Wednesday, 29 May 2013

THE TAMING OF THE GANGES - LORD SHIVA'S ENGINEERING FEAT

Though Sagara, a dynamic ruler of the Ikshvaku dynasty and forefather of Sri Rama, had successfully accomplished the task of preparing the channel for the Ganga and also built a  reservoir for holding its water, a major part of the task remained undone. The water of the Ganges still flowed uncontrollably in different directions and the channel prepared to contain it remained dry. To read more about the 'Channeling of the Ganges' click here. 

Sagara ascended heaven, his grandson Anshuman too could not take the project forward. The task was difficult. One more generation came and went by - King Dileepa too had failed to make progress even though he had spent much time in the Himalayas to take stock of the situation. But by the time his son Bhagirath grew up, they were finally ready to execute the plan, but not without the guidance and expertise of Lord Shiva. The Ramayana says thousands of years had passed, in other words a long time had passed since Sagara had completed the first phase of the project, but it was time that the ashes of his sons (who were incinerated by Sage Kapila for disturbing his 'sadhana') would finally be satiated by the waters of the Ganges.

It is said that Bramha and other 'celestials' or 'extra terrestrials' advised Bhagirath to take the help of Lord Shiva. It was an unmanageable task for lesser souls. Lord Shiva accepts the request for help. He plans to manage the descent of  water through the Himalayas by breaking the flow of  the water and bringing the water down to the plains spilling it into the course already carved out by Sagara.

It is said that Lord Shiva first ties the Ganges in the coils of his locks (the ridges, ravines, rocks and tree-roots of the Himalayas) and breaks the descent of the water with the help of lakes and reservoirs, and by distributing the water into many streams. 

The matted locks of Shiva?
The lake created to slow down the descent of the  'water locked in Shiva's matted hair' or the Himalayas was known as the Bindu Sarovar. The water slows down due to  the vastness of the lake. Then the water was distributed into seven streams. Three,  were directed in the eastern direction (collectively today called the Brahmaputra), and three flowed westward (collectively today called the Sindhu), it was the seventh in the middle, the Bhageerathi (or Ganga), that was directed to spill  into the main channel.



The 'gods' watch the descent of the ganges from the skies. The scene that Valmiki describes is amazing. He says, "Some of the gods with aircraft that are like cities in their shape and size, and some with horses that are prancing, and some with best elephants that are staggering, at the very sight of plunging Ganga, have entered the firmament at that place". [1-43-18b, 19a]. One thing is certain from the verses that follow. The 'gods' or the 'celestials' or the 'extra-terrestrials', whoever they were, were watching from a height in aerial vehicles. Even Bhagirath is inaugurating the release of the water from an 'airborne chariot' - probably a helicopter like flying-machine, he is definitely not in a horse driven chariot. The just-released Ganges from the dam would have drowned the chariot and charioteer in no time. Bhagirath is airborne, flies over the already made water-channel just ahead of the gushing Ganges - flowing rapidly in some parts, slow at others and sometimes knocking against its own waters.

There is another legend which says that Skanda, the son of Shiva and Ganga was born on the banks of Ganga. He had six faces and drank the milk from the breasts of  six nurses. But this description in the Valmiki Ramayana kind of  conjures up the following picture:


There indeed was a dam just beyond the Bindu Sarovar. Rather than just 'drinking milk of six nurses' Skanda seems to have constructed the dam structure itself - the myth of his 'milk drinking' probably emerged from a scene similar to what the above picture captures. Water gushing out from the gates of a dam! Skanda was well adept in construction. It is said that it is he who drilled a tunnel right across Mt. Kailash in yet another project that his father Lord Shiva undertook. Skanda was Shiva's son and indeed his 'not-so-little' helper too. 

It is the scale of their accomplishments that makes our 'gods' the entities that they are. To pass them off as 'mythological characters' is the failure of present generations to understand our scriptures. The Ramlila version of 'Ramayana'  is passe. It is time for us to re-look at what the Ramayana is really saying.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

THE CHANNELING OF THE GANGES - LORD SHIVA'S WATER MANAGEMENT PROJECT

The Ramayana describes in detail the channeling of the Ganges from the 'Heavens' (Himalayas) to Earth (or to the great plains of India).

Much before Lord Shiva was entrusted with completing the second leg of this arduous task, the preliminary work was completed by the sons of Sagara. Sagara was one of the mighty kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty, of which Sri Ram was a later scion.


Sagara had one biological son, Asamanja, who was born of his elder wife, Keshini; and many (the Ramayana says 60,000 but 60,000 here means many) 'other' sons who were 'developed in jars containing clarified butter reared by nurses till they were born'. The 'clarified butter' obviously refers to a 'life sustaining liquid' most likely a 'synthetic embryonic fluid'. These sons did have a mother though, her name was Sumati. Sumati had a boon that her sons would be 'highly energetic with a great reputation'. Keshini had the boon that 'her only son will take the dynasty forward'.

Some time after the sons are born, Asamanja  who is elder to his 'test tube siblings' is brought in to train his many brothers. He is described as cruel, for it seems he had this habit of throwing the little fellows into water and holding their heads down till they came up gasping for air. It derives from here that the test tube brothers went through a some kind of rigourous training readying them for the work they were meant to accomplish later in their lives. In fact it is later revealed that once the project is complete the fellows are reduced to ashes.

Valmiki writes that the project stars with an Ashvamedha yagya - 'ashva' is commonly translated as 'horse' from Sanskrit. Only this 'Ashva' does not sound like a 'horse'. What was the 'ashva' ? To a civilization that even today measures machine power in terms of 'horse power' it should be obvious that may be the ancients were not necessarily talking about an ani
mal - it is possible that Valmiki was describing something else. Especially if we were to analyze what the 'ashva' of this particular 'ashvamedha yagya' does - we stop to think.

