Hindu Philosophy: What We Can Learn From the Teachings

Hindu philosophy

Are you curious about different philosophical doctrines and beliefs? Wish you knew more about Hindu philosophy? Do you want to learn more about the fundamentals of Indian philosophy?

There are many different schools of philosophy, one of the biggest demarcations being Eastern and Western. Indian philosophy can seem very involved and complex if you have a background in more western faiths. But in reality, they are much easier to understand than you may realize.

This article will attempt to give you a small introduction to the schools of Hindu philosophy. You will have a better understanding of the differences and similarities between them. And perhaps see the world with a different perspective after you’ve learned more about them.

Tenets of Hindu Philosophy

The Hindu religion began thousands of years ago in India. It doesn’t espouse one single doctrine, but instead is more of a “collection” of philosophical views. This collection connects to core Hindu texts known as Vedas.

Hinduism is often referred to as a way of life and not a religion. While they do believe in one Supreme Being, a single deity called “Brahman”, they also recognize other gods and goddesses. These other gods and goddesses are often a personification of Brahman’s different aspects.

They encourage tolerance among people. They work for a moral order and search for truth. They also believe that time is cyclical, not linear. They celebrate many different festivals during the year and often make pilgrimages to sites they believe are holy.

One of the core beliefs in Hinduism is that of samsara. Life is a continuous cycle. One lives, dies, and is reincarnated. Our goal in life is to achieve “moksha”, that is, end the cycle of reincarnation and become one with the absolute soul.

They also believe in karma, a code of living based on behaving morally. Throughout the universe, there are causes and effects and your actions and thoughts have a direct effect on your current and future lives.

They believe all living creatures have a soul or atman. And this individual soul is part of a supreme soul. Because of this, many Hindus are vegetarians. Cows, in particular, are sacred living creatures in the Hindu culture.

Schools of Hindu Philosophy

The six main Hindu schools use the ancient Vedas as their scriptural authority. These philosophies go back to the medieval period of Brahmanic-Sanskritic thought.


The oldest and most widely regard school is Samkhya. A dualist philosophy, it believes in purusha (the soul) and prakriti (matter). While Western philosophy believes in the dualism between mind and body, Hindu belief is between the self and matter.

There are many purusha. They are conscious and devoid of any quality. They silently watch the prakrti, the matter and creative forces in the world.

Prakrti is made up of three guanas: steadiness (satva), activity (rajas), and dullness (tamas). The world order evolves around their interactions.


The Yoga school uses the Bhagavad Gita as its primary text. It allows for the concept of a personal God (Ishvara). And includes a belief in meditation, the goal to quiet one’s mind and achieve solitariness.

Yogis seek to gain physical and mental control over their bodies and mind. This allows awareness of one’s atman and helps one achieve moksha.


The Nyaya school started around the 2nd century B.C. They believe that obtaining knowledge through perception, inference, comparison, and testimony is the way we are released from our suffering.

Nyayan philosophy believes in a system that seeks to define what is valid knowledge and how you explain it. As such, it is often compared to the Western analytical system espoused by Aristotle.


The Vaisheskika school started in the 6th century B.C., believes all objects can be reduced to a certain number of atoms. And the fundamental force that causes consciousness in these atoms is Brahman.

Vaisheshika and Nyaya are very similar in their beliefs. Over the years, these two schools merged their beliefs.

Purva Mimamsa

The Purva Mimamsa seeks to interpret the authority of the Vedas to sustain the universe. They accept the logic in the other schools’ teachings but believe that salvation comes through accent according to the teachings of the Vedas.

Over time they also include teaching the doctrines of Brahman, that you can be released from the soul through enlightened activity. While they’re not as popular these days, Hindu rituals, ceremonies, and laws are heavily influenced by the Purya Mimamsa.

Vedanta (Uttara Mimamsa)

The Vedanta school seeks a spiritual connection with the Vedas, rather than focusing on ritual or sacrifice. They believe that meditation and self-discipline lead to more of a spiritual connection.

There are six sub-schools that interpret the texts: Advaita, Visishtadvaita, Dvaita, Dvaitadvaita, Shuddhadvaita, and Acinty Bheda Abheda.

There are over one hundred commentaries on the Vedas, that date back to 1500 B.S. The writings include cosmology, hymns, and philosophical studies. Many eastern and western scholars find the beliefs to be poetic and rich in philosophy.

Of these, about a dozen are considered central to their beliefs. The most influential is that the Self (jeevatma) is continuous and indistinguishable from the Supreme Brahman.

The Influence of Hindu Teachings

There are vast and differing beliefs in Hindu philosophy. Searching through to learn of them on your own can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it alone.

Find the perfect Spiritual Advisor to guide you on your journey to understanding Hindu philosophy and see if their teachings are right for you.

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