In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.(Apollonius Tyanaeus, Greek thinker and traveller, 1st century AD)
Eusebius of Caesarea in his Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel, tr. E.H. Gifford 1903), Book 11, ch. 3 says:Now Aristoxenus the Musician says that this argument comes from the Indians: for a certain man of that nation fell in with Socrates at Athens, and presently asked him, what he was doing in philosophy: and when he said, that he was studying human life, the Indian laughed at him, and said that no one could comprehend things human, if he were ignorant of things divine.
Another quote is from Severus Sebokht about science in ancient India from “The Wonder That Was India, A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent Before the Coming of the Muslims”, by A.L. Basham, Reader in the History of India in the University of London, Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1954, repr. 1961:
In 662 AD he wrote concerning the new numerals, which were moving West and were to become what we know as ‘Arabic’ numerals:
I will omit all discussion of the science of the Indians, … , of their subtle discoveries in astronomy, discoveries that are more ingenious than those of the Greeks and the Babylonians, and of their valuable methods of calculation which surpass description. I wish only to say that this computation is done by means of nine signs. If those who believe, because they speak Greek, that they have arrived at the limits of science, would read the Indian texts, they would be convinced, even if a little late in the day, that there are others who know something of value.
Vedic culture originates in the spiritual world and in prehistory it was spread practically all over this planet (and others). Later these locations were gradually cut off and developed, or rather degraded. Thus came divisions, conversions, fanaticism, suppression and even terrorism. Replacing religion with secularism as was done in the West is not a solution in a long run because such society without higher rules (dharma) quickly degrades and is opposed by hardline religions like Islam. It can be done by knowledge of origin of all spirituality – the One and Only God who revealed His laws to various people in various places, times and circumstances. This accounts for some differences but the ultimate goal of life in all religious traditions is the same – to reconnect to God by following His laws.
When we look for various archeological, literary, astronomical and other ancient records with knowledge of Vedic culture, we find that ancient world looked a lot different than present history books potray. Great civilizations around the world shared common knowledge of Vedic influence. The earliest outsider account of India comes from Megasthenes in his Indika. and here.
“Vaisnavism, Catholic Christianity, Pure Land Buddhism and sattvic theistic Saivism are not four different salvific devotional traditions with four different competing savior-gods invented by different races or cultures. They are four different regional developments of the same tradition with one Godhead, and one savior, Lord Baladeva, worshiped in a variety of Visnu (Baal-Yahu, Lokesvara) and Siva forms. They are four forms of worship of the first person of the Godhead, through, with, in, and by the same second person. They are four traditions which are all inspired by the same Holy Spirit.”(Bhakti Ananda Goswami, February 26, 2002)Collected Works of Sri Bhakti Ananda Goswami.
Evidence of colonization of Egypt-
people from India using Indus Valley area started migrating and taking culture of Sanskrit to Mekran, Oman, Yemen and Ethiopia ,Nubia and Egypt.
Per Max Muller,the mythology of Egyptians is wholly founded on Vedic traditions.
Eusebius, a Greek writer, has also recorded that the early Ethiopians emigrated from the Indus river and first settled in the vicinity of Egypt.
Louis Jacolliot (1837-1890), who worked in French India as a government official and was at one time President of the Court in Chandranagar, translated numerous Vedic hymns, the Manusmriti, and the Tamil work, Kural says: “With such congruence before us, no one, I imagine, will appear to contest the purely Hindu origin of Egypt.
Friedrich Wilhelm, Freiherr von Bissing (1873-1956), wrote in Prehistorische Topfen aus Indien and Aegypten: “The land of Punt in the Egyptian ethnological traditions has been identified by the scholars with the Malabar coast of Deccan. From this land ebony, and other rich woods, incense, balsam, precious metals, etc. used to be imported into Egypt.”
As mentioned in Periplus of The Erythreans by W.H. Schoff, Colonel Speake says: “All our previous information, concerning the hydrography of these regions, originated with the ancient Hindus, who told it to the priests of the Nile; and all these busy Egyptian geographers, who disseminated their knowledge .The Hindu traders had a firm basis to stand upon through their intercourse with the Abyssinians. Colonel Rigby now gave me a most interesting paper, with a map attached to it, about the Nile and the Mountains of the Moon. Lieutenant Wilford wrote it, from the “Purans” of the Ancient Hindus. As it exemplifies, to a certain extent, the supposition I formerly arrived at concerning the Mountains of the Moon being associated with the country of the Moon, I would fain draw the attention of the reader of my travels to the volume of the Asiatic Researches in which it was published. It is remarkable that the Hindus have christened the source of the Nile Amara, which is the name of a country at the north-east corner of the Victoria N’yanza. This, I think, shows clearly, that the ancient Hindus must have had some kind of communication with both the northern and southern ends of the Victoria N’yanza.”
Let pioneer Indologist and Sanskritist Sir William Jones conclude in Asiatic Researches, Volume I: “Of the cursory observations on the Hindus, which it would require volumes to expand and illustrate, this is the result, that they had an immemorial affinity with the old Persians, Ethiopians and Egyptians, the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Tuscans, the Scythians, or Goths, and Celts, the Chinese, Japanese, and Peruvians.” – Grandpa’s blessings
An article published in the ‘Hindu’ of 27th Sept. 1985 about the discovery made by Dr. Harry Fell, renowned epigraphist of USA goes to suggest that the early merchant settlers of South-East Asia had sailed to far off lands in pursuit of their profession, whose presence in Mexico is available in the form of inscriptions. Dr. Fell has deciphered the Indic inscription from Tihosuco which reads that merchant Vusaluna, the captain of the ship, sailing along the coast line, had got the inscription engraved on the stone slab in the month of July of the year 845. It is assumed that year mentioned is of Saka era.Right from the period of first Spanish historian Mr. Fray Shahaun (1515 AD) till today a number of scholars have worked over the life of native Americans and some of them came to the conclusion that in ancient times people from India and the Indian archipelago migrated to America and developed a great civilization there. In his book ‘A Compact History of Mexico’ Mr. Ignacio Bernall states that people from Asia entered America some thirty-five thousand years before, whereas Mr. Arcio Nuns, a Brazilian nuclear scientist, mentions about the Dravidians of Asia with America as old as eleven thousand years.
Worship – The archaeologists found many Hindu deities like Shiva, Shiva linga, Ganesh, Kali, Sun, Buddha etc. (in similar or slightly different forms) which were worshiped in ancient America. The Hindu God of luck, Ganesh, was worshiped in Central-South America. Images of Ganesh have been excavated in plenty in Mexico. This god with the elephant’s trunk is frequently depicted in Mexican manuscripts and in the temple ruins in Central America as the god with a proboscis-like horn, whence water is squirting and his head is most frequently portrayed on the corners of temple walls, which are always built with reference to the original points. And image of ‘Ekadant Ganesh’ was noticed in the temple at Kopan by great Indologist late Dr. W.S. Wakankar.
An image of Hanuman called by the name ‘Wilka Huemana’ and measuring 50 feet in height and 12 feet in breadth was found in Guatemala. Similar one was found during an excavation of an Aztec temple in Mexico City and was known as ‘Euhectal’, a wind God, a monkey God.
Buddhism also had a vast influence on pre-Colombian America. Professor F.W. Putnam found in the jungles of Honduras a sculpture which greatly resembles Buddha. According to the July, 1901 issue of American Harper’s Magazine, it has been proved with evidence that five Buddhist monks had reached Mexico in ancient times, via Alaska.
Ceremonies, Beliefs and Customs:
Hindu culture, civilization, custom and belief also dominated ancient America to some extent. Ancient Americans believed in legendary cataclysm, rebirth, four yugas and the concept of two planets like Rahu and Ketu causing solar eclipse. The Hindu doctrine of the ages is preserved in a stone monolith popularly known as the Aztec calendar. This remarkable piece of stone carving is in the form of an immense disc 12 feet in diameter and weights over 20 tons. A festival called Sita-Ram (Situa-Raimi) was celebrated in Mexico during Nav-Ratri or Dussehra period which has been described on page 5867 in the book ‘Hamsworth History of the World’. Both in Central and South America, there are found Sati cremation, priesthood, gurukul system, yajna, birth, marriage and death ceremonies to some extent similar to the Hindus.
The ancient American’s dresses (male and female) were simple and similar to those of Hindu dresses. Mexican face types were found to be similar to those of Assam, Naga, Nepal and Haryana people. Even their reddish brown skin complexion bears distinct similarity with those of Nepalis and Nagas. If an Indian is shown a Maya lady of Yucatan province from Mexico, he will recognize her as a Jat Lady of Haryana. Ayar Inoa King used to wear a turban, earring and a trishul type trident in his hand.
Today native Indians of America live in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico who number only few lacs (lac = 100,000). These tribes are still vegetarians. Similarly, only two lacs natives are survived in Canada who are still called as ‘Indians’. Their lifestyle, customs, and beliefs are similar to Bharatiya people.
Goldsmiths from Peru and Mexico prevailed working style similar to Indian traditional goldsmiths. Mr. Michael Long of the National Geographic Society was surprised to see the back strap weaving method in handloom at Santa Rosa of Peru. This is used to separate thread. It is very well known that cotton is a gift given by Indians to the whole world.
Professor Raman Mena, curator of the National Museum of Mexico, said that the general appearance of Maya’s writing is considered of oriental origin. According to scholar Orozco V. Berra, Maya and other languages are of Sanskrit origin. A few Sanskrit and Quichua words are given here to show their similarity and origin.
A hina (also) ena (also)
Killa (moon) Kil (shining)
Illapi (chant) lap (to speak)
Paksa (fortnight) Paksha (fortnight)
The word ‘Wara’, a unit of measurement, was also used by Maya people. They used to call Antyas as Antis. Professor Hug Fox of Michigan State University found a strange mix of Tamil and local American languages in use some millennia ago. For example, shasta, Indiana, Arevada, Utah, Guyana etc. Mr. Arcio Nuns from the Federal University of Brazil found evidence of our Gorani language in the form of Bruhi language during his long research work conducted in South America. ‘Gorani’ language was practiced thousands of years before in Tamilnadu as per Arcio Nuns. This language is still used in the Adi-Chandlur tribal area of Tamilnadu and shows similarity to the Bruhi language being practiced in South America.
It is also believed that Quichua’s (language of Peruvians) characteristic of mouth transmission is derived from Indians. Writing mathematical figures by using vertical and horizontal straight lines was a system commonly practiced by Indians and Mayas.
Southern and Central American excavations revealed many archaeological similarity with Indian sculptural monuments. ‘Supporting the buildings over the arms of Yaksha’ is an Indian art. Similar types of construction was found in ancient Mexico. Similarly, sculptures of human figures with headgear similar to Tamils, sculptures of Indian style ornamentation of elephants were found in Kopan (Honduras) and Palenque. Thousands of ancient baked-clay bricks were found in Comalcalco in Mexico over which Pali scripts were engraved and these were used in the construction of pyramid temples which were similar to the pyramid temple in the Chidambaram village situated on the Coromandel coast in Southern India. In an article written by scholar Ronald Shiller named ‘Unsolved Mysteries of the Incas’ (published in Reader’s Digest of August 1982) he claims to have seen the imprints of South-East Asian culture over the sculptures found in Peru dating to the second century BC.
Vedic Roots of Ancient America
Baffling Links to Ancient India:
The landing of Columbus in 1492 undoubtedly created a new life ,killing of aboriginal Indians and conversion of the continents, but it was never a discovery of a new world. Many centuries ago Asian migrants had come to the western shore in substantial numbers.
Hindus and Hopis, Advaitins and Aztecs, Tibetan Monks and Mayans were part of one world culture – a spiritual one?
Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), an eminent European scholar and anthropologist, was one of the first to postulate the Asiatic origin of the Indian civilizations of the Americas.
The first Maya Empire had been founded in Guatemala at about the beginning of the Christian era. Before the fall of Rome the Mayas were charting accurately the synodical revolutions of Venus and whilst Europe was still lingering in the Dark Ages the Maya civilization had reached a peak of greatness.
It is significant that the zenith of Maya civilization was reached at a time when India had also attained an unparalleled cultural peak during the Gupta period. Indian cultural intercourse with Southeast Asia, the Gupta period, had begun more than a century before the Mayan classical age in 320 and Buddhism and Hinduism had been well known in neighboring countries for centuries.
The most important development of the ancient American or Asiomerican culture took place in the south of the United States, in Mexico, in central America and in Peru. The early history of Asiomericans is shrouded in mystery and controversy due to the absence of definitive documentary evidence, which was destroyed by the European conquerors in their misguided religious zeal. [note: A well-known account of this history comes from Bartolome de las Casas.]
However, it appears that after the discovery of introduction of maize into Mexico, Asiomericans no longer had to wander about in search of food. Men in America, as in other parts of the world, settled down to cultivate food and culture, a by-product of agricultural life, inevitably followed.
Of the Asiomerican civilizations, the best known are the Maya, the Toltec, the Aztec, and the Inca. The Mayas were possibly the earliest people to found a civilization there; they moved from the Mexican plateau into Guatemala. They were later pushed out, presumably by the Toltecs, who, in turn were dislodged by the Aztecs.
Baron Alexander Von Humboldt, whilst visiting Mexico, found similarities between Asian and Mexican astrology. He founded systematic study of ancient American cultures and was convinced of the Asian origin of the American-Indian high civilization. He said:
“If languages supply but feeble evidence of ancient communication between the two worlds, their communication is fully proved by the cosmogonies, the monuments, the hieroglyphical characters and the institutions of the people of America and Asia.”
In 1866, the French architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, also noted striking resemblances between ancient Mexican structures and those of South India.
Scholars were also greatly impressed by the similarity between the Hindu Trinity – Brahma-Visnu-Shiva and the Mexican Trinity Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc as well as thelikeness between Indian temples and American pyramids. The parallels between the Hindu Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trinity and the Mexican Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc Trinity and the resemblances between the attributes of certain Hindu deities and those of the Mayan pantheon are impressive. Discussing the diffusion of Indian religions to Mexico, a recent scholar Paul Kirchhoff has even suggested that it is not simply a question of miscellaneous influences wandering from one country to the other, but that China, India, Java and Mexico actually share a common system.”
Kirchhoff has sought “to demonstrate that a calendaric classification of 28 Hindu gods and their animals into twelve groups, subdivided into four blocks, within each of which we find a sequence of gods and animals representing Creation, Destruction and Renovation, and which can be shown to have existed both in India and Java, must have been carried from the Old World to the New, since in Mexico we find calendaric lists of gods and animals that follow each other without interruption in the same order and with attributes and functions or meanings strikingly similar to those of the 12 Indian and Javanese groups of gods, showing the same four subdivisions.”
B. Taylor also found the counterparts of the tortoise myth of India in ancient America.
Donald A. Mackenzie and other scholars, however, are of definite opinion that the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians were familiar with Indian mythology and cite in support close parallels in details. For instance, the history of the Mayan elephant symbol cannot be traced in the local tradition, whereas it was a prominent religious symbol in India. The African elephant has larger ears. It is the profile of the Indian elephant, its tusk and lower lip, the form of its ear, as well as its turbaned rider with his ankus, which is found in Meso-American models. Whilst the African elephant was of little religious significance, it had been tamed in India and associated with religious practices since the early days.
– the universe was destroyed four consecutive times – is reminiscent of the Indian Yugas. Even the reputed colors of these mythical four ages, white, yellow, red and black are identical with and in the same order as one of the two versions of the Indian Yugas. In both myths the duration of the First Age is exactly the same, 4,800 divine years. The Mexican Trinity is associated with this doctrine as in the Hindu Trinity with the Yugas in India.
Later, two English scholars Channing Arnold and Frederick J. Tabor Frost, in their The American Egypt, made a detailed examination of the transpacific contacts, reinforcing the view of Buddhist influences on Central America. The most recent and by far the most systematic well-reasoned, and effective case has been advanced by the eminent archaeologist, R. Heine-Geldern and Gordon Ekholm, who favor Indian and Southeast Asian cultural influences on ancient America through migration across the Pacific.
According to the Mayan calendar, which is extant, the time record of the Mayas began on 6 August 613 B.C. It is an exact date based upon intricated astronomical calculations and prolonged observations. To work out this kind of elaborate calendar must have taken well over two thousand years of studying stars and the Asiomericans must have been remarkably shrewd observers.
Use of Zero
The Mayas of Yucatan were the first people besides the Indians to use a zero sign and represent number values by the position of basic symbols. The similarity between the Indian zero and the Mayan zero is indeed striking. So far as the logical principle is concerned, the two are identical, but the expressions of the principle are dissimilar. Again, whilst the Indian system of notation was decimal, as was the European, the Mayan was vigesimal. Consequently, their 100 stood for 400, 1000 stood for 8000, 1234 for 8864. While the place of zero in the respective systems of the Indians and Mayans is different, the underlying principle and method are the same and the common origin of the Mayan and Indian zeros appears to be undoubted. Disputes continue amongst scholars in the absence of conclusive evidence. As chronological evidence stands today, the Mayan zero appears to be anterior by several centuries to its Hindu counterpart.
In 1949, two scholars, Gordon Ekholm andCHAMAN LAL systematically compared the Mayan, Aztec, Incan, and the North American Indian civilizations with the Hindu-oriented countries of Southeast Asia and with India herself. According to them the emigrant cultures of India took with them India’s system of time measurement, local gods and customs. Ekholm and Lal found signs of Aryan civilization throughout the Americas in art (lotus flowers with knotted stems and half dragon/half fish motifs found commonly in paintings and carvings), architecture, calendars, astronomy, religious symbols and even games such as our Parchessi and Mexican Patilli, which have their origins in India’s pachisi.
Both the Hindus and Americans used similar items in their worship rituals. They both maintained the concept of four Yuga cycles, or cosmological seasons, extending over thousands of years, and conceived of twelve constellations with reference to the sun as indicated by the Incan sun calendar. Royal insignias, systems of government and practice of religious dance and temple worship all showed remarkable similarities, pointing strongly to the idea that the Americas were strongly influenced by the Aryans. The theory is found in the Vedic literature of India. The ancient Puranas (literally “histories”) and the Mahabharata make mention of the Americas as lands rich with gold and silver. Argentina, which means “related to silver”, is thought to have been named after Arjuna (of silver hue).
Another scholar, Ramon Mena, author of Mexican Archaelogy, called the Nahuatl, Zapoteca, and Mayan languages “of Hindu origin.” He went to say, “A deep mystery enfolds the tribes that inhabited the state of Chiapas in the district named Palenque… their writing, and the anthropological type, as well as their personal adornments… their system and style of construction clearly indicate the remotest antiquity… (they) all speak of India and the Orient.”
Still another scholar, Ambassador Miles Poindexter, a former ambassador of the United States to Mexico, in his two-volume 1930s treatise The Arya-Incas, called the Mayan civilization “unquestionably Hindu.” He proposed that primitive Aryan words and people came to America by the island chains of Polynesia. The Mexican name for boat is a South Indian Tamil word, Catamaran, and Poindexter gives a long list of words of the Quichua languages and their analogous forms in Sanskrit. Similarities between the hymns of the Inca rulers of Peru and Vedic hymns have been pointed out. A. L. Krober has also found striking similarities between the structure of Indo-European and the Penutian language of some of the tribes along the northwestern coast of California. Recently, an Indian scholar, B. C. Chhabra, in his “Vestiges of Indian Culture in Hawaii”, has noticed certain resemblances between the symbols found in the petroglyphs from the Hawaiian Islands and those on the Harappan seals. Some of the symbols in the petroglyphs are described as akin to early Brahmi script.
Indeed, the parallels between the arts and culture of India and those of ancient America are too numerous and close to be attributed to independent growth. A variety of art forms are common to Mexico, India, Java, and Indochina, the most striking of which are the Teocallis, the pyramids with receding stages, faced with cut stone, and with stairways leading to a stone sanctuary on top. Many share surprisingly common features such as serpent columns and banisters, vaulted galleries and corbeled arches, attached columns, stone cut-out lattices and Atlantean figures; these are typical of the Puuc style of Yucatan. Heine-Geldern and Ekholm point out that temple pyramids in Cambodia did not become important until the ninth and tenth centuries, a time coinciding with the beginning of the Puuc period.
The fact that a highly civilized race inhabited America long before the modern civilization of Europe made its appearance there, is quite clear from the striking remains of ancient and his refinement existing in the country. Extensive remains of cities which must have been once in a most flourishing condition, of strong and well-built fortresses, as well as the ruins of very ancient and magnificent buildings, roads, tanks and canals that meet the eye over a very wide area of the southern continent of America, irresistibly force us to the conclusion that the country must have been inhabited at one time by a very highly civilized nation. But whence did this civilization spring?
The researches of European antiquarians trace it to India. Mr. Coleman says: “Baron Humboldt, the great German traveler and scientist, describes the existence of Hindu remains still found in America.”
Speaking of the social usages of the inhabitants of Peru, Mr. Pococke says: “The Peruvians and their ancestors, the Indians, are in this point of view at once seen to be the same people.” The architecture of ancient America resembles the Hindu style of architecture. Mr. Hardy says: “The ancient edifices of Chichen in Central America bear a striking resemblance to the tops of India.” Mr. Squire also says: “The Buddhist temples of Southern India and of the islands of the Indian archipelago, as described to us by the learned members of the Asiatic Society and the numerous writers on the religion and antiquities of the Hindus, correspond with great exactness in all their essential and in many of their minor features with those of Central America.” Dr. Zerfii remarks: “We find the remarkable temples, fortresses and viaducts, aqueducts of the Aryan group.”
A still more significant fact proves the Hindu origin of the civilization of ancient America. The mythology of ancient America furnishes sufficient grounds for the inference that it was a child of Hindu mythology. The following facts will elucidate the matter:
Americans worshiped Mother Earth as a mythological deity, as the Hindus still do – Dhatri mata and Prithvi mata are well known as familiar phrases in Hindustan.
Footprints of heroes and deities on rocks and hills were worshiped by the Americans as devoutly as they are done in India even at the present day. Mexicans are said to have worshiped the footprints of Quetzal Coatl and the Indians worship the footprints of Buddha in Ceylon and of Krishna in Gokula near Mathura.
The Solar and Lunar eclipses were looked upon in ancient America in the same light as in modern India. The Hindus beat drums and make noises by beating tin pots and other things. The Americans, too, raise a frightful howl and sound musical instruments. The Carecles (Americans) think that the demon Maleoyo, the hater of light, swallows the moon and sun in the same way as the Hindus think that the demons Rahu and Ketu devour the sun and the moon.
The priests were represented in America with serpents round their heads, as Siva, Kali and others are represented by the Hindus.
Native Indian stories and traces of Vedic civilization
Notes by JanM, November 2000
General Vedic traces:
universe originally dark and empty except for water, then a god creates earth, sun, stars, animals and people [cf. Brahma]
earth and sky originally as one, later separated [cf. Dyaus & Prthvi]
in the beginning there is often no sun, moon, stars or water; sometimes they are held captured by some envious beings. They must be tricked, usually by the Raven [cf. Rg Veda story of Indra fighting Vrtra demon]
natural phenomena have personal forms (e.g. Lightning and Thunder man)
devas on higher planets, personifying the planets, sometimes relating to humans, teaching them
existence of underworld [cf. Bila-svarga], human origin there according to Apache lore
shapeshifting of men and animals
animals originally man-like (talking etc.), later they changed into their present forms
flood of the world as G/god’s punishment for evil behavior of people, few good people saved by warning, being instructed to build a kind of makeshift watercraft or to escape on mountains or other safe places, they also took onboard various animals and plants and later became ancestors of present humans [cf. Manu]
It might surprise you that Voodoo is not about casting spells and sticking pins into dolls. You might find it even more surprising that Voodoo is a legitimate religion that is, in many ways, very similar to Vedic religion. In order to promote greater understanding and respect, I have decided to show some similarities as well as differences between Voodoo and Vedic religion.
First, let us start with where Voodoo came from: During the sixteenth century, slave traders began taking people from the West Coast of Africa (also known as the Slave Coast), the area comprising Benin (formerly Dahomey) and Togo, and selling them to French owned plantations in the Caribbean. The French Catholics tried to forcibly convert the slaves to Catholicism. What instead happened was an integration of the Yoruba and Fon traditions of Africa with Catholicism, thus creating Vodou. The later movement of these slaves also brought Vodou to New Orleans and the Carolina coast.
The word Vodou means “Spirit” or “Deity” in the Fon language of Dahomey. Like Vedic religion, Vodou is monotheistic. They believe in one God, called Bondye (from French Bon Dieu, “Good God”) who is unfathomable. In Vedic religion, guru provides a link between God and man. In Vodou, that link is accomplished by spirits very similar to the demigods: the loa (also spelled lwa). It is also accomplished by the Mambo (priestess) or Houngan (priest).
There is no difference between Houngans and Mambos other than gender. They are equals in respect and power. But, they complete the link between man and God by helping us connect to the loa. In many ways, the Houngan and Mambo are like our spiritual parents. They provide spiritual guidance, emotional support, and they even provide herbs when we are ill. Whereas any person can pray to the loa and feel them in their lives, the mambo or houngan has the ability to bridge the gap between our plane of existence and theirs and actually call them into our realm of experience.
As far as the loa themselves, who are they? They are archetypical and ancestral spirits, bridging the gap between man and God. Their similarity to the demigods is surprising. For instance, the loa Ghede corresponds to Yama and the loa Papa Legba corresponds to Ganesh. In Vodou they realize that the demigods are below God and so they serve God _through_them.
A major theme in Vodou is service, just like in Vedic religion. As Sallie Ann Glassman (my old Mambo and author of Vodou Visions, a book where you can find this information on Vodou as well as a lot more) says, “The core focus of a Vodou Sosyete (society or congregation) is on service. Be true to yourself and make your life the most beautiful offering that you can give. Service to the Lwa is service to the community. Service to the community is service to the Lwa.”
The lwa are honored in much the same way as Krishna and the demigods. They are offered incense, water, food (they even have favorite foods), etc. A difference is that the loa are also offered liquor and cigarettes or cigars (which signifies lower gunas of the worshiper). But the idea is the same. The offering is made, the loa accept the offering, and then the now sacred food can be consumed by the congregation (as prasadam).
In Vodou, respect and honor are paramount. It is not some empty respect for a God that you cannot see, but it is respect for all life. Each individual is a creation of God and is thus sacred. Every item, when used in the service of the Lwa, becomes sacred. Whereas many people go to a church which they consider holy ground, Vodou makes the ground they live on holy. Vodou makes the things of your everyday life sacred. Vodou makes the here and now an act of worship, and not just the “there and on Sunday”.
Like in the Vaisnava tradition, song and dance is an integral part of the Vodou ceremony. When you dance in Vodou, you offer your energy and body to the lwa. You feel the drumbeat pulse through you like the heartbeat of the loa and you immerse yourself in their caress. The trappings of everyday life bleed from you and you become spirit, dancing in honor and ecstasy. You commune with the lwa.
No article on Vodou would be complete without also touching on three often misunderstood subjects: magic, possession, and sacrifice:
In Vodou, like in the Vedas, animal sacrifice is a reality. But also, like the Vedas, Judaism, etc., animal sacrifice is done with a sense of compassion and respect. The idea is not to torture or harm the poor animal, but instead to offer it up to the lwa, life and body. Afterwards, the animal is cooked and eaten by the congregation. This is not a barbaric rite, but one that affirms life. Whereas in the West we eat meat that comes wrapped in plastic and anonymous, these animals are cared for, respected, and eventually offered to the lwa. All life is sacred. Their gift does not go unnoticed.
There is often a difference in Vodou in the United States and Vodou in Haiti in that regard. In Haiti it is believed that without the life force the lwa cannot manifest in our realm of experience. It is also worth noting that the Haitians don’t enjoy the luxury of buying anonymous animals wrapped in plastic. They have to kill their own animals. So, it can be argued, if they have to kill their own food, why should they not be able to kill the food for the loa?
That brings up another issue: How do the loa “manifest” in our realm of experience? Some people see them in their dreams or visions but the primary way of manifestation is that of possession. In the West, when you mention possession immediately you think of a setting something like that from the movie Exorcist. The thought of losing control over our own bodies terrifies us. In the context of Vodou, however, possession is a beautiful thing.
When someone is possessed by a lwa in Vodou, the lwa essentially borrows that body for a time. Then they can interact with the congregation directly. This is an amazing experience, being able to talk, dance, and laugh with a being that is, for all intents and purposes, identical to the demigods. For the person who is possessed, they do not remember the incident. They have given the ultimate sacrifice: their own body for the good of the congregation even though they weren’t around to enjoy! However, they’re later told what has happened and can take comfort in knowing that _they_ were inhabited by the lwa… and they are transformed by the knowledge that they themselves were chosen by the lwa and shared their bodies with such a powerful and beautiful spirit.
As far as the value to the people around a possessed person… they actually get more value than the possessed person. The loa acts through that body. They will talk… eat the offerings… dance… It’s like having them there as a flesh and blood person. The person possessed won’t remember this… but the people in the congregation will actually get to spend time _with_ the loa… in a very real sense.
The last thing I want to touch on is the issue of magic. For those familiar with Vedic traditions it comes as no surprise that other religions acknowledge magic to be possible. However, in the context of Vodou, there is a difference between a sorcerer (bokor, “one who offers with a left hand”, which suggest a left-hand tantra connection) and the priest or priestess. The priest and priestess deal with spiritual transformation and the bokor deals with magic. Magic is temporary whereas spiritual transformation follows you for all your life.
It is not simply a case of good and evil, because the bokor can do spells for good _or_ bad. But, like Gandhi said, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” Anything the bokor does is necessarily temporary because it works on the material plane, which is in a constant state of change. However, when we enact real spiritual change with the help of the Mambo or Houngan and the loa, that change follows us all the days of our lives. I would like to end this article with a quote from Gandhi as well: “The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.
Links Between Ancient India and Mayans
From the Deccan Chronicle
HYDERABAD, INDIA, April 29, 2002: Recent studies suggest a link between Indus Valley and Mayans of Central America. The studies focused on the calendars of the two advanced civilizations. The Indus Valley inhabitants followed a calendar based on the movements of Jupiter and the Mayans followed one based on the Venus. In the Puranas, a secondary Hindu scripture, Jupiter, Brihaspati, was acknowledged to be the leader of the gods, while Venus, Shukra, was the leader of the asuras. The texts further state that the devas and asuras lived on opposite sides of the Earth. Mexico and India are at opposite sides in longitude. The correspondences were pointed out by B. G. Siddarth, director of the B. M. Birla Science Centre in Hyderabad. He also said the Hindu story of the churning of the ocean has been found in carvings in Mexico, as well Mayan representations of a tortoise carrying twelve pillars similar to Indian illustrations. Dr. Ganapati Sthapati of Chennai, a foremost expert on Vastu Shastra, the ancient Hindu architecture, has visited the Mayan structures in Central America and found many similarities between the design and construction methods of the Mayans and that of the ancient Hindus.
Have we not evidence that the ancient Cholas discovered South America long before Columbus and that the Inca Sun Worshipers of Peru are none but the descendants of “our Chola ancestors” (vide Neelakanta Sastri “History of S. India” and M. Monohan’s “Chola’s in America 1976”, p. 11-20). The Incas had their Temple of the Sun God (Peru) much like the one in Konark in Orissa built by the Cholas. The Chola chieftains (Incas) of America styled themselves as “Raghuvamsa Manickam”. This shows that they belonged to the Raghuvamsa of Sri Rama whose ancestor Sibi Chakravarti is well described in ancient Tamil literature as the Chola king Sembian. This takes us to a very relevant inference that the ancestors of Dasaratha are as much the ancestors of the Tamils. One other ancestor of Sri Rama, Musu Kunthan, is none other than the Musu Kuntha Chola in ancient Tamil history. This Musu Kunthan’s reign was during the second Tamil Sangam age 4800-2800 BC.
Vedic Culture in Peru
In 1994 I saw a newspaper article that showed a photograph of a “huaco” (ancient pot usually made of clay, from the Inca culture or older). The sign that appeared on this “huaco” was a big svastika with four dots inside. This is a Vedic sign that you can see on the top of the gates of ancient temples. (Of course, the archeologists did not know what that symbol meant and maybe they still don’t know it).
Also a devotee-scholar told me that he had seen another “huaco” that he described in this way: A monkey supposingly running or flying, holding a small mountain in one hand and a club in the other. The monkey had some kind of helmet. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Jaya Sri Hanumanji!
I’ve heard that some stories from Ramayana tell that Sri Ramacandra came to the American continent when he was fighting with Ravana & Kumbhakarna. This is very interesting point. When you go to Bolivia and to the south of Peru, you can see a very famous festival called “La Diablada” (“Demoniac Dance”). This festival depicts a very ancient story: two angel-like warriors fight against a ten-headed demon. This demon has a army and the angelical warriors are being helped by animal armies, especially by a society of well organized monkeys. Jaya Sri Ramayana!
I have also heard that the word “Dinka” means “Children of the Sun” or “Worshipers of the Sun” in Sanskrit or some other Indian language. The word “Inka” in Quechua (language spoken by the Inca culture) means “Children of the Sun”. And worshiping the Sun gives the worshiper intelligence and gold, a very notorious feature of the Inca empire. Their society was very similar to varnasrama.
American Indian Karna
There are many similarities between Vedic culture and the American Indian traditions. In the Pueblo (Indians of the SW USA) traditions there is an amazing tale which parallels the story of Karna from the Mahabharata. There are some variations but the similarities are striking. Here is the story as retold by Gerald McDermott. He published it in a children story book form and thus many of the details have been simplified. More research will surely find the parallels an even better match.
“Long ago the Sun God sent the spark of life to Earth. It traveled down the rays of the sun, through the heavens, and it came to the Pueblo. There it entered the house of a Young Maiden. In due course, the Boy came into the world of men. He lived and grew and played in the Pueblo (village).
However the other boys would not let him join in their games. “Where is your father?” they asked. “You have no father!” they mocked him and chased him away. The Boy and his Mother were sad.
One day he said, “Mother, I must look for my father. No matter where he is I must find him.” So the boy left home.
He traveled through the world of men and came to the Corn Planter. “Can you lead me to my father?” he asked. Corn planter said nothing, but continued to tend his crops.
The boy went to the Pot Maker. “Can you lead me to my father?” Pot Maker said nothing, but continued making his pots.
Then the boy went to the Arrow Maker, who was a wise man. “Can you lead me to my father?” Arrow Maker did not answer, but, because he was wise, he saw that the Boy had come from the Sun God. So he created a special arrow. The Boy became the Arrow.
Arrow Maker fitted the Boy to his bow and drew it. The Boy flew into the Heavens. In this way the Boy traveled to the Sun.
After meeting the Sun God, and passing his tests, father and son rejoiced. The Boy was transformed and filled with the power of the Sun. “Now you must return to Earth, my son, and bring my spirit to the world of men.” Said the Sun God.
Once again the Boy became the Arrow. When the arrow reached the Earth, the Boy emerged and went to the Pueblo.
The People celebrated his return in the Dance of Life.”
Anyone familiar with the story of Karna can see the similarities. I will point out the obvious ones.
The Sun God is Suryadeva. The Maiden who received the spark of life through his rays is the Maiden Princess, Kunti. The Boy is Karna. The other boys who would not let him join in their games are the Pandavas who mocked Karna for not knowing who his father was.
The Corn Planter and Pot Maker represent the teachers Drona and Kripa. The Arrow Maker represents Parashurama, who accepted Karna as his disciple and made him the greatest archer on earth.
Of course there are many points in the Mahabharata story that don’t seem represented here but since the source is a modern retelling of an ancient Pueblo Indian tale, thousands of years of separation from the original version will always create variations. This phenomenon can be found in Vedic culture itself. Example: Hanuman is a well known Brahmacari yet in Thailand he is married.
Ancient Australian Ganesha and Hanuman Artifacts found in the Gympie District, Queensland, Australia
The Gympie Times 30/10/75
At Dogun, schoolboy Cliff Brown, 13, found an elephant about 100mm high carved from beige granite. It is thought to be the Hindu God Ganesha.
The Gympie Ape – A stone ape statue possibility 3000 years old. The statue was unearthed in 1966 on Mr Dal K. Berry’s Wolvi Rd property. The ape is made of conglomerate iron stone and shows a squatting ape figure.
Note: Although obvious to most, it should be noted that elephants and apes are not native to Australia.
Once We Were Brothers Evidence Connects Native New Zealanders to India by Jaya Tirtha Charan dasan
In 1990 we (my wife and three children) had the great good fortune to come to Aotearoa (The Land of the Long White Cloud). When I came here I knew practically nothing of the cultural attributes that pervaded New Zealand (Aotearoa) other than that I’d heard from my education, that New Zealand was colonised primarily by the British to provide a food supply for the struggling and expanding cities of Europe just prior to, and during the time of the industrial revolution.
We’d had the good fortune to also live and travel extensively in India on several occasions, and so were familiar with the look, physiognomy of what is generally termed the Indo-Aryan physiognomy of peoples. We had learned to distinguish the darker wiry haired Tamils, from the light skinned residents of Uttar Pradesh, the rounded faces of the Bengalis from the slender faces of the Nepalese, or the heavy features of the Punjabis, etc. It becomes quite natural after living in India for a number of years to assess like this. So when we came to New Zealand I was amazed at how much the mass of Maori people looked like those of the Indian subcontinent. When we first came to New Zealand I think the first thing I noticed was that the Deities of Sri Sri Radha Giridhari were very beautiful, Radharani in particular. Actually to confirm my thoughts, one day I was coming back to the temple by public transport and I saw a young Maori girl who looked almost identical to the exquisitely beautiful features of Srimati Radharani – everyone at the bus stop noticed too, I observed.
At the temple at that time there were a number of devotees who had come from the local indigenous Maori peoples, and I was impressed with speaking with them. In particular, one devotee Madhu Pandit prabhu who told me of an oral tradition that his grandfather had told him of, when he was a small boy, before getting involved in Krishna consciousness, that the Maori peoples originated in India. He impressed me, in that he told of the social structure of the Maori having a learned priestly class, a warrior class, as well as those set up for trade, and the workers. In discussing with other devotees with links to the Maori culture it came to the fore that among the people, or at least the elders, this was pretty much common knowledge. Somehow, they had struggled to keep their culture alive in an oral tradition, even against the strong onslaught of the preaching of the missionaries who came to teach Christianity.
These devotee told me of a struggle that had ensued much like that of the devotees in India, who had fought the British Raj to maintain their Vedic culture amid the torrid waves of being called savages, uncivilised, etc. The devotees told me of books that had be written by sympathisers of the Maori, written from a Maori perspective, although written by Pakeha (Europeans).
Today in New Zealand there’s a revival of the Maori culture, with bilingual classes in schools, TV programs and government grants for Maori land owners, and book publications, etc. Things never dreamed of before.
Over the past year I’ve been doing a great deal of research into a subject which although has been around for some time hasn’t been exposed to the masses of people in general. Some suggest that suppression of information has been one of the colonialist’s and especially the Crowns’ major weapons in circumventing indigenous cultures all over the world. Especially in regard to the similarities found throughout the Old World, in favour of what they like to call ‘the developed world’ of Europe. A few years ago when I did a degree on Social Anthropology, Sociology, Social Policy, Systems of Healing, Social Work Practice, Theory and Ethics, and Counselling, etc., I found myself in a situation where I had to learn about the Maori culture. Having read numerous views on how the various cultures conducted themselves, their beliefs, objects of worship, and practical application through art and symbology, has further endorsed the notion that there is throughout the world a common Vedic heritage.
With so few people on this planet, together, it’s not that difficult to appreciate how continents have become populated by travellers venturing out to ‘new’ or ‘unknown places’. In the religious cultures and traditions of the world there are so many historical quests, banishments, and even gifts of tracts of land to sages, kings, and peoples. Unfortunately for us, over spans of time some of the details become obscured for one reason or another. From the view of the Vedantist, truths never stay hidden for long, despite the plans of materialistic man to control what he sees around him.
Some are of the opinion that the Maori originated in South America, while others suggest that they were one of the lost tribes of Israel. Many of the reasoning’s for this are based on the looks of the peoples of those areas today, the physiognomy; facial features, lip structure, shape of the fore head, shape of head, cheek bones, chin, nose, – all of which like most races are distinct unto themselves, with obvious influences of inter-breading from other cultures giving variations of the distinctness as in that of the Maori of New Zealand.
However, when we start looking at other indigenous peoples around the world, along with suggested expeditions of discovery that are known to be part of the Maori migration throughout the Pacific region, especially, a slightly stronger case begins to develop for the Maori originating in Northern Asia, and more specifically, what is known as modern day India.
Supporting that theory, recently scientists from Victoria University in Wellington (New Zealand) began to take samples of DNA from women from all areas of the earth. The idea behind this, as suggested in the Srimad Bhagavatam too, is that it is the mother who provides the body for the jivas who are born, while the father (bijaman) is the one who provided the seed. In that way genealogical trees develop and grow.
Origins: “Genes link Maori to Asia” (From TVNZ Six o’clock Newscast)
Research by biological scientists at Victoria University points to Maori ancestors originally migrating from North Asia thousands of years ago.
The research team from the university’s biology department has just finished a detailed analysis of earlier studies of the gene patterns of different ethnic groups.
They have found levels of a gene in Maori are similar to those found in many Asian populations and bear a strong resemblance to the gene patterns of indigenous groups such native Malays.
Steven Marshall from the research team says the work also links Maori with a genetic group who migrated from North Asia around 8,000 years ago.
He says this group filtered itself amongst islands in Melanesia, West Polynesia over a period of time before a smaller group travelled to New Zealand. (TVONE Network News. Tue Aug 11th 18:22hrs 1998.)
To me this is a brilliant finding. On the live newscast the reporter mentioned that after examining mothers from all the major continents, i.e. South America, Europe, Africa, and Northern Asia, as well as South East Asia there were distinct similarities in the DNA found in the Northern Asian countries that were totally absent in all the other continents. In some cases where they did find similar DNA it was realised that this DNA structure had developed secondary (through possible inter breading), and not as a primary base through migratory family lineages.
For some time theories were supported by some members of the Maori peoples that their origins was possibly in the South Americas, or possibly even in Europe. However, with today’s findings, and the support of conclusive DNA testing there is no doubt to support our theory as being true, and that the origins of the Maori peoples was definitely from the Northern Region of Asian mainland mass. Some speculation is that the origins may be China or that region, but cultural differences, genealogical differences, physical differences, and psychological differences seem to discount this theory entirely. If there is any trace in those regions, then we would say that they are not original, but secondary, through tribes passing through the areas in question.
The strongest similarities are to be found when tracing back the origins of tribes throughout the Northern Indian region. Many of the tribes, like those who the modern day Punjabis descend from, and those of the Assamese resemble the Maori features. While examining the basis of the Maori and Vedic cultures, we find that philosophically and culturally, many similar concepts and views between the two cultures remain. In tracing back cultural links and the obvious distinct similarities, brings us to the only logical and feasible conclusion, that such origins were indeed in that tract of land what we now call the Indian Subcontinent. In this regard, on examining the Maori culture, and its origins we have found some truly amazing comparisons in social structure, physiological (Indo-Aryan) appearance, and standards of sacridity.
When on the newscast some local Maori were approached and asked about what they thought, they were obviously not overtly phased by the finding, and even lightly joked as that being why so many Indians were still coming here.
In any culture, it is apparent where the roots lie when one starts to look at the infrastructure of the way people govern their lives, who is in the centre, the emphasis on religion, the positions taken by the priesthood, the elders, and social and familial structures, as well as the rites of passage, and festivals, etc., that reflect the inner most rhyme and reasoning
It is often not until we start to cross compare, and look for common roots that we find just how intrinsically seamless we are as common sons of the same Universal Father, God. Hopefully these findings will take away much if not all it has been so easy for the past to reveal of the “differences” of man, mostly for political purposes.
The Maori worship a multi-faceted “God”, who has numerous names according to the function that He performs. The core of the esoteric theology of the Maori was the concept of the Supreme Io which remained wholly unrevealed to foreign inquirers for many decades after the first contact of Europeans and Maori. The Tohunga (Maori priesthood) protected the worship of Io from the religiously ignorant, and from those who may have blasphemed Him, very much like the Brahmins of Vedic times did by writing in codes, etc. If one enquired about God in a challenging way or obviously ignorant fashion, one would be politely re-directed to another priest way across town, who for his part would in turn re-direct the enquirant on to another priest who too could competently handle the situation, by referral.
“In speaking of the gods of the Maori the first matter calling for attention is that of classification. If we include in our purview all beings termed atua by the Maori, and on whom they relied for help in the crisis of life, then it will, I believe, be necessary to form our atua maori into four classes.
In the first grade, and standing alone in His majesty, comes Io, He who is termed Io the Parent, Io the Parentless, Io the Great, and Io of the Hidden Face. The second class is composed of what may be called departmental gods, as those who preside over war, peace, the forest, winds, ocean, agriculture, etc. Then we come to a third class, whom I term tribal gods, not so widely known as those of the second class, and of a somewhat lower grade. Lastly we come to such as are spirits of the dead forebears, and knowledge of whom is confined to a small area.”(Elsdon Best [1856-1931]. R.A. Falla. 1954. Some Aspects of Maori Myth & Religion. page 23.)
In Maori thought there was an esoteric as well as a popular version of creation and God. The one was in the keeping of the tohunga (priests); the other was kept alive as fireside stories of the common peoples. Neither contradicted the other; rather they supplemented and enriched each others presentation with practical faith as well as philosophical and allegorical depiction. This is very much similar to the Sruti (Vedas) and Smrti (Puranas, etc.) of Vedic culture.
“In the beginning, Io existed alone in the realm of Te Korekaore, in His passive sate as Io-matamoe, Io-mata-ane, Io-kore-te-whiwhia (Io of the slumbering countenance, Io of the calm and tranquil countenance, Io the unchanging and unadulterated in whom there is no confusion and inconsistency). Nothing existed before Io, for He alone was the pre-existent as Io-matua-kore the parentless, as Io-matua the first parent, as Io-mau the precursor, as Io-pukenga the first cause, as Io-taketake the foundation of all things.”(Michael King. 1992. Te Ao Hurihuri – Aspects of Maoritanga. page 130.)
Similarities in the Hindu / Indo-Aryan / Vedic understanding of God are found with the Creative Lord of the Universe Maha Vishnu rests in Divine sleep – slumbering countenance; tranquil transcendence; who is eternal / unchanging, ever existent; all pure / never adulterated or contaminated; Who is never bewildered; the first primeval Being; is never “Born” as we are, and does not have any actual birth parents – being unborn, although for His loving pastimes selects His devotees to act as His parents to enjoy parental love; He is the original cause of all causes; the strength of the strong, and the thread upon which everything (as pearls) rests.
“‘We know’, writes J.E. Carpenter in his Comparative Religion, “….that both India and Greece reached the conception of a unity of energy in diversity of operation; ‘the One with many names’ was the theme of Hindu seers long before AEschylus in almost identical words proclaimed ‘one form with many names’.”(Elsdon Best [1856-1931]. R.A. Falla. 1954. Some Aspects of Maori Myth & Religion. page 26.)
‘The number of men initiated into the cult of Io was but small; only members of the higher grade of priestly experts and men of high-class families, were allowed to learn the ritual pertaining to it. The common folk apparently had no part in it and it is doubtful if they were even allowed to know the name of the Supreme Being. The cult of Io was an esoteric one; that of the lower tribal gods may be termed exoteric. All ritual and ceremonial pertaining to Io was retaining in the hands of the superior priesthood, by no means a numerous body. It may be described as an aristocratic cultus, known only to such experts and the more important chiefs. It is quite probable, indeed, that this superior creed may have been too exalted for ordinary minds, that such would prefer to depend on more accessible and less moral deities.(E.S. Craighill Handy, Polynesian Religion, Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 34 (Honolulu1927), pp. 95-6; quoting Edward Treagear, The Maori Race (Wanganui, 1904) pp. 450-2 and Elsdon Best, Some Aspects of Maori Myth and Religion, p.20) From this we can see that they had a strong sense of taratamya (hierarchal worship) and Varna and Ashram too.
“The universe of Io is a well ordered creation. The supreme God has His home in Te-Toi-o-nga-rangi, the uppermost heaven. It is unapproachable by the messengers of the lesser gods, except by special permission, and the only door to it lies through Tawhiri-rangi.
“Only the messengers of Io, who have been purified, can survive the holiness of that heaven. At that place the whatu-kura and mareikura, the attendant of Io, have control over the other denizens of the over worlds, and on His behalf supervise the growth and order of the world. The mana-ariki (overlordship, the power of the highest chiefs) is theirs, and they go to and fro through all the heavens, the world and the underworld’s. They are in effect the members of the spiritual body of Io.(A.W. Reed. 1974. Treasury of Maori Folklore – The Maori Pantheon, page 58.)
The similarities here also, with their being a uppermost heaven, reflects the Vedic Vaikuntha or Goloka Dham, where the worshippers of the demigods or unpurified souls cannot approach. There is also a clear indication that the lesser gods (demigods) rule departmental affairs, controlling the worlds on the Supreme Gods behalf, and order. As well as the strong inference that those purified messengers of Io / God are part and parcel of the spiritual body of the Lord / Io. Also the idea of one performing action that is not in line with the desire of the Lord being sinful or bringing about a bad reaction shows the concept of karma, teleological Free Will of the jiva (individual spirit soul), and Dukhalayam asasvatam – that the material world is the source of all suffering, but absorption in the Lord and His spiritual artefacts brings about liberation or release from such suffering.
On the cosmography of the universe and beginning of creation of the material world again there are strong similarities. When we read Sri Brahma Samhita we find lord Brahma, the secondary creator of this material world seated upon a lotus flower, surrounded by waters, alone in the darkness, then he heard a mystical sound Tapah Tapah…(giving direction and inspiration)….! When we look at the Maori cultural understanding of similar events we find that Tane was in a very similar situation, in the waters, surrounded by darkness when he too heard a mystic sound Tapa Tapa!!!
“In the night regions of soft light, Io established the several Hawaiki: Hawaiki Nui (great Hawaiki), Hawaiki-Roa (extensive Hawaiki), Hawaiki-Pamamao (far distance Hawaiki), Hawaiki Tapu (sacred Hawaiki) in which Io chose to dwell with His divine assistants. The Hawaiki became the abode of gods and heroes. But no one, other gods included, could enter Hawaiki Tapu for it was sacred to Io. The other Hawaiki were also sacred and in ancient times were not even mentioned in common talk except by oblique reference as Tawhiti Nui, Tawhiti Roa, Tawhiti Pamamao.
Having created the nights and the Hawaiki, Io brought into being the first gods, Rangi-awatea and Papa-tua-nuku, the male and female principles out of which all things derived. Awatea was the god of ‘space and light’ (atea and awatea) and the first heaven was created by him on the foundations established by Io. It was known as the heaven of Watea (Te Rangi-a-Watea). But having completed the first heaven, he looked below him and saw the spirit of Papa-tua-nuku (Mother Earth) and descended to cohabit with her. Out of this union sprang their first born, Tane and the other gods after him: Tangaroa, Rongo, Tumatauenga, Haumia-tike-tike, Ru-ai-moko, and Tawahiri-ma-tea.
But Rangi continued to cling to Papa-tua-nuku and gave up his task of completing the heavens. By this act, he doomed his offspring to dwell in perpetual darkness. Io the omniscient stirred his activity and sent the spirit of rebellion to stir the children to revolt. After consultation among the brothers they decided, with the exception of Tawhiri-ma-tea, to separate their parents and allow light into their world. After several abortive attempts, Tane conceived the idea of standing on his hands on Papa and thrusting against Rangi with his feet. His manoeuvre succeeded and Rangi was flung into the skies.
Tane was summoned by Io and after elaborate purificatory rites, he descended to the borders of Hawaiki Tapu where the sacred winds, the mouth-piece of Io, commissioned him to continue with the talks of completing the heavens. So the heavens were completed and became known as the great heavens of Tane (Rangi-nui-a-Tane). At the same time as Tane received the mana (potency) to complete the heavens, Io delegated through Tane various tasks for his brothers. So they became the regents of Io to continue creation in the departments of nature. Thus Tangaroa became the god of the sea, Rongo the god of vegetation, Ru-ai-moko divided the lands asunder, Tawhiri took over the meteorological department and Tu took over the war office. Tane reserved two departments for himself on earth, the forest and the birds, and the creation of man. The first human created was Hine-ahu-one (the maid that emerged out of dust). Tane took clay, moistened it with water and sculptured the form of the female. He then infused the breath of his nostrils (hongi) into her and she came alive. Meanwhile, Awatea had been summoned by Io (prior to Tane’s commission), deprived of his mana and banished into the Night Realm. It was the mana from Awatea that was given to Tane.”(Michael King. 1992. Te Ao Hurihuri – Aspects of Maoritanga. page 131-132.)
I’m not professing that all of this in every way is the same as the Vedic understandings of creation, etc., but some distinct aspects are very similar. Even when we look through various Puranas, or Ramayanas (Kumba Ramayan, Ananda Ramayan, Valmiki Ramayan, Adyatmika Ramayan) we find different perspectives, according to the vision and the participants there. In the similar way I’m suggesting that the similarities be noted, rather than the differences.
Tane and Brahma were designated as secondary creators, both heard Tapa Tapa, and took it to mean much the same thing; that there is one Supreme Being, who has numerous names; The Supreme God created a male and female principle – much like Shambu and Ramaa mentioned in Brahma Samhita; that various departmental ‘demigods’ were created to look after the functions of rainfall, vegetation, the sea, mankind, etc.; the infusing of the life air into a form is distinctly Vedic, as in the Pran-pratishta (installation – avahan) of an icon or Deity; the concept of mother earth; the hierarchal accessibility to the higher realms of the universe through (taratamya), gradation of purity in Vedantic theology.
One could argue that these are prominent in other cultures too, to which I would answer, “Yes, it is my proposal that Vedic culture was indeed at one time all over the world!” Those cultures that profess to have no contact with Vedic culture are either in denial, or are simply most unfortunate!!!!
As we mentioned earlier, there are also oral legends going back to claim that the original Hawaiki (home land) was actually referring to the sub-continent of what today we call northern India. The Melanesians talk of an original Hawaiki, and so do the Polynesians, so neither of them are original in themselves. There are several authoritative books that present this, (The Aryan Maori by Edward Tregear 1896; Who Are The Maori by AK Newman 1846.), showing similarities in language, custom, etc., and showing maps of transmigration, with numerous other books including the possibility (some we have cited herein). Other sources show, not only the possibility, but direct reference to names of tribes which are present in both Maoridom and indigenous tribes of India today.
The strength of Maori culture was transmitted orally, through the telling of stories/legends, song (waiata) and the reciting of whakapapa (genealogies). It was also represented in stylised form in carvings and woven panels that adorned whare (meeting houses). When one visits India, and parts of South East Asia some of the most prominent things to catch one are the graphic depictions of the ancient pastimes of the Lord, Sri Krishna, Lord Vishnu, and their pastime expansions, or cultural displays of the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, etc., etc., through similar culture symbology.
As far as practical day to day sacred rites, as in the Vedic samskaras, the Maori also have a system of daily rites of passage that mark the maturational development of individuals as they grow, create offspring and pass on. The practical role of the priesthood (Tohungas) are also almost identical in function with those of the Purohits (domestic priests) of India. The Tohunga would be employed to consecrate new buildings, to bless warriors going into battle, to bless new structures or buildings (Marae), performing birth ceremonies, name giving, and last rites, etc. Much of the rhyme and reasoning was the same as ours, the practical application according to linguistics and family tradition is mostly all that differs in the ritual symbolism. The Tohunga’s function, like that of the Brahmin’s is to serve, support and knit together the conditional stages of the people to directional development towards their constitutional positions as sons and daughters, or servants of the Supreme God – Io and Krishna, through which Varna (social functionality – teacher, administrator/warrior, commerce and labourers work) and Ashram (passage of spiritual shelter – student of te culure, joint family member – householder, retired, and elder/teacher) works.
As with so many other aspects of these two great cultures, likened to distant cousins, the concept of the joint family, whereby grand parents, aunts and uncles enhance the depth of family integrity, identity, moral strength and support looks after the destiny and direction of the people in general under its care. That is very prominent.
The Maori ran their communities in the same way as the Daivi Varnashram system, with the Tohunga giving cultural and philosophical direction, the warriors protecting, and the growing of crops, tending the fields being done by those who were unskilled in trade or priesthood. When the Maori went to war the women folk would also assist their men, sometimes taking up arms to defend their Pa (fortress or village). But as soon as the battle was over, they were again mothers and wives.
I’m not expecting miracles to happen, although certainly they could. But I would like to see that the Maori people, who are in general soft hearted and friendly, understand a little more of what the teachings of, and devotees of the International Society for Krishna consciousness have to offer in making accessible the highest knowledge of the Srimad Bhagavatam, and Bhagavad Gita, the kind of knowledge that formerly only the Tohunga had access to.
As with many of the indigenous cultures that were picked to pieces over the past century or so all over the world by the colonialists, now there is an awakening. The opportunity that Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad has made available to all of us, without exception, and that is now being delivered by his disciples and grand disciples is unprecedented to the disjointed youth of the world today. We have hope that through presenting these multi-cultural view-points of Krishna consciousness, that not only will this affect the plight of individuals by giving them, to the level that they accept it, love of Godhead. It will also affect, on a practical basis; the crime rate, the alcohol and drug use, youth suicides especially among young Maori, but also challenges that face middle aged Maori could be set back, and the cultural legacy be again replenished by their adopting something of the knowledge Krishna consciousness movement has to offer. Let us see what the Lord arranges!!!
In research, as well as presenting, the hardest thing has been to penetrate the wall of propaganda established by the Crowns’ missionary arm of the last century’s historians, who re-wrote the history of the world and obscured many ancient truths. On a broader scale, this is becoming common accepted knowledge. With the assistance of such favourable winds of change we are well on the way to producing a very informative book that will hopefully enhance empathy and mutual respect for both Maori culture and Krishna Conscious Vedic culture. (A slightly re-edited version of this article appeared in the January/April 1999 edition, Vol 17., No. 4. of Hare Krishna World Newspaper. page 28
Sarasvati Devi Outside India
In Tibetan, Sarasvati is Yang Chenmo, or when her musical aspect is emphasized, she is Piwa Karpo. In Mongolian she is Keleyin ukin Tegri, in Chinese she is called Tapien-ts’ai t’iennu or Miao-yin mu, and in Japan she is equated with Benten. The Tibetan singer Yungchen Lhamo is named for Sarasvati.
She is often identifiable by her plain white garment, (though not in this image) her vina which is a stringed musical instrument, and her association with the consonants and vowels of the Sanskrit language. Her own seed syllable is haym.
In the Sadhanamala (162) Maha-Sarasvati’s mantra is:
Om Hrih Mahamayange Mahasarasvatyai namah
In Hinduism, she is the daughter of Devi and wife of Lord Brahma, and her vehicle is the celestial bird called the hamsa, usually portrayed as a swan but sometimes a peacock. She is called Sharda Devi or Sharada (Sarada) and the hymn to her says that her home is Kashmir, once famous for its pandits or learned scholars.
Sarasvati means ‘the one that flows’ and is the name of a Vedic river that once flowed, but has vanished. That is the source of her connection with fluidity of all fertile kinds including speech, writing, song, music and thought. She is also known as Vak
s of coronation of Thai kings are practiced more or less in its original form even up to the present reign. The Thai idea that the king is a reincarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu was adopted from Indian tradition. [Jan: Same idea is held in Nepal.] Though this belief no longer exists today, the tradition to call each Thai king of the present Chakri dynasty Rama (Rama is a reincarnation of Vishnu) with an ordinal number, such as Rama I, Rama II etc. is still in practice.
Thai literature and drama draws great inspiration from Indian arts and legend. The Hindu epic of Ramayana is as popular in Thailand as it is in India. Thailand has adapted the Ramayana to suit the Thai lifestyle in the past and has come up with its own version of the Ramayana, namely, the ‘Ramakien’.
Thai language too bears close affinity with Indian. An indication of the close linguistic affiliation between India and Thailand can be found in common Thai words like Ratha Mantri, Vidhya, Samuthra, Karuna, Prannee etc. which are almost identical to their Indian counterparts. Thai language basically consists of monosyllabic words that are individually complete in meaning. His Majesty King Ramkhamhaeng the Great created the Thai alphabet in 1283. He modeled it on the ancient Indian alphabets of Sanskrit and Pali through the medium of the old Khmer characters.
Loy Krathong – the Festival of Lights which is celebrated on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, when the rainy season has ended and the rivers and streams are filled with water. The floating of lanterns, which began in the Sukhothai period, continued throughout the different stages of Thai history. Prior to setting their krathong afloat, people place in it a lighted candle, incense sticks, flowers, a coin and some food offerings. They make a silent prayer of thanks for the water received, a request for forgiveness for wrongs done, and a wish for the fulfillment of a secret dream. The present day understanding is that the festival is celebrated as an act of worship to Chao Mae Kangka, the Goddess of the Waters, for providing the water much needed throughout the year, and as a way of asking forgiveness if they have polluted it or used it carelessly.
According to the Thai monk Venerable Buddhadasa Bhikku’s writing, ‘India’s Benevolence to Thailand’, the Thais also obtained the methods of making herbal medicines from the Indians. Some plants like sarabhi of Guttiferae family, kanika or hursinghar, phikun or mimusops and bunnak or the rose chestnut etc. were brought from India. He pointed out that Thai food too was influenced by India. He claimed that Thai people learned how to use spices in their food in various ways from Indians”.
Vedic Thailand Lives on
Chennai, June 10:
The successor to the present Rajaguru of the Royal Government of Thailand is all set to undergo training in different subjects such as purohitam, karmakanda, sastras, Sanskrit and Tamil at Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswamahavidyalaya at Enathur near Kanchipuram.
The 12-year-old Brahmin boy is currently on a visit to Chennai along with Pra Rajaguru Vamadevamuni, Chief of Royal Court Brahmanas, Royal Government of Thailand.
Speaking at a reception organised by The Hindu Rakshana Samiti and Hindu Dharmaparipalana Sabha here Saturday, the Rajaguru recalled age-old cultural links between Thailand and India, in particular Tamilnadu.
Referring to Ramayana, he said the epic had a tremendous impact on Thais as can be seen from a number of dramas on the Ramayana staged in the country. The other fine arts also reflected ethos of the magnificent saga, he added. Mural paintings on Ramayana at the Royal Thai Temple stood as a testimony to the special affinity of Thais for the epic.
Continuing in the same vein, Pra Rajaguru Vamadevamuni spoke of Tiruppavai and Thiruvembavai, two devotional works in Tamil and said just like in Tamilnadu, they were sung in the month of Margazhi in Thailand.
Expressing his concern over the decline in number of Brahmins and Hindu rituals in the East Asian nation, Rajaguru Vamadevamuni said he had discussed the issue with the Sankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and also mooted training younger generation of Brahmins in the State. He said he got a concrete assurance from the Kanchi seers in this regard.
On the relationship between Hindus and Buddhists-the predominant communities in Thailand, he said that despite being a Buddhist nation, the relationship between them could not be better and assured the gathering that he would do his best to foster cultural links between Thailand and India. The Rajaguru also said he was planning to organise a seminar in this connection soon.
Delivering his benedictory address, Swami Dayananda Saraswathi spoke on the need of a guru to the ruler of a country to advise him on the rights and wrongs. A guru must be a dispassionate person and should not be a ‘ aye man ‘ , he said.
It is a difficult task to advise a ruler on the proper course of action and clear doubts in a critical situation and towards this end one must have an acharya, he reasoned.
Swami Dayananda Saraswathi presented the citation and a Gayatri lamp to the Brahmin Temple at Bangkok to the Rajaguru.
Sri Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal read out a few passages from the speech of Sri Chandrasekharendra Swamigal at the fourth Akhila Bharata Sarvaskha Veda Sammelanam at Vijayawada which the then Rajaguru attended and spoke elaborately on the age-old links between the two nations.
Thambiran Swamigal from Tiruvavaduthurai Adheenam gave away prasadam to the Rajaguru on behalf of the head of the Adheenam.
Chamanlal, a senior RSS activist and in-charge of the international activities of the sangh, who specially flew to Chennai from New Delhi as the representative of the Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, presented a bouquet and a silver bowl to the Rajaguru.
Dr Chirapat Prapandvidya, director, Sanskrit Studies Centre, Silpakorn University, Bangkok, spoke on the cultural links between Tamilnadu and Thailand.
Cho S Ramaswamy, editor, Thuglak and Rajya Sabha MP and S Gurumurthy, Chartered Accountant and columnist, offered felicitations.
Dr Padma Subrahmanyam, vice-president, Hindu Dharma Rakshana Samiti, welcomed the gathering and A N Srinivasa Rao, president, Dharma Paripalana Sabha, proposed a vote of thanks.
Ramayana from a Thai perspective
What do other countries call Ramakian?
India – Ramayana
Cambodia – Ramaker
Laos – Phra Lak Phra Ram
Malaysia – Wyang Kulit
Indonesia – Wayuang Kulit and the Wayang Purwa
The universal themes and ideals in the Indian Ramayana have long appealed to the diverse cultures of Asia and Southeast Asia. The story has, however, been interpreted differently depending on the culture, politics and religions of each country.
The epic themes and ideals of righteous behavior, loyalty to family and kingdom, the balancing of good and evil, self-sacrifice for the betterment of society, morality, role of family and relationships provide a global appeal, but also an opportunity for expression of local cultural identity.
The Ramakian – An Epic Tale
King Dasaratha of Ayodhya chooses his son Rama as his heir. His wife Kaikeyi asks that he appoint another son, Bharata, instead. Kaikeyi feels misfortune will come upon her if he doesn’t crown Bharata king and send Rama away from the palace. The king reluctantly agrees, so Rama goes with his beautiful wife, Sita, and his brother Laksmana, leaving their riches to live a simple life.
In the forest the three meet the demoness Surpanakha who falls in love with Rama. Rama refuses her advances and Laksmana wounds her. She flees to her brother Ravana, ruler of the island kingdom of Lanka. After hearing Surpanakha’s report of the beauty of Sita, Ravana decides that he must have her and changes himself into a wandering holy man to find her in the forest. When Rama and Laksmana are distracted, Ravana carries Sita off to Lanka.
Rama and Laksmana ask Hanuman, the monkey king, to help them find her. Hanuman, able to make himself larger or smaller, takes a giant step (or flight) to the island of Lanka. Carrying Rama’s ring he finds Sita and identifies himself as Rama’s messenger. Sita is delighted, but Hanuman is caught and Ravana sets Hanuman’s tail on fire. Hanuman escapes and sets fire to Lanka. Sita is rescued by the hero monkey king and returned to King Rama.
Hanuman Around The World
In Thailand, Hanuman is known as the leader of the great monkey army of King Phra Ram. In China, he is known as Shun Wu Kong, the Wind Monkey. In India, paintings of him standing respectfully before Rama, Laksmana and Sita, tell the whole story of the Ramakian. He is portrayed as wise, faithful, heroic and indeed saintly. Most Hindus pray to Hanuman to achieve something that they want like passing an exam or getting a job. In South-east Asia, he represents the free aspects of life. Many people are attracted to his great courage and, in some cases, his sex appeal but in general he is not given the godly status that he has in India.
Sage Valmiki who wrote the Ramakian, provides a detailed description: Hanuman swells his body, shakes his body hair, roars loudly, whirls his tail, contracts his waist, and just before leaping off the mountain, sinks down, draws in his arms and neck, flattens his ears, and fills himself with concentrated power and energy focused on the lower part of his body. He scans the sky in order to see a clear path for himself, arrests the vital air in his heart, and leaps. He is the son of Vayu, God of the wind, and Punjikasthala, a goddess who had powers that allowed her to change form. One day while disguised as a beautiful human woman Vayu saw her and fell in love. She resisted his advances until he promised that their child would be as brave, intelligent and swift as himself.
Hanuman grew up in his mother’s care and saw very little of his powerful father. As a young boy he was taught by Surya, the Sun God, who took the young Hanuman around the universe as he performed his own duties. Hanuman learned quickly and was a good student who developed many fine qualities.
Later in life, when Hanuman faced great foes in battle, he remained always a gentleman, respectful of the codes of warfare. For example, in the final battle with Ravana, Hanuman was struck. He retaliated with a blow of his own. Ravana withstood the blow but felt the impact so much that he said to Hanuman “You are a worthy enemy.” Hanuman replied, “I do not care for your compliments. I’m ashamed that after my blow you’re still alive.” Ravana struck a second time, rendering Hanuman unconscious and then attacked Nila, another monkey warrior. Hanuman regained consciousness but did not interfere, as it was proper in Vedic warrior code to not interrupt someone else’s battle. As well as being a perfect gentleman-warrior he is sensitive and kind – it is these qualities that make him such a memorable character.
INFLUENCE OF INDIAN RELIGION ON NINH THUAN CHAM BA LA MON CULTURE
by Phan Quoc Anh
(Extracted from the magazine “Ninh Thuan culture and art” No. 9 / 2001 signed 0866 -8655)
Excerpt from “The Rig Vedic Culture and the Indus Civilization”:
China is one of the oldest countries in the world. During the period of Bharata War (Kuruksetra), Vagadatta of Pragyotispur joined the Kurus and we find that the Chinese people sided with Vagadatta, the king of Pragyotispur. It is also found that Vagadatta was present in Yudhisthira’s court with many Kirat, Chin, and other soldiers. The connection between China and India was of a very ancient standing and we find in Todd’s Rajasthan that the genealogists of China and Tartary declare themselves to be the descendants of Ayu, son of the Hindu king Pururava. The Chinese tell of a tradition in “Schuking” in which it is stated that the ancestors of the Chinese people came to China after crossing the high mountain ranges to the South.
Book “Indian origin of the Chinese Origin” pt I & II (pages 700) tries to prove that the original Chin race of India dwelling in Kashmir and several parts of South India colonized Shensi, a province of Central China and subsequently subjugated all other petty kingdoms and thus became the emperors of perhaps the one of the largest empire of the world. The name China and the Chinese were after the Chins of India and hence the scholars are unanimous about the Indian origin of the name of China. So the India did not only name a great country but also created the Chinese nation.
But, scholars both in and outside India who have got so much caught up with the idea that India was ever to be conquered by foreign powers and colonized, may be constrained to accept the fact that a great Indian race built up a great nation like China.
Monkey King – Prime Candidate for 2008 Olympics Mascot
Is the monkey an appropriate 2008 Olympic mascot? No one will know for sure until next year. Now that the Chinese Seal has been officially designated as the 2008 Olympics emblem, the games’ mascot has taken over as hot topic. Animal images like the panda, dragon, lion, tiger, Tibetan antelope and rabbit are also under consideration, but monkeyking2008.com, a website promoting the Monkey King as 2008 Olympics mascot, reports that 89 percent of its visitors want the Monkey. Results of a survey conducted by China’s largest portal site, Sina.com, also indicate the Monkey King as hot favorite for mascot.
The Adventures of the Monkey King (Chinese Hanuman)
Chinese children grow up with stories of Monkey King Sun Wukong, and his image is everywhere in Chinese drama. He is the protagonist of Journey to the West, one of the four famous Chinese classic novels. The book describes the adventures of Tang monk Tripitaka and his three disciples on their mission to the Western Heavens to find and bring back Buddhist scriptures. The character Tripitaka was based on the real monk Xuanzang who traveled to India in 629 to bring back to the Chinese people the essence of Buddhism. The trip took him 17 years, and when he finally returned to Chang’an (present-day Xi’an), he brought with him over 600 volumes of Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures.
Wu Cheng’en (1510-1582) of the Ming Dynasty was author of the 100- chapter novel based on the Tang Monk Xuanzang’s journey. He imbued it with the colorful, fantastic adventures of Sun Wukong, a monkey that springs into existence out of one stray stone of many earmarked by Goddess Nuwa to patch a hole in the heavens. Born from a stone that is the essence of Heaven and Earth rather than of a mother and father, Sun Wukong is unbound by the fetters of temporal human relationships. Neither impressed not intimidated by order, ritual or hierarchy, he causes havoc in Heaven, the Dragon King’s Palace, and Hell. His refusal to collude with evil forces makes him a hero and embodiment of righteousness in the eyes of the Chinese people.
Sun Wukong’s punishment for causing havoc in Heaven is imprisonment under a mountain where he remains for 500 years. He is liberated in return for guaranteeing Tripitaka’s safe passage to the West. From this point onwards the book is an account of Sun Wukong’s conquest of all manner of ghosts and demons along the way to the Western Heavens.
Sun Wukong symbolizes the worldly desire for the ideal human life that is free from constraint. He is eventually brought to heel and contained within the power of Buddhism. This indicates the true human condition wherein the desire for personal freedom and dignity is always curbed by the confines of reality.
Monkey King International
In 1983 Chinese Central TV screened a serialization of Journey to the West, and the Monkey King’s massive body of admirers swelled to include overseas devotees. He can now be seen greeting visitors to Disney World at various locations alongside Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
The NBC version of Journey to the West – The Lost Empire – is a 4- hour-long, two-part high-tech “virtual” TV drama that combines elements of Chinese and Western culture. The American Hallmark TV channel also produced a play, called simply Monkey King. Making Havoc in Heaven was the first and remains the most successful animated Monkey King feature film. Steven Spielberg’s dream factory has declared its intention to produce the Monkey King story with a slight variation. Their version takes place in Tang Dynasty China, where Sun Wukong is a monkey slave at a university. Sanzang, a teacher at the university, takes Sun Wukong along with him to India. After setting sail, they lose their way on the high seas and finally land on the American continent. It is they that first bring corn kernels to the American Indians.
Monkey King’s Sporting Spirit
“Sun Wukong has strong associations with sportsmanship,” says accomplished Chinese writer Zhao Benfu. “This stems from his superlative acrobatic skills, intractable personality, and cognizance of fundamental rules. His journey to the Western Heavens represents the ultimate challenge, which is why all sportsmen admire his spirit. The Olympics celebrate the dynamism of life explicit in the image of Sun Wukong.”
Zhao speaks for the many who see Sun Wukong as epitomizing the essence of the Olympic motto: “Swifter, higher, stronger.” One somersault takes him a distance of 9,000 kilometers; he can jump on top of a cloud in an instant, and in the face of powerful demons is always resourceful enough to confound his enemies.
China has about 120 million people who were born in the Year of the Monkey, and millions of other people whose surname is Sun. They are all unconditional supporters of Sun Wukong as the candidate for the Beijing 2008 Olympic mascot.
The Monkey King Hometown
Author Wu Cheng’en was born in Huai’an, near what is now the Lianyungang Nature Reserve in the Yuntai Mountains on China’s east coast. Wu was a frequent visitor to the Yuntai Range, most frequently to Mount Huaguo, and Sun Wukong is one of the few mythological figures whose place of origin is clearly identified. In Journey to the West his home is actually named as Mount Huaguo. It was here that Wu Cheng’en combined knowledge gathered from historic materials on Monk Xuanzang’s journey to India and his fertile imagination to create his masterpiece.
On Huaguo can be seen recognizable images and spots as described in the novel. One is an eight-meter-tall rock resembling a monkey standing on a hill at the north gate, another is reminiscent of the Tang Monk in his cassock, near which is a Pigsy-like rock. Most striking is the Water Curtain Cave, home of Monkey King, whose entrance is a cascade of spring water forming a crystal curtain. Inside the cave is a constant spring that the locals say Sun Wukong traveled through to the Crystal Palace of the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea.
The municipal government of Lianyungang is proudly promoting Sun Wukong as the 2008 Olympic mascot, and also taking this opportunity to make its tourism resources, which apart from sites related to Monkey King also include China’s earliest rock carvings and a well- preserved 2,000-year-old corpse, known to the world.
Koreans Search for Roots in Ayodhya
Source: Vinay Krishna Rastogi, Lucknow
AYODHYA: A high-power delegation from South Korea visited Ayodhya to revive two millennia-old ties with the temple town. The South Koreans discovered that a Princess of Ayodhya was married to Korean King Suro in the first century CE. Suro was the King of Kimhay kingdom or the present Korea. The Princess was married to the Korean King at the age of 16. The Koreans believe that the Princess was the mother of the descendants who unified various Korean kingdoms in the 7th century CE. Since the first century CE her descendants prospered and became the largest clan in Korea, known as the Karak, whose members had been highly distinguished people. The present President of South Korea Kim Dae-Jung believes that he is also a descendant of the Great Princess of Ayodhya. She is regarded as the most blessed queen of Korea in the last 2,000 years, and Koreans believe that this could be due to the religious significance of the great temple city of Ayodhya where Lord Rama was born. The Counsel General of Korea said “I hope historians will be able to learn more about this great ancient Hindu city.” He urged the ex-Raja of Ayodhya BPN Misra to strengthen the cultural ties between Ayodhya and South Korea.
Vedik China & Japan & Korea: A Link Between Hindu Gods and Japan
Source: Japan Times Newspaper
TOKYO, JAPAN, April 10, 2002: An exhibition called “Gods Derived From India to Japan” is showing at the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts until May 26. The story behind the showing is a fascinating one. It all started 51 years ago when Toshio Yamanouchi’s job took him to India as general manager for an iron importer company. His passion for religious art took him all across the country and in twenty-five years he built up his collection. In northern Uttar Pradesh he discovered a miniature painting of “Govardhana Krishna.” In Madhya Pradesh he purchased a 18th century three-headed Ganesha made of ivory. A sandalwood Saraswati was found in the NW state of Rajasthan. Yamanouchi’s entire collection, which he has donated to the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts, consists of 350 statues, sculptures, reliefs and paintings. Seventy of these pieces are part of the present exhibition. Indian law would now prohibit the export of any historical object more than 100 years old. This law was passed in the early 70’s. However, by this time, the collection had already been brought back to Japan. Diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 73, Yamanouchi chose to utilize what he thought might be his final years to write three books about how India and Japan are bound by their roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. The article says, “Yamanouchi identifies Benzaiten, the Japanese goddess of good fortune, with Saraswati; Seiten of the Jogan Period with Ganesha; and Emma, the Japanese lord of hell, with his Indian counterpart Yama.”
Interestingly, Yamanouchi was fascinated with the Hindu gods that he saw during weekly visits to Buddhist temples when he was a young boy. He recalls, “My parents were very religious. I saw many Buddhas at the temples, but I also noticed many Indian gods protecting the central Buddha figure.”
Japan’s basic religion is Shintoism. Some claim that the word Shintoism is just a mispronunciation of Sindhuism or Hinduism. The Shinto shrines are full of Vedic deities but it is difficult for the outsiders to recognise them because of their japanised names. Kali-devi is pronounced as Kariteimo. Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated in Japan in the same way as in India but they call Sri Hanuman as Hanumatsri. The mantras recited in the Shinto shrines are in Sanskrit. The sumo wrestlers start their fight after uttering the word Om. Japanese pay homage to Lord Ganesh but call him Kangiten. Some time ago the Japanese postal department issued a stamp depicting Lord Krishna playing the flute. The Japanese cremate their dead as per Vedic practice. Elaborate chants beginning with Om consecrate the memory of the dead.
So, Vedic influence is quite strong in the Japanese culture, but Japanese tend to impart their own slant (no pun intended) to every thing which they borrow from outside.
Did the Chinese and Japanese once read the Mahabharata?
Amazing similarities of the story of King Sibi are mentioned in the Mahabharata, Chinese folklore and Japanese folklore. Here are the three versions. They seem to have the same source.
King Sibi was the son of Usinara and belonged to the Iksvaku lineage. Once King Sibi decided to conduct a grand yagya. All those who came to the yagya had all their wishes fulfilled. King Sibi would not turn down any request. Even the gods were speaking of this great sacrifice conducted by Sibi. The King of the gods Indra and Agni decided to test Sibi’s worth. So Indra took the shape of a falcon and Agni the shape of a dove and flew towards the sacrifice, with the falcon chasing the dove.
The dove flew towards King Sibi and sat on his lap trembling in fear. The sight of the dove brought compassion to the heart of King Sibi and so he assumed a protective stance. The falcon suddenly spoke in a human voice, ‘O king, your fame is well known throughout the three worlds for your adherence to dharma. It is my dharma to kill and provide food for my family and myself. Why do you obstruct me from performing dharma despite having such a reputation for clinging on to dharma?’
The King was startled on hearing this. But he thought for a while and replied, ‘It is also my dharma to protect anyone who is weaker than me and seeks my protection. This dove has chosen refuge under me, so it is my duty to protect it with my life.’ But the falcon replied, ‘But King Sibi, is it also not your duty to maintain dharma in your kingdom? If you insist on protecting that bird, then you must give me some other food, without causing suffering.’ King Sibi replied, ‘Ok, I will cut a piece of flesh from my own thigh equal to the weight of the dove as food for you.’
King Sibi began to cut a piece of flesh from his own thigh, but to his amazement the bird seemed to be much heavier than anticipated. He cut more and more flesh, but to no avail. His left side of the body had so little flesh he almost fell of balance. But struggling back to the ground he then climbed on the scale and offered himself as a sacrifice in order to uphold dharma. Immediately the dove and falcon assumed their true shape and gave Sibi Rana his body back with even more luster than before.
There are two versions. One version is ditto the same. Only the pronunciations are different. For ex. Sibi is pronounced as Shibi (strong emphasis on the h), etc. The other version is from the Jatakamala. In this story Indra dressed as a blind person approaches King Sibi requesting an eye-sight. King Sibi pierces his own eyes and gives them to the blind man asking him to use it to retain his eye-sight.
King Sibi is believed to be a previous incarnation of Sakyamuni Buddha. In this story a heavenly being named Bishamon (Kuvera) approaches the god Taishaku (Indra) and tells him, ‘There is a great Bodhisattva named King Sibi. Soon he will become a Buddha.’ On hearing this Taishaku decides to test the sincerity of the King’s practice in pursuing enlightenment. He transforms himself into a hawk and instructs Bishamon to take on the appearance of a dove.
Chased after by the hawk, the dove escapes and flies into the arms of King Sibi. Perched on the branch of a tree, the hawk says to the King, “Please let me have the dove back. It is what I have been trying to get.” King Sibi replies, “No, I can’t because I have vowed to protect all living things. I cannot return it to you.”
The hawk then points out, “I am one of the living things that you have vowed to save. If you take away my food for today, I will be unable to live tomorrow.”
The King then offers to cut off a piece of his own flesh and gave it to the hawk. As the King proceeded to cut his own flesh, the hawk measures it using a balance and found the dove to be consistently heavier than the muscle of the King. No matter how much muscle was added, the weight was lighter than the total weight of the dove. Finally, the King cuts all the flesh off of his body.
The King tries desperately to put his entire body on the balance, but falls to the ground. He then exclaims, “I once made a pledge to save all living beings! I cannot let such minor sufferings defeat me!”
At last he successfully climbs onto the balance. Watching the entire scene, all the heavenly beings praise the King saying, “He did not begrudge his life, even for a bird. He is a person who best suits the title of Bodhisattva.”
Suddenly, Taishaku casts off his disguised figure as a hawk and regains his original appearance. He says to the King, “Don’t you have any pain or regret?” The King replies, “I have no regrets whatsoever. My heart is rather full of joy.”
No sooner did the King utter these words than did his body change back into what it used to be.
The influence of Indian thought and culture on Japan was very great
Moritz Winternitz, while reviewing Geschichte der Japanischen Literature, says:
“In view of so much Indian influence in Japanese literature, it is possible to assume that the ‘Keuyogen’ or double meaning of Japanese poetry may in any way be connected with that form of Alankara of the Indian Kavya, which is exactly in the same method.”
The distinguished Japanese scholar, Mr. J. Taka Kusu, says: “But I should like to emphasize the fact that the influence of India, material and intellectual, must have been much greater in an earlier period than we at present consider to have been the case. There were, for instance, several Indians, whom the Kuroshiwo current, washing almost the whole southern coast, brought to the Japanese shore.” He further says, “It cannot be denied that several Indians came to Japan, especially in view of so many Indians finding their way to China by sea.”
He then relates how a Brahmin Bodhisen Bharadvaja, known generally as the “Brahmin Bishop” came with another priest from India via Champa (Cochin China) to Osaka, then to Nara, where they met another Indian ascetic and taught Sanskrit to the Japanese. “His monastery and tombstone, with a written eulogy, still exist in Nara. Just at the time a Japanese alphabet or syllables is said to have been invented. The fifty syllables, Gojuin, are arranged by a hand, evidently with a practical knowledge of Sanskrit method.”
(source: Journal of Royal Asiatic Society for 1905, p. 872-873).
The official record of Japan, Nihongi and Ruijukokushi describe how cotton was introduced in Japan by two Indians who reached Japan in July 799 and April 800 A.D.
(For more refer to Dr. Taka Kusu’s “What Japan owes to India” in the Journal of the Indo-Japanese Association for January, 1910).
It is noteworthy that some of the scriptures of the Japanese priests preserved in the Horyuji Temple of Japan are written in Bengali characters of the eleventh century.
(source: Daito Shimaji’s “India and Japan in Ancient Times,” in the Journal of Indo-Japanese Association for January 1910).
Common Terms: Sanskrit – Chinese – Japanese
Acharya (master) – Achali – Ajari
Dharma (law) – Fa – Ho
Pratima (warrior techniques of the Hindu ksatriyas) – Hsing – Kata
Sunyatapani – Tang-Shou – Karate/To De
Dharmahasta – Chuan-Fa – Kempo
Marga (the Way) – Tao – Do
Guhya-Sutra – Mi-Ching – Mikkyo
Nagarjuna – Lung Shu – Ryuju/Ryusho/Ryumyo
Mudra (ritual gesture) – Yin – In
Mandala (a special zone or area) – Mantolo – Mandara
Vajramukti – Ching Kang/Chieh T’o – Kongogedastsu
Sangha (congregation or group of followers) – Seng – So
Narya (strong or manly) – Na-Li/Nara – Naha
Nata – Na-Pa/Na-Ra – Nara/Napa/Nafa
Yoga (to yoke) – Yui Cha – Yu Ga
The Vedic Gods of Japan
By Subhash Kak
The Western philological approach to the Vedas has misguided generations of scholars and laypersons into a simplistic view of Indian culture. It sees Hinduism and Buddhism in dichotomous terms that appear absurd to those within the tradition. The Buddha himself affirmed on the basis of his own direct experience the existence of the various elements of the Vedic world view, including the existence of many hells, heavens, and various supernatural beings like devas, asuras (demons), and rakshasas. The Buddha claimed to have seen these realms and beings with his divine sight, and he also claimed to have observed how sentient beings cycle through these diverse forms of existence in the interminable process of transmigration. The Buddha, therefore, took for granted the Vedic cosmic geography wherein all these natural and supernatural beings lived. It is no wonder then that the anthology Subhasitaratnakosha of Vidyakara (c. 1100), a Buddhist abbot at the monastery of Jagaddala in present-day Bangladesh,2 has 20 verses to the Buddha, but 73 to Siva, and 40 to Visnu.
The philologists and the anthropologists wonder what Siva and Visnu are doing in a book by a Buddhist. Neither can they explain how the Vedic devas continue to be a part of the Mahayana pantheon. Their texts absurdly describe the Vedic devas of Japan and China as Buddhist since according to legend they became followers of the Buddha when he started preaching. The Buddha in the Mahayana tradition is the principle of Understanding, who fits in perfectly within the Vedic conception, and we see this most emphatically in the Lotus Sutra (Saddharma Pundarika Sutra).
Living in an isolated valley, Kashmiris have maintained many old customs, although their recent tragic history has been responsible for much loss of the meaning of their ceremonies. For example, we were told of six psychological states of the existence, where the lowest three states represented (1) ideas of evil people, (2) ghosts of unfulfilled desires, and (3) our animal nature. The highest three states are (4) asuras, who take the bodies to be all that we are; (5) humans; and (6) devas, who embody the essence of the various tattvas (or their combinations) that constitutes the world of the mind. There were ceremonies in which the yakshas were invoked. We didn’t quite understand these ceremonies although we were reminded of their connection to architecture and directions by their appearance in the ruins at Avantipur and Martanda. The Vedic devas went to China and Japan through Kashmir. The fourth great council was held there under the patronage of the Kushana emperor Kanishka (r. 78-120) in around 100 CE, where monks of the Sarvastivadin School compiled a new canon. This became the basis of Mahayana. The Vedic devas were a part of this understanding, as was dhyana of the Vedic tradition (Ch’an in China and Zen in Japan) with devotion to Isvara (Siva) as its ultimate objective (Yogasutra 1.23). The Parihasapura monuments (near Srinagar) of the Cankuna stupa (Karkota dynasty, 8th century) “served as a model all across Asia from the Pamir Mountains to Japan”.3 The Kashmiri images of the Vedic devas were also much copied. The art historian Susan Huntington reminds us: “The Yunkang caves in China, the wall paintings from several sites in Inner Asia, especially Qizil and Tun-huang, the paintings from the cache at Tun-huang, and some iconographic manuscripts from Japan, for example, should be evaluated with Kashmir in mind as a possible source.”4
Vedic ideas were also taken to Japan by the sea route from South India and Southeast Asia. That serves to explain the specific transformations of some Sanskrit terms into Japanese through Tamil phonology. For example, consider the transformation of Sanskrit homa, the Vedic fire rite, into Japanese goma, where the initiation is given by the achari (Sanskrit acarya). The Sanskrit mantras in Japan are written the Siddham script of South India.
In this article I present the main Vedic gods that are popular in present-day Japan. I begin with the Vedic fire and consecration ceremonies and then describe the gods of the directions and a few goddesses.
Homa, Vedic fire rite, remains central to religion in Japan. It consists of mantra, mudra, and mandala. In the Vedic fire-ritual manuals some instructions regarding mudra are given. For example, the ladles are to be held in the ankha-mudra, and when the priest enters the chamber, he is to put his right palm downward on his left palm at right angles and close the hands. The fire-ritual is the quintessential Vedic ritual, emphasizing the process of transformation.6 The artistic parallels of this ritual is presented most clearly by Kapila Vatsyayan.7
Another Vedic rite that is widely practiced is abhisheka (consecration). The initiates are given a potion to drink before they enter the room. Inside, the initiate places the right foot on an elephant, which represents Ganesha or Vinayaka (Kangitan in Japanese) as he is the remover of obstacles. Next, the initiates rub powdered incense on their hands, and dab it on their foreheads and also on their tongues, and then swallow the potion.
Now the candidate enters the first room, where the samaya vow (sammaya-kai) – the vow of secrecy – is administered. They hear hymns being chanted as they are given instructions as to the meaning of the rite by the priest. Another image of Ganesha is seen surrounded by offerings. Two mandalas are used in the ceremonies:8 the garbhadhatu (womb mandala) and the vajradhatu (diamond mandala). The candidates are first initiated into the garbhadhatu; the following day they are initiated into the vajradhatu. The candidates are each blindfolded with a strip, white for the womb mandala, red for the vajra mandala. A folded paper flower, white or red depending on the mandala, is put between their joined hands, with their fingers slightly crossed at the end, and then they are led in front of the mandala in a central room.
The candidate goes through a landscape-screened labyrinth of the oblong buildings (corresponding to the Vedic goddess temple), to its center, the womb, (the garbhagrha section of the Indian temple), where the mandala is located. The squares of the mandala corresponding to the deities are left blank, with white circles. A homa fire is burning in the chamber.
The candidate now is given a flower to throw at the mandala. The circle on which it lands becomes the candidate’s tutelary deity for life, and this is whispered into his ear by the master. Now the blindfold is taken off and the candidate is taken to a side table. A crown is placed on his head, showing his initiation. Water from a well has been drawn in advance with special mantras to make it symbolic of the five oceans. Now the master pours five drops of it on the crown of the candidate and consecrates him as a monarch, chakravartin, of dharma. Next the master takes a bronze needle (alk in Sanskrit) and applies it to his eye, saying “the scales of ignorance have fallen from your eyes; your eyes are open.” Then he takes a bronze mirror and holds it up to the newly initiated master (no longer a candidate), for him to see his face.
Japanese Ganesha (Kangi-ten)
This Hindu deity, sometimes a demon, is mainly venerated in Japan and sometimes found in syncretic forms. He is certainly one of the most difficult to grasp of the gods of the Buddhist pantheon: few writings are devoted to him, and the monks never discuss him openly. He represents the Hindu god Ganesa, the elephant-headed son of Siva. He is thought to be the son of Siva and Avalokitesvara in a form identical to that of Uma, spouse of Siva. A dispenser of wealth, he is supposed to have formidable power. He is invoked as the protector of the state and of private individuals. Both masculine and feminine, malevolent and benevolent, he is represented by two tightly interlaced bodies (Siva and Avalokitesvara, in the form of Juichimen Kannon, ‘Kannon with eleven heads’). According to the Tantric sects, the masculine portion is merely a metamorphosis of Vairocana, and the couple represents the intimate union of the faithful with the Buddha, the principle of all things. In Chinese philosophy, the two bodies symbolize the perfect union of the Heaven and the Earth or the Confucian principles of the Li and the Ji. This secret deity, introduced into Japan by the Shingon sect, was subsequently used for Tantric purposes by the Tendai sect, among others. His image is never shown to lay people. Special rites, including immersions of the statue in oil, are attached to him. In the Japanese esoteric sects, his dual nature symbolizes the intimate union of the two great mandalas of the Shingon sect (Ryobu Mandara).
The atmosphere of secrecy surrounding these images, and, in general, everything associated with the god, explains why, in the Buddhist pantheon, he is one of the very rare deities who inspires fear in the Japanese. Kangi-ten is represented by effigies, generally small; these are usually of metal (due to immersions in oil), but wood is not excluded. His image is sometimes found at the centre of the rings of the stave of a pilgrim (khakkara), in the place of the small stupa usually found there: this indicates that the pilgrim belongs to a Tantric sect. Kangi-ten may represent a fairly large number of forms that can be classed under two main headings: esoteric and exoteric forms.
Esoteric forms: Kangi-ten has a dual nature, especially in Tantrism. He is therefore represented by two human figures with the heads of elephants, face to face and tightly interlaced. Their sexual organs are occasionally apparent and joined (as is the case in this particular sculpture). They wear a cloth thrown over the shoulders, and their hips are also covered. The feminine element wears a simple crown (or tiara), jewels and bracelets, and her feet step on those of her partner. This feminine body is supposed to be a metamorphosis assumed by Avalokitesvara to contain the fearful energy of Vinayaka (Ganesha) and to make it beneficial. Her right tusk is broken. Both bodies are white. At least three forms are known:
Heads cheek to cheek and looking in the same direction, trunks intertwined.
Heads resting on the right shoulder of the complementary deity, and looking in opposite directions. This form is of the sculpture in question.
The male with an elephant’s head, and the female with that of a wild sow (very rare and secret).
These forms are worshiped secretly because they are supposed to possess terrifying power. They are carefully sheltered from view in small portable sanctuaries (Japanese – zushi) in the temples of the esoteric sects.
Exoteric forms: These forms usually consist of a single male figure, without a female counterpart. They are less secret and are usually venerated by individuals who attribute great power to them. They may assume several forms:
A single human figure with an elephant’s head (Ganapati). He is seated, with two arms, and holds various ornaments: in the right hand a Japanese radish (daikon), in the left a ball of thread, a parasol, a bow and arrows, a rosary and a sword.
With four arms and four legs (sometimes Tantric). In his right hands he holds an axe, a ball of thread (sometimes on a tray) or a rope and a trident. In his left hands he holds an elephant’s tusk or a stick, or an axe and a single-pointed vajra.
With six arms. His head is turned to the left, the trunk raised, the right tusk broken, the body orange or red. In his right hands he holds a stick, a rope, an elephant’s tusk (or a needle). In his left hands he holds a sword, a tray of fruit (or a ball of thread) and a cakra.
Standing on a rock, with four arms. In his right hands he carries an axe and a ball of thread, and in his left hands a rope and a knife.
Standing on a rock, with six arms. His right hands hold a five-pointed vajra, a rope and a sceptre or a stick. His left hands hold a sword with the hilt ornamented with a five-pointed vajra, a ball of thread and a cakra.
These forms are far from being the only ones, because not all of them are known, and the significance of their attributes is also unknown. Kangi-ten is specially venerated in the Matsuchiyama sanctuary at Asakusa, Tokyo, and in the Ikoma sanctuary in Nara.
He does not appear to have been the object of a special cult in Tibet; in fact, his image is found only in the form of Ganesa, as a demon, holding a flower, a rat or a skull cap, under the feet of one of the forms of Mahakala. His cult does not appear to be attested in China, although it is almost certain that this complex deity was venerated secretly in the temples of the esoteric sects. Not even a single image of him from China is, however, known to exist.
Copyright 2000, ExoticIndiaArt
Indian music, Japanese artist
By K. Kannan
The superior aesthetics of traditional music from the land of the rising sun came alive at the Japanese Embassy premises in New Delhi on Wednesday evening with solo performances on Tsugaru-Shamisen and Shakuhachi, both instruments of yore that owe their origin to India.
Coming as it did with the fusion of Indian ragas on Sitar played by famous Japanese musician Kenji Inoue, who has performed in India and Japan since 1987, the audience were treated to an auditory feast for more than an hour. With Ambika Prasad Mishra playing the Tabla and Hiroki Miyano the Guitar, it was, indeed, a memorable evening.
The structure of the concert, dubbed “Foojean”, reflected predominantly the deep contours of classical music from Northern India. Derived from two Japanese words, Foojean is the fusion of fushin (a guardian deity in Buddhism) and idenshi (meaning gene). It is believed that fushin in Buddhism is Hanuman’s father Vayu. “Even today the strong influence of Indian music can be felt in Japanese traditional music suggesting that it was originally transmitted from India,” says Mr. Hiroshi Hirobayashi, the Japanese Ambassador to India.
Consider other well-known facts. Veena (vina) came to Japan from China in the 7th century and came to be known as “Biwa” thanks to an orchestra group “Gagaku”. Veena’s characteristic sound “Juwari” is still alive with Biwa as “Sawari”. Another representative Japanese instrument “Shamisen” (literally meaning three strings) also has the sound “Sawari” and is one of the most widely played instruments at Japanese concerts.
And, of course, there is the Japanese instrument “Shakuhachi”, earlier considered to be a unique bamboo-whistle, which resembles the Indian “Bansuri”. Its enchanting and sometimes haunting sound is a pleasure to hear. Indeed, it goes to Mr. Inoue’s credit that he has been able to combine traditional and modern elements of Japanese music on the one hand and Indian numbers, on the other as the concert proved in no ample measure.
Reflecting the expression of Kenji’s creative urge in the field of music, the concert had him presenting musical numbers based exclusively on Indian ragas. Others composed on the scale of those Indian ragas present in Japanese traditional music were also included in the concert.
The evening’s programme began with Bristy, a traditional Japanese number followed by “Shika-No-Tone”, a solo number on Shakuhachi by Dozan Fujiwara. This was followed by “Jongarabushi-Kyokubiki” – a solo performance by Satoshiro Tsuboi on the Shamisen. Both these traditional instruments are played during Kabuki and Japanese dances.
It was then the turn of the leader of the sitar concert to present “Yemeni Baglamis”. Kenji went on to play rag Malkauns – a classical Hindustani raga – along with Ambika Prasad Mishra on the tabla. The programme was rounded off with “Momoyama-Zakura” based on rag Bhairavi.
There were two enjoyable interludes, one in the form of Shakuhachi and guitar duet and the other a fusion of Shakuhachi and Shamisen. Top guitarist, Hiroki Miyano’s performance had the audience savouring the essence of Latin and Jazz. Towards the end of the programme, Kenji, who has contributed his music and dance compositions to many other programmes and films, expressed his gratitude to the organisers in Hindi – “Bahut shukriya, Bahut Dhanyavad”.
