Journey of India From Mythology to History
~ By Archaeology Online
A vast quantity of reliable evidence from many disciplines, new as well as old, analysed by widely accepted scientific processes, is rewriting the history of the world and its civilisations — starting with ancient India. Real science requires us to look at the evidence in spite of prejudices and accept its conclusions no matter our agenda.
People largely trust science and trust scientific evidence implicitly, what to speak of corroborating evidence from many variegated scientifically recorded sources which cross correlate and support each other. Many recent multidisciplinary developments now provide the capacity for scientific measurement, dating, verification and irrefutable establishment of historical points of Vedic interest from antiquity as factual — corroborating and dating statements in the Vedic literatures.
State of the art scientific evidence utilising modern widely accepted methodologies yields overwhelming historical proof of Vedic narrations as well as accurate dating of these vast literatures. Our thesis is that the most voluminous body of literature in existence, the ancient Vedic literatures of India, along with their vast and deep culture, religion and traditions are now proven to be factual accounts, in as far as they have been investigated, which is ongoing and to date conclusive.
In this article we provide a brief overview of the irrefutable substantial evidence now available which corroborates Vedic statements, timelines, history and innumerable other facts stated in the vast Vedic literatures — much of which unfortunately have previously been regarded as mythology. Strong substantiation by scientific investigation now moves these narrations from the realm of mythology to that of historical facts.
Undoubtedly there are a few scholars who will object to such statements without verifying every last one and to this end we state unequivocally that the facts presented herein can indeed be thoroughly substantiated and annotated. Endless quibbling in the face of consistent strong evidence to the contrary is ultimately pointless — one’s credibility is lost. It is time for the old guard to give up their prejudices and embrace the inevitable truth in the face of overwhelming irrefutable evidence.
Much of India’s history has been written by outsiders (principally British colonialists) with vested economic and religious interests in distorting the truth based on insubstantial evidence deducted through the crude and unscientific techniques available in their time. Since then, the politics of power and control have stifled reform — leaving an incorrect and outdated model of Indian history being taught in schoolrooms around the world, even in spite of the plethora of formidable evidence to the contrary.
Professor Richard Villems of the Estonian Biocentre writes:
According to one of the most widely-used history books on India, The Wonder that was India,1 by A.L. Basham, the invading Aryans were, ‘semi-nomadic barbarians, tall, who tamed the horse, were pastoral, and migrated in bands eastwards, conquering local populations and intermarrying with them to form a ruling class. They brought with them their patrilineal family system, their worship of the sky gods….’ Just about every aspect of modern Hinduism is attributed either directly to these invaders, or as a result of their interaction with the conquered, likely Dravidian-speaking people.2
Basham’s book, although hopelessly outdated and incorrect in many aspects, is still used as a textbook in Indian schools.
Early Unscientific Findings
The 19th Century brought the introduction of anthropology along with a number of rather unscientific techniques such as anthropometry, craniometry or phrenology based on racial considerations prevalent in those times. For example Risley, a colonial government official in the late 18th Century, on the basis of a nasal index defined 2378 castes from 43 races, heavily influencing Indian anthropology. Skeletons found in Mohenjo-daro in the 1930s by B. S. Guna detailed finding many fictitious ‘non-Aryan’ races still found in Indian textbooks. It wasn’t until after World War II that these misconceived racial considerations collapsed in light of much more reliable scientific techniques.3
Unfortunately, this so-called history still bears remnants of the influence of British imperialistic dominion over India as well as that of Christian and Islamic influences, none of which are endemic to India. The British subjugation and exploitation of India was facilitated by implementing various ploys, such as,
- Infiltrating and taking over the economy of India by the British East India Company.
- Inventing the Aryan Invasion Theory (i.e. the Vedic culture, people and literature came from outside India artificially adding credibility to foreign control by the British).
- Discrediting the vast wealth of information and history found in the Vedic literatures as mythology and of foreign origin (stealing the Indian pride in their culture).
- Introducing the Christian educational system as superior while simultaneously propagating an attitude of inferiority amongst the Indian population.
Consider then, if Indians are really an inferior race as the British so eagerly claimed, then why are Indians the top students at so many western Engineering schools? Why do they dominate a substantial portion of Silicon Valley and why is Bangalore the IT capital of the world? How is it that the contributions of India’s ancient Vedic civilisation to the modern world in the fields of mathematics, cosmology, medicine and other sciences is much greater and superior to any other countries’ contributions yet not given credit? We suggest that although these facts are not widely know, they are nevertheless true and are recorded carefully for the discerning reader who wishes to verify them for themselves. The articles within this book are but an attempt to set India’s history straight. Past attempts within India to right these wrongs have been politicly labeled as Hindu distortions. However, scholars of repute are aware of the facts and are not so easily swayed by such fallacious claims. India will be judged by how it responds to this.
A few of the many significant contributions of the Vedic system to humanity are — the decimal and binary number systems, the concept of zero and infinity, the pythagorean theorem, and a cosmology lauded by Carl Sagan as being in agreement with modern accepted reality, the precise Sanskrit language, lauded by a NASA scientist as the best media for artificial intelligence, what to speak of cultural contributions such as Indian dance, music, medicine, cuisine, architecture, yoga, mathematics, physics, metallurgy, a highly sophisticated philosophy interlinked with its advanced culture and a host of further significant additions.
The Vedas Maligned
Abraham Seidenberg, a mathematics historian, credits the Vedas as, “inspiring all the mathematics of the ancient world.” Renowned thinkers, writers and scientists such as Emerson, Thoreau, Voltaire, Schopenhauer, Whitehead and a host of others revered the Vedas as great sources of vastly superior wisdom and knowledge and this profound influence on them is found in their writings.
