Three is a thinking that Atheism and the so-called ‘Rational Thinking’ is the prerogative of the Modern Man and the early Hindu scriptures did not have these thoughts.
Far from Truth.
The Ramayana ‘one of the early Epics of the Hindus ,The Ramayana contains , seemingly more irrefutable arguments than the Modern Thinkers(?).
Other Philosophical systems like the Nyaya,Sankhya,Charvaka, do have Atheistic thoughts and they are respected and included systems of Philosophy.
Buddhism and Jainism also fall under this category.
That those who decried the concept of God and the worship of idols have their Statues erected and worshiped as ‘Gods’ is another story!
- When Lord Rama decided to honor his father Dasaratha’s words and leave for the forest, Jabali, a Brahmin priest tries to dissuade Rama from going to the forest by questioning the authority of the Vedas, the existence of God,Truth, Theory of Rebirth,Sins.
The arguments advanced by Jabali are very logical, though seemingly.
That Lord Rama refutes them point by point is another matter.
Excerpts of Jabali’s arguments and Lord Rama’s Reply
“Rama, you are too much of a simpleton. Let not your understanding get deluded like an ordinary man’s. A man takes birth alone and alone he perishes. Therefore, he who wallows in affection for parents is insane. Discarding the kingdom at your father’s request and taking shelter in inaccessible and dangerous forests is not your duty. Return to prosperous Ayodhya this instant. That city, like an abandoned wife in a single-braid, awaits you. There pass the days enjoying the kingdom and live in supreme happiness like Indra in the world of the gods. Dasharath is no one to you. He is a distinct being and so are you. Child, you are being ruined because of your own flawed intelligence. I am extremely worried about those who, discarding concrete goals, live only for religion. For, after suffering various tortures in this world they are utterly destroyed. People perform funeral obsequies offering food to departed ancestors. Now, this is unnecessary waste of food; for who has ever heard that dead persons can eat? Those scriptures that contain prescriptions for worshipping gods, sacrifices, donations, ascesis and other rituals, have been prepared by wise men only to keep people subjugated. Therefore, Rama, comprehend that there is nothing whatsoever as dharma for the after-life. Act on what is before you and engage yourself for what is to come. Bharat is requesting you. Following the unanimous advice, accept the responsibility of the kingdom.”2
Hearing Jabali’s words, Ramachandra, basing himself on knowledge of dharma, said:
“Rich-in-ascesis Sir, what you have said desiring my welfare is actually improper but seems to be duty. Your advice is anti-Vedic and you are an atheist fallen from dharma. Properly I condemn my father’s appointment of you as priest. As a Buddhist deserves the same punishment as a robber, so too should an atheist be punished. Therefore, discriminating people do not even speak to those atheists who are to be avoided as driven beyond the Vedic pale.”
Jabali meekly replied, “Rama, I am not atheist; nor am I voicing atheistic views. And it is not that there is nothing such as an after-life. Expediently, as the situation demands, I turn an atheist and after an interval become a believer. The time when it is necessary to become an atheist has come. For turning you back from the forest now I spoke thus and now, again, it is for pleasing you that I am withdrawing what I said.”
After hearing Jabali’s words, Rama the best among virtuous and upright men spoke with a great devotion and with an undisturbed mind of his own (as follows);
“That which, in your desire to please me, you have counselled, is impossible though it appears to be possible. It is like a forbidden food, appearing to be an agreeable one. He who is unruly, fully invested with ill-conduct, having a bad reputation and seeing differences in everything, does not gain respect from honest men. One’s conduct itself explains whether one belongs to a good family or a bad family, valiant or arrogant and chaste or unchaste. What sensible man, able to discern what is just and what is unjust, in this world, would respect me, if I am ignoble resembling as noble, bereft of honesty, impure, having no good qualities but appearing like the one having good qualities, ill-behaved but appearing as well-behaved abandoning righteousness and getting hold of unrighteousness in the guise of piety, creating confusion in the world and disregarding rules of conduct.”
“If I behave in this manner faithlessly, to whom can I advise a prescribed conduct? How would I attain heaven? This entire world would follow its own whims, for, whatever the conduct of the kings may be, such will be the conduct of their subjects.”
“The eternal royal governance is indeed an assemble of truth and not cruel. Hence, the kingship has the Truth as its essence. The world is established in Truth. Even sages and divine being have respected truthfulness alone. The one who speaks truth obtains the highest position in this world.”
“People fear of a person, who speaks untruth, as one fears a snake. Truth is the highest virtue and is stated to be the origin of heaven. Truth is god and all virtues follow truth. All are rooted in truth there is nothing higher than truth.”
“Gift sacrifice, oblation, austerities performed and the scriptural texts have the foundation in Truth. Hence, one should thoroughly surrender to truth. One rules over the world. One develops a race. One sinks into hell . One rises high to heaven (according to one’s degree of truthfulness practiced). I am true to my promise. Why should I not fulfill the command of my father, who was a devotee of truth?”
“Neither covetousness nor forgetfulness nor pride would cause me to destroy the bond of morality. I shall honour the vow made to my father. Neither gods nor the manes will accept the offerings of those who are wanting in truth, unsteady and unstable in their minds. This is what is taught to us.”
“I perceive this virtue i the form of truthfulness as a universal permeation of spirit. That is why, this burden, observed as a vow, has been honoured by good men. I renounce the so-called duty of a warrior, it is injustice under the name of justice, it is practised by petty cruel and covetous men of evil deeds.”
“Sin is committed by the body after it has been conceived by the mind and falsehood is spoken with the tongue. Thus, the degrading act is of three types (with body, mind and tongue) The earth, fame, prosperity and fortune indeed woo a man of truth. They constantly oblige the truth: truth should therefore be strictly observed!”
“The logical words, you have made it out to be good, saying ‘Do this good thing’ as uttered to me, are really unworthy. Having promised before my father about my exile to the forest, how can I fulfill Bharata’s words now, abandoning the father’s words?”
“A firm promise has been made by me in the presence of my father, when Queen Kaikeyi too became rejoiced. I will proceed with life-journey in this manner, by accepting this dwelling in the forest, by remaining pure in body and mind, having controlled my diet, by feasting the Gods and Ancestors with pure roots, flowers and fruits, with all my five senses fully sated, without any deceit, fully devout and discriminative of what ought to be done and what ought not to be done.”