Atheism in Hinduism: help needed

n.rao at n.rao at
Tue Nov 21 20:34:02 UTC 1995

>I am trying to find references dealing with the subject of atheism in
>Hinduism. Its historical background, dialectics, the present place of the
>atheist in Hindu religion compared to some other major religions, and all
>Any help is appreciated.
>-Partha Banerjee
>Dept. of Biology
>University at Albany
>Albany, New York
If you are looking for what are considered as 'atheistic' currents in the 
Indian textual tradition the books by Debiprasad Chattopadhyay are the place 
to look, especially, 
 Lokayata, A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism, Delhi 1959

 D.M Reip, the Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought 
contains some discussion of the same variety as found in DC's books. 

However, it is very unclear what you are looking for. 'Hinduism' as a 
religion is a very recent phenomenon - more a  product of European research 
on Indian traditions and practices rather than a religion in the sense in  
which Christianity or Islam can claim to be religions.  Moreover, by 
definition, someone who is an atheist falls outside the pale of religion. If 
you consider Hinduism as religion, then there can't be a place for atheism 
within that fold. 

If you are looking for how 'Hinduism' (used as a wholesale word to subsume 
the whole of non- islamic textual tradition of South Asia) treated 
'atheism', the above books contain useful discussion from a kind of  Marxist 
Dr. B. Narahari Rao
F.R. 5.1. Philosophie
Unversitaet des Saarlandes,
Postfach 15 11 50,
D-66041 Saarbrücken


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