The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy by F.Max Muller

The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy

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The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy
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The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy by Friedrich Max Muller is a goldmine of comprehensive account of six major systems of Indian philosophical thought. It addresses descriptively the key thoughts in Vedanta, Uttara-Mimamsa and Purva-Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya-Vaisesika, and Vaisesika systems.

The book seriously focuses on one major finding that Indian religion and the major philosophies of the land are well connected with character of the inhabitants of India. The originators of these six systems left no uncertainly as to the exact position which each of these philosophers occupied on the great battlefield of thought. Max Muller quite analytically approaches every system with full dedication and brings out the crux of all these thoughts. He revitalizes these systems and presents to the entire world the quintessentials of Indian thoughts.

This volume is also an effort to rejuvenate the lesser-known systems like Purva-Mimamsa, Nyaya, Vaisesika and Yoga. This Comprehensive Volume should cater to the needs of all who operate in the domain of Indian Philosophy.

About the Author

Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900) was a German philologist and Orientalist, mostly lived in Britain. He was one of the founders of the Western academic field of Indian studies (Indology) and the discipline of comparative religion. Max Muller wrote both scholarly and popular works on the subject of Indology. The Sacred Books of the East, a 50-volume series of English translations, was prepared under his direction. Indian: What Can It Teach Us? And Hitopadesa are a few of his scholarly works. He had a long stint at Oxford University in Varied positions. Muller became Oxford’s first Professor of Comparative Philology, a position founded on his behalf. He held this chair until his death, although he retired from its active duties in 1875.


It is not without serious misgivings that I venture at this late hour of life to place before my fellow-workers and all who are interested in the growth of philosophical thought throughout the world. Some of the notes on the Six Systems of Indian Philosophy which have accumulated in my note-books for many years. It was as early as 1852 that I published my first contributions to the study of Indian philosophy in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft. My other occupations, however, and, more particularly, my preparations for a complete edition of the Rig-Veda, and its voluminous commentary, did not allow me at that time to continue these contributions, though my interest in Indian philosophy, as a most important part of the literature of India and of Universal Philosophy, has always remained the same. This interest was kindled afresh when I had to finish for the Sacred Books of the East (vols. I and XV) my translation of the Upanishads, the remote sources of Indian philosophy, and especially of the Vedanta philosophy, a system in which human speculation seems to me to have reached its very acme. Some of the other systems of Indian philosophy also have from time to time roused the curiosity of scholars and philosophers in Europe and America, and in India itself a revival of philosophic and theosophic studies though not always well directed, has taken place, which, if it leads to a more active co-operation between European and Indian thinkers, may be productive in the future of most important results. Under these circumstances a general desire has arisen, and has repeatedly been expressed, for the publication of a more general and comprehensive account of the six systems I which the philosophical thought of India has found its full realisation.

More recently the excellent publications of Professors Deussen and Garbe in Garmany, and of Dr. G. Thibaut in India, have given a new impulse to these important studies important not only in the eyes of Sanskrit by professions, but of all who wish to become acquainted with all the solutions which the most highly gifted races of mankind have proposed for the eternal riddles of the world. These studies, to quote the words of a high authority, have indeed ceased to be the hobby of a few individuals, and have become a subject of interest to the whole nation. Professor Deussen’s work on the Vedanta-philosophy (I 883) and his translation of the Vedanta-Sutras (I 887), Professor Garbe’s translation of the Samkhya-Sutras (I 889) followed by his work on the Samkhya-philosophy (I 894), and, last not least, Dr. G. Thibaut’s careful and most, useful translation of the Vedanta-Sutras in Vols. XXXIV and XXXVIII of the Sacred Books of the East (I 890 and I 896), mark a new era in the study of the two most important philosophical systems of ancient India, and have deservedly placed the names of their authors in the front rank of Sanskrit scholars in Europe.

My object in publishing the results of my own studies in Indian philosophy was not so much to restate the mere tenets of each system, so deliberately and so clearly put forward by the reputed authors of the principal philosophies of India, as to give a more comprehensive account of the philosophical activity of the Indian nation from the earliest times, and to show how intimately not only their religion, but their philosophy also, was connected with the national character of the inhabitants of India, a point of view which has of late been so ably maintained by Professor Knight of St. Andrews University.

It was only in a country like India, with all its physical advantages and disadvantages, that such a rich development of philosophical thought as we can watch in the six systems of philosophy, could have taken place. In ancient India there could hardly have been a very severe struggle for life. The necessaries of life were abundantly provided by nature, and people with few tastes could live there like the birds in a forest, and soar like birds towards the fresh air of heaven and the eternal sources of light and truth. What was there to do for those who, in order to escape from the heat of the tropical sun, had taken their abode in the shade of groves or in the caves of mountainous valleys, except to meditate on the world in which they found themselves placed, they did not know how or why? There was hardly any political life in ancient India, such as we know it from the Vedas, and in consequence neither political strife nor municipal ambition. Neither art nor science existed as yet, to call forth the energies of this highly gifted race. While we, overwhelmed with newspapers, with parliamentary reports, with daily discoveries and discussions, with new novels and time-killing social functions, have hardly any leisure left to dwell on metaphysical and religious problems, these problems formed almost the only subject on which the old inhabitants of India, could spend their intellectual energies. Life in a forest was no impossibility in the warm climate of India, and in the absence of the most ordinary means of communication, what was there to do for the members of the small settlements dotted over the country, but to give expression to that wonder at the world which is the beginning of all philosophy? Literary ambition could hardly exist during a period when even the art of writing was yet know, and when there was no literature except what could be spread and handed down by memory, developed to an extraordinary and almost incredible extent under a carefully elaborated discipline. But at a time when people could not yet think of public applause or private gain, they thought all the more of truth; and hence the perfectly independent and honest character of most their philosophy.


Chapter I Introductory 1-30
Chapter II The Vedas 33-72
Chapter III The Systems of Philosophy 74-111
Chapter IV Vedanta or Uttara-Mimamsa 113-195
Chapter V Purva-Mimamsa 197-213
Chapter VI Samkhya-Philosophy 215-305
Chapter VII Yoga-Philosophy 307-359
Chapter VIII Nyaya and Vaiseshika 362-431
Chapter IX Vaiseshika Philosophy 438-449
  Index 461
Sample Pages

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