There is this famous wager designed by Pascal which aims to convince humans to act as if God is real

Pascal's wager is a philosophical argument advanced by Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), seventeenth-century French mathematician, philosopher, physicist, and theologian. This argument posits that individuals essentially engage in a life-defining gamble regarding the belief in the existence of God. Source

Here's the wager:

Pascal contends that a rational person should adopt a lifestyle consistent with the existence of God and actively strive to believe in God. The reasoning behind this stance lies in the potential outcomes: if God does not exist, the individual incurs only finite losses, potentially sacrificing certain pleasures and luxuries. However, if God does indeed exist, they stand to gain immeasurably, as represented for example by an eternity in Heaven in Abrahamic tradition, while simultaneously avoiding boundless losses associated with an eternity in Hell

What's interesting is such ideas of a pragmatic approach towards the unseen supernatural were present before Pascal spoke about it. In the same Wikipedia page similar ideas have been spoken by people of all religions. From India it is spoken by Lord Buddha and Vararuchi, where they take a practical approach towards following Dharma and the existence of Karmic repercussions and reincarnation etc.

So my question is, are there similar statements or expressions in Hindu literature like Vedas, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Smritis, Ramayama, Mahabharata or Puranas?

Edit: It seems many people have completely missed the question. Pascal of course formulated it for his Christian faith, but this can be adapted into any religious framework and also secular framework. That's why the Wiki article mentions Buddha and Vararuchi. It deals with risk minimization and reward maximization decision making. So the Christian Heaven will become Moksha or Punya and believing in God would be believing in spiritual pursuits and Dharma as Lord Buddha lays it out.

The question then, from Hindu stand point is posed from an Atheist or Charvaka perspective to the Theist or Astika, as to why should one follow dharma and do good deeds and why should one strive for spiritual perfection and Moksha. Mental purity and spiritual perfection is needed for Moksha ok, but why should one believe that spiritual purification and Moksha exists in the first place. What if there is no such thing and all living beings have only one life?

Please see below what Lord Buddha and Vararuchi says, I'm asking is similar logical expression is there in Hindu literature of Vedas, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Smritis, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas.

Buddhist Wager:

The Kālāma Sutta also contains a similar wager argument towards rebirth, called the "four assurances" or "four consolations". These four assurances are as follows:

  1. "If there is another world, and if there is the fruit and result of good and bad deeds, it is possible that with the breakup of the body, after death, I will be reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world."
  2. "If there is no other world, and there is no fruit and result of good and bad deeds, still right here, in this very life, I maintain myself in happiness, without enmity and ill will, free of trouble."
  3. "Suppose evil comes to one who does evil. Then, when I have no evil intentions toward anyone, how can suffering afflict me, since I do no evil deed?"
  4. "Suppose evil does not come to one who does evil. Then right here I see myself purified in both respects." Source

Vararuchi's wager:

Sanskrit: sandigdhe'pi pare loke tyajyamevacubham buddhaih yadi nasti tatah kin syadasti cennastiko hatah

even though you doubt the existence of another world and the fruits of good and bad deeds, don't do bad things as stated by religion, don't do what is forbidden as stated by the sages, even if the sages are lying, no can be trusted, religion doesn't lie about the existence of heaven and hell and the fruits of good and bad deeds, it doesn't hurt to obey the sage's teachings not to do bad, because if religion is true, the fruits of good and bad deeds are real, then nastika will of course go to hell Source

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    Hinduism doesn't accept the idea of the abrahamic god that Pascal is talking about. Upanishads and Vedas are non-dual, the self is the supreme god. Since one cannot disprove the existence of self, the idea of dismissing god is not possible.
    – user29449
    Commented May 8 at 16:22
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    @User29449 Vararuchi from Hinduism speaks about it. Its not about proving or disproving. It's about following Dharma.
    – Hari Kumar
    Commented May 8 at 20:08
  • Dharma says god is non dual.
    – user29449
    Commented May 9 at 5:12

2 Answers 2


Pascal wager isn't required as yog darshan 3:18 has method to know past life which prove eternal soul and rebirth. So, your assertion of no after life is proven false.

Reasons to practice detachment and duty with examples

2.32: O Parth, happy are the warriors to whom such opportunities to defend righteousness come unsought, opening for them the stairway to the celestial abodes.

6.41-42: The unsuccessful yogis, upon death, go to the abodes of the virtuous. After dwelling there for many ages, they are again reborn in the earth plane, into a family of pious and prosperous people. Else, if they had developed dispassion due to long practice of Yog, they are born into a family endowed with divine wisdom. Such a birth is very difficult to attain in this world.

Bhagvad Gita

As per my knowledge, only charvak darshan denies existence of God and rebirth

From the question you asked you appear to sanshayatma(doubting soul) . I also was a doubting soul

But then I realized there are methods to recognize past lives which prove eternal soul ,rebirth and God. So, my doubts faded away

Check page 233-234 in pdf Yog sutra vyas bhasya ch 3 verse 18

संस्कारसाक्षात्करणात् पूर्वजातिज्ञानम् ॥१८॥

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    Shankhya too denies god (Krishna endorses it in BG), Ashtvakra denies God but his disciple is praised in BG by Krishna, etc. Nyaya, Yoga denies god as an intelligent being too. Charvaka is only materialism.
    – user29449
    Commented May 9 at 5:14
  • @User29449 just asking how would deniers of God explain yog darshan 3:18
    – user34550
    Commented May 9 at 18:02
  • Yoga Darshan 3.18: By direct perception, through samyama of latent impressions, knowledge of previous births is acquired. I don't see any mention of god here!
    – user29449
    Commented May 10 at 6:56
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    @Hari Kumar Can't find it. I had heard it from a friend in ISKCON who was told about it by his Guru who had served Prabhupada in the west. It must be in one of the recordings which isn't transcribed.
    – user34325
    Commented May 12 at 13:12
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    @Shivadasa oh ok, thank you
    – Hari Kumar
    Commented May 12 at 18:09

The question then, from Hindu stand point is posed from an Atheist or Charvaka perspective to the Theist or Astika, as to why should one follow dharma and do good deeds and why should one strive for spiritual perfection and Moksha? Mental purity and spiritual perfection is needed for Moksha ok, but why should one believe that spiritual purification and Moksha exists in the first place. What if there is no such thing and all living beings have only one life?

Vararuchi's argument is not so much pragmatic as fear mongering. Fear of hell is according to him the driving force that should make an atheist do good. Hinduism is not based on fear but love.

Q. — Some of our philosophers in Germany have thought that the whole doctrine of Bhakti (Love for the Divine) in India was very likely the result of occidental influence.

A. — I do not take any stock in that — the assumption was ephemeral. The Bhakti of India is not like the Western Bhakti. The central idea of ours is that there is no thought of fear. It is always, love God. There is no worship through fear, but always through love, from beginning to end. In the second place, the assumption is quite unnecessary. Bhakti is spoken of in the oldest of the Upanishads, which is much older than the Christian Bible. The germs of Bhakti are even in the Samhitâ (the Vedic hymns). The word Bhakti is not a Western word. It was suggested by the word Shraddhâ.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 5, Questions and Asnwers, A Discussion at the Graduate Philosophical Society of Harvard University

Any person who does limited bad thing will not stay eternally in hell. An atheist who does not follow scriptural injunctions will at most remain in the Earth plane according to the Bhagavad Gita.

These vicious men, oppressive, cruel and sinful as they are, are always hurled by Me into demoniac wombs in life after life, in the transmigratory cycle.

Gita 16.19

The question remains as to why men may get interested in spiritual perfection and moksha if they are not motivated by fear of staying eternally in hell?

Gita has an answer to this question.

O Arjuna, the greatest of the Bharata race! Four kinds of pious men adore Me. They are the distressed one, the Knowledge-seeker, the wealth-seeker, and the Knower.

Gita 7.16

The three categories of interest to us are that most men turn to spirituality to escape suffering, out of curiosity or to obtain wealth. Fear of eternal stay in hell is not the motivating force in Hinduism.

What can one say about Vararuchi's wager?

One concludes that Vararuchi's grasp of the Upanishads and the Gita is questionable.

  • Thank you for the answer, but this doesn't answer the question, please check the edit
    – Hari Kumar
    Commented May 11 at 18:18
  • You need to change the question. What you are asking has nothing to do with Pascal's wager which makes no sense outside the Abrahamic faith context. Commented May 12 at 4:00
  • Sir that's why I'm asking Hindu Equivalent. And that's why authors at wiki and multiple other articles do compare Pascal Wager with Lord Buddha's wager and Vararuchis work, unless you are telling all of them are wrong.
    – Hari Kumar
    Commented May 12 at 6:11
  • Pascal's wager has two components. One is it's Abrahamic God and another is the logical abd practical approach. The latter is the subject of this question and not the former. The latter is universal and not restricted to Abrahamic faith. That's why there are multiple articles comparing Buddhist and Vararuchi's wager with Pascal Wager. But anyways, I have edited the question to make it more clear.
    – Hari Kumar
    Commented May 12 at 6:20

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