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Bases of Hindu Culture: Philosophical Schools and Their Contribution to World Spirituality

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DOI: 10.32749/



MATTOS, Tatiana Morita Nobre [1], GAMA, Uberto Afonso Albuquerque da [2]

MATTOS, Tatiana Morita Nobre. GAMA. Uberto Afonso Albuquerque da. Bases of Hindu Culture: Philosophical Schools and Their Contribution to World Spirituality. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 03, Vol. 16, pp. 43-72. March 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:, DOI: 10.32749/


Hindu culture is one of the oldest and most complete philosophical structures with spiritualist purpose formulated in the history of mankind. Recognized for its depth, complexity and breadth of reasoning, which virtuously associates the scientific root with spiritual subjects in explanations about manifestation and divine reality. This article, whose general objective is to present the bases on which this philosophical-cultural system, and its structure of thought, was based, and, for specific objectives, to demonstrate how it contributed to the formulation of the main religions and philosophies of the world, which aim to help man to re-find his true nature. As a methodology, a bibliographic research was carried out that covered both Western authors, researchers of culture and philosophy of the East, as well as Eastern authors, renowned for their explanation about the studies of the Hindu tradition. It was found that the works that explain the influence of the ancient structure of eastern philosophical and scientific thought, especially the Hindu tradition, present the depth and dedication that this theme requires and evidences the need for continuity and expansion of the study carried out.

Keywords: Eastern Philosophy, Hinduism, Hindu Culture, Hindu Philosophical Schools, Dárshanas.


Therefore, no other place has given world spirituality as great a contribution as India. More than any other people, the Indians showed incredible spiritual versatility, which inspired many other nations and gave, in this twentieth century of ours, much needed help to Western civilization, so deficient in the things of the Spirit. (FEUERSTEIN, 2006, p. 99).

Hindu culture is one of the oldest and most complete philosophical structures of spiritualist thought and behavior formulated in the history of mankind. In the words of Mircea Elíade, “India applied itself with unparalleled rigor to the analysis of the various conditionings of the human being” (ELÍADE, 2009, p. 12). Its roots are founded on the ancient Indian civilization, with more than 10,000 years of existence, formerly called Maha Bharata[3], or Greater India, which flourished on the outskirts and tributaries of the Indo and Saraswati rivers and on the slopes of the Himalayas. It was the largest and oldest civilization on the planet, even compared to egyptian, mesopotamian or Chinese civilizations. (AUBOYER and AYMARD, 1965; MATTOSO, 1956; FEUERSTEIN, 2006)

Its philosophical-cultural system remains virtually unchanged in its essence to this day, persisting for centuries of insistent invasions and domains by different peoples – among which are the Persians, Greeks, white Huns, Arabs and Europeans, quoting only a few – and remains firmly consolidated in the identity of the Indian people and Hindus around the world.

The strength of this culture lies in its dedication to a real perquisition for universal Truth and the Divine Essence behind every manifestation, as well as in the conviction that the achievement of this knowledge is given by the human condition. The appreciation for all sincere paths aimed at the awareness of this spiritual reality confirms that Hindu culture has in ecumenism and in the versatility of thought its philosophical-spiritual basis. Therefore, it accepts, in its essence, all philosophies and religions as real paths for the encounter with the Divine Essence, “for the development and fulfillment of human destiny on earth” (GAMA and LIMA, 2019). These findings highlight the fact that Hindu culture does not have a founder, a foundation date, or a centralizing institution (GAMA and LIMA, 2019).

Even before it is recognized as a religion, the Hindu cultural tradition is a consolidated philosophy of life, called since the times of Sanatana Dharma, a Sanskrit term meaning the “Eternal Way” or the “Eternal Law”, taught by the oral tradition (Paramparay) from master to disciple, from father to son, from generation to generation, even before it is even written or codified.

In this sense, this article has as its general objective to present the bases on which this philosophical-cultural system was based. Based on an ethical search, Hindu Culture highlights the spiritual maturity achieved, recognized for its depth, complexity and breadth of reasoning, which provides substantial contributions to science and global ecumenism (ZIMMER, 2003; FEUERSTEIN, 1975).

Likewise, it has as its specific objectives, to demonstrate that most of the philosophical schools of the planet originated in the Sanatana Dharma, which provided humanity with the great legacy of spirituality associated with a living scientific root. Ancient India was the birthplace and abode of great sages (Rishis[4]) and illustrious messiahs, as well as great revelations of ancient and modern science, sung in the Vedas[5], as well as in the Upanishads and Itihásas[6] (epics), described in the Smritis (codes of law), Puránas (legends and parables), Dárshanas (philosophical schools or points of view) and Shastras[7] (scriptures) of each area of science and the arts. Therefore, this ancient culture is also called Hindu Rishi or Yoga Rishi.

As a methodology, a bibliographical research was carried out that covered both Western authors, recognized researchers of culture and philosophy of the East, such as Gama (2011 and 2019) Elíade (2009) and Feuerstein (2006); as Eastern authors, renowned for their explanation of the studies of the Hindu tradition, ranging from spiritualistic bases to scientific foundations, such as Sivananda (2013a), Yogananda (2010 and 2011) and Tigunait (2011).

It was found that the works that explain the influence of the ancient structure of eastern philosophical and scientific thought, especially the Hindu tradition, present the depth and dedication that this theme requires and evidences the need for continuity and deepening of the study carried out.



Hindu is not a mere name. The Hindu name is not only geographical, but also of national and racial importance. The whole history of our nation from the beginning is connected to it. All our ideas and ideals are so intimately connected to him that it is difficult to give a simple definition of it. (SIVANANDA, 2013a, p. 23, our translation).

The name “Hindu” has its foreign origin, given by the Persians who came to call the population living on the banks of the great Indo River “Hindus”, as well as “Sindhus” by the Greeks. And so the Hindu name became known in the West to refer to the residents of ancient India (TIGUNAIT, 2011, p.05). The original name given by the inhabitants was always Bharata or Maha-Bharata.

