chapter  4
11 Pages

The Ca¯rva¯ka Dars´ana and the S´raman.as

Many scholars, for example, Radhakrishnan, hold that in the Indian context “the materialistic school of thought was as vigorous and comprehensive as materialistic philosophy in the modern world.”1 There is no need to enter into a discussion of this claim in this chapter. For our purposes it is sufficient to note that originally there were two trends in Indian thought: the materialistic and the spiritualistic. Of these two trends, the latter, which came to fruition in the Vedas and the Upanis.ads, we shall have ample reasons to get acquainted with in the chapters to follow; the former, however, is generally a neglected story, though the germs of the materialistic philosophy are found in the Upanis.adic literature, e.g., in the Udda¯laka conception that mind is created out of the finest essence of food,2 in the Indra Praja¯pati dialogue that the self is identical with the body,3 in the early Buddhist literature,4 and in the repudiation of the afterlife in the Kat.ha Upanis.ad5 and Maitrı¯ Upanis.ad.6 The materialism, more truly the naturalistic tendencies, left a permanent mark on Indian thought. It influenced and greatly shaped such powerful systems as Nya¯ya, Vais´es.ika, and Sa¯m. khya-although these systems sought to combine both the naturalistic and the spiritualistic tendencies.