Why study philosophy?

If we are to study any subject, we feel more motivated if we understand the purpose of that study. For example, if we are told to learn a foreign language, we will study far more earnestly if we know that we will soon be deputed to a country where that language is the only way to communicate. 

Nowadays, most people see philosophy as mostly irrelevant or as an abstract academic discipline. To inspire ourselves to study philosophy earnestly, we can contemplate how such study can help us understand three critical truths: 

What is real: If someone becomes inordinately scared on watching a horror movie, we will think that they lack intelligence to separate reality from illusion. Might we be similarly unintelligent when we get overwhelmed by worldly troubles? The Bhagavad-gita (02.16) states that the material is temporary and therefore unreal, whereas the spiritual is eternal and therefore real. 

What really matters: If we got so caught in watching a movie as to not notice that our wallet is being stolen, we would be even more foolish. Similarly, if we get so caught in worldly things as to not notice that our life is slipping away without our achieving anything enduring, we too are being foolish. The Gita states that spiritual growth alone lasts (02.40).

How can we live in a way that matters: The importance of philosophy becomes evident when it helps us realign our life’s priorities. The Bhagavad-gita’s philosophy is meant to guide us for making wise life-choices, as it did for Arjuna (18.73). 

One-sentence summary:

Study philosophy to understand what is real, what really matters and how we can live in a way that really matters.

Think it over:

  • What do you think is real? How does it align with what is actually real?
  • What do you think really matters? How does it align with what actually matters?
  • What do you spend most of your life’s time on? What can you adjust to live in a way that really matters?


02.16: Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both.

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  1. Hare Krishna Prabhuji,

    Please accept my humble obeisance and thank you very much for delineating the essence of studying & understanding Philosophy….As Philosophy means – Love of Wisdom And Wisdom comes from Truth ….Absolute Truth and not even partial or relative truths ( which we co-incidentally find in our modern educational books) ….So you have rightly connected that Real meaning which as per our Vedic literature is SAT ( eternity ) should actually be the real import of Philosophy….However its very fortunate that very very few students can really fathom the Real essence and meaning of this most important study – Study to Philosophically find out the Truth ….Lord Krishna also specifies this aspect of Knowledge in the Thirteenth Chapter of BGita….I would heartily thank you for bringing a very important contribution in this matter by educating many many students including myself ….Prana…HARE KRSIHNA!

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    • Thank you for this thoughtful an thought-provoking comment. Yes, the Gita’s wisdom needs to be made accessible as possible.

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  2. Philosophy for mind,anatomy for body

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  3. Very apt for me …Just yesterday we completed a chapter summary of Bhagwad Gita a and planning to go for a more detailed study….these thoughts will help us crystalize our desires to study Shastra deeply.

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