During the British government, the term Hinduism was often used also to differentiate, in strictly religious terms, the followers of the Hindu and Muslim religions. Thus, the restriction on adopting the religious character, to the detriment of the cultural dimension of the name Hinduism is a Western heritage. As a spiritualist philosophy, more and more people on all continents are adopted and currently have more than 1 billion adherents (PEW RESERCH CENTER, 2012).

In India, culture, philosophy, science and religion are always integrated, guide and elucidating all aspects of life, laws, moral order, customs, rituals and social organization, and still constitutes a millenary way of life, which is reinvigorated and renewed with each new generation (HINDUISM TODAY, 2007).

The civilization of the Indo-Saraswati River Valley or Harappean[8] civilization was the society that lived and developed Hindu culture, and corresponds to one of the largest and oldest civilizations that man has known[9] (FEUERSTEIN, 2006). A very sophisticated and advanced culture and, at the same time, extremely simple and functional, visible aspects in the great organization and cohesion between the different cities implanted in a vast territory, with extensive networks of communication and commerce (FEUERSTEIN, 2006, p. 143).

This civilization built cities, temples, streets, roads, large barns and urban infrastructure systems with a much more advanced technical and comprehensive capacity than that achieved in the 19th century.C. in the Western world. It was from the archaeological finds that many questions about the origin of Hinduism were answered. The traditional residents, known as the Dravidiano people, already had a wide set of cultural aspects and material artifacts dating back to the Hindu tradition known today (ELÍADE, 2009, p. 292).

“The Hindu Vedas proclaim “Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vêdanti“: there is a truth, only men describe it in different ways.” (VISWANATHAN, 2015, our translation).

Hindu culture is founded on the unwavering pursuit of universal Truth, always existing and permanently accessible to all who seek It, even if they ignore hindu scriptures or ideals. Thus, it does not project itself as the only path to spiritual fulfillment, as it does not claim the exclusive ownership of knowledge (SIVANANDA, 2013b; VIVEKANANDA, 2007). “Whatever the way in which one can seek God, it is always in God’s way” (VISWANATHAN, 2015, our translation).

Hinduism is full of all kinds of ideas and thought structures. If on the one hand, one can find, the highly spiritualist Vêdánta and Mimánsa, on the other, identifies the philosophy Sámkhyá, highly realistic or “the Charvaka highly materialistic, atheistic and hedonistic, who does not believe in God or the Vedas” (VISWANATHAN, 2015, our translation). Both idolatry is considered part of Hinduism, as philosophical lines that do not recognize any idol.

Hindu philosophical schools (Dárshanas) were formulated, intensely debated to provide a broad and systematic method for each man to explore his inner potentials and then achieve the supreme consciousness inherent in his own existence.

There is and has been in India something that is indeed philosophy. (…) Its objectives are precisely those that inspired high philosophical flights of thinkers such as those of the pre-Socratic period: Parmenides, Empédocles, Pythagoras and Heraclitus (ZIMMER, 2003, p. 37 and 38).

The questions about the manifestation, the formation of the universe or the divine Reality permeate a logical and scientific maturity, whose structure undertook above all the construction of western philosophy and science (ZIMMER, 2003).


Hinduism is as old as the world itself. Hinduism is the mother of all religions. The Hindu scriptures are the oldest in the world, Sanatana-Dharma is so called, not only because it is eternal, but also because it is protected by God and because it can make us eternal. (SIVANANDA, 2013a, p. 18, our translation).

Countless studies attest to the timeless character of Hindu consciousness and culture (SIVANANDA, 2013a; FEUERSTEIN, 2006; ZIMMER, 2003). It can be said that it is the oldest culture, philosophy and religion in the world. The knowledge to which it refers has always existed in India and has been incorporating elements of the invading peoples, but it also fed them with extensive scientific and spiritual knowledge (VISWANATHAN, 2015; SIVANANDA, 2013a).

India is revealed, especially at the religious, conservative level par excellence: almost none of its immemorial heritage was lost. We better understand this fact by examining the relations between the Proto-historical civilizations of the Indo and contemporary Hinduism. (ELÍADE, 2009, p. 290).

Hinduism began with Shruti, a Sanskrit word meaning “that which is heard” or “divine revelation”, understood by Rishis who lived in time immemorial and who heard the eternal Truths, transmitting them to the world. Each branch of knowledge is associated with a highly specialized art and science and a congruent way of life, so learning is done alongside a master (Guru) who teaches with his own example, because it brings with him the ability to understand the nature of divine manifestation.

For the Hindu, every individual is a Sukshma-Jagat, that is, a “miniature world”, corroborating the Christian idea that God created man in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26 and 27, In: KJA, 2016, p. 31). Thus, self-knowledge is a sure way to find its own divine essence (Purusha), because by understanding its own internal forces, it will be able to understand all the forces of nature and the universe.

It is in this sense that one understands why religious intolerance is the main enemy of spirituality and has not only been responsible for many crimes against humanity, driving man’s distancing from a true spiritual search (SARMA, 1967, p. 121).

The history of India, both in antiquity and later, was characterized by a virtually continuous state of foreign invasions, without there being loss in its philosophical and spiritual depth. Hindu culture is a tradition that has enormous strength to overcome the barriers of time, influences, invasions and impositions (KRISHNANANDA, 1997 and 2012).

According to Krisnananda (2012, p. 15), one of the reasons presented is that “behind this persistence of India’s culture lies its capacity for accommodation, which does not reject the ideals of the past and does not ignore the ideals that can advance in the future.” The power of absorption and assimilation of Hindu culture is so great that even a religious tradition clearly defined as Christianity was involved by Indian culture (FEUERSTEIN, 2006, p. 101). The apostle of Jesus, St. Thomas, migrated to India to transmit the Christian teachings, remained in India until his death.

