Carvaka - Research - References
Alright, Meera Nanda has been contacted. She's a very busy person, so I'm not very hopeful that she will respond. She's usually only interested in writing books and articles, but let's hope for the best.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Some references to the Carvaka / Lokayata systems.

Sri Madhava Vidyaranya (1380-1386) who was the 12th Jagadguru of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetam wrote the book, Sarvadarsanasangraha (Compendium of Speculations - a compendium of all the known Indian schools of philosophy). The following systems of philosophy are listed in this book.
The Cārvāka System
The Buddha System
The Arhata or Jaina System
The purna-prajna System
The Nakulisa-Pasupata System
The Saiva System
The Pratyabhijna System
The Rasesvara System
The Vaiseshika or Aulukya System
The Akshapada or Nyaya System
The Jaiminiya System
The Paniniya System
The Sankhya System
The Patanjala or Yoga System
The Vedanta or System of Adi Shankara

Sarvadarsanasangraha is one of the few available sources of information about Lokayata, the materialist system of philosophy in ancient India. To propound his own system of philosophy, he tries to refute, chapter by chapter, the other systems of thought prominent in his day. However, it also has to be added that in this work, with remarkable mental detachment, he places himself in the position of an adherent of sixteen distinct philosophical systems. In the very first chapter, The Cārvāka System, of the book he critiques the arguments of Lokayatikas. While doing so he quotes extensively from Cārvāka works. It is possible that some of these arguments put forward as Lokayata point of view may be a mere caricature of Lokayata philosophy. Yet in the absence of any original work of Lokayatikas (all of which seems to have been destroyed by their opponents) these are the only very few sources of information available today on materialist philosophy in ancient India.

Another reference to the Carvaka System:

Ain-i-Akbari, written by Abul Fazl, the famous historian of Akbar's court, mentions a symposium of philosophers of all faiths held in 1578 at Akbar's insistence. Some Cārvāka thinkers are said to have participated in this symposium.[15]

Under the heading "Nastika," Abul Fazl has referred to the good work, judicious administration, and welfare schemes that were emphasized by the Cārvāka lawmakers.

The proper aim of a Charvakan or Charvaka, according to these sources, was to live a prosperous, happy, and productive life in this world. This may be termed the Charvaka Philosophy for which modern evidence has recently come to light from Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. The Sanskrit word for atheist is naastik or nastik, and the antonym is aastik or astik, meaning "believing in what is before one's eyes". In this sense, the Charvaka school of thought is aastik rather than naastik. The Chaarvaaka's thought is characterised by an insistence on joyful living, in a word "materialism" sometimes termed "hedonism" often used in a derogatory sense, whereas Buddhism and Jainism are known to emphasis, in a word, pity and penance respectively. In practice most people follow the Chaarvaaka ideal, a sizable number cultivating and encouraging virtues like honesty, care for others, etc, because they are by nature generous.
Has anybody had a chance to read carvaka verses compiled by Shatri, Dakshinaranjan?
i found one more guy 'Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya' who has researched on atheism in india ....let me know if any one of you have come across his works.
(20-Jun-2010, 10:09 PM)harryghp Wrote: i found one more guy 'Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya' who has researched on atheism in india ....let me know if any one of you have come across his works.

I have heard about Debiprasah Chattopadhyaya and his seminal work researching Carvaka, although I have not read any of his writings yet. His work is actually considered the authority on the subject among modern scholars. I would love to get my hands on the parts about Carvaka.

Never heard of the other person you mentioned, Shatri, Dakshinaranjan.

harryghp, do you have a special interest in Carvaka? I ask because we are looking for someone to help work with us and catalog all available resources on carvaka.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(24-Apr-2010, 03:05 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Alright, Meera Nanda has been contacted. She's a very busy person, so I'm not very hopeful that she will respond. She's usually only interested in writing books and articles, but let's hope for the best.


Any luck ? Sweatdrop

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
(25-Jun-2010, 02:38 AM)murthymail Wrote: Any luck ? Sweatdrop

Nope. No But she has promised a write-up on another topic. Yes
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya's "Carvaka/Lokayata: an anthology" is an excellent source of carvaka references though I don't agree with this theory that orignal Lokayatas were a pre-Aryan fertility cult.

The epics have plenty of references.

Marathi scholar Dr. A H Salunkhe has written great book about carvak AASTIKSHIROMANI CHARVAAK
(06-Apr-2010, 08:17 PM)Azad Wrote: I found some interesting info from this blog by Manju –
Though I would share the same.

Charvakism was an Indian school of thought which perhaps the only Indian philosophy that was materialistic in nature. However, their real influence on Indian social life was absolutely nothing. Perhaps, a wrong step in the evolution of civilized Indian society.

