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We have 6 Darshanas.

Vaisheshika, Nyaya , Purva Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga , Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta

Which of them are atheistic, I mean superficially accept God, but ultimately reject God or not talk about God at all or no existence of God at all. If a Darshana has different interpretations like Vedanta has, mention them as well.

Which of them are atheistic?

marked as duplicate by Keshav Srinivasan Apr 28 at 12:30

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • This is not a duplicate of the other question and should be re-opened. This question is specifically asking which sects are atheistic while the question is a very generic one. The answers could be duplicate while the question are not. – sv. Apr 30 at 19:25
  • @sv. yes, the question IS duplicate and the original answer is far superior in each and every aspect. – user17294 May 1 at 4:39
  • @sv. But I can understand very very clearly why the few members who is always busy in marking questions duplicate (I am not meaning you) did not mark this as duplicate!! – user17294 May 1 at 4:40

In Tattva Viveka, Bhaktivinoda Thakur speaks about this topic.

This work is a philosophical sally against both western and eastern philosophies including other religions like Islam, Christianity etc originally written in Bengali.

In Text 17 he says:

sarvesam nastikanam vai matam etat puratanam desa-bhasa-vibhedena laksitam ca prthak prthak

sarvesam-of all; nastikanam-atheist philosophies; vai-indeed; matam-view; etat-this; puratanam-ancient; desa-country; bhasa-and language; vibhedena-with divisions; laksitam-seen; ca-and; prthak-different; prthak-different.

From the earliest times many different varieties of atheist philosophy have been preached in different countries and languages

He comments as follows:

1.Materialism, or the worship of material nature, 2. Idealism, and 3. Scepticism are three of the oldest kinds of atheism. All other kinds of atheism are included within them. It is a mistake to think that the various modern forms of atheism were all only recently invented. With different names and in somewhat different forms, these same kinds of atheism existed also in ancient times. Many different kinds of atheism were thus preached in our country. Among them Sankhya, nyaya, vaisesika, and karma-mlmamsa were openly atheistic. Patanjali's yoga philosophy and the philosophy of Vedanta Monism (advaita) were covered atheism.

1. Sankhya :

This is an ancient philosophy expounded by pseudo-Kapila in his book.

Maharsi Kapila says in his book:

isvarasiddheh God's existence has never been proved." (Kapila-sütra 1.92)

mukta-baddhayor anyatarabhavan na tat-siddhih God is either free from matter or imprisoned by matter. Nothing more may be said of Him." (Kapila-sütra 1.93)

God is either free from matter or imprisoned by matter. What more may be said of Him? If God is liberated, then no one can know anything about Him. If God is imprisoned by matter He is not God at all.

To explain this passage the commentator Vijnana Bhiksu says:

nanv evam isvara-pratipadaka-srutinam ka gatis tatraha What is the meaning of the Veda passages that assert the existence of God?

In Kapila-sütra (1.96) the explanation is given:

muktatmanah prasamsa upasasiddhasya va

The descriptions of 'God' in the Vedas are actually only the praises or worship of the liberated souls."

In this way the sankhya philosophy affirms that God does not exist.

2.Nyaya-the philosophy propounded by Gautama.

Gautama asserts:

pramana-prameya-samsaya-prayojana-drstanta-siddhantavayava-tarkanirnaya- vada-jalpa-vitanda-hetv-abhasa-chala-jati-nigraha-sthananam tattvajnanan nihsreyasadhigamah

By studying the different branches of logic, namely: pramana, prameya, samsaya, prayojana, drstanta, siddhanta, avayava, tarka, nirnaya, vada, jalpa, vitandDa, hetu, abhasa, chala, and jati-nigraha, one attains the highest benefit."

Bhaktivinoda Thakur says:

What is the great benefit of which Gautama speaks? That I cannot see. Perhaps he means that expert knowledge of logic is a great benefit for the living entities. God is not included among the sixteen items he says bring great benefit.

That is why the Vedas affirm:

naisa tarkena matir apaneya God cannot be understood by material logic.

Gautama sees liberation in this way:

duhkha-janma-pravrtti-dosa-mithya-jnananam uttarottarapaye tadanantarapayad apavargah

Liberation means attaining the knowledge that frees one from the ignorance that is the birthplace of sufferings."

In general, this sutra may be seen to support the idea that liberation is the cessation of sufferings. Spiritual bliss is not present in Gautama's conception of liberation. In his conception there is no bliss of meeting God. For this reason Gautama's Nyaya-sastra is opposed to the Vedas. That concludes our description of the nyaya philosophy.

3.Vaisesika-the philosophy propounded by Kanada.

There is no need to consider this philosophy at length. In the sutras written by Kanada it is said that there is no eternal God. Some authors writing in the tradition of this philosophy count 'the Supersoul residing within the individual soul who resides in the material body' among the seven basic principles of existence. They did that in an attempt to drive the atheism from their philosophy. Still, in their commentaries on Vedanta-sutra, Sankaracarya and other panditas consider Kanada's philosophy atheistic and anti-Vedic. The truth is that any philosophy that does not accept God as the independent supreme creator and instead posits some other conception of God is actually atheism


He did not write about God. His primary topic was pious deeds.

