Thursday, 30 April 2015

LORD BYRON'S VEDIC TRAIL - IN ALBANIA AND GREECE

In his Travelogue 'A Journey through Albania' author John Cam Hobhouse (1786-1869) wrote about his travels through Albania, Greece and Turkey, a journey on which poet Lord Byron accompanied him. During their travels, Hobhouse's anthology 'Imitations and Translations from the Ancient and Modern Classics' was published, which also contained several poems by Byron about the descriptions of the people and places they had visited.

It is the names of the places that the two visited that are the subject of this blog. We pick up the trail in  a village by the name 'Pravesa' in Albania. Other names on the trail include places such as Uttraike, Catoona, Makala, Gouria, Carnia, Tapaissus and Patras. 

Of these names, Edward Moor makes the following observations in his book 'Oriental Fragments'. He says,"I find so much material for the article, 'Sanskrit Names of Places' in Greece, Africa, Ireland, etc., and indeed almost all the world over
 — including what I, for want of better, term Kalicitms, Lingaiacs, Ionics, Sivaics, etc., that I scarcely know how to arrange them..... but the poetical nature of the extracts from the classical travellers before us will, in some measure, I trust, relieve apprehended deficiency on my part....".


'Pravesh' is Sanskrit for 'entrance' and 'Uttaraike' denotes 'to the north' from  where they reached the village of Catoona and the River Achelois, and then Makala. Of Makala, Edward Moor says, "This, strictly Mahakala, is one of the names of Siva — maha meaning the Great." 

The suffix 'Kala' is 'time' or 'death' or 'black'. One can identify many a 'kala' on the map of Greece, including Kalamata and Kalabaka, Kalamaki and Kalarni, Moor classifies these names under the head 'Kalicitms'.

Hobhouse and Byron then pass the mountains of Tricala and Agrapba. Tricala of course indicates 'Tri-peaks' in the Vedic tradition, 'Agrapbha' is probably a distortion of 'Agrabhu' (अग्रभू) meaning 'on top of'. The two then pass the village of Carnia which may have been so named after 'Karna' (कर्ण), one of the protagonists of the Mahabharata. In any case 'karni' (कर्णी) is Sanskrit for 'breaking through'. They then pass the two hills named 'Aeto' and 'Aspro' - 'eta' (एत) Sanskrit for 'shining'; 'apsar' (अपसर) 'distant' or 'apsara' (अपसरा) 'celestial fairy'.

Of Gouria, a village in the region which was once called Paracheloitis, Moor says, 'Gouria and Para are the names of the mountain-loving Goddess of the Ioni (Yoni)" - a reference to Parvati.

He further adds, "At the mouth of the Aspro is port Petala. Port Candeli is in a deep bay to the South of the Gulf of Arta.... a deep bay would, in the form, be deemed a vast Argha, a mystical union of the Linga and Ioni. The other names I shall not comment on. They are Indianic." 

Hobhouse describes the many towns they pass through including Calchis, Calydon and Tappissus. Moor identifies Calchis and Calydon with the name of Kali. About the town of Tappisus he says it should be called Tapaswi. He says, "Reading such passages, one is almost deposed to fancy that Mr. Hobhouse was traversing the mountains of Nepal, rather than among those of Albania."

Then there were the mountain of Parnassus, of which Moor observed that the name was a distortion of Paranasi, itself derived from Varanasi. He says, "The vast range of hills named Parnassu - is dedicated to Bacchus - the Siva of Greece: one of Siva's name is Bagisa.' Hence Bacchus.

Parnassus was deeply venerated and was thronged by pilgrims in antiquity. Here is Lord Byron's poetic description of this sacred mountain:

"Oh thou Parnassus...
Oft have I dream'd of thee! whose glorious name 
Who knows not, knows not man's divinest lore;
And now I view thee; tis, alas! with shame
That I in feeblest accents must adore;

When I recount thy worshippers of yore
I tremble and can only bend the knee;
Nor raise my voice, nor vainly dare to soar
But gaze beneath thy cloudy canopy
In silent joy, to think at last I look on thee"



Edward Moor was of the view that Ionnina, Patra, Arta, Trikala etc. are names of Sanskrit origins

Suggested Links:
1.A Journey through Albania, Greece and Turkey by John Cam Hobhouse
2. The Complete works of George Gordon Byron by John Gant



Thursday, 23 April 2015

THE NAME 'KAILASH' - IN GREECE & SYRIA

In his book, 'A new system: or, An analysis of Antient Mythology', Jacob Bryant states, "Many places and regions held sacred ...(were) called Coel by the Amonians. Syria... the true name was Coela, the heavenly or sacred. It was so denominated from the Cuthites, who settled there on account of the religion established. Hence it (Syria) was also named Shem, and Shama which are terms of like purport and signify divine, or heavenly."