The basic features:

* God is non-existent.
* There is no pre-existence or after-life.
* There is no such thing as salvation (moksha); death itself is salvation.
* Happiness is the only goal of life.
* The wise should seek happiness with productive work.
* Pursuit of music, eroticism, medicines etc., add comfort to life.
* Distinction of class and caste are humbug.
* The term "chastity for women" is rubbish (men and women are alike as far as chastity is concerned).

It is said that, Charvakas were attacked for the fourth point. What about other points? Not much is said about that except they were called 'vitandavaadi's(one who indulge in jugglery of words). Madhvaacharya said that it was very difficult to refute their arguments. At that time India was a society where many schools of thoughts supposed to have lost out to Vaidiks in debates. And Charvakism was supposed to be undebatable! So even with such strong foundations why couldn't they attract the great majority of intelligent people of that period to its fold?

The fringe philosophers:
The other name for Charvakism is Lokayata. Some people define it as 'philosophy of common people'. But I would go with the other definition that is 'philosophy of worldly'. Since I am sceptical about the number of common people among its followers I won't go with the former definition. In my opinion, there were only few philosophers at any point of time subscribing to this school of thought. And they didn't have any position in the society.

One striking feature of Charvakism was its relentless opposition to Brahmins and its call for rebellion against authority. These two things possibly demonstrate their position outside the public sphere of influence. Also, since none of the Indian schools of thought or the establishment found it necessary to open educational institutions for the common people, it was impossible for Charvakas to attract the vast majority of the population which was too superstitious, barbaric and illiterate to accept their philosophy.

So it leaves us with brilliant people of that era. Though I have talked about tendency of Indians to follow whatever their ancestors had said without any question, this kind of closed mindset baffles me. Was Charvakas’ strong stand on happiness too distasteful for the ascetic minded Indians? Extremely hard to believe. Were Charvakas the people outside the Aryan (this includes Vaidiks, Jains and Buddhists) society? Were they descendents of Greeks(who had developed such kind of materialist philosophy by that time) who stayed back in India. Hard to say since they were not called as Mlechchas, Yavanas, Panchamas etc. in any of the Vaidik literature. Or were they really Indus Valley people as claimed in the Wikipedia article on Charvakas? At this point this claim is too preposterous considering the number of questions it would raise. Not least of them is the question of Dravidians.

Charvakism and the concept of Maya:
Ironically, whatever we know about Charvakas is because of their arch rivals’, Vaidik, Buddhist and Jain, literature. The philosophers belonging to these schools of thought had written about the works of Charvakas sometimes with a neutral angle or sometimes with an intention of refutation. So whatever might be their intention they never really overlooked that philosophy, especially Brahmins.

Brahmins, being dominant, were always at the receiving end of Charvakas’ arguments. However, they were never closed minded to whatever Charvakas said. I suspect they might have used at least one observation of Charvakas to complete and be comfortable with their theory of Maya (illusion)

Charvakas refused the role of inference and accepted only direct perception to prove the truth. This is more in line with modern Western philosophy of refuting ‘divine influence’. Whereas West went on to develop empiricism which gave a complete role for observation and experimentation in developing theories for the world’s mysteries, Charvakism failed to give a proper direction for its philosophy.

After refusing the role of inference, the later philosophers went on to reject the role of perception in finding the truth! In a sense, they said truth can’t be understood either by inference or by perception.

The Vaidik school of thought that had become stagnant because of its total devotion to its founding fathers’ words found a new proof in Charvakas’ philosophy to further their own theory of world(confusion about the world would be more appropriate). As claimed by Charvakas, if truth about the world can’t be found either by inference or perception then where was the proof that truth existed at all. It was only Maya (illusion). This theory became a dominant and salient feature of Brahmanical religion after Shankara’s time. I am sure the Charvaka philosopher who rejected the role of direct perception must be Shankara’s antecedent.

Charvakism is not a great loss:
Indian society could have been more civilized had it embraced at least few points of Charvakism,viz., No caste, Equality of sexes. However, considering it as a philosophy which would have heralded a scientific thinking in line with Greek philosophies which put the foundations for the modern Western philosophy would be far fetched. As I have discussed, they failed to give the right direction for their philosophy. However, they were the ones who came very close in achieving it.

Kapil muni was the first known atheist in India. His school of thought was known as Samkhya. The samkhyas did not believe in the existsnce of god and believed that the universe was not god's creation but it has existed since time imemmorial Sanhkhyas had created a vast philosophy of their own and were very respected by the vaidic religion. Lord Krishna describes himself as"I am the Kapila among the siddhas" in Geeta..

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