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The Place of Yoga in Hindu Philosophy

Hindu philosophy considers that there exist several different methods of knowing. Everything in the Universe has different aspects and, according to the aspect we choose for our investigation, for our attempt to know, we may reach different conclusions. These may even appear contradictory in practice. Such contradictions, although often merely apparent, show the limitation of each mode of approach.

There are six main methods considered by Hindu philosophers as essential approaches to the problem of reality. It is through their opposition that we can realize something of the impartible Supreme Reality which, as a whole is beyond our grasp. We can only approach it by fragments, just as we look at a sculpture from different angles and thus form an idea of its whole which cannot be grasped by one approach only. This conception of different but equally real approaches to Reality gives rise to what is known as the six "points of view" or philosophical systems. These should not however be viewed as separate and contradictory modes of thinking. They represent on the contrary an effort to co-ordinate the results reached through all the diverse modes of human experience.

These six "points of view" (Darshana-s), are known as:

(1) the Cosmological point of view (Sankhya), which has for its method intellectual knowledge.

(2) The Naturalistic or experimental point of view (Vaisheshika), to which pertains the atomistic theory, and which has for method sensory experience.

(3) The point of view of Logic (Nyaya) which has for its method dialectics.

(4) The point of view of Re-integration (Yoga) which is connected with supersensible perception and intuition, and has for its method mental control of the senses and inner faculties.

(5) The Ritualistic point of view (Mimamsa) has for its method the study of the Revealed Scripture.

(6) The Metaphysical point of view, or End of Wisdom (Vedanta) has for its method metaphysical speculation.

Each of these systems has thus its own method and can admit only of such things as can be ascertained through it. This is how some happen to be atheistic like Vaisheshika or pantheistic like Sankhya, deistic like Mimamsa, non-dualistic like Vedanta, etc. Of these the two highest systems are, however, considered to be Vedanta and Yoga, because Vedanta depicts the ultimate object of knowing and Yoga shows the way to experiencing directly the principles which Vedanta defines.

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