Alexander's encounter with Dandamis, the Monotheist

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by pehgaam e mohabbat, Mar 24, 2013.

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  1. pehgaam e mohabbat
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    pehgaam e mohabbat FULL MEMBER

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    Also referred to as Mandanes in Greek sources, Dandamis was a Brahmin philosopher and a gymnosophist, whom Alexander encountered in the woods near Taxila, when he invaded India in 3rd to 4th Century B.C. The account was recorded as follows:

    Alexnader met some gymnosophists, who were of trouble to him. He came to know through Kalanos (Kalyana), the ascetic, that their leader was Dandamis, who lived in a jungle, lying naked on leaves, near a water spring.

    He then sent Onescratus to bring Dandamis to him. When Onescratus encountered Dandamis in the forest, he conveyed to him that Alexander, the Great son of Zeus, has ordered the teacher to come to him. 'He will give you gold and other rewards but if you refuse, he may behead you.' When Dandamis heard this, he did not even raise his head and replied lying in his bed of leaves, 'God the Great King, is not a source of violence but provider of water, food, light and life. Your king cannot be a God, who loves violence and who is mortal. Even if you take away my head, you cannot take away my soul, which will depart to my God and leave this body like we throw away old garment. We Brahmins do not love gold nor fear death. So your king has nothing to offer, which I may need. Go and tell you King : Dandamis, therefore, will not come to you. If he needs Dandamis, he must come to me.'

    When Alexander came to know of Dandamis' reply, he went to the forest to meet Dandamis. Alexander sat before him for more than an hour and pondered philosophical questions. Dandamis first asked Alexander why he has come to him. 'I have nothing to offer you. Because we have no thought of pleasure or gold, we love God and despise death, whereas you love pleasure, gold and [to] kill people, you fear death and despise God.' Alexander, informed him that 'I heard your name from Calanus and have come to learn wisdom from you.'

    (Stoneman, 2011)​

    The full conversation that followed between them is recorded by Greeks as the Alexander-Dandamis colloquy.

    The encounters between invading Greeks and the native inhabitants around and to the east of Indus are quite fascinating to read. For those interested, I encourage you to leaf through the translations of 'Indica' by Arrian, a Greek historian in ancient times, and another book titled 'Indica' by Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador to the Maurya dynasty, where he records the lifestyle, customs and peoples of the subcontinent in the 4th century BC. The abundance of texts and sophisticated dialogue left with us from that period is astonishing yet so dismally ignored.

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  2. KingMamba
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    KingMamba ELITE MEMBER

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    Interesting conversation between the Brahmin and Alexander. According to him there was only one God and he chastised Alexander for his belief in multiple deities. Yet today hindus have millions of gods, ironic indeed.
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  3. pehgaam e mohabbat
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    pehgaam e mohabbat FULL MEMBER

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    well, from the people ive asked with knowledge of the topic, they say that the vedas that were first articulated/composed around 1500 BC, and passed down henceforth, were essentially very strictly monotheistic and forbode idol worship. early practitioners of Vedism were all coherent of their belief in one true God, and spent their time in tapasya or meditation on the word of God.

    but in time this became distorted and some who were intent on gaining power over common people started to push these false idols to worship, positing themselves as being sent 'divinely' by these deities. this deviation from the original philosophy continued for centuries. there was a revival in the 13th or 14th century around the same time as sufis preached in the subcontinent, to bring hindus back to monotheism and against shirk, if you see the books by sai baba and kabir saahib, as well as the sikh gurus. but then british came and they encouraged the corrupt priests to bring back idol worship and thats what you have today to a large extent. but still some sects of hindus are monotheistic and against idol worship i am told, that still follow kabir saahib and many of the sufis.

