Charvaka (IAST: Cārvāka), originally known as Lokāyata and Bārhaspatya, is the ancient school of Indian materialism. Charvaka holds direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects Vedas, Vedic ritualism, and supernaturalism.[a]
Ajita Kesakambali is credited as the forerunner of the Charvakas, while Brihaspati is usually referred to as the founder of Charvaka or Lokāyata philosophy. Much of the primary literature of Charvaka, the Barhaspatya sutras (ca. 600 BCE), are missing or lost. Its teachings have been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras, sutras, and the Indian epic poetry as well as in the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and from Jain literature.
One of the widely studied principles of Charvaka philosophy was its rejection of inference as a means to establish valid, universal knowledge, and metaphysical truths. In other words, the Charvaka epistemology states that whenever one infers a truth from a set of observations or truths, one must acknowledge doubt; inferred knowledge is conditional.
The etymology of Charvaka (Sanskrit: चार्वाक) is uncertain. Bhattacharya quotes the grammarian Hemacandra, to the effect that the word cārvāka is derived from the root carv, ‘to chew’ : “A Cārvāka chews the self (carvatyātmānaṃ cārvākaḥ). Hemacandra refers to his own grammatical work, Uṇādisūtra 37, which runs as follows: mavāka-śyāmāka-vārtāka-jyontāka-gūvāka-bhadrākādayaḥ. Each of these words ends with the āka suffix and is formed irregularly.” This may also allude to the philosophy's hedonistic precepts of "eat, drink, and be merry".
Others believe it to mean "agreeable speech" or pejoratively, "sweet-tongued", from Sanskrit's cāru "agreeable" and vāc "speech" (which becomes vāk in the nominative singular and in compounds). Yet another hypothesis is that it is eponymous, with the founder of the school being Charvaka, a disciple of Brihaspati.
According to Chattopadhyaya 1992, p. 1, the traditional name of Charvaka is Lokayata. It was called Lokayata because it was prevalent (ayatah) among the people (lokesu), and meant the world-outlook of the people. The dictionary meaning of Lokāyata (लोकायत) signifies "directed towards, aiming at the world, worldly".[e]
In early to mid 20th century literature, the etymology of Lokayata has been given different interpretations, in part because the primary sources are unavailable, and the meaning has been deduced from divergent secondary literature. The name Lokāyata, for example, is found in Chanakya's Arthashastra, which refers to three ānvīkṣikīs (अन्वीक्षिकी, literally, examining by reason, logical philosophies) – Yoga, Samkhya and Lokāyata. However, Lokāyata in the Arthashastra is not anti-Vedic, but implies Lokāyata to be a part of Vedic lore. Lokāyata here refers to logic or science of debate (disputatio, "criticism"). Rudolf Franke translated Lokayata in German as "logisch beweisende Naturerklärung", that is "logically proving explanation of nature".
In 8th century CE Jaina literature, Saddarsanasamuccaya by Haribhadra, Lokayata is stated to be the Hindu school where there is "no God, no samsara (rebirth), no karma, no duty, no fruits of merit, no sin."
The Buddhist Sanskrit work Divyavadana (ca. 200–350 CE) mentions Lokayata, where it is listed among subjects of study, and with the sense of "technical logical science". Shantarakshita and Adi Shankara use the word lokayata to mean materialism, with the latter using the term Lokāyata, not Charvaka. The terms Lokayata and Brhaspatya have been used interchangeably for the Charvaka philosophy of materialism.
The tenets of the Charvaka atheistic doctrines can be traced to the relatively later composed layers of the Rigveda, while substantial discussions on the Charvaka is found in post-Vedic literature.[f] The primary literature of Charvaka, such as the Brhaspati Sutra is missing or lost. Its theories and development has been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras (such as the Arthashastra), sutras and the epics (the Mahabharata and Ramayana) of Hinduism as well as from the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and Jain literature.
