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Studies on The Carvaka/Lokayata
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About the Book

 

Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata is the first attempt at a scientific study of the Carvaka/Lokayata, the materialist system of philosophy that flourished in ancient India between the eighth and twelfth centuries CE, and which has since disappeared. Despite the paucity of material relating to the Carvaka, a reconstruction of its basic tenets reveals it to be the lone contender standing against the perceived binary of pro-Vedic Brahminical schools on the one hand, and the non-Vedic Buddhist and Jain schools on the other.

 

This study seeks to disprove certain notions about the Carvaka/Lokayata, particularly that the Carvaka-s did not approve of any instrument of cognition other than perception, and that they advocated unalloyed sensualism and hedonism. In contrast, this volume offers evidence to show that the Carvaka-s, despite their difference of opinion in other areas, did admit inference in so far as it was grounded on perception. Furthermore, the author argues that the common belief that ‘all materialists are nothing but sensualists’ is a misconception, as no authentic Carvaka aphorisms have been cited by the movement’s opponents to support this view.

 

This study also seeks to establish the fact that a pre-Carvaka school of materialism existed in India, although there is no way to prove that the Carvaka system grew out of it. Yet if the evidence provided by the Manimekalai - and indirectly supported by the Mahabharata - is admitted, it could be suggested that the two schools existed simultaneously.

 

About the Author

 

Ramkrishna Bhattacharya is an Emeritus Fellow in English at the University Grants Commission, New Delhi. He is the author of 15 books and more than 150 research papers on Indian and European literature, textual criticism (Bangla and Sanskrit), the history of ideas, the history of science in India, the history of modern India, and philosophy - particularly on the Carvaka/ Lokayata system, materialism and rationalism.

 

Preface

 

I started writing on the Carvaka, the most uncompromising materialist school of philosophy in ancient India, from 1995 and have continued to work on its different aspects. My researches on this subject are now being offered in a revised and enlarged form, thanks to the interest shown by Dr Federico Squarcini, Florence University.

 

Each chapter is meant to be read separately, hence some repetitions have been retained. In some cases, references have been made to other chapters. This makes every chapter self-complete and, at the same time, helps readers follow my line of argument.

 

Admittedly, there is paucity of material relating to the Carvaka. Still, as in the case of the Presocratic philosophers of Greece, it is possible to reconstruct the basic tenets of this system on the basis of whatever little is found in the works of its opponents and the extracts quoted by them. Notwithstanding distortions, the Carvaka/Lokayata has emerged as the lone contender against the pro-Vedic Brahminical schools on the one hand, and the non-Vedic Buddhist and Jain schools on the other. Besides the orthodoxy prevailing around the Vedas, belief in after-life and after-world has been the bone of contention. This will be evident from the way I have arranged the Carvaka fragments in Chapter 6.

 

My endeavour has been to disprove certain notions about the Carvaka/Lokayata -two of which are generally admitted as being beyond doubt. They are as follows: (a) the Carvaka-s did not approve of any other instrument of cognition except perception, and (b) they advocated unalloyed sensualism and hedonism. I have tried to show that both the charges are groundless calumnies. As to the first charge, there is enough evidence to show that the Carvaka-s, in spite of their difference of opinion in other areas, did admit inference in so far as it was grounded on perception. As to the second charge, my contention is that no authentic Carvaka aphorisms have been cited by the opponents of the Carvaka to support their view, Moreover, the same charge was brought also against Epicurus, despite the fact that he disapproved of sensual gratification as the end of life. The common belief that all materialists are nothing but sensualists is a misconception.

 

It has also been my endeavour to establish the fact that there existed a pre-Carvaka school of materialism in India, although there is no way to prove that the Carvaka system grew out of it. On the other hand, if the evidence provided by the Manimekalai (and indirectly supported by the Mahabharatas is admitted, the two schools seem to have continued to exist side by side. The chief difference between the two is that the earlier materialists took the number of elements to be five (earth, air, fire, water and space) while the Carvaka-s admitted only the first four.