The Celtic-Vedic Connection
Source: Hinduism Today
1) Celtic cosmology cognizes four interrelating worlds of existence: netherworld, earth realm; heavenly realm of dead and demi-gods; white realm of supreme Deities and energy source of stars. [a comment from a Celtic reconstructionist: latter two unsubstantiated]
Vedic cosmology perceives three interrelating worlds-physical; astral world of dead and demi-gods; causal universe of Deities, Supreme Being and primal energy; plus a fourth netherworld.
2) These worlds further divided into lands and cities occupied by spirits and disincarnate people of similar character. Time is slower in these realms.
The three worlds divide into loka habitats of existence, occupied by spirits and like-minded disincarnate people. Time is dilated in the lokas.
3) Celtic earth realm is called bitus. Celtic Gods are called deuos, meaning “shining one”.
Vedic earth world is called bhu. Gods of Vedas are invoked as deva, meaning “shining one”.
4) Departed souls dwelled in refined or hellish lands until their next reincarnation as a human or animal. [a comment from a Celtic reconstructionist: hell unsubstantiated]
At death, souls continue existence in subtle or hellish realms until entry into the next human or animal body.
5) Celtic priests taught that human souls were indestructible, but the universe ends and rebuilds through fire and water in a repeating cycle.
The universe existence span-called kalpa-ends in a repeating creation/destruction cycle through fire and water, symbolic of primal light and sound.
6) Celtic deities included Gods who actualized nature forces, promulgated ethics, justice, knowledge, speech, arts, crafts, medicine, harvests, gave war courage and battled forces of darkness, and Goddesses of land, rivers and motherhood. Gods often did multiple functions.
The early Vedic pantheon included deities of fire, solar, atmospheric and nature forces, ritual stimulants, speech, crafts, arts, harvests, medicine, justice, ethical/ecological order, war, battlers of malevolent beings, river Goddesses. Gods often had overlapping functions.
7) Celtic God of thunder was Taranus who carried thunderbolts. God of fire is Aedh (pronounced uh-ee), meaning fire. The sun Deity is Sulios. The Celtic word for invocation is gutuater. [a comment from a Celtic reconstructionist: Taranus exact function is unknown, he is known through statuary and inscriptions, and is Gaulish. Aedh is an epithet held by many mythological figures in medieval Irish literature, but was not a deity onto itself (and also not found among the Gauls). Sulios as a solar deity is spurious at best, would only be Gaulish, as in Gaelic the sun and moon are referred to as female.]
Vedic God of rain and thunder was Indra who carried thunderbolts. Vedic God of fire is Agni, meaning fire. The solar Being is Surya. The Sanskrit term for invocation is hotar.
8) Celtic cosmology conceived of cosmic creation as a primal Person sacrifice. The Celt term for breath is anal. For soul, the Celt word is anam.
Vedic cosmology describes cosmic creation as the sacrifice of Primal Being. The Vedic word for breath is prana. The soul in the Vedas is atman.
9) The central Celtic ritual was the fire sacrifice, conducted in geometric pits with offerings of herbs, mead and flour cakes, conducted by chanting druids, the Celtic priests.
The central Vedic ritual was the fire sacrifice, performed in geometric pits with offerings of ghee, spices, rice-conducted by hymn- and-mantra-chanting brahmins.
10) Celtic priests were called druids, meaning “knowers of the tree, or truth.” They memorized the entire knowledge of the Celts and passed it on orally, forbidding written transmission. They were divided into several classes: seers, judges, royal advisors, hymn chanters, poet bards, sacrificers. They were also astronomers, healers and magicians.
The Vedic priesthood-the brahmins-memorized the scriptural and societal law knowledge of the Hindus, passing it on orally, forbidding writing. Brahmins formed several divisions associated with the fire ritual duties. Enlightened brahmins became rishi seers. Others advised kings and some specialized in medicine and astronomy/astrology.
11) Druids studied for 20 years in strict discipleship to master their oral, ritual, law, science and psychic arts.
Brahmins studied for 12 years in a gurukulam to master oral, ritual, mathematical, astronomical knowledge.
12) Druids memorized extremely lengthy poetic sagas that communicated spiritual metaphysics and civic laws. The poetic metre was a fixed syllable line, free form, with 3-part cadence at end.
Bards of the Vedic literature memorized lengthy poetic sagas conveying spiritual knowledge and dharmic duty. The poetic metre was a fixed syllable line, free form, with 3-part cadence at end.
13) Druids practiced breathing, posture and meditation techniques that gave degrees of ecstasy, often accompanied by intense heat in the body.
Vedic ascetics practiced breathing, posture and meditation skills in a spiritual unfoldment process called tapas (heat), generating high body heat.
14) Celtic society was divided into three hierarchical stratas of life: priests, warriors and producers (inclusive of merchants). Druids advised warrior-kings known as rix. Upward progression through classes was possible.
Vedic society divided into four hierarchical castes: priests, warriors, merchants, workers. Brahmins counseled warrior-kings (rajas). Upward mobility was sanctioned in Vedas, but later frozen in societal law books.
15) Celts prized the magical power of telling truth, honor/piety among men and eloquence in conversation and oration.
Vedic society prized the supernatural power of truth-saying, piety and honor, and eloquence in gatherings.
16) Celts honored women, guarded their virtue, and allowed by law daughters of sonless fathers to inherit property or to marry kinsmen to bear male heirs to the father. Seeresses were sanctioned, and priestesses for Goddesses favored.
Vedic Hindus prized womanly virtues, and by law sonless fathers could bequeath property to daughters or arrange her marriage to relatives for male heirs. Female seers were countenanced, and female ascetics tended Goddess rites.
17) Celts recognized 8 forms of marriage from arranged to love to abduction. A bride gift was given by the groom.
Vedic Hindus followed 8 forms of marriage from arranged to love to abduction. The groom paid a bride price.
18) Celts defined life stages, columns of age: infancy (0-1), boyhood (2-11), adolescence (12-18), young adult (19-45), old age (46-65), decrepitude (65+) in which enlightening inspiration is sought.
Vedic society taught four ashrama stages of life: studentship (12- 24); family life (25-48); elder advisor (49-72); religious solitaire (72+), in which the individual seeks enlightenment.
19) The Celtic ideal measure of life was to live 100 years.
The Vedic ideal of a fulfilled life was to live 100 autumns.
20) Celt family unit was a group of four generations from a great- grandfather.
The ancient Hindu family unit is four generations from a great- grandfather.
21) One Celt calendar was based on 62 lunar months (5 years +) intercalated to a 3-year solar cycle for solstice correction. Druids studied stellar motion, navigation and contemplated such abstracts as the size and nature of the universe.
Vedic astronomy is based on lunar months daily aligned to star positions and related to 3-year and 5-year solar cycles. Vedic astronomy was applied to astrology, and the rishi seers contemplated the universe’s nature and genesis.
22) By Celt law a man owed money could fast at the door of the debtor- who must join the fast-forcing the debtor to pay or enter an arbitration.
By Hindu law, a creditor could fast at the door of the past due debtor, who then was obligated to protect the health of the creditor and pay the debt.
Bryan Mcmahon, historian, scholar of folklore, teacher, a well known poet and much else besides, likes to test his favorite theories in practice and to retail them with all the skill and timing of a seasoned performer. He told me: Whenever I meet an Indian I take him to one side and hum the first lines of an Irish folk-song. Then I ask him to continue the melody as he likes; and, believe it or not, almost every time he will sing it to the end as if he already knew the song. Isn’t that astonishing?
For me it is an indication that Indians and Irishmen have a common past; that, as I put it in one of my plays, “We Celts came from the Mysterious East.”
The late Myles Dillon, formerly Prof of Celtic at U of Dublin cites a whole series of further astonishing parallels between the culture of the Aryan Indians and the Irish Druids. (Druid from Dru = Oak, Wid or Ved = Wisdom) His main contention is that in both cases there was a distinct class of scholars; the Brahmins in India, the highest reps in the Varna system; while in Ireland there were the ‘wise men of the oak’. Dillon reckons that the Brahmins and the Druids should be equated because they carried out their profession-teaching and study, poetry and law-in a similar way.
There is evidence that this is so.
The principles by which justice was administered were similar, indeed identical with those in India. There a father with daughters but no sons could order one of them to take a man of his choice and produce a legal heir. Beyond the Hindu Kush mountains, such a girl was called putrika (she who takes the son’s place) and in old Ireland ban-chomarba (female-heir). But who if not the Continental Celts can have told the Irish what was going on in the far east? Dillon further notes similarities: in both cultures there were 8 different forms of marriage, from arranged marriages, marriage by purchase and love- matches to kidnapping. In both cultures there was a strict distinction between inherited and earned property and when contracts were drawn up there was an exact statement as to who was to provide what guarantees before obtaining what he wanted. In one case it was the Brahmins and in the other the Druids who administered these principles.
All this, Dillon says, suggests that the Celtic Druids indeed represented the same tradition as the Hindu Brahmins… If we continue to feel our way along the parallels between India and Gaul, sooner or later we sense that the Druids were also political leaders, just as the Brahmins clearly stood above generals and warriors.
The Druids, Caesar says, taught that “souls do not disappear but wander from one body to another”. Lucan in his Pharsalia – a verse epic about the Roman civil war – addressed them with the words: “If we understand you aright, death is only a pause in a long life.” Does the fact that according to Scythian custom, crests depicted eagles, wolves, bears as ancestors reflect the conviction of these people that the spirit of the dead goes through many life-forms, human and animal, as the Hindus believe?
…Ancient author Diodorus’s own most adventurous suggestion – “they still hold Pythagoras’s belief in the immortality of the soul and rebirth.” …But since Pythagoras, with his strong influences from the east, was among the few great Hellenic philosophers who believed in the possibility of life after death, they could only conclude that his belief was related to the blonde barbarians (the Celts) or that they had taken theirs from him.
Yggdrasil as a cosmic tree is sometimes called an ash and sometimes a yew. Yggdrasil, otherwise known as the World tree, grows out of the past, lives in the present and reaches toward the future. It nourishes all spiritual life and physical life. Its roots reach into all the worlds; its boughs hang above Asgard. Yggdrasil has three main roots which hold everything together. One root reaches into the well of Urd in Asgard, another into the Mimir of Midgard, and the third into the Spring of Hvelgelmir in Hel. …
The World Tree is constantly under attack by evil creatures. …
Of the nine worlds in the Norse Mythology, Asgard is on the highest level, with Alfheim to the east and Vanaheim to the west. The Prose Edda states that Midgard is in the center of Ginnungagap, an area of 11 rivers and frozen wasteland. It is Midgard that ties together all the other worlds. On the same level as Midgard is Svartalfheim to the south, Nidavellir to the east, and Jotunheim to the west. Below Midgard lie Hel and Nilfheim. The Aesir gods live in Asgard, the Vanir in Vanaheim, and the Light Elves in Alfheim or Ljossalfheim. …
Niflheim is the world of the dead, ruled by the goddess Hel, while the kingdom Hel is realm of the dead, ruled by Urd. …
Niflheim or Niflhel lies south of Midgard. It is an immense land of darkness and great cold, an area of torture for evil souls. To reach Niflheim, one has to travel downwards for nine days from Midgard on the Helway. This road goes through great forests and deep dark valleys, over high mountains. There is a deep black cave between the two levels of Midgard and Hel. Near the end of the Helway, the maiden Modgud guards the Gjallarbru or Gjoll. Beyond the bridge are the Hel gates (Helgrind) and behind them the Hall of Death. The Goddess Hel s palace is called Sleetcold or Sleet-Den. …
Hel is the lower world Thingstead of the Gods. There the souls of the dead are judged by Odhinn, and rewards or punishments handed out. Even the Valkyries must first bring their chosen warriors to this Thingstead where they are accepted or rejected as unworthy.
At the lower world Thingstead, the Hamingjur (individual guarding spirits) can speak for an individual during judgement. If the person is evil he or she is deserted by his/her Hamingjur. Those souls judged good go to Hel where they live in eternal joy. Those condemned as evil are shackled and driven to Niflhel by the Dark Elves. They must drink burning venom and are subjected to the nine realms of torture.
Out of Norse Magick; By Rev. D.J. Conway. Llewllyn, ISBN 0-87542-137-7
New Proof Of Ancient India’s Flourishing Trade With Rome
By Anand Parthasarathy, KOCHI 6-14-2
A gruelling nine-year-long international archaeological expedition in Egypt, has unearthed the most extensive evidence so far, of vigorous trade between India and the Roman Empire ” 2000 years ago.
The project funded by Dutch and American agencies, at Berenike, on the Sudan-Egypt border along the shores of the Red Sea, has revealed that the location was the southern-most, military sea port of the Roman Empire in the first century A.D. and the key transfer point for a flourishing trade with India, whose magnitude was hitherto not known.
In major findings to be published in the July issue of the monthly scientific journal Sahara and announced today at the archaeological database website of the expedition, researchers report having unearthed the largest single cache of black pepper “about 8 kg” ever excavated from a Roman dig. They were able to establish that this variety was only grown in antiquity in South India.
Because of the drier weather of Egypt, the Berenike site preserved organic substances from India, like sail cloth, matting and baskets dating to AD 30-AD 70, all traces of which were destroyed in the more humid climate of the subcontinent.
In one of the surprise findings, the archaeologists also report stumbling on a Roman “trash dump” containing well-preserved evidence of Indian `batik’ work and ancient printed textiles as well as ceramics.
All this leads archaeologists, Willeke Wendrich of the University of California, and Steven Sidebotham of the Delaware University to conclude in next month’s paper that a “Spice Route” from India to Rome, existed long before the better known “Silk Route” to China.
They suggest that the goods traveled from the west coast Indian ports to Berenike by ships in the monsoon months, and were then transported by camel and Nile river boats, to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, from where ships conveyed the cargo to Rome by sea.
This route was preferred for almost 50 years because the alternative land route through what is today Pakistan and Iran, passed through countries hostile to the Roman Empire.
“We talk about globalism as if it were the latest thing”, Wendrich is quoted by the Associated Press as saying, but trade was going on in antiquity on a scale that is truly impressive”.
The Berenike route was finally abandoned in AD 500 probably after a plague epidemic.
The new findings are said to establish what was long suspected – the central role that India played in the maritime trade 2000 years ago.
Alexander the Great, born in 256 BC in Pella, Macedonia. At the age of thirteen he became a pupil of Aristotle. Alexander routed Darius and forced his entire army east. After this the city of Babylon surrendered, which allowed Alexander to easily capture Susa and Persepolis.
Darius was soon killed by one of his generals which made Alexander King of Asia. He did not rest for long, as he had set his sights on India. In 326 BC Alexander defeated Porus, the prince of India. Alexander was now at the height of his power. His empire stretched from the Ionian Sea to northern india. Alexander had greater plans. He wanted to combine Asia and Europe into one country, and named Babylon the new capital. The most profitable overseas trade was the Roman trade with South India. Yavana merchants (i.e. merchants from western Asia and the Mediterranean) had trading establishments both in the Satavahana kingdoms and in those of the far south. Early South Indian literature describes Yavan ships arriving with their cargoes at the city of Kaveripattinam. Excavations in 1945 uncovered a sizable Roman settlement which was a trading station, it would seem that the Roman were using Arikamedu from the first century BC to the early second century AD.
The frequency of hoards of Roman coins found in the Deccan and south India indicate the volume of this trade. Most of the urban centers of the south were ports which prospered on this trade. Western culture had its early birth in Greece and Rome. India came into contact with Greece politically in the days of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. But the cultural contact of the Greek as well as the Greece-Roman world with India was in all probability far earlier and lasted quite longer so far as South India was concerned. The Great Greek dramatists of the 4th century BC., particularly Euripides and Aristophanes, appear to have been familiar with the Kannada country and the Kannada language, and had actually used Kannada phrases and expressions in the dialogues of their characters. This shows a far more intimate contact of the Greeks with Kannada India culture than with Indian Culture elsewhere. Kannada and Tamil are two of the most ancient literature’s not only of South India, but of all India as well. The antiquity of Kannada literature as at present back to the 9th century of the Christian era.
A study of Roman coins in south India forms a fascinating but little known chapter in the history of south India. A large number of Roman coins of gold and silver found in south India and Karnataka testify to a highly flourishing trade between India and Rome during the early part of the first century AD. In addition to these hoards of Roman coins, many antiquities and pottery having connections with Roman culture have been unearthed at many sites in this area. Further, there are a large number of references to Rome in Indian and Greek literary texts. All these point to an era of brilliant maritime contact between India and Rome in the early centuries of the Christian era.
Large number of Roman coins found in Karnataka were made of gold, silver and copper. From the beginning of the Christian era to the third century AD., Roman silver and gold coins were brought into this region for the purchase of Indian commodities which were in great demand in Rome. These coins have been found at various places in the Chera, Pandya and Chola countries in large numbers. These coins were often converted into Indian coins by a simple method.
REFERENCES: 1. Coins and Currency system N. Karnataka Dr. A.V. Narasimha Murthy.
The Sanskrit Dialect Known as English
By Neil Kalia Robinson
(Abstract of Paper to be Presented at WAVES 2002 Conference Being held at U of Mass. in Dartmouth, Mass.)
In western curriculum there is a tendency to exclude Sanskrit as a root to the English language. Numbers and alphabet are categorized as Roman or Arabic. There is however recognition of the Indo-Aryan or Indo European language group which Sanskrit is admittedly an elder member.
How important is the role of Sanskrit in regards to world languages and in this case English, possibly the most dominant language in the modern world?
It is imperative to note that the English language, except for the current written alphabet, is as close to ancient Sanskrit as Hindi, Bengali or any other dialect from India. And yes, English numerals are Sanskrit not Arabic or Roman.
It is helpful to understand that many English words have no intrinsic denominator without application or aid of Sanskrit.
The compound word San-Skrit, San; meaning whole, equal, complete, total or amount and Skrit; meaning script, scribe etc. Thus reveals the common basis and subtle collusion of English words to be non different than Sanskrit i.e. San; Sum, some, syn, same, sane, saint etc. all these English words meaning either whole, total, equal or even.
To opine that in time Sanskrit developed its refined status from a earlier more crude form of the Indo-European or other language family is herein questionable due to the vivid, concise depth of Sanskrit Syllabary and antiquated references
An example is given that the Name for the human race “Man” has come from “Manu” (Manoah, Noah, Nuh), the “Manvantara” descendant from the Vivasvan, the solar deity.
The word “Man” has no sufficient origins given in English. According to Vedic chronology the story of Manu stretches so far into antiquity that it no longer finds cohesive analogy in English literature, except perhaps in form of the Biblical story of Noah.
In United States of America we have no monarchy so the title “King” can only refer to periods and places where where it actually did or currently exist, such as The “Queen” of England. Yet we still use the word “King and Queen” in North America, because in the past it was used frequently in reference to actual monarchy.
Even though there are no lions in England the Kings where still known as lion hearted. Coats of arms often portrayed lions attributing the qualities of the lions to the kings such as courage, strength, chivalry, generosity and resourcefulness.
The old English spelling of King is “Cing” As in ancient Sanskrit appellation King, Cing, Singh, Simha or Simba (Swahili) for lion meaning powerful chief or leader.
The English language, full of such descendants perceived directly in relation to its sister dialects, Hindi and Bengali is no further remote from Sanskrit. Apparently Sanskrit similarly supplies integral structure and identifying roots of English.
Could the very word “Sanskrit” claim what it may well be a “Samskrit” or “complete alphabet” of a universal language originating from the subtlemost realm of consciousness?
Even Professor Max Mueller had to acknowledge the greatness of the Devanagari script admitting its very perfection and realizing its antecedent superiority. Vedic Sanskrit of Ancient India very possibly may contain the “perfect” contributing factor providing spiritual and metaphysical roots and reason to many branches of global languages.
Lakshmi-Hari Worship in Ancient Denmark
Dr Subhash Kak
One of the things you have mentioned is the Gundestrup Cauldron (Scientific American, March 1992), something that was unearthed in a peat bog in Denmark. Apparently it shows strong evidence — including goddess-images similar to Lakshmi and Hariti and a god-image similar to Vishnu — of cross-cultural connections between Indic civilizations and those of far northern Europe. You have also noted the apparent connections between Celtic/Druidic pre-Christian cultures of Europe and Hindu practices. Is this merely circumstantial evidence or does it prove conclusively that there was a migration of peoples westward from India, rather than eastwards into India (the Aryan Invasion Theory)?
There is whole host of evidence that proves that Indian ideas, if not people (that is apart from the gypsies), traveled from India to Europe. Indic people were apparently present in Palestine, Turkey, Babylon in the 2nd millennium BCE. The names of the ruling dynasties of these places and some Sanskritic inscriptions tell us this. The father of the beautiful Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, was a king of the Near East named Tusharatha or Dasharatha.
The Puranas also say an Indian tribe called the Druhyus emigrated West. Whether they emigrated all the way to Europe, we cannot say. What is likely to have happened is that an Indic element became the political and religious aristocracy in many countries, all the way up to Europe. This may also explain the parallels between Indian and European mythology.
What are the parallels between Indian and European mythology?
We have these parallels at many levels: in names and in the grammar of the myths. Let’s begin with names. There are two Rigvedic skygods, Varuna and Dyaus; the corresponding Greek skygods are Ouranos and Zeus. Similar to Agni and Bhaga we have the Slavic Ogun and Bogu. For Aryaman and Indra we have the Celtic Eremon and Andrasta; Ribhu and Ushas are the Greek Orpheus and Eos. The list goes on and on, and the most interesting thing is that the Vedic list is comprehensive and we see parts of it remembered in different parts of Europe suggesting that the Vedic is the original.
The Vedic gods belong to three categories: the terrestrial, the atmospheric, and the celestial, if we see them superficially, as the Indologists of the 19th century saw them. In reality, they represent categories in the spiritual firmament: they are shadows of the One. The Europeans also saw their mythology in similar terms which is why when the Greeks came to India they declared that Shiva and Krishna were like their own Dionysius and Herakles.
There are still deeper connections, and these have been examined by the scholar Georges Dumezil in a series of fascinating books. In Rome, the raj-brahmin dichotomy of India was paralleled by the rex-flamen division. The injunctions to the flamen — the keeper of the flame — are very similar to those to the brahmin. The gandharvas in India had a shadowy role related to music and fecundity; in Rome this was assigned to centaurs. Dumezil found enough parallels to fill five or six books. Joseph Campbell also wrote about these connections in his books, as have many others.
After the Old Religion of Europe was extinguished, Indian myths continued to influence Europe. From the lives of Krishna and Buddha a nascent Christianity adopted the stories of miraculous conception and birth, the star over the birthplace, the twelve disciples, and the various miracles. Parables such as that of the pious disciple whose faith makes it possible to walk on water, or the story where the master feeds his numerous disciples with a single cake or bread were borrowed. Medieval Christianity took some Indian Jataka tales and transformed them into accounts of Christian saints. The most famous of such instances is how a Buddha legend from the Lalitavistara became the story of Barlaam and Josaphat!
If there were was no Aryan Invasion, then what exactly happened to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization? A major civilization that spread some thousands of square miles and was apparently quite sophisticated cannot simply vanish.
It never vanished. There was a shift of population after the economy around the Sarasvati river collapsed due to the drying up of the river. People moved to the east and to the northwest and to the south. There was no break in the cultural tradition. The same ceramic styles continued. Only the level of prosperity went down. The Vedic books also speak of a period when the rishis went to the forests, the age of the Aranyakas. The Puranic books speak of a catastrophe in 1924 BCE.
Your work in archaeo-astronomy suggests unambiguously that the Max Mueller chronology of the Vedas must be rejected and that the Rig Veda must be dated not to ca. 1500 BCE, but to ca. 3000 BCE. What is the impact of this?
Well if not 3000 BCE, certainly prior to 2000 BCE. Max Mueller was absolutely wrong. What is the impact of the new dates? It changes the history of ancient India and that of the rest of the ancient world. It gives a centrality to India in world history.
Your recent book with Georg Feuerstein and David Frawley, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (Quest Books, Indian edition to be published by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi), suggests that in fact India was the site of the very first civilization, not Sumer in Iraq. If this is true, then India has not only the oldest continuous and surviving civilization, but in fact it is the birthplace of civilization. Could you elaborate on this?
Look, India has had cultural continuity for at least 10,000 years. Before that we had a rock-art tradition which, according to some estimates, goes back to 40,000 BCE. Not only are we one of the most ancient civilizations, we have found in India the record of the earliest astronomy, geometry, mathematics, and medicine. Artistic, philosophical and religious impulses, central to the history of mankind, arose first in India.
You have done considerable research on the structure of the fire altars in Scriptural ritual (The Astronomical Code of the Rigveda, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi), and you have demonstrated that there was a very formal and mathematical basis to the construction of these. Could you explain?
Vedic Indians were scientific. They believed in laws of nature. They represented their astronomy in terms of the altar constructions. One problem they considered was that of the synchronization of the lunar and the solar years: the lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar year and if we add a round number of days every few years to make up for the discrepancy, we find we cannot do it elegantly unless we have a correction cycle of 95 years or its multiples. This 95-year cycle is described in the earliest Vedic prose books.
