In his seventh book of the famous ‘Republic’,
Plato narrates his cave allegory!
Plight of those prisoners inside the cave,
With their head fixed and limbs all chained!
They could only see the shadows on the front
cave wall,
Of various images of moving life forms!
Illuminated by a burning fire from behind,
A silhouette continuous show on the walls they
could find!
But when a prisoner breaks through, to face the
sunlight of enlightenment outside,
He momentarily remains blinded by its light!
He rushes back to tell others about ‘true reality’,
But they get angered hearing about his newly
acquired discovery!
Preferring the ignorance of the cave, taking those
shadows for truth, -
As their real life story!


Plato’s allegory of the cave is not a spiritual
But about the process of acquiring knowledge
and learning!
Those ‘prisoners’ in the cave represents society,
The ‘fire’ burning behind, - their imperfect
knowledge and idiocy!
The dazzling ‘sun’ outside the cave - as true
enlightenment, - ‘the good’,
For all philosophers seeking ‘true knowledge’ as
they always should!
And those ‘chains’ are the fetters of our mind, -
Our ignorance, prejudices and inhibitions, all
of mental kind!
About which those ‘chained prisoners’ had not the
slightest notion,
And Plato narrates his philosophic views without
Plato’s ‘sun’ represents his ‘ideal forms’, his
concept of ‘ultimate good’,
Which centuries later St Augustine, -
Interpreted as God divine!
Which the medieval world finally understood!


Look at our society today, being led astray,
By commercialized men and greedy politicians,
With their narrow parochial and vested interests!
Let us also not try to grab all things all at once, -
Which our parents and elders in the past,
And taken years to build, to make things last!
With plethora of ‘tempting loans’ and materialistic
Aping those ‘advanced nations’ may only lead to
bad debts one day!
Let us not take those ‘shadowy images’ for truth;
With resilience of mind, our spiritual bindings,
and fortitude!
Remember that all seekers of truth and enlightenment -
since centuries past,
Have been cursed, imprisoned, killed or despised!
Yet seekers of truth shall forever seek to find,
And dare to show the righteous path - to our
misguided mankind!
- Raj Nandy
- New Delhi
- 28 Oct 08

(Having read the various academic interpretations
of Plato’s ‘cave allegory’, I added my own
in Part –III! Wishing all readers a Happy Diwali!)

Submitted: Monday, October 27, 2008

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Comments about this poem (PLATO'S CAVE ALLEGORY by RAJ NANDY )

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  • Vidi Writes (1/13/2009 6:23:00 AM)

    I had heard about Socrates and Platos
    But never read whats there inside
    This poem is really a starter
    The words flow like a stream
    The rythum so accurate
    Cultivated enormous plea
    Forever to get obliged
    To
    'Myth of the Cave'
    Composing Truth of
    Life and Knowledge.

    Dear Poet... wonderful write.
    Keeping writing this way...
    Enlightening way. (Report) Reply

  • Seema Aarella (10/28/2008 4:43:00 AM)

    thank you for introducing me to plato's concept, i will certainly fall back on this topic and contemplate...because it has very deep thoughts and wisdom, that concretise a saying 'we can wake the sleeping folk but cannot wake those who are pretending sleep'.
    i am glad that i know you...your works are an asset to the society. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 29 Points Sathyanarayana M V S (10/28/2008 1:40:00 AM)

    Raj Sahab,
    This is a very inspiring piece/narration. Really we are all so thankful to you for this favour.......... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 29 Points Mamta Agarwal (10/28/2008 12:55:00 AM)

    Raj, you have the gift of enlightening me with your poetic renderings of great works, how true, in fact you have said everything that needs to be said. wisdom, truth that we all seek, but are unable to see right in front of our eyes. thanks Raj, for sharing your understandind of the paradox of life.

    Happy Diwali (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 29 Points Joseph Poewhit (10/28/2008 12:48:00 AM)

    Some say ignorance is bliss. BUT, its mans nature since the cave man, bosses & leaders sit inside and the hunters outside killing dragons. SO, the leaders are ignorant. CASTLES & kings and queens. Today big corps. - etc.? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (Report) Reply

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