Indian civilization is distinctive for its antiquity and continuity. Apart from its own vitality, the continuity of Indian civilization is largely due to its ability to adapt to alien ideas, harmonize contradictions and mould new thought patterns. Her constant contacts with the outside world also gave India the opportunity to contribute to other civilizations. Whilst other ancient civilizations have long ceased to exist, Indian civilization has continued to grow despite revolutionary changes. The ancient cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Persia have not survived. But in India today, Hindus seek inspiration from concepts similar to those originally advanced by their ancestors. 

Jawaharlal Nehru says in his book The Discovery of India " Till recently many European thinkers imagined that everything that was worthwhile had its origins in Greece or Rome. Sir Henry Maine has said somewhere that except the blind forces of nature, nothing moves in this world which is not originally Greek." 

However, Indian contacts with the Western world date back to prehistoric times. Trade relations, preceded by the migration of peoples, inevitably developed into cultural relations. This view is not only amply supported by both philological and archaeological evidence, but by a vast body of corroborative literary evidence as well: Vedic literature and the Jatakas, Jewish chronicles, and the accounts of Greek historians all suggest contact between India and the West. Taxila was a great center of commerce and learning. "Crowds of eager scholars flowed to it for instruction in the three Vedas and in the eighteen branches of knowledge." Tradition affirms that the great epic, the Mahabharata, was first recited in the city." (An Advance History of India, R. C. Majumdar, H. C. Raychanduri p.64) Buddha is reputed to have studied in Taxila. Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy owe their origin to Indian thought and spirituality.

Alexander's raid, which was so significant to Western historians, seemed to have entirely escaped the attention of Sanskrit authors. From the Indian point of view, there was nothing to distinguish his raid in Indian history. Jawaharlal Nehru says, " From a military point of view his invasion, was a minor affair. It was more of a raid across the border, and not a very successful raid at that." 


Indian Thought and the West

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, has said, 

"The Europeans are apt to imagine that before the great Greek thinkers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, there was a crude confusion of thought, a sort of chaos without form and void. Such a view becomes almost a provincialism when we realize that systems of thought which influenced countless millions of human beings had been elaborated by people who never heard the names of the Greek thinkers."

(source: Eastern Religions and Western Thought - By Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan p. 350).

There has been too much inclination among Western writers to idealize the Greeks and their civilization, and they have tended to discover too much of the contemporary world in the Greek past. In fact almost everything was traced to ancient Greece. In all that concerned intellectual activity and even faith, modern civilization was considered to be an overgrown colony of Hellas. The obvious Greek failings, their shortcomings and the unhealthy features of their civilization, was rationalized and romanticized. 

In the words of Sir Charles Eliot, who affirms that "it is clearly absurd for Europe as a whole to pose as a qualified instructor in humanity and civilization. He writes: "If Europeans have any superiority over Asiatics it lies in practical science, finance and administration, not in philosophy, thought or art. Their gifts are authority and power to organize; in other respects their superiority is imaginary." 

(source: Hinduism and Buddhism - By Sir Charles Elliot Curzon Press
ISBN 0700706798  volume I (1920), pp. xcvi and xcviii )

Modern research, however, has marred this comforting image and is helping to put Greek culture into its proper historical perspective showing that, like any other culture, it inherited something from preceding civilizations, profited from the progress of its neighboring cultures (like India and Persia) and, in turn, bequeathed much to later generations. 

We are not completely in the dark on the question of Indian influence on Greece. Speaking of ascetic practices in the West, Professor Sir Flinders Patrie (1853-1942) British archaeologist and Egyptologist, author of Egypt and Israel (1911) observes:

" The presence of a large body of Indian troops in the Persian army in Greece in 480 B.C. shows how far west the Indian connections were carried; and the discovery of modeled heads of Indians at Memphis, of about the fifth century B.C. shows that Indians were living there for trade. Hence there is no difficulty in regarding India as the source of the entirely new ideal of asceticism in the West."

(source: Eastern Religions and Western Thought - By Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan p. 150).

Gods of heaven

It is significant to note that although the Indians and Greeks (Yavanas) had come from the same Indo-European stock, they met as strangers in the sixth century B.C. Persian Empire. Soon, however, the cousins became associates in a a common cultural enterprise. Similarities in language, associated by similarities in religious beliefs, indicate that these two peoples must have either been in close contact at some early period or have had a common origin, even though neither had any recollection of those times. 

