by Ricardo Palleres
What if Europe was really in darkness in comparison to the Far East and India that Columbus set sail to find? What if the popular idea that the Tibetans and the American Indians have much in common in terms of their spiritual culture is largely a result of another historical scenario? What if Hindus and Hopis, Advaitins and Aztecs, Tibetan monks and Mayans were part of one world culture — a spiritual one?
It very well may come to pass in the near future that those concerned with truth will wrestle primarily with history rather than science. The obvious reason for this is that, in the words of Dr. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, author of Theology and the World’s Religious History, “ Humanity is more important than things. The truth about humanity is of a higher order than the truth about things.”1
History tells an intriguing tale, one that ultimately may provide the greatest support for a spiritual worldview. But history has also been distorted. An example of this is the “common knowledge” that Columbus discovered America. Some say he didn’t, nor were any other Europeans the first to touch America’s shores. There is good reason to reexamine the history of the world and the Americas in particular. An unbiased look into the development of our planet’s civilizations may help to bring about a change in values, a shift from material values to spiritual ones.
Perhaps the development of Western civilization and the Protestant ethic, which many of the West are now coming to abhor, have gotten in the way of the spiritual development of humanity. Perhaps many technological developments, while making physical contact with other cultures more possible, have distanced us from one another in a deeper sense. Another historical scenario: The spiritually sophisticated Asians were the first to set foot on Western shores, and Asia, not Europe, was the seat of culture. The central focus of that culture was genuine spiritual development, not the mere shadow of the same in the form of the politically-motivated Pauline Christianity and later the Protestant ethic, which licensed humankind’s exploitation of nature.
This theory is found in the Vedic literature of India. The ancient Puranas (literally, histories) and the Mahabharata make mention of the Americas as lands rich with gold and silver. Argentina, which means ‘related to silver,’ is thought to have been named after Arjuna (of silver hue), one of the heroes of that great epic. India’s Puranic histories are, however, questionable to the rationalist. In the minds of the empiricists, they are more akin to myths. Yet myths have meaning, as the late Joseph Campbell has reminded us. The Puranas downplay in particular the mere recording of mundane events. The Puranic view is that even if its histories are only myths (which is not necessarily the case), the lessons to be learned from them are infinitely more valuable than what can be learned from recording the coming and going of humanity. In their view, only those human events that serve to promote transcendental knowledge are worth recording. Although empiricists are justified in dismissing them from their viewpoint, the so-called myths and their followers are also justified in dismissing the empiricist’s insistence that empirical evidence is final.
Granted, India has shown some lacking in her ability to record her story. But that is due to her preoccupation with the transcendent, the suprahistorical, and not to any ineptitude on her part. According to Kana Mitra in her article “Theologizing Through History?” “ We [Hindus] tend to forget about history, and the de-emphasis of nama-rupa — name and form [due to transcendent preoccupation] — is one of the reasons for not putting down a name or date in many of our writings. Consequently present-day historians have a difficult time in determining the date and authorship of various works.”2
Fortunately, for dealing with the “I’ll only believe it if I can see it” mentality of the empiricist, there is considerable hard evidence and academic support for the Vedic theory that most people are unaware of. Unbiased consideration of this remarkable evidence may move modern-day rationalists to give serious thought to the more realistic spiritual outlook of “Only if you believe it can you see it.” After all, reality is a living thing and it may reserve the right not to show itself but to those to whom it so chooses. Otherwise, why are we in illusion, or in search of reality? If it is something we can attain by our own prowess, how did we get here (in doubt) in the first place?
The meeting (1519) of Hernan Cortes and the Aztec emperor Montezuma II is depicted in this 17th century Spanish painting. (British Embassy, Mexico City). Unfortunately, the American Indians did not survive their cultural exchange with Europe. The Europeans, through book burning and bayonet, successfully “converted” them leaving very little trace of their noble civilization.
Many historians have scrutinized historical evidence to find more insight into the marvelous cultures that populated the American continent before Christopher Columbus was born. Their thirst for research was based on the assumption that the great Mayan, Aztec, and Incan civilizations could not have appeared all of a sudden in the Western world. Rather, they must have received strong influence from ancient Eastern cultures, mainly from India.
Alexander von Humbolt (1769-1859), an eminent European scholar and anthropologist, was one of the first to postulate the Asiatic origin of the Indian civilizations of the Americas. His and other scholars’ views formed the basis for the “diffusionist” argument, which was opposed by the “isolationist” viewpoint. Diffusionists believe that the world’s civilizations are a result of social contact (civilized man meets uncivilized man). Isolationists believe that civilizations cropped up all over the earth without physical contact with one another.
The Aztec Calendar is known as the Aztec Chakra to Hindu Astronomers. (National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.)
“The doctrine of the world’s ages (Hindu Yugas) was imported into Pre-Columbian America… The Mexican sequence is identical with the Hindus… The essential fact remains that they were derived from a common source… It would be ridiculous to assert that such a strange doctrine was of spontaneous origin in different parts of old and new worlds.” — Mackenzie, Myths of Pre-Columbian America.
It is readily accepted that some twenty thousand years ago primitive Asians crossed the Bering Strait into North America and gradually moved south all the way to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
Diffusionists maintained that after this occurred civilized Asiatic people distributed themselves via the Pacific, thereby bringing civilization to the Americas. Isolationists insisted that after the nomadic tribes crossed the Bering Strait, a homogeneous race of “Indians of the Americas” was formed, and the American tribespeople then went about reinventing all culture, duplicating in two thousand years what originally took about six millenniums in the Old World.
