ABSTRACT

The cultural area known as South Asia covers a number of countries which are now to be seen on the political map: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. The major divisions in recent times have occurred because of the split between mainly Hindu India and chiefly Islamic Pakistan and Bangladesh. Others have been somewhat adventitious – for instance Ceylon or Sri Lanka was incorporated as a separate colony into the British Empire, separate from India itself (then chiefly under the control of the East India Company, basically a trading organization) after the conquest of the hill capital, Kandy, in 1815. Confusingly, the term ‘India’, which was used for the whole of the land from the Himalaya mountains down to Cape Kanyakumarin (Comorin) at the southern tip, is now used only for a part, namely that which belongs to the Republic of India with its capital in Delhi. For the most part, in the present chapter I shall use the word ‘India’ for the whole of the subcontinent. Thus by Indian philosophy I shall mean, as other writers indeed do, the philosophy of the great traditional region from the borders of Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean.