By Swami Harshananda
Dehātmavāda literally means ‘the doctrine that the body itself is the self’.
Philosophical systems have been broadly divided into two streams:
- The āstika - They accept the Vedas as the final authority.
- The nāstika - They do not accept the Vedas as the final authority.
One of the three systems of the nāstika group is the Cārvāka system. Its founder is said to be one Cārvāka or the reputed sage Bṛhaspati.
The word ‘Cārvāka’ might have been derived from its etymology as ‘one who speaks sweetly’ or as ‘one who preaches the doctrine of “eat drink and be merry”.. In other words it stands for materialism.
According to this system, there is no permanent abiding ātman or soul different from and beyond the deha or the physical body. The deha (body) itself is the ātman (the soul). The fact that we say, ‘I am stout,’ ‘I am lean,’ ‘I am sick’ and so on shows that we are actually the body. There is consciousness in a living body. But this is a product of the elements of matter like earth and water even as fermentation of certain articles develops the power of intoxication.
The survival of man after death in any form is unseen and unproved. Hence make the best of this world even while living here and do not bother about the hereafter. This is the gist of this school of materialism.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore