Thursday, 24 December 2015

GOBEKLI TEPE, TURKEY AND VEDIC ASTRONOMY

The excavations have only begun on the 25 acre megalithic site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. In a predictable routine matter mainstream archaeologists have presented the view that Gobekli Tepe was either a religious centre or a burial site.



Megalithic slab with animal carvings
Gobekli Tepe

However, the precisely arranged rocky megalithic T-shaped slabs placed in several circular enclosures here tell an entirely and an amazingly different story.

Alternate archaeologists have stated that the site at Gobekli Tepe is most definitely related to the position of star constellations in the skies at the time when the site was being constructed. The animal carvings on the T-shaped megalithic slabs at Gobekli Tepe, just as at Nazca, represent the cosmos and constellations. Constellations even today as in the past are named after animals and birds - such as Scorpius (Scorpio) or the Cygnus (Swan).

In this context it is surprising that the name Gobekli Tepe is almost always translated as 'Potbellied Hill' from the Turkish language. The word 'gobek' is 'belly' in Turkish. Tepe means mound but Gobekli was not a hilly mound when it was constructed. The structure it is said was intentionally covered with mud later which gave it the shape of a mound. The actual name of the site which is dated to 10000 BC is of course lost but if by some quirk of fate the remnants of its original name are retained in the word 'gobekli' then one might look at some other cognates of the word 'gobekli' in Turkish whose meanings do greater justice to the name of this site.


For example, the Turkish words 'gok', 'gokada' and 'gezegen' mean 'sky', 'galaxy' and 'observe' respectively. 'Goc' is ‘migration’ or ‘roaming’. It seems here therefore that the sound 'go' in Turkish has to do with the 'sky', the 'universe' and 'movement'. Just as it is so in Sanskrit.
'Go' in Sanskrit means 'Sun', 'Moon' or ' Stars'
'Tepe' means Study or Meditation.
Gobekli Tepe might have been an Observatory.

'Go' (गो), for example, has many meanings in Sanskrit including 'sun', 'stars', 'ray of the sun', 'moon', 'earth' and 'thunderbolt'. 'Go' (गो) of course also means 'cow', 'cattle', 'ox' or 'cowherd' and the ‘sun sign Taurus'. ‘Go’ is also related to Goddess Saraswati who is linked to the Cygnus constellation. And 'go' (गो) also means 'migration' or 'transit' or 'to roam'.
The word 'tepe' in Goebkli Tepe is almost certainly a distortion of 'tapa' (तप), which has the 
meaning 'sun', 'temperature' or 'heat' in Sanskrit. In the Vedic context 'tapa' signifies 'religious austerity, asceticism and penance'. It also means 'meditate' or 'study with devotion'. The word 'tepe' also has the meaning 'mound' in Sanskrit which appears in its more familiar form as 'stuup' (स्तूप्). With time the word 'stuup' got associated with the stupas - the blunt, mound shaped Buddhist shrines. In Turkish the word for 'temple' is 'tapinak' - certainly derived from the Sanskrit 'tapa'. 

As per its Sanskrit and Turkish meanings, 'Gobekli Tepe' seems most certainly to be an astronomical observatory. Says researcher Gene Matlock, "The ancient Indians and the Nahuatl speaking tribes in the Americas shared the same word for 'Hill or Mountain' - the Sanskrit "Tapa (तप्) and the Nahuatl, Tepetl or Tepec". In the Vedic context since all study and meditations were done on mountains, the word 'Tapa' is linked to mediation and mountains both. 

