The Charvakas are materialistic (believing the four elements to be the sole cause of all phenomena), do not believe in reincarnation and seek happiness (sukha) in this life while it lasts. They deem it as foolish to abandon happiness just because it might come mingled with suffering: it would be like throwing away the rice because of the husk. Sensation (direct perception) is considered to be the only means to acquire knowledge therefore any attempt to construct generalisations (inference) out of sense data is rejected. Consciousness is considered to be a product of matter just like the intoxicating power of alcohol is the product of the fermentation of grains. It is based on this view that Charvakas negate previous lives: no one perceives them. Similarly future lives are denied because body and mind are one entity and, therefore, when the body perishes, the mind also perishes, just like when a stone is destroyed, a design on the stone is likewise destroyed.
They also assert that all phenomena arise from their own nature, causelessly. They say:
- The rising of the sun, the running downwards of a river,
- The roundness of peas, the sharpness of thorns,
- The 'eyes' of peacock feathers and so forth all phenomena
- Arise from their own nature, without being made by anyone.