I argued against. I won both the prizes. Against, I won the first prize; for, I won the second prize. And I told the vice-chancellor, “Look, what do you say now? Of course when I was arguing for somebody else then I did my best. When I was arguing for myself, I knew perfectly well that I was going to be first, so who bothers? But I am neither for nor against; I am absolutely neutral. It is just a game, and you are taking it so seriously.”
That’s what Socrates did in Greece. And because of Socrates…a single man’s understanding, experience, awareness condemned the whole development of sophistry – and it was almost a one thousand year-old development. And they were very respected people: kings would send their princes to learn sophistry. The function of the master was to teach how you can argue from any side and yet win. He was not concerned about truth, the concern was winning, conquering. Socrates condemned sophistry; he said that your approach should not be for conquering, for winning. Your approach should be to know the truth. You are using even the name of truth to fulfill your ego desire.
But in India, the same sophistry continues even today. Of course it is not called sophistry. The word was beautiful; it comes from sophia – sophia means wisdom. It was not wisdom. What was happening in the name of wisdom was just stupidity – good to play a game, but not to find out and seek the truth.
The sophist was respected before Socrates, but after Socrates the very word became so condemned. And Socrates proved it so basically and finally, that after him, in the West, that game completely stopped. Philosophers continued to argue, but argument was not to win but to discover, and this is a totally different attitude.
But in India it has continued even today. Still there are jagatgurus – jagatguru means world teacher; the world teacher is simply a translation of jagatguru. And you will be surprised that there are many world teachers in India. Every shankaracharya is a world teacher because the original Shankaracharya was really a sophist. He went around the country one thousand years ago and defeated all the known, respected philosophers, scholars – anybody who had any claim to know he defeated – from one corner to another corner. His disciples wrote the book Shankara Digvijaya, Shankara’s World Conquest. But that was their world. He conquered Buddhists, Jainas, atheists, and different interpreters of the Vedas, and he became the most famous world teacher. And the world knows nothing about him.
But just like a frog in a small well thinks that that is the whole world, for Shankara India was the whole world. Outside India the people were not really human beings. The condemnation in Shankara’s mind was the same as that which India has carried for ten thousand years: whoever lives outside India is subhuman; India is the chosen race, the Aryans.