Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Publisher's Note

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi
Contents
Introduction
I - The Sankhya Philosophy
  II - The Yoga Philosophy
  III - The Naya Philosophy
  IV - Mimamsa
  V - The Vedanta Philosophy
  VI - Buddhism
  VII - Jainism
  Sanskrit Terms

Introduction

 

 

5. VEDANTA

 

Gandhi's account of the Vedanta philosophy is most illuminating and for various reasons. Neither in the case of Sankhya‑Yoga, nor in that of Naya‑Vaisesika (nor in that of Mimamsa) did Gandhi encounter strong contemporary champions, but a good part of India's Hindu populace happens to be the adherent of one Vedanta sect or another (and a majority of scholars working in the field of Indian philosophy happen to be the sympathizers of Advaita Vedanta). Gandhi therefore thought it necessary to carefully analyze the respective philosophical standpoints of Sankar‑ the chief advocate of Advaita Vedanta‑ and Ramanuja‑ the chief advocate of Visistadvaita Vedanta‑, devoting relatively much greater attention to the former. And by way of introducing his subject he quoted long passages from the famous Chandogya Upanisad dialogue between Uddalaka Aruni and his son Svetaketu. We are thus enabled to work out for ourselves of comparative estimate of the old‑Upanisadic teaching, Sankara's teaching and Ramanuja's teaching on the fundamental questions of philosophy. In the course of his exposition of Sankara's philosophy Gandhi explicitly touches upon the problem of the relation in which this philosophy stands to the teaching contained in the old Upanisads. He rightly points out that Sankara's followers with their distinction between `lower' and `higher' truths find no difficulty in both accepting and repudiating the teaching of old Upanishads which seldom lend clear support to the idealist‑ illusionist philosophy of Sankara. As a matter of fact, in Gandhi's present lecture‑series most of such remarks as can be construed as critical‑remarks that are certainly few and far between‑ are concentrated in the part concerned with the exposition of Sankara's philosophy.

 

6. BUDDHISM

 

The last non‑Jaina system of philosophy considered by Gandhi is Buddhism. But here the exposition of the Buddhist philosophy is preceded by a summary narration of Budda's life‑story. The decision of include the biographical portion seems to have been a result of second thoughts but it has been well executed; for we are thereby assisted in forming a graphic idea of what it was in Buddha's life‑activities that Gandhi admired most. In his exposition of the Buddhist philosophy Gandhi confines himself to Southern Buddhism (i.e., the Theravada branch of Hinayana Buddhism). Now in the philosophical literature of Southern Buddhism much attention has been devoted to the ethico‑religious problems and comparatively little to the metaphysical ones. The same is the case with Gandhi's account of the Buddhist philosophy. For we are here given an account of the fourfold `noble truths', fthe seven `jewels' of the Buddhist  law, the Buddhist notion of nirvana, the Buddhist understanding of the `law of Karma', and such other ethico‑religious topics, but the doctrine of `five skandhas (along with its corollary, the doctrine of `no soul') ‑ the  only metaphysical doctrine considered‑is introduced as a sort of side‑issue while dealing with the first `noble truth'. The only place where Gandhi pointedly raises objection against a Buddhist position is revealing. For he feels that Buddha's acceptance of the `law of Karma' is incompatible with the latter's denial of `soul'. Now irrespective of whether this objection of Gandhi is valid or not it is definitely indicative of his repeatedly asserted conviction that an ethics in order to be sound must be based on a sound metaphysics.

 

7. JAINISM

 

Last of all Gandhi takes up the Jains system of philosophy, a system he himself espouses. As noted earlier, it is in this connection that Gandhi enumerates  the four questions regarded by him as basic to all philosophical investigation. The questions are:

 

(1) What is the nature of the universe?

(2) What is the nature of God?

(3) What is the nature and what the destiny of soul?

(4) What are the laws of the soul's life?

 

Gandhi's account of the Jaina answer to these four questions is worthy of most serious consideration. For here we have a fine illustration of Gandhi's inexhaustible capacity to make the Jaina positions comprehensible to a non‑Jaina audience‑and a non‑Jaina Western audience at that). Gandhi's `four questions' clearly prove that his understanding of what constitutes a philosophical investigation was truly all‑ comprehensive. Thus he would expect a philosophical system to touch upon the problems of metaphysics, psychology, ethics, as well as religion. Of course, Gandhi knew (and the present lecture‑series is an evidence thereof) that not all-philosophical systems are equally interested in discussing these various generic types of problems, but he was convinced‑perhaps, rightly that neglect of any of these types of problems on the part of a philosophical findings.

 

It is hoped that this preliminary introduction to Gandhi's lecture‑series on the systems of Indian Philosophy will help the reader in viewing it in a proper perspective.

 

The present edition of Gandhi's lecture‑series is prepared on the basis of his own manuscript of it that is in the possession of Shri Mahavir Jain Vidyalaya, Bombay. However, this manuscript does not contain anything on Jainism. But the lecture (with the title `Jainism') published on pp. 41‑60 of The Jaina Philosophy begins by mentioning that it is the last lecture of some lecture series; from this we have surmised that here is the lecture on Jainism that belongs to our lecture‑series (which too need in the form of its last member a lecture on Jainism). Maybe our surmise is wrong but most probably it is not. Again, we learn from The Universalist Messenger, Chicago, February 10, 1984 (quoted at the end of the `Selected Speeches of Shri Virchand Raghavji Gandhi' published in May 1964 in the form of `Shri Vallabhsuri Jaina Literature Series, No. 10') : "The series of lectures on Oriental philosophy given by Mr. Virchand R. Gandhi every Monday evening at the residence of Mr. Chas. Howard, 6558 Stewart Boulevard, are growing more and more interesting. The subject philosophy." This (along with the fact that the first blank page of our manuscript carries the address `6558, Stewart Avenue, Englewood III)' is the basis of our surmising that our lecture‑series was delivered at Chicago in 1984. Here again our surmise might possibly be wrong but most probably it is not.

 

Mistakes occurring in the manuscript that are obviously the slips of pen have been corrected by us without making mention of the fact, but the places where a mistake is just suspected or where the manuscript is not legible have been duly noted. The division of a lecture into sections and of a section into paragraphs (as also the titling of sections) has been undertaken by as with view to facilitating the reader's comprehension and Yoga Gandhi closely follows certain texts of the systems; hence at appropriate places a precise reference to the relevant passages from these texts has been made by us in the form of footnotes. In the case of Buddhism, similar reference has been made to a few passages from the Abhidhammathasangaho‑ a standard philosophical manual of Theravada Buddhism‑; but this does not amount to claiming that it is this text that has been used by Gandhi. (The lectures on Naya and Vedanta are a few independent footnotes of our which seek either to elucidate of to complete or to criticize a remark made by Gandhi; (These are not footnotes given by Gandhi himself).

 

Following Gandhi's practice, no diacritical marks have been used in the Roman version of Indian proper names. However, since the technical terms of Indian philosophy, when written in Roman without diacritical marks, are likely to be misunderstood they have been given in Devanagari; (this too is in most cases a practice also of Gandhi‑who however uses for the purpose the Gujarati script rather than Devanagri).

 

L. D. INSTITUTE OF INDOLOGY                                                                  K. K. DIXIT

Ahmedabad‑9.