HINDU INFLUENCE ON GREEK PHILOSOPHY
The Odyssey of the Soul from the Upanishads to Plato
Timothy J. Lomperis
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PHILOSOPHY, ANCIENT GREECE, HINDUISM, INDIA
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© Timothy J Lomperis 1984
MANY HAVE noted some strange parallels between Hindu and Greek philosophies. Did one influence the other? Or were the similar ideas spontaneous original growths? Or was a common ancestry responsible? The author examines such questions in this engrossing book. He warns us that all Hindu philosophy was not idealistic as was not Greek. But Vedantic monism ultimately came to rule the roost in India, and Plato was a major influence in Greek philosophy.
The author therefore, mainly compares Plato’s ideas with those of Hindu idealist philosophy. The resemblances, like Plato’s idea of the detached Philosopher-king, like the rajarshi, his three classes, almost castes, in his Republic, his conception of the nous and the Demiurge, like jivatman and paramatman his idea of doxa (appearances), very much like the Hindu maya, his three-part formulation of the soul, corresponding to sattva, rajas and tamas, his doctrine of rebirth etc all point to borrowings from India, which developed these ideas earlier. No direct proof is possible, hut there were contacts between ancient India and Greece, and the circumstantial evidence for Greek borrowing which the author brings forward with judicious care, is overwhelming. Both Socrates and Plato may have had, the author gives reasons to think, Indian contacts. In any case, the Pvthagoreans had them, as the author proves and these two eminent fathers of Greek philosophy had acknowledged connections with the followers of Pythagoras whose ideas are deeply permeated with Hindu idealist philosophy.
This is a lucidly written book, which will be of interest, not only to students of philosophy, but also to laymen interested in the deeper questions of life and its meaning. This book is now out-of-print but available as an e-book at IDEAINDIA.COM
Timothy Lomperis is a professor of political science specializing in international security and Asian studies. He has written three books on the Vietnam War: "The War Everyone Lost --and Won" (1984, 87, and 93), "Reading The Wind" (1987), and From People's War To People's Rule ('96). The latter work received the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award for the best book in the social sciences published at a Jesuit institution from 1994-1998. He received post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard University in 1985-86 and at the Wilson Center for International Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC in 1988-89.