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Indian Philosophy II


Admission requirements

The seminars ‘Indian Philosophy I’ and ‘Introduction to Hinduism’ or ‘Introduction to Buddhism’.


Indian philosophy has its roots in the oldest literary sources of the Hindus, namely the Vedas and the Upanishads. For example, the famous Creation Hymn (from the Rgveda) questions practically everything around creation not without a deep sense of skepticism. In the Upanishads, these and other issues are discussed in greater detail, but the emphasis is clearly on metaphysics, i.e. the essence of life, the personal self (atman) and the absolute (brahman), their relationships with one another as well as with the ephemeral world (samsara), knowledge, insight, salvation (moksha, mukti), etc.
By difference of opinion on fundamental issues, various philosophical schools (darshana) arose such as the Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, mîmâmsâ and Vedanta along with their offshoots. But there were also other schools that were very skeptical and dismissive regarding these so-called orthodox schools, which came to be known as the so-called heterodox schools, viz. Jainism, Buddhism, Carvaka, Ajivika Tantrism and their various sub-schools. Contacts between the two traditions not only caused cross pollination of ideas, but also gave rise to interesting polemics. The latter had the positive effect that weaknesses in the individual systems could be glossed over, and important ideas, theories and arguments be refined. In this way, the various traditions could develop into full-grown philosophical schools.
In this course we will focus on the controversies and mutual influences between the major schools, especially between the exponents of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Course objectives

The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the key issues in Indian philosophy, but especially with the similarities and differences between the various schools.


See Time table

Mode of instruction

Lecture, Tutorial and Individual study of source materials.

Assessment method

  • A mid-term paper of 2000 words, theme to be determined after consulting the teacher.

  • Written final exam, if less than 6 students orally. .


Yes, for information and general announcements as well as for summaries (e.g. PP presentations)

Reading list

  • Richard King, Indian Philosophy: An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought. Edinburgh 1999.

  • Wilhelm Halbfass. Tradition and reflection: Explorations in Indian thought. New York 1990.

  • Smart, Ninian. Doctrine argument in Indian philosophy. Leiden 1992.

  • Chandradhar Sharma, A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy. Delhi 1976.

  • Frauwallner, Erich. History of Indian Philosophy. Salzburg, 1953. [History of Indian philosophy / Introd. by Leo Gabriel, transl. From Original German into English by V. M. Bedekar. Vol. 1: The philosophy of the Vedas and of the epic. The Buddha and the Jina. The classical Samkhya and the Yoga-system, Vol. 2: The nature-Vaiseṣika Philosophical schools and the system. The system of the Jaina. The materialism. Delhi 1973]

  • Hiriyanna, M. The essentials of Indian philosophy. London 1978.

  • Radhakrishnan, S., Moore, A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton CA 1967.


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Dr. N. Mohkamsing
Tel: 071-527 1699 .


In consultation with the teacher, the student may increase the credits to 10 ec by studying additional literature [or reading a Sanskrit texts when sufficiently proficient]. .