“Indian thinkers viewed philosophy as a practical necessity that needed to be cultivated in order to understand how life can best be led.”
Indian philosophy (Sankrit: Darshanas), refer to any of several traditions of philosophical thought that originated in the Indian subcontinent, including Hindu philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, and Jain philosophy (www. en.wikipedia.org, October 20, 2007). Specifically, it denotes the philosophical speculations of all Indian thinkers, ancient or modern, Hindus or non-Hindus, theists or atheists. It is marked by a striking breadth of outlook which only testifies to its unflinching devotion to the search for truth. Though there were many different schools and their views differed sometimes vary widely, yet each school took care to learn the views of all the others and did not come to any conclusions before considering thoroughly what others had to say and how their points could be met.
In India, spirituality is basically tuning one''s mind to consider one''s self and others as different from the gross physical body and the subtle mental body, and to be beyond the limitations of space, time and causation. Philosophy is the theory aspect and religion is the practical aspect of this principle.
The beauty of the Indian philosophy is the grand unification of a Metaphysical God who is the Absolute Reality and the substratum of all existence, and a Personal God who is the basis of all morality, ethics and the inspiration to lead a meaningful life. This grand unification makes the Indian religious temper one of the most tolerant and all consuming of the religions, and also the mother of many religions of the world today (www.geocities.com, October 20, 2007).
Indian thinkers viewed philosophy as a practical necessity that needed to be cultivated in order to understand how life can best be led. It became a custom for Indian writers to explain at the beginning of philosophical works how it serves human ends –purusārtha (Chatterjee and Datta, 1984).
Ancient Indian philosophy can be divided into broad divisions (Radhakrishnan, 1929; Radhakrishnan and Moore, 1967) namely: the Vedic Period (1500 BCE – 600 BCE), the Epic period (600 BCE – 200 AD), the Sutra Period (after 200 AD; "the first centuries of the Christian era") and the Scholastic Period (from the Sutra Period to the 17th century AD).
On the other hand, classical Indian philosophy can be roughly categorized into "orthodox" (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy, and "heterodox" (nāstika) schools that do not accept the authorities of the Vedas ((Chatterjee and Datta, 1984). Many Hindu intellectual traditions were codified during the medieval period of Brahmanic-Sanskritic scholasticism into a standard list of six orthodox (astika) schools (darshanas), the "Six Philosophies" (sad-darśana), which cite Vedic authority as their source (Flood, 1996; Chatterjee and Datta, 1984 ; and Michaels, 2004) were: Nyaya- the school of logic, Vaisheshika- the atomist school, Samkhya- the enumeration school, Yoga- the school of Patanjali (which assumes the metaphysics of Samkhya), Purva Mimamsa (or simply Mimamsa)- the tradition of Vedic exegesis, with emphasis on Vedic ritual, and Vedanta (also called Uttara Mimamsa)- the Upanishadic tradition, with emphasis on Vedic philosophy.
In the end, it is worth noting that the advent of colonialism had the effect of throwing back the development of Indian philosophy. On the whole, the progress of philosophy in the 18th and 19th centuries was not noteworthy, and lagged behind the development of social and political awareness, linked to the national awakening and the commencement of the struggle for national liberation. The dominant influence in the newly founded universities was, naturally, the empiricist, utilitarian, and agnostic philosophies imported from England, along with other products of Victorian Britain. There were reactions ainst, usually of a conservative-mystical character like the Brahmo (Brahma) Samaj movement founded by Rammohan Ray and, toward the later decades of the century, the great saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Calcutta (www.marxist.com, October 20, 2007).