The old civilization of India was a concrete unity of many morals, and science so far as it was understood in those days. But the most important achievement of Indian thought was philosophy. It was regarded as the goal of all the highest practical and theoretical activities, and it indicated the point of unity amidst all the apparent diversities which the complex growth of culture over a vast area inhabited by different peoples produced. It is not in the history of foreign invasions, in the rise of independent kingdoms at different times, in the empires of this or that great monarch that the unity of India is to be sought. It is essentially one of spiritual aspirations and obedience to the law of the spirit, which were regarded as superior to everything else, and it has outlived all the political changes through which India passed.
The Greeks, the Huns, the Scythians, the Pathans and the Moguls who occupied the land and controlled the political machinery never ruled the minds of the people, for these political events were like hurricanes or the changes of season, mere phenomena of a natural or physical order which never affected the spiritual integrity of Hindu culture. If after a passivity of some centuries India is again going to become creative it is mainly on account of this fundamental unity of her progress and civilization and not for anything that she may borrow from other countries. It is therefore indispensably necessary for all those who wish to appreciate the significance and potentialities of Indian culture that they should properly understand the history of Indian philosophical thought which is the nucleus round which all that is best and highest in India has grown. Much harm has already been done by the circulation of opinions that the culture and philosophy of India was an abstract is therefore very necessary that Indians as well as other peoples should become more and more acquainted with the true characteristics of the past history of Indian thought and form a correct estimate of its special features.
NINE years have passed away since the first volume of this work was published, and the present volume has been in the press for more than two years. During the last seven years bad health has been responsible for many interruptions. In the first volume manuscripts were sparingly used, but in the present work numerous unpublished and almost unknown manuscripts have been referred to. These could not be collected easily, and it took time to read them; many of them were old and moth-eaten and it was not often easy to decipher the handwriting. It has not always been possible, however, to give an elaborate account of the content of all these manuscripts, for in many cases they contained no new matter and had therefore only been mentioned by name, a fact which could be ascertained only after long and patient study, since records of them were previously unknown. A considerable delay was also caused in the writing of this volume by the fact that large portions of what will appear in the third volume had to be compiled before the manuscripts had left the author's hands. In any event, the author offers his sincere apologies for the delay.
The manuscript of the third volume has made good progress and, barring illness and other accidents, will soon be sent to press. This volume will contain a fairly elaborate account of the principal dualistic and pluralistic systems, such as the philosophy of the Panca-ratra, Bhāskara, Yamuna, Rāmānuja and his followers, Madhva and his followers, the Bhagavata-purāṇa and the Gaudiya school of Vaiṣṇavism. The fourth and the fifth volumes will deal with the philosophy of Vallabha and some other lesser known schools of Vaiṣṇavism, the philosophy of the Purāṇas, Tantras, the different schools of Saivas, Sāktas, Indian Aesthetics, the philosophy of right and law and the religious systems that have found their expression in some of the leading vernaculars of India.
The second volume of this work was published as long ago as 1932. Among the many reasons which delayed the publication of this volume, one must count the excessive administrative and teaching work with which the writer is saddled; his continued illness; the regrettable failure of one eye through strenuous work, which often makes him depend on the assistance of others; and the long distance between the place of publication and Calcutta. The manuscript of the fourth volume is happily ready.
In writing the present volume the author has taken great trouble to secure manuscripts which would present a connected account of the development of theistic philosophy in the South. The texts that have been published are but few in number and the entire story cannot be told without constant reference to rare manuscripts from which alone the data can be collected. So far, no work has been written which could throw any light on the discovery and interpretation of a connected history of Vaisnava thought. It would have been well if the Tamil and Telegu works could have been fruitfully utilized in tracing the history of Vaiṣṇavism, not only as it appeared in Sanskrit but also as it appeared in the vernaculars of the South. But the author limited himself as far as possible to Sanskrit data. This limitation was necessary for three reasons: first, the author was not master of the various vernaculars of South India; secondly, the inclusion and utilization of such data would have made the present book greatly exceed its intended scope; and thirdly, the inclusion of the data from the vernacular literature would not have contributed materially to the philosophical problems underlying the theistic speculations dealt with in this work. Looked at from the strictly philosophical point of view, some of the materials of the present book may be regarded as somewhat out of place. But, both in the present volume and the volume that will follow it, it will be impossible to ignore the religious pathology that is associated with the devotional philosophy which is so predominant in the South and which so much influenced the minds of the people not only in the Middle Ages but also in the recent past and is even now the most important element of Indian religions.
THE third volume of the present series was published in 1940.
The manuscript of the fourth volume was largely ready at that time and it would have been possible to send it for publication at least by 1942. But the second world-war commenced in 1939 and although the Cambridge University Press was prepared to accept the manuscript even during war-time, the dispatch of the manuscript from Calcutta to Cambridge and the transmission of proofs to and fro between England and India appeared to me to be too risky. In 1945, after retiring from the Chair of Philosophy in the Calcutta University, I came to England. But shortly after my arrival here I fell ill, and it was during this period of illness that I revised the manuscript and offered it to the University Press. This explains the unexpected delay between the publication of the third volume and the present one. The promises held out in the preface to the third volume, regarding the subjects to be treated in the present volume, have been faithfully carried out. But I am not equally confident now about the prospects of bringing out the fifth volume. I am growing in age and have been in failing health for long years. The physical and mental strain of preparing a work of this nature and of seeing it through the Press is considerable, and I do not know if I shall be able to stand such a strain in future. But I am still collecting the materials for the fifth volume and hope that I may be able to see it published in my life-time.
The present volume deals with the philosophy of the Bhagavata purāṇa, the philosophy of Madhva and his followers, the philosophy of Vallabha and the philosophy of the Gaudiya school of Vaisnavism. So far as I know, nothing important has yet been published on the philosophy of the Bhagavata-purana and that of Vallabha. Two important works by Mr Nägarāja Sarma of Madras and by Professor Helmuth von Glasenapp on the philosophy of Madhva have been published in English and German respectively. But so far nothing has appeared about the philosophy of the great teachers of the Madhva School such as Jaya-tirtha and Vyäsa-tirtha.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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