mhcrxlc at mhcrxlc at
Thu May 2 06:50:38 UTC 1996

There is another way to look at the question of the influence of the
Upani.sads on Plato. The influence may be the other way.

The redating of the Buddha to the fifth century (just possibly later)
reduces the evidence for the early dating of the Upani.sads. Using Buddhist
sources alone, there is no reason to date them earlier than the fifth
century. Indeed such a date depends on the assumption that the oldest
Buddhist texts do in fact date substantially from close to the time of the
Buddha. For those who think they may have developed over a period around
the third century there would be no reason to date the earliest Upani.sads
before this.

The dating of Jain materials is largely dependent on the dating of Buddhist
literature. So my question has to be: do we really have adequate evidence
from Brahmanical sources for the dating of the Upani.sads before the third
century B.C. ?

It is not a question of Plato, I think. Most of the relevant ideas have a
history of some centuries among Greeks.

If one asks about the mechanisms for diffusion, there are clearly many. For
example captured or rebel Greek populations may have been resettled in the
North-West by Persian emperors. Trade was clearly going on to some extent.
The alphabet diffuses to India in this period.

Needless to say, there is nothing 'European' about the Greeks. In any case
there can be little doubt that much Greek knowledge e.g. in medicine,
mathematics and astronomy derives from the fertile crescent. It may well be
that religious ideas came from there too. (Some certainly did.)

Lance Cousins

Email: mhcrxlc at

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