Scholar Bronze Plato Upanishad
Plato and the Upanishads – 2

We should note a certain difficulty in the Platonic system. There is no clear concept of Self, as is the Atman (the supreme power and substance in man) in the Upanishads.

Much has been written about Platonic and upanishadic idealism or monism. I indicated some points in the Introduction above and shall discuss several more parallels hereafter. However, it must be realized, as I shall show in section III, that there are some very marked differences and one of them renders the upanishadic teaching significantly different from that of Plato. We shall also find other smaller but equally important differences even though at first sight the similarity may seem very pronounced.

Similarities and Differences

1) The relation of mortals to gods. In the Phaidon 62B, Plato writes of a “secret doctrine” that men are “under guard” (en tini phrourai)[3] from which they should not break away; for they are looked after by the gods and they are one of gods’ possessions. In the Phaidros 274A, he says that sensible men should first try to please their “masters” (despotais) who are good – i.e. the gods. The idea is repeated in the later Laws 902A: all mortal living creatures are possessions (ktemata) of the gods (also in 906A). The idea is that gods are benevolent and care for the welfare of their “possessions”; furthermore, men come from a godly state and when purified and perfected will return to their place among the gods. (This will be discussed in detail in section III.)

In the BU (Brihadaryanaka Upanishad) we have the same idea but with a difference. First we must take into account that in the Aitareya Upanishad the Supreme Self generates the worlds and the world- guardians (lokapala) who are the deities devata but arise out of the Purusha (II, 1). So in the BU I, 4, 10 we read:

“Whoever [among men] knows thus, ‘I am Brahman’ [=Absolute], becomes all this [universe]. Even the gods cannot prevent this accomplishment, for he becomes their very Self. But whoever worships another deity [as other than his own Self], thinking ‘He is one and I another’, he does not know: he is a livestock for the gods. As herds of animals serve a man, so each man serves the gods. If even one animal is taken away, it causes displeasure; what then of many? Therefore it is not agreeable to the gods that men should come to know this [possibility of becoming free].” Here the gods do not at first like losing their livestock. The implication is that all worldly phenomena, all forces of nature, hold man in captivity obstructing his spiritual progress to freedom, until he reaches Self-knowledge when he becomes the Self of the universe and so commands the gods themselves. This is an important difference from the Platonic concept.

However, both teachings agree that the rise above the ordinary low condition (which is under the gods’ supervision) will be effected through Self-knowledge.

2) The idea of Self-knowledge or Self-realization is so common in the Upanishads that we need not discuss it. As the passage cited above (BU I, 4, 10) says, “Whoever knows ‘I am Brahman’ becomes the Self Atman of all”, including the gods, and this is often repeated in our texts. In the Platonic teaching we have a clear statement in Phaidros 230A: here Socrates states, “I cannot yet say according to the Delphic inscription that I know myself; so it seems to me ludicrous, when I do not yet know this, to study irrelevant things… I investigate not these things [=physics, etc] but myself to know whether I am a monstrous, complicated creature… or a simpler being by nature partaking of a divine and undeluded character”. In an earlier dialogue, it was said that Self-knowledge is the “science of sciences” (Charmides 169D-E).

Here, however, we should note a certain difficulty in the Platonic system. There is no clear concept of Self, as is the Atman (the supreme power and substance in man) in the Upanishads. In Plato the real inner man, the true human nature, is divine and immortal, of course, but man’s self is the composite psuche ‘soul’ or nous ‘mind’ with logos ‘reason’ as its chief godly constituent. Thus the Phaidon says that the soul, once purified of the grosser elements, after death reaches that which is most like itself, invisible, divine, immortal and wise; in this state it is blissful and free of delusion, folly and fear, and lives in truth with the gods for all time (80E-81A). Similarly in the late Laws we find that of all man’s possessions the soul is the most divine and “most his-own-self” (oikeiotaton on: 726A); and this soul (or a plurality of souls[4] = godly entities) governs all things in heaven and on earth (896D ff).

