There are six schools of classical Indian philosophy. These are:
A brief review of those six schools or systems will easily clarify the true nature of authentic Yoga as being a system of spiritual pursuit. There is not universal agreement on there being 6 schools as some consider the teachings of Buddha to be a seventh system or school of Indian philosophy, rather than a separate system. This is because the Buddha’s methods come from the same root. In addition, some others consider any divisions between schools to be inaccurate, stating that the only valid and authentic Yoga comes directly from the ancient texts, the Vedas.
Yoga is one of the classical schools of Indian philosophy: To understand the true nature of Yoga as a path of spiritual realization, it is necessary to have some small understanding of all of the six classical schools (or systems) of Indian philosophy, of which Yoga is one. By understanding Yoga in that context, it will be easier to more fully delve into Yoga as the enlightenment practice that it actually is, rather than the mere physical fitness program it has recently come to be known as. The sincere student (or seeker) can then discriminate between authentic teachings and modern adaptations.
Yoga contains (or is built on) other philosophies: It is important to note that the Yoga system contains, or is built on four of the other systems or schools of Indian philosophy (Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimasa, and Sankhya). In other words, it is not necessary to go into great depth into those as separate studies and/or practices. These four are adequately incorporated into the Yoga system, from the standpoint of doing the practices. Additionally, the Vedanta system is a practical companion to the Yoga system.
The exact dates of formalizing the six systems are not known. The studies were originally transmitted by purely oral means (writing had not yet been created). However, estimates generally range from about 2,000-3,000 or more years ago. Some say the roots of these are as much as 5,000-10,000 years ago, or more. The absence of clear dates is also explained as coming from the fact that the students/practitioners were so focused on the timeless quality of higher truths that they simply didn't care to record dates.
Here’s a brief description of each of these six schools:
Stay tuned, this series will continue – coming up next; “Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 5).”
Rae Indigo is ERYT 500