Naturalism

Charvakas: Sweet-tongued Rebels

This is Part – II of Dr. Kamath’s series on Heretics, Rebels and Revolutionaries. Read Part – I here.

Around 600 B. C., when numerous heretical philosophies were budding in the turbulent post-Vedic period of India, someone by the name of Brihaspati wrote a classic atheistic philosophical treatise known as Barhaspatya Sutras. Later on his philosophy came to be labeled as Lokayata (“pertaining to the world”) or Charvaka (“Sweet-tongued”) philosophy. Westerners labeled this philosophy as “Materialism.” Because vested interests of theistic philosophies perceived this atheistic philosophy as too dangerous, they mercilessly ridiculed it, deliberately misinterpreted it, and freely caricatured it. In his classic treatise on ancient philosophies of India titled Sarva-Darshana-Samgraha, Madhavacharya (1268 -?) sarcastically referred to this philosophy as, “Crest-gem of Nastik schools.”

The most authoritative modern textbook on Carvaka philosophy, written by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya

The most authoritative modern textbook on Carvaka philosophy, written by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya

There is no philosophy in the world today about which there are so few original documents, and yet on which so many eminent people have commented so much. Thanks to the marvel of the Internet, if you just Google “Charvaka” numerous excellent articles on Charvaka philosophy will pop up, which give you a lot of factual information and divergent opinions on it. Therefore, there is absolutely no point in my writing another article summing up the materials from those articles. Instead, I decided to put some flesh and blood into the skeletal information available from the semi-original sources, and humanize this philosophy, and to give it a historical context. Thus, I have invented a conversation with a Charvaka philosopher of medieval times, say 14th century A. D., who has suddenly materialized in the twenty-first century. By means of this conversation, I hope to convey the true spirit of Charvaka philosophy to the reader.

Mr. Charvaka, what is the essence of your philosophy in life?

I have but one life to live; and therefore, if there is an object of the senses I can enjoy, or a pleasurable sensation I can experience, let me go for it today and not defer it till tomorrow, for I shall not pass this way again.

What is the basis of your Atheistic temperament?

We believe that all valid knowledge (Pramana) must be gained only by means of perception of our five senses (Pratyaksha). We do not accept knowledge gained by inference (Anumana), intuition or testimony. All these three are hotbeds of false knowledge. Therefore, we do not believe in supra-sensory stuffs such as Atman, Brahman, god, Karma, Dharma, heaven, hell, Papam (sin), Punyam (merit), Moksha, Nirvana and all other supra-sensory stuff Indian religions are made up of. Nor do we believe in various mindless rituals and practices such as Yajna, Pooja, Yoga, astrology, miracles, and the like, which were invented to gain or lose these non-existent supra-sensory entities.

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.

What aspects of Brahmanism do you agree with?

Well, first of all Brahmanism of ancient India was somewhat different from Brahmanism of today. Its goals were Kama (desire), Artha (wealth), Dharma (Law) and Samsara (transmigration of soul). Today’s Brahmanism is the result of incorporation of Upanishadism and Bhagavatism, both of which were clearly designed to overthrow Brahmanism. As a result, somewhat incongruously neo-Brahmanism claims that its newfangled goals are: Kama, Artha, Dharma and Moksha (liberation from Samsara and union with godhead). Therefore, neo-Brahmanism is a bundle of contradictory ideas and doctrines, for as we will discuss later, Kama and Artha will guarantee that one will not attain Moksha.

In principle, we are in agreement with Brahmanism as far as Kama and Artha are concerned. Like Brahmins and Kshatriyas of Vedic times, we believe in ceaseless pursuit of happiness. Life is for us to enjoy it to the fullest extent. The problem was that Brahmins claimed then, and they claim even today, that one could obtain wealth (Artha) and pleasure here on earth and heaven hereafter by means of Kama-driven Yajnas and rituals (BG: 2:43; 4:12; 9:20). There is absolutely no valid proof whatsoever to this claim. To us, this was a straightforward case of scam. When we accused them of fraud, they began to hate us.carvaka

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: 4:7-8) 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.

So you do not believe in the Gunas of Prakriti?

We Charvakas believe in the Theory of Naturalism -Svabhava- Vada. We believe that each object in nature has its own inherent quality. For example, fire is hot; water flows; air blows, etc. This is distinct from Brahmanism’s theory of the Gunas. Now, where is the proof that three Gunas of Prakriti exist in reality? This is nothing but a figment of imagination. There is no proof to the fact that certain groups of people share a specific Guna. If the doctrine of the Gunas were true, how come so many “lower class people” allegedly of Tamasic Guna are more “Sattvic” than many “high class” Brahmins of Sattvic Guna? If the Gunas determine the quality of all actions, how come so many “lower class” people perform such great and honorable deeds? To be candid about it, Brahmins even stole our Svabhava-vada idea to justify Guna-based class distinction (BG: 18: 41-44, 47). After declaring that the classes were divided as per unequal distribution of the Gunas and Karma (BG: 4:13), they declared that their deeds were based on their respective Svabhava!

Why do you reject Law of Karma?

Old Brahmanism claimed that one is born again in another body after one dies. They called this cycle of birth, death and rebirth Samsara. They claimed that one’s enjoyment or suffering in this life was determined by their deeds in their previous lives. Where is the proof for all this nonsense? We believe that the body is made up of four base elements: earth, fire, water and air, and consciousness arises from these elements no different than alcohol arising from a mixture of grain, hops and yeast. When we die consciousness also dies with it, and these elements go back to their original forms.

To profit from this concept of Samsara, Brahmins conceived a place out there in the sky, which they called heaven. They brainwashed people into believing that if they followed Brahmanic dictates faithfully and performed expensive and elaborate sacrifices to please gods, they would go to heaven after death. If they did not follow Brahmanic dictates, they would suffer dishonor here on earth and go to hell hereafter. This was a classic reward-punishment tactic to control people and profit from it. So the hoax of Law of Karma not only served the purpose of keeping the “lower classes” subjugated, but also was a source of income to Brahmins. Brahmanism primarily operated from inside this Samsara box.

Why do you reject Moksha?

The brief answer is this: Since there is no valid evidence (Pramana) to either Samsara or Moksha, we rejected them both. Now let me explain. Moksha was a Bhagavata concept, specifically conceived to overthrow Brahmanism. This is an example of creating one fraud to tackle another. Moksha (liberation) has basically two meanings. The first meaning is liberation from Samsara followed by one’s Atman merging with Parameshwara, residing in the Abode of Parameshwara (Supreme God) located somewhere out there in the sky. No one knows where this Abode is. This Abode was offered to replace heaven, the Abode of various Vedic gods. The difference between these two abodes is that, the ticket to heaven is two-way and the ticket to Abode of Parameshwara is one way (BG: 9:20-28).

