Plato's Cave Allegory - Poem by RAJ NANDY
PLATO’S CAVE ALLEGORY
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
Of various images of moving life forms!
Illuminated by a burning fire from behind,
A silhouette continuous show on the walls they
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
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
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
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,
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
- 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!)
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