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There are six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, or darshanas, which are based on the Vedas (including the Upanishads and Gitas). These are known as astika or orthodox.

The six astika schools are:

Purva Mimamsa
Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta)


Nyaya means logical analysis. Those who subscribe to this philosophy believe that by the use of perception valid knowledge resulting in moksha could be acquired. The perception includes the senses and insight, inference, analogy, and verbal testimony.


Vaishesika derives from a term meaning a category of knowledge denoting essential difference, individuality, or particularity. Vaishesika school pays great importance to the concept of substance. Substance is said to be made of five elements, viz., earth, water, light, air, and ether. Other concepts that are important in Vaishesika school include the concepts of time, space, the essence of being (the atman) and mind. Everything has its unique essence or its particularity. Release is obtained by recognizing the atomic nature of the universe, recognizing the difference between matter and soul and the separation of the two. Ethical conduct was important in achieving this goal.


Samkhya is one of the oldest known philosophical system in the world. It can be traced back the the Indus valley civilization, (circa about 1700 BCE) even though the writings of its legendary founder, the Samkhya-karika, only belong to the third century CE.

Samkyha means 'enumeration'. It is a dualistic system which postulates two ultimate or eternal realities: purusha and prakriti.

The principle behind Samkhya is the complete cessation of pain and suffering. This is attained through yoga. Samkhya teaches that individual souls (Purushas) and matter (Prakriti) have existed since time immemorial: both are uncreated. Purusha is neither produced (created) or productive. Prakriti is also unproduced but is productive. Thus it changes and evolves, although it can never be destroyed.

'The complete cessation of pain is the goal of humanity.' according to Kapila, the sage who is regarded as the originator of Samkhya. Pain is an awareness of dissatisfaction, alienation from the cause of bliss or peace, craving after illusory goals, or wrong attachment. It may not involve physical suffering as we normally expect it to be. 

According to samkhya philosophy, the cause of pain could be traced to the soul or cosmic spirit (purusha) which is not identical with the body or matter (prakriti). The purusha, although free, but is so caught up with matter that it appears to be in bondage to it. This results in the pain. 

Evidence for the existence of purusha takes the form of the awareness which human beings have of a state which transcends the realities of phenomenal experience, and the desire to attain it. The existence of prakriti is self-evident. Samkhya divides prakriti into twenty-four parts, of which the most important are the three gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas. 

Sattva is potential consciousness, goodness, pleasure, pain, bewilderment. It binds the purusha to things like wisdom and joy, thus apparently depriving it of freedom. 

Rajas is activity or passion. It leads to craving and desire. 

Tamas is darkness, the coarse quality which results in ignorance.

Liberation is obtained by freeing the purusha from the influence of sattva, rajas, and tamas. Once it is set free, the purusha can enjoy kaivalyam, isolation.

The categories outlined in samkhya have to be controlled and their influence eliminated. This is done through yoga.


Yoga is one of the six astika schools of philosophy. Yoga is often perceived as a physical discipline. However, in yoga, control of the body can be achieved by sitting in a comfortable chair; it does not necessarily has to involve complex asenas or poses.

Yoga philosophy recognizes the concept of Ishvara. Ishvara means Lord. It is mentioned in the Yoga Sutra. The worship of God is very important for some seekers after perfection. It describes Ishvara thus:

Ishvara is a special type of spirit, untouched by suffering, works (karma), or the result of works or impressions. In him is the highest knowledge of everything. He was guru of the ancients and is not limited by time.

Yoga also recognizes bhakti as an object of devotion, a help to meditation, and concentration, and a model of perfection.

See Also: Yoga Infocenter in Holisticonline.com


'Enquiry' is coupled with Vedanta, but was merely an exposition of the Vedas rather that a way of liberation. Eventually, it affirmed that moksha was to be obtained by respect for the Vedas and observation of the rituals included in them. It later tended to merge with Vedanta, and was therefore sometimes called Uttara Mimamsa, or later Mimamsa.


Vedanta means the Veda's end, and has also been described as complete knowledge of the Vedas and is used to refer to the philosophies which began with the Upanishads (which are themselves philosophical treatises in the form of the teachings of gurus to their disciples).