Hindu thinkers envision the absolute soul in different ways and they believe that, although the paths to the truth ultimately converge, they may begin in somewhat different places. The major schools are called. Darshanas, which means views, or ways of viewing the truth. These schools are absorbed into mainstream Hinduism today, but their differences encouraged freedom and diversity to flourish in Hindu thought. The teachings of the Darshanas are the product of intensive and extensive and intelligent analyses of Vedic scriptures.

The dates when the six important schools or Darshanas—meaning visions or viewpoints—became are uncertain, but they came into existence before the Common Era and evolved over time. Samkhya was the first orthodox Vedic philosophical system to become recognized in Hindu doctrine. It is a dualistic philosophy that sees the spirit as distinct from matter, or the soul as distinct from consciousness which tied to matter. The soul is pure spirit without characteristics whereas matter possesses qualities that bind the soul to the life cycle. These qualities are called sattva, rajas, and tamas, which may be described as balanced truth, passionate activity, and dull inactivity. Liberation occurs when the spirit realizes its separation from matter and disentangles itself from the qualities of matter. Samkhya is associated with the path of Raja Yoga or meditation. In its origin, this system of thought ignored God.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar. To purchase the book, visit our Amazon Link.

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