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Atheists: How do they Relate to Hindu Philosophy

Updated on December 22, 2017

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 massive 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 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 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, which is a religion so vast that it encompasses all facets of human thought including atheism

Last Wordt

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 and in case the reader is interested he can start by reading the Puranas and the Vedas.

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    • emge profile image
      Author

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Lawrence. You have raised an interesting question, but Hinduism is not only a religion but a way of life.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Emge

      I'll admit that I enjoyed this hub, but it also gave me a bit of a headache! How can one be classed as an adherent to a faith that one says they don't have?

      I've come to realize over the years that while we in the west think of religion as merely a matter of belief, in the east it's much more of a 'way of life'

      Thank you for the informative hub

      Lawrence

    • emge profile image
      Author

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Madu for your comment

    • 10000001 profile image

      madugundu krishna 2 years ago from Yemmiganur

      well explained about OM.

    • emge profile image
      Author

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Hi Manatita, I was not talking of you, I meant other people. I have read your bio and am in awe of you. Yes sir, the advice written is for others and not you.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Oh! You didn't know? I'm so sorry. I'm a Disciple of Sri Chinmoy and sat at His feet for 33 years! We have over 400 Centres throughout the world and one extremely sacred Temple in Heidelberg, Germany. Sri Chinmoy teaches that the modern way is to live in the world and be a part of it, while aspiring for the Divine life. We do not use an Ashram style life.

      We are all working people, but we all practice spiritual principles to include a vegetarian and wholesome lifestyle. I have sat in meditation every day from half an hour up to 4 hours daily for 33 years. Hari Om!

    • emge profile image
      Author

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      I agree with you Mantita, as your knowledge of Hinduism is immense. It may be worthwhile to join up a ashram and spend time under a learned guru. Great insight can be given by such a man. I spent a lot of time at the ashram of swami Shraddhanand and learnt a lot

    • emge profile image
      Author

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Abhimanyu. Good suggestion, but one can try and read as much as possible and that makes interesting reading

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Yes, Abhimanyu is right. Sri Krishna explains the four Yogas with the true mark of Realisation. Srimad Bhagavatam is awesome too, and Sri Rajagopalacharyaji, has a small version of the Ramayana which is excellent.

      The Vedas, the Upanisads, the puranas ... requires perhaps lifetimes of reading, but again some of the Upanishads are well known and told as great stories by families. Yoga Visishtha is another great one as well as Crest Jewel of Discrimination by Lord Shankaracharya. (Vivika Chaudamani)

      The Gita and the Srimad Bagavatam are usually sufficient for the modern spiritual life. Book learning can sometimes hinder us, and we miss the simple things of Love. Prayer, meditation, service to others, Faith, Gratitude and the true spirit of Surrender are all benchmarks in this struggle for inner Glory. Peace.

    • Abhimanyu gaur profile image

      Kshitiz Gaur 2 years ago from India

      Nice hub and yeah hinduism is very vast religion. You are also right when you say that it is a way of life. The part where you say that one can read the vedas and puranas has a little problem and the problem is that they are too long to be studied in a single lifetime. I suggest Bhagwad geeta which has all the majore priciples illustrated in it.

    • emge profile image
      Author

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Add YourThank you Manatita. Yes sir, I read your poem and shall cherish it for long.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Ah! Good to see you. I've done the poem, and Surabhi has also. It will be posted soon. Mine already is, and is full of comments. Hope you like it. Much Love, my Brother.

    • emge profile image
      Author

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Manatita. Your knowledge of Hindu religion is prodigious. Yes I agree with what you have written. I picked up all about this from swami. Shraddanand who is no more. He ran an ashram at Bassein road near Mumbai.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Interesting viewpoint. Like you said, Hinduism is very vast. It speaks of Sanatama Dharma, meaning the Eternal Religion, or Truth is One. It also says, Tat Twam Asi (That Thou art). The Nameless Invisible, that is.

      Hinduism, from my standpoint, speaks of the Absolute Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, The Sat, Chit, Ananda, called Brahman. There is the atman and the Para-atman, the individual Soul, and the Supreme Soul. Life's purpose is to merge and become one. (God-realisation).

      Yes, there is a Creator, preserver and transformer, all being part of this one indivisible Spirit, a Perennial Entity, which some call God or Allah. Sri Krishna speaks of this, and the Great Ramana Marharshi, although taking the Ghyani approach, speaks of the qreat question 'Who am I.'

      And so when it is finally answered, only the Self (Brahman) remains. Brahman is the great Silence, and all else comes from Brahman.

      Now Sri Ramakrishna gave Vivekananda sufficient experiences, until he finally accepted that God is also with form. The formless and the form are One; the infinite becomes the finite and vice versa. The Avatar is the descent of God in human form. Some call this monotheism. The Buddhist scriptures says this:

      "Form is form; emptiness is emptiness.

      Form is emptiness; emptiness is form."

      Some Indians expound the concept that India has many Gods, and the West ridicule you, saying that you have no God. Brahman is the Absolute, and all flows from Brahman. Sure there are many Gods and goddesses, each with their unique purpose and we have many angels and arch-angels in the West. But the Source remains One.

      While Yogi's may accept the term Atheism, they do not believe in such things. An atheist loves his children, holds inner values of Love; Light; beauty ...indeed the very omnipresence of something that we seek to interpret differently and give different names.

      Still, how can the inner Light not shine in him? The Yogi knows it does, and that consciously or unconsciously, the atheist is aware. So your argument of life, or vastness, if you like, is certainly applicable, in this case.

      Interesting approach, you are not the only one to say this. Many do. Yet India itself has led the way and produced the greatest God-souls: Lord Rama, Lord Krishna; Lord Buddha, Lord Christ; (influenced on his travels) Lord Chaitanya, Lord (Bhagawan) Ramakrishna, Lord Sri Aurobindo ... much Love on your effort to approach this difficult subject.

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