Thursday, 26 March 2015

RIG VEDIC GOD MITRA - AND THE CITIES OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Mitra (मित्र) is an important divinity of Indic culture and the patron divinity of honesty and friendship, contracts and agreements, as is obvious from his name. 

Mitra is a figure of the Rigveda, distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of 'rta' (ऋत)- the natural order which regulates the operation of the 'universe'.

In the Rig Veda there are two major groups of gods: the Devas and the Asuras. The Rig Vedic Asuras were revered (just as the Suras), Mitra and Varuna being their most prominent members. Aditi is the mother of Asuras, led by Mitra and Varuna. 

In Persia Mitra was worshipped as Mithira. But his fame went beyond what is present day Iran.

In his book, 'The Cult of Mithira in Ancient Colchis", Gocha R. Tsetskhladze observes, "The cult of Mithira was particularly widespread in the Roman Empire and its provinces: in the cities of the Black Sea, on the lower reaches of the Danube, in the lower reaches of the danube, in the lower Moesia and Thrace and also in Central Asia. Many shrines to Mithira existed.."


The principal agent of Mitharism diffusion was undoubtedly the army. With the movement of the soldiers of the Roman Empire the Mithraic religion spread. It is said that it was not without good reason that the name of milites was given to a certain rank of soldiers - milites derived from 'mithira' - also the precursor of the word 'military' - though some scholars observe that the origin of 'military' is more likely from the Sanskrit 'milate' (मिलते) 'meeting' or 'encounter'.

In his book, 'The Mysteries of Mithira', author Franz Cumont states, "From the banks of the Black Sea to the mountains of Scotland and to the borders of the great Sahara Desert, along the entire length of the Roman frontier, Mithraic monuments abound".


One of the largest and most ancient cities of the Black Sea is named 'Varna' where artifacts dating to 4750 BC have been found. Though the city itself was founded around 6th-7th century AD, the name is older than that. Many etymologies for the name 'Varna' have emerged, the most convincing of which is the one that traces Varna to the Proto-Indo-European 'we-r' or 'water', which is the same as the Sanskrit 'vari' (वारी) also meaning 'water'.

The other etymological link is the name of the Vedic Sea God 'Varuna' who in any case also derives his name from 'vari' (वारी) or 'water'.

And there is a link between Mithira of the Persians and Romans and the Vedic Varuna. Once again Franz Cumont states, "In that unknown epoch when the ancestors of the Persians were still united with those of the Hindus, they were already worshippers of Mithra. The hymns of the Vedas celebrated his name, as did those of the Avesta, and despite the differences obtaining between the two theological systems of which these books were the expression, the Vedic Mitra and the Iranian Mithra have preserved so many traits of resemblance that it is impossible to entertain any doubt concerning their common origin. Both religions saw in him a god of light, invoked together with Heaven, bearing in the one case the name of Varuna and in the other that of Ahura....". He 
adds, " .... the domain of Mithra extended from the Indus to the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea)...".

Burgas, the second largest city of the Bulgarian Black Sea gets its name from from Latin 'burgos' or 'fortress' which can be ultimately traced to the Sanskrit 'durg' (दुर्ग) also 'fortress'.


For more on the Sanskrit connection to the name 'Danube', click here.

Suggested Books:
1. The Mysteries of Mithira by Franz Cumont

Monday, 16 March 2015

'ADAM' - THE SANSKRIT CONNECTION & A BIT ABOUT THE INDIAN ORIGINS OF THE JEWS

Beginning 960 AD, China was ruled by the emperors of the Song Dynasty from their capital at Kaifeng, a bustling metropolis located on the legendary Silk Road that linked their domain to its trading partners in the West. It was sometime during this period that a group of Israelites were invited for an audience with the emperor. 

But even in 960 AD the Jews were not newcomers to China. The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions state that the Jews had lived under Chinese rule from sometime after 92 AD, during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C- 220 A.D), when they resided in special enclaves that were set aside by the Chinese for foreigners. 


Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions
document the presence of Israelite Jews
in China as early as 92 A.D. 

Though there is a debate on when exactly the Jews entered China for the first time, Michael Pollack states in his 'Detailed History of Kaifeng Jews', "We know, of course, that large numbers of the descendants of those hapless Jews who sat and wept by the waters of Babylon in the 6th century B.C. wandered progressively eastward towards China. We also know that a group of Levites and Cohanim (priests) left Babylon and wandered eastwards towards Tianzhu or India (Hodu in Hebrew) and eventually, several generations later, settled in the valleys of the Pamir Mountains, just west of the Taklamakan Desert".

In Volume 20 of 'The Chinese Repository' (a periodical published in Canton between May 1832 and 1851 to inform Protestant missionaries working in Asia about the history and culture of China, of current events, and documents), it is stated, "....with respect to the Israelite religion we find on inquiry that its first ancestor Adam came originally from India and that during the period of the Chau state the Sacred Writings were already in existence.... the principles contained therein are very abstruse and the Eternal Reason therein revealed is very mysterious being treated with the same veneration as Heaven. The founder of the religion is Abraham who is considered the first teacher of it. Then came Moses who established the law and handed down the Sacred Writings...". 

