பேரா. நா. வானமாமலை மார்க்சிய சிந்தனையைத் தமிழ் ஆய்வுலகுக்குக் கொணர்ந்தவர், கடுமையான உழைப்பாளி. அவர் 1973-ல் எழுதிய அரிய கட்டுரை ஒன்றைத் தட்டச்சு வடிவில் வெளியிடுவதில் பெருமை கொள்கிறேன். தமிழ் இலக்கியங்களில் பொருள்முதல்வாதம் என்பது கட்டுரைப் பொருள்.
பூதவாதம், லோகாயதம், சார்வாகம் என்பன இந்தியாவின் பழமையான பொருள்முதல்வாதத் தத்துவங்கள். பல பழைய புத்தகங்கள் அழிந்துவிட்டன. எதிர்வாதிகளின் கூற்றிலிருந்தே லோகாயதம் போன்றவற்றை என்னவென்று அறிய முடிகிறது, ஓரிரண்டு முதல்நூல்கள் திபெத் மொழியில் மொழிபெயர்ப்பாக ஓலைச்சுவடிகளில் உண்டு. நா. வானமாமலைக்கு சம்ஸ்கிருதத்தில் ஜெயராசியின் தத்வ-உபப்லவ-சிம்ஹம் என்றும், தமிழில் கவிச்சக்கிரவர்த்தி செயங்கொண்டாரின் காராணை விழுப்பரையன் வளமடல் என்ற நூலும் அழிவிலிருந்து தப்பித்து வாழ்வது 1970களில் தெரியவில்லை.
ஜெயராசியின் தத்வோபப்ளவசிம்மம் இத்தாலி நாட்டு ஆய்வாளர் முனைவர் பட்டத்திற்கு ஆய்ந்துள்ளார். Eli Franco, Perception, knowledge, and disbelief : a study of Jayarāśi's scepticism. Stuttgart : F. Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden, Germany 1987.
(இரண்டாம் பதிப்பு, தில்லி மோதிலால் பனாரஸிதாஸ். 618 பக்கம்).
The Tattvapaplavasimha is a philosophical text unique of its kind it is the only text of the Carvaka Lokayata school which has survived and the only Sanskrit work in which full-fledged scepticism is propounded. Notwithstanding that it has been hitherto almost completely ignored. The present book consists of an introduction detailed analysis edition translation with extensive notes of the first half of the text. In the introduction Jayarasi`s affiliation to the Lokayata school is reassessed and his place in the historical development of Indian Philosophy evaluated. New evidence for the dating of Jayarasi is examined and a new dating is suggested.
"This school of thought is also called Lokâyata, from loka, the Sanskrit word for “world,” since it holds that only the materialistic world exists and nothing more, such as the soul, heaven, or hell. Virtually all that is known of this system of thought derives from polemical texts trying their best to refute or deride their doctrines. Some texts include the Sarvadarsanasamgraha and the Sarvasiddhântasârasamgraha of Samkara. The school is referred to in the Prabodha-candrodaya (The Rise of the Moon of Intellect), a well- known ancient Indian drama that emphasizes how prominent the movement was. The Tatvopaplavasimha is the only text that can be considered an authentic text of the school and includes a series of attacks on all the other schools of Indian thought.
from Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli and Moore, Charles A. A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey; 1957. p. 227-228. "
தமிழின் ஒரே லோகாயத நூல்:
காயாரோஹணம் காராணை என்றும் ஆகும். தமிழின் ஒரே உலகாயத நூல் கவிச்சக்கிரவர்த்தி செயங்கொண்டார் பாடிய காராணை விழுப்பரையன் வளமடல்.திருமங்கை ஆழ்வார் வடமரபில் பாடிய மடல்களை மீண்டும் தமிழ் அகமரபுக்குக் கொண்டுவரும் இலக்கியம் அது. மதுரை முன்னியத்தில் 10 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னம் அந்த அரிய நூலை அளித்தேன்.
ஏறத்தாழ 950 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னர், தமிழன்னையின் மணியணிகளில் ஒன்றனைக் கவிச்சக்கிரவத்தி செயங்கொண்டார் படைத்திருக்கிறார். பொருள்முதல் வாதத்தை இந்தியமொழிகளில் சொல்ல இரண்டு நூல்கள் கிட்டியது அரிய செயல். ஜெயராசியின் நூல், செயங்கொண்டாரின் விழுப்பரையன் வளமடல்.
பூதவாதத்துக்கு பௌத்த சமயிகள் நம் தமிழகத்தைத் தேடி 2000+ ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னமே வந்துள்ளனர். பூதவாதம் (இதனொடும் தொடர்புடையன சார்வாகம், லோகாயதம் - மணிமேகலை உரை) 2000 வருடம் முன்னர் இருந்த மெட்டீரியலிஸம். ஒரு 300-400 புத்தகம் இந்திய பூதவாதம், லோகாயதம் பற்றி 20-ஆம் நூற்றாண்டில் எழுதப்பட்டு உள்ளன. ஜெயராசி, ஜெயங்கொண்டார் நூல்கள் கிடைக்காத நிலையிலே இப்படி. பொருள்முதல்வாத லோகாயத நூல்களை ஆய்ந்தால், இந்த ஆய்வு நூல்கள் இன்னும் விரிவு பெறும், குடத்து விளக்கு குன்றின் மேல் விளக்கமடையும்.
நோபல் பரிசு பெற்ற அமார்த்ய சேனரின் கட்டுரைககளில்  இம்மாதிரியான பூதவாத, லோகாயத நூல்களின் முக்கியத்துவத்தை உலக அரங்கில் எடுத்துச் சொல்லியுள்ளார்.
