This is a work about influences and what “influences” means. Following an analysis of this elusive concept, A. L. Herman presents compelling
evidence that the following hypothesis is testable, defendable, and probably true: that the Indus Valley religion with its Savior-God, Siva
(2500-1800 B.C.E.), significantly influenced a Greek religion with its Savior-God, Dionysos (1450 B.C.E.-300 C.E.), Which, in turn influenced
the early Christian religion with its Savior-God, Jesus of Nazareth (50-300 C.E.), such that it can be meaningfully claimed that the religion of
the Indus Valley civilization probably influenced early Christianity.
Prof. A. L. Herman was educated at Stanford University, Harvard University, of Minnesota. He is currently Emeritus Professor of
Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He is the author of numerous articles and books including: Community, Violence and
Peace: Aldo Leopold, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gautama the Buddha in the 21st Century; The Problem of Evil and
Indian Thought; A brief Introduction to Hinduism; The Ways of Philosophy: Searching for a Worthwhile Life, An Introduction to Indian Thought;
An Introduction to Indian Thought; An Introduction to Indian Thought; An Introduction to Buddhist Thought: A Philosophic History of Indian
Buddhism; The Bhagavad Gita: A Translation and Critical Commentary; Indian Folk Tales, Edited and Translated from the Sanskrit; and Problems
in Philosophy, West and East, Co-edited with Russell T. Blackwood.
This is a work about influences and what “influences” means. It is also about the influence of one ancient Indian civilization’s religious beliefs on
the religious beliefs of two Mediterranean religions, one from the first centuries before, and the other from the first centuries after, the
Christian era. But the work is not so much an historical, archeological-anthropological investigation of three ancient cultures as it is a
philosophical analysis of a concept; while it touches on the phenomenological influence of one set of religious beliefs on two other similar sets,
it is more concerned with the nature of the relationship between and among these sets through so-called “influences”; that is to say, this is a
work about influences, what “influences”; that is to say, this is a work about influences, what “influences” means and what can occur when that
concept is said to apply between or among religious beliefs and practices.
Chapter one examines the concepts of influences and influencing in order to understand what it means when we say that something
influences something else. To begin the examination we use two examples of influencing; the first shows the modern West influencing the
modern East with the philosophy of Henry David Thorau and Leo Tolstoy influencing the philosophy of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; the
second shows the ancient East influencing the ancient West with the life of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Siddhartha Sakyamuni,
influencing the creation of two putative Christian saint, Barlaam and Josaphat.
Chapter Two, arguing that all religions are games, attempts to establish a module for religious game theory by posing four questions
as an elegant way of comparing religious games and, with that, religions. Following a discussion of assumptions and uninterpreted religious
paradigms, we compare three interpreted religious paradigms. We thereby test the heuristic value of that argument, those questions and the
general methodology of this book for identifying resemblances and for comparing religions in order to talk about influences between and among
religions. The first two interpreted paradigms are drawn from ancient Indian Vedism and Brahmanism and the third which these first two
influenced is taken from the Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism; each paradigm will illustrate the methodology employed in this book for identifying a
particular religion, and for talking about resemblances, and for further explicating and historically illustrating the concepts of influences and
influencing of Chapter One.
Chapters three through Five offer and examine some rather compelling evidence for the claim that the Harappan religion of the Indus
Valley Civilization of 2500-1800 B.C.E. significantly influenced the Dionysian religion of the ancient Mediterranean Greek and Roman world
of 1450 B.C.E. - 300 C.E. which, in turn, significantly influenced the early Christian religion of that ancient Greek and Roman world of 50-300
C.E. for these chapters we concentrate on four seminal sources: Chapter three focuses on the pictographic stamp seals of the Indus Valley
Civilization of the third millennium B.C.E.; Chapter Four turns to Euripides’ Greek tragic drama Bacchae of the fifth century B.C.E.; and Chapter
Five takes up the Roman philosopher Celsus’ critique of Christianity in his On the True Doctrine of the second century C.E. and St. Paul’s
Corinthian letters of the first century C.E. From the Indus seals comes the evidence for the nature and character of the future Hindu Savior and
God, Siva; from the play Bacchae we derive the evidence for the Greek Savior and God, Dionysos; and from the essay On the True Doctrine and
the Pauline letters we have the evidence for the Christian Savior and God, Jesus of Nazareth. Given the criteria of what “influence” means within
the context of these three interpreted religious paradigms we then suggest that the conditions for influence are such that the following
hypothesis is testable, defensible and may even be true: that the Indus Valley religion with its Savior-God, Siva (2500-1800 B.C.E.) probably
influenced a Greek religion with its Savior-God Dionysos (1450 B.C.E.-300 C.E.) which, in turn, probably influenced the early Christian
religion with its Savior-God, Jesus of Nazareth (50-300 C.E.), such that it can be meaningfully claimed that the religion of the Indus Valley
Civilization probably influenced early Christianity.
The sixth and final chapter explores and critiques this claim and concludes with several problems and questions about influencing that
would seem to follow.
In the fifth chapter of his autobiography, Philosopher at large (1977), Mortimer J. Adler, the popular educator, philosopher and co-founder with
Robert M. Hutchins of the Great Books program at the University of Chicago, talks about his seduction by the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas
and his near-conversion to Roman Catholicism. Wishing to study Medieval philosophy while an instructor-student at Columbia University in
1925, his friend Richard McKeon advised him to go to a certain Catholic bookstore in Manhattan and buy and start reading the writings of St.
Thomas Aquinas. At the bookstore Adler found a twenty-one volume set of the Summa Theologica; undeterred, he purchased volume one.
Excitement mounting, he read the work and was “overwhelmed” by what he found. The effort that the great Summa had on him, he says, was
“cataclysmic.” So profound was the influence that it completely altered his life and thought and compelled Adler to seriously consider
converting from judaism to Roman Catholicism. It led to his making public speeches defending even the most outrageous practices of his new
found religion. In an address given on April 3, 1935, Adler demonstrates how shamelessly deep the influence had gone:
Then comes the paragraph that justified James Farrel, in a 1940 Partisan Review article, to call Adler “a provincial Torquemade
without an Inquisition”:
In his early career as a teacher at Columbia and Chicago and driven by an enthusiastic commitment to his new religion, Adler
influenced dozens of his students, Jews, Protestants and humanists, into making a similar commitment, and even, for “a number of students,” this
was followed by a conversion to Roman Catholicism. One can only marvel at the impact such a teacher and teaching, for good or ill, must have
Mortimer J. Adler was the secondary influence in the conveyance of these Thomistic ideas from St. Thomas and his great Summa
would constitute the primary influence. So it seems quite clear that if St. Thomas influenced Mortimer Adler and if Adler influenced his students
then St. Thomas influenced Adler’s students. While no one would seriously quibble about claiming such a transitive relation between St. Thomas,
Mortimer Adler and Adler’s students, the line of influence in many cases is not so obvious. This book is about such influences and such
apparently transitive relations of influences. In particular, it is about the influence of one ancient Indian civilization’s religious beliefs on the
religious beliefs of two Mediterranean religions, on from the first centuries before, and the other from the first centuries after, the Christian
era. It seeks to answer, inter alia, the central question: did the Harappan religion of the Indus Valley Civilization (2500-1800 C.E.) such that we
can meaningfully ask, did a religion of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization influence early Christianity?
Brahma Sutras (81)
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