Posted: Jul 20, 2011 12:03 pm
by cavarka9
Shiv wrote:
cavarka9 wrote:

I disagree, I think andy has done it perfectly well to quote someone who wouldnt be called crazy for saying that and would be listened to. Amartya sen is a brilliant person, although too much of a leftist and too politically correct for my taste.


Well, what does he intend to say through that statement? That is what I contest.

andyx1205 wrote:Just to plug something in, Amartya Sen believes that his agnosticism is compatible with Hinduism:

In some ways people had got used to the idea that India was spiritual and religion-oriented. That gave a leg up to the religious interpretation of India, despite the fact that Sanskrit had a larger atheistic literature than what exists in any other classical language. Madhava Acharya, the remarkable 14th century philosopher, wrote this rather great book called Sarvadarshansamgraha, which discussed all the religious schools of thought within the Hindu structure. The first chapter is "Atheism" – a very strong presentation of the argument in favor of atheism and materialism.


1. It is a given fact that there are not just a few Sanskrit texts in existence today that can be categorized as atheistic. This is in spite of the large number of texts destroyed by invaders and idiots. Those that were saved were passed down *religiously*, through lineages that thrived under and were protected by what we call today as *Hinduism*

2. Sarva-darshana-samgraha is a compendium, a review of all Hindu systems/schools of thought that were prevalent during the period of its author Saint Vidyaranya or Madhava Acharya. This text is a milestone because, though Vidyaranya belonged to Adi Shankara's lineage of Advaita, he very thoroughly details the principles of each school as though he is a student of that very school he is defending. Later he also takes on the role of an opponent and asks penetrating questions that expose flaws in each of those philosophies.

In his book, he orders the system according to an ascending order of integrity, based on how long and strong their philosophies withstand questioning and how soon they run out of answers. That Amartya Sen's "first chapter is "Atheism" – a very strong presentation of the argument in favor of atheism and materialism." actually means it is the weakest of the lot, which is why it is first. It is followed by Buddhism and Jainism. But what the Arguing Indian fails to mention is each system is refuted(philosophically) as the text proceeds.

Check out this wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vidyaranya#Sarvadar.C5.9Banasa.E1.B9.85.CC.87graha to know more about the text. An old translation in English is available on Project Gutenberg for those interested.

3. There is a curious paradox here: if there were so many Atheistic philosophies with 100s of supporting texts, why were people still religious in India? Heck, even the teachers and authors of these atheistic philosophies went to temples and worshiped idols. The same Vidyaranya even composed Mahishasura-mardini Stotram - Hymns to the Warrior Goddess, who slayed the demon Mahishasura, which is so popular today. Why did these so called "atheistic" teachers go to great lengths to uphold religious traditions, worship, rituals etc?

I do respect the fact that Amartya Sen is entitled to his views and interpretations, especially when he is defending India from a western platform. But please dont tell me to accept them without questioning.


Well, this is the problem with religious people, they cannot stop their urge to take credit.

Firstly, What did andy say?. He said that agnosticism seems to not conflict with hinduism, which is true not just with hinduism, it is true with every religion in the world and as we are here talking about hinduism, it is particularly true here as well.

1). Let me assure you that no atheistic literature has survived independently, except perhaps one but that was from a radical skeptic. What has survived was infact atheistic arguments, which isnt that uncommon as the religious people believed that they actually answered these arguments. It is the works of refutation which have survived.

2). True, the author was praised for being considerate to other philosophies if not in full, atleast in parts(I havent read it so I am not entirely sure). We do not know whether madhavacharya was vidyaranya or not, we do not even have much evidence for vidyaranya, it could be merely tales which survived. Amartya Sen knows very well that the book is a work on refutation, he also speaks of a quote before he claims of atheism being given a strong favour, for describing it as first. As far as the ascending and descending goes, these are merely interpretations, the author does not explicitly claims so(no such evidence is put forward). What we do know for sure is that the author kept atheistic religions together and first, this may be due to them being the best critiques of his own worldview. If so, then once again Amartya sen's statement that to have atheism upfront is indeed a strong presentation in favour of materialism comes out to be true. In other words, the author accepts which worldview is of greatest threat to his own worldview when dealing with refutation just as we today speak out first and foremost against those which is of immediate concern.

I think you have not understood the spirit of Amartya sen, most people dont. He is a brilliant person who would wish to see goodness in all, if there is none to be found then he is willing to look at an atoms worth of goodness atleast. He only commends madhavacharya for the book.

3). Well, you once again are wrong. Amartya sen never claims these works are the works of atheists, he claims that it has elements of atheistic thought, which is natural in my view because when there are those many gods, it becomes important to have a practical take on things,not to mention the confusion in keeping track of all their stories.
As far as why people are still religious inspite of having many atheists in India, the answer is pretty simple. Power has always been in religious peoples hands. If there are more atheists today, it is because we can explain much more today without god butting in or being bought into discussion than we ever before. Not to mention, technology. So yes, these people did exist. Why they lost out is also pretty obvious dont you think?.