New Perspectives on Ancient Indian History in the Context of Emerging Insights

By Come Carpentier de Gourdon, Vijayvaani.com, November 23, 2014

The basic notions of history inherited by western academia were influenced by what was regarded as “common sense” knowledge, even though it was explicitly or subconsciously shaped by biblical chronologies and the time “ceiling” that they set for the creation of the world. Nineteenth century positivists beginning with Auguste Comte built a theory of evolutionary progress starting from early religious societies, transiting through philosophically motivated ones and rising towards the ultimate scientific stage of human rationality. Both socialists and liberal thinkers generally held on to that vision of linear growth from quasi-animal origins through ever higher stages of intellectual complexity, industrialization and knowledge.

Archeological research seemed to confirm that the earliest civilizations had appeared in the Near and Middle East, cradle of the Old Testament, around 3000 years before the beginning of the Christian era and had expanded from there all over the world. Thus, as is often the case, religio-philosophical doctrines and contemporary scientific discoveries converged. In that instance the first ‘scientific’ western archeologists focused their efforts on Greece, Egypt and West Asia hoping to find verification for Biblical accounts.

Many ancient chronologies and traditions however, in West Asia and Egypt as in Iran, India, China, South and Central America as well as in Europe itself recorded the rise and fall of societies, cities and empires many millennia before that supposed “dawn of history” (1). However those reports were increasingly disregarded as the historical discipline became more ‘scientific” and reliant on original inscriptions and illustrations, verifiable precise dates, material artifacts and techniques such as the C14 dating method thought to be completely accurate. History was a largely self-contained area whose practitioners did not usually have access to other sciences and skills, such as astronomy, the knowledge of ancient botany, oceanography and climatology to derive their conclusions although they commonly invoked disputable or since discredited theories involving race, skin colour, phrenology and linguistics.

The advent of new research tools and the discovery of many then unsuspected archeological sites have already forced a review of many concepts long held to be definitive. To begin with, comparatively advanced civilizations are now known to have flourished more than seven or eight thousand years ago in various continents and they take us back to the dawn of our ongoing Holocene period, soon after the end of the last glacial age (2). Further, those civilizations did not exhibit a uniform pattern of growth but rather went through cycles of expansion, blossoming and decadence. Some died for good but most revived in a changed form or were absorbed and in a way reincarnated in other more or less related cultures.

Nowadays it is no longer clear that the “Holocene horizon” draws the limit of civilisation’s antiquity. Indeed, several physical indices and logical implications compel us to admit that powerful and sophisticated human cultures and even political states existed during the last glacial age and may have originated earlier. Such remains and records are to be found in Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Andes, Siberia and Central Asia, the Malayo-Indonesian region, Europe, China and South Eastern Africa to mention only the most striking evidence (3) although some of the chronological estimations are still vague and controversial while many historians predictably refuse in principle to revise long held beliefs or even consider facts that cannot be explained by current notions.

Evidence of two planet wide “extinction level events” that took place with the explosion of the Toba volcano in Indonesia about 71,000 years and at the end of the last ice age about 10,000 years back respectively, supports the contention that any civilization existing prior to those cataclysm must have been practically wiped out. Hominid species possibly older than homo sapiens sapiens such as the Denisovian and others have been recently discovered in prehistoric Asia and the Americas and they might well have built civilizations of their own in previous eras.

The Case for the Sindhu-Saraswati as a Cradle of Civilizations

One of the great civilizations that provides multiple proofs of its permanence since the dawn of the Holocene at least is the Northern Indian culture now often defined as the Saraswati-Sindhu civilization. In a large area of the subcontinent, South of the Himalayas and North of the Deccan, from modern day Afghanistan to the confines of Bengal, ruins of settlements, artifacts and traces of crops can be dated back several thousand years before the common era. (4)

Robin Bradley Carr (5) has persuasively argued in a well researched and reasoned work that civilization usually grows and expands around a large and fertile river valley and that, like the Nile, the Tigris, Euphrates, Yang Se Kiang, Hwang Ho, Amu Darya et al, the Indus, the now dried Saraswati, the Yamuna and the Ganges  provided a suitable environment for the very early rise and extensive development of a major civilizational complex that expanded to a much wider area, both in India and in contiguous areas of Iran, Arabia and Central Asia if not farther. That thesis may explain the spread of the “vedic” or “Indo-European” family of languages and cultures across Eurasia, all the way from the Tarim valley in Eastern Turkestan to Scandinavia and the Britannic islands.

Archaeology and the rich literary records handed down by the vedic and other Indic traditions coincide in revealing to us a practically uninterrupted history over more than eight thousand years (6). It is not the purpose of this paper to recapitulate the various scientific (astronomical, paleo-botanical, chrono-textual and so on) methods used to establish convincingly that some parts of the Vedas, especially the Rig Veda, already existed about 7000 BCE, the period from which material remains of human habitat, agricultural and artistic-industrial activity are being found with increasing abundance in the region of Northern India that the Vedas lyrically celebrate. The connection between the physical records unearthed in that area and the early literary creations associated with it is also becoming increasingly probable. There are ever more reasons to regard the Saraswati-Indus valley proto-historic society as a vedic or late vedic one.

