Philosophy has a long tradition in the Indian literature of Ancient times. Several philosophers are engaged in mysteries of life and death and what happens beyond these two forces.
More often than not there are overlaps between the religious denominations and the philosophies they propound.
All schools of philosophy agree that man should strive for the fulfillment of the four goals :
Artha (Economic means of wealth) :Matters related to the economy are discussed in arthashastra
Dharma (Regulation of social orders) :Matters related to the state are discussed in Dharmasastra
Kama (Physical pleasures or love) :Kamasutra is about matters of sexuality
Moksha (Salvation) :Several texts are there which are related to Darshana or philosophy related to salvation
This school believed that vedas were superior revealed scriptures.
They did not question the authenticity of the vedas.
They had six sub schools named as Shada Darshan
Samkhya School :
This is the oldest school of philosophy and was founded by Kapil Muni. He has written the Samkhya Sutra.
The word Samkhya or sankhya means "count".
This school went through two phases of development namely :
Original samkhya view :Believed that the presence of any divine agency was not necessary for creation of the universe. They propounded a rational and scientific view of the universe. They argued that the world owned its existence to the nature or Prakriti. This view is considered a materialistic school of philosophy.
New samkhya view :They argued that alongwith nature, Spirit was necessary for the creation of the universe. They propounded a spiritual view of the creation of the universe. They argued that the creation of universe is due to nature and spiritual elements. This view belongs to the more spiritual school of philosophy.
Both schools argued that the acquisition of knowledge shall lead to starvation.
This school believed in separation of soul and matter.
Yoga School :
Yoga school literally means the union of two major entities.
They argue that human being can achieve salvation by combining meditation and physical application of yogic techniques.
It is believed that the techniques shall lead to release of the purusha from prakriti and would eventually lead to salvation.
The physical aspects of this school deals with physical exercises in various postures known as asanas. There are several types of breathing techniques called pranayams. The Yoga school favors these techniques as they help humans to control their mind, body and sensory organs. They propund that these exercises can help if one believes in the existence of god as a guide, mentor and teacher. They would help the person move away from worldly matter and achieve the concentration required to get salvation.
Nyaya School :
They believe in the technique of logical thinking to achieve salvation. They consider life, death and salvation to be like mysteries that can be solved through logical and analytical thinking.
They believe that by using logical tools like inference, hearing and analogy, a human being could verify the truth of a proposition or a statement.
On the concept of god, they believe that God not only created the world but also sustained and destroyed it. this philosophy constantly stressed on systematic reasoning and thinking.
This school believes in the physicality of the universe and is considered objective and realistic philosophy that governs the universe. The Maharishi kanaad who also wrote the basic text governing this philosophy is considered the founder of this school
They argued that everything in this universe is made of the five elements : earth, fire, wind, water and ether (sky)
As this school has a scientific approach, it developed a theory that everything is made up of atoms.
The followers of this school led to the development and introduction of physics in the subcontinent. They believe in god and karma. A human after death may go to heaven or hell as god decides. They also believed in karma and salvation i.e. human beings shall get rewarded and punished for their deeds.
It means the art of reasoning, interpretation and application. This school focuses on the analysis of texts of Samhita and brahmana that are portion of the vedas.
They argue that vedas contain the eternal truth and they are the repositories of all knowledge. If one has to attain religious merit, acquire heaven and salvation, they would have to fulfil all duties prescribed in the vedas.
Although they believe in rituals they assert that to understand the benefits of rituals and increase chances of salvation through them one must understand the meaning of rituals.
They believed in karma i.e. human would get the benefit or loss of his actions. however, to break free from the cycle of life and death, only salvation is the option. Unfortunately, the rituals were understood only by the brahmins and so this philosophy legitimised the social order and led to domination of brahmins.
Vedant School - End of the Vedas
This school upholds the philosophies of life as written in the upanishads. They propund that brahma is the reality of life and everything else is Maya.
Atma and brahma were considered as equal. Atma was the consciousness of the person. He who understood his atma , understood himself and so could attain salvation. Previous births were also allowed and a person had to bear the fruits of his previous misdeeds in this life too.
Shankaracharya was important philosopher of this school. he wrote commenteries on upanishads and bhagavat gita. He considered brahma as having no attributes. He also believed that knowledge was the main means of getting salvation.
Ramanujan also an important philosopher of this school. he believed that brahma had attributes and that loving the faith and practising devotion was the path to salvation.
They do not believe in the authenticity of the vedas and thus questioned the existence of gods.
They have three major sub-schools
Buddhist Philosophy :
Gautam Buddha, the founder of this school believed to have left his worldly life in search of salvation. During his meditation under a pipal tree in bodh gaya he attained salvation. Thereafter he continued his travel and teachings. He delivered his messages via sermons.
After his death, his teachings were codified and at rajgir a council was called for this purpose.
Buddha said that life is full of sufferings and desire is the main cause of this. He advises man to destroy the passion, desires, love of materialistic things that govern his life. Thus destruction of desires shall lead to end of sorrow and pain of life. This will lead to complete state of complete peace and nirvana.
the buddhist philosophy refused to believe the primacy of the vedas and told humans not to follow them blindly as they might not help in the attainment of salvation.
Jain Philosophy :
This school of philosophy was shaped by the 24 tithankars from Adinatha to Mahavir. Like the buddhist the jainism philosophy also questioned the primacy of the vedic ideals.
They argued that man is surrounded by pain and controlling the mind is the solution to stop the suffering faced by humans.
Right perception and right knowledge can help in controlling your mind. If coupled with right conduct , it can help man towards his path of salvation.
Jain philosophy believes that everything has a substance known as dharma. This substances are basis of the qualities possessed by the man or object.
Charvaka school of philosophy / Lokavata philosophy
brihaspati is the founder of this school and this is supposed to be one of the earliest schools that developed a philosophy.
This school refused to acknowledge presence of a supernatural power, god, salvation or dharma.
Charvaka school was the main propounder of the materialistic view to achieve salvation.
This school proposed that man should enjoy his life on this world. He is the center of the world and should consume all goods and all sensual pleasures. Pleasure was the ultimate objective of life.