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Schools of Philosophy

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Schools of Philosophy

Almost all Indian schools of thought accepted the theory of karma and rebirth, and the ideal of moksha is conceived as liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. Moksha/liberation is considered the highest goal of human struggle.

Schools of Philosophy were classified into a standard list of six orthodox schools , the “Six Philosophies” (Sad-Darshana), all of which accept the testimony of the Vedas.

These six school of philosophies are:


  • It is considered as the oldest philosophical tradition.
  • Sage Kapila is traditionally credited as a founder of the Samkhya
  • It propounds that the universe as consisting of two independent realities: puruṣa(‘consciousness’) and prakṛti (‘matter’) and which attempts to develop metaphysics based on this duality.
  • It talks about the existence of an infinite number of similar but separate purushas, none superior to any other.
  • Advaita Vedanta derives its base from this school.


  • Sage Patanjali is the founder of Yoga.
  • It is closely related to the Samkhya school of Hinduism.
  • The objective of Yoga is- to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually
  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a key text of the Yoga school of Hinduism
  • It is believed that practicing  Ashtanga Yoga will lead to liberation.
  • But the more important addition to Sankhya was the practice of yoga: the cessation of all mental function. 
  • The correct practice of yoga included eight things:
    • Yama: Restraint from violence, lying, theft, or avarice.
    • Niyama: Building good habits like contentment, purity, Vedic study, and meditation on God.
    • Prathyahara: Choosing an object
    • Asana: Good posture.
    • Pranayama: Breath control.
    • Dharana: Focused attention on an object.
    • Dhyana: Meditation.
    • Samadhi: Concentration so deep that self-awareness is lost.
  • According to Yoga, success in the practice of yoga led to a full realization of the gulf between purusha and prakriti, and therefore liberation from suffering.


  • The term ‘Nyaya’ means “justice”, “rules”, “method” or “judgment”.
  • Sage Gautama is the founder of this school with his Nyaya-sutra.
  • It approaches philosophical questions in a scientific and rational approach.
  • According to Nyaya, there were four valid sources of knowledge — perception, inference, comparison, and testimony
  • Four sources of invalid knowledge: memory, doubt, error (false certainty), and hypothetical argument (“If there was no fire, there wouldn’t be smoke, but there is smoke, so there must be fire”).
  • This school believes attaining knowledge through the five senses is the sole way of attaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death.


  • It was founded by Sage Kanada
  • Vaisheshika school of Hinduism, like Buddhism, accepted only two reliable means to knowledge: perception and inference
  • Vaisheshika School is known for its insights in naturalism. It is a form of atomism in natural philosophy.
  • It postulated that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to paramāṇu(atoms), and one’s experiences are derived from the interplay of substance, quality, activity, commonness, particularity and inherence

Purva Mimamsa

  • It was propounded by Sage Jaimini
  • It places emphasis on the power of yajnas and mantras in sustaining the activities of the universe.
  • This school of thought believes in complete authority of Vedas.
  • This school of thought states that a human being can attain salvation only by acting in conformity with the principles of Vedas.


  • It is also referred to as Uttara Mimamsa
  • The influence of Upanishads on this school of thought is predominant.
  • It is a monistic school of philosophy that believes the world is unreal and the only reality is Brahman.
  • Sub-branches of Vedanta are: Advaita, Visishtadvaita, Dvaita, Dvaitadvaita, Shuddhadvaita and Achintya Bheda Abheda.