Notes on Contemporary Indian Thinkers

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CONTEMPORARY INDIAN THINKERS

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

1. RAMAKRISHNA PARAMAHAMSA

2. VIVEKANANDA

3. SHAIKH MUHAMMED IQBAL

4. RABINDRANATH TAGORE

5. MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI

6. KRISHNACHANDRA BHATTACHARYYA

7. AUROBINDO GHOSE

8. SARAPALLI RADHAKRISHNAN

9. JIDDU KRISHNAMURTHI

10. RAJNEESH

CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION

When we speak about Contemporary Indian Philosophy, we refer to the pro and post Independence period which is known as the Indian Renaissance (a period of revival of classical art, architecture, literature etc.). When we consider the ancient Indian philosophy and contemporary we do find many differences.

The growth of Indian philosophy from the ancient period was stagnated by the Muslim (636 A.D. onwards?) and British (1600 to 1947) rule for centuries. As a result a continuous development in Indian Philosophy did not take place. Again since the Muslims and British period did not provide a free atmosphere for the growth of Indian philosophy and culture, the orthodox Hindus became more defensive in their attitudes towards these foreign elements and they tend to be protective of their culture, philosophy, religion etc. This attitude made them to close themselves to any new thinking and they held on to the old. They glorified Upanisadic and Vedic philosophy and stuck to the old. Thus Indian philosophy became more regressive rather than progressive. This stage of Indian philosophy continued unto the period of Indian Renaissance.

Indian Renaissance produced a number of thinkers who had altogether different attitude towards the foreigners. On the one hand they condemned the foreign occupation of India, but on the other hand they appreciated the good things they found in the Western culture. These thinkers did not want to throw away the rich Indian heritage and buy the Western thinking, but they wanted to revive the rich Indian heritage with the help of that which is good in Western Culture. Thus there was a great revival in the ancient Indian philosophical and religious ideas, but these were given a new interpretation, due to the influence of Western thought. Thus Indian Philosophy became very open and allowed itself to be influenced by Western culture. This change was possible because most of the contemporary Indian thinkers had a Western education and they were open to see the rich elements in Western Culture.

Through the study of the Contemporary Indian thinkers we want to enter into their struggle within the East-West encounter. Situating ourselves in the intellectual milieu of Contemporary India, we also want to enrich our own philosophical reflection through this encounter.

When we speak of contemporary Indian philosophy we can speak of the following characteristics: 1. A Positive attitude towards the World.
2. Cosmic and Spiritualistic outlook.
3. An integral and synthetic view.
4. Reconciliation of Theism and absolutism.
5. Monism of Spirit and Matter.
6. The Self’s activism and spiritual communion.
7. Evolution of Superman or Gnostic Beings.
8. The new approach to salvation.
9. Dynamism, openness and catholicity.
10. Humanistic tendencies.

We could elaborate each of these characteristics of Contemporary Indian philosophy.

1. A Positive Attitude Towards The World:

The ancient philosophical outlook in India towards the world is more negative. There was much stress on asceticism, control of senses, leaving the world and going to the forest for attaining liberation, etc. The present day philosophical outlook stressed the philosophy of humanism and they consider the world and our life in the world as positive. E.g.: Mahatma Gandhi preferred service of others to personal salvation, and he called for action rather than mere teaching and reflection. He also condemned the ascetical escape from duties or finding refuge in the forest and called for a righteous life in the world....
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