The Greek army of Alexander III of Macedonia, known as Alexander the Great, entered the Indian subcontinent in 325 BC.C., ruling for a short period of time, did not pass the River Hifasis (present-day Beas River), and did not enlarge his Empire for India, as occurred with the Persian invasions and the white Huns. It can be stated above all that the Greeks and Romans absorbed hindu knowledge and thought structures to formulate their own cultural traditions, which formed the structural foundations of Western civilization. (MUKUNDCHARANDÁS, 2011)

Ecumenical India still gave rise to many missionaries who migrated to the West[10] teaching respect, ecumenism, as true values of their own belief. Hindu culture has taught humanity that ethics takes a deeper action on existence and that it should be reflected in culture as an essential value of social life (KRISHNANANDA, 2012, p. 38).


O Arjuna, whenever virtue (dharma) declines and vice (adharma) predominates, I incarnate myself as an Avatar. In visible form I appear, from the age to the age, to protect the virtuous and destroy evil in order to restore virtue. (YOGANANDA, 2010, p. 283, note no. 09).

The vast majority of mankind has placed their lives at the feet of great prophets, illustrious scholars, considered divine incarnations that have formed the souls of the world’s major religions and philosophies throughout history. Each prophet was and is a necessity of his own time, “the embodiment of what is best and greatest in his people – the meaning, the life for which this people has fought since time immemorial; and he himself is the impetus for the future, not only for his own nation, but for countless nations of the world” (YOGANANDA, 2010, p. 320).

India was the birthplace and place of study, passage and abode of great sages that mankind has known. Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha was an Indian prince (500 a.C.), leader of the Sakya Clan, who abdicated the comfort of his kingdom to devote himself to spiritual search. Upon reaching Enlightenment (Samádhi), he committed his life to transmitting to the world the wisdom found. Buddhism currently has more than 500 million adherents worldwide (PEW RESERCH CENTER, 2012).

Like Siddhartha, Jesus Christ lived in India, living with great scholars (Rishis), from whom he received teachings and performed spiritual practices, until he awakened his path to spiritual Truth, and thus returned to his homeland to teach the wisdom found (KERSTEN, 2018). It can be said that the ideals taught by Christ are the same as in the scriptures of India, analogous to the highest possible teachings, which existed long before his coming[11], a new expression of the Sanatana Dharma (YOGANANDA, 2010, p. 280, and 281). Currently the Christian tradition has more than 2 billion adherents (PEW RESERCH CENTER, 2012).

Mahavira (600 d.C.), also known as Vardhamana, founder of the Jain religious-spiritualist tradition, currently with about 4 million followers (PEW RESERCH CENTER, 2012), was a great Indian sage and like Siddhartha, who came out of the comfort of his family environment to devote himself to spiritual life. Similarly, Nanak, born in the Indian subcontinent in 1469, was the founder of Sikismo, one of the world’s oldest religions, today with more than 23 million followers (PEW RESERCH CENTER, 2012).

The great master Bodhidharma, who was born in India in the 5th century, spread the teachings of Hindu culture in China, where he lived until his death. And in this period, it was widely recognized by the teaching of martial arts (Vajramushti), not only in Shaolin, but throughout the continent (SIVANANDA, 2013c).

We find Hindu references in myths, legends, parables, and scriptures of every order in the world’s leading civilizations and peoples. According to Yogananda (2010), we find both in the book Genesis, in the Ten Commandments of Moses, in legends and rituals of the Bible, as well as in the miracles performed by Christ a “parallel with the hereafter seen literature of India. The teachings of Christ in the New Testament and Krshnaa in the Bhagavad Gita have an exact correspondence” (YOGANANDA, 2010, 281).

In addition, in the field of science, the great achievements of Hindu masters are recognized. The exquisite grammatical structure of the Sanskrit language, one of the oldest in the world, known as Devanágari, is considered the mother tongue and has influenced languages throughout the planet, such as English, Latin, Greek, French, etc. (GAMA and YAMADA, 1996). It was coded by the wise Panini in 1600 bc.C. Added to this, that Divodas Dhanvantari transmitted the teachings of medicine and surgery in 1,000 a.C., long before the discovery in the West. Together with Sushruta, who lived at the same time, they are recognized as the fathers of medicine in the world, followed by Charak, who lived in the mid-800s.C. (SIVANANDA, 2013c).

Aryabhata (476 d.C.) was one of the first and leading astronomers and mathematicians, the first man who transmitted the teachings of algebra and astronomy with enormous precision, on a date long before the discovery acclaimed by the Western people. He was accompanied by the astronomer Varahamihir (499 d.C.), who described the forces of gravity more than a millennium before Isaac Newton (1,670 d.C.). Also known is Baskaracharya (1114 d.C.), who was a genius of algebra, arithmetic and geometry, whose writings inspired Persian and Greek travelers and influenced Western science and philosophy (MUKUNDCHARANDÁS, 2011).

Hindus were instrumental in revealing the Truth and emphasizing the importance of this search, whether by scientific, rational, devotional, or spiritualist means, and influenced schools around the planet. These facts are emphasized if we take into account that, about five thousand years ago, “when the ancestors of Britons and Gauls, greeks and Latinos, roamed the immense forests of Europe in search of food, in full barbarism, Hindus were already dedicated to meditating on the mystery of life and death.” (YOGANANDA, 2011, p. xii).


It is understood that for Hindu thought the fundamental problem of all philosophy, science and art is the search for Truth. However, “Truth is not valuable in itself; it becomes fundamental because the knowledge of truth helps man to free himself” (ELÍADE, 2009, p. 19), is the recognition of the laws of nature and that govern its evolution. For the Hindu, the cause of human suffering is due to ignorance (Avidya) of its divine essence.

If on the one hand, the conception of science by the West is a commonly anti-religious and non-spiritualist view of man and the universe; for the East, the material and spiritual reality, manifest and unmanifest, coexist in interaction. Western science separatelys knowledge into disciplines, while for the eastern thought structure everything is permanently connected and interrelated and there is no way to be understood in its fullness in isolation, as can be understood in the formulation of Hindu philosophical schools (Dárshanas) (TAGORE, 1931).