The above  passage is quoted by Henry Yule in his book, 'The Book of Ser Marco Polo the Venetian - Concerning the Kingdoms', a research work based on Marco Polo's travelogue about his journey in Central Asia, China and Indonesia in the 13th century.

The passage records that the Jews originated in India. In his book 'World Vedic Heritage', P.N.Oak presented his view on the above observation of Henry Yule. He was of the view that the Sacred Writings were the Vedas. Abraham was Brahma for in the Vedic tradition it is Brahma who made available the 'eternal' Vedas which themselves came into existence at the time of the birth of the universe.

He also states that the name 'Adam' is the Sanskrit 'adim' (आदिम) which means 'original', 'first', 'ancient most' or 'primitive'. Both the words 'adi' and 'adim' for example are mentioned in the Bhagvad Gita. English etymological dictionaries trace the name 'Adam' to the Hebrew 'adam' or 'man', literally "(the one formed from the) ground" ultimately to Hebrew 'adamah' or 'ground', but 'adamah' is a close cognate of the Sanskrit 'adim' and therefore there might be a link as P.N.Oak has suggested.

Uncannily the Sanskrit 'adah' (अधः) also means 'below' or 'underneath', 'aadhar' (आधार) is 'basis' or 'foundation'


Aristotle believed that the Jews came from India, where he said that they were known as the 'Kalani'. This is stated by Josephus Flavius (37 AD- 100 AD) a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar and historian born in Jerusalem, in his Contra Apionem, a discussion on the ancestry of Jews.

In his works, Josephus Flavius quotes the writings of Clearchus of Soli, a Greek philosopher from 4th-3rd cntury BC. Flavius relates the story of a dialogue between Aristole and a Jewish scholar. Flavius quotes Clearchus thus, "In his first book on Sleep he relates of Aristotle, his master, that he had a discourse with a Jew; and his own account was that what this Jew said merited admiration...... To speak of the race first, the man was a Jew by birth and came from Cœlesyria [Palestine]. These Jews are derived from the philosophers of India. In India the philosophers call themselves Kalani, and in Syria Jews, taking their name from the country they inhabit ... the name of their capital is rather difficult to pronounce: they call it Jerusalem". For more on this click here.

Godfrey Higgins states in his book 'Anacalpysis', "Megasthenes, who was sent to India by Seleucus Nicator, about 300 years before Christ, and whose accounts are every day acquiring additional credit, says that the Jews 'were an Indian tribe called Kalani...". 


One of the best known Indian philosophers in recent times (roughly 1100 AD) who is known by a title similar to Kalani is 'Kalhana', a Kashmiri scholar, who wrote the Rajatarangini - a chronicle of the ancient kings of India.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

'KURANGUN' STONE RELIEF OF IRAN - THE VISHNU CONNECTION

Elam was an ancient Pre-Iranic civilization located in the far west and south west of what is present day Iran dated to roughly 3200-540 BC. Knowledge of Elamite history remains largely fragmentary and the reconstruction of its history is based mainly on Mesopotamian sources.

The Elamites were known as a warlike people who were the rivals of Babylon. Although the presence of other groups and tribes in this region is known from other written evidence, still the Elamites are the best- attested pre-Achaemenid population east of the Tigris-Euphrates plain in the cuneiform (wedge shaped script etched on clay tablets)  sources of Mesopotamia, Susiana (east of Tigris river in Iran) , and Fars (an ancient Province in Iran which is the location of Persepolis, Pasargad and Estakhr sites).



The history of Elam’s artistic culture is closely linked with the art of Mesopotamia. Among the Elamite remains from the second millennium B.C. are two fascinating rock reliefs - one at the cliffs of Kurangan, the other at Naqs-i Rustam. Both show nearly similar scenes, but while the Naqs-i Rustam relief has almost entirely disappeared, the Kurangun relief, carved atop a cliff by the Fahlian River has been preserved in an excellent condition.

The Kurangan Relief in Fars, Iran.
The relief depicts a god and a goddess seated on a coiled serpent.

The central panel of the Kurangun Reliefbdates to the seventeenth century BC and is carved in a rectangular frame. It shows a divine couple, sometimes identified as the god Insusinak seated on a coiled serpent and goddess Napirisa by his side and are shielded by the hood of the serpent.The divine couple is honored and surrounded by nobles or dignitaries who standby with folded hands. 



A sketch of the Kurangan Relief, Iran.
Notice the central character seated on a coiled serpent.

The divine couple is shielded by the serpent's hood.
Now, the above scene is reminiscent of the reliefs and stone sculptures that depict Vedic India. In the Vedic pantheon the coiled serpent named Shesha is the seat of Lord Vishnu.