Dr. B. G. Sidharth, Director General of the B.M. Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad states in one of his research papers, that at Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori (another archaeological site in Turkey) there is archaeological evidence of what is stated in the Vedas. He says, "....there are several pillars and structures with all the astronomical motifs that could be found in the Rig Veda and indicative of a high degree of artistry. Most importantly, the latitude of this place is the same 37 degrees North alluded to earlier. Undoubtedly both these structures represented perhaps the oldest astronomical observation Centre in history".
 The design of the pillars and other structures is a reflection of the cosmos at the time the structures were built. It has been suggested that the builders of Gobekli Tepe were aware of precession. The structures correspond to the Orion-Taurus-Pleiades constellations which were visible before dawn on vernal equinoxes from the direction of the T-shape pillars at the centre of each enclosure. Gobekli Tepe and two other ancient sites Karahan Tepe and Nevali Cori are all located at around 37 degrees north.

At Gobekli Tepe, he adds, ".. in enclosure D there are 12 obelisks or pillars, one for each month. These pillars show the figure of a fox or wolf (Vrika)". The Vrika is a symbol of the moon. The Sanskrit Vrika (वृक्) has the meanings both of 'fox' or 'wolf' and 'moon'.

To elaborate this point Dr Sidharth quotes the Rig Vedic Hymn 1.105.18. which goes as follows:

अरुणो मा सक्र्द वर्कः पथा यन्तं ददर्श हि |

उज्जिहीते निचाय्या तष्टेव पर्ष्ट्यामयी वित्तं मे अस्य रोदसी || 

aruNo mA sakradvRkah patha yantaM dadarsha hi
uj jihIte nicAyya taSTeva prSTyAmayI vittam me asya rodasi

This verse is commonly translated as : 'A ruddy wolf beheld me once, as I was faring on my path. He, like a carpenter whose back is aching crouched and slunk away. Mark this, my woe, ye Earth and Heaven'.

The word 'vRkah' is translated as 'wolf'. But, if one were to refer to a Sanskrit dictionary, we find that the word 'vRkah' has the meaning of wolf and moon both. Sidharth clarifies further. He quotes the scholar Yaska of Nirkuta fame. Yaska had defined the property of the word 'vRkah' saying that it indicates an object whose 'light increases and decreases'. That is a property of the object moon.

Sidharth splits the next two words as 'masa krita' or 'creator of months' and the meaning of the verse changes to, "Moon, the creator of the months, passes through the houses (asterisms)".

He also says that the motifs on the pillars can be understood on the basis of the symbols of Rig Vedic Astronomy. In the Rig Vedic Culture animals were assigned as symbols to star constellations. 
At Nevali Cori, a sculpture of a human head, clean shaven with a Vedic shikha much like Hindu priests of antiquity and present day has lead to speculation that these sites were centres of Vedic learning.


Sculpture of clean shaven human head with
Vedic shikha or ponytail
excavvated at Nevali Cori, Turkey,


It is therefore far more likely that 'Gobekli Tepe' was an observatory than just a mound where the shepherds grazed their cattle and buried their dead. In fact ,it is in the modern era that Gobekli Tepe was being used for grazing cattle until excavations began on the site.


Suggested Links:
1. For a detailed discussion on the Etymology of the word 'Tepe', Click Here.
2. Was Gobekli Tepe an Observatory? Here's why! Gobekli Tepe Constellations
3. Why Study Sanskrit? Click Here
4. Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori - Astronomy
2. Ancient Places in Asia: Nevali Cori

Thursday, 3 December 2015

THE VEDIC LINK TO THE ANCIENT BALTIC RELIGION 'ROMUVA'

The ancient Balts, ancestors of present day Lithuanians, Letts and Prussians are believed to have settled between the eastern shores of Baltic Sea and the upper Volga in the 2nd millennium B.C. The Balts followed an ancient Pagan religion by the name Romuva.

First, the name 'Balt'. 'Balt' is said to derive from the name of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea was known as Mare Suebicum or Mare Sarmaticum up until 11th century. Tacitus, a Roman historian of the 1st century, in his work 'Agricola and Germania', dated to 98 AD,  stated that Mare Suebicum was named for the Suebi or Suevi tribe (Suevi translates as 'our own people' in the Baltic culture) - a large group of people who lived in Germania that were first mentioned by Julius Caesar. Etymologists trace the name Suevi from the Indo-European root 'swe', which is the same as the Sanskrit 'sva' (स्व) meaning 'self'. 

