re Kalanos the gymnosophist

thompson at thompson at
Thu May 2 20:58:22 UTC 1996

Oliver Freiberger asked for reference to Kalanos the gymnosophist.
Filliozat [in an article "La mort volontaire par le feu et la tradition
bouddhique indienne", in JA 1963 pp.21-51; reprinted in the collection of
articles translated into English by Shukla] cites Strabo, Geography XV, 1,4
& 68; Arrian's Anabasis VII.1; and Diodorus Siculus XVII.107.  I might add
that there are interesting references to Indian sages in Philostratus' Life
of Apollonius of Tyana as well. However, all of these sources are much
later than Plato, and in fact after Alexander the Great. The sources cited
by Enrica Garzilli surely will supply many more references.

But are there any that can be said to precede Plato?  Lance Cousins may
well be right that "it is not a matter of Plato", nor, for my purposes,
even of the UpaniSads [as opposed to Buddhist sources]. There also may be
good reason to suggest that the influence has gone in both directions, as
he suggests.  And furthermore,it is possible that "most of the relevant
ideas have a history of some centuries among Greeks."  I do not claim to be
competent to judge these things.  However, *if* borrowing could be
established, before the time of Alexander, then the ramifications are much
more forceful: particular Greeks have *borrowed* particular ideas from this
or that particular "Indian."  Unlike arguments from an inherited past, or
from a vague Zeitgeist, *borrowing* is difficult to dismiss.  The Greek
miracle will have been brought into the larger universe, unambiguously.
That is why I am trying to find reference to a Filliozat article [if it
exists?] that attempts to establish a borrowing.  I admit that borrowing is
a more difficult thing to prove, but, if proved, one gains more from it, at
least from my point of view.

George Thompson

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