In stating that the soul is a “possession” (ktema) Plato seems to be unaware that this implies a “possessor”, a being higher than the soul: this he does not explore. From this point of view the Platonic soul would correspond to the buddhi or citta or hSHdaya of the Upanishadic teachings.

3) The image of the chariot in both teachings represents the soul or the inner man. Here is Plato:

“Let us liken the soul to a pair of winged horses and a driver. The horses and drivers of the gods are noble and good but those of other beings are mixed. Among us humans, the charioteer drives a pair: one of the horses is noble and good but the other is of opposite breed and character. So in our case the driving is of necessity troublesome and difficult… The soul looks after all that is inanimate and roams round heaven… When it is perfect and fully winged it rises up and governs the whole world. But a soul that has lost its wing carries on only until it gets hold of something solid and then settles down taking on an earthly body… The whole now, soul and body fused, is called a living being with the epithet “mortal” (Phaidros 246 A- C). A little later (253D ff) Plato gives additional features. The horse on the right is upright, clean and white, loves honour, temperance and modesty; a companion of true glory, obeying only reason (logos), it needs no whip. The one on the left is dark-hued, crooked and heavy; it is a companion of insolence and arrogance and only just obeys the whip. Ultimately however, the state of the soul is determined by the condition of the charioteer as well as by the condition of the horses, whether they have wings or not and whether superiority in strength is with the white horse which obeys reason or the dark one of unreason. The charioteer may be strong or weak according to his education and experience (Phaidros 253D-254E).

In the Republic Plato analyses extensively the tripartite structure of the soul (starting at 435C) and describes in detail each part (439C ff): there is the part which reasons and should command and is called ‘rational’ logistikon (corresponding to the charioteer); that which has appetites and desires and is called ‘irrational’ alogiston and ‘covetous’ epithumetikon (corresponding to the unruly black horse); and that which feels anger and other emotions like guilt and shame and is called ‘emotional, high-spirited’ thumoeides, siding at times with the first part and at times with the second (corresponding to the noble white horse). The three parts are mentioned again in Republic 504A, 550B, 580D-581E.

The picture in the KU (Katha Upanishad) is not dissimilar on the whole but it is different in important details. It brings in also the chariot-master (rathin) who is the Self, while the whole chariot is merely the embodiment with senses and mind.

“Know the Self as the chariot-master and the body as the car; know buddhi (=higher intellect, reason) to be the charioteer and the mind (manas) the reins. The senses are the horses and the sense-objects the pathways. (KU I, 3, 1-4.) Then we have the introduction of the word vijnana which I take as true discrimination or understanding gained through theoretical knowledge and practical experience. The buddhi ‘intellect, higher mind’ can be undiscriminating or discriminating, i.e. without or with understanding. In the first case the mind will be unrestrained and the senses out of control; in the second the mind is restrained and the senses controlled. Consequently, only the man who has the discriminating intellect as his driver will have a mind with a firm grasp of the senses/horses and will reach the end of the journey, the highest goal (KU I, 3, 9). Here the whole concept is different with the emphasis placed on the buddhi (approximating the Platonic “reason” represented by the charioteer) and its power. The Kaçha (I, 3, 10 ff) presents these elements (senses, objects, manas, etc) in an ascending order of fineness and power, as levels of consciousness from which the individual experiences life (himself and the world), the highest level being the self (=purusha, here i.e. ‘the true or inner man’). Neither the sense-objects and the chariot-master nor the notion of such levels are present in Plato.

4) The priority of the soul over the body in Plato is as major an idea as is the priority of the causal or spiritual (kArana or ahhyatmika) and subtle (sukshma or adhidaivika) levels over the gross material world (sthula or adhibhata) in the Vedic tradition. Thus Plato, restating his doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul (especially in Phaidon 72E ff, Phaidros 245D ff, etc) writes in the Laws 896C that “the soul is anterior to the body”. In the Timaios the Supreme Creator, the Demiurge, fashions the human souls out of the remains of the substance used for the creation of gods while the gods fashion the gross physical bodies (41D ff). Thus, although divine and immortal, the soul in Plato is something created.