தவளத் தாமரைத் தாதார் கோயில்
அவளைப் போற்றுதும் அருந்தமிழ் குறித்தே!
Ref.  From the section, Concluding Remarks, of the article by
Amartya Sen, Indian traditions & the Western imagination
Daedalus, 10-01-2005, vol. 134, no. 4.
"The nature of these slanted emphases has tended to undermine an adequately pluralist understanding of Indian intellectual traditions. While India has inherited a vast religious literature, a large wealth of mystical poetry, grand speculation on transcendental issues, and so on, there is also a huge - and often pioneering - literature, stretching over two and a half millennia, on mathematics, logic, epistemology, astronomy, physiology, linguistics, phonetics, economics, political science, and psychology, among other subjects concerned with the here and now.
Even on religious subjects, the only world religion that is firmly agnostic (Buddhism) is of Indian origin, and, furthermore, the atheistic schools of Carvaka and Lokayata have generated extensive arguments that have been seriously studied by Indian religious scholars themselves.46 Heterodoxy runs throughout the early documents, and even the ancient epic Ramayana, which is often cited by contemporary Hindu activists as the holy book of the divine Rama's life, contains dissenting characters. For example, Rama is lectured to by a worldly pundit called Javali on the folly of his religious beliefs: "O Rama, be wise, there exists no world but this, that is certain! Enjoy that which is present and cast behind thee that which is unpleasant. "
What is in dispute here is not the recognition of mysticism and religious initiatives in India, which are certainly plentiful, but the overlooking of all the other intellectual activities that are also abundantly present. In fact, despite the grave sobriety of Indian religious preoccupations, it would not be erroneous to say that India is a country of fun and games in which chess was probably invented, badminton originated, polo emerged, and the ancient Kamasutra told people how to have joy in sex. Indeed, Georges Ifrah quotes a medieval Arab poet from Baghdad called al-Sabhadi, who said that there were "three things on which the Indian nation prided itself: its method of reckoning, the game of chess, and the book titled Kalila wa Dimna [a collection of legends and fables]. " This is not altogether a different list from Voltaire's catalog of the important things to come from India "our numbers, our backgammon, our chess, our first principles of geometry, and the fables which have become our own. " These selections would not fit the cultivated Western images of Indian historical traditions, which are typically taken to be pontifically serious and uncompromisingly spiritual.
Nor would it fit the way many Indians perceive themselves and their intellectual past, especially those who take a "separatist" position on the nature of Indian culture. I have tried to discuss how that disparity has come about and how it is sustained. I have also tried to speculate about how the selective alienation of India from a very substantial part of its past has been nourished by the asymmetrical relationship between India and the West. It is, oddly enough, the rationalist part of India's tradition that has been affected most by this alienation. The impact of the West on internal identities in India has to be seen in fundamentally dialectical terms. " (Prof. A. Sen, Harvard University).
Materialist Thought in Early Tamil Literature
Social Scientist, Vol. 2, No. 4, Nov. 1973, pp. 25-41.
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 Damodaran 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 there is no readymade philosophical treatise of the period preserved and handed down to us. We have, therefore, to turn to literary texts and mainly to Purananuru and Pattupattu, anthologies of poetry on the secular life of the Tamils between the second century BC and the third century AD.
Philosophical disputations of the various schools of metaphysics are recorded in Buddhist and Jain works of a later period, that is, between the third and ninth centuries A D. In these, materialist thought called Bhutavada and Lokayata is taken up for censure and attack. This paper will also examine the account of Lokayata in the Buddist work, Manimekalai, and in the Jain text Neelakesi . The period after the ninth century A D is outside the compass of this study.
Chakravarthi Nayanar in his introduction to Neelakesi has this to say about Bhutavada in Tamil Nadu: There lived in Nalanda near Rajgriha a Brahmin named Madhava. He had a son named Koshtilla and a daughter named Sari. Koshtilla went to South India to study Bhutavada. Sari married a Brahmin from Southern India called Tishya. She had a son named Upatishya called so after his father. He had another son named after his mother Sariputta. In a village nearby, there was a purohit whose wife Modgal bore a son. He was called Moggalana. Both Sariputta and Moggalana studied under Sanjaya. Hearing about Buddha, they went to meet him. They joined the Buddhist order.
Chakravarthi Nayanar, himself a Jain, mentions that Bhutavada or Lokayata was taught in the South in the sixth century B C and that these schools of thought attracted scholars from the North. Dakshin Narayan Sastry and Chakravarthi Nayanar also admit that Lokayata was one of the earliest systems of thought prevalent in the South. But they did not collect evidence for their conclusions from Tamil or other South Indian sources. The chronology of the literatures of the southern languages with the exception of Tamil cannot be assigned to a period earlier than the tenth century A D. Only Sangam literature in Tamil is assigned to a period ranging from the second century B C to the third century A D. It is, therefore, reasonable to look for traces of early materialist thought in Sangam works of this period and in Jain and Buddhist works of the period closely following the Sangam age.
Nature of the Sources
To get a clear idea of the nature of the sources, one should know the purport of the themes of the Sangam works. It can be said that all books of the Sangam literature are anthologies of compositions of different poets belonging to different periods, and classified into two main genres Aham and Puram. Aham poetry is devoted to pre-marital and post- marital love while Puram poetry deals with social life in all its aspects. As this study is centred mainly on Purananuru , it is pertinent to high-light the theme of this book as representative of the Sangam literature.