Here is what the 'ashva' does. It disappears. That now is an obstacle in the 'ashvamedha yagya'.The sons begin to look for it. The rumour is that the 'ashva' is stolen by Indra, but it seems as if it has disappeared into the earth. So the 'many sons' dig. They dig and dig. In their quest to look for the 'ashva' they dig the entire stretch of land located between the foot hills of the Himalayas and the Vindhya range, until they reach the sea. 


The 'ashva' has disappeared into the earth. The many sons of Sagara are directed to follow the 'ashva' and to find it if it goes out of sight, which it does. Sagara tells his 'many sons' that he will wait along with his grandson Anshuman, till they have dug deep into the earth 'till they reach the 'rasa tala' (deepest part of the earth, only one layer above the final 'patala' layer) and far and wide right up to where the earth is garlanded by the oceans'.

Present day 'Ashva' or 'Excavator'

The 'Ashva' disappearing under the earth




The boys dig in search of this disappeared 'ashva' or what is 
more likely that they operate the 'ashva' that is doing all the digging. The 'ashva' has dug so deep that they now have to erect massive 'elephants' that look like 'mountains' to uphold the four sides of the earth. Four structures called Virupaksha, Mahapada, Sumanasa and Bhadra are erected which hold up the earth. (Later, when the Ganga water will be released, the structure held by four massive pillars will act as a reservoir). Today, of course we have temples by the names of Virupaksha, mahapada, Sumansa and Bhadra!





The  mountain like 'elephants' holding the Earth.
After the water is released what we have is a reservoir

The ashva continues to dig until the channel of the Ganges is finally ready. The Ramayana says that the 'vedic ritual' of Sagara is complete but not before the boys have found the horse-thief. It turns out to be Sage Kapila and not Indra. When the boys accuse him of the theft, Sage Kapila with a sound of 'hum' reduces them to ashes.


The Ganges channel is ready, but the project comes to a halt. Sagara is at a loss as he does not have the skill to embark on the second phase of the project. It is then decided that Lord Shiva (the celestial water management guru with projects such as the 'Sagara-Manthan' and 'Kailash Mansarover' behind or ahead of him) must be handed over the task of bringing the water of Ganges from the Himalayas to the plains via the Ganges channel.

Sagara's test-tube sons, their job complete, have already been reduced to ashes by Sage Kapila. Even earlier than that Asmanja, Sagara's elder son was banished from the kingdom for cruelty to his brothers, and it is his son Anshuman who carries the name of the dynasty forward. Anshuman also resolves to bring the Ganges down to earth to satiate the souls of his uncles who were reduced to ashes by Kapila. But it is only his grandson, Bhagirath, who with the guidance, aid and expertise of Shiva, manages to accomplish this task after a long gap of time.

A blog on 'The Taming of the Ganges' will follow at a later date! 

Friday, 24 May 2013

WHERE IS THE 'CHAKRAVAN' CITY OF RAMAYANA?

The ancient Indian scripture 'Ramayana' describes a mountain called Chakravan, atop which was located a massive weapon, circular in shape, built by a 'celestial architect'; and geographically located west of India, reachable from India after crossing a sea, and a couple of mountain ranges. Names of many peaks such as Hemgiri, Vajra, Varaha etc. are mentioned. The entire course of the route from India can be traced in the 'Kishkinda Kand' Section 40-43 of the Valmiki Ramayana.

Chakravan, this machine weaponry  is 'shaped like a wheel with a thousand spokes', it was a celestial weapon, its name was 'Sudarshana' and it was constructed/developed by the celestial architect Vishwakarma. 
Another interpretation is that the mountain got its name Chakravan from the chakra-like, ie. 'circular' shape of a city built atop the mountain.

In the Ramayana, four 'vanara'* brigades are readied to be sent out in four different directions for the search of 'Goddess' Sita, the wife of God-King Sri Rama who ruled India from the city of Ayodhya, after she is abducted by Ravana, the king of the mighty Lanka (now Sri Lanka) empire. At a point when it was not yet established where Sita was being held in captivity, the search party headed from Jambudvipa (India) towards the West is given a route-map which leads to what was known as the Asta Mountain. 'Asta' (अस्त) is Sanskrit for 'Sunset', and for the 'vanara' commando brigade Mt. Asta was the culmination point of their search for Sita in the western direction.

Where exactly did this route map take the 'vanara' commando brigade. Did their sojourn take them to the circular city of 'Yerevan' in Armenia, or the ancient city on the ruins of which 'Baghdad' in Iraq came up later, or to the circular Vedic city of 'Arkaim' in Russia.

Here is the route described in the Ramayana in short. Sugreeva, (the 'vanara' commander) directs the 'vanaras' to go west from the Vindya mountains of India, right up to the fourth quarter of the (Arabian) sea, via a point described as 'where the Sindhu falls into the sea' - which may point to either where the Indus falls into the Arabian Sea across the west border of India or to where the Narmada falls into the Arabian Sea. Sindhu is the Sanskrit name of Indus, but sindhu also means 'river'. Going along this route, the fourth quarter of the sea would bring the Vanaras to the 'Persian Gulf'.

Valmiki description of a coastal mountain by the name 'Hemgiri' - high with its peak touching the sky, and also a waterlogged mountain by the name 'Paariyatra' indicates that the 'vanaras' were probably taking a sea-side route along the Persian Gulf. Valmiki also describes a Mount 'Vajra', which he says shines like a diamond - possibly a reference to the peaks of what is today known as the Zagros Range.

After crossing the fourth quarter of the Ocean, the 'vanaras' are told that they will see a structure on Mt. Chakravan, which looks like a 'wheel with a thousand spokes'. The Ramayana says that the city or structure was built on this mountain by the 'celestial architect' 'Vishwakarma. This suggest a megalithic circular wheel like structure atop a mountain. Where could this city have been located?