Substantial discussions about the Charvaka doctrines are only found in texts after 600 BCE. Bhattacharya posits that Charvaka may have been one of several atheistic, materialist schools that existed in ancient India. Though there is evidence of its development in Vedic era, Charvaka emerged as an alternative to the Āstika schools as well as a philosophical predecessor to subsequent or contemporaneous philosophies such as Ajñana, Ājīvika, Jainism and Buddhism in the classical period of Indian philosophy.
The earliest documented Charvaka scholar in India is Ajita Kesakambali. Although materialist schools existed before Charvaka, it was the only school which systematised materialist philosophy by setting them down in the form of aphorisms in the 6th century BC. There was a base text, a collection sūtras or aphorisms and several commentaries were written to explicate the aphorisms.
E. W. Hopkins, in his The Ethics of India (1924) claims that Charvaka philosophy was contemporaneous to Jainism and Buddhism, mentioning "the old Cārvāka or materialist of the 6th century BC". Rhys Davids assumes that lokāyata in ca. 500 BC came to mean "skepticism" in general without yet being organised as a philosophical school. Its methodology of skepticism is included in the Ramayana, Ayodhya kanda, chapter 108, where Jabāli tries to persuade Rāma to accept the kingdom by using nāstika arguments (Rāma refutes him in chapter 109):
O, the highly wise! Arrive at a conclusion, therefore, that there is nothing beyond this Universe. Give precedence to that which meets the eye and turn your back on what is beyond our knowledge. (2.108.17)
There are alternate theories behind the origins of Charvaka. Bṛhaspati is sometimes referred to as the founder of Charvaka or Lokāyata philosophy. Billington 1997, p. 43states that a philosopher named Charvaka lived in or about the 6th century BC, who developed the premises of this Indian philosophy in the form of Brhaspati Sutra. These sutras predate 150 BC, because they are mentioned in the Mahābhāṣya (7.3.45).
Basham 1981, pp. 11–17, citing the Buddhist Samaññaphala Sutta, suggests six schools of heterodox, pre-Buddhist and pre-Jain, atheistic Indian traditions in 6th century BCE, that included Charvakas and Ajivikas. Charvaka was a living philosophy up to the 12th century in India's historical timeline, after which this system seems to have disappeared without leaving any trace.
The Charvaka school of philosophy had a variety of atheistic and materialistic beliefs. They held perception to be the valid and reliable source of knowledge.
The Charvaka epistemology holds perception as the primary and proper source of knowledge, while inference is held as prone to being either right or wrong and therefore conditional or invalid. Perceptions are of two types, for Charvaka, external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind. Inference is described as deriving a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths. To Charvakas, inference is useful but prone to error, as inferred truths can never be without doubt. Inference is good and helpful, it is the validity of inference that is suspect – sometimes in certain cases and often in others. To the Charvakas there were no reliable means by which the efficacy of inference as a means of knowledge could be established.
Charvaka's epistemological argument can be explained with the example of fire and smoke. Kamal states that when there is smoke (middle term), one's tendency may be to leap to the conclusion that it must be caused by fire (major term in logic). While this is often true, it need not be universally true, everywhere or all the times, stated the Charvaka scholars. Smoke can have other causes. In Charvaka epistemology, as long as the relation between two phenomena, or observation and truth, has not been proven as unconditional, it is an uncertain truth. Such methods of reasoning, that is jumping to conclusions or inference, is prone to flaw in this Indian philosophy. Charvakas further state that full knowledge is reached when we know all observations, all premises and all conditions. But the absence of conditions, state Charvakas, can not be established beyond doubt by perception, as some conditions may be hidden or escape our ability to observe. They acknowledge that every person relies on inference in daily life, but to them if we act uncritically, we err. While our inferences sometimes are true and lead to successful action, it is also a fact that sometimes inference is wrong and leads to error. Truth then, state Charvaka, is not an unfailing character of inference, truth is merely an accident of inference, and one that is separable. We must be skeptics, question what we know by inference, question our epistemology.
This epistemological proposition of Charvakas was influential among various schools of in Indian philosophies, by demonstrating a new way of thinking and re-evaluation of past doctrines. Hindu, Buddhist and Jain scholars extensively deployed Charvaka insights on inference in rational re-examination of their own theories.
