Influence of Jainism on Pythagoras
Who Was Paythagoras?
Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher as well as a mathematician, who born in 570 B.C.E. on the island of Samos. He was founder of Pythagoreanism, a religious movement, which has many similarities with Jainism. The similarity suggests that Pythagoras was influenced by Jainism, as his period resembles with the period of Vardhaman Mahaveer, the great philosopher of India, and as there was connection between Indians and Greeks from ancient times.
Similarities between Pythagoreanism and Jainism
In his PhD theses submitted to Graduate faculty of Texas Tech university, Basnagoda Rahula says, "The main characteristics of Pythagoras’s religious teachings consisted of transmigration of soul, respectful treatment to animals and plants, purification of the soul through asceticism, absence of any absolute divinity and social organization as a community for religious practices, all of which closely resembles with the teachings of Jainism"
The similarities between Pythagoreanism and Jainism are surprising.
Pythagoreans believed in Soul and the wheel of birth. They also believed in release from the wheel of birth. This is a central concept of Jainism which was introduced by ancients Jain philosophers.
The striking thing is that Pythagoras was a vegetarian and being vegetarian was a must thing for the Pythagoreans. It is remarkable that being vegetarian is a must thing for Jain ascetics and lay followers. Like Jains, the Pythagoreans respected all types of living beings. He said: As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.
Another remarkable thing is that the Pythagoras gave equal opportunity of learning to women. This thing also matches with Jain thoughts.
Simple white linen clothing was the dress code for the followers of Pythagoras. Again a great similarity between Pythagoreans and Jain ascetics.
In 2nd century B.C.E. the followers of Pythagoreans highlighted that the soul and body are different things and ascetic life is must for freedom of soul from material things. They abandoned bodily pleasures. All these are key concepts in Jainism from ancient era.
It is a striking thing that Pythagoras remembered his previous births. It is again a great similarity with Jain concept or births and rebirths.
All this suggests that Pythagoras was influenced by Jain philosophy and the concepts in Jainism. As there were connections betweens ancient Indians and Greeks, it is possible that Pythagoras was introduced to the philosophy of Vardhaman Mahavir who was contemporary of Pythagoras.
Pythagoras of Samos - Genius
Pythagoras - Secret Teachings
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