For example, the gods of heaven (Varuna - Ouranos; Dyaus - Zeus ) and the dawn (Ushas - Aurora) were common to the Greeks and Indians. The most prominent characteristics of the gods of both races was their power of regulating the order of nature and banishing evil. The Olympian religion of the Greeks and Vedic beliefs had a common background. The Greek concept of logos was very close to the vedic Vac, which corresponds to the Latin Vox. 


Greek Gods of heaven.

Refer to Christian persecution against the Hellenes -

The Rape of the Ancient Greeks - Lessons for Hindus

Watch Scientific verification of Vedic knowledge


Both Greeks and Romans habitually tried to understand the religions of India by trying to fit them as far as possible into Greco-Roman categories. Deities in particular were spoken of, not in Indian but in Greek terms and called by Greek names. Thus Shiva was identified as 'Dionysos', and Hare Krishna as ' Hercules'. 

In a passage of the Rig Veda, Vac is praised as a divine being. Vac is omnipotent, moves amongst divine beings, and carries the great gods, Mitra, Varuna, Indra and Agni, within itself. The doctrine of Vac teaches that "all gods live from Vac, also all demi-gods, animals and people. Vac is the eternal being, it is the first-born of the eternal law, mother of the Vedas and navel of immortality." Vedic Aryans attached such great importance to the spoken word that one who could not correctly pronounce Sanskrit was called barbar (meaning stammering). 

 The Greek barbaroi had the same meaning. The brisk intercourse between India and Greece is attested by the fact that a special rule was inserted in the great grammar of Panini to distinguish three feminine forms of yavana: a Greek woman was yavani, the curtain was yavanika, and the Greek script was yavanani. There is also a striking similarity between the social life described in the Homeric poems- the Illiad and Odyssey- and that found in the Vedas. Homeric gods, like the heroes who believed in them, often rode in the horse driven chariots. Horse-chariotry was a feature of the life of the Indo-European people. The Homeric idea of a language of the gods is also found in Sanskrit, Greek, Old Norse, and Hittite literatures. Some scholars, like Fiske, have even asserted that elements of the Trojan war story are to be found in the war between the bright deities, and the night demons as described in the Rig Veda. It is clear from Homer that even they used articles of Indian merchandise which were known by names of Indian origin, such as Kassiteros (Sanskrit, Kastira), elephas (Sanskrit, ibha), and ivory. 

Alain Danielou (1907-1994), son of French aristocracy, author of numerous books on philosophy, religion, history and arts of India, remarks that: "the Greeks were always speaking of India as the sacred territory of Dionysus and historians working under Alexander the Greek clearly mentions chronicles of the Puranas as sources of the myth of Dionysus." He quotes Clement of Alexandria who admitted that "we the Greeks have stolen from the Barbarians their philosophy." 


The Greek Philosopher Saint: Apollonios in In India

Philostratos says Apollonios (6th century BCE) of Tyana thought Indians had influenced Pythagoras. So going to India was an effort to improve his moral education. He followed the road of Alexander the great to India, probably entering the country through the Khyber Pass and going to Punjab, where he met the wise men of India on a forested hill not far from the Ganges River.

He delighted in their company and their lengthy discussions.

He said: “I saw the Indian Brahmins living on the earth and not on it, walled without walls, and owning nothing and owning everything.”

Clearly, Apollonios was impressed by the spiritual power of the Brahmins who had foreseen his coming. He spent four months with them. They lived exemplary lives very close to the gods. They ate what he ate and shared his love for the natural world.

But what impressed Apollnios the most was the Indians contact with Hellenic culture. The Indian wise men spoke Greek, and were well versed in the Greek philosophical tradition and Greek culture. Both the Indian philosophers and Apollonios worshipped the gods and a supreme god, a divine being like Zeus, who was the father of the gods and humans. The wise men, however, described themselves as gods in the sense of being good.

(source: The Passion of the Greeks: Christianity and the Rape of the Hellenes - By Evaggelos G. Vallianatos p. 57).