Purananuru is an anthology of poems numbering 400. We get in it scenes of social life of the Tamils from the second century B C to the third century A D. The poems pursue purely secular themes such as the life of the tribal people of the hills; agricultural groups of the river valley regions; their tribal wars; the wars of the tribal chiefs against rising feudal monarchs; cattle-rearing; panegyrics addressed to the chieftains by the folk minstrels (Panars); ethical precepts addressed to rulers and to people in general and a host of other themes directly related to the social life of the period. Going through this work we can conclude that tribal life was disintegrating and feudal states were just emerging. The later poems of the anthology speak about three kingdoms, the Chera, Chola and Pandya, with all the rivalries and wars among them. That leads us to the conclusion that by the time the later poems were composed tribal life had been destroyed as a whole in the Tamil country, except in the remote mountain fastnesses which lay out of reach of the mainland . Even to these remote hills, the Panars (folk minstrels) and Viraliars (folk danseuses) went carrying their song and dance. It was a period of detribalisation leading to the emergence offeudalism.
The nature of the first source has been characterised. Here one looks for answers to the questions : What do the poets think of life ? Is it real or illusory ? What is their conception of happiness ? What is their idea of cosmogony ? What ethical precepts do they express ? Such questions are discussed by many of the poets in a casual manner, while they address their songs to the people in general or to someone in particular.
The second source consists of two epics, Manimekalai and Neelakesi, Buddhist and Jain respectively in their religious inspiration. In addition to the stories related in these epics, there is a chapter in each devoted to the philosophical and religious systems of the period. The first epic may be assigned to the third century A D; the second was written later, some time between the fifth and ninth century A D. Each contains a description of Bhutavada (materialism). The account in Manimekalai is the first systematic account of materialism in Tamil sources, even though it is in the Purvapaksha form, that is, the statement of a system by its opponent.
Manimekalai has a commentary attached to it by a learned commentator of the medieval age. He gives valuable information on various schools of Lokayata and systems of logic which dominated the scene at the time. Though a few centuries separate the age of the commentator from that of the author of the epic, his learned commentary throws a flood of light on the state of materialist thought at the time of the epic and in later centuries. I have made use of these sources and compared their views with certain North Indian sources, both vedic and Jain, where distortions and differences in the description of the categories of Lokayata are noticeable.
The Content of the Puram Poems
To return to the broad classification of the themes of the Sangam anthologies such as Aham and Puram, the material that finds a place under each of these heads is only life on earth. Very few poems mention life after death, though there is an Elyseum called Thevar Ulagu, literally the World of the Gods. An overwhelming majority of the Puram poems speak about life on earth and how to make it happy. The early Tamil poets thought of domestic bliss within the (external) social set-up as the highest ideal of human life. Even after the rise of private property and the state, Thiruvalluvar set forth three ideals for the human condition: ethical life, acquisition of wealth and a happy love life. He taught that a good ethical life on earth, if combined with wealth, will lead to happiness. He was opposed to the theory that renunciation of worldly life guaranteed happiness in the next world. The ideal of Moksha called Veedu in Tamil, was not advocated by Thiruvalluvar. Sangam and later poems also contain a robust affirmation of life under the sun.
What prompted the life-affirming materialistic outlook reflected in the Puram anthology ? Why did the later literature incline towards a religious outlook of denying the reality of life on earth and upholding the ideal of a better life in another world, or, in other words, a state of absolute renunciation of desires and passions ?
The period of composition of the poems of Puram extended over five centuries or more. This was a period of detribalisation of the hunting and pastoral tribes and the emergence of private property, feudalism and the state. The rapid change in the social formation leading to class society on the one hand and non-class tribal society on the other, existing side by side, led to a contradiction between the tribal ideology and the emerging feudal ideology of religion and god.
Effect of Detribalisation
Debi Prasad Chattopadyaya has this to say about the incomplete detribalisation of tribal life and the consequent change in the modes of thought of the people: If therefore it is true that the life of the Indian masses remained detribalised only incompletely, then the sources of their dominant world outlook should logically be sought in the beliefs and ideas of the tribal peoples though the original significance of this world outlook, like that of the tribal survivals themselves, must have passed into its opposite. What interests us most is the original nature of this world outlook. We are going to argue that it must have been instinctively materialistic or proto-materialistic - the collective labour of the tribal life being a guarantee of that. Interestingly, surviving as it did in the lives of the working masses, this proto-materialistic character was not completely lost from the popular 'Weltanschauung' called the Lokayata. 
From this, it is clear why there was a materialistic life-affirming outlook among the early poets of the Puram anthology. The materialist world outlook, which had its origin in the collective labour of pre-class society, persisted even after the partial destruction of its basis and the emergence of a different basis.
Origin of Idealism
As for the second part of the question raised above, Engels pointed out : From tribes there developed nations and states. Law and politics arose and with them the phantastic reflection of human things in the human mind - religion. In the face of all these creations which appeared in the first place to the products of the mind and which seemed to dominate the human societies, the more modest productions of the working hand retreated into the background, the more so since the mind that planned the labour process already at a very early stage of the development of society was able to have this planned labour carried out by other hands than its own. All merit to the swift advance of civilisation was ascribed to the mind and to the development and activity of the brain. Men became accustomed to explain their actions from their thoughts instead of from their needs, and so there arose in course of time that idealistic outlook on the world which especially since the downfall of the ancient world has dominated man's mind. 
Division of labour only became truly such from the moment when a division of material and mental labour appears. From this moment onwards, consciousness can really flatter itself that it is something without conceiving something real, from now on consciousness is in a position to emancipate itself from the world and to proceed to the formation of pure theory, theology, philosophy, ethics etc. 
In the light of these formulations by Marx and Engels, I propose to examine in the literary sources of the Sangam age the following:
(i) the life-affirming materialistic outlook of the ancient Tamil poets; (ii) the materialistic conception of the origin of the universe on the basis of the theory of the five primary elements; (iii) some aspects of their ethics, and (iv) the reconstruction of their theory of epistemology from the statements attributed to Lokayatas by the Buddhist and Jain poets who flourished in the period closely following the Sangam age.
