Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2. Vaisesika ´Distinctiveness´

Vaisesika, a philosophy outlined by Kanada, is similar to Nayayan philosophy in many respects and complements it. Whereas Nayaya is highly theoretical in its approach, Vaisesika (the ´s´s are pronounced  ´sh´) forms a more  practical counterpart.

There are two basic differences between Nayaya and Vaisesika. Firstly, where Nayaya claims there are four sources of valid knowledge (Pratyaksha, Anuman, Upman and Apta - direct observation, intelligent guesswork/inference, comparison and testimony) Vaisesika says only the first two are valid,  Pratyaksha (perception) and Anuman (inference).

Secondly, whereas Nayaya says that all reality can be understood through 16 Padarthas (categories), Vaisesika says it can be understood through the following seven:

1. Dravya 'substance'
2. Guna 'quality' (in the sense of 'characteristic' or 'feature')
3. Karma 'action'
4. Samanya 'generality' 'similarity'
5. Vishesha 'uniqueness' 'difference'
6. Samvaiya 'inherence'
7. Uthava 'non-existence'

1. Dravya ´substance´

Dravya is defined as 'that in which quality or action can exist in inherent form, but which in itself is different from both quality and action'. For example, if a piece of soft, red cloth is used to make a dress, the substance is cloth, the qualities are soft and red and the action is to sew or manufacture. The qualities and action arise from the substance and not vice versa.

The human body is also Dravya. Qualities – for example, ushna 'heat', guru 'heaviness' etc  - and  actions – thoughts and feelings, such as sukha (pleasure) dukha (pain)  - are linked to and arise from the body and cannot exist without it.

There are nine types of substance, or 'raw materials', according to Vaisesika, the varying proportions of which make up the whole universe. The first five - earth, water, fire, air and ether - are perceptible through the senses and subject to change. The other four - time, direction, soul and mind - are imperceptible (through they may be inferred) and both all-pervading and eternal. The first five correspond to Prataksha – direct observation and the rest Upaman – inference.

By definition what is eternal cannot be perceived by the physical senses and what is perceptible must be subject to change. All reality can be comprehended (manifested through substance) even when that substance is invisible to the human eye. The atoms which  make up the Nayayan and Vaisesikan universe are eternal: however the many forms they take are vulnerable to change and decay.

2. Guna 'qualities'

Vaisesika posits the following 24 gunas:

1 Rupa     colour
2 Rasa         taste
3 Ghanda    smell
4 Sparsha    touch
5 Shabda    sound
6 Samkhya    number
7 Parimana    magnitude
8 Prithakatva    distinctiveness
9 Samyog    conjunction
10 Buddhi    cognition/intellect
11 Sukha     pleasure
12 Dukha    pain
13 Iccha     desire
14 Dvisha    aversion
15 Prayatna    effort
16 Guru     heavy
17 Dravatva     fluidity
18 Sneha    viscosity
19 Samskara    tendency
20 Dharma    virtue
21 Adharma    non-virtue
22 Ushna    heat
23 Sheet     cold
24 Mridu    soft

Some qualities can exist both in the substance of the observer and object, as, for example when desire or aversion are provoked by objects we are attracted to or repelled by. In this case the qualities of objects may depend on the perceiver.

Both animate and non-animate objects have qualities and action which may be intrinsic or temporary. For example, mobile phones or computers have qualities of Buddhi - cognition- and Dharma or Adharma, depending on the purposes for which they are used. Even medicine could be Adharmic - non virtuous - if given inappropriately or with the wrong intentions. Morphine can be given as a pain reliever or be used to prematurely end someone's life. Dharma is an important quality of the universe and reality. Things can exist or be carried out in a meritorious way or not - according to common sense, happening in the right way at the right time.

Samskara (tendency) is another important Guna and can cover 'function' as well. For example the tendency of air is to move, the tendency of fire is to burn, whereas the tendency of a pen is to write and the tendency of food is to nourish.

Samyog (conjunction) covers things which go or which are found together. For example the dock leaf which cures nettle sting is generally always found very near to the nettle patch. The conjunction of ginger and honey is a complementary one. Conjunction can include bees and butterflies and flowers for example.

Pritakatva (distinctiveness) covers what is separate, alien or unique and is a quality much used in Ayurveda. For example, if a patient suffers from a heat-related complaint they will be given cooling treatments and food. In this case the doctor might prescribe whatever is distinct from  'Ushna' in order to bring the patient into balance. The law of similarity says that 'like increases like' and the law of uniqueness says that 'distinctiveness decreases'

3. Karma

Karma is the action and movement of body and mind, bringing the law of cause and effect into play, as each action has its consequence.

