Hindu Philosophy -2: Astika and Nastika Darsanas…
Indian philosophical systems are known as darsanas. Unlike the Western philosophical systems, they do not depend solely on logic and reasoning, but also on ‘darsana’ or ‘seeing’ or ‘experiencing’ the truth, in mystical states. The ‘darsanas’ have been classified into two groups.
1) Astika – These are the ‘darsanas’ that are based on the authority of the Vedas. The six traditional systems of Hindu philosophy that I have already written about, belong to this group.
2) Nastika – The Carvaka (Materialism), the Jaina and Bauddha (Buddhist) systems come under this category. These do not accept the scriptural authority of the Vedas.
There are a few other Darsanas, but these are the major ones. Whether this division as Nastika and Astika is a Hindu invention is something I do not know. Possibly, the division was forced into Indian philsophy to accommodate the non-acceptance of the Vedas by the Buddhists and Jains, and it pre-dates Hinduism as a “religion”.
Some people also define Astika Darsanas as those that accept an “Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator God”. The Hindi word Nastik in fact seems to attribute this definition. In this viewpoint though, the Samkya Darsana and the Mimamsa Darsana would have to be described as “nastika”. Both argue against the notion of a Creator God. Surprised? The Ajativada School of Advaita Vedanta would also have to categorized as Nastik.
But none of these three question the validity of the Vedas in the way the Baudha or Jaina systems do. As such, the demarcation based on the acceptance of the “authority of the Vedas” can be considered more accurate.
Please note that Indian philosophy here does not mean Hinduism as a religion. But if we were to consider it in modern religious terms, I would imagine that all Astika Darsanas possibly can be grouped under “Hinduism”. Feel free to correct me if my conclusion is wrong.
1. The Six Systems of Hindu Philosophy – Swami Harshananda