Rawlinson, H. G. Intercourse between India and the western world from the earliest times to the fall of Rome

(Cambridge :  University Press,  1916.)



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India and the West                157

the prae-Aryan tribes of the Ganges valley. Once
acquired, the doctrine naturally assumed the form
it did, for it provides the most natural of solutions
to the eternal questions of the destiny of the
soul and the existence of evil. Thus we find in
Plato (in the closing episode of the Republic, for
instance), something which resembles very closely
the doctrine of karma, or retribution, commonly
held by all Hindu sects. Again, the Pythagorean
" tabus " on wine, animal food, etc., remind the
reader of Buddhism. But Pythagoras lived before
Gautama, and the ahirnsd doctrine of Buddhism,
shared also by the Brahmins and Jains, was a
later development. Gautama himself died of
eating some tainted flesh, offered to him by a
humble follower. Finally, we may ask why, if
Pythagoras, Plato, or any other Greek philosopher
before the days of Alexander, borrowed anything
from India, we find no mention of the fact in con¬
temporary Greek literature. There are stories about
visits paid to Egypt by both Pythagoras and Plato,
and there is nothing intrinsically improbable in
this. But a journey to India, except under very
unusual circumstances, was at that time almost
a physical impossibility^. And Plato never men¬
tions Indian philosophy, or India at all, in all his

^ The story of a visit to the Brahmins is told by very
late writers, such as Diogenes and lamblichus, of more than
one early philosopher. But there is not the slightest trace
of this legend before the 2nd century a.d. It never occurs in
contemporary literature.
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