One possibility is that Chakravan was located where the town of Firuzabad in Iran exists today. It was known as 'Gor' about 2000 years back and was the capital city of the Sassanid King by the name Ardashir.


The ancient city of 'Gor' in Iran. Interestingly 'Gor' (घोर) is the
name of a mythical Hindu weapon. 'Gor' 
was the capital of the
Sassanid King Ardashir in ancient Iran. Could Gor have been built over
the ruins of Chakravan city mentioned in the Ramayana!

Another option is the city of Yerevan in Armenia. Yerevan is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world. Yerevan has been built and rebuilt over the ruins of older cities over the centuries - but its basic plan even today remains circular as it was in the ancient times. The city is spread out now but historically the city was located at the heart of the Armenian Highland in Kotayk canton of Ayrarat province.



Yerevan, Armenia
One of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world.
It retains its ancient 'circular' design.
The Ramayana say that a at distance of 64 'yojanas' (a yojana has been taken to mean a distance of anywhere between 6 to 15 km) from this city, the Vanaras will encounter a peak by the name 'Varaaha'. This may well be Mt. Ararat of today. Mt. Ararat is visible from Yerevan. Also, over the millennia the name 'Chakravan' may have distorted to 'Yerevan' and 'Varaaha' to 'Ararat'. 

The Ramayana then mentions a city by the name 'Pragjyotish' which was the abode of the demon 'Naraka'. Though there are no cities with a name close to 'Pragjyotish' in the Armenian region, but there sure is a town by the name 'Narek' located close to Mt. Ararat.

Another possibility is that Valmiki may have been referring to a pre-historic city, on the ruins of which Baghdad was built later. Present day Baghdad was built on the ruins of ancient Baghdad which was first built in 700 AD. But is it possible that there was a city already existing thousands of years before 700 AD and was mentioned in the Ramayana. Sketches of ancient Baghdad comes uncannily close to Valmiki's description.


Ancient Baghdad
Some scholars have suggested that there is also a possibility that when the 'vanaras' head west and then continue their journey along a mountain range, they could be moving northwards along the Zagros and further to the Ural range. In that case, could the ancient city that the 'vanaras' saw be 'Arkaim' in the Urals. It has even been debated that ancient Arkaim was not a city at all, and that it was a weapon-storage facility!



The ancient city of Arkaim
The only other known ancient structure on a mountain or hill in Central Asia and west of central Asia is 'Goebeki Tepe'. In fact Valmiki also mentions yet another multi-storied structure built by 'celestial architects' that the 'vanaras' would encounter once they had passed 'Chakravan'. Is it possible that Valmiki was referring to Goebeki Tepe or Nevali Cori in Turkey. 


An ancient  sculpture head from the Nevali Cori site
represents the hair tuft styled like that of a Vedic Priest


It is difficult to determine the exact culture represented by Goebekli Tepe since only 5-10% of the site has been excavated until now. Part of Nevali Cori is already lost due to the construction of dams in that region. 

What is certain is that civilizations have been flourishing in all parts of the word much earlier than mainstream historians have allowed us to think but a deeper look at ancient artifacts and scriptures may unlock some of the hidden truths about these cities.

*'Vanara' translates as 'monkey' but refers to the 'commando brigade' of Sri Ram's troops.

Friday, 17 May 2013

FROM MT. KAILASH TO ARCTIC OCEAN - THE RAMAYANA CONNECTION - I

If one were to interpret the Valmiki Ramayana with a modern technological frame of reference, much new information unfolds which reveals why Ramayana is the epic that it is. Rather than accept its popular 'Ramcharitramanas' based interpretation which was written only as recently as 1532 AD and where many new additions were made to the story (for example the 'Laxmanrekha' episode, which does not exist in Valmiki Ramayana), a re-look at Valmiki Ramayana through the present day lens is an eye-opener.

On this page, we limit ourselves to the geography of the area north of India mentioned in the Ramayana. Four 'vanara'* brigades are commissioned to be sent out in four different directions for the search of Sita, the wife of Sri Rama (who ruled India from the city of Ayodhya), after she is abducted by Ravana, the king of the mighty Lanka kingdom. 

At a point in time when it is not yet established where Sita was being held captive, the search party headed from Jambhudwipa (India) towards the North is given a route-map by Sugreev, the 'vanara' leader, which would lead the 'vanaras' right across the mountains of China, the plateau of Mongolia, Lake Baikaal of Siberia and then the path along the Angara River northwards to the Kara Sea of the Arctic Ocean where the search is to end. That the 'vanaras' are instructed to travel right up to the Arctic Ocean is established  by studying the entire route path that Valmiki mentions and especially because of the fact that he describes the 'Northern Lights' or 'Aurora Borealis' of Siberia and the Arctic Ocean.

The search begins and three mountain peaks of the Himalayas are mentioned, the Kala, Sudarshana and the Devasakha. Across these peaks, Sugreev informs the 'vanaras', is a vast expanse of barren plain land, crossing which they shall see Mt. Kailash.

The vast expanse of land are the plains of Tibet, and the location of Mt. Kailash is geographically correct. There are two 'Kailash' peaks in Tibet in today's maps, but a quick search on Google Maps by looking up 'Kailash, Burang, Ngari, China', will pop up the right Mt. Kailash. Those who are familiar with Mt. Kailash will recognize the peak and will be able to identify the grooves which are cut horizontally across (popularly referred to as the 'jata' of Lord Shiva). An oblong reservoir (or the 'yoni') just below the peak, and Lake Mansarover (Mapam Yumco) down at level ground below are also easily identifiable. A look on the zoomed satellite image of the Mt, Kailash at Ngari, Tibet will revel some unique well known features of Mt. Kailash.