Sri Vishnu seated on the coiled serpent named Shesha,
shielded by the hood of Shesha.
Sculpture from Deogarh Temple, Uttar Pradesh, India

In the Vedic belief, when a cycle of creation comes to an end, a subtle residue of the destroyed universe still persists and is known as 'Shesha' (शेष) - 'shesha' in Sanskrit is 'what remains'. Sri Vishnu's serpent named Shesha embodies the remains of the destroyed universe.



Sri Vishnu and Lakshmi seated on the coiled Shesh Nag

In the Iranian annals there is no clear idea as to what the Kurangan relief depicts though it is said that in the Elamite tradition the snake represented the earth. It is quite possible then that the couple deity in the Kurangun relief though identified as Elaminite deity Insusinak and his consort Napirisa, are just distortions of the names and persona of Vishnu and Lakshmi of the Indian pantheon who are seated  on the coiled serpent. 

Suggested Links:

1. Rama - King of Sumer
2. India of the East, India of the West and the Nomadic Jews

Friday, 6 March 2015

THE 'APIRU' TRIBE OF MESOPOTAMIA AND THE 'ABHIRA' OF INDIA - THE CONNECT

Habiru or Apiru was the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources (dated roughly, between 1800 BC and 1100 BC) to a group of people living as nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan. Depending on the source and epoch, these Habiru are variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.


Apiru head dated between 1800 BC and 1100 BC.

The name Habiru also appears in the Amarna letters - the diplomatic correspondence between the Cannanite administrators to their Egyptian pharaohs. Ancient Canaan was a vassal territory of Egypt and the region entailed present day Israel and Jordon, Lebanon and Palestine. These letters complain about attacks by the armed Habiru groups who were willing to fight and plunder on any side of the local wars in exchange for equipment, provisions, and quarters.


Carol Redmount, who wrote 'Bitter Lives: Israel in and out of Egypt' in The Oxford History of the Biblical World, concluded that the term 'Habiru' had no common ethnic affiliations, that they spoke no common language, and that they normally led a marginal and sometimes lawless existence on the fringes of settled society.


But who really were the Habiru or the Apiru and were did they come from? In the ancient Indian scriptures such as the Mahabharata and Purana an equally intriguing tribe or race by the name 'Abhira' is mentioned. Not only is there a linguistic resemblance between the names Apiru and Abhira, the description of the Apiru and Abhira as a people and their vocation is the same. As is the description of the Apiru in the annals of West Asia, so is the description in the scriptures of India. The Abhiras have also been variously described as warriors, mercenaries, robbers, low caste and uncivilized yet skilled.The word Abhira (अभीर) means 'fearless'.

Abhiras are mentioned as warriors in support of Duryodhana in the  Mahabharta war. Ramayana refers to Abhiras as 'Ugradarshana' (उग्रदर्शन), Mlecchas (म्लेच्छ) and dasyus (दस्यु). 'Ugradarshan' means 'terrible to look at', 'Mleccha' means  'outcaste', 'foreigner' or 'barbarian', and 'dasyu' means  'robber', 'bandit' or 'barbarian'.

The Abhiras also have been described as Vratas. Grammarian Panini mentions these Vratas as robbers. The Abhiras are said to have looted the train of Arjuna, the Pandava, when he was returning from Dwaraka being accompanied by some of the members of Sri Krishna's family after the death of the latter. 

It is not only the similarity between the names Apiru and Abhira that points at the association between the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Indus Valley, it is also the obvious association of the names of other Mesopotamian civilizations to Sanskrit that points at what may well be a fact - that the links between these civilizations and the Indian culture and language was more close than we choose to believe. Some of the names of Mesopotamian civilizations include Subarata, Sumer, Akkad, Uratu and Kush, Mittani and Cannan. 

Subarata  is a cognate of Su-Bharat meaning 'good or great Bharat', Sumer is of course a reminder of Su-Meru (excellent Meru) , the name 'Akkad' was associated by Edward Pocock the author of 'India in Greece' to the 'Akkad' region of the Afghanistan one of the ancient Vedic centres of the world, Uratu, probably derived from Sanskrit 'Uru' (उरु) meaning 'excellent' - also a reminder of the great 'Uru' civilization of ancient Australia. 

Kush is of course linked to Sri Rama's son's name 'Kush' who is known to have expanded the territory of his kingdom westward of India. Canaan located in ancient Israel,  of course had rivers by the name of Kishon and towns by the name of Ramah. Hence, it is said that Canaan was named after Sri Krishna.

Mittani kingdom was Indic who followed the Vedic Gods Indra, Mitra and Varuna and that is accepted by a growing number of scholars. 

Mainstream historians discard these examples as coincidence. But sometimes the truth is far more obvious and simple  than the convoluted statements made to hide the truth.


The Abhiras or Ahir as they are called today
photographed in early 20th century.
The Abhiras today  are known as Ahir. They are described as wild- looking people scattered about in the most thickly forested tracts of the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and West Bengal, where they graze and tend cattle. English historian R.V. Russell wrote about them in great detail in early 20th century in his book 'The Tribes And Castes Of The Central Provinces Of India'.


Suggested Reading:
1.The Ahiras of India