Most Hindu philosophical systems integrate metaphysics, epistemology, logic, cosmology, aesthetics, ethics, sociology, psychology and physiology. Disciplines are always interrelated, especially in a theoretical and practical way. And if there is no application in life effectively, it is not considered philosophy at all. The deep study of a discipline will undeniably bring the understanding of the other. The part cannot be separated from the whole without loss (GAMA and LIMA, 2019; TIGUNAIT, 2011). The integrality acclaimed by Hindu scholars has led to a scientific depth that modern science still gropes, as with quantum physics, string theory, genetics and cosmology, for example.

The history of violence and aggression on religious grounds, such as the case of the persecution of heretics by the Catholic Church or the war waged by radical Muslims to this day, explain the reasons why Giordano Bruno or Descartes, for example, preached the liberation of rational thought, previously attached to religious dogma. However, it should be noted that in India there has never been a radical clash between science and religion. Hindu philosophy has remained traditional and renewed, so that science and religion have strengthened and helped each other, from ancient times to the present day.

The starting point of the philosophical reflection of the Eastern tradition is the real limit of human capacity for reasoning and logic. According to Tagore (1931), the universe described by man is circumscribed to the common human reality, just as the scientific view is also limited to the scientific mind of man. However, the author warns of the human potential of understanding the Truth, in which “the pattern of reason and appreciation that gives him access to truth is the pattern of the Eternal Man, the One who experiences through our experience” (TAGORE, 1931, p. 203), corroborating the human potential of access to divine Reality.

The second starting point is that Truth is one with the Universal Being, and it is indifferent if it reaches it through philosophical, scientific or spiritualist inquiry. For the Hindu, the primordial reality must also be investigated and questioned to be understood by the mind of man.

The Vedas are considered the main source of all Hindu culture and wisdom, from which philosophical speculations lead to the Vêdánta, forms of devotion lead to Bhakti doctrine, rituals and sacrifices lead to studies of the Mimánsa school, questions about creation lead to Sámkhyá cosmology, practical descriptions lead to the Sádhana of Yoga, and logic and reasoning research introduces Nyáya and Vaishêshika science. All cry out for the rescue of the principles of the Truth, to the detriment of the ritualistic somuch of meaning and content.

It is almost impossible to define when and how Hindu philosophical schools (Dárshanas) were originally formulated or even calculate their influence on the foundation of so many solid systems around the world. It is known that a spirit of philosophical and scientific inquiry sung in a pure way in the Vedas, was already in force in the days of the first Upanishads. These are systematic studies, written in sutras[12], the result of reliable oral transmissions.

With high esteem and respect, the speculations of each philosophical school were reconciled with doctrines of the existing systems, placed under criticism and analysis that gave rise to the numerous comments, texts as important as the originals of each Dárshana. In Hindu tradition, it is necessary to recognize the growth that each school has acquired over time, as there is no place for schools that have had their importance only for a certain period.

Rationalist schools, such as Sámkhyá, Nyáya or Vaisheshika, strongly influenced Western thinkers such as Pythagoras, Socrates and Aristotle, and contributed to the supply of knowledge to the oldest libraries such as Alexandria, for example, which formed the basis of Western logical and rational thought understood today as science or philosophy.



The philosophical school Nyáya, codified by the sage Shri Gautama in 600 a.C., also known as Aksapada Vidya, is applied in describing the conditions, validity and nature of the correct knowledge (Vidya), as well as the means to acquire it. The Sanskrit word Nyáya means “logic, method” or “critical study science”. Thus, it is recognized for highlighting reason, logic and systematic reasoning as a real instrument of knowledge (GAMA, 2011, p. 72). It formed the basic structure of reasoning and logic of Eastern philosophy, especially for other Hindu and world philosophical schools. Its main coding is contained in the  Nyáya Sutra of Shri  Gautama, as well as in the comments Vatsyayana Bhasya of Vatsyayana (500 a.C.).

It is essential to point out again that, in hindu tradition, writing arose on a date far superior to the transmission and organization of teaching. The Paramparay system, described earlier, of oral transmission kept for millennia fidelity and purity long before the need for coding and elaboration of analyses and comments.

The Nyáya system studies the manifest and unmanifest realities for the search for knowledge, called Prameya, detailed in Chart 1, which means “what can be known” or “object of true knowledge”, not necessarily found in the physical world. It is important to point out that the word comes from the Sanskrit root “Prama” meaning “superior knowledge”, and refers to everything that is to be known in Reality, not just material or circumscribed in the universe of the senses.

Table 1 – Objects of Knowledge (Prameya)

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

According to Gama (2011, p. 73), one of the main contributions of the Nyáya system, accepted and adopted by all other philosophical schools, is the concept of Pramana, the valid or true source of knowledge, accurate in Chart 2. The word also has as meaning the concepts of “measure, limit, (…) authority, testimony, evidence, instrument or means of knowledge” (BLAVATSKY, 2012, p. 567)

In a logical and rational way, this school describes each of the sources of knowledge, a concept also a fundamental part of the Sámkhyá naturalist school. The acuity of each stage of analysis of the Nyáya system requires discernment, precision and philosophical depth to be considered true or real.

Table 2 – Sources of valid knowledge (Pramana)

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

It can be said that valid knowledge is one that corresponds to the real nature of the object and corresponds with the facts, otherwise it is considered invalid. By limiting the human mind, knowledge remains incomplete and invalid knowledge generally prevails. Therefore, the Nyáya System still describes the sources that lead to invalid knowledge (Aprama), detailed in Chart 3, whose recognition is intended to be classified and avoided.

Table 3 – Invalid Sources of Knowledge (Aprama)

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

The methods presented to obtain information in the mind correspond to: Anubhava, experiential knowledge; and Smriti, memory, which is derived from the mind and depends on the Anubhava. In addition, it discriminates the form of expression of knowledge and studies the power of words (Mantras), as symbols that have the ability (Sakti) to accurately designate these objects.

For the Nyáya system, acquiring valid and true knowledge (Prameya) is fundamental to liberation into life, is the greatest goal of human life, because it completely dispels the darkness of ignorant self-identification and misunderstanding (Mithyajñana). The system aims to reach Tattvajñana which means “knowing reality as completely distinct from unreality” (TIGUNAIT, 2011, p. 97, our translation).

