Why All Religions Are Not the Same, By Stephen Knapp

It is often said by some Hindu gurus and leaders that all religions are the same. But is this really the case? Naturally, anyone who studies religion can see many similarities between them. And if we are talking about getting closer to God and increasing our understanding and love for God, then what religion is not trying to do that? Who cannot go to a church, mosque, or temple and worship and bow to God in prayer? It is what many of us do no matter where we may be. So, what is the difference? Are not all religions the same?

 

SIMILAR FACTORS IN ALL RELIGIONS

We can all recognize how many of the moral principles that we follow are observed and recommended by all religions. For example: no matter whether we talk about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, or Zoroastrianism, they all recommend daily prayer. In Islam they are regulated to pray five times a day, while in Hinduism they chant the gayatri mantra three times a day. And in all religions they pray any time of day. All of these religions believe that God or the Absolute Truth is ultimately one, except Buddhism in which some sects do not except the soul or a God. They also believe that we are spiritual beings, and that we should become sincerely devoted to and develop love for God. They also recommend giving alms and doing welfare work for society. They also accept the idea of meditating or calling out the holy names of God, fasting, and remembering God, especially on their holy days.

All of these religions also advise pilgrimage, going to the holy places that are important to them. They also advise that followers be humble, honest, and tolerant in their religious practice, and compassionate to all living beings. Thus, several of these religions outline the ideal of being vegetarian. They all recommend, or at least advise the decrease of the consumption of alcohol and intoxicants, as well as the restriction of gambling. Monogamy in marriage is often considered the highest standard, and divorce is never recommended or is discouraged. Thus, there are many principles that are common amongst all religions. So, what is the difficulty?

The point is that it is often soothing to try to show how we could all live peacefully if we all focused on our similarities. Who in their right mind would not want that? It is certainly much easier than focusing on our differences. The core of each religion, meaning its ultimate purpose, is similar to others in that they all promote the increase in one’s devotion to God, being kind and compassionate to all, and give the principles to follow to live a good and moral existence. And for those who recognize these similarities, they all can easily come together and worship God in unity, and respect one another and their traditions. Yet, to actually find this kind of a situation with mutual respect seems quite rare. Not only do those of various religions separate themselves from others, but even within the same religion there can be many different sects that do not agree, or even fight to the death with one another. So, it seems that many religions do not agree with each other on the finer details, and at best may succeed at only tolerating one another while being quick to criticize the other. Quite honestly, it can be said that some of the most unsettling and warring factors created in this world are caused by religions and their attitudes and views toward one another. History has shown that the major focus of most wars has been the differences people perceive in one another’s religion. For example, the blood that has been spilt in the name of Jesus or Allah is inestimable. So, is there any chance that real harmony can exist between the various religions of the world?

Two factors that keep the world from being united is the presumption of racial superiority, and the desire to conquer and convert. This means that often times the status of religions is viewed by how much territory it controls, and how many converts it has made. If this is how religions view their success, then there is no way in hell that harmony will ever be created by religion. In fact, it turns them into nothing different than political parties vying for influence. Thus, they create hell on earth rather than being able to bring in the Kingdom of God, as some of them say they can.

The only way to breakthrough the barriers of distinction that seem to exist between us is with love. However, that love cannot be love of the body or one’s own society. It has to be better and higher than that. It has to be a spiritual love for all beings. The Dammapada (5-6) explains: “For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule. The world does not know that we must all come to an end here; but those who know it, their quarrels cease at once.”

Therefore, it is only the path of genuine spirituality that can bring us to a level higher than what ordinary religion offers. It has to be based on the transcendental principles of spiritual realization, not merely on the basics of moral foundations. And if you look into the teachings of most religions, such a lofty view of spirituality is not easily found. Thus, there is no question that they are not all the same.

 

SARVA DHARMA SAMBHAVA

Another part of this issue, at least amongst the Hindus, is the phrase “Sarva Dharma Sambhava,” which many people take to mean that all Dharmas or religions are the same, or are equal, or that they all are merely different paths that lead to the same goal. Thus, with this line of thought, any religion is as good as any other. When viewing the essence of religions, we may find this to be a fair assumption, with differences only in their outer superficialities. So, while using this form of logic, it should not matter if one is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, etc. But this is also a mistranslation if we analyze the phrase carefully.

We could say the same thing in regard to foods—that they are all the same. But are they really? Are they the same in every way? They are the same in that they are food, and the goal of food is to satisfy and nourish the body. So, are they all the same? Some food is Chinese, Italian, Mexican, French, Indian, etc. Plus, they are made using different ingredients, they come from different cultures, they have different tastes, and different effects on the body, and so on. There are specific variations which distinguish them in ways that make some people prefer certain foods over others. Thus, there is no way they are all exactly the same.

So, when it comes to understanding the meaning of Dharma, we have to be aware of its Sanskrit definition. The root of the word dharma comes from dhri, which means to uphold or maintain. The Sanskrit says dharayati iti dharmaha, which translates as “dharma is that which upholds.” However, not only what is supported is Dharma, but that which does the supporting is also Dharma, dhriyate iti dharmaha. So, Dharma consists of both the force that sustains as well as what is sustained. It can also be said that there is the path of Dharma as well as its conclusion, the object of Dharma, or what we are seeking, meaning the ultimate goal of life. So, Dharma is the means or path as well as the goal.

Dharma is also said to be the force which maintains the universe. Where there is Dharma there is harmony and balance individually, socially, and inter-galactically. Therefore, the path of Dharma brings about the harmony and contentment that is also another aspect of what we are seeking. In this way, we want harmony inwardly, in our own consciousness, but we also cannot have individual peace unless there is harmony or cooperation socially, amongst the masses. Without that, no one can have peace, unless you are completely outside the effects of society.

The practice of Dharma should be done not out of compulsion but out of love due to the perception of the Supreme in all living beings. With this motivation, Dharma can assist in preventing injury to others and treating each other respectfully. Dharma also means righteous conduct. This includes following social laws and proper moral activity and behavior. It encourages truthfulness of thought, word and deed. The point of which is to reach the goal of Dharma.

Dharma also means truth. So, we follow the path of Dharma to free ourselves from illusion and reach the ultimate Truth, which is the topmost reality, the spiritual strata. The Absolute Truth means the final philosophical goal and end of all knowledge, or Vedanta, which is God, the Supreme Being. So, when we want to attain liberation from material existence, then it becomes much easier to follow the path of Dharma and overcome the temptations of the temporary material world. Then we can let go of the illusory objects that are, in fact, hurdles on the path to Truth and God, and happiness in general.

Furthermore, doing what should not be done is called vidharma, which is a type of adharma or nondharmic activity. The conclusion, therefore, is that if we want happiness and peace we must learn how to live according to the path of Dharma. So, where there is no Dharma, there is disharmony and a state of being that is out of balance. And socially it means that without Dharma, there is a lack of cooperation, along with escalating quarrel and fighting. When we act against the law of Dharma, we disrupt the very harmony and cooperation that we want. In other words, we create a life for ourselves in which there is stress, confusion, discontent, and frustration, and even war. And when we feel this way, that becomes our contribution to the general social condition. It is the exact opposite of what we wish to attain. Thus, to live a life outside of Dharma means to work against ourselves. Therefore, we can conclude that if each and every religion really had Dharma as the basis of its teachings, and helped spread Dharma, there would be no conflict. But as we can plainly see, this is not the case.

 

With this analysis in mind, there are a few questions we should ask. For example:

  1. How many religions really offer true Dharma to its followers?
  2. How many really uphold the principle of Dharma within its teachings?
  3. How many truly offer mutual respect for others, even those who are outside their own religion?
  4. How many actually teach the ways to provide balance and harmony throughout society, rather than dividing people into false classifications, such as those who are “saved” and those who are hell-bound, kafirs, infidels, disbelievers, etc?
  5. How many so-called religions actually spread adharma or nondharmic activities, such as the needless killing of useful animals like cows and bulls, or the Brahman class of society who help preserve the Dharmic traditions, or who try to unnecessarily criticize other religions in their attempt to gain converts?

 

This makes it more obvious that not all religions promote Dharma, nor live up to the saying of  “Sarva Dharma Sambhava.” And understanding this should cut down on the confusion that makes some people think that all religions are the same, or are equal.

What this phrase actually refers to are the other sects within the Vedic fold. Sanatana-dharma or the Vedic path has various schools of Vedanta; including Vaishnavism, Saivism, Saktism, etc. It has various creeds, and the Vedic path accommodates all types of men. This is the glory and liberality of the Dharmic process which provides spiritual guidance for all. Thus, no one is considered a non-believer or hell-bound when they are only taking up different levels of their spiritual quest through some aspect of the Vedic teachings. Therefore, Dharma means an inclusive spiritual process, not an exclusive system which considers only certain people being eligible to participate, or that only those who follow the dogma of a certain religion are eligible for heaven or the promised land. Therefore, Dharma in the phrase of “Sarva Dharma Sambhava” really means the different schools of thought, lineages, or paramparas within the Vedic fold, those that actually know and contain the principles of true Dharma. It does not mean that every religion throughout the world is the same or propagates true Dharma or deep spirituality. This is something we need to clearly understand.

A religion may indeed have some level of Dharma in it, and similarities they all should share, as we have previously analyzed. But you may have to cut through so many layers of externals before you reach it. These layers may include forms of politics, prejudice toward outsiders or “nonbelievers” of other religions, or ethnic superiority, or the feeling that they are the only true followers of the only true faith, the only ones who are really saved or who understand the teachings given by God at the exclusion of everyone else, and so on. Somewhere in all that there may be some genuine Dharma, but by the time you reach it, and many never do, there may already be too many corruptions or perversions in the teachings to see the core of what it was meant to be, unless you have been educated in a system that allows you to know and recognize genuine spirituality beforehand, which also is rarely the case. Thus, the differences between religions can be glaringly obvious, and are what many people cling to, and are held more firmly than some people would care to admit.

Furthermore, if a religion has too much rajo-guna or tamo-guna, meaning too much of the mode of passion and ignorance in it, then it keeps a person bound to that level of consciousness, imprisoned by the dictates of a mere belief system or a rigid dogma rather than a spiritual process that can bring a person to the ultimate freedom of spiritual self-realization. This is the danger. In this case, such a religion certainly cannot bring one to the level of sattva-guna or to the mode of goodness from which one can progress to the level of sudha-sattva, or the quality of pure goodness of the spiritual dimension. It is no longer a process for reaching total freedom up to and including moksha, or liberation from all material existence, but instead keeps one bound to the realm of samsara, repeated births and deaths in the material creation regardless of how pious that person may be.

 

ALL RELIGIONS ARE REALLY NOT THE SAME

So, let’s face the truth, in spite of many similarities in their core purpose, each religion offers very different views of themselves, of other religions, of those who do not follow their particular path, as well as different views of God and the purpose of life. Plus, they are often quick to create and show deep boundaries between each other at the slightest provocation.

One of the most important points is that if we look closely, we can easily recognize that each religion certainly brings their followers to different levels of understanding and consciousness, both materially and spiritually. Which level of consciousness they attain will make a great deal of difference in how they perceive themselves in relation to others. They will have different ideas on what is their spiritual identity, on who or what is God, how to please Him, and what His attitude is toward His followers and who are not considered to be His followers, at least according to the dictates of that particular religion.

Furthermore, like I said, some Hindu gurus say that all religions are the same, but you really never hear the authorities of other religions say that. Who among the Christians, Muslims, Jews, or even the Buddhists say that all religions are the same? Some big preachers from non-Hindu religions even vehemently disagree with that point and not only disrespect those of other religions, but say they are all condemned to hell in the eyes of their God. Well, isn’t that a soothing thought? This is also why an increasing number of people are giving up the conventional forms of religion and taking up what can be called spirituality, which can be more personal and not tied to the dictates of a dogma. Why would someone do this? Obviously, they want to continue in their own development without being a part of all the trouble, divisiveness, and quarrel that comes from holding an allegiance toward one particular religion. Freedom to think, ask, inquire, investigate, and experience what we want in our spiritual quest certainly begins to make more sense than to be tied to the obligation of accepting a dogma in order to be accepted by the church or mosque or institution for getting to heaven, if you believe in such a thing.

Another point is that some people think the Hindu sages of old said that truth is one, but the paths to it are many. So, again we have a misunderstanding that keeps some Hindus thinking all religions are equal. However, once again that is not accurate. The real saying is “ekam sat, vipra bahuda vadanti,” that truth is one, but the names for it are many. This means something else entirely. Thus, it becomes obvious that different religions also prescribe different ways to reach God, or attain heaven, or whatever it is they promise people. And each religion thinks that they offer the one true and only way, as if they have a patent or copyright on the process and teachings, as if God spoke only one time to one person and no one else, and now that person is the only representative of God that we must all follow, or go to eternal damnation. Here again is only mankind projecting their own weaknesses into their conception of God. And when that is the case, there is no end to the variations or differences in religions.

To get a better idea, let us compare some of the differences in religions that we can easily recognize.

DIFFERENT FACTORS IN VARIOUS RELIGIONS

  • One book or many. Here we can start with the fact that the Christians have their Bible, composed of a variety of books, divided into the Old and New Testament. Then we have the Koran for the Muslims, and a few other books for the Jews. While in the Vedic system we practically have a whole library that takes a person through many levels of understanding the Absolute Truth. These include the Vedas, like the Rig, Atharva, Yajur, and Atharva, then the Upanishads, Vedantasutras, Ramayana, Mahabharata of which the classic Bhagavad-gita is a chapter, then the 18 major and 18 minor Puranas, the various Agamas, and others. Thus, there are differences in the religions from the start.
  • One savior or many. Again we see that the Vedic system provides a variety of teachers, gurus, prophets, as well as avataras of God to help guide humanity at different times throughout history. While in the conventional religions there is one God, one savior, one main messenger and no one else, and you either believe in him, or you are as good as condemned.
  • One God or many forms. In the Vedic tradition there are many forms of God, many descensions or avataras of God, all of whom show the pastimes, characteristics and qualities of the one Supreme Being. But in other religions, they do not accept this. In fact, they do not even know any descriptive form of God. You ask them what God looks like, and they are not sure. They may say something about His character, but even very little of that. And Christianity says that God appears only as Jesus, or maybe a great cloud over a mountain, a dove, or something in a figurative sense. Islam, on the other hand, does not present any form of God, nor does Judaism.
  • One God, or Brahman, Paramatama and Bhagavan. In the Vedic system, these are the three aspects of God, namely the all pervasive Brahman, spiritual energy; the Paramatma or localized expansion known as the Lord in the Heart or Supersoul; then Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality. Whereas in Christianity they are known as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, though the meanings of which are not as profound or specific as that given in the Vedic descriptions. So, from the start, the concept of God is not the same. In this way, the Vedic culture establishes one Absolute Truth that appears in many forms, whereas the western and middle eastern religions say there is only one personal God with only one form, of which they are not sure what that is.
  • In the Vedic system God can expand and appear in the localized form of the Deity in the temple, whereas the western and middle-eastern religions condemn Deity worship.
  • Dharmists (those who follow Sanatana-dharma, the Vedic path) are usually very tolerant of other religions and can recognize the spiritual truths wherever they may be, in whatever form. Many Christians and Muslims may also be tolerant, but many are not, and are quick to criticize those of other religions since they cannot recognize spiritual truth so easily in other forms. One of their criticisms they often use is that if it is not of their religion, then it must be of the devil. Where is the logic in this?
  • Dharmists often welcome other religions, as in the way we have seen so many that have settled in India and made it their home, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, the Parsis, Jews, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha’i, etc. While Christians and Muslims, on the other hand, have a vast history of destroying any other culture or people in whichever land they invaded. This is a profound difference that history cannot deny. Intolerance kills.
  • So, we can see the liberality, kindness and openness of Dharmists, yet in any Muslim country, they allow but one religion to flourish, and any other religion must practice undercover, or they are persecuted and driven out or even thrown into prison, just as we are seeing many Hindus and Christians being driven out of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, etc.
  • The Vedic system says there are various ways to progress toward God, but the western and middle-eastern monotheistic religions generally say there is only their way to God.
  • The Vedic system says that all is God, while other religions say God is far away and takes great endeavor and approval through the church to reach God.
  • The Vedic tradition says that one can take many lifetimes to attain the spiritual dimension or reach God, while others says there is but one life to reach perfection or go to eternal hell.
  • This brings us to the point wherein the Vedic system says there are numerous temporary heavenly or hellish realms that we may have to work through, based on our pious or impious deeds, while western religions says there is but one heaven or one eternal hell.
  • Vedic Dharma says that a person can ask many and any questions to understand spiritual truths, while the western religions curb many questions regarding its dogma, and say you are a doubting person if you ask too many questions.
  • Eastern religions explain that one’s situations in life are due to karma for which a person has to take responsibility, while the western religions have little philosophy to clarify one’s good or bad circumstances in life.
  • The Vedic spiritual path explains that all beings have souls, while the western religions say that only humans have souls.
  • The Vedic tradition has always accommodated diversity, while western religions say that you must fit in or face excommunication, and another says even death.
  • The Vedic Dharmists have always spread their culture through the use of philosophy and spiritual purity, while the western religions have often spread through the use of force, fear, intimidation, and by criticizing and threatening all other religions, which is but materialism and ego (“my religion is best”). We can especially see this when Muslims have demonstrated in London in their campaign for ruling the world over everyone else, with signs that said death to non-Muslims and that Islam will rule the world, and so on. Or when some fanatics try to commit suicide while blowing up themselves and as many people of other religions as possible, or even other sects of their own religion, thinking that is a way to get to heaven. Thus, we can see different views within each religion and the numerous sects.
  • Another difference is how Dharmists use the Sanskrit phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam”, which means the whole universe is all one family. This shows the spirituality of each other and how it is important that we all cooperate and work together. Yet, we can see that Dharmists have rarely received the same respect from those of other religions, even those who have settled in India. How is this an example of all religions being one? Yet, if Hindus stand up and defend themselves and their culture in their own homeland against the conversion tactics of Christians, or the violence of Muslims with similar strength, they are often labeled as saffron communalists or extremists. It is as if to be a good Dharmist or Hindu, you must lay your head down so others may cut it off, while those of other religions can do as they like.
  • The fact is that Christianity and Islam will never agree that they are one with Vedic culture, Hinduism, or that they are the same, or even part of the same family. They say they are the only one true faith, and all others, especially Hindus, worship Satan and devils, and are in darkness and must be “saved”.
  • Thus, in what other religion do you find the “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” concept? Where do you find that any other religion tries to offer the spiritual vision of seeing the unity between us all? They may promote that there is unity between all those of the same faith, but they do not value those of other faiths, unless they are seen as potential converts. In fact, Christians and Muslims often disdain those who worship differently, even when in the different sects of the same religion. What kind of religions are these? Why do they not also advocate seeing the Divine or spiritual identity within all regardless of religion?
  • Vedic tradition does not have a particular founder of the culture. Whereas there is a specific founder in most conventional religions with a clear history of how it developed and from where it originated.
  • The origins of Vedic culture predates recorded history and certainly predates any other of the prominent religions that exist today, such as Christianity (2000 years old) and Islam (almost 1400 years old), and is not a response to some issue or quarrel. It has stood on its own for many centuries before the ones that now say they are the only way, or that you are lost and going to hell if you do not convert to their way of thinking. Since when do they have the audacity to say such a thing? Since when do they justify their hostility toward any other religion? They are but recent inventions compared to Vedic culture and the many older indigenous traditions around the world.
  • How is it that western religions, which are all relatively new, all think nonbelievers will go to hell? Or think that Hinduism came from the Bible, when it is obvious that Hinduism predates Christianity by hundreds if not thousands of years? Dharmists / Hindus do not think like this.
  • All religions have validity by what they offer, but how many are ready to admit that? How many are ready to show respect to other traditions? If they really did, it would take away from their reason for conversion campaigns. For example, when will Christianity or Islam admit that they are not the exclusive religion, the only one authorized or approved by God? When will they admit that other religions also have validity and spiritual knowledge to offer? If they cannot, then their view is but an immature form of egotistical materialism.
  • Hindus/Dharmists are always seeking higher levels of spiritual truth, either by knowledge or realization and experience, whereas the monotheistic religions say they already have the truth.
  • Vedic knowledge is often in harmony with science, whereas the western and middle-eastern religions are often contrary to science, keeping their own dogma no matter what.
  • Vedic culture accepts reincarnation and karma, but western and middle-eastern religions do not accept it and say that we all have but one life to attain spiritual perfection by faith, or meet our place in eternal hell.
  • Vedic tradition says you were born divine and must merely awaken to that divinity, while western religions say we were born sinners or “in sin” and must work to be rectified and saved from our sins.
  • Vedic followers accept responsibility for their actions as part of their own karma, while the western religions say it is the devil that tempts them to do evil things. Or even if they succumb to their temptations they are saved by the blood of Jesus, who is their savior, or they are saved by their faith in Allah.
  • In the Vedic tradition there is no supreme evil force or devil, or prince of darkness, though there are certainly evil beings that exist in both the gross material realm and the subtle realm. Whereas in conventional western religions there is a devil or Satan that is the cause of the evil in the world, and who in this way fights with God.
  • Vedic Dharmists accept that the means for liberation or freedom from continued material life is by education, following a spiritual path, and reaching spiritual or God realization, while conventional western religions feel that their savior and faith in him is the only way to reach heaven, which may include baptism, going to church, reading the Bible, etc. Therein, liberation is promised by Jesus, while in the Vedic premise, liberation must be earned by the individual.
  • Dharmists can view everything as spiritual. Thus, their path becomes more than a religion but a way of life. While conventional western religions often divide what is religious and what is secular.
  • Vedic Dharmists often try to work in unity with nature, but the West and western religions often want to control nature and take whatever they want from her in whatever way they want, often causing trouble and imbalance in the process.
  • The Vedic tradition offers many, many names of God, such as found in the Vishnu-sahasranama or “Thousand Names of Vishnu” which are based on His activities, pastimes and many characteristics. Whereas in other religions His name is only a title, or is limited to Jehovah, Yaweh, or Allah, or the unnamable. This shows a most limited understanding of the real character and nature of the Supreme.
  • The philosophical purview of the Vedic tradition is wide, and can include the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini, the Uttara Mimamsa of Vyasa, Vaisheshika of Kanada, Nyaya of Gotama, Samkhya of Kapila, Yoga of Patanjali, Vedanta of Vyasa, and others such as Vaishnavas, Shaivites, Tantrics, and Brahmanandis. Though these are all schools of thought with their own followers, they are all still part of the Vedic and Dharmic fold. While in Christianity or Islam there is only a rigid view or dogma to be followed, whether it makes clear sense or not, and if there is any difference of opinion, then that person or persons become forced out or become a separate sect that disagrees with everyone else.
  • Dharmists believe that hellish punishment can exist after death if one is too evil, but that it is temporary after one becomes rehabilitated. However, in Christianity or Islam they feel a person has but one chance to reach heaven or hell, and that is also eternal with no chance of rehabilitation. This seems to give a harsh view of God and fly in the face of any idea that God is merciful and full of unconditional love.

