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Posts Tagged ‘Indian philosophy’

An encounter in Athens

July 21, 2010 9 comments
Socrates being offered hemlock - death by drinking poison! The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David at Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click for larger image.

Socrates being offered hemlock - death by drinking poison! The Death of Socrates (1787) by Jacques-Louis David (French, 1748–1825) at Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York - Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click for larger image.

Socrates, the greatest of all oral communicators, was freaking out over “the very latest communications technology, written language based on an alphabet” though as Powers concedes, “writing wasn’t completely new”. Socrates believed that scrolls would erode thought by permitting people to forget what they had learned because they’d be able to look things up, that “they wouldn’t feel the need to ‘remember it from the inside, completely on their own.’ ” Worse, writing wouldn’t “allow ideas to flow freely and change in real time, the way they do in the mind during oral exchange.” (via Born to Check Mail By LAURIE WINER, Published: July 9, 2010, Book Review – Hamlet’s Blackberry – By William Powers – NYTimes.com).

Indian yogis in Athens

Socrates was a great believer in oral teaching. The shruti tradition in India was alive before Socrates was born. Was that a coincidence? After all, Valmiki committed to palm leaves pre-existing history. Similarly, Krishna Dwaipayan Vyasa wrote the pre-existing history of Mahabharata!

Mentioned by Aristoxenus and recalled by Eusebius, Socrates’ encounter with an Indian yogi however, is not well-known. Mentions of the Athenian encounter between the Indian yogi and Socrates are a rarity in modern history. Socrates was accused of

disrespect for the gods whom the state recognizes, of introducing new divinities and of corrupting the young

Socrates was condemned to death by poison. Compare this to Indian ethics which forbid violence against the intellectual class – the Indian brahmins, priests, and rishis.

One question!

What were the alien gods that Socrates was promoting? What was it that Socrates was teaching that ‘corrupted the Greek youth’. The alien gods and teachings that Socrates was accused of promoting – were these from India?

Why would the ancient Greeks be anti-Indian?

Pliny’s moralizing verdict on the Roman trade with India,’ borders on being an anti-India polemic. Pliny’s India writing’s remain a significant academic memory even today.

Why the anti-Indian polemic?

Indic ideas that threatened the world

Indian teachers and intellectuals were sent to all corners of the world. The spread of Buddhism in Asia is well-chronicled. In 2nd century AD, Origen, a Christian pioneer, attributed the spread of Christianity “The island (Britain) has long been predisposed to it (Christianity) through the doctrines of the Druids and Buddhists, who had already inculcated the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead”

Why did Buddhism become the most popular religion in the world. Pretty statues, musical chants? Unlikely ... (Photo by Benoy K. Behl, Courtesy - ngenespanol.com)

Why did Buddhism become the most popular religion in the world. Pretty statues, musical chants? Unlikely ... (Photo by Benoy K. Behl, Courtesy - ngenespanol.com) Click for larger image.

Mani, the Buddhist teacher,  and his adherents, known to Christians as Manicheans were the nightmare for Christianity till the 15th century, feared by the Vatican for a 1200 years. Vatican killed, burnt and quartered all those who displayed any leaning towards Manichean-ism.

St.Augustine was canonised for his conversion from Manichean to Christianity. When Mani called for overthrow of slavery, the Vatican at the Council of Gangra, re-affirmed its faith in slavery. Islamic invaders searched and destroyed statues or boet /buta (meaning statues of Buddha?).

The reason behind this ‘persecution’?

Indian economic system in 500 BC ensured property rights for all – something that Europe could achieve only in the 19th century. Property, wealth and power concentrations in Greece would be threatened by Indic thought.

Travelling salesmen stop travelling

From 5th century we increasingly see more stories of visits to India. Visits by Indian rishis begin to dry up. The last Indo-Buddhist seems to be Mani.

1000 years after Mani’s death, the Vatican was afraid of his his ‘hold’ over the European populations.

Socrates was a great believer in oral teaching. The shruti tradition in India was alive before Socrates was born.

After all Valmiki committed to palm leaves pre-existing history. Similarly Krishna Dwaipayan vyasa wrote the pre-existing history of Mahabharata!

This is not to forget the encounter between Socrates and the Indian Rishi.

From 5th century we increasingly see more stories of visits to India. Visits by Indian rishis begin to dry up. The last Indo-Buddhist seems to be Mani – of whom the Vatican was adraid even 1000 years later.

Were the alien gods and teachings that Socrates accused of promoting, from India? After Pliny’s anti-India polemic remains a significant memory even today .

‘Pagans’ blamed for blasphemy killings!

December 28, 2009 1 comment
David Horsey's cartoon inverts the religious equation!

David Horsey's cartoon inverts the religious equation!

You got this one wrong

David, you are tracing blasphemy to people (like me) who worship rocks, trees, birds, animals, air, water, rivers, seas, mountains, fruits, sunrise, sunset, the waxing and waning of the moon, the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, tools and weapons, water and milk – in fact (and in short) everything. And we are the subject of your cartoon.

Pagans, we are called by ‘others’. Probably, you too. And no, we don’t have the concept of blasphemy. So, David you got this one wrong!! Completely wrong. We, (who are mostly called Pagans) don’t and didn’t do the killings over blasphemy! Because,

We don’t worship The One!

History of blasphemy

If you are looking at a ‘modern’ phenomenon, like blasphemy, it is the history of Desert Bloc that you must look at. Over the last nearly 2500 years. During this period, the cornerstones of ‘modern’ societies, from the Desert Bloc like One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festivals, et al were popularized.

From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic  – fallacious syllogisms, all. This quest of ‘Oneness’ is the root of most problems in the world – including blasphemy.

Birth of religions

David Horsey corrects himself. The Desert Bloc is where blasphemy, persecution, conversion, ethnic cleansing come from. (Cartoon by David Horsey; courtesy - sfgate.com). Click for larger image.

David Horsey corrects himself. The Desert Bloc is where blasphemy, persecution, conversion, ethnic cleansing come from. (Cartoon by David Horsey; courtesy - sfgate.com). Click for larger image.

Modern religions are a construct of the West Asia-Middle East – and the birth place of the 3 major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the Indic system, belief structure centres around dharma धर्म.

In the last 1000 years, India has also become ‘religious’. Indic people have started describing themselves as ‘Hindus’ – a geographical appellation, apart from /Buddhists /Jains /Sikhs. ‘Modern’ blasphemy laws in India  are also derived from colonial roots of Desert Bloc origin.

The difference between धर्म dharma and religion? Major!

For one, religion is about worship. There are many other differences also – in method of worship (how you worship), object of worship (what you worship), frequency of worship (e.g. every Sabbath; five times a day, etc.), language of worship (what you say, in which language), etc.

Indic worship practices are infinite. Even non-worship to is acceptable – for instance, the Charvaka school of Indian philosophy was atheistic and did not prescribe worship. Structure and deviation from worship practices are a non-issue in Indian dharmic structure. धर्म Dharma has no equivalent in the ‘Desert Bloc’ vocabulary of religions. धर्म Dharma is the path of righteousness, defined by a matrix of the contextual, existential, moral, pragmatic, professional, position, etc. धर्म Dharma is more than moral and ethics.

Many more … and more on the way

The really big difference between religion and धर्म dharma is the holy books. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one Holy Book each. No deviations. Indian धर्म dharma tradition has thousands which are more than 1000 years old – at last count. And some more on the way.

David, your two Pulitzers notwithstanding, you must do better than this. You cannot let your beliefs, prejudices, ‘received’ wisdom come in the way of ‘truth’.

Or your lack of knowledge!

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