Unfortunately not everyone glorified the Vedic epics. The British refused to believe the fantastic descriptions found in the Vedic Literatures of India — these ancient scriptures describing in great detail India’s history and beliefs as well as the codes for its religion. The Vedas provide many dates from antiquity which occur well before the date of Creation believed by the Christian tradition as 23rd October 4004 BCE.
In these Christian’s minds (who were at the time outsiders invasive to India, i.e., foreigners), anything occurring before their supposed date of Creation of 4004 BCE must be mythology. This, along with the apparently unbelievable nature of many Vedic narrations gave early indologists and other foreigners sufficient cause to write off the vast Vedic literatures as simply mythology — phantasmagoria. A closer look reveals that even the Christians’ own Bible contains even more fantastic and unbelievable stories, what to speak of the scriptures of other religious belief systems or even cultural traditions such as the Koran, the Torah and the Dharmapada as well as historical works.
The early British indologist Sir Thomas Jones, in his studies of Sanskrit, found that the Latin based languages of Europe had common roots with the Sanskrit language of the Vedic literatures. Although Jones was enthralled by the Vedas, his strong Christian beliefs along with the Eurocentric mentality of superiority felt by Jones and his comrades, dictated that this was proof that the Vedic culture had come into India from Europe or Asia. It certainly wouldn’t do for their culture to have originated in India — that was simply unacceptable to their pride.
The Aryan Invasion Theory
This was one of the principle building blocks for the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), with its supposition that the Proto-European-Sanskrit language at the common root of Sanskrit and such Latin-based European languages as German, Greek and English originated somewhere outside of India. It was originally proposed that the origin of Sanskrit and the culture it is deeply embedded within was most probably in middle Europe.
Max Muller’s arbitrary dating of the origin of the Vedas, based in large part on these now disproven linguistic considerations, as only as far back as 1500 BCE and the Rig Veda’s origin as 1200 BCE was another cornerstone of the AIT. Later Muller vehemently retracted his original dating as arbitrary and not factual. No evidence whatsoever, other than some linguistic guesswork, religious hearsay, and insubstantial crude analysis of data, has ever been found to support the so called invasion in 1500 BCE of Aryans from Central Asia or Europe.
In the Indian context, the work of U.S anthropologists Kenneth Kennedy, John Lukacs and Brian Hemphill in the 1990s is significant.4 Their chief conclusion regarding the Aryan controversy, is that there is no trace of ‘demographic disruption’ in the North-West of the subcontinent between 4500 and 800 BCE; this negates the possibility of any massive intrusion, by so-called Indo-Aryans or other populations, during that period.
Die-hard proponents of such an invasion / migration have therefore been compelled to downscale it to a ‘trickle-in’ infiltration,5 limited enough to have left no physical trace, although they are at pains to explain how a ‘trickle’ was able to radically alter India’s linguistic and cultural landscape when much more massive invasions of the historical period failed to do so.6
The AIT also raises an interesting paradox. If the Vedas are not of indigenous origin then the vast and highly developed Harappan civilisation dated in its maturity to the 3rd millennium BCE and uncovered in thousands of archaeological sites, along with proof of their knowledge of writing, has no literature and the voluminous Vedic literatures have an as yet undiscovered origin. Then there is no evidence of a civilisation from which these highly evolved epics have sprung. Dismissing the now soundly defeated AIT, it makes perfect sense to credit India’s indigenous civilisation with the Vedas and is totally in concert with all the evidence from a vast number of unrelated disciplines such as archaeology, genetics, astronomy etc, many of which are presented in brief herein.
The Borrowing Theory
A somewhat similar theory called the ‘Borrowing Theory’ was devised by Christians early on to show the many similarities between Christianity and the Vedic system of religion — their well supported conclusion was that Hinduism had borrowed much of its religion from Christianity.
Unfortunately for these proponents, precise dating of archaeological discoveries and other evidence like Megasthenes 3rd Century BCE work Indica, the Mora Well and Ghosundi inscriptions of the 1st and 2nd Centuries BCE, the Heliodorus Column of 113 BCE and the 2nd Century BCE Krishna and Balaram Coins of Agathocles conclusively prove that the Vedic system long predates Christianity. More recent archaeological finds of even greater antiquity as well as scientific analysis of similar evidence presented herein, pushes the Vedic civilisation’s origin even further back many more millennia — further supporting this conclusion.
With the emergence of this substantial evidence, The Borrowing Theory was conveniently forgotten by its formerly ardent fans. The obvious flip side of the borrowing argument is that its solid evidence proves that a significant portion of Christianity must have been borrowed from the Vedic system — a worthy quest to document further. A plethora of recent genetic evidence soundly confirms this conclusion.
Multidisciplinary Corroboration of Evidence
Astronomical references to particular positions of constellations and stars in numerous Vedic literatures have been entered into planetary computer software and the dates calculated indicate the development of an indigenous civilisation in India from dates prior to 7000 BCE. Such references from the Rig Veda are found for dates from 7000 BCE to 4000 BCE. These dates, as calculated by modern accurate astronomical software, yield precise dates which match sequentially with their Vedic references.