 

CONCLUSION

We could go on describing such differences, but this should be enough to make our point clear. You could also say that these differences listed above are but rifts between the ways of religion as we know it today and spirituality. The core purpose of each is meant to be the same, which is to help a person connect with the spiritual dimension or bind themselves to God. But conventional religion seems to have taken a different route, based on the desire to conquer, convert and control. This is much like a political movement that gives the people just enough information to make them think they are making progress in the right direction, but still withholds the most essential knowledge in order to keep them under the influence of the institution. Religion, thus, seems to expect people to blindly accept whatever is given or forced on them without question. Spirituality, on the other hand, is the freedom a person can exercise in his or her search for the spiritual path that provides the lessons, knowledge and experience that is most suitable for that person’s inner development in this particular lifetime.

Spirituality is basically an internal process, which is emphasized in yoga and meditation. Spirituality is often more personal and individual then the way we see religion today, though it is sometimes shared in groups such as on holy days when large gatherings may take place. Nonetheless, it does not depend so much on outer customs, although external rituals may be done for the development of internal changes or other benefits. Furthermore, anyone practicing religion is usually considered a religious person, but is not necessarily spiritual if he or she is not able to recognize the spiritual essence within that is shared by one and all. If a person cannot recognize the spiritual identity of oneself and others, then he is not spiritual, no matter how religious he may pose himself to be. This is one of the main differences between ordinary religious practice and genuine spirituality. And this is something that should be kept in mind.

In conclusion, it is a great disservice and a misjudgment to say that all religions are equal, or are the same. Actually, they all take you to different levels of consciousness, different views of God, varying levels of understanding, assorted reasons for life, and dissimilar views of each other or of ethnic groups. In fact, in this way, some religions perpetuate what is really a materialistic view, the bodily concept of life, which also emphasizes the ego and one’s status or position compared with others. This gives way to views such as “I’m better than you, my religion is superior to yours, my God is better than yours.” This latter point certainly leads to disharmony between us. It leads to quarrel, friction, persecution of others who are different, and even religious wars, which the world has seen so much of, and which is not the purpose of real religion. This is not the way to reach the goal of life.

Thus, the reality is that religions and spiritual paths are not all the same, and it behooves us to understand and distinguish what is genuine spirituality or Dharma, and learn how to follow it to attain the inner realizations that make all the difference between mundane or faith-based religion and that which will take us to a higher consciousness and perception of who and what we really are. This is the real purpose, rather than merely being sold a level of self-glorification or pride for considering ourselves to belong to a particular religion that gives us the favor from who or what we think is God, and, thus, privileging ourselves to think that we are automatically “saved” simply because we “believe”, and are above all others who are not “delivered” in such a way. That is another egotistical conception that should have been overcome and left behind long ago if and when we follow a real spiritual path that uplifts us above and beyond such a view. It is only at that time when we might have the possibility for genuine religious harmony.

[This article and more information at  www.stephen-knapp.com]

Preservation, Protection, Promotion and Perpetuation of Vedic Culture, by Stephen Knapp

One of the primary needs for Vedic culture right now, especially in places like India, is the following formula of preservation, protection, promotion and perpetuation of its existence. I call these “the four pers”.

I have traveled all over India and have seen many situations where this formula is most needed. I have already written some reports on this, but let me explain a little more clearly the basics of this formula.

        PRESERVATION: is the first step. You have to work in ways to preserve the culture to make sure it will also be around over the long term so others can learn about it, take advantage of its wisdom, and even follow it for their own spiritual progress. This may include, but not limited to, such things as:

1. Preserve the great and ancient Vedic texts,

2. Preserve the main yoga systems, the dharmas that lead to God,

3. Preserve the temples and let them be freely maintained by those Hindus and devotees who are most sincere and qualified,

4. Distribute this literature for colleges, schools, personal homes, so it can spread,

5. Educate people in this knowledge, especially the youth so they are aware of it and know it,

6. Practice the traditions, such as the holidays and spiritual paths in everyday life.

        PROTECTION: is the next step. Even if you do what you can to preserve the tradition, it may also come under attack in many ways. So you have to help protect it by:

1. Overcoming negative impressions that people may try to use to unnecessarily criticize or demean it,

2. Be on guard for negative press in newspapers or television, and work to correct it,

3. Watch for the use of devious ways and false statements that are said to convert people from the Vedic path to some other religion,

4. Be careful even of politicians who have a disdain for God, or for the Vedic culture and who try to work against it or promote some other ideology or religion at the cost of the Vedic institutions.

        PROMOTION: this is important whether we like it or not. Many times Hindus or devotees feel there is no proselytizing in Vedic culture, so you have to be born into it or something like that, but there should be no process to convert others. However, in this day and age this is but a prescription for a slow extinction. Everyone and everything promotes what they have. Just like an author, he may have written the best book ever, but if no one knows about it, no one will buy it. Promotion of some form is a must. And the Vedic tradition is one of the most profound and dynamic cultures the world has ever seen. Therefore, there is a great need to let others know about it. This does not mean that you have to be in a conversion campaign, but you can certainly share what you know of it. Many people are looking for deeper levels of spirituality, but they do not know where to look, or they do not know the depth of what the Vedic path or its knowledge has to offer. Someone has to be willing to tell them. In fact, we all should be willing. Therefore:

1. Everyone can be a Vedic Ambassador to simply share with other seekers the ways the Vedic culture has helped them and what they have gotten out of it, the difference it has made in their life,

2. Promote it as a spiritual path that can help solve many of the world’s problems,

3. Distribute the simpler portions of the Vedic texts, such as Bhagavad-gita, or various forms of introductory literature that can introduce and easily explain what the Vedic path is so others can benefit from it,

4. Open the temple doors to all who want to come and investigate it or be a part of it so others can see what it is and how to get started,

5. Offer classes on yoga and Vedic philosophy for the same reason,

6. And hold programs wherein the youth can also be a part of it and practice it,

7. Arrange for radio or even cable TV programs so everyone can learn from it or stay connected.

        PERPETUATION: is why we do all of the above. How can we keep Vedic culture a flourishing and dynamic path? By doing all of the above, and providing the means to show people how to practice it. Without the preservation, protection, and promotion of Vedic culture, it cannot be perpetuated. This is where such things as the following can be helpful:

1. Establish and maintain temples that help uphold and show how to practice the Vedic traditions (I have written a whole book on what can be done through temples),

2. Hold classes and study groups, either at temples or at homes, wherein people get together to comfortably converse on various topics of the Vedic texts to help everyone understand it and how deep or practical it is, and then invite friends to join,

3. As mentioned above, spread this knowledge through book distribution, radio, and various other programs, so people can learn about it and utilize it in their lives,

4. Set yourself as an example for those who know you, but at least for your family and children so they begin to understand it, recognize its potential and practice it as well. If you take it seriously, it will leave positive impressions on others.

 

There are many other points that can be listed. I have already written detailed action plans that can be used to carry these ideas much further. But the main issue is that we have to work to keep the Vedic culture very much alive and available for everyone. It is what I call the “last bastion of deep spiritual truth.” If this should ever disappear, the world will never know what it has lost.

Some people may say that it is an eternal religion, Sanatana-dharma, so it will never fade away. But have they really read the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Lord Krishna explains that one of the reasons why He appeared was to re-establish the Vedic Dharma, which had become lost?

Lord Krishna says, “I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku. This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost. That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.” (Bg.4.1-3)

So, yes, it is eternal but can disappear from the face of the earth, and does at times. It is up to those of us who are serious and sincere to make sure that it can continue being a practical spiritual culture far into the future by applying the above mentioned “four pers.”

Vedic Contributions in the Orient, by Stephen Knapp

This is an overview of the Vedic contributions in the Orient, and is written to inspire more confidence in the people who follow the Vedic tradition, and to then be more assertive in protecting it.

Bharatvarsha’s beginnings go back to a very long way in time and it is almost certain that the results or influence that is seen today around the world, in the main, were not achieved by military expeditions or conquest, but by peaceful trading and religious teaching, and thereby all the more permanent. This is especially the case when it is generally seen that people who are forced to change cultures or religions often divert to something else as soon as the opportunity arises. But here you can still see much of the Vedic influence that still hangs on in various regions of the world, in the east in this case.

For example, Philip Rawson writes about how Vedic culture can be recognized throughout Southeast Asia. He says, “The culture of India has been one of the world’s most powerful civilizing forces. Countries of the Far East, including China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia owe much of what is best in their own cultures to the inspiration of ideas imported from India. The West, too, has its own debts. But the members of that circle of civilization beyond Burma scattered around the Gulf of Siam and Java sea, virtually owe their very existence to the creative influence of Indian ideas. Among the tribal peoples of Southeast Asia these formative ideas took root, and blossomed. No conquest or invasion, no forced conversion imposed (upon) them. They were adopted because the people saw they were good and that they could use them” (Rawson, Philip, The Art of Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Java, & Bali, New York, Thames and Hudson, Inc. 1990, p. 7-8.)

Evidence of the Vedic influence can be found in many areas of the Asian Southeast, as Nehru writes, “From the first century of the Christian era onwards wave after wave of Indian colonists spread east and southeast, reaching Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Siam, Cambodia, and Indo-China. Some of them managed to reach Formosa, the Philippine islands and Celebes. Even as far as Madagascar the current language is Indonesian with a mixture of Sanskrit words.” (Nehru, Jawaharlal, The Discovery of India, Calcutta, The Signet Press, 1946, p. 202)

Nehru continues: “Indian civilization took root especially in the countries of southeast Asia and the evidence for this can be found all over the place today. There were great centres of Sanskrit learning in Champa, Angkor, Srivijaya, Majapahit, and other places. The names of the rulers of various states and empires that arose are purely Indian and Sanskrit. This doesn’t mean they were pure Indian, but it does mean that they were Indianized. State ceremonies were Indian and conducted in Sanskrit. All the officers of the state bear old Sanskrit titles, and some of these titles and designations have been continued up till now, not only Thailand but in the Moslem states of Malaya.” (Ibid., p. 207)

Jagat K. Motwani, Ph.D., writes (in India Reborn, 2012, p. 244): “According to Nehru (Discovery of India, 1946, p. 205), the greatest of these states [in Southeast Asia] was the Salendra Empire, or the empire of Sri Vijaya, which became the dominant power both on sea and land in whole of Malaysia by the eighth century. At the height of its power it included Malaya, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Sumatra, part of Java, Borneo, Celebes, the Philippines, and a part of Formosa, and probably exercised suzerainty over Cambodia and Champa (Annam), which was a Buddhist Empire. A great ruler, Jayavarman, united the small states in the ninth century and built up the Cambodian Empire with its capital at Angkor. The Cambodian state lasted for nearly four hundred years under the succession of great rulers like Jayavarman, Yashovarman, Indravarman and Suryavarman (all four were Hindus).”

 

BURMA

As explained by Upendra Thakur, “In addition to Buddhist remains found in large numbers in various parts of Burma, Hindu images have also been discovered over a wide area, including Vishnu, Ganesh and Brahma at Hmawza; Vishnu, Garuda and Hanuman at Mergui, and Surya, Durga and Vishnu in Arakan, as well as symbolical coins and terracotta tablets with Hindu objects on them. Again, in the village of Kalagangon nearby, were found the remains of a linga 1/4 inch high, showing that Shaivism existed side by side with Buddhism. In another mound of Hmawza were discovered Bodhisattvas in Pala style, which are later in date but similar to those well known from Bodhgaya of the ninth to tenth century CE. Thus, it is clear that from the fifth to the eighth or ninth century CE, all the three types of religion were practiced in Burma and both Buddhism and Hinduism existed peacefully side by side.” (Thakur, Upendra, A Historical Survey of the Elements of Hindu Culture in Burma, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.439.)

As we look around Myanmar, though it is permeated with Buddhism now, we can see other remnants of the Vedic culture that still has a little influence in the region. For example, in the city center of Yangon, in the Botatuang Paya Buddhist temple, on the grounds is a nat pavilion which contains the images of Thurathadi, which is the Vedic image of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and of Thagyamin, which is the Vedic Indra, king of heaven, and in Myanmar is the king of all nat, or spirit beings who can either protect or harm humans. So some of the Vedic divinities are still held within the tradition of the nat, or the Myanmar acceptance of spirit beings that are sometimes still worshiped for various purposes. The tradition of the nat is part of the pre-Buddhist custom of the area.

Bagan (Pagan) is known for its 3000 or more Buddhist temples that crowd its plains, which make for some wonderful photographs. During the temple building that went on in Bagan, in the 11th to the 13th centuries, was the transition of the region from the Vedic traditions to Mahayana Buddhism. However, the Vedic influence still exists. Inside one of its tallest temples is beautifully decorated with frescos and topped with gilded pinnacles. You can see a mixture herein of both Vedic and Buddhist deities along with local nat spirits in the nooks.

In Bagan is also the Nat Hlaung Kyaung, the last remaining Vedic temple in the town. A sign dates this temple back to the 11th century, yet others say it was built in 931 by Taunghthugyi. This means it was built about a century before the southern school of Buddhism came to Bagan. It is also explained that King Anawrahta stored all non-Buddhist images, especially the nat spirits, as he tried to enforce Buddhism over the land.

It was built in the form of a sanctuary tower. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is decorated with the ten avataras in stone figures, Buddha being the ninth, though these are in disrepair. Herein we can also see how Buddhists in Burma adopted the Vedic style of building.

The mandapa is no longer in existence, but you can see evidence of it in the two large holes at the entrance. The mandapa or the porch rested on two large beams which were fixed in the two large holes. The outer plaster has peeled off, and the shikhara has undergone repairs.

When Col. Henry Yule first visited the Nat Hlaung Kyaung, he came across two stone images which were lying on the corridor floor. One of them was standing and the other seated. The standing one is an image of Shiva, now placed in the Ananda Museum in Bagan. The seated one is that of Vishnu riding on Garuda. It is four feet high and has found its way to the Berlin Museum. This may have been the central or main image of the temple. Vishnu is crowned by a beautiful kirita flanked by fluttering scarves on two sides. In His upper hands He holds the disc and conch respectively. (Bhise, Usha R., A Temple of Vishnu in Burma, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.449.)

 

THAILAND

Thailand was once known as Siam. On July 20th, 1948, the Siamese constituent assembly voted to change the name of Siam to Thailand, the change would come into effect the following year. Of course, Siam was a derivative of Shyam, which is a name for Krishna, meaning the color of dark blue, the complexion of Lord Krishna.

Evidence shows that it was at least by 380 BCE when the Iron Age communities in central Thailand had already opened trade relations with India. The Sa Huynh people of coastal Vietnam were highly competent navigators, and had arrived in that region by 500 BCE. A writing system was in a script resembling that of the Hu, who were in turn influenced by India. (Higham, Charles, The Civilization of Angkor, Phoenix, London, 2001, p.23-4.)

Sanskrit words are still very much in the Thai language. C. B. Pandey explains the influence in the language of Thailand. “The Thai language has 18 vowels and 23 consonants, specially in Northern Thai. … Indian cultural impact in Siam has left a deep-rooted influence on the language of the country. ‘Anyone visiting the country today’, says S. R. Sehgal, ‘would be amazed by the multitude of words in every-day speech which are derivatives from Sanskrit.’ (Sehgal, Dr. S. R., Sanskritistic Culture in South East Asia, in Sanskriti, Vol. III (English), p. 474.)

Anyone listening to the radio broadcasts of these countries will be struck by the frequent occurrence of these words. It is in the Thai language that we have more Sanskrit elements. The Sanskrit words have undergone such phonetic changes that at times it is rather difficult to notice their Sanskrit origin.