Alexander's Insignificant Raid 

The Alexander mythos

Alexander is supposed to have invaded the Punjab in 326 B.C. Every schoolboy is taught and is expected to know, that he invaded India's Northwest. Strangely, this event, so significant to Western historians, seemed to have entirely escaped the attention of Sanskrit authors. Nowhere did Sir William Jones, (1746-1794),who came to India as a judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta and pioneered Sanskrit studies, find any mention of Greeks or any sign of Greek influence. 

(source: India Discovered - By John Keay p. 33).

British historian Vincent A. Smith, conservatively appraised the impact of Alexander's invasion as follows:

"The Greek influence never penetrated deeply (into the Indic civilization)...On the other hand, the West learned something from India in consequence of the communications opened up by Alexander's adventure. Our knowledge of the facts is so scanty and fragmentary that it is difficult to make any positive assertions with confidence, but it is safe to say that the influence of Buddhist ideas on Christian doctrine may be traced in the Gnostic forms of Christianity, if not elsewhere. The notions of Indian philosophy and religion which filtered into the Roman empire flowed through channels opened by Alexander."

(source:  In Search of The Cradle of Civilization: : New Light on Ancient India - By Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak & David Frawley p. 252-253).

Even more than the Vedas and the Epics, Sindh figures very prominently in, of all places, the annals of Sikander that is Alexander. British historians used to talk of Alexander as ``the world conqueror'' who ``came and saw and conquered'' every land he had visited. He is still advertised in Indian text-books as the victor in his war with India's Porus (Puru). 

However, the facts as recorded by Alexander's own Greek historians tell a very different tale. And Marshal Zhukov, the famous Russian commander in World War II, said at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, a few years back, that India had defeated Alexander.

Alexander fared badly enough with Porus in the Punjab. Indeed, Porus put him on the spot when he told him: ``To what purpose should we make war upon one another. if the design of your coming to these parts be not to rob us of our water or our necessary food, which are the only things that wise men are indispensably obliged to fight for? As for other riches and possessions, as they are accounted in the eyes of the world, if I am better provided of them than you, I am ready to let you share with me; but if fortune has been more liberal to you than to me, I have no objection to be obliged to you.'' Alexander had no reply to the questions posed by Porus. Instead, with the obstinacy of a bully, he said: ``I shall contend and do battle with you so far that, howsoever obliging you are, you shall not have the better of me.'' But Porus did have the better of Alexander. In the fighting that ensued, the Greeks were so terrified of Indian prowess that they refused to proceed farther, in spite of Alexander's angry urgings and piteous lamentations. Writes Plutarch, the great Greek historian: ``This last combat with Porus took off the edge of the Macedonians' courage and stayed their further progress in India.... Alexander not only offered Porus to govern his own kingdom as satrap under himself but gave him also the additional territory of various independent tribes whom he had subdued.'' Porus emerged from his war with Alexander with his territory doubled and his gold stock augmented. So much for Alexander's ``victory'' over Porus. However, what was to befall him in Sindh, was even worse. In his wars in Iran. Afghanistan, and north-west India, Alexander had made so many enemies that he did not dare return home by the same route he had come. He had, therefore, decided to travel via Sindh. But in Multan the Mallas gave him hell.

(source: Alexander's Waterloo in Sindh - By K R Malkhani).

According to Indian historian Dr. R. C. Majumdar "The invasion of Alexander has been recorded in minute details by the Greek historians who naturally felt elated at the progress of their hero over unknown lands and seas. From the Indian point of view, there was nothing to distinguish his raid in Indian history. It can hardly be called a great military success as the only military achievement to his credit were the conquest of petty tribes and States by installments. He never approached even within a measurable distance of what may be called the citadel of Indian military strength, and the exertions he had to make against Poros, the ruler of a small district between the Jhelum and the Chenab, do not certainly favor the hypothesis that he would have found it an easy task to subdue the mighty Nanda empire." 

According to Paul Masson-Oursel and others, "The importance of this Indian campaign of Alexander has been exaggerated. It had no decisive influence on the destinies of India, for its results were short-lived. 

H. G. Rawlinson
, refers to the invasion, " had no immediate effect, and passed off like countless other invasions, leaving the country almost undisturbed." 

Vincent  A. Smith " India remained unchanged. She was never Hellenised. She continued to live her life of splendid isolation, and forgot the passing of the Macedonian storm. No Indian author, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain, makes even the faintest illusion to Alexander or his deeds."

