Is the philosophy of Carvaka Charvaka Lokayata relevant today


Charvaka (Devanagari: चार्वाक, cārvāka from चार्वाच् cārvāc "beautifully speaking"; also Lokayata ) was an ancient Indian philosophical school, named after its alleged founder Charvaka. Its elements are atheism, materialism and hedonism.

Within Indian philosophy it is classified as nastika, that is, negating the authority of the Vedas.


The Barhaspati Sutras , the basis of the school, were probably made in the Maurya period between 320 and 180 BC. Written in BC. It is only preserved in individual fragments of the quotation.

In Kautilya's book Arthashastra , Lokayata is just a school of logicians.

For the first time in the 7th century, the philosopher Purandara used the term Charvaka to describe the materialists. The philosophers Kamalashila and Haribhadra also use the term in the 8th century, while Shankara calls them Lokayata.

Dharmakirti, a 7th century philosopher influenced by Charvaka, named five irrational ways of acting in his book Pramanvartik : Belief in the holiness of the Vedas, belief in a creator god, bathing in holy waters as merit, caste pride, penance for [sin] n. (The last three acts are related to karma and reincarnation.)

The book Tattvopaplavasimha by Jayarashi Bhatta from the 8th century is considered to be the best source on Charvaka, but also contains ideas of Madhyamaka.

In the 13-14 In the 19th century, the Vedic devotee Madhavacharya Charvaka discussed in the first chapter of his book Sarva-darshana-sangraha . According to him, Charvaka philosophers are anti-clerical and orientate themselves towards the goals of life happiness and prosperity.

The last known appearance of the Charvaka philosophers was in 1578 at a conference of philosophers at the court of the Grand Mogul Akbar I, where they contributed to the improvement of legislation and general prosperity.

The Charvaka school no longer exists in name today because its source has been lost. Yet there are still many atheist Indians today.


The Charvaka philosophers valued freedom of thought, truth and logic.

The Charvakas rejected theology and metaphysics with no basis in observation. Similar to the later empiricist David Hume, they advocated the gain of knowledge from experience and the primacy of perception over deduction. From experience one cannot infer gods, a post-mortem or eternal life or karma.

While the other Indian philosophies assumed five elements, fire, earth, water, air and the void, the charvakas denied the latter. According to them, life came about by combining the first four. They denied reincarnation, according to them, life ends with death.

Accordingly, their ethics were based on the use of the only available lifetime. Like Epicurus, they recommended enjoying life in the right measure.

They rejected the caste system based on the idea of ​​rebirth, since all human bodies are constructed in the same way.

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Mahabhasya of Patanjali (7.3.45), Schermerhorn (1930)
  2. ^ Bhattacharya (2002), p. 6th
  3. ↑ Sadashiv Athavale: Charvak Itihas ani Tatvadynan , III ed. Edition, p. 24
  4. ↑ Ain-i-Akbari, Vol. III, translated by HS Jarrett, pp 217–218 (see also Amartya Sen [2005], pp 288–289)
  5. ↑ Riepe, Dale. The Naturalistic Tradition of Indian Thought (Motilal Banarasidas, Varanasi) p.75
  6. ↑ Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Indian Philosophy, p. 188
  7. ^ Prabodhachandrodaya, 2.18


  • Amerbauer Martin: Introduction to Indian Philosophy . Salzburg 2000
  • Jayarashi Bhatta: Tattvopapalavasimha (Charvaka Philosophy) .
  • Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya: Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism . People's Pub. House, New Delhi 1959.
  • Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya: Indian Philosophy: A Popular Introduction . People's Pub. House, New Delhi 1964.
  • Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya: Indian Atheism: A Marxist Analysis . Manisha, Kolkata 1969.
  • Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya: What Is Living and What Is Dead in Indian Philosophy . People's Pub. House, New Delhi 1976.
  • Gavin Flood: An Introduction to Hinduism . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996.
  • J. Knapper: Lexicon of Indian Mythology . Michal Görden and HC Meiser (eds.), Licensed edition 1997, Weyarn
  • Madhava Acharya [1882]: The Sarva-darsana-samgraha: or Review of the Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy , trans. EB Cowell and AE Gough, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1996, ISBN 81-208-1341-3.
  • H. Michael-Murmann: "Philosophy of India", in: A. Grabner-Haider (Ed.): Philosophy of World Cultures . Wiesbaden, 2006
  • Sita Krishna Nambiar: Prabodhacandrodaya of Krsna Misra . Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi 1971.
  • DC (ed.) Phillott [1927]: The Ain-i Akbari , by Abu l-Fazl Allami, trans. H. Blochmann, 3 vols .. Edition, Low Price Publications, Delhi 1989, ISBN 81-85395-19-5 (set).
  • Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; and Moore, Charles A. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy . Princeton University Press; 1957. Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989. ISBN 0-691-01958-4.
  • Dale Riepe: The Naturalistic Tradition of Indian Thought , 2nd ed. Edition, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1964.
  • A. Ha Salunkhe: Aastikashiromani Chaarvaaka (Marathi).
  • Amartya Sen: The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity . Allen Lane, London 2005, ISBN 0-7139-9687-0.
  • Pradeep P. Gokhale, The Cārvāka Theory of Pramāṇas: A Restatement , Philosophy East and West (1993).
  • John M. Koller, Skepticism in Early Indian Thought , Philosophy East and West (1977).
  • R. Bhattacharya, Cārvāka Fragments: A New Collection , Journal of Indian Philosophy, Volume 30, Number 6, December 2002, pp. 597-640.
  • RA Schermerhorn, When Did Indian Materialism Get Its Distinctive Titles? , Journal of the American Oriental Society (1930).
  • Schuhmann, Hans Wolfgang: The great gods of India . Kreuzlingen / Munich, 2004

Web links