The altars were to be built to slightly larger dimensions each year of the cycle to represent the corrections. There were other symbolic constructions. Like building a square altar (representing the sky) with the same area as a circular altar (representing the earth), which is the problem of squaring the circle. This led to the discovery of the earliest geometry. They were aware that the sun and the moon were at 108 times their own diameters from the earth.
These fire altars are at this time obsolete, right? Nobody uses them any more, or is that not so? The only time I have heard of them before reading your work was when I read of an impoverished Nambudiri (Kerala brahmin) family whose illam or house was being sold, and they had fire altars in the shape of a falcon, and the old head of the household said this 5,000-year-old tradition was dying because they couldn’t afford the rituals any more.
It is a great pity that we are letting our cultural and civilizational treasures die right before our eyes. We must do whatever we can to preserve and celebrate this heritage.
You have mentioned a connection, apparently evident in the Vedas, between internal and external things — for instance between the rhythms in the human body and astronomical cycles. Could you elaborate?
A central Vedic belief was that there are connections between the outer and the inner. The rishis declared that it was due to these connections that we are enabled to know the world. One dramatic aspect of these connections are the biological cycles which run the same periods as various astronomical cycles. For example, the Purusha Hymn of the Rigveda says that the mind is born of the moon. Just recently, by research on volunteers, who stayed in underground caves for months without any watches or other cues about time, it was found that the natural cycle for the mind is 24 hours and 50 minutes. The period of the moon is also 24 hours and 50 minutes. Our clock is reset every day by daylight!
The connections between the outer and the inner were also represented by other symbols. The 108 sun diameters from the earth of the sun were paralleled by the 108 beads of the rosary for a symbolic spiritual journey from the normal state to one of illumination.
I have read the book edited by you and Dr TRN Rao (Computing Science in Ancient India, University of Southwestern Louisiana Press) on some surprising mathematics: pi to many decimal places, Sayana’s accurate calculation of the speed of light, hashing algorithms, the binary number system of Sanskrit meters — are these mere coincidences or is there conclusive evidence of advanced mathematics?
The binary number system, hashing, various codes, mathematical logic (Navya Nyaya), or a formal framework that is equivalent to programming all arose in ancient India. This is all well known and it is acknowledged by scholars all over the world. I shouldn’t forget to tell you that a most advanced calculus, math and astronomy arose in Kerala several centuries before Newton.
In particular, I am amazed, as a layman, by the evidence that Sayana, circa 1300 CE, who was prime minister at the court of the Vijayanagar Emperor Bukka I, calculated the speed of light to be 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha, which does come to 186,536 miles per second. (Subhash Kak – The Speed of Light and Puranic Cosmology)
Truly mind-boggling! The speed of light was first measured in the West only in the late 17th century. So how could the Indians have known it? If you are a sceptic, then you will say it is a coincidence that somehow dropped out of the assumptions regarding the solar system. If you are a believer in the powers of the mind, you would say that it is possible to intuit (in terms of categories that you have experienced before) outer knowledge. This latter view is the old Indian knowledge paradigm. If it were generally accepted it would mean an evolution in science much greater than the revolution of modern physics.
It is also well-known that the Vedic or Puranic idea of the age of the universe is some 8 billion years, which is of the order of magnitude of what has been estimated by modern astrophysicists. Is this also a mere coincidence?
Again, either a coincidence, or the rishis were capable of supernormal wisdom. Don’t forget that the Indian texts also speak about things that no other civilization thought of until this century. I am speaking of air and space travel, embryo transplantation, multiple births from the same embryo, weapons of mass destruction (all in the Mahabharata), travel through domains where time is slowed, other galaxies and universes, potentials very much like quantum potential (Puranas). If nothing else, we must salute the rishis for the most astonishing and uncanny imagination.
You also suggest that that the modern computer science term for context-free languages, the Backus-Naur Form, should more accurately be called the Panini-Backus Form, since Sanskrit grammarian Panini invented the notion of completely and unambiguously defined grammars (and devised one such for Sanskrit) as early as about 500 BCE.
Oh yes, all this is well established and well known, as also the Indian development of mathematical logic.
How has the reaction been in scholarly circles to some of these discoveries and conjectures of yours, which do turn conventional wisdom on its head? In India, you are aware, some of your views would have you branded as “reactionary”, “Hindu fundamentalist”, etc.
My work has been received most enthusiastically in scholarly circles both in the West and India. I have written several scores of scholarly articles and reviews and am in the process of writing major essays for leading encyclopaedias. School texts in California and other American states have been rewritten. Likewise, new college texts in the US speak of these new findings. We are talking here of hard scientific facts, they can neither be “fundamentalist” nor “reactionary”. But I am aware that some ignorant ideologues in India may actually pin pejorative labels on this work. This only creates opportunities to bring facts to the attention of such people. I am ever hopeful of converting more and more people!
How has your work in the history of science affected your research in computing science?
Surprisingly, it has strengthened my technical work. It has provided me a focus and a perspective. It has also given me the courage to work on fundamental problems.
What do you attribute this to? Is this because it is a matter of self- image? Indians have always been self-effacing, and perhaps not believing in themselves much?
Self-image is a central factor in our development. We eventually become what we want to become. We need faith in ourselves. That is why a cultural focus is so crucial. I think our current self- effacement is a result of the negative stereotyping we have experienced for generations. Our school books talk about Socrates, Plato and Aristotle — and rightly so — but they don’t mention Yajnavalkya, Panini and Patanjali, which is a grave omission. Our grand boulevards in Delhi and other cities are named after Copernicus, Kepler and Newton, but there are no memorials to Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Madhava and Nilakantha!
Is self-image, then, sufficient reason for us to explore the past?
It could be a sufficient reason for some. For others, it is one of the many impulses that guides them in their personal journeys.
Is there something that your Web readers can do to take some of this research forward? Any references or other suggestions?
There is so much to be done to spread the knowledge of Indian history. For at least 50 years, Indian intellectual life was stifled by a Stalinist attitude. And before that, for two centuries, colonialist historians appropriated Indian past for their own purposes. What they left for us was a mutilated version of our past. We are barely emerging from that hell. We need more people to actively carry forward this research. We also need institutions — private foundations, perhaps — that ensure that our historiography will remain vital, critical and devoted to truth.
Any messages from you for your diasporic readers?
Pay attention to Indian and world history, there is much to be learned from the past. Also go to the springwells of Indian tradition, you’ll find great treasure. Indian ideas provided central themes to the American transcendentalists in the early 19th century which led to American culture as we know it. I believe even more vital Indian ideas will transform world culture in the coming decades, and if you choose to be the interpreters of these ideas to the modern world you would have participated in the most wondrous drama of our times!
There is a lot of evidence here in Croatia. I met one very famous academic Kujundjic and he showed me his book in which he gives different proofs that Croatians came originally from Iran (Aryan). I will not write about that I just put this to make connections with my following descriptions:
When old Croatians came on the Adriatic coast they have sikhas on their heads. This I found on one painting of a famous Croatian painter from last century.
The national symbol of Croatia is red and white chess fields. interesting I saw on Navadvip mandala parikrama Bengali painting the walls of houses with colors in the form of chess fields (I have photo). On the national symbol there is also lion with three head’s like on the one rupee coin.
Sanskrit word hriyate means ‘passes away’, in Croatian language we are writing Hrvatska for Croatia (Hrvat for Croat). Possibly because they passed away from Iran. They where known like Sun warriors because they worship Svanimira (Surya).
They where cruelly killed and forced by Christians to accept Christianity. Before they worshiped demigods.
Brahma-Svetovid ( one who sees in all directions) Surya-Svanimir (means rising of the sun) Varuna-Vodan Indra-Ilija
I lost my long list with all names.
3.There are legend about beautiful girls called Vilas (apsaras). The legend said that they are not from this planet earth but from heaven. They are coming regularly on one mountain, Velebit. Many people saw them, talked with them, even mixing with them. They where sometimes good or bad. There are famous Croatian song about them: “Oj, ti Vilo, Vilo Velebita ti naseg roda diko”… (Oh,you vila-apsara, apsara from mountain Velebit, you are the gift of our nation).
The marriage ceremony was same like in Krishna book (Vasudeva and Devaki) as now.
Language has many words same or similar like sanskrit: Ana-grain, tadiya-tulasi leaves, mati or mama for mother, tata-father, jedan-eka, dva-dva, tri-tri, chetiri-catur, pet-pancha… deset-dasha, tama-tama, baba roga-bhava roga (material disease), udariti (to beat somebody)-uddharet, Eva-eva, Tada-tada, Svi-Sarve, Ovu-etam, Tvoj-tava, ca-ca, veliki ratnik-maha-ratha, ta-tat, svuda-sarvesu, vibha-vantah, shkoljka-sankham, jaram-yukte, sjedeci-sthitau etc… Almost in every Bhagavad Gita sloka I find 1-3 same or similar words. There is more evidence but in this moment I cannot remember more then this.
In 1977, a royal tomb was found at Vergina, near Saloniaca, in Macedonia, Greece. All the evidence proves it to be the tomb of King Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. However, Western scholars were puzzled because of the many artifacts, within the tomb of an obvious Indian/Vedic nature. Because of these artifacts, some experts dated the tomb to a time after Alexander’s. This theory is no longer being accepted.
In Michael Wood’s series, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, he presents 2 sculpted portraits of Alexander and Philip. Archeologists accept these sculpted portraits of Alexander as the only ones made during his lifetime. Philip’s portrait is also recognized as being made in his lifetime.
Where were these portraits found? They were found in the Macedonian tomb, discovered in 1977, thus confirming that the tomb is definitely from before Alexander’s march to Asia.
King Philip of Macedonia
Because the tomb is full of Vedic/Indian style artifacts, this is solid proof that Greek culture had a strong connection to India, long before Alexander’s time. The tomb in question has also been accepted as the tomb of King Philip on the series War and Civilization. The body interned in the tomb, fits every ancient description of King Philip. Without a doubt, it is the tomb of King Philip.
The question is, “Why does King Philip’s tomb have so many Indian influences? How is it possible if the Greek and Indian cultures had no direct contact until Alexander’s Asian campaigns?”
The answer is simple. Because Greek culture is an offshoot of Vedic culture, it is only logical that there would be strong Indian influences in Greek art, religion and culture. The tomb of King Philip is also more than proof of Greece’s vedic past.
It is also a smoking gun exposing the extreme prejudice involved in the cover up of the world’s ancient vedic heritage. Though western scholars are now admitting the tomb to be Philip’s, they are staying mute about the evidences proving Greece’s Vedic heritage. On one hand, western academics are using these tomb artifacts to promote various theories, and on the other hand, they are ignoring the artifacts that prove their theories wrong. Because there is no doubt about the Vedic artifacts found in this one case, one wonders as to how much other evidence is out there that has been ignored and perhaps even destroyed. It is obvious that the current mainstream academic community, has made it’s mind about world history. Any evidence that contradicts their theories, is not accepted. rather than change their pet theories, these so-called scholars are willing to change the historic record and force it to conform to their views. This is the great perversion of truth that is being perpetrated on the world at large. It is even more ironic that this is being done by the very people, i.e. the historians, who have a duty to research and present a true and accurate record of the world’s ancient past.
Vedic evidence in Russia
A couple of weeks ago one devotee from Odessa (Southern Russian city) told me he personally saw in a museum over there three small dolls looking EXACTLY like Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra. They were digged from a barrow around 1000 year old and were found on human remains buried there, placed on a neck. The figures were ordered on the neck exactly in the same sequence – first yellowish Lord Balarama, than white Subhadra, than blackish Jagannath. They were made of metal and covered with enamel. Interesting enough, the deities were two-faced – there were exactly the same appearances of their faces at their flip sides. The museum attandants had not a clue as to who the images were. The devotee promised to make pictures of them
ISLAM AND HINDUISM-
Islamic Saint Saw Upanishads as Secret Book of Quran
By Shweta Austin
Prince Muhammad Dara Shikoh (1627-1658 AD) the favorite Sufi son of Moghul emperor, Shah Jehan. Known the world over for his unorthodox and liberal views. He was a mystic and a free thinker.
Dara Shikoh, wrote in his Persian translation of the Upanishads.
“After gradual research; I have come to the conclusion that long before all heavenly books, God had revealed to the Hindus, through the Rishis of yore, of whom Brahma was the Chief, His four books of knowledge, the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda.”
He had learned Sanskrit and studied the Hindu scriptures in the original.
He translated the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga-Vasishta into Persian directly from Sanskrit and called it Sirr-e-Akbar (The Great Mystery). Titled “The Upanishads: God’s Most Perfect Revelation” and then into Latin by Anquetil Duperron (1801 and 1802) under the title Oupnekhat, contained about fifty. The Quran itself, he said, made veiled references to the Upanishads as the “first heavenly book and the fountainhead of the ocean of monotheism.”
In his Majma-al-Bahrain, he sought to reconcile the Sufi theory with the Vedanta.
He was able to affirm that Sufism and Advaita Vedantism (Hinduism) are essentially the same, with a surface difference of terminology.
And in introduction to this work he says that one finds in Upanishads the concept of tawhid (the doctrine of Unity of God, the most fundamental doctrine of Islam) after the Qur’an and perhaps the Qur’an refers to Upanishad when it refers to Kitab al-Maknun (The Hidden Book). His work Majma-al-Bahrain (Mingling of the Two Oceans i.e. Hinduism and Islam) is very seminal work in the history of composite culture of India.
Two years after the completion of the Sirr-i-Akbar, Dara was executed on the orders of his brother Aurangzeb.
It’s a strange feeling to feel lost in your own city. It happened after spending hours trying to locate what was once considered the pantheon of all knowledge and the glory of Shahjahanabad, the library of Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest son. After hovering near the Kashmiri Gate area in the scorching heat for hours my efforts finally paid off as I entered the huge colonial bungalow which is now the office of the Archeological Department of the Delhi government.
With little idea of what the century-old library would look like, I was nevertheless somewhat taken aback to find the entire complex surrounded by jamun trees, huge white pillars, speaking of British architecture, and wooden blinds covering the verandahs. The only remnant of Mughal architecture could be seen in the basement.
Dara, a professed Muslim, was known the world over for his unorthodox and liberal views and was deeply imbued with the heretical mysticism of the Sufis. He mixed freely with philosophers and scholars of other religions. In fact, due to his relations with priests like Father Buseo, there were even rumors at one time about his embracing Christianity. During the autumn of 1657, after endless intrigues, when Aurangzeb finally ascended the throne, Dara fled westward.
The Rajputs were the main supporters of Dara Shikoh and if Jaswant Singh of Marwar had not behaved treacherously, he might have won. Later, he was betrayed by his Afghan host, Malik Jeewan, a person whose life he had once saved from the wrath of Shah Jahan. The court theologians readily humored Aurangzeb’s penchant for legal proceedings and passed the death sentence against Dara Shikoh. Dara was beheaded and his corpse paraded through the city and buried without ceremony in a vault near Humayun’s Tomb.
The death of Dara also meant the destruction of his library. Dara’s estate, comprising the palace, library and garden were given to the subedar of Lahore, Ali Mardan Khan, and later taken over by Wazir Safdarjung, before being captured by the British. According to the records at the Archeological Department the building changed hands at least seven times, each time being modified by its owners.
The first to do so was the Viceroy of Punjab, Ali Mardan Khan Mohammad, around 1639. Then came Sir David Ochterlony Bart around 1803, after which it was taken over by the government college between 1804 to 1877 and later by the District College in 1877 to 1886 until the Municipal Board School took it till 1904. It finally came to the Delhi College of Engineering till recently when it came under the Delhi government.
This perhaps explains why nothing typically Mughal in style or architecture is visible here, asserts Nita Bali, the secretary of Art and Culture, Delhi government. The guiding force behind the renovation of the Ghalib Manzil, Nita observes, “It has not been easy for us to restore the ‘original’ touch to the library since no original plan has been recovered. On our part, we have tried to preserve whatever traces of Mughal architecture that still existed.”
Referring to the inaction of the government in preserving the monument till now, Bali’s opinion is to let the past rest and concentrate on doing some good work in the present. She has come up with a Citizen’s Charter aiming at the digitization and upgrading of the archaeological museum set up on the premises, besides an advisory committee chaired by her which will be responsible for ensuring conservation.
At present, the department is also planning to extend its conservation activities to the Mutiny Memorial near GTK Depot, Baradari at Sadhana Enclave, Zail at Bawana and Lodi period tomb at Katwaria Sarai, all within a budget of Rs 50 lakh. However, Bali maintains that “till the Delhi Ancient and Historical Monuments and Sites and Remains Bill awaits the assent of the President of India, we are not equipped to effectively preserve monuments of local importance.”
Also commendable is the fact that the basement of the monument (Dara’s library), known to be the only original portion of the library which still exists, has been preserved. Dr B S R Babu the deputy director of the archaeology department who showed me around the basement with its typically Mughal pillars, cleaned and carved out after the debris from the structure was cleared, says the conservation work was started in February in phases.
The first phase is complete and a feast awaits lovers of history. The first task it faced was having to tear down the encroachments that had come up in all these years before beginning renovations in keeping with whatever records and references they could lay their hands on.
However, it remains to be seen how the department approaches the issue of Dara’s original manuscripts which have been missing since the time of his death. For instance, there is his Persian version of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. While many are familiar with Dara Shikoh’s translation of the Upanishads, few know that in the preface to the translation, he speculates that the Upanishads may well have been the secret book mentioned in the Quran. It was for this reason that he called the Upanishads, The Great Secret. Among his literary works is his book Majma-al-Bahrain which aims at bringing Islam and Hinduism closer. While it is said that Dara’s passion for books saw him spend most of his time in the library, which was close to his living apartments and contained a valuable collection of works brought from Turkey, Persia, Greece, Egypt and various parts of India, apart from his own scholarly works. Sadly enough, the library stands empty today.
Interestingly, some see it as part of Aurangzeb’s plan to blot out every memory of Dara, his ‘infidel’ brother whose work he considered heretical. Others say these works found their way to auction houses and private collectors of England. Dr Babu says the works may be in Lahore, the Royal Asiatic Society Bengal, Asfiya Library in Hyderabad and the Punjab University according to references. “We will try to locate these,” he says. As to how he plans to do this, it’s anybody’s guess!
Guru Nanak: Mekka Vedic
“According to tradition, Guru Nanak said to contemporary theologians of Islam during his visit to Mecca….” According to Makke-Madine di Goshati edited by Prof. Kulwant Singh, Guru Nanak said: “Mecca is an ancient place of pilgrimage, and there is a Linga of Mahadeva here. It was presided over by the Brahmanas. One of the Brahmanas, though born among them, became a Musalman… . His own name was Mohammed, which means the same as Mahadeva… . He floated some sort of a creed, and taught it… .”
by Swami B.V. Parivrajak Co-ordinator of the World Vaisnava Association
Inter-religious debates have a deep value for all those who hanker to see the establishment of Vaishnavism as the world religion for all mankind. Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and so many other beliefs have all their relative importance in the development of theism. This can be loosely compared to the relative function of many rooms in a house. That house, or Vaishnava dharma, is beyond the reach of all those who neglect the eternal, original function of the soul.
Saints and prophets reveal the knowledge of Krishna according to time, place and circumstances. In the age of Kali, however, the sacrifice of the saints is more intense due to the high degree of moral corruption and forgetfulness of God. In this short essay we are going to examine briefly the nature of the Islamic faith and its link with the Vaishnava dharma. [sentence removed on request] References to the Holy Koran, Sri Caitanya-caritamrita and Jaiva Dharma are also interspersed in the presentation.
The mission of the holy prophet Mohammed was to reestablish the worship of the only true God and stop idolatry, or unauthorized demigod worship. Although Mohammed factually accepted and respected all the sacred images as a genuine method to honor Allah, he could not reveal this confidential information because the people of his times were in a condition of great moral degradation. To have more than a wife was the rule and incestuous relations between mothers and sons were common.
The ancient Arabs believed in Allah, the only God, but actually they did not worship Him. They thought that Allah had entrusted the management of the various functions of the universe to different demigods. The faithful addressed these gods to invoke their blessings. They prayed to them to get the favor of Allah. The Arabs of the Syrian desert considered Al-Manat, the goddess of fortune, wife of Allah and mother of all the gods. Some deities as Al- lat, the goddess of heaven, and Al-Uzza, the goddess of Venus, were considered the daughters of Allah. The tribes of Yemen worshiped the sun. Others were worshiping the moon and still others the stars. Most of them worshiped idols. Traditions and rites were exclusively aimed to fulfill material desires. The degradation of the moral and religious principles had reached such a level where a messenger of God was necessary. Hazrat Muhammad (Mohammed) appeared in order to realize this plan of the Lord. Mohammed
Mohammed took birth at Mecca around 570 AD. His father died before his birth and his mother shortly after. It was his grandfather, the respectable Abdul Muttalib who took care of him. The Kaba was under the custody of his grandfather. This temple, built by Adam of Biblical reminiscence and rebuilt by others for the worship of the only one God, was called the House of Allah. However, the main objects of worship were 360 idols. Those who did not approve of this situation which prevailed since centuries were known as Hunafas. They practiced ascetic life and meditation. They often withdrew from social life and went to live in solitary places. Mohammed grew in the beginning as a devotee of the goddess Al-Uzza, but gradually he came to realize the anomalies in the religious practices of his people. He naturally came closer to the life style of the Hunafas. For one month in a year he withdrew from family life and lived in a cave in the desert. His place of meditation, Hira, was a desertic hill not far from Mecca. It was there that one night he received the first revelation of God through the angel Gabriel. During the rest of his life, Mohammed continued to receive revelations during which he was experiencing an ecstatic trance characterized by tremor and profuse perspiration. This trance induced him to shout and faint several times. The Koran (Al-Qur’ an), the compilation of the revelations of Allah, was edited only after the demise of the prophet. Mohammed had to refound the religious consciousness of Islam. His task was to uproot the problem of idolatry which was like a spreading disease. In order to achieve this aim, he apparently acted in an extremely radical way. Once, anyhow, Mohammed accepted a sacred image. This happened during the conquest of Mecca. On that occasion he entered the Kaba and ordered the destruction of all the idols. There were paintings on the walls among which an image of the Holy Mary with baby Jesus. According to the tradition, Mohammed did not allow this image to be destroyed.
The nature of Allah
The Koran establishes the impersonal nature of God, but a closer reading reveals the personal God. Once Mohammed explained that in each of the verses of the Koran there is an external as well as an internal meaning. Five hundred years ago, in the conversation with the saint Abdullah Pathan, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offered His realized interpretation of the Sacred Koran. After visiting Vrindavan, Sri Caitanya was on the way to Allahabad when, in a condition of ecstatic rapture, he fainted in a village. Some Pathan soldiers saw the condition of Sri Caitanya and concluded that His companions must have poisoned Him and killed Him in order to steal His possessions. Balabhadra Bhattacharya and other assistants of Sri Caitanya were immediately arrested. It was only after Sri Caitanya went back to the external consciousness that they were released. Among the Muslims was present the saint Abdullah Pathan, who discussed with Sri Caitanya about the nature of Allah. Abdullah Pathan tried to establish the impersonal nature of God on the basis of the revelations of the Koran. All historians confirm that Sri Caitanya was a great expert of all the religions of the world and had full knowledge of all the meanings, external as well as internal, of the verses of the Sacred Scripture. Sri Caitanya said, “The Koran has certainly established the impersonal nature of God, but ultimately it rejects impersonalism and establishes the personal God.” Sri Caitanya pointed out that according to the Holy Koran, Allah is also a person. One who thinks, wills, feels, has senses, desires, qualities, remembrance, knowledge, relationship with others, individual existence, activities and identity is defined as a person. If this definition of a person is applicable to Allah, we should accept Mahaprabhu’s statement regarding the personal aspect of Allah.
Since the Koran proclaims that Allah is unlimited, then He must be simultaneously personal and impersonal. This is possible because Allah is not a person in a limited mundane sense. His personality is completely spiritual, free from any material qualities and beyond the limits of time and space. The Koran itself suggests that Allah has different personal features.
Innallaaha la-Zuu-Fazlin ‘alan-naasi wa laa- kinna ‘aksa- rahum laa yash-kuruun
“Allah is bountiful toward men, but most of them are ungrateful” (10.60)
“My Lord is tender to whom He will. For He is the knower, the wise.” (12.100)
Innallaaha la-‘Afuw-wun Gafur”
“Behold! Verily Allah is mild and forgiving.” (22.60)
In these few Qur’anic verses, Allah has been described as fazlin, or bountiful; latif, or tender; hakim, or wise; afuw, or mild; gafur, or forgiving. Obviously the owner of these qualities must be a person. Otherwise how can an abstract power be bountiful or forgiving, mild or wise? To say that an impersonal truth has all these qualities, which factually require a personal awareness, is meaningless. Sri Caitanya explained to the Pathans that Allah is the Supreme Person and should be worshiped through the sankirtana- yajna, the congregational chant of the holy names of the Lord.
“Chant the name of Rahman!”