4. Samanya 'generality' 'similarity'

The highest level of similarity is the recently-discovered 'God particle'. At the deepest level we are are all one. At a more superficial level we believe ourselves to be separate from each other according to our gender, colour, religion, nationality and even use our diseases and problems to differentiate ourselves from others.

5. Vishesha 'uniqueness' 'difference'

This category is opposed to Samanya as in that it contains what is different or unique in nature. As mentioned above, this category is highly valued in Ayurveda, which notes that a given quality can decrease the opposing one. 

6. Samvaiya  'that which is inherent' 'inherent cause'

Samvaiya is connected to the idea of cause. Vaiseska says there are two kinds of relationship:  conjunction (connection or nearness) and that which is inherent (indivisible). Conjunction can be temporary, as what has been connected may be disconnected. The inherent implies an inseparable relationship, such as, for example, the threads which make up a cloth. An inherent property is something which is intrinsic to a substance and which cannot be pulled out, pushed out or destroyed.

7. Non-existence

This is a category in which to fit what is not covered by the other six categories. Vaisesika argues that the person after death is non-existent for example. Can we define what doesn't exist? How will you know that a chair doesn't exist by looking inside a room? Ayurveda does not accept the category of non existence.

Vaisesika concepts of God, soul and Karma are very similar to those of Nayaya and propound  dualism in that God and creation are seen as two separate forces.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

1. Nayaya 'Scrutiny'

The value of truth in the relief of suffering
The founder of this Vedic philosophy, Gautham, posited that confusion leads to suffering and that truth should be sought in every area of life through logic, debate, reasoning and dialogue with the self and others. Obtaining valid knowledge of the external world and relating it to mind and self is the only way to liberation. The New Testament phrase '' seek the truth and the truth will set you free'' concurs perfectly with Nayaya philosophy. Everything is either true or false, but whereas the truth offers clarity, its absence offers only doubt, confusion, hesitation, and anxiety. Whereas the truth is simple, there may be many versions of what is false, leading one to lose oneself in blind alleys, fantasies, fears and projections, all of which cause great emotional suffering.

This can be clearly seen in situations even where the truth seems hard to swallow. For example when a patient receives a diagnosis that they are gravely ill or a prognosis of only weeks or months to live, their reaction is sometimes relief rather than panic. The patient may suspect that they are ill and be afraid but when the truth arrives they find they are able to deal with it on its own terms. The 'bad' of an unwelcome truth is still much better than the greater suffering of confusion, and in this sense it is still good. The patient has sudden clarity and strength and may know exactly what to do next. People who know they have little time to live often live their last days and months with unparalleled decisiveness, clarity and love, whereas those who do not know, but fear, the worst, may suffer to the end, caught between hope and dread. Suffering may also be defined as the gap between the truth and our willingness to accept the truth.

There are two kinds of truth,  personal truth and universal truth. The more our personal truth is aligned with universal truth, the less the suffering. Conversely, the greater the divergence between personal truth and universal truth, the greater the suffering. Universal truths are that life is impermanent, desire can never be satisfied, everything is one, and that difference is illusion, as is the idea we can ''help'' others.

Obtaining valid knowledge – manifested and unmanifested knowledge

Obtaining valid knowledge of the external world and its relationship with our minds and selves is the way to end suffering and attain liberation. Reality may be manifested and observable by the senses or unmanifested and intangible. However we should try to gain access to knowledge of both realities, the spiritual and emotional as well as the physical. While Nayaya is the study of logic, it reserves a place for intuition. Intuition could be termed intelligent guesswork as to the nature of unmanifested or manifested reality, as, for instance, in the split-second intuition of a doctor who knows what is wrong with the patient at a glance. This does not mean the doctor neglects to use direct observation, common sense, and textbooks in a logical manner, only that he already 'knows' what they will tell him.

(Malcolm Gladwell explored this phenomenon in his book Blink, coining the phrase 'thin-slicing' of reality in his to explain how experts may make correct inferences based on very little information, with the example of an art expert who spotted a fake sculpture bought by a world renowned museum at huge expense. She described an immediate sense of high alert and gut level certainty that the work was not 'right' - even though it looked perfect.)

