A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Gymnosophists
*GYMNOSOPHISTS, a sect of Indian philosophers, famous in antiquity for their strict adherence to the principles of the religion they professed, their devotedness to the study of wisdom, and their aversion to indolence and idleness. They believed in the immortality and transmigration of the soul, and placed the chief happiness of man in a contempt of the delusive pleasures and attractions of this mortal life. They dwelt in woods, where they lived upon the wild products and fruits of the earth, and never drank wine, nor married. In some cases they did not form themselves into societies, but each had his private recess, where he studied and performed his devotions by himself. These were a kind of hermits, of which some are said to have dwelt on a mountain in Ethiopia.
They were called Gymnosophists, i. e. naked philosophers, not because they went absolutely naked, but perhaps in ridicule, because they wore only what was required for decency and convenience. Some of them attained to eminence in the sciences, and practised medicine. They are supposed to have had their origin from the Bramins.
- Ency. Perth.