We are now in possession of a body of evidence for the existence of an extensive, widespread, continuing proto-Indic or Hindu civilization which inspired and produced in the course of time the great epics, philosophical and religious treatises, legal texts and technical manuals that have made India famous worldwide. The well known linkages between the Indian subcontinent and the outlying Asian landmass, in particular with Indochina, the Indo-Malayan archipelago, Central and West Asia, Mongolia, China, Korea and Japan may then be suspected of being even older than previously thought.

Likewise, traces of contacts between ancient South Asia and  Eastern Africa, the Middle and Near East and Europe should be investigated with an open mind, taking into account the many references to outside contacts and outward migrations found in Vedic and post-Vedic texts, in the context of a new vision of world history as a cyclical succession of civilizations, often separated by long eclipses as a result of massive environmental disasters, politico-economic breakdowns and demographic collapses. The philosophy of history must take into account the concept of recursion so present in Indian cosmology, overarching the familiar notion of linear progression.

Such a perspective seems far more realistic than the outdated positivistic concept of occasionally faltering but constant upward progress presupposing a relatively young human species barely endowed with fifty or sixty centuries of history.

An Open System View of Life and Culture on Earth

While expanding our historical horizons to look much farther back in time than we have so far in conventional academic circles, we should also widen our geographical scope to a cosmological scale by accepting the possibility that the Earth is not a closed living system in a barren universe but rather that life, in both elementary and advanced intelligent forms travels and communicates at a galactic, if not an inter-galactic scale. That opening should enable us to better understand and conditionally consider the insights provided by many ancient texts, in India and in other nations, that refer explicitly to connections with and inputs of various kinds from other regions of the universe. Taking a new look at those testimonies or traditions may in turn unlock certain mysteries of the past that tend to be ignored or disregarded by most contemporary scholars.

One such enigma is the substantial and demonstrably ancient poetic, strategic and technical literature related to the theme of air and space flights and various sophisticated technologies in Vedic, classical and medieval India (7). The existence of  advanced scientific and technical civilizations in the distant past is  deemed impossible by most academics, given the lack of archaeological evidence but such an in-principle objection does not take into consideration the plausibility of contacts with other, more advanced civilizations either visiting the Earth from space and sharing some of their knowledge and instruments with our ancestors or having settled on this planet for more or less extended periods before departing or losing their own technical superiority for any reason.

Yet this is precisely what various venerable documents and oral traditions from India and other lands say (8). So far they have been regarded by modern academia as mythological legends or philosophical allegories, even when they contain factual technical descriptions, but we need to look beyond what such subjective “common sense” interpretations which are based on our prejudices about the “primitive past” vs. the highly developed and sophisticated modern humanity.

In conclusion, we need to define a new, larger framework for the planet’s history encompassing Fernand Braudel’s “tres longue duree” through multidisciplinary studies involving physical, natural and social sciences as well as an enlightened but faithful interpretation of ancient texts to discover convergences and corroborations.

Geology, genetics, paleo-astronomy, climatology, oceanography and pollenology are increasingly influencing our understanding of past evolution and many hitherto puzzling enigmas are being unraveled or are at least shedding some of their mystery although many secrets continue to elude us at the present state of knowledge (9). Naturally, much rigorous research must be carried out to test and validate all hypotheses with the fewest possible preconceptions. The Government of India should support and promote this undertaking through its various relevant agencies and help morally and financially private organizations such as I-SERVE in their work since they don’t suffer as much from the bureaucratic drawbacks and international peer pressures that affect most public bodies.

Notes

1)      Egyptian traditional chronology records dynasties dating back to 36620 years ago, according to the Turin Manuscript (Edward Malkowski in New Dawn).
a.     Sumerian annals (Apkallu list) contain a list of kings stretching over more than 200,000 years before the great flood (www.crystalinks.com/sumeriakinglist.html)
b.     Plato in the Critias situates the war between Atlantis and Athens some 9000 years before his time, or around 9400 BC.
c.      Indian Puranic records quoted by the first greek sources from Megasthenes list a line of kings beginning in 6776 BC with Manu or Dionysos in the greek account.
d.     See also the work of P Foster and A Toth (2001) on the antiquity and extent of the assumed original proto-Indo-European language.

