Six Schools of Philosophy – UPSC Notes – Art and Culture

Hindu philosophy is divided into six Orthodox and three Heterodox schools, with the classification hinging on the acknowledgment of the authority of the Vedas. The Orthodox, or Aastika, school affirms the authority of the Vedas, whereas the Heterodox, or Nastika, school rejects the principle of Vedic authority.

Schools of Hindu Philosophy

The six orthodox schools, collectively known as shatdarshanas, encompass Nyaya, Sankhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, Purva Mimamsa, and Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta Philosophy). These schools generally subscribe to the theory of Karma and rebirth. Moksha (salvation) is perceived as liberation from the cycle of birth and death, representing the ultimate goal of human life.

Nyaya Philosophy

The Nyaya school, founded by Sage Gautama, adopts a scientific and rational approach. It relies on various pramanas (mechanisms of attaining knowledge) and asserts that liberation from the cycle of birth and death is achievable solely through knowledge gained from the five senses.

  • Nyaya Philosophy asserts that nothing is acceptable unless it aligns with reason and experience, embodying a scientific approach.
  • Regarded as a technique of logical thinking, Nyaya maintains that valid knowledge is attainable through four means: perception, inference, comparison, and verbal testimony, as outlined in the Nyaya Sutras.

Sankhya Philosophy

Sankhya, the oldest philosophy credited to Sage Kapila, is dualistic, incorporating Purusha (soul) and Prakriti (nature). Advaita Vedanta draws inspiration from Sankhya, which also forms the philosophical foundation for Yoga. Sankhya underscores the importance of self-awareness through meditation and concentration.

  • Samkhya stands as the oldest among the orthodox philosophical systems, proposing that all aspects of reality originate from two fundamental principles: purusha (self, soul, or mind) and prakriti (matter, creative agency, energy).
  • In this philosophy, purusha remains unmodifiable and unchanged, while prakriti instigates change in all objects.

Yoga Philosophy

The Yoga school, systematized by Sage Maharshi Patanjali through his Yoga Sutras, focuses on disciplining both body and mind. Practicing Ashtanga Yoga is believed to cleanse one from past sins, paving the way for liberation through self-awareness.

  • Freedom in Yoga can be achieved through the disciplined practice of various stages: self-control (yama), adherence to rules (niyama), adopting fixed postures (asana), breath control (pranayama), selecting an object of focus (pratyahara), fixing the mind (dharana), concentrating on the chosen object (dhyana), and finally, the complete dissolution of self—merging the mind with the object (Samadhi).
  • It’s noteworthy that Yoga acknowledges the existence of God as a teacher and guide within its philosophical framework.


Vaisheshika, founded by Sage Kanada, delves into metaphysics and presents an objective and realistic philosophy of the universe. According to Vaisheshika, the universe is reducible to a finite number of atoms, with Brahman serving as the fundamental force imbuing consciousness in these atoms.

  • At the core of the Vaisheshika school’s philosophy lies the notion that all objects in the physical universe can be broken down into a finite number of atoms.
  • Brahman is revered as the fundamental force instilling consciousness in these atoms. The Vaisheshika system is recognized for its realistic and objective outlook on the universe.
  • According to this philosophy, reality is multifaceted, encompassing categories such as substance, attribute, action, genus, distinct quality, and inherence.
  • Vaisheshika thinkers posit that all objects in the universe are comprised of five elements—earth, water, air, fire, and ether.
  • In the ethical realm, Vaisheshika adherents believe in the presence of God as the guiding principle.
  • They contend that living beings are subject to rewards or punishments dictated by the law of karma, based on actions of merit and demerit.
  • Notably, the Vaisheshika and Nyaya schools underwent a merger, driven by their closely aligned metaphysical theories.
  • Vaisheshika, in particular, exclusively acknowledged perception and inference as the sources of valid knowledge.

Purva Mimamsa

The Purva Mimamsa school, based on Sage Jaimini’s Mimamsa Sutras, staunchly upholds the complete authority of the Vedas. It emphasizes the potency of yajnas (rituals) and mantras (chants) in sustaining the activities of the universe, asserting that salvation can only be attained by adhering to Vedic principles.

  • In the realm of Purva Mimamsa, the perspective holds that the Vedas are eternal repositories of all knowledge.
  • According to Mimamsa philosophy, the Vedas, in their perpetuity, encompass all-encompassing wisdom, and religion is synonymous with the fulfillment of duties mandated by the Vedas.
  • Purva Mimamsa asserts that the core of the Vedas is encapsulated in dharma.
  • Through the execution of dharma, individuals accrue merit, paving the way to heavenly realms in the afterlife.
  • The philosophy maintains that adherence to prescribed duties is not only a religious obligation but also a means to earn spiritual merits for a favorable destiny beyond death.

Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta)

Vedanta, a monistic school of philosophy under Uttara Mimamsa, posits that the world is unreal, and the only reality is Brahman. The three sub-branches of Vedanta—Advaita (Shankaracharya), Vishishta Advaita (Ramanujacharya), and Dvaita (Madhwacharya)—derive their foundations from the Upanishads, the end portions of the Vedas.

  1. Advaita (Adi Shankara): Asserts that both the individual self (Atman) and Brahman are identical. Liberation arises from realizing this oneness.
  2. Visishtadvaita (Ramanuja): Believes in the subsuming of all diversity into a unified whole.
  3. Dvaita (Madhvacharya): Considers Brahman and Atman as distinct entities, advocating Bhakti as the pathway to eternal salvation.
  4. Dvaitadvaita (Nimbarka): Declares that Brahman is the highest reality and the controller of all.
  5. Shuddhadvaita (Vallabhacharya): Posits that both God and the individual self are identical, not distinct.
  6. Achintya Bheda Abheda (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu): Emphasizes that the individual self (Jīvatman) is simultaneously different and not different from Brahman.

For Daily Current Affairs Click Here

Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE
Follow our Instagram ID HERE

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Six Schools of Philosophy

  1. What are the six schools of philosophy in India?
    • Vaishesika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa, and Vedanta (Uttara Mimansa).
  2. What are the six Darshanas of Indian philosophy?
    • Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta.
  3. What are the six Āstika schools in Indian philosophy?
    • Nyāyá, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedānta.
  4. Who is considered the father of Indian philosophy?
    • Shankaracharya, the exponent of the Advaita Vedanta school.
  5. Who was the founder of the six Darshanas?
    • The founders are Gautama Rishi (Nyaya), Kanada Rishi (Vaisheshika), Kapila Muni (Samkhya), Patanjali Maharshi (Yoga), Jaimini (Purva Mimamsa), and Badarayana or Vyasa (Vedanta).
  6. What is the meaning of Dharma and Darshan?
    • Darshana refers to a viewpoint or philosophical school, while Dharma encompasses the concept of duty, righteousness, and moral and social obligations.
  7. What are the six āstika Darshanas?
    • Nyāya, Vaiśes̩ika, Sāṅkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṁsā, and Vedānta.
  8. What is meant by Āstika and Nāstika schools?
    • Āstika systems accept the authority of the Veda, the system of the four classes, and the superiority of the Brahmins. Nāstika systems, on the other hand, do not accept these authorities.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *