* CHARVAKA * ĀJīVIKA * BUDDHISM * JAINISM
* Vaishnava * Smarta * Shakta
TEACHERS (Acharyas )
ACHINTYA BHEDA ABHEDA
* Tantra * Shakta
* Kanada , Prashastapada
* Sruti * Smriti
* Bhagavat Gita * Agama (Hinduism)
------------------------- SHASTRAS AND SUTRAS
* Pramana Sutras
* v * t * e
Part of a series on
* Concepts * History
* Implicit and explicit * Negative and positive
* Christian * Hindu ( Adevism ) * Buddhist * Jewish * Muslim
Arguments for atheism Against God\'s existence
* Atheist\'s Wager
Evil God Challenge
Fate of the unlearned
* Free will
God of the gaps
* Hitchens\'s razor
* Incompatible properties
* Inconsistent revelation
* Humanistic * Metaphysical * Methodological * Religious
* v * t * e
Ajita Kesakambali is credited as the forerunner of the Charvakas,
while Brihaspati is usually referred to as the founder of
Lokāyata philosophy. Much of the primary literature of Charvaka, the
Barhaspatya sutras (ca. 600 BCE), are missing or lost. Its teachings
have been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those
found in the shastras , sutras , and the
Indian epic poetry as well as
in the dialogues of
One of the widely studied principles of Charvaka philosophy was its rejection of inference as a means to establish valid, universal knowledge, and metaphysical truths. In other words, the Charvaka epistemology states that whenever one infers a truth from a set of observations or truths, one must acknowledge doubt; inferred knowledge is conditional.
* 1 Etymology and meaning
* 1.1 As Lokayata
* 2 Origin
* 3 Philosophy
* 4 Works
* 4.1 Loss of original works * 4.2 Controversy on reliability of sources
* 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 Bibliography * 8 External links
ETYMOLOGY AND MEANING
The etymology of Charvaka (Sanskrit: चार्वाक) is uncertain. Some believe it to mean "agreeable speech" or pejoratively, "sweet-tongued" (from Sanskrit's cāru "agreeable" and vāk "speech"). Others contend that it derives from the root charv meaning to eat possibly alluding to the philosophy's hedonistic precepts of "eat, drink, and be merry". Yet another theory believes it to be eponymous in origin, with the founder of the school being Charvaka, a disciple of Brihaspati.
Bhattacharya notes that the word Charvaka is of irregular construction, as cara as an adjective means "agreeable, pleasant", but as a noun is another name of Brihaspati, and both derivations are plausible.
According to Chattopadhyaya , the traditional name of Charvaka is Lokayata. It was called Lokayata because it was prevalent (ayatah) among the people (lokesu), and meant the world-outlook of the people. The dictionary meaning of Lokāyata (लोकायत) signifies "directed towards, aiming at the world, worldly".
In early to mid 20th century literature, the etymology of Lokayata
has been given different interpretations, in part because the primary
sources are unavailable, and the meaning has been deduced from
divergent secondary literature. The name Lokāyata, for example, is
In 8th century CE Jaina literature, Saddarsanasamuccaya by Haribhadra, Lokayata is stated to be the Hindu school where there is "no God, no samsara (rebirth), no karma, no duty, no fruits of merit, no sin."
The Buddhist Sanskrit work Divyavadana (ca. 200–350 CE) mentions Lokayata, where it is listed among subjects of study, and with the sense of "technical logical science". Shantarakshita and Adi Shankara use the word lokayata to mean materialism, with the latter using the term Lokāyata, not Charvaka. The terms Lokayata and Brhaspatya have been used interchangeably for the Charvaka philosophy of materialism.
The tenets of the
Charvaka atheistic doctrines can be traced to the
relatively later composed layers of the
Substantial discussions about the
Charvaka doctrines are only found
in texts after 600 BCE. Bhattacharya posits that
Charvaka may have
been one of several atheistic, materialist schools that existed in
ancient India. Though there is evidence of its development in Vedic
Charvaka emerged as an alternative to the Āstika schools as
well as a philosophical predecessor to subsequent or contemporaneous
philosophies such as
The earliest documented Charvaka scholar in India is Ajita Kesakambali . Although materialist schools existed before Charvaka, it was the only school which systematised materialist philosophy by setting them down in the form of aphorisms in the 6th century BC. There was a base text, a collection sūtras or aphorisms and several commentaries were written to explicate the aphorisms.
E. W. Hopkins , in his The Ethics of India (1924) claims that
Charvaka philosophy was contemporaneous to
O, the highly wise! Arrive at a conclusion, therefore, that there is nothing beyond this Universe. Give precedence to that which meets the eye and turn your back on what is beyond our knowledge. (2.108.17)
There are alternate theories behind the origins of Charvaka.
Bṛhaspati is sometimes referred to as the founder of
Lokāyata philosophy. Billington states that a philosopher named
Charvaka lived in or about the 6th century BC, who developed the
premises of this
Indian philosophy in the form of Brhaspati
The Charvaka school of philosophy had a variety of atheistic and materialistic beliefs. They held perception to be the valid and reliable source of knowledge.
The Charvaka epistemology holds perception as the primary and proper source of knowledge, while inference is held as prone to being either right or wrong and therefore conditional or invalid. Perceptions are of two types, for Charvaka, external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind. Inference is described as deriving a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths. To Charvakas, inference is useful but prone to error, as inferred truths can never be without doubt. Inference is good and helpful, it is the validity of inference that is suspect – sometimes in certain cases and often in others. To the Charvakas there were no reliable means by which the efficacy of inference as a means of knowledge could be established.
Charvaka's epistemological argument can be explained with the example of fire and smoke. Kamal states, that when there is smoke (middle term ), one's tendency may be to leap to the conclusion that it must be caused by fire (major term in logic). While this is often true, it need not be universally true, everywhere or all the times, stated the Charvaka scholars. Smoke can have other causes. In Charvaka epistemology, as long as the relation between two phenomena, or observation and truth, has not been proven as unconditional, it is an uncertain truth. Such methods of reasoning, that is jumping to conclusions or inference, is prone to flaw in this Indian philosophy. Charvakas further state that full knowledge is reached when we know all observations, all premises and all conditions. But the absence of conditions, state Charvakas, can not be established beyond doubt by perception, as some conditions may be hidden or escape our ability to observe. They acknowledge that every person relies on inference in daily life, but to them if we act uncritically, we err. While our inferences sometimes are true and lead to successful action, it is also a fact that sometimes inference is wrong and leads to error. Truth then, state Charvaka, is not an unfailing character of inference, truth is merely an accident of inference, and one that is separable. We must be skeptics, question what we know by inference, question our epistemology.
This epistemological proposition of Charvakas was influential among
various schools of in Indian philosophies, by demonstrating a new way
of thinking and re-evaluation of past doctrines. Hindu, Buddhist and
Jain scholars extensively deployed
Charvaka insights on inference in
rational re-examination of their own theories. Comparison with
other schools of
Charvaka epistemology represents minimalist pramāṇas
(epistemological methods) in Hindu philosophy. The other schools of
Since none of the means of knowing were found to be worthy to establish the invariable connection between middle term and predicate, Charvakas concluded that the inference could not be used to ascertain metaphysical truths. Thus, to Charvakas, the step which the mind takes from the knowledge of something to infer the knowledge of something else could be accounted for by its being based on a former perception or by its being in error. Cases where inference was justified by the result were seen only to be mere coincidences.
Therefore, Charvakas denied metaphysical concepts like reincarnation , an extracorporeal soul, the efficacy of religious rites , other worlds (heaven and hell), fate and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions. Charvakas also rejected the use of supernatural causes to describe natural phenomena. To them all natural phenomena was produced spontaneously from the inherent nature of things.
The fire is hot, the water cold, refreshing cool the breeze of morn; By whom came this variety ? from their own nature was it born.
