Hindu superiority: An Attempt to Determine the Position of the Hindu Race in the Scale of Nations By Har Bilas Sarda, B. A., F. R. S. L



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PHILOSOPHY.


How charming is divine philosophy,

Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose But musical as Apollo’s flute,

And a perpetual feast of nectar’d sweets Where no crude surfeit reigns.

-MILTON: C0771US.

PHILOSOPHY is the real ruler of the globe: it lays down principles which guide the world. Philosophy shows how a transcendent genius exacts homage consciously or unconsciously from lower intellects. It is philosophy that blows the trumpet blast, and it is philosophy that blunts the edge of the sword. Philosophy reigns supreme, undisputed and absolute. It conquers the conqueror and subdues the subduer.

If it is true that a great nation alone can produce great philosophers or complete systems of philosophy, the ancient Indians may, without hesitation, be pronounced to have been the greatest nation, ancient or modern. “ Philosophers,” says Professor Max Muller, “arise after the security of a State has been established, after wealth has been acquired and accumulated in certain families, after schools and universities have been founded and taste created for those literary pursuits which even in the most advanced state of civilization must necessarily be confined to but a small portion of an ever toiling community.”‘ To what high pinnacle of civilization, then, must the ancient Indians have reached, for, says Professor Max



Ancient Sanskrit Literature, pp. 564, 65.

Muller further on that “the Hindus were a nation of ph ilosoph ers.”1

The philosophy of the Hindus is another proof of their superiority in civilization and intellect to the moderns as well as the ancients. Manning says: “The Hindus had the widest range of mind of which man is capable.” 2

Schlegel speaks of the noble, clear and severely grand accents of Indian thought and says: “Even the loftiest philosophy of the Europeans, the idealism of reason, as is set forth by Greek philosophers, appears in comparison with the abundant light and vigour of Oriental idealism like a feeble promethean spark in the full flood of heavenly glory of the noonday sun—faltering and feeble and ever ready to be extinguished.”3

Professor Weber, speaking of Hindu philosophy, says: “It is in this field and that of grammar that the Indian mind attained the highest pitch of its marvellous fertility.”‘ “ The Hindus,” says Max Muller, “ were a people remarkably gifted, for philosophical abstraction.”‘ Schlegel says: “India is preeminently distinguished for the many traits of original grandeur of thought and of the wonderful remains of immediate knowledge.”

Like all other things in India, the Hindu philosophy, too, is on a gigantic scale. Every shade of opinion, every mode of thought, every school of philosophy has found its expression in. the philosophical writings of the Hindus and received its full development. Sir W. Hunter says: “The

Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 31.

2Ancient and Medieval India, Vol.I, p.114.

3 History of Literature.

1lVeber’s Indian Literature, p. 27.

5Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 566.

6History of Literature, p. 126.

problems of thought and being of mind and matter and soul apart from both, of the origin of evil, of the sommum bonum of life, of necessity and freewill, and of the relations of the creator to the creature, and the intellectual problems, such as the compatibility of evil with the goodness of God and the unequal distribution of happiness and misery in this life, are endlessly discussed. Brahmin Philosophy exhausted the possible solutions of these difficulties and of most of the other great problems which have since perplexed. Greeks, Romans, Medivaval schoolmen and modern men of science.”‘

Speaking of the comprehensiveness of Hindu philosophy, r. Alexander Duff is reported to have said, in a speech re -in Scotland, that “Hindu philosophy was so comprehensive that counterparts of all system of European philosophy were„...tia_be-fettrrd- in

Professor Goldstiicker2 finds in the Upanishads “the germs of all the philosophie . Count Bjornstjerna says: “In a metaphysica poin of view we find among the Hindus all the fundamental ideas of those vast systems which, regarded merely as the offspring of phantasy, nevertheless inspire admiration on account of the boldness of flight and of the faculty of human mind to elevate itself to such remote ethereal regions. We find among them all the principles of Pantheism, Spinozism and Hegelianism, of God as being one with the universe; of the eternal spirit descended on earth in the whole spiritual life of mankind; of the return of the emanative sparks after death to their divine origin; of the uninterrupted alternation between life and death, which is



!Indian Gazetteer, pp. 213, 214.