“A few examples of Sanskrit words will not be out of place. A popular word for greeting in Thailand is Sabayadi Khap which has its origin in the Sanskrit word Svasti, which finds mention as early as the Rig Veda. The word vela is used in the same sense of time as in India. The leader of the Buddhist monks blesses the devotees with the words Sukhi Hotu, ‘may you be happy.’ The words for wedding in Thailand and Laos is viviha. The illustrations can be multiplied. Thus we see that there are thousands of Sanskrit words which are adopted by the Thai people without any phonetic modifications.” (Pandey, C. B., Indian Influence in Siam, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.465.)

Vedic festivals like Dusherra, the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, are still observed in Thailand. They still hold honor for Lord Vishnu, Narayana, Mahadeva and other Vedic divinities. The Ramayana and Mahabharata and other Sanskrit texts have formed the basis of outstanding literature in Thailand. The Ramayana in Thailand is known as Rama-Akhyan or Ramakien, in which akhya is Sanskrit for “rendition of the story.” Knowledge of this was as essential for a cultured Siamese as Homer was for a European. The epics and Puranas of India were the basis of much inspiration for all of Southeast Asia, and the theme for classical theater, Shadow theater, and marionette shows. This influence can still be seen in Siamese dance, drama, and music. (Shah, Niranjan, Kings of Thailand Bear the Title of Rama, India Tribune, January 1, 2005.)

The name of the Thailand city of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital a few hours north of Bangkok, is known for its many temples. The name is derived after the name Ayodhya, the capital of the kingdom and birthplace of Lord Rama in India. And the Kings of Thailand still call themselves Rama along with their own Thai names. Rama is also found on the expressway connecting Bangkok to the international airport. Plus, the Bangkok airport has the display of the Vedic story of the devas and demons churning the ocean for the nectar of immortality, as described in the Puranas, which certainly shows their high regard for their Vedic connections.

 

CAMBODIA

It is suggested that many of the elements of India or Vedic culture were incorporated into the Khmer civilization at an early stage, even back from 2000 to 1000 BCE, because of the Indian traders who were active along the southern coast of what is now Cambodia. This included various implements for farming as well as numbers, writing, art, and literature, such as the Ream Ker or the Ramayana, which had a tremendous influence. The worship of Vishnu and Shiva was also adopted. They had also took up the Indic traditions of administration, architecture, court ceremony, economy, and the Cambodian New Year coincided with the start of the Vedic solar calendar.

This is barely the tip of how Cambodia has always had a close link with India and Vedic culture. The amazing temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are testimony to that and show much deeper areas of Vedic influence. Most people know about these temples, which are built as a microcosm of the Vedic universe, which displays all kinds of depictions of the knowledge inherited from India. One of the most noted panels is on the east side of the third gallery which displays the Devas and Asuras churning the ocean of milk for the nectar of immortality, a story right out of the Vedic Puranas.

Angkor Wat is a true wonder of the world. Historian Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “Let it be said immediately that Angkor, as it stands, ranks as chief wonder of the world today.” To explain a little about it, it occupies about 500 acres surrounded on all four sides by a wall and an enclosed water tank. The causeways, flanked by enormous naga and lion statues, represent rainbows. The temple is 65 meters tall, made up of three platforms, progressively smaller, with covered galleries defining the borders, and is a replica of the cosmos. The first level contains 1200 square meters of carved sandstone galleries illustrating scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic stories. (Shah, Niranjan, The Largest Hindu Temple is in Cambodia, India Tribune, January 29, 2005.)

We can only get an idea of the greatness of Angkor Wat from what we see of it today. It is truly an amazing temple, but from the descriptions described by Charles Higham, we can only guess at how much greater it was years ago. He describes it as follows: “Angkor Wat today is but a pale reflection of its former state. Traces of gilded stucco survive on the central tower, and a Japanese visitor in the early seventeenth century noted gilding over the stone bas-reliefs. It must in its heyday have literally been a golden temple. A 4-meter-high statue of Vishnu, which might have once been located in the central sanctuary tower, is still to be seen in the western entrance building. It remains venerated to this day.” (Higham, Charles, The Civilization of Angkor, Phoenix, London, 2001, p. 115.)

 

VIETNAM

From the 1st to 6th centuries CE, Vietnam was part of the Indianised kingdom of Funan, as it was called by the Chinese. The Funan people produced remarkable art and constructed an elaborate system of canals which were used for both transportation and the irrigation of wet rice agriculture. In mid-6th century, Funan was attacked by the pre-Angkorian Kingdom of Chenla, which gradually absorbed the territory of Funan into its own. Later, the area would be called Champa.

The name Champa is clearly Indian, whether it was named after the capital of the Anga country in the lower Ganges Valley, or after the Chola capital of the same name. The influence is obvious. (Shah, Niranjan, Ancient Indianization of Vietnam, India Tribune, October 16, 2004.)

Like Funan, it became influenced by the Vedic culture through continued commercial relations with India and the immigration of Indian literature and priests. Sanskrit was used as a sacred language, and the Vedic influence dominated art and agriculture, as is evidenced by the ruins of a Cham city in the province of Quang Nam, and the collection of Cham art in the museum of Danang. Brilliant examples of Cham sculpture can be seen in the Cham Museum, which exhibits numerous Vedic artifacts that have been found in the region, some of which go back more than a thousand years from the Champa period. These include sculptures of Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Brahma, Nandi, and others.

As reported by Pamod Kumar, in June 2013, Vietnam’s prime minister officially identified 30 National Treasures of Integral Import to the Nation. The report from Vietnam features images of Vishnu and Surya, but especially an exquisite and very ancient sculpture of Lord Vishnu. According to a press release from the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee (CPVCC) the Vishnu sculpture is described as a “Vishnu stone head from Oc Eo culture, dated back 4,000-3,500 years.” This would make it the oldest Vedic artifact in the world. Recently the Government of Vietnam, despite its official Communist doctrine, has developed many programs and projects highlighting Vietnam’s ancient religious heritage. This discovery of a 4,000 to 3,500 year old Vishnu sculpture is truly historic and it sheds new light upon our understanding of the history of not only Hinduism but of the entire world.

The fact is there are no other “officially” recognized Vedic artifacts that have been dated back to such an early date. This would make Vietnam home to the world’s most ancient Vedic artifact. While there are indeed many other ancient artifacts that represent the same deity, they are not presented in the “Indic” tradition and cannot be directly recognized as the Vishnu of the Indic Vaishnava tradition.

The 4000-3500 year old Vietnamese Vishnu sculpture is part of an exhibit featuring some of Vietnam’s most ancient artifacts. It was discovered in the region of Southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The Mekong River is named after the Ganges River (Ma Ganga) of India.

The significance of this discovery cannot be overestimated. The entire history of Hinduism and Vedic culture, as taught in the academic institutions of the world, has been built upon a false construct. According to mainstream academia, Vedic “religion” or Hinduism did not exist until the alleged “Aryans” invaded India circa 1500 BCE. An even later date is given to Vaishnavism which is speculated to have been derived from animist Sun worship. Yet here we have a highly evolved art form depicting Lord Vishnu in the Far South East region of Asia dated to somewhere between 2000 BCE to 1500 BCE.

This completely undermines the entire historic timeline developed by mainstream academia in regards to the development of both Vedic/Hindu civilization and Indian history. The region of modern India has always been the epicenter of High Vedic/Hindu Civilization and culture. No one anywhere has ever suggested the region of modern Vietnam to be the origin of Hindu civilization, yet it is in Vietnam that we now have the world’s most ancient example of Indic style Vedic Vaishnava art. Thus it stands to reason that if Vedic Vaishnava art, culture and religion flourished 4000 years ago in prehistoric Vietnam, it was undoubtedly flourishing in ancient India as well.

Once again science and archeology have confirmed the Vedic conclusion. As the Vedic literature states, 5000 years ago India was home to a highly evolved and advanced civilization. This civilization was centered on its sacred traditions. The worship of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lakshmi, and Durga was widespread and in fact spanned the entire globe.

These traditions presented themselves in diverse manners, as seen in modern India, yet among this diversity was a commonality based upon the authority of the Vedic scriptures and traditions. The recognizably Indic forms of the Vedic traditions spanned the globe from the Philippines to the Middle East and Siberia to Australia. Yet the same Divinities were worshiped and the same traditions were practiced throughout the world.

Perhaps today, as India itself is reeling under the onslaught of enforced “secularism” and as Hinduism has been relegated to the realm of just one of many religions (rather than being recognized as the heart and soul of India), we are fortunate that the former Hindu lands of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Kampuchea are leading the way towards the reclamation of our ancient Vedic heritage. (http://www.speakingtree.in/spiritual-blogs/seekers/mysticism/4-000-year-old-vishnu-statue-discovered-in-vietnam)

Also: (https://rodpush.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/4000-year-old-vishnu-statue-discovered-in-vietnam-by-pramod-kumar-on-jan-21-2015-1479-views/)

Also reported in Hinduism Today, April/May/June, 2014, page 37.

 

PHILIPPINES

Vedic cultural influence went well beyond Bali, which shows many aspects of Vedic influence, and also reached the Philippines. Alfred L. Kroeber, a leading American anthropologist, wrote in Peoples of the Philippines: “There is no tribe in Philippines, no matter how primitive and remote, in whose culture today, elements of Indian origin cannot be traced.”

Filipino historian Gregorio F. Zaide describes in Philippine Political and Cultural History: “Basically Malay (Indian) in might, Hinduistic in culture, and Buddhistic in religion.”

American archeologist Henry Otley Beyer, a dedicated scholar on the Philippine civilization, carried out a series of remarkable excavations in the late 1920s at Novaliches in the Philippines. His work was systematic and concluded that all the artifacts found, including a large quantity of pottery, iron implements and weapons such as knives and axes, glass beads and bangles, and beads of semiprecious stones, such as carnelian, agate and amethyst, were brought to the Philippines from India over a long period of trade, well before the beginnings of the Christian era. He confirmed this by saying: “India has most profoundly affected the Philippine civilization.” (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Philippines, India Tribune, August 28, 2004.)

 

INDONESIA

It is hard to say when India started to spread its influence in Indonesia, but evidence shows it was no later than the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. (Francisco, Juan R., A Survey of Palaeographic Relations Between India and the Philippines, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.565.) The spread of Vedic culture was caused and stimulated by the trade expeditions which were organized from the subcontinent. Indonesian princes accepted the religious and cultural notions of the voyagers and began to invite Brahmanas to their courts. Afterwards the Vedic culture spread among the upper classes of Indonesian society. (Goudriaan, T., Sanskrit Texts and Indian Religion in Bali, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.563.)

The whole area of Indonesia, namely Java, Sumatra, Burma, Sukarta, Bali, Champa, Malaya, and up into Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam are countries that had all been ruled by Hindu or Buddhist kings. The earliest seems to be Java back in the first century CE, starting with King Devavarman, based on the inscriptions that have been found in the area. Relations between ancient India and Java seems to have been quite close, and inscriptions indicate that in 850 CE the Sailendra kings of Java created an endowment for the Nalanda University. Temples built in Java are quite similar in style to those of South India, along with often having panels of sculpted impressions from the Ramayana and Mahabharata on the temples. East of Jakarta you can find three temples dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Even the Indonesian currency notes has carried the image of Ganesh on them, and Ganesh, known as Vinayaka, is still worshiped in many places there. Much more of the Vedic influence in Indonesia would still be present if not for the devastation by the Muslims and European colonialists. Now it is a major Muslim area, but many Indonesian Muslims do not find it strange to name their children with Sanskrit-based names. (Kapur, Kamlesh, Portraits of a Nation: History of India, Sterling Publishers, Private Limited, 2010, pages 444-45.)

Indonesian dance and music are also of Vedic origin, and still hold much of its influence. Names of both persons and cities and towns bear names of Vedic or Sanskrit origins. The language itself is a dialect of Sanskrit known as Bahasha. Of 25,500 entries in the 1982 dictionary of Kawi, 12,500 are Sanskrit loan words. Even the Indonesian flag is called Dwi-Varna (two colors) which is Sanskrit. The cardinal points of the Indonesian Constitution are also designed in accordance with the Sanskrit word Panchshila.

In this regard, Wilhelm Von Humbolt, German Indologist, Prussian Minister of Education, the founder of the science of general linguistics wrote: “Kawi language is Javanese and contains a number of Sanskrit loan words, which prove the literary and political superiority of the Hindus. The historical background has the emigration of Brahmins, who brought the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and other works of Sanskrit literature.” He also showed that no Prakrit words are found in Old Javanese, and, thus, he deduced from this that the Indian immigrants must have come to Java at a time long ago before the more recent Indian language had separated from Sanskrit.

Modern Indonesia, sometimes called Nusantara, especially Bali, is another ancient center of Vedic culture and civilization. The name of the island of Bali was once Balidvipa, which goes back well over 1000 years. It is accepted that this is in connection with Bali Maharaja, the warrior king and devotee of Lord Vishnu from ancient times. Vamanadeva was the form of Lord Vishnu who Bali surrendered to, and Vamanadeva is the name of one of the great historical royal dynasties of Bali.

Contact between India and Indonesia go back many hundreds of years. In fact, pepper plants, which are originally from India, were found in Indonesian food as early as 600 BCE. Cotton was also brought from India by the 2nd century BCE. So trading and cultural exchanges were taking place from that time. It was a natural transition and an attraction to the Vedic culture by the people of Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan, who adopted the Vedic customs. Some Indian traders built new Vedic temples, and even brought in priests, monks and teachers. Then later, the local leaders continued the practices. In fact, local rulers began to use Indian titles like Raja or Maharaja, or add the royal suffix of varman (protector) to their names. The major Indonesian states, from the 5th century to the 15th, were all Vedic or Buddhist.

Throughout Bali you will find Vedic and Sanskrit names, especially for the capitals of the provinces. Regarding other forms of Vedic evidence that still exist today, the Indonesian coat of arms, the Garuda Panchasila, is also derived from Javanese Vedic elements. Indonesia’s National airline is named Garuda Airlines, Garuda being Lord Vishnu’s carrier. Also, the Nation chose Indonesia to be the name for their new Nation over the native name of Nusantara (Entire Islands) in recognition of their ancient links with Mother India. Furthermore, the modern capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, features a magnificent sculpture of Partha Sarathi Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. This shows the immense popularity and respect for Hindu culture that can still be found amongst the people of Indonesia. Plus, according to the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, a Hindu revival movement, the Indonesian Hindu population is closer to 18 million rather than the 6 million claimed by the Government.

 

CHINA

It is known that China in India and in Indian ancient texts like the Puranas was known as Cina, and the residents were also known as Cinas or Chinas. The genealogists of China and Tartary declare that they were descendants of Indian Kings. The Kiratas and Chinas moved out of India towards the East, beyond the Himalayas, and founded colonies there. The Kshatriyas or warrior classes from India first inhabited the area of China. These settlers were originally inhabitants of the Vedic lands, such as Sapta Sindhu, which included Kashmir, Ladakha, Tibet, and the Punjab of ancient India. From then on, ancient India had continuous contact with China. The Manusmriti mentions that when the Chinas, Kiratas and other communities became decreasingly Vedic (Manu-samhita, 10, 43-44), they were pressured to leave the Vedic lands. However, in the Mahabharata period, they brought gifts to the Pandava king Yudhisthir at his coronation. Also, a king of Assam is mentioned in the Mahabharata as having an army of Kiratas and Chinas, of yellow color. (Shah, Niranjan, Indian Origins of Ancient Civilizations, International Vedic Vision, Sand Point, New York, 2012, p.105.)

Herein it is clear that connections between China and India go back thousands of years. From the Vedic literature, we see that the Mahabharata mentions China in a few places, such as when the people brought presents to the Rajasuya ritual of the Pandavas. In the Sabha Parva, the Cinas appear with the Kiratas among the armies of King Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisa or Assam. China is also mentioned in the Arthasastra and the Manusrmiti.

In the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, the Pandava brothers are said to have crossed the country of the Cinas in course of their trek through the Himalayan territory north of Badrinath and reached the realm of the Kirata king Subahu. The Cinas are brought into relations with the Himalayan people (Haimavatas) in the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata also. The land of the Haimavatas is likely to be Himavantappadesha of the Pali texts, which is identified with Tibet or Nepal.

 

JAPAN

In the Shingon pantheon of Japan, we can also recognize a large number of Vedic gods. These include Shoten sama (Ganesh), Taishaku (Indra), Katen (Agni, the Vedic fire god), Emma-o (Yama, the Vedic god of death and the afterlife), Benzaiten or Benton (Sarasvati, the Vedic goddess of learning), Suiten (Varuna), Futen (Vayu), Ishana, Bonten (Brahma), Jiten (Prithvi), Nitten and Gatten (Surya the Vedic sun god and Chandra the Vedic moon god), and many others. “Though most of the deities are venerated only as forming part of Mandara [mountain], some of them such as Shoten sama, Emma-o, Suiten and Benten are popular objects of worship and have temples dedicated to them.” (Eliot, Sir Charles, Japanese Buddhism, London, 1935, p.355) Therefore, the worship of their interpretation of the Vedic deities continues to this day.

According to author Hisashi Nakamura, there is no country in the world other than Japan where students are learning a rudimentary knowledge of Sanskrit language. (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Americas, China, Greece and Southeast, India Tribune, December 4, 2004.)

Even today, 15 miles from the heart of Tokyo is a Vedic temple of Indra with two figures of Hanuman guarding the image. Large crowds also visit the temple of Saraswati. Fudo is another form of the terrible form of Shiva, wherein he possesses a third eye, a trident, and a lasso of snakes. You can still recognize Vedic deities of Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Durga, Ganesh, and others in the temple at Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and other places. Nara was a center of Sanskrit learning in 700 CE and earlier. In some Japanese temples, very ancient Sanskrit manuscripts are preserved intact, some of which are much older than those preserved in India. (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Americas, China, Greece and Southeast, India Tribune, December 4, 2004.)

Much more of this kind of information can be found in my books “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence,” and “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire: Recognizing Vedic Contributions to Other Cultures Around the World,” as well as “Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture.”

Recognizing Vedic Culture Around the World, by Stephen Knapp

        This is a simple introduction to how we can begin to recognize how Vedic culture infiltrated or was simply accepted into various cultures around the world. If you are interested in understanding this more deeply, please see my books “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence” and “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire.”


WHAT IS THE VEDIC ARYAN CULTURE?