Mahaprabhu found references in the Holy Koran to show the Pathan soldiers how this spiritual method is not the exclusive monopoly of any religious sect. It is a universal method and is recommended in all the true Scriptures of the world. It is possible to develop love of God if we sincerely take shelter in the Supreme Lord and sing His holy names. In the Sacred Koran (17.110) it is said,
“Invoke Allah, invoke Rahman, the most merciful one. Invoke Him through any of His names. To Him belong the most beautiful names.” According to a famous Islamic tradition, the knowledge of Allah is based upon one hundred names, one of which remains secret. It is said that one can conquer the world, if he discovers the hidden name. A list of the 99 names of Allah is available on request.
Then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, tomara shastre kahe sheshe ‘eka-i- ishvara sarvaishvarya-purna tenho – shyama kalevara (Caitanya- caritamrita Madhya-lila 18.190)
“In your Holy Scripture it is said that ultimately there is only one God. He is full of opulence and His bodily complexion is shyama, blackish like a monsoon cloud.” In the sura “Al-Baqarah”, or “The Cow” of the Holy Koran there is a specific verse which confirms this statement of Mahaprabhu’s.
sibgatallah wa man ‘ah – sanu minallahi sibgah
“We take our colour from Allah and who is better than Allah at coloring?” (2.138)
In this verse it is explained that nobody can surpass Allah in lending colour to His own creation. He is the source of all colors and possesses them too. No wonder that some colour of this material world should resemble His colour. Besides, Mohammed personally said to his associates, “We take our colour from Allah”. If the colour of the Arabs resembles that of Allah, we can safely conclude that Allah is of a beautiful dark complexion. And Krishna is that selfsame Allah. In fact, one of the most celebrated names of Krishna is Shyamasundara, the beautiful boy with shyama kalevara, the colour of a stormy cloud. This dark colour(shyama), fully spiritual, is beyond the perception of the material senses and the mind.
Esk is the goal of life
Sri Caitanya explained that the purpose of the Holy Koran is to establish within the human society that Allah (Krishna), is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Being, and that to develop esk, or pure love, for Allah is the ultimate goal of life.
The saint Abdullah Pathan, fully convinced by the expert preaching of Sri Caitanya, was later on initiated into the Vaishnava faith. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu renamed him Ram Das. Afterwards all the soldiers, transformed by the charismatic presence of Sri Caitanya, embraced the life of renunciation.
In Jaiva Dharma Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has reported an exchange of opinions about the ultimate goal of life between the Vaisnava saint Lahiri Mahashaya and the Head of the Mohammedan community or Kazi. Lahiri Mahashay put a question to the Kazi, “Will you kindly give me your definition of mukti as per your Koran?” The Kazi replied,”According to the Holy Koran, there are two kinds of ‘ru’ or individual souls. The ru in bondage is known as tarkavi-ru, the ru which is eternally free is the mujarradi-ru. ‘Alam-misala’ is the name of the spiritual world. ‘Esk’ means prema. By culturing esk, ru becomes pure and transcends mundanity. All this has been stated in the Koran, but all Mohammedans are not competent to understand these points.” Are ‘esk’ and ‘prema’ on the same level? Again we find the answer in Jaiva Dharma. The words of Srila Sanatana Goswami, who was deeply learned in the Muslim language and tradition, are quoted in this regard. Sanatan Goswami said, “The word esk means love, but unfortunately the Muslim preachers cannot understand it properly. By the word esk they mean either physical or mental demonstration of love on the mundane plane.” Links
The religion of the jivas is one. Apparently there is no reason why the religion of the individual souls should vary according to race, language and country. We can see that a variety of mental dispositions causes the jaiva dharma to appear in a perverted form. Actually all religions are pure in proportion to the degree of Vaishnava dharma they display. As humble preachers we are glad to find the connecting points between the different beliefs and the eternal sanatana-dharma. For instance, at the end of the Gita (18.66) Sri Krishna had requested Arjuna to abandon any form of irreligion and religion, and simply surrender unto Him. The Holy Koran (3.31) maintains the same principle:
“If you love Allah, follow me. Allah will love you. He will forget your sins because Allah is the One who forgives, the Merciful.” We shall end here by remembering that Allahu Akbar. Yes, Allah (Krishna) is great and Mohammed is His prophet (or a prominent one). Nobody before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, however, had revealed to the world the real meaning of Allah’s greatness and glory.
Jews: A Branch of the Vedic Family
Author of Jews: A Branch of the Vedic Family
aka Parama Karuna Devi, a resident of Puri, Orissa, India
“From the results of my research, I can affirm thatM. Samar Abbas’ thesis is wrong. Actually, the facts are exactly the opposite. It’s the Jews who descended from the Vedic family, and not the other way around. The son cannot generate the father.”
most of the “Hebrew” traditions and linguistic features, especially those mentioned by the article, had been absorbed from the Egyptian society and knowledge, which had directly come from Vedic settlers in ancient times.
Before moving to Egypt, Jews had a civilization and language (and religion) descending from their Sumerian origins (Ur, too, had an early settlement of Vedic knowledge). During and after their life in Egypt they took up a lot of new (or forgotten) things, including the cow worship connected to the moon, mentioned in the article, and the worship of the snake, not mentioned in the article but mentioned in the Bible in connection with Moses’ secret knowledge of medicine. Schools and scholars speak too little about the Egyptian civilization, religion and science, that influenced the early Western civilizations, until the destruction of the famous library in Alexandria.
However, from my research I have seen that the similarities of Egyptian civilization, science and religion with the Vedic knowledge are even more amazing than the ones mentioned about the Jews. Specifically, in the philosophical and religious field. The details of the temple worship practiced in Egypt are strikingly similar to Vedic temple worship, including the three sandhya meditations on the sun (Ammon-Ra, the main Deity in Egypt), the form of God as both male and female (Osiris/Isis, assimilated with the Sun and the Moon), the bathing, dressing and decoration of the Deity (with red cloth, still considered in India as the traditional color of cloth to be offered to Deities), arati with the offerings of food and incense, etc. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is an almost exact replica of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which is coming to us through the Yaksa Saivite Tantric tradition of Himalayas, which strongly influenced the Vajrayana Buddhism or Lamaism. Egyptian priests had a complicated knowledge about the various subtle bodies and astral traveling (as Tantric Buddhists do), and some bits of knowledge about yoga, too. Egyptian priests were strictly vegetarian (not even eating eggs), followed brahmacarya vows and abstained from intoxicants, and went through several initiations in order to practice their service. Meat was only consumed by them in later periods, and exclusively coming from fire sacrifices. (It is therefore very misguiding to say that Brahmins “became vegetarian” in a later period, after detaching themselves from their “origins” as Jews).
They were also in charge of medicine and astrology, and had an immense knowledge about both. Even the temple decorations used the lotus flower as a symbol of purity and beauty. The list could go on and on. Many ancient Greek scholars (including Plato, Pythagoras, etc.) traveled both to Egypt and to India to get their knowledge. While reading Plato’s and Pythagoras’ teachings, we find exactly the same Vedic knowledge explained in Greek language.
[In his introduction to The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato (1816), Thomas Taylor gives a good summary of Plato’s philosophy, which, although formulated in a very abstract way, seems similar to the Pancaratra view (monads analogous to vyuhas):
“According to this theology, therefore, from the immense principle of principles, in which all things casually subsist, absorbed in superessential light, and involved in unfathomable depths, a beauteous progeny of principles proceed, all largely partaking of the ineffable, all stamped with the occult characters of deity, all possessing an overflowing fullness of good.
“From these dazzling summits, these ineffable blossoms, these divine propagations, being, life, intellect, soul, nature, and body depend; monads suspended from unities, deified natures proceeding from deities. Each of these monads, too, is the leader of a series which extends from itself to the last of things, and which while it proceeds from, at the same time abides in, and returns to its leader. And all these principles and all their progeny are finally centered and rooted by their summits in the first great all-comprehending one.
“Thus all beings proceed from, and are comprehended in the first being; all intellects emanate from one first intellect; all souls from one first soul; all natures blossom from one first nature; and all bodies proceed from the vital and luminous body of the world. And lastly, all these great monads are comprehended in the first one, from which both they and all their depending series are unfolded into light. Hence, this first one is truly the unity of unities, the monad of monads, the principle of principles, the God of Gods, one and all things, and yet one prior to all.”]
Now we know from the Puranas that at the times of Parasurama avatara, the ksatriya kings of Bharata varsa were scattered all over the planet while fleeing the avatara’s killing wrath. We know that a group of such ksatriyas, followed by their family priests and retinue, reached ancient Egypt and established a kingdom there. Other groups settled in South America, Mesopotamia, Northern Europe, and in the lost continent of Atlantis mentioned by Plato and others. Striking similarities can be observed, for example the pyramids that can be found almost exactly identical in South America, Mesopotamia and Egypt. And which also resemble the large and high domes of the most ancient Vedic temples.
Linguistic similarities between Vedic civilization and Northern Europe civilization brought European scholars in 1800s and 1900s to assimilate the Aryans with the ancient Germans or “North Men”. In facts from subsequent studies it became apparent that Sanskrit had to be “the mother of all languages” as its basic roots and meanings are the same in all European languages, and much more similar than the stretched “transformation rules” of language and pronunciation mentioned in the article.
Still today, both Siberian native nomadic populations and North American Lakota Sioux call “Meru” the mountain they believe is at the center of the universe, and “Garuda” the powerful thunderbird eagle who is so prominent in their mythologies.
The sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi, and all the Pythian sanctuaries after it, were all centered around the “omphalus”, also called the “center of the world”, which from the depictions was obviously a Siva lingam, with the Sakti serpent coiled around it and even bilva leaves scattered on it. I can send the drawing by jpg file if anyone is interested. I found it in a book where Vedic civilization was not mentioned at all, and the writer had never heard about Siva or lingam worship.
When Jews came on the scene of historical records (as per the story of the Bible), the Egyptian civilization was at the height of its fame and power in their area. Moses – one of the main figures of Hebrew religion, tradition and science, who single-handedly fashioned the culture of the whole people of Israel by bringing up a new generation of a small core of individuals during the wanderings in the desert before reaching the Promised Land – had received the best Egyptian education (in religion, philosophy, science and Tantric magic) as a royal prince, having being adopted by the King’s sister at his birth. He had much more knowledge than what is explained in the Bible. Besides giving the famous Ten Commandments and putting down the Bible text into writing, he wrote a number of other secret books (for “more advanced readers”) and organized a priestly class (until that time non-existing in Hebrew tradition) and a number of other powerful secrets (like the famous Ark of Covenant).
Such powerful knowledge was at the origin of the mystical branch of the Hebrew knowledge known as Kabbala, which became so famous and controversial during the Middle Ages in Europe.
Since Kabbalistic knowledge has always been a mystery and a secret (as its mass application is politically undesirable for the Establishment), it disappeared from mainstream Hebraism and failed to bring about its good effects on Jews (with a few and less known exceptions). However, it created a host of seekers of hidden knowledge in Europe – templars, alchemists, mystics, “wizards”, etc. Basically, before coming in such a close contact with Egyptian science and religion, Jews had taken very little from the advanced civilization of Ur. They were simple illiterate shepherds without much culture. However, their traditions recorded in the first books of the Bible clearly show their Sumerian descent and influence. The Genesis is filled with Sumeric symbols and references, and it has been explained as such by Bible scholars like Zecharia Sitchin.
From the results of my research, I can affirm that M. Samar Abbas’ thesis is wrong. Actually, the facts are exactly the opposite. It’s the Jews who descended from the Vedic family, and not the other way around. The son cannot generate the father.
Regarding the famous “lost tribe of Israel”, that’s another point altogether. According to my research, it should consist of a group of Jews who settled in Kashmir much later than the Vedic period (i.e. after the beginning of Kali-yuga), and who gradually became known as the Sikhs after the preaching of Guru Nanak. This is also confirmed by the local people, geographical names and even family names.
Still today, Sikhs observe the traditional custom of Jews of not cutting one’s hair in sign of special austerity and religious fervor, from which some Christian scholars have taken the derivation of “Nazarene”, a name by which Jesus was called. We may remember that according to the Gospel Jesus’ hair “had never been cut by anyone from birth”. We may also remember that, as the Gospel clearly and specifically relates, Jesus’ dress was in one piece only, without any stitching – a characteristic which we find in the strictly traditional requirement for Vedic pujaris. These were not usual habits of the general Jews and surely are not today.
If Mr. Abbas would care to meditate and research on these points, I think he will find amazing discoveries and a new vision.
Vedic knowledge and civilization is incredibly old, and before the onset of Kali-yuga it contained inconceivable powers and wonderfully advanced science, as the findings in the Sindhu and Sarasvati valleys clearly show. It could not possibly come from a relatively young, uncultured and nomadic people like the Jews.
Even the Bible and the Torah, compared to the Vedas, appear insignificant as per quantity and quality of information. Unfortunately, even many Indian born scholars minimize the value and antiquity of Vedic civilization and knowledge. We hope this trend can soon be reversed.
I think Mr. Abbas should take the pain to actually study Vedic knowledge deeply from a bona fide teacher – which is the system recommended by Vedic knowledge itself.
Roman historian Josephus writes that the “Jews are derived from the Indian philosophers”. He tells in Apion, Book 1, verse 22:
“For Clearchus, who was the scholar of Aristotle, says that ‘Aristotle his master related what follows of a Jew,’ and sets down Aristotle’s own discourse with him. The account is this, as written down by him: ‘Now, for a great part of what this Jew said, it would be too long to recite it; but what includes in it both wonder and philosophy it may not be amiss to discourse of. I shall herein seem to thee to relate wonders, and what will even resemble dreams themselves. For this cause it will be the best way to follow the rule which requires us first to give an account of the man, and of what nation he was, that so we may not contradict our master’s directions.’
“This man then was by birth a Jew, and came from Celesyria; these Jews are derived from the Indian philosophers; they are named by the Indians Calami, and by the Syrians Judaei, and took their name from the country they inhabit, which is called Judea.'” (emphasis mine)
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan offers confirmation of this heritage in his book Pracya Mattu Paschatya Sanskriti, “that the Greeks asserted that the Jews were Indians whom the Syrians called Judea, the Sanskrit synonym of which is Yadava or yaudheya, and the Indians called them Kalanis, [sic] meaning orthodox followers of scripture.” The characteristic of strictly following scriptural injunctions is a noted similarity, and would seem to be a requirement of anybody to be identified as a Jew.
Please note that the Jews so identified in this connection are quite different from those who later became the orthodox Jews of Palestine in the 1st century. The later, having capitulated to the occupying forces of Rome were considered as having abandoned their precepts by their contemporary counterparts such as Ebionites, Essenes, Sicarii, etc.
Heliodorus and Vaishnava-Jewish connection
JanM, June 2002
(based on text by Brother David Sherman/HH Bhakti Ananda Gosvami)
Among apocryphal (non-canonical) Biblical books stands out Second Book of Maccabees. It describes personal appearance of God in forms known mainly from Vedic tradition to Greek ambassador Heliodorus.
Entry “Heliodorus” in The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.:
“fl. 175 B.C., Syrian statesman. The treasurer of Seleucus IV (Seleucus Philopator), he murdered the king and attempted unsuccessfully to usurp the throne. According to the Book of Second Maccabees, he entered the Temple at Jerusalem but was prevented from taking the treasure by three angels.”
The book is written in Greek based on earlier lost Greek original (Septuagint) in 120 BC. Its story revolves around the sin, divine chastisement and miraculous conversion of a Greek Seleucid ambassador named Heliodorus. It ends with his vow to God and return to the Seleucid emperor. Other (extra-Biblical) sources later implicated this same Heliodorus in a plot to kill the emperor. It is thus clear that this man played a significant role in the history of the time.
During the same time period in India a man named Heliodorus of the same office had a votive column to Krishna erected in his name (famous Heliodorus’ column). Such offerings were common in fulfillment of religious vows (thus ‘votive’ offerings) at that time. This same column has survived to the present, and is one of the primary pieces of evidence used to prove the existence of Vasudeva-Krishna (Krishna-Balarama) worship in the pre-Christian era.
On the column erected in Besnagar in central India near Vidisha, north of Madhyapradesh State, at 113 BC (sometimes also dated 140/150 BC ) he calls himself a worshiper of Vasudeva (Vishnu). This is the first known record that other than Indian-born person became a follower of Vishnu (Vaishnava).
“This Garuda-column of Vasudeva (Visnu), the god of gods, was erected here by Heliodorus, a worshiper of Visnu, the son of Dion, and an inhabitant of Taxila, who came as Greek ambassador from the Great King Antialkidas to King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the savior, then reigning prosperously in the fourteenth year of his kingship.”
(Transliteration and translation of this ancient Brahmi inscription was published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London: JRAS, Pub., 1909, pp. 1053-54.)
“Three immortal precepts (footsteps)… when practiced lead to heaven – self-restraint, charity, consciousness.”
From this inscription it is clear Heliodorus was a Vaisnava, a devotee of Visnu.
The Archaeological Survey of India has inscribed its history on a white marble slab. It reads:
“History of This Pillar
“This column is locally called Khamb Baba and is worshiped especially by fishermen. It bears two inscriptions in Brahmi characters and Prakrit language.
“One of these inscriptions records that the column was set up as a Garuda Pillar in honour of God Vasudeva (Vishnu) by Heliodoros, a Greek inhabitant of Taxila (Takshasila), who had come to the court of Bhagabhadra, king of central India, as an ambassador from Antialcidas, an Indo-Bactrian king of the Punjab. Heliodoros had evidently adopted Hinduism as he has styled himself a Bhagavata, i.e., a follower of the Vaishnava sect. The approximate date of the column is 150 B.C.”
The reference to Garuda, the vahana (carrier) of the Lord, is found also in the Old Testament.
2 Samuel 22:11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
Psalms 18:10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.Thus a Greek ambassador named Heliodorus figures prominently in both the Biblical and Vaishnava history of that same time period. Whether one takes these stories as real or ‘legendary’ there is obviously still some connection.
If we doubt that there was much contact between India and Jerusalem at that time, again the Greek Jewish-Catholic Bible (Septuagint) has the answer. The post-Alexandrine Seleucid emperors reigned from North West India to North Africa. There was tremendous interaction between India and Judea during this period. For example, there are entire Indian units of elephants and their foot-soldiers described as fighting under the Seleucid Emperor in Jerusalem in the First Book of Maccabees, Chapter 6. Indian elephant units from India, with Indian troops, lead by Indian officers, were commonly used throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region in the centuries just before the advent of Christ. This is only one example of the complete integration of Levantine and Indian history which characterized that entire period.
The 2 Maccabees book describes experience of Heliodorus with theophany (revelation) of God. In chapter 3 (3:25-26, 33-34) of this book God manifests Himself in His temple in Jerusalem – first appearing as rider (Kalki) on a richly armored horse trampling the ambassador who is trying to plunder and thus desecrate the great temple of Jerusalem. Then the Almighty Lord appears as two beautiful youths (Eli-Yahu as Krishna and Balarama), who beat the ambassador with Their own hands. A Vaishnava recognizes that such a chastisement from the hand of God is a great benediction and Heliodorus obviously understood it as such.
2 Maccabees, Chapter 3:
While the holy city was inhabited in unbroken peace and the laws were very well observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of wickedness,
it came about that the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with the finest presents,
so that even Seleucus, the king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses connected with the service of the sacrifices.
But a man named Simon, of the tribe of Benjamin, who had been made captain of the temple, had a disagreement with the high priest about the administration of the city market;
and when he could not prevail over Onias he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.
He reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so that the amount of the funds could not be reckoned, and that they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the control of the king.
When Apollonius met the king, he told him of the money about which he had been informed. The king chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs, and sent him with commands to effect the removal of the aforesaid money.
Heliodorus at once set out on his journey, ostensibly to make a tour of inspection of the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in fact to carry out the king’s purpose.
When he had arrived at Jerusalem and had been kindly welcomed by the high priest of the city, he told about the disclosure that had been made and stated why he had come, and he inquired whether this really was the situation.
The high priest explained that there were some deposits belonging to widows and orphans,
and also some money of Hyrcanus, son of Tobias, a man of very prominent position, and that it totaled in all four hundred talents of silver and two hundred of gold. To such an extent the impious Simon had misrepresented the facts.
And he said that it was utterly impossible that wrong should be done to those people who had trusted in the holiness of the place and in the sanctity and inviolability of the temple which is honored throughout the whole world.
But Heliodorus, because of the king’s commands which he had, said that this money must in any case be confiscated for the king’s treasury.
So he set a day and went in to direct the inspection of these funds. There was no little distress throughout the whole city.
The priests prostrated themselves before the altar in their priestly garments and called toward heaven upon Him who had given the law about deposits, that He should keep them safe for those who had deposited them.
To see the appearance of the high priest was to be wounded at heart, for his face and the change in his color disclosed the anguish of his soul.
For terror and bodily trembling had come over the man, which plainly showed to those who looked at him the pain lodged in his heart.
People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into contempt.
Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the maidens who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of the windows.
And holding up their hands to heaven, they all made entreaty.
There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of the high priest in his great anguish.
While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that He would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it,
Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.
But when he arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign of spirits and of all authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God, and became faint with terror.
For there appeared to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of frightening mien, and it rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold.
Two young men also appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed, who stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him.
When he suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up and put him on a stretcher
and carried him away, this man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury with a great retinue and all his bodyguard but was now unable to help himself; and they recognized clearly the sovereign power of God.
While he lay prostrate, speechless because of the divine intervention and deprived of any hope of recovery,
they praised the Lord who had acted marvelously for His own place. And the temple, which a little while before was full of fear and disturbance, was filled with joy and gladness, now that the Almighty Lord had appeared.
Quickly some of Heliodorus’ friends asked Onias to call upon the Most High and to grant life to one who was lying quite at his last breath.
And the high priest, fearing that the king might get the notion that some foul play had been perpetrated by the Jews with regard to Heliodorus, offered sacrifice for the man’s recovery.
While the high priest was making the offering of atonement, the same young men appeared again to Heliodorus dressed in the same clothing, and They stood and said, “Be very grateful to Onias the high priest, since for his sake the Lord has granted you your life.
And see that you, who have been scourged by heaven, report to all men the majestic power of God.” Having said this They vanished.
Then Heliodorus offered sacrifice to the Lord and made very great vows to the Savior of his life, and having bidden Onias farewell, he marched off with his forces to the king.
And he bore testimony to all men of the deeds of the Supreme God, which he had seen with his own eyes.
When the king asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to send on another mission to Jerusalem, he replied,
“If you have any enemy or plotter against your government, send him there, for you will get him back thoroughly scourged, if he escapes at all, for there certainly is about the place some power of God.
For He who has his dwelling in heaven watches over that place Himself and brings it aid, and He strikes and destroys those who come to do it injury.”
This was the outcome of the episode of Heliodorus and the protection of the treasury.
REINCARNATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
JUDAISM AND REBIRTH
The Hebrew word for reincarnation, gilgul, comes from a verb meaning “turning in a circle.”
The following Old Testament scriptures prohibit talking to the dead. While this is not a direct endorsement of rebirth, it nonetheless indicates that the soul can be functioning quite well without a body otherwise there could be no conversing with them. It also indicates that after they die, these souls are somewhere. Can they be in heaven or hell without first having an orthodox final judgment day? Or, perhaps they are now in heaven or hell because there is no “final” judgment day when all souls are judged and assigned permanently to either region. Or, if there is a final judgment day, from what place are they now, prior to the judgment, able to converse with the living? Reincarnation would have them in various after-worlds that can be generally grouped as heaven or hell each with multiple levels of enjoyment or severity.
The following two scriptures assert the life of the soul after the body falls away:
Let no one be found among you who . . . is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Deuteronomy. 18:10-11, NIV
Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:31, NIV
The next scripture clearly asserts the existence of at least this soul prior to being placed in the womb.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5, NIV
Solomon tells us in the following passage that if we do evil deeds in this life, we will have to reap the effects in our next incarnation. It is clear in this passage that Solomon believed in reincarnation. Having forsaken the law, these ungodly men will be reborn in another life to inherit their curse.
Woe be unto you, ungodly men, which have forsaken the law of the most high God: for if you increase it shall be to your destruction. And if you be born, you shall be born to a curse� Ecclesiasticus 41:8-9, KJV, 1611 Edition, Apocrypha
Flavius Josephus, born 37 C.E., died after 93 C.E., is the most well know Jewish historian. He was a Pharisee, born Joseph ben Matthias who served as a commander in Galilee in the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 C.E. His Jewish Antiquities, written about 93 C.E., describes the history of the Jews from the Creation onward with a particularly full account of the Maccabees and the dynasty of Herod. Reincarnation runs through his works like salt through a salt shaker. He talks of rebirth in such a matter-of-fact way that one must assume it was an accepted way of thinking which was so common at the time that it did not merit any further explanation. Many historians believe the previously mentioned discussions between Jesus and the disciples involving rebirth are the same. There was no expounding of the doctrine because it was so commonly understood.