In the Upanishads it is Spirit itself, the force or consciousness of the Atman (or Brahman, or purusha) that enters and dwells in material bodies. Many and varied are the modes of presentation of this idea. Here I take that of the Mandukya Upanishad reversing the order given in that brief text. From the TurÉya, the natural state of the Atman which is beyond description and conception, comes the state PrAjna, a mass of consciousness prajnaghana) and pure bliss (Ananda), the inner Controller (antaryAmi-), omnipotent and omniscient. From Prajna, who is the source of everything (yoni sarvasya), comes the Taijasa, the brilliant-one who experiences the inner world of mind. From Taijasa finally comes Vaishvanara, the ordinary consciousness available to all men, which experiences the gross material (sthula-) world.

Here again behind the similarity we find differences. Some scholars find, after delving in Speusippos, Plato’s successor in the Academy, that Plato’s system implies a four-level structure: the One hen, which is above existence; mind or inellect nous, realm of being and ideas; soul spuche which needs purification and (re-)ordering (see Pearson 1990: 156 with references).This may be so but Plato does not give this structure anywhere in the Dialogues. Usually Plato’s view can be said to be dualistic – soul and body – and in any case the soul is fashioned by the Creator in Timaios, as we saw earlier, and does not issue out of the Creator’s own substance as in the Indic texts In the Upanishad the substance or energy of the indescribable Atman descends in three gradations of ever increasing grossness to appear finally as the material embodied being. Now while in the Upanishads, the whole world with its various levels and creatures emanates from the will (and substance) of the Creative Principle (=Absolute or Creator-god), Plato posits a Creator and Matter, out of which is fashioned every form in the manifest world from gods to minerals. This Matter in Timaios 30A is described as “whatever was visible (horaton) … and being in disordered motion”: this substratum is separate from the Creator but, like Him, eternal (and so resembles the insentient Prakriti – with its three gunas ever in motion – of the Samkhya system: Raju, p 159; Kar, p 54-56). We return to this in part III ‘The fundamental difference’.

5) Desire is the element in man’s psychological make-up that chiefly maintains his ignorance and prevents him from realising his true nature. Both teachings agree on this.

In Plato, it is desire or appetite epithumia, represented by the unruly black horse in the parable of the chariot (soul), that fights against the whip of reason and drags the soul down to earth to be embodied (Phaidros 246C, 253D ff). In the Republic desires are divided into two categories – necessary (anangaia) and unnecessary: the first is exemplified by the desires that cannot be ignored, being necessary and beneficial to man’s health, like the appetite for bread and requisite relishments; the second category consists of non-requisite and even harmful things like unnecessary varieties of foods and beverages (558D-559C). These excessive and unnecessary desires lead man and society to worsening, grosser conditions and finally to perdition (559D ff). Poverty, he writes (Laws 736E) is not the decrease of goods but the increase of avarice (aplestia). However, there are also honourable (kale) and good (agathe) desires (Republic 561C) and these can and, with the guidance of reason, do lead to “a temperate, brave, wise and healthy life” of physical and spiritual excellence in nobility, rectitude, virtue and good repute (Laws 732E-734D). After all, ‘love of wisdom’ is itself one such noble desire.

The upanishadic view concurs fully with all this – but with variations resulting from its different nature.

The creation (the ever-changing phenomenal multiplicity of the world) begins with desire kAma which (according to the Nasadiya Sukta, Rigveda X, 129) is the “first seed of mind”. In the BrAhmaèas and Upanishads we find repeatedly that Prajapati is desirous of offspring (eg Prajna Up I, 4) or expansion or something similar and begins to create. Desire is presented as the cause of division or fall from the initial Unity. Thus, in the beginning, the self in the form of purusha desired (aicchat) a companion and so divided himself into two (BU I, 4, 1-3). The embodied man’s bondage in ignorance and desire is described well in MaitrÉ Up III 2: “Now he, indeed, who is said to be in the body is called the elemental self (bhatAtma-)… affected by the gunas (=forces, qualities) of material nature Prakriti … sinks into total delusion and no longer sees Himself, the bountiful Lord … swept along by the current of the qualities, defiled, unstable, changeable, cut off, full of desires (saspSHha-), scattered, he falls into arrogant identification (abhimanitva) ‘I am he, this is mine’: with such thinking he binds himself with himself like a bird in a snare.”