It is often considered that the Vedic Aryans are a race of people. But aryan actually means a standard of living, an ideal. It was the Sanskrit speaking people of thousands of years ago that gave the word arya to signify a gentleman, an ideal person, someone on the path of purity. It was a term meant for those who were on the cutting edge of social evolution. Another way of interpreting the word aryan is that ar also means white or clear. Ya refers to God. Ya also refers to Yadu, or Krishna, the main person in the Yadu dynasty. Thus, aryan means those who have, or are developing, a clear path or a clear consciousness toward God.
In this way, we can understand that Aryanism, or Vedic culture, is a way of life. It is not a race of people or a sectarian creed or religion. It belongs to no particular country or race. It is a path that upholds a code of conduct which values peace and happiness and justice for all. Thus, it is a path open for all who want to be trained to be happy with simple living and high thinking, while engaged in proper conduct, a moral life, and selfless service to humanity. Therefore, anyone who wants to live in such a manner may be called an Aryan, a member of the Vedic culture, no matter from which race or country a person may come.
So what does it mean to follow this Vedic Aryan path? It generally means to learn the ways of a spiritually progressed person. This includes understanding one’s spiritual identity, knowing that he or she is not the body but is spirit soul, that there is karma for one’s actions, and rebirth in another life after death. Thus, everyone will automatically reap the reward or punishment for his own good or evil thoughts, words, and deeds. By having a solid understanding of such spiritual knowledge, there is automatically a respect for all others regardless of race, sex, or species. This brings a moral and peaceful social behaviour in everybody toward everyone. By having respect for everyone’s spiritual identity, this also brings an innate happiness in us all. We can understand that we are only visiting this planet for a short time, and that we are all in this together. In other words, my contribution to your well-being, especially spiritual well-being, will be an automatic contribution to my own existence. In this way, society at large is in a state of constant improvement. That is the goal of the Vedic Aryan way of life.
Therefore, the Sanskrit word Aryan means a way of life that aims at the elevation of everyone in society to a higher level of consciousness. It means to assist ourselves through a disciplined and godly life to understand the purpose of our existence as well as to become a spiritually realized person. It also means that we help every other individual soul because by helping others we help ourselves. That itself is a natural state of being when we can perceive God as the Supersoul, Paramatma, within everyone. All of this is encouraged by, and increases, a natural faith in an all-pervading Supreme Being. Such faith and focus on the Supreme Being can elevate us to return to our real spiritual home, which is one of the most important goals of the Vedic lifestyle.
To facilitate this lifestyle, there has been the development of the Vedic literature, such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, the Puranas, and other ancient texts that explained the Vedic spiritual philosophy. There has also been the architecture that has been seen in the Vedic temples and similar styles as seen throughout the world, along with the common sciences such as mathematics based on the invention of zero and what became known as the Arabic numeral system, which actually came from India. There were also things like Ayurveda (the original holistic health techniques), Vastu, the science of architecture, Yoga, the practice of spiritual development, and much more. I detailed all these things in my book, “Advancements of India’s Ancient Vedic Culture.”
This culture has spread in many areas throughout the world. Ancient India no doubt covered a much larger area of land than it does today and spread much farther to the north and west. At least there are historical indications showing that the Aryan influence was felt over long distances. The Vedic gods, for example, were known over a wide area. V. Gordon Childe, in his book The Aryans, states that evidence makes it clear that the Aryans had been established in centers on the Upper Euphrates in 1400 BCE. These centers were similar to the cities of the Indus Valley and later in Media and Persia. In fact, Hugo Winckler, in 1907, identified the names of four Vedic gods (Indra, Varuna, Mitra, and the Nasatya twins) along with ten Babylonian and four Mitannian gods that were invoked as witnesses to a treaty signed in 1360 BCE between the kings of Mitanni and the Hittites. There are also tablets at Tell-el-Amarna that mention Aryan princes in Syria and Palestine. But these Aryans were not necessarily permanent residents of the area but dynasts who ruled over the non-Aryan subjects of that region. This would explain why some scholars such as Jacobi, Pargiter, and Konow accept the deities of the Mitanni in the Upper Euphrates in Syria and Palestine as being Indian, introduced to the area through a Sanskrit speaking people who came from the Punjab. Furthermore, L. A. Waddell claims that the first Aryan kings can be traced back to at least 3380 BCE. They had a capital north of the Euphrates near the Black Sea in Cappadocia in 3378 BCE, and these Hittite kings of Cappadocia bore Aryan names. This means that the Aryans had to have been very well settled in the area during this time.

    THE SUMERIANS

One widely held view about the Sumerians is that they arrived in Mesopotamia before 3000 BCE when they acquired the prosperity of the inhabitants that were living there. However, another view is that the Sumerians were actually the earliest cultivators in Mesopotamia. They had a philosophy which was especially influential on the succeeding Babylonians and Assyrians who assimilated much of their beliefs. The Sumerians believed the universe and all within it reflected the supreme mind and supernatural activity. They believed that the universe was created from the primeval sea along with all the planets, stars, sun, and moon, each of which had its own orbit. After the creation of the planets came superhuman and invisible beings, who then made human, animal, and plant life. This Sumerian theology, which is very similar to the Vedic version, can still be found in the detailed texts dating back to 1900 BCE.
Though the Mesopotamian cities shared a common pantheon, not all of the gods were worshiped in all of the cities, neither were they known by the same names. And when the Semites invaded the area, they changed the gods’ names, characteristics, and relations. So, presently it is not clear which were the Sumerian gods or which were carry-overs from the Vedic Aryans, to whom the Sumerians at least were closely related if not a part of Vedic civilization.

    PERSIA

The name Persia is actually a derivative of the Sanskrit name Parasu, which was the battle axe of Parashurama. Lord Parashurama had led 21 expeditions around the world to chastise the Kshatriya warriors who had swayed from the Vedic principles and became cruel and unruly. This was before the time of Lord Ramachandra. Persia was overrun by Lord Parashurama and his troops and succumbed to abide by his administration. According to E. Pococke on page 45 of his book, India in Greece, the land of Persia became known as Paarasika.
Pococke goes on the explain that the term “Chaldeans” comes from the Sanskrit term Kul-deva (often pronounced Kaldeo), which means “family gods” referring to a people who worshiped the gods of the Brahmanas. He also adds that the map of ancient Persia, Colchis, and Armenia provides distinct evidence that show a colonization of people from India of a massive scale. It also shows the truth of several main descriptions of the area as found in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
A British author, R. G. Wallace, mentions on page seven of his book, Memoirs of India, that Hindus are numerous throughout Afghanistan, as well as Arabia and Persia. These are not recent migrants but remnants from the local populations who were converted to Islam by force.
Lt. Gen. Charles Vallancy, on page 465 of his book Collectania De Rebus Hibernicus, quotes Sir William Jones as saying: “It has been proved by clear evidence and plain reasoning that a powerful monarchy was established in Iran, long before the Assyrian or Pishdadi government; that it was in truth a Hindu monarchy. . . that it subsisted many centuries and that its history has been ingrafted on that of the Hindus, who founded the monarchies of Ayodhya and Indraprastha. . .”
V. Gordon Childe points out more linguistic resemblances found in the Sanskrit of the Rig-veda and the Iranian of the Gathas of Zoroaster and Darius the Great. Both Indians and Iranians had called themselves Aryas and worshiped the same deities, such as Mitra, Aryaman, Indra, Varuna, Agni, and so on. They also once knew the same set of rivers, the Sarasvati and Hara ‘uvatis, as well as shared the Soma ritual. Thus, one can conclude that they were once of the same background. Even the word Iran or Ariana means “Land of the Aryans” as pointed out by Hermann Kulke in his book, A History of India. All this signifies that the early Iranians were a part of or at least affiliated with the Vedic Aryan civilization.

IRAQ AND IRAN

An interesting thing is that the royal family of Iran, the Pehlavis, have their roots in the Vedic Kshatriya tradition. The name Pehlavi appears first in the Ramayana episode in which Vishvamitra attempts to drive away Vashista’s sacred cow. The title “Shah” is also a Vedic name and is also a common Hindu surname. The Hindu king of Nepal also bears the title of “Shah.” The Kshatriya king of Gwalior deposed by the Muslims was Ram Shah. The wealthy patriot who turned over his wealth to Rana Pratap to help defend India was Bhama Shah. Therefore, the title “Shah” in Iran is simply a reminder of the Indian Kshatriya tradition that once ruled the area of Iran. In fact, when Iran started to come under attack by the Islamic invasions, many of the common people ran away to India. Histories also record that the royal family at the time also considered leaving Iran to seek shelter in India. So, the very fact that the people and the ruler of Iran thought of coming to India during the Islamic raids proves that they were Hindus, part of the Vedic culture.
The Rig-veda, being the most ancient scripture, and its language being Sanskrit, provides evidence that Sanskrit is the great ancestor of all known languages. Persian is also, therefore, a descendant dialect of Sanskrit. For example, many towns in Iran have Sanskrit names. The birth place of Omar Khayyam, a well-known Persian poet, is Nishapur, which is a pure Sanskrit name. Indian troops stationed in West Asia during World War I and II have reported seeing temples of Indian deities like Ganesh and Shankar (Shiva) in ruins in remote desolate areas of Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries. Iranian mythology also has links with ancient Vedic lore.

ARABIA

To help illustrate the well established Vedic connection in Arabia there is an old poem to which we can refer. It is from page 257 of the Sair-Ul-Okul, the anthology of ancient Arabic poetry compiled in 1742 under the order of the Turkish Sultan Salim. It was written by Labi-bin-e Akhtab-bin-e Turfa who lived in Arabia around 1850 BCE, 2300 years before Mohammed, and pays devout poetic tribute to the Vedas and mentions each one by name. In English, the poem reads as follows: “Oh, the divine land of Hind (India), very blessed art thou! Because thou art the chosen of God blessed with knowledge. That celestial knowledge which like four lighthouses shone in such brilliance, through the (utterances of) Indian sages in fourfold abundance. God enjoins on all humans, follow with hands down the path the Vedas with His divine precept lay down. Bursting with divine knowledge are Sama and Yajur bestowed on creation, Hence brothers respect and follow the Vedas, guides to salvation. Two others, the Rig and Athar teach us fraternity, sheltering under their luster dispels darkness till eternity.”
So, even at that early stage, we can get an idea as to the respect that was given to the Vedic tradition in ancient Arabia. The Vedas were the only religious scriptures to which the Arabs owed allegiance. This shows the antiquity of the Vedas and the existence of Vedic Kshatriya rule over the entire region from the Indus to the Mediterranean. In fact, from Mohammed’s time backwards through history to the remotest antiquity, Arabia shows the influence of Vedic rule and culture. So, you could say that Arabs used to be Hindus.
Another poem that illustrates this point was written by Jirrham Bintoi, who lived 165 years before prophet Mohammed. In the poem he glorifies the character of King Vikramaditya who ruled 500 years before Mohammed. Vikramaditya’s capital was Ujjayini (Ujjain), alias Avantika, in Central India. The poem appeared in a premier article in a magazine around 1945 on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the Vikram Era, greatly celebrated in Ujjain. This poem is also from the Sair-Ul-Okul, the anthology of ancient Arabic poetry. It is in Arabic, but when put in English, it reads as follows:
“Fortunate are those who were born (and lived) during King Vikram’s reign. He was a noble, generous, dutiful ruler devoted to the welfare of his subjects. But at that time we Arabs, oblivious of divinity, were lost in sensual pleasures. Plotting and torture were rampant (amongst us). The darkness of ignorance had enveloped our country. Like the lamb struggling for its life in the cruel paws of a wolf, we Arabs were gripped by ignorance. The whole country was enveloped in a darkness as intense as on a New Moon night. But the present dawn and pleasant sunshine of education is the result of the favor of that noble king Vikram whose benevolence did not lose sight of us foreigners as we were. He spread his sacred culture amongst us and sent scholars from his own land whose brilliance shown like that of the sun in our country. These scholars and preceptors through whose benevolence we were once again made cognizant of the presence of God, introduced to His sacred knowledge, and put on the road to truth, had come to our country to initiate us in that culture and impart education.”
The poet Jirrham Bintoi had received the topmost award for three consecutive years at the Meccan symposium. All three poems, including the one above, had been inscribed on gold plate and hung inside the Kaba shrine.
This poem shows the way that Arabia had been a part of the advanced Vedic culture, and how it had been appreciated by Arab people. From this we can understand that there were many of the Vedic sciences that had been incorporated into the Arab region for the advancement of the people. Such would include Ayurvedic health centers (as is apparent from the almost identical nature of the Arabic Yunani and Ayurveda systems), schools, Vedic forms of irrigation and agriculture, and an orderly and peaceful way of life. It is for this reason why we can also find today the Kurds and Iranians speaking Sanskritized dialects, fire temples existing in places like Baku and Baghdad thousands of miles away from India, scores of sites of ancient Vedic cultural centers like Navbahar in Iraq, and what was once numerous viharas (Vedic educational centers) in Soviet Russia and throughout the world. Ancient Vedic scriptures are also found from time to time in Central Asia.
This also explains why when starting from India and going towards the West we find so many names derived from Sanskrit in the region, such as Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, and Arvastan. It has not been realized that it was the Indians who ruled this entire region in the ancient past who gave all these names to these countries. It is from ancient times that Indian Kshatriya royal families like the Pehlavis and Barmarks have held sway over Iran and Iraq.

EGYPT

The name Egypt comes from the shortened term of Ajap, which refers to the Sanskrit name Ajapati, signifying Lord Rama as the illustrious scion of the clan of Aja, since Aja was the grandfather of Lord Rama. Also, the Egyptian Pharaohs had such names as Ramses I, or Ramses II, because Rama was universally regarded as an ideal ruler. Ramses means Rama the God. And like the Vedic tradition, the Egyptians also considered their rulers as being representatives or even descendants of God.
In an article by Dr. S. K. Balasubramanian, Hindu Mythology as Prehistory, he relates that the history of Egypt goes thousands of years back to the time of Yayati. Yayati had married Devayani, the daughter of Shukracharya, the Vedic Aryan preceptor of the Danava king Vrishaparva, whose daughter, Sharmistha, was Yayati’s second wife. Yayati’s story finds etymological support in the development of Judaism and its linkage with ancient Egypt. Yayati suffered loss of youth and became prematurely old as a result of a curse and begged his sons to relieve his old age by exchanging their youth with his old age. The eldest son of Devayani, Yadu, declined the request and was deprived of his birth rite to succeed his father. The other sons became similarly accursed. The last son, Puru (by Sharmistha), exchanged his youth for his father’s old age and was later crowned the sovereign of the world superceding his elders.
Therefore, Puru’s descendants, who were the Puravas, later became known as the Pharaohs of Egypt who ruled over his father’s domain with his elder brothers subject to him. Yayati was deified as Yahweh by the descendants of Yadu who are identified with the Yadus, the Jews of the present day. Nonetheless, they bore bitter animosity to their ancestor Aryan Hindus because the Jews were subservient to the Pharaohs by the edict of Yayati. They resented their subordinate status and revolted against it, moving out of Egypt. Thus, they went on and created their own culture, legends, and histories.
The other sons of Yayati were also subject to the Pharaohnic suzerainty. Of these, Druhya was the leader of those who became the French Druids, the Druhyas. Anu went on to become the head of Anatolia, while Turvasu was the king of the Turanians in the area north of the Black Sea.
By the time ancient Egypt comes into our view in history, its extent had shrunk to the Nile valley. Others in that ancient Vedic culture had also asserted their independence. The Minoans, the Maltese, and the Greeks had developed along such independent lines. The Jews rose in revolt against the Pharaohs and moved into Palestine retaining a grudge against their forebears in Aryavarta and Egypt. They developed an iconoclast religion and were the first to attempt to “rewrite” history. They rejected the past to such an extent and with such bitterness that they even reversed the natural mode of writing from left to right. The Egyptians and the Greeks retained the pluralism of their ancestors and developed on more tolerant lines.
The discovery of the source of the Nile is also credited to the early Vedic explorers. Colonel John Speke explains in his Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (page 13) that, “Colonel Rigby gave me a most interesting paper with a map attached to it about the Nile and Mountain of the Moon. It was written by Lt. Wilford from the Puranas of the ancient Hindus. It is remarkable that the Hindus had christened the source of the river Nile. This, I think, shows clearly that the ancient Hindus must have had some kind of connection with different parts of Africa. . . All previous information concerning the hydro-graphy of these regions originated with the ancient Hindus. . .  and all those busy Egyptian geographers who disseminated the knowledge with a view to be famous for their long-sightedness in solving the mysteries which shrouded the source of the Nile (the holy river) were so many hypothetical humbugs.”

GREECE

In looking at the Greek culture, we find many connections between it and the Vedic civilization. Many people and scholars tend to view Greece as a source of western civilization. However, it is seldom realized that the original Greek culture was itself Vedic. This is not to say that no one has recognized the similarities. Even as far back as 1830 we can find on pages 61-2 from Volume II of Narrative of a Journey Overland From England to India, by Mrs. Colonel Elwood, where she sees the Vedic influence in Greece. “The striking analogy between some of the Hindoo fables with those of the Greeks, would induce us to believe that the Greeks and Hindoos must, at an early age, have had much intercourse, and possibly Pythagorus, with the doctrine of the Metempsychosis, may have imported some of the adventures of the Indian Gods and ascribed them to the Greek deities.
“Indra whirling his thunderbolt appears to be the same with Jupiter. Chrisn [Krishna] and his nine Gopis are evidently Apollo and the Muses. The beautiful Camadeva is a more interesting being even than the Greecian Cupid, while the lovely Maya, the Goddess of beauty, the Venus, sprang from the bosom of the ocean, Surya and Arjuna resemble Phoebus and Aurora, and the twin sons Aswinau, Aswini-cum-arau, or the Daul, Castor and Pollux; Lachshemi crowned with ears of corn appears to be Ceres; Kali, Hecate or Proserpine; and Narad, the eloquent messenger of the Gods, is Mercury. Sir William Jones identifies Ganesh with Janus, whilst Hanuman and his monkey attendants, resemble Pan and his Sylvan deities.”
The fact that Krishna was the God of Greece is shown by the silver coins made by Agathaclese, a Greek ruler of the 2nd century BCE. These coins bear the imprint of Lord Krishna and His brother Balarama and are on display in several museums. Furthermore, a large mosaic of a young Krishna playing the flute, standing cross-legged under a tree while grazing cows, hangs in the museum in Corinth. This was obviously salvaged from a local Krishna temple which proves this city was once a center of Vedic culture with temples to Krishna.
We can recognize that as the Vedic culture moved from India to Egypt to Greece, etc., much of the philosophy stayed the same, although the names and artistic characteristics of the gods changed with time. The features of the deities would change because as they moved west the esthetic standards would be adjusted since the priests would emphasize certain aspects of the images according to regional and cultural preference. The early Greek sculptures seem to have been carved by the priests for the temples. In other words, they were the temple deities and were probably dressed rather than left naked, and then worshiped in the temples. Many of the early forms were almost always carved as a boy of 15 to 17 years of age with long hair like Krishna. Furthermore, Zeus, Jupiter, and Amon were all blue bodied, not because they were sky-gods like some say, but because they are related to the image of Krishna who is blue, which signifies His spiritual nature.

ITALY

The name Italy (from Etaly) in Sanskrit signifies a country situated at the bottom of the continent now called Europe. As the Vedic culture had crossed through the mid-eastern countries and into Greece and Italy, the Vedic gods were still a primary factor in the worship and legends of the land. However, the names had changed in the local jargon to emphasize various characteristics that had more emphasis with the people of the region. We can recognize this in regard to how the popular Roman god Mithra can be traced to Mitra of the Vedas, who came to the Mediterranean through Asia Minor by the military forces who had been impressed with the Vedic philosophy.
Furthermore, many other Roman gods originated from the east, especially from the Greek tradition who were further traced and characterized after the Vedic deities. For example, Zeus is Dyaus, Jupiter is Diupeter (or Dyaus Pitar, the Vedic Indra), Minerva is Pallas Athen, Diana is Artemia, Venus (the Vedic Lakshmi) became Aphrodite, Neptune is Poseidon, Vulcan is Hephaestus, Ceres is Demetri, Liber is Dionysus, Mercury became Hermes, and Hermes was formerly the Egyptian god Thoth. An interesting point concerning Hermes is described by Dr. Ginsburg in Life of Levita. It is mentioned that the way the god Hermes was worshiped was as a phallus, standing on a flat stone, which was anointed with oil, similar to the worship of the Shiva linga. But the Shiva linga is anointed with Ganges water, representing the way Shiva accepted the pounding force of the Ganges river on his head as it descended from the heavenly region to earth.
One of the reasons why so many Vedic deities can be found here is that Rome had been engaged in trade with India for many years. An example of how extensive trade was between Rome and India can be seen at Sisupalgarh. This was a fort located on the far eastern side of India, three miles south of Bhubaneshwar. It was built around the third century BCE and abandoned in the fourth century CE. Excavations revealed Roman and Indian coins that date back to the first and second centuries.