Now to the first question: What is the conception of the ideal life according to the poets of the Puram anthology ? Let us take a few examples from Puram poets which illustrate the poet's conception of a life of happiness :
He embraced the shoulders of his beloved one,
Wore garlands of flowers gathered from an odorous park,
Smeared his chest with sandal paste,
Destroyed his enemies,
Supported his friends,
Never bowed to the mighty.
He never trampled upon the weak,
Never betrayed his adherents.
He annihilated invading armies, and routed his enemies.
He rode his chariot drawn by fast steeds,
He rode upon his royal elephant.
He treated minstrels with delicious food and sweet wine,
Spoke to them gentle words of warm affection.
He lived a perfect and ideal life.
Burn him or bury him :
Dispose of his body in whatever manner you like.
It does not matter to him how you do it after his death. 
This is a poem composed by Pereyil Muruvalar on the death of his friend, Namby Neduncheliyan, a king of the Pandya dynasty. The conception of the ideal life contained in these lines is suffused with a materialistic outlook on life. This world is real. The problems of this material world must be solved. Man should not try to escape from them, thinking that the world is an appearance and reality is beyond his grasp.
The desire to lead a happy life and to be youthful and energetic stirred all ancient people. It led them into efforts to discover the 'elixir of life'. Ancient Siddhas and Tantrikas were also engaged in the pursuit of Amrita Dhara and deluded themselves that they had discovered it in their heads as a result of Tantrika practices. By contrast, we have a poem in the Puram anthology in which the poet offers a prescription for a youthful energetic life on earth, till death puts an end to it.
Pisir Aanthaiar, a poet, paid a visit to his friend, Ko Perum Cholan (King of the Chola country). The poet, despite his advanced age, appeared youthful and energetic. The king asked him about the secret of his youthfulness.
Why had not a single hair on his head turned grey ?
Why were there no wrinkles on his forehead ?
You ask me why my hair has not turned grey in spite of my old age ?
My noble wife and children are wise.
My younger relatives cooperate with me.
My king protects us from evil things.
Many wise men who are humble and gentle live in my village. 
The secret of youthfulness, according to this poet, lies not in the practice of Tantrika Yoga, the realisation of 'soul' or other mental disiciplines, but in amity among all those who live with one. This explanation arises out of a materialist outlook on life. The presumption is strengthened by the name of the poet, Pisir Athan Thanthaiar (Pisir: name of village, Athan Thanthaiar: father of Athan). T N Subramaniam  finds the word, Aathan, mentioned in Thevaram along with Samanar (Jain ascetics). Both Samanar and Aathar were supposed by commentators to refer to the Digambara sect of Jain ascetics. But Thevaram denounces Aathar as fish-eaters and liquor addicts. Subramaniam rightly points out that Aathar could not refer to Digambaras, who abstained from non-vegetarian food; it could refer only to a settlement of Ajivikas. The adherents of this school were called Aptha, which in Tamil would be Aathan. There were very strong elements of materialism, such as the theory of Pancha Bhutas and the movement of the world due to the motion of atoms, in the Ajivika system. Morever, Aathan is certainly not a Brahmin name. We can reasonably suppose that this poet was influenced by the ancient Lokayata directly, or through Ajivika thought.
Let us now turn to another genre of poems, known as aarrupadai in the Puram anthology. The general theme of this class of poems is the advice given to a needy and hungry folk minstrel, going in search of a patron, by another who is returning after receiving bountiful gifts from a chief or ruler. The latter praises his patron and advises the former to go to him and sing his praise in order to receive rich gifts. In such poems, the last part is a blessing to the benefactor. We find in poems of a later period the poet invoking gods and goddesses to bless the kings. The poet calls upon Siva, Vishnu or Durga to send his or her choicest blessings to his patron. Puram poets do not seek the help of gods or goddesess, but themselves bless their patrons. They do not arrogate to themselves the functions of a pontiff or Shaman. The blessing is an expression of gratitude to the donor, who has relieved them of their suffering. It is thus a moot question whether these poets believed in the intervention of a god or goddess in the affairs of human life. The poems indicate (indirectly and sometimes directly) that they did not believe in divine intervention.
Let me cite some illustrations of verses of blessings of this type. The author of this poem is Nedumaran and the patron is Mudukudumipperu-Vazhuti, a Pandyan king:
Who gave gold and water to the minstrels,
Who celebrates the festival of the sea
Let his years of life be as many
As the sands on the bed of the river Pahruli. 
This is in praise of Chola Nalankilli by the poet Thamarpalkarmanar :
May your years (of life)
Extend like sands on the seashore. 
Nanmaran, a Pandyan king, is praised by the poet Maruthur Ilanaganar. It is to be noted that although the god, Murugan, is referred to, his blessing is not invoked:
Washed by the foam-topped waves
On the shores of the eastern sea
Where stands the God Neduvel. 
In another poem, the poet compares his patron to Kalan, the god of death; Balarama; Murugan in his fury against enemies; valour in battle; and fame among kings. Then follows a blessing:
Decorate suppliant minstrels in gold ornaments,
Drink fragrant wine brought by Yavanas
From the hands of pretty young maidens,
Remain happy for years and years. 
The above discussion shows that these ancient Tamil poets were this-worldly, considered this world to be real, held that happiness had to be sought here and that this happiness should be related to the social ethics of the period. All these point to a materialistic outlook. Although a consistent system of thought was not worked out, these thoughts arose out of a particular world outlook which was essentially materialistic.