Sugreeva then mentions the mansion of Kubera built on Mt. Kailasha constructed by the celestial architect Vishwakarma. Researchers from Russia and 'Ancient Alien Theorists' have already put forth the view that Kailash is no ordinary peak, that it may have been an ancient nuclear energy generation plant, as were many ancient pyramids of the world. Russian scientists have argued that there may have been a complex of about 100 pyramids, used for power generation in the Himalayan mountains. For details on this topic check out related web-sites by clicking here and here

Beyond this point interpreters of Ramayana from the medieval times, an era when the common person  did not have the technological and geographical frame of reference we have today, seem to be at sea in interpreting the information that Rishi Valmiki gives.

Sugreev instructs the 'vanaras' to move ahead. He gives them three more mountain peak landmarks. He mentions Mt. Krauncha with a highly impassable tunnel. Like Shiva is said  to have brought down the Ganges on to earth (plains of India) from the  heavens (Himalayas), his son or his 'junior' Skanda is credited with having chiseled a tunnel through Mt. Krauncha.

One of the best known ancient tunnels in China is the Guolinag Tunnel in the Taihang Mountains. Up until 1972 only an ancient path chiseled through the rocks of this mountain linked the villages in the area to the outside world.

Here are a couple of images of the ancient path of Guolinag, which was improved in 1972, not by the government, but once again by the locals. It took them five years to complete the task.






The Krauncha of Ramayana could be one of the peaks in the Taihang Range which indicates that the ancient tunnel in there may be the one mentioned in Ramayana. 

The path that Valmiki chalks out is clear. From Kailash (in the Himalayas) to Krauncha (in the Taihang Range), he says there are many other mountain peaks - namely the 'treeless' Mt. Kaama and the 'abode of birds',Mt. Maanasa, - that the 'vanaras' will see. Sugreev instructs them to scour these mountains thoroughly for Sita. These are  the mountains of the Qinling Range which falls between the Himalayas and the Taihang Mountains as the 'vanaras' move in the north-east direction from Kailash. (See Map below). The two highest peaks, and therefore most visible, in this chain are the Tuanjie and the Taibai. It is possible that the Ramayana was referring to these two (Kaama and Maanasa).





Then Sugreev mentions another peak called Mt. Mainaaka, which is identified by 'a massive mansion built by demon architect by the name Maya'. Just as the 'Ram-Setu' of Ramayana (also called Adam's Bridge) lies exactly in the spot mentioned in the Ramayana, and the Gympie Pyramid of Queensland (Australia) referred in Ramayana as 'a peak like structure built by the celestial architect Vishwakarma', the 'Mansion of Maya' may also be another pre-historical megalithic structure built by unknown 'celestials', this time in China. The maximum number of ancient pyramids of China, whose existence until recently was completely denied, lie in the Shaanxi Province. The largest one of them, the Xi'an is only 184 Km from the Taibai peak, well on the path of the 'Vanaras' mentioned in the Ramayana. So could the so called Mt. Mainakaa be one of the ancient Pyramids of the Shaanxi province of China? Quite possible. For more details on Pyramids of China, click here.

In the verses that follow, Sugreev mentions the next landmark - he says that after crossing over a vast  province, the 'vanaras' would arrive at a large lake by the name 'Vaikhana". Travelling North of China, crossing the Mongolian province or plateau, one would arrive at the eastern tip of Lake Baikal in Siberia. Many scholars have identified 'Vaikhana' as the 'Baikaal' lake of Siberia. Many facts support why this might be true:

1. What the Ramayana says ahead is that at the other (Western) end of Lake Vaikhana, is a river by the name Shailoda, and if the 'vanaras' were to follow its path northward, across many miles 'they would reach the Northern Ocean'. This is indeed true. Shailoda has been identified as the present day Angara. River 'Angara' flows from the western tip of lake Baikaal and after many miles falls into the Kara Sea of North Arctic Ocean. (Like their ancient names 'Vaikhana' and 'Shailoda' mentioned in the Ramayana, their present names 'Baikal' and 'Angara' too are of Sanskrit origin. Click here for more details).

2. The name Kara itself is interesting. Ancient Indian texts refer to Siberia as Uttara-Kuru. 'Uttara' means 'North', 'Kuru' is the name of the Indian tribe that had traveled north. 'Kara', the name of the Sea into which the Angara River falls, could be a distortion of the ancient Sanskrit name 'Kuru'. But it is possible that the 'Kara' Sea gets its name from the 'Kara' river which falls into it. 'Kara' here therefore may refer to the  Sanskrit 'krishna' 
(कृष्ण) or 'kala' (काल) meaning 'black. The Kara Sea in the North Arctic Ocean should not be confused with 'Back Sea' which is located in eastern Europe and is connected to the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea and to the Atlantic Ocean.


3. Sugreev also advises the 'vanaaras' to cross Lake Baikaal with the help of the 'keechaka' (Bamboo) that grows there. This has reference to the 'Siberian Bamboo Grass' which was used by the locals to cross the lakes and water odies in this region For more on the subject click here.

Siberian bamboo Grass or the 'Keechaka' mentioned in Ramayana

4. Finally, Valmiki mentions the 'Northern Lights' which Sugreev tells the 'vanaras' will become visible as they move northwards from Lake Vaikhana. 
The Siberian Zone in Green where the Northen Lights are visible


In Section 43, Verse 36 of Kishkinda Kand, Valmiki says, "Going beyond that expanse of water, you will come upon a sky, which even when devoid of the stars or the moon or the sun is illuminated by rays, as if there is light emitting from the self-luminous, god-like sages who repose there". Valmiki equates the light of 'Aurora Borealis' to the 'light that emits from sages who have attained 'siddhi'.




Northern Lights, Siberia
The last landmark mentioned in Uttara-Kuru is Mt. Soma. Mt. Soma has to be one of the peaks of the Urals. The highest peak in the Urals is the 'Narodnaya' - which in the local language means 'Mountain of the People'. In Sanskrit too the word has the same meaning- 'nara' means 'people' or 'human' and 'udaya' means 'elevation'.