According to Nayaya, everything is already present in the human mind, at least in a latent state. For example, on the 'conscious' level we are born knowing how to breathe, how to cry, how to drink mother's milk, how to absorb nutrients, how to defecate, how to sleep and wake and recognise faces and voices. Other knowledge - such as how to chew solid food, crawl, walk and talk and later, how to run, play, build friendships and alliances, defend our territory, become increasingly independent of our caregivers, have sex, etc- all emerges at precisely the right time and seems to be intrinsic.  We are programmed to communicate (learn a language) survive (fight or flight) and reproduce (find a partner, have children and repeat the cycle).

However, subconscious and superconscious knowledge is also within us waiting to emerge and this knowledge includes the ability to go beyond our programming in a highly creative way. In fact Nayaya argues that everything which is present in the world already exists in the child, waiting to be  realised. So that which is received cognitively from outside us as 'information' or 'facts' does not become true 'knowledge' until it correlates with something we already have inside us: if it does not resonate with is in a personal way, it remains abstract and impossible to integrate.  Just as on the most superficial level we always try to make sense of new information by relating it to our past experiences (what we know or think we know), it may be that on a deeper level we are setting the new information against some kind of cosmic 'collective unconsconcious' or 'world treasury' to find a deeper match.  

Another way of putting it is to say that unmanifested knowledge already exists within us but is not manifested until an external stimulus 'triggers' our awareness of it and connects it to us. This sometimes gives rise to the feeling that something instinctively makes sense to us, or is evidently true, even if we have never really noticed or thought about it before. Sometimes it can even seem as if it is something we knew but had forgotten.  It can also happen that we have been exposed to the same information several times without it really coming alive for us, until one day it suddenly clicks for us in a personal way.

The place of Karma in the manifestation of knowledge and the release from suffering

The more triggers, the deeper understanding may be. One way of comprehending how it is that some individuals seem to learn even complex subjects like mathematics or music with apparant ease, is that their knowledge of the subject has been triggered in previous lifetimes. How else are we to explain the glorious childhoods of spiritual giants such as Shanka Acharya, a renunciant at the age of 11 or those of prodigies such as Mozart who was composing masterpieces at the age of seven? Whatever knowledge was realised in a previous lifetime may appear in the current one as an otherwise inexplicable natural gift or spiritual genius, and this is particularly evident in the case of those who excel from an early age even when lacking economic, social, cultural or learning opportunities. If we accept that our karma leads us (our true selves) to begin one life where we left the previous one, we can begin to understand how a few young children can quickly supersede even the most brilliant of teachers. Whatever experiences we have had in previous lives prime us for this one: relearning what we have learned many times over is clearly much easier than learning from scratch.

The concept of Karma is postive and forward-looking in this sense. Merit is accumulated and carried over to the next life. One receives a head start on knowledge realised in previous lifetimes (in the context of the overall effects of good and bad Karma being brought forward) and feels secure and encouraged, knowing that whatever is done well in this lifetime will not be lost or wasted but will count towards our future benefit.

Karma is often misunderstood from a Western/Christian perspective as cruel or punitive (the idea that one is being inevitably punished for past misdeeds) and defeatist (the idea that there's nothing one can do about it). This is possibly because Christianity as an organised religion notes that Karma lacks concepts such as contrition, the remission of sins, forgiveness, salvation and grace, without registering that these are meaningless ideas in the absence of prior concepts such as sin, mortal sin, guilt, judgement, the wrath of God, Heaven, purgatory and Hell.  However, when we apply the sources of valid knowledge according to Nayaya – pratyaksha (perception/observation), anuman (inference), upanam (comparison, analogy) and apta ( authoritative references, such as recognised rishis and texts) – to the issue, we find the statement ' you reap as you sow'  that so well defines Kharma to be a universal truth.

Karma is to be understood as a chain of cause and effect, impersonal and neutral. Suffering is not a test or a punishment, but a result of past Adharma (lack of virtue). It can be likened to an arrow being released from the bow, in that, once set in motion, it cannot be recalled or diverted. If the target was virtue that will be the result, if the target was not virtue that will be the result. There is no judgement implied  It has been pointed out that the original meaning of the now 'morally loaded' word 'sin', was 'to miss the mark' in archery, implying the falling short of a target or a mistake. The consequences of cause and effect are neutral.