Henry Charlton Bastian, author of The Evolution of Life (1907), presented the concept of physicochemical evolution, which gave strength to the isolationists. His theory advocated that the development of civilized man was a result of “a psychic unity of mankind,” rather than social contact. Bastian’s theory of elementargedanke influenced many anthropologists, and today, although the theory is not accepted, it is tacitly acknowledged as far as the conformities between America and Old World civilizations are concerned.3
This pseudo-evolutionist theory leaves much to be desired, and its unspoken acceptance casts doubt on the credibility of the anthropologists. After all, doesn’t it tax our credulity when we are asked to believe that a whole series of complicated techniques like casting by the lost wax method, the alloying of copper and tin, the coloring of gold by chemical processes, weaving, and tie-dyeing and batik were by some miracle invented twice, once in the Old World and again from scratch in the Americas? What mysterious psychological law would have caused Asians and Americans to both use the umbrella as a sign of royalty, to invent the same games, imagine similar cosmologies, and attribute the same colors to the different directions?
No archeologist today would attribute to prehistoric Europeans the independent invention of bronze casting, iron work, the wheel, weaving, pottery, writing, and so many other cultural elements that were derived from the Middle East. Similarly, the industrial developments in Britain were introduced from elsewhere within the European continent, not developed independently. What then would cause one to insist that what was not possible for the Europeans (duplicating culture independently) was possible for the American Indians? Especially when at the same time we are taught that the Europeans were of superior stock!
It was in 1949 that these opposing views met head-on at the Congress of the Americanists held in New York, which was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History. At that time, the diffusionists presented an overwhelming mass of Asiatic-Pacific-American parallels. Nonetheless, much of the diffusionists’ evidence continues to be ignored, and the isolationist view is more widely accepted. The reason for this may be more than empirical evidence or lack of the same. Indeed, it may be the faulty nature of the empirical approach, which depends on one’s imperfect senses and causes one to dismiss facts that do not conform with the prevailing worldview.
The Aryan civilization of India is a logical choice for the beginning of the diffusion of our planet’s civilization. American historian Will Durant, in his book Our Oriental Heritage , described India as the most ancient civilization on earth, and he offered many examples of Indian culture throughout the world. He demonstrated that as early as the ninth century b.c.e. Indians were exploring the sea routes, reaching out and extending their cultural influence to Mesapotamia, Arabia, and Egypt.
“Europe, after Guttenburg’s invention of the printing press, wasted no time in announcing the discovery of the New World. It was at this time that European historians began to present to the rest of the world that their land was the center of culture and civilization.”
Although modern-day historians and anthropologists might prefer to accept Egypt or Babylon as the most ancient civilization, due to various archeological findings, their theories are by no means conclusive. The popular theory in the academic community that the Aryans were an Indo-European stock, who spoke an unknown pre-Sanskrit language and only later invaded India subsequently occupying her, is also considerably lacking in supportive evidence. Indeed, there is very little evidence whatsoever for the postulated Aryan invasion of India. But perhaps it is easier for modern people to accept ancient Egypt and Babylon, whose ancient civilizations have no living representation and thereby do not pose any challenge to the status quo.
But India is alive and kicking. Prominent traces of ancient Vedic civilization can still be found today not only in India but outside her borders as well. The life science of ayurveda, yoga and meditation, and Sanskrit texts translated into modern languages are all prominent examples. If we recognize ancient India as a civilized spiritual giant, we will have to reckon with her modern-day representations. It is altogether possible that the Vedic theory, if thoroughly researched, poses a threat to many of the concepts of modern civilization and the current worldview, as can be seen by the fact that the Vedic literature and spiritual ideology loomed as the greatest threat to the British in their imperialistic conquest of India.
The Aryans’ footprints are found throughout neighboring Southeast Asia. They were skilled navigators and pioneers of many cultural developments. According to several sources, these Aryans ruled in Java, Bali, Sumatra, Borneo, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Annan, Burma, and Thailand until the fourteenth century. Even today, the kings of Thailand bear the title Rama after the Indian Ramraja (the perfect kingdom said to have been governed by the incarnation of Godhead Ramachandra). And the story of Ramayana is depicted on the palace walls in Bangkok.
Cambodia, the ancient Kamboja, boasts the largest temple complex in the world, named Ankor, from the Sanskrit language meaning “the capital city.” It was built in the ninth century c.e. in honor of the Hindu god Vishnu. The complex extends over an area more than twice the size of Manhattan and took thirty-seven years to complete. Its physical and spiritual grandeur is found elsewhere only in ancient Greece, Egypt, and among the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. Cambodia’s principle river is today called Me Kong, which some scholars say is derived from India’s Ma Ganga (Mother Ganges).
Vietnam, once called Champa, figures prominently as a stepping-stone in the story of India’s cultural expansion to the Americas. Furthermore, the Hindu state of Java was founded by the king of Kalinga (Orissa) in the first century c.e. Java is said to be the ancient Yava-Dveepa mentioned in the Ramayana and other Sanskrit texts. The Indonesian national flag flies the symbol of Garuda, the bird carrier of Vishnu. Garuda is also the national symbol of that country.
In 1949, two scholars, Gordon Ekholm and Chaman Lal, systematically compared the Mayan, Aztec, Incan, and North American Indian civilizations with the Hindu-oriented countries of Southeast Asia and with India herself. According to them, the emigrant cultures of India took with them India’s system of time measurement, local gods, and customs. Ekholm and Lal found signs of Aryan civilization throughout the Americas in art (lotus flowers with knotted stems and half-dragon/half-fish motifs found commonly in paintings and carvings), architecture, calendars, astronomy, religious symbols, and even games such as our Parcheesi and Mexican patolli, which have their origins in India’s pachisi.
Both the Hindus and the Americans used similar items in their worship rituals. They both maintained the concept of four yuga cycles, or cosmological seasons, extending over thousands of years, and conceived of twelve constellations with reference to the Sun as indicated by the Incan sun calendar. Royal insignias, systems of government, and practice of religious dance and temple worship all showed remarkable similarities, pointing strongly to the idea that the Americas were strongly influenced by the Aryans.
The temples of India (pict. 1-2) are built according to the ancient Vedic architectural science. There are striking similarities between Mayan temples and those in India. Pict. 3-4: Two Mayan temples from Palenque, Mexico and Central America.