Ecological references in other ancient reference books mention the melting of glaciers and fluctuations of river volumes which match quite well with these astronomical references from the Vedas. Newer research on paleo-climatic changes are also in agreement with these findings.7
It is well known among geologists that the majestic Himalayas stand upon the original site of the Tethys Sea and it is of utmost concern how we humans are affecting the climate and bringing about sea level changes. It stands to reason that a study of the ocean — oceanography, and its changes over time can shed some light on scientific findings from other disciplines, such as geology, astronomy, ecology, genetics and anthropology.
When archaeology is combined with oceanography in the study of tiny micro-organisms called Foraminifera(micro-fossils) in marine sediments it is possible to chart past sea level fluctuations over many millennia.
These calculations of water level fluctuations of the ocean have revealed the existence of numerous coastal archaeological sites, such as Dvaraka, Dholavira, Lothal, Gulf of Khambhat and Prabhas Patan, some existing from 7500 BCE, which are now either landlocked inland or submerged.8 These findings can be correlated with other scientific evidence to calculate and corroborate the dating of ancient events along with their references in the Vedas.
For example, such an approach settled the long standing controversy regarding the site at Lothal as to whether it was a water tank or dockyard. Although situated 12 kilometres from the present day ocean and two metres above sea level, it is now accepted as the world’s first ever discovered dockyard. This was determined by the finding of well preserved micro-organisms Foraminifera within this dockyard — only found within salty water. Additionally, satellite remote sensing revealed a channel to the ocean for times when the sea level lowered
Similarly, an ancient city submerged thirty to forty metres in the Gulf of Khambhat, between 20 and 40 kilometres west of Hazira near Surat, Gujarat was found and dated as the world’s oldest city at 7500 BCE.9
Over 2500 archaeological sites have been found in northern India, two thirds of which are along the banks of the grand Sarasvati River basin. These numerous remnants of the developing Indian civilisation, dated by radiocarbon (developed by W. F. Libby in the 1950s) and the utilisation of more recent scientific methodologies, show an indigenous origin and development of this civilisation since 7000 BCE. Some new techniques recently developed for dating archaeological remains include Thermo Luminescence, Optically Stimulated Luminescence and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. Corroboration of the dating of these archaeological findings with evidence from other methodologies (genetics in particular) discussed within this article show consistency within the development of the indigenous culture of India.10,11
The important archaeological site at Mehrgahr has revealed seven levels of civilisation of continuous occupation and cultural development from the 7th millennium BCE, showing a continuity of civilisation from the 7th to 2nd millennium BCE — evidence unmatched elsewhere in the world.12
Plants, trees and herbs mentioned in the Vedas and Epics have been shown by extensive paleo-botanical and archeo-botanical research to have existed in India continuously for more than 8000 years, adding further credibility to the continuity of the civilisation of the indigenous inhabitants of India.13
Well documented archaeological finds in the plains of the Indus-Sarasvati River valley reveal a highly developed civilisation with planned cities, containing impressive road systems of baked bricks, well-planned public and private drainage systems, public buildings like the well known Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro as well as granaries and a precise system of weighing. Numerous steatite seals from such sites as Dholavira as well as Harappan and numerous other archaeological sites reveal a uniform script including many Vedic symbols.14,15
The Rig Veda describes an advanced urban and maritime civilisation entailing many varieties of ships and 75 different types of houses. This civilisation’s advanced knowledge of mathematics and astronomy later led to, “the establishment of Takshila University in 700 BCE boasting over ten thousand students from all over the world who studied more than 60 subjects. Similarly, Nalanda University was in existence in 3rd Century BCE and contained over 90 lakh books.”16 Abundant accounts of trade with India, known for its wealth of silks, spices, diamonds and gold, exist in many writings, such as those of Marco Polo.17,18
Although linguistic guesswork played an important part in the Aryan Invasion Theory,19 many scholars’ dogged refusal to admit its less than accurate results has helped perpetuate the AIT. Professor Richard Villems of the Estonian Biocentre in Estonia has more accurately replied regarding the use of linguistics, specifically the common belief that the presence of languages derived from Indo-European, such as Sanskrit and Hindi, in the north, and the Dravidic languages of the south indicate a racial divide:
“There is only a small difference between the pools of maternal lineages between Indians,” replied Dr. Villems, “whether they speak Indo-European or Dravidic languages. Also, the maternal genetic lineages of the Indian tribal populations are the same as the rest of the population.”20
Professor Villems further states that, “The problem with historic linguistics is that their time horizon is at best 8000 years maximum, because their methods don’t yield positive information below this time depth.”
In the field of anthropology, recent human Genome studies of DNA in all parts of the Indian subcontinent, whether it be North, South, East or West, prove common, continuous and indigenous inhabitants. “DNA dating for Paleolithic continuity starts from 60000 BCE. These studies reflect in situ development signatures for the Indian population as well as founder nodes or roots of Eurasian lineages within native Indians.”21
This highly reliable genetic evidence proves that the Aryan Invasion Theory happened the other way round — if at all. That is, some small cultural dispersion occurred from India outwards, NOT that some superior (foreign) Aryan race invaded nor even migrated INTO India as postulated by some of the dying old guard hanging on to the AIT.22
Additionally, this genetic evidence proves that both the Northern Indians and the Dravidians of South India have common origins, common ancestors and are not so different. The so-called division of Northern and Southern Indians is an artificial edifice designed as part of the strategy for dominion over the original Indian inhabitants.