In this sense, Karma can be comforting. One accepts that current conditions are the result of past actions and must be made the best of. A belief in Kharma may dissolve questions such as 'Why have I got this disease?', 'Why me?', 'What have I done?', 'Am I being punished?' and thoughts such as 'It's not fair' , 'It's all my fault',  'Poor me', 'Why did/didn't I do this or that' ,'It's too late' and negative emotions such as self-pity, hopelessness, helplessness, bitterness and anger. Such thoughts and feelings may lead to wrong conclusions such as 'Life/God is unfair', resulting in a loss of confidence and faith, cutting off the supply of love, connectedness and optimism just as the patient needs them most. These thoughts and feelings may also be felt on behalf of someone else, when we waste energy resisting the illness and mortality of those we love, instead of focusing as calmly as possible on what needs to be done now in the situation that actually exists in the present.

A belief in Karma can lead to a more peaceful acceptance of reality, preventing the person from feeling like a victim and allowing him or her to focus on what can be done now for the future rather than obsessing about what came before. Evidently it is the future, and not the past, which can be improved by actions taken in the present. As no action lacks consequences, Karma gives the individual the chance of helping him or herself. Just as lifestyle improvements take time to take effect, the effects of Kharma may not be seen straight away, yet Karma gives us the impetus to struggle knowing that we will, some day, reap the benefits.

Instead Karma asks the question: 'Have you done enough to help yourself?' It is less concerned with how you feel and behave towards others, than with how you discharge your responsibilities towards yourself. Feeling swayed by emotions of pity or suffering for others will not help you to practice Dharma properly even when you intend to do them good. Feeling swayed by anger will not help you to negotiate or fight effectively on their behalf. When you are in peace with yourself and your mind is calm, you know exactly what to do, whereas when you are fearful,suffering or bitter, you cannot practice Dharma. For instance, while it is good to have a kind heart, it should be a relaxed and calm kind heart, not an anxious and suffering kind heart. The actions of the first will be Dharmic, while those of the second may go astray.

The place of love in Nayaya philosophy

Nyaya is in accord with the saying 'love makes the world go round', in the sense that love is the causal agent for attraction on the chemical, physical and metaphysical plane. The peaceful mind is loving and even a good fighter loves (is drawn to) other good fighters, prefering a worthy opponent. The attitude of an Ayurvedic practitioner should be loving, accepting and empathic, with a commitment to the truth. (In fact the truth is love in that its presence alone relieves suffering to some extent) Becoming a good practitioner attracts patients, just as being an excellent shopkeeper attracts customers. The pull felt by the person is not to the slickest clinic, the best publicity or the best special offers, but to a place where he or she finds peace, love, safety and a good atmosphere. Sticking to your path, doing what is right, taking action on your own behalf for your own benefit, doing your best, without looking over your shoulder or worrying about the outcomes, all these are good for you. Once again we see that practicing Dharma attracts others to you personally and professionally. It is not necessary to seek them out; sooner or later they will come to you.

Logical debate as a method of looking for, testing and identifying valid knowledge/reality

We have established that Nayaya stresses a positive seeking of the truth, the reduction of confusion and the aquirement of valid knowledge as a means of reducing suffering. In this aim he set out 16 major ''padarthas'' - 'divisions' or 'categories' of debate. ''Pad'' means world, subject or concept so the padarthas comprise 16 debating tactics with which to explore reality or 16 categories of reality

1. Prameya -  the object of debate or knowledge, eg a pen, concept of God etc
2. Samsya - doubt or wavering between conflicting views
3. Prayojan – aim or target, what you want to find out or prove
4. Dristanta – example to support your argument or idea
5. Siddhanta – principle/doctrine, making a rule about the terms of debate, deduction
6. Avayaya – constituents, parts. the need to break something down into its parts to know what something is*
7. Tarka – hypothetical argument, even after looking at the parts, property of subconscious mind
8. Nirnaya – a conclusion has been reached , doubt has vanished

Nayaya says it is better to stop here if true knowledge has been obtained  However, discussion may be continued as follows, usually with diminishing returns. The above categories could be likened to a civil code legal system where both sides are expected to sincerely look for the truth in a legal case. The following categories more resemble an adversarial system where both sides may use unfair tactics in their eagerness to prove their point and win their case.

