Hindu philosophy is traditionally divided into six āstika (orthodox) schools of thought, or darśanam, which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. The āstika schools are:

  1. Samkhya, an atheistic and strongly dualist theoretical exposition of consciousness and matter.
  2. Yoga, a school emphasizing meditation, contemplation and liberation.
  3. Nyaya or logic, explores sources of knowledge (Nyāya Sūtras).
  4. Vaisheshika, an empiricist school of atomism.
  5. Mimāṃsā, an anti-ascetic and anti-mysticist school of orthopraxy.
  6. Vedanta, the last segment of knowledge in the Vedas, or the ‘Jnan’ (knowledge) ‘Kanda’ (section). Vedanta came to be the dominant current of Hinduism in the post-medieval period.

Of the historical division into six darsanas, only two schools, Vedanta and Yoga, survive.

The basic information about them is as follows:

SchoolAuthorBeginningMain Book
NyayaGautama6th Century BCNyayasutra
VaisheshikaKanaad6th century BCVaisheshik Sutra
SankyaKapil6th century BCSankya Sutra
YogaMaharishi Patanjali2nd century BCYog Sutra
Poorva MimansaJaimini4th Century BCPoorva Mimansa Sutra
Uttar Mimansa or VedantaBadrayan or Maharishi Vyas4th century BCUttar Mimansa Sutra


Literally means recursion. It is based on texts known as the Nyaya Sutras, which were written by Aksapada Gautama from around the 2nd century AD. Nyaya Sutras say that there are four means of attaining valid knowledge: perception, inference, comparison, and verbal testimony.


It was proposed by Maharishi Kanaad. It postulates that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to a finite number of atoms. The school deals in detail with “Padarth” or Matter.


Samkya or Samkhya means Enumeration. The founder of the Sankya school of Philosophy was Maharishi Kapil. The school denies the “existence of God” and postulated that there are two realities Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is the consciousness and Prakriti is the phenomenal realm of matter.


Founder of this school of Philosophy was Patanjali. Yuj means “control” and Yoga also mean to “add”. Rāja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga are its main branches. The Yogasutras of Patanjali which mainly postulate the Raj Yoga , date back to Mauryan Period while Hathayoga was introduced by Yogi Swatmarama. The major difference between Raj Yoga and Hathayoga is that Raja Yoga aims at controlling all thought-waves or mental modifications, while a Hatha Yogi starts his Sadhana, or spiritual practice, with Asanas (postures) and Pranayama. So Raj Yoga starts from Mind and Hathyoga starts from Body.


Mimansa means investigation or enquiry. The primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close theology of the Vedas. it has two divisions, Poorva Mimansa and Uttar Mimansa. Uttar Mimansa is treated as Vedanta. The poorva Mimansa was postulated by Jamini. The ideology of Poorva Mimansa was to counteract the challenge by Buddhism and vedanta which marginalized the Vedic sacrifices. This school got momentum in Gupta period and reached its climax in 7-8th century. Sabara and Kumaril Bhatta were two main interpretators. It was one of the major forces to decline Buddhism in India , but later itself was eclipsed by Vedanta.


Vedanta means Veda end or the purpose or goal of the Vedas. It was given by Badrayana or maharishi Vyasa who is one of the 7 chiranjivis and wrote “Mahabharta“.

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