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It is purported to state that certain elements of philosophical speculations and the resultant deviant attitudes to certain sections of people were considered to be pollutant had created an ideology of exclusion which was later sanctified by theological pundits. Hence, the present study is intended to trace the historical trajectory of the issue of untouchability and its implicit philosophy of exclusion by providing a epistemological framework of the systems of Indian philosophy and then pointing out where the contending theories of these systems tend to divide in terms of the issues of untouchability and exclusion.
Keywords: epistemology, casteism, dalit, cognitive, exclusion, Indian philosophy 1. Introduction Traditionally, there are six schools of philosophy within the Indian philosophical tradition that represent different view points on the nature of reality. The important aspect that is particularly visible in this system of thought is the particular technique that was used in carrying on a particular philosophical thinking without compromising the view point of the other.
That is to say that various systems of philosophical thought were able to inscribe commentaries and sub-commentaries on the philosophical Sutras. In other words, there were different kinds of thought patterns which were co-existing side-by-side and were able to assert its existence as a logical and legitimate reality. Hence, the philosophical thinking in India was traditionally known by the position it takes in accordance with a particular vision of reality based on the Vedas which is said to reveal the truth.
They received their name meaning knowledge because they embody the highest Truth. The Hindus trace the original source of their cultural life to the Vedas which they hold to be divine truth revealed from time to time to the Rishis, or Seers in their supreme state of consciousness. Their religion, philosophy, ritualistic practices, civic conduct, and even social relations were guided by certain codes which were known as Smritis; but all of them are based upon the scared sanction of Vedic authority. Epistemological Issues in Indian Thought As it is the case with any other major philosophical system of the world, philosophy in India too was interested in the theoretical problem of knowledge.
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A good deal of philosophical problem is a common problem to all schools of philosophy. What, then, is the problem of knowledge Vis-a- Vis consciousness? Consciousness or Samvit, therefore, implies a capacity to be a subject that points towards the presence of a cognitive relation between a grahya known and a grahaka knower. It is the peculiar illumination of Jnana or awareness which reveals the subject, the object and itself in an act of knowledge.
The systematic speculations There were, in fact, many attempts in India after the Upanishadic period, to answer the question of the validity of knowledge. The Nihilists of the Madhyamika School and the Skeptics like Ajita denied the very existence of consciousness as a reality. The Carvakas explained consciousness as produced by the conjunction of the material substances in the same way as red colour is produced by the combination of the betel leaf, nut and lime.
But in establishing the absolute validity of knowledge, the Indian systems have followed different courses, all of which we may reduce to two standard conceptions, i. The absolute view of knowledge The absolute view of knowledge has its roots in the Upanishads. This absolute reality is called Brahman in which intelligence and reality are but different aspects of one and the same essence.
It is the plenitude of Supreme Reality Satyasya Satyam and self-luminous Svayam-jythih through the light of which all else shines. Hence knowledge and intelligence are not something relative in Brahman, but it shines by itself.
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Consequently, true and immutable knowledge is the direct realization of the transcendental reality Paramarthika through Paravidya Brahaman-knowldege , and our practical or empirical vyavaharika knowledge has got only a relative truthfulness and reality. The Mimamsakas and the Sankarites were the predominant people who developed the Upanishadic approach in the theory of knowledge.
Basing its epistemology on the Upanishadic view of knowledge, Mimamsa identifies reality with the pure intelligence of Brahman, which manifests itself as the self of everything. Valid knowledge is an intuition of this distinction of the absolute reality. It is true that in Mimamsa theory, valid knowledge implies the subject-object distinction. Yet in knowledge the subject and object are revealed at the same time, like the lamp and the light is perceived simultaneously.
The Synthetic View of Knowledge Against the Svataprakasatva doctrine, there is the doctrine of Paraprakasatva which advocates that knowledge is a relation between atman and consciousness or between subject and object. Samavaya is an intimate relation between inseparables such as substance and quality, substance and activity, particular and generality, whole and parts. To the question if self is essentially unconscious, why should consciousness inhere in these and not in any other of the collocation of Manas, Indriyas and Vishayas? Sridhara answers that consciousness inheres to self, and not to the other three due to the svabhavaniyama.
This is illustrated by the analog of cloth which, though produced by the thread and shuttle, inheres to the thread alone. Such a view on the synthetic character of knowledge by Nyaya makes it intelligible for us by placing great emphasis on the Pramanas or means of right knowledge. Next to Nyaya, Samkhya defends dualism in knowledge.
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Unlike the essentially non-intelligent self of the Naiyayikas, the Samkhyavadins postulate a pure intelligence, Purusha, in each individual being. Citta then assumes the form of the image of the object which has impressed it.
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But Citta, being non-intelligent, cannot perceive or recognize those forms of impression. It is, then, illumined by Purusha, and is thus rendered conscious or intelligent. It is, therefore, the reflection of the spirit acting on Citta. That makes it distinguish and perceive.