 

It is now for the readers to judge how far I have succeeded in my attempts.

 

Contents

 

 

Preface

9

 

Acknowledgements

11

 

Abbreviations

13

i.

Origin of Materialism in India: Royal or Popular?

21

ii.

Jain Sources for the Study of Pre-Carvaka Materialist Ideas in India

33

iii

Ajita Kesakambala: Nihilist or Materialist?

45

iv.

Perception and Inference in the Carvaka Philosophy

55

v.

Commentators of the Carvakasutra

65

vi.

Caroaka Fragments: A New Collection

69

vii.

On the Authenticity of an Alleged Carvaka Aphorism

105

viii.

Paurandarasutra Revisited

109

ix.

What Did the Carvaka-s Mean by sukham jivet?

123

x.

Samkhya, Yoga and Lokayata in the Kautiliya Arthasastra. A Re-View

131

xi.

Yogacara against the Carvaka: A Critical Survey of Tattvasangraha, Chapter 22

137

xii.

Jayantabhatta’s Representation of the Carvaka: A Critique

147

xiii.

What does Udayana Mean by lokavyavaharasiddha iti carvakah?

159

xiv.

Hemacandra on the Carvaka: A Survey

163

xv.

Haribhadra’s Saddarsanasamuccaya, Verses 81-84: A Study

175

xvi.

The Significance of Lokayata in Pali

187

xvii.

On Lokayata and Lokayatana in Buddhist Sanskrit

193

xviii.

Lokayata and Lokayatana in Sanskrit Dictionaries

197

xix.

rnam krtva ghrtam pibet: Who Said This?

201

xx.

jivika dhatrnirmita or jiviketi brhaspatih?

207

xxi.

mrtanamapi jantunam

213

xxii.

Carvaka/Lokayata Philosophy: Perso-Arabic Sources

219

xxiii.

What is Meant by nastika in the Nyayasutra Commentary?

227

 

Bibliography

233

 

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Studies on The Carvaka/Lokayata

Item Code:
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About the Book

 

Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata is the first attempt at a scientific study of the Carvaka/Lokayata, the materialist system of philosophy that flourished in ancient India between the eighth and twelfth centuries CE, and which has since disappeared. Despite the paucity of material relating to the Carvaka, a reconstruction of its basic tenets reveals it to be the lone contender standing against the perceived binary of pro-Vedic Brahminical schools on the one hand, and the non-Vedic Buddhist and Jain schools on the other.

 

This study seeks to disprove certain notions about the Carvaka/Lokayata, particularly that the Carvaka-s did not approve of any instrument of cognition other than perception, and that they advocated unalloyed sensualism and hedonism. In contrast, this volume offers evidence to show that the Carvaka-s, despite their difference of opinion in other areas, did admit inference in so far as it was grounded on perception. Furthermore, the author argues that the common belief that ‘all materialists are nothing but sensualists’ is a misconception, as no authentic Carvaka aphorisms have been cited by the movement’s opponents to support this view.

 

This study also seeks to establish the fact that a pre-Carvaka school of materialism existed in India, although there is no way to prove that the Carvaka system grew out of it. Yet if the evidence provided by the Manimekalai - and indirectly supported by the Mahabharata - is admitted, it could be suggested that the two schools existed simultaneously.

 

About the Author

 

Ramkrishna Bhattacharya is an Emeritus Fellow in English at the University Grants Commission, New Delhi. He is the author of 15 books and more than 150 research papers on Indian and European literature, textual criticism (Bangla and Sanskrit), the history of ideas, the history of science in India, the history of modern India, and philosophy - particularly on the Carvaka/ Lokayata system, materialism and rationalism.

 

Preface

 

I started writing on the Carvaka, the most uncompromising materialist school of philosophy in ancient India, from 1995 and have continued to work on its different aspects. My researches on this subject are now being offered in a revised and enlarged form, thanks to the interest shown by Dr Federico Squarcini, Florence University.