Charvaka epistemology represents minimalist pramāṇas (epistemological methods) in Hindu philosophy. The other schools of Hinduism developed and accepted multiple valid forms of epistemology. To Charvakas, Pratyakṣa (perception) was the one valid way to knowledge and other means of knowledge were either always conditional or invalid. Advaita Vedanta scholars considered six means of valid knowledge and to truths: Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference), Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation), Anupalabdhi (non-perception, cognitive proof) and Śabda (word, testimony of past or present reliable experts). While Charvaka school accepted just one, the valid means of epistemology in other schools of Hinduism ranged between 2 and 6.
Since none of the means of knowing were found to be worthy to establish the invariable connection between middle term and predicate, Charvakas concluded that the inference could not be used to ascertain metaphysical truths. Thus, to Charvakas, the step which the mind takes from the knowledge of something to infer the knowledge of something else could be accounted for by its being based on a former perception or by its being in error. Cases where inference was justified by the result were seen only to be mere coincidences.
Therefore, Charvakas denied metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, an extracorporeal soul, the efficacy of religious rites, other worlds (heaven and hell), fate and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions. Charvakas also rejected the use of supernatural causes to describe natural phenomena. To them all natural phenomena was produced spontaneously from the inherent nature of things.
The fire is hot, the water cold, refreshing cool the breeze of morn;
By whom came this variety ? from their own nature was it born.
The Charvaka did not believe in karma, rebirth or an afterlife. To them, all attributes that represented a person, such as thinness, fatness etc., resided in the body. The Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha states the Charvaka position as follows,
There is no other world other than this;
There is no heaven and no hell;
The realm of Shiva and like regions,
are fabricated by stupid imposters.— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verse 8
Charvaka believed that there was nothing wrong with sensual pleasure. Since it is impossible to have pleasure without pain, Charvaka thought that wisdom lay in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain as far as possible. Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, Charvaka did not believe in austerities or rejecting pleasure out of fear of pain and held such reasoning to be foolish.
The Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha states the Charvaka position on pleasure and hedonism as follows,
The enjoyment of heaven lies in eating delicious food, keeping company of young women, using fine clothes, perfumes, garlands, sandal paste... while moksha is death which is cessation of life-breath... the wise therefore ought not to take pains on account of moksha. A fool wears himself out by penances and fasts. Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings.— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verses 9-12
Charvakas rejected many of the standard religious conceptions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, such as an afterlife, reincarnation, samsara, karma and religious rites. They were critical of the Vedas, as well as Buddhist scriptures.
The Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha with commentaries by Madhavacharya describes the Charvakas as critical of the Vedas, materialists without morals and ethics. To Charvakas, the text states, the Vedas suffered from several faults – errors in transmission across generations, untruth, self-contradiction and tautology. The Charvakas pointed out the disagreements, debates and mutual rejection by karmakanda Vedic priests and jñānakanda Vedic priests, as proof that either one of them is wrong or both are wrong, as both cannot be right.
Charvakas, according to Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha verses 10 and 11, declared the Vedas to be incoherent rhapsodies whose only usefulness was to provide livelihood to priests. They also held the belief that Vedas were invented by man, and had no divine authority.
The Jain scholar Haribhadra, in the last section of his text Saddarsanasamuccaya, includes Charvaka in his list of six darśanas of Indian traditions, along with Buddhism, Nyaya-Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Jainism and Jaiminiya. Haribhadra notes that Charvakas assert that there is nothing beyond the senses, consciousness is an emergent property, and that it is foolish to seek what cannot be seen.
No independent works on Charvaka philosophy can be found except for a few sūtras composed by Brihaspati. The 8th century Tattvopaplavasimha of Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa with Madhyamaka influence is a significant source of Charvaka philosophy. Shatdarshan Samuchay and Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha of Vidyaranya are a few other works which elucidate Charvaka thought.
In the epic Mahabharata, Book 12 Chapter 39, a villain who dresses up like a scholar, appoints himself as spokesperson for all scholars, and who then advises Yudhishthira to act unethically, is named Charvaka.
