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Some Elements in Indian and Greek Thought

An article by Phiroz Mehta reprinted from the June 1957 issue of Latin Teaching

The threefold offspring of Prajapati — gods, men and devils — dwelt with their father Prajapati as students of sacred knowledge.

Having lived the life of a student of sacred know­ledge, the gods said: “Speak to us, sir.” “Da,” answered Prajapati, “Did you understand?”  “We did understand,” said the gods. “You said to us, ‘Damyata, restrain yourselves.’” “Yes,” said Prajapati, “You did understand.”

So then the men said to him: “Speak to us, sir.” “Da,” answered Prajapati, “Did you understand?” “We did understand,” said the men. “You said to us, ‘Datta, give.’” “Yes,” said Prajapati, “You did understand.”

So then the devils said to him: “Speak to us, sir.” “Da,” answered Prajapati, “Did you understand?” “We did understand,” said the devils. “You said to us, ‘Dayadhvam, be compassionate.’” “Yes,” said Prajapati, “You did understand.”

Thus does the divine voice within us — and we ourselves are gods, men and devils combined — thunder this threefold teaching — da, da, da — restraint, liberality, compassion.

This story in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad illustrates a deep-rooted tradition in India that the word of wisdom may be interpreted in various ways.

Each way is considered valid, for, says the eastern sage, the interpreter being what he is, and granting his basic premises and the correctness of his logic, he will naturally present his particular interpretation. This elastic attitude, so peculiarly characteristic of Hindu India, is not, however, stretched too far. The major systems of Indian philosophy apply a rigorous logic. Where sacred knowledge is concerned, especially where it touches the ultimate verity, the elasticity of tolerant acceptance gives place to the extreme tautness of uncompromising denial of the worth of any verbal expression of the Supreme.

This holds good both in India and outside India. “You shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Yajnavalkya says, “Neti, neti, not this, not that.” The Buddha observes the immensity of silence. Nagarjuna answers “Sunya, the Void.” Plato relegates the Good beyond Essence. Clement declares the Supreme is beyond the One and above the Monad. Platinus affirms we can say what IT is not but not what IT is.

Verily IT is the Unnameable, the Ineffable. It is the centre, infinite; IT is also the boundless periphery, infinite. But in the interspace of finitude dances the mind of man. And so, you and I raise, like our ancestors did, the tenuous monument named thought, at times purporting to embody Truth, and sometimes even claming to be the Word of God. But we are as the men of the cave. Whilst we labour strenuously with the shadows, we may preserve and even deepen them. If we learn how to play with them, we may discover the light.

Is it possible to live without wondering? Did our ancestors wonder? And did their ancestors, going back to a past so remote that it was dated by the words “In the beginning,” also wonder? And, wondering, did they give answers? Yes, they wondered, and they also gave answers. In connection with these answers let us note that the great ones of the pre-Christian millennia often declare that they only teach again what their predecessors of similar attainment had already taught; the Buddha, for instance, says that he, the twenty-fourth in the line of Buddhas, teaches again the forgotten or now misrepresented teaching of the previous Buddhas. Let us also note that these great ones pay deep respect to those who had bequeathed a cultural legacy: thus Plato acknowledges that the Greeks with their young civilization felt themselves as children beside the hoary institutions of Egypt. The Buddha does not fail to offer reverence to whom reverence is due; and Plato, an aristo­crat, expresses a fine courtesy. The distinction corresponds to the difference between revelation on the one hand, and philosophy and science on the other.

Some men desired to know for themselves that Supreme Power which controls the universe, or, the Supreme Being who is Lord of all. A few of these men experienced the answer. This realization of God was revelation, as indeed it is to this day. The great teachers expressed revelation in their personal lives. And through their precepts, simple and profound as life itself, they indicated a way of life which could lead the devoted practisant to the experience of the Ineffable. This way of life is the heart of religion.

Other men desired to understand the nature of things, of the world process around them; of the nature of man, of his motives and his behaviour. They wanted to find out what constituted the good life here in the world. They produced systems of thought, or at least, in the earlier periods, a body of speculations. They con­trast sharply with the great teachers of religion, who did not formu­late theologies or propound philosophies. (But to avoid misapprehension let it be said at once that religion, science and philosophy are not rigidly separate spheres. They do intermingle).