CONSCIOUSNESS AND AFTERLIFE
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Charvaka school of
There is no other world other than this;
There is no heaven and no hell;
The realm of
Part of a series on
Schools of hedonism
* v * t * e
Charvaka believed that there was nothing wrong with sensual pleasure. Since it is impossible to have pleasure without pain, Charvaka thought that wisdom lay in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain as far as possible. Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, Charvaka did not believe in austerities or rejecting pleasure out of fear of pain and held such reasoning to be foolish.
The Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha states the Charvaka position on pleasure and hedonism as follows,
The enjoyment of heaven lies in eating delicious food, keeping company of young women, using fine clothes, perfumes, garlands, sandal paste... while moksha is death which is cessation of life-breath... the wise therefore ought not to take pains on account of moksha.
A fool wears himself out by penances and fasts. Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings. — Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verses 9-12
Charvakas rejected many of the standard religious conceptions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, such as afterlife , reincarnation , samsara , karma and religious rites . They were critical of the Vedas , as well as Buddhist scriptures.
The Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha with commentaries by Madhavacharya
describes the Charvakas as critical of Vedas, materialists without
morals and ethics. To Charvakas, the text states, the
Charvakas, according to Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha verses 10 and 11,
Charvakas rejected the need for ethics or morals, and suggested that "while life remains, let a man live happily, let him feed on ghee even though he runs in debt".
The Jain scholar Haribhadra, in the last section of his text Saddarsanasamuccaya, includes Charvaka in six darśanas of Indian traditions, along with Buddhism, Nyaya-Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Jainism and Jaiminiya. Haribhadra notes that Charvakas assert that there is nothing beyond the senses, consciousness is an emergent property, and that it is foolish to seek what cannot be seen.
The accuracy of these views, attributed to Charvakas, has been contested by scholars.
No independent works on Charvaka philosophy can be found except for a few sūtras composed by Brihaspati. The 8th century Tattvopaplavasimha of Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa with Madhyamaka influence is a significant source of Charvaka philosophy. Shatdarshan Samuchay and Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha of Vidyaranya are a few other works which elucidate Charvaka thought.
In the epic
One of the widely studied references to the
Charvaka philosophy is
the Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha (etymologically
all-philosophy-collection), a famous work of 14th century Advaita
“ ...but how can we attribute to the Divine Being the giving of supreme felicity, when such a notion has been utterly abolished by Charvaka, the crest-gem of the atheistic school, the follower of the doctrine of Brihaspati? The efforts of Charvaka are indeed hard to be eradicated, for the majority of living beings hold by the current refrain: 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? ”
Ain-i-Akbari , a record of the Mughal Emperor
Sanskrit poems and plays like the Naiṣadha-carita, Prabodha-candrodaya, Āgama-dambara , Vidvanmoda-taraṅgiṇī and Kādambarī contain representations of the Charvaka thought. However, the authors of these works were thoroughly opposed to materialism and tried to portray the Charvaka in unfavourable light. Therefore, their works should only be accepted critically.
LOSS OF ORIGINAL WORKS
Main article: Barhaspatya sutras
There was no continuity in the Charvaka tradition after the 12th century. Whatever is written on Charvaka post this is based on second-hand knowledge, learned from preceptors to disciples and no independent works on Charvaka philosophy can be found. Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Charvaka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of its ideas by other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:
"Though materialism in some form or other has always been present in India, and occasional references are found in the Vedas, the Buddhistic literature, the Epics, as well as in the later philosophical works we do not find any systematic work on materialism, nor any organised school of followers as the other philosophical schools possess. But almost every work of the other schools states, for refutation, the materialistic views. Our knowledge of Indian materialism is chiefly based on these."
CONTROVERSY ON RELIABILITY OF SOURCES
Bhattacharya states that the claims against
Charvaka of hedonism ,
lack of any morality and ethics and disregard for spirituality is from
texts of competing religious philosophies (Buddhism,
The Skhalitapramathana Yuktihetusiddhi by Āryadevapāda, in a manuscript found in Tibet, discusses the Charvaka philosophy, but attributes a theistic claim to Charvakas - that happiness in this life, and the only life, can be attained by worshiping gods and defeating demons. Toso posits that as Charvaka philosophy's views spread and were widely discussed, non-Charvakas such as Āryadevapāda added certain points of view that may not be of the Charvakas'.
