Melody and Millstone of Indian Philosophy
DEBIPRASAD CHATTOPADHYAYA, WHAT IS LIVING AND WHAT IS DEAD IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY, PEOPLE'S PUBLISHING HOUSE, NEW DELHI, JUNE 1976. pp xv+656. Rs 55.
INDIAN PHILOSOPHY, especially the school of Vedanta with its source in the Upanishads, has been the subject of endless panegyric on the part of writers on the subject, for example an unmistakable exuberance that pervades the contributions on Indian philosophy in ihe various issues of a journal called Philosophical Quarterly. A bewildering style marks the general trend among our philosophers, who strenuously justify the tenets of philosophical idealism to the struggling millions of the contemporary epoch. The reactionary content of the doctrine is many times sought to be submerged in a brilliant pool of seemingly astounding qualities of clarity, perfection, and invincible logic. The blatantly a-historical method followed by them is never an embarrassment to them, as in their case it might truly be said that the end justifies the means. The unexpressed end, of course, is the perpetuation of the socio-economic status quo. The partial mutilation of the Indian philosophical texts that they unhesitatingly resort to, the aversion to a scientific analysis of the texts by placing them in their proper historical perspective, and the totally baffling formulations that they arrive at, apparently reflecting the views adumbrated in the texts, are only some of the unfortunate and incorrect practices of these diehard conservative traditionalists in the sphere of Indian philosophy.
Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya is as different from them as ivory is from jet. He is always cool, refreshing, invigorating and pulsating with analyses and deductions which make one confident of the strength of one's philosophy, tradition, and approach to struggles. His earlier works like Lokayata, Popular Introduction to Indian Atheism, and numerous articles on a variety of topics have been an incontrovertible testimony to this.