One of the widely studied references to the Charvaka philosophy is the Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha (etymologically all-philosophy-collection), a famous work of 14th century Advaita Vedanta philosopher Mādhava Vidyāraṇya from South India, which starts with a chapter on the Charvaka system. After invoking, in the Prologue of the book, the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu ("by whom the earth and rest were produced"), Vidyāraṇya asks, in the first chapter:
Sanskrit poems and plays like the Naiṣadha-carita, Prabodha-candrodaya, Āgama-dambara, Vidvanmoda-taraṅgiṇī and Kādambarī contain representations of the Charvaka thought. However, the authors of these works were thoroughly opposed to materialism and tried to portray the Charvaka in unfavourable light. Therefore, their works should only be accepted critically.
There was no continuity in the Charvaka tradition after the 12th century. Whatever is written on Charvaka post this is based on second-hand knowledge, learned from preceptors to disciples and no independent works on Charvaka philosophy can be found. Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Charvaka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of its ideas by other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:
"Though materialism in some form or other has always been present in India, and occasional references are found in the Vedas, the Buddhistic literature, the Epics, as well as in the later philosophical works we do not find any systematic work on materialism, nor any organised school of followers as the other philosophical schools possess. But almost every work of the other schools states, for refutation, the materialistic views. Our knowledge of Indian materialism is chiefly based on these."
Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 10, 29–32 states that the claims against Charvaka of hedonism, lack of any morality and ethics and disregard for spirituality is from texts of competing religious philosophies (Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism). Its primary sources, along with commentaries by Charvaka scholars is missing or lost. This reliance on indirect sources raises the question of reliability and whether there was a bias and exaggeration in representing the views of Charvakas. Bhattacharya points out that multiple manuscripts are inconsistent, with key passages alleging hedonism and immorality missing in many manuscripts of the same text.
The Skhalitapramathana Yuktihetusiddhi by Āryadevapāda, in a manuscript found in Tibet, discusses the Charvaka philosophy, but attributes a theistic claim to Charvakas - that happiness in this life, and the only life, can be attained by worshiping gods and defeating demons. Toso posits that as Charvaka philosophy's views spread and were widely discussed, non-Charvakas such as Āryadevapāda added certain points of view that may not be of the Charvakas'.
Buddhists, Jains, Advaita Vedantins and Nyāya philosophers considered the Charvakas as one of their opponents and tried to refute their views. These refutations are indirect sources of Charvaka philosophy. The arguments and reasoning approach Charvakas deployed were significant that they continued to be referred to, even after all the authentic Charvaka/Lokāyata texts had been lost. However, the representation of the Charvaka thought in these works is not always firmly grounded in first-hand knowledge of Charvaka texts and should be viewed critically.
Likewise, states Bhattacharya, the charge of hedonism against Charvaka might have been exaggerated. Countering the argument that the Charvakas opposed all that was good in the Vedic tradition, Riepe 1964, p. 75 states, "It may be said from the available material that Cārvākas hold truth, integrity, consistency, and freedom of thought in the highest esteem."
Ain-i-Akbari, a record of the Mughal Emperor Akbar's court, mentions a symposium of philosophers of all faiths held in 1578 at Akbar's insistence(also see Sen 2005, pp. 288–289). In the text, the Mughal historian Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak summarizes the Charvaka philosophy as "unenlightened" and characterizes their works of literature as "lasting memorials to their ignorance". He notes that Charvakas considered paradise as "the state in which man lives as he chooses, without control of another", while hell as "the state in which he lives subject to another's rule". On state craft, Charvakas believe, states Mubarak, that it is best when "knowledge of just administration and benevolent government" is practiced.
