did Pythagoras study in india?

Did Pythagoras go to India?

There are allegations that he went to India to Study the Veda in order to pursue his interests in mathematics and philosophy. However, I found conflicting evidence. Evidence both to back up these allegations is scant and um…not to.

So, in this post, I will investigate the subject, “Did Pythagoras Study in India?” and attempt to discover solutions to certain problems that are associated with it.

Pythagoras was a renowned Greek Scholar and Philosopher. The guy was best known for his work in the field of Mathematics though. (You ever heard of the Pythagorean theorem)?

Who discovered Pythagoras in India?

It was Voltaire. Which is funny because he was 2000 years AFTER pythagoras.

Actually, There is no actual proof that Pythagoras went to India. Voltaire was probably making it up.

Our hero Pythagoras was born in Greece in the sixth century BC. It’s not like we can pull up his ancient “driver’s license” to see his address.

Where did the theory that Pythagoras went to India come from?

Here is a direct quote from the French Philosopher Voltaire-

“I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the

Ganga ‐‐‐ astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis etc., … It is very important to

note that some 2500 years ago at the least, Pythagoras went from Samos to

the Ganga (Ganges) to learn geometry. But he would certainly not have

undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Indians’

science not been long established in Europe.”


Clearly Voltaire only assumes Pythagoras was in India because his views align with Ancient Indian assumptions.

Why did Pythagoras go to India?

As I said. There is really scant evidence to prove that he went to India. But there are a lot of similarities in his doctrine which suggests that he held very similar views to Indian Philosophies. Not only was it Geometry that was aligned with the Indian Scriptures. Other alignments include:

  • Medicinal properties of plants (Ayurveda)
  • He believed in the transmigration of souls
  • He believed that the Five Classical elements constitute matter (Earth, ether, fire, water, air)
  • How to heal the body by the use of color, vibrations, music, herbs, etc.
  • He had similar Mystical beliefs as the Upanishads.

Actually what I find the most interesting reason as why its possible is for this next reason. Ancient Indian Rishis invented the Pythagorean theorem 500 years prior.

Was the Pythagorean theorem invented by ancient Indian rishis?

The Baudhayana Sulbasutra, is a text believed to have been written 500 years before Pythagoras. Apparently, it contains a geometric concept that states:

a rope stretched along the length of a diagonal line creates an area made up of vertical and horizontal sides.

Does that sound familiar? Well, it should! Cause it’s the Pythagorean Theorem

However let us remember here, we are speaking about Mathematics. A metaphysical language of reality. It is entirely possible that Pythagoras and the Sulbastura stumbled upon this Universal law extemporaneously. It’s not like this is impossible. Newton and Leibniz both discovered Calculus at the same time.

Were there Influences of Indian thought in Greek Philosophy?

Yes, ancient Greeks came into contact with Indian philosophy. Just Not during Pythagoras’ time!

As for India having an influence on Greece, there is a dearth of evidence that suggests it. I mean there were cultural and intellectual exchanges between India and Greece during the Hellenistic period. However, this period began with the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE. Like, 100 years AFTER Pythagoras.
But I mean the connection between Greece and India is still fascinating. The Greeks established a number of kingdoms in & around India after Alexander’s death. There plenty of accounts of Greek emissaries visiting India and Indian emissaries visiting Greece. These exchanges likely led to the sharing of philosophical and scientific ideas, including those related to mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. In fact, many scholars believe that some of the ideas in Greek philosophy, such as the concept of reincarnation, may have been influenced by Indian thought.

My Conclusions on Pythagoras in India

Alas. Even though there is zero proof that Pythagoras studied in India, it still doesn’t change one simple fact: Indian mathematical and philosophical ideas had a big impact on Greek ideas. Just probably not Pythagoras.
Maybe there is another explanation as to the similarities in opinion between Pythagoras and India. But unless you can get in a time machine, I’m afraid we’ll never know.

David Ex Machina

David Ex Machina


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