WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8645

Date uploaded in London – – – –8 SEPTEMBER 2020   

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Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge; this is a non- commercial blog. Thanks for your great pictures.


                                        BY  R.Nanjappa

Philosophy in action

In Plato’s time, “philosopher” meant a lover of  “wisdom”. This wisdom meant more than book knowledge, or mere knowledge of the world, and love meant more than mere belief. In those far off days, philosophy meant a way of living: philosophers did not merely believe in or preach something, but lived that belief. No one exemplifies this better than Plato’s own master Socrates. Convicted on trumped-up charges, he was condemned to die by drinking hemlock. His friends urged him to escape and leave the city, and they could bribe the prison guards to arrange that. But Socrates would not agree. He believed that the soul was immortal, and bodily death did not matter. Secondly he loved his city Athens, and was its true son and citizen: he would obey the city’s laws, even if there was a miscarriage of justice in his case. So he drank the hemlock. And thereby showed that he was a true philosopher! Socrates died poor! He did not charge a fee for his teaching!

Philosophy is not fun!

Centuries later, Roman Seneca summed up the situation:

“Philosophy isn’t a parlour trick or made for show. It is not concerned with words, but with facts. It is not employed for some pleasure before the day is spent,or to relieve the uneasiness of our leisure. It shapes and builds up the soul, it gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn’t be done….Without it no one can live without fear or  free from care.” [Moral Letters ]

Seneca too met a tragic end. He fell out of favour with his emperor Nero who ordered him to commit suicide!

Seneca calmly did. He was a true Stoic.

Today the word philosopher has lost its original meaning. Philosophy has become a mere academic discipline, and anyone who studies or teaches, or merely professes, is a philosopher!

Philosophy in modern states

We do not have philosophers or real statesmen steering the affairs of the State. We do not have politicians with any aim loftier than attainment of power. Leaders, in the real sense, like Vaclav Havel are rare for the modern age. Even in so called developed countries the popular vote does not necessarily favour the learned person.

 Havel stood for anti-consumerism, environmentalism, humanitarianism, direct democracy. However he did not always enjoy the support of all sections, and could not prevent the split of Czechoslovakia on ethnic lines. It is not easy to practise philosophy in the modern State. 

Philosophies do reign – in name!

Even so, modern governments cannot be said to be lacking in ‘philosophy’ of some sort, entirely. Most politicians declare their allegiance to some aims or ideals like communism, socialism, market economy, welfare state, democracy, liberalism, secularism, humanism, etc.  

People conscious of environmental concerns even promote the Green Party, which is an anti-consumerist philosophy. These are all philosophies in their own right. Incidentally, almost all of them focus on the economy! They are really not ‘philosophy’ in the sense meant by Plato.

In practice, most politicians professing them merely reduce them to convenient labels or slogans to cover their quest for power and office, and hide their sins there. Almost no one practices what he says his philosophy is. No leader professing socialism has so far distributed his wealth among the poor!  History tells us what crimes were committed in the name of communism in the former USSR and China, under Lenin, Stalin, Mao. Every modern dictator rode to power on some philosophy. Here in India every politician praises Gandhi or take his name when it suits him.  It will be interesting to compile the list of ideals or philosophies professed by politicians and what exactly was done in their name when they came to power!

Even in truly democratic societies, it is not possible to govern without compromise. It is difficult to reduce philosophy to a program of action. It is easy to talk of welfare, but what would be your priority ? Would prohibition qualify as a welfare measure? Educated societies are divided on every issue. Scientists can be hired to support any side of an issue.

Philosophy for the public

Philosophy is really going into the nature and origin of things. We use the word in an entirely different sense in popular discourse today. Any strong or habitual belief in anything which influences our conduct  is called a philosophy. We not only have a philosophy of life, but a philosophy of anything, practically!

How do we come by our philosophy? Not by learning, for sure. It is our life’s experiences, bit and small, that induce in us a doubt or uncertainty or sow the seed of some belief. We have happy childhood, good schooling and education, and a job- we believe life is good. Any problem anywhere, we come to believe life is uncertain, unpredictable. Those who are poor, struggle in life will surely believe that life is unjust, a punishment. There are those who believe that improvement is possible by human effort. All these are philosophies, though we don’t stick that label: optimism, pessimism, meliorism.

                                     *                    to be continued

tags — philosophy-1, Plato, Seneca,


Compiled by London Swaminathan

Date: 9 November 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London –7-27 am
Post No. 5643

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog

Learned Men Anecdotes

Someone once rudely taunted John Maynard, Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal of England, with having grown so old as to forget his law.
“True Sir”, he replied,
“I have forgotten more law than you ever learned” .



