books · Cārvāka/Lokāyata

♦ Studies on the Cārvāka/Lokāyata


Book review: Studies on the Cārvāka/Lokāyata, by Ramkrishna Bhattacharya, Società Editrice Fiorentina/Manohar, Firenze 2009, pp. 254 ISBN 978-88-6032-113-8, € 28,00 (view editor book profile).

The Preface of the book:

«I started writing on the Cārvāka, 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 Cārvāka. 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 Cārvāka/Lokāyata 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 Cārvāka fragments in Chapter 6.

My endeavour has been to disprove certain notions about the Cārvāka/Lokāyata —two of which are generally admitted as being beyond doubt. They are as follows: (a) the Cārvāka-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 Cārvāka-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 Cārvāka aphorisms have been cited by the opponents of the Cārvāka 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-Cārvāka school of materialism in India, although there is no way to prove that the Cārvāka system grew out of it. On the other hand, if the evidence provided by the Manimekalai (and indirectly supported by the Mahābhārata) 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 Cārvāka-s admitted only the first four.

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

The Index of the book:

Preface p. 9

Acknowledgements p. 11

Abbreviations p. 13

I. Origin of Materialism in India: Royal or Popular ? p. 21

II. Jain Sources for the Study of Pre-Cārvāka Materialist Ideas in India p. 33

III. Ajita Kesakambala: Nihilist or Materialist ? p. 45

IV. Perception and Inference in the Cārvāka Philosophy p. 55

V. Commentators of the Cārvākasūtra p. 65

VI. Cārvāka Fragments: A New Collection p. 69

VII. On the Authenticity of an Alleged Cārvāka Aphorism p. 105

VIII. Paurandarasūtra Revisited p. 109

IX. What Did the Cārvāka-s Mean by sukhaṃ jīvet? p. 123

X. Sāṃkhya, Yoga and Lokāyata in the Kauṭilīya Arthaśāstra: A Re-View p. 131

XI. Yogācāra Against the Cārvāka: A Critical Survey of Tattvasaṅgraha, Chapter 22 p. 137

XII. Jayantabhaṭṭa’s Representation of the Cārvāka: A Critique p. 147

XIII. What does Udayana mean by lokavyavahārasiddha iti cārvākāḥ? p. 159

XIV. Hemacandra on the Cārvāka: A Survey p. 163

XV. Haribhadra’s Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya, Verses 81-84: A Study p. 175

XVI. The Significance of Lokāyata in Pali p. 187

XVII. On Lokāyata and Lokāyatana in Buddhist Sanskrit p. 193

XVIII. Lokāyata and Lokāyatana in Sanskrit Dictionaries p. 197

XIX. ṛṇaṃ kṛtvā ghṛtaṃ pibet: Who Said This ? p. 201

XX. jīvikā dhātṛnirmitā or jīviketi bṛhaspatiḥ? p. 207

XXI. mṛtānāmapi jantūnām… p. 213

XXII. Cārvāka/Lokāyata Philosophy: Perso-Arabic Sources p. 219

XXIII. What is meant by nāstika in the Nyāyasūtra Commentary? p. 227

Bibliography p. 233

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