Many rivers and mountains of Siberia have surprisingly close Sanskrit names, including Mt. Mana-Raga, River Kama, Lake Kulind and many many more.
____________________________________________________________________________
* 'Vanara' translates as 'monkey' but from the descriptions in Valmiki Ramayana they were 'trained commandos'. The Ramayana describes the 'vanaras' as acclaimed for undertaking impossible deeds, renowned for their confrontation skills, and noteworthy in their manoeuvers. They dwelt in the mountains and were known to travel on earth, on water and fly through the sky.

____________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, 12 May 2013

NEW ZEALAND AND THE PARACAS TRIDENT OF PERU - THE RAMAYANA CONNECTION

In the Ramayana, four 'vanara'* brigades are commissioned to be sent out in four different directions for the search of Sita, the wife of the God-King Sri Rama (who ruled the 'world' from the city of Ayodhya), after she is abducted by Ravana, the king of the mighty Lanka kingdom. At a point in time when it was not yet established where Sita was being held captive by Ravana, the search party headed from Jambhudwipa (India) towards the East following directions given in a route-map by Sugreev (the 'vanara' leader), which would lead the 'vanaras' right up to Shalmali-Dvipa (Australia) and from there on to the Andes in South America.

The Paracas Trident etched on the Andes
in Peru is described in the Ramayana
The Ramayana refers to the Andes as the 'Udaya' Mountains. 'Udaya' (उदय) is Sanskrit for 'Sunrise' and its account in the Ramayana establishes that the ancients were aware that if they travelled far enough east from India, they would reach the Udaya (Andes) after crossing the 'soft-water ocean' which is the 'Pacific'. (The Pacific is referred to as the 'Svadu' (स्वादु) in the Ramayana. 'Svadu' is Sanskrit for 'sweet', 'pleasant' and 'agreeable' indicating that there might be a reason why Ferdinand Magellan too, though much later in time, named the till then unnamed ocean 'Pacific, after his comparatively smooth sailing experience through this ocean during his voyage around the world. 

(Though travelling east from Australia to South America through the South Pacific Ocean is not at all a popular route for maritime travel as it involves long passage at sea.. It does have its advantages if one travels on the 'roaring forties' -  which is the band of westerlies that runs in the 40 - 50 degrees south latitude. These westerlies run the entire width of the South Pacific Ocean, and can be used to gain enough westing to take one to any point in South America.)

The details of the route that Sugreev chalks out for the 'vanaras' headed east from India to 'Shalmali-dvipa' (Australia) is detailed here.

From Shalmali Dwipa, Sugreev instructs the 'vanaras' to proceed to the Milky Ocean where he states they would come across the 'excellent' Rishabha Mountain. The 'Rishabha' (ऋषभ) is described as a 'White cloud with a pearly necklace of waves rippling on the shores below'. Close-by they would spot the Sudharshana Lake with 'silvery lotuses which have fibrils of gold' and where 'kingly swans scamper around'.

Sage Valmiki may here be referring to Mount Cook of New Zealand, and the Milky Ocean may be the Tasman Sea which falls in the path from Brisbane to South Island in New Zealand. Mount Cook, which is easily identifiable for it is the highest mountain in the region, is surrounded by many a
mazingly beautiful lakes, of which the largest today is Lake 'Pukaki'. Valmiki could be referring to one of them when he mentions the 'Sudarshana' Lake. In Sanskrit 'Sudarshan' (सुदर्शनmeans 'beautiful to look at'. 


Lake Pukaki, with Mt. Cook in the background. 
These may well be Lake Sudarshana and Mt. Rishabh of the Ramayana. 
The Ramayana traces the path from India to New Zealand, & to the Andes in Peru.

After passing Mt. Rishabha and Lake Sudarshana the 'vanaras' are told they would then arrive at the 'Soft-Water Ocean'. This of course is the Pacific Ocean. Thereafter Valmiki describes what appear to be a mighty, continuous ring of volcanic eruptions. He describes the inferno as 'a Fantastic refulgent fire in the form of a Horse's face'.

As one travels from New Zealand to South America by sea, one would cross the Pacific Ring of Fire just off the shores of New Zealand and then once again before landing ashore in South America. The Ring of Fire is an area where a large number of volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In the next verse Valmiki describes the magnitude of this 'fantastic fire'. He writes that at the end of each epoch or era, that fire emerges forth with even more energy till all things, mobile or immobile, and the entire Creation becomes the fuel of this fire.


To the right of Australia is a part of the 'Pacific Ring of Fire' that one would have to navigate past en-route from New Zealand to South America. Valmiki describes it in the Ramayana as the 'Fantastic Refulgent Fire in the form of a Horse Face'.

Valmiki also describes the oceanic sounds of this fire that have the power to 'incapacitate the most capable ones'. In the verses that follow Valmiki writes about the final destination of the vanaras, the 'Andes' in South America, more specifically the Paracas Trident etched on a mountain of the Paracas Peninsula. 

However, the closest point from New Zealand to South America is if one heads to the southern tip of South America somewhere in Chile. And the fact that this is where the 'vanaras' are directed to head before the move northward to Peru is clear from one of the verses in chapter 40 of Kishkindakand of the Ramayana. Valmiki writes, "There you shall see then, oh, vanaras, the lotus-petal broad-eyed thousand-hooded serpent god in black clothing, namely Ananta, sitting on the top of that mountain and sustaining the earth on his head, who will be like moon in his brilliance and whom all beings hold in reverence." [4-40-51, 52].

In ancient Indian texts the southern tip of South America (Chile) is 'the head of the serpent called Ananta', on which the earth rests. (See map above).

The 'vanaras' are told that from there when they travel northwards  they would see the Jaat-shila-rupa (which translates as the Golden Rock Peak), etched on which is a 'golden pylon resembling a palm tree with three branches'. Sugreev continues, "That pylon of palm tree is constructed as the easterly compass by celestial gods." This is the Paracas Trident or Candelabra of Peru.