A noble man observing a person eminent for his philosophical talents, intent on choosing delicacies at table said to him,
What! Do you philosophers love dainties?
Why not — do you think my Lord, that the good things of the world were only made for blockheads?



The Duke of Newcastle, when prime minister, once told the author of Tristan Shandy, that men of wit were not fit to be employed, being incapable of business.

“They are not incapable of business, my Lord, but above it, replied Sterne. A sprightly generous horse is able to carry a pack saddle as well as an ass, but he is too good to be put to the drudgery”.




Cottle, the Bath bookseller, recorded,

I removed the harness…..but…… could not get off the collar. In despair I called for assistance. Mr Wordsworth first brought his ingenuity into exercise, but, after several unsuccessful efforts, he relinquished the achievement as altogether impracticable. Mr Coleridge now tried his hand, but….after twisting the poor horse’s neck, almost to strangulation, and the great danger of his eyes, he gave up the useless task, pronouncing that the horse head must have grown (gout or dropsy) since the collar was put on! for it was a downright impossibility for such a huge os frontis to pass through narrow a collar! At about this juncture the servant girl appeared, turned the collar upside down, and removed it.


One of Emerson’s rural neighbor s at Concord borrowed from him a copy of Plato
Did you enjoy the book?, asked Emerson, when it was returned.
I did that, replied his neighbour.
This Plato has a lot of my ideas


Queen Christina of Sweden complimented the celebrated Vossius by saying that he was so well learned as not only to know whence all the words came but whither they were going.

Tags: Plato, Men of wit, Coleridge, law, philosophers


“No Cabinet Minister is Indispensable!” Abraham Lincoln (Post No.2700)


Statue of Plato.

Compiled by london swaminathan

Date: 6 April, 2016

Post No. 2700

Time uploaded in London :–  19-53

( Thanks for the Pictures  ) 



(for old articles go to OR



Modesty anecdotes


Plato’s Story about Spirits
Plato tells a fable of how spirits of the other world came back to find bodies and places to work. One took the body of a poet and did his work. Finally, Ulysses came and said,
“All the fine bodies have been taken and all the grand work done. There is nothing for me”.

“Yes”,said a voice, “the best has been left for you – the body of a common man, doing a common work for a common reward”.


Respectable Ladies thrown out!
A t Lyon assizes, in France, before the trial of a certain case, the presiding judge remarked on seeing the court crowded with ladies:
“The persons composing the audience are probably not aware of the nature of the case about to be tried. I therefore feel it incumbent on me to request all respectable women to withdraw”.

Not one of the ladies stirred from her place.

“Usher”, the judge continued, “now that all the respectable women have left, turn the others out”.


lincoln speeches
Let him resign; no one is a national necessity!
Salmon P Chase, when Secretary of the Treasury, had a disagreement with other members of the Cabinet, and resigned.
The President was urged not to accept it as “Secretary Chase is today’s national necessity”, his advisers said.

“How mistaken you are!” Lincoln quietly observed, “yet it is not strange. I used to have similar notions.
No! if we should all be turned out tomorrow and could come back here in a week, we should find our places filled by a lot of fellows doing just as well as we did, and in many instances better”.

“Now, this reminds me of what the Irish man said. His verdict was that ‘in this country one man is as good as another. And, for the matter of that, very often a great deal better’. No, this government does not depend upon the life of any man.


da vinci

Learno da Vinci’s modesty

Vasari relates that when Learnado da Vinci lay on his death bed, the King came to visit and cheer him. He raised himself as far as he could in the Royal presence and lamented that he offended God and man in that he had not laboured in art as he ought to have done.



Picture of Pederewski

Piano at Beethoven Museum

In Bonn, the home of Beethoven has been converted into a memorial museum. In one of the rooms, roped off from curious hands, is the Piano upon which Beethoven composed many of his great works. A Vassar girl visiting the shrine with a party of American students, looked upon the instrument with awe and asked the guard, with the additional persuader of a generous tip, if she might play upon for a minute. The permission was granted and she sat at the piano and strummed out a few bars of the ‘Moonlight Sonata’.

Departing she remarked to the guard, “I suppose all the great pianists who have come here at one time or another played on it”.

The guard said, “No, Miss, Paderewski (famous Polish pianist) was here two years ago; but said he was not worthy to touch it”.
beethoven piano



Plato used Hindu Microcosm and Macrocosm!