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Since knowledge is a reflection of the light that proceeds from Purusha, its validity consists in being a true copy of the thing. The theory of the synthetic character of knowledge meets its typical representative in Ramanuja. For him Atman is made up of consciousness, which is both the svarupa essence and guna attribute of it. Knowledge is distinct from the knowing subject whose quality it is, as smell which is perceived as a quality of the earth is distinct from earth.
This is clear from the testimony of our experience, from the fact of existence of the different Pramanas of knowledge and also from the fact that different words signify different realities. According to Ramanuja, one has to admit the self-validity of knowledge in order to avoid the difficulty of the infinite series of mediums so far as knowledge is the cognition of the objects as they are.
There is an element of reality even in illusion, as the silver element that exists in the conch shell. But in our ordinary forms of knowledge we never attain the pure being because, our consciousness is always limited and thereby it implies multiplicity and difference.
We are impeded from the contemplation of the Supreme Being by these limitations or nescience of our knowledge. According to Ramanuja, it means that realization of Brahman is possible through a pure heart obtained by meditation. It may be noted that for a limited perfection it is an anomaly, which demands the existence of such perfection in its absolute form. Despite these positive values, Indian analysis of knowledge has its own draw-backs.
The Absolute conception of Sankara does not clarify as to how to conceive knowledge of the finite beings in a way other than mere illusory knowledge. It also fails to appreciate adequately the perfection implied even in the finiteness of being, just as the imitation of gold in a particular shape and fashion, is itself the perfection of the ornament.
Yet these defects are remediable, and they provide elements for a sound epistemology. Epistemological Issues Can we reasonably argue that Indian philosophy was interested in reason and rationality was considered as a weapon to emancipate the mythical and mysterious powers of human psyche? The first thing that Indian philosophy generally assumes is that knowledge is a kind of relation and it is an irreducible relation.
It cannot be reduced to, or analyzed to anything else: this is what the philosophers of Nyaya School would term the Visaya-Visayi-Bhava or the epistemic relation between the subject and the object Barlingay, Knowledge of Brahman, which is the purpose of philosophical inquiry, is different from ordinary knowledge, the subject matter of epistemology, wherein the subject-object polarity or the triputi trinity knower-known- knowledge is involved and which is entirely conceived, based and expressed in language Talghatti, Brahmin Monopoly of Thought Brahmin monopoly of thought made the upper castes people to think that their duties are more privileged and bestowed upon them by the creator himself.
It made the Brahmins to assume that they should be served by all and by all means including the King and serving them were also understood as a kind of privilege for the rest of the community. As a result, epistemological pursuit in India could not deliver the desired results in the fields of cognition, education and emancipation. Epistemological pursuit in India was predominantly points of view of certain philosophers acknowledging that the human world is a pluralistic world and that there are multiple points of departure from which understanding of human experience can be approached.
Thus, the philosophies that talk about the absolute connectivity between knowing and being and thereby the inquiry into the epistemological foundations for an ontology did not make much of significance in the social and cultural life of India. It overtly suggests the idea that the personhood in Indian philosophy is epistemically ascribed to a certain section of people who are categorized as Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas.
The rest of the community, the Shudra or the Adivasis etc. In sum, our epistemological pursuits lacked a philosophical culture that was able to actualize reason and thereby questioning the social inequalities. Sanskrit was the language of the Brahmins and knowledge their sole domain. The discourse on rights was important in terms of defining the Dalit being. In other words it was not possible to define the Dalit being without the discourse on rights, which came up along with the process of modernization and new ideology of liberalism.
Sanskrit as its meaning indicates was never a spoken language and that it was only a purified version of the language that was in popular usage Nair, Even in late Sanskrit dramas, as is well known, the characters of higher castes speak Sanskrit. Thus speech was depended on the caste. Nair exclaims: the maintenance of the purity of Sanskrit language since the days of Panini until the present day is explained by the tenacity of the Brahmin to preserve it as such as sacred language of status group even though their spoken language was, by and large, the local languages or a mixture of the two Nair, The Language of Dalit-Bahujan In the political arena, categories have a trajectory of their own.
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They travel along a path full of challenges, counter-challenges, contradictions and transformations. That is why these categories and their labels change their meaning, connotation and significance from time to time and place to place depending upon the specific socio-economic and ideological context and the politics of the users who formulate them.
Since such a consciousness involves progress and regression, the categories cannot be thought to be concrete and given, permanent and exclusive or inclusive.
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The category of Dalit is used in multiple ways and often in a contradictory fashion. There is also some kind of conceptual hierarchy in this use of the Dalit category so that they keep rivaling each other without any internal affinity in terms of their political meaning and function. It is interesting to note that the category of Dalit was used by no less a person than Dr.