The Origin of the Universe
The materialistic outlook of the early poets is also evident in their conception of the components out of which this world is made and also how life arose out of material elements. Dakshin Narayan Sastry distinguishes the schools of Lokayatas on the basis of whether they believed in four or five elements constituting the material universe. He believes that originally the Lokayatas believed in five elements and that later, owing to the onslaught of the idealist schools of thought, they revised the theory of elements and accepted four. The original belief was that the universe consisted of earth, water, fire and air, to which they later added akasa, sky or ether. Referring to this, Sastry says,
Akasa is not an element. Only four elements are perceived. These elements are in atomic condition when mixed together in the proper proportion and according to a certain order become living organisms. 
In Puram poems, both these suggestions find confirmation. Some poems mention four and some other five elements. What matters here is not the number but the nature of these elements. There is no doubt that these elements were conceived of as material substances. A Puram song has the following lines:
The sea with three-fold sources of water,
The broad earth, the wind that blows,
The empty sky, all these can be measured, but not your greatness. 
This poem is meant as a panegyric to a chieftain. It describes four elements and their unlimited magnitude of power. The sky is left out. Another poem mentions all five:
The world packed with solid earth,
The sky above the earth,
The wind that blows under the sky,
The fire that is on the head of the air,
Water opposed to fire.
These are the five elements,
Each with its peculiar nature. 
This poem mentions the five elements as opposites and related to each other. It also mentions that the five elements possess their peculiar natures and properties. The nature of the earth is solidity. The sky is ethereal and is above the earth. Something divides these two elements. Between the earth and the sky is another material element, different from the two but with its own peculiar properties. Air is necessary for fire to arise. Water and fire are contraries. A generalisation is made after enumerating the five elements and their properties: each has its property and all together have a general nature, lyarkai or Svabhava.
The Rise of Mythology
As opposed to this theory, the theory of the creation of these five elements by an all-powerful god emerges in the later period of the anthology. It is an effort to deny the theory of Svabhava, which causes all movements of the universe including consciousness. The motion of the universe or the movement of consciousness does not presuppose a creator or a universal cause which motivates all movement. The Lokayata view of consciousness is explained by Dakshin Narayan Sastry thus:
Consciousness is a function of the body. Consciousness does not inhere in particles of matter. When these particles come to be arranged into specific forms they are found to have signs of life. 
Life and consciousness are identical. Our thinking power is destroyed with the dissolution of the elements by whose combination it is evolved. When the body perishes, consciousness perishes too. There is nothing to transmigrate. Behaviour is explained as due to external stimulation, as much as the closing or opening of the lotus is due to the presence or absence of the sun. There is no creator.
After the rise of property and the state and after the leisured class had come on the scene, the theory of the creation of the world was promulgated. But the creator was conceived of as the creator of the five elements, and not as the creator of the universe and the living beings. The crude attempt to explain the origin of the universe not by the combination of the five elements, but by superimposing a higher power over them, is exposed at the outset when we read the lines:
The great one who wields the axe created water, earth, fire, air and the sky. He is the leader of those with unwinking eyes and spotless bodies. They wear unfading flower garlands. They eat fragrant food. 
The great one is Siva: he wields the axe. Siva is an anthropomorphic conception. He is the leader of a group of gods. To distinguish them from human beings, they are described as possessing spotless bodies and unwinking eyes. It is strange. however, that they need food to stay alive. They are merely a tribal unit transferred to a different world, called god's world. Without completely severing itself from its tribal moorings, this conception of a creator of five elements arises. Lines found in Maduraikanchi  a long work that can be assigned to the first century A D also illustrate this conception.
When the question of food is raised, we must again turn to the Puram poets to understand its importance and its relation to the elements and to life. A poet advises a king to provide irrigation for the lands in his dominion, stating why he should do so:
The shape of food is food,
Food is water and earth.
When water and earth combine
Then body and life arise.
After sowing, if the land depends
On the mercy of the sky, the king owning such land
Will not live in prosperity. 
The first lines read like a puzzle. The puzzle is solved when we read a line in Manimekalai which uses the same words and explains it thus: "The body of man is the shape of food."  The shape of food means the human body. Food itself, the poet explains, is a combination of two elements, water and earth. It calls upon the king to provide conditions for the combination of these two elements. Here there is no mention of a creator or the mercy of the gods. Man can produce food by knowing the Svabhava of elements and intervene to produce conditions for their combination to attain his set goal, namely, the production of foodgrains.
The Rise of Class Society
After complete detribalisation, the feudal mode of production made rapid advance and engulfed the whole of ancient Tamil Nadu. It brought in its train the class conflict between the landowners and the dispossessed tribes. While production increased, the working people went hungry. In the old society, they gathered or produced food in common and received a share. They got equal shares or went hungry together. The bonds of collective labour bound them together. That bond of the collective was destroyed by the new production relations. Class society based on exploitation of man by man had come to stay. Still folk memories persisted. The poets who were close to the exploited working people, themselves hailing from their ranks, felt sympathy for them but could not show the way to change the state of affairs. They could only raise their voice against poverty and the hunger of their brothers, or appeal to and advise the king and the exploiting class to give the surplus grains to the poor so as to relieve their hunger. They preached equality of men's suffering when they were faced with hunger. To quote from a Puram poem:
To one who rules under one umbrella
The land surrounded by the seas and
To one who watches the crops keeping awake
Day and night in fear of wild animals,
The need of food is one measure and cloth is one yard.
Other needs are also equal.
To give to the needy is the good use of wealth.
If you wish to enjoy wealth (without giving), it will escape you. 
The equality spoken of here could not be realised in feudal society. But the poet recalls the oral traditions about the tribal past when production was by collectivc labour and sharing of the produce was in equal measure. In this new mode of production, the working people toiled hard and kept awake day and night to keep wild animals away from the crops ripe for harvest. But the ruler and the wealthy appropriated the product of the labour of the working people and did not leave them with enough to keep body and soul together. This injustice strikes the poet. But he could not revive the 'golden age' nor could he think of a change in which everyone would work and get an equal share as in the old tribal society. He offers an ethical precept to the wealthy. Such exhortations by many poets fell, of course, on deaf ears.