Research paper No 1944

Written by London swaminathan

Date: 20th June 2015

Uploaded in London at 21-50

‘Yat Pinde tad Brahmaande’

It is a well-known fact that Alexander the Great developed great interest in Hindu ascetics because of his mentor Aristotle who was trained in Plato’s Academy. Plato and his Guru Socrates were interested in Hindu Upanishads. Vegetarianism, Rebirth, Upanishadic question and answer method (which the westerners named as Socratic Method later) and several other Hindu principles entered the Greek world through these people. Since Hindus migrated to Greece and other European countries long before Socrates and Pythagoras, we find lot of Sanskrit and Tamil words in Greek language (I have already given the list of Tamil words in Greek in my earlier post).

Vedic dog story (Sarama=Hermes), Five elements (Pancha Bhuta, Earth is Mother (Gaia = Atharva Veda—Mata Bhumi Putoham) and hundreds of things were borrowed by the Greeks from India. Max Muller also acknowledged it. But not many people know the concept of microcosm and macrocosm also went to Greece from India.

Tamils say that “Andaththil Ullathu Pindathilum Ullathu” = What is found in the Universe is in your Body.  Yat Pinde Tad Brahmaande is the Sanskrit saying. Sufi Muslims, who are 50 percent Hindus in their approach to spiritualism, also had similar principle.


Microcosm and Macrocosm

Microcosm means ‘little world’. Greeks applied it to man. They considered man as a world in miniature like the Hindus. Macrocosm means the earth or the whole universe.

Sanskrit scholar Radha Vallabh Tripathi, in his article ‘Vedic World View and Modern Science’, says,

“The scientists who attempted to see the atom found a world within it that could not be described in ordinary language. They saw everything within the atom – the speed, energy, waves and matter all mixed. They found that if they could know the atom, they could know the whole truth of the cosmos. Yat pinde tad Brahmande  – that which is in microcosm is in the macrocosm – that is what the ancient seers of the Upanishads had said  — One is in all, All is in one. This is the essence of Quantum theory also. The entire universe is inter- connected, inter-related and inseparable. In the same way, connection between modern physics and Indian mysticism has also become inseparable.

The matter inside an atom cannot be said to be moving nor can it be said to be static. This is how the Upanishads describe the Ultimate reality. “It is neither gross, nor fine, neither short nor long, neither growing red like fire, nor fluid like water, neither shadow, nor darkness, neither air nor space, unattached, without taste, without smell,  without eyes, without ears, without voice, without mind,  without radiance, without breath, without mouth, without measure, having no within and no without. It eats nothing, nothing eats it (Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad III.8.8, translated by Dr S Radhakrishnan). This is the oldest of the Upanishads dated to 850 BCE.

It says

“It is full, this is full, from fullness, fullness proceeds. If we take away the fullness of fullness, even fullness then remains (ibid.V.2.1)

It is unmoving; it is one and it is faster than mind. (Isopanishad)”.

The more we understand science the better we understand our Vedas. Light is the fastest thing in the universe according to physics. But Hindus believe that Mind is faster than anything else. Mind can travel to a star 500 million light years away in a fraction of a second. The power of thought is not fully understood by the western scientists yet.

Global human chain

Chandogya Upanishads:

1.   Om. There is in this city of Brahman an abode, the small lotus of the heart; within it is a small akasa. Now what exists within that small akasa, that is to be sought after, that is what one should desire to understand.

  1. “As far as, verily, this great akasa extends, so far extends the akasa within the heart. Both  heaven and earth are contained within it, both fire and air, both  sun and moon, both lightning and stars; and whatever belongs  to him (i.e. the embodied creature) in this world and whatever  does not, all that is contained within it (i.e. the akasa in the  heart).”

-Chandogya Upanishad, 8-1-1/3

“Indian thought conceived an intimate unity between the macrocosm of nature and microcosm of the human body, between the ‘Adibhautika’ and the ‘Adhyaatmika’ aspects of nature; the latter is an epitome of the former. The gods thus represent not only the forces of external nature mythically conceived, but also the sensory and thought forces within the man” – says Swami Ranganadananda (The Message of the Upanishads).

Vedanta upholds the unity of the macrocosm and the microcosm. Swami Vivekananda says,

“The whole of the universe is built upon the same plan as a part of it.  So, just as I have a mind, there is a cosmic mind. As in the individual, so in the universal. There is the universal gross body; behind that there is a universal fine body; behind that a universal mind; behind that universal intelligence. And all this is in nature, the manifestation of nature, not outside of it”.