The second meaning of Moksha is liberation from the evil of Brahmanism. Bhagavatas declared that Krishna was the Dharma himself (BG: 14:27); and by taking refuge in him, one could transcend the force of the Gunas (BG: 7:14); and by offering fruits of one’s deeds to him one could overcome the Law of Karma (BG: 9:28). Thus, by overcoming these two Brahmanic doctrines, one would conquer the three evils emanating from these doctrines: Shokam (grief), Dwandwam (mental agony) and Karmaphalam (Samsara). In fact, Bhagavatas repeatedly claimed that one could never attain Moksha by means of the Vedas, Yajnas, Tapas or Brahmanic rituals (BG: 11:48, 53). Yet, Brahmins fraudulently claimed that Vedic sacrifices led to Moksha (BG: 17: 25). Such is the duplicity of neo-Brahmanism.

What is your opinion of Yajna?

If one truly believed that he could send meat to gods in heaven by sacrificing animals in the fire, why can’t one jump into the fire so he could reach heaven immediately? Where is the proof that heaven exists? The truth is, it is by deluding people with the idea of appeasing supernatural beings with sacrificial rites and other senseless rituals that Brahmins make their living. They like to make their living by easy means. They know that they are hoodwinking naive people with their ever-scheming minds. They claim that the Vedas are sacred. What makes them so sacred? Ancient priests churned out these Vedas for purposes that are little understood and long gone. These priests hang on to every word in them not knowing their real intent or meaning. They have absolutely no relevance to current times, and they serve no useful purpose except to fill the stomach of Brahmins.

Why do Upanishadists condemn you?

Upanishadists’ main goal was to dismantle Brahmanism by developing a new set of doctrines. They came up with the doctrine of Brahman/Atman to replace the Brahmanic doctrine of the Gunas of Prakriti. They put forth the practice of Yoga to replace the ritual of Yajna (BG: 4: 33). The problem is that they too tackled one fraud by creating another. As you know, they created the “all-pervading” Brahman, which was beyond the perception of the senses (“not this, not this”) without realizing the long-term consequences of their creation. Then they said that a small portion of Brahman resides in one’s heart as Atman. If you cleave open the heart of man, you can’t find this Atman there. How can an entity exist and not be perceived by the senses? When questioned by doubters, their patent answer was, “Have Faith!”

It might surprise you to know that just as we agreed with Brahmanism’s goal of Kama and Artha, we agreed with Upanishadists’ goal to dismantle Brahmanism. However, that is where we parted ways with them. We do not believe in Atman as the “life force” which is the source of our consciousness or knowledge. We believe that consciousness arises from the chemical interaction between the four components that make up the body: earth, fire, wind and water. When the body dies consciousness also dies. Even the great Upanishadic sage Yajnavalkya admitted this in one of his moments of befuddlement (Brih. Up: 2:4:12):

Thus verily, O Maitreyi, does this Being, endless, unlimited, consisting of nothing but knowledge, rise from out of these elements, and vanish again in them. When he has departed, there is no more knowledge, I say, O Maitreyi!”

Besides, we reject Upanishadists’ claim that since enjoying sense objects is the womb of pain (BG: 5:22) one should quit enjoying sense objects. Just because one risks getting hurt does not mean he should refrain from enjoying life. Every action of ours comes with a pain-pleasure warning label. Just because you risk getting into an accident, you do not give up driving a car. Just because all medicines are potentially poisonous, you do not refrain from using them. Just because a chainsaw is potentially dangerous, you do not avoid using it. While pursuing pleasure one should be smart enough to avoid pain, or deal with it, if and when it appears. That is no reason to avoid enjoying life. Besides, pain is essential to stimulate growth of intellect.

Upanishadists are a bunch of hypocrites. I tell you why. When king Janaka tempted Yajnavalkya (Brih. Up: 4:1:1), “For what object did you come, wishing for cattle, or for subtle questions?” the greedy sage replied, “For both, Your Majesty!” This was the same man who told his wife Maitreyi (Brih. Up: 2:4:2), “But there is no hope of immortality by wealth.”

Because of our rejection of Atman/Brahman, they have condemned our philosophy as false knowledge created by Brihaspati to delude demons: Maitrayani Up: 7: 9:

Brihaspati, having become Sukra, brought forth that false knowledge for the safety of Indra and for the destruction of the Asuras. By it they show that good is evil and evil is good. They say that we ought to ponder on the new law, which upsets the Veda and other sacred books. Therefore, let no one ponder on that false knowledge. It is wrong. It is, as it were, barren. Its reward lasts only as long as the pleasure lasts, as with one who has fallen from his caste. Let that false science not be attempted.”

Now you tell me, which of the two is false knowledge? Upanishadists claim that Brahman/Atman, which is “not this, not this” because it is beyond the senses, is Real, and all material things we perceive by means of the five senses is Unreal, or just Maya (illusion). We say exactly the opposite. To the skeptics like us who question their claims they say, “You should have Faith in the testimony of great sages that they have intuitively attained Atman through Yoga; and one could infer validity of this claim by looking at their glowing faces.” Forgetting that the original purpose of creating Brahman/Atman and Yoga were simply to overthrow Brahmanic doctrines of the Gunas and Karma, these ignorant “sages” have made these doctrines an end in themselves. Now Yoga is a multibillion-rupee/dollar business in the world.

What beef do Bhagavatas have with you?

When Brihaspati in his Sutras spelled out Charvaka philosophy around 600 B. C., the word Nastik meant, “One who does not believe in the Vedic Dharma.” It did not mean, “One who does not believe in god.” The concept of god, as we know it today or even in the Bhagavata sect, was born much later. There was no great god for us not to believe in when Brihaspati wrote his Sutras. However, since we did not believe in the concept of supernatural, Bhagavatas branded us as Atheists, meaning those who do not believe in god. As you know, Bhagavatas came much later than the Upanishadists. Their only goal was to dismantle Brahmanism from top to bottom. However, being rabidly theistic, they demonized us atheists and condemned us to no end! Look what they had to say about us:

BG: 16: 7-11: The demoniac know not what to do and what to refrain from; neither purity nor right conduct nor truth is found in them. They say, “the universe is unreal, without a moral basis, without a God, born of mutual union, brought about by lust; what else?” Holding this view, these ruined souls of small intellect, of fierce deeds, rise as the enemies of the world for its destruction. Filled with insatiable desires (Kama), full of hypocrisy, pride and arrogance, holding evil ideas through delusion, they work with impure resolve. Beset with immense cares ending only with death, regarding gratification of lust as the highest, and feeling sure that that is all (there is to life).

As you know, Barhaspatya Sutras disappeared from circulation altogether. Either Charvakas were too busy in their pursuit of pleasure to save and promote their own treatise, or Brahmins destroyed them as too dangerous for the society. That is why all original information we have about Charvaka philosophy comes to us from condemning articles written by our sworn enemies. You can imagine how reliable they might be as evidenced by the above shlokas!

What is your view about means (Pramana) of gaining valid knowledge?

Well, we believe that knowledge gained only by direct perception (Pratyaksha) by means of five senses is true knowledge. You can say that we were probably one of the earliest scientists in India. We do not ordinarily believe in inference (Anumana), intuition or testimony. As we discussed before, this is exactly opposite of what Upanishadists believe in. We are not entirely opposed to inference. For example, if my bedroom were filled with smoke while I was asleep, I would immediately run for a safe exit to save my life inferring that my house was on fire. I would not be foolish enough to verify if there was actually a fire in the house. What we object to is inferring that there is a supernatural power or an object based on such claims as, “We performed a Yajna and it rained the next day. So god of rain obliged us.” Or, “Baba produced ashes by the wave of his hand.” In our view, people who fall for this kind of fraud are plain stupid.

How do you address the accusation that Charvakas are devoid of moral principles?

To the uninformed, the idea of enjoying life appears to be narcissistic and devoid of morals. This is not true. Just because there is no literature available of our philosophy does not mean we did not have morals in our philosophy. We do not believe in hurting anyone else in the pursuit of our happiness. However, we do not make a ‘great production’ of our morals, and use morality as a method of declaring our superiority over others. We do not believe in pronouncing Satyamaeva Jayate, Naanritham (Only Truth Will Prevail, Not Untruth), and indulge in deceptive practices with a straight face. With us, what you see is what you get. One does not need a religion or gods to be a good, moral and decent person.

We believe that enjoying life to the fullest extent does not necessitate one to be greedy or dishonest. In fact, when one is liberated from the shackles of fear of evil, and dependence on gods and rituals for fulfillment of one’s desires, one is free to enjoy life to the fullest extent. We believe that a man must work hard and honestly to earn his money and enjoy his life. Now let me ask you: How moral are holier-than-thou Brahmins who fleece innocent people of their life-savings by making false promises to them about gaining wealth here on earth and heaven hereafter? How moral are Brahmins who extort money from people in distress promising to ward off unknown evil by means of mindless rituals? We disapprove of the ways by which priests delude people to make their living. When we question this fundamental modus operandi of Brahmanism, they get bent out of shape because their very livelihood is threatened. No matter how you slice it, the ultimate purpose of religion and gods is just this: To fill one’s stomach.

Mr. Charvaka, you have given us core values of your philosophy. Thank you very much. Is there anything I can do for you?

Well, I am hungry! Is there a good steakhouse around here where I can have a couple of drinks and good steak dinner? By the way, may I borrow a couple of bucks from you?

I knew then that this was, indeed, a genuine Charvaka!

Continue the discussion on Dr. Kamath’s ‘A Manifesto For New Charvaka Movement’ posted on our forums here. Read Dr. Kamath’s series on The Truth About The Bhagavad Gita here.

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

About the author

Prabhakar Kamath

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About To Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

Links to all articles in Dr. Kamath's earlier series on Heretics, Rebels, Reformers and Revolutionaries can be found here. Dr. Kamath' series on The Truth About The Bhagavad Gita can be found here.

50 Comments

  • 1)

    They say, “the universe is unreal, without a moral basis, without a God, born of mutual union, brought about by lust; what else?”

    Dr K,
    What do the bolded portions mean?

    2) As a general comment, one’s got to thank historians for poring through ancient material to separate history from myth. Esp in Indian literature, right from the start, I cant distinguish between history and myth. for e.g, I cant make out where the mythical Indra came from here.

    “Brihaspati, having become Sukra, brought forth that false knowledge for the safety of Indra and for the destruction of the Asuras

    • @ astrokid: I did not notice your comment till just now. Here is my response:

      You said: They say, “the universe is unreal, without a moral basis, without a God, born of mutual union, brought about by lust; what else?” Dr K, What do the bolded portions mean?

      My answer: This shloka (16:8) attacks several Nastik creeds, especially Lokayatas. The word used for universe is “Jagat” meaning “that which moves.” It also means “world” referring to the state of affairs in the Aryan world. It could also mean heaven. The word used to describe its state was “Asatyam” which means untrue or false. Nastiks believed the state of affairs in the Aryan world as nothing short of falsehood. And they also believed that the concept of heaven was untrue. Lokayatas also believed that sexual desire was the cause of people’s birth, not transmigration of the soul as per the Law of Karma. This is stated in the phrase “aparaspara sambhutam” meaning, not created by succession (of births and rebirths). The phrase “aprathistham” (baseless)refers to Poorana Kashyapa’s Akriyavada, which says, “this world has no moral basis” meaning “there is no such thing as righteousness or unrighteousness.” We will read about this philosophy in my next article. In summary this shlokas basically refers to Nastiks as naysayers and negativistic people who do not believe in the establishment, moral basis, god, Law of Karma and everything Brahmanic world stood for.

      Your comment: 2) As a general comment, one’s got to thank historians for poring through ancient material to separate history from myth. Esp in Indian literature, right from the start, I cant distinguish between history and myth. for e.g, I cant make out where the mythical Indra came from here.

      “Brihaspati, having become Sukra, brought forth that false knowledge for the safety of Indra and for the destruction of the Asuras

      My response: Brahmins often attempted to neutralize opposition to their ideas by mythologizing their opponents and their ideas. Just as they turned Brihaspati, a historical figure, into Sukracharya, the mythical Guru of Asuras, they declared that the Buddha was born to mislead Nastiks to hell, as if hell was a real place somewhere out there in the universe. Having failed in this attempt, they declared him as the ninth avatar. Even here, the reason was that they knew that once a person has been made into an avatar, common people forget his real teachings and focus on ritual worship. We can see this even in the modern times. People who fight to erect statues of Gandhi in India and abroad are usually those who do not follow any of his teachings.

  • To me, much of Carvaka philosophy looks very similar to modern existentialism, described in its popular form as: “Life is absurd. But since we are here, we’d better make the best of it”.

    (I am a Swedish atheist, stranglly enough interested in Indian religion 😉 and have just come across all your interesting articles here)

  • It pretty much seems to me that the theists and atheists of ancient India disputed each others’ claims through debate and dialogue. The very fact that the so called unorthodox texts survived for so long is an indication of the tolerance of the Indian culture to multiple world views.

    Similar schools of thought existed in the Christian and Muslim world too. But we know what the consequences were. People were burnt at stakes or were beheaded or tortured in unthinkable ways.