Essentially logical, it adopts the concept of God or Absolute as Supreme Intelligence, since, by its causal theory, things cannot be the cause of themselves. The Nyáya school considers valid and accept the testimony of the great scholars (Rishis) who have experienced the Truth in themselves and who confirm the existence of the divine Consciousness.


The Vaishêshika philosophical school, codified by Shri Kanada in 500 bc.C. it is recognized by the introduction of a category of reality called singularity (Visesa), so the name Vaishêshika. Its main codification was the Vaishêshika Sutra by Shri Kanada, as well as the Svartha Dharma Samgraha commentary by Shri Prashasta Pada, Udayana Kiranavali and Sridhara Nyáyakandali.

The Vaishêshika system presents the concept of Paramanu (atom) and the atomic theory of existence, according to which the whole universe is composed of eternal and uncreated atoms, which are governed according to cosmic laws and cannot be divided or destroyed. Although different from the atomic theory of modern science and materialistic philosophy, which is based on mechanical laws and considers an atom that can be transformed, it can be said that the Vaishêshika school was the basis for the formulation of it.

In this sense, from the perspective of singularity, the Vaishêshika system describes the seven categories of reality, demonstrated in Table 4, according to which the manifest and unmanifest world can be understood. Reality can be described from singularity, the smallest indestructible part of which everything is created.

Allied to the Sámkhyá and Nyáya systems, these schools defend the liberation achieved through rational, logical, correct knowledge of reality and define that ignorance is the root of all suffering and misery. For this reason, they are recognized as “realistic” schools (LORENZEN and SOLÍS, 2003, p. 170).

It is also important to note that the adoption of terms from similar philosophical schools is the result of the maturing of the Structure of Hindu philosophical thought, which has remained unchanged since Vedic times, and indicate the association of thought structures to achieve the same universal Truth.

Table 4 – Categories of reality

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

Of the seven categories of reality, the first two – Substance and Quality – are more detailed in Vaishêshika, from which the other categories can be perceived and understood. The Substance (Dravya), detailed in Table 5, is the basis on which quality or action may exist, the material cause from which things are composed.

Table 5 – Types of Substances (Dravya)

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

The Substance (Dravya) is also defined by qualities or Gunas, detailed in Chart 6, which circumscribes the universe of characteristics that allows it to be recognized, described, quantified or dimensioned. The concept of Guna for the Vaishêshika system is not identical to that of the Sámkhyá, which is applied to the characterization of Prakriti (Primordial Nature).

Table 6 – Types of Qualities (Gunas) of reality

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

To understand its existence, the Vaishêshika school also details the category of Non-existence, according to Table 7, as part of the discrimination process. This aspect shows that the Hindu Dárshanas are interested in knowing the secret of the manifest world and the unmanifest, and not of a limited portion of material existence.

These philosophical systems can be understood more clearly by current Western science, which has reached theoretical and practical conclusions about matter and antimatter, the consequences of which for the manifestation were already described in numerous ancient Hindu texts.

Table 7 – Quality of Non-existence (Abhava)

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

The theory of manifestation according to the Vaishêshika system is described from the concept of singularity or atom, whose specific arrangement and composition generates from the smallest to the largest perceptible object, with souls (Atman) who, according to the Law of Karma[13], in time, space and direction, have come to suffer or appreciate the world, according to their merit or demerit. Thus, it explains the relationship between beings and manifestation (TIGUNAT, 2011).

Such findings of the Vaishêshika school expose its scientific and spiritual character regarding the manifestation, life and universal laws.


The oldest system of the Hindu tradition, the Sámkhyá school of naturalistic philosophy influenced philosophical systems around the world (LORENZEN and SOLÍS , 2003, p. 165). Its main coder was the sage Shri Kapila, who introduced him to the Sámkhyá Sutra as the “Philosophy of Creation” in 600 BC.C. The Sámkhyá-Kariká (200 d.C.) by Iswarakrishna is the most recent text available (GAMA, 2011, p. 78).

The Sanskrit word Sámkhyá is formed from the syllables “Sam“, which means “correct, correct, discriminative” and “Khya” meaning “knowledge”, can thus be translated as “knowledge of discrimination”, “enumeration, analysis, number or account”. It presents in an enumerative way the theory of manifestation or causation in twenty-four principles or Tattvas, in which the Purusha (Spiritual I) and Prakriti (Primordial Nature) constitute the primordial source of evolution, Bhur being the manifest world from the interaction of both. They represent the duality that generates existence and in Samádhi (Enlightenment of Consciousness) this dualism is transcended and only the reality of Purusha is perceived (self-perceived). A set of logical tests for the existence of Purusha is associated with the theory of causation, as explained in Chart 8.

Table 8 – Evidence of Sámkhyá cosmology

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

The Satkaryavada is the doctrine of the pre-existence of the effect on the manifest cause, so that for the effect to manifest a specific arrangement of causes is necessary (SARASWATI, 2008, p. 04). Prakriti is the unconscious principle, the Matrix that contains all possible phenomena, and, due to the proximity of Purusha, is dynamic by beginning creation (HENRIQUES, 2001, p. 62).

In the event that it can be effectively the Primordial Cause, It is necessary that Prakriti be itself manifest, since any manifestation on her part would be a phenomenon caused, an effect, and not the true cause itself. Furthermore, it is admitted that the effects come from compound causes.

According to a Hindu commentator, Shri S.M. Pandit Joshi, “Prakriti evolution is a spectacle for Purusha; it is through the spirit that human matter must become aware and achieve the same degree of perfection as the spirit” (In: HENRIQUES, 2001, p. 62).

According to Saraswati (2008, p. 05), everything emanades from Prakriti has the characteristics (Visesa) of Preeti (Pleasure), Apreeti (Pain) or Usadin (Indifference), and has the three Gunas, detailed in Chart 9. The Gunasare the qualities or “strings” that connect the spirit (Purusha) to the world, like intertwined threads, impossible to be seen separately. The Gunasin dynamism not only generate the manifestation, but also differentiate it in qualities.

