A History of Sanskrit Literature/Chapter 16
CHAPTER XVISANSKRIT LITERATURE AND THE WEST
Want of space makes it impossible for me to give even the briefest account of the numerous and, in many cases, important legal and scientific works written in Sanskrit. But I cannot conclude this survey of Sanskrit literature as an embodiment of Indian culture without sketching rapidly the influence which it has received from and exercised upon the nations of the West. An adequate treatment of this highly interesting theme could only be presented in a special volume.
The oldest trace of contact between the Indians and the peoples of the West is to be found in the history of Indian writing, which, as we have already seen (p. 16) was derived from a Semitic source, probably as early as 800 B.C.
The Aryans having conquered Hindustan in prehistoric times, began themselves to fall under foreign domination from an early period. The extreme northwest became subject to Persian sway from about 500 to 331 B.C. under the Achæmenid dynasty. Cyrus the First made tributary the Indian tribes of the Gandhāras and Açvakas. The old Persian inscriptions of Behistun and Persepolis show that his successor, Darius Hystaspis, ruled over not only the Gandharians, but also the people of the Indus. Herodotus also states that this monarch had subjected the "Northern Indians." At the command of the same Darius, a Greek named Skylax is said to have travelled in India, and to have navigated the Indus in 509 B.C. From his account various Greek writers, among them Herodotus, derived their information about India. In the army which Xerxes led against Greece in 480 B.C. there were divisions of Gandharians and Indians, whose dress and equipment are described by Herodotus. That historian also makes the statement that the satrapy of India furnished the heaviest tribute in the Persian empire, adding that the gold with which it was paid was brought from a desert in the east, where it was dug up by ants larger than foxes.
At the beginning of the fourth century B.C., the Greek physician Ktesias, who resided at the court of Artaxerxes II., learnt much from the Persians about India, and was personally acquainted with wise Indians. Little useful information can, however, be derived from the account of India which he wrote after his return in 398 B.C., as it has been very imperfectly preserved, and his reputation for veracity did not stand high among his countrymen.
The destruction of the Persian empire by Alexander the Great led to a new invasion of India, which fixes the first absolutely certain date in Indian history. In 327 B.C. Alexander passed over the Hindu Kush with an army of 120,000 infantry and 30,000 cavalry. After taking the town of Pushkalavatī (the Greek Peukelaotis) at the confluence of the Kabul and Indus, and subduing the Açvakas (variously called Assakanoi, Aspasioi, Hippasioi, by Greek writers) on the north and the Gandhāras on the south of the Kabul River, he crossed the Indus early in 326. At Takshaçilā (Greek Taxiles), between the Indus and the Jhelum (Hydaspes), the Greeks for the first time saw Brahman Yogīs, or "the wise men of the Indians," as they called them, and were astonished at their asceticism and strange doctrines.
Between the Jhelum and the Chenab (Akesines) lay the kingdom of the Pauravas or Pauras, whose prince, called Porus by the Greeks from the name of his people, led out an army of 50,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry, 200 elephants, and 400 chariots to check the advance of the invader. Then on the banks of the Jhelum was fought the great historic battle, in which Alexander, after a severe struggle, finally won the day by superior numbers and force of genius. He continued his victorious march eastwards till he reached the Sutlej (Greek Zadadres). But here his further progress towards the Ganges was arrested by the opposition of his Macedonians, intimidated by the accounts they heard of the great power of the king of the Prasioi (Sanskrit Prāchyas, or "Easterns"). Hence, after appointing satraps of the Panjāb and of Sindh, he sailed down to the mouths of the Indus and returned to Persia by Gedrosia. Of the writings of those who accompanied Alexander, nothing has been preserved except statements from them in later authors.
After Alexander's death the assassination of the old king Porus by Eudemus, the satrap of the Panjāb, led to a rebellion in which the Indians cast off the Greek yoke under the leadership of a young adventurer named Chandragupta (the Sandrakottos or Sandrokyptos of the Greeks). Having gained possession of the Indus territory in 317, and dethroned the king of Pāṭaliputra in 315 B.C., he became master of the whole Ganges Valley as well. The Maurya dynasty, which he thus founded, lasted for 137 years (315-178 B.C.). His empire was the largest hitherto known in India, as it embraced the whole territory between the Himālaya and the Vindhya from the mouths of the Ganges to the Indus, including Gujarat.