The Paracas Trident of Peru is described in the Ramayana as the 'easterly compass of the celestial gods'.

The Bhagwat Purana mentions that Vishnu (in his Vamana Avatar) strode over the universe in three giants steps, which some have interpreted  as three stops on his way in his journey around the world and the heavens. It is said that one step was at the Udaya peak (where the Paracas Trident is etched). In the Ramayana the Vanaras are told that when they reach Udaya they will see the what is called the shining Vajra of Indra. In the Peruvian folklore the Paracas Candelabra or Trident is identified with the  'Lightening Rod of the Mayan God Viracocha'. Click here to read about the Sanskrit Connection to the word 'Paracas'. 

In the Bhagwat Purana there is a very interesting link between Lord Indra and an 'asura' by the name Viro-chana, the son of Prahalad and the father of Bali. In short, both Indra and Virochana vie with each other to impress Brahma with their knowledge about 'Atman' or the 'Supreme Consciousness'. Bramha promises to grant control of the universe to the one who proves his knowledge about 'Atman'. Could 'Viro-chana' the son of Prahalad mentioned in the Bhagwat Purana be the 'Vira-cocha' of the Peruvians. Could the lightening rod of the Peruvian 'Vira-cocha' be the 'Vajra' of Indra. Indra is known to have 'brought down mountains as they flew by' with his Vajra. Who finally wins control depends on which version one reads. But in Indian texts it is Indra who establishes control which is passed on to him by Brahma. He later 'wields the  Vajra to subjugate the mountains'.

The 'Vajra' of Indra
The journey of the 'vanaras' in the East ends at the Sau-manasa peak, located just beyond the Udaya. The Ramayana says that beyond this point is where east ends and west begins. It also states that beyond the Saumanasa peak is the land where 'the celestials frequent'. The occurrence of extra-terrestrial activity in this part of the world is supported by the fact that  South America is the site of some of the most magnificent, yet unexplained, ancient megalithic structures anywhere in the world. 

To find the relevant verses, check out Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkinda Kand, Chapter 40. In this chapter Sugreev instructs his 'vanaras' travelling east about the route they are to follow and the associated landmarks that will help them keep on track in their search for Sita.
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* 'Vanara' translates as 'monkey' but from the descriptions in Valmiki Ramayana they were 'trained commandos'. The Ramayana describes the 'vanaras' as acclaimed for undertaking impossible deeds, renowned for their confrontation skills, and noteworthy in their manoeuvers. They dwelt in the mountains and were known to travel on earth, on water and fly through the sky.
** In the South American texts the legend of Viracocha resembles both the legend of Indra and God Vishnu.
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Suggested Link:
Astronomical Dating of the Ramayana

Thursday, 9 May 2013

ANCIENT CENTRAL ASIA - THE RAMAYANA CONNECTION

In the Ramayana, four 'vanara'* brigades are readied to be sent out in four different directions for the search of the 'Goddess' Sita, the wife of  God-King Sri Rama who ruled from the city of Ayodhya, after she is abducted by Ravana, the king of the mighty Lanka (now Sri Lanka) empire. 

At the time when it was not yet established where Sita was being held captive, one of the search party's headed West. The search-party is given a route-map by Sugreeva the vanara chief, and as they follow it, the route-map leads them to what is referred to in the Ramayana as the Asta Mountain. Mt. 'Asta' (अस्त)  which is Sanskrit for 'Sunset', was for the 'vanara' commando brigade the limit of the western most point that they were to scour for Sita.  


An ancient carving from Silemania in Iraq may depict
Sugreeva at the feet of Sri Rama after the death of Bali who can be seen under the right foot of Sri Rama. Notice the ancient Akkadian inscription on the right.
The rock relief is located on the cliff of mountain Darbadi Belula in the Zagros, Sulaimaniya, on the Iran-Iraq border. Relief from circa 2100 BC.



In the Ramayana Sage Valmiki traces the route of the 'vanaras' going in the western direction in details. An easily identifiable location that he mentions is the geographical point where the Sindhu, that is the Indus falls into the Sea. 

That could refer to two geographical locations. One is in present day Karachi where the Indus falls into the Sea. Or since sindhu (सिंधु)  is also a noun which means 'river', Valmiki might have referring to the Narmada river which also falls into the Arabian Sea from the Indian west coast.

At the junction of Sindhu with the ocean, writes Valmiki, there is a huge mountain named Hemagiri - the 'golden-mountain', which has hundreds of summits and gigantic trees. This description fits the topography of the coastal mountains of the Satpura Range & the Western Ghats.

In any case, the 'vanaras' are now en-route the sea, moving further west of the Indian coast towards a waterlogged mountain by the name 'Paariyatra', inhabited, as they are told, by the ferocious 'Gandharvas', its peak glittering like gold. The instruction for the 'vanaras' is to quickly search for Sita and not engage with the 'Gandharvas', nor pluck any fruit from their date-palm trees.

In the sea beyond Mt. Pariyatra, the 'vanaras' would then come across Mt. Vajra, which  shines like a diamond. And further ahead in the fourth quarter of the sea they will find Mt. Chakravaan on which is located the Sudarshana weapon, the 'thousand-spoke wheel' that was constructed by Vishwakarma, the celestial architect. 

The names Chakravan and Sudharshana Chakra suggest the existence of a megalithic circular ('chakra' means 'circular') wheel like structure atop a mountain. This site has not yet been identified though circular megalithic structures exist in Arkaim in Russia and Goebekli Tepe in Turkey. For more on this click here.

Then, moving ahead the 'vanaras' are told that they will in succession come across, many mountain peaks which are named as Varaha, Meghavanta and finally MeruThese appear to be mountain peaks of the Zagros range, located across the Arabian Sea in Iran, extending to Iraq. Valmiki also mentions a city by the name of Pragjyotisha. If we assume that the sea-levels during the Ramayana era were higher than they are today many of the mountains of the Zagros range in Iran would be water-logged.

