Hindu influence on Greek philosophy

This influence is accepted as a probability in the book ‘Hindu Influence on Greek Philosophy’ by Timothy Lomperis, academic, “of Greek heritage and years in India.” I offer the following thoughts. Extracts are shown with quotation marks.

• The author displays a tendency to see ‘revolt’ by Buddha and Mahavira against Hinduism; and refers to ‘invasion’ and ‘occupation’ by non-existent ‘white’ Aryans; and ‘dictatorship’ by Brahmin priests. Was the author influenced by the competition between the 3 ‘desert’ religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; theological control within sectarian Christianity; and Eurocentric historiography?

• Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, described by Lomperis as free India’s first Minister of Education and a philosopher, wrote “In Greece, elements of religion acquired the characteristics of philosophy; in India, philosophy itself was turned into a religion.”

• Indian author A.R. Wadia wrote: “Like the Greeks generally, Plato was intent on making the best of his life.” “The greatest aim of Plato was to bring into being an ideal state.” “The Upanishadic seers were not interested in developing an ideal society or state.”

• Plato “never committed his deepest thoughts in writing.”

• “The task of distilling Hindu thought to anything like a united body of teaching is even more difficult.” Comparing the diverse philosophies spread loosely throughout a huge subcontinent in Asia over a long period of time, with the incompletely-articulated philosophies of a small peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean within a short historical period may be questionable.

• Plato and the Hindus share a concept of the soul and its reincarnation. However, many cultures held comparable views until the leaders of Christianity decided against it, in favour of priestly control of behaviour.

• The author admits to a significant difference between Hinduism and Plato. “Mainstream Hinduism” views the empirical world as “an inconsequential illusion.” Plato “saw truth located in the world of ideas.”

Being unable to unify Athenian philosophers in the sixth to fourth centuries BC into a Greek philosophy, Lomperis seems yet able to find a unified main channel within the highly diffuse philosophies in the wide-spread tribo-lingual cultures of India over thousands of years!

• “In the case of philosophy,” the direction of influence “seems quite clearly to be from India to Greece.” The flow of fables was also from the East to Europe (as previously proven).

How else could it be when Indian philosophies and cultures were not known to the Greeks? The then prevailing view of Asia was of ’barbarians’ and “Ethiopians.” As well, did not Aristotle express racist views?

Throughout the globe, in the history of mankind, a large number of cultures would have produced thinkers seeking the Cosmos and the place of Man in it. Without physical contact between cultures, comparable perceptions could surely have arisen over time.

Without cultural competition seeking antecedence (as in theological contests), mankind will create diverse paths to understanding the meaning of existence.

 

Advertisements

Indian philosophy

“Philosophical thought in India in the sixth century B.C. had become quite mature. It had reached a stage which could have been arrived at only after long and arduous philosophical quest. Jainism and Buddhism, the latter enormously influential in Indian and neighboring cultures, had emerged by this time. But even before their advent, the philosophical reflections of the early Upanishads (900-600 B.C.) had set forth the fundamental concepts of Hindu thought which have continued to dominate the Indian mind.

It is perhaps necessary to point out that there has often been a wide divergence between Indian and Western interpretations of Indian thought. Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy once even declared that a true account to Hinduism may be given in a categorical denial of most of the interpretation that have been made by Westerners or Western-trained Indians.”

“…in the search for some reality behind the external world, various methods have been restored to, ranging from experimental to the purely speculative. It is the oldest philosophical tradition in the world to be traced in the ancient Vedas. Although the religious and philosophical spirit of India emerges distinctly in the Rig Veda, the Upanishads are its most brilliant exposition, for the Vedic civilization was naturalistic and utilitarian, although it did not exclude the cosmological and religious speculation.

Older than Plato or Confucius, the Upanishads are the most ancient philosophical works and contain the mature wisdom of India’s intellectual and spiritual attainment. They have inspired not only the orthodox system of Indian thought but also the so-called heterodox schools such as Buddhism. In profundity of thought and beauty of style, they have rarely been surpassed not only in Indian thought but in the Western and Chinese philosophical traditions as well.”