(Source: Ancient India - By V. D. Mahajan 1994. published by S. Chand & Company New Delhi. p. 265-268)

Jawaharlal Nehru in his book Discovery of India says, " From a military point of view his invasion, was a minor affair. It was more of a raid across the border, and not a very successful raid at that." He met with such stout resistance from a border chieftain that the contemplated advance into the heart of India had to be reconsidered. If a small ruler on the frontier could fight thus, what of the larger and more powerful kingdom further south? Probably this was the main reason why his army refused to march further and insisted on returning." 

(source Discovery of India - By Jawaharlal Nehru p. 114-115).

Another myth is propagated by the Western historians that Alexander was noble and kind king, he had great respects for brave and courageous men, and so on. The truth is other-wise. He was neither a noble man nor did he have a heart of gold. He had meted out very cruel and harsh treatment to his earlier enemies. Basus of Bactria fought tooth and nail with Alexander to defend the freedom of his motherland. When he was brought before Alexander as a prisoner, Alexander ordered his servants to whip him and then cut off his nose and ears. He then killed him. Many Persian generals were killed by him.

The murder of Kalasthenese, nephew of Aristotle, was committed by Alexander because he criticised Alexander for foolishly imitating the Persian emperors. Alexander also murdered his friend Clytus in anger. His father's trusted lieutenant Parmenian was also murdered by Alexander. The Indian soldiers who were returning from Masanga were most atrociously murdered by Alexander in the dead of night. These exploits do not prove Alexander's kindness and greatness, but only an ordinary emperor driven by the zeal of expanding his empire. 

(source:  Alexander, the Ordinary - By Prof. Dinesh Agarwal).

Alexander’s raid of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, finally turned out to be a overthrow of the Achaemenid dynasty, usurpers of the Assyrian Empire. Unable to make headway into India, as the Indian Brahmins had helped and influenced Indian princes to organize and support the Indian war against Alexander. Greek sources cite, after this realization, at ‘The City of Brahmans’, Alexander massacred an estimated 8000-10,000 of these non-combatant Brahmans.

Alexander’s massacres in India, a colonial historian informs us (without naming a source), earned him an “epithet … assigned (to) him by the Brahmins of India, The Mighty Murderer.” This Indian Brahmanic characterization of Alexander, commonly taught to English schoolchildren and present in English college texts, as The Mighty Murderer, curiously disappeared from Western-English texts soon after 1860 – and instead now “a positive rose-tinted aura surrounds Alexander” … !

Since Indian texts were completely silent about the very existence of Alexander, colonial Western historians had a free run. Using hagiographic Greek texts as the base, Alexander became the conqueror of the world.

(source: The Alexander mythos - 

The religious scripture of ancient Iranians was the Avesta. The Avesta available today is only a fraction of what existed thousands of years ago. When Alexander captured Iran (Persia) in 326 B. C. after a bloody war, he destroyed each copy of the Avesta available. After return of political stability Persian priests tried to salvage the Avesta and much had to be  written from memory. Another cruel legacy of Alexander. 

(source: Vedic Physics - By Raja Ram Mohan Roy p. 8)

Marshal Zhukov, the famous Russian commander in World War II, said at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, a few years back, that India had defeated Alexander

Indian Philosophy

By contrast, 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. 

The tradition of Indian philosophic thought is as complex as it is long. The complexities of Indian philosophy have arisen through centuries of deep reflection on the many aspects of human experience, and, 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 is 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. 

The Upanishads have greatly influenced Indian culture throughout history and have also found enthusiastic admirers abroad. Schopenhauer was almost lyrical about them. Max Muller said: " The Upanishads are the .... sources of .....the Vedanta philosophy, a system in which human speculation seems to me to have reached its very acme."  The Upanishads are saturated with the spirit of inquiry, intellectual analysis, and a passion for seeking the truth. 

India, is the home of philosophy. Certainly India is a country where philosophy has always been very popular and influential. An American scholar has stated that teachers of philosophy in India were as numerous as merchants in Babylonia. The sages have always been heroes of the Indians. If philosophy did emerge in India earlier than in Greece, and if the two countries were in close contact  soon after this emergence, it is not unlikely that Indian thought had some influence on Greek philosophy.

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).