Mt. Varaaha is described in the Ramayana as an entirely golden mountain with many waterfalls. The Iranian Zagros Mountains too are known to have many waterfalls even today. One of the most magnificent ones is called 'GanjnaMeh'. Once again the name can be decoded with Sanskrit. 'Ganjana-Meh' (गञ्जन-मिह्) means 'Excellent Mist' though 'Ganjana' may be a distortion of 'Kanchana' (कञ्चन) which means 'Golden'. 'Kanchan-Meh' translates as 'golden-mist'.

The closest cognate to the name 'Varaaha' in Iran is the Kuh-e-Vararu or Mt. Vararu. This is located, not in the Zagros  but in Elburz mountain range in the northern part of Iran close to the city of Tehran. If indeed Valmiki was referring to what is today called Kuh-e-Vararu, then the close by 'golden city of Prag-jyotisha' that Valmiki writes about must be in the vicinity of ancient Tehran. 

The ancient Avestan name of Tehran was 'Raghes' and may be derived from the name of Sri Rama who was also known as 'Raghu' (रघु). The Ramayana says that Pragjyotish was the abode of the demon 'Naraka' (नरक) and there indeed is a town by the name of 'Naraku' in Bhushehr province of Iran.  

Close by is the volcanic peak of Damavand, its most ancient known name dating to the Sassanid era is is 'Donbavand'. In Sanskrit 'danav' (दानव) means 'demon' but the name stated in the Ramayana is 'Meghavant'. Once again it is difficult to trace whether the names 'Damavand' and 'Meghavant' have any ancient links but the popular traditions of the villages around Damavand mountain are filled with legends and superstitions of which traces can be found in place names, as in the upper valley of the Lar, where a small ravine sprinkled with marshes, warm springs, and geysers is named Div Asiab or the 'the devil’s mill'. 

The Zagros Mountains in Iran were named after an ancient nomadic tribe, referred to by the name 'Sagar-tians'. Stephanus Byzantinus (6th century AD), who was the author of a geographical dictionary entitled 'Ethnica', wrote that there was a peninsula in the Caspian Sea called 'Sagartia' and that the Sagartians moved south from Sagrtia to what were later known as Zagros mountains. In Sanskrit 'Sagara' (सागर) means 'Sea and its other form 'Sagartia' means 'of the sea'. The Zagros mountains were named after the Sagar-tian tribe who were also referred to as Zagar-thians. 


The golden mountain peaks of the Zagros Mountains.
Zagros gets its name from a sea-faring tribe called 'sagara'. Sagara is Sanskrit for 'sea'.


The 'vanaras' are told to then move along this range of many radiant peaks till they reach the magnificent 'Savarni Meru'. Moving west of  Savarni Meru  is the 'Asta-Giri' which translates as 'Setting Sun Mountain'. The 'vanaras' are told not to go beyond Asta-Giri.

As they travel from 'Sarvaani Meru' to Mt. 'Asta' the 'vanaras' are directed to look for a 'gigantic ten-leaved date-palm-tree, which is completely golden and shines forth with a marvelous podium' .

This gigantic date palm tree seems to have some sacred significance in the ancient civilizations of the region and Assyrian artifacts seem to support this view.


In this artifact Assyrian Gods are seen
with a stylized palm tree
.

Assyrian Goddesses with a stylized palm tree



A mural depicting a sacred palm tree

Assyrian artifact depicting  a sacred palm tree

The location of this ancient 'ten leaved date palm tree' has not been traced. But what is interesting is that in the Ramayana, the search party travelling east in search of Sita are told to keep going forth across many oceans, till they see 'a three-leafed palm tree etched on a mountain near Mt. Udaya' or Sunrise Mt. visible from the ocean'. This has been identified as the ancient 'Paracas Trident of Peru' etched on a mountain in the Andes chain. See picture below:


The ancient Paracas Trident of Peru is
described as a three-leafed-palm-tree in the 

Valmiki Ramayana.
There then is a possibility that the 'ten leafed palm tree' mentioned in the Ramayana may yet be found etched in the mountains of Iran or Iraq! 
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*'Vanara' is commonly translated as 'monkey' but refers to the 'commando brigade' of Sri Rama's troops. 'Vanara' here refers to 'those who live in the forest'.

Suggested Sites:
1. Encyclopedia of Ancient Indian Geography - Subodh Kapoor
2. Ancient Indian History and Civilization - S.N. Sen
3. The suffixes 'mant' and 'vant' in Sanskrit

Thursday, 2 May 2013

THE PYRAMID OF GYMPIE - AUSTRALIA, THE RAMAYANA CONNECTION

It is possible that a structure mentioned in the Indian Scripture, the Ramayana, is really the Gympie Pyramid located close to Brisbane in Australia.

Goddess Sita, the wife of the Vedic god-king Lord Rama is abducted by the Lankan celestial ruler Ravana. Plans are made to send search parties in four directions. Sage Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, describes the route that each of the parties is instructed to take in their search for Sita.


Of the places mentioned along the route that the search party headed east from India is to take, the first one Yava (यव) is easily identifiable as the island of JavaHere is the actual verse from the Valmiki Ramayana (4-40-30):

यत्नवन्तो यव द्वीपम् सप्त राज्य उपशोभितम् |
सुवर्ण रूप्यकम् द्वीपम् सुवर्ण आकर मण्डितम् || 4-40-30

"You strive hard in the island of Yava, which will be splendorous with seven kingdoms, like that even in Golden and Silver islands that are en-wreathed with gold-mines, in and around Yava islands.  [4-40-30]

In the same verse two islands are mentioned,the Golden Island and the Silvern - of which the Golden Island is identified as Sumatra. The ancient Indian name for Sumatra indeed was Swarna Dwipa which translates as- 'Golden Island'. 


