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Belief There Is Only Body No Soul In Ancient Hinduism – Dehatmavada

Dehatmavada is the belief that there is no soul apart from the body. The doctrine identifies the soul with the body. It is comparable to the western theories of Behaviorism and Epiphenomenalism. The doctrine is an essential tenet of the Charvaka or Lokayata philosophy in ancient Hinduism.

As per this teaching, the so-called soul is material in nature and thus dependent on the body. Consciousness is the result of the combination of physical elements in a certain proportion. It is just like the intoxicating quality of liquor produced from fermented molasses, or the red color produced by the combination of betel leaf, areca nut and lime. These ingredients do not individually posses the intoxicating quality of the red color, it is only in combination that they do so. In the same way, consciousness is produced by the conglomeration o the physical components of the body. The soul’s identity with the body may be understood from such common expressions as “I am fat”, “I am fair” etc. There is no evidence for the body and soul existing as separate from each other. Consciousness is found invariably connected with the body. Hence the soul is nothing but the conscious body.

Dehatmavada of Charvaka denounces the belief in the immortality of the soul. Birth is the beginning and death is the end of the body, the belief that the soul takes many births is rendered baseless.

Consequently, there is no meaning in thinking that the soul will enjoy the reward or suffer punishment for its karma (actions) in another birth. Thus, this doctrine opposes the belief in the immortality of the soul, the law of moral acts and rebirth and the doctrine of the cyclicality of births and actions, according to the karmic wheel.