Seleucus, who had founded a kingdom in Media and Persia, feeling himself unable to vanquish Chandragupta, sent a Greek named Megasthenes to reside at his court at Pāṭaliputra. This ambassador thus lived for several years in the heart of India between 311 and 302 B.C., and wrote a work entitled Ta Indika, which is particularly valuable as the earliest direct record of his visit by a foreigner who knew the country himself. Megasthenes furnishes particulars about the strength of Chandragupta's army and the administration of the state. He mentions forest ascetics (Hylobioi), and distinguishes Brachmānes and Sarmanai as two classes of philosophers, meaning, doubtless, Brahmans and Buddhists (çramaṇas). He tells us that the Indians worshipped the rain-bringing Zeus (Indra) as well as the Ganges, which must, therefore, have already been a sacred river. By his description of the god Dionysus, whom they worshipped in the mountains, Çiva must be intended, and by Herakles, adored in the plains, especially among the Çūrasenas on the Yamunā and in the city of Methora, no other can be meant than Vishṇu and his incarnation Kṛishṇa, the chief city of whose tribe of Yādavas was Mathurā (Muttra). These statements seem to justify the conclusion that Çiva and Vishṇu were already prominent as highest gods, the former in the mountains, the latter in the Ganges Valley. Kṛishṇa would also seem to have been regarded as an Avatār of Vishṇu, though it is to be noted that Kṛishṇa is not yet mentioned in the old Buddhist Sūtras. We also learn from Megasthenes that the doctrine of the four ages of the world (yugas) was fully developed in India by his time.
Chandragupta's grandson, the famous Açoka, not only maintained his national Indian empire, but extended it in every direction. Having adopted Buddhism as the state religion, he did much to spread its doctrines, especially to Ceylon, which since then has remained the most faithful guardian of Buddhist tradition.
After Açoka's death the Græco-Bactrian princes began about 200 B.C. to conquer Western India, and ruled there for about eighty years. Euthydemos extended his dominions to the Jhelum. His son Demetrios (early in the second century B.C.) appears to have held sway over the Lower Indus, Mālava, Gujarat, and probably also Kashmir. He is called "King of the Indians," and was the first to introduce a bilingual coinage by adding an Indian inscription in Kharoshṭhī characters on the reverse to the Greek on the obverse. Eukratides (190-160 B.C.), who rebelled against Demetrios, subjected the Panjāb as far east as the Beäs. After the reign of Heliokles (160-120 B.C.), the Greek princes in India ceased to be connected with Bactria. The most prominent among these Græco-Indians was Menander (c. 150 B.C.), who, under the name of Milinda, is well known in Buddhist writings. The last vestige of Greek domination in India disappeared about 20 B.C., having lasted nearly two centuries. It is a remarkable fact that no Greek monumental inscriptions have ever been found in India.
With the beginning of the Græco-Indian period also commenced the incursions of the Scythic tribes, who are called Indo-Scythians by the Greeks, and by the Indians Çakas, the Persian designation of Scythians in general. Of these so-called Scythians the Jāts of the Panjāb are supposed to be the descendants. The rule of these Çaka kings, the earliest of whom is Maues or Moa (c. 120 B.C.), endured down to 178 A.D., or about three centuries. Their memory is preserved in India by the Çaka era, which is still in use, and dates from 78 A.D., the inaugural year of Kanishka, the only famous king of this race. His dominions, which included Kānyakubja (Kanauj) on the Ganges, extended beyond the confines of India to parts of Central Asia. A zealous adherent of Buddhism, he made Gandhāra and Kashmir the chief seat of that religion, and held the fourth Buddhist council in the latter country.
After having been again united into a single empire almost as great as that of Chandragupta under the national dynasty of the Guptas, from 319 to 480 A.D., Northern India, partly owing to the attacks of the Hūṇas, was split up into several kingdoms, some under the later Guptas, till 606 A.D., when Harshavardhana of Kanauj gained paramount power over the whole of Northern India. During his reign the poet Bāṇa flourished, and the celebrated Chinese pilgrim Hiouen Thsang visited India.