9.  Vada – further discussion, possibly futile/pointless, carried out only assert a point of view
10. Jalpa – both parties try to atttain victory without honest argument, have forgotten Prayojan, no 3, the whole aim of the debate.
11. Vitanda – both parties aim to refute or destroy the other party's arguments
12. Hetvabhasa – totally illusionary and fantastic argument that has no bearing on the debate
13. Chala – unfair reply, cheating, eg deliberately misquoting the other party, using words out of context, twisting the other's words, talking too fast
14. Jati – false analogy, false comparisons
15. Nigraha sthana – grounds of defeat, when one party admits defeat, it is the duty of the other to determine the deciding argument
16. Pramana – sources of valid knowledge

Pramana can be broken down into four parts:

1. Pratyaksha/pretlaksha? Comes from 'ak' 'eye'  - direct observation, perception
2. Anuman – intelligent guesswork, inference, deduction
3. Upanam/man – comparison, analogy
4. Apta – authoritative sources such as books and teachers

The last, apta, is particularly important as we should always return to the source when unable to determine valid knowledge by other means, perhaps when our judgement is clouded by ego or strong emotions. It is said that books are the best apta of all, as books have no motives (their authors may do) and share their knowledge impartially.

* regarding Avayaya, Nayaya says that the truth cannot be seen without breaking things down into their constituent parts, as the overall impression may be illusory. While the human body, for example, looks beautiful when in one piece - ''the hair of the girlfriend looks like clouds, her teeth like pearls'' – it doesn't look so beautiful when broken down into parts. A hair or tooth, when separated from the body is not beautiful. (For example,were we to find either of them in our food, we would be horrified). Nayayan cloncludes that the parts of the body are not beautiful and so its beauty is an illusion.

The Nayayan concept of the soul

Nayaya conceives of the soul as an observer. While the mind thinks and feels, transmitting impressions from the body and its experiences to the soul, the soul acts as a witness to these fleeting impressions. The mind is the tool where we experience consciousness, thoughts, feelings, pain and pleasure and, inevitably, suffering. When the soul is not too attached to mind impressions or too identified with the temporal experiences of the mind and/or body, it remains a calm observer of reality. In a superconscious state of mind it is possible to be aware of the difference between the soul and the mind and body: ''While I have a mind and body, I am a soul.'' Since 'I' and 'soul' are the same thing, this use of 'I' is very different from our usual use of the first person pronoun. This is not the 'I' that suffers, confused, demanding love, pleasure, attention and success, while turning its back on pain, illness, death and the suffering of others, but the 'eye' that observes all of it as if it were no more than a picture show.

While the mind and body inevitably perish in their current forms, disappearing back into nature, the soul is eternal, indestructable, unlimited by time and space, infinite and all pervading. The attribute of the soul is consciousness. While the soul can exist within or beyond the mind and body, the mind and body only work because of the soul. If consciousness leaves the body everything stops working.

The body carries experiences to the mind which, depending on its state – conscious, sub-conscious  or super-conscious -  reacts to, interprets or faithfully reflects them, carrying impressions to the soul. The action of the mind in its usual sub-conscious state splits experiences into different categories, principally good and bad, pleasure and pain. The ego, the mind's limited perception of 'I' (made of up past experiences) may assign 'meaning' to different experiences, depending on its self-concept. When the mind is working properly, it mirrors reality. Then it approximates the soul itself, which reflects the ultimate reality of existence - love.

This love, universal and impersonal, variously called God, divine energy, Higher power, etc is the cause of existence itself. Whether perceived as love, attraction or magnetism, this force drives movement in the universe, pulling everything from simple atoms to complex life forms, such as animals and human beings, towards its object or counterpart. Love is the cause of 'good' and 'bad' in the universe, in that it causes action, Karma. to take place. There could be no life on earth without gravity for example.

Even thieves or murderers may be motivated by love of some kind - of family, honour or money. In the purest state of existence, consciousness is the quality of the soul and pure love is its natural state. It is only when the mind and body interfere that love becomes contaminated by everything that isn't love, other emotions of greed, attachment, fear and jealousy for instance.

In Nayaya's concept of liberation there are three things one can follow in the search for the truth:

1. Sravana 'study' listening to the teacher
2. Manana 'reasoning' (reflecting on Sravana)
3. Nidhyasana 'mediation' 'contemplation'

The latter is the process of contemplating the soul in order to confirm knowledge and be able to practice the truth of it in one's everyday life. This involves questioning and reflection on philosophical questions, such as ''Who am I really?'' and ''What is the soul?'', In a way, this process involves the mind ''behaving like the soul'' (the observer) being stilled enough by meditation to have the necessary calm and clarity to reflect the truth.

Once the true nature of the soul has been recognised as the eternal observer and one ceases to identify with the mind and body, one automatically begins to perform one's duties selflessly without the desire for the fruits of one's actions.