Buddhists, Jains , Advaita Vedantins and Nyāya philosophers considered the Charvakas as one of their opponents and tried to refute their views. These refutations are indirect sources of Charvaka philosophy. The arguments and reasoning approach Charvakas deployed were significant that they continued to be referred to, even after all the authentic Charvaka/Lokāyata texts had been lost. However, the representation of the Charvaka thought in these works is not always firmly grounded in first-hand knowledge of Charvaka texts and should be viewed critically.
Likewise, states Bhattacharya, the charge of hedonism against Charvaka might have been exaggerated. Countering the argument that the Charvakas opposed all that was good in the Vedic tradition, Dale Riepe states, "It may be said from the available material that Cārvākas hold truth, integrity, consistency, and freedom of thought in the highest esteem."
* ^ KN Tiwari (1998), Classical Indian Ethical Thought, Motilal
Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120816077 , page 67;
Roy W Perrett (1984), The problem of induction in Indian philosophy,
Philosophy East and West, 34(2): 161-174;
(Bhattacharya 2011 , pp. 21–32);
(Radhakrishnan 1957 , pp. 187, 227–234);
Robert Flint, Anti-theistic theories, p. 463, at
* ^ R Thomas (2014), Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin,
Dharma, and Design. Sociology of Religion, Vol. 75, No. 1, pages
164-165, QUOTE: "some of the ancient Hindu traditions like Charvaka
have a rich tradition of materialism, in general, other schools..."
V.V. Raman (2012),
* ^ Bill Cooke (2005), Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism, and
Humanism, ISBN 978-1591022992 , page 84;
For a general discussion of
Charvaka and other atheistic traditions
within Hindu philosophy, see Jessica Frazier (2014), "Hinduism" in The
Oxford Handbook of
* ^ A B C
* Eliott Deutsche (2000), in Philosophy of Religion : Indian Philosophy Vol 4 (Editor: Roy Perrett), Routledge, ISBN 978-0815336112 , pages 245-248; * John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791430675 , page 238
Gavin Flood , An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge
University Press, ISBN 978-0521438780 , page 225
* ^ Cowell and Gough, p. 9.
* ^ A B Cowell and Gough. p. 10
* ^ A B Ray Billington (1997), Understanding Eastern Philosophy,
Routledge, ISBN 978-0415129640 , page 44
* ^ A B Ray Billington (1997), Understanding Eastern Philosophy,
Routledge, ISBN 978-0415129640 , page 44-45
* ^ A B Richard Hayes (2000), The Question of Doctrinalism in the
Buddhist Epistemologists, in Philosophy of Religion: Indian Philosophy
(Editor:Roy Perrett), Routledge, ISBN 978-0815336112 , pages 187-212
* ^ A B Original Sanskrit version:Sarva-darsana-sangraha, pages
3-7; English version: The
Charvaka System with commentary by Madhava
Acharya, Translators: Cowell and Gough (1882), pages 5-9
* ^ The
Charvaka System with commentary by Madhava Acharya,
Translators: Cowell and Gough (1882), page 10
* ^ A B See verses 78-end (ET99-end) in Potter, Karl H. (2007). The
Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies:
Buddhist philosophy from 350 to
600 A.D. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publications. pp. 435–436. ISBN
* ^ A B C D (Bhattacharya 2011 , pp. 10, 29–32)
* ^ Dale Riepe (1996), Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought,
Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812932
* ^ Joshi, Dinkar. Glimpses of Indian Culture. Star Publications
(P) Ltd, Delhi. P. 37. ISBN 81-7650-190-5 .
* ^ Shanti Parva, Chapter XXXIX The Mahabharata, KM Ganguli
(Translator), pages 121-122
* ^ A B Cowell and Gough, p. 2.
* ^ Ain-i-Akbari, Vol. III, translated by H. S. Barrett, pp
217–218 (also see
Amartya Sen , pp 288–289)
* ^ Henry Sullivan Jarrett (Translator), The Ain-i-Akbari, Volume
3, p. 217, at
* Bhatta, Jayarashi. Tattvopaplavasimha (Status as a Carvaka text