What is the difference between astika and nastika. I used to think Who believes in God and who don't ; but in many places they say who believes in Vedanta and who don't please clarify my doubts.

Say if someone follows Vedanta but doesn't believe God or believe in God but doesn't believe in Vedanta...

  • Both definitions are correct .. people who do not believe in afterlife, God's existence etc. (na+asti meaning does not exist) are Nastikas .. also sometimes people who do not believe in the authority of Vedas (not Vedanta) are also called Nastikas. Among these two the first definitions are the natural derivations.
    – Rickross
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 6:15
  • How is it possible that a person believes in Vedanta but not in God ? All branches of Vedanta are focused on the relation between Jivatman & Paramatman.
    – অনু
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 11:12
  • @অনু For example, Sāṃkhya is both a non-theistic (as it does not explicitly affirm the existence of God in its classical formulation) and āstika (Vedic) philosophy, though "God" is often used as an epithet for consciousness (purusha) within its doctrine
    – quanity
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 12:44
  • @অনু though Buddhism is considered to be nāstika, Gautama Buddha is considered an avatar of Vishnu in some Hindu traditions
    – quanity
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 21:15
  • Ashtika (belif in god, vedas, ithihasa purana) scriptures, Nastika (no god and hence doesnt have to believe in vedas, ithihasa
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 10:32

2 Answers 2


In his Introduction (under the heading The Six Systems of Philosophy) to his translation of the Brahma Sutras, Swami Vireshwarananda writes (https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras/d/doc62756.html)

The destructive criticism of everything in the old system by the Charvakas and others set the orthodox section to organize their belief on a more rationalistic basis and render it immune against all such criticism. This led to the foundation of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy—orthodox[1] in the sense that they accepted the authority of the Vedas in things transcendental—while there were others who did not accept this authority and therefore were dubbed heterodox, though otherwise they too were the outcome of Upanishadic thought. The acceptance of the authority of the Vedas by these orthodox schools, however, does not mean that they accepted them in toto . Their allegiance to the Vedas varied widely and often it was too loose. Of the six orthodox schools, viz. Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta, the last two are intimately connected with the Vedas, which is one of the reasons why they are not mentioned in the Jaina and Buddhistic literature, while the others are mentioned.

and footnote [1] reads:

Âstika (orthodox) and Nastika (heterodox) had nothing to do with belief or non-belief in the existence of a God.r Sankhya and Mimamsa which did not accept an Iswara were yet regarded Âstika (orthodox). Âstika (orthodox) and Nastika (heterodox) had nothing to do with belief or non-belief in the existence of a God. Sankhya and Mimamsa which did not accept an Iswara were yet regarded Âstika (orthodox).

Astika and Nastika are in reference as to the acceptance of the vedas.

  • are you Paramahamsa Vishwananda, the founding acharya of the Vaishnava organisation Bhakti Marga
    – quanity
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 21:38

The definition of Astika (noun for a person):

Astika is a Sanskrit word meaning “faithful,” “pious” or “having a belief in God.” The word comes from the root asti, meaning “it is” or “exists.” It is sometimes defined as “theism.”


Definition of Astika (noun for a philosophy):

Āstika (Sanskrit: आस्तिक; from Sanskrit: asti, 'there is, there exists') means one who believes in the existence of a Self or Brahman, etc. It has been defined in one of three ways:[5][12]

1. as those who accept the epistemic authority of the Vedas;

2. as those who accept the existence of ātman;

3. as those who accept the existence of Ishvara.


Usually shatdarshanas accept the accept the existence of self, ishvara and accept the authority of Vedas too: Nyāyá, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedānta.

There are versions of shatdarshanas that deny the existence of independent Ishvara, while still having a self.

For example - sankhya school gives arguments against the existence of Ishvara [check arguments here]

There are schools that have claims of founding their own independent truth and they don't have to accept the authority of Vedas. Some of them are:

  1. Buddhism
  2. Jainism
  3. Charvaka
  4. Ājīvika
  5. Ajñana


Few of them reject the existence of Ishvara, self (or permanent self) too.

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