With the Muhammadan conquest about 1000 A.D. the country again fell under a foreign yoke. As after Alexander's invasion, we have the good fortune to possess in Albērūnī's India (c. 1030 A.D.) the valuable work of a cultivated foreigner, giving a detailed account of the civilisation of India at this new era in its history.
This repeated contact of the Indians with foreign invaders from the West naturally led to mutual influences in various branches of literature.
With regard to the Epics, we find the statement of the Greek rhetorician Dio Chrysostomos (50-117 A.D.) that the Indians sang in their own language the poetry of Homer, the sorrows of Priam, the laments of Andromache and Hecuba, the valour of Achilles and Hector. The similarity of some of the leading characters of the Mahābhārata, to which the Greek writer evidently alludes, caused him to suppose that the Indian epic was a translation of the Iliad. There is, however, no connection of of any kind between the two poems. Nor does Professor Weber's assumption of Greek influence on the Rāmāyaṇa appear to have any sufficient basis (p. 307).
The view has been held that the worship of Kṛishṇa, who, as we have seen, plays an important part in the Mahābhārata, arose under the influence of Christianity, with which it certainly has some rather striking points of resemblance. This theory is, however, rendered improbable, at least as far as the origin of the cult of Kṛishṇa is concerned, by the conclusions at which we have arrived regarding the age of the Mahābhārata (pp. 286-287), as well as by the statements of Megasthenes, which indicate that Kṛishṇa was deified and worshipped some centuries before the beginning of our era. We know, moreover, from the Mahābhāshya that the story of Kṛishṇa was the subject of dramatic representations in the second or, at latest, the first century before the birth of Christ.
It is an interesting question whether the Indian drama has any genetic connection with that of Greece. It must be admitted that opportunities for such a connection may have existed during the first three centuries preceding our era. On his expedition to India, Alexander was accompanied by numerous artists, among whom there may have been actors. Seleucus gave his daughter in marriage to Chandragupta, and both that ruler and Ptolemy II. maintained relations with the court of Pāṭaliputra by means of ambassadors. Greek dynasties ruled in Western India for nearly two centuries. Alexandria was connected by a lively commerce with the town called by the Greeks Barygaza (now Broach), at the mouth of the Narmadā (Nerbudda) in Gujarat; with the latter town was united by a trade route the city of Ujjayinī (Greek Ozēnē), which in consequence reached a high pitch of prosperity. Philostratus (second century A.D.), not it is true a very trustworthy authority, states in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana, who visited India about 50 A.D., that Greek literature was held in high esteem by the Brahmans. Indian inscriptions mention Yavana or Greek girls sent to India as tribute, and Sanskrit authors, especially Kālidāsa, describe Indian princes as waited on by them. Professor Weber has even conjectured that the Indian god of love, Kāma, bears a dolphin (makara) in his banner, like the Greek Erōs, through the influence of Greek courtesans.
The existence of such conditions has induced Professor Weber to believe that the representations of Greek plays, which must have taken place at the courts of Greek princes in Bactria, in the Panjāb, and in Gujarat, suggested the drama to the Indians as a subject for imitation. This theory is supported by the fact that the curtain of the Indian stage is called yavanikā or the "Greek partition." Weber at the same time admits that there is no internal connection between the Indian and the Greek drama.
Professor Windisch, however, went further, and maintained such internal connection. It was, indeed, impossible for him to point out any affinity to the Greek tragedy, but he thought he could trace in the Mṛicchakaṭikā the influence of the new Attic comedy, which reached its zenith with Menander about 300 B.C. The points in which that play resembles this later Greek comedy are fewer and slighter in other Sanskrit dramas, and can easily be explained as independently developed in India. The improbability of the theory is emphasised by the still greater affinity of the Indian drama to that of Shakespeare. It is doubtful whether Greek plays were ever actually performed in India; at any rate, no references to such performances have been preserved. The earliest Sanskrit plays extant are, moreover, separated from the Greek period by at least four hundred years. The Indian drama has had a thoroughly national development, and even its origin, though obscure, easily admits of an indigenous explanation. The name of the curtain, yavanikā, may, indeed, be a reminiscence of Greek plays actually seen in India; but it is uncertain whether the Greek theatre had a curtain at all; in any case, it did not form the background of the stage.