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 -

Watch Scientific verification of Vedic knowledge

"Nearly all the philosophical and mathematical doctrines attributed to Pythagoras are derived from India." 

Orphic religion, Pythagorean philosophy, Neo-Platonism, Stoicism and several others not so well-known have been influenced by the Samkhya-Vedanta thought of India. In pre-Christian centuries Persia served as a middle ground between India, and Greece. It is known that Indian archers with their long bows, one end of which was planted in the ground, fought in Darius's war against Greece. Brahmins and Buddhists were in Greece before Socrates. Later Alexandria became a great center of commerce and learning, where Buddhists and Brahmins congregated and where Neo-Platonism was born. The great astronomical observatory at Ujjayini (now Ujjain) in central India was linked to Alexandria in Egypt. The first Greek book about India was perhaps written by Scylax, a Greek sea-captain whom Darius commissioned to explore the course of the Indus about 510 B.C. (Herodotus, iv. 44 ). 


An American Mahant: Rama-priya Das poses in a yoga posture. His body is covered with ashes from holy sadhu-fires. A bead (made of sacred tulsi wood) hangs on a thread around his neck and over his left shoulder he wears a string which may only be worn by ‘twice-born’, high-caste Hindus and sadhus of this sect.

(image source: Sadhu: Holy Men of India - By Dolf Hartsuiker


Vitsaxis G. Vassilis, in his book Plato and the Upanishads, argues that exponents of literature, science, philosophy and religion traveled regularly between the two countries. He points to accounts by Eusebius and Aristoxenes, of the visits of Indian sages to Athens and their meetings with Greek philosophers. And reference to the visit of Indians to Athens is found in the fragment of Aristotle preserved in the writings of Diogenes Laertius who was also one of Pythagoras’ biographers.

The essence of Socratic and Platonic philosophy has remained unintelligible in the West because of lack of insight into Indian thought. Plato's view of Reality is the same as that of the Upanishads. His method of attaining knowledge of the Good is that of Vedanta. In the Phaedo, Plato describes silent meditation as withdrawal of the senses from their objects and as stilling the processes of mind.

The Greek theoria of the Pythagoreans, of Socrates and Plato, from which the world 'theater' comes is the vision or darshana of the Upanishads.  Plato mentions that philosophic wisdom can only be communicated directly from a teacher to disciple, like lighting one lamp by another. The Timaeus indicates after the manner of the Upanishads that the receiver of philosophic truth must be a fit person - fit by character and not by reason of intellect alone. Platonic thought is so un-Greek in the sense in which Greek thought is generally taken, namely, purely rationalism, that some philosopher, such as Nietzsche, have called it " un-Hellenic."

According to Voltaire, "The Greeks, before the time of Pythagoras, traveled into India for instruction. The signs of the seven planets and of the seven metals are still almost all over the earth, such as the Indians invented: the Arabians were obliged to adopt their cyphers."  

(source: The Philosophy of History p. 527).

Some sources even credit Pythagoras with having traveled as far as India in search of knowledge, which may explain some of the close parallels between Indian and Pythagorean philosophy and religion. These parallels include: 

  1. a belief in the transmigration of souls;
  2. the theory of four elements constituting matter;
  3. the reasons for not eating beans;
  4.  the structure of the religio-philosophical character of the Pythagorean fraternity, which resembled Buddhist monastic orders; and
  5. the contents of the mystical speculations of the Pythagorean schools, which bear a striking resemblance of the Hindu Upanishads

According to Greek tradition, Pythagoras, Thales, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus and others undertook journey to the East to study philosophy and science. By the time Ptolmaic Egypt and Rome’s Eastern empire had established themselves just before the beginning of the Common era, Indian civilization was already well developed, having founded three great religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism – and expressed in writing some subtle currents of religious thought and speculation as well as fundamental theories in science and medicine.

(source: The crest of the peacock: Non-European roots of Mathematics - By George Gheverghese Joseph   p. 1 - 18). For more refer to chapter on Hindu Culture1).

Pythagoras was particularly influenced by Indian philosophy. Professor R. G. Rawlinson remarks that:

"almost all the theories, religious, philosophical, and mathematical, taught by the Pythagorians were known in India in the sixth century B.C." 