    so its interesting that in essence, the philosophy of punjab and its people has since the beginning of our culture been monotheistic and against idol worship. then when the sufis came in punjab and sindh, they ensured that the true teachings prevailed and we would not deviate off the path. all with the protection and blessings of Allah. in time our brothers and sisters will hopefully realize their mistakes & revert back to the path of one true God.
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  4. xyxmt
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    xyxmt SENIOR MEMBER

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    Alexander the Great who won two wars and conquered one country?
  5. Kazhugu
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    Kazhugu SENIOR MEMBER

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    hinduism has various schools of thought.......monotheism, dualism, atheism, agnosticism are all parts of it.......

    plus hinduism also absorbed in and assimilated various local cultures and all the gods started being worshipped as hindu gods....they are some gods who are not worshipped outside that particular village !

    its a belief system whose diversity is impossible to be comprehended by even many hindus let alone abrahmics with their one god philosophy......
  6. KingMamba
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    KingMamba ELITE MEMBER

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    I concur and some hindus I have spoke to believe in one God and say idol worship is deviation.

    The original philosophy is what I am interested in, the rest came years later.
  7. pehgaam e mohabbat
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    pehgaam e mohabbat FULL MEMBER

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    there is another story i was told at young age about alexander. when he came to punjab after having looted and killed many innocent villagers along the way, he met a philosopher whom he engaged in discussion.

    the philosopher asked sikandr, what is your purpose in coming here?

    he replied, i want to conquer these parts to ensure the supremacy of my empire.

    the philosopher then quesitons, what will you do once it's in your control?

    sikander said, i will expand my empire further eastwards to the unknown ends of asia and become supreme ruler of those lands.

    the philosopher continued, what will you do after that?

    then sikander said, i will march back westwards, down through misr to capture the whole of africa and become undisputed emperor of all that exists below the heavens.

    the philosopher retorts, what after that?

    sikander says finally, i will go back home to macedon and live with peace & contentment.

    the philosopher said, only after killing countless men, burning villages, slaughtering innocent women and children the world over, you will be able to return home peaceful and content? why can't you do this now? what stopped you from doing so at the very outset?

    they explained this in punjabi, so a lot of the impact you can imagine is lost in translation and my substandard memory. but it was an example of why not to want more than Allah has given us. that we gain nothing from greed, ego and foolish arrogance, other than being enslaved by our minds.

    please feel free to share any stories or other things from that period in our region. i'm sure many of us would love to read it.
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  8. Kazhugu
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    Kazhugu SENIOR MEMBER

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    im talking about the original philosphy only......vedas and upanishads themselves have all the ingredients i mentioned above.....there is no "single" original philosophy for the simple fact hinduism was the only faith that evolved from a civilization...through a collective conscience......not from a single man.....as all other religions are....
  9. scorpionx
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    scorpionx PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    The philosophy which is popularly known as vedanta philosophy came much later (around 700 years before Buddha's birth).At the time of Buddha's birth the influence of Upanishada on Hinduism was on high.This philosophy is based on various vedas among which RgVeda is the oldest one.It is a collection of hymns said to be seen by various rishis through a large period of time.The primitive hymns are dedicated to nature and there are various Gods,representing Air,sky,water etc.But in the later part (starting from the 8th mandala) we can see an inclination towards monoism which takes a complete shape in the 10th mandala.
    The three basic schools of thought Monoism,qualified monoism and dualism are derived from the Upanishada which is also called vedanta has came much later (after 900AD).
  10. pehgaam e mohabbat
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    pehgaam e mohabbat FULL MEMBER

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    personally, i dont really see why alexander is given so much importance. he should be remembered as the worthless, shortlived invader that he was.

    and the subcontinent was the graveyard of his empire, where his troops wet their pants, mutinied and demanded to run away back to greece. alexander the homo didnt want to because he enjoyed the rods that he and his troops received in their back sides, but had to give in and run tail between legs in the end.

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    King Porus with Alexander the Midget
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  11. KingMamba
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    KingMamba ELITE MEMBER

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    Thanks for the explanation mate.