It is a fact worth noting, that the beginning of one of the most famous of modern European dramas has been modelled on that of a celebrated Sanskrit play. The prelude of Çakuntalā suggested to Goethe the plan of the prologue on the stage in Faust, where the stage-manager, the merryandrew, and the poet converse regarding the play about to be performed (cf. p. 351). Forster's German translation of Kālidāsa's masterpiece appeared in 1791, and the profound impression it produced on Goethe is proved by the well-known epigram he composed on Çakuntalā in the same year. The impression was a lasting one; for the theatre prologue of Faust was not written till 1797, and as late as 1830 the poet thought of adapting the Indian play for the Weimar stage.
If in epic and dramatic poetry hardly any definite influences can be traced between India and the West, how different is the case in the domain of fables and fairy tales! The story of the migration of these from India certainly forms the most romantic chapter in the literary history of the world.
We know that in the sixth century A.D. there existed in India a Buddhist collection of fables, in which animals play the part of human beings (cf. p. 369). By the command of the Sassanian king, Khosru Anūshīrvān (531-579), this work was translated by a Persian physician named Barzoi into Pehlevī. Both this version and the unmodified original have been lost, but two early and notable translations from the Pehlevī have been preserved. The Syriac one was made about 570 A.D., and called Kalīlag and Damnag. A manuscript of it was found by chance in 1870, and, becoming known to scholars by a wonderful chapter of lucky accidents, was published in 1876. The Arabic translation from the Pehlevī, entitled Kalīlah and Dimnah, or "Fables of Pilpay," was made in the eighth century by a Persian convert to Islam, who died about 760 A.D. In this translation a wicked king is represented to be reclaimed to virtue by a Brahman philosopher named Bidbah, a word which has been satisfactorily traced through Pehlevī to the Sanskrit vidyāpati, "master of sciences," "chief scholar." From this bidbah is derived the modern Bidpai or Pilpay, which is thus not a proper name at all.
This Arabic version is of great importance, as the source of other versions which exercised very great influence in shaping the literature of the Middle Ages in Europe. These versions of it were the later Syriac (c. 1000 A.D.), the Greek (1180), the Persian (c. 1130), recast later (c. 1494) under the title of Anvār-i-Suhailī, or "Lights of Canopus," the old Spanish (1251), and the Hebrew one made about 1250.
The fourth stratum of translation is represented by John of Capua's rendering of the Hebrew version into Latin (c. 1270), entitled Directorium Humanæ Vitæ, which was printed about 1480.
From John of Capua's work was made, at the instance of Duke Eberhardt of Wurtemberg, the famous German version, Das Buch der Byspel der alten Wysen, or "Book of Apologues of the Ancient Sages," first printed about 1481. The fact that four dated editions appeared at Ulm between 1483 and 1485, and thirteen more down to 1592, is a sufficiently eloquent proof of the importance of this work as a means of instruction and amusement during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Directorium was also the source of the Italian version, printed at Venice in 1552, from which came the English translation of Sir Thomas North (1570). The latter was thus separated from the Indian original by five intervening translations and a thousand years of time.
It is interesting to note the changes which tales undergo in the course of such wanderings. In the second edition of his Fables (1678), La Fontaine acknowledges his indebtedness for a large part of his work to the Indian sage Pilpay. A well-known story in the French writer is that of the milkmaid, who, while carrying a pail of milk on her head to market, and building all kinds of castles in the air with the future proceeds of the sale of the milk, suddenly gives a jump of joy at the prospect of her approaching fortune, and thereby shatters the pail to pieces on the ground. This is only a transformation of a story still preserved in the Panchatantra. Here it is a Brahman who, having filled an alms-bowl with the remnants of some rice-pap he has begged, hangs it up on a nail in the wall above his bed. He dreams of the money he will procure by selling the rice when a famine breaks out. Then he will gradually acquire cattle, buy a fine house, and marry a beautiful girl with a rich dowry. One day when he calls to his wife to take away his son who is playing about, and she does not hear, he will rise up to give her a kick. As this thought passes through his mind, his foot shatters the alms-bowl, the contents of which are spilt all over him.