The bodies of all men are, indeed, mortal, and are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies. . . . Do not you know, that those who depart out of this life according to the laws of nature . . . enjoy eternal fame; that their houses and posterity are sure; that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolution of ages, they are again sent . . . into bodies; while the souls of those whose hands have acted madly against themselves are received by the darkest place in Hades? The Works of Flavius Josephus, translated by William Wiston
Going back to the time of Christ we do not have to look far to discover a large cheering section for the doctrine of rebirth among the orthodox Jewish leaders of that period. There are three learned Jewish philosophers appearing just before or at the time of Christ who taught the doctrine of reincarnation. They were Philo Judaeus, aka Philo of Alexandria, C. 20 B.C.E.- C. 50 C.E., who was the greatest Jewish philosopher and theologian of the Greco-Roman period whose writings have survived; the Jewish sage Hillel, the great Chaldean teacher who was the leading Pharisee in Jerusalem during the late 1st century B.C.E. and early years of the present era; and the great Jewish sage Jehoshuah ben Pandira. Today these three men are household names in Judaism and garner enormous respect from all orthodox Jews regardless of sect. They are prominent fixtures in Jewish religious history and they all taught the doctrine of reincarnation.
Pl click here to know how close was old testament written on proncipal of Vedas-
CONTEMPLATING THE MYSTERY is as old as humanity itself. People cannot help but wonder at the miracle of life, and have found and developed myriad paths to meaning. Shrouded in deepest antiquity, the oldest religious traditions share many similar ideas, and may even share common roots. Contemporary people seek ways to express their spirituality that are freed from the baggage of the past, but the authority of antiquity lends an undeniable richness. Like a fine wine, spirituality needs some aging and “gravity” to be convincing. . .
Living traditions are growing traditions, enriched by their relationships with other paths, and “cross-pollination” has engendered a network of commonalities across the religious spectrum. There is a sense of recognition when a familiar practice or concept is seen expressed in a different language or style. Religious traditions have influenced each other in many ways, for better or worse.
Judaism and Vedanta have much in common, and we will explore here some of similarities and differences they share. The idea of “proving” or “disproving” a connection between Judaism and Vedanta can be someone else’s project.
SEED THOUGHTS The idea that Judaism and Vedanta have common roots raises some eyebrows. The antiquity of possible commonalities may make definitive proof, one way or the other, impossible. Outwardly, in many ways, the two traditions are quite different – iconoclastic Judaism’s rejection of deist imagery contrasts sharply with Hinduism’s polytheism and rich panoply of God-forms and their images. These surface characteristics conceal similarities in the underlying core concepts.
Both terms, “Judaism” and “Hinduism,” are blanket words that describe huge collections of varying “dialects” within each religion. Comprehensive parallels may be impossible to draw, so prominent, selected threads will be compared, leaving final conclusions as an open choice.
ABRAHAM AND THE BRAHMINS
Genesis 25:6: “And to the concubine children who were Abraham’s, Abraham gave gifts; then he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he was still alive, eastward, to the land of the east.”
These were the children of Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden with whom Abraham fathered Ishmael, the progenitor of the Islamic strand of Abraham’s ethical monotheism. Hagar was also called Ketura, which means “incense.” Did these journeyers-to-the-east children of Abraham’s become the Brahmins? The timing would be right, Abraham lived around 2100 B.C.E., and the Upanishads and Rig Veda emerged in India in about 1500 B.C.E. The similarity of “Abraham” and “Brahmin” may be purely coincidental. It’s also important to note that three of their names were “Shiva,” “Ashram,” and “Aveda.” It’s comparable to the fact that the Nordic version of Adam and Eve, the primordial couple, were called in the Eddas “Ask and Embla” [ash and elm trees].
SACRED LANGUAGE – SACRED TEXT
A hieratic language. The Greek word “hieratic” means “priestly,” and was originally used to describe Eqyptian hieroglyphics, a lanquage reserved for spiritual purposes. Hieratic languages like Hebrew and Sanskrit are seen as “vessels” that protect spiritual concepts. Each letter, each glyphic symbol contains and transmits”God-force.” Each shape, and what it imparts, connects the immanent world to the transcendant world, and is a path along which humans can share in that connection. This idea evolves in some thought into the idea that simply scanning the letters with the eyes opens the soul to the divine, regardless of comprehension of the meanings.
Sacred Texts. The term “Veda,” in its narrow sense, refers to the four primary brahmanic “Samhitas,” the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. Subsequent writings have been assimilated into the tradition, and “Veda” has become a broader term including a body of literature much larger than the core texts. Similarly, in Judaism, the Sefer Torah [Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy], form the primary written law, with later works like the Talmud and Zohar forming a vast body of thought that is sometimes referred to broadly as “Torah.”
In both traditions, the primary texts, Torah and Veda, are thought of as entities much greater than simple collections of words. Both are seen as “living bodies” of the Spiritual manifested in the physical world. Both are seen as containing the sum of all knowledge, and capable of infinite exploration and permutation. Both are seen as cosmological principles, as essential, primary components of reality itself. Both are closed canons, while still being seen as filled with endless meaning and sustenance. The import of these texts is often seen to transcend the literal meanings of the words, and where human interpretation begins is where endless questions of authority begin. Both traditions have strong systems of interpretation of sacred texts, and encourage difficult questions and expansion of knowledge. The Talmud is a massive text, lovingly referred to as an “ocean,” that records the rabbinical discussions of virtually every letter of the Torah, all in the process of “learning out” meaning from often obscure and contradictory verses, differences in spelling, “back stories” of characters and situations, resulting in a labyrinth of ideas almost fractal in its inexhaustibility. Another fascinating thing about the Talmud is that the participants in the conversations often lived 100s of years apart ~ their responses layered in concentric margins on each page, so the discussion is revived and kept going. A familiar complaint about Judaism is that they just “lawyer” their way out of the impossible-to-keep commands in the Torah. This is not just a quip ~ Talmudic logic has a huge influence on modern legal systems, and informed parsing of language is a highly developed and necessary skill for lawyers and rabbis alike. Christian and Islamic objections to Rabbinical Judaism say that it is an evasion of the law. So then they discarded the old law and wrote a new one. Isn’t that the same thing, just more abrupt?
HASHEM – BRAHMAN “Definitions” of “God” are very similar in Judaic and Vedic philosopy. According to the monotheistic and panentheistic theologies of Hinduism, God (the Supreme Being) is, in the highest sense, One: beyond form, infinite, and eternal. God is changeless and is the very source of consciousness. God is beyond time, space, and causation and yet permeates everything and every being. God is beyond gender. When God is thought of as this infinite principle, God is called Brahman. Brahman is the indescribable, omnipresent, original, inexhaustible, omniscient, first, eternal and absolute principle—the Supreme Cosmic Spirit—who is without a beginning, without an end, who is hidden in all and who is the source, cause, material and effect of all creation known, unknown and yet to happen in the entire universe. Brahman is the Absolute Truth: it is pure existence, consciousness and knowledge. According to the Hindu philosophical school of Advaita Vedanta, nothing in the universe truly exists except Brahman.
In Judaism, many of the exact same ideas are invoked in the daily prayer service: God is One, without form, without beginning or end, beyond time and space, the source of life and consciousness, indescribable, inexhaustible, omniscient, omnipresent, original, first, eternal and absolute principle—the ultimate transcendant reality, who is hidden in all and who is the cause, source, material and effect of all creation known, unknown and yet to happen in the entire universe. The Creator is described as: incomparable, without equal, unbounded by time, One but not in the sense of counting, preceding everything, and knowing of all secrets.
The idea of God’s permeation of every aspect of life is summed up in both religious traditions with similar sayings or mantras: one in Sanskrit is, “Tat twam asi” means “and that, too” – with the idea of mentally acknowledging every thought and event as being part of God. One corollary in Judaism is a saying attributed to “Rabbi Ish Gam Zu”: “Gam Zu la Tov” – “and that, too, is for the good.”
Some threads of Vedantic thought posit many “sub-forms” of God, giving them names and powers, with whole cults arising around these various personalities, whereas Judaism rigidly avoids this, and doesn’t indulge in any of these subdivisions. Another difference is the Jewish importance attached to the “names” used to describe the Creator, with levels of sanctity attributed to these names, including a name that cannot be pronounced – that was only pronounced in ancient times by the Kohen Gadol [High Priest] on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Modern Jews use a variety of euphemisms for the Master of the Universe, and carefully avoid using sacred names in non-prayer situations. One example is “HaShem,” meaning literally: “The Name.”
Devekut – Samadhi. Vedic and Chassidic thought share the ideal of “joining” with the Divine, and myriad approaches to this goal have been described, named, and practiced. The Hebrew: “bittul ha yesh,” means “nullification of what I have,” and is part of “Devekut,” or “cleaving” to the creator. This can be compared to the Sanskrit “moksha” meaning “liberation,” dissolution of the sense of self as an egoistic personality, which is a precursor to “Samadhi,” also called “Nirvana” – total absorption in Cosmic Consciousness. Both traditions prescribe comprehensive systems of blessings, meditations and rituals for keeping the mind in constant focus on the Spiritual World. Both systems also have varying schools of thought concerning “levels” of absorption, the purpose thereof, and ways to achieve it.
Another aspect of this unification with the divine is that there is no ulterior motive, not even the motive of some reward at a future time, like the Christian or Islamic ideas of “heaven.” In Jewish thought this is called “le shem shamayim,” “for the sake of heaven,” and in Vedic thought it’s called “surrendering the fruits of your actions,” or “karma yoga” – the yoga of works.Another similarity is the concept of “Practice.” The shared idea is that the poetry-like repetition of sacred texts, ritualized recitation and action, is meant to work on deeper levels than the immediate tangibles. Simply practicing the ethics, the G-d reminding blessings, the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual cycles harmonises us with natural rhythms, and brings connection and meaning, rootedness. Shared also is the sense of savoring the journey, and the simple repetition, rather than anxiously grasping for some distant Heaven or Hell. With practice, and years, we realize that each new situation is repeating something in our past, and awareness catches us and says: “Pay closer attention this time…”
“A lesson repeated 100 times cannot be compared to a lesson repeated 101 times” Chagigah 9b2 [Talmud]
MINDFULNESS PRACTICE Techniques for keeping one’s attention in the spiritual realm vary widely. Judaism accompanies virtually every act with some kind of blessing, or “bracha,” and there are many other physical objects and movements that keep one’s attention focused on the higher impulses. The daily Jewish prayers, if done completely, involve hours of ‘mantra’ chanting – Psalms, Biblical and Talmudic excerpts, Piyyut [hymns], meditations, wordless niggunim [tunes], and poems. Many dharmic traditions feature similar routines. In the Buddhist end of the spectrum, many forms of meditation practice cultivate non-attachment – a “dispassionate mindfulness.” This is a key departure from Judaism’s “passionate mindfulness.” Buddhists don’t dance and laugh and cry all the time like Jews do, nor do they celebrate [sanctioned] sexual activity. Judaism’s challenge is to spiritualize all of life, to have all of the emotions in play, available, and fully tasted, while Buddhism seeks independence from these states – to have the mind be like Teflon, letting emotions pass without ‘grasping’ them. People familiar with both systems tend to agree that Judaism has more heart, and a wider dynamic range of moods.
FOUR WORLDS- FOUR YOGAS “Yoga” means “union,” or “yoke,” referring to the idea of a system of practices intended to bring samadhi or devekut – union with the Source of Creation. The oxen’s yoke is a primordial symbol, and is also prominent in Judaism. The “Ohl Malchut Shamayim,” the “Yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven,” is the system of “Halacha,” or “path,” which organizes Jewish life into a constant meditation on Holiness. “Raja Yoga – Kingly Yoke,” and the “Ohl Malchut – Yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven” are almost identical twins – a spiritual ox-team.
Brahmanic philosophy has defined four “branches” of yoga, acknowledging the various personality types and levels of dedication in aspirants. [This is one way in which Vedic and Jewish thought differ, in that Judaism doesn’t explicitly describe any “types.” Thereare the distinctions of “Kohanim,” “Leviim,” and “Yisrael,” and it might be interesting to explore using the 12 Tribes as a model for this type of taxonomy.] The four types or “margas” of yoga are: Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, Raja yogas. Each type has numerous traditions and schools of thought that flow from them, and they are often intertwined. They can easily be compared to the four levels in the Kabalistic Tree of Life.
Karma yoga, mentioned above, is the yoga of work, the physical world, and human interaction. In Hebrew, spiritual work is “avoda,” the work of the Priests in the Tabernacle. It’s earthy, material associations correspond to the foundational Kabalistic world, “Assiah,” the world of making, and the “Birchat ha shachar,” or Morning Blessings, the beginning of the prayer service and the “lowest” level. This section of the Jewish service includes meditations on the physical body – and “Karma Yoga” includes “Hatha Yoga,” whose purpose is the exercise and “tuning” of the flesh-and-blood vehicle. This section concludes with the “korbanos,” the daily sacrificial prodecures. The primary Brahmanic texts, the “Vedas,” are a series of “mantras,” “p’sukim,” or “verses,” that are sacrificial instruction manuals.
Bhakti yoga is the yoga of praise, song, and dance. “Kirtan” is the Sanskrit term for the countless tunes, hymns, singing styles and dance rituals applied to the mantras of praise and gratitude contained in the tradition. Judaism is also a singing religion, with “niggunim,” “wordless tunes,” at the top of the list of ways to find devekut, and a huge variety of psalms, Biblical songs, and tunes collected from 3,000 years of Jewish travels. Singing and bits of melody are woven through every moment of the day in Judaism. The P’sukei d’Zimra, the singing part of the prayer service, corresponds in Kabalistic thought to the second world, the world of “Yetzirah,” or “formation,” and includes Psalms of David, The Song at the Sea [from Exodus], excerpts from Chronicles, and more. In both traditions, song and movement are recognized as important and effective ways to soften the ego, open the heart, and engender love and welcoming of the Source of Life.
Jnana Yoga is the yoga of meditation, concentration, and union. In Hinduism “Jnana – knowing” means true knowledge, the knowledge that one’s self is identical with Ultimate Reality, Brahman. In Buddhism, Jnana refers to pure awareness that is free of conceptual encumbrances, and is contrasted with vijnana, which is a moment of ‘divided knowing’. These two states are comparable to “mochin gadlut,” “big mind,” and “mochin katlut” small mind, in Chasidic thought. This corresponds to the “Kriyas Shema” level of the prayer service, Briah, or “creation,” and is said sitting, and focusing the mind and heart on Deuteronomy 6:4, the “Shema:” “Listen-hear, O Israel, G-d is One,” and on the Omnipresent Unity of the Creator.
Raja Yoga is the culmination of the other yogas – “raja” meaning “king.” This is total absorption and immersion, connecting the transcendant and immanent worlds. Here is where all of the preparation comes to fruition, and the aspirant merges with the spiritual realm. In the Jewish prayer service, this could be compared to the “Amidah,” the standing prayer that is said in silence. Chasidut connects the Amidah to Atzilut, the highest world in the Kabalistic Tree of Life, the world of intimacy, and emanation.
STREAMS OF THOUGHT “Ivri,” root of the word “Hebrew,” means to cross over; and it first appears at Genesis 14:13, referring to Abraham, after he has crossed the Euphrates River. This “crossing over” is seen as the advance of moving into a spiritual life from a worldly life. In Buddhism, distantly related to Brahmanism, “crossing the river” is a metaphor for the long process of acheiving enlightenment. The two main strands of Buddhism take their names from this powerful symbol, Mahayana [big vessel] and Hinayana [small vessel] are the broader and narrower approaches. Key symbols in Judaism are the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea on dry land, and Moses “surrendering the fruits of his labors” bynot crossing the River Jordan at the end of the 40 years in the desert.
IMPERMANENCE – HEVEL In Buddhism, a “Dharmic Religion” that grew out of Brahmanic philosophy, a key concept isanitya, a Sanskrit word meaning impermanence, the only end of which is Nirvana, dissolution of self and unification with the Divine. The Jewish prayer service includes a dramatic section culminating with the concept that all human accomplishment and even “superioriity of man over beast” is called “hevel,” or “futile – impermanent,” and that the only remedy is in the acknowledgement that “God is One.” “Hevel” also means “breath,” which provides an opening to another set of shared ideas between the two traditions.
BREATH AND GOD An entire branch of Yoga is dedicated to the purification and care of the body with the purpose of deepening the connection with the Divine. Hatha Yoga [ha – sun / tha – moon] recognizes that the physical vehicle, the body, is a rare opportunity, and our only chance for spiritual development. Health problems are an impediment to meditation. Prana is the Sanskrit word for “breath.” Prana is the “life force,” the vital energy that supports the entire natural process of the universe, and a complex science has grown around it in Vedic practice, called “Pranayama.”
There are important references to breath in the Jewish texts, but there have been fewer developments in the area. As mentioned above, “hevel” means “breath,” or “vanity.” The book of Kohelet [Ecclesiastes], begins with the words: “Havel, havalim, ha khol, hevel” – “vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” Since “vanity” also means “breath,” this could be seen as an exact corraboration of the Vedic idea of prana’s permeation of the universe. The last verse of Psalms [Ps. 150:6] says “Khol ha neshama t’halel Ya,” “Every soul will praise God.” “Neshama,” or “soul,” also means “breath,” – so here King David is saying “every breath should praise God” – exactly what Pranayama does by connecting breathing exercises with sacred mantras. In the twice daily readings of the “Shema” passage of Deuteronomy, in the two paragraphs that follow [Deut 6:5-9, and Deut 11:13-21], both contain verses exhorting the Jew to “love God with all your soul – breath,” another suggestion that breath is part of Devekut.
In modern terms, we know that the brain uses more oxygen than any other organ in the body, and that efficient brain function is vitally dependant on an adequate supply. The deep, rhythmic breathing of yoga systematically oxygenates the entire body, especially the brain, sharpening focus, concentration, and enthusiasm. Passing references in the Jewish literature mention breathing as a valuable practice, and certain early Kabalists are said to have employed breathing techniques with their prayer to achieve deeper kavanah, but until recently there have been few explicitly developed routines for including breathing with Jewish prayer.
Lunar – Solar Calendars
The Sanctification of the Moon is the first commandment given to the Jews in the Torah. The annual cycle of Festivals, Torah readings, fasts and other holidays in the Jewish calendar are determined by the moon. This is a shared characteristic among almost all religions – only the Gregorian calendar is exclusively solar. Vedic science has created a complex lunar system of Astrology that parallels an equally complex solar system. Judaism doesn’t get too didactic about astrology, preferring the actual physical enactment of the monthly Kiddush Levanah – Blessing of the New Moon.
KEY DIFFERENCES Brahmanic, or “Dharmic” religions frequently tend to asceticism, in the forms of celibacy, fasting, and other physical privations. Seen as ways to reduce the influence of the physical and make way for the spiritual, these practices are often carried to the extreme. Jewish law, halacha, also curbs or channels the physical, with some key differences.
Circumcision is the primary physical covenant every Jewish male undergoes, and there is no evidence of this on any formal level in the Dharmic religions. While many elaborate forms of alterations to the physical body occur in Hinduism especially, Jewish law firmly forbids any mutiliation of the body, including tattoos and piercings. Removal of the foreskin at the age of 8 days is the only exception.
Fasting is practiced across the spectrum of religions, and the Dharmic paths include many prescribed and self imposed periods of food deprivation. The Jewish fasts are fewer, and prescribed for specific days. Self-imposed fasting is less common, and cases of extended fasts are almost unheard of, with the exception of Moses. There are even allowances to eat on the prescribed fasts for pregnant women, older people and the infirm.
While sexual abstinence and / or withdrawal from social life for extended meditation is celebrated in the Vedic world, it is rare and not encouraged in Judaism. While there arefamous and revered cave-dwelling holy men in the Jewish past, Jewry in general is enjoined to participate in the material world, to work for a living, to have sex (within a sanctified marriage), to drink (in controlled and prescribed ways), and to dance. Jewish prayer is said to be more effective when done with the community, and the tradition of “Minyan,” ten adult (male) Jews required for the recitation of Kaddish and certain other parts of the service is a foundation of Judaism. This challenging prescription of maintaining Holiness while fully participating in the world is distinctly Jewish, and helps to curtail more fantastic manifestions like the Indian fakirs with their nail beds and hot coal walking.
Dietary traditions between Judaic and Dharmic worlds have various differences and similarities. While Vedic philosophy has an extended science of diet, it frequently eliminates meat from the menu entirely, in the interest of ahimsa or “nonviolence.” Judaism has a complex dietary regimen, called “Kashrut,” which does allow meat, but with serious controls, both in the slaughtering and consumption. Similar to the rejection of hermitism and celibacy, this forces the Jew to face the harsh realities of life while sanctifying them at the same time.
The Brahmanic traditions have a rich variety of festive and holy days throughout each year, many religious, and others peculiar to local customs. Judaism differs in that its primary Holy Day, the Sabbath, happens weekly, and that all of the various special days are fairly consistent throughout the Jewish world, as opposed to the wide variety existing in Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. In both traditions, complex associations and rituals impart spiritual lessons while also serving the purpose of bringing people together.
Both traditions feature daily rituals, and as with the larger cycle of holidays, Judaism is much more codified and consistent across the Jewish spectrum. The wide variety of practices in Dharmic religions share the common underlying urge to unification with God, as do the less varied Jewish liturgies. Vedic and Judaic systems both have detailed systems of blessing, or sanctifying virtually every part of the day’s activities, even the most mundane. Thus, waking, washing, excretion, and the first words of the day are sanctified with God-consciousness by accompanying these activities with “Brachot,” “Mantras,” or “Blessings.” An important difference is that in many strands of the Dharmic tradition, “God Images” are used to focus meditation, whereas in Judaism, such images are avoided. The only “images” in Jewish practice, are the Hebrew letters themselves, which are, as indicated above, seen as physical manifestations of Holiness.
DEATH RITUALSIn both the Torah and Vedic traditions, emphasis is placed on life in this world, with the afterlife receiving passing or sketchy attention. Over attention to life-after-death is seen as a morbid “ego trip.” Both traditions posit forms of reincarnation, with some strands of the Vedic tradition creating detailed taxonomies of incarnational structure, and even assertions of “lineage” extending into the past for certain exalted individuals. Midrash, Jewish oral tradition, refers to the souls of prominent Biblical personalities as resurfacing over time, but specific, hard cast claims are avoided.
Funerary rituals vary widely in the Vedic world, with cremation being a common form of disposal of the body, which sharply contrasts with the Jewish insistence on leaving the body in its natural state, with no chemicals, and a coffin with holes in it that permits rapid deterioration and assimilation-into-the-earth of the body. Tibetan Buddhists accompany the dead with readings from the Bardo Thodal [lit. “liberation through hearing in the intermediate state”], which are mantras designed to guide the departing soul towards a positive outcome: either ultimate release, or rebirth into a favorable incarnation. Similarly, Jewish tradition has the deceased accompanied by the reading of Tehillim [Psalms of David], ideally from the moments before death until the burial is complete. Varieties of “ancestor worship” or commemorations of the deceased are common among Vedic traditions. In Judaism, a special “Kaddish” is said for the dead by close relatives for 11 months after the death, and yearly death-anniversaries are also commemorated. Both traditions have some forms of prayers that can presumably “guide” the soul on its journey ~ saying Kaddish achieves this in Judaism.
TRIBES AND CASTES
Brahmanic tradition has taken the idea of classes of holiness and racial purity to great lengths, creating complex social stratification referred to as the “caste system.” Judaism’s version of this is first of all, the concept of a “Holy Nation;” that is, the “Children of the Covenant,” or the “Chosen – or Singled Out People.” Stratum exist within Judaism itself, namely the Kohanim, Leviim, and Israel. These Biblical divisions are much less restrictive, especially in modern times, than the Indian caste system. Today, there are definite “levels” of authority, credentials based on family history or modern criteria of educational achievement. A strong Jewish distaste for charlatanism creates a reliable barrier against false claims of “holiness,” and hard-won spiritual authority is maintained through reputation and works in the community.
Another distinguishing feature of Judaism is the sense of national loyalty and group cohesion. Though there are several “strands” of Judaism, there is still a strong sense of community – family connection, borne of generations of group life. The Hebrew of the Torah also provides a common language that holds the community together. Vedic religions share Sanskrit in the same way, but have had no desert-dweller rigor of system. The spiritual imaginations of the yogis proliferated like the jungles they lived in, while the Avot [fathers], “built a fence around the Torah,” whose edifice of liturgy and ritual has kept the original prophetic vision consistent and pure. The difference between Zen Buddhism and Kali-cult Hinduism, though they both grew from the Vedas, is vast. Though there is a wide spectrum of Jewish levels of observance, details of the basic cosmology and practice remain fairly consistent. The Torah concept of an entire nationof slaves being liberated, and then experiencing prophecy simultaneously at Mount Sinai, is unique.
Becoming a Hindu, Buddhist, or member of any of the other Dharmic religions is not difficult, and simply requires study, ritual, and purity of intention. The Dharmic religions are distinctly non-evangelical, and rarely proselytize, much like Judaism. Conversion to Judaism, on the other hand, is a daunting task. Midrash enjoins a Rabbi approached by a potential convert to refuse the seeker three times. Partly because of social problems arising from the surrounding community in reaction to conversion to Judaism, and the difficulty of maintaining a Jewish life after conversion, Judaism has substantially smaller numbers than most other world religions. Serious converts are held in great respect, and despite the difficulty, more people are converting to Judaism today than at any time since the time of Greek ascendency.