.
For example, the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad gives instructions with exquisite details in how one may beget a learning daughter or heroic son. Ever-lasting karma According to Indian views, “the soul has neither beginning nor end. ” (Mahadevan 159) Karma, a system of cause and effects that span several lifetimes, is an example of this theory. Acting with expectation of future rewards leads to bondage and unhappiness. One level, such actions instigate further actions and thus further karma is incurred. For one is never satisfied when one reaches a goal.
What we are and what circumstances we find ourselves in are dependent on what we were and what we did. “Every action has a double effect: it produces its appropriate reward and it also affects character. ” (Mahadevan 159) Mahadevan emphasizes that the goal of man is not to continue perpetually in the process of continuing rebirths, and be governed by the rule of karma but to break through both and become eternally free. Class or Caste Caste is used as a term to refer to thousands of social communities that have multiplied through the centuries. Varna, which is a Sanskrit expression for class or caste, means color.
It was believed that the lighter the skin of the person, the higher the class. The upper Varnas were generally called twice born. This rite was usually practiced only by the Brahmins, the priestly class of society, who retained the authority to teach and learn the Vedas which were sacred texts containing hymns. The Ksatriya class was from which kings and ruler emerged. The men from this community were allowed to learn but not teach the Vedas; their dharma was to protect the people and the country. The mercantile class, Vaisyas, was in charge of most commercial transactions. The last class mentioned is the Sudras, servants.
It was the duty of a Sudra to serve the other classes, especially the Brahmins. Sudras who desired to obtain good karma were advised to know their duty, to commit no sin, and to imitate the practice of virtuous men without reciting sacred texts. Careful studying of the caste system will show that obligations, not rights, are said to be the foundations of the system. Mahadevan quotes the Bhagavata, a literary piece in Sanskrit, saying “One becomes a brahmana by his deeds and not by family or birth” (Mahadevan 163) He then goes on to tell a story from the Chandogya Upanisad which gives an example of this.
Stages in Life For the males of the upper three classes of society, certain stages of life are recognized. These asramas, are divided into four main stages. First, is a period of study and discipline, called brahmacarya. The student resides at his teacher’s house, and after completing his studies, he returns home. The next stage is the grihastha. Without giving up the duties assigned to one’s caste and status, the man has to treat all with equal consideration. He must be aware of the rights of the elders and the obligations of juniors. He must foster and protect his wife and children with a sense of responsibility.
The third stage is the vanaprastha were the man feels that all dualities are untrue and baseless. He gives up all desires, drops all attachment to the world, and moves in the company of sages. The final stage is the sanyasa, which is above and beyond all promptings of sensual or objective pleasure. The sannyasin spends his days in contemplation and ponders over the mysteries of life. He has no private ambitions or personal desire. “He beckons all – though only a few listen to the call — to share in the infinite happiness which has become his. (Mahadevan 166) The four asramas are intended to lead man to perfection by successive stages, the goal being spiritual perfection and freedom. Road to Perfection According to Hinduism there are three ways to liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. The way of action, karma yoga, entails the path of unselfish action. “What the doctrine of karma yoga teaches is that, instead of each action’s having its own particular, finite end, the sole end of all action should be God-realization or Self-realization…” (Mahadevan 166) The right action should be done without expectation of praise or blame, resulting in inner peace.
Next, the Bhakti yoga, is the path of devotion, the method of attaining God through love and the loving recollection of God. The devotee attains this through the force of love, that most powerful and irresistible of emotions. Last, the Jnana yoga, is the yoga of knowledge. Through the means of attaining knowledge, one may achieve a transforming wisdom that destroys one’s past karma. It is believed that clarifying doubts and asking questions eventually leads to liberation. Real Meanings of Value
The metaphysical basis for the Indian theory of values is to be found in the Upanisadic conception of Brahman. The term Brahman, in the Upanisads, comes to mean the ground of the universe or the source of all existence, that which has burst forth from the universe or into it. Brahman pervades and yet transcends all human thought. To know Brahman is to enter a new state of consciousness, the Supreme. Philosophers have discovered that what lies as the basis of our souls, Atman, is the same as the ground of our universe, Brahman.
Thus, Brahman is the supreme reality and value; it is the final end, the fulfillment of all aspiration, the goal of all endeavors. Collaborating philosophies Influences from the Western and Eastern philosophies can only conjoin, according to Mahadevan, through a degree of self- consistency. The philosophical theories should not be so narrow as to prevent it from realizing that there may be truth in other views too. The perspectives should praise life in a way that one is drawn closer to the higher value. Satisfying these conditions, in the end, will shine a brighter light on the understanding of truth.