However, here also, escape from this bondage and delusion is initiated by a ‘good’ desire for knowledge and the return to Unity. This desire is exemplified in young Naciketas who, despite the rich, alluring offers of Yama, insists on obtaining the knowledge that leads to self-realization in KU I, 9ff. In the same Upanishad, the distinction between desires is made quite clear: “The fools run after external desires and fall into the net of widespread death; but the prudent and firm, having known of immortality, do not seek the permanent here among things impermanent” (KU II, 1, 2).

6) Education is another matter on which the two traditions agree -with some minor differences. If people live in ignorance, or if it is thought that they do so, then, obviously some form of education is needed to guide or lift them out of it.

For Plato a primary consideration is that education should not be compulsory. He justifies this by saying that a free mind should not pursue any study under compulsion because, otherwise, this will not stay (Rep 536DE). Large sections, if not the entire Republic and the Laws, were written with this purpose, to provide principles and methods of education from the very earliest age (Rep 317 ff; Laws 788D ff, 808C). Education is divided into preliminary or lower and higher, which is more arduous (Rep 498B ff, 503B ff; Phaidros 274A; Laws 807E ff, 967E) and has for its coping stone the Dialectic which constrains rather than persuades (Rep 487C; Hipparchos 232B) and leads to truth (Rep 499; Philebos 58C-D): this was an extension and refinement of the Socratic method of enquiry (=question and answer) whereby one is helped to arrive at true notions or the true knowledge that is innate in our being (especially Menon 81C-85C where Socrates elicits out of a servant-boy the knowledge of the Pythagorean theorem). The aim is to protect man from vice and promote virtue (Timaios 87D); or attain temperance and perfection by subjugating desires (Laws 647D) and by being always directed towards the good (agathon: ibid 809A). Goodness is, of course, closely linked to truth and as “Of all good things for gods and men truth stands first, a man should partake of it as early as possible so that he might become blessed and happy” (Laws 730B-C).

Unlike other thinkers or the sophists of his day, Plato did not believe that education consisted in putting knowledge into the man’s mind (like inserting sight into blind eyes) but rather in using one’s indwelling powers (Rep 518C). This entire process of education, i.e. avoiding vice and practising virtue, restraining desires and turning towards goodness and truth, is elsewhere called by Plato katharsis ‘purification’, which frees the soul from the bondage of the material world (Phaidon 67C). All this is based upon Plato’s doctrine that knowledge is truly memory or recollection which in turn is based upon his belief in reincarnation. The idea of recollection is that since the soul originates in heaven and has passed through many reincarnations, it has the knowledge of the truth belonging to the heavenly sphere but also that of the phenomena of the material world in which it has been repeatedly embodied (Menon 81; Phaidon 72-84B; etc). This knowledge is forgotten or covered over at birth but thereafter all learning is in fact the uncovering or recollection of that indwelling knowledge (mathesis oude allo ti e anamnesis ‘learning is nothing other than recollection’ : Phaidon 72E).

Very similar ideas are found in the Upanishads though not formulated in exactly the same way. Here also are mentioned two types of education, or strictly knowledge, the higher para and the lower apara: the lower is that of learning the Vedic texts and various sciences while the higher is that by which one comes to realize the Imperishable (Mundaka Up I, 4-6). However, I shall not dwell here on the similarities but examine some important differences.