    I think this quality of tolerance to multiple world views in our ancient culture needs to be remembered and more importantly preserved.

    By the way, even the mainstream Hindu philosophies do not ever claim complete knowledge of the universe. I think that humility needs to be prized.

    • Brahmanism has created a myth that it has always been a “tolerant” Dharma. There was enormous Buddhist and Charvaka literature, which was destroyed, or at least, not preserved. Upanishads were primarily anti-Brahmanic. Brahmanism swallowed it up and interpolated into it enormous amount of pro-Brahmanic stuff making it impossible for even scholars to decipher the true purport. Passive aggression is the mode of their operation. Since Brahmanism did not care to preserve history, we do not know whether they murdered people who dissented against them. They attempted to assassinate king Harshavardhana for supporting Buddhism. Look at today’s BJP, RSS and Shiv Sena. They got their intolerance for dissention from Brahmanism. Do you know of one Swami or Guru in India who condemns their extra-Constitutional antisocial behavior?

      • First, I’ll start with the easiest one. “They attempted to assassinate king Harshavardhana for supporting Buddhism.” I am not very sure of this but even then, so what? Brahmins were also employed as ministers, who weren’t your usual priests or scholars. Chanakya was a Brahman too. He too did pretty nasty things. Did you know that modern governments have dedicated organizations (CIA, RAW, just to name a few visible ones) to assassinate people, cause instability etc. Does that mean that our current political and more importantly academic setups are not tolerant in the general sense of the word? I don’t see the logic.

        There is no doubt that Hinduism was threatened by Buddhism. Obviously there was a power struggle. But ultimately, Hindu philosophies evolved to become more and more sophisticated. Do you see a similar intellectual evolution in the Abrhaimic religions?

        “Brahmanism” – what exactly do you mean by this word? Didn’t Europe, or Japan not have rigid social structures? Didn’t other major varnas benefit from the varna system? Didn’t the Kshatriyas, or Vysyas not have stake in keeping the Varna system alive? By the way, Varna system wasn’t as rigid as you make it out to be. Did you know that Adi Shankara’s first disciple was an untouchable? Untouchability was an evil of the society and it is being eradicated. Did the USA and Europe not practice slavery for centuries? Does that diminish the greatness of Newton or Leibniz of Voltaire or Benjamin Franklin?

        By the way, do we not have a similar “caste/class” system in the modern day India? Children of politicians become politicians. Children of industrialists become industrialists. It is also the same in “developed” countries too – USA, Britain. Just try to investigate the rich/poor class divide in the USA.

        The same Brahminical tradition that you curse also produced vast amounts of works in Mathematics, astronomy (not astrology), and other sciences. Look up Kerala school of Mathematics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_school_of_astronomy_and_mathematics
        They were centuries ahead of Newton, Gregory etc.

        There were both good and bad things about the Brahminical tradition. We must look at them as objectively as possible.

        • P,
          There were both good and bad things about the Brahminical tradition. We must look at them as objectively as possible.
          You are preaching to the choir here. At the same time, you are overglorifying the “achievements” of the Brahminical tradition.

          By the way, Varna system wasn’t as rigid as you make it out to be. Did you know that Adi Shankara’s first disciple was an untouchable? Untouchability was an evil of the society and it is being eradicated.
          Really? you want to gain some consolation from one (or few) seeming instance(s) of overcoming untouchability in the distant past? The massive amounts of in-your-face untouchability doesnt move you more than one single “.. WAS an evil it is being eradicated”. (“WAS”, not “is”?)

          By the way, even the mainstream Hindu philosophies do not ever claim complete knowledge of the universe. I think that humility needs to be prized.
          Humility? Hardly the thing I would associate with Hindu texts which claimed knowledge that they didnt have. They had minimal knowledge of the solar system, let alone the universe. They postulated all kinds of Lokas, which dont really exist.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_cosmology is just crap, with no methodology for justifying their claims.
          Humility is in understanding that thats the best they (or any other cultures of that time/development) could do with the techniques / methodologies available to them. In fact, hats off to the Greek Aristarchus of Samos who actually figured out quantitative measurements of relative distances/diameters to Sun/Moon etc. And also for theorizing the heliocentricity based on these quantitative measurements.

          The same Brahminical tradition that you curse also produced vast amounts of works in Mathematics, astronomy (not astrology), and other sciences. Look up Kerala school of Mathematics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_school_of_astronomy_and_mathematics
          They were centuries ahead of Newton, Gregory etc.

          Once again, you overstate the case, by contrasting with one of the greatest and scientists of all time, Newton. More interestingly, where does your notion of religion stop and notion of culture start? Are Engineering and Scientific accomplishments part of religion or culture? Will you claim even idli/sambar as part of Hinduism? These are muddy waters for sure. Here at Nirmukta, we are against religion, not culture per se.

          • “Really? you want to gain some consolation from one (or few) seeming instance(s) of overcoming untouchability in the distant past? …” – No. I am only interested in understanding the past and the present without any emotional attachments.

            Every society and civilization has had embarrassing features. Slavery was a common feature of almost all ancient, most medieval and some modern civilizations. Pyramids and our own wonder of the world, Taj Mahal, were constructed by slaves. And we know slavery is bad. So, does that imply that the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal are ugly? Does that mean that the architects of those wonders are evil? Does that mean that entire Egyptian civilization and the Mughal Empire were evil and that they achieved nothing?

            Are modern India and even developed countries like USA free from the oppression of the poor? Are they free of a class system? Don’t we see children of politicians becoming politicians, children of actors becoming actors, children of industrialists becoming industrialists in India as well as the west?

            “The massive amounts of in-your-face untouchability doesnt move you …” – The subject of the post and in fact most of this website is regarding the untouchability of the past. If some article discussed the current state of untouchability, my comment would have been totally different.

            “They had minimal knowledge of the solar system …” – You must be kidding me. Astronomy was important to all the ancient civilizations and hence they all developed it, quite possibly independently. Advanced astronomy can be found at least in the ancient Indian, Egyptian, Greek, South American civilizations. So, it is really naive of you to have said that. To be brief I’ll give only one example of the state of ancient India’s knowledge.

            The Hindu calendar makes highly accurate prediction of eclipses. I do not know how far into the future they can do it, but they do for at least one year. Now, to make such predictions, one needs Kepler’s laws in some form. The fact that ancient India (and other civs) could do this is testimony to their knowledge.