Another scholar, Ramon Mena, author of Mexican Archeology , called the Nahuatl, Zapoteca, and Mayan languages “of Hindu origin.” He went on to say, “A deep mystery enfolds the tribes that inhabited the state of Chiapas in the district named Palenque. . . . Their writing, and the anthropological type, as well as their personal adornments . . . their system and style of construction clearly indicate the remotest antiquity. . . . [they] all speak of India and the Orient.”4
Still another scholar, Ambassador Poindexter, in his two-volume 1930s treatise The Arya-Incas, called the Mayan civilization “unquestionably Hindu.”
The Aztec culture in particular shows a striking resemblance to that of India. Aztecs divided their society into four divisions of both labor and spiritual status, as did the Hindus. In India, this system of government was known as varnashrama, or the division of society based on body types and mental dispositions resulting from past karma. As in Indian civilization, the Aztecs maintained a God-centered government in which people were employed in accordance with their natural karmic tendencies. The results of the labor of all the priests, administrators, mercantilists, and laborers were for the glorification of Godhead, who in turn was thought to provide for humankind.
Aztec boys were sent to school at the age of five, at which time they were put under the care of a priest and trained in various duties of temple life. The Aztec system of education bears a striking resemblance to the Indian system of gurukula, in which boys were sent to the care of a guru for spiritual and practical education. The Mayans and Incas had a similar approach to education, which was mainly a training for priestly service. Fanny Bandelier’s translation of Sahagun’s History of Ancient Mexico describes that the intellectually inclined boys were trained as “ministers to the idols.”
Girls were educated in the domestic arts at home and did not mingle with young boys. Even as late as the 1930s, there was no courtship between Mexican Indian girls and boys, as is still the case in village life in India today. From conception to education, marriage, death, cremation, and even the observance of the sati rite, there are overwhelming parallels between Indian society and the Americas. Further evidence of cultural ties between the East and West is found in the statues of American gods who show a striking resemblance to the Hindu deities of Hanuman, Shiva, Indra, Vishnu and others. Such statues have been found throughout the Americas, and many of them can be seen today in museums in Central America.
The Mexican Indians and the Incas of Peru were primarily vegetarians. They were of high moral character and hospitable and generous as a habit. They practiced astrology, and mental telepathy was common among them. It was perhaps their peace-loving disposition that, like the Hindus, allowed them to be ruled by Europeans. Unfortunately, the American Indians did not survive their cultural exchange with Europe. The Europeans, through book burning and bayonet, successfully “converted” them, leaving very little trace of their noble civilization.
And what about Europe? When merchants sailing from India brought delicious spices, aromatic perfumes, incense, fine silk, precious stones set in delicate and rare jewelry, complex craftsmanship of ivory, and many other goods never seen before by Europeans, the riches and mystique of that land captivated them. The stories told by many navigators about that land of wonder, where the palaces were built of varieties of marble rather than rush stone, decorated with beautiful sculptures and wooden inlay, made the Queen of Spain so covetous that she provided Christopher Columbus with all necessities for his famous journey. Columbus had heard of India’s riches through the writings of Marco Polo. Polo had written that India “was the richest and noblest country of the world.”5
Europe, after Guttenburg’s invention of the printing press, wasted no time in announcing the discovery of the New World. It was at this time that European historians began to present to the rest of the world that their land was the center of culture and civilization. In comparison to Indian society, however, the Europeans were rather crude. The ominous age of the Inquisition, with its persecution and fanaticism, the use of mechanical devices to insure the “chastity” of its women, the exploitation of the serfs, and self-destructive habits, such as indiscriminate eating and alcoholism within the higher classes, are all evidence of this. The original Palace of Versailles in Paris, although certainly a unique architectural creation requiring genius, was built without a single bathroom. Louis XIV and his court are said to have evacuated behind curtains, cleaning themselves with the same. The king was in the habit of substituting soap with Indian perfume and waited until his thirty-fifth birthday before he took his first complete bath.
When Europe was still uncivilized, Indian culture, as well as American culture, was highly advanced. When Europeans were still cave dwellers and nomads wandering from place to place subsisting through hunting, some American peoples were plowing fields and baking bread and dressing in cotton, the seeds for which came from India. The subtlety of Indian society, both eastern and western, marks its superiority to Europe. It was a subtlety of spiritual outlook that Europeans failed to appreciate.
The Dresden Codex, one of the few Mayan hieroglyphic manuscripts that survived the book-burnings by Spanish invaders, documents astronomical calculations of the planed Venus. Large numbers of codices were compiled by the Mayan priests to record religious rites and astronomical facts. (Sachsische Landesbibliothek, Dresden, East Germany.)
The industrial revolution of Europe was prompted by India’s cotton, which competed with European wool. Later when the popularity of cotton products imported from India increased, the Europeans began to manufacture cotton in mills. Thus it was even an Indian resource that prompted Europe’s claim to fame — the beginning of modern technology.
It is altogether possible that the Vedic theory, if thoroughly researched, poses a threat to many of the concepts of modern civilization and the current worldview .
Several ancient cultures of the Americas were more spiritually attuned than the Europeans. They also lived with great regard for nature. Many people today are searching out the spirituality of the Americas, a spirituality that was lacking in Europe and is now lacking throughout the world. The Christ’s teachings were most certainly tainted with misunderstanding of that great savior’s message of love. And he too is said to have been influenced by India’s spirituality. His appearance in the world for that matter is mentioned in India’s Bavishya Purana long before the virgin birth took place.
The theory that India, Mother India, is the earthly source of spirituality can be to some extent supported by the fact that India is still today the most religious country in the world, with a theology that dates back to antiquity. The idea that she is the source of civilization as well, although supporting evidence is available, will ultimately require that modern man reevaluate what constitutes civilization before it gains wider acceptance.
- Wilfred Cantwell Smith,”Theology of the World’s Religious History,” Toward a Universal Theology of Religion, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y. (1987) p.69.
- Kana Mitra, “Theologizing Through History?” Toward a Universal Theology of Religion, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y. (1987), p.82.
- Dr. Robert Heine Geldern, “Challenge to Isolationists,” Hindu America, Chaman Lal, Zodiac Press, New Delhi, (1940) Introduction p.vii.
