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Shad Darshan

Six, Shat Darshana
6 ancient Indian Philosophies


Six ancient Indian Philosophies

Philosophy in Indian Context is referred to as which means vision or insight into reality. There are two Branches of Indian Philosophy The or the orthodox branch and or unorthodox branch. Orthodox philosophies are so-called as they accept Veda`s authority. The unorthodox branch of philosophies like Buddhism, Jainism, Charvaka, etc does not accept the authority of Vedas.

Philosophy           Originator


1. Purva Mimansa    Jamini

2. Uttar Mimansa    Badrayana

   or Vedanta            / Shankara

3. Nyaya                         Gautama

4. Vaisheshika            Kanada

5. Sankhya                    Kapila

6. Yoga                            Patanjali

 Shat, 6,  Pramanas

Hinduism identifies six Pramāṇas as reliable means to accurate knowledge and to truths:  

Pratyaksha (perception)

Anumana (inference)

Upamana (comparison and analogy)

Arthapatti (postulation, the derivation from circumstances)

Anupalabdhi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof)

Shabda (word, the testimony of past or present reliable experts).


Let's discuss these philosophies in brief.

Purva Mimansa

The word Mimansa means to investigate thoroughly. This is a philosophy for rationally justifying the performance of rituals. Its the principle of Apoorva maintains and assures the fruits of rituals performed. The highest goal of man is to attain heaven, a state that transcends the earthly life. This school considers Vedas as the highest authority and even relegates God to a position of non-importance. This is called Poorva Mimansa as it deals with earlier parts of Vedas. the main goal of Mimansa's philosophy is to insist on a life of rituals as justified by Vedas. these rituals are capable of leading man to the highest goal.

Uttar Mimansa or Vedanta

Vedantic Philosophy does not have a specific founder as such, different teachers developed different schools of thought. Three main schools being Advaita, Visishtadvaita, and Dvaita.

Adi Shankaracharya is the propagator of the Advaita system, Ramanujacharya is the architect of the Visishtadvaita system while Madhavacharya is head of Dvaita system of Vedanta philosophy. It is important to note that all 3 teachers accepted the authority of Vedas but their interpretations of Brahma Sutra were different. Some of the key teachings of Vedanta are as under.

Brahman and Atman: 

Atman refers to the individual soul or consciousness and Brahman as universal consciousness. Brahman is the source of all manifested world and Atman is the inner self of man. The Upanishads reached the peak of human thinking when they asserted that Atman and Brahman are essentially the same. Brahman as universal consciousness pervades everything. The essential qualities of Brahman are " Sat Chit Ananda " meaning eternal bliss & consciousness. This is also the basic nature of man which he is not able to see due to ignorance or illusion.

Upanishads taught that Reality is one and it is Brahman with attributes of Sat Chit Ananda. Everything else is unreal. According to idealism, there is nothing in the universe which, is not pure consciousness.

Maya and Avidya: 

Maya (illusion) is the inscrutable power of Brahman through which the world of name and forms comes into being. It is Maya which makes the one Brahman appear as many. On part of human beings, it is Avidya (ignorance) which does not allow us to see the reality of one and instead, we see the world of names and forms. Therefore, Maya and Avidya are considered two sides of the same coin.

Bhutas or Fundamental Elements: 

The Upanishads recognize five fundamental elements Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. These are gross elements. This classification is connected with the fivefold character of sensory organs whose features are Odor, Flavor, Form, touch, and Sound respectively. These are subtle elements. Out of subtle are made the gross ones.

Panch Koshas: 

This theory finds expression in Taithiriya Upanishad. The human personality is made up of five layers or sheaths which cover the reality of the human being. These five layers from the grossest to the subtlest are 1. Annamaya kosha (food Body) 2. Pranamaya Kosha (Energy Body) 3. Manomaya Kosha (Mental Body) 4. Vijnanmaya Kosha (Intellect Body) 5. Anandmaya Kosha (Bliss Body). Personality or Spiritual development takes place on the path of moving inwards along the Koshas.

Para and Apara Vidya: 

All knowledge is classified into two types 1. Higher (para vidya) 2. Lower (apara vidya), which are knowledge of Brahman (transcendental knowledge) and Empirical knowledge respectively. There is no conflict between the two.


