What ultimately differentiates a culture are its ways of looking and seeing. How we see ourselves and the world is extremely important to our identity and to the way the world perceives us. But to Hindu civilization seeing was not merely a physical act of looking at saṃsāra using our external eyes. The focus of our civilization was as much on our internal journey.
This anchor was sādhanā, done under the guidance and grace of a guru. A purely intellectual civilization is anchorless. In order to have an opinion on saṃsāra one needs a world to look at and a worldview to look from – dṛṣya and darśana.
The Rṣīs of Bhāratavarṣa never neglected saṃsāra and developed objective sciences and disciplines to their heights, but at the same time they were always careful to peg that intellectual activity to a deep inner anchor.
The word darśana is more than the act of seeing. It has a universal significance in Hindu cosmology. Hindu philosophy is also called darśana; because Hindu philosophy is not ‘what you think’; it is ‘what you see’ – darśana.
It is the witness of the truth that is the objective of all Hindu philosophy. Similarly, the act of going to a temple is also called darśana, the act of witnessing truth in the form of the divine. In Hindu civilization its worldview was guided by the inner compass of sādhanā. It is only when the act of looking and seeing is elevated and sanctified by deep sādhanā, does it become darśana. For understanding this deep darśana and to witness saṃsāra in truthful light, an able draṣṭā – the one who is capable of looking deeply – is needed.
The sādhanā of the rṣīs made them capable of witnessing the ultimate truth and in that light every other discipline in saṃsāra too. That is how Sanātana dharma elevated every human discipline as well as every human act, such as the act of looking and seeing to a divine plane of consciousness. And that is how draṣṭās were created.
One who is on this inner path of sādhanā (darśana) is a draṣṭā. That is how our rṣīs became draṣṭās. They were not called ‘inventors of knowledge’, but the draṣṭā of truth.
Bṛhat Draṣṭā is our offering in deep learning where we will offer courses on some of the greatest ancient and contemporary philosophers (draṣṭās) and schools of thoughts (darśana). It also seeks to impart the ways of looking and seeing, darśana, so that the learners can also proceed on the path of being draṣṭās.
Bṛhat Draṣṭā begins with the series titled ‘Firekeepers of Civilization,’ in honor of those who embodied ‘Bhāratīya’ best and bore the fire forward.
We commenced with the great firekeeper, Shri Ram Swarup. Classes began 30th July. To download works by Shri Ram Swarup, visit Bṛhat Open Library.
We draw our vitality from some very important and select ‘Schools of Thought’ which define our identity, inform our views, and guide our actions.
These schools of thought come together in the ways in which we think and create and in the ways we seek to guide policy to culture.