Michael Danino, in his excellent article Genetics and the Aryan Debate,23,24 presents the conclusions of nine major studies done by 114 authors from 1999 to 2006, studying the mutations of genetic markers ‘haplotypes’ referring to an individual’s genetic fingerprint and the haplogroups (DNA of particular ethnic groups) to establish a ‘genetic distance’ between different populations. His conclusions state –
None of the nine major studies quoted above lends any support to it (differences between North and South Indians or higher and lower castes within the invasionist framework), and none proposes to define a demarcation line between tribe and caste. The overall picture emerging from these studies is, first, an unequivocal rejection of a 3500 BP arrival of a ‘Caucasoid’ or Central Asian gene pool. Just as the imaginary Aryan invasion / migration left no trace in Indian literature, in the archaeological and the anthropological record, it is invisible at the genetic level…
In simple terms, except for Africans, all humans have ancestors in the North-West of the Indian peninsula. In particular, one migration started around 50000 BP towards the Middle East and Western Europe: indeed, nearly all Europeans — and by extension, many Americans — can trace their ancestors to only four mtDNA lines, which appeared between 10000 and 50000 years ago and originated from South Asia…25
All this suggests that (the haplogroup) M17 could have found his way initially from India or Pakistan, through Kashmir, then via Central Asia and Russia, before finally coming into Europe.26
We will not call it, of course, an ‘Indian invasion’ of Europe; in simple terms, India acted “as an incubator of early genetic differentiation of modern humans moving out of Africa.27
This is supported by the early 1990’s work of U.S anthropologists Kenneth Kennedy, John Lukacs and Brian Hemphill.28
It is, however, appropriate to conclude from this (DNA) evidence that the maternal lineages of the present-day Indian populations are largely autochthonous, that is, unique to India, and very, very old. Indians are readily distinguished from Europeans, Near-Middle East populations and those living north or east of India.
“There are signs,” he wrote, “of later admixtures, particularly along the border regions, but this has had only a limited impact.”
Anthropological research reports have established that DNA dating for Paleolithic continuity starts from 60000 BCE. The Genome studios during the Holocene have revealed that the genetic profile of humans settled in north, south, east and west of India is the same and has remained the same for the last more than 11000 years. Therefore, contrary to the popular belief, the Dravidians as well as north Indians have common ancestors and both are originals of India.29
The wonder of modern science is that such historical dating, in agreement with Vedic statements, can be confirmed by multiple disciplines of scientific techniques. For example this genetic evidence for the indigenous origin of all Indians is corroborated by considerable independently found archaeological evidence, is consistent with evidence from other methodologies, such as astronomical, ecological and anthropological, and shows a continuity of culture with no external disruptions — no foreign invasions other than the well known British and Islamic influences as well as later Christian influences. Overwhelming evidence thus supports the conclusion that the ‘Aryans’ were the originals of India and their highly advanced culture has been flourishing for at least the last 11000 years.
Numerous astronomical references to constellation and planetary configurations within the Vedic literatures, when input into recently developed planetarium software produce reliable and unambiguous dating of the events described within these Vedic scriptures, providing further corroboration.
These astronomical observances and calculations were developed and recorded by the indigenous population because the natural cycles of nature, such as the alternation of day and night and the phases of the moon, directly affect the conditions of human life. A reliable calendar was necessary to regulate agricultural activities as well as social and civic activities and particularly to calculate the timings of religious activities.
References in Vedic texts to the solstices or equinoxes occurring near star groups or individual stars, because the rate of procession is known, help determine the time of events mentioned. The antiquity of the earliest Vedic calendar has been calculated as 7000 BCE based on references to solstices and equinoxes within the Vedic literatures.
The Rig Veda & Other Vedic References
References from the Rig Veda reveal a clear understanding of the astronomical cycles of day and night, month and the year as well as intercalary postulations for a 13th month to provide a reliable calendar.
The Rig Veda gives more than 50 references to planetary configurations for which precise dates have been determined by modern planetary software. These astronomically related dates reach from 7000 BCE to 4000 BCE in a consistent manner.30
An early reference to a Vedic Calendar with the year beginning at Winter Solstice is found in the Rig Veda 5-77-1/2; 1-46-14; 7-69-3/2. In fact, there are 53 references in Rig Veda as prayers offered to Ashvini at dawn, referring to the pair of stars in the Aries constellation, used in the ritual to mark the year beginning. These particular references from the Rig Veda show the sky with the heliacal rising of Ashvini Nakshatra after Winter Solstice, marking the year beginning, are calculated by planetary software to be Jan 5, 7000 BCE, 0649 hrs.31
Additional references given in the Rig Veda 1-112-13 and Aitareya Brahmana 18.18, 18.22 to the Winter Solstice occurring in Aries (Ashvini Nakshatra) when input into planetary software give the date of December 19, 7000 BCE at 0735 hours Local Time.32 These planetary configurations date the origin of the Rig Veda as well as the Aitareya Brahmana, prior to 9014 BP (Before Present).
The Shatapatha Brahmana (126.96.36.199-13) as well as the Taittiriya Brahmana (1.5.2) date a well established Nakshatra system to a particular time period. The Shatapatha Brahmana 188.8.131.52 refers to the Vernal Equinox as being in Krittika (nu Tau) which calculates to March 21st, 2174 BCE, providing a dating of the time of the Shatapatha Brahmana.33
The grand conjunction (in Aries) of five bright planets including the Sun and the moon in close proximity above the eastern horizon, accepted as legend in India, for the beginning of the Age of Kali-yuga is seen in planetary software as occurring January 13th, 3103 BCE, 22 days after the Winter Solstice. References to this are given in the Mahabharata as well as in statements by Aryabhata. Although scholars have formerly taken this as mythology, planetary software shows precisely this configuration.34
Even the date of the Mahabharata War of Kurukshetra has been calculated by Achar (2003)35 as 3067 BCE based on astronomical references in the Mahabharata. This dating of some 5000 years BP is consistent with Vedic tradition and other Vedic references but in disagreement with the dating originally proposed by Max Muller and other early indologists as part of the AIT. This dating of the Mahabharata War at 3067 BCE is also mentioned by N. Kazanas36 as highly significant. Although most subsequent scholars also accept the later dating of all these literatures, Max Muller adamantly refuted his own later dating, which set the foundation and precedence for this particular dating protocol. Recent overwhelming scientific evidence from multiple unrelated disciplines also supports the earlier dating — in agreement with Max Muller’s final statement and obliterating the foundation of the Aryan Invasion hypothesis.
