“Any direct influence of Indian thought on the conceptions and practices of some of these religious communities and philosophic schools of the Græco-Roman Empire, and although in any particular case similarity of ideas need not necessarily be assigned to direct physical transmission, nevertheless the highest probability, if not the greatest assurance, remains that even prior to the days of Apollonius there was some private knowledge in Greece of the general ideas of the Vedānta and Dharma; while in the case of Apollonius himself, even if we discount nine-tenths of what is related of him, his one idea seems to have been to spread abroad among the religious brotherhoods and institutions of the Empire some portion of the wisdom which he brought back with him from India. When, then, we find at the end of the first and during the first half of the second century, among such mystic associations as the Hermetic and Gnostic schools, ideas which strongly remind us of the theosophy of the Upaniṣhads or the reasoned ethics of the Suttas, we have always to take into consideration not only the high probability of Apollonius having visited such schools, but also the possibility of his having discoursed at length therein on the Indian wisdom.” ~George Robert Stowe Mead
Indian Thought Shared
It is a common assumption that since the Ancient Greek and Roman spiritual teachings were very similar to those found in India, they must have been learned by Greeks or Romans who studied in India. While that is a possibility, it is also possible that something else accounts for the similarity.
Mr. Stowe also seems to left another important country to two out of his equation: Egypt and Babylon. Most experts say that a definite trail can be found between the mystery schools of Egypt and those of Greece. The Romans definitely learned Greek and studied in Greek schools, including the mystery schools and schools of philosophy. The Egyptian schools probably were descendants of those in Babylon. But did the Egyptians or the Babylonians learn from India? Probably, in some cases. There were undoubtedly a few individuals who traveled to India and brought some Indian thought back with them. But that is not the only way these things could have been learned. Continue reading “Indian Thought in Greek and Roman Schools”