- Ibid., p. 14.
- Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo (The Venitian), revised from Marsden’s translation and edited with introduction by Manuel Komroff, Livright Pub, (1956) p.201.
William Mccgillivray, The Travells and Research of Alexander von Humbolt, Harper Bros. N.Y. (1872).
Henry Charles Bastian, The Evolution of Life. E.P. Dutton & Co. N.Y. (1907).
Gordon Ekholm, Excavations At Sinaloa, American Museum of Natural History, N.Y. (1942).
Gordon Ekholm, Excavations at Lampico and Panuco in the Hausteca, American Museum of Natural History N.Y. (1944).
Reprinted from Clarion Call Magazine (1988) with permission.
Another paper on the subject is:
Will Durant, eminent American historian, in his book Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage, described India as the most ancient civilization on earth and he offered many examples of Indian culture throughout the world. He demonstrated that as early as the ninth century B.C. E. Indians were exploring the sea routes, reaching out and extending their cultural influences to Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt.
Although modern-day historians and anthropologists might prefer to accept Egypt or Babylon as the most ancient civilization, due to various archaeological findings, their theories are by no means conclusive.
The New Zealand pre historian, S. Percy Smith, tries to show in his Hawaiki – the Original home of the Maori that the ancient Polynesian wanderers left India as far back as the fourth century B.C. and were daring mariners who made, more often than not, adventurous voyages with the definite object of new settlements. A people who reached as far east as Easter Island could not have missed the great continent ahead of them.
Baron Alexander von Humbolt (1769-1859), an eminent European scholar and anthropologist, was one of the first to postulate the Asiatic origin of the Indian civilizations of the Americas. He found that the systematic study of ancient American cultures and was convinced of the Asian origin of the American-Indian high civilization.
He said: «if languages supply but feeble evidence of ancient communication between the two worlds, their communication is fully proved by the cosmogonies, the monuments, the hyeroglyphical characters and the institutions of the people of America and Asia». (India and World Civilization – By D. P. Singhal).
Swami B. V. Tripurari asks, «What mysterious psychological law would have caused Asians, and Americans to both use the umbrella as a sign of royalty, to invent the same games, imagine similar cosmologies, and attribute the same colours to the different directions?».
Dr. Robert Heine Geldern anthropologist, has written that
«Those who believe the ancient peoples of Asia were incapable of crossing the ocean have completely lost sight of what the literary sources tell us concerning their ships and their navigation. Many of the peoples of South-eastern Asia had adopted Indian Hindu-Buddhist civilizations. The influences of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of southeast Asia in Mexico and, particularly, among the Maya, are incredibly strong, and they have already disturbed some Americanists who don’t like to see them but cannot deny them».
«Ships that could cross the Indian Ocean were able to cross the Pacific too. Moreover, these ships were really larger and probably more sea-worthy than those of Columbus and Magellan.>>
The Periplus of the Erythraean sea mentions the large ships of Southern India which engaged in trade with the countries of the East. A Chinese source of the third century A.D. describes vessels from Southern Asia which were 150 feet in length, and had four masts and were able to carry six to seven hundred men and one thousand metric tons of merchandise when the Buddhist Pilgrim Fahien returned from Sri Lanka to China, in 414 A.D.».Geldern, in collaboration with Gordon F. Ekholm, said:
«Ships of size that carried Fahien from India to China (through stormy China water) were certainly capable of proceeding all the way to Mexico and Peru by crossing the Pacific. One thousand years before the birth of Columbus Indian ships were far superior to any made in Europe up to the 18th century» (The Civilizations of Ancient America: The Selected Papers of the XXIXth International Congress of Americanists).
Sir William Jones (Asiatic Researches – Volume I). (1746-1794) judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, was one who pioneered Sanskrit studies. His admiration for Indian thought and culture was almost limitless. He has remarked: «Rama is represented as a descendant from the sun, as the husband of Sita, and the son of a princess named Kauselya. It is very remarkable that Peruvians, whose Incas boasted of the same descent, styled their greatest festival Rama-Sitva; whence we may take it that South America was peopled by the same race who imported into the farthest of parts of Asia the rites and the fabulous history of Rama»
Sir Stamford Raffles, the British historian, and founder of Singapore as a British colony, expressed a similar view when he wrote that «the great temple of Borobudur in Java might readily be mistaken for a Central American temple» (India: Mother of Us All -chaman lal). https://www.amazon.com/India-Mother-All-Chaman-Lal/dp/8188643416/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504526533&sr=8-1&keywords=india+mother+of+us+all
Edward Pococke (India in Greece) (1604–1691), English Orientalist, has written:
«The Peruvians and their ancestors, the Indians, are in this point of view at once seen to be the same people»
Ambassador Miles Poindexter (The Ayar-Incas)
«Aryan words and people came to America by the island chains of Polynesia. The very name of the boat in Mexico is a South Indian (Tamil) word: Catamaran».
Dr. B. Chakravarti (The Indians And The Amerindians) has written:
«It will be evident from a close study of the texts of Indian Astronomy that Latin America was known to ancient Indians, who called it Pataladesha. The Surya Siddhanta, a textbook of Astronomy, composed before 500 A.D. identifies and describes Pataladesha in very clear and definite terms in the chapter of geography (chapter XII)».
The celebrated astronomer Bhaskaracarya mentions the time difference between the important cities situated in different parts of the world in his Siddhanta Siromani (Goladhyaya) thus:
«When the sun rises at Lanka, the time as at Yakakotipura to the east of Lanka, will be midday. Below the earth at Siddhapura, it will be twilight then, and at Romakadesa in Europe, the time will be midnight»
From such location of places round the globe and the movement towards the east, it appears that many Indian merchants used to sail frequently and some even settled down in Indonesia and Indochina, who used to relay on to Polynesia and then further on to South or Middle America, may be not a single ship and in a single effort, but after stopovers at the important ports on the other islands-chain of which seems to have existed then and some of which submerged later because of tectonic movements. It seems that some contact with the cities mentioned by Bhaskaracharya might have existed till his time.
