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[Ind-Arch] Re: Connection of Greeks with India

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  • subrahmanyas2000
    Sunil, First, pls excuse me because I will not be able to fully respond to your question for two reasons a) it will take a lot more time b) I dont have the
    Message 1 of 58 , Aug 28, 2008
      First, pls excuse me because I will not be able to fully
      respond to your question for two reasons
      a) it will take a lot more time
      b) I dont have the immediate resources/time to go
      get books from the library.

      Now to your response:
      Sure Selucus was the successor (thats possible). But
      what about the details of the area under his control ?
      What are the sources ? are they greek textual sources ?
      or archeological ? coins ?
      We run into a lot of gray.

      Just like how textual evidence from India is not taken for
      granted and treated with skepticism. Indian scholars should
      learn skepticism and not merely accept eurocentric
      interpretations of greek-texts.
      Indians have the knowledge of textual evidence
      from India and can challenge the nonsense that come out of
      western academia. But, the lack of knowledge and expertise
      in greek-sources hampers the ability to critique eurocentric
      interpretations of greek history. Hopefully in
      future years this gap will be closed.

      If you have not read them already - I do recommend
      both the books quoted earlier: AK Narains book, the Indo-Greeks
      and McEvilley's 'Shape of Ancient Thought'.

      Again coming back to the original topic
      - Timing & Location of Alexander's entry into India
      is pivotal to the chronology of India.
      But that is nowhere near being certain or proven.

