Social Scientist. v 17, no. 188-89 (Jan-Feb 1989) p. 3.

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Adi Sankara and His PhilosophyŚ A Marxist View

The year 1989 is the 1200th year of the birth of Adi Shankara. It is being observed in various parts of the country, his home state above all. The cultural department of the Government of Kerala is organising at Kaladi, the birth place of the great sage, a one-day seminar on some aspects of the teachings of this illustrious son of Kerala.

Is the participation of Marxist theoreticians not a betrayal of dialectical and historical materialism by intellectuals and political activists who should be opposed to the philosophy of Adi Shankara?


This question assumes that idealism and materialism are such polar opposites that they have always and everywhere to be opposed to each other. It fails to note that, like other opposites in real life and human thinking, the idealist and materialist philosophical trends are related to each other in a dialectical, rather than metaphysical, manner. Neither idealism nor materialism remains static, both are ever moving forward, always negating each other, the struggle between the two in newer and newer forms is the law of development of human thought. There is therefore no question of materialism as such being superior to idealism, idealism as stich being inferior. As Lenin observed in his Philosophical Notebooks.

Philosophical idealism is only nonsense from the standpoint of crude, simple, metaphysical materialism. From the standpoint of dialectical materialism, on the other hand, philosophical idealism is a one-sided, exaggerated development (inflation, distention) of one of the features, aspects, facets of knowledge into an absolute, divorced from matter, from nature, apotheosized. Idealism is clerical obscurantism. True. But philoso3phical idealism is Cmore correctly* and *in addition") a road to clerical obscurantism/ through one of the shades of the infinitely complex knowledge (dialectical of man). (Collected Works, Vol. 38, p.363).

Like Marx and Engels who were the disciples of the greatest

* General Se6-etary, Communist Party of India (Marxist).

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