To think, as the British colonialists proposed in the 1800’s at the height of their imperialism, that all these astronomical observances were concocted, is certainly absurd when one realises the unfathomable complexity of such an undertaking. For Indians to fabricate many hundreds of such references spread throughout the vast Vedic literatures, which are now known to be factual and consistent chronologically, would be an even greater achievement of these ancient Indian inhabitants than the incredible truth itself.
Remote Satellite Sensing & the Sarasvati River System
This great river system, identified as the mighty Sarasvati River, is mentioned in numerous places throughout the Rig Veda as part of the Sapta Sindhu or Seven Rivers of importance.37 This discovery very significantly fixes the date of the Rig Veda’s origin as prior to 2000 BCE because the Sarasvati River is described therein as flowing in full majesty from the mountains to the sea, so it had not yet dried up at the time Rig Veda appeared. Dr. David Frawley’s The Rig Veda details precise verses supporting such statements as we have mentioned throughout this article. “Indeed the Rig Veda knows no homeland but India.”38 Frawley further states that the name Sindhu referring to the ocean “makes it impossible to place it (the Sapta Sindhu, including the Sarasvati River) in Afghanistan, Central Asia or Eurasia.”
Satellite remote sensing, supported by geological data, reveals the signatures of a significant Paleo-River Network in Northwest India flowing with great power around 6000 BCE and drying up around 2000 BCE due to tectonic and palaeo-climatic changes. This conclusion is supported by sedimentology, hydrology and drilling data.39 Additional ecological references in ancient books relating to fluctuations in water volumes of ancient rivers mostly due to the melting of glaciers (such as those of the Indian Himalayas) seem in agreement with these dates as detected by satellite. The relics of this great river system are still observable by the above methods. This provides a useful tool in the dating of the Rig Veda and deals yet another fatal blow to the AIT.
A great many places and rivers referred to not only in the Rig Veda but in other Epics, such as the Mahabharataand Ramayana, have been found and excavated. The archaeological evidence correlates with descriptions given in these literatures. For example, Professor Nicholas Kazanas has written, “The river Sarasvati is praised as a mighty and all nourishing river in all the books of the Rig Veda except the fourth. Even in late hymns such as 8.21 or 10.64 and 10.177 Sarasvati is said to give wealth and nourishment and the poets invoke her as ‘great.’ In 6.52 Sarasvati is ’swollen by other (three or more) rivers;’ in 6.61 she is endless, swift moving, most dear among her sisters and nourishing the five tribes of the Vedic people; in 2.41.16 Sarasvati is the ‘best river; best mother, best goddess;’ in 7.95.2 this mighty river ‘flows pure from the mountains to the ocean.’40 The drying up of the Sarasvati around 1900 BCE occurs long after these references in the Rig Veda. Analysis by archaeologists and palaeo-hydrologists reveals that this river flowed from the Himalayas to the Rann of Kutch on the ocean before 3800 BCE. This is in agreement with these satellite remote sensing findings as well as archaeologists’ conclusions regarding the building materials and the pre-brick techniques used in the early Harappan sites described in theRig Veda.
As a concluding remark we paraphrase the journalist B. R. Haran who has stated that, in no other nation and no other religion in the world has true history been so meticulously documented and supported by so many evidences.
It is time for the modern inheritors of their glorious Vedic heritage to stand up intelligently for the real history of India and their beliefs.
References1. A. L. Basham, The Wonder that was India (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1967, ISBN 0-28399-257-3).
2. Richard Villems, “DNA Exposes India’s Past,” Hinduism Today, http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4076
3. Michael Danino, “Genetics and the Aryan Debate,” Puratattva, no. 36, 2005–06, pp. 146–154, http://archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/genetics-aryan-debate.
4. Michael Danino; Among his references, Danino mentions three important papers in this regard:
- B. E. Hemphill, J. R. Lukacs & K. A. R. Kennedy, “Biological adaptations and affinities of the Bronze Age Harappans,” Harappa Excavations 1986-1990: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Third Millennium Urbanism, ed. R. H. Meadow (Madison: Prehistory Press, 1991), pp. 137-182.
- Kenneth A. R. Kennedy, “Have Aryans been identified in the prehistoric skeletal record from South Asia?,”The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, ed. George Erdosy (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1995), pp. 32-66.
- Brian E. Hemphill, Alexander F. Christensen & S. I. Mustafakulov, “Trade or Travel: An Assessment of Interpopulational Dynamics among Bronze Age Indo-Iranian Populations,” South Asian Archaeology, 1995, ed. Raymond Allchin & Bridget Allchin (New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing, 1997), vol. 2, pp. 855-871.
5. Michael Witzel, “Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts,” Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, vol. 7 (2001), No. 3 (25 May), § 8.
