Sunday, June 21, 2009
Democritus and Buddha?
It seems to me likely that Democritus and Buddha met eachother in India in the 5th century B.C.
Hippolytus says Democritus met with the gymnosophists, naked gurus, in India, which in the 5th century B.C. was none other than Gautama Buddha.
Having gone all the way to India, it is unlikely that Democritus wouldn't have sought out the Buddha himself.
"I have roamed over the most ground of any man of my time, investigating the most remote parts. I have seen the most skies and lands, and I have heard of learned men in very great numbers. And in composition no one has surpassed me; in demonstration, not even those among the Egyptians who are called Arpenodaptae, with all of whom I lived in exile up to eighty years." -- Democritus, polymath, 4th century B.C.
"One need hardly mention Pythagoras, Plato, or Democritus. We are told that their desire for knowledge propelled them to the four corners of the earth. Those who cannot understand this have never loved any great and worthy object of knowledge." -- Marcus T. Cicero, philosopher, 1st century B.C.
"This was Democritus of Abdera, son of Damasippus, who met with many gymnosophists [naked gurus] among the Indians and with priests and astrologers in Egypt and with the Magi in Babylon." -- Hippolytus, priest, Refutation of All Heresies, 2nd century
"He [Democritus] said that the ordered worlds are boundless and differ in size, and that in some there is neither sun nor moon, but that in others, both are greater than with us, and yet with others more in number. And that the intervals between the ordered worlds are unequal, here more and there less, and that some increase, others flourish and others decay, and here they come into being and there they are eclipsed. But that they are destroyed by colliding with one another. And that some ordered worlds are bare of animals and plants and all water." -- Hippolytus, priest, Refutation of All Heresies, 2nd century
"Some also say that he [Democritus] made acquaintance with the gymnosophists [naked gurus] in India, and that he went to Aethiopia." -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century
"And Aristoxenus, in his Historic Commentaries, says that Plato wished to burn all the writings of Democritus that he was able to collect; but that Amyclas and Cleinias, the Pythagoreans, prevented him, as it would do no good; for that copies of his books were already in many hands. And it is plain that that was the case; for Plato, who mentions nearly all the ancient philosophers, nowhere speaks of Democritus; not even in those passages where he has occasion to contradict his theories, evidently, because he said that if he did, he would be showing his disagreement with the best of all philosophers...." -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century
"... a treatise on the Magnet. These are his [Democritus's] miscellaneous works." -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century
"Some authors also give a list of some separate treatises which they collect from his [Democritus's] Commentaries. A treatise on the Sacred Letters seen at Babylon; another on the Sacred Letters seen at Meroe; the Voyage round the Ocean; a treatise on History...." -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century
"Expressing this in other terms, the Buddha's period of teaching activity was in the second half of the fifth century B.C. perhaps extending into the first quarter of the fourth century." -- L.S. Cousins, historian, 1996
"As for Democritus, Plato notoriously fails altogether to mention either him or his writings, though (especially in the Timaeus) he arguably betrays knowledge of them, if only indirectly." -- Paul Cartledge, philosopher, 1999
Cousins, L.S., The Dating of the Historical Buddha: A Review Article, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Series 3, 6.1, Pages 57-63, 1996
I took that photograph by the way :P