'Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata' is the first attempt at a scientific study of the Carvaka/Lokayata, the materialist system of philosophy that flourished in ancient India between the eighth and twelfth centuries CE, and which has since disappeared. Despite the paucity of material relating to the Carvaka, a reconstruction of its basic tenets reveals it to be the lone contender standing against the perceived binary of pro-Vedic Brahminical schools on the one hand, and the non-Vedic Buddhist and Jain schools on the other.
This study seeks to disprove certain notions about the Carvaka/Lokayata, particularly that the Carvaka-s did not approve of any instrument of cognition other than perception, and that they advocated unalloyed sensualism and hedonism. In contrast, this volume offers evidence to show that the Carvaka-s, despite their difference of opinion in other areas, did admit inference in so far as it was grounded on perception. Furthermore, the author argues that the common belief that 'all materialists are nothing but sensualists' is a misconception, as no authentic Carvaka aphorisms have been cited by the movement's opponents to support this view.
This study also seeks to establish the fact that a pre-Carvaka school of materialism existed in India, although there is no way to prove that the Carvaka system grew out of it. Yet if the evidence provided by the 'Manimekalai' - and indirectly supported by the 'Mahabharata' - is admitted, it could be suggested that the two schools existed simultaneously.