History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Have atheists ever been persecuted in India? Wikipedia article on persecution of atheist has nothing about India, and google did not throw up anything useful.

share|improve this question
Persecuted explicitly for their atheism? I'm not sure. Certainly, Buddhists have been persecuted at various points, and many Buddhists (especially Theravada I believe) are atheistic in the sense they reject the question of whether a higher power exists. – Noldorin Oct 12 '12 at 21:53
Your question is flawed, Indian religions generally consider atheism and agnosticism valid, where would the persecution come from? Hinduistic atheist schools existed since (at least) the 6th century BCE (for example Cārvāka) – Yannis Oct 13 '12 at 14:46
up vote 7 down vote accepted

How does Carvaka count as Hinduistic? There are atheist-but-not-rationalist nastik schools of Hinduism which deny gods but accept the Vedas as uncreated, which can be called Hinduistic atheism, but I don't see how Carvaka can be pushed into the Hindu fold.

As for what Indian religions consider valid -- "religions" cannot consider, only people can consider, what people consider has varied widely over time. In contemporary times, both Vaisnavism and Saivism are generally considered part of the Hindu fold, but Vaisnavites and Saivites persecuted each other for centuries (Ramanujan being an infamous example). There are saffronist attempts to include Jainism and Buddhism within the Hindu fold, but both those communities were persecuted by kings in hock to Brahminical religion (as Gnanasambandar gurgled with joy over).

In any case, to answer the original poster, I don't think the historical record as we have it now shows persecution of individual atheists (in the contemporary sense of atheist) but the historical record barely shows any atheists at all. In contemporary times, there has been persecution of atheists, see the stories about Sanal Edamaruku being run out of town.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.