Category Archives: Philosophy

To me, Philosophy is the most confusing and hard to understand. It is vast, dwells in almost every beautiful thought of mankind, and branches itself into many disciplines. Nothing in this world strongly questions you as it can. My journey into reading philosophy went without my knowledge when searching for answers for the limitations of Science. If you think seriously on anything, you end up in philosophy. In this archive, the posts mainly contain philosophical thoughts may be mixed with some religious aspects. Explore them and write your comments.

Maadhyamika Buddhism – A Philosophical Treatise


                  Acharya Nagarjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE) is one of the most popular Buddhist philosophers from India. He is well known for Maadhyamika (Middle way) philosophy of emptiness (Sunyatha) in Mahayana Buddhist sect. Lord Budda (c. 563 BCE/480 BCE – c. 483 BCE/400 BCE) did not write any texts nor any literature about his teachings were written in his life time by his disciples. Many of his teachings were passed down to next generations by oral tradition until prominent early texts like Tripitikas were written down ( c. 3 BCE) after a few centuries by Buddhist scholars emphasising various aspects of Buddism. Acharya Nagarjuna lived in India and served as head of Nalanda University and written many texts out of which his Mūlamadhyamakakārikā is best known work. In this, he claimed Maadhyamika (Middle way) philosophy of emptiness (Sunyatha) which has influenced many Buddhist thinkers and lot of commentaries and critics came up later on the theory.

Central Theme :

                  Maadhyamika (Middle way) philosophy of emptiness (Sunyatha) is not entirely new but mainly based on old Buddha’s philosophy of Dependant Origin (Pratya-samutpada). The philosophy of dependant origin views every object in the external world as dependent on its entities or components and hence, the whole object we perceive is not real and has no independent existence. For example, if we see a tree, it is actually composed of many parts like branches, leaves, roots etc. and it is also dependant on many other factors like the seed, the soil, the sun, the water etc. for its existence. Hence, what we see as ‘Tree’ has no independent existence and is not a permanent reality. Extending similar argument to any object in the external world, we observe that all things we see in this Nature have no independent existence and everything in the external world has dependant origination. Maadyamika Siddantha takes this central idea of dependant origination and proposes in a more radical way that the external world can be reduced to emptiness in reality. The Maadyamika Siddantha extends dependant origination to entities and components of an object and claims these entities also lack inherent existence and dependant of some other entities and eventually all the entities in the world can be traced to emptiness; hence emptiness (Sunyatha) is the reality. Maadyamika Siddantha do not claim that the components and entities are illusions but it simply argues that they have no existence unconditionally. Hence, Maadyamika siddantha denies nihilism (which says all entities are non existent in reality) on one extreme and also denies eternalism (which says all or some things in this world exists independent of conditions) on the other extreme. Hence, Nagarjuna’s philosophy is called Madhyamaka(middle way) of emptiness (Sunyatha). Nāgārjuna means by real any entity which has a nature of its own (svabhāva), which is not produced by causes (akrtaka), which is not dependent on anything else (paratra nirapeksha).


                  In some aspects, Maadhyamika Siddantha claim not only that the emptiness, the absence of inherent existence, of entities means that these entities originate in dependence upon conditions. In addition, many Madhyamika statements indicate that all entities lack inherent existence in the sense that they are conceptual constructs, mental fabrications. Thus, according to Madhyamika, the entity is simply a name or concept attributed to the conglomeration of conditions. It is not just that the tree, for example, originates in dependence upon numerous conditions—such as the water, the earth, the sun, the seed. It is, furthermore, the case that the tree, the water, the earth, the sun, the seed, etc. originate in dependence upon the mind. As this is sometimes expressed in Madhyamaka texts, all entities are simply conventions (, saamv.rta) or fictions (kalpanaa, parikalpa, and vikalpa); and other Madhyamika statements declare entities to be name-only (naamamaatra), and to have a merely conceptual existence (prajnaptisat). Furthermore, mind is also not an exception to dependant origination as per Maadyamika Siddantha considering its perceptions, thoughts etc as entities and mind is also empty. This is where many schools of Buddhim (Yogaaccara etc.) don’t agree with Madhyamika theory as they claim that if mind is also a mere fabrication then every thought process of Buddhism is nothing more than a fiction and the consciousness of observer will also collapsed as weird and cannot be accepted rationally. The Maadhyamika thought of  correlating the dependant origination with conceptual existence is questionable as things in external world can still exist even without out a conceptual mind and entity need not be necessarily a concept. Thus Maadhyamika claim is a form of extreme ontological reductionism.


However, In true sense, Maadyamika theory is more like an affirmation of early Buddhist view of rejecting eternalism (permanamce of self, aatman) concepts. Lord Budda initially tried the most ascetic way of life , fell ill and again rejuvenated with intense desire to realise the ultimate truth and finally got enlightenment. Hence, he rejected both strict ascetic life and luxurious life styles, and preached middle way of life for peaceful living of common man. In this way, Maadyamika theory both conceptually and in life style is close Buddha’s view of life. In a way, Acharya Nagarjuna, with his work, revived Buddism close to its original teachings. 

