I want to know what punishment is given simply for being an atheist.

I don't want to know how atheism is accepted, but rather what the scriptures hold against you, if you practice atheism and do not agree to perform ritual duties.

Assume that the atheist hasn't said anything ill about God or vedas.(no blasphemy)


2 Answers 2


I will cover the ManuSmriti part

  1. Stealing grain, base metals, or cattle, intercourse with women who drink spirituous liquor, slaying women, Sudras, Vaisyas, or Kshatriyas, and atheism, (are all) minor offences, causing loss of caste (Upapataka).

Atheism and slaying women and stealing some stuff are both minor offences. So, you loose your caste if you are an atheist.


  1. That kingdom where Sudras are very numerous, which is infested by atheists and destitute of twice-born (inhabitants), soon entirely perishes, afflicted by famine and disease.

If there are too many atheists and sudras, the kingdom will perish, afflicted with famine and disease

  1. Know that a king who heeds not the rules (of the law), who is an atheist, and rapacious, who does not protect (his subjects, but) devours them, will sink low (after death).


  1. Every twice-born man, who, relying on the Institutes of dialectics, treats with contempt those two sources (of the law), must be cast out by the virtuous, as an atheist and a scorner of the Veda.

He must be cast out.


  1. Covetousness, sleepiness, pusillanimity, cruelty, atheism, leading an evil life, a habit of soliciting favours, and inattentiveness, are the marks of the quality of Darkness.


  • While the term Nastika has been used to describe other Indian religions I think in this case it better fits morality over theology.
    – Haridasa
    Feb 23 at 2:13

There is no punishment for atheism or blasphemy. (There is a Puranic theory that claims that one can get moksha faster by being an enemy of God.)

Gita acknowledges the right of a person to reject its teachings.

‘..Reflecting on this entire teaching, do as you think fit.’

Gita 18.63

However, Gita has very low opinion about atheists.

According to them nothing is ultimately real in this world. It is Godless and without any moral basis. Being born of sex union, what else but lust can be said to be its cause?

Gita 16.8

What happens to atheists?

The only way to end of sorrow is to know God.When men shall roll up space as if it were a piece of leather, then will there be an end of sorrow, apart from knowing God.

Svetasvatara Upanishad VI.20

Atheists will remain tied to the endless birth, death, birth ... cycle of Samsara.

  • I think there is no need of Bhakti or belief of God in Karma Yoga, though it helps.
    – The Destroyer
    Feb 21, 2018 at 16:34
  • 1
    note: gita 18.63 is about "Godless and without any moral basis" , which means it is talking about "materialistic atheism". 18.63 is not talking about "atheism, which is with moral basis" (for ex: sankhya darshan)
    – zaxebo1
    Apr 11, 2018 at 11:36
  • @zaxebo1 It talks about people who are more purely materialistic like Duryodhan, so not even atheists like some Isckonites claim.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 15 at 19:40
  • Again those who disbelieve in Ishvara go to their respective destinations as Bhagavad Gita states like Manu this is in terms of morality and not theology.
    – Haridasa
    Feb 23 at 2:12

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