Contrast between the Present and the Past
Another poet, while preaching generous gifts of food to the poor, tells a king that only generous donors of food will earn praise and that those who withhold gifts of food are those who do not realise the greatness of the old traditions of their ancestors.
Those who wanted to remain immortal in this evanescent world
Had left their fame to survive them after their death.
Wealthy men whom no one can approach
Do not know the traditions and customs of their ancestors:
For these men do not give to the needy. 
The ancestors spoken of were the tribal chiefs whom any minstrel could approach and receive gifts from. The wealthy men of the poet's age could not be approached or even seen by the common man. They departed from the time-honoured traditions and customs. From the context, the tradition can be understood to be the folk tradition of the collective sharing of food and other things.
In the two examples given above, the poets contrast the wealth and poverty existing side by side. The suffering of the poor impels them to seek a way out. They can only think of the days gone by, the memories of which are handed down from the not too distant past. It is to be noted that the poets do not call upon the wrath of heaven or punishment of gods on those who hoard and do not feel compassion for their fellowmen. They only try to cajole or reprimand the wealthy, pointing out that if they wished to earn fame, they must give; if not, they are not worthy sons of their ancestors. Fame, a mundane incentive, is dangled before the miserly rich as a bait to induce them to give away their surplus. It is obvious that the outlook of these poets is essentially materialistic.
Acculturation : Vedic, Buddhist and Jain
As the thoughts of the ancient materialists faded, the growth of feudalism produced spiritualistic and idealistic thought. Just at that time, the Brahmanic thought of the early centuries of the Christian era diffused to the south with all the sacrificial rites and the subjective idealism of the Upanishads. The stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata also spread throughout Tamil Nadu in oral versions. A process of acculturation had begun.
Even before the arrival of Brahmin colonies, there were Jains and Buddhists living in the far south. Scholars like K A Neelakanta Sastry thought that the Brahmins were the first to immigrate to the south in the first century A D. But recent research into the corpus of Tamil Brahmin inscriptions by I V Mahadevan has brought to light new evidence which has upset the old conclusions. Grants and aids to Jain ascetics are the themes of many of these inscriptions. Mahadevan dates a few of these inscriptions to the period between the second century B C and the first century A D.  It appears that the first contact that Tanil culture had with northern cultures was in connection with the Buddhist and Jain systems of thought.
As in the country of their birth, the conditions of social transformation in South India were ripe for absorbing these ideas. The same religions which, through their own monastic orders gave an illusory substitute to the broken bonds of unity of a detribalised people in North-Eastern India, gave the same dispensation to the detribalised people in Tamil Nadu. These religions drew numerous adherents. The Jain and Buddhist monks produced works on grammar and ethics. The first epic, Silappadikaram, was the work of a Jain ascetic and Manimekalai that of a Buddhist poet, Sathanar. The first epic is not a treatise on philosophical speculation but the story of a merchant, Kovalan, and his wife, Kannagi. But Manimekalai is the story of the daughter of Kovalan, the hero of the first epic, through a concubine, Madhavi. The daughter renounces the life of a courtesan and enters a Buddhist monastery. Her travels abroad are described in the epic. She meets the teachers of the various systems of philosophy then extant in Tamil Nadu and listens to expositions on Alavai Vadam (Mimamsa), Saivam, Brahma Vadam, Vaishanavism, Veda Vadam, Ajeevaka Nirkanta (Jainism) and Bhuta Vadam (Materialism)
The epic is considered to have been written in the third century A D. This is how the Bhutavadin explains his system:
When certain flowers and jaggery are boiled together, liquor is born which produces intoxication. Just as when elements combine, consciousness arises. Consciousness dissolves with the dissolution of the elements composing them like the disintegration of sound. Elements combine to produce living Bhutas and from them other living Bhutas will be born. Life and consciousness are synonymous. From non-living Bhutas consisting of two or more elements rise non-living Bhutas of the same type. Lokayata is a variant of this system that agrees in fundamentals with this system. Observation is the method by which knowledge is obtained. Inferential thinking is illusory. This worldly life is real. Its effect is experienced in this life only. The theory that we enjoy the fruits of our actions in our next birth or in another world is false. 
The author of an old commentary of this work distinguishes three schools of materialism from what is stated in these lines: (a) Bhutavada, (b) Lokayata and (c) Sarvaka.
Bhutavadins believe in five elements whereas Lokayatas and Sarvakas believe in only four. (They do not consider akasa as an element.) Bhutavadins classify the combination of the five elements as two types, as Bhutas with life and Bhutas without life. This classification is not accepted by Lokayatas. Consciousness, according to Lokayata, arises out of the combination of five lifeless elements and not out of the combination of Bhutas with life and Bhutas without life. Perhaps they believed that this dcitinction of Bhutas having life and without life is contradictory to a consistent materialist explanation of the origin of life and consciousness. We are unable to know what the Sarvakas thought of this classification of the Bhutas. The Bhutavadin himself admits that there are variants of this system.
After listening to the exposition of Bhutavada, Manimekalai poses a few questions which are supposed to puncture his argument. According to the story, she knew her past as a result of a miracle in her life. She tells the materialist that she knows about her previous births. The materialist replies that hallucinations arising out of faith in gods, illusions creatd in dreams and the unconscious state are to be doubted: they are false. Since his reply implies that he would rely only on direct observation(Katchi or Pratyaksha), she puts him a teasing question: "How can you know who your parents are except through inference ? Truth cannot be known with out employing forms of reasoning not based on direct observation. Therefore, do not view such conclusions with doubt."