He further observes, "Elis Coela was the most sacred part of Greece, especially the regions of Olympia, Canconia and Azania."


Edward Pococke, a historian from 18th century was of the view that Coela, on the Euboea Island in Greece, and Coela-Syria get their names from Mt. Kailash, the sacred abode of Lord Shiva and the seat of Kubera in the Himalayas.

He states in his book 'India in Greece',"..the Buddhas have brought with them into Thessaly the far famed mythological but equally historical name of 'Cailas', the fabulous residence of Cuvera, the God of Wealth and the favourite haunt of Siva, placed by the Hindoos among the Himalayan mountains and applied to one of the loftiest peaks lying on the north of Manasa Lake.... and which the Greeks very faintly preserved in 'Caila' (Coela) immediately to the north of 'Xunias Lake' (Xynias) or lake of Cashmir....". The lake dried out partially and was deserted by its inhabitants. Only an ancient citadel (Acropolis) stands there today.


Interestingly the name Euboea, the island on which Coela or Caila is located is of Sanskrit origin. Wikipedia says Εὔβοια (Euboea), derives from the words εὖ "good", and βοῦς "ox", meaning "the land of the well-fed oxen". Thats Sanskrit. Eu is 'su' (सु) and βοῦς is 'gau' (गौ). Sugo (सुगो) is Sanskrit for 'excellent cow'.




The Island of Euboea in Greece  where Caila or Coela is located. The sacred Mt. Caila or Coela in Greece gets its name from 'Mt. Kailash' in the Himalayas.

The theme here is that tribes from India in the distant past migrated to Greece over a period of time and took along with them the culture, the place names and history of India. Says Edward Pococke in his book, "The Greek language is a derivative of Sanscrit, therefore Sanscrit speaking people- i.e. Indians must have dwelt in Greece...". This view is not commonly accepted by historians.

Gene Matlock has made the observation, "... Pococke's book was too important for understanding the history of our world to be allowed to fall into oblivion."


Suggested Links:
1 Click to download: .India in Greece by Edward Pococke
2.From Khyber (Kheeber) to Gran Quivira by Gene Matlock

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

THE MAYAN TEMPLE OF UXMAL, MEXICO- THE GANESHA, BUDDHA AND RAHU CONNECTION

Uxmal is an ancient Mayan city and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of the Mayan culture. The etymology of 'Uxmal' is disputed. One view is that the name is derived from Oxmal, meaning "three times built" in reference to the number of times it has been rebuilt. But then that cannot be its original name. Another possible source of the name is 'Uchmal' which means "what is to come, the future." By tradition, this was supposed to be an 'invisible city' built in one night by the magic of the dwarf king.

There are examples of cities having being built by 'celestial architects' such as Vishwakarma and Maya from celestial material in the Vedic tradition too. The ancient city of Indraprastha as described in the Mahabharata was built by an 'asura' called Maya.

Indian scriptures say that Asuras and Nagas were tribes spread across the world in various continents far and wide and some scholars believe that the Maya civilization in Meso-America was an extension of the Asura-Naga culture.


In the 'Encyclopaedia of Religions' edited by James George Roche Forlong it is stated that on one of the facades above the doors of the 'House of the Monks' at the temple of Uxmal ".... were niches with seated figures very much like the Buddha... At the base of one of these niches are remarkable groups of tigers placed back to back as also at Palenque- to form the throne of the Gods just as in Burmese or Siamese representations of the 'lion throne' of Buddha. Over the 'House of the Governor', as at Palenque, elephants' trunks also appear, as well as other sites in Yukatan....".

In his article 'The Buddhist Discovery of America-1000 years before Columbus', Prof John Fryer of the University of California published in American Harper's magazine in July 1901 researched the journey of ancient Buddhist monks from China, India and Cabul to the Americas. Though Fryer was tracking the journey of Buddhist monks he found evidence of Vedic tradition at Uxmal as also traces of Buddhism. Here are two photos with their original captions that appeared with the article in Harper's Magazine in the July 1901 issue:



Aztec representation of Ganesha - 
The Elephant God

This is an Aztec imitation of  Rahu swallowing the Sun
which according to the Vedic tradition causes an eclipse.
Found at Temple of  Uxmal, Mexico

Prof John Fryer observed, "When we come to look for visible traces of Buddhism among the antiquities of Mexico, we are soon amply rewarded.... ". Fryer refers to the details of one visit by a Buddhist monk, Hui Shen, who is said to have travelled to the land of Fusang  from his native Cophene or Kabul around the year 495 AD, which at that time was the centre of Buddhist learning. He returned alone to China, which was another centre of Buddhism, where he waited for many years before he was granted audience with the Emperor so he could relate his experiences and the work done by the Buddhist monks in the distant land of Fusang.