Indian Inspiration of Pythagoras
“The similarity between the theory of Thales, that water is the material cause of all things, and the Vedic idea of primeval waters as the origin of the universe, was first pointed out by Richard Garbe. The resemblances, too, between the teachings of Pythagoras (ca. 582-506 B.C.) and Indian philosophy are striking.

It was Sir William Jones, the founder of comparative philology, who first pointed out the pointed out the similarities between Indian and Pythagorean beliefs. Later, other scholars such as Colebrooke, Garbe, and Winternitz also testified to the Indian inspiration of Pythagoras.

Professor H. G. Rawlinson writes: ” It is more likely that Pythagoras was influenced by India than by Egypt. Almost all the theories, religions, philosophical and mathematical taught by the Pythagoreans, were known in India in the sixth century B.C., and the Pythagoreans, like the Jains and the Buddhists, refrained from the destruction of life and eating meat and regarded certain vegetables such as beans as taboo” “It seems that the so-called Pythagorean theorem of the quadrature of the hypotenuse was already known to the Indians in the older Vedic times, and thus before Pythagoras (ibid). (Legacy of India 1937, p. 5).

Professor Maurice Winternitz is of the same opinion: “As regards Pythagoras, it seems to me very probable that he became acquainted with Indian doctrines in Persia.” (Visvabharati Quarterly Feb. 1937, p. 8).

It is also the view of Sir William Jones (Works, iii. 236), Colebrooke (Miscellaneous Essays, i. 436 ff.). Schroeder (Pythagoras und die Inder), Garbe (Philosophy of Ancient India, pp. 39 ff), Hopkins (Religions of India, p. 559 and 560) and Macdonell (Sanskrit Literature, p. 422). (source: Eastern Religions and Western Thought – By Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan p. 143).

Ludwig von Schröder German philosopher, author of the book Pythagoras und die Inder (Pythagoras and the Indians), published in 1884, he argued that Pythagoras had been influenced by the Samkhya school of thought, the most prominent branch of the Indic philosophy next to Vedanta.

(source: In Search of The Cradle of Civilization: : New Light on Ancient India – By Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak & David Frawley p. 252). Refer to The Passion of the Greeks: Christianity and the Rape of the Hellenes – By Evaggelos G. Vallianatos – Reviewed by Christos C. Evangeliou – indianrealist.wordpress.com
(Source: Indian Wisdom)

 

 

 

Will dogma continue to smother compassion?

Has not the dogma of the religious sect supported by a minority (less than 25%) of Australia’s population prevented voluntary (repeat, voluntary) euthanasia, or physician-assisted merciful death?

Offer compassion to those suffering severe unalleviated pain, and for whom palliative care has been shown to be inadequate, and there will arise stern warnings about ‘killing.’ This is a favourite word for those whose religiosity (involving arbitrary definitions) over-rides all other considerations. This will be followed by a further warning about the ‘slippery slope,’ a concept denoting a downward-spiral of communal morality.

Ah, the certainty of it all. Commence with a definition of choice, and following pure logic, one can reach a conclusion to satisfy one’s bias.

The following letters to the Sydney Morning Herald should be read by those for whom theology has a right to bury compassion for fellow-humans.

“The proposed NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill would establish the most tightly controlled regime of any of the 13 jurisdictions in the world that allow choice (‘Euthanasia poll: most doctors and nurses back bill on assisted death,’ June 25). The NSW bill is based on the Oregon model, operating for 25 years. It has strong support from the community and medical profession, and similar regimes have been adopted in five other US states, plus Washington, DC. Eligibility criteria are clearly and strictly defined, and there is no slippery slope. Opponents try to sow seeds of fear and doubt, but their claims are not supported by evidence. Out MPs must be guided by facts and not fear.” Dr. Sarah Edelman, President, Dying With Dignity, NSW

“Finally, palliative care doctors are breaking ranks to acknowledge they cannot alleviate all suffering and that voluntary assisted dying can be part of a continuum of medical care for the terminally ill. (‘Euthanasia poll: most doctors and nurses back bill on assisted death,’ June 25). In jurisdictions where assisted dying is legalised, it works hand-in-glove with palliative care. This is the model we want.” Penny Hackett, Willoughby.