Alexander von Humboldt, who spent fifty years doing research on Ancient America, said:
«It is surprising to find, toward the end of the fifteenth century, in a world that we call “New” the ancient institutions, the religious ideas, the forms of edifices which, in Asia appear to belong to the first dawn of civilization».
Those Indian ships that carried Fahien the Chinese historian and scholar through stormy China waters could without difficulty proceed all the way to Mexico and other countries. A thousand years before the birth of Columbus Indian ships could carry hundreds of passengers.
Donald A. Mackenzie (Myths of Pre-Columbian America)
«Tezcatlipoca, was like Hindu god Kubera, was a god of the north. The story of Yappan appears to be of Indian origin. The story of the temptation and fall of Yappan is too like that of the temptation and fall of his Indian prototype to be of spontaneous origin in the New World. The conclusion drawn from the evidence of the Yappan myth that Hindu cultural influences reached America is greatly strengthened when we find Acosta informing us that certain Mexican ascetics, who assisted the priests, “dressed in white robes and lived by begging”.The wandering Brahmin and Buddhist pilgrims in India similarly begged their food».
When Cortes invaded the valley of Mexico he found that the Mexicans had the same word for God that he himself had. His own (Spanish) was Dios, from Greek Theos, the Mexican, as Cortes converted it to writing, was Teotl (Devata or Deva in Sanskrit).
The Indian myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean reached America. In Codex Cortes there is a grotesque but recognizable Maya representation of the ocean churning. The tortoise, however, is on the summit of the mountain-pestle instead of being beneath it, and the other form of the serpent god appears above his avatar. Round the mountain-pestle is twisted a snake, called “a rope” by Seler. Two dark gods, like the Indian Asuras, hold one end of the snake-rope while the other end is grasped by the elephant headed god. To the rope is attached a symbol of the sun (Kin).
The American writer and explorer, Mr. John L. Stephens, who, accompanied Mr. Catherwood, an accomplished artist, visited the ruins of Maya civilization in Central America in the middle of last century, detected the elephant on a sculptural pillar at Copan, which he referred to as an ‘idol’. A reproduction of one of the ornaments in question should leave no doubt as to the identity of the animal depicted by the ancient American sculptor. It is not only an elephant, but an Indian elephant (Elephas Indicus), a species found in India, Ceylon, Borneo and Sumatra. In India the elephant was tamed during the Vedic period. It was called at first by the Aryo-Indians “the beast having a hand”. and ultimately simply Hastin “having a hand”. An elephant keeper was called Hastipa. The Maya long nosed god is regarded by those who favour the hypothesis of direct or indirect Indian cultural influence in America as a form of the Indian elephant-headed god, Ganesha.
Professor Elliot Smith comments: «If it has been possible for complicated games (like Pachissi) to make their way to the other side of the Pacific, the much simpler design of an elephant’s head could also have been transferred from India or to the Far East to America» (Myths of Pre-Columbian America – By Donald A. Mackenzie).
Discussing the diffusion of Indian religions to Mexico, a recent scholar, Paul Kirchhoff from the University of Frankfurt, had even suggested that it is not simply a question of miscellaneous influences wandering from one country to the other, but that China, India, Java, and Mexico actually share a common system. Kirchhoff has sought «to demonstrate that a calendaric classification of 28 Hindu gods and their animals into twelve groups, subdivided into four blocks, within each of which we find a sequence of gods and animals representing Creation, Destruction and Renovation, and which can be shown to have existed both in India and Java, must have been carried from the Old World to the New, since in Mexico we find calendaric lists of gods and animals that follow each other without interruption in the same order and with attributes and functions or meanings strikingly similar to those of the 12 Indian and Javanese groups of gods, showing the same four subdivisions».
Trilokinath, the Hindu ruler of the three worlds, was known to the Mexicans by the name, until the Spanish conquerors mistakenly changed the name into Tloque Nahuaque.
In a temple in Guatemala is a statue of an incarnation of Vishnu as Kurma, the tortoise. The sculpture is richly detailed and strongly suggests that it might have been wrought by Hindu hands.
In Palenque Temple of the Sun in Mexico Surya occupies the place of honor.
Even Yama, the god of death of Hindu mythology, has found his way to Mexico and Peru, while typically Hindu lotus and chakras motifs adorn the temples. Maya and Aztec architectural styles are remarkably similar to those in India and South east Asia. In both areas the chief structures were pyramid shaped, with serpent balustrades and surmounted
Sir Edward B. Taylor (Early History of Mankind). also found the counterparts of the tortoise myth of India in ancient America. «The striking analogy between the tortoise myth of North America and India is by no means a matter of new observation; it was indeed noticed by Father Lafitan nearly a century and half ago. Three greatest features of the Asiatic stories are found among the North American Indians in their fullest and clearest development»
The Mexican doctrine of the World’s Ages – the universe was destroyed four consecutive times – is reminiscent of the Indian Yugas. Even the reputed colours of these Mythical four ages, white, yellow, red and black are identical with and in the same order as one of the two versions of the Indian Yugas.
In both myths the duration of the First Age is exactly the same, 4,800 divine years. The Mexican Trinity is associated with this doctrine as in the Hindu Trinity with the Yugas in India.
Donald A. Mackenzie writes in his book, Myths of Pre-Columbian America: «The doctrine of the World’s Ages (from Hindu Yugas) was imported into Pre-Columbian America…the Mexican sequence is identical with the Hindus… The essential fact remains that they were derived from a common source… It would be ridiculous to assert that such a strange doctrine was of spontaneous origin in different parts of the Old and New Worlds». According to the Mayan calendar, which is extant, the time record of the mayas began on 6 August 613 B.C. It is an exact date based upon complex astronomical calculations, and prolonged observations. To work out this kind of elaborate calendar must have taken well over two thousand years of studying stars, and the Asiomericans must have been remarkably shrewd observers.