The central teaching of the Upanishads is that all this universe is the Brahman, the Absolute: as the Chandogya puts it sarvaë khalv-idaë brahma, III, 14, 1. From this it follows that the self of man is also the Absolute, as BU II, 5, 19 puts it, ayam AtmA brahma. Consequently, the chief if not the only aim of education must be that a human being should be reminded of and should meditate upon this truth and so re-cognize or realize that aham brahmasmi ‘I am the Absolute’ (BU I, 4, 10).

It is understood that not all, not even many, people are ready to embark on this study. Although this teaching is a very simple and reasonable proposition (since all things must have ultimately the same origin in one primal cause, whether this be called ‘spirit’ or ‘substance’), most people seem unable to grasp it and prefer to worship different deities or entertain sceptical or atheistic views. The few who seek Atmajnana or brahmavidyaA ‘knowledge of the Self or the Absolute’, which is regarded as the higher knowledge, have passed through a process of ‘education’ either by the hard and painful lessons and experiences of daily life or, more frequently, by the traditional formal system of ethical injunctions not to harm other creatures, speak the truth, worship the gods through meditation and ritual, give alms and so on. Moreover, the Vedic tradition had the system of four Ashramas, which covered the life of the individual – for the three upper varna of brahmin, kshatriya and vaishya. (Although at different periods the Greeks, and pre-eminently Plato, recognised the existence of three broad classes of people with different functions in society approximating the Indian varnas, they had no such institutionalized forms.) After the stages of the student and the householder, any man could, and many did, abandon their ordinary mundane life, followed some form of asceticism and even became sannyasin with the purpose of Self-realisation.

Of course Self-knowledge could be sought at any stage of life, including that of the student. Young Naciketas in the Katha is only one example. The Chandogya Up IV, 4 gives the story of young Satyakama, who, despite his undistinguished parentage, became a student of sacred knowledge and was taught by various animals and fire and finally his human teacher, and eventually became himself a teacher. Equally traditional was for a father to pass the sacred knowledge to his son (Ch U III, II, 5 and, exemplified, VI, 8 ff).

Plato devoted the whole of the Republic to show that a society would really prosper only if it were governed by wise men or philosopher kings: in discussing the moral traits of the guardian-rulers (357B ff), he stressed the characteristic of ‘love of wisdom’ (376C). He reiterated this theme in the Laws 709C, 710B, 875C. The Chandogya preserves the memory of an age when a righteous king ruled and in his kingdom “there [was] no thief, no miser, no drunkard, no man without the sacrificial fire, no ignorant person, no adulterer or courtesan” because “he himself was studying the Universal Self” (ChU V, 11, 3- 5).

7) Reincarnation is yet another phenomenon on which Plato and the Upanishads agree, but, again, with some differences.

Plato broaches the subject in Menon 81B-D then develops it in Phaidon 72 ff, Phaidros 248C, etc. He says very simply “whoever lives justly obtains a better lot [in his next embodiment] but if unjustly then a worse lot” (Phaidros 248E). In the Republic this is restated and expanded (“we should each take care, neglecting all other studies … to discover the teacher who will give [us] the power and knowledge to discern the good life from the bad and in every condition choose the better” 618C) just before this passage, in Er the Pamphylian’s vision of the other world, the souls select their next life “according to the habits of their former lives” (620A). And here, in this mythical scene, the three Daughters of Necessity make the final arrangements: Lachesis assigns the daemon guardian of this life; Klotho turns the spindle to ratify the destiny of the chosen life; and Atropos, by setting the limits, makes the life irreversible; whereupon each soul passes from the Plain of Oblivion and drinks from the river of Forgetfulness and gets reborn (620D-621B)[5]. In Timaios the succession of reincarnations proceed both downward and upward, passing through human and animal forms according as the creature loses or acquires nous ‘mind, reason, intelligence’ (42B-C; 91-92C).

The Upanishads say much the same. The Brihadaranyaka states that good action determines a good future and bad action a bad one (III, 2, 13). Later it explains that the man who is attached to his desires and the results of his actions, goes, after death, to the corresponding world and then “returns to this world for [fresh] action” (IV, 4, 6). The Chandogya V, 10, 7 is more specific: “Those whose conduct here is good can expect to obtain a good birth as brahmin, kshatriya or vaishya; but those of foul conduct can expect a foul birth as a dog, a hog or an outcaste” (cf also KU II, 2, 7).