Even Aristotle, the great rationalist and empiricist, upheld so strongly by teachers of philosophy in the West, is not fully understood. Aristotle speaks of intellect in the same sense as do the Upanishads- intellect which is not thinking logically but which grasps truth immediately. The Indian term for intellect is buddhi, the purest understanding. 

The thought of Plotinus is Hindu. Eusebius in his biography of Socrates, relates an incident recorded in the fourth century B.C. in which Socrates met a Brahmin in the agora or the market place. The Brahmin asked Socrates what he was doing. Socrates replied that he was questioning people in order to understand man. At this, the Brahmin laughed and asked how one could understand man without knowing God.

The Socrates conception of freedom and virtue is that of the Upanishads. Socrates defined virtue as knowledge. Virtue is character, the realization of the essence of man. Know thyself, which is exactly the same as the Upanisadic command, Atmanam biddhi. In the Gita, knowledge or wisdom is defined as character. Virtue, comes from the Vedic word vira (hero, man).

Greek philosophy began in Asia Minor and Greek writers refer to the travels of Pythagoras, and others, to the East to gain wisdom. According to his biographer Iamblichus,

"Pythagoras traveled widely, studying the esoteric teachings of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and even Brahmins." According to Gomprez, "It is not too much to assume that the curious Greek who was a contemporary of Buddha, and it may be of Zoraster, too, would have acquired a more or less exact knowledge of the East, in the age of intellectual fermentation, through the medium of Persia." 

Pythagoras's theorem discovered in India in 800 BC according to renowned historian Dick Teresi. author and coauthor of several books about science and technology, including The God Particle. He is cofounder of Omni magazine and has written for Discover, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly. 

"Two thousand years before Pythagoras, philosophers in northern India had understood that gravitation held the solar system together, and that therefore the sun, the most massive object, had to be at its center."

"Our Western mathematical heritage and pride are critically dependent on the triumphs of ancient Greece. These accomplishments have been so greatly exaggerated that it often becomes difficult to sort out how much of modern math is derived from Greece and how much from...the Indians and so on. 

"Our modern numerals 0 through 9 were developed in India. Mathematics existed long before the Greeks constructed their first right angle. On the other hand George Cheverghese Joseph (author of The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics) points out that the early Indian mathematics contained in the Sulbasutras (The Rules of the Cord) contain their own version of the Pythagorean theorem as well as procedure for obtaining the square root of 2 correct to five decimal places. The Sulbasutras reveal a rich geometric knowledge that preceded the Greeks."

(source: Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science - By Dick Teresi  p.  32). For more on Dick Teresi refer to chapter on Quotes301_320).

Vivekananda said that Samhkya was the basis of the philosophy of the whole world. " There is no philosophy in the world that was not indebted to Kapila. (Kapila is the founder of the Sankhya philosophy). Krishna says in the Gita that, among the perfected sages, he is Kapila. Pythagoras came to India and studied his philosophy and that was the beginning of the philosophy of the Greeks. Later it formed the Alexandrian school, and still later the Gnostic."

Panini, who speaks of the Greek script as yavanani lipi. The Prakrit equivalent of yavana, viz. yona, is used in the inscriptions of Ashoka to describe the Hellenic princes of Egypt, Cyrene, Macedonia, Epirus, and Syria. 

"It is believed that the Dravidians from India went to Egypt and laid the foundation of its civilization there. the Egyptians themselves had the tradition that they originally came from the South, from a land called Punt, which an historian of the West, Dr. H.R. Hall, thought referred to some part of India.

The Indus Valley civilization is, according to Sir John Marshall who was in charge of the excavations, the oldest of all civilizations unearthed (c. 4000 B.C.) It is older than the Sumerian and it is believed by many that the latter was a branch of the former. 

Some people called the Brahui who dwell in Baluchistan which is at present a part of Pakistan, still speak the Dravidian language. It is likely that their ancestors were the people who sailed across the narrow waters at the entrance of the Persian Gulf to Oman and then to Aden along the southern littoral of Arabia, crossing over to Africa at the narrow strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, near Somaliland and proceeding north along the Nile Valley."

(Source: The Bhagvad Gita: A Scripture for the Future - Translation and Commentary by Sachindra K. Majumdar p. 28).

"We hear of Arabian trade with Egypt as far back as 2743 B.C. probably as ancient as was the trade with India." 

(source: The Story of civilizations - Our Oriental Heritage ISBN: 1567310125 1937 vol. 4 p. 157). 

Klaus K. Klostermaier,
in his book A Survey of Hinduism pg 18 says: 

"For several centuries a lively commerce developed between the ancient Mediterranean world and India, particularly the ports on the Western coast. The most famous of these ports was Sopara, not far from modern Bombay, which was recently renamed Mumbai. Present day Cranganore in Kerala, identified with the ancient Muziris, claims to have had trade contacts with Ancient Egypt under Queen Hatsheput, who sent five ships to obtain spices, as well as with ancient Israel during King Soloman's reign.  Apparently, the contact did not break off after Egypt was conquered by Greece and later by Rome. 

According to I .K. K. Menon

"there is evidence of a temple of Augustus near Muziris (Cranganore, Kerala) and a force of 1200 Roman soldiers stationed in the town for the protection of Roman commerce." Large hoards of Roman traders, who must have rounded the southern tip of India to reach that place."

(Note: The ancient Alexandrian port of Muziris, now Cranganore, Kerala  is where the Romans built a temple to Augustus in the first century.)

Thus, both upon archaeological and historical grounds, India is the mother of civilizations. Material skill and spiritual ideas spread from the Indus valley to Nineveh and Babylon, to the entire Middle East, to the Nile Valley and thence to Greece and Rome. 

Other Indic Influences:

American mathematician, A. Seindenberg has demonstrated that the Sulbhasutras, the ancient Vedic mathematics, have inspired all the mathematic sciences of the antique world from Babylonia to Egypt and Greece". "Arithmetic equations from the Sulbhasutras were used in the observation of the triangle by the Babylonians and the theory of contraries and of inexactitude in arithmetic methods, discovered by Hindus, inspired Pythagorean mathematics." writes Abraham Seidenberg. 

In astronomy, too, Indus were precursors: Jean-Claude Bailly (1736–93) 18th century French astronomer and politician. His works on astronomy and on the history of science (notably the Essai sur la théorie des satellites de Jupiter) were distinguished both for scientific interest and literary elegance and earned him membership in the French Academy, the Academy of Sciences, and the Academy of Inscriptions. Bailly had already noticed that:

"the Hindu astronomic systems were much more ancient than those of the Greeks or even the Egyptians the movement of stars which was calculated by Hindus 4,500 years ago, does not differ even by a minute from the tables which we are using today." And he concludes: "The Hindu systems of astronomy are much more ancient than those of the Egyptians - even the Jews derived from the Hindus their knowledge."  There is also no doubt that the Greeks heavily borrowed from the "Indus."

Alain Danileou (1907-1994), son of French aristocracy, author of numerous books on philosophy, religion, history and arts of India, including Virtue, Success, Pleasure, & Liberation : The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India. He was perhaps the first European to boldly proclaim his Hinduness. He settled in India for fifteen years in the study of Sanskrit. He had a wide effect upon Europe's understanding of Hinduism. He has remarks that:

"the Greeks were always speaking of India as the sacred territory of Dionysus and historians working under Alexander the Great clearly mention chronicles of the Puranas as sources of the myth of Dionysus." Alain Danielou quotes Clement of Alexandria who admitted that "we the Greeks have stolen from the Barbarians their philosophy." 

We know that the Greeks had translated the Bhagvad-gita and French philosopher and historian Roger-Pol Droit writes in his classic "L'oubli de l'Inde (India forgotten) "that there is absolutely not a shadow of a doubt that Greeks knew all about Indian philosophy." 

William Jones (1746-1794) came to India as a judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta. He pioneered Sanskrit studies. A linguist of British India, his admiration for Indian thought and culture was almost limitless.  He noted that "the analogies between Greek Pythagorean philosophy and the Sankhya school, are very obvious."

(source: Arise O' India - By Francois Gautier ISBN 81-241-0518-9 Har-Anand Publications 2000. p. 21-22).

Jean-Paul Droit, French philosopher, and Le Monde journalist, recently wrote in his book "The Forgetfulness of India, that:

"The Greeks loved so much Indian philosophy that Demetrios Galianos had even translated the Bhagavad-Gita"

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The Roman Empire - A Gangster State?

