Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BCE) was a Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of the Pythagoreanism movement. He appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a seal engraver on the island of Samos.
His political and religious teachings were well-known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy.
The teaching most securely identified with Pythagoras is metempsychosis, or the ‘transmigration of souls’, which holds that every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. He may have also devised the doctrine of musica universalis, which holds that the planets move according to mathematical equations and thus resonate to produce an inaudible symphony of music.
The Pythagorean theorem was known and used by the Babylonians and Indians centuries before Pythagoras, but it is possible that he may have been the first one to introduce it to the Greeks.
Modern scholars agree that, in around 530 BCE, he travelled to Croton, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. Following Croton’s decisive victory over Sybaris in around 510 BCE, Pythagoras’s followers came into conflict with supporters of democracy and Pythagorean meeting houses were burned.
By the time Pythagoras came back [from many years of traveling], he was a very old man. But seekers gathered around him; a great school was born. And, as it always happens, the society started persecuting him and his school and his disciples. His whole life he searched for the perennial philosophy, and he had found it! He gathered all the fragments into a tremendous harmony, into a great unity. But he was not allowed to work it out in detail; to teach people he was not allowed.
He was persecuted from one place to another. Many attempts were made on his life. It was almost impossible for him to teach all that he had gathered. And his treasure was immense – in fact, nobody else has ever had such a treasure as he had. But this is how foolish humanity is, and has always been. This man had done something impossible: he had bridged East and West. He was the first bridge. He had come to know the Eastern mind as deeply as the Western mind.
[…] Pythagoras was the first man to try the impossible, and he succeeded! In him, East and West became one. In him, yin and yang became one. In him, male and female became one. He was an ardhanarishwar – a total unity of the polar opposites. Shiva and Shakti together. Intellect of the highest caliber and intuition of the deepest caliber. Pythagoras is a peak, a sunlit peak, and a deep, dark valley too. It is a very rare combination.
But his whole life’s effort was destroyed by the stupid people, by the mediocre masses. These few verses are the only contribution left. These verses can be written on one postcard. This is all that is left of that great man’s effort, endeavour. And this too is not written by his own hand; it seems all that he had written was destroyed.
The day Pythagoras died, thousands of his disciples were massacred and burnt. Only one disciple escaped the school; his name was Lysis. And he escaped, not to save his life – he escaped just to save something of the Master’s teachings. These Golden Verses of Pythagoras were written by Lysis, the only disciple who survived.
The whole school was burnt, and thousands of disciples were simply murdered and butchered. And all that Pythagoras had accumulated on his journeys – great treasures, great scriptures from China, India, Tibet, Egypt, years and years of work – all was burnt.
Osho, Philosophia Perennis, Vol 1, Ch 1 (excerpt)
Read full discourse: osho.com/iosho/library