In India, the period of Vedic literature is followed by that of the systems of philosophy, the germs of which lay in the Vedas, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. Some schools of thought develop these root ideas; others are expository, and still others are the product of revolt against certain beliefs, as when the very existence of the high gods is challenged. This literature extends over a time range of more than thirty centuries. It begins generations before Homer; it is still in full flood after Justinian closed the Academy in 529 A.D.; it is experiencing rebirth today.

The hymns of the Rigveda, the oldest literary monument of our race, present the Indian pantheon, even as Homer presents the Hellenic. Just as the family of the Cronida consists of twelve great gods and goddesses, so too the twelve Adityas are the children of Dyaus Pitar or Father Heaven and Mother Earth. They are also called the children of Aditi (= the Infinite, the Unbound). No scandal attaches to the Adityas, no capriciousness, no family quarrel, nothing which derogates from their dignity and purity as high gods, with the seeming exception of Indra. The Adityas thus contrast with their Greek cousins. There may be several explanations for this. Perhaps our purpose here will be best served by considering the respective themes developed in Homer and in the Vedas.

As Professor Kitto has pointed out (vide The Greeks, p. 47, Penguin Books), what shapes the Iliad is the tragic conception that a quarrel between two men should bring suffering, death and dishonour to so many others. Since such and such are the forces at play, then such and such a shape of things naturally emerges — karma as we call it in India. But this particular sequence of events which comes from the very nature of things is part of the unfolding of a universal Plan. And the Plan of Zeus must be fulfilled. The idea brought out in the Odyssey is that lawlessness is contrary to the will of the gods and is punished. May we say that the Iliad and the Odyssey portray Law and the working out of the Law.

In the Vedas we have the conception of Rita or the right, the truth, the Law, Eternal Law and Order, as central to the very being of the gods. The celestial beings are constantly spoken of as Lords of Law, Sons of Law, Law upholders and enforcers and punishers of guilt, and even as the Soul of Law. Now Rita is not Law enacted by a Being however exalted. It is rather the power to bring to fulfilment, inherent in gods and nature. But Rita is not the great theme of the Vedas. Nor is their deep theme the worship of nature gods through an elaborate ritual. The authors of the Vedic hymns were poet-seers, the Rishis. The word Rishi literally means a singer — a singer of the songs of eternal life. He is not only a psalmist, if I may use that term in this context, but a psalmist who has realized God. He is indeed a source of revelation. He is of the stature of a Christ or a Buddha. The profound theme of the Veda is thus no other than man’s realization of God.

This Vedic theme, in some form or other, has dominated by far the large part of all Indian thought and literature. The two great epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are shot through and through with this religious spirit. When discursive thought begins to be active in relation to revelation, then the logically formulated systems of philosophy come into being. The artistic, symbolic representation of Vedic revelation in the language of naturalistic, mythological, philosophical and mystical poetry held sway for nearly a millennium, or perhaps longer, before the era of philosophical activity set in. Earliest among the great systems is the Samkhya philosophy. Its reputated founder, the sage Kapila, seems to have flourished just before the time of Thales. The Samkhya propounds an atomic theory as part of its speculations on universal evolution. It upholds primordial nature, or root matter, as the unborn, uncaused, undying force which is the source of all manifestation, both material and psychical. No supreme God is postulated, but only an infinite number of eternal, perfect souls. The fulfilment of the ends of these souls is the raison d’être of universal evolution.

But by substituting evolution for creation the Samkhya under­mines the foundations of supernatural religion. Here is a branching away from dogmatic Brahmanism — somewhat similar to that of the Milesian school from the Hellenic religion laid down in Homer and Hesiod. (Dogmatism follows the springtide of revelation when an organising body bends its energies to the task of damming the living waters). Such branching away helps to bring about a critical point of view. Logical criticism unfurls its banner; and reason assumes greater importance than faith. Thus Aniruddha says: “Only those sayings supported by reason should be accepted.” Two other great philosophic systems, the Nyaya of Gautama and the Vaisesika of Kanada, represent the analytic type of philosophy upholding commonsense and science, and are distinguished by their critical treatment of metaphysical problems. Using the methods of logical enquiry and criticism, the followers of the Nyaya are willing to admit as true whatever can be established by reason. The Nyaya attached great importance to free discussion, the very breath of intellectual life. We are immediately reminded of Socrates and Plato; of Aristotle’s “Some see one side of a matter, and others another; but all together can see all sides.” Gautama, an early Nyaya writer, like Aristotle, systematised the principles of reasoning. The Nyaya theory of causation bears close correspondence to Aristotle’s four-fold classification of causes — material, formal, effi­cient and final. The Vaisesika philosophy presents an atomic theory. It attempts a complete analysis of the objects of knowledge, in terms of seven categories, which appear to be more rigorously formulated than Aristotle’s ten.

