By Swami Harshananda
There are clear references of atheism in the Rāmāyana, the Mahābhārata and the Bhagavadgītā. But, holding atheistic beliefs has never been a bar within the religious folds. If the word ‘atheism’ is interpreted as non-belief in the existence of God, then Vedic systems like the Sāṅkhya-darśana and the Mīmāmsā-darśana, are atheistic.
The word, ‘nāstikatā’ is generally accepted to mean non-acceptance of the authority of the Vedas. In this sense, the three well-known systems of philosophy: Cārvāka, Jaina and Bauddha darśanas are classified as ‘nāstika.’
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore