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date: 18 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Among Hindu philosophical schools, Sāṃkhya is well known for its atheism. The Sāṃkhya-sūtra (c.14th cent. ce) is notable as the only Sāṃkhya source text to present positive disproofs of the existence of god (Īśvara). According to this text, it is impossible for god, an eternally fulfilled being, to have the desire to create the world. Its other arguments cite the problem of suffering in the world and god’s superfluity in relation to other causal forces as additional reasons that there can exist no omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent creator of the world. This chapter concludes by discussing Vedāntic and medieval Christian responses to the disproof based on god’s lack of desire, and offers suggestions for how attention to argumentation in premodern Indian texts may offer new avenues of study for the comparative philosophy of religion.

Keywords: Sāṃkhya, Īśvara, Vedānta, Yoga, Patañjali, līlā, karma, atheism, desire, suffering

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