EUROPE

Before Christianity, Vedic culture had access to all lands around the globe. This is proved by several finds, such as the naval bell with a Tamil inscription found on the sea-bed off Australia. There was also a ship of the BCE era with the image of Buddha on it found under the ice-bound sea near Denmark. Ancient statues and temples and cities bearing an identification with India and Vedic culture have been located in almost all continents and even in remote islands. References are available about Hindu naval experts assisting people in Africa and other continents to safely navigate the high seas. The chronicles of the Greek Periplus indicate that India shipped a variety of products to Greece. These included spices, high quality textiles, ivory, gems, and iron. Rome also supplied many products to India in these trades. While trading in the Mediterranean area, India did much trade with Egypt, as evidenced from the great stock of 14th century Egyptian and Syrian gold and silver coins found in Broach, Gujarat.
Images and paintings of Krishna in His mother’s arms were worldwide. Only later was it adopted by early Christians to depict Mother Mary holding baby Jesus. Such images and the Vedic books and remnants of Vedic civilization throughout Europe were destroyed by Christian invaders. Thus, in some ways you could say we have forgotten this knowledge of our ancient roots because we have been forced to forget it.
How this destruction took place is explained by Godfrey Higgins in his book, The Celtic Druids (p.164). He says that Christians did not always burn and plunder, but subtly took in whole communities along with their customs and stamped them as Christian. “The monks of Roman and Greek churches were remnants of the sect of the Essenes converted to Christianity, and much degraded and corrupted from their excellent predecessors. . .  When they became converts they formed an odd mixture of the two religions. In what they called monasteries, many of them built before the Christian era, a day had from time immemorial been dedicated to the god Sol (the Sun-god) as his birthday, and that he bore the epithet Lord. . . Thus came the 25th December, the heathen festival of the God Sol to be selected as the birthday of Christ, and the Druidic festival of the winter Solstice to become a Christian rite. . . the ‘birth’ of the Sun on 25th December was kept from India to the Ultima Thule. . . these ceremonies partook of the same character.”
So, from this it is apparent that many of the Christian festivals were carry-overs from the Vedic culture of India, which also recognized the importance of the sun, the solstices, and so on. Therefore, as the Vedic culture had reached all lands, all ancient people throughout the world, whatever may have been the name of their community or region, were united in a common culture and observed familiar festivals. It could be that the same festivals had different emphasis in different regions, but the main culture was the Vedic culture or a close derivative of it.

THE VEDIC INFLUENCE IN BRITAIN

How the Vedic influence was felt in such far away places as England and Scandinavia is explained in The Aryans by V. Gordon Childe. He relates that in Britain, shortly after 2000 BCE, a people conquered the territory who were noted for their use of battle-axes. It was during this time that a period of rapid development began. It is now understood that these people were mixed with Aryans who promoted what is now called the Western type of civilization that continued to develop.
L. A. Waddell also writes that the Trojans and their civilization were of Sumerian-Aryan origin. When the Trojan amulets were deciphered they were disclosed to be of the same religion with the same invocations and deity symbols as on the amulets of the seals of the Indus Valley. These symbols were also the same as those on the ancient monuments in Britain. And recorded history states that Britain was first colonized by King Brutus the Trojan in about 1103 BCE.
Further Vedic influence in Britain was also brought by the Celts. Celts were Indo-Europeans who first emerged as a separate people near the source of the Danube about 1000 BCE. They swept over central Europe and arrived in Britain about 800 BCE. Ward Rutherford, in his book Celtic Mythology, points out many similarities between the Celtic and the early Hindu or Vedic traditions. He suggests that though the Celts and Vedic followers were separated by a large mass of land, they nonetheless must have originally come from the same source. Furthermore, Waddell, in The Makers of Civilization, provides some evidence that Saint George, Saint Andrew, Saint Michael, and the legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail, as well as the Thor-Odin legend of the Britains and Scandinavians, were of Sumerian-Aryan origin.
The whole of Europe was administered in ancient times by a Sanskrit-speaking Vedic clan known as the Daityas. Danu and Merk were two leaders of that ancient clan of Daityas. It is those two names which are combined into the term Denmark. Count Biornstierna, himself a Scandinavian, is no doubt right in determining in his book The Theogony of the Hindus, “It appears that the Hindu settlers migrated to Scandinavia before the Mahabharata War.”
The ancient Vedas that the Kshatriyas followed were also transported to Scandinavia. Later they became the Eddas, which still remains the ancient-most scripture of the region. However, due to the discontinuation of the Vedic form of education, the content of the Eddas has all been changed from the ancient Sanskrit texts to the fairy tales of the local modern language. Nonetheless, close study reveals many similarities in the tales of the Eddas and Vedic and Puranic legends.
The Norse ballad about Sigfried, a hero who was born with a coat of horn, is the European relic of the story of Karna. He was born with an armor-plated body as described in the Mahabharata.
Similar to the Vedic time line, in the Norse region it is said that ancient peoples lived for hundreds of years. There was also a set of ages, or time periods, during which conditions would continue to deteriorate with increasing violence into a time called the knife and axe age. After this final age would be what is called Ragnarok, the period of annihilation. However, after this would be a time of restoration in which the world would return to a time of goodness. During the Ragnarok, the world would be destroyed by flames that come from a being named Surt. It is he who lives in an underworld, Hel. This is quite similar to the Vedic version (Bhagavatam 3.11.30) in which the world is destroyed by the flames that come from the mouth of Lord Sankarshana, who is an expansion of Lord Krishna and who is seated in the lower regions of the universe.
The Vedic gods and heroes are also the same as those found in Scandinavia, although different names may have been given to them in the Eddas. We find on page 27 of the footnote of Volume I of the text Aryatarangini: “Even today, the study of Sanskrit is a treasured objective among the Finns and the Lithuanians and the legendary gods of these people can be mostly identified with Vedic deities.”
With the Christian invasion of Europe, Olaf was the first Scandinavian king to be turned into a Christian. As soon as he was baptized, he let loose his army in 1030 CE to forcibly convert all other Scandinavians to Christianity. Thereafter, the Vedic gods of old were stigmatized and misrepresented as demons and devils.

LITHUANIA

Lithuania was one of the last Vedic countries to be converted to Catholicism. The kingdom of Lithuania (or Lietiva) at the time extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea and to the Urals in the East. The last of the pre-Christian rulers before Lithuania was forcibly taken over by Christianity was Grand Duke Gediminas of the 14th century. Although he defended his country against the force of the Christians, he had the wisdom to announce that the Pagans of Lithuania, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians all worshiped the same Supreme Being, although in different forms. Even though he had guaranteed religious freedom in Lithuania, his liberal attitude did little to help his country from being conquered by the Christians who then suppressed the native pagan religion. Of course, pagan in this instance refers to the ancient Vedic culture, or the remnants of it. In any case, it was only 50 years after Gediminas’ rule that Lithuania was taken by the Christian crusaders. The Lithuanian king at the time, Jogolia, married the Polish princess Jadvyaga and converted her to Catholicism. Then pagan temples were destroyed and Christian churches built in their place. The last pagan temple was closed in 1790.
That, however, did not bring a swift change in the people of Lithuania. Many of them held on to their pagan beliefs and rituals, much to the dismay of the church missionaries. After all, to the native people, the Christians were but foreign invaders. Even the Soviet occupation after World War II did not overpower the national pagan church–Romuva, which is again becoming popular these days. The church was kept alive through the 1980s, during the nation’s independence. Even today you can find the pagan rituals still being held with participants circling the fires singing Dainas, the Lithuanian Vedic chants. The name Dainas is linguistically connected to the Sanskrit word  dhyanam, which means meditation. So, these chants were and still are considered a way of meditation in the same way the Vedic chants have always been used. The fire goddess is still held in reverence, and her name is Gabija or Ugnis, related to the Sanskrit fire god Agni. Another similarity between the modern pagan rituals and Vedic culture is that the priest uses some of the ashes from the fire to smudge the third eye area on the forehead of the participants, as often done during the Vedic fire rituals.
The Lithuanian language was not Slavik but was based on Sanskrit. This is why there are so many Sanskritic words in the Lithuanian language. A short example can be seen in the words for God, day, and son, which are devas, dina, and sunu in Sanskrit, and dievas, diena, and sunus in Lithuanian. The numerals are also very similar. There is a large Sanskrit Department in the University of Vilnius. Since the language has changed less than others over the centuries, it clearly shows its linguistic link to its Vedic past.

GERMANY

The area of Germany has many points that relate to its connection with its primordial Vedic culture. In regard to names, the name “Prussia” is from “Pra-Russia.” Russia simply refers to the Sanskrit Rishiya, or a land of Rishis, and Prussia is an extension of the Rishi Country. Its other name, Deutschland, is a corruption of the Sanskrit term DaityaSthan, which refers to the land of the Daitya clan, or those born of Mother Diti and Kashyapa Muni. This is why Germany is called Deutschland. The term “Titan” is the European pronunciation of the Sanskrit word Daityan. The Dutch people of Holland also share in the same name of Daitya.
The name German is a corruption of the Sanskrit term Sharman, which is applicable to the Sanskrit scholars in Vedic terminology. You can find many Indian people with the surname of Sharma, which is in reference to this.
Other examples of Sanskrit words in German are easily found. In the German names like Heidelburg, “burg” signifies a fort. Heidelburg is the Sanskrit compound Haya-dal-durg meaning a fort garrisoned by a contingent of horses. Hindenburg is another such example, which simply means the fort of the Hindus.
The German word of thanks is Danke, a mispronunciation of the Sanskrit Dhanya, which is commonly used in India. The German suffix “maan” in names like Hermann and Hahnemann comes from the Sanskrit word Manav, meaning man. Hahnemann is also a derivative of the name Hanuman from the Ramayana.
We also find personal and place names that derive from the Vedic incarnation of Lord Rama, such as Ramstein, the site where the first American Pershing missile was located in November, 1983. “Stein” is similar to sthan, which means a spot or place.
Tacitus, an ancient Greek writer, has also testified to the ancient Hindu, Vedic culture in old Germany. Furthermore, Col. James Tod records on page 63 in Volume I of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan: “The first habit of the Germans upon rising was ablution, which must have been of Eastern origin and not of the cold climate of Germany, as also the loose flowing robes, the long and braided hair tied in a knot at the top of the head, so emblematic of the Brahmins.”
One of the more obvious signs of Vedic culture was the Swastika. The Swastika was found widely all over Europe as an important Vedic symbol in the pre-Christian era. The very term Swastika is Sanskrit meaning an emblem of well-being. It is a symbol of the sun and earth and cosmos in a dynamic whirl. It represents karma and action in consonance with the whirling cosmos. It also represents the divine energy which pervades the universe in the eight directions which are important in Vedic tradition.

PAGANISM IN CHRISTIANITY

The name pagan means a country man. The name heathen comes from the word heath, which is a common name for a variety of evergreen shrubs that live in swamps or along mountain slopes. Thus, the name heathen simply referred to those who lived in the country near such plants. Therefore, the use of the name heathen or pagan originally was not meant in a condescending way. To be a heathen or pagan simply meant that one followed those religions that existed prior to Christianity, or that he or she participated in the nature religions, which primarily meant demigod worship. So, paganism is simply a reference to following the old remnants of the Vedic Aryan culture. And people throughout pre-Christian Europe worshiped a variety of spirits and demigods, known by different names according to culture and region. The Romans and Greeks of that time also worshiped demigods. The sun-god, Mithra, was apparently considered the most exalted of the demigods. Even King Constantine (280-337 CE) was originally a devotee of the sun-god. His famous vision of the cross that he had while marching on Rome came to him from the sun. In fact, even after he was converted to Christianity, he remained a devotee of the sun-god, and because of that he continued to hold the Sabbath on Sunday, which traditionally was on Saturday.
According to Jewish tradition, the Sabbath was Saturday when God finished the creation and rested. So, Saturday is the seventh day and Sunday is the first. Therefore, the Seventh Day Adventists, in a kind of protest, changed the Sabbath back to the original day. So, even today the Sabbath is celebrated as a kind of pagan carry-over on the sun’s day. In this way, each day was set aside for different demigods, who are the presiding deities of different planets. Thus, Sunday is for the sun, Monday is for the moon, Tues is the Greek name for Mars, Wednesday is for Mercury, Thursday for Jupiter, Friday for Venus, and Saturday for Saturn.
Actually, Paul was the fanatic who took whatever was known of Jesus and, while misinterpreting Jesus’ teachings, made Jesus out to be the incarnation of God, the Messiah, that Jesus never wanted to be. As described in Mark (8.29-30), when Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter said that he was the Christ. And Jesus charged them that they should tell no man of him. In fact, the term Christ was first used in relation to Jesus by Paul when Paul first started preaching in the city of Antioch. The name Christ was simply the Greek word for Messiah. It was not a person’s name.
Paul was the person who developed Christian theology and ritual and simply wrote in the Epistles his own ideas of Jesus while never referring to what Jesus actually said. Paul also put many threats into the philosophy of Christianity and created an image of a fearsome and jealous God rather than one that was merciful and loving. But, according to Paul’s version of Christianity, salvation was granted by God alone who would save you if you simply became a Christian because Christ had already died on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins. In this way, faith was all that was needed, and faith outweighed the need for good works. This may be a simple and comfortable concept for Christians but is not a true one and was never presented in the real teachings of Jesus. Jesus actually did emphasize the need for good works. So, what we really find in Christianity are the teachings of Paul, which in some areas have little to do with what Jesus actually taught.
Paul also accepted Sunday as the day of rest from Mithraism rather than Saturday, the seventh day as found in the Hebraic tradition. Paul also took Easter from Mithraism as the day Jesus rose from the grave. Mithra is said to have died in battle on a Friday and was buried in a rock tomb from which, after three days, he rose on the festive occasion of the spring equinox, called Eastra, the Latin word for Astarte, the earth mother goddess. Interestingly, the 40 days before the spring equinox corresponding to Lent was the period for searching for the renewal of life in that tradition. Furthermore, the celebration for the resurrection of the Greek god Adonis is said to have taken place as late as 386 CE in Judea at the same time as the Easter observance of Jesus’ resurrection. And the use of dyed Easter eggs was widely known by such people as the Egyptians and Persians who made presents of them, and by the Jews who used them in the Passover feast. These are some of the non-Christian traditions that became incorporated into the Christian Easter holiday and are still practiced today.
In regard to Jesus’ crucifixion, he is supposed to have died and descended into hell, and on the third day rose again. However, if we look at other cultures, many of which are far older than Christianity, this is hardly an isolated event. The Persian Zoroaster, the Egyptian Osiris, Horus, Adonis, Bacchus, Hercules, and the Scandinavian Baldur, and the Mexican Quetzalcoatl all are supposed to have spent three days in hell after their death and then rose again. All these persons also performed many miracles that can be compared to the ones Jesus performed.
When we consider the story of how baby Jesus appeared in the heart of Mary by immaculate conception, as well as the bright star appearing in the night sky, we can discern a direct parallel to Lord Krishna’s birth three thousand years earlier in Vrindavana, India, as recorded in the Vedic literature. It is described in the ancient Vedic texts how Krishna appeared in the mind of Vasudeva, Krishna’s father, and was then transferred into the heart of His mother, Devaki. During Krishna’s birth, the bright star Rohini was high in the sky, and the king at the time, Kamsa, actually ordered the killing of all the infants in an attempt to kill Krishna, similar to the way Herod was supposed to have done as described in the gospel of Matthew. And just as a multitude appeared among the shepherds in the hills praising God at the time of Jesus’ birth, there were also many demigods who came and danced and sang about the glories of Krishna when He was ready to appear in this world. Krishna was born in a cave-like dungeon, while Jesus was also born in a cave, although some say a manger in a barn. Rays of light illuminated the area after they had taken birth. While newly born, they both spoke of why they had come to this world. And as wise men were supposed to have presented Jesus with frankincense and myrrh, baby Krishna was also presented with gifts that included sandalwood and perfumes.
At the time when Krishna left this planet, His foot was pierced with an arrow, while Jesus’ side was pierced with a spear. There was a darkness that descended when Jesus is said to have been crucified, just as there was a darkness and many calamities taking place when Krishna left this world. And as there is a description of many ominous signs that are to signify the second coming of Christ, there are even more symptoms of the terrible age of Kali that we are going through that indicates the time before the coming of Krishna’s next avatara as Kalki. Many of these I have included in my book, The Vedic Prophecies. There are many other parallels that we could refer to that are disclosed in the Vedic texts, which were written many hundreds of years before the Bible. In this way, practically speaking, what we find in the Bible regarding Jesus’ birth is a description of the appearance of Lord Krishna, but only the names have been changed.