6. Michel Danino, L’Inde et l’invasion de nulle part: le dernier repaire du mythe aryen (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2006), forthcoming in English as The Invasion That Never Was, 3rd ed.
7. Saroj Bala and Kulbhushan Mishra, Historicity of Vedic and Ramayan Eras (New Delhi: Vision India Publications, 2012, ISBN No: 978-93-81391-02-0).
8. Ibid., pp. 18-20.
9. Ibid., p. 207; Note sea level fluctuation curve on p. 206.
11. Danino, Genetics and the Aryan Debate, op. cit.
12. Bala and Mishra, op. cit., p. 14.
13. Ibid., pp. 16-18.
15. N. Jha and N. S. Rajaram, “The Deciphered Indus-Harappan (Indo-Anatolian) Inscriptions,” The Deciphered Indus Script (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 2000).
16. Bala and Mishra, op. cit., p. 3.
17. Rusticiano, Travels of Marco Polo (1300); excerpts from http://www.revivaloftrueindia.com/2012/12/medieval-india-quotable-quotes.html
18. Swami B. G. Narasingha and Satyaraja dasa, “East Meets West,” Vedic Sciences, www.vedicsciences.net/articles/east-meets-west.html
19. Nicholas Kazanas, “The Collapse of the Aryan Invasion Theory,” Lecture at IIT, Chennai, 2011, http://www.docstoc.com/docs/72461396/collapseofaryaninvasiontheory
20. Villems, op. cit.
21. Bala and Mishra, op. cit., p. 212.
22. Witzel, op. cit.
24. Michael Danino and Sujata Nahar, The Invasion That Never Was, 2nd ed. (Mysore: Techprints, 2000, ISBN 81-85137-59-5).
25. William F. Allman, “Eve Explained: How Ancient Humans Spread Across the Earth”, Discovery Channel (21 August 2004).
26. Stephen Oppenheimer, The Real Eve: Modern Man’s Journey out of Africa (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003), p. 152.
27. T. Kivisild, S. Rootsi, M. Metspalu, S. Mastana, K. Kaldma, J. Parik, E. Metspalu, M. Adojaan, H.-V. Tolk, V. Stepanov, M. Gölge, E. Usanga, S. S. Papiha, C. Cinnioglu, R. King, L. Cavalli-Sforza, P. A. Underhill & R. Villems, “The Genetic Heritage of the Earliest Settlers Persists Both in Indian Tribal and Caste Populations,”American Journal of Human Genetics and the Aryan Debate (Feb 2003), 72(2).
28. Kennedy, Lukacs, Hemphill et al. See ref 3.
29. Bala and Mishra, op. cit., p. 24.
30. Ibid., pp. xi, 28.
31. Ibid., p. 64, Fig 2.
32. Ibid., p. 63, Fig 1.
33. Ibid., pp. 77-79.
34. Ibid., p. 76, Fig 15.
35. B. N. Narahari Achar, “Date of the Mahabharata War based on Simulations using Planetarium Softwar,”Journal of the Mythic Society, Vol. XCIV (No. 1-2, Jan-Jun 2003) (2004), pp. 65-115.
36. Kazanas, op. cit.
37. David Frawley, The Rig Veda and The History of India (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 2001, ISBN 81-7742-039-9), p 3.
39. Bala and Mishra, op. cit., p. xi.
40. Kazanas, op. cit., p. 4.
Snakes and Ladders, Originated in Ancient India called Mokshapat or Moksha Patamu
The board game, today called Snakes and Ladders, originated in ancient India, where it was known with the name Mokshapat or Moksha Patamu.
It’s not exactly known when or who invented it, though it’s believed the game was played at a time as early as 2nd century BC. According to some historians, the game was invented by Saint Gyandev.
Originally, the game was used as a part of moral instruction to children. The squares in which ladders start were each supposed to stand for a virtue, and those housing the head of a snake were supposed to stand for an evil. The snakes outnumbered the ladders in the original Hindu game. The game was transported to England by the colonial rulers in the latter part of the 19th century, with some modifications.
Through its several modifications over the decades, however, the meaning of the game has remained the same — ‘that good deeds will take people to heaven (Moksha) while evil deeds will lead to a cycle of rebirths in lower form of life (Patamu).
The modified game was named Snakes and Ladders and stripped of its moral and religious aspects and the number of ladders and snakes were equalized. In 1943, the game was introduced in the US under the name Chutes and Ladders.
The Game of Knowledge
Originally, the game of Snakes and Ladders was known variously as Gyan Chaupar (meaning ‘Game of Knowledge), Mokshapat, and Moksha Patamu, and was originally a Hindu game. Nobody knows for sure as to who invented this game, or when it was created.
It may be said that whilst the gameplay of Gyan Chaupar is the same as today’s Snakes and Ladders, the board and higher objective of the game may be said to be quite different. Like the modern Snakes and Ladders board, the number of squares in that of Gyan Chaupar may vary. One version of this board, for instance, contains 72 squares, whilst another has 100. A major difference between the traditional and modern versions is the fact that in the former, a virtue or a vice and the effects of these virtues and vices, or something neutral is placed within each box.
For instance, in an Indian Gyan Chaupar board of 72 boxes, squares number 24, 44, and 55 have the vices of bad company, false knowledge, and ego respectively. As the game places great emphasis on karma, the Hindu principle of cause and effect, each vice (the snakes’ heads) has a corresponding effect. Thus, for the vices mentioned above, the corresponding effects are conceit or vanity, plane of sensuality, and illusion. On the other hand, the virtues of purification, true faith, and conscience are contained in squares number 10, 28, and 46, and these lead to heavenly plane, plane of truth, and happiness respectively. In this version of the board, the goal is to reach box number 68, which is the plane of Shiva.