As the search party moves farther east, there are descriptions of a mountain by the name 'Shishira' (शिशिर) whose peak 'pierces the heaven'. (4-40-31). The tallest mountain in the Indonesian islands is located in Papua and may well be the peak mentioned in the Ramayana. Its name today is Puncak Jaya and it stands at 4884 metres. 'Shishira' simply means peak or summit.


The Puncak Jaya Peak, Papua, Indonesia.
This is probably the 'Shishira' mentioned in the Ramayana

Then there is a mention of 'rapid red waters' of the River Shona. 'Shona' (शोण) means 'red' in Sanskrit. (4-40-33). They are told to proceed to an island called Plaksha and further on to Ikshu Island. They will then confront a furious and tempestuous tide-ripped ocean and its islands. Ahead is another ocean named Lohita. (Lohita means 'yellow' but the waters are described as a mix of yellow and red. This is most likely the Coral Sea of Australia. 

यव द्वीपम् अतिक्रम्य शिशिरो नाम पर्वतः |
दिवम् स्पृशति शृन्गेण देव दानव सेवितः || 4-40-31
ततो रक्त जलम् प्राप्य शोण आख्यम् शीघ्र वाहिनीम् |
गत्वा पारम् समुद्रस्य सिद्ध चारण सेवितम् || 4-40-33


After crossing the sea, the author says, becomes visible the tallest ever 'Shalmali' (शाल्मलि) tree on an island. The botanical name for the Sanskrit 'Shalmali' is 'Salmalia Malabaricatralia' and is also referred to as 'Bombax Ceiba'. It is native to Asia and Northern Australia. The island mentioned by Valmiki is probably somewhere in the region where the Fraser island of today stands. 'Shalmali' are tall trees growing up to a height of 80 feet. The Vishnu Purana refers to Australia as 'Shalmali Dwipa'.



The Shalmali Tree or Silk-Cotton Tree (Bombax Ceiba),
or Kapok as it is known in Australia
is mainly limited to the northern region of Australia today.
Interestingly Kapok may be a variation of the
Sanskrit 'karpas' (कार्पास) meaning cotton.

The island mentioned in the verse is most probably in the region near-about Fraser Island. The clue stems from the verse in Ramayana which follows the Shalmali tree. Following the verse about the 'Shalmali tree on an island', Valmiki mentions the existence of 'a gigantic, peak like structure or mansion resembling Mt Kailasha'. (Verse 4-40-40).

The peak like structure, says the Ramayana, was built by Vishwakarma, a 'celestial' architect. Vishwakarma may be the name of more than one 'celestial architect' because all most all magnificent structures of the ancient world are credited to 'Vishwakarma'. 'Vishwakarma' or 'the celestial architect' was responsible for the construction of many gigantic cities and structures (probably the megaliths) around the world.

The Ramayana also says that the mansion belonged to 'Garuda', the offspring of 'Vinata'. (The Kailasha is a peak in the Himalayan Range, and is a pilgrimage point for Hindus to this day).



Here is the verse:
गृहम् च वैनतेयस्य नाना रत्न विभूषितम् |
तत्र कैलास संकाशम् विहितम् विश्वकर्मणा || ४-४०-४०

There built by Vishwakarma, peak like, gigantic, resembling Kailasha, is the mansion of Vinata's offspring. 4-40-40

The only land that one can reach after crossing an ocean further east of Java and Indonesia is Australia and the Polynesian Islands beyond it, and the structure is possibly the Gympie Pyramid unless there is another 'peak' like ancient structure in the Australia mainland or the Polynesian Triangle. 
The Gympie pyramid site in Queensland is about 120 Km away from Fraser island.

Valmiki, the author then says that after the search party passes this peak-like gigantic structure, they will see a shore sparkling white and shaped like a necklace. This is probably the coast off the shores of Brisbane. 


The Gympie Pyramid
in Queensland, Australia has
been bulldozed by the authorities.

The Ramayana then mentions a Milky Ocean, crossing which a tall mountain by the name Rishaba becomes visible. It is home to a silvery lake called Sudharshana. It is located on a beautiful land inhabited by the 'devas', 'apsaras' and 'kinnaras'  This may be New Zealand or one of the islands of Polynesia. For the details of what the 'vanaras' would see as they passed this region click here.

The search party is directed to cross many seas, oceans and islands beyond this point, before they reach a place which can only be Peru. The Ramayana describes the Andes in detail and also the Paracas Trident insignia etched on the Andes in Peru. The search party is instructed to head back from the Andes.

As far as the Gympie ruins of Queensland, Australia are concerned, it is unfortunate that the Australian authorities have decided to construct a road right across the Gympie area. 
The Pyramid structure was already in ruins, though the base existed until recently. Many denials were issued regarding the existence of this structure and many debunking theories have been floated. However, the fact remains that artifacts like the Vedic God Ganesha and a Goddess in a Padmasana posture seated on a lotus flower have been found at Gympie, which indicates that the ancient world history might be way different than what we are lead to believe.


In his book "1421: The year China Discovered the World", author Gavin Menzies states on page 221, " Until 1920, Gympie remained Queensland's largest and richest goldfield. Many other artifacts have been found in this area. Two beautifully carved votive offerings are of particular interest: one is of the Hindu god Ganesha, the elephant god, carved i beige granite, the other is of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey God, this time made of conglomerate ironstone...".


The Vedic Goddess Artifact found at the Gympie site

A Ganesh statute found at the Gympie site

Suggested Links:
1. The Uru Civilization, Australia - The Sanskrit Connection
2. Australian Place Names - The Sanskrit Connection
3. River Yarra, Australia - The Sanskrit Connection
4. 1421: The Year China Discovered the World
5. Australian Archaeological Anomalies
6. The Gympie Pyramid