Donald A. Mackenzie and other scholars, however, are of definite opinion that the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians were familiar with Indian mythology and cite in support close parallels in details. For instance, the history of the Mayan elephant symbol cannot be traced in the local tradition, whereas it was a prominent religious symbol in India.
The African elephant has larger ears. It is the profile of the Indian elephant, its tusk and lower lip, the form of its ear, as well as its turbaned rider with his ankus, which is found in Meso-American models. Whilst the African elephant was of little religious significance, it had been tamed in India and associated with religious practices since the early days.
Chacla in Mayan refers to force centers of the body similar to the chakras of the Hindu Tantra. K’ultanlilni in Mayan refers to the power of God within man which is controlled by the breath, similar in meaning to kundalini.
Mayan chilambalam refers to a sacred space, as does Tamil Chidambaram. Yok’hah in Mayan means “on top of truth”, similar to yoga in Sanskrit.
The Makara motif, a serpent head with upturned snout and with a human face in its mouth, from India, Java, Bali and Sumatra, is comparable to the Mexican Xiuhcoatl, the fire serpent on the Aztec Sun Stone.
All sorts of architectural elements are common to Mexico, Gautemala, India, Java and Indo-China, the most striking of which are the pyramids with receding stages, faced with cut stone, and with stairways leading to a sanctuary on top, also of stone; in many there are surprising common traits such as serpent columns and banisters, vaulted galleries and corbeled arches, attached columns, stone cut-out lattices, and Atlantean figures, which are typical of Punuc style of Yucatan. The most striking and highly specialized of these traits is the lotus motif interspersed with seated human figures common to Chichen-Itza and Amaravati, southern India. Amaravati is dated about the second century of our era, but it exercised a powerful influence over the Hindu-Buddhist art of Cambodia, Champa, and even modern Bali. It is significant that temple pyramids in Cambodia do not antedate the eighth century, and only become important in the ninth and tenth centuries, a time coinciding with the beginning of the Puncu period of Yucatan according to Heine-Geldern and Ekholm, 1951.
The buildings of Chichen Itza show certain influences from Southeast Asia; for example, the lotus motif occurs in the Mercado (covered market). The Mercado is strikingly reminiscent of the galleries so typical of the Cambodian architecture that eventually blossomed into the galleries of Angkor Vat. The lotus motif, interspersed with seated human figures, which has a deep symbolic meaning in Hindu and Buddhist mythologies and as such is an integral part of early Indian art, especially of Amaravati, is found at Chichen Itza as a border in the reliefs of the lower room of the Temple of Tigers.
The similarity between the art of Amaravati and that of Chichen Itza is particularly noticeable in reclining figures holding on to the rhizome of the lotus.
The Mexican Lion-throne and Lotus-throne remind one of Indian Simhasana and Padmasana. The parasol, a mark of royalty amongst the Mayas, the Aztecs, and the Incas, may be an adaptation of the royal Chatra in us in India and Indianized Asia from the earliest times.
A kind of caste system prevailed amongst the Incas of Peru. Peruvians worshipped an omnipotent and invisible Supreme being, Viracocha, creator and preserver of the world. Imprints of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been noticed on the poetry of Peru. The official history of Mexico officially admits that «those who arrived first on the continent later to be known as America were groups of men driven by the mighty current that set out from India».
Lopez, Spanish author of The Aryan Races in Peru writes : “Every page of Peruvian poetry bears the imprint of Ramayana and Mahabharata».
In Indian art the lotus rhizome frequently protrudes from the mouths of makaras, sea monsters with fish-like bodies and elephants-like trunks. At Chichen Itza, stylized figures of fish are found at both ends of the lotus plant, in the same position as the makaras in India. Such a combination of highly specific details cannot be accidental. It suggests the existence of some kind of relationship between Maya art and not only Buddhist art in general, but the school of Amaravati of the second century A.D. in particular.
In 1866, the French architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, noted striking resemblances between ancient Mexican architectural structures and those of South India.
The only plausible argument against cultural diffusion from southern Pacific is the distance involved. It is asserted that it would have been unlikely for a large number of people to have crossed the vast expanse of the Pacific without well-equipped boats and skilful voyagers. The argument, however, falls, upon close scrutiny. It would not be at all difficult for a large canoe or catarmaran to cross from Polynesia to South America even at the present time, and the ancient Asians were skilled and enterprising seafaring men.
However, Asian ability to cross the seas during this period is undoubted. The art of shipbuilding and navigation in India and China at the time was sufficiently advanced for oceanic crossings. Indian ships operating between Indian and South-east Asian ports were large and well equipped to sail cross the Bay of Bengal. When the Chinese Buddhist scholar, Fa-hsien, returned from India, his ship carried a crew of more than two hundred persons and did not sail along the coasts but directly across the ocean. Such ships were larger than those Columbus used to negotiate the Atlantic a thousand years later. According to the work of mediaeval times, Yukti Kalpataru, which gives a fund of information about shipbuilding, India built large vessels from 200 B.C. to the close of the sixteenth century.
A Chinese chronicler mentions ships of Southern Asia that could carry as many as one thousand persons, and were manned mainly by Malayan crews. They used western winds and currents in the North Pacific to reach California, sailed south along the coast, and then returned to Asia with the help of the trade winds, taking a more southerly route, without however, touching the Polynesian islands.
In ancient times the Indians excelled in shipbuilding and even the English, who were attentive to everything which related to naval architecture, found early Indian models worth copying. The Indian vessels united elegance and utility, and were models of fine workmanship. It was also known that in the third century a transport of horses, which would require large ships, reached Malaya and Indo-China.
Professor Ramon Mena, curator of the National Museum of Mexico and author of Mexican Archaeology, called the Nahuatl, Zapoteca, and Mayan languages “of Hindu origin”.
He went to say, «A deep mystery enfolds the tribes that inhabited the state of chiapas in the district named Palenque… their writing, and the anthropological type, as well as their personal adornments… their system and style of construction clearly indicate the remotest antiquity… (they) all speak of India and the Orient». «The (Maya) human types are like those of India. The irreproachable technique of their reliefs, the sumptuous head-dress and ostentatious on high, the system of construction, all speak of India and the Orient».
