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Rebel without a cause!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Indian Materialism : Caravaka

I recently came to know of a materialistic and hedonistic school of Indian Philosophy. Most of Indian Philosophy is dominated by a pessimistic outlook and directed towards the supernatural and seem to reduce man to something very small compared to the absolute principle, God etc.

But Caravaka and his few fellow thinkers were closer to the hedonists and epicureans of the greek. For them, only the life that we live right now holds any meaning. They believed that thinking about the intangibles like god which cannot be percieved is not useful. A delightful verse expresses the strength and weaknesses of their philosophy.
Yavajjivet sukham jivet
Rinam kritvaa ghritam pibet
Bhasmibhutasya dehasya
Punaraagamanam kutah

(As long as you live, live happily, take a loan and drink ghee. After a body is reduced to ashes where will it come back from?)

Eventhough it is difficult to agree completely to their philosophy, it was a pleasant surprise that there was a school of thought which valued the human life and did not look at the life as just waiting for something better.

I guess there was too much of a thirst for the truth back then and people were searching for the absolute truth. So when Adi Sankara was able to beat most of the other philosopher in debate, most people accepted the advaita vedanta as the absolute truth. In retrospect, it appears that it would have been better if other schools, even if they seem to be incorrect, were allowed to have flourished. It would have made a richer tapestry of Indian philosophy.

Related Link (added 3/29/08)

1 comment:

nevermind said...

now we know where the devas got their ideas from;-)