Western democracy of the Australian kind allows our politicians to dance to a beat determined by their respective controllers. If politics allow, surely they will dance to the beat of their religious beliefs.

We will remain a backward nation for another generation or two.

Chinese quotes (2)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Laozi, 6th Century philosopher)
Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine;
I pour alone but with no friend at hand;
So I lift the cup to invite the shining moon;
Along with my shadow, a fellowship of three
(Li Bai, Tang Dynasty poet)

 

“Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” (Mao Zedong, political leader)

(Comment: Thoughts worth contemplating)

Rabindranath Tagore quotes

We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us.

The dust receives insult and in return offers her flowers.

The artist is the lover of nature, therefore he is her slave and her master.

The false can never grow into truth by growing in power.

“How far are you from me, O fruit?” “I am hidden in your heart, O flower.”

 

A confusing concept: The ‘Ocean’ of Consciousness

I have read, again and again, that each human soul had arisen from the Ocean of  Consciousness. If this concept about origins is to have full acceptance, then the idea that we came out of an ‘ocean’ has to be rejected. Why? Because an ocean has borders. Even the single ocean which connects all the named oceans on Earth has a boundary.

Consciousness has to be boundless. It has to be ever-existing, all-pervasive. It was not created. Yet, it can be held as the Creator, the ultimate source of everything known, and to be known, in the Cosmos.

There are clever scientists working on this concept of creation. They refer to the mother-lode as the aether. In the light of the brain-lock applied by the scientific method, and which reflects the mechanistic material paradigm of the physical sciences, the imputed aether will remain out of bounds for a little longer.

Were mythology to reflect reality, then the aether and (Hinduism’s) Consciousness may differ only in terminology. Better still, Consciousness, as that which spawns life, and yet sustains it by pervading it, enables the ephemeral (the ethereal) to connect with the substantial (the material), there being no impermeable barrier between the two realms (or states) of existence.

The relationship between the human brain, the mind, and memories also becomes explicable. As demonstrated by the spirit of my uncle, after death, the mind and its memories can exist outside the brain (now dead, cremated, and returned to stardust).

That my soul (the time-transcending ME) will ultimately return home with a higher level of morality is encouraging. Presumably, Consciousness itself will thereby be purified. What an encouraging vista!

EARLY MEMORIES: The inculcation of values

Although my uncle had no time for Brahmins and temple rituals, the 2 most important women in my life – my aunt and my mother – would frequently exchange religious books and thoughts. By requiring me to read certain religious texts, my mother instilled in me a degree of spirituality beyond the rituals.

At about age 21, I waved a fist in the direction of the sky, saying “To hell with you,” and renouncing God; Ganesha had let me down. Within 6 years, after a period of concentrated study, I decided, most logically, that there had to be a Creator God, to explain the complexity and beauty of all that we could experience. Riding on that initial underlay of boyhood spirituality, I began my perusal of religion (and religions).

My father’s role in implanting significant values in me was to stress the primacy of freedom. He also pointed out that it is the eagle which flies highest; but that it flies alone. His adage “The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on” (from Khayyam?) has had a sustaining effect on my responses to life’s travails.

The frequent gathering of 3 maternal uncles in our home during my boyhood informed me of the realms of local politics, international relations, the venality of competitive fellow-humans, inter-ethnic community relations, the impending war, and so on. I wondered, years later, how perceptive these men had been, while only in their thirties.

My boyhood expired at age 13, when the Japanese military arrived. After a year of absolute frugality through my father’s unemployment, my family was re-located to the countryside. I lived with 3 men and a Chinese cook in the capital. My life became one of loneliness, lacking relatives, friends, and conversation. Being under-fed was par for the course.

Thus was formed the loner, who had now been prepared for a life of failure, hardship, and frugality. He was, nevertheless, to be a successful survivor, enjoying any pleasure that the Cosmos sent his way. There was plenty of that too, as time passed. He eventually evolved into a communitarian small-l liberal, a political orphan, but an independent thinker.

One’s destiny path may become visible only with hindsight.