Religious Teaching Tool
This game was so popular that it was also adopted and adapted by other religions that existed in the Indian subcontinent. It is known that Jain, Buddhist, and Muslim adaptations of the game exist, as the concepts of cause and effect, and reward and punishment, are common to them. For devout followers of these religions, the game may be played as a form of meditation, as a communal exercise, and even as part of one’s religious studies without the use of more conventional books or sermons.
It may be added that many of the surviving game boards are works of art in their own right, as they contain elaborate illustrations of human figures, architecture, flora and fauna, etc. These boards were commonly made of painted cloth, and most of the extant ones date from after the middle of the18th century AD.
The Modern Game
The game of Gyan Chaupar became Snakes and Ladders towards the end of the 19 th century, when it was introduced to Great Britain by India’s colonial rulers. Whilst the original gameplay was maintained, its underlying philosophical message was greatly diminished. The religious virtues and vices were replaced by two-part cartoon dramas connected either by a snake or a ladder. Additionally, the number of snakes and ladders were equalized, whilst in the original ones, there were usually more snakes than ladders, which symbolizes the belief that it is far easier to fall prey to vice than to uphold virtue. From Great Britain, the game traveled to the United States, where it was introduced in 1943 by Milton Bradley as Chutes and Ladders.
Telhara University – Older than Nalanda, Vikramshila Universities
It was a useful mound, no doubt. A good vantage point where villagers occasionally relieved themselves.
But who would have thought that deep beneath its golden brown earth would be stories of dynasties and empires that now suggest that this — Telhara, a village 33 km from the ruins of the more famous Nalanda University — could be ‘Tilas-akiya’ or ‘Tiladhak’, the place Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang visited and wrote about during his travels through India in 7th century AD? So far, there were only vague references but recent excavations at the mound suggest that Telhara was indeed an ancient university or seat of learning with seven monasteries.
The Bihar government has been calling the Telhara project one of its biggest after the excavations that unearthed Nalanda and Vikramshila universities. The excavation at Telhara should have happened earlier, say experts, but the site lost out to the more famous Nalanda.
The Telhara project that started on December 26, 2009, has so far come across over 1,000 priceless finds from 30-odd trenches — seals and sealing, red sandstone, black stone or blue basalt statues of Buddha and several Hindu deities, miniature bronze and terracotta stupas and statues and figurines that go back to the Gupta (320-550 AD) and Pala (750-1174 AD) empires. But the 2.6-acre mound has now thrown up the most tantalising find yet — evidence of a three-storied structure, prayer hall and a platform to seat over 1,000 monks or students of Mahayana Buddhism.
The terracotta monastery seals — a chakra flanked by two deers — unearthed at Telhara are similar to those at Nalanda, suggesting Telhara or Tiladhak was another great seat of learning besides Nalanda and Odantpuri during the Gupta and Pala reigns. It was the discovery of a similar monastery seal that clinched it for Nalanda University.
Former Archaeological Survey of India director B S Verma, who between 1971 and ’81 supervised the excavation at the site of the ancient Vikramshila university, says, “Telhara or Tiladhak has much more convincing epigraphical proofs — monastery inscriptions — than Vikramshila. The findings that match Hiuen Tsang’s account do more to convince that the place was a university or mahavihara similar to Nalanda.”
In his book, The Antiquarian Remains in Bihar, historian D R Patil writes about Hiuen Tsang’s description of Telhara. “Hiuen Tsang describes Telhara or Tilas-akiya as containing a number of monasteries or viharas, about seven in number, accommodating about 1,000 monks studying in Mahayan. These buildings, he says, had courtyards, three-storied pavilions, towers, gates and were crowned by cupolas with hanging bells. The doors and windows, pillars and beams have bas relieves (sculptures in guilded copper). In the middle vihara is a statue of Tara Bodhisatva and to the right (is) one of Avlokiteshwar”.
Other history books too talk of Tiladhak monastery, on the western side of Nalanda, as having four big halls and three staircases. It is said the mahavihara or university was built by one of the descendants of Magadha ruler Bimbisara. The monastery was decorated with copper and also had small copper bells that gently chimed in the breeze.
For months now, the excavation has been unearthing these stories. Apart from the mound that is now being dug up, Telhara has six other mounds — five of which have settlements and one which is partially elevated.
Atul Kumar Verma, director (archaeology) of the Bihar government’s Department of Art and Culture, says, “Since the excavations suggest that Telhara might have been a contemporary of Nalanda, it is quite possible that it was either an independent university for specialized education or that students graduating from Nalanda University would come here for specialized study. It is a great feeling to see the place emerging as the next big find after Nalanda. It has also aroused great curiosity and attracted even the likes of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.” Sen wrote in the visitors’ book: “What a wonderful site, really thrilling! And so skillfully excavated and restored.”
“We have found the courtyard that might have been an extension of the platform Hiuen Tsang had described,” Nand Gopal, camp in-charge at the Telhara site, says, peering into his optical line meter that’s mounted on a tripod.
In more recent times, it was A M Broadley, then magistrate of Nalanda, who in 1872 wrote about “Tilas-akiya” as a university and site of learning. British army officer and archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham, who visited the place between 1872 and 1878, wrote about inscriptions describing “Teliyadhak” as a place that had seven monasteries and which matched Hiuen Tsang’s account. A statue of the 12-armed Avlokiteshwar Buddha found from a Tiladhak site is at the Indian Museum in Kolkata. Perhaps the best known Pala sculpture from Telhara is now in Rietberg Muzeum, Zurich.