In another talk, he says,

Truth may be one and yet many at the same time, that we may have different visions of the same truth from different stand points. Just as nature is unity in variety an infinite variation in the phenomenal – as in and through all these variations of the phenomenal runs the infinite, the Unchangeable, the Absolute Unity, so it is with every man; the microcosm is but a miniature repetition of the macrocosm; in spite of all these variations, in and through them all runs this eternal harmony, and we have to recognise this”.


Garuda Purana

In layman’s term we can compare the rivers on the earth to blood vessels in the human body, mountains to chest and plants to hairs etc.

Garuda Purana has a lengthy comparison:

Garuda Purana compares the 14 lokas – 7 worlds under and 7 worlds up – to parts of the body from foot to head; E.g.sole-Atalam, head- Satya lokam.

Then it compares it 7 Dwipas – from Jambu Dwipa to Pushkara Dwipa to other parts of body.

Then it compares the seven seas to seven liquids in body such as urine to salt sea, water to milky ocean, blood to curd sea etc. These seven seas are listed in all our Puranas/ mythologies.

It continues comparing the two chakras in the body Nada Chakra to sun and Bindu chakra as moon. Other seven planets are also compared with eyes ( Mars), Heart (Mercury), Mouth (Jupiter), Semen (Venus), Belly Button (Saturn), Face (Rahu) and Leg (Ketu).

We may not know the link between each part of the body and different things. But the interesting thing is that Hindus saw the entire universe in human body. The universe is divided into 14 worlds in Hindu mythology. Neither the Greeks nor any other culture has gone to this extent in the subject of microcosm and macrocosm. Since Upanishads were written before the Greeks started writing, it is certain that they borrowed this idea from us along with the principle of Panchabhuta/five elements.

Sufi Saints

Philosopher and ex President of India Dr S Radhakrisnan says (on Sufism),

“The one aim of all the orders was to lead men along the path whose goal is the realization of the unitive state. The theory is that man is the microcosm, in contrast to the universe the macrocosm, contains within himself the elements of the world of command (Alam-I-amr) and the world of creation (Alam—Khalq). The first is the world of spirit and the second of matter. The five spiritual elements in man are heart, soul, consciousness, the hidden, the deeply hidden. The five material elements are ego and the four elements – earth, water, fire and air (History of Philosophy: Eastern and Western, Edited by Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan)

When can you tell a lie? Adi Shankara’s Advice


By London Swaminathan
Post No. 838 Date. 13-02-2014

Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar and India’s greatest philosopher Adi Shankara give us guidelines about lying. Both of them allow us to tell lies if they can bring immense good. We have some anecdotes in Mahabharata where in there was a dilemma to tell the truth or not.

We are taught by the Vedas ‘satyam vatha’=speak the truth. That is the first command. The emblem of Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu has the Upanishad dictate ‘Satyameve Jayate’= truth alone triumphs. There is no contradiction in it when we say we are allowed to tell lies for the good of the humanity. Bhagavad Gita and other Hindu scriptures lists Honesty and Truth as very important qualities.

Upanishads has a beautiful story about a boy named ‘Truth Seeker’ =Satyakaman. When he came to Gautama for learning the Vedas he asked his caste and clan. He said that his mother’s name was Jabala. He asked him to go back to his mum to find the name of his father. She plainly told him that she did not know it. He went straight to Gautama and told what his mum said to him. Immediately he accepted him as a student saying this was the quality of a Brahmana. The meaning is whoever speaks truth, he is a Brahmana.

In spite of these high moral standards, Shankara and Valluvar allow us to tell a lie if it can do some good. In Tamil, there is a proverb that ‘one can do a marriage by telling one thousand lies’. We can easily read between the lines. Uniting two people in marriage is a good thing. So ignore minor things. Very often they ask ‘Is the boy handsome? The answer we get is ‘Yes he is very handsome’ Is the girl beautiful? Yes the girl is very beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty in body is different form beauty in behaviour. So what they say is true.

Story of Kausika

Sometimes truth may be worse than a lie. There is a beautiful story in the greatest and the longest epic in the world Mahabaharata. Kaushika was a Brahmana who made a vow of always speaking the truth. One day robbers were chasing a group of travellers in the forest. When they passed by Kaushika, he also noticed them. The robbers came to Kaushika and asked him whether he had seen the travellers. He told them where the travellers were hiding. The robbers went there, tortured and robbed the travellers. Kaushika had to go to hell for speaking the truth.