A. L. Krober has also found striking similarities between the structure of Indo-European and the Penutian language of some of the tribes along the north-western coast of California. Recently, an Indian scholar, B. C. Chhabra, in his Vestiges of Indian Culture in Hawaii has noticed certain resemblances between the symbols found in the petroglyohs from the Hawaiian Islands and those on the Harappan seals. Some of the symbols in the petroglyphs are described as akin to early Brahmi script.
Indeed, the parallels between the arts and culture of India and those of ancient America are too numerous and close to be attributed to independent growth. A variety of art forms are common to Mexico, India, Java, and Indochina, the most striking of which are the Teocallis, the pyramids, with receding stages, faced with cut stone, and with stairways leading to a stone sanctuary on top.
Many share surprisingly common features such as serpent columns and bannisters, vaulted galleries and corbeled arches, attached columns, stone cut-out lattices, and Atlantean figures; these are typical of the Puuc style of Yucatan. Heine-Geldern and Ekholm point out that temple pyramids in Cambodia did not become important until the ninth and tenth centuries, a time coinciding with the beginning of the Puuc period.
If the history of pre-Columbian America, is obscure, it is because after the Spanish conquest, the first Bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumarraga, burned all the records of the Library of Texcoco in Tlateloco market square as “the work of the Devil”, and religious fanatics destroyed temples and statues. Zumarraga, gloating over his success, wrote to his superiors in 1531 that he alone had five hundred temples razed to the ground and twenty thousand idols destroyed.
Fray Diego de Landa, the second Bishop of Yucatan, following the pattern, reduced the Maya Library in Yucatan to ashes in 1562. Post-Columbus history of America for 300 years was the story of ruthless destruction and fanatics like Bishop Diego da Landa burnt a huge bonfire of valuable documents and nothing but the three codices of ‘Chilam Balam’ could survive the holocaust. He wrote Relación de las cosas de Yucatán, A Narrative of the Things of Yucatan in 1566, Therein the states, «We found a large number of their books of these letters, and because they did not have anything in which there was not superstition and falsehoods of the devil, we burned them all, which they felt very sorry for and which caused them grief» (Proof Vedic Culture’s Global Existence – By Stephen Knapp).
Landa, in his religious zeal, ordered all their idols destroyed and all Mayan books to be burned; he was surprised at the distress this caused the Indians. His orders to destroy all icons and hieroglyphics obliterated the Mayan language forever, helping to undermine and destroy the civilization he so vividly described.
It was Landa that gave the orders for all the Mayans to bring all manuscripts to the public squares in Mani to be burned. All these books contained what would now be priceless information on astronomy, medicine, religion, and philosophy. What Emperor Theodosious of Constantinople did to the library at Alexandria to save Christianity from the Greek and Oriental pagan knowledge deposited there, these priests did in Central America with similar motives but larger success.
The burning of manuscripts continued for decades. Soldiers were encouraged to ransack palaces, public buildings, and private houses to find manuscripts. Pablo Jose de Arriaga, the head of the Jesuit College in Peru, in almost unparalleled fanaticism, caused the systematic and wholesale destruction of all state archives, customs records, royal and imperial archives, codes of laws, temple archives, and historical records. Less than a score of manuscripts escaped annihilation. These libraries contained records of ancient history, medicine, astronomy, science, religion, and philosophy.
Beyond Mexico, the ancient Andean or Peruvian civilization also suffered an even worse fate at the hands of the Spainard’s than did their neighbours in Central America. The Spanish assault on the Incas, the Spanish avarice of gold, and barbarities perpetrated in the wake of victory, including the inhuman tortures publicly inflicted on the Inca King, Atahuallpa, are illustrations of savagery seldom surpassed in history.
Most people believe that Asiomericans were uncivilized hordes with an occasional freak of knowledge, who had contributed nothing of permanent value to civilization by 1492. Despite a good deal of information to the contrary, there is resistance to accepting a change in this image. Misconceptions multiply fast but die slowly.
The Devastation of the Indies – by Bartholome de Las Casas – excerpts — «The Devastation of the Indies is an eyewitness account of the first modern genocide, a story of greed, hypocrisy, and cruelties so grotesque as to rival the worst of our own century. Las Casas writes of men, women and children burned alive “thirteen at a time in memory of Our Redemeer and his twelve apostles”. He describes butcher shops thttp://www.arianuova.org/en/india-and-the-americashat sold human flesh for dog food (“Give me a quarter of that rascal there”, one customer says, “until I can kill some more of my own”). Slave ship captains navigate “without need of compass or charts”, following instead the trail of floating corpses tossed overboard by the ship before them. Native kings are promised peace, then slaughtered. Whole families hang themselves in despair. Once fertile islands are tuned desert, the wealth of nations plundered, millions killed outright, whole people annihilated.
The papacy empowered the two crowns (Spanish and Portuguese) to conquer and even enslave pagans “inimical to the name of Christ”.
The Spaniards killed more Indians here in twelve years by the sword, by fire, and enslavement than anywhere in the Indies».
The archaeological remains of ancient Maya civilization of Mexico are lying scattered in the parts of Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco and eastern half of Chiapas as well as in the territory of Quintana Roo of the republic of Mexico. Covering an area of about 125,000 square miles, its traces are to be found in the western section of Honduras Republic, Peten and adjacent highlands of Guatemala and practically in the whole of Honduras.
Admiral Christopher Columbus mistakenly called the New World inhabitants as Indians. Although he corrected himself subsequently, the natives of Americas continued to be called ‘Indians’. During the course of his third journey, Columbus came into contact with ‘Maya’ people.
