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Title: Nature of consciousness in Hindu philosophy
Author: Saksena, S. K.
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1939
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The study of Hindu Philosophy has so far been dominated by a purely historical interest, and not infrequently, it is more a time-honoured specific system than a philosophical problem in general which has attracted the scholar. The study of Hindu metaphysics, viewed from this standpoint alone is inadequate, since it fails to reveal all the consequences and possibilities which once appreciated, would demonstrate India's true contribution to the history of Philosophy in general. Hence the present study endeavours to trace one problem - that of the Nature of Consciousness through the pre-systematic and systematic times, and sets forth and estimates the respective views of the leading schools of thought on this problem. By a critical examination of divergent views on consciousness, it is maintained that consciousness cannot be either a product of unconscious substances, or a 'guna' or 'Karma' of the Atman, as held by the materialists, the realists, and the semi-idealists, like Prabhakara and Ramanuja. It is the very 'svarupa' or the indestructible essence of the Atman, and ultimately, the two terms 'self' and 'consciousness' are synonymous. Consciousness exists independently and unconditionally as the basic postulate of all knowledge and experience. Epistemologioally, consciousness is unique, 'anyad-eva' in as much as it is self-cognised without being an object of cognition. 'svaprakasa'. It is directly and immediately intuited by 'aparoksajnAna'. Psychologically, by a study of the problems of self-consciousness, it is revealed that, the usual distinctions within consciousness, of the knower and the known presuppose the reality of a higher and distinctionless consciousness which is devoid both of object-consciousness and ego- consciousness. This ultimate and undifferentiated consciousness persists undestroyed also in deep sleep. Transcendentally, an unchanging consciousness as 'saksi' and 'Akarta' is shown to be above experience; it is in contrast with the changing fluctuations of the empirical consciousness. Finally, by an examination of the theories of relationship between the transcendental and the phenomenal consciousness, it is suggested that the logical unsolvability of the problem from the intellectual level makes room for a supra-logical vision of the Truth. In conclusion, the distinctive Hindu peculiarities of these speculations are stressed in contrast with the speculations of the Western Thought.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral