gymnosophist

“All Religions and all Sciences connect themselves with one single science, always hidden from the common herd, and transmitted from age to age, from initiate to initiate, beneath the veil of fables and symbols. It preserves for a world yet to come the secrets of a world that has passed away. The Gymnosophists contemplated it on the banks of the Ganges; Zoroaster and Hermes preserved it in the East; Moses transmitted it to the Hebrews; Orpheus revealed its mysteries to Greece; Pythagoras and Plato almost guessed it. It was called the Priestly or Royal Science, because it raised the initiated to the ranks of Kings and Pontiffs; it is portrayed in the Bible by the mysterious personage Melchisedec, the peaceful king and eternal priest, who has neither father nor mother nor genealogy. He stands by himself like Truth.”

~ Eliphas Levi: The Paradoxes Of The Highest Science: In Which The Most Advanced Truths Of Occultism Are For The First Time Revealed

The case of East and West: Meditation, Alexander and the Gymnosophist

Krish Vallurupalli

             

               'Culture’ is a reaction to nature, and this understanding of our ancestors is transmitted generation from generation in the form of stories, symbols and rituals, which are always indifferent to rationality. And so, when you study it, you realize that different people of the world have a different understanding of the world. Different people see things differently –different viewpoints.

There is ‘THE WORLD’ and 'MY WORLD’. 'The world’  is objective, universal, scientific and factual. It tells how the sun rises, how we were born, etc. 'My world’ is subjective, emotional and personal. It tells why the sun rises and why we were born!! And this is where clash of civilisations kicks in. Because everyone thinks 'My world’ is always better than 'your world’. 

         Let’s hear a story. Depending on how much you know about 'world civilizations and history’ this might be new to some and a revisit to others. It took place in 326 B.C on the banks of River Indus. Alexander (the great) while on his quest to conquer the whole world came to the last remaning bit. There he met a Gymnosophist (=the naked wise man!!) sitting on a rock, meditating!

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Alexander asked, “What are you doing?” and the gymnosophist answered, “I’m experiencing nothingness.” Then the gymnosophist asked, “What are you doing?” and Alexander said, “I am conquering the world.” And they both laughed. Each one thought that the other was a fool. The gymnosophist said, “Why is he conquering the world? It’s pointless.” And Alexander thought, “Why is he sitting around, doing nothing? What a waste of a life." 

To understand this difference in viewpoints, we have to understand the subjective truth of Alexander – his myth, and the mythology that constructed it. Alexander’s mother, his parents, his teacher Aristotle told him the story of Homer’s "Iliad.” They told him of a great hero called Achilles, who, when he participated in battle, victory was assured, but when he withdrew from the battle, defeat was inevitable. “Achilles was a man who could shape history, a man of destiny, and this is what you should be, Alexander. You should not be Sisyphus, who rolls a rock up a mountain all day only to find the boulder rolled down at night. Don’t live a life which is monotonous,mediocre, meaningless. Be spectacular! – like the Greek heroes, like Jason, who went across the sea with the Argonauts and fetched the Golden Fleece. Be spectacular like Theseus, who entered the labyrinth and killed the bull-headed Minotaur. When you play in a race, win! – because when you win, the exhilaration of victory is the closest you will come to the ambrosia of the gods.”

Because the Greeks believed you live only once, and when you die, you have to cross the River Styx. And if you have lived an extraordinary life, you will be welcomed to Elysium, the heaven of the heroes.

But these are not the stories that the gymnosophist heard. He heard a very different story.He heard of a man called Bharat, after whom India is called Bhārata. Bharat also conquered the world. And then he went to the top-most peak of the greatest mountain of the center of the world called Meru. And he wanted to hoist his flag to say, “I was here first.” But when he reached the mountain peak, he found the peak covered with countless flags of world-conquerors before him, each one claiming “'I was here first’ … that’s what I thought until I came here.” And suddenly, in this canvas of infinity, Bharat felt insignificant. This was the mythology of the gymnosophist.

He had heroes, like Ram and Krishna. But they were not two characters on two different adventures. They were two lifetimes of the same hero. When the 'Ramayana’ ends the 'Mahabharata’ begins. When Ram dies, Krishna is born. When Krishna dies, eventually he will be back as Ram. He heard that the people in Bharat also has a river that separates the land of the living from the land of the dead. But you don’t cross it once. You go to and fro endlessly. It was called the 'Vaitarani’. You go again and again and again. Because, nothing lasts forever, not even death. What goes around always comes around, and this rule applies not just to man, but also the gods. The gods have to come back again and again and again as Ram, as Krishna. Not only do they live infinite lives, but the same life is lived infinite times till you get to the point of it all.

    Two different mythologies. Which is right? Two different ways of looking at the world. One linear, one cyclical. One believes this is the one and only life. The other believes this is one of many lives. And so, the denominator of Alexander’s life was one. So, the value of his life was the sum total of his achievements. The denominator of the gymnosophist’s life was infinity. So, no matter what he did, it was always zero. 

Think about it. If you live only once, in one-life cultures around the world, you will see an obsession with binary logic, absolute truth, standardization, absoluteness, linear patterns in design. But if you look at cultures which have cyclical and based on infinite lives, you will see a comfort with fuzzy logic, with opinion, with contextual thinking, with everything is relative. 

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On example: Look at the ballerina, how linear she is in her performance. And then look at the Indian classical dancer, the Kuchipudi dancer, the Bharatanatyam dancer, curvaceous!!!

So the next time we meet someone, we should understand that we live in the subjective truth, and so does he. Understand it. And when you understand it you will discover something spectacular. You will discover that within infinite myths lies the eternal truth.