AMERICA

The traditions of the ancient Americans have numerous similarities with Vedic culture. In the legends of the Sioux Indians, there is the story of how their ancestors were visited by a celestial woman who gave them the religion they follow. She had explained that there are four ages that are symbolized by how a buffalo loses one leg during the advent of each age. This shows that with each age, conditions deteriorate. Presently, the buffalo has only one leg. This symbolism is directly in accordance with the Vedic version, which also shows a bull standing on one leg due to the decline in the age of Kali-yuga. Other tribes of the Indians of North America, especially the Hopi, also have descriptions of the four ages, or four worlds as they call them, that are similar to the deteriorating effects of the four ages in the Vedic tradition; namely Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and Kali-yuga. They also accepted the concepts of reincarnation, respect for nature, the nature spirits or demigods, etc., which are very similar to the concepts found in the Vedic philosophy. In Mexico, ancient paintings were found that showed heads of a rhinoceros, as well as paintings of a man with the head of an elephant, like Ganesh in India. And we all know that the rhinoceros and elephant are not animals found in the Americas.
Studies have concluded that similarities in Mayan, Aztec, Inca, and North American Indian civilizations have a strong connection with Indian Vedic Aryans and the Southeast Asian countries. For example, the Aztec and Mayan architecture of ancient Mexico and Central America is very similar to the Vedic buildings and temples and pyramids of Egypt. They shared many other things in the areas of customs, art motifs (such as the lotus flower found at Chichen Itza), time measurements, calenders, local gods, styles of dress, and, of course, in architecture, astronomy, and religious symbols. Similarities can be seen in sculptures of the native dress and solar symbolism, rituals of worship, systems of government, and in language and names. In fact, the name Argentina (meaning connected with silver) is related to the name of Arjuna (meaning of silver hue). Arjuna was one of Krishna’s closest devotees. Witnesses have also found Sanskrit letters carved in the stone on Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil.
An obvious point about the Mayan connection with that of the Vedic is, for example, that the word Maya is from the Sanskrit language of India, which I will discuss more later. Deities of Ganesh, the same as in India, have been discovered in excavations in Central America and Mexico. Additional Vedic deities that were found by archeologists in ancient America include those of Shiva, Kali, and the sun, though they may have been in slightly varied forms. And forms of Buddha had been found in the jungles of Honduras by Professor F. W. Putnam.
The physical and facial characteristics of the people of Mexico are also similar to the people of northeast India. Even the traditional songs of the Mexican people contain similar sentiments of those of India, such as when a mother bids her newly married daughter farewell. Mexican women’s clothes still resemble the long dress and short blouse like an East Indian sari and choli. Women still prepare flat bread made from corn flour like the Indian chapati made from wheat flour.
The remnants of great cities with roads, water tanks, canals, forts, etc., found in South America leads one to accept the fact that it must have been quite a developed civilization. Due to the traces of Vedic architectural design, city planning, mythology, and images of worship found in this area, many researchers consider that this society was originally developed in India. For example, in the book The Conquest of the Maya (published by Jarrold’s in England), J. Leslie Mitchell explains that the basis of the old Maya empire was not the work of the ancestors of the present day Maya, but was an import from the same foreigners that built the palaces and temples of the Chams and Khmers in Cambodia, and the temples in Java. He also points out the similarities between the Maya rain-god Chac and the Vedic Indian Indra, and the Maya monkey-god and the Vedic Hanuman. The Vedic origin is further enhanced by the frequency that the elephant motif is found in Maya art, especially the earlier works of the Maya, such as at Copan, although the elephant never existed in the region. Mr. Pococke also says in this regard: “The Peruvians and their ancestors, the Indians, are in this point of view at once seen to be the same people.”
One reason for these similarities between the Americas and India is that in ancient Vedic times there were two great architects, Visvakarma of the demigods or Aryans, and Maya of the asuras. The Mayan people, also known as technicians, were no doubt named as such because of being connected with this person named Maya, or Mayasura and Maya Danava. They were a part of his clan or tribe. They had fallen away from the Vedic way of life and were sent or escaped to the region of Central America. They also carried with them much of the science of astronomy and navigation for which this Mayasura was known. This will become more apparent as we proceed through this chapter.
Mayasura’s knowledge is more fully explained in the classic work of Indian Vedic astronomy known as the Surya Siddhanta for which he is given credit. Many people have wondered from where the Mayans acquired their astronomical knowledge. This would explain how the Mayan people had such a high degree of understanding in astronomy, from which they also developed their calendar. The Mayan calendar was a science they had long developed, carrying it with them from their previous location and civilization. Incidentally, for them, the end of the world, or the way we have known it, is calculated as December 23, 2012. Thus, the calendar was not merely a record of time, but also a prediction of social changes.
Another strange but interesting link between the Peruvians and the Vedic culture is explained by Henry Gilman in his book Ancient Man in Michigan. The Peruvians, among other societies, such as the Mound Builders, Neolithic people of France and the Canary Islands, would bore a small hole in the top of the skulls of the dead so the soul might easily pass out. This is a Vedic understanding that is common among yogis, Tibetans, and others that if the soul passes out of the body through the head, especially the top, then it is a sign of a higher birth in the next life. Boring a hole would be a mechanical means of trying to guarantee this result.
This is just an introduction to recognizing Vedic culture and its influence in many parts of the world. You can find much more information in my book, “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence,” as well as “Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture,” and the very elaborate “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire: Recognizing Vedic Contributions to Other Cultures Around the World.”
Thank you very much.

Vedic Contributions in Ancient Europe, By Stephen Knapp


We know that the ancient Vedic culture had spread or had influence throughout many parts of the world. Evidence can show this, if we know what to look for and do the right research. So this article will show a little of that evidence.

Starting with Greece, which is often considered the cradle of Western civilization, Greece was originally of the name Hellas, and the land of Hellas was so called from the magnificent range of heights situated in Baluchistan, styled by the name “Hella” mountains. So where did the name Greece come from? The word itself signifies the Indian origin of the ancient Greeks. The royal Indian city of Magadha was called Rajagruhi [now Rajgir] during the Mahabharata times, and people of Magadha were known as Gruhiks. After the defeat of Jarasandha by Sri Krishna, the Gruhikas moved through northwest India and into the area of Greece. These people named their new country as Gruhikadesh, which then changed to Graihakos and to Graikos to Graceus and finally to Greece. In the same way, the name of Macedonia came from the name Magadhanian, indicating an extension of Magadha in ancient India. (Shah, Niranjan, Greece–A Colony of Ancient India, India Tribune, July 30, 2005.)

In this way, much of the advancement that was experienced in Greece was because of the influence, especially in mathematics, literature, and other fields, from ancient India. As the French author Louis Revel writes in his book The Fragrance of India (Les Routes Ardentes De L’Inde): “If the Greek culture has influenced Western civilization, we must not forget that ancient Greeks themselves were also sons of Hindu (Indian) thoughts.”

Jawaharlal Nehru also wrote about the Vedic influence of the Upanishads on early Greece and Christianity: “Early Indian thought penetrated to Greece, through Iran, and influenced some thinkers and philosophers there. Much later, Plotinus came to the east to study Iranian and Indian philosophy and was especially influenced by the mystic element in the Upanishads. From Plotinus many of these ideas are said to have gone to St. Augustine, and through him influenced the Christianity of the day… The rediscovery by Europe, during the past century and a half, of Indian philosophy created a powerful impression on European philosophers and thinkers.” (Nehru, Jawaharlal, Discovery of India, The Signet Press, 1946, p.92.)

Poets in Greece tried their best to create literature similar to that of India. In fact, German scholar Barren Van Nooten, who translated the Rig Veda, wrote in the Introduction to Philosophy of Hinduism: An Introduction to Philosophy of Hinduism by T. C. Galav: “There are virtual copies of plots, characters, episodes, situations, and time duration from the Mahabharata in Homer and Virgil.”

Then we have another Greek ruler, Agathocles, who not only used the Vedic emblems of Krishna and Balarama on his coins, but took pride in calling himself a Hinduja, an Indian by birth. In India we also have the example of Heliodoros, a native of Taxila and a convert to Vaishnavism, who came to India as an ambassador of the Greek king Antialcidas, to the court of the Shunga ruler Bhagabhadra and erected his Heliodorus column at Vidisha, which announced his dedication to the worship of Vishnu.  

This Heliodorus column provides undeniable archeological evidence that the Greeks were impressed with the Vedic culture as far back as 200 BCE. This Heliodorus column was erected by the Greek ambassador to India in 113 B.C. at Besnagar in central India. The inscription on the column, as published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, says:

This Garuda column of Vasudeva (Vishnu), the god of gods, was erected here by Heliodorus, a worshiper of Vishnu, the son of Dion, and an inhabitant of Taxila, who came as Greek ambassador from the Great King Antialkidas to King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the Savior, then reigning prosperously in the fourteenth year of his kingship. Three important precepts when practiced lead to heaven: self-restraint, charity, conscientiousness.

This shows that Heliodorus had become a worshiper of Vishnu and was well versed in the texts and ways pertaining to this spiritual path. It can only be guessed how many other Greeks became converted to Vaishnava Hinduism if such a notable ambassador did. This conclusively shows the Greek appreciation for India and its philosophy, and that it antedated Christianity by at least 200 years. This disproved claims of the Christians and British that the stories of Krishna in the Puranas were modern and merely taken as adaptations from the stories of Jesus, or that the Vedics were influenced by and adopted any of the philosophy of Christianity before this time.

Now going to Germany, we can see a Vedic connection starting with the very name of Germany. It is explained that the word German came from the name of sharma or sharman, which is an Indian name. Thus, Germany was a country connected with Vedic tradition from many years ago. It is also interesting that the German Sanskritist Max Muller described himself on the front page of his translation of the Rig Veda as, “By me, born in Sharman country, resident of Oxford, named Max Muller.” This would also lend credence that Germany was once known as Sharman-desh, or the place of the Sharmans, a brahminical class of people, connected with the Vedic culture. So you could say that Germany should have been called Sharmany.


This connection may also be why there have been a number of scholars who were fascinated by and studied Sanskrit. These included people like August Wilhelm Schlegal, Immanual Kant, Jacobi, Arthur Schopenhaur, Paul Dressen, Richard Wagner, Frederich Nietzsche, and others.

In Ireland, we can see a lot of the Vedic influence, starting simply with its name. In Historic India, published by Time-Life Books, we read on page 39 that, “In Celtic the word (Arya or Aryan) was transformed into ‘Erin’ which in English became Ireland.” So there is a direct connection between what became Ireland and its heritage from the Vedic Aryan culture.


In Reverend Faber’s book Origin of Pagan Idols, he feels the same way when he says: “The religion of the celts, as professed in Gaul [France] and Britain is palpably the same as that of the Hindoos and Egyptians.”  (Faber, Origin of Pagan Idols, B. IV, Ch. V, p. 380.)

The Celts were also one of the first civilizations north of the Alps recorded in history. By the third century BCE they existed from Ireland to central Turkey, through Italy, to southern Spain and north to Belgium.  

The patriarch of their good gods was Nuada, born of Goddess Danu. Danu was also called Anu or Ana, and was like the universal mother. All the other gods are like her children. Goddess Danu is said to have ruled over Ireland some 4000 years ago. Patricia Monaghan writes in her book, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology, that there was an Irish divine race that represented the God of the Celts, named Tuatha De Danann, the people of Goddess Danu.

We also find Danu prominently in the Vedic tradition. It was the clan of Danavas that came from Danu. The Vedic Danu was one of the thirteen daughters of Prajapati Daksha, and was married to Kashyapa Muni. In the Irish tradition the father of Danu is called Dagda, very similar to Daksha. Being the daughter of Daksha also means that she was the sister of Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva. The Celtic Nuada was also called Argetlam, or “He of the Silver Hand.” He was their war god, or like the Gaelic Zeus, or Jupiter. Nuada’s consorts were war-like goddesses called “Hateful,” “Venomous,” “Furry,” “Great Queen,” and others. This was similar to Shiva and the different forms of Devi, such as Amba, Bhavani, Kali, Parvati, etc. Other Celtic gods included Teutates, Taranis, and Esus.

Kashyapa had two wives from whom come lineages that were noted in the Vedic culture. From Danu came the lineage of the Danavas. Another lineage was from his wife Diti, who gave birth to the Daityas. Germany was previously called Daityastan, from which came the name Deutchland. Stan is Sanskrit meaning land, so Daityastan merely means the land of the Daityas, the sons of Diti. So we can see the closeness of this with the Vedic tradition.  

Similar to the Celts, the Scandinavians also recall coming from an area to the southeast from many years earlier. The Sanskrit chants of the Vedas also are connected with the Eddas of Scandinavia. In fact, as Christianity took over the area, the word Veda became mispronounced as Edda. That is the only explanation as to why elephants are mentioned in the Eddas and traditions of Scandinavia, although they do not exist there.

A small comparison can be made when we read in the Eddas about the process of creation, wherein it says: “There was in times of old, not sand, not sea, not waves, Earth existed not. Not heaven above, it was a chaotic chasm, and grass nowhere. The Supreme ineffable spirit willed, and a formless chaotic matter was formed.” However, this is also very similar to statements about the universal creation in the Brahmanda Purana and others from the Vedic tradition.

These are just short snippets of evidence. Anyone who would like more information about this topic can find it in the books of Stephen Knapp, namely his latest, “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire,” and his previous book “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence,” or visit his website at: www.stephen-knapp.com.

Ramayana Sites in Sri Lanka

      The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki and an important part of the Hindu canon. One of the most important literary works of ancient India, the Ramayana consists of 7 chapters (Kanda), and narrates the story of Rama’s wife Sita being abducted by Ravana, the demon (Rakshasa) king of Lanka.
      According to the Ramayana, King Ravana brought Sita Devi from India in a Pushpaka Vimana” which is widely known in Sri Lanka as the “Dandu Monara Yanthranaya,” or Large Peacock Machine in Sinhala.
      The Ramayana has fascinated many generations, and had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
      For over thousands of years, the Ramayana, epic of Asia, has had an unshakeable hold on the beliefs of vast multitudes of Asia’s teeming millions. As diverse span of humanity as Kashmiri pandits and Cambodian fishermen, it is the universal heritage of all humanity.
      A rich legacy of sites and temples in the country where the most significant events of this epic took place – Lankapura – Sri Lanka. Though some people do not believe that the present Sri Lanka is the one mentioned in the Ramayana, when we investigate the area, there is still much convincing tradition therein and many sites identified with the Ramayana.
      Sri Lanka is the proud custodian of more than 50 Ramayana sites from the place of Sita Devi’s captivity to the battlefields where vast armies clashed, to the groves of exotic herbs dropped by Hanuman, to the ultimate theater of war where Lord Rama slew Ravana, the ten-headed demon-king.
      People living in the areas where great events took place remember to this day the connection of their soil to the great epic. An oath taken at the spot where Sita Devi undertook “Agni Pariksha” is still considered valid in village courts or grama sabhas. The color of the soil of the ancient battlefield is still red today, and is still surrounded by lighter colored earth. One of the airports of Ravana, torched by Hanuman when he came looking for Sita Devi, still has a scorched-earth look. A patch of darker soil surrounded by brown earth. Exotic alpine Himalayan species are found suddenly amidst tropical Sri Lankan vegetation, the legacy of Hanuman’s heroic voyage carrying a mountain with life-restoring herbs.
      Incredibly, the names of places have come down to modern times unchanged. Though great social, cultural and religious changes have taken place in Sri Lanka since.
      Sri Lanka shares a special bond with India geographically, historically, culturally and spiritually. The Ramayana begins with Ayodhya in India and climaxes at Lankapura.
      People in Sri Lanka through generations believed that king Ravana ruled this country. There are many sites in Sri Lanka which are connected to the Ramayana. Below is a list of places which have been identified as connected to the Ramayana and listed in sequential order.

The Kidnapping of Sita by Ravana

      Ravana was the king of Lanka and another 9 kingdoms. He was known as Dasis (or Dasa Shirsha) meaning 10 heads, because he had ten crowns, one each for his ten kingdoms.
      His sister Surpanakha went to Jambudweepa for some business. Surpanakha chanced upon Rama at his hermitage and became enamored with the handsome prince. Rama being faithful to his wife, Sita, did not respond and asked Surpanakha to approach Lakshmana who was unmarried. Surpanakha, who felt humiliated by this, tried to attack Sita in anger saying Sita was the cause of the men’s contempt for her. Lakshmana then intervened and cut off Surpanakha’s nose.
      Surpanakha, terrified and in pain, flew at once to Lanka to seek the protection of Ravana. When Ravana asked his sister for the cause, Surpanakha said that she had seen Sita, a lady of incomparable beauty, and wanted to bring her for Ravana. Ravana resolved to take revenge for the insult his sister had suffered, as well as to get lovely Sita for him self, and set out to abduct Sita and bring her to Lanka.
      Ravana, using a golden deer as a decoy, visited Sita when she was alone. In the guise of an old sage, he abducted and brought her to Weragantota in Lanka in his plane, the Pushpaka vimana.
      Weragantota means the “place of aircraft landing” in Sinhala. This is the first place Sita Devi was brought to Lankapura (capita city of king Ravana). These jungles are the place where the city of Lankapura once stood. The city had a beautiful palace for Queen Mandothari surrounded by waterfalls, streams and varieties of flora and fauna. Sita Devi was kept at Queen Mandothari’s palace at Lankapura. The place Sita was held captive is called Sita Kotuwa, which means “Sita’s Fort” in Sinhala. It is believed Ravana had an aircraft repair center at Gurulupotha close to Sita Kotuwa. Sita devi was kept in queen Mandothari’s palace until she was moved to Sita Kotuwa and then on to Ashoka Vatika. The remains that are found here are the remnants of later civilizations. In Valmiki’s depiction, King Ravana’s vimana resembled a huge peacock. The vimana in Sinhala language means “Dhandu Monara” which is known as “flying peacock,” and hence the name Gurulupotha, which means “parts of birds” in Sinhala. This is also called Gavagala.

Sita Taken from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika (also known as Ashoka / Asoka Vanam)

      Ravana moved Sita from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika the salubrious garden in the mountains. The route too was said to be spectacularly beautiful, as Ravana wanted to show Sita the beauty of his kingdom. The barren land atop the mountain range is believed to be the route in which King Ravana took Sita devi from his capital city Lankapura to Ashoka Vatika, which was a paradise on earth. The Chariot Path atop the mountain range is still visible. Till date no vegetation grows on this passage except grass. King Ravana is believed to have taken this passage on top of these hills to show Sita devi the beauty of his kingdom.

      Ashok Vatika is the garden where Ravana held Sita captive. This is in the area of Sita Eliya, close to the city of Nuwara Eliya. The stream that runs from the hill catered to the needs of Sita devi during her stay at Ashok Vatika. She is said to have bathed in this stream.       The Hakgala Gardens located at the base of the Hakgala Rock forms part of the famed Ashok Vatika. The Sita Pokuna is a barren area atop the Hakgala Rock Jungle where Sita was kept captive. The Sita Amman Temple is located at this spot. It is interesting to note that foot prints akin to Hanuman’s are found by this river and some are of small size and some are of large size, which tells us of the immense powers of Hanuman transforming himself into any size.
      About a century ago three images were discovered in the stream, one of which was that of Sita. It is believed that the deities have been worshipped at this spot for centuries. Now there is temple for Lord Rama, Sitadevi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman by the side of this stream.
      The summit of the mountain next to the mountain range overlooking Frotoft Estate in Pussallawa is the place where Hanuman first set his foot on mainland Lanka. This mountain known as Pawala Malai is visible from this mountain range. These hills stand tall in-between King Ravana’s capital city and Ashoka Vatika.
      The Sita tear pond is found en route by the chariot route, and is believed to have been formed by the tears of Sita devi. It has not dried up since, even during severe droughts when the adjoining rivers dry up. Visitors could also see the famed Sita Flowers which are endemic to this area. In this area there are many large trees whose bright red blooms add color to the scenery. These flowers are called Sita flowers. The peculiarity of these flowers is the configuration of the petal’s, stamen and pistils, which resemble a human figure carrying a bow, and is said to represent Lord Rama. These flowers are unique only to this area in the whole of Sri Lanka.

Search for Sita

      Sugriva, ruler of the Vanara or special monkey kingdom, ordered his monkey armies to search for Sita in all four corners of the earth. Hanuman, Angada, Jambavan and other heroes traveled southwards. Hanuman was the only one strong enough to cross the ocean to reach Lanka. Whilst crossing the ocean, Hanuman was tested by Surasa Devi, the Naga maiden en-route to Lanka. This place is now called Nagadipa.

Hanuman meets Sita at Ashok Vatika and is Captured by Ravana

      Hanuman after meeting Sita at Ashok Vatika, decided to test the strength of King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. He invited battle by uprooting trees and destroying the garden. Upon being captured by the Rakshasa guards, Hanuman was brought in the presence of Ravana. As a punishment, Hanuman’s tail was set on fire. Hanuman in turn set fire to the houses in the city. Ussangoda is one such torched area.
      On the way back to India Hanuman rested at Mani Kattuthar. The hilltop where Hanuman is believed to have rested after meeting Sita devi is known as Mani Kattuthar. This is a rock in the Labookelle estate. Hanuman met Sita devi and on his way to announce this happy information to Lord Rama, rested on this hilltop. Today an open temple with statues of Lord Rama, Sita devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman stands on top of it. Locals visit the temple often.
      Near by is the village of Kondagala, known as Kondakalai in Tamil, where Sita is said to have deranged her hair whilst passing the place. Kondakalai (Kondagala), like many other cities and villages in Sri Lanka, also derives its name from the Ramayana. When King Ravana took Sita devi in a chariot to Ashoka Vatika, her hairs got deranged because of the speed of the chariot. “Konda kalai” in Tamil means “deranging of hair.” Till date the villagers live with the legacy of this event.
      The village also contains Sita Gooli which are rice balls offered by Ravana to Sita; which she refused and threw away. When King Ravana carried Sita devi on his chariot to Ashoka Vatika, he provided her with vitaminized rice balls for refreshment. But Sita devi who did not want to consume anything provided by King Ravana, scattered the rice balls all over the place during her journey, and they are found till date along the chariot track. The local people call these rice balls Sita Gooli and they prescribe them for their children as a cure for stomach disorders and headaches. The farmers too keep them in their cash boxes or grain pots for prosperity. It is claimed that carbon dated testing has been done in Tokyo and Delhi on these rice balls and ascertained them to be more than five thousand years old.

