Saturday, 27 July 2013

DASHAVATARA (THE TEN INCARNATIONS OF VISHNU) - THE HONDURAS CONNECTION

Ancient texts, especially those that belong to the great Indian civilization describe in detail a 'Great Deluge' that occurred in antiquity. Using the ancient Sanskrit texts as a frame of reference, many other old civilizations have now been able to interpret scattered remnants of information about pre-history to conclude that a great deluge did indeed take place.

In the Indian texts, Vishnu is said to have taken nine 'avataras' [avatara 
(अवतार) means 'incarnation'], each time appearing to save the world from natural calamities, great wars or from destruction wrought by the 'malechas' (म्लेच्छ) or the evil tribes. One of the avatars of Vishnu is that of the 'Kurma (कूर्म) - Sanskrit for 'tortoise' or 'turtle'. 


In the second verse of the 'Dashavatara Strotram' that describes the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, poet Jayadev Goswami  (circa 1200 AD) writes:

kṣitir iha vipulatare tiṣṭhati tava pṛṣṭhe
dharaṇi-dhāraṇa-kiṇa-cakra-gariṣṭhe
keśava dhṛta-kūrma-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare


O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a tortoise/turtle! All glories to You! In this incarnation as a divine tortoise the great Mandara Mountain rests upon Your gigantic back as a pivot for churning the ocean of milk. From holding up the huge mountain a large scar like depression is put in Your back, which has become most glorious.


Sculpture in India depicting Vishnu's avatar as a 'turtle'.
Vishnu saves the earh by carrying it on his back.

The description of the Kurma (tortoise) holding up the earth is not only found in the great Indian texts such as the Puranas, it also appears in sculpture in South America. One example is the sculpture of the Cosmic Turtle of the Mayan ruins of Copan in Honduras.

Take a look:
The Giant Turtle Altar, Copan, Honduras
Click here for another view of the  Copan Cosmic Turtle with the accompanying deity.  

And here is a mural from South America that depicts the turtle carrying the earth on its back.




Here is another Mayan mural depicting the Cosmic Turtle with a deity.



The Dashavatara strotram of Jayadev Goswami describes not only the 'Kurma' avatara but all the 10 avataras of Vishnu. Here is a rendition of five of the ten verses (pertaining to the Meena, Vamana, Rama, Buddha and Kalki incarnations) of the Strotram. Click here to listen. Click here  for the Dasavatara Strotram with translation from Sanskrit to English.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

TAJIKISTAN - THE MAHABHARATA CONNECTION

During the Bronze Age, that is roughly from 2300 to 1700 BC, Tajikistan was part of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. It's boundaries spread over present day northern Afghanistan, Eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan. The civilization flourished on the banks of the the Amu Darya. In ancient Indian scriptures, the Amu river goes by the name 'Vaksh' (वक्ष) which the Greeks later changed to 'Oxus'. The name derives from the Sanskrit 'Vakshan' (वक्षण) which means 'river' or 'river-bed'. The name of the river Vaksh has often been translated from  Sanskrit as 'chest' (Vaksha) or 'oxen' (Vakshas), but these are incorrect.

Bactria too was the Greek name for the region that today goes by the name 'Balk', located in northern Afghanistan. Balk is also the name of a tribe that appears as 'Bahika' (बाह्लीक) in the Mahabharata. Margiana was the Greek name for Margu, the capital of which was Merv. The ancient Sanskrit name of Merv was the fa
miliar Meru (मेरु), and was located, in modern-day south-eastern Turkmenistan.


A coin from 3rd century AD found at Balkh depicting
Oesho, the Iranian/Bactrian avatar of Vedic Lord Shiva.
Note the 'trident', the 'snakes around the neck' and 'Nandi, the bull'.

The currency is 'Dinar'. 'Dinar' is derived from Sanskrit 'Dhana' which
distorts to 'Dina' in Avestan language. Hence 'Dinar'.