Another Panchatantra story recurring in La Fontaine is that of the too avaricious jackal. Finding the dead bodies of a boar and a hunter, besides the bow of the latter, he resolves on devouring the bowstring first. As soon as he begins to gnaw, the bow starts asunder, pierces his head, and kills him. In La Fontaine the jackal has become a wolf, and the latter is killed by the arrow shot off as he touches the bow.
Nothing, perhaps, in the history of the migration of Indian tales is more remarkable than the story of Barlaam and Josaphat. At the court of Khalif Almansur (753-774), under whom Kalīlah and Dimnah was translated into Arabic, there lived a Christian known as John of Damascus, who wrote in Greek the story of Barlaam and Josaphat as a manual of Christian theology. This became one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages, being translated into many Oriental as well as European languages. It is enlivened by a number of fables and parables, most of which have been traced to Indian sources. The very hero of the story, Prince Josaphat, has an Indian origin, being, in fact, no other than Buddha. The name has been shown to be a corruption of Bodhisattva, a well-known designation of the Indian reformer. Josaphat rose to the rank of a saint both in the Greek and the Roman Church, his day in the former being August 26, in the latter November 27. That the founder of an atheistic Oriental religion should have developed into a Christian saint is one of the most astounding facts in religious history.
Though Europe was thus undoubtedly indebted to India for its mediæval literature of fairy tales and fables, the Indian claim to priority of origin in ancient times is somewhat dubious. A certain number of apologues found in the collections of Æsop and Babrius are distinctly related to Indian fables. The Indian claim is supported by the argument that the relation of the jackal to the lion is a natural one in the Indian fable, while the connection of the fox and the lion in Greece has no basis in fact. On the other side it has been urged that animals and birds which are peculiar to India play but a minor part in Indian fables, while there exists a Greek representation of the Æsopian fable of the fox and the raven, dating from the sixth century B.C. Weber and Benfey both conclude that the Indians borrowed a few fables from the Greeks, admitting at the same time that the Indians had independent fables of their own before. Rudimentary fables are found even in the Chhāndogya Upanishad, and the transmigration theory would have favoured the development of this form of tale; indeed Buddha himself in the old Jātaka stories appears in the form of various animals.
Contemporaneously with the fable literature, the most intellectual game the world has known began its westward migration from India. Chess in Sanskrit is called chatur-anga, or the "four-limbed army," because it represents a kriegspiel, in which two armies, consisting of infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants, each led by a king and his councillor, are opposed. The earliest direct mention of the game in Sanskrit literature is found in the works of Bāṇa, and the Kāvyālaṃkāra of Rudraṭa, a Kashmirian poet of the ninth century, contains a metrical puzzle illustrating the moves of the chariot, the elephant, and the horse. Introduced into Persia in the sixth century, chess was brought by the Arabs to Europe, where it was generally known by 1100 A.D. It has left its mark on mediæval poetry, on the idioms of European languages (e.g. "check," from the Persian shah, "king"), on the science of arithmetic in the calculation of progressions with the chessboard, and even in heraldry, where the "rook" often figures in coats of arms. Beside the fable literature of India, this Indian game served to while away the tedious life of myriads during the Middle Ages in Europe.
Turning to Philosophical Literature, we find that the early Greek and Indian philosophers have many points in common. Some of the leading doctrines of the Eleatics, that God and the universe are one, that everything existing in multiplicity has no reality, that thinking and being are identical, are all to be found in the philosophy of the Upanishads and the Vedānta system, which is its outcome. Again, the doctrine of Empedocles, that nothing can arise which has not existed before, and that nothing existing can be annihilated, has its exact parallel in the characteristic doctrine of the Sānkhya system about the eternity and indestructibility of matter. According to Greek tradition, Thales, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus, and others undertook journeys to Oriental countries in order to study philosophy. Hence there is at least the historical possibility of the Greeks having been influenced by Indian thought through Persia.