 

Each chapter is meant to be read separately, hence some repetitions have been retained. In some cases, references have been made to other chapters. This makes every chapter self-complete and, at the same time, helps readers follow my line of argument.

 

Admittedly, there is paucity of material relating to the Carvaka. Still, as in the case of the Presocratic philosophers of Greece, it is possible to reconstruct the basic tenets of this system on the basis of whatever little is found in the works of its opponents and the extracts quoted by them. Notwithstanding distortions, the Carvaka/Lokayata has emerged as the lone contender against the pro-Vedic Brahminical schools on the one hand, and the non-Vedic Buddhist and Jain schools on the other. Besides the orthodoxy prevailing around the Vedas, belief in after-life and after-world has been the bone of contention. This will be evident from the way I have arranged the Carvaka fragments in Chapter 6.

 

My endeavour has been to disprove certain notions about the Carvaka/Lokayata -two of which are generally admitted as being beyond doubt. They are as follows: (a) the Carvaka-s did not approve of any other instrument of cognition except perception, and (b) they advocated unalloyed sensualism and hedonism. I have tried to show that both the charges are groundless calumnies. As to the first charge, there is enough evidence to show that the Carvaka-s, in spite of their difference of opinion in other areas, did admit inference in so far as it was grounded on perception. As to the second charge, my contention is that no authentic Carvaka aphorisms have been cited by the opponents of the Carvaka to support their view, Moreover, the same charge was brought also against Epicurus, despite the fact that he disapproved of sensual gratification as the end of life. The common belief that all materialists are nothing but sensualists is a misconception.

 

It has also been my endeavour to establish the fact that there existed a pre-Carvaka school of materialism in India, although there is no way to prove that the Carvaka system grew out of it. On the other hand, if the evidence provided by the Manimekalai (and indirectly supported by the Mahabharatas is admitted, the two schools seem to have continued to exist side by side. The chief difference between the two is that the earlier materialists took the number of elements to be five (earth, air, fire, water and space) while the Carvaka-s admitted only the first four.

 

It is now for the readers to judge how far I have succeeded in my attempts.

 

Contents

 

 

Preface

9

 

Acknowledgements

11

 

Abbreviations

13

i.

Origin of Materialism in India: Royal or Popular?

21

ii.

Jain Sources for the Study of Pre-Carvaka Materialist Ideas in India

33

iii

Ajita Kesakambala: Nihilist or Materialist?

45

iv.

Perception and Inference in the Carvaka Philosophy

55

v.

Commentators of the Carvakasutra

65

vi.

Caroaka Fragments: A New Collection

69

vii.

On the Authenticity of an Alleged Carvaka Aphorism

105

viii.

Paurandarasutra Revisited

109

ix.

What Did the Carvaka-s Mean by sukham jivet?

123

x.

Samkhya, Yoga and Lokayata in the Kautiliya Arthasastra. A Re-View

131

xi.

Yogacara against the Carvaka: A Critical Survey of Tattvasangraha, Chapter 22

137

xii.

Jayantabhatta’s Representation of the Carvaka: A Critique

147

xiii.

What does Udayana Mean by lokavyavaharasiddha iti carvakah?

159

xiv.

Hemacandra on the Carvaka: A Survey

163

xv.

Haribhadra’s Saddarsanasamuccaya, Verses 81-84: A Study

175

xvi.

The Significance of Lokayata in Pali

187

xvii.

On Lokayata and Lokayatana in Buddhist Sanskrit

193

xviii.

Lokayata and Lokayatana in Sanskrit Dictionaries

197

xix.

rnam krtva ghrtam pibet: Who Said This?

201

xx.

jivika dhatrnirmita or jiviketi brhaspatih?

207

xxi.

mrtanamapi jantunam

213

xxii.

Carvaka/Lokayata Philosophy: Perso-Arabic Sources

219

xxiii.

What is Meant by nastika in the Nyayasutra Commentary?

227

 

Bibliography

233

 

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