Table 9 – Characteristics of the Gunas

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

The three Gunas in equilibrium (Svarupaparinama) is Prakriti imanifesta. The manifestation (Vikrti) occurs when this balance is disturbed, creating a heterogeneous state (Virupararinama). In constant transformation, the vibration, when denser, completes the cycle of twenty-four principles (Tattvas) of the manifestation, accurate in Chart 10, this being the most known structure of this Dárshana.

Table 10 – Tattvas (principles) of the manifestation

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

According to Blavatsky (2012), the word Tattvas also has the meaning of “principle, essence, reality, true nature, truth, Supreme Essence, Absolute Reality, first principle or fundamental element” (p. 680).

The Sámkhyá school explains the sources of obtaining valid knowledge, expressed in Table 11. In the process of awareness, the subject (Pramata), a conscious principle that receives knowledge, the object of knowledge (Prameya), reflection of Purusha (Spiritual Self), and knowledge (Pramana) are active. (SARASWATI, 2008, p. 2 and 3)

Table 11 – Sources of valid knowledge

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, with our translation.

Ignorance inevitably leads man to suffering and misery. Confusing Purusha with the things of the world is considered the great mistake according to this philosophical school (HENRIQUES, 2001, p. 62). Sthitaprajña (adept) is one who awakened spiritual consciousness through knowledge about Creation, can discern material things and understand the manifestation from the point of view of logic and reason.

The origin of the Sámkhyá dates back to the time of the Rig Veda, in which the theory of causality was already expressed. Similarly, the introspective practice of Yoga dates back to Vedic rituals. Many authors associate Sámkhyá metaphysics with the discipline of Yoga as complementary, but simplifications of both systems should not be avoided at any cost (FEUERSTEIN, 1975, p. 125 and 126).


Yoga is the practical philosophical school of hindu tradition that exposes the effective method for expanding individual consciousness and reach of liberation (Kaivalya) and enlightenment of consciousness (Samádhi) in life. The word Yoga, derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj“, means “unite, join, reconnect”; as well as “button, cure, path, remedy, or means”; always related to the concepts of practice (Sádhana) and discipline (Tapas) (GAMA, 2011).

The main objective is the mastery of mental waves, which prevent man from realizing his true nature (YOGI, 2009). Therefore, it explains about the structure and modifications of the mind, expressed in Table 12, and describes the steps for its command. The Yoga Sutra de Shri Patáñjali (600 a.C.) it is recognized as its main systematization, followed by the subsequent comments of Shri Vyasa (400 d.C).

Table 12 – Changes of the mind

Source: Adapted from YOGI, 2009.

The systematization presented by Patáñjali describes the practice of Yoga in eight stages, known as Ashtanga Yoga, presented in Chart 13, and the first two stages, corresponding to Yamas and Niyamas, explained in Chart 14, constitute “votes not restricted to social class , place, time and much less circumstance ” (Yoga Sutra II.31, In: YOGI, 2009, p. 63), correspond to the necessary basis for the beginning on the path, without which it is not possible to proceed.

Table 13 – Ashtanga Yoga

Source: Adapted from YOGI, 2009; TUGUNAIT, 2011, with our translation.

The Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga are recognized throughout the Hindu tradition, accepted and incorporated not only by philosophical systems, but also by political, cultural, social and religious identity.

Table 14 – Yamas and Niyamas – Codes of Conduct

Source: Adapted from YOGI, 2009; TUGUNAIT, 2011, with our translation.

The Yoga school also describes in detail the other processes that the mind experiences, mainly because it states that “the pain that has not yet arisen can be avoided” (YOGI, 2009, p. 59). Among them, obstacles (Vikshepas) and afflictions (Kleshas), accurate in Chart 15, are of fundamental importance for Yogi to understand the impediments in his path. This philosophical system also minucia spiritual aspects developed in the domain of each step, the psychic powers achieved (Siddhis), the types of Samádhi, with the precision of a safe guide to knowledge of universal Truth.

Table 15 – Obstacles and afflictions

Source: Adapted from YOGI, 2009; TUGUNAIT, 2011, with our translation.

For Yoga, concentration is the gateway to the Samádhi, state of experience of the divine Essence. Without concentration, the energy of the mind is dissipated in vague thoughts, worries and fantasies, and identifies with the things of the world through the senses. In Samádhi, Yogi recognizes only his Purusha, which is not affected by the afflictions of ignorance, selfishness, desire, aversion, fear, and death. Gradually, it becomes free of Karmas[14] and latent impressions.


The Mimánsa and Vêdánta systems are closely related to each other, often considered interdependent. It can even be said that the Vêdánta has its roots in Mimánsa (LORENZEN and SOLÍS, 2003; TIGUNAT, 2011). Traditionally the Mimánsa system is known as Purva Mimánsa, which means in Sanskrit “initial teaching”; The Vêdánta in turn is known as Uttara Mimánsa, which means “later teaching”. Its main systematization was the Mimánsa Sutra of Shri Jaimini (400 a.C.), as well as the Mimánsa-Anukramanika of Mandana-Misra.

The Sanskrit word Mimánsa means “to truly understand” or “systematic investigation”, which highlights the principle that man cannot rest without understanding his responsibility (Dharma[15]) in the world. To this end, he elaborated a sophisticated method of interpretation of the Venus texts, which illuminate the meaning of rituals, the science of mantras and the practice of meditation (LORENZEN and SOLÍS, 2003, p. 172 and 173).

Although ritualistic, it warns not to confuse with the external aspects of rituals, because “the ritual offers a complete context and opportunity to understand the value of action” (TIGUNAT, 2011, our translation). Therefore, it also teaches Karma Yoga, or Yoga of altruistic action, to transform actions into rituals and involve life in divine consciousness, which results in the fact that the school is also known as Karma-Mimánsa (BLAVATSKY, 2012, p. 192).

For the Mimánsa System, the world originated from the vibration of mantra, in primary forms, endorsed with perfect happiness, whose cause is transcendent and eternal. The Mantra is therefore the knowledge of the Divine Essence expressed in the form of sound and symbolism, experienced by scholars in a deep state of meditation.

