Hinduism contains a vast collection of philosophies that give varied perspectives on understanding and devoting to God. The six principal classical systems of Hindu philosophy are termed "shad-darshanas" or "six visions." They are paired as follows: Uttar Mimamsa and Purva Mimamsa, Saankhya and Yoga, and Nyaya and Vaisheshikh.
|UTTAR MIMAMSA (OR VEDANTA) BY VYAS BHAGWAN|
"Uttar" means later and "mimamsa" means examination. Uttar Mimamsa is the examination of the end portion of the Vedas, particularly the Upanishads - hence it is also called "Vedanta" ("end of the Vedas"). The primary text of Vedanta is Vyas Bhagwan's Vedanta Sutra (also called Brahma Sutra). Based on the Brahma Sutra (along with the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita), there are various schools of thought that glorify God and devotion to God (see "Aacharyas of the Vaishnav Tradition" http://kakaji.org/satsang_ele.asp?id=4).
In response to Muktanand Swami's question on the four sets of scriptures - Saankhya, Yoga, Vedanta, and Panchratra - in Vachanamrut Gadhada First 52 Swaminarayan Bhagwan explains, "He who understands God using all four sets of scriptures together is known as being completely enlightened." In Vadtal 2, referencing the Vedas (by "God Himself"), Saankhya scriptures (whose aacharya is Kapil Muni), Yoga scriptures (whose aacharya is Hiranyagarbh Rishi), and the Narad Panchratra (the Panchratra Tantra, composed by Vasudev Bhagwan, revised by Naradji), Swaminarayan Bhagwan explains, "The four scriptures have described the nature of Shri Krishna Vasudev; only one who realizes God through these four scriptures can be said to possess total knowledge."
|PURVA MIMAMSA (OR MIMAMSA) BY JAIMINI RISHI|
"Purva" means previous and "mimamsa" means examination. Purva Mimamsa is the examination of the first portion of the Vedas - particularly the Samhitas, Brahmanas, and Aranyakas. The Purva Mimamsa gives the divinity of the Vedas, is based on the Vedas, and explains the Vedas. The primary text of Purva Mimamsa is Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutra. The authoritative commentary on Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutra is by Shabar Swami, which has sub-commentaries by Prabhakar and Kumaril Bhatt. Major topics include: dharma; yagnas, rites, and rituals; karma; the divinity of the Sanskrit language in the Vedas (thus Jaimini is also considered the guru of Panini, who systemized Sanskrit grammar in the Vyakaran Sutra or Ashtaadhyaayi).
Jaimini Rishi was born in the Himalayas and was a pupil of Vyasa Bhagwan. He was present when Bhishmapita lay on the bed of arrows during the Mahabharat, and was a priest for Yudhisthir's ashvameda yagna. He also performed the "snake yagna" for Janmejay (son of Parikshit Raja and great grandson of Arjun). Jaimini Rishi also has a Samhita, Brahman, Upanishad, Bhagavat, Smruti, Stotra, and other Sutras bearing his name.
|SAANKHYA BY KAPIL MUNI|
"Saankhya" means "enumeration," suggesting the philosophy of understanding the falseness of the world, and the truth of the soul and God. Kapil Muni's Saankhya Sutra is the major scripture of Saankhya.
Considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Kapil Muni was born to Kardam Muni and Devahuti. He lived on the banks of the Bindu Sarovar near Siddhpur in North Gujarat. (Swaminarayan Bhagwan had sanctified the pilgrimage place in Siddhpur as well as Kapil Muni's aashram at Gangasagar near Calcutta during His sojourns as Neelkanth Varni.) In Bhagavad Gita 10/26, Lord Krishna states, "siddhanam kapilo munih" or "of the perfected, I am Kapil Muni." Shrimad Bhagavad 3/25 to 3/33 is the Kapil Gita in which Kapil Muni gives devotional liberating knowledge to his mother. (Swaminarayan Bhagwan often cites 3/25/20 that attaching one's soul to God's saint opens the door of liberation.) Kapil Muni also has a Samhita, Stotra, Smruti, and Panchratra bearing his name; he also composed the Tattvasamas and Vyasprabhakar.