Now as regards the nature of the physical world, there are both similarities and contrasts between Greek and Indian speculations. From Thales onwards, the Greek mind attempts, and successfully attempts, to break away from the limitations of dogmatic religion. Hesiod’s theogony was also a cosmogony, for the origin of the gods included the origin of the world. The multiplicity of myths and deities surrounding Homeric man proved a weariness, perhaps, to the Greek. So Greek speculation displaces Chaos with primary matter. Matter becomes matter in its own rights. It is not sacrificed on the altar of spirit, as in India, speaking generally, but is impoun­ded into the service of philosophy. The Greek atomists develop a mechanical view of the universe, whereas the Vaisesika has a spiritual tendency since the operation of moral law is central to the whole system. Greek atomists postulate atoms as having only quantitative and not qualitative differences, according to Democritis, as being in motion, according to Democritus and Epicurus, and as possibly constituting souls, whereas the Indian Kanada postulates atoms as being different in kind, possessed of distinct individuality, primarily at rest, and altogether different from souls. Again, Empedocles presents earth, water, air and fire as the four primary elements of physical nature, a view which, especially because of Aristotle’s blessing upon it, enjoys a very long life in the western world. Indian speculation adds a fifth element, akasha, or ether, one variety of which is discrete and atomic, and the other, non-atomic and all-pervasive. Indeed, it is a superior sort of element.

At this point, let us note that all the great religions of the world have originated in Asia. Out of eight or nine major religions, four spring up on Indian soil. During the sixth century B.C., a mass of speculations, philosophic and pseudo-philosophic, exercises un­healthy sway. In answer to the challenge of the times arises Gotama the Buddha. India witnesses such challenge and response several times in her long history. This emergence of new religions from time to time in India presents a contrast with Greece and the western world. The ancient Vedic theme is played several times. But it is played in an original manner each time. Thus, long centuries after the Vedic revelation, there come fresh revelations through Buddhism and Jainism, Sikhism and the various forms of Hinduism. Their theme is man’s salvation. Like Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism and the various forms of Hinduism are religions of salvation. Thus the historical course of Indian philosophy is illuminated at certain critical periods by the presence and teachings of the founders of great religions.

The discipline of the religieux is sometimes different from that of the philosopher, sometimes over and above that of the philosopher. Those like the Buddha had a trained intellect, as a good philosopher has; they were purified characters, like a true philosopher is; they lived the holy life, like a saint lives, and they had something more — ­this something more we shall consider in a few moments. Thus in India, it is as if a stream of the dazzling white light of divine inspira­tion plays with streams of the differently coloured lights of philo­sophic perception.

Heraclitus and Pythagoras were both contemporaries of the Buddha. Heraclitus teaches that everything changes. There is a perpetual flux of things. But his eye also perceives a universal rule of law, of the dominion of unexceptional causality. He says: “The sun will not transgress his measures. Were he to do so, the Furies, the abettors of justice, would overtake him.” And again: “Though this logos — this fundamental law — existeth from all time, yet mankind are unaware of it, both ere they hear it and in the moment that they hear it.” The Buddha teaches in India that everything, including self-consciousness, undergoes continual change in accor­dance with law. He says: “This being so, it becomes that; con­ditioned by this state of things, that state of things emerges.” If a new force is introduced into a particular situation, that situation changes in an appropriate manner. At a stroke the Buddha throws out the superstitious fear of capricious gods and of fickle spirits. All happens in accordance with law. Each person is a self-responsible, systematically active and creative being. The Vedas and Upanishads also had upheld law. The Vedic poet-seers exalted law by right of unquestioning faith, the Upanishadic spiritual geniuses by right of transcendent vision; the Buddha enthrones it by right of emancipated reason.

This law, in accordance with which all activity, natural, human and divine, proceeds, is the whole meaning of karma. Karma, in relation to man, is associated with the conception of the wheel of births and deaths, the doctrine of rebirth. Man’s fulfilment consists in his liberation from the wheel of births and deaths. Xenophanes mentions that the doctrine of metempsychosis was specially charac­teristic of Pythagoras. Herodotus suggests that the Egyptians presented the Greeks with this belief. But in fact, Pythagoras’ teaching bears closer resemblance to the Indian than to the Egyptian teaching. We must consider it in the fuller context of its fusion with the Orphic doctrines. Earthly existence is a prison-house in which the soul, which is of divine origin, is condemned to dwell. The Greeks offered no rational explanation for this. They presented only the elucidatory myth of the legend of Dionysus Zagreus. The race of mankind, which arose out of the ashes of the stricken Titans. contained both elements, the Titanic and the Dionysic, springing from the blood of Zagreus. So in man there is the constant struggle between evil and good. The glaring contrast between earthly imper­fection and heavenly perfection, which lies at the core of both Orphic and Pythagorean philosophies, can be resolved by purification, atonement and redemption. Such purification can be effected, such atonement made, and such redemption won, only through a series of lives, for one life alone is all too short. Thus the soul finally escapes from this “burdensome circle of lamentation,” and approaches Persephone and her peers who will utter the redeeming words, “a god shalt thou be instead of a mortal.” This realization of godhood was the very theme of the Vedic mystic-seers who preceded the Orphics by a thousand years; and the process of purification and attainment is what the mass of Hindus and Buddhists hold to be the case to this day.

Let us now ask what precisely is this wheel of births and deaths? What exactly is the escape from the burdensome circle of lamenta­tion, from suffering and from sin? What really is this god-becoming, this union with Brahman, this pure vision of the Supreme Reality, this ultimate beatitude which we call the kingdom of heaven or Nirvana, the Immortal state? And is it something concerning the hereafter, beyond the death of the person, or is it a factual realisa­tion in the here-now?

Learned scholars have given us the fruit of their great labours interpreting Greek and Indian thought. We must be grateful for the privilege of being indebted to them. At the same time it is our duty to remember our responsibility for progress in correctly understanding ancient thought. We cannot fulfil this responsibility by being mere adulators of the great scholars of the near past, nor by only being destructively critical. We must look at ancient teachings with a fresh eye, the fresh eye of the well disciplined, harmonized person. Let us not forget that Greek thought has been examined by scholars who have undergone an European, Christian conditioning, and that Indian teachings have been studied by Christian Europeans soaked in their own understanding of the classical tradition. May it then be suggested that we now try to look into the Indian theme as if for the first time, unconditioned and free.

In hymn 113 of the Ninth Book of the Rig-veda, the Rishi Kasyapa sings thus:

“O Pavamana, place me in that deathless, undecaying world wherein the light of heaven is set and everlasting lustre shines. Make me immortal in that realm where dwells the king, Vivasvan’s son, Where is the secret shrine of heaven … Make me immortal in that realm where they move even as they list. In the third sphere of inmost heaven where lucid worlds are full of light.”

In hymn 120 of the Tenth Book of the Rig-veda, the Rishi Brihaddiva declares:

“Brihaddiva … repeats these holy prayers, this strength to Indra … and all the doors of light hath he thrown open. Thus hath Brihaddiva … spoken to Indra as himself in person.”

At least eight centuries before the birth of Jesus, it is stated in the Aitareya Upanishad (5.4) that the Rishi “Vamadeva having ascended aloft from this world … became immortal, yea became immortal.” The Katha Upanishad ends thus:

“Then Naciketas having gained this knowledge declared by Death and (having also gained) the whole rule of yoga, attained Brahman and became freed from death. And so may any other who knows this in regard to the Atman.”

The Kaushitaki Upanishad says (2.14):

“Having reached THAT, he becomes immortal.”

The Kena says (12):

“When known by an awakening IT is conceived of, truly it is immortality one finds.”

The greatest of the Upanishads, the Brihadaranyaka, affirms (4.4.14):

“Verily, while we are here we may know this. If you have known it not, great is the loss. Those who know this become immortal. But others go only to sorrow.”

The Adkyatma Upanishad ends with the words:

“This is the teaching of Nirvana, and this is the teaching of the Vedas, yea, this is the teaching of the Vedas.”

And the Mundaka Upanishad gives the assurance (3.2.9.):

“Verily, he who knows that supreme Brahman becomes very Brahman. He crosses over sorrow. He crosses over sin. Liberated from the knots of the heart he becomes immortal.”