Manimekalai was a Buddhist. The poet of the epic was an ardent Buddhist. Buddhists rejected the ideas of materialism of whatever variety they might be. Therefore, the materialist system is stated in the epic only to be repudiated. It is evidently a distorted version to suit the needs of Buddhist theology.
Now let us turn to the presentation of the materialist case by a Jaina text. The epic, Neelakesi, narrates the life of an imaginary character of the same name, the heroine of the story. She was a demon converted by a Jain Tirthankara. She meets the teachers of all systems of philosophy and religion (just as Manimekalai did) and listens to their views. This epic comes later than Manimekalai and is assigned to the range, fifth to. ninth century AD. The arguments of Pisachaka, the materialist teacher, are summarised in a commentary by A Chakravarthy Nayanar thus:
We do not recognise the subtle distinctions of qualities and substances. For us the ultimate realities are the five Bhutas. These are permanent and real. Fire, earth, water, air and space are the permanent elhments of the universe, Out of these are evolved respectively eyes, nose, tongue, body and ears and with these five sense organs arise respectively colour, odour, taste, touch and sound. Just as intoxicating drink is obtained by a combination of five things, flour, jaggery etc., so also by the combination of these five elements are obtained intelligence, feelings of pleasure and pain, which characteristics increase with the increase of the five elements and disappear with the disintegration of the five elements.
When the five elements thus disintegrate, the qualities of intelligence and feeling completely disappear without leaving any residue. The fundamental realities in the world are those five elements and every activity must be traced to the efficacy of these. But clever fellows with the gift of the gab go prattling about the existence of the Jeeva and their doctrine is accepted by the ignorant masses. Except sheer verbiage there is nothing corresponding to the word Jeeva in reality. There never was in existence in the past anything besides these five elements and in future also these will continue to exist. To postulate an entity besides these five is the result of ignorance as to the nature of ultimate reality; and the Lokayata teacher thus expounded his system. 
It is relevant here to consider the remarks of the old commentary on Manimekalai to bring out the differences in the presentation of Bhutavada in the two works, Manimekalai and Neelakesi. The Bhutavadin in Manimekalai states that there are two kinds of matter: lifeless matter and matter with life. He further states that life has the attribute of consciousness and body is devoid of that attribute : life originates from living matter and body from lifeless matter. Lokayatas do not classify matter into two types as the Bhutavadin in Manimekalai attempts to do. The Bhutavadin agrees with the Lokayatas over other fundamental categories. He mentions that there are schools of materialism differing slightly in non-essentials. In the presentation of materialism in Neelakesi the five elements combine directly to produce consciousness (knowledge, joy etc.), but the clusters of elements are not classified as lifeless and living.
It can be seen quite clearly that early materialist trends of thought were systematised later to answer the polemical attacks of Jainism and Buddhism. While systematisation proceeded apace, the materialists had to answer from their basic categories certain questions raised by the idealists: What is life ? What is its relation to the body ? How does man know the world ? How can you explain consciousness from the standpoint of the five elements ? What happens to life after death ? Is there rebirth in this world and life in another world ?
What were the answers of the materialists of Tamil Nadu to these questions ? Unfortunately, no texts by materialist authors have come down to us. We have no means of knowing their views on all these questions directly from the exponents. It cannot be expected that one's opponent will present one's views objectively when the aim is to demolish them. Debi Prasad Chattopadhaya points out the difficulties in reconstructing ancient materialism from the statements of the opponents of this system thus:
But what are the sources of our information about this materialist philosophy ? Unfortunately only the writings of those who sought to refute and ridicule it. In other words, Lokayata is preserved for us only in the form of Purvapaksha, that is as represented by its opponents. Not that there never existed any actual treatises on this system. Tucci, Garve and Das Gupta have produced conclusive evidence to show that actual Lokayata texts were known in ancient and early medieval times. 
On the whole, these sources which are meant to repudiate materialism are valuable as they are the main sources from which we learn something of a system of Indian thought which is more ancient than any other. All sources of idealist thought agree in stating the fundamental categories of ancient Indian materialism: (1) Worldly life was real. (2) Life arose out of a material basis. (3) This material basis consisted of five elements (or four). (4) The peculiar modes of combination brought forth various forms of existence. (5) Consciousness and life are one and the same and can be traced to the five elements. (6) Reality can be known by Pratyaksha or direct observation. (7) The origin of knowledge is observation and inference based on observation.
On the last point there is a degree of controversy. Did the ancient materialists believe in inference at all ? Or did they postulate direct observation alone as a means to knowledge ?
Manimekalai enumerates the different systems of philosophy expounded by their different teachers and appends a note on the forms of reasoning accepted by them as leading to valid inferences. "Lokayatas accept only Pratyaksha (direct observation)." This statement is by a Mimamsaka philosopher who figures as a character in the epic to expound the principles of logic to Manimekalai. The old commentator notes that so far as Lokayata is concerned, many other logicians like Varadaraya, the author of Tharkika Rakcha, agree with this view, although they differ with regard to other systems. 
Can it be true that our ancient materialists accepted only observation based on sense perceptions as the source of knowledge ? Did they reject the validity of deductive and inductive forms of reasoning ?
From the quotations given by opponents of this system from texts supposed to have been composed by materialists, it is clear that they used both deductive and inductive forms of reasoning, but opposed fallacious inductive forms of reasoning pressed into service to prove the existence of the soul apart from the body, or the theory that there is another birth in which man will enjoy the fruits of his actions in this birth.