            “… with no methodology for justifying their claims.” – I would like to give the example of Ramanujam. He was a genius of the rarest kinds. But he did not do Maths as most Mathematicians. A quote from wikipedia: “Hardy was an atheist and an apostle of proof and mathematical rigour, whereas Ramanujan was a deeply religious man and relied very strongly on his intuition”. Ramanujam’s style is representative of ancient India’s methodology. Additionally, there was a major tradition to communicate the methodology orally and summarize the results in a short verse. Of course, we also find cases where proofs were given.

            “More interestingly, where does your notion of religion stop and notion of culture start?” – the author of the article uses the word Brahminism to mean culture and the social order that the Brahmins supposedly imposed on ancient India. So, in that sense, I was quite right in making that comment. Moreover, Hinduism as a religion is a modern construct.

          • So, it is really naive of you to have said that.

            It wasn’t naive of Astrokid to say that. Ancient civilizations did have minimal knowledge of the Solar system. You are conveniently conflating knowledge of ancient civilizations of a very tiny subset of objects in the Solar system with “advanced astronomy”, where you took care not to define what you mean by advanced. Is knowledge of a handful of celestial objects of the Solar system advanced? How about a hundred? A few thousand?

            I’m quite sure Astrokid is aware of state of ancient astronomy and the knowledge of ancient Indians. Nobody here will deny their accomplishments. So there is no need for you setup strawman arguments on his statement which is quite obvious in its intent, at least to us. If it wasn’t obvious to you, you could have asked for more clarification instead of stating the obvious and then making statements like “it is really naive of you to have said that”.

          • There is no evidence that the ancient civs had even optical telescopes (let alone radio and all the other kinds that we have today). Medieval Europe had optical telescopes. So, my use of the term “advanced astronomy” is not misplaced. I didn’t say “advanced knowledge”, that would have been a little difficult to justify.

            If you are setting the modern day science and technology as the standard, let me give you the example of the Iron Pillar (Asoka pillar) of Delhi. It is a marvel in the field of metallurgy which the modern technology cannot replicate.

            “So there is no need for you setup strawman arguments on his statement which is quite obvious in its intent, at least to us.” – Strange that you should say that because neither you nor astrokid seem to have understood my original statement: “… Hindu philosophies do not ever claim complete knowledge of the universe …”.

            Moreover, astrokid’s reply to my statement demonstrates a certain lack of understanding of what science is. It appears to me that he/she views science to be a body of knowledge, which is a very naive view.

          • So, my use of the term “advanced astronomy” is not misplaced. I didn’t say “advanced knowledge”, that would have been a little difficult to justify.

            Astrokid’s comment was clearly in light of what modern astronomy knows. Ancient Hindu’s knew so little in comparison, and yet talked about their knowledge as if it were the final word without even mentioning the possibility of them being wrong (which science does all the time, at the epistemic level), which flies in the face of your implication that Hindu philosophies are humble. When that was pointed out, you replied with how ancient civilizations knew a little astronomy, things which we all agree with. It is a classic case of using a diversionary tactic instead of addressing the actual point.

            And yet, you indulge in more such tactics with even more pointless statements like this –

            Strange that you should say that because neither you nor astrokid seem to have understood my original statement: “… Hindu philosophies do not ever claim complete knowledge of the universe …”.

            which was the result of you not understanding why your argument on ancient astronomy was a strawman argument.

            And even more:

            Moreover, astrokid’s reply to my statement demonstrates a certain lack of understanding of what science is.

            He wasn’t even talking about science. But you assumed something of your own and made up Astrokid’s mind for him –

            It appears to me that he/she views science to be a body of knowledge, which is a very naive view.

            in yet another strawman argument.

          • “Ancient Hindu’s knew so little in comparison, and yet talked about their knowledge as if it were the final word without even mentioning the possibility of them being wrong …” – First of all, if you read my original comment, I made the statement in the context of other religions – Islam and Christianity. Astrokid then converted into a Hinduism vs Science issue. So, in your words, Astrokid gave a strawman argument. But I tolerated it.

            Now, let us take the case of some modern scientists like Dawkins. He claims science has proved the non-existence of a god, which I suppose is also the position of Nirmukta. I believe science has neither proved nor can ever prove the existence or non-existence of a god. Then, how can you say that you or Dawkins are humble.

            Not all scientists and thinkers hold an opinion like that of Dawkins, hence I don’t blame the whole scientific community. Similarly, I am under no doubt that a significant number of Hindus weren’t as humble.

            “things which we all agree with” – There is no way I could have known that.

            “It is a classic case of using a diversionary tactic instead of addressing the actual point.” – see my other comment where I posed a question purely on morals and nothing to do with religion or history. I did not get a satisfactory reply to it yet.

            “He wasn’t even talking about science.” -It is quite obvious that he did talk about science. I’ll just quote his statement: “They had minimal knowledge of the solar system, let alone the universe. They postulated all kinds of Lokas, which dont really exist.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_cosmology is just crap, with no methodology for justifying their claims.” – what does minimal mean? Knowledge of the Sun, the Moon and some planets? He also talked about methodology. What is he talking about if not science?

          • Now, let us take the case of some modern scientists like Dawkins. He claims science has proved the non-existence of a god, which I suppose is also the position of Nirmukta.

            Thanks for displaying your utter ignorance of atheism.

            “things which we all agree with” – There is no way I could have known that.

            You could have, if you had paid attention to astrokid’s statement “You are preaching to the choir here.” But if you did, then you would have had no excuse for pontificating.

          • Admin,
            I had just composed a long response to the earlier mail, and the submit didnt work.. content just disappeared.. damn. Looks like some bug in the software, where if you are posting on a stale page (stale because somebody has made a new post), it doesnt go through?

            Note from Admin – For some reason, your comments got stuck in the spam queue. I’ve unstuck your earlier comment.

          • P,
            Your posts-so-far reek of arrogance, and underestimation of others. Not exactly the kind that attracts conversation. I will give it one last shot.

            I am pretty sure you will drag the discussion in all directions by constructing new strawmen.. as if some at nirmukta would claim “slavery existed in the past => that entire Egyptian civilization and the Mughal Empire were evil and that they achieved nothing”. So I will just focus on a couple of points.

            The author of the article uses the word Brahminism to mean culture and the social order that the Brahmins supposedly imposed on ancient India
            You are probably new to this site.. you might want to read up DrK’s series on the Gita.
            http://nirmukta.com/the-truth-about-the-bhagavad-gita-by-dr-prabhakar-kamath/
            where he explains the system of Brahmanism. Its a SUBSET of culture that we are against. Dont conflate that to entire culture.

