Social Scientist. v 2, no. 16 (Nov 1973) p. 25.


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JV VANAMAMALA1

Materialist Thought in Early Tamil Literature

IDEALIST as well as Marxist scholars have directed their efforts at reconstructing materialist thought from the dim mist of Indian antiquity. Das Gupta, Dakshin Narayan Sastry, and Chakravarthi Nayanar are among those of the idealist persuasion who tapped Sanskrit sources for their investigations. They exhibited a marked preference for Advaita, Using the very same sources Debi Prasad Chattopadhyaya and K Damo-daran also attempted to reconstruct ancient Indian materialism, but employing the Marxist approach. In the absence of original texts of ancient materialist philosophy written by materialists, all these scholars had to go in for the exposition of materialism contained in the statements of materialism's opponents in both the vedic and non-vedic systems. Such a method was unavoidable as no original text written by teachers of the Lokayata school was available for study. In the reconstruction of ancient Indian materialism, it is particularly noticeable that the South Indian sources have been comparatively unexplored. Neither has any scholar yet examined the ancient Tamil literary sources to seek materialist trends and to set them alongside the Purvapaksha description of materialism in the Sanskrit sources.

This paper aims at examining certain imprints and descriptions of materialist thought found in ancient Tamil literature. Unfortunately



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