As per the Mahabharata, most of modern Tajikstan, including territories as far as Zeravshan valley in Sogdiana, had formed parts of the ancient Kamboja kingdoms.The Greeks later changed the name of Kamboja to Komedes. The inhabitants of Kamboja are regarded as the ancestors of the Tajiks of Tajikistan. They were a kshatriya (warrior) race and in the Mahabharata appear in the roles of horsemen and breeders of horses. 

That Hinduism once flourished in Tajikistan is established by the relics excavated from Tajikistan. Depiction of the Panchatantra tales have been recovered fro
m salvaged temple walls of Tajikistan.

mural of Shiva excavated from
Tajakistan
Lord Shiva artifact (3rd -1st Century BC)
Tajikistan
 
Shiva-Parvati mural from
Tajakistan
For a look at a Shiva-Parvati statue excavated from Tajakistan click here.

'Panel with a goddess riding a lion' found in Panjikant, Tajikistan
An ancient Tajik depiction of the Vedic Goddess 'Durga'
Photo Courtesy: State Hermitage Museum


Friday, 5 July 2013

THE NAMES ''SHAMBALA' - UZBEKISTAN & 'BUKHARA' - AFGHANISTAN - THE MAHABARATA & PURANA CONNECTION

Main line historians say that the city of Bukhara was mentioned in the Zoroastrian holy book 'Zend- Avesta' and was founded in the 13th century B.C. during the reign of Siyavushids. The name 'Bukhara' originates from the word 'vihara' (विहार) which means 'sanctuary' or 'temple' in Sanskrit. Later the word 'vihar' came to be associated with Buddhist monasteries.

The city of 'Shambala', located by the Oxus River (ancient Sanskrit name 'Vaksh' River) in a region that was once called Bactria (close to Uzbekistan) is named after the name 'Shambala' 
(शम्भलः) first mentioned in the ancient Indian epic, the 'Mahabharata, and also in the 'Puranas'. The Mahabharata mentions that at the peak of adharma in Kaliyuga, Lord Kalki will take birth in a town called 'Shambala'.


Here is the verse from the Mahabharata:

shambhala-grama-mukhyasya brahmanasya mahatmanah
bhavane vishnuyashasah kalkih pradurbhavishyati

"Lord Kalki will appear in the home of the most eminent brahmana of Shambhala village, the great soul Vishnuyasha.".
 

The village of 'Shambala' mentioned in the Mahabharata is associated with a village by this name located in Bangaluru, India.

Shambala city of the ancient Bactrian region is now known as Shamis-en-Balkh. Balkh is a region corresponding with northern Afghanistan and bordering Uzbekistan. The name Balkh, from which Bactra is derived, is mentioned in the Mahabharata and Puranas as Bahilka (बाह्लिक).

Distortions and adaptations of ancient Vedic and Puranic ideas and concepts, place names and those of rivers and mountains, appear routinely in the Zoroastrian texts, Avestan history and Buddhist manuscripts. The name 'Zend-Avesta' itself is a distortion of the Sanskrit 'Gyan' (ज्ञान) and 'Vidya' (विद्या). 

In fact, the 'Zend Avesta' was decoded with the help of Sanskrit. French author and Orientalist, James Darmesteter (1849-1894), wrote in his book 'The Zend Avesta' in 1880 that, "Avesta received an unlooked-for light from the poems of the Indian Rishis, and the long-forgotten past and the origin of many gods and heroes, whom the Parsi worships and extols without knowing who they were and whence they came, were suddenly revealed by the Vedas".


Koi Krylgan Kala, Uzbekistan located on Oxus River
(ancient Sanskrit name -Vakshu RIver)
was built in 400 BC in Khwarezm.

Suggested Links:
1.Zend Avesta- James Darmesteter
2. Vedic Elements in the ancient Iranian Religion of Zarathushtra

3. Studies in the Geography of Ancient and Medieval India