Even when the Russians, Poles and others finally accepted Christianity about a 1000 years ago, the Balts retained their pagan religion called Romuva for another four centuries. The Romuvans were fire-worshippers and kept their sacred eternal fire burning in the pagan temple in Vilnius. People still worshipped Perkunas, the Romuvan 'god of rain & thunder', who it is said is none other than the Vedic Parjanya, another name for Lord Indra. Parjanya (पर्जन्य) also has the meaning of 'rain-cloud' in Sanskrit.

The Cathedral at Vilinus is
built on the site of the Pagan Temple dedicated to Perkunas
which it is said was the same as the Vedic Parjanya or Indra

Like the Vedic institutions, the Balts had their official sanctuaries on high hills and on riverbanks. The ancient Lithuanian religion professed the virtue of tolerance which was encapsulated in the famous 14th century proclamation of Gediminas, one of the last of the Romuvan priests, "Let everyone worship their own Gods in Lithuania".

The remains of a Pagan temple and a star observatory
in a place called Palanga on the Baltic Sea.

However the principal of tolerance did not serve the Romuvan Balts well. Their resistance against Christian aggression crumbled in 1387. The last of the Romuvan sacred fires was extinguished in Lithuania in 1413.

The Baltics today have little recollection of the source of the name of their religion called Romuva. The terms Romuva, Romovė and Ruomuva came from medieval written sources in East Prussia mentioning the pagan Baltic temple Romowe. Romuva has meanings of 'temple' and 'sanctuary', but, further, also 'abode of inner peace'. Interestingly, the Baltic root word 'ram', has the meaning of 'calm, serene, quiet', stemming from the Proto-Indo-European 'reme' which is the same as the Sanskrit 'ram' (रम्) meaning 'serene', or 'calm'. It of course the source of the name of Sri Rama. 


The supreme or leader of the Romuvan gods was known as 'Dievas', the name being derived from the Sanskrit 'deva'. The essence of Romuvan philosophy was the concept of 'dharna' - 'the peaceful order of the universe, which again is the equivalent of the Vedic 'dharma'. There even is a lesser god by the name 'Vejopatis' who is the Romuvan 'god of the wind', Vejopatis is obviously a distortion of the Sanskrit 'Vayupati' which has the same meaning.

The Romuvan prayers are composed of verses known as 'daina'. Says Professor Lokesh Chandra, a prominent scholar of the Vedic period, Buddhism and the Indian arts, " .... the Lithuanian word 'daina' that usually is translated as 'song'...actually comes from an Indo-European root, meaning ‘to think, to remember, to ponder over’. This root is found in Sanskrit as dhi and dhya. The word also occurs in the Rigveda in the sense of ‘speech reflecting the inner thoughts of man." The Sanskrit roots 'dhi' and 'dhya' are also the source of the word 'dhyan'.

Sanskrit names are interspersed in the ancient river and mountain names of Lithuania. The longest river is Nemunas, the name is a distortion of the sanskrit Yamuna. The second longest in Lithuania is Neris, 'nira' is 'water' in Sanskrit. 


Old and new town names in Lithunia reveal their direct and indirect links to Vedic culture and the Sanskrit language. An ancient town which was referred to as Mitau up until 1917 was given the name Jelgava, which the Lithuanian believe to be derived from the Livonian word 'jalgab' meaning "town on the river." But 'Jalgram is Sanskrit for 'town on the river' - 'jalgab' is obviously its distortion. Then there are the towns by the name Trikai, Kursenai, Radhikiai and Varena.  Much like the Vedic culture, the Romuvan festivals include the celebration of the winter and summer solstices.


Suggested Links:

1.Lithuanian Folklore as a source of Baltic Religion
2. Revival of the ancient Baltic religion
3. Indian Influence on ancient Lithuania