Nayaya even teaches that ''the fire of knowledge burns up all your past actions like seeds, preventing them from germinating'' implying that sufficient dedication to valid knowledge can even change the course of one's Karma by rendering cause incapable of effect

True knowledge leads to a state of freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

The soul, which is the eternal continuum between each lifetime, doesn't know its own perfection, and it has to return over and over again so that karmic debt can be balanced. Meanwhile the body and mind are the supreme Dharma and should be used as much as possible to do good actions.

Indian Philosophies

The philosophies of India can be divided into two kinds, Vedic (believers) and non-Vedic (non believers) or Astiks (believers) and Nastiks (non-believers) Believer here refers to one who believes in the concept of an eternal soul. The Nastiks (Buddists and Jainists) do not believe in the concept of an individual and eternal soul, but rather the concept of 'mind' plus 'karma'.

The sources of Vedic philosophies are;
1. the Vedas, books compiled over hundreds of years which function like cultural encyclopedias for the Indus region;
2. the Upanishads, scholarly and philosophical exeges of the Vedas;
3. the Puranas, which explain spiritual duties through accessible stories about the gods.

The ´Vedas´ are comprised of four books, which were edited and reedited over a period of five centuries between 1200 and 700 BCE. The definitive written version of the Vedas was said to have been dictated by Ganesh the elephant god to the scribe Vedvyasa, for whom they are named. 'Ved' (the 'a' came to be added to the English pronunciation of this and many other Sanscrit words and thus to their spelling. The plural 's' is also an anglicism) means 'knowledge' and/or 'science'. The Vedas can be considered 'revealed' as opposed to 'heard' truths.

The four books are:
1. the Rig Veda, concerning knowledge of rituals and mantras
2. the Sam Veda, concerning classical musical forms
3. the Yajur Veda, concerning the art/science of war, martial arts and weaponry
4. the Atharva Veda, concerning medicinal plants

It is not clear whether Ayurveda ('science/knowledge of life') as a medical system and philosophy is a sub-Veda of the Atharva Veda or derives from a fifth Veda.

The Upanishads are written records, made by students (often many years later) of scholarly commentaries on the Vedas given by a number of different teachers. 'Up' means 'seated' or 'sitting' and 'nishad' means 'near to', reflecting the fact that the Upanishads emerged from the notes made by students who were sat close to (perhaps ´at the feet of´) their teachers, listening to commentaries and 'shlokas' ('sayings' 'verse') which were spoken or chanted aloud. These teaching commentaries were philosophical in nature, focusing on the question 'who am I?' at a deep level and on the very nature of the supreme being (Brahm) and supreme reality.

The Upanishads focus on the discriminating mind - the mind capable of seeing the truth - and remain impenetrable to many people. A shloka states that ''the mind cannot be known through much study, nor through the intellect, nor through much listening, it can be known through the self alone.´´  ´´The self of the seeker reveals its true nature,'' it concludes, emigmatically. The self which finds its true nature will have access to the true nature of all things and reach '' the end of the road'', ie Moksha, 'liberation'.

While urging the reader to ''arise, awake by approaching the illustrious ones'' it warns that the path is ''impassable as a razor's edge which has been sharpened'' and points out that in the midst of ignorance, even those who consider themselves enlightened are not adequate guides. For example,  '' the unintelligent people follow external desires and get entangled in the snares of widespread death. Therefore the discriminating people, having known what true immortality is, in the midst of impermanent things, do not pray in this world.''  Ultimately liberation will take the seeker beyond prayer, as the perception of duality dissolves.

There are no direct commentaries in the Upanishads on Ayurveda, which like forms of medicine generally, is an umbrella science comprising many different aspects of scientific, social, pychological and ethical knowledge. In the case of Ayurveda, as opposed to allopathic medicine, we should include spiritual knowledge too.

The Puranas are stories about the gods and goddesses and are much more accessible and well-known to the general  public. They work as morality tales or parables and clearly explain spiritual duties to be fulfilled.

The Vedic philosophies, ie those philosophies propounded by later thinkers using the Vedas as their primary source materials, are six in number.

1. Nayaya    'scrutiny'
2. Vaisesika    'distinctiveness'

3. Samkhya    'numbers'
4. Yoga    'union'

5. Mimansa    'investigation´
6. Vedanta    'the end' ´last knowledge´

These philosophies are arranged in a sequence that is logical for the human mind to follow in its search for ultimate reality. They form duplets, Nayaya and Vaisesika, Samkhya and Yoga and Mimansa and Vedanta, with the former in each pair leaning towards the theoretical and the latter towards the practical. Vedanta, 'the ending', both completes and transcends the other philosphies.