According to Peter Beckman, author of 'A History of Pi: " While Alexandria had become the world capital of thinkers, Rome was becoming the capital of thugs. Rome was not the first state of organized gangsterdom nor was it the last; but it was the only one that managed to bamboozle posterity into an almost universal admiration. Few rational men admire the Huns, the Nazis or the Soviets; but for centuries, schoolboys have been expected to read Julius Caesar's militaristic drivel. They have been led to believe that the Romans had attained an advanced level in the sciences, the arts, law, architecture, engineering and everything else. 

It is my opinion that the alleged Roman achievements are largely a myth; and I feel it is time for this myth to be debunked a little. What the Romans excelled in was bullying, bludgeoning, butchering and blood bath. They enslaved peoples whose cultural level was far above their own. They not only ruthlessly vandalized their countries, but they also looted them, stealing their art treasures, abducting their scientists and copying their technical know-how, which the Romans' barren society was rarely able to improve on.

Then there is Roman engineering: The Roman roads, acquaducts, the Coliseums. Warfare, alas, has always been beneficial to engineering. In a healthy society, engineering design gets smarter and smarter; in gangster states, it gets bigger and bigger. 

The architecture of the Coliseums and other places of Roman entertainment are difficult to judge without recalling what purpose they served. It was here that gladiators fought to the death; that prisoners of war, convicts and Christians were devoured by a many as 5,000 wild beasts at a time; and that victims were crucified or burned alive for the entertainment of Roman civilization. When the Roman screamed for ever more blood, artificial lakes were dug and naval battles as many as 19,000 gladiators were staged until the water turned red with blood. The only Roman emperors who did not throw Christians to the lions were the Christian emperors. They (Christians) threw the pagans to the lions with the same gusto and for the same crime - having a different religion. 

Romans were not primitive savages, but were sophisticated killers. The Roman contribution to sciences was mostly limited to butchering antiquity's greatest mathematicians, burning the Library of Alexandria. and it demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of sciences. Pliny tells us that in India there is a species of men without mouths who subsist by smelling flowers. 

Yet most historians extol the achievements of Rome. "it accustomed the Western races to the idea of a world-state, and by pax romana....."

(source: A History of Pi - by Peter Beckan St. Martin's Press; ; 19th edition (August 1976) 0312381859 p. 55-59).

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Did You Know

Iron with Mettle

Ancient India developed advanced metallurgical technology that made it possible to cast a remarkable iron pillar, dating to about 300 B.C.E. Still standing today in Delhi. This solid shaft of wrought iron is about 24 feet high and 16 inches in diameter. It has been exposed to weather and pollution since its erection, yet shows minimal corrosion, a technology lost to current ironmakers. Even with today's advances, only four foundries in the world could make this piece and none were able to keep it rust-free. 

The earliest known metal expert (some 2,200 years ago) Rishi Pantanjali. His book Loha Shastra, "metal manual" describes in detail metal preparation. 

The pillar is a solid shaft of iron sixteen inches in diameter and 23 feet high. What is most astounding about it is that it has never rusted even though it has been exposed to wind and rain for centuries! The pillar defies explanation, not only for not having rusted, but because it is apparently made of pure iron, which can only be produced today in tiny quantities by electrolysis! The technique used to cast such a gigantic, solid pillar is also a mystery, as it would be difficult to construct another of this size even today. The pillar stands as mute testimony to the highly advanced scientific knowledge that was known in antiquity, and not duplicated until recent times. Yet still, there is no satisfactory explanation as to why the pillar has never rusted! 

(source: Technology of the Gods: The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients - By David Hatcher Childress p. 80) 

Refer to Delhi Iron Pillar - By Prof. R. Balasubramaniam  - Professor Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engng Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur 208016.  Contributed to this site by Prof. R. Balasubramaniam. URL  : 

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The iron pillar near Qutub Minar at New Delhi is in the news, thanks to the research by Prof. R. Balasubramaniam of IIT, Kanpur and his team of metallurgists. The pillar is said to be 1,600 years old. A protective layer of `misawite' — a compound made up of iron, oxygen and hydrogen on the steel pillar, which is said to contain phosphorus -
is claimed as the reason for the non-corrosive existence.

Iron pillar and nano powder -

For more information refer to chapter on Hindu Culture).

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