            Chapter 24 verse 14 of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā provides one of Nāgārjuna’s most famous quotations on emptiness and co-arising :

sarvaṃ ca yujyate tasya śūnyatā yasya yujyate
sarvaṃ na yujyate tasya śūnyaṃ yasya na yujyate

All is possible when emptiness is possible.
Nothing is possible when emptiness is impossible.




Sankranthi Festival – Astronomical Deviations Perspective

                  Sankranthi (Pongal) is one of the biggest festivals in India. Hindus celebrate this festival day as the dawn of auspicious days based on the movement of the Sun. The earth rotates around its own axis tilted 23.5 Degrees with respect to ecliptic plane (the Sun’s path across the sky). We all know, that Earth’s rotation causes day and night and its revolution around the Sun causes seasons. The seasons are not created merely by the revolution of the Earth but because of the Earth’s axial tilt due to which angular direction of Sun rays differ on the globe across different latitudes, causing different seasons across Northern and Southern hemispheres. As the Earth revolves round the Sun, it appears to the observer on the Earth that the Sun is moving on the celestial sphere. The points of intersection of celestial equator and ecliptic plane are called equinoxes (Day light and Night will have same length on the day). Solstice is an event occurring when the Sun appears to reach its  most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial plane. Two solstices occur annually, on about 21 June and 21 December. The seasons of the year are directly connected to both the solstices and the equinoxes. The concepts of celestial sphere, Celestial equator, Ecliptic plane, positions of equinoxes and solstices on the celestial plane can be better understood in the pictures shown below.

           Pics obtained from the internet for better understanding of the readers only.

                   Apart from rotation and revolution of the Earth, there is one subtle and important movement of earth, it is called precession. The detailed explanation about this subtle movement was dealt in my previous post The Precession of the Earth . The gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon on the gyroscopic Earth bulge produces torque on its rotational axis causing it to drift periodically from East to West completing a turn in 25,800 years. This woobling movement of Earth’s rotational axis is called the Precession. Shifting of Equinoxes and Solstices is one of the important phenomenon, apart from shift of pole star, that is caused by the Earth’s precession. As the Earth revolves round the Sun, the position of occurrence of Equinoxes and Solstices will not be same every year because of the precession of the rotational axis. By the time, the Earth reaches the same point around the Sun in its orbit, the rotational axis orientation would be slightly shifted due to precession. The equinoxes are nothing but the intersection points of ecliptic plane and celestial equator on the celestial sphere, as the Earth precession goes on, the intersection points are also shifted and hence the Equinoxes and Solstices. The shift in Equinoxes and Solstices changes the occurrence of seasons for the given position of the Earth in its orbit. Approximately, the Equinoxes and Solstices will be shifted by 1 day for every 70.6 years. The seasonal cycle is exactly repeated after 25,800 years again. This cycle is also called the Great Year in Astronomy.

The ages in which spring equinox occurs in different zodiacs mentioned in this table

Zodiac ( Raasi) Spring Equinox period in Zodiac ( Raasi)

Gemini (Midhunam)

BC 6350 – BC 4200
Taurus (Vrushabham) BC 4200 – BC 2050
Aries (Mesham) BC 2050 – AD 100
Pisces (Meenam) AD 100 – AD 2250
Aquarius (Kumbham)

AD 2250 – AD 4400

              Note : The western zodiac and Indian Raasi system have many similarities, still, both are not exactly same. Western zodiac system follows position of the Sun and Indian Raasi system follows position of the moon. Both terminologies are mentioned here only to indicate the corresponding terms for the convenience of readers.

            Astronomically, Sankranthi festival is celebrated on the starting day of the year, when the Sun enters Capricorn zodiac. It is traditionally believed that on the same day, auspicious Winter Solstice (Sanskrit:Uttarayana Punayakalam) begin. On the day of winter solstice, the Sun ends its southward journey (Sanskrit:Dakshinaayan) touching tropic of Capricorn (Sanskrit:Makar Sankramanam) and begins northward journey (Sanskrit:Uttaraayan) towards tropic of Cancer (Sanskrit:Karkata Rekha). Traditionally, this day is celebrated as Sankranthi festival from the early ages in India at which time the Sun entering in Capricorn and Winter Solstice coincided i.e at the age where spring equinox occurred Aries (Mesha) constellation in BC 2050 – AD 100. But, due to earth’s precession, equinoxes and solstices shifted and now Winter Solstice happens on Dec 22 (in northeren hemisphere) when spring equinox occurs in Sagittarius (Dhanu Raasi). That means, Makar Sankranthi celebrated on January 14th or 15th of the year is about 23 days after Winter Solstice (Sanskrit:Uttarayana Punayakalam) happened. It is true that on Jan 14th, the Sun enters Makar Raasi (Italian:Capricorn) but Winter Solstice will not happen on Jan 14th every year. This discrepancy is because in Panchangams the Earth’s precession movement affect is not considered, which is very subtle, about 1 degree in 72 years !!!