2Ancient and Medieval India, Vol, I, p,149,

nothing else but a transition between different modes of existence. All this we find again among the philosophers of the Hindus exhibited as clearly as by our modern philosophers more than three thousand years since.”‘

Even with the limited knowledge of Hindu philosophy and science that could be obtained at the time, Sir William Jones could say: “I can venture to affirm without meaning to pluck a leaf from the never-fading laurels of our immortal Newton, that the whole of his theology, and part of his philosophy, may be found in the Vedas, and even in the works of the Sufis. The most subtle spirit which he suspected to pervade natural bodies, and lying concealed in them, to cause attraction and repulsion, the emission, reflection and refraction of light, electricity, califaction, sensation and muscular motion, is described by the Hindus as a fifth element, endued with those very powers.”

Mrs. Besant says: “Indian psychology is far more perfect a science than European psychology.”‘

Theogony of the Hindus, pp. 29, 30. As an instance of Mr. James Mill’s stupidity, if stupidity is compatible with learning, one may cite his opinion that the Hindus were extremely barbarous, for they cultivated metaphysics so largely. Prof. Wilson takes exception to it, and says: “With regard to the writer’s theory that the cultivation of metaphysics is a proof rather of barbarism than of civilization, it may be asked, if Locke, Descartes, Leibnitz, Kant, Schelling were barbarous.”—Mill’s History of India, Vol. I, p. 74, footnote. Mr. James Mill is a conspicuous instance of a man whose mind becomes completely warped by prejudice. Mill’s mind could conceive most absurd impossibilities.

Mr. Mill,” says Wilson, “ seems inclined to think that it was not impossible that the Pyramids had dropped from the clouds or sprung out of the soil.” How this perverted intellect could educate one of the greatest English thinkers is a problem of some psychological interest.



2Lecture on National Universities in India (Calcutta), January, 1906.

As Professor Max Muller has observed, “the Hindus talk philosophy in the streets,” and to this reason is due the thoroughly practical character of their philosophy. “In this respect,” says Bjornstjerna, “the Hindus were far in advance of the philosophers of Greece and Rome, who considered the immortality of the soul as problematical.”‘ “Socrates and Plato with all their longings could only feel assured that the soul had more of immortality than aught else.”2 In India, however, the doctrine has not been accepted in theory only, it moulds the conduct of the whole nation. This is true of philosophy. And it is due to its practical character that Hindu philosophy has extended its sway over so wide an area of the globe. Hindu philosophy even now holds undisputed sway over the minds of nearly half the inhabitants of the world, whilst its partial influence is no doubt universal.

In ancient times people came to India from distant lands to acquire learning and gain wisdom, and Hindu philosophy thus worked silently for centuries. That the Egyptians derived their religion, mythology and philosophy from the Hindus has been clearly established by Count Bjornstjerna; and that the Greek philosophy, too, was indebted almost wholly to the Hindu philosophy for its cardinal doctrines has also been shown by eminent Orientalists. The resemblance between the Hindu and the Greek philosophy is too close to be accidental. The Hindus, being far more advanced, must be the teachers, and the Greeks, the disciples. Mr. Colebrooke, the eminent antiquarian, decides in favour of Hindu originality and says: “The Hindus were, in this respect, the teachers and not the learners.”3

iTheogony of the Hindus, p. 27.

2 Phmdo, Taylor’s translation. IV, p. 324. 3Transactions of the R. A. S., Vol. I, p. 579.

A Frenchman observes that “the traces of Hindu philosophy which appear at each step in the doctrines professed by the illustrious men of Greece abundantly prove that it was from the East came their science, and that many of them no doubt drank- deeply at the principal fountain.” The great Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, came to India to learn philosophy, and here imbibed the doctrine of the transmigration of soul propounded by the Hindu sages. Dr. Enfield says: “We find that it (India) was visited for the purpose of acquiring knowledge by Pythagoras, Anaxarchus, Pyrrho, and others who afterwards became eminent philosophers in Greece.”‘