Ajita Kesakambali (Sanskrit: अजित केशकंबली; Chinese: 阿耆多翅舍欽婆羅; pinyin: Ā-qí-duō chì-shě-qīn-pó-luó) was an ancient Indian philosopher in the 6th century BC. He is considered to be the first known proponent of Indian materialism, and forerunner to the Charvaka school. He was probably a contemporary of the Buddha and Mahavira. It has frequently been noted that the doctrines of the Lokayata school were considerably drawn from Ajita's teachings. There is no evidence to support that Kesamkambali was a hedonist because he led a very simple life. He wore a garment made of hair and lived an ascetic life style. He did not wear precious ornaments, did not surround himself with beautiful women, and did not live in gluttony. Hedonism was used as a "straw man" argument by opponents of Charvaka.Annaprashana
The Annaprashana (Sanskrit: अन्नप्राशन, Annaprāśana, Bengali: অন্নপ্রাশন, Onnoprashon) also known as Annaprashana vidhi, Annaprasan or Anna-prasanam or Anna Prashashan, is a Hindu ritual (Saṃskāra) that marks an infant's first intake of food other than milk. The term annaprashan literally means "food feeding" or "eating of food".The Annaprashana, unlike many other Samskaras, remains an important ceremony in modern India.Aruni
Aruni (fl. c. 8th century BCE), also referred to as Uddalaka or Uddalaka Aruni, is a revered Vedic sage of Hinduism. He is mentioned in many Vedic era Sanskrit texts, and his philosophical teachings are among the center piece in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Chandogya Upanishad, two of the oldest Upanishadic scriptures. A famed Vedic teacher, Aruni lived a few centuries before the Buddha and attracted students from far regions of the Indian subcontinent; some of his students such as Yajnavalkya are also highly revered in the Hindu traditions. Both Aruni and Yajnavalkya are among the most frequently mentioned Upanishadic teachers in Hinduism.According to Ben-Ami Scharfstein, a professor emeritus of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Uddalaka Aruni was one of the first philosophers in recorded history. In the Chandogya Upanishad Aruni asks metaphysical questions concerning the nature of reality and truth, observes constant change, and asks if there is something that is eternal and unchanging. From these questions, embedded in a dialogue with his son, he presents the concept of Ātman (soul, Self) and universal Self.Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is a subschool of Vedānta, which teaches that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman.Brahma Sampradaya
The Brahma Sampradaya (Brahma-sampradāya) refers to the disciplic succession (sampradaya) of gurus starting with Brahma. The term is most often used to refer to the beliefs and teachings of Madhvacharya and his Dvaita philosophy.
The term Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is used to refer to the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his Gaudiya theology.Hindu eschatology
Hindu eschatology is linked in the Vaishnavite tradition to the figure of Kalki, or the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu or Shiva names of the Supreme Being in Hinduism and before the age draws to a close, and Harihara simultaneously dissolves and regenerates the universe.
The current period is Kali Yuga, the last of four Yuga that make up the current age. Each period has seen a progressive decline in morality, to the point that in Kali Yuga quarrel and hypocrisy are norm. In Hinduism, time is cyclic, consisting of cycles or "kalpas". Each kalpa lasts 8.64 billion years, which is a period of one full day and night for Brahma, who in turn will live for 311 trillion, 40 billion years. The cycle of birth, growth, decay, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order, yet is affected by the vagaries of divine intervention in Vaishnavism. Some Shaivites hold the view that he is incessantly destroying and creating the world.
After this larger cycle, all of creation will contract to a singularity and then again will expand from that single point, as the ages continue in a religious fractal pattern.Indian philosophy
Indian philosophy refers to ancient philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. The principal schools are classified as either orthodox or heterodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Vedas as a valid source of knowledge; whether the school believes in the premises of Brahman and Atman; and whether the school believes in afterlife and Devas.There are six major schools of orthodox Indian Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta, and five major heterodox schools—Jain, Buddhist, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Cārvāka. However, there are other methods of classification; Vidyaranya for instance identifies sixteen schools of Indian philosophy by including those that belong to the Śaiva and Raseśvara traditions.The main schools of Indian philosophy were formalised chiefly between 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era. Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative years, especially between 800 BCE and 200 CE. Some schools like Jainism, Buddhism, Yoga, Śaiva and Vedanta survived, but others, like Ajñana, Charvaka and Ājīvika did not.