He said:

codana-laksano 'rtho dharmah. karmaike tatra darsanat. The Vedas teach religion. That religion is called 'karma' (pious deeds)."

Sridhara Svami, the commentator on these sutras, writes:

katham punar idam avagamyate. asti tad apurvam. How should this be understood? It is understood in terms of the 'apurva'."

He says: First pious deeds are performed. Then, from those deeds the 'apurva' (abstract secondary principle) is manifest. That apurva gives the results of the pious deeds. Why is there any need, then, for a God to give the results of actions?" Compte and the modern atheists have no power to say anything more outrageous than this.

5.The Yoga-sastra is also called the Patanjala-sastra.

It was written by Patanjali Rsi.

In the Sadhana-khanda section of this book is the following sutra:

klesa-karma-vipakasayair aparamrstah purusa-visesa isvarah. tatra niratisayam sarvajnya-btjam. sa tu purvesam api guruh kalenanavacchedat.

God is a certain person who is untouched by suffering, karma, destiny, or calamity. He knows everything. Because He is untouched by time, He is the master of all."

Seeing this description of God, many may think Patanjali is a true devotee of God.

However, at the end of Patanjali's book that mistaken impression is dispelled.

In the Kaivalya-pada section of that book Patanjali writes:

purusartha-sunyanam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svarupa-pratistDha va citisaktir iti

When the goals of life are no more, then liberation, which establishes the soul's original nature, or the soul's spiritual potency, is manifest."

In the Bhoja-vrtti, this sutra is explained in these words:

cic-chakter vrtti-sarupya-nivrttau svarupa-matre 'vasthanam tat kaivalyam ucyate

When the soul no longer has form, when it is situated in its spiritual essence, that is called 'kaivalya' (liberation)."

This means: When the spiritual potency is situated in its own nature, that is called kaivalya" (liberation). In this passage what is the meaning of the phrase liberation of the spiritual potency". Does it mean here that when he attains liberation, the individual soul no longer performs any action? Does it mean that after he attains liberation the individual soul continues to have a relationship with God? Unfortunately, this Yoga-sastra book does not answer these questions? After again and again reading this book one will become convinced that the God" described in the sadhana-khanda section is considered only an imaginary being created to help attain spiritual perfection, and after the soul attains perfection the idea of God is no longer taken seriously. Is this book theistic or atheistic? You give the answer?.


BhaktiVinoda Thakur says:

The Vedanta-sutra propounds only devotion to God. In their commentaries on this book many atheists preached the Advaita philosophy (impersonalism), which is covered Buddhism.

He only says this much here and elsewhere he takes up this topic.

Suffice to say from this verse:

Gaudapada Karika on Mandukya Upanishad 2.32:

न निरोधो न चोत्पत्तिर्न बद्धो न च साधकः । न मुमुक्षुर्न वै मुक्त इत्येषा परमार्थता ॥ ३२ ॥

na nirodho na cotpattirna baddho na ca sādhakaḥ | na mumukṣurna vai mukta ityeṣā paramārthatā || 32 ||

There is no dissolution, no birth, none in bondage, none aspiring for wisdom, no seeker of liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.

Ultimately, there is no place for God in Advaita Vedanta.

There are Vaishnava Vedanta like Vishistadvaita, Dvaita , Achintyabheadabheda which are theistic Vedanta. There may be some theistic Shaiva and Shakta Vedantists also which I am not aware of.

  • 1
    "There may be some theistic Shaiva and Shakta Vedantists also which I am not aware of" Srikantha was a vedantin who is known to have written a commentary on brahmasutras from the Shaiva perspective. – Lazy Lubber Apr 27 at 18:09
  • "This work is a philosophical sally against both western and eastern philosophies including other religions like Islam, Christianity etc originally written in Bengali." What are his comments on Christianity and Islam? – Lazy Lubber Apr 27 at 18:13
  • Wow, I didn't know Vaisheshika was atheistic. But I gotta say Kanada deserves credit for discovering the laws of motion (which is incorrectly attributed to Newton). – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Apr 27 at 19:09
  • @LazyLubber oh thanks. Srikantha wrote an vishistadvaitic shaiva commentary. Bhakti vinoda Thakur just says their ideas of souls, one person suffering for others sins, holy trinity goes against all logic... Anyways this book approach is quite different compared to ancient works like Paramata Bhanga, Tattva Dipika, Nyayamrita. – Krishna Varna Apr 28 at 1:58

None of the six darshanas are Atheistic. Because all of them are founded by the great Munis and ALL believe in the Vedas.

In Indian Culture, Atheistic darshanas are those which do not believe that the Vedas are 'Aparausheya', like the Bauddha, Jaina and Lokayata darshanas.

The Vedas talk of 'Purusha' and 'Brahman'. 'God' is an English word and so nowhere mentioned in our tradition.

The purpose of life is also getting the 'Abhudaya' and the ' Nissreyasa'. Seeing Bahagavan even is not necessarily a part of the Indian tradition.

So I repeat :NONE of the six darshanas are 'Atheistic'.

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