The Upanishads give us also the distinctive detail of the Pitriyana and the Devayana paths: here the essence that is to be reborn follows the first one and that which ascends and finds release goes by the second (BU VI, 2, 2; VI, 2, 9-16; ChU IV, 15, 5; V, 3, 2; etc).

8) Necessity (anange) plays a fundamental role in Plato’s scheme of the world. I mentioned it above in connexion with the soul’s return from the fields of heaven. Plato does not describe anywhere its function in detail nor its exact place in the order of the creation. It is a very great Power, establishing, or embodying, the order itself of the Cosmos and we are told repeatedly that even the gods obey it constantly. Thus in the Sumposion it is said that all the strange doings among the gods are due to the dominion of Necessity (197B). In the Law we are told “no god has the power to compel Necessity” (741A; 818B). However, in Timaios this intractable power becomes somewhat mollified: here Plato tells us “the generation of this cosmos originated in a combination of Necessity and Nous ‘reason’” inasmuch as Nous, being in control (archontos), persuaded Necessity to direct most generated things to the best end and Necessity yielded to this intelligent persuasion (47E ff).

In the Vedic tradition the concept closest to Plato’s Necessity is perhaps the Rigvedic Rta ‘cosmic order’ or ‘course of Nature’. The short cosmogonic hymn X 190 says that Rta (and satya ‘truth’) was generated out of tapas, but in all the hymns where the word occurs it denotes a Power that may not be infringed: eg Ushasas, the Dawn, never deviates from Rta (I, 123, 9). Then, everything flows from the Seat of Rta sadanad-Ritasya (I 164, 47) and Mitra and Varuèa have their great power through Rta which they uphold and promote (I, 2, 8; cf also V, 63, 7); god Agni, again, is repeatedly called Ritavan- ‘observer of, true to, order’ (I, 77, 5; V, 6, 5). And so on.

In the Upanishads this concept of Rta is not mentioned explicitly anywhere; here the word has the sense of ‘reality, good conduct’ (while anRta is the opposite). But the lawful course of Nature or ‘cosmic order’ is implicit in various phenomena and processes. One such case is clearly reincarnation which depends on cause and effect; other cases are the order of the elements as in Prashna Up IV, 8, and Taittiriya Up II, 1, 1 and 8, or the five sheaths (kosha) in the same Upanishad II, 1, 8.

The most explicit statement is perhaps found in IshAvAsya Up 8: svayambhur yathatathyato ’rthAn vyadadacchasvatibhyah samabhyah “The Self-existent has allocated [all]things appropriately through the endless aeons”.[6] BU III, 8, 9 also states that it is by the command of the Imperishable that all cosmic entities hold their position and perform their function. (Cf also KU II, 3, 3.) So Necessity in the Upanishads would seem to be the Will of the Absolute.

9) The idea of Macrocosm and Microcosm will be the last aspect to be examined under this heading.

Adopting the notion of Empedocles that all things are constituted from the “four roots” (rhizoma), i.e. fire, air, water and earth, but making them compounds, Plato assigns these to the cosmic body and to man’s embodiment (Timaios 53C ff). So also the movements of the cosmic soul are reflected in the soul of man (41E-42E). Plato had dealt with the soul in many earlier Dialogues – Phaidros 245C, Republic 435E, Theaitetos 185E, Laws 869A, 897A, etc. In the Timaios he goes one step further and presents in detail the connexions between the parts of the soul and the physical body of man (49E ff; 69C ff). The immortal principle of the soul is placed in the head. The mortal is then divided in two: the part which has courage (andreia) and spiritedness (thumos) is planted in the chest proper, between neck and midriff, where the heart and lungs are; the other part which has the appetites for food, drink and other bodily wants is placed between the diaphragm and the navel – and here the liver is presented, perhaps not without some irony, as an oracular or mantic centre since this organ reflects, we are told, various movements from the mind (71A-72C). There are, of course, many more details, but these are the main points.