            “They had minimal knowledge of the solar system …” – You must be kidding me. The Hindu calendar makes highly accurate prediction of eclipses
            Re: eclipses I know and I was impressed when I learnt about it. And I wanted to find out how they did it. When the Earth-Moon pair and the Sun are considered, you will note it doesnt matter whether earth goes around the sun or sun goes around the earth. i.e geocentricity or heliocentricity doesnt matter in the prediction of eclipses. Thereby your assertion that Kepler’s laws are needed isnt true. Do you disagree? Which specific Kepler’s law are you talking about? Do you want to work it out? Or maybe your books on “Vedic” Math/Astronomy have the details? I am calling you out for beating-your-chest about an ancient accomplishment that you seem to have no proper understanding yourself.
            I love knowledge, irrespective of where it originates/develops. How can we not give credit where credit is due? One of my favourites is Chandrasekhar.. who worked out the physics of white dwarfs (in 30s, IIRC).. and went against the establishment (Sir Arthur Eddington) in England, and got credit only many decades later. The world scientific community honours him by naming one of the Four Great Space Observatories after him (Chandra X ray observatory). What worries me is when religions/nationalists/”ancient-lovers-like-you” claim that its thanks to your religion / sanatana dharma. Like you do with Ramanujam.

          • “What worries me is when religions/nationalists/”ancient-lovers-like-you” claim that its thanks to your religion / sanatana dharma. Like you do with Ramanujam.” – It is unfortunate that the quote on Ramanujam mentions religion. I wanted to point out his dependence on intuition. It is possible that Ramanujam’s claims of divine hand in his intuition has psychological reasons.

            Now, let me tell you what worries me about rationalists. If you think rationally, it won’t take you long to conclude that life is meaningless, but yet each of us continues to live and we provide rationalizations to justify it. It is because humans at their core are irrational.

            I am questioning your very assumption that one can do everything in life rationally. Every system of thought starts with assumptions. Those assumptions are based on certain beliefs. This immediately, raises the question of how much belief to tolerate. I have no answer. Hence, I am morally not against religious beliefs, even though I am staunchly irreligious and agnostic.

            I am a supporter of spirituality, though. My interest in spirituality grew when I saw similarities between Science and spirituality. For example, a good scientist is not emotionally attached to a theory. He’ll ditch a theory he believed in all his life if he finds evidence to justify it. This sort of detachment is a common feature in spirituality. Of all the religions in the world, the ones from India offer the most scope for spirituality. Hence, my support for Hinduism.

            Finally, I believe, technological progress is not the same as emotional/psychological ‘progress’. I believe, the world in general, and India in particular has a false notion of progress. Hence my interest in the ancient and the medieval history as a means to realize that we haven’t progressed psychologically.

          • Now, let me tell you what worries me about rationalists. If you think rationally, it won’t take you long to conclude that life is meaningless, but yet each of us continues to live and we provide rationalizations to justify it. It is because humans at their core are irrational.

            Again, thanks for displaying your ignorance of rationalism. Emotions are very much a part of rationalism and they are reason enough to give meaning to life, which is still far better than finding meaning in unfalsifiable spiritual crap.

          • “they are reason enough to give meaning to life” – and that is?

            “which is still far better than finding meaning in unfalsifiable spiritual crap” – at least they don’t claim to be rational and are free to delude themselves. By the way, spirituality means abandoning all religions and authority. You are on your own.

          • Second comment:

            The only argument against “Brahminism” I have seen on this site is that it encouraged the caste system and untouchability. Hence, my questions regarding slavery and Egyptian civilization are highly relevant. I also asked if we don’t have a fairly rigid class system in modern India, Europe and USA. But I got no replies to these highly relevant questions.

            “… Brahmanism. Its a SUBSET of culture that we are against.” Let’s look at my original comment that spawned this argument.

            “The same Brahminical tradition that you curse also produced vast amounts of works in Mathematics, astronomy (not astrology), and other sciences. Look up Kerala school of Mathematics …”

            To which in your reply you said this: “More interestingly, where does your notion of religion stop and notion of culture start?” So,
            you have been moving the goal posts or giving strawman arguments. Anyway, The intellectual output of a civ is mainly determined by it’s social order and institutions, which is part of the culture you are opposed to. Therefore, this was another of your strawman arguments.

            “geocentricity or heliocentricity doesnt matter in the prediction of eclipses. Thereby your assertion that Kepler’s laws are needed isnt true. Do you disagree?” No. I would assume that it is tougher to calculate the trajectory of the moon in a geocentric model because of the difference in the sidereal and synodic months (see http://www.sumanasinc.com/webcontent/animations/content/sidereal.html for a nice animation).

            “Which specific Kepler’s law are you talking about? Do you want to work it out? Or maybe your books on “Vedic” Math/Astronomy have the details?” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler%27s_laws_of_planetary_motion

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliocentrism#Ancient_India has some references. I hope it helps. If you wish we could try to work it out too, but that will require some patience. In any case, you can buy a panchangam (Hindu calendar). It is like a book that is released every year and has predictions of the eclipses and such things (apart from astrological stuff) for the next one year.

          • “…I want to know your opinion on something”

            You initiated your comments here with the stated goal of seeking an opinion, and have made it clear that you are not in the least interested in anything other than stating your own opinions, with your very next statement.

            “I mean, one can enjoy and make the best of his absurd life but why create more children and minds and cause suffering to them? Is there a rational answer to this question?”

            Its obvious right here what your actual intentions are. You are only intent on demonstrating to the self-proclaimed rationalists that we are all irrational about something or the other. Well, congratulations.

            Maybe we could have initiated our discussion with a working definition of what we mean by rationalism. It seems relevant, somehow. http://nirmukta.com/2010/01/01/in-defence-of-rationalism/

            Or maybe we could have just rested under the reasonable premise that the term is short-hand for applying a minimal amount of skepticism and logic when dealing with claims about objective reality, only to facilitate a small part of a greater agenda which is not without its moral premises.
            http://nirmukta.com/2010/01/29/a-rationalists-dilemma-thoughts-on-the-future-of-the-rationalism-movement/
            http://nirmukta.com/2009/12/07/indian-rationalist-movement-the-challenges-ahead/
            http://nirmukta.com/2010/07/25/organizing-the-rationalist-movement-uttar-pradesh-media-coverage/
            http://nirmukta.com/2009/08/25/swine-flu-campaign-by-the-indian-rationalist-organizations/
            http://nirmukta.com/2009/11/15/challenges-issued-from-rationalists-to-those-claiming-supernatural-powers-in-nepal/
            etc etc.