Whatever may be the truth in the cases just mentioned, the dependence of Pythagoras on Indian philosophy and science certainly seems to have a high degree of probability. Almost all the doctrines ascribed to him, religious, philosophical, mathematical, were known in India in the sixth century B.C. The coincidences are so numerous that their cumulative force becomes considerable. The transmigration theory, the assumption of five elements, the Pythagorean theorem in geometry, the prohibition as to eating beans, the religio-philosophical character of the Pythagorean fraternity, and the mystical speculations of the Pythagorean school, all have their close parallels in ancient India. The doctrine of metempsychosis in the case of Pythagoras appears without any connection or explanatory background, and was regarded by the Greeks as of foreign origin. He could not have derived it from Egypt, as it was not known to the ancient Egyptians. In spite, however, of the later tradition, it seems impossible that Pythagoras should have made his way to India at so early a date, but he could quite well have met Indians in Persia.
Coming to later centuries, we find indications that the Neo-Platonist philosophy may have been influenced by the Sānkhya system, which flourished in the first centuries of our era, and could easily have become known at Alexandria owing to the lively intercourse between that city and India at the time. From this source Plotinus (204-269 A.D.), chief of the Neo-Platonists, may have derived his doctrine that soul is free from suffering, which belongs only to matter, his identification of soul with light, and his illustrative use of the mirror, in which the reflections of objects appear, for the purpose of explaining the phenomena of consciousness. The influence of the Yoga system on Plotinus is suggested by his requirement that man should renounce the world of sense and strive after truth by contemplation. Connection with Sānkhya ideas is still more likely in the case of Plotinus's most eminent pupil, Porphyry (232-304 A.D.), who lays particular stress on the difference between soul and matter, on the omnipresence of soul when freed from the bonds of matter, and on the doctrine that the world has no beginning. It is also noteworthy that he rejects sacrifice and prohibits the killing of animals.
The influence of Indian philosophy on Christian Gnosticism in the second and third centuries seems at any rate undoubted. The Gnostic doctrine of the opposition between soul and matter, of the personal existence of intellect, will, and so forth, the identification of soul and light, are derived from the Sānkhya system. The division, peculiar to several Gnostics, of men into the three classes of pneumatikoi, psychikoi, and hylikoi, is also based on the Sānkhya doctrine of the three guṇas. Again, Bardesanes, a Gnostic of the Syrian school, who obtained information about India from Indian philosophers, assumed the existence of a subtle ethereal body which is identical with the linga-çarīra of the Sānkhya system. Finally, the many heavens of the Gnostics are evidently derived from the fantastic cosmogony of later Buddhism.
With regard to the present century, the influence of Indian thought on the pessimistic philosophy of Schopenhauer and Von Hartmann is well known. How great an impression the Upanishads produced on the former, even in a second-hand Latin translation, may be inferred from his writing that they were his consolation in life and would be so in death.
In Science, too, the debt of Europe to India has been considerable. There is, in the first place, the great fact that the Indians invented the numerical figures used all over the world. The influence which the decimal system of reckoning dependent on those figures has had not only on mathematics, but on the progress of civilisation in general, can hardly be over-estimated. During the eighth and ninth centuries the Indians became the teachers in arithmetic and algebra of the Arabs, and through them of the nations of the West. Thus, though we call the latter science by an Arabic name, it is a gift we owe to India.
In Geometry the points of contact between the Çulva Sūtras and the work of the Greeks are so considerable, that, according to Cantor, the historian of mathematics, borrowing must have taken place on one side or the other. In the opinion of that authority, the Çulva Sūtras were influenced by the Alexandrian geometry of Hero (215 B.C.), which, he thinks, came to India after 100 B.C. The Çulva Sūtras are, however, probably far earlier than that date, for they form an integral portion of the Çrauta Sūtras, and their geometry is a part of the Brahmanical theology, having taken its rise in India from practical motives as much as the science of grammar. The prose parts of the Yajurvedas and the Brāhmaṇas constantly speak of the arrangement of the sacrificial ground and the construction of altars according to very strict rules, the slightest deviation from which might cause the greatest disaster. It is not likely that the exclusive Brahmans should have been willing to borrow anything closely connected with their religion from foreigners.
