The Cārvāka System- Indian Philosophy system- wandofknowledge
In Indian philosophy, the word ‘Cārvāka’ or charvaka means a materialist. The Cārvākas hold that perception is the only valid source of knowledge. They point out that all non-perceptual or indirect sources of knowledge like inference, the testimony of other persons, etc., are unreliable and often prove misleading. We should not, therefore believe in anything except what is immediately known through perception.
Perception reveals to us only the material world are composed of the four elements of matter viz. air, fire, water and earth, the existence of which we can directly know through the senses. All objects of this is perceptible world are composed of these elements. There is no evidence that there is anything like an immaterial soul in man. Man too is made wholly of matter. Individual is identical with the body. There is consciousness in man, but consciousness is the quality of the living body which is a product of matter. It should not be thought that because the elements of matter are unconscious, there can be no consciousness in objects made of them. There are many examples in which qualities originally absent in the component parts are developed when the parts are combined together in a particular way. There are even examples of the same substance acquiring new qualities under different conditions. Betel leaf, nut and lime chewed together acquire a red tinge originally absent in any of the constituents: molasses acquire by fermentation, the power of intoxication is originally absent. Similarly, the elements of matter combined together in a particular way give rise to the living body having consciousness. Consciousness ceases apparently with the body. When man dies nothing is left of him to enjoy or suffer the consequences of his actions hereafter.
The survival of man in any form after death is, therefore, unproved. The existence of God is also a myth. God cannot be perceived. The world is made by the automatic combination of the material elements and not by God. According to Carvakas, it is foolish, therefore, to perform any religious rite either for enjoying happiness after this life in heaven or for pleasing God. No faith should be put in the Vedas or in the cunning priests who earn their livelihood by exploiting the credulity of men.
The highest end of life, for a rational man, should, therefore, be the enjoyment of the greatest amount of pleasure here in this life, of which alone wet are sure. It is foolish to forgo the pleasures of life simply because they happen to be mixed with pain. It would be as though one would reject the kernel because of its husk or cease sowing crops for fear of cattle. We should try to get the best out of this life by enjoying it as best as we can and avoiding as far as possible the chances of pain.
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