The constant stream of births and deaths until Moksha is attained is known as Samsara or transmigration. The law that governs the type of birth Jiva gets every time it dies is known as the law of Karma.

Self Realization:

Miseries and sufferings of humans are due to Avidya or ignorance about the true nature of Reality. They can be removed only through the right knowledge. Training for the right knowledge is 3 fold.


Listening stands for the study of Upanishads under a proper Guru. Personal contact with the living embodiment is of great help.


Constant contemplation upon the knowledge gained from guru to derive intellectual conviction.


refers to the practice and experiencing the knowledge of the truth, through meditation. Through intense practice, one realizes the truth about the unity underlying the multiplicity of the universe.


Nyaya Darshan is concerned with rules of logic. Nyāya literally means "rules", "method" or "judgment". This school's most significant contributions to Indian philosophy was the systematic development of the theory of logic, methodology, and its treatises on epistemology. Nyaya school's epistemology accepts four Pramanas as reliable means of gaining knowledge – Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference), Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy) and Śabda (word, the testimony of past or present reliable experts). It holds that human suffering results from mistakes/defects produced by activity under wrong knowledge.  Moksha is gained through the right knowledge. This premise led Nyaya to concern itself with epistemology, which is the reliable means to gain correct knowledge and to remove wrong notions. False knowledge is not merely ignorance for the Naiyyayikas, it includes delusion. Correct knowledge is discovering and overcoming delusions and understanding the true nature of soul, self, and reality. Naiyyayika scholars approached philosophy as a form of direct realism, stating that anything that really exists is in principle humanly knowable. To them, correct knowledge and understanding is different from simple, reflexive cognition; it requires Anuvyavasaya (cross-examination of cognition, reflective cognition of what one thinks one knows)


The Vaiseshika philosophy follows the Nyaya system very closely, the two are often considered as twin philosophies. This system recognizes the 7 Padarthas or categories which are substance, quality, action, generality, particularity, the relation of inference, and nonexistence. Vaiseshika system is known for its atomic theory of evolution and its handling of particulars. Vaiseshika goal of life is to become free from Karma by renouncing worldly desires and attain liberation by true knowledge.


Sankhya means the right knowledge or numbers or categories. There are 25 categories or principals in Sankhya. Sankhya is considered uncompromising dualism, atheistic realism, and spiritual pluralism. Its two metaphysical principals are Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is the principle of pure consciousness and Prakriti is the principle of the matter. Both are eternal and independent of each other. The whole universe is born out of primordial matter or Prakriti. Sankhya believes in the creation of the universe as a result of the union of Purusha and Prakriti. Prakriti is comprised of three Gunas - Sattva, Rajas & Tamas. Since Prakriti is the material cause of all beings, everything is made up of Prakriti, hence everything is governed by these 3 Gunas. Sankhya accepts only 3 Pramanas as valid means of acquiring knowledge. These are Pratyaksha ( direct perception ), Anumana ( inference ) & Shabda ( verbal testimony ). Sankhya propounds Kaivalya or Liberation from the cycle of birth and death and rebirth as the goal of human life. This liberation results in the freedom of man from all miseries and sufferings of human life. pain or suffering comes from three sources 1. Adhyatmic (from own body and mind) 2. Adhibhautic ( from the world ) 3. Adhidaivik (from the supernatural world). Right knowledge which distinguishes our real self (Purusha) from our unreal self (Prakriti) is the remedy for all our sufferings and pains.  What Sankhya Philosophy propounds Yoga practices realize. Yoga is considered a practical Sankhya.

Yoga Darshan

Yoga Darshana as represented by Yoga Sutras was given by maharishi Patanjali. Yoga Sutras is considered the basic text of Yoga. These Sutras elaborate an Ashtanga system of 8 limbs. Yoga Sutras are divided into 4 chapters or Padas as Follows

  • Samadhi Pada      51 Sutras

  • Sadhana Pada      55 Sutras

  • Vibhuti Pada         55 Sutras

  • Kaivalya Pada       34 Sutras


For details of Patanjali Yoga Sutra and The Yoga Philosophy, please click the link below.​

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