Dakshin Narayan Sastry throws light on how Lokayatas used inferential reasoning and the inductive form of reasoning and what limits they set to the validity of the two forms: "Inference is classified into two types (by Lokayatas). One refers to the future and the other to the past. They rejected the first and accepted the second." 
This cryptic statement can be understood by referring to Das Gupta who describes the views of Purandara, a Lokayata who flourished in the seventh century A D.
Purandara admits the usefulness of inference, in determining the nature of all worldly things where perceptual experience is available, but inference cannot be employed for establishing any dogma regarding the transcendental world, or life after death, or the law of Karma which cannot be available to ordinary perceptual experience. 
The inferential process should be related to material life. It should not be used to justify dogmas about the future life. Das Gupta explains Purandara's point on the basis of the comments of the Jain author, Vasudeva Suri:
The main reason for upholding such a distinction between the validity of inference in our practical life of ordinary experience and in ascertaining transcending truths beyond experience lies in this, that an inductive generalisation is made by observing a large measure of cases of agreement in presence together with agreement in absence and no case of agreement in presence can be observed in the transcendent sphere for even if such spheres existed they could not be perceived by the senses. Thus since in the supposed suprasensuous transcendent world no case of heth agreeing with the presence of its sadys can be observed, no inductive generalisation or law of con-comittance can be made relating to this sphere. Hence the Lokayatas maintained that there were two types of inference: (1) Utpanna pratiti and (2) Utpadya pratiti. The former meant inference about something the knowledge of which already existed, and the latter meant inference about something the knowledge of which did not exist. 
The inference of god, the next world, happiness in heaven, the result of yagnas (sacrifices) were inferences of the second type. Lokayatas would not deny the inference of fire from the observation of smoke.
The later works of idealist systems have caricatured and distorted the real intent of Lokayata. Thus the works of Saiva Siddhanta portray a Lokayata as a comical hedonist who indulges himself in licentious and unfettered enjoyment of all forbidden carnal pleasures. In the Sivagnana Sidhdhiar, text of Saiva Siddhanta, the following picture of a Lokayata is sketched:
He wore fresh odorous garlands on his chest. He spoke thus: air, earth, water, fire are the elements which combine to produce smell, taste, shape and tactile sense. The combination of these again are everlasting. Obey the king and amass wealth and enjoy yourself here on earth. 
This is nothing but pure slander.
The study of materialism from South Indian sources can be a fruitful field of research, provided highly competent scholars turn their attention to the subject. Joseph Needham  mentions that the thoughts of the early Siddhas of Tamil Nadu bore the imprint of materialism. Reading the texts of the poems of Siddhas in their present form, I found that a very large number of them are interpolations of Saiva Siddhanthis. A few poems dealing with the anthropomorphic origin of the world, the description of the properties of the five elements, the identification of soul with the body and the desire to prolong life in this world by Tantric practices deserve the attention of scholars. A few medical treatises coming down to us from the ninth century and supposed to have been written by Siddhas deal with proto-physiology and proto-science from a materialistic point of view. All these works abound in a good deal of idealistic chaff.
If these are sorted out and studied critically, fresh light would be thrown on the study of Indian materialism.
 A C Nayanar (Ed.) Neelakesi, a Jain epic, Madras 1936, Introduction.
 Purananuru, an anthology of poems of the Sangam period. Various editions are available, for example, one edited by V Swaminatha Iyer, Madras 1965.
 S V Pillai, History of Tamil Language and Literature, Madras 1960.
 D Chattopadhyaya, Lokayata, Bombay 1958.
 F Engels, Dialectics of Nature, Moscow.
 K Marx and F Engels,German Ideology, Moscow.
 Purananuru, poem 239.
 Ibid., 191.
 T N Subramanian, "Ajivikas in Thevaram" an article in the Arunagiri Souvenir, Isaikazhagam.
 Purananuru, 9.
 Ibid., 55. Yavanas are foreign merchants who are mentioned in all the Puram works.
 D N Sastry, Philosophical Background of Ayurveda, chapter on Lokayata, Lokmipathi, (Ed.) 1936.
 Maturaikkanai, lines 453-458.
 D N Sastry, op. cit.
 Purananuru, 9.
 Pattupattu, Madras 1958, a Sangam anthology of ten poems of which Maduraikanchi is one.
 Purananuru, 18.
 Manimekalai, M V Nathan and A V Pillai (Ed.) Saiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society, Tirunelveli, first edition 1946, X 90.
 Purananuru, 189.
 Ibid., 167.
 I V Mahadevan, Study of Tamil Brahmin Inscriptions of the Sangam Age, a paper sub- mitted to the Second International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies.
 Paraphrase of the lines in Manimekalai by the old commentator (Translation mine).
 A C Nayanar, (Ed.) Neelakesi, Madras 1936, English introduction.
 D Chattopadhyaya, Indian Philosophy, Bombay 1961, p 186.
 Manimekalai, commentary on lines about Bhutavada.
 D N Sastry, op. cit.
 D Chattopadhyaya, op. cit., p 189.
 Ibid., pp 189-190.
 Sivagnana Siddhiar (Tamil) Saiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society, Tirunelveli (year not mentioned).
 J Needham, Development of Early Civilisation in China, Cambridge, 1948. A few Siddhas believed that the body made of Bhutas can be preserved if the changes in the combination and decomposition of the Bhutas are controlled. A few Siddhas were merely rebels against organised Saiva religion - against caste oppression - but vere theists believing in a supreme god, Siva, who could be approached without the intermediary of priesthood. They were not materialists. Later the Saivites interpolated many of their own concepts into the popular folk cults of the Siddhas. The extant work, known as Siddhar Padalgal, is a heterogeneous mixture of all these trends. No edition is free from interpolations. A deep study of this work and of the medical works of Siddha physicians may reveal materialist elements in their thought.