            But we haven’t talked about those things.
            Instead, we hear from you pathetic excuses for defending a superstitious system that has caused much suffering of our people.
            “The only argument against “Brahminism” I have seen on this site is that it encouraged the caste system and untouchability. Hence, my questions regarding slavery and Egyptian civilization are highly relevant. I also asked if we don’t have a fairly rigid class system in modern India, Europe and USA. But I got no replies to these highly relevant questions. “
            Here’s your answer. Your defense of the barbarism of Brahmanism is the most common form of argument that you see from bigots. Instead of addressing the superstitions and authoritarian behaviors that are the topics under criticism, you throw down red herrings and defend those who perpetuate such atrocities. Your pathetic misdirection doesn’t deserve a reasoned response, but I will treat it like you treat a child’s misunderstanding and answer so that you get the point. There are plenty of people who have spent their entire lilves criticizing the atrocities committed on other peoples of the world, and we at Nirmukta are not averse to criticizing other cultures. But we have a specific purpose here, because we ARE INDIANS. You do not spray mosquito repellent in Italy to kill the mosquitoes in Mumbai. It is the damn mosquitoes in Mumbai that are biting us, and we are the ones to protect ourselves from them. The Hindu scriptures that perpetuate untold suffering on the “lower” castes and women are still upheld as divine by the majority of Indians. If you want to criticize slavery, then go ahead. No one is stopping you. I’m sure you are not one of those affected by the Mumbai mosquitoes. But if you’re here disuading us from doing what we think is right, then my answer to you is this.
            Fuck Off.

      • “Look at today’s BJP, RSS and Shiv Sena. They got their intolerance for dissention from Brahmanism”. BJP, RSS and Shiv Sena are reactionaries. I feel they are doing more harm than good.

        But there are some bitter realities that form the basis of their ill-thought out actions. Britain and now USA play a really long term game of destabilizing countries. Sometimes it works, some times it doesn’t. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Eurpoe, Eastern Eurpoe, West Asia, South America, now North Africa is a small list of their interventions. They have destabilized through various means.

        I hope you do not want to see North Korea/South Korea or North Vietnam/South Vietnam or Sudan or Rwanda or Eat Timor or Balkanization or Pakistanization repeated in India.

        So, as I said, BJP’s and RSS’s actions are reactionary and harmful to India. But they have some basis in the ground reality in India.

        Do not forget that religion is still a secret weapon of the West and that is not going to change any time soon, despite Dawkins and your efforts.

    • I dont understand where you are trying to take this. The main theme of your posts are to contrast Hinduism against Abrahamic Religions, as well as positing Hindutva Nationalism as a response to perceived western policies. As if by itself Hinduism is all well and good.
      Here at Nirmukta, we are against all religions, esp forcing themselves in the public square.

      I think this quality of tolerance to multiple world views in our ancient culture needs to be remembered and more importantly preserved.
      No thanks. If a worldview is crap, we freethinkers want to expose the crap and keep it where it doesnt cause harm. And the 2000+yr old religious worldview is the biggest crap there is. So you will find no sympathy here.

  • Mr. Kamath, my philosophy is mostly existentialism and nihilism. I have also been influenced to some extent by some ideas in Hindu philosophy. Since you have written an article on morals on this blog, I want to know your opinion on something.

    I am quoting Nilsson from one of the comments: “Life is absurd. But since we are here, we’d better make the best of it”. Under this world view, how is it moral to have children? I mean, one can enjoy and make the best of his absurd life but why create more children and minds and cause suffering to them? Is there a rational answer to this question?

    • Moral/ethical codes basically prevent a person from violating others’ rights while pursuing his pleasures. Having sex is pursuing pleasure. Having children that one could not properly feed, educate and teach ethics to is, in my personal opinion, immoral. For in the absence of such capacity, one is condemning these children to a life of poverty and crime, and thus destruction of others’ lives. If a person believes that life is absurd, he has no right to make others’ lives miserable. In India, however, most people have children due to social pressure. If one does not have a child within a year, rumors start flying. So, there is a certain amount of mindlessness and immorality in these people having children, for the rational basis for having children goes on the back-burner.

      • “So, there is a certain amount of mindlessness and immorality in these people having children, for the rational basis for having children goes on the back-burner.” – They don’t claim to be rational, so there is a certain amount of consistency in their actions.

        But I was talking about a larger issue. Every person ever born on this planet has gone through suffering (specifically I mean psychological or emotional suffering). That is why people have been in the quest for truth or meaning since ancient times.

        So, my question was – is there a rational basis for anyone to produce children? Let me elaborate by asking you another similar question. Suppose you buy a car but it turns out to be an absolute piece of shit. Also, suppose that the car manufacturer has an offer that if it’s current customers bring in new customers they’ll be paid 50 Lakh Rupees. Would you recommend the car to a friend of yours?

        • P: But I was talking about a larger issue. Every person ever born on this planet has gone through suffering (specifically I mean psychological or emotional suffering). That is why people have been in the quest for truth or meaning since ancient times.

          KPS: The some ancient Upanishadists, Jains, Buddhists and Ascetics became celibates because their world view was that there is nothing but misery in this world (Age of Disillusionment), and so there is not point in perpetuating it by having children. In fact, when the Buddha said “the world” he meant “miserable world.”

          P: So, my question was – is there a rational basis for anyone to produce children?

          KPS: To have children is one of the most basic evolutionary impulses so that one’s genes could be passed on to the generations to come. One lives forever in the future generations’ genes. Is there a rational basis for one to have children besides the evolutionary? Yes. Not all people are miserable in this world in spite of all the miseries one goes through in life. People manage to find happiness in the midst of misery. One of the most pleasurable experiences in life is raising children. Even though my children have grown up and left home, I cannot resist holding a child in my hands, or playing with it. This gives me indescribable happiness. Once from the gallery of my hotel room in Bijapur I was delighted to see a Dalit family having a riot of laughter and mirth with their two small naked children on the 3 foot wide veranda outside their 8X8 dwelling. Their children gave them hope to go on living even though their lot in life was nothing but misery, thanks to Brahmanism. Besides, man wants to pass on to his children the wealth he has accumulated over his lifetime. It makes him happy to give to his children the product of his life’s toil. Children are a major source of happiness for most people.

          P. Let me elaborate by asking you another similar question. Suppose you buy a car but it turns out to be an absolute piece of shit. Also, suppose that the car manufacturer has an offer that if it’s current customers bring in new customers they’ll be paid 50 Lakh Rupees. Would you recommend the car to a friend of yours?

          KPS: First of all, I would ask the manufacturer to repair the car to my satisfaction. (I would try to find pleasure in my life by indulging in morally sound activities). If he fails to do so, I would take my car to a mechanic and try to find out what is wrong with this p.o.s. (If I am not able to find happiness in this life at all, I would see a psychiatrist and try to find out why I am incapable of finding any happiness). If get no satisfactory resolution from these steps, and the car is still a piece of shit, I will get rid of the car (If I can’t do anything at all about the misery, and there is no happiness in my life at all, I would end my life. The best methods is carbon monoxide).