Sita is Hidden after the visit of Hanuman

      Upon hearing Hanuman’s threat and seeing his capabilities, King Ravana decided to hide Sita at various secret locations as a precautionary measure. Ravanagoda, which means Ravana’s place in the Kotmale area, is one such complex of tunnels and caves.

      Istripura is another ingenious network of paths which are interconnected with all major areas of king Ravana’s city. Istripura means “Area of Women” in Sinhala. This refers to the retinue of ladies Ravana made available to look after Sita.

      Konda Kattu Gala refers to the many intruding tunnels and caves in this area. This seems to be a part of a great ingenious network of paths, which is interconnected to all the major areas of King Ravana’s city. Sita devi took bath in this very stream and had dried her hair sitting on a rock and put clips to her hair, hence this rock is known as Konda Kattu Gala. This is situated in the Welimada Area.
Tunnel Network
      This tunnel network proves beyond doubt the architectural brilliance of King Ravana. These tunnels served as a quick means of transport through the hills and also as a secret passage and networked all the important cities, airports and dairy farms. A close look at these tunnels indicates that they are man-made and not natural formations. The Buddhist shrine at Kalutara was once where King Ravana’s palace and a tunnel existed. Additional existing tunnel mouths are situated at Welimada, Ravana cave at Bandarawela, Senapitiya at Halagala, Ramboda, Labookelle, Wariyapola/Matale, and Sitakotuwa/Hasalaka, along with many more tunnels. Some have also said that Ravana had a tunnel that went all the way to South America, in which he had stored much of his gold and treasury.

Preparing for Battle

      Gayathri Peedum is believed to be the place from where King Ravana’s son Meghanath propitiated Lord Shiva with penance and pujas, and in turn was granted super natural powers by Lord Shiva prior to the battle. Neelawari is located in the North of the country in the Jaffna peninsula and is where Lord Rama shot an arrow to the ground to obtain water for his army upon arriving at Lanka.
      Dondra, Seenigama & Hikkaduwa are places in the South of Lanka where Sugriva (king of Vanaras, the special species of monkeys) prepared for his onslaught on King Ravana’s forces from the Southern flank.

War Breaks Out

      During the height of the battle Indrajit, elder son of Ravana beheaded a lookalike of Sita Devi in front of Hanuman to break his spirit. This place is known as Sitawaka in the Avissawella area.
Yudhaganawa, meaning battlefield in Sinhala, is a place in Wasgamuwa where the major battles took place.
      Upon being hit by Indrajit’s Brahmastra, both Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army lay unconscious on the battle field. To cure them, Jambavan the veteran monkey instructed Hanuman to go to Sanjeevani Parvatha, the hill of herbs between Rishhaba and Kilasa peaks in the Himalayas and bring the necessary medicinal herbs. As he could not identify which herbs to select, Hanuman uprooted the entire peak with all the herbs growing there from the mountain and returned to Lanka.
      Parts of the hill fell on five places in Sri Lanka; namely Rumassala in Galle, Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, Ritigala close to Habarana on the Habarana Anuradhapura road, Talladi in Mannar, and Katchchathivu in the north.
      Lord Karthikaya Subramaniyam was requested to go to battle by Lord Indra to protect Lord Rama from king Ravana’s Brahmastra. This was at Kataragama, which is now a very popular place for worship among Sri Lankans.

The Fall of Ravana

      Dunuvila lake is a place from which Lord Rama fired the Brahmastra arrow at king Ravana who was directing the war from Laggala. It is here that King Ravana was killed by Lord Rama’s brahmastharam. The top of Laggala is flat and is believed to have been affected by the power of the brahmastharam. “Dhunu” means “arrow” and “Vila” means “Lake,” so it gets its name from this pastime.
      The name Laggala is derived from the Sinhala term “Elakke Gala“, which means Target Rock. Laggala served as a sentry point to observe Lord Rama’s army. The cartels behind the Dunuvila lake are called Laggala. It was from this rock the first glimpse of Lord Rama’s army was sighted and informed to King Ravana. This hill is geographically the highest part of the northern region of King Ravana’s city and on a clear day the north east side that is Thiru Koneshwaran and north west side that is Talai Mannar can be seen even today. King Ravana is believed to have done meditation on this rock and prayed to Lord Shiva at Thiru Koneshwaran from this point.
      After Ravana’s death, his body was kept at Yahangala, meaning “Bed Rock” in Sinhala. This is situated along the Mahiyanganaya – Wasgamuwa road. King Ravana’s body was kept upon this rock so his countrymen could pay their last respects to their dear departed king. Geographically this rock is visible from miles away on its 3 sides.

After the War

      Sita met Rama after the war, and Divurumpola is the place she under went the “Agni” test of fire where she proved her innocence and purity to Rama. Divurumpola means the “Place of Oath” in Sinhala. She came out unscathed and proved her innocence and purity.
The message of Rama’s victory over Ravana was sent to Sita. After a bath and adorned with jewels she was taken on a palanquin before Rama. Meeting her husband after such a long time she was overcome with emotion, but Rama seemed lost in thought. At length he spoke, “I have killed my enemy. I have done my duty as a true king. But you have lived for a year in the enemy’s abode. It is not proper I take you back now.”
      Sita was shocked. “You have broken my heart” she said, “only the uncultured speak like this. Have you forgotten the noble family I come from? Is it my fault Ravana carried me off by force? All the time, my mind, my heart, and soul were fixed on you alone, my lord!”
She turned to Lakshmana and said with tears streaming from her eyes, “prepare for me a fire. That is the only remedy for this sorrow of mine.” Lakshmana, in suppressed anger, looked at Rama’s face, but there was no softening, he lighted a big fire. Sita reverently went round her husband and approached the blazing fire. Joining her palms in salutation, she said, “if I am pure, O fire, protect me.” With these words she jumped into the flames. Then arose from out of the flames, Agni the fire-god, whom she had invoked. He lifted Sita from the flames unharmed, and presented her to Rama. “Don’t I know that she is spotless and pure at heart?” cried Rama, standing up to receive her. “It’s for the sake of the world that I made her go through this ordeal of fire, so that the truth may be known to all.”
      The spot was initially fenced and walled to protect it from the surrounding wilderness. Then a sapling of the Anuradhapura bodhi tree (one of the 30 original saplings) was planted as a mark of respect for the place. A small pagoda was built subsequently under the Bodhi tree. The temple depicts paintings of the Ramayana epic.
      Today the temple is revered for the oath taken by Sita devi and even the legal system permits and accepts the swearing done at this temple while settling disputes between parties.
      Vantharamulai is a place that Lord Rama, Sita Devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman rested after the turmoil of the war. Amaranthakali is believed to be the place where they had the first meal after the war.
      When returning to India in one of King Ravana’s vimanas, Rama felt he was followed by a Brahmahasti Dhosham, a malevolent black shadow or dark cloud capable of taking His life, as He had killed Ravana, a Brahmin. When the vimana was passing over Munneswaram, He felt the vimana vibrating, and at Muneswaram realized the “Brahmaasthi Dosham” was not following him at this particular point. So Rama felt safe from the “Brahmahasti Dhosham” at Munneswaram. So Lord Rama stopped the vimana at this juncture and asked Lord Shiva for a remedy. This is the place where Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva and where Shiva blessed Lord Rama and advised installing and praying to four lingams to get rid of the Dhosham. The first Lingam was installed at Manavari about 5 Km from here, near the banks of Deduru Oya. This was followed by the lingams at Thiru Koheneshwaram, Thiru Ketheshwaram, and Rameshwaram in India.
      It is believed that Munneswaram predates the Ramayana and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was located here. Munneswaram means the first temple for Shiva (Munnu + Easwaran). A Shiva Lingam was already here when lord Rama visited the place.
After King Ravana’s death, Ravana’s brother Vibhishana was coroneted as a king of Lanka by Lakshmana at Kelaniya. Kelaniya is the closest site to Colombo connected to the Ramayana.
      There exists a Buddhist temple, the Kelaniya Buddhist Temple and shrine for King Vibishana. There are murals enshrined outside the Buddhist temple depicting the crowning of Vibishana. Vibishana is considered one of the four guardian deities of Sri Lanka, and temples for Vibishana are found throughout Sri Lanka. A painting of King Vibishana also adorns the new Parliament of Sri Lanka. In fact, there are no temples dedicated for Ravana, but many exist for Vibishana; this goes to prove that his stand towards Vedic Dharma & justice made people to revere him as a god in Sri Lanka.
      The Kelani River is mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana and Vibishana’s palace was said to be on the banks of this river. The reason Lakshmana crowned Vibishana was because Lord Rama had to return to India to continue his self-exile of 14 years to honor the commitment to His father, King Dasarath of Ayodhya. King Vibishana was considered a fair king, as he supported Rama against his own brother’s injustice. Many devotees that visit King Vibishana’s shrine pray to him asking his intervention to a fair recourse to their problems.
Other Places of Interests Connected to the Ramayana in Sri Lanka
1. Kanniya – The place where King Ravana carried out the last rites for his mother.

2. Gavagala or Ghoushala – King Ravana’s dairy farm.
3. Airports of King Ravana:
Thotupolakanda (means “Mountain Port” in Sinhala) at Horton plains
Weragantota (means “Place of Aircraft” landing in Sinhala) in Mahiyangana
Ussangoda (means “Area of Lift” in Sinhala) in the Southern coast
Wariapola (means “Aircraft Port” in Sinhala) in Matale and Kurunagala.

4. Neelawari — A place where Lord Rama aimed an arrow to obtain water.

5. Panchamukha Anjanaya Temple, Kalubowila – This is the first Anjaneyar Temple in Sri Lanka and also the only Panchamukha (five faced) Anjaneyar Temple in Sri Lanka. It is the only temple in the world to have a chariot for Ajanyar. The chariot festival is held annually at end of December to the beginning of January. Hanuman’s mother is Anjan. Hanuman is known as Anjan + Aiyar = Anjaneyar in South India (Hamuman in North India).

6. Rama Temple at Rattota — One of the few Rama’s temple in Sri Lanka.

7. Maha Ravanagoda / Kuda Ravanagoda — Ravana’s places in the south.

8. Veedurupola – Buddhist temple dedicated to research on Ramayana.

9. Sri Baktha Hanuman Temple — on the hills of Ramboda is a place where Hanuman was searching for Sita Devi. The name is also associated with Rama’s army. Rampadai means Rama’s force in Tamil. The Chinmaya mission of Sri Lanka built a temple with Hanuman as the presiding deity. On every full moon day special pujas are conducted and witnessed by thousands of devotees.
10. Manavari Temple is the first lingam installed and prayed to Lord Rama and till date this lingam is called as Ramalinga Shivan. Rameshwaram is the only other lingam in the world named after Lord Rama.
11. Rama Temple – Rattota. There are a few Rama temples in Sri Lanka, this is one of them. This is the only Rama temple in this area. This is a privately managed temple. This is one of the most scenic routes to travel from Matale to visit Laggala (on the northern side of Knuckles).
12. Kataragama Temple – This is the temple of Lord Karthikeya Subramaniam at Kataragama. Lord Karthikeya was requested to go to the battlefield by Lord Indra on the last day of war. This was done to protect Lord Rama from the wrath of the Brahmastra aimed by King Ravana which otherwise would have weakened Lord Rama. The benefit was that the most powerful brahmasthra weapon aimed at Lord Rama for the second time was rendered useless by the presence of Lord Karthikeya.
13. Ussangoda – According to the Ramayana, after meeting Sita devi, Hanuman dedicated to test the strength of the mighty King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. In the events that unfolded, Hanuman’s tail was set on fire by the Rakshasas, who in turn went on to torch some parts of King Ravana’s empire. Ussangoda is one of the torched areas, which is said to have been an airport used by King Ravana.
14. Vishnu Devala, Dondra – These are the places from where King Sugriva of the Vanara’s started his onslaught on King Ravana’s force.
15. Ravana Goda – This is a place where Sita devi stayed during her transit. This area is also linked with tunnels and caves, which runs through to other parts of King Ravana’s kingdom. This is situated in the Kotmala area opposite to Ramboda rock. The main cave entrance was closed by an earth-slip in 1947. Locals believe this part of the complex was used as a prison by Ravana. The cave complex has not been fully explored.
16. Ravana’s mummy – An additional site connected to local belief, but yet to be discovered is the place where locals believe Ravana’s mummified body is hidden within the mountain range of Harasbatha, Ragala and Walapane.
References
[This article and more information at  www.stephen-knapp.com]

How Yoga can Lead to a Universal Vision of Humanity, by Stephen Knapp

        First of all, yoga is not a religion, it is a spiritual science that has been practiced and developed over thousands of years. Archeological evidence shows figures in yogic positions from the Indus Valley region that date as far back as 3000 BCE. Yoga is also mentioned in various Vedic literature, such as some of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita, the Bhagavata Purana, and others, all of which date back thousands of years.
Religion often deals with externals, such as how we act, what we do, and customs and rituals. Spirituality, on the other hand, may also use rituals and practices, but is focused on our internal changes and development, and is, thus, more personal and individualistic. It does not depend on a church or our connection with an institution. Neither does it depend on a strict dogma, but it  goes beyond all that. This is the Vedic system. The goal of religion may be to reach heaven, but the goal of Vedic spirituality, from which originates the yoga system, is moksha, or liberation from all forms of materialistic limitations, providing a reawakening of our real spiritual identity, and even complete  entrance into the spiritual dimension.
The purpose of any true spiritual path is to raise our consciousness to the point of allowing us to directly perceive the spiritual strata. Being spiritual means to recognize one’s spiritual identity and practically see the transcendental essence of all others. It also means to see that we are all parts and parcels of God and to respect each other in that light. That is one of the goals of yoga.
We need to understand that all things that are spiritual function on a higher plane of existence, one that is hardly perceptible by our mind, intelligence, or senses. The spiritual dimension can only be detected when our consciousness reaches a higher level of awareness. It is similar to radio and television waves. These are not perceptible by our mind or senses. They remain invisible, yet they are all around us. In our base level of awareness, or unawareness, we may think that such things as radio waves and television frequencies are not real. Of course, we may be viewed as quite uneducated by those who are familiar with their existence. So the thing is, even if you cannot perceive them, if you have a receiver that can detect or even utilize such subtle waves or frequencies, then you will know that radio and television waves are not only a fact, but can be used for many practical purposes.
The same thing goes for a genuine spiritual path. It is meant to bring our consciousness up to a higher level of awareness, to fine tune it so that we can receive or perceive the higher vibrations of the spiritual strata. As we practice a genuine spiritual tradition, then our consciousness can become refined and focused enough so we can receive the subtle frequencies and perceive the reality of the spiritual domain. Then we can have our own spiritual experiences. The point is that the more spiritual we become, the more we can perceive that which is spiritual. As we develop and grow in this way, the questions about spiritual life are no longer a mystery to solve, but become a reality to experience. It becomes a practical part of our lives. And how to reach that level of perception is supplied in the Vedic methodologies that have been preserved and handed to us by the previous sages who have also used them for their own development and spiritual experience. And that is what the Vedic process has been giving to humanity for thousands of years.
The Vedic system is practically non-denominational. It is not for any one culture or ethnic group. It is for all of humanity and is called Sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma is both a path and a state of being. It means, essentially, the eternal nature of the soul, that which always exists. We are all spiritual beings within material bodies, so the goal and our main duty of human existence is to regain that spiritual identity. This is attained by a reawakening of our higher consciousness and the perception of our spiritual identity. It is through the process of yoga and the path of Sanatana-dharma that we can reach this higher awareness and perceive exactly who we are. This is precisely the purpose of yoga.
The Sanskrit root of the word yoga is yuj, which means to bind, link, or unite with the object of our meditation. Thus, it is to unite the mind, intellect, the will, body, and soul to God, or the jivatma to the Paramatma, the individual soul to the Supersoul, through the discipline of yoga. Furthermore, the word religion comes from the Latin word religio, which also means to bring back or bind to God. Thus, there is no difference between the goal of yoga and the deeper goal of religion.
Nowadays people often practice yoga merely for improving their physical fitness, or for their mental and overall well-being. There is nothing wrong with that, and yoga can do that most efficiently. But there is also a higher aspect of yoga, which for some has been forgotten. The great rishis of old in India gave it for our preparation to reach higher states of consciousness. And such training was performed for years to attain more developed states of being. Thus, the process of hatha yoga was given to prepare one for entering the elevated stages of meditation. Hatha yoga is a beginning process for preparing the body and mind for spiritual awakening through the practice of raja or astanga yoga. Thus, it is also quite effective in reducing any diseases, physical defects, or mental disturbances. And this is why some people use it as a preventative medical therapy. It is the imbalance in the energy system that contributes much of the psychic or mental diseases that people suffer. Hatha yoga, along with breathing exercises,  pranayama, can eliminate many such problems. However, it is not enough to use only particular asanas or yoga postures to remedy certain problems. It must be used holistically to treat the whole person so the student, or the sadhaka, can rise to a higher level of being. The person’s character, thought processes, mind, senses, and physical nature, must all rise to a more refined level of existence. That is what is needed, otherwise the goal of yoga remains incomplete. This, it seems, is what has been forgotten by many modern yoga teachers.
In order for the mind to be purified, the body also has to be purified, or prepared spiritually. Hatha yoga is that preliminary process by which we prepare the body, nervous system, mind, lungs or breathing, and nadi channels so the energy within can flow most efficiently for states of deep meditation. As we increase our ability for deeper meditation, naturally higher awareness also develops, and our consciousness will operate on a higher frequency level, a level in which we begin to perceive the spiritual strata. And this also means that we can perceive our real spiritual identity beyond the physical body, both of ourselves and all others.

