An unorthodox school of Hindu philosophy

Charvaka, originally known as Lokāyata and Bṛhaspatya, is the ancient school of Indian materialism.


  • The Lokayata is not an Agama. viz. not a guide to cultural living, not a system of do's and don’ts; hence it is nothing but irresponsible wrangling.
  • In fact, the Lokayata operated and developed as a tradition of universal criticism or negativism, without caring to evolve a durable or regular life-order, a socio-cultural order, of its own, with the result that it failed to commend itself to society at large. No wonder that a branch of the Lokayata, the Nilapata school, so called because its members dressed in blue, were responsible for inception of what may be called an inculture, a tradition of wanton living, about which it is said:...That is: ‘How can the Nilapata feel happy till rivers begins to overflow with wine, the mountains are made of meat, and the world is full of women?’
    • Harsh Narain, Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions (1990) (quoting Puratanaprabandhasangraha)
  • Democracy was deep rooted in India because the people had deep respect for the two precious ideals. Even non-believer like 'Charvak' was respected and given the high status of a sage in ancient India.
  • The poor Charvaka who had thus remonstrated was unceremoniously lynched by the Brahmin mob, for which act of ‘social gracefulness’ all the Brahmin in the mob were duly compensated by the king with regards and gifts.
  • Chârvâkas, a very ancient sect in India, were rank materialists. They have died out now, and most of their books are lost. They claimed that the soul, being the product of the body and its forces, died with it; that there was no proof of its further existence. They denied inferential knowledge accepting only perception by the senses.
  • In every country and every human breast there is a natural desire to find a stable equilibrium — something that does not change. We cannot find it in nature, for all the universe is nothing but an infinite mass of changes. But to infer from that that nothing unchanging exists is to fall into the error of the Southern school of Buddhists and the Chârvâkas, which latter believe that all is matter and nothing mind, that all religion is a cheat, and morality and goodness, useless superstitions.
  • The books of Veda have two parts; the first, Cura makanda [Karma Kanda], contains the sacrificial portion, while the second part, the Vedanta, denounces sacrifices, teaching charity and love, but not death. Each sect took up what portion it liked. The charvaka, or materialist, basing his doctrine on the first part, believed that all was matter and that there is neither a heaven nor a hell, neither a soul nor a God.
  • The Hindu drank in with his mother's milk that this life is as nothing — a dream! In this he is at one with the Westerners; but the Westerner sees no further and his conclusion is that of the Chârvâka — to "make hay while the sun shines". "This world being a miserable hole, let us enjoy to the utmost what morsels of pleasure are left to us." To the Hindu, on the other hand, God and soul are the only realities, infinitely more real than this world, and he is therefore ever ready to let this go for the other.
  • There were the Chârvâkas, who preached horrible things, the most rank, undisguised materialism, such as in the nineteenth century they dare not openly preach. These Charvakas were allowed to preach from temple to temple, and city to city, that religion was all nonsense, that it was priestcraft, that the Vedas were the words and writings of fools, rogues, and demons, and that there was neither God nor an eternal soul. If there was a soul, why did it not come back after death drawn by the love of wife and child. Their idea was that if there was a soul it must still love after death, and want good things to eat and nice dress. Yet no one hurt these Charvakas.
  • Narendra Modi quoted how Galileo was nearly killed for opposing a belief but in India, when Charvak, an atheist, challenged the Vedas with logic and rejected the idea of reincarnation, he was given the title of ‘rishi’. Indian thought isn’t about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.
    • Modi quoted in Vivek Agnihotri - Urban Naxals The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam (2018, Garuda Prakashan)

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