Ancient and medieval era texts of Indian philosophies include extensive discussions on Ontology (metaphysics, Brahman-Atman, Sunyata-Anatta), reliable means of knowledge (epistemology, Pramanas), value system (axiology) and other topics.Jaimini
Jaimini was an ancient Hindu scholar who founded the Mimansa school of Hindu philosophy. He was a disciple of sage Veda Vyasa, the son of Parashara. Traditionally attributed to be the author of the Mimamsa Sutras and Jaimini Sutras, he is estimated to have lived around the 4th-century BCE. His school is considered non-theistic, but one that emphasized rituals parts of the Vedas as essential to Dharma.Jaimini's guru was Badarayana, the latter founded the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, emphasizing the knowledge parts of the Vedas, and credited with authoring Brahma Sutras. Both Badarayana and Jaimini quoted each other as they analyzed each other's theories, Badarayana emphasizing knowledge while Jaimini emphasizes rituals, sometimes agreeing with each other, sometimes disagreeing, often anti-thesis of the other.Jaimini's contributions to textual analysis and exegesis influenced other schools of Indian philosophies, and the most studied bhasya (reviews and commentaries) on Jaimini's texts were by scholars named Shabara, Kumarila and Prabhakara.Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa
Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa (fl. c. 800) was a sceptical (ajñana) Indian philosopher, author of the Tattvopaplavasiṃha (tattva-upa.plava-siṃha "The Lion that Devours All Categories"/"The Upsetting of All Principles").
The text was discovered in a single manuscript in the 20th century. Its original 1940 edition attributed it to the materialist Charvaka school, but scholarly opinion on this point remains divided. The work is primarily epistemological in nature, reminiscent of the sceptical philosophy of David Hume.List of religions and spiritual traditions
While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a
[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.Nididhyāsana
In Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga Nididhyasana (Sanskrit: निदिध्यासन) is profound and repeated meditation on the mahavakyas, great Upanishadic statements such as "That art Thou", to realize the identity of Atman and Brahman. It is the fourth step in the training of a sisya (disciple), consisting of preparatory practives, listening to the teachings as contained in the sruti, reflection on the teachings, and nididhyasana.Nyāya Sūtras
The Nyāya Sūtras is an ancient Indian Sanskrit text composed by Akṣapāda Gautama, and the foundational text of the Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy. The date when the text was composed, and the biography of its author is unknown, but variously estimated between 6th-century BCE and 2nd-century CE. The text may have been composed by more than one author, over a period of time. The text consists of five books, with two chapters in each book, with a cumulative total of 528 aphoristic sutras, about rules of reason, logic, epistemology and metaphysics.The Nyāya Sūtras is a Hindu text, notable for focusing on knowledge and logic, and making no mention of Vedic rituals. The first book is structured as a general introduction and table of contents of sixteen categories of knowledge. Book two is about pramana (epistemology), book three is about prameya or the objects of knowledge, and the text discusses the nature of knowledge in remaining books. It set the foundation for Nyaya tradition of the empirical theory of validity and truth, opposing uncritical appeals to intuition or scriptural authority.The Nyaya sutras cover a wide range of topics, including Tarka-Vidyā, the science of debate or Vāda-Vidyā, the science of discussion. The Nyāya Sutras are related to but extend the Vaiśeṣika epistemological and metaphysical system. Later commentaries expanded, expounded and discussed Nyaya sutras, the earlier surviving commentaries being by Vātsyāyana (c.450–500 CE), followed by the Nyāyavārttika of Uddyotakāra (c. 6th–7th centuries), Vācaspati Miśra's Tātparyatīkā (9th century), Udayana's Tātparyapariśuddhi (10th century), and Jayanta's Nyāyamañjarī (10th century).Prabhākara
Prabhākara (active c. 7th century) was an Indian philosopher-grammarian in the Mīmāṃsā tradition. His views and his debate with Kumārila Bhaṭṭa led to the Prābhākara school within Mīmāṃsā. The Prābhākara school is considered to be nastik (atheistic) or Lokayata school. Kumārila said: For in practice the Mimamsa has been for the most part converted into a Lokayata system; But I have made this effort to bring it into a theistic path.Śālikanātha wrote commentaries on Prabhākara in the 8th century.Pratibimbavada