The two universal factors are intertwined in an inseparable way in the manifestation: the sound (Sabda), as name, vibration and Mantra, and the object denoted by sound (Artha), with form, archetype and Divinity. Thus, the school classifies two types of sound: with meaning (with phonemes constituting language) and without meaning (not formulated in words). Thus, in addition to the ways of obtaining valid or true knowledge[16] (Pramana), the level achieved by communication corresponds to an important object of study of the Mimánsa system, described in Tables 16.

Table 16 – Levels of communication (Vak Shakti)

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

For the Mimánsa school, universal reverence requires man to take a constant awareness of the Truth in all the circumstances of daily life, the best way of expressing divine consciousness. This philosophical school incorporates knowledge of realistic schools and focuses on deeper study of reality with subtle manifestation.


The Sanskrit word Vêdánta literally means “the end or conclusion of the Vedas“, consists in studying and practicing the teachings of the Vedas, which is exactly the theme of the Upanishads and Brahmanas. Its main coding made by Badarayana (500 a.C.), is the Brahma Sutra or Vêdánta Sutra, see Chart 17.

The comment of Sankara (700 d.C.) receives great prominence, thinker of the Line Advaita Vêdánta, with a large number of followers in India to this day. The Bhagavad Gita, chapter of the epic Mahabharata, is also widely adopted by this school, recognized as an Upanishad or an UpaVêda.

Table 17 – Brahma Sutras Chapters

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

The Vêdánta system, known as Uttara-Mimánsa, is characterized by being aimed at those who have a monastic life, assuming that they have already realized the fruits of worldly life, and are dedicated to finding the answers about the universal Truth. In general, they claim that material reality (Maya) is an illusory and temporary appearance; and affirm that only the Divine Essence (Brahman), and its divine spark Atman (soul), should be considered as existing (TIGUNAIT, 2011).

For this philosophical school, the Theory of Causation (Vivartavada) argues that the effect is merely an illusory appearance of reality that causes it, and recognizes gradual levels of reality in illusion. Therefore, it is necessary to train discernment (Viveka) and devotion through study (Sravana), pondering (Manana) and application (Nididhyasana). Sádhana (practice) is focused on meditation and concentration.

In addition, fundamental precepts are presented for the practitioner to start on the path of the various lines of the Vêdánta, as described in Chart 18: it is necessary to have calmed the mind, mastered the senses, purified their emotions, acquired positive thoughts, be prepared to follow the masters (Gurus) and have an immense desire for liberation.

Table 18 – Organization of the Vêdanta

Source: Adapted from TIGUNAIT, 2011, our translation.

The concept of freedom or liberation is not as valuable as in other philosophical schools, because for the Vêdánta System the Atman (soul) is always free. And, because the prison is the great misunderstanding for man, he says that the awareness is gradual as in the described stages of self-realization (Mahavakyas). In the first, only Brahman is Real, the universe is unreal; in the second, there is only Brahman and nothing else (there is no more denial). In the sequence, it affirms I am Brahman (it expands the understanding of the Self); and, finally, it considers that the whole universe is Brahman (Divine love for everything) (TIGUNAIT, 2011).

Today, the Vêdánta is the most widespread Hindu philosophical system in India and in the world, being also the first school to arrive in the West.


The bibliographical research carried out demonstrated that the structure of eastern philosophical and scientific thought, especially that developed by the Hindu philosophical schools (Dárshanas), based on the ecumenism characteristic of Hindu Culture, predicted philosophical, scientific and religious paths for man to find and describe universal Truth.

It was found that the study of Hindu Culture reveals that, by truly deepening a scientific mind, you will certainly find spiritual answers, as well as, by dedicating yourself to the study of spirituality, you will certainly find decipherations based on science; for science, logic, devotion, ritual, religion and philosophy are always integrated into the manifestation. The complexity of Eastern thought, explained with the unique simplicity, is undoubtedly one of the main contributions that ancient India left to our planet, and nurtured from knowledge, experience and spiritual and intellectual experience the great sages that our humanity has known.

It was also concluded that the works that explain the influence of the ancient structure of thought of the Hindu tradition present the depth and dedication that this theme requires and evidences the need for continuity, dissemination and expansion of the study carried out.


AUBOYER, Jeannine; AYMARD, André. História Geral das Civilizações. Tomo 1. O Oriente e a Grécia Antiga. 1º Volume. Civilizações Imperiais do Oriente. 4ª Edição. São Paulo: Difusão Européia do Livro, 1965.

BLAVATSKY, Helena P. Glossário Teosófico. São Paulo: Editora Ground, 2012. 6ª Edição.

ELÍADE, Mircea. Yoga – Imortalidade e Liberdade. São Paulo: Editora Palas Athena, 2009. 4ª Edição.

FEUERSTEIN, Georg. A Tradição do Yoga. História, Literatura, Filosofia e Pratica. São Paulo: Editora Pensamento, 2006.

___________. Manual de Ioga. São Paulo: Editora Cultrix, 1975. 1ª Edição.

GAMA, Uberto A. A.; YAMADA, Elizabeth. Arte, Filosofia e Técnica do Vidya Yoga. São Paulo: Editora Ícone, 1996.

GAMA, Uberto A. A. Vidya Shastra. Os ensinamentos sagrados do Vidya Yoga. Quatro Barras: Vidya Yoga Ashram, 2011.

___________. Palavras de Sabedoria. Quatro Barras: Vidya Yoga Ashram, 2017. 3ª Edição.

GAMA, Uberto Afonso Albuquerque da; LIMA, Paulo Renato. Uma breve análise do hinduísmo e de seus preceitos espirituais para contribuição da fé humana. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Ano 04, 1ª Edição, Volume 08, páginas 72 a 88 Janeiro de 2019. Disponível em: Acesso em 13/12/2019.

HENRIQUES, Antônio Renato. Yoga e Consciência. Porto Alegre: Editora Rigel, 2001.