              Astonishingly, there is a reference about this subtle movement in ancient Hindu texts. In one of the interesting story in Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu appears and blesses his devotee, Dhruva, who he will be remained as constant star in the space and all the stars (Saptha Rishis) will revolve around him for 26,000 years! Hindu astronomers called the ,pole star’ as ‘Dhruva Tara’. Do they really know about the periodicity and the Precession of the Earth axis? If not, how Hindus referred this period exactly in their age old mythological story is a mystery! Probably, some texts were lost and later pundits who prepared Panchangams missed this subtle concept. Whatever may be the Astronomical dates accuracy, the basic recognition that Sun and Earth movements are critical for existence of life and observing it as festival in practical life, decorating animals in villages, observing as farmers festival, all together shows Hindus way of living is intertwined harmoniously with Nature.

The Death and the Dance

The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva                   Lord Shiva is one of the prominent and most worshipped God in Hinduism. Basically, Hinduism described the existence of the universe with three main philosophies : 1) Brahma, the symbolism for creation, 2) Vishnu, the symbolism for sustaining force of the universe and 3) Shiva, the symbolism for destruction. One of the most interesting feature of Hinduism lies in worshipping even the destructor , Lord Shiva !!! The philosophy behind the depiction of Shiva runs around ‘death’ , the final result of destruction and burial ground is where he lives in. Lord Shiva is portrayed in every picture with symbols of destruction or ‘death causing elements’ in the world like fire (in third eye), snake ( around neck), Trishul ( a weapon in hand), whirling water (on his head), poison ( in the neck) and a demon (under his feet) etc. Apart from these elements, Shiva is also portrayed with musical features like ‘Dhamarukam’ in one hand with musical performers around him and a dancing posture (NATRAJ) and his dance is very popularly known as ‘Shiva Thandavam’ with a perfect rhythm.

Continue reading The Death and the Dance

Ganesh Festival


             Ganesh festival in India conveys the understanding of the universe by the age old rishis and reminds every Hindu devotee about his position in the universe. In fact, Lord Ganesha was mentioned in the oldest of vedas, Rigveda. By that time, still there are no concepts like Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara) and man used to worship Nature around him. That means even before the life forces of Nature were viewed as Trimurthis in Hinduism, Lord Ganesha was considered as the universal force dwelling in the center of the Galaxy. He is the representation of the central force that binds our whole galaxy, the Milkyway in Hindu mythology. Hence, in the festival pooja, Ganapathi is made to sit in the center and a special construction called ‘Palavelli’ is hanged over his head and all kind of round objects (fruits) are tied to palavelli. Here palavelli signifies our galaxy and the different fruits hanging over palavelli represents different planets all rotating the central force of the galaxy, Lord Ganesha. On conducting festival, we remind ourselves the setup of the galaxy itself and giant forces operating around the universe and helps us to be in conscious that we are part of this grandest universe. This concept of oneness and interconnection of the universe to our life are significant features in the festival pooja. We conduct pooja by offering different flowers and leaves in this Nature thanking the very central force,Lord Ganesha, for creating the habituated life giving environment. Because all planets in the galaxy revolve and rotate, we also do pradikshana ( revolving) and atma pradakshina (rotation) in the pooja symbolizing that we are also one of many planets like objects in the universe. This feeling of oneness with universe is the real Bhakthi and is embedded in Ganesh festival.

The Philosophy of Life

         Truth can be pursued only by two persons in this world, one is a scientist and the other is a saint. In the strict sense, science will not give direct perception of the truth, but a saint can directly experience the truth through his own means. Science is some thing like a geometrical concept of asymptote .That means it tries to reach the goal but never reaches. Thus, the science progress will be nearer to the truth but never reaches the truth, because truth can only be experienced but cannot be understood through intellectual means. There is no feeling or direct experience of facts in the study of science.

The one important common point that both scientist and saint will accept is that our sensory perception is very limited and hence it is necessary to transcend the knowledge beyond senses to understand this universe. The only difference is their technique to do that. Science reaches to transcendental knowledge through reasoning and expresses the facts in the language of mathematics and equations where as a saint tries to experience directly the transcendental state and not so much interested to express it as he knows that it can only be experienced but cannot be expressed in a complete sense. But in the history these mystical facts were expressed in poetic language , cautiously stressing the limitedness of any kind of expression regarding the truth very well.

This article is my small effort to synthesize both their views to understand the truth.

Continue reading The Philosophy of Life