The Buddha and Pythagoras

Pythagoras is well known among the students specially to the mathematics students at their lower levels because of the famous theorems in Geometry. But many of us rarely come across the fact that he is a contemporary of the Buddha. He was born in about 580 B.C.

Very interesting and valuable facts about Pythagoras are included in one of his publications written by late Sirisena Maitipe to commemorate his 50th birth anniversary.

In my childhood I knew Sirisena Maitipe as a popular poet. But it is only very recently that I had the opportunity of reading a collection of books written by him. I have heard that he is the author of several valuable books including a book on kamasutra. He was also an astrologer and was well versed in the English language than Sinhala.

The latent and mysterious event of the meeting of Buddha and Pythagoras is revealed in his book namely "Ma Dutu Gandaraya" which is some sort of a research work about the life and times of the Buddha in ancient India. He has written this book after travelling all-over the sacred and ancient cities and examining the ruins of the places and his work is a collection of ideas gathered by reading literature from Nepal, Tibet, China and India and some of the western countries as well.

In the ancient days there were no books and libraries as in the modern world for students even at the Taxila which was the only university available in India during that era. The philosophers or students or scholars who ever they were the only means by which study and exchange ideas and broaden knowledge by travelling long distances and meeting other similar scholars or students and discussing whatever problems they had. Many travelled from western as well as eastern countries to Taxila (and India) which was the centre of learning at that time. In fact Taxila existed eight or nine centuries prior to the birth of the Buddha.

According to the famous professor C. N. L. Brook who was also the chief in the Editorial board of the world Magazine "The Knowledge" (in about 1963) published in London, Pythagoras has travelled all the way from Greece to India in search of the Buddha. But however the professor neither exactly says that Pythagoras took refuge in the Buddha nor does he say that he did not take refuge on the Buddha.

But the question is who is the person who has not been converted to Buddhism after meeting the Lord Buddha. It is natural that he too should have taken refuge in the Buddha.

The author who has found these facts in conversation with professor Brook further adds that there are reasons to believe that Pythagoras after meeting the Buddha discussed about matters of the world and about the Universe, and mathematical problems, etc. and after questioning was convinced about the real status.

It seems Pythagoras who was earlier a believer in the transmigration of souls, after returning to Greece established a society or brotherhood accepting the truth of rebirth.

These incidents although were not immediately registered as there were no writing facilities at that stage, has gone into history in subsequent times.

Pythagoras was a genius and was the famous Greek philosopher, astrologer or astronomer, mathematician and musician. Greeks recognize him as the most intelligent and bravest person of the Greeks. He was in fact one of the first people to hold that the earth and the universe are round.

The author Sirisena Maitipe in his book throws some new light on the weak points and makes clarifications on certain incidents in the Buddha’s life history by giving his own interpretations by references he has done in his studies of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist literature in the countries he visited.
S. A. P. Subasinghe