|About the Book|
I have written this short account of Indian Thought and its Development in the hope that it may help people in Europe to become better ac quainted than they are at present with the ideas it stands for and the great personalities in whom these ideasMoreI have written this short account of Indian Thought and its Development in the hope that it may help people in Europe to become better ac quainted than they are at present with the ideas it stands for and the great personalities in whom these ideas are embodied. To gain an insight into Indian thought, and to analyse it and discuss our differences, must necessarily make European thought clearer and richer. If we really want to understand the thought of India we must get clear about the problems it has to face and how it deals with them. What we have to do is to set forth and explain the process of develop ment it has passed through from the time of the Vedic hymns down to the present day. I am fully conscious of the difficulty of describing definite lines of development in a philosophy which possesses in so remarkable a degree the will and the ability not to perceive contrasts as such, and allows ideas of heterogeneous character to subsist side by side and even brings them into connection with each other. But I believe that we, the people of the West, shall only rightly comprehend what Indian thought really is and what is its significance for the thought of all mankind, if we succeed in gaining an insight into its processes. Like every European who studies Indian philo sophy, I am deeply indebted to the scholars who have published the texts and been responsible for the fundamental work of research. I am specially grateful to Professor Moriz Winternitz of Prague, not only for what I have learnt from his great work on Indian Literature, but also because he has allowed me a share in the wealth of his knowledge by giving me a fund of information in response to my questions. I have also found it a great advantage to have been able to discuss the problems of Indian thought with my friend Mr C. F. Andrews. I found Romain Hollands penetrating studies on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda very inspiring. And I have to thank my friend Mr A. B. Ashby for valuable help in connection with the English edition. Indian thought has greatly attracted me since in my youth I first became acquainted with it through reading the works of Arthur Schopenhauer. From the very beginning I was convinced that all thought is really concerned with the great problem of how man can attain to spiritual union with infinite Being. My attention was drawn to Indian thought because it is busied with this problem and because by its nature it is mysticism. What I liked about it also was that Indian ethics are concerned with the be haviour of man to all living beings and not merely with his attitude to his fellow-man and to human society. But the closer my acquaintance with the docu ments of Indian thought the more I was assailed by doubts as to whether the view made familiar to us Europeans by the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Paul Deussen and others the view namely that Preface vii Indian thought is completely governed by the idea of world and life negation is right. I was compelled to admit the fact that world and life affirmation is present at the back of this thought from the very dawn of its history, and that the existence and inter fusion within it of world and life negation and world and life affirmation constitute its special character istic and determine its development.