Discussing the question as to what constitutes human nature according to the Hindus, the Sw edish Count says: “Pythagoras and Plato hold the same doctrine, that of Pythagoras being probably derived from India, whither he travelled to complete his philosophical studies.”‘ Mr. Pococke says: “Certain it is that Pythagoras visited India, which I trust I shall make self-evident.”‘

Schlegel says: “The doctrine of the transmigration of souls was indigenous to India and was brought into Greece by Pythagoras.”‘

Mr. Princep says: “The fact, however, that he (Pythagoras) derived his doctrines from an Indian source is very generally admitted. Under the name of Mythraic, the faith of Buddha had also a wide exten-

History of Philosophy, by Dr. Enfield, Vol. I, p. 65. “ Some of the doctrines of the Greeks concerning nature are said to have been derived from the Indians.”—p. 70.



Theogony of the Hindus, p. 77.

3Pococke’s India in Greece, p. 353.

4History of Literature, p. 109.

tion.”1 Sir M. Monier Williams says that Pythagoras and Plato both believed in this doctrine, and that they were indebted for it to Hindu writers.2

Pyrrhon, according to Alexander Polyhister, went with Alexander the Great to India, and hence the scepticism of Pyrrhon is connected with the Buddhist philosophy of India.3 Even Ward says: “The author is persuaded he (the reader) will not consider the conjecture improbable that Pythagoras and others did really visit India and that Gautama and Pythagoras were contemporaries.”4

Professor H. H. Wilson says: “We know that there was an active communication between India and the Red Sea in the early ages of the Christian era, and that doctrines as well as articles of merchandise were brought to Alexandria from the former. Epipharius and Eusebius accuse Scythianus of having imported from India in the second century, books on magic and heretical notions leading to Manichaeism; and it was at the same period that Ammonius Saccas instituted the sect of the New Platonists at Alexandria. The basis of the heresy was that true philosophy derived its origin from the Eastern nations.” 5



1 India is Greece, p. 361. Pythagoras, according to Mr. Pococke, was a Buddhist Missionary, He was

Sanskrit, Bud’ha-Gurus,

Greek, Putha-Goras, Bud’has Spiritual Teacher.

English, Pytha-Goras,

2Indian Wisdom, p. 68.

3Max Muller’s Science of Language, p. 86.

4Ward’s Mythology of the Hindus, p. xxiii (Introduction). “According to Greek tradition, Thales,Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Demo_critus and others undertook journeys to Oriental countries in order to study philosophy.”—History of Hintlit’Chemistry, Vol. I, p. 2.

5 Wilson’s Vishnu Purana, Preface, p. xiv.

rs says: „ Scythianus was a contemporary of the Apostles, and was engaged as a merchant in the Indian trade. In the course of his traffic he often visited India and made himself acquainted with Hindu philosophy. According to Epiphanius and Cyril, he wrote a book in four parts; which they affirm to be the source from which the Manichean doctrines were derived.”‘

It is thus clear that the Hindu philosophy is the fountain head of the Greek philosophy with regard to some of its cardinal points. ue philosophy in fact originated with the Hindus. Man first distinguished the Eternal from the perishable, a ext he perceived wit

himself the germ of the Eternal. “ This discovery,” says Professor Max Muller, “was an epoch—in the history of the human mind, the name Of the discoverer has

not been forgotten. It v _as Sandilya Who declared that the self within the heart was Brahma.”‘----- Excluding the extensive atheistic and agnostic systems of philosophy propounded by Charvaya and others, and those by the Jain and Buddhistic philosophers, the principal Hindu schools of philosophy are known as the Darsanas. But much of the philosophical literature of the Hindus is lost. Professor Goldatiicker, too, thinks that “ probably besides the “Upanishads, there were philosophical works which were more original than those now preserved, and which served as the common source of the works which have come down to us as the six Darsanas.”

The Darsanas are: Nyaya and Veisheshika.; Sinkhya and Yoga; and Purva and Uttara Mimansas.

Davies’ Bhagwat Gita, p. 196. 2AncientSaiiskrit Literature; p.

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