Hui Shen is the name recorded in Chinese annals but Hui Shen is a Chinese transliteration of the monk's name since he was a native of Cabul and not China. Prof V.G. Nair in his article 'Buddhist Mission Visits America Before Columbus' says,"The facts that Hui Shen and his party came from Kabul and that he spoke imperfect Chinese suggest that he might have been either an Indian monk or a native of Kabul which formed part of India in those days. Kabul, which was also known as Cophen Kiplin, Kandahar or Balk was in Gandhara now merged in Afghanistan and was a centre of Buddhist activities".

Buddhist monks from Kabul traveled often to China as Buddhism was patronized by various dynasties of ancient China. The most well known of them is Sanghdeva who travelled from Kabul to China in 4th century AD and translated Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. Hui Shen's actual name has never been decoded.

Hui Shen had himself followed the route taken earlier by five bhikshus or monks who had traveled to Fusang in the year 458 AD. Prof Fryer was of the view that Fusang that appears in the Chinese records refers to the Americas. More about that in the next post.


Mayan City of Palenque in Mexico  was inhabited since
at least 300 BC.
An artifact from Uxmal
Dated to 300-900 AD


Suggested Readings:


1. The Buddhist Discovery of the Americas.
2. Buddhist Mission Visits America before Columbus

Thursday, 2 April 2015

ANCIENT COSMOLOGY OF THE HINDUS IN GREECE, EGYPT & NORDIC PROSE

In Hindu cosmology the Hiranyagarbha (हिरण्यगर्भः) or the 'golden womb' or 'golden egg' is the 'source of creation of the Universe' or 'all that which is manifested'. 

The Hiranyagarbha Sukta verse of the Rig Veda says that there was one single creator. The Upanishads call this single creator 'Brahman'. It was 'Brahman' who planted the Hiranyagarbha (or the seed of creation) that floated around in the darkness of non-existence for a period of one year. It was then broken into two halves which formed the 'svarga' (स्वर्ग) or heaven, and the 'prithvi' (पृथ्वी) or earth. 

The Puranas say that Hiranyagarbha is another name for Lord Brahma, so called because he was born of a golden egg.

Count Magnus Fredrik Ferdinand Bjornstjerna (1779-1847), author of 'The Theogony of the Hindoos with their Systems of Philosophy & Cosmogony' noted in his writings that the description of Greek Cosmology by ancient philosopher Damascius (458 A.D. – 538 A.D.) establishes its link with Hindu Cosmology. 


Damascius, born in Syria, was one of the many Pagan philosophers who were persecuted by Justinian (a Byzantine, i.e. East Roman Emperor who ruled from 527 to 565 A.D.). He migrated to Athens and became the Head of the School of Athens in 515 A.D.

Bjornstjerna obsrves, "...that the Greeks derived their cosmogony from the Hindoos may be seen in the account which Damascius has given of the doctrine of Orpheus". And the description is as follows: — "In the beginning was Kronos, who out of Chaos created Ether (day), and Erebos (night) ; therein he laid an egg (Hindoo !), from which came Phanes, furnished with three heads (the Brahmin Trimurti). Phanes created the man and the woman, from whom the human race is derived."



Brahma at the centre of the Vedic Trimurti.
In Hinduism the cosmos is also known as 'Brahmand' 
(ब्रह्माण्ड) or Brahma's egg.
Bjornstjerna further states, "The cosmogony of the Egyptians also adopts the Hindoo egg, which, divided into two, formed heaven and earth". 

The Swedish scholar Viktor Rydberg, writing in the late 19th century, drew a parallel between the Norse creation myths and Vedic mythology postulating a common origin. 

In the Nordic prose 'Edda', which it has been argued by some have their origins in the Vedas, the beginning of the world out of a 'gaping nothingness', is referred to by the term 'Ginnungagap'. 'Ginnungagap' is initiated by a great cow known as 'Audhumla'. The similarity to Vedic texts is striking.


The Nordic 'Ginnungagap', the gaping nothingness from which the world starts, is nothing but a distortion of the Sanskrit 'Hiranyagarbha'. The name of the cow in the Eddas is equally fascinating- 'Audhumla'. In Sanskrit 'Audhamula' means 'the root at the beginning of origin' - 'aadau' (आदौ) - 'at the beginning', 'mula' (मूल) 'root' or 'origin'.

Or else Audhmula may be the equivalent of the Vedic 'Kamadhenu' - the miraculous 'cow of plenty' who provides her owner whatever he desires. Kamadhenu is said to have been born at the time of the churning of the oceans.