Monday 10 November 2014

Alexander the Great and the Indian philosophers
Today no doubt the Westerners are ahead of us in science and technology, and we have much to learn from them, which we should without having any ego problems. There is nothing wrong in being a disciple.
 However, there was a time when we were far ahead of the European countries in science and technology, philosophy, and in various other subjects.
 To give an example, most Europeans, like the French, Germans, English, etc were barbarians until Julius Caesar ( 100 B.C.-44 B.C. ) conquered them around 56 B.C. and brought them into the Roman world, where they were civilized.
 In contrast, India had civilizations long before Caesar's conquests. The Harappa Mohenjodaro ( Indus Valley ) civilization is estimated by some, e.g. Will Durant ( see his 'The Story of Civilization : Our Oriental Heritage ') to be the oldest in the world, of 4000-3000 B.C.
 I would like to give just one example in this connection.
  Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 B.C. Accounts of his invasion are contained in the Anabasis of Arrian, and in the works of Quintus Curtius Rufus, Diodorus Seculus and Plutarch.
  Alexander found many regions not under kings but  with democratic forms of government, e.g. the Mallavas, who were his fiercest opponents.
 Alexander was not only a great general, he was also a student of Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, from whom he had imbibed a love for philosophy.
  In India Alexander found philosophers who were naked sadhus, and whom the Greeks called ' gymnosophists '. Possibly these were Digamber Jains or a sect of Buddhists. The Greek accounts mention ' Brachmanes ' ( probably  Brahmins ) and ' Shramanes ' ( probably Buddhist shramanas ).
 The military might of the West met the spiritual knowledge of the East, the overdressed met the underdressed.
  Among the Indian philosophers  mentioned by name in the historical accounts are Calanos ( Kalyan ) and Dandamis. Alexander's representative Onesicritus had discussions with many such philosophers, and related their conversations to Alexander.
 These India sages refused to go to meet Alexander when summoned by him, and refused gifts sent to them by him, saying that they had no need of what Alexander was sending them, because they were content with what they had.
  In Arrian's account, when Alexander went to meet Dandamis, the latter told him :
 " O King Alexander, each man possesses just so much of the earth as that on which he stands. You are a man like other men. But you are so restless and relentless that you are roaming all over the world far from your home, troubling yourself and troubling others. But soon you will die, and will possess only so much of the earth as suffices for your burial "

1 comment:

  1. महोदय, appears mine was blocked in FB. is there any specific reason?