Vaishnava view on philosophy and morality without faith in God

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

(From "Sampradaya: Asat-Sampradayas" - click to read more from it.
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– Which well-known foreigners followed the 6 Indian philosophies?

– There is no doubt that philosophical literature originated in India. Although there are many kinds of philosophies, they are grossly divided into 6 categories. These 6 categories of philosophy are known in India as sad-darshana. These 6 philosophies are also widely respected in Greece. Through intensive research, Garbe, who was a professor in Greece, has ascertained that Aristotle was the disciple of Gautama’s philosophy of Nyaya, Thelis was the disciple of Kanada’s philosophy of Vaisesika, Sacretis was the disciple of Jaimini’s Mimamsa, Pluto was the disciple of Vyasadeva’s Vedanta, Pythagoras was the disciple of Kapila’s Sankhya, and Zino was the disciple of Patanjali’s yoga. (Sajjana-toshani 111)

– Does morality without faith in God have any value?

– Some people accept worldly morality, but they do not accept God. To protect themselves, they say that morality without faith in God is always fearless and dutiful. If one does not accept God, all his worldly morality is useless. (Caitanya-siksamrta 3/3)

– Have the mundane psychologists or scientists done any good for the world?

– Those who have written volumes of books on the subject of psychology, with the help of arguments but without understanding the real form of psychology, have simply poured oil onto ashes. They labored uselessly and became intoxicated with pride while accumulating name and fame. What to speak of doing good for the people of this world, they have created inauspiciousness. (Sajjana-toshani 8/9)

– What is the fate of persons who follow the philosophy of skepticism?

– The philosophy of skepticism ruins its followers, because they are always doubtful of the Absolute Truth. (Tattva-viveka 1/16)

– Which religions are called irreligion, cheating religion, reflection of religion, or nonreligion?

– Religion in which various anarthas such as atheism, skepticism, materialism, and impersonalism are present, the devotees do not accept as religion. In fact, such religions are to be accepted as irreligion, cheating religion, reflection of religion, or nonreligion. (For more details on these 4 kinds of pseudo-religion see Caitanya-siksamrta 1/1)

– What is the worship of matter?

– "The sky that exists within the cosmic creation is all-pervading and formless; this is also true of its controller." This is called the worship of matter. (Tattva-viveka 1/28)

– What is the difference between metaphysical truth and transcendental truth?

– Until one realizes the subtle scientific difference between metaphysical truth and transcendental truth, one does not distinguish them when using these terms. Dry speculators find it very difficult to awaken transcendental love of God.

Due to an immense amount of piety, one develops attachment for transcendental subject matters; one cannot see the transcendental variegatedness by staying on the other side of the wall in the form of metaphysical arguments. (Sajjana-toshani 6/2)

– Which philosophies and beliefs from foreign countries are equal to Indian philosophy that is opposed to the Vedas"?

– Let’s quote a passage from "Tattva-viveka" (written in 1893):

People in India accept subordination to the Vedas and Vedanta-sutra, which are the source of perfect spiritual knowledge. Even so, various philosophies (such as that of Carvaka and Buddha), and various writings (such as Sankhya, Patanjala, and Vaisesika) which oppose the philosophy of the Vedas, have come about.

Various "isms" such as materialism, positivism, secularism, pessimism, skepticism, pantheism, and atheism have been preached in countries like China, Greece, Iraq, France, England, Germany, and Italy.

A few philosophies have been invented by establishing God with the help of arguments. A philosophy that one should faithfully worship God has also been preached in many places in the world. In some places, this philosophy is accepted only as a faith; in some other countries, it is preached as the God-given religion.

Wherever it is accepted only as a faith, it has been known as theism, and wherever it is accepted as a God-given religion, it has been accepted as Christianity and Mohammedanism.

– What are the characteristics of selfish and selfless materialists of India and other countries?

– Let’s quote a passage from "Tattva-viveka" (written in 1893):

"The philosophy of attaining material pleasures is of two kinds: the philosophy of selfish material pleasures, svartha-jadananda-vadi, and the philosophy of unselfish material pleasures, nihsvartha-jadananda-vadi.

Those who follow the philosophy of selfish material pleasures think: "Neither God, nor soul, nor afterlife, nor karmic reactions exist. Therefore, concerned only for results visible in this world, let us spend our time in sense pleasures. We don’t need to waste our time performing useless religious activities."

Because of bad association and sinful deeds, this atheistic philosophy has existed in human society from ancient times. However, this philosophy has never become prominent among faithful, respectable people. Still, in different countries some people have taken shelter of this idea and even written books propounding it.

In India the brahmana Carvaka, in China the atheist Yangchoo, in Greece the atheist Leucippus, in Central Asia Sardanaplus, in Rome Lucretious, and many others in many countries all wrote books propounding these ideas. Von Holback says that one should perform philanthropic deeds to increase one’s personal happiness. By working to make others happy, one increases one’s own happiness, and that is good.

