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Atheists: How Do They Relate to Hindu Philosophy

Updated on June 28, 2019
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Atheism

Atheism means a denial of religion and ipso facto the belief that there is no God. What is God? There is no clear-cut answer, but generally, God is a father figure who regulates the world. God has many apostles, some of who take human form to deliver his message to all and sundry

Hinduism defines God as a faceless, formless but omnipresent being who is represented by the all-powerful Vishnu. Vishnu is the creator and represents the supreme being. Hinduism does not believe in a single God or apostle'. Thus along with Vishnu, there is Shiva who is both a destroyer and creator. He has a vicious form as well in the form of Kaal Bhairov. Thus Hinduism is in a way a complex religion and many have termed it a way of life. If we accept Hinduism as a way of life, then Atheism becomes part of Hinduism.

Hinduism, unlike other religions, also encompasses Atheism. Atheists deny the existence of God but do not deny the existence of a super force that regulates the world and may refer to it as nature. Atheists like Dr. Kavoor talked of rationalism and opined there was no God and all so-called miracles as a hoax, that cannot stand the test of logic.

Atheism and Hinduism

Atheism has a clear definition in the West and Islam, where there is unity of god and a founder and a main holy scripture. One can easily relate an atheist with these concepts. And come to a conclusion that a human who does not believe in say the Bible or the Koran or all that they espouse of a single god does not exist.

In Hinduism, it is different as there are multiple scriptures and none that is more authentic than the other. There is also no ' founder' of Hinduism which is by itself a vast philosophical concept that to many may seem bewildering; It is a way of life that allows a man to reach the state of “moksha" or salvation by any means. The choice is with the believer. Thus there is no one path to follow for salvation.

In this philosophy there have been saints who were ' nastik', meaning who did not believe in god. Yet they were part of the Hindu way of life. There are many such examples of these “Nastik" or non-believers.

A study of the ancient scriptures brings out the Samkhya concept. This is an atheistic concept and nothing like this exists anywhere else. The Samkhya concept can be traced to 350 BC or close to it. It rejects the concept of god, yet it remains a part of the Hindu religion.

In the 6th century, a concept called the Carvaka developed. It rejected the core principles of Hinduism like the reincarnation of soul and an afterlife. It talked about the actions of the human being in real life. Cārvākas also did not recognize that any of the known physical phenomena like earthquakes were due to any supernatural acts.

Then Hinduism also produced Makkhali Ghosala who was a contemporary of the Buddha and the founder of Jainism Mahavira. His concepts are radical in the extreme. Gosala denied the existence of a creator or god, yet he is not thought to have gone against Hinduism

Thus one can see that despite denying the existence of God, these philosophies were part and parcel of Hinduism and the theme of an Atheist is very much a part of Hinduism. The vastness of Hinduism encompasses all facets of human thought including atheism

Last Word

Hinduism is a way of life. In a way, it is a different concept from a traditional religion like saying Christianity, where the parameters are clearly defined. Hinduism has no limits and encompasses the entire cosmic life and thought known.

Atheism in its classical concept, where it denies the existence of God is in real terms a part of Hindu thought. This is the greatness of Hinduism and to understand it one will have to spend a lifetime. This brief hub is just an introduction as the topic is so vast it cannot be covered in a single article. One can read the Vedas and Puranas but these are voluminous works and one may have to spend a lifetime to read and understand them. It 's not something for the common man. Perhaps a reading of the Bhagwad Gita can be a good beginning but visiting an ~Ashram with a spiritual guru can be one of the ways.

One must state that despite accepting atheists the Bhagwad Gita does not put Atheists on a high pedestal. It says that atheists will remain in Samsara, the cycle of birth and death, and will suffer. In the Svetasvatra Upanishad VI.20, it is stated that the only way to end sorrow is to know God.

Atheists exist in every continent and all religions recognize this concept but it is only in Hinduism where this concept is accepted as a path and part of the Hindu way of life but it is a concept that is frowned upon.

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