Welcome to Charvaka’s world

Charvaka’s Mantra

Which Means

As long as you are alive, live happily, Borrow money and drink Ghee (Good). From where does the question of afterlife (rebirth) comes, when the body is dead and burnt/buried on the ground. Writers of the three Vedas (Atharvaveda was clubbed into the group much later) are buffoons, Knaves, Demons.

Fact of the Philosophy

Things are not that concrete as of other philosophies, as there is no proper text found of this philosophy. We have very less reference, plus what all we have is from other texts, where other philosophers have quoted Charvaka’s arguments in other to counter them. One of such text is ‘SarvaDarshanSamgraha’ by Madhavacharya, 14th CE. A recent discovered manuscript ‘Tattvopaplavasimha’ by Jayarashi, 18th CE, believed to be, from a very strong follower of Charvaka.

They were known to be.. however were criticized a lot!

It saw a very cold death and faced a lot of criticism, this may be the reason of its text disappearance. Though Amartya Sen, argues to have multiple text in Pali and Sanskrit (not much sure). They also say of a ‘Brahaspati Sutra’ from Mauryan time (again not sure). The word ‘Charvaka’ stands for ‘materialism’, there is another view that it was the founder of the philosophy whose name was Charvaka.

What’s in the NAME?

If we see the origin of the word, there are some views

  • View 1: the word came from ‘charv, means ‘to eat’, so may be similar to- to eat/ to drink/ be merry. It has many similarities with philosophies from Greece (of being merry).
  • View 2: it came from ‘Charu, means ‘nice’ and ‘vak means ‘word’, so may be the one who talks all the nice words of being happy.
  • View 3: we find Brahaspati to be the founder of it, and from the vedic hymns we get, he was son of Loka and was thought to be a free/ revolutionary thinker. Hence, the philosophy is also known as Lokayat or Lokayatmat.
Too much for the people of that time!

It was one of the A-vedic (non-vedic) philosophy, Indian but non-believer of Vedas or say challenging the authenticity of the Veda. It said that Vedas were created by a set category of people (priest) for their lively hood. It clearly rejected the testimony of the Vedas and also commented on the religion-system was a man made thing, a pure manifestation of man’s hidden agendas.

It accepted only perception as a valid source, means the knowledge coming from the senses. Anything that is other than perception is completely reject-able.

Remember the movie – Aankhon Dekhi

Their Theory

The sole only theory is of joyful living. They accept the body, however rejects the soul, as that cannot be perceived. Soul is nothing more than this conscious living body. The non-material soul is never perceived. On the contrary, we have direct evidence of the identity of the self with the body in our daily experience and judgments like, ‘I am fat’, ‘I am lame’, ‘I am blind’. If the ‘I’, the self were different from the body, these would be meaningless.

It’s all about ‘I’

It accepts the mind and the consciousness, is as function or attribute of physical body. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon or bye-product of matter; there is no evidence of its existence independent of the body.  Hence, when the body dies, the mind plus conscious also dies. Nothing goes beyond. Hell and heaven is here on earth, if you stay happy you make heaven here. If someone propagates that concept of afterlife, he might have some motive behind, so be aware.

Liberation means the attainment of a state free from all pain, in this very life, it is ideally impossible. See, everything comes in pair, just as Happiness & sorrow. Existence in this body is bound up with pleasure as well as pain. We can only minimize pain and enjoy as much pleasure as we can.

 So rejecting happiness, as it would come along sorrow is being total FOOLISH. For no wise man would ‘reject the Kernel because of its husk’, nor ‘give up eating fish because there are bones, nor ‘stop cooking his food because beggars might ask for a share’.

On same way it rejects God. We can’t see him either.

“No”

In a Nut-shell Chavaka is:

Fire is hot, water is cold

Refreshing cool is the breeze of morning;

By whom came this variety?

They were born of their own nature.

This is also being said by Brahaspati:

There is no heaven, no final libration,

Nor any soul in another world,

Nor do the actions of the four castes,

Orders, or priesthoods produce any real effect

If a beast slain as an offering to the dead

Will itself go to heaven,

Why does the sacrifice not straightaway offer his father?

If offerings to the dead produce gratification (Shraada)

To those who have reached the land of dead,

Why the need to set out provisions,

For travellers starting on this journey?

If our offering sacrifices here gratify beings in heaven,

Why not make food offering down below,

To gratify those standing on housetops?

While the life remains, let a man live happily,

Let him feed on butter though he runs in debt;

When once the body become ashes,

How can it ever return again?

If he who departs from the body goes to another world,

Why does he not come back again,

Restless for love of his kinfolk?

It is only as means of livelihood

That brahamins/priest have established here

Abundant ceremonies for the dead— There is no other fruit anywhere.

The proper aim of Charvak according to these sources, was to live prosperous, happy, and productive life in this world.

Like an anti-intellectualist pragmatist, that even on the denial of all theoretical principles and doctrines, practical life will go on as ever with unreflective ease.

Jayarasi, Chavakist, 18th CE

Credits: SVYASA, Bangalore

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5 thoughts on “Welcome to Charvaka’s world

  1. Amit says:

    Nice Article,Do you believe in Atma?Am asking because it seems, you are the right person to ask this question as you have good information about indian spiritual journry.If yes then how can one know abt it? Or charvak vichar is only true as we find it very near to reality.

    • Vidhu Chaudhary says:

      Thank You so much.
      Charvaka is very materialistic. there lie many things beyond that. try coming to India and learning about Yoga.
      Vidhu Chaudhary & Team

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