Sunday, October 24, 2021
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The Art of Debating in Ancient India


Now, I come to debating, which was an intrinsic part of Indian education. So, you can look I have chosen this picture of Adi Sankara debating with Mandana Misra and look who is the judge it’s a lady who is, who was a renowned scholar in her own right – Ubhaya Bharati –  and this was the way knowledge was propagated in India. So, itwas not just one man says it and everybody believes it. It would be challenged, there would be debates, where everybody would sit and watch and this is how Sankaracharya and various other gurus did, the same thing. They went all around, in fact, he went right from Kerala – all the way – even Kashmir which I’ll talk about later.

So, here are some debating terms that I thought would be interesting for you, just to show you how developed the art of debating, was how it was placed on a very serious footing, sound footing. So, you just could not go and start debating with somebody. You need to know, needed to know these terms. You also needed to be very familiar with the arguments of your… the person you want to challenge, you should be, you neededto know, how to argue in the place of that person as if you were him which is called purva paksha; arguing from the point of view of your opponent. So, look at these terms –

Sadhya -thesis which is to be developed established.

Siddhanta: proposition tenets or conclusion.

Hetu, Udhaharana, pratyaksha, anumana, pramana.., these were the kind of terms that they use. So, it was, it was a very intellectual exercise, the whole debating traditionand what’s more interesting is that, they actually had criteria for giving points or taking points away. So, the other day when I was talking to my daughter and she was trying to make it seem like she was doing the debating of a very high order in her school and she didn’t know that, it was, it was even higher in India. So, that’s when I had to told her all these things…

So, they had terms like this for deducting points, hurting the proposition:

Pratijna-hani – shifting the proposition.

Pratijna-antara – opposing the proposition.

Pratijna-virodha – renouncing the proposition.

Pratijna-sannyasa – shifting the reason.

Hetavantara(just look at all this) – resorting to the unintelligible.

Avijnatartha – becoming incoherent. Aparthaka.., because you would be, if you try to evade the topic, if you try to become incoherent, you would lose points, and there were many more points, and Vasubandhu is not the only one, there are many books written on debating.

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