Let us particularly note the words: He crosses over sin; he crosses over sorrow. From the Chandogya Upanishad we learn the meaning of the word sorrow. The saintly sage Narada says to his chosen teacher Sanatkumara: “All this (enumerating the knowledge of the times) I know. But, Venerable Sir, I am only like one knowing the words and not a knower of the Atman. It has been heard by me from those like you that he who knows the Atman crosses over sorrow. I am one of the sorrowing ones. Do you, Venerable Sir, help me to cross over to the other side of sorrow.” Thus the terms sorrow and suffering mean, fundamentally, not knowing the Atman. In India, vidya, and especially brahmavidya meant the knowledge which is realization through complete experience and not merely knowledge in the sense of information, of thoughts which are strings of words. It is this deep meaning of suffering which we must bear in mind in connection with the Buddha’s great declaration: “One thing, and one thing alone I teach: suffering, and the deliverance from suffering.” In association with this, his first words after his enlightenment are profoundly significant: “Hearken monks, the deathless has been found. If you walk as I teach, you will ere long, and in the present life, learn fully for yourselves, realize, and having attained, abide in the supreme fulfilment of Brahma-faring.” The Buddha confirms Yajnavalkya’s splendid affirmation in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that whilst we are here we may be united with Brahman and realize immortality, and thus escape from the wheel of births and deaths.

Throughout our life our awareness is characterized by succession. We are aware of every experience, thought or mood as something which begins, proceeds and comes to an end. Uprising-proceeding-­ending, or birth-death, in constant succession, distinguishes the nature of our ordinary awareness of our whole existence. In other words, we may say that as we are at present constituted we are usually conscious in the mode of mortality of a space-time world. This constant, unbidden uprising-proceeding-ending, this endless, uncontrollable stream of births and deaths which flows on as our own moment to moment consciousness during our single lifetime on earth, is a real meaning of the Indian doctrine of rebirth, a doctrine so misconceived all over the world. The Maitri Upanishad clearly states (6.34):

Samsara (i.e., the cycle of births and deaths) is just one’s own thought.”

As long as all that makes up our exis­tence is apprehended by us in the mode of mortality, such appre­hension is the wheel of births and deaths. Every entity, every speech-thought structure, is an item of our mortality.

But now, through the ages there have always been those who felt anguish as long as they apprehended all that made up their life in the mode of mortality. They longed for unbroken, holy relation ship with the fount of being, and for a fully satisfying knowledge through experience of the Supreme Reality. They felt that if only they could break the thorny bounds of the unawakened state, fling away the fetters of mortality and triumph over the Lord of Death, they would assuredly win the beatific experience of the Immortal and realize here-now that freedom and serenity which is ineffable bliss.

Several are the ways to such realization, as the great teachers of the religions and the world’s yogis and mystics have shown. Yet all these ways have certain elements in common. They all involve a moral discipline and an intellectual training, and thereafter, the development of the faculty of paying attention. In the first stages of the moral discipline, the emphasis is laid upon abstention from evil, because without such abstention the practice of the positive exhor­tations is frustrated, often beyond bearing, and time and again, even the meaning and implications of the positive values elude us. The core of the moral discipline consists in becoming free of all egoism, and above all, from all craving or desire. Craving binds us to the condition of mortality. Hence it is necessary to become disinterested in all worldliness, that is, disinterested not in the world and the daily business of living rightly, but in our cravings in relation to the world. This is the true mortification. It saves a man from bestowing the kiss of Judas under the stress of difficult cir­cumstance in the hour of his trial.

The essential part of the intellectual discipline is the process of becoming free of all bias and prejudice, of all preconceptions and assumptions. The moral and intellectual discipline is effected, mainly, by dispassionate observation of one’s own thoughts and feelings, speech and action. Such observation, devoid of either praise or censure, enables us to know ourselves — atmanam atmana pasya: know thyself by thyself. This is possessed of a deeper meaning than the gnothi seauton attributed to Thales. We begin to walk out of the cave into the light, and to put aside philosophical and theological systems as we put aside playthings. Not that the systems are altogether false. But, as we grow in the power to see for ourselves, we do not need, and we must not rely upon the conditioning doctrines and theories given to us from without. They are only as useful as the shadows in the cave. The pure flame of the word of God remains the pure flame. But when the spark within us catches light helped by the inspiration of that flame — Heraclitus’ Central Fire, or the Holy Fire of Zarathustra — then we ourselves experience the whole reality of Revelation, and the Vedic theme reaches its climax.