That is why Valluvar puts a sub clause when he said ‘yes, lying is allowed’:
Even untruth might attain the value of truth, if it is productive of UNMIXED GOOD, without the least blemish (Tirukkural 392)

Valluvar probably knew the story of Kaushika in Mahabharata. So he makes it clear in one of the verses:
“If one’s speech does not wrong any living creature, while being factually correct, that is truthfulness (291)”

Shankara’s View

Adi Shankara in the Prasna Uttara Ratna Malika (Gem Garland of Questions and Answers) hymn says
There are 67 verses in question and answer format. In the 46th verse he puts one question ‘Who is not to be trusted?’ The answer is ‘one who as a rule utters lies’.
In the next verse (47), one of the questions is ‘on what occasions even a lie is sinless?’ ‘That which is uttered for the sake of protecting righteousness (Dharma)’.
One should not harm anyone while telling a truth and one can tell a lie if it can bring some good to someone.

Plato’s View

SM Diaz in his commentary on Tirukkural adds:
“The eminent Greek philosopher Plato, of a date prior to Thiruvalluvar , has discussed in his Republic, the concept of the Noble Lie, which statesmen may use under certain circumstances as an instrument of state-craft or education. G.C.Field who discusses this matter in his book entitled The Philosophy of Plato quotes as example, Mr Churchill’s ‘ terminological inexactitudes’, used during World War II, as a means of deceiving the enemy, in the national interest.”
“ In the Mahabharata, Dharmaputra’s true statement, drowned in noise and made to appear false, in order to produce a certain good result, was also considered to come under this category. In Tamil Nadu the proverb that Even a thousand lies would be worthwhile to bring about a marriage, is based on the same principle of Plato’s Noble Lie.”

“Shakespeare projected an allied thought when he wrote,
If I do lie and do

No harm by it, though the Gods hear, I hope they will pardon it.
But this does not satisfy Valluvar’s acid test. Only truth should be accompanied by harmlessness; untruth should be productive of positive good to qualify for being classed with truth. Untruth which is just harmless may be fun but not truth.”

Aswaththama Hatha: Narova Kunjarova: (Aswaththama dead; whether man or elephant)
Krishna had arranged to have an elephant named Aswatthma sacrificed in the battle. Yudhistra confirmed that Aswatthma had been killed adding in a lower tone Aswaththama ‘the elephant’ or man which had been killed. This news shattered Aswatthma ‘s father Drona who threw down his arms in despair. Un armed Drona was killed by Dhristadymna . Like story of Kausika, this is also from the Mahabharata.

Pictures are taken from Wikipedia and different sites;thanks.

60 second interview with Socrates


(Questions are Imaginary; answers are from Plato’s Dialogues and Xenophon’s writings)

Sir , Who are you?


“I am not an Athenian nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

Socrates, you were accused by the authorities in Athens that you spoiled the youths. The second accusation against you was that you denied the established gods and introduced strange divinities. What did you say in the court?


“Esteemed friend, citizen of Athens, the greatest city in the world, so outstanding in both intelligence and power, aren’t you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige–while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry?”


Did you corrupt the youth by your teachings?

I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think. To find yourself, think for yourself.

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.


You are one of the greatest philosophers. The Oracle of Delphi told that you were the wisest.

Did you agree?


I know one thing, that I know nothing.


Did you learn Hindu Upanishads? Your philosophy sounds similar to our philosophy.


Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. Know thyself.

All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine
An honest man is always a child.
We understand that your wife was very rude to you. One day she scolded you for lecturing. When you did not stop, she poured on you a bucket full of water. Shakespeare in his play “Taming of the Shrew” mentions your wife’s rudeness. What did you say to your friends then?


You heard thunder and now it is raining.


It looks like you wouldn’t advise any youth to get married. Is it correct?


By all means marry; if you get good wife, you will become happy; if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher.


Socrates, you had a sense of humour. Out of the 501 juries in the court only 281 supported your conviction and death sentence. What did you say about it in your three speeches?


“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”


“I am surprised that only by a small majority I was convicted and sentenced to death. I knew the outcome already. My conviction was a foregone conclusion. I am old. I have to die soon. I am not scared of death.”


O, philosopher, you have not left us any book written by you. Whatever we know is through the writings of your friends Plato, Crito and Xenophon. What did you think about friendship?


Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.

Socrates, you said something about the youths of your time 2500 years ago. That is what we also say today. What did you say?


Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannise their teachers.


Socrates, you must visit our university campus and see how my colleagues use the mobile phones. You are absolutely right. My teachers will give you a rousing welcome for this statement. What is your view on poverty and suffering?


“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

What is your advice to our people?

“Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.”

“Envy is the ulcer of the soul.”

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

“Thou should eat to live; not live to eat.”

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature”.

O, You sound like our Gandhi. He also advised us to live with minimum needs. What did you say to Crito before you died?

Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?