Questions on Indian Philosophy

Satya Upadhya satya_upadhya at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 12 19:50:20 EST 2000

First, i wish to thank you for responding to me (this was my first post on
this list).

>Have you read the book _Carvaka/Lokayata_, by Debiprasad
>Chattopadhyaya and Mrinal Kanti Gangopadhyaya (Indian
>Council of Philosophical Research, 1990)? We know very
>little about the Carvaka school, and there is not much
>anyone can add to the material in it.

--> I have read most of Carvaka/Lokayata of D.P. Chattopadhyaya ( i have
read all the essays at the end by modern scholars, but not all of the
original source material), and have also read "Lokayata: A study in ancient
Indian materialism", also by D.P. Chattopadhyaya.

--> It is true that we know very little about the Charvakas, however, it is
not correct to say that we know nothing about them either. We do have some
knowledge about their epistemology (the fact that they placed great emphasis
on direct perception), their ethics, their metaphysics (which was this
worldly), and the fact that they subscribed to "svabhava vada".
--> Let me ask my question again: According to D.P. Chattopadhyaya and
Mrinal Kanti Gangopadhyaya, inference was accepted as a pramana by the
Charvakas. One of the reasons they give for this is the direct testimony of
the Charvaka philosopher Purandara on this matter (which became available to
us thanks to the stupendous research of S.N. Dasgupta). (There are other
reasons that they give as well). Now, are there any scholars besides
Chattopadhyaya and Gangopadhyaya who accept this view (of inference being
accepted as a pramana by the Charvakas)?

--> Note that Gunaratna, Jayanata Bhatta and others tell us that Charvakas
only accepted direct perception as a pramana. However, Gangopadhyaya has
shown that many of the direct quotes they give (claiming that these
represent the views of Charvakas) turn out to be direct quotes of Bhatrihari
(spelling?), who it turns out was not a Charvaka (i think he was an
Advaitist, but i am not sure). The point being that Gunaratna and others, in
their zeal to refute the Charvakas, stand accused of over generalisation and
exagerration (and even deliberate distortion), if Gangopadhyaya (and
Chattopadhyaya) are to be believed.

--> I repeat what i had said in my earlier post: Charvakas deny inference in
so far as inference is used in dealing with transcendental matters; they do
not deny inference wholesale, if Chattopadhyaya and Gangopadhyaya are to be
believed. I would like to know whether there are other scholars who agree
with this thesis.

--> Gangopadhyaya himself informs us that there was a move by some scholars
to declare that there were actually two schools of Charvakas--one accepting
inference, and the other denying it. D.P. Chattopadhyaya, Gangopadhyaya
informs us, had strongly criticised this move. I am not sure what is the
present position regarding this.

--> As an aside, are there any other reputable scholars, on the Charvakas,
besides Chattopadhyaya?

>If you have a monotheistic idea of a being, spelled G o d,
>you won't find it. If you are prepared to think of many
>beings, spelled G o d s, then the Mimamsaka has a place
>for them. Specifically, the sound of the invoking mantra
>is itself the form of the G o d, and for the Mimamsaka,
>sound is eternal. Note also that Kumarila begins his texts
>with an invocation to Siva. What he rejects is the notion
>of an omniscient being as the creator of the universe.
>"Theistic" and "atheistic" are wrong adjectives to use in
>this context. As for modern writers, it depends on whom
>you choose to read. Whom do you have in mind?

==> Afaik, Mimansakas believe that the correct performance of ritual leads
to salvation. The words "Indra", "Varuna", etc. are not names of Gods, they
claim, but mere sounds used in the spell. In other words, the rituals by
themselves constitute the summum bonum, and there is no place for any God
(or gods). This, of course, reminds one of primitive magic.

--> As regards Mimansa ontology, my opinion was based after reading S.N.
Dasgupta, Radhakrishnan and Chattopadhyaya. Would you recommend someone

>To understand Indian philosophical texts, you need to
>go at least a little beyond words, and take a look at
>sentences, the logical progression of the argument etc.
>A pUrvapaksha is first stated and discussed, but the
>uttarapaksha/siddhAnta need not reject all aspects of
>the pUrvapaksha. There may even be partial agreement,
>or a small clarification of the final position.
>Much has been written about this particular issue in
>the nyAya sUtra. Read B. K. Matilal's books on Nyaya,
>for the best discussions of it.

--> I will check out B.K. Matilal's book. Thanks for the reco. Could you
inform me, however, whether the Nyaya Sutra itself is atheistic or theistic
according to Matilal?

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