HINDUISM TODAY. What is Hinduism? Modern adventure sinto a profound global Faith. Kappa: Himalayan Academy, 2007.

KERSTEN, Holger. Jesus viveu na Índia. Sua vida desconhecida antes e depois da crucificação. São Paulo: Ed. Madras, 2018.

KJA (KING JAMES ATUALIZADA). Bíblia. Niterói: BV Books Editora, 2016. 2ª Edição autorizada.

KRISHNANANDA, Swami. The philosophy of religion. Uttarakhand: Divine Life Society Publication, 1997. 2ª Edição.

___________. The heritage os indian culture. Uttarakhand: Divine Life Society Publication, 2012.

LORENZEN, David N.; SOLÍS, Benjamin P. Atadura y liberación: Las regiones de la India. Pedregal de Santa Tereza: El Colegio de México, 2003.

MATTOSO, Antônio G. História da Civilização. Antiguidade. 5ª Edição. Lisboa: Livraria Sá da Costa Editora, 1956.

MUKUNDCHARANDÁS, Sadhu. Rishis, Mystics & Heroes of India. New Delhi: Swaminarayan Aksharpith, 2011. Edição revisada.

PEW RESERCH CENTER. “The Global Religious Landscape”. Washington: PEW, 2012. Disponível em: Acesso em 13/12/2019.

SARASWATI, Swami Niranjanananda. Samkhya Darshan. Yogic Perspective on Theories of Realism. Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust, 2008.

SARMA, D. S. M. A. Hinduísmo e Yoga. Rio de Janeiro: Livraria Freitas Bastos, 1967. 4ª Edição.

SIVANANDA, Swami. All about Hinduism. Uttarakhand: Divine Life Society Publication, 2013a. 10ª Edição.

___________. Unity os religions. Uttarakhand: Divine Life Society Publication, 2013b. 4ª Edição.

___________. Lives of saints. Uttarakhand: Divine Life Society Publication, 2013c. 9ª Edição.

TAGORE, Rabindranath. A religião do homem. Coleção Libertação Humana. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Record, 1931.

TIGUNAIT, Pandit Rajmani. Seven sistems of indian philosophy. Allahabad: Himalaian Institute of India, 2011. 4ª Edição.

VISWANATHAN, Edakkandiyil. Am a Hindu? Hinduism Primer. New Delhi: Rupa Publications, 2015. 29ª Edição.

VIVEKANANDA, Swami. O que é religião. Rio de Janeiro: Lótus do Saber Editora, 2007. 2ª Edição.

YOGANANDA, Paramahansa. A eterna busca do homem. Como conceber Deus na vida diária. Volume I. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2010. 4ª Edição.

___________. A ciência da religião. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2011.

YOGI, Mestre Shri Swami Vyaghra. Yoga Sutra de Shri Pátañjali. Uma visão segundo a Cultura Yogarishi. Quatro Barras: Vidya Yoga Ashram, 2009.

ZIMMER, Heinrich. Filosofias da Índia. São Paulo: Editora Palas Athena, 2003.


3. The name “Bharata” was adopted throughout the Indian subcontinent, now composed of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, after the reign of King Bharata, which means “he who is able to nourish, preserve and protect” or “the land that loves knowledge.” (TIGUNAIT, 2011, p. 04, translation by the author).

4. Rishi is a Sanskrit term meaning Elder Sage, prophet, clairvoyant. (GAMA, 2011, p. 239).

5. The Vedas, divided into 4 books (Rig Vêda, Yajur Vêda, Sama Vêda and Atharva Vêda) are the oldest scriptures that mankind has known, contains the essence of every teaching of the Hindu tradition.

6. The Ithásas are the great epics of India, like the Ramayána (500 a.C.) and the Mahabhárata (1,500 a.C.).

7. The Shastras are sacred scriptures. According to Yogi (2011), it means “scripture, a respected word, authority without the need for proof” (p. 243).

8. The Indol Valley civilization was named “Harappeana” because Harappa was the first city to be found.

9. “But the Vedic civilization of the Indo-Sarasvati is not only the oldest on the planet; it was also the greatest civilization of high antiquity, much larger than Sumeria, Assyria and Egypt combined. As far as we know (and archaeological works are still in the early stages) at the end of the third millennium a.C., this civilization was overane by an area of about 750,000 square kilometers.” (FEUERSTEIN, 2006, p. 142)

10. The coming of great masters to the West, such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Yogananda, Swami Vyaghrananda, among many others, greatly expanded the dissemination throughout the world.

11. “Even in the name and title of Jesus we find Sanskrit words, with corresponding sound and meaning. The words Jesus and Isa (pronounced ‘Isha‘) are substantially identical. “Is“, “Isa” and “Ishwara” refer to the “Lord” or “Supreme Being” (YOGANANDA, 2010, p. 282).

12. Sutras are concise phrases or aphorisms that carry deep content, “mathematically and philosophically perfect sentences, guided “by a cord”. (GAMA, 2011, p. 245)

13. Karma is a Cosmic Law of cause and effect, of action and reaction. All we do, feel and think is Karma that naturally generates a reaction. Karma is understood to be neither good nor bad and is exempt from evaluation and judgment. (GAMA, 2011, p. 52)

14. See note 10.

15. Dharma is a Cosmic Law that means duty, commitment, which must be fulfilled in life. “Essentially, Dharma is the complete and inherent order of the universe. The Dharma leads fate, partially influenced by human free will.” (YOGI, 2011a, p. 52)

16. On this subject, see the philosophical school Nyáya.

[1] Master in Raja Vidya Yoga, yogatherapist and psychoanalyst by the Philosophical System of Self-Knowledge Vidya. Specialist in Psychoanalysis. Postgraduate in Psychology of learning, development and personality. Architect and urbanplanner, specializing in Vastu Vidya.

[2] Advisor.Master in Neuropsicanalise, Bachelor of Theology, Degree in Philosophy. Psychoanalyst and clinical philosopher, member of the UN international peacekeeping forces.

Submitted: March, 2021.

Approved: March, 2021.

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Tatiana Morita Nobre Mattos

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