India’s progressive emergence on the world stage, in terms unimaginable just a few decades ago, obliges us to reconsider its image as nurtured by the West for over two thousand years: a prestigious image maybe, but also greatly reductive, as the privileged home of occult knowledge, ecstasy and asceticism, or — quite the opposite — of fabulous riches and voluptuous pleasures. Rather than getting to know India, the West has preferred to dream of it: one result has been that Indian thought, albeit unanimously celebrated as the seat of the highest wisdom, has not been granted even the smallest place on the great stage of the history of philosophy.
This book presents the thought of pre-modern India first and foremost by outlining the cultural parameters within which it arose and developed, and should be read; often associated with religious experience, but also essentially independent of it; sometimes differing in form and outcome, but more often very close to Western thought, and certainly never “alien”.
“This is a marvellous piece of compact insight in all respects: a summary as well as a fresh view of the whole area, always sound and based on first hand experience with the material. I really mean it when I would like to call it the best modern survey of our field at an extraordinary high level of penetration.”
— Prof. Ernst Steinkellner, University of Vienna, Austrian Academy of Sciences