Trying to persuade the people in general, the authors of modern books propounding the philosophy of material pleasure often talk about unselfish material pleasure or doing good materially for others.

In India, atheism existed even in ancient days. With great erudition, one philosopher wrote a great distortion of the Vedic teaching. A distortion called the Mimamsa-sutra, beginning with the words codana-laksano dharmah, replaces God with an abstract origin, before which nothing existed (apurva).

In Greece, a philosopher named Democritus preached this philosophy also. He said that matter and void exist eternally. When these two meet, there is creation, and when they are separated, there is destruction. Material elements are different only because their atoms are of different sizes. Otherwise the elements are not different. Knowledge is a sensation that comes when something within touches something without. His philosophy holas that all existence is composed of atoms.

In India also, Kanada in his Vaisesika philosophy taught that the material elements are composed of eternal atoms. However, the Vaisesika philosophy is different from Democritus’ atomic theory, for the Vaisesika philosophy accepts the eternal existence of both God and soul.

In Greece, Plato and Aristotle refused to accept an eternal God as the only creator of the material world. Kanada’s errors are also seen in their views.

Gassendi accepted the existence of atoms, but concluded that God created the atoms.

In France, Diderot and Lamettrie preached the theory of unselfish material pleasure.

The theory of unselfish material pleasure reached its high point in France’s philosopher Compte, who was born in 1795 and died in 1857. His impure philosophy is called positivism. It is inappropriately named, for it accepts the existence of matter only, and nothing else. It claims that aside from sense knowledge there is no true knowledge. "The mind is only a special arrangement of material elements. In the final conclusion, no origin of all existence can be described. Furthermore, there is no need to discover any origin of the material world. There is no sign that any conscious creator of the material world exists. The thinking mind should categorize things according to their relationships, results, similarities, and dissimilarities. One should not accept the existence of anything beyond matter. Belief in God is for children. Adults know God is a myth. Discriminating between good and evil, one should act righteously. One should try to do good to all human beings."

That is the philosophy of unselfish material pleasure. Thinking in this way, one should act for the benefit of all human beings. One should imagine a female form and worship it. That form is, of course, unreal. Still, by worshiping it one attains good character. The earth, or the totality of material existence, is called the Supreme Fetish, the land is called the Supreme Medium, and the primordial human nature is called the Supreme Being. A female form with an infant in her hands should be worshiped morning, noon, and night. This imaginary female form, which is an amalgam of one’s mother, wife, and daughter, should be meditated and worshiped in the past, present, and future. One should not seek any selfish benefit from these actions.

In England, a philosopher named Mill taught a philosophy of sentimentalism that is largely like Compte’s philosophy of unselfish material pleasure.

In this way atheism, or secularism, attracted the minds of many youths in England. Mill, Lewis, Paine, Carlyle, Bentham, Combe, and other philosophers preached these ideas.

This philosophy is of two kinds. One kind was taught by Holyoake, who "kindly accepted" God’s existence to some extent. Bradlaugh, who was a thorough atheist, taught the other kind.

– What is the real nature of the selfless materialists?

The selfish materialists are understood by their name, but actually the selfless materialists are also selfish. (Tattva-viveka)

– Is the philosophy of the selfless materialist devoid of selfishness?

– The philosophy of godless secularism was vigorously preached in India by the learned smartas, who cleverly tried to connect God with their philosophy. The self-interest of one person created obstacles for the self-interest of another person. As soon as less intelligent people heard the word selfless, they immediately respected the philosophy of the selfless materialist, with a desire to achieve their own self-interest. (Tattva-viveka 1/9/12)

– What is the religious principle of the materialists?

– Religious principles that are propagated by the materialists are baseless and fallible like a house. (Tattva-viveka 1/9/12)

– How much fundamental knowledge do the learned scholars of the Western countries possess?

– In the Western countries very few people are civilized and intelligent. In those countries people like Tindale, Haxli, and Darwin are considered very learned. They are supposed to be learned because they can present old topics in a new language. In Bhagavad-gita, which appeared about 5000 years ago, the demoniac propensities are described. It is stated therein that the theory of evolution and the theory ol gradual advancement are born from a demoniac nature. (Religion and Science, Sajjana-toshani 111)

– What is the position of the modern atheists?

– Modern atheists preach philosophies that are illusory and establish themselves as new propounders. They only change the name and form of an old philosophy. (Tattva-viveka 1/17)

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Natural Brotherhood (Bhaktivinoda Thakura):

BhaktiVinoda Thakura

"Gradually, when the offensive portions of the established religions are destroyed, there will be no more differences in the bhajana performed by the various Sampradayas nor any quarrel between them.

Then as brothers, the people of all castes and countries will spontaneously chant the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord together.

At that time, no one will hate anyone or consider others dogeaters; nor will anyone be overwhelmed by the pride of high birth.

The living entities will not forget the principle of natural brotherhood."

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