      --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, Sunil Bhattacharjya
      <sunil_bhattacharjya@...> wrote:
      > QUOTE
      > So we are to believe that Alexander who is completely weakened
      > by a long war manages to establish a city named after
      > his horse in the populous settled plains of Punjab ! - for which
      > there is no evidence available till now.
      > So what/how does one establish a town or city ?
      > Seems completely bogus and pure hagiography of alexander much
      > after his death.
      > UNQUOTE
      > You may not believe that if you are not aware that immediately
      after Alexander's return the area came under Seleucus and then
      Seleucus gave that to his son Antiochus to rule. Soon thereafter
      Seleucus parted with a portion of his territorry to Chandragupta and
      in return he received 500 elephants as gift.
      > Regards,
      > Sunil K. Bhattacharjya
      > ----- Original Message ----
      > From: subrahmanyas2000 <subrahmanyas@...>
      > To: IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 9:03:46 AM
      > Subject: [Ind-Arch] Re: Connection of Greeks with India
      > Almost all of what is known about Alexander comes from
      > what is written by Arrianus hundreds of years later
      > and repeated by others, much later. Again in
      > recent times, the same info is expanded and propounded
      > by euro-centric scholars like Tarn.
      > So we are to believe that Alexander who is completely weakened
      > by a long war manages to establish a city named after
      > his horse in the populous settled plains of Punjab ! - for which
      > there is no evidence available till now.
      > So what/how does one establish a town or city ?
      > Seems completely bogus and pure hagiography of alexander much
      > after his death.
      > Philostratus in Applonius of Tyana, says that the Indians also
      > put up a structure with pride that they had stopped Alexander.
      > So where is that ?
      > According to AK.Narain, so far, there is no evidence of Greeks
      > in the Punjab at all. Nothing about the timing of Alexander's
      > arrival in the Punjab is known. I do not know if there have
      > been recent finds and I have not read Narains' latest updated book.
      > Generally, there is a tedency to make inflated claims when
      > it comes to anything related with greeks. One has to to be very
      > skeptical and look for original evidence.
      > Regards,
      > Subrahmanya
      > --- In IndiaArchaeology@ yahoogroups. com, Sunil Bhattacharjya
      > <sunil_bhattacharjy a@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Friends,
      > >
      > > There should not be any doubt as to from where Alexander
      > Alexander was welcome by the king Ambi of Taxilla and then he
      > crossed the river Sindhu (Indus) and fought with Porus. In the war
      > his horse Bucephalus died and he established a city there called
      > Bucephala. After the war with Porus his army also revolted and
      > according to some Greek historians he got a report that the
      > Palibothra king had a huge army and that he will have to cross a
      > desert by 12 days walking to face him. As at that stage Alexander's
      > army was unwilling to fight any more and the soldiers wanted to
      > return he had no option other than to to return.
      > >
      > > Regards,
      > >
      > > Sunil Kumar Bhattacharjya
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > ----- Original Message ----
      > > From: subrahmanyas2000 <subrahmanyas@ ...>
      > > To: IndiaArchaeology@ yahoogroups. com
      > > Sent: Saturday, August 23, 2008 11:09:19 AM
      > > Subject: [Ind-Arch] Re: Connection of Greeks with India
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Carlos,
      > > You ask an extremely pertinent question.
      > > AK Narain in his book Indo-Greeks deals briefly with this
      > > issue.
      > >
      > > As you know, Alexander's journey to India is considered
      > > an 'anchor' for Indian chronology. But there are big
      > > time problems with it. (not just the Sandracottus issue)
      > >
      > > The question is about where exactly into India
      > > did Alexander reach and where he turned back.
      > > This distance/time difference could affect by a few
      > > months as to where exactly Alexander stopped and have
      > > a huge influence on issue of chronology in India.
      > > There is a big question as to where exactly Alexander
      > > turned back - was it in the punjab , or was it much further
      > > west in Afghanistan. There was more than one Puru -
      > > there was one eastern Pururvas, and a western Pururvas
      > > (all that it means is that they were of Puru clan).
      > > Also, there is the issue of whether rivers were in spate
      > > because of rains or whether because of spring melting of
      > > the snow.
      > >
      > > While the relative chronology of India is allright, the absolute
      > > chronology of India needs some strong reevaluation.
      > > This again goes back to dating the Rigveda, Buddha etc etc...
      > >
      > >
      > > regards,
      > > Subrahmanya
      > >
      > > --- In IndiaArchaeology@ yahoogroups. com, "Carlos Aramayo"
      > > <cararam50@ ..> wrote:
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Other interesting thing for me is why Greeks of Alexander times
      > > > could be seen as Ionians/Yona if Alexander troops may have been
      > > > Macedonians in majority.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Best regards,
      > > >
      > > > Carlos
      > > >
      > >
    • kishore patnaik
      The effect of Ancient Indian thought on earliest Greeks is not in doubt. According to Greek tradition, Thales, Empedocles, Anasagoras, Democritus and others
      Message 58 of 58 , Oct 14, 2008

        The effect of Ancient Indian thought on earliest Greeks is not in doubt. 

        According to Greek tradition,  Thales, Empedocles, Anasagoras, Democritus and others undertook journeys to Oriental countries, in order to study philosophy.  Hence there is at least the historical possibility of Greeks having been influenced by Indian thought, either directly or through Persia and Babylonia.

        The dependence of Pythagoras on Indian philosophy and science certainly seem to have a high degree of probability.  Almost all the doctrines ascribed to him Religious, philosophical, mathematical were known in India in sixth c. bce. The coincidences are so numerous that their cumulative forces becomes considerable The Transmigration theory,  the assumption of five elements, the Pythagorean theorem in geometry, the prohibition as to eating beans, the religio-philosophical character of the Pythagorean fraternity and the mystical speculations of the Pythagorean School, all have their close parallels in ancient India. The doctrine of metempsychosis in the case of Pythagoras appears without any connection of explanatory background, and was regarded by the Greeks of foreign origin. He could not have derived it from Egypt, as it was not known to the ancient Egyptians.  He could have derived them only from India, as mentioned above, either directly or from Indians in Persia.

        Another sage who is influenced by Indian thought was Empedocles.