Many theories have been advanced by scholars to explain the origins of these American Indians and if there were any links between the ancient civilizations of the Old World and the New World. There are historians who believe that the American civilizations were purely native in origin and also those who maintain the theory of Asians crossing over through Bering Strait via Alaska and reaching the American continent some 12,000 – 15,000 years ago. However, the antiquity of American Indians remains shrouded in the veil of mystery. In spite of a great deal of investigations, explorations and deep study by scholars and innumerable historians during the last many centuries, what we know about pre-Columbus Americas is very little in comparison to what we do not know. To quote Glyn Daniel from his bookThe First Civilizations, «within 15 years, between 1519 to 1533, the Western world discovered and brutally destroyed three civilizations – the Aztecs of Mexico, Maya of Yuacatan and Guatemala and Inca of Peru».
The unique elaboration of the Mayan civilization has been a challenge to the imagination of explorers and students of history. The Mayans had attained the highest maturity in art, craft, sculpture and hieroglyphs. Innumerable theories exist about these ancient people. Their magnificent achievements in social, economic, political and religious fields, their calendar and hieroglyphic writings, reasons of the sudden collapse of their classic culture everywhere in Mesoamerica, the reality of ‘Kulkulkan Quetzal-Coatl’ myth are some of the riddles of Mexican history challenging modern research. The Maya Indians spent thousands of years in building their magnificent monuments and Mayapan, Palenque, Copan, Tikal, Kaminalijuyu and Piedras Negras were the centres where Mayan culture flourished in splendour. How and why these places were deserted in the past is still a mystery. Although modern scientists have achieved significant success in deciphering Maya calendar system, none has been able to decipher their hieroglyphic system of writing.
«Sri V. Ganapati Sthapati»,
read Deva Rajan’s fax to our Hawaii editorial office from Machu Picchu high in the rugged Andes Mountains of Peru, South America, «has just measured with tape, compass and a lay-out story pole, two ancient Incan structures at Machu Picchu: a temple and a residence. He has confirmed that the layout of these structures, locations for doors, windows, proportions of width to length, roof styles, degree of slopes for roofs, column sizes, wall thicknesses, etc., all conform completely to the principles and guidelines as prescribed in the Vastu Shastras of India. Residential layouts are identical to those found in Mohenjodaro. The temple layouts are identical to those that he is building today and that can be found all over India». These startling discoveries came during a March, 1995, visit of the master builder to the ancient Incan and Mayan sites of South and Central America. Ganapati Sthapati is India’s foremost traditional temple architect and perhaps the first true expert in sculpture and stone construction to personally examine these ancient buildings. To do so has been his dream since the 1960’s.
The fundamental principle of Mayan’s architecture and town planning is the “module”. Buildings and towns are to be laid out according to certain multiples of a standard unit. Floor plans, door locations and sizes, wall heights and roofs, all are determined by the modular plan. More specifically, Mayan advocated the use of an eight-by-eight square, for a total of 64 units, which is known as the Vastu Purusha Mandala. The on-site inspection by Sthapati was to determine if the Incan and Mayan structures did follow a modular plan and reflect the Vastu Purusha Mandala. He also intended to examine the stone working technology-his particular field of expertise.
Amidst the crowds, Sthapati, Deva and Thamby again unsheathed their tape measures and closely examined the Pyramid of the Castle. It too conformed to the Vastu Vedic principles of Mayan. The temple structure at the top was exactly 1/4th of the base. And the stepped pyramid design derived from a three-dimensional extension of the basic eight-by-eight grid system. The temple room at the top was also modular in design, with the wall thickness determining the size of doorways, location of columns, thickness of columns and the width and length of the structure.
As in Mayan buildings, Indians have been using lime mortar for all of their stone and brick buildings. This can been seen in the monumental creations in Mahabalipuram and also in the stone temples of Tanjor and Gangai Konda Choleasuram in Tamil Nadu. The outer surfaces were plastered, embellishments worked out in lime mortar, then painted. This method was strongest among the Mayas at Tikal and Uaxactún, where all of the structures once had a plaster coating painted with many colours.
Sri Ganapati Sthapati postulates, after deep thought from his journey to the land of the Mayans and a lifetime study of South Indian architecture, that Mayan, the divine architect of Indian tradition, came from Central America. Ancient Tamil literature speaks of lands to the south of India 30,000 years ago, at the time of the first Tamil Sangam. According to scientists 160 million years ago India did lie physically close to Africa, South and Central America, but has since moved away as a result of continental drift. At that date, it would have been dinosaurs and not Mayans who wandered from the Americas to India, but perhaps the time frame for the continental drift is not correct. Architecture aside, there are significant similarities between Hinduism and the native religions of both Africa and the Americas.
There are other explanations. The simplest is boats. In 1970 the Norwegian Thor Hyerdal sailed a reed boat from Africa to the Americas in 57 days using no modern equipment. The boat, Ra II, was built for him by the Aymaro Indians of Lake Titicaca, Peru, neighbours of the ancient Incans. The double-hulled catamarans of India are also capable of long sea voyages. Historians discount contact between ancient people, but many cultures, such as the ancient Hawaiians, had remarkable sea-faring skills.
Quoting Ethno-archaeologist Gordon F Ekholm…
“There are, of course, many problems concerning the kinds of evidence that have been presented in the area of transpacific contacts, but the principal difficulty appears to be a kind of theoretical roadblock that stops short our thinking about questions of diffusion or culture contact. This is true in anthropological thought generally, but the obstruction seems to be particularly solid and resistant among American archaeologists.”
(From Man Across the Sea; Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts, 1971, third printing 1976, Chapter 2, Diffusion and Archaeological Evidence, by Gordon Ekholm page 54)
Quoting Ethno-archaeologist Dr. Robert Heine Geldern…
“The influences of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of southeast Asia in Mexico and particularly, among the Maya, are incredibly strong, and they have already disturbed some Americanists who don’t like to see them but cannot deny them….Ships that could cross the Indian Ocean were able to cross the Pacific too. Moreover, these ships were really larger and probably more sea-worthy than those of Columbus and Magellan.
Some reading on the makara from the the plumed conch blog:
Other noteworthy books on this subject are Pacal’s Portal to Paradise at Palenque: The Inconography of India at Palenque by