2)    See available research and data on Gobekli Tepe (www.gobekli.info) , Catalhoyuk (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/catalhoyuk)
a.     Underwater remains of Doggerland (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/doggerland abd www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-18687504)
b. Sunken cities under Gulf of Khambat in India (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/marine_archeology_in_the_gulf_of_Khambat and archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/cambay
c.      New data on antiquity of Gizeh sphinx and pyramids in Egypt (sphinx dated 5600 to 7000 BC by J A West and R Schoch on the basis of geological analysis)
d.     For context see JF Jarrige and R H Meadows (1980), S Asthana (1985) and A Tosoni, H J Bandelt et al (2001) in American Journal of Human Genetics 69(4), T Kisivild, MJ Bamshad et al (1999) in Current Biology (9-22)

3)     Goraia Shornia in Siberia (mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/02/super-megalithic-site-found-in-russia)
a.     Sunduki site in Khakhassia, Russian Fderation - 16 000 years old according to Prof. V. Larichev (www.messagetoeagle.com/sunduki.php
b.     Ruins of Gunung Padang (estimated at 26000 years old by the head archeologist of the digs, Dr Natawidjaja), Indonesia (www.grahamhancock.com/civil.../Hancock69-mystery-lost-
c.      Pyramids, Bosnia, estimated to be 30,000 years old (www.bosnianpyramids.org)
d.     Ruins of Tiahuanaco in Bolivia (www.crystalinks.com/tiahuanaco.html and www.worldmysteries.com/mpl_6.htm

4)    See VS Shinde, T Osada et al (2008),S R Rao (1991)
a.     D N Pal (2008), J M Kenoyer New Perspectives on the Indus Tradition in Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization (Nalini Rao, ed. 2014), D Frawley (2001), D Frawley and NS Rajaram (2006), R Joshi (1994) in History of Humanity vol. 1, (UNESCO and Routledge) BB Lal (2009). E Bryant (2001), RS Bisht (1999) in The Dawn of Indian Civilization (GC Pande ed.)
b.     C N Nautiyal (2012) and K Mishra (2012) in Historicity of Vedas and Ramayana Eras, S Bala and K Mishra (eds.) I-SERVE

5)     R. Bradley Carr The Riverine Agricultural Argument for the Indo-European Nature of the Indus Valley Civilization in Sindhu-Saraswati civilization (ibid.)

6)    K D Abhyankar Antiquity of the Veda Calendar in Bull. Astron. Soc. Of India, 26
a.     A K Bhatnagar(2012) and K Mishra (2102) ibid. I-SERVE

7)     Several ancient and medieval texts in Samskrit and Prakrits may be mentioned, including the Rg and Yajur Vedas, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Vishnu, Skanda and Markandeya Puranas, the Arthashastra, Emperor Asoka’s rocks edicts at Kalsi, Girnar, Dhauli and others, the Paramatthajjyottika (6th century CE), the Harivamsa, the Samarangana Sutradhara (11th century C E), the Yantra Saraswa, the Vaimanika Prakarana, the Vimana Shastra, published by Dayananda trust in 1968 and G R Josyer in 1973 et al. Modern works on the subject include D K Kanjilal’s (1985) and various books by western authors as well. The multiplicity of texts dealing with this subject and in some cases the existence of relatively ancient original manuscripts kept in separate libraries across India and Tibet attest to the authenticity of the tradition and refutes claims that some of the more technical treatises on flight and other technologies must be recent forgeries or fabrications.

8)    The Bible in the Book of Genesis is one of several ancient texts that allude to “angels” (elohim, annunaki etc.) who came down from the sky and had intercourse with the daughters of men, begetting a race of giants. Similar accounts are found in Indian, Central Asian, Tibetan, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Northern European and American pre-columbian mythologies where those super-human beings are called gods or demi-gods. Plato likewise describes in Critias/Timaeus the descent of gods and their mingling with humans producing offspring. This widespread archaic traditional belief seems to reflect a common human memory of its origins and early past. Emperor Asoka’s aforesaid edicts specifically mention “aerial chariots and divine beings and forms” (vimanadasana astine devyani rupani).

9)    The list of unsolved mysteries surrounding past civilizations is long and possibly growing longer. Some examples are given by Michael Cremo and R L Thompson (1993) and Cremo (1999, 2008), Graham Hancock (1996, 1998, 2002, 2006)), i.e. the famous Piri Reis ancient maps, Erich von Daniken (1968, 1970, 1972, 1988), Klaus Dona (www.bibliotecapleiades.net/ciencia/esp_ciencia_life48.htm)et al. and not all have been explained, despite attempts to dismiss everything alleged by those authors). See also the enigmas surrounding the Serapeum in Egypt (www.khemitology.com), the nearby Cheops pyramids, the colossal platform of Baalbek in Lebanon, the Nazca lines and various cyclopean pre-Columbian buildings (Puma Punku, Sacsayhuaman et al.) of Peru and Bolivia whose construction must have required very advanced technologies and tools.

This paper is based on a presentation at the seminar organized and hosted by I-SERVE in New Delhi on November 1, 2014 on dates of chronology of Vedas and Itihasas

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