Pratibimbavada (Sanskrit: प्रतिबिम्बवाद) or the theory of reflection, whose origin can be traced to the Brahma Sutra II.iii.50, is credited to Padmapada, the founder of the Vivarna School of Advaita Vedanta and the author of Pancapadika which is a commentary on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhasya. According to the Vivarna School, Brahman is the locus of Avidya , and which, with regard to the relation existing between the Jiva and Brahman, concludes that the Jiva is a mere reflection (pratibimba) of its prototype (bimba) i.e. of Brahman, and therefore, identical with its essence, Brahman. This school holds the view that the mahavakya, tat tvam asi, is sufficient for the attainment of enlightenment, of the realization of the identity between the self and Reality.Satyakama Jabala
Satyakama Jabala is a boy, and later a Vedic sage, who first appears in Chapter IV of the ancient Hindu text, the Chandogya Upanishad. As a boy, he enquires about his father from his mother. His mother Jabala, tells him that she went about many places in her youth, and did not know who his father was.As a boy, eager for knowledge, Satyakama goes to the sage Haridrumata Gautama, requesting the sage's permission to live in his school for Brahmacharya. The teacher asks, "my dear child, what family do you come from?" Satyakama replies that he is of uncertain parentage because his mother does not know who the father is. The sage declares that the boy's honesty is the mark of a "Brāhmaṇa, true seeker of the knowledge of the Brahman". Sage Gautama accepts him as a student in his school.The sage sends Satyakama to tend four hundred cows, and come back when they multiply into a thousand. The symbolic legend then presents conversation of Satyakama with a bull, a fire, a swan (Hamsa, हंस) and a diver bird (Madgu, मद्गु), which respectively are symbolism for Vayu, Agni, Āditya and Prāṇa. Satyakama then learns from these creatures that forms of Brahman is in all cardinal directions (north, south, east, west), world-bodies (earth, atmosphere, sky and ocean), sources of light (fire, sun, moon, lightning), and in man (breath, eye, ear and mind). Satyakama returns to his teacher with a thousand cows, and humbly learns the rest, the nature of Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality).Satyakama graduates and becomes a celebrated sage, according to the Hindu tradition, and a Vedic school is named after him, as is the influential ancient text Jabala Upanishad – a treatise on Sannyasa (Hindu monk, monastic life). Upakosala Kamalayana was a student of Satyakama Jabala, whose story is also presented in the Chandogya Upanishad.Sthiti
A Sanskrit Dictionary gives more than eighty meanings of the Sanskrit word, Sthiti (स्थिति), but this word mainly refers to position, rank or dignity, staying, or permanence, permanent or continued existence in any place.Swami Karpatri
Karpatri Ji Maharaj (Swāmi Karpātrī; 1907–1982; born as Har Narayan Ojha in a village called Bhatni of Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India) so called because he would eat only what would come in his palm 'kar', as the bowl 'paatr', was a monk in the Hindu dashanami monastic tradition.Tridevi
The Tridevi (English: three goddesses; Sanskrit: त्रिदेवी, tridevī) is a concept in Hinduism joining a triad of eminent goddesses either as a feminine version of the Trimurti or as consorts of a masculine Trimurti, depending on the denomination. This triad is typically personified by the Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. In Shaktism, these triune goddesses are the manifestations of goddess Yogmaya also known by the names of Adi Parashakti, Devi.
In the Navaratri ("nine nights") festival, "the Goddess is worshiped in three forms. During the first three nights, Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Saraswati until the ninth night."Vijnanabhiksu
Vijñānabhikṣu (also spelled Vijnanabhikshu) was a Hindu philosopher from Bihar, variously dated to the 15th or 16th century, known for his commentary on various schools of Hindu philosophy, particularly the Yoga text of Patanjali. His scholarship stated that there is a unity between Vedānta, Yoga, and Samkhya philosophies, and he is considered a significant influence on Neo-Advaita movement of the modern era.