Though there was this and more proof that Telhara could be sitting on a glorious past, it wasn’t until December 2009 that the excavations finally began. Telhara panchayat head Awadhesh Gupta claims to have been the one who got things started.
“We all knew Telhara was once a great seat of learning, but nobody did anything to prove it. In 1995, I approached the Congress government requesting that the place be excavated but got no assurance. When Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the site in 2007, I put up this demand once again. The villagers were not happy with me. They thought I should have demanded something more concrete than just the digging of a mound.”
But the mukhiya may have had the last laugh. Villagers now talk about Telhara being part of the Nalanda-Rajgir circuit and how that could bring them jobs and better opportunities. “We hope the site is conserved and clubbed with Nalanda to attract tourists. The site has already given temporary jobs to 70 villagers,” says Anil Kumar, a villager.
It was a useful mound, no doubt.
Experts associated with its excavation are now claiming that the university originated in the Kushan period.
Atul Kumar Verma said that in the recent excavation, archaeologists have found some bricks of very large size (42x36x6.5cm) substantiating that the university belonged to the Kushan period. “Bricks of the Kushan period were quite large from other dynasties, including the Gupta and Pala periods,” said Verma.
While the Kushan period is considered to be 1st century AD, the Gupta dynasty ruled from 3rd to 6th century AD.
SEALS AND SEALING
The recovery of over 100 terracotta seals and sealings from the Gupta and Pala periods provides strong evidence of this being a Buddhist university. Besides seals of the chakra flanked by two deers, other seals have inscription of Buddhist mantras. Seals of Gaj-Lakshmi and flying birds were also found. Some inscriptions that have not yet been deciphered would be sent to Mysore for deciphering.
Just above the ashen layer — said to be proof of Turkish general Bakhtiyar Khilji having destroyed the monastery — is the sanctum sanctorum of three Buddhist shrines, each measuring 3.15 square metres. A big platform, found just below this ashen layer, is said to have accommodated over 1,000 monks.
CELLS FOR TEACHERS
The excavation has so far revealed 11 cells of 4 square meters each. It is believed that these were faculty quarters. There is evidence of bricks from the Gupta and Pala periods.
COPPER BELL CHIMES
The excavation revealed several broken pieces of small bells. Parts of molten copper also suggest that the monastery was well-decorated.
A stone inscription in Sanskrit (early Nagari script), probably written just before the destruction of the Tiladhak mahavihara, says, “He who tries to destroy this monastery is either a donkey or a bull”. Below the stone inscription are images of the two animals.
FASTING BUDDHA AND VOTIVE STUPA
A miniature terracotta image of a fasting Buddha from the Pala period is a rare find. A six-foot-tall votive stupa from the Pala period suggests the prevalence of Buddhism.
Bone tools and pottery shards of Northern Black Polished Ware points to this being a settlement in the Mauryan period.
Among the over 15 stone sculptures found at the site are a red sandstone sculpture of Bodhisatva, Avlokiteshwar, Manjusri and the Buddha in his ‘earth witness’ mudra. A black stone statue of Buddha in abhay mudra (fearless mode) from the Pala period has been found. The red sandstone Bodhisatva sculpture is believed to be from the Gupta period. Some sculptures of Hindu deities such as Uma Maheshwar and Ganesh and Vishnu from the later Pala period were also found. The presence of a Yamantaka sculpture is evidence of Tantric Buddhism at the monastery.
India’s first Islamic Mausoleum Was Built on Top of Ancient Hindu Temple
About 6 km west of Qutab Minar in Delhi, there lies a tomb called Sultan Ghari which is believed to be the final resting place of Prince Nasir’ud-Din Mahmud, the uncrowned eldest son of Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish of the Slave Dynasty built in 1231 AD. It was the first Islamic Mausoleum built in India.
However, engraved symbols of animals, Shiva Linga and the Sanskrit inscriptions on ceiling tell a different tale altogether. The beams of the octagonal crypt bear figures of Kamadhenu, the celestial cow and Varaha, the wild boar reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. These two animals were a royal Hindu insignia and considering the ideology of Islam against idols and the immense hatred towards pigs, it is very unlikely that such statues would adorn the inside of a Muslim tomb.
Iltutmish invaded eastern part of India in 1225 AD which resulted in signing of a treaty between him and Iwaz Khalji, the ruler of Eastern India. After a few successive battles, Prince Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud was appointed governor of Lakhnauti province who later merged the province of Oudh with Bengal and Bihar, gaining him the title of “Malik-us-Sharq” (King of the East) by his father.
The Prince was killed in 1229 AD after a very short rule of 18 months. Grieved by the death of his favourite son, Iltutmish commissioned the Sultan Ghari Tomb. After Iltutmish’s death in 1236, his daughter, Razia Sultana ruled the kingdom until her defeat and death in 1240 AD.
While ASI is pretty much silent on this matter, historians and archaeologists justify these carvings as new buildings being fashioned out of the debris of some Hindu buildings or that the workmen may have been Hindus and would have built the tomb in Hindu style. Their arguments in favor of the tomb fail here because no building worth its name can be build out of old debris and no workman would even dare to fashion a building for which he is hired according to his taste rather than that of the owner’s.
The building is also of an octagonal shape which is another Hindu specialty.
Due to indifference or perhaps purposeful negligence by the government and ASI, we may never know the reality and history of this ancient Hindu temple.
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