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Re: Question on Darsanas

Posted By JAHNAVA NITAI BRAHMACARI (jahnava@aztec.asu.edu)
Tue, 01 Jul 1997 16:59:38 -0700 (MST)

>what is a darshanas and what do they have in common. Please help.

Dear Gidget,

Darsana in sanskrit means "vision" and it refers specifically to the
different understandings that the learned rishis had regarding the supreme
absolute truth. In the sastras there is a verse that says "eka sat vipraa
bahudaa vadanti", there is one absolute truth, but the learned realized souls
speak of him variously according to their angle of vision. There are generally
six very famous philosophies within the vedic system of thought (called the
shad-darsanas) that are indicated when one uses the word darsana. These
philosophies were all compossed by various disciples of Brahma after hearing
the vedic knowledge from him (in the form of the Upanishads). The Upanishads
(numbering 108 books) are consider the conclusion of all vedic knowledge, and
hence are given the title "vedaanta" which means "end of the veda". After
Brahma gave this end of all knowledge to his disciples, they each wrote
treatise based on what they understood. Unfortunately each one had understood
only a portion of what was taught to them, and as such they all wrote
conclusions that were incomplete. These six incomplete conclusions were given
the names nyaya, vaisesika, sankhya, yoga, karma-mimamsa, and brahma-mimamsa
by their respective authors. The author of the nyaya-darsana (Gautama) had
concluded that atoms were the supreme truth, as everything in existence
appears to made of atoms. The author of the vaisesika-darsana (Kanaada)
slightly differed in opinion by assigning the supreme position to the
_combination_ of atoms. Then Kapila Muni, the author of the sankhya-darsana,
wrote that it is the material nature (energy) hat is the supreme cause. He
explained that the material nature is compossed of twenty-four eternal
principles, and their combination formed the manifested existence. Patanjali,
the author of the yoga-darsana disagreed with them all by stating that the
ultimate cause is non-material cosmic consciousnes. Jaimini, the autor of
karma-mimamsa-darsana, concluded that it is karma, or action and reaction,
that is the cause of everything. He states that _if_ there is a god, he must
be subject to our activities, hence he is not actually the supreme controller.
If I were to do good, he would have to give me good result, if I did bad, he
would have to give me bad result, therefore he is acting according to my
karma. Then Ashtavakra, one of the authors of the brahma-mimamsa-darsana,
concluded that it is the impersonal Brahman that is the cause of everything.
Brahman is defined in the Upanishads as from whom everything comes, in whom
everything is maintained, and into whom everyting ultimately goes (yato vaa
imaani bhutaani jayante, etc.). Each one of these six philosophies (darsanas)
came to a different conclusion as to what is the source of everything.
Finally, Vyaasa, the original compiler of the Vedas wrote the factual
conclusions in the book entitled Vedanta-sutra ("Upanishads in code"). In
the Vedanta-sutra (also known as the Brahma-sutra) Vyaasa establishes that
the para-brahman is He in whom everything rests, including the impersonal
brahmajyoti (spiritual effulgence). Such is the conclusions of Krishna in
the Gita, where He said, "brahmano hi pratisthaaham", "I am the foundation
and basis of the brahman effulgence." Hence, the Brahma-sutra or Vedanta-sutra
establishes Sri Krishna as the source of everything and the cause of all
causes. This Vedanta-sutra is considered the top-most book of knowledge by
all Vedic schools of philosophy, and is regarded as one of the three sources
of evidence for establishing conclusions (prasthana-traya - sruti, smriti,
and nyaya).

If anyone is interested in more information on the darsanas, there is a
course on my web sight explaining what are the various branches of vedic

Go to my homepage, then click on the button for "Courses in vedic studies".
One of the courses listed will be "What are the vedic literatures."


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