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Exploring Hindu Philosophy

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This introductory text points to some of the diverse tapestries of Hindu worldviews where scriptural revelation, logical argumentation, embodied affectivity, moral reasoning, and aesthetic cultivation constitute densely interwoven conceptual threads. It begins with an exploration of some classical iterations of the quest for a fundamental ontology amidst the diversities of the everyday world. This quest is often embedded in both a diagnosis of the human condition as structured by suffering and a therapy for recovery from worldly fragmentation. A crucial aspect of this therapeutic structure is the analysis of the means of knowledge and the categories of reality, since in order to know the nature of the world one must proceed along truth-tracking routes. Such dynamic mind-world encounters are mediated through language, and Hindu philosophical texts extensively discuss the motif of whether or not deep reality can be comprehended through linguistic structures. These philosophical exercises also shape reflections on themes such as aesthetics, social organization, the meaning of life, and so on. As Hinduism increasingly migrates to western locations through practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, and along with sensibilities relating to vegetarianism, ecology, and pacifism, we encounter multiple translations of these classical motifs relating to the self, language, and consciousness.

Published: Apr 6, 2023


Section Chapter Authors
Preface Ankur Barua
Series Foreword Mohammed Rustom
Conceptual Constellations Ankur Barua
Chapter 1
Unity and its Concrete Multitudes Ankur Barua
Chapter 2
Knowing the Roots of Reality Ankur Barua
Chapter 3
Therapies for Liberation Ankur Barua
Chapter 4
Finding a Home in the World Ankur Barua
Chapter 5
Multiple Modes of Morality Ankur Barua
Reorienting the Mind’s Compass Ankur Barua
End Matter
Glossary Ankur Barua
Notes Ankur Barua
Bibliography Ankur Barua
Further Reading Ankur Barua
Index Ankur Barua


This book is a thought-provoking, wide-ranging, and stimulating introduction to Hindu philosophy. Barua does an admirable job of lucidly explaining complex ideas without oversimplifying them.
Swami Medhananda (Ayon Maharaj), Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy, Ramakrishna Institute of Moral and Spiritual Education, India

With humour and precision, Ankur Barua’s Exploring Hindu Philosophy offers the reader a delightful, accessible, and yet deeply insightful guide to the multiplicity of “structured visions” that interweave and intersect into Hindu philosophy. Highly recommended for audiences at every level.
Jonardon Ganeri, Bimal K. Matilal Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto

The strength of the book lies with Barua’s deftness of philosophical analysis. He moves seamlessly between and across various philosophical concerns, representing accurately, clearly, and without oversimplification the subtly different positions of a host of schools as they address a range of related concerns such as the nature of language, the functioning of perception, the proper order of logic and inferential reasoning, the nature of objective reality, and questions of ethics and morality. That Hindu philosophers set these matters in relation to soteriological concerns is properly explained and justified, illustrating that subtle philosophical argument can emerge even in the context of thinking done by philosophers who simultaneously hold deep theological commitments.
...those who take this book to the classroom are likely to find that Barua’s thoughtful engagement with Hindu philosophical ideas will enrich, deepen, and enliven their discussion – and both their students’ and their own appreciation – of Hindu philosophy.
John Nemec, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, Bulletin of SOAS

It is fluently written, it brings into easy and close conversation a vast number of ideas, and it interweaves a distinctive personal voice with traditional description. For a general reader, it could well be something to spark further exploration of these great traditions of thought and life. For the student, it could well serve as the spark of inspiration before regular lectures begin. If a teacher were to systematically tie its various sinuous strands to more detailed readings, it would function as a rather intuitive basic course-book. Finally, in deliberately treating these ideas as having their own intrinsic—indeed ahistorical—conceptual sensibilities, Barua is making the case that Indian philosophy as philosophy in the contemporary Western sense is just as valid an undertaking as one in which historical specificity is vital. These are not trade-offs but alternative paths taken according to temperament. And this book should suit well the temperament of the contemporary philosophy-student who is aware of the need to go beyond the Western canon while yet wanting to engage with questions that are of cross-cultural relevance.
Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religion and Philosophy, Lancaster University, Religions of South Asia