In the Upanishads the individual Atman (the same Self in all creatures) is indeed the Universal Self brahman – ayam-AtmA brahma (BU II, 5, 19). So it is with all the constituents of man’s embodiment: they are all temporarily separated parts of universal elements coherently organised within the individual embodiment. This is very clear in the words of ∞rtabAga describing to Yajnavalkya the dissolution at death:

“when a man has died, his speech merges into (apyeti) fire, his breath into air, his sight into the sun, his mind into the moon, his hearing into the quarters (dishas), his material body into the earth, his self (Atman) into ether (Akasha, also ‘space’), the hairs of his body into plants, the hair of his head into trees and his blood and semen into water…” (BU III, 2, 13.) Other examples of such homologies (=correspondences, connexions) are found in BU I, 1, 1-2 where cosmic elements are connected or identified with parts of the horse; also in Ch U III, 13, 1-5 where the heart has five openings for the gods and these are identified with the five pranas and other functions, individual and cosmic.

Thus in both traditions man is seen not as a separate, unconnected creature, but as an integral part of the Cosmos. In the Upanishads, more clearly, man contains all cosmic elements from the highest to the lowest and can, with proper education, realize the cosmos within himself. Realizing oneself as Brahman over and above the cosmos, one becomes All and then All serves him.

There are, of course, several other aspects that could be examined but I shall stop here and turn to the most important difference between the two teachings.


[3] Many translate here “prison”. This seems wrong. See GEL under phroura, where only this reference and Gorgias 525A is given for the meaning ‘prison’: “custody” might be better. One does not put one’s possessions in “prison”!

[4]  This plurality of souls is reminiscent of the plurality of ‘selves’ purusha- (or Atmans) in the Samkhya system. So Raju, p 159; so also Kar (2003: 68). Another point of contact between Plato and Samkhya is duality: soul and body and purusha and prakriti. See end of  ̈4, below

[5] We should note perhaps the different landscapes encountered by the ‘soul’ on its way to Brahmaloka in KauêÉtaki Up I, 3-7: lake ∞ra, watchmen Muhartas, river VijarA (=‘non-ageing’) etc.

[6] P. Olivelle retains the phrase yathatathyatas in the text but does not translate it – following P. Thieme who thinks it a gloss: pp 406-7; but he gives the full translation on p 613, note 8.

To be continued…

The paper first appeared in Omilos Meleton, Athens: January 2004 and has been republished with author’s permission.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.'
Dr Nicholas Kazanas is a Greek-born (1939) scholar, Director of Omilos Meleton, Cultural Institute in Athens. He was educated chie!y in Britain: he read English Literature in University College, Economics & Philosophy in the School Of Economic Science and Sanskrit in the School of Oriental and African Studies, all in London. He did his
postgraduate studies at SOAS, in Pune and Varanasi. He taught for some years in London. He has lectured often in Europe, USA and India and has many publications in Greek and in English (some in India) in peer-reviewed Journals and articles in Europe and USA. He is
currently on the Editorial Board of several Journals of India.
  • vakibs

    As the Brihadāraṇyaka Upanishad mentions how the different parts of a man’s body dissolve into the different deities after death, a very similar invocation of these deities to reside in the body is done in Srī Rudra Laghunyāsa. This is a very melodious Mantra.

  • vakibs

    This is such a delightful series of articles ! Very honest, attentive to details, and written with a true spirit of inquiry. We should be very thankful to Prof. Kazanas.

    I wrote about the comparison of the chariot to the mind, that exists in both the Greek Phaedros and the Indian Katha Upanishad. There is a critical change of this image of the chariot when it appears in the Mahabharata: the iconic image of the Gita with Krishna being the charioteer of Arjuna. Krishna (the charioteer at this moment) is not Buddhi, as referred to in the Katha Upanishad. An even subtler truth is hinted in the Gita.