That Pythagoras was the father of trigonometry is known to every highschooler .The sum of squares of two sides of a right angled triangle equals the square of the hypotenuse – forms the cardinal rule and the foundation of trigonometry . However , do you know what Pythagoras was most famous for , in the times in which he lived ? Take a guess. You would be surprised .
It was his theory of heredity trying to explain the likeness of children with their parents . Seeing reality through his triangle shaped lenses – Pythogoras in 530 BC postulated that just as the hypotenuse can be derived from the two side – children and their characteristics were also arithmetically derived from parents – nature from the father and nurture from the mother . The theory eventually called “Spermism” stated that male semen was like a “traveling library” which took secret instructions from the bones and the brain and every other part of the body and then at the time of conception the semen transitioned this library of information to the mother .
The mother was like an intravenous bag of nutrients nurturing the fetus but not adding anything of its own . This meant mothers were nothing more than glorified human incubators- and as such strangers to their children. Fathers on the other hand determined exactly how the children shaped up . .This theory is at the basis of the most unique defenses in history of matricide -in the historically famous play Eumenides written in 458 BC a few years after Pythagoras’s death .Apollo chosen to defend the Greek Prince of Argos -Orestes in his murder trial for killing his own mother argues that -his mother was a stranger to him . The same theory ,by the way , echoes even a century later in Plato’s most influential work – The Republic .
It was Aristotle – who although not a champion of women’s rights – raised the self evident questions like – how is female anatomy explained by the travelling library of a male sperm – who slowly dismantled this most widely accepted theory of heredity.
For hundreds of years the most ridiculous and clearly illogical theory of heredity was the most socially accepted one . The society too was patrilineal, so, it is easy to see why the theory was never questioned .However , that does make a point – it is hard to see beyond our accepted beliefs or in other words conditioning – even for the most accomplished of thinkers .
Changing and challenging accepted beliefs isn’t easy . Even identifying our own limiting beliefs is very tough. These limiting notions keep us in our own shells surrounded by the high walls of our”beliefs” (which are not really our own ) and don’t allow us to see reality as it is . For instance , in my previous post I thought by expecting “dowry” Piyush’s parents were being greedy , regressive and immoral . But for them dowry was an accepted practice that ensured financial stability of the newly married couple .Till the time I saw their actions through the lens of my above belief(that they were greedy etc) – I could never connect with them or with Piyush. But the moment I let go of the thought – I could find a connect . Similarly, they too had to change their beliefs about me, about love marriages and dowry which wasn’t easy but once they thought about it and accepted that it may not be the universal truth – they could extend a warm welcome to me .
Also very rarely is there a time-less and universal truth behind any belief . Social truths keep changing . Whereas it may have taken centuries to challenge views on Spermism – it took a few decades to flip – flop views on if consuming “ghee” is healthy . Desi ghee was considered nutritious until hydrogenated vegetable oils such as Dalda made it uncool and unhealthy. The newspapers were flooded with research on ghee causing heart issues and arterial blockage .Doctors and the health industry vouched for hydrogenated vegetable oils being the healthy alternatives . A couple of decades down the line ghee is back in fashion and back to being recommended as a part of a healthy diet by fashionable dietitians . Bottomline -in most cases there is no absolute truth and its just a question of the current social belief and our own perspective .
Therefore, to change the belief we just need to change our perspective . So, how do we react when we meet someone who has a diametrically opposite view or a different perspective ? Listening with an open mind may help us expand the horizons of our own mind and thinking . On the other hand jumping in to defend our own view vociferously -which is typically our default response – keeps us where we are – in our own shells.
Reading is a great way to change our perspective without being challenged by anyone . The thoughts and stories of the authors permeate our consciousness subtly and force us to think beyond our limited world and we don’t have to get defensive about our views .
In os.me the different perspectives on everything under the sun have definitely fostered me in richer perspective and have forced me to examine my own thinking and change my thought process dramatically . Os.me started as the fountain of knowledge and wisdom – coming from Swami ji’s posts – filled with divine nectar. In the last year os.me has featured everything – from posts that make you laugh till your stomach aches( a lot thanks to Meera Om) to those that make you cry(the endurance of Siddhika Umesh ji has brought so many tears) to those which strum so subtly the strings of your heart and immerse your mind totally in the story (Rohinee Karmakar is a master of these).
There are articles of profound wisdom( Sushree Diya Om ji ,Akshay Iyer , Ravi Trivedi , Niranjan Seshadri pen such amazing stories ) and those rich in practical knowledge (Hetal Sonpal so generously shares his experiences). Interpretation of the Bhagvadgita was the realm of old philosophers until it was taken over young adults and kids such as Rishi Sridhar on os.me. While the posts of Sushree Diya ji kept me on the edge of the seat – always waiting for more – the depth of thought and experience was simply astounding . The poetry of Sadhvi Vrinda ji , seeped in devotion brings to life so many emotions as does the Tandaav Shrinkhala of Sadhvi Shraddha ji . Divya Om Manoharan and ,Kirtee Om writings always cast a spell.
Everyday , waiting to read this treasure trove of wisdom , fun , devotion , kindness , inspiration , motivation , life hacks , weight loss formulas and delicious recipes makes me wake up with anticipation and welcome the day with a new perspective . My views were not always aligned but reading and re – reading some of the posts made me re look at some of my own limiting thoughts and broke down a lot of resistance in me . A big thank you to the os.me heros – and to the editorial team (especially Medhashri ji)for making this platform not just the kindest and the most authentic but also the most vibrant , fun and inspiring one . Truly personifying the credo of – Live . Love . Laugh. Give
Sources : 1. The Gene – an intimate history – Siddhartha Mukherjee
2. The Greek Classics – Aeschylus – Seven Plays