        As mentioned above, he was one of the early sages from Greek who have travelled to India.  He abstained from meat and impure foods.  He performed magical rituals and cured diseases by using medicines and uttering ritual incantations, which was uncommon in Greece. He believed that if one murdered, broke oaths and committed such other sins one was reborn repeatedly through many bodies. He claimed he remembered his many births.

        More importantly, Empedocles was  known for  his remarkable description of the origin of  the world and life forms. He held that 4 elements- fire, air, earth and water which in a hymn composed by him he identified with the deities Zeus, Hera, Aidoneus and Nestis

         He further elaborated that there arose many forms with wrong combinations of limbs and body parts or ancient forms with supernumerary combinations that were not capable of surviving. Hence, they perished leaving behind only the correctly combined parts that resulted in fully functioning organism. This was one of the earliest statements one of the basic biological truths: the principle of evolution by natural selection (Thus, he had preceded Darwin in proposing an evolutionary model based on natural selection by over 2300 years).

        3. , Empedocles had many profound proto-scientific ideas: He proposed a version of the conservation principle for matter ; he described the importance of the heart in the circulatory system, and was possibly even an engineer.

        While his conservation principle was directly taken from the principles of Sankhya, the other thoughts also owe themselves to the lectures of Sankhya.

        Vasishtha has lectured to KarAla Janaka in Shanti parvan  (12.303 in the Vulgate edition; 12.291 in Critical Pune edition). He refers to Kaundinya proposing a Samkhya theory, a proto version of Pancaratric samkhya. The five elements have emerged from the Tanmatras. The combination of these bhutas or elements have given rise to the organs.   This presentation of the  Vasishta  has profoundly influenced Empedocles who has propounded his theory in the Greek world.

        A further allusion to an evolutionary theory that resembles the principle of natural selection as suggested by Empedocles is provided in another lecture on Samkhya- this being delivered by Rsi Yajnavalkya. Again, the recipient of the discourse, which is akin to a Upnaishad,  is a king of Janaka dynasty of Mithila, named Daivarti.  (Mbh shantiparvan: 12.312 in Vulgate edition; 12.299 in critical Pune edition).  Here in yA~jnyavalkya explains that the source organisms  owe their existence to the combination of the elements, almost similar to the theory proposed by Vasishta  mentioned supra.  These Orgasms  are said to compete with each other (anyonya-spardhinaH) and consequently they kill the rival organisms or out-compete them depending on their qualities which result in destruction or survival. Some are said to form associations with each other and exist symbiotically. Thus evolving the organisms come to be.

         Thus a proto Evolution theory could be found in the philosophy of Sankya, postulating formation from elements,  formation of symbiotic associations,natural  competition and survival of the fittest.

        Both Sankhya and Empedocles share the ideas of rebirth. Both agree on the need to transgression of unhappiness through Purification. The similarities in natural thought between Sankhya and Empedocles extend to the concepts of the world.

        There could be subtle differences between Sankhya and Empedocles and that the ideas extend beyond natural thoughts present a possibility of existence of a core set of ideas in India from which both Sankhya of MBh  and Empedocles have derived from. This is possible since Sankhya is said to be one of the oldest philosophies in India and there must have been Schools preaching it. In fact, Buddha 's religion is nothing but an offshoot of Sankhya, with injection of populist elements.

        That the influence of Sankhya on Empedocles extend beyond natural thought shows the existence of a intellectual tradition of comparable core ideas.  This influence becomes more pronounced if one takes into account that the coeval cultures do not evince comparable ideas.  

        Discussions on the atomic theory and embryology of humans   are not restricted to the above two lectures on Sankhya. The Bhrigu Smriti, Manu smriti, Sulabha Pradhani's lecture to (again) king Janaka and  Dharmavyadha's lecture to Kaushika are good examples in the instance. All the above discussions, at least the sources of the discussions belonging to pre – early Philosophic era, are generally accepted to be fairly earlier to both Santiparvan's references as well as Empedocles.

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