This is an interesting questions and answers session with Richard Dawkins at the at Jaipur Literary Festival in India.

9 minutes in a man asks a question regarding the promotion of the freethinking movement in India - we don't often hear about India's history in Free-thought and the questioner asks Dawkins if he would consider promoting it - against the promotion of India as a religious nation with many gods.

I agree I believe we should promote awareness of free-thinking groups around the world.

Has anyone else any news to add regarding traditions of free-thinking around the world?

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Alice, What an interesting subject you have raised for a discussion! As an Indian, this pleases me utmost.

The oldest Indian religion, the Vedic religion was based on four Vedas, believed to be not less than 6500 years old. It is said that atheism existed in India almost since Vedic times. Indian atheism is therefore the oldest atheism in the world! The person who asked the question must have known well about Indian atheism and must have wanted to project a good image of India, as I too want to do.

We Indians are very poor in public relations and badly fail to project what is good about our country. This problem is compounded by westerners who either feel attracted to Indian philosophy or are affected by poor visual effects in India. India is a land of vast diversity and many contradictions too! Despite this, I would like to suggest to atheists here to know a little about Indian atheism.

I did think of you Mudhukar when I saw this you tube of Dawkins in India and thought I would also respond to the man's question and promote the free thought movements of other, less known countries, such as India - that is mainly promoted as a very religious place.

We will discover if there is too much self obsession to venture into curiosity about the histories of other countries in our movement.

It is very true about India - there are very many great thinkers historically and currently in India. 


India is seen as a religious country but India is a multi-religion country. Hindus, the main religious group, are not as religious people as Muslims or even Catholics. As a religious group Hindus were never extreme religionists, if this thing is seen sometimes today, it is mainly a reaction to the religious extremism seen in the world.  Indians do not oppose or doubt science at all and accept it readily. Therefore, that India is a religious country is a misconception. Indians, as a whole, do not oppose or disbelieve science, only, they are not as affected in their thoughts by science as they should be.

I won't be surprised to find a large number atheists in India. Apathy is one Indian vice because of which most must have remained in the closet.

Oh, yes. Thanks for remembering me.

Madhukar - are you on Facebook?  I notice lots of pictures of Gandhi and sayings from wise men of India being shared.

In fact the understanding of reality in terms of Hinduism, to my understanding is way more rational than other religious beliefs.

Naturalism tells us that we have no evidence for god or a god given free will.

The hinduism that I have studied also shows this lack of free will - they have karma, drama and sanskars.  Meaning - action, the causal web and habits.  They are way ahead in dealing with reality in a rational way.

I still come across many atheists - American's especially who are totally deluded by the illusion of contra-causal free will - making themselves little gods of their own existence.


Any religion with a belief in god can not be said to be rational, otherwise I might have remained a Hindu. The good about Hinduism is that it does not take extreme positions. Any religion would strongly oppose atheism, but ancient hinduism did not do so.

Sage Kapil is the oldest known atheist but unlike Gautam Buddha, he did not set up a new religion. Hinduism too did not try to discredit him. He was the first to say that there is no god and no god is needed. His followers were known as Sankhya. The Sankhya philosophy explains creation in its own way, which, unfortunately relies entirely on imagination, but some of their thoughts come close to Darwin's evolution theory.

Sage Kapil, although his theories were not accepted by the Vedic religion, was well respected, so much  that Lord Krishna, in his Bhagvad Geeta that enjoys popularity of mammoth proportions, has said that "I am Kapil".


Madhukar - the cultural knowledge that you bring to discussion is so very interesting.

I am so very interested in promoting more understanding of other cultures in our circles - I think we can learn much about ourselves when we see how others are different.

The western culture is very much based in a Christian tradition - I was shocked myself to see that many of the values that I have around personal relationships are actually stated in the Bible - even though I was not brought up Christian only in a historically Christian country - and that those values are very different to other cultural values that we find in other parts of the world.

This to me indicates just how much we are effected by the causal chain of events that leads us all uniquely to where we find ourselves.


this is tending to a dialogue and not a discussion. Those atheists who may not be having any knowledge of atheism of ancient India, should at least have tried to ask questions. This does not happen; I hope this does not suggest apathy.

Madhukar - in the causal web of all things - marketing and public relations is everything.  Understanding the science behind a thing - being able to attract a market - it's the key to engaging others in a story.

After the fact - we can only assume that 'luck' was not on our side - in the causal mix of all things - there are many reasons for this - if you are not getting success in what you want - you need to rethinking how you are going to get it - and it needs to be based in the science - hypothesis, observation, testing, re-testing, developing a theory - and repeat.

In this way you will develop your skills so as to achieve what you want.


Your advice is indeed very wise and like a true friend. Rethinking is already in progress.


Madhukar, I looked up the sage Kapil as soon as you mentioned him.  The problem for westerners is that we cannot read the original texts in their original languages.  It seems to me that after his death, lots of myths were mixed in with the history of Kapil.

"His father was Kardam and his mother was Devahuti.  She first gave birth to nine daughters and then to Kapila, who was a manifestation of Vishnu.

For many years Devahuti served her husband Kardam with devotion and care. Though she was a princess she easily adjusted to the severe life of the hermitage. She spent all her spare time observing religious rituals and soon her body lost its voluptuousness and became lean and emaciated. Once Kardam noticed her weak condition and acknowledging all she had done for him he said that he would share his transcendental wisdom with her. Devahuti very bashfully replied that the time for sharing of the minds would come. The union of the bodies was also essential, after all the purpose of their marriage was to further the human race. She requested her husband to fulfill this duty as he had being fulfilling all others.

Using his yogic powers Kardam created a seven-story flying palace. It was bedecked with jewels and flowers alike and possessed every comfort that could be required to create a romantic atmosphere conducive for sexual union. The palace had pleasure gardens with exotic flowers and birds, resting chambers that would vanquish fatigue in a second and bedrooms that would bring out feelings of love. Kardam also created a thousand maidservants who bathed Devahuti in the magical waters of Bindu Sarovar and thereafter dressed and adorned her so beautifully that she would have been able to charm Kama Deva himself had he been present. Then in the flying palace Kardam and Devahuti traveled to all the romantic places in the world, including the valleys of Mount Meru and the shores of Mansarovar Lake. Now completely ready for producing children the couple returned to their ashram. Kardam split himself into nine personalities and impregnated his wife nine times so that she gave birth to nine daughters.

Devahuti remembered the condition that Kardam had placed before their marriage. Once he had fulfilled his obligation of siring children he would forsake family life and become an ascetic. Afraid that Kardam would leave her, she pleaded with her husband, “Please do not leave me, now. Our nine daughters will get married in due course and leave and if you are not with me then who will take care of me.”

Kardam assuaged her fears. “Do not worry because the time for me to leave has not yet come.Vishnu the Supreme God has given me a boon that he will be born as our son. Your womb is truly sacred.” Many years later Devahuti conceived again. The heavens rejoiced at this event and the Devas showered petals on Devahuti. Brahma came to Kardam’s ashram with nine sages that he had earlier created using his mental powers.




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