Of Astronomy the ancient Indians had but slight independent knowledge. It is probable that they derived their early acquaintance with the twenty-eight divisions of the moon's orbit from the Chaldeans through their commercial relations with the Phœnicians. Indian astronomy did not really begin to flourish till it was affected by that of Greece; it is indeed the one science in which undoubtedly strong Greek influence can be proved. The debt which the native astronomers always acknowledge they owe to the Yavanas is sufficiently obvious from the numerous Greek terms in Indian astronomical writings. Thus, in Varāha Mihira's Horā-çāstra the signs of the zodiac are enumerated either by Sanskrit names translated from the Greek or by the original Greek names, as Āra for Ares, Heli for Hēlios, Jyau for Zeus. Many technical terms were directly borrowed from Greek works, as kendra for kentron, jāmitra for diametron. Some of the very names of the oldest astronomical treatises of the Indians indicate their Western origin. Thus the Romaka-siddhānta means the "Roman manual." The title of Varāha Mihira's Horā-çāstra contains the Greek word hōrā.
In a few respects, however, the Indians independently advanced astronomical science further than the Greeks themselves, and at a later period they in their turn influenced the West even in astronomy. For in the eighth and ninth centuries they became the teachers of the Arabs in this science also. The siddhāntas (Arabic Sind Hind), the writings of Āryabhaṭa (called Arjehīr), and the Ahargaṇa (Arkand), attributed to Brahmagupta, were translated or adapted by the Arabs, and Khalifs of Bagdad repeatedly summoned Indian astronomers to their court to supervise this work. Through the Arabs, Indian astronomy then migrated to Europe, which in this case only received back in a roundabout way what it had given long before. Thus the Sanskrit word uchcha, "apex of a planet's orbit," was borrowed in the form of aux (gen. aug-is) in Latin translations of Arabic astronomers.
After Bhāskara (twelfth century), Hindu astronomy, ceasing to make further progress, became once more merged in the astrology from which it had sprung. It was now the turn of the Arabs, and, by a strange inversion of things, an Arabic writer of the ninth century who had written on Indian astronomy and arithmetic, in this period became an object of study to the Hindus. The old Greek terms remained, but new Arabic ones were added as the necessity for them arose.
The question as to whether Indian Medical Science in its earlier period was affected by that of the Greeks cannot yet be answered with certainty, the two systems not having hitherto been compared with sufficient care. Recently, however, some close parallels have been discovered between the works of Hippocrates and Charaka (according to a Chinese authority, the official physician of King Kanishka), which render Greek influence before the beginning of our era likely.
On the other hand, the effect of Hindu medical science upon the Arabs after about 700 A.D. was considerable, for the Khalifs of Bagdad caused several books on the subject to be translated. The works of Charaka and Suçruta (probably not later than the fourth century A.D.) were rendered into Arabic at the close of the eighth century, and are quoted as authorities by the celebrated Arabic physician Al-Razi, who died in 932 A.D. Arabic medicine in its turn became the chief authority, down to the seventeenth century, of European physicians. By the latter Indian medical authors must have been thought highly of, for Charaka is repeatedly mentioned in the Latin translations of the Arab writers Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā), Rhazes (Al-Razi), and Serapion (Ibn Sarāfyūn). In modern days European surgery has borrowed the operation of rhinoplasty, or the formation of artificial noses, from India, where Englishmen became acquainted with the art in the last century.
We have already seen that the discovery of the Sanskrit language and literature led, in the present century, to the foundation of the two new sciences of Comparative Mythology and Comparative Philology. Through the latter it has even affected the practical school-teaching of the classical languages in Europe. The interest in Buddhism has already produced an immense literature in Europe. Some of the finest lyrics of Heine, and works like Sir Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia, to mention only a few instances, have drawn their inspiration from Sanskrit poetry. The intellectual debt of Europe to Sanskrit literature has thus been undeniably great; it may perhaps become greater still in the years that are to come.