To reach this climax, we must learn, after having undergone the moral and intellectual discipline which is purification, to pay attention. Pay attention to what? To nothing! To nothing in particular, nothing in general. In reality, we learn to pay attention to that which is nothing. That no-thing is indescribable in terms of words, discursive thought or feeling, because all these commonly describe things. Things are, one and all, limited entities; and our awareness of them is in terms of succession, of the stream of mor­tality. But when we transcend this altogether, our super-conscious experience of that overwhelming, supreme, absolute, void and full no-thing is the ineffable realization of that in which there is no succession, no birth, no decay, no death. It is the entry in to the Immortal here-now. When we can deliberately stop the flow of discursive thought and feeling, then we are super-consciously aware of this very world in the mode of immortality. This precisely is that something more I mentioned earlier, which the Great Rishis and Munis, and the Buddha and the Christ, possessed in full measure — this ability, in meditation or prayer, to pacify and to deliberately stop all sense-mind activity, and super-consciously experience the fount of all things. And further, because they could enlighten their situation and the whole of their ordinary everyday life with the Divine Vision, they are beacon lights to all mankind.

As long as I am a producer and maintainer of evil, the world is evil; and as long as my fellow man is a producer and a maintainer of evil, the world is evil. How easy it is for me, comfortably making believe that I am good, right and one of the elect, to point the finger of blame at my fellow man, to declare my disassociation from him, and even to try to coerce him. There is no evil in the world apart from the evil which my fellow man or I introduce into life through incapacity and ignorance, through our own state of being unawake to the Supreme Good. It is both wrong and ineffective for me to try to compel my fellow man to abstain from evil, or to convince him that my view of the good is the real good. My fellow man is a free individual, and it is not for me to obtrude with cruel discourtesy upon his freedom. And yet, free individuals that we are, my fellow man and I are linked in indissoluble bonds of the flesh and the mind and the spirit. I need him for my nurturing and he needs my strength for his work; I learn the ways of straight thinking from him and he accepts my loving respect for his comfort; and he and I stand united in that communion of spirit where there is neither a separate him nor a different me, but only a two-in-one embraced within the everlasting arms. Thus he and I are unique partners in this dance of life. And by the time he and I make perfect beauty together, our vision of the Good will have become pure and true, and evil may linger only as a vague remembrance of some fretful dream of long ago.

Since my fellow man and I are so inter-related, he and I inevitably and continuously influence each other by the very fact of our existence. So it is my personal responsibility to effect my own purification. This is my only legitimate exercise of an influence for good upon him. My own purification means virtue, active virtue. This is soul strength, and this is happiness. Plato and the Buddha, the Orphics and the Rishis join us here with smiling accord. This active virtue of heart, head and hand is the foundation stone of a truly human society. The well being of this society emerges out of the co-operative activity of self-responsible individuals, free in their souls. Fearless and strong in their freedom, they will not cling for security to any transient forms. Established on the foundation of the eternal, they will be the creators of philosophy and science, of art and religion, of human order and progress which will inspire others to realize the Supreme Good.

Education is inspiration. Yajnavalkya and Jesus, Krishna and the Buddha were perfect teachers because they themselves were perfected ones. I can inspire my pupil — and he has to be a willing pupil — only by means of what I myself have mastered, only to the extent that I myself am, or have realized, that which I present in verbal or any other suitable form. If I myself am a free, integrated and harmonious individual, I can inspire my pupil without imposing on his freedom, without distorting the unique pattern of his own individuality. Thus my pupil will truly learn, and not merely acquire learning.

The living soul of a people is enshrined in its literature. All peoples are different versions of any one people; all persons are myself in varying forms. Innumerable men; one mankind. Different tales and epics, but only one human story. Only one divine plan unfolding through the unique histories of several peoples. Only one eternal beauty wearing the separate veils of diverse arts.

If an educator can point a finger of light to this inner reality, he will have fulfilled his duty to his pupil. For he will have inspired him to grow towards excellence, arete, without seeking eminence for himself. Whoso contributes his whole excellence to the good of the people is a true democrat. If he has understood the essence of both Indian and Greek literature, he does not strive to perpetuate institutions. For all institutions become tombs in due time. The green fields of life must not be disfigured by debris. Our priceless inheritance from the past is not something petrified. The past bequeaths to us an understanding of life and of our own human selves. The soul of our legacy is a thought, an ideal, a value. How tenuous! And how tenacious! We are all moved by an inward Necessity towards a fulfilment not all can see. The great authors lift the veil, a corner here, a corner there. The great teachers show us a way, or a part of the way, to our fulfilment, and the few, the greatest amongst those teachers, flung open the portals of immor­tality and proved their by own achievement that our journey through time into eternity, from mortal to god, is indeed the fulfilment of our divine destiny. In the light of the vision of that fulfilment we may well and simply say, “Yes, we do understand,” when Prajapati thunders “Da!”


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