Carvaka
May 25, 2009 12:18 AM   Subscribe

Atheistic Materialism in Ancient India. Interesting piece on the ancient Indian philosophical school of Carvaka.
posted by homunculus (12 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Om. working link to PDF
posted by Gyan at 12:37 AM on May 25, 2009


Hot NSFW sculpture in first link.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 12:49 AM on May 25, 2009


Excellent read. Really, everything of any significance has already happened in the world of human thought.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:17 AM on May 25, 2009


Some modern Indian materialism: tantrik magician Pandit Surinder Sharma offered to kill Sanal Edamaruku, the president of the Indian Rationalist association, by casting a spell on him on live TV. Edamaruku said: go ahead. Youtube part 1, 2, 3.
posted by Termite at 5:44 AM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


One problem with the Carvakas/Lokayatas is that they were continually crushed in debates, of which there were a lot in the vast pool of Indian thought. Additionally, their criticisms of Indian religious culture is very narrow. I wouldn't consider them to be a great example of atheism. The article points out the "lengthly attempts to refute it found in both Buddhist and orthodox Hindu philosophical texts" which I think are a valuable source of information if you're looking for reasons why Carvaka largely died out. Though I'd stress the refutations coming from Advaita Vedanta in particular, and you certainly don't have to look as late as the 14th century for them.
posted by aletheia at 7:31 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Superb resource on Gora, Saraswati, Lavanam and The Atheist Centre of India. Gora was a friend of Gandhi and led Gandhi to believe that atheists could be moral, as much as if not more so than theists. After Gora's influence, Gandhi said things like "The concepts of truth may differ. But all admit and respect truth. That truth I call God. For sometime I was saying, 'God is Truth,' but that did not satisfy me. So now I say, 'Truth is God.'" and "Do you think I am super-stitious? I am a super-atheist."
posted by eccnineten at 7:56 AM on May 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I find it interesting that the Carvaka adherents denounced the caste system. It's not very surprising that the forces trying to maintain the status quo would "refute" them.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2009


Though not atheist, I remember having to explain to a super fundie ex, who believed that without Christ, it was impossible to be moral: "You act right because you are afraid of hell, and you want heaven. I act right because I care about people. Who's more moral?"

(Which is not to say that athiests can't have their own external reward cycles for morality, which, usually is the same as religious folks- social approval and peer pressure...)

Also: awesome links!
posted by yeloson at 9:06 AM on May 25, 2009


You know who else was an atheist materialist opposed to the caste system?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:43 AM on May 25, 2009


There a new collection of the carvaka fragments in a very recent issue of the Journal of Indian Philosophy (this year or last year?), along with some commentary. It's not long - there's not all that much left, regrettably.
posted by bhr at 11:19 AM on May 25, 2009


I've been told very stridently that materialism is a white western viewpoint, so this cannot possibly be true.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:52 PM on May 25, 2009


One problem with the Carvakas/Lokayatas is that they were continually crushed in debates, of which there were a lot in the vast pool of Indian thought.

According to the Hindus, Buddhists, etc who wrote the history books, anyway.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:54 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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