          In this world today, only a small minority of people finds life a p.o.s. The majority is able to enjoy day to day life. They cope with death, breakup and other losses and move on. It is up to man to carve happiness for himself in this potentially miserable world. One can find little pleasures even in seemingly mundane things, if only one is not totally blinded by blackened eyeglasses. The important thing to remember is that no one is trapped. Suicide is definitely an option. Jain Munis routinely starved themselves to death.

          • Sorry for persisting. I know about Jains and Buddhists and others’ beliefs. I was more interested in your position.

            You did not actually answer my car question. You have told me all about how you’ll try to enjoy the car but not if you would bring in a new customer. I used the bad car as an analogy to life, an existing customer to a potential parent and a new customer to a child produced by the parent.

            “p.o.s” – I don’t understand this abbreviation.

            “Not all people are miserable in this world in spite of all the miseries one goes through in life” – Is that really so? Children have to compete from the moment they are born. They are under tremendous pressure in the schools because of college admissions. And there is tremendous pressure in colleges for jobs. Have you seen the quality of life in major cities like Mumbai or Bangalore? Millions of people live in slums (by the way, people of all castes and religions), travel by local trains squeezed like dead fish. Most people in urban India work for over 12 hours on a regular basis. Isn’t stress a major issue for everyone? How is life not miserable? People just become numb to it after a while, but that is not the same as enjoying life.

            “One of the most pleasurable experiences in life is raising children” – That is true, but it also seems very selfish of the parents creating a life from ‘shunyataa’ that goes through suffering. Yes, the children do eventually find joys in things, but in my opinion that does not matter. For example, is it ethical to beat up somebody on the promise that they’ll be given a year’s supply of chocolate (and of course without giving a chance to the person being beaten to make his own choice)?

            “To have children is one of the most basic evolutionary impulses … ” But isn’t hurting others also an evolutionary impulse – we all have hurt others as children. But then we use reason to curb our impulses. So, why make an exception to producing children?

            “I would ask the manufacturer to repair the car to my satisfaction” – Isn’t that equivalent to asking the ‘Universe’ favors to improve the quality of your life? Or, in other words, isn’t it equivalent to praying to the Universe (or an abstract God)?

  • The above article is indeed interesting. Especially the mention made in the comment that Brihaspati was changed to Shukracharya. While reading about similar things related to Chandragupta Maurya and debates on him I came to a conclusion that nothing can be talked about or useful comments posted unless a proper study for years is done on the subject. We can see how the discussion has shifted to RSS, Shiv Sena, etc. I have heard from some people that there were some good points written in ‘Manusmriti’. There is no way of knowing unless I read it. I believe we should really read the Charvaka philosophy before passing a judgement, be it good or bad on it. The problem here is in India everyone considers himself an expert. If you really start going into research you will find it might take years to prove one of your statements. But we just fling our words without putting proper effort in it.

  • a brilliant piece of enlightenment on a philosophy much hidden and much more misunderstood. thank you mr. kamath

  • We believe that all valid knowledge (Pramana) must be gained only by means of perception of our five senses (Pratyaksha). We do not accept knowledge gained by inference (Anumana), intuition or testimony. All these three are hotbeds of false knowledge……………………………………..

    See MR. Charvak is himself is using inference extensively in this article, he is contradicting himself…Mr charvak are you aware of the arguments made by jainas,baudhas and advaitins vis a vis rejection of inference as valid source of knowledge??…i will put up just one of them ”the position that perception is the only valid source of knowledge is also an inference”’…hence you are lying,

    • No, Mr. Charvaka is not lying. You simply don’t read carefully. Mr. Charvaka clearly said inference is not invariably discarded, on the contrary he gave an instance in which inference is valid. He only says what common sense suggests: inference should be carefully pondered according to the case and put on balance with facts. Mr. Charvaka do not accept inference when it is ludicrously used to explain the whole world according to someone’s interests.

      So Mr. Charvaka does not lie; on the other hand, to incompletely quote someone in order to refute his ideas is a way of lying.

      • You contradicting(Brih. Up: 4:1:1)with(Brih. Up: 2:4:2) by saying the same sage said two totally different things !!!
        I think you Missed the UPANISHADIC FLIGHT from this to that !!!

        1>Brih. Up: 4:1:1 here Yajvalakya desires for Wealth.
        2> (Brih. Up: 2:4:2) here he knows wealth is not permanent…

        This means UPANISHADIC SEERS WERE OF COURSE MATERIALISTIC BUT NOT GREEDY..
        They OF COURSE LOVE People but they were not JEALOUS….

        You May need Another life to understand Upanishad !!!!

  • Practically when observed any BUSINESS MAN uses this Philosaphy as this is the only means of his survival. But its only with his business or else evry one are the true believers of so said god of their own. VISHNAVA COMMUNITIES mostly fall into this catogory.

  • I am an out and out Atheist but follower of Buddha. I am against Sense pleasures because I don’t believe that it can give us lasting happiness. I dont indulge in rites or rituals or even praying.

    I have no problems with materialists like Carvakas I hope that Carvakas would have no problems with people like us?.

  • The Buddhist doctrine of Karma and Rebirth differs from the Brahmanic doctrine of Karma and Rebirth.

    The Buddhist notion is that we are not slaves of the past. The Buddhist position is that what you were in the previous life is of no use. What you are doing in the present moment will determine your future life. So more importance is given to the present moment of life and the present life.

    Also Suffering is a very relative term. For someone not being able to get a ticket to a movie could be the cause of despair/suffering while for someone else death of a loved one also could not be a reason for grief.

    So enjoyment is a very relative term. For someone eating Popcorn/ice-cream at this moment could be a matter of enjoyment while for someone else being with a nice person could be a moment of enjoyment.

    The Buddhist notion of Karma (what we do – we get) in fact is the only equitable form of moral justice present.

    Rationalists and Atheists believe all good fortune and bad occurrence/accidents as a chance occurrence or coincidence and there is no reason behind it. This position the Buddhists reject.

    • **The Buddhist doctrine of Karma and Rebirth differs from the Brahmanic doctrine of Karma and Rebirth.**

      One has to be delusional to believe in either version of karma and rebirth because there is no evidence for either versions.

  • What ever written here seems good for studying like a novel or article but difficult in usage. Every author /writer sees in this perception for any incident. It may or may not be correct in general but the author firmly believes in it and tries to proof his belief (even though they are wrong).

    In vedic times, the brahmin are most revered personalities but during 8th,9th centuries, the Brahman caste was developed. ACtually, the Brahmin is not related to birth. I.e who sees the brahmam (owns knowledge) is brahmin.

    Regarding in your second point (article), you have mentioned that there is earth, water, fire, ai

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