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The Charvaka School: Atheism in India

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Posted 07/22/12 - 10:57 AM:
Subject: The Charvaka School: Atheism in India
There was an ancient school of Philosophy of materialism in India in 600 BC, it was called 'Charvaka School.'

They did not believe in anything without proof and their only dictum was 'only life we have is this one so enjoy, who knows of after-life.'

An excerpt from the article:

Why are you opposed to Dharma?
We are not opposed to Dharma when it stands for pure Righteousness. However, we have problem with the idea of Dharma as defined by Brahmanism. What Brahmanism loyalist call Dharma is nothing but Adharma, pure and simple. The hallmarks of Brahmanism are Varna Dharma and Jati Dharma. How can a Dharma consider some people as inherently inferior to others and condemn them to a life of servitude? The doctrine of the Gunas of Prakriti and Law of Karma, the very foundation of Brahmanism and Varna Dharma, were evil inventions of Brahmins to maintain their class superiority over everyone else, and to rule them for personal profit and security. By brainwashing people about these dogmas (BG: 3:5, 27, 33; 18: 40-45; 59-60), they practically enslaved them psychologically. Over three thousand years, millions upon millions of people suffered untold misery due to class and caste discriminations officially sponsored by Brahmanic Adharma.
A Dharma, which does not treat all people as equals; mistreats people on the basis of their skin color, race, occupation or some other feature; and which does not strive for the welfare of all people in the society, is not Dharma at all. It is Adharma. Even Upanishadists declared Brahmanism as Adharma (BG: 4:7- and proceeded to replace their doctrines with Upanishadic doctrines (BG: 2:39-40) of Brahman and Yoga. Even they condemned Varna Dharma by saying that Brahman was the same in all and therefore all people are equal (BG: 5: 18-19). Brahmanism pretended to embrace Upanishadism and yet kept on promoting Varna and Jati Adharmas

They clearly are not 'against' Dharma but against false rituals which are devoid of soul or essence and against caste system ( against race system as well.) But dramatically they used to say:

How is it that your philosophy was so much hated and caricatured by theistic systems?

Opposition to the Vedas and Veda-based rituals is as old as Vedas themselves. You know that the post-Vedic period of 800-200 B. C. was one of great turmoil due to steady decadence of Brahmanism, which became obsessed with sacrificial rituals, superstitions, class system and other nonsensical stuff. We Charvakas were the only people who challenged them, “Prove your claims or just shut up.” Unlike other rebels, we did not mince words when we did so. Whenever someone challenges Brahmanic shenanigans, their response is to indulge in personal attacks against him. They portrayed us as some type of demons who were born to destroy the world. So they attacked us, distorted our philosophy and caricatured us as some freaks of nature, and even destroyed our literature.

Bramhins were 'cause' of rituals, caste-system and ad-hominems to classical atheists in India, so it goes both ways. They were hypocrites and rituals were to earn money and 'ranks.' They did not understand Vedas and Puranas when they said that "All world is a family," or "Everything including you is God your father, brother, mother and husband." There are stories in Bhagavata Purana regarding curse of bull(vehicle of Shiva) to Bramhins because of which they became hypocrite, ritualistic and dogmatic and started insisting on selling their Vidya. It's also said that Charvaka philosophy was a 'poor' reaction to that school of thought whereas Buddhism; as Buddha-the-Gautama is considered an avatara of Vishnu--came to set wheel of Dharma in motion again and he made Bramhins 'wreck.' But then the 'true message' was forgotten(or Bramhins believe so) therefore AdiGuruShankaracharya came to again turn the wheel of Dharma in motion in India.

While life is yours, live joyously;
None can escape Death's searching eye:
When once this frame of ours they burn,
How shall it e'er again return
Buddhism rejected Charvaka Philosophy:

{ John Wolfgang Von Goethe did say "All the great thoughts have already been thought, we have to just rediscover the." He also said:

Who never ate his bread in sorrow; never wept o wailed thinking for morrow, never burnt midnight oil; hasn't known ye, oh heavenly powers. God only knows what Goethe or Swedenborg or Leibniz referred to when they called 'heavenly powers' or 'God.' They were certainly not 'morons'. }

Charvaka's were similar to today's materialist atheists and Epicurean philosophy was also similar. But yet they were Dharmas and they loved Truth.


Buddhist philosophers reasoned that the Carvaka proposition, that inference could not be used as a form of evidence (Pramana), was absurd. If no arguments were given to prove this proposition, it would just be a bare assertion. Whereas, if some form of argumentation were given, it would result in absurdity, because inference was being used disprove its own efficacy as evidence. Besides, when existence of any object, be it the authority of inference, was denied on the ground of its not being perceived, inference was itself admitted in proposing such an argument, with middle term being the non-perception

If you read it, it's pretty evident that Charvaka or Atheists in India sprouted a philosophical crop which ate itself up. But just observe that the Philosophy of Buddhism which was a definite cure for 'rituals' and 'caste-system' of Bramhin Hindus, became the faith which rejected Charvakas as well, because the goal of setting wheel of Dharma in motion was achieved by Buddhism.

Image: Live with happiness till you have life, even if you have to borrow money, drink Ghee, Once this skeleton is destroyed, when does it come back?

Earliest description of Brihaspati
Brihaspati is sometimes referred to as the founder of Carvaka/Lokayata philosophy. The earliest direct quote from Brihaspati's lost writings is found in the text Sarvasiddhantasamgraha, which is controversially attributed to Shankara. In the Sarvasiddhantasamgraha, the author quotes Brihaspati as follows:
“ Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings; gifts of gold and land, the pleasure of invitations to dinner, are devised by indigent people with stomachs lean with hunger.
The building of temples, houses for water-supply, tanks, wells, resting places, and the like, please only travelers, not others.
The Agnihotra ritual, the three Vedas, the triple staff, the ash-smearing, are the ways of gaining a livelihood for those who are lacking in intellect and energy.
The wise should enjoy the pleasures of this world through the more appropriate available means of agriculture, tending cattle, trade, political administration, etc.

In famous American TV series Lost, Jeremy Bentham( a hedonist, dies.) John Locke(epistemology and liberalism) never dies--this is an aside associated with Hedonism.
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