Saturday, 5 August 2017

Theism, A-theism, and Beyond - Sunny Narang

केश्यग्निं केशी विषं केशी बिभर्ति रोदसी । केशी विश्वं स्वर्दृशे केशीदं ज्योतिरुच्यते ॥१॥
मुनयो वातरशनाः पिशङ्गा वसते मला । वातस्यानु ध्राजिं यन्ति यद्देवासो अविक्षत ॥२॥
He with the long loose locks (of hair) supports Agni, and moisture, heaven, and earth; He is all sky to look upon: he with long hair is called this light.

The Munis, girdled with the wind, wear garments of soil hue; They, following the wind's swift course, go where the Gods have gone before.
— Rig Veda, Hymn 10.136.1-2

In an eternally philosophically sophisticated , spiritually alive and intellectually vital tradition of debate that has always existed on this bhoomi , to simplistically try understand the world from the atheistic-theistic , rational-irrational , scientific-unscientific , logical-illogical dual lens is infantile .
We have had multiple schools of viewing reality, existence , experience and infinite debates among them .

And there have been , will always be ideological battles between understanding of Maya or Leela , of an active interventionist Divinity or a passive watching one or none at all , of individual souls each a part of God, or separate from each other and as well as separate from God , or the soul is God itself , of separate Purush and Prakriti .

But mostly , almost all schools believe that there is a Practise and Possibility of Attaining an Inner Infinity : Moksha , Nirvana , Sat-Chit-Ananda , Kaivalya , Samadhi , Siddha , Mukti .
It may differ , whether it is liberation from the cycle of birth or rebirth , or it is about the beyond normal human experience , experience of the stillness and joy beyond any comparable human emotion , but there is an understanding of this state-of-being .

And obviously that there is rebirth , and till we practice deep meditation, reflection , we are bonded to eternal suffering here and now , not in any Hell or Heaven .

So for anyone born on this bhoomi , the Christian or Islamic traditions are just few among hundreds , if not thousands of spiritual pathways available , with their own Gurus, Rishis , scriptures .

And there are obviously the thousands of call-what-you-may "Tribal/Indigenous" spiritual traditions .
And tens of thousands of ultra local folk spiritual traditions in every village .

And when we talk of "Knowledge Systems " , the we have Ayurveda, Unani, Yoga , Siddha , hundreds of tribal/indigenous , thousands of local folk healing systems , using herbs, massage , chanting et al.

Simply, if any Global or so-called National , Singular Ideological or Religious System tries to wrestle with the Unlimited-Sidedness of this bhoomi , it will be always defeated .

Always .

Āstika is a Sanskrit adjective (and noun) that is derived from asti ("there is or exists") meaning "knowing that which exists" or "pious".

Nāstika (na (not) + āstika) is its negative.

The Sāṃkhyas and Mīmāṃsakas do not believe in God, but they believe in the Vedas and hence they are not Nāstikas. The Buddhists, Jains, and Cārvākas do not believe in the Vedas; hence they are Nāstikas.

6th century CE Jain scholar and doxographer Haribhadra, provided a different perspective in his writings on Astika and Nāstika.

Haribhadra did not consider "reverence for Vedas" as a marker for an Astika.

He and other 1st millennium CE Jaina scholars defined Astika as one who "affirms there exists another world, transmigration exists, virtue (punya) exists, vice (paap) exists".

The 7th century scholars Jayaditya and Vamana, in Kasikavrtti of Panini tradition, were silent on the role of or authority of Vedic literature in defining Astika and Nāstika.

They state, "Astika is the one who believes there exists another world. The opposite of him is the Nāstika.

The 4th century Buddhist scholar Asanga, in Bodhisattva Bhumi, calls nastika Buddhists as sarvavai nasika, describing them as who are complete deniers.

To Asanga, nastika are those who say "nothing whatsoever exists", and the worst kind of nastika are those who deny all designation and reality.

Astika are those who accept merit in and practice a religious life.

Astika and Nāstika do not mean "theism" and "atheism" respectively in ancient or medieval era Sanskrit literature.

In current Indian languages like Hindi, āstika usually means "theist", while nāstika means "atheist".
However, the terms are used differently in Hindu philosophy.

For example, Sāṃkhya is both an atheist and āstika (Vedic) philosophy.

Āstika literally means "there is, there exists" and nāstika means "not āstika".

These have been concepts used to classify Indian philosophies by modern scholars, and some Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina texts.

Āstika has been defined in one of three ways; as those who accept the epistemic authority of the Vedas, as those who accept the existence of ātman, or as those who accept the existence of Ishvara.
In contrast, nāstika are those who deny the respective definitions of āstika.

Buddhism is considered to be nāstika, but the Gautama Buddha is considered an avatar of Vishnu in some Hindu traditions.

The most studied Āstika schools of Indian philosophies, sometimes referred to as orthodox schools, are six: Nyāyá, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedānta – all schools of Hinduism.
The most studied Nāstika schools of Indian philosophies, sometimes referred to as heterodox schools, are four: Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvāka, and Ājīvika – last two are also schools of Hinduism.
A list of six systems or ṣaḍdarśanas (also spelled Sad Darshan) consider Vedas as a reliable source of knowledge and an authoritative source.

These are the Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimāṃsā and Vedanta schools of Hinduism, and they are classified as the āstika schools.

Tantric traditions in Hinduism have both āstika and nāstika lines; as Banerji writes in "Tantra in Bengal":

Tantras are ... also divided as āstika or Vedic and nāstika or non-Vedic.

In accordance with the predominance of the deity the āstika works are again divided as Śākta, Śaiva, Saura, Gāṇapatya and Vaiṣṇava.

Vedanta (IAST, Vedānta, Sanskrit: वेदांत) or Uttara Mīmāṃsā is one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means "end of the Vedas", reflecting ideas that emerged from the speculations and philosophies contained in the Upanishads.

It does not stand for one comprehensive or unifying doctrine. Rather it is an umbrella term for many sub-traditions, ranging from dualism to non-dualism, all of which developed on the basis of a common textual connection called the Prasthanatrayi.

The Prasthanatrayi is a collective term for the Principal Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

Some of the better known sub-traditions of Vedanta include Advaita (non-dualism), Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism), and Dvaita (dualism). Most other Vedantic sub-traditions are subsumed under the term Bhedabheda (difference and non-difference).

Over time, Vedanta adopted ideas from other orthodox (āstika) schools like Yoga and Nyaya, and, through this syncretism, became the most prominent school of Hinduism.

Many extant forms of Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism have been significantly shaped and influenced by the doctrines of different schools of Vedanta.

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