The philosophy and importance of Saankhya is explained by Gunatitanand Swami in many Swami Ni Vato.
"Practice to engage in thoughts of saankhya. Without saankhya, one would remain miserable due to the five vices (greed, lust, taste, affection, and ego) and the three sources of unhappiness (from the mind, from external sources, and from demigods/nature). And without saankhya, satsanga is considered only half complete. Thus if one wants to remain happy, one should practice thoughts of saankhya." (1/2)
"Swami talked much about engaging in thoughts of saankhya. As a rule, engage in saankhya thoughts on a regular, daily basis. Without saankhya, satsanga is considered only half complete, and there is no happiness... Saankhya is [the belief that] this world, objects of pleasure, and the body are all false (or perishable); while the soul is truth, blissful, untouched like the sky, and disassociated with the body, senses, and inner faculties." (1/281)
At the same time, Gunatitanand Swami in many Swami Ni Vato and Swaminarayan Bhagwan in many Vachanamrut explain the drawbacks of Saankhya and Yoga if not understood properly and together. In Vachanamrut Panchala 2, Swaminarayan Bhagwan explains that while claiming the world as false, the followers of Saankhya should not (foolishly) claim God's incarnations, moortis, pilgrimage places, dharma, etc. to be false; a follower of Saankhya must ultimately "meditate on, worship, and offer devotion to God according to the path of yoga."
|YOGA BY PATANJALI RISHI|
"Yoga" means "to join" or unite with God. Hindu tradition is filled with approaches to unite with God, culminating in devotion to God (see "Yoga" http://kakaji.org/edition.asp?id=159). Hiranyagarbh Rishi is the aacharya of Yoga (ref. Vachanamrut Vadtal 2).
However, Patanjali Rishi is considered a major proponent with his exposition, Yoga Sutra, which describes ashtaanga-yoga. Ashtaanga-yoga contains eight "limbs." The five external limbs (called bahiranga) are yama or constraints [ahimsaa, satya, asteya, brahmachaarya, aparigrah], niyama or injunctions [shauch, santosh, tapa, svaadhyaay, Ishvar-praanidaan], aasana or postures [8.4 million total, of which 84 are primary], pranaayam or control of the vital force, and pratyahara or bringing one's focus inwards. The three internal limbs (called antaranga) are dhyaana or meditation, dhaarna or placing God's moorti in one's chitta, and finally samaadhi or divine state of devotion to God.
Patanjali was born to Gonika, the wife of a rishi (around the 2nd century BCE). Considered an incarnation of Sheshnaaga, there are many divine stories relating to his birth as well. He is famed to have studied and lectured at Takshashila University. He is also known for writing the Mahabhaashya, known as the final authority on Panini's Vyakaransutras (on Sanskrit grammar).
|NYAYA BY GAUTAMA RISHI|
"Nyaya" means "analysis." Nyaya is thus a system of logic; it is also a system of epistemology (or theory of how one acquires knowledge). Like in Mimamsa, the source of true knowledge is Vedic or divine word (shabda). Knowledge is also gained from the senses/perception (pratyaksha), and from reason (particularly, by inference or anumaana and comparison or upamaana). Akshapada Gautama systemized Nyaya in the Nyaya Sutra, also known as Hetu Shastra, Tarka Vidya, and Vaada Vidya.
Akshapada Gautama is the son of Deerghatam Rishi and grandson of Angira Rishi. He was born in the Himalayas (sometime around the 4th century BCE) and was known as Gautama (which is his gotra or family name).
|VAISHESHIKA BY KANADA RISHI|
Vaisheshika philosophy is mainly known for its "atomic" theory of fundamental particles (paramanu or simply anu). The philosophy also discusses classification (e.g. of earth, water, air, light, time, space, mind, and soul) and the concept of cause and effect. Due to the emphasis on God as the supreme source and controller (and references in Vedic literature) Vaisheshika is considered one of the six major classical Hindu systems. Kanad Rishi systemized Vaisheshika in the Vaisheshik Sutra. Kanad Rishi lived in Prabhas Patan in northern Gujarat (sometime around the 6th century BCE). His gotra or family name is Kashyap.