R. Balasubrarnanian (Ph.D. and D.Litt., Madras University), was Professor and Head, Sri Aurobindo School of Eastern and Western Thought and Chairman, Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi. A specialist in Advaita, Phenomenology and Existentialism, he has number of books and articles to his credit and has lectured in several universities in and outside India. He taught in Besant Theosophical College, Vivekananda College, and Annarnalai University before joining the faculty of Radhakrishnan Institute for Advanced Study in Philosophy, University of Madras, of which he was the Director for a number of years. He spent a year at Stanford University as a Fulbright and Smith• Mundt scholar for his post doctoral studies. Some problems in the Epistemology and Metaphysics of Ramanuja (1976), A study of the Brahmasiddhi of Mandanamisra (1983), The Nuiskurmyasiddhi of Suresvara (1988) and The Sivajnanabodhasangrahabhasya of sivagrayogin (Sanskrit, co-editor)(1992).
The Primal spirituality, Philosophical knowledge and Plenary experience, which is the subject dealt with in this volume, contains the central ideas of the philosophia perennis — the one as the source and support of the many, the spirituality of matter, and the divinity of all living beings. Its outlook is holistic as it integrates beings with the primal being. It has a long history of thousands of years to modern periods. It has been renewed from time to time through a series of renaissance — first through the Upanisads, again through the epics and the bhakti movement, and then through the modern renaissance leaders. Hence, it is vibrant in spite of its age, modern in spite of its antiquity. Maharsi Vyasa and seers of Vedas and Upanisads to Sankaracarya, Ramakrsna and Vivekananda are some of the exemplars of the primal spirituality. Spirituality has its own philosophy. The great thinkers, psychologists, sociologists and philosophers lead to society through their philosophical ideas, thinking and their experiences, though it is a debate on their nature of knowledge and understanding. After a great debate, they all go to wards the goal of life which is the real experience of a human being.
This compilation of Professor Balasubramanian, an erudite scholar, a great philosopher and thinker, will give a new idea to the readers that the Primal spirituality philosophical knowledge and plenary experience are one but three undivided stages of life.
I am very thankful to Indian Council for philosophical Research New Delhi and Prof. Balasubramanian for bringing out the volume in Chinmaya international foundation Shodha Sansthan. I am very grateful to all the associated scholars to help in the present volume especially to Swami Advayananda, Chairman, Prof. P.C. Muraleemadhavan and authorities of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan New Delhi.
What is concerned with the Spirit, which is the absolute or primal Reality, is called “Primal Spirituality”. The traditional name for it is sanatana-dharma. The term “sanatana” means eternal; and the term “dharma" means that which sustains the entire world in all the three periods of time. In other words, the expression "sanatana-dharma" signifies the supreme Reality which is responsible for the origination, sustenance, and dissolution of the entire world comprising animate and inanimate beings. The Vedic religion may be viewed as primal not only on the basis of periodization, but also on the basis of the content of the Vedic literature. The primal spirituality has two dimensions. While the basic doctrines constitute its perennial dimension, Religious practices, social institutions and norms, customs, manners, rights and duties of individuals, social and political ethics, and so on constitute its temporal dimension. We can, therefore, trace the different aspects of the Indian cultural tradition to the Vedas and the Vedangas. The Upanisads constitute not only the concluding portion, but also the consummation, of the Vedas. They are philosophical treatises dealing with Being and beings of all kinds. All the philosophical systems, orthodox as well as heterodox, can be traced to the Vedas. There are four theories which constitute the philosophico-ethical ethos of the philosophical systems.
(1) Philosophy in India is not only theory, but also practice, not only a view of life, but also a way of life
(2) The problem of human predicament in empirical existence calls for an explanation
(3) There is belief in the law of karma and rebirth; and
(4) The Vedic as well as non—Vedic systems, excepting the Carvaka, hold the view that ignorance is the cause of bondage and that it can be removed only through knowledge.
As for the metaphysical spectrum, we have all possible combinations from monism to pluralism, from theism to trans-theism. The Indian philosophical systems are rigorous like their Western counterparts. They undertake three kinds of inquiry—pramana-vicara, prameya-vicara, and purusartha—vicara. The ultimate value, they hold, is liberation, which may be characterized as plenary experience.
I am thankful to the Chinmaya International Foundation Shodha Sansthan (CIFSS) for publishing this work. I express my thanks to the Indian Council of Philosophical Research for permitting me to publish my article, "Primal Spirituality, Philosophical Knowledge and Plenary Experience,” which was published in two parts, Volume xxiv, Nos. 3 and 4, 2007.
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend