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?
I am very glad that you made an attempt about the sage Kapil. As I have said before, no real data on ancient persons is available. One of Kapils disciples had written some verses on atheism and the religionsts tampered with it to remove the operating main verse from it. Due to such circumstsnces, all available data is sketchy and scattered. I myself have learned something from parts of two-three Marathi books. Marathi is my mother tongue. I will give you a brief picture of what is known about Indian atheism.
The above details of Kapils birth are really irrelevant to his philpsophy and appear to be mere myth.
According to Kapil's creation theory, the universe was created by what he calls as the interplay of Purush and Prakruti, Purush being the inactive watcher and Prakruti being the active element. As I have said before, this too is as much a flight of imagination as god's creation.
Some time after Kapila came another atheist by the nam Charvaka. He was all like a modern day atheist and told people that there is no god, no soul, no rebirth. We have this life and make the most of it. He did not create any imaginary philosophy. Love of Philisophy is one Indian character and so they respected the intricate philosophy of Kapila but thoriughly disliked Charvaka. A situation much like the present American situation. In my opinion, however, it is Charvaka who is proved to be correct. Charvak's followers were known as Lokayatas. Their tradition continued for a long time.
After Charvak came sage Kanada. He believed that there was no need of a god to create the world. The world, according to him, was made of atoms and molecules! His definition of a molecuel totally matches today's scientific definition! His followers were known as Naiyanikas.
The tradition of Indian atheism continues even to day and I would not be surprised if I come to know that there are 50,000 or 100,000 closeted atheists in India.
Thank you my fellow Naiyanika. I knew you would teach me something interesting!
But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?
Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows - or maybe even he does not know.
I have accidentally found the above two stanzas from the Naasadiya Sukta, a part of Rigveda, which is the first scripture of Vedic/Hindu religion. The thoughts are not outright atheistic thoughts but can be said to be of Agnostic sentiments. The Rigveda is dated to be around 4500 BCE.