SEEING THE DIVINITY IN EACH OF US

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the Aikido method of martial arts said: “Above all, one must unite one’s heart with that of the gods. The essence of God is love, an all-pervading love that reaches every corner of the universe. If one is not united to God, the universe cannot be harmonized. Martial artists who are not in harmony with the universe are merely executing combat techniques, not Aiki (Ai–uniting harmony and love with ki–the universal energy).”
This understanding is very important even in ordinary, everyday life. If we are not working in harmony with love and universal energy, we are simply going through daily routines that are ineffectual and empty. We need to practice the methods which also awaken the connection we have with God, the universe, and each other. This is the way we can fully grow and develop. Then our life will have meaning and purpose. We will be guided by our own upliftment and will be able to assist in the upliftment of others. We will also be able to recognize the all-pervasiveness of the Supreme Being.
The essence of this perception has been related in the ancient Vedic texts, as we find in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.11) which states, “He is the one God hidden in all beings, all pervading, the self within all beings, watching over all worlds, dwelling in all beings, the witness, and the perceiver.” If one can truly understand this and become enlightened in this way, he will see that he is a part of the Supreme Reality and realize his union with all beings. Within that enlightenment one can reach Divine Love. This love is based on the spiritual oneness and harmony between all beings, which is sublime. It is a source of spiritual bliss. It is a love based not on bodily relations or mutual attraction, but it is based on being one in spirit, beyond the temporary nature of the body. This is the love for which everyone searches, from which springs forth peace, harmony, and unity, of which all other kinds of love are mere reflections. This state of being is reached only through spirituality, which is one of the main goals of yoga. Therefore, a life without spirituality is a life incomplete. All have the need to fill their souls with spirituality, or the presence of God, in order to feel fullness, peace, contentment, and unity.
As the Supreme says in the ancient Vedic text of Bhagavad-gita (6.30): “To him who sees Me in everything and everything in Me, I am never lost, and he is not lost to Me.”
In this way, a person who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, and who sees all beings as His parts or extensions, and who sees the Lord within everything, never hates anything nor any being. One who thus sees all living beings as inner spiritual sparks, having the same spiritual quality of eternal nature with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. Thus, how can there be illusion or anxiety for him? This is the yoga vision.
To begin seeing how things really are, and to recognize the Divinity in each of us, we have to start adjusting our consciousness. This takes place by being trained in spiritual knowledge and by the practice of yoga which purifies the mind. When the mind becomes purified and the false ego no longer influences our vision, we become sensible people. As the Bhagavad-gita (13.31-32) says, when a sensible man ceases to see different identities due to different material bodies, he attains the spiritual conception. Those with the vision of eternity see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite being within the material body, the soul is above material contact.
As the son is a part and parcel of the father, similarly, we are all individual parts of the supreme spiritual Father. In fact, the whole creation displays different energies which are expansions of the Supreme Energetic. Thus, there is diversity within the variegated material energy which expands from the Supreme Being. These expansions manifest in millions of species of life, as explained in the Vedic literature. Therefore, although we are in different material bodies, we are all expansions of the same spiritual energy. This is oneness and unity in diversity. On the spiritual platform, which is absolute, we are all the same. We are all spiritual beings, servants of the Supreme Being, undergoing life in the material creation. That is real unity. This perception is the perfection of the spiritually conscious person. He sees all living beings as reflections of the One, the Supreme Being. Thus, in a broad sense, there is one interest. Spiritually there is never any clash.
We are all but small reflections of the Supreme Consciousness. When we put the greater whole above ourselves, and realize that we all contribute to the condition of this planet, then uniting with a common cause and with that Supreme Consciousness will be easy.
This planet does not allow us to be isolated. We all must work together and interface with others on some level. One lesson that this school of existence on this planet forces us to learn is that when we come together willingly to communicate, with a positive purpose, or to pray together, and to unite for the good of the whole, then harmony and peace can exist. That peace forms and manifests when we focus on our spiritual nature, which brings between us our unity in the Supreme. Making this the center of our existence will easily bring peace, unity, and harmony in this world because it brings in the spiritual vibration that emanates from the Supreme. That vibration is one of spiritual love. It is all that is eternal. All else is temporary. Therefore, focusing on and using our energy on temporary emotions such as envy, jealousy, and anger, will only keep us far away from the Supreme, and from reaching any peace or unity between us.
We have to recognize how similar we are in order to expand our heart toward others we may have previously rejected. This is how love and understanding can dissolve the boundaries that keep us stifled as a society and individuals, and keep us from entering higher dimensions of consciousness. There is no other way to grow spiritually. A lack of love for each other is a reflection of a lack of love for God.
When we think in spiritual consciousness, we do not recognize others by their differences. We see our similarities. This is easy when we think in terms of being sons and daughters of the same Supreme Father. We all belong to the One. Only in this way can there be universal love among all living entities. Only in this way can we begin to think that we are all related to each other. Once we establish our relationship with the Supreme, then we can establish our true relationship with everyone else. Our spiritual nature is eternal, and our spiritual relation with the Supreme is eternal. Therefore, our spiritual relationship with each other is also eternal. It is not subject to time and circumstances. This central point has to be established in order for there to be universal peace, brotherhood, equality, and unity in the world. This central point must be a part of every religion or it remains incomplete.
In essence, we are all consciousness in material forms. Consciousness cannot be destroyed. It is the essence of God in each of us. We are all spiritual beings, reflections of the Divine. We are not our beliefs, our cultures, or our minds and bodies. We are all divine souls on a wondrous journey through Truth. We have all manifested from God, the Supreme Truth, and we are all evolving back to God. As the Manu-samhita (12.125) relates, “Thus, he who by means of Self sees the self in all created things, after attaining equality with all, enters into Brahman [spiritual consciousness], the highest place.” That is the ultimate goal, and that is the vision by which we can attain unity with one and all. This spiritual perception can automatically be facilitated through the practice of yoga and meditation.

[From www.stephen-knapp.com]

SAVE YOUR CULTURE, By Stephen Knapp

After touring the area of Northeastern India in late 2002, I can more easily understand the value of the culture of that region, and the need to protect and preserve it. The people of the area are some of the nicest, simplest, and most friendly people I have ever encountered. They show a high degree of respect toward others and for life itself. It would be a real shame if that should ever change.

On the other hand, I come from America, a land rich in facility, technology, wealth, business, global enterprises, and the desire in most everyone to climb the social ladder to increasingly better positions and higher pay. It also has the high crime, the pollution, as well as the selfishness, competition, lack of respect for others, and the impersonal relationships that come with such an environment. Now I ask you, is this real progress? Is this the kind of progress we should be making? Obviously, as we can see from the results of the economic difficulties the whole nation is facing in 2009, it does not always provide the kind of results we expect from it.

We have to have the foresight to see that opulence without culture and time for introspection leads to a shallow life, even a meaningless life. These days in the West, people look for culture, but since America is so young, we have to look for it from outside our borders. And people in the East may be surprised that Westerners often look toward them for culture. Westerners often look to the East for a deeper understanding of life, of who they are, and to learn what is their connection with the universe and God. There are more Westerners than ever before who practice yoga, study Eastern philosophy, and who are adopting dietary and health disciplines of the East for improving their lives. So the people of India should not think that giving up their own culture or spiritual path to adopt some new technology or Western religion is going to be the answer to their problems. That is not the way it works.

As I have traveled all over India, I have seen that one of the prime reasons for many of the social and environmental problems of the country is not the culture itself, but it is the distancing or even a disconnection from it. Remaining fixed in the true principles of your own indigenous culture, which has gone on for thousands of years, is often the means of keeping social problems to a minimum. But that also means staying educated in what your culture actually teaches and handing that knowledge down to younger generations so that it never becomes lost.

This is something that is important to understand. The Vedic and indigenous cultures of India are the oldest in the world. They have been developed by some of the wisest sages the planet has ever seen. This culture has given some of the most profound knowledge and deepest insights and understanding of life that mankind has ever known. It has existed for thousands of years. So who is to tell me that it is not good enough to last for another several thousand years? Who is to tell me that its philosophy is backward or not up with the times? Do not accept another person coming to tell you that your own culture is not good enough, especially a foreigner who mostly wants you to convert to his Western form of religion, or who tells you that what you do is evil. Since when did it become evil? Who is he to tell you this when his own culture or religion does not have the many years of development as your own?

So don’t think you have to give up your own culture in order to meet someone else’s definition of being “civilized”. Some of these Western religions have been a part of some of the worst wars and most brutal carnage in world history. And so many are divided into numerous sects, like the Catholics and the Baptists, all of which fight among themselves for converts. This should make you ask, how can unity come from such disunity? How can social harmony come from such disharmony? How is this a sign of advanced civilization?

So do not give up your culture or feel that you must convert to some other religion. Do not be tempted to think that your ways are backward. As my own spiritual master, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami would say, and as Vivekananda has also said, that we only need to combine the Western technology with the Eastern philosophy. This is what helps makes for a progressive society. Develop yourself on all levels, the material and the spiritual. Simply broaden your education. You don’t have to give up your culture or spiritual path to do that. Merely learn and keep up with the modern developments in the world, and use the latest technology when it’s applicable to further enhance your development in your economy, ecology, agriculture, transportation, communication systems, construction of roads, and in your health systems. But there is no need to become so influenced by it that you should feel that you need to give up your own culture, your own values, or your own spiritual practices in the name of progress.

So what should you do?? These are some of the solutions that can be followed not only by the people of Northeast India, but by people of the indigenous cultures from around the world.

 

SOLUTIONS

 

  1. Practice your own culture and spiritual path. Be proud of what it offers.
  2. Learn it deeply. Stay familiar with your traditions, rituals, and holy days, and pass it along to the youth.
  3. Make sure the traditions and stories are recorded in books so they can be studied, remembered, practiced, and handed down through the generations.
  4. Compile the books of prayers, songs, and stories, and with translations, and make them available to everyone.
  5. Make the proper and benevolent images to worship where and when it is helpful.
  6. Construct centers for prayer, worship, and practice. Such centers are the basis of preserving the culture and offering education in them.
  7. Congregate together regularly, and be supportive toward one another.
  8. Celebrate and enjoy your festivals, and know and discuss the meaning of them so they are not lost, and be willing to share the beauty and joy of them with all others.
  9. In a friendly way, encourage others you know to participate as the basis of a united community.
  10. Recognize the need to be pro-active in working to keep your culture. Join or form the organizations that help you preserve and protect your culture.
  11. Establish the means or campaign that will assist people to realize the value of their own spiritual heritage.
  12. Form political action committees to (A) make sure politicians are aware of your issues, (B) to make sure that they are representing you properly, and (C) to unite voters to bring in a better political representative for the indigenous culture or vote out those who are ineffective.
  13. A group should be established in every town and village, if possible, to encourage people in this way.
  14. Come together in groups regularly to participate in and discuss your culture, and develop the ways of defending it, especially when it is under attack or threatened by conversion groups who are under a foreign influence.
  15. Also recognize the need for true harmony and unity, and know that a true religion or spiritual path does not create disharmony by dividing people into the “sinners” and the “saved” simply because of following different religions or spiritual traditions.
  16. There must also be the maturity to balance the old traditions with any new modifications.
  17. Unite with other organizations, groups, or village tribes who have similar interests and concerns for cultural preservation, and share information and support with other groups.
  18. Start your own schools. Write or compile teacher’s guide books on ways to teach children and others the culture. In this way, the culture will more likely be preserved and passed down through the generations.
  19. Work on ways for economic self-sufficiency to be free from the need of support from organizations or religions that actually disdain your own original culture.
  20. Followers of Vedic Dharma, Hindus, must be ready and willing to stand up and distribute knowledge to overcome misconceptions, false media reports, the false history of India, and any social or religious injustices that take place toward its people.
  21. All foreigners who enter India, especially under a tourist visa, and are seen to be engaged in converting people from their own culture, traditions, and religions, which is illegal in India, must be reported to the government or other groups who will do something about this.
  22. Know how to work within the legal system and do not be afraid to take organizations and people to court in order to resolve issues, or delay their activities of denigrating and distorting the truth of your own culture. Bring in lawyers who are willing to help you and who share your concern.
  23. Approach the wealthy who will help contribute to do something about these wrongs, and assist in various projects to facilitate the spiritual development of all Sanatana-dharmists and people everywhere.
  24. Acharyas or local spiritual elders must also reach out to the villagers and tribals to show them welcome into the Vedic family, and that they are respected as members of the Global Vedic Community.
  25. Encourage all Hindus and people of the indigenous traditions to participate in politics as a vote bank to oust the politicians who improperly represent the Hindu/Vedic community, and to vote in and support those political leaders who will. This must never be taken for granted. Also, learn how to run for office and get involved in politics to better defend your culture and bring particular issues to the fore.
  26. Report or write to newspapers immediately when errors or unfairness or discrimination appear in their reports. Also, learn to write to the editor on these issues, some of which may get published to offer a different view.
  27. When the government or politicians provide laws that favor minorities, or add holidays to the calendar year at the expense of the majority population in India, or refuse to recognize the holidays or traditions of the growing Indian community in countries outside India, then act in ways that will show support for your view and cause in order to make the government realize the importance to change what it is doing, and to provide more support for your own community. Be ready and willing to take such cases to court if necessary.
  28. Learn to use and control the media to defend against any misconceptions of the culture. Be ready and learn how to establish radio stations, or radio and television shows and programs to broadcast what is of interest to the community, along with spiritual knowledge that is of interest to everyone. You may be surprised at how many people become regular listeners, or how you become the connection between people and the Vedic and indigenous tradition. This is a strong way to present correct conceptions and understanding of the culture, or keep people informed regarding what is actually happening in the district.
  29. All Hindus and people of indigenous cultures must become more united in this way, and show their unity. They must also take a stand on important issues together, such as the Rama Sethu issue and others. I have often said, if the Hindus or Sanatana-dharmists could ever really unite, they would be a force that could change the world, and keep India as the homeland of a dynamic and thriving Vedic tradition. Remember, that the Global Vedic Community represents one billion people. That is no small number.
  30. Hindus, Sanatana-dharmists, Vedic devotees, and people of the indigenous traditions must be proud to be what they are. They should not feel afraid or embarrassed to be Hindu, or from India, and must be able to defend their culture and correct misconceptions that other people may have. They must become a collective voice of one billion strong and join in the Global Vedic Community.
  31. They can also participate in community activities, and open their temples to the increasing number of Westerners who are curious and interested in the Vedic culture and its traditions. The Vedic community is looking for support and new participants, and the West is the biggest marketplace for their culture than anywhere else right now. So, why not work together to provide enhanced spiritual knowledge for everyone? If we want punya or spiritual credit, there is no way of getting it faster than assisting others in their spiritual development. So, what are you waiting for?
  32. Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) must also do their part to preserve, protect, and promote the true understanding of Vedic Dharma, especially in India, and contribute toward the well-being of India’s future. They must also help support those who are working in a similar way, such as writers, lecturers, or Swamis who can help create awareness of current issues and find resolutions for them, and help wake up Hindus of India to become pro-active for the protection of Vedic Dharma. It is not enough simply to work for enlightenment, but NRIs most also help to preserve the freedom so that we can continue to follow the path of enlightenment without obstacles.

If Hindus can work together in this way, this can certainly and quickly change the view and the support the world will have toward Hindus at large.

India’s civilization is the oldest in the world. It has withstood the test of time when others have crumbled. It has weathered the onslaught of many foreign invaders and has still retained its religious and spiritual values, along with its original customs and traditions, which are unique in nature. It is the Eastern culture which has shown itself to be the most respectful and tolerant, allowing all forms of deities and spiritual paths to remain, and permitting the expression of every form of spirituality. It has given liberty of individual thought as the ultimate freedom, which other tyrannical civilizations have denounced, which has also brought about their own demise. Therefore, you have every reason to value what you already have and continue practicing it.

Not Feeling the Bliss of Spiritual Life? Here’s the Cure, by Stephen Knapp

        Sometimes I hear devotees say that they have been chanting Hare Krishna for thirty or forty years or more, and are still waiting to feel the taste for it, or the ecstasy from chanting, or from doing devotional service. I even heard where some devotee workshops were saying that it is not uncommon that devotees do not feel this bliss even after years of chanting, and that sometimes people leave the movement because they don’t feel the higher taste. They did not get what they expected. But the cure for that is clearly explained.
So, let’s look at exactly how we can feel the bliss of our chanting Hare Krishna and in engaging in the devotional service of Lord Krishna. This is clearly described in the Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila Chapter 6, in the descriptions of the glories of Sri Advaita Acharya. Therein it first explains how Sri Advaita Acharya is the expansion of Maha-Vishnu, the creator of the cosmic manifestation. So, it would seem that He is one of the centers or sources of all the bliss that could ever be available. But that is not exactly how it works. In Adi-Lila 6, verses 4-13, it explains the potency of Lord Advaita Acharya:
“Lord Advaita Acharya is the incarnation of Maha-Vishnu, whose main function is to create the cosmic world through the actions of maya.
“Because He is nondifferent from Hari, the Supreme Lord, He is called Advaita, and because He propagates the cult of devotion, He is called Acharya. He is the Lord and the incarnation of the Lord’s devotee. Therefore I take shelter of Him.
“Sri Advaita Acharya is indeed directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. His glory is beyond the conception of ordinary living beings.
“Maha-Vishnu performs all the functions for the creation of the universes. Sri Advaita Acharya is His direct incarnation.
“That purusha [form of the Supreme] creates and maintains with His external energy. He creates innumerable universes in His pastimes.
“By His will He manifests Himself in unlimited forms, in which He enters each and every universe.
“Sri Advaita Acharya is a plenary part of that purusha and so is not different from Him. Indeed, Sri Advaita Acharya is not separate but is another form of that purusha.
“He [Advaita Acharya] helps in the pastimes of the purusha, with whose material energy and by whose will He creates innumerable universes.
“Being a reservoir of all auspicious attributes, Sri Advaita Acarya is all-auspicious for the world. His characteristics, activities and name are always auspicious.
“Maha-Vishnu creates the entire material world with millions of His parts, energies and incarnations.”
So, herein, we can begin to understand that Sri Advaita Acharya and Maha-Vishnu are completely spiritual. Being so, They are in constant contact with the supreme bliss that comes from the spiritual abode, and They must also be one of the sources of such ecstasy. Right? But let us read on to further understand Sri Advaita Acharya’s power, in texts 18-27:
“The Lord infuses the material ingredients with His own creative potency. Then, by the power of the Lord, creation takes place.
“In the form of Advaita, He infuses the material ingredients with creative energy. Therefore, Advaita is the original cause of creation.
“Sri Advaita Acharya is the creator of millions and millions of universes, and by His expansions [as Garbhodakashaya Vishnu] He maintains each and every universe.
“Sri Advaita is the principal limb [anga] of Narayana. Srimad-Bhagavatam speaks of ‘limb’ as ‘a plenary portion’ of the Lord.
“O Lord of lords, You are the seer of all creation. You are indeed everyone’s dearest life. Are You not, therefore, my father, Narayana? ‘Narayana’ refers to one whose abode is in the water born from Nara [Garbhodakashaya Vishnu], and that Narayana is Your plenary portion. All Your plenary portions are transcendental. They are absolute and are not creations of maya.” (From Srimad-Bhagavatam: 10.14.14)
“This verse describes that the limbs and plenary portions of the Lord are all spiritual; They have no relationship with the material energy.
“Why has Sri Advaita been called a limb and not a part? The reason is that ‘limb’ implies greater intimacy.
“Sri Advaita, who is a reservoir of virtues, is the main limb of Maha-Vishnu. His full name is Advaita, for He is identical in all respects with that Lord.
“As He had formerly created all the universes, now He descended to introduce the path of bhakti-yoga.”

So, how did He do this? How did He call Lord Krishna to appear? It is explained in text 28 and in Srila Prabhupada’s purport that although He described the process of bhakti-yoga, what is more revealing is that, in spite of all of His potencies, He manifested Himself as a servant of the Supreme Lord, specifically as a servant of Lord Caitanya, which gives us the first indication as to how anyone can feel the bliss in our devotional service:
“He delivered all living beings by offering the gift of Krishna-bhakti. He explained the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam in the light of devotional service.”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada: “Although Sri Advaita Prabhu is an incarnation of Vishnu, for the welfare of the conditioned souls He manifested Himself as a servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and throughout all His activities He showed Himself to be an eternal servitor. Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda also manifested the same principle, although They also belong to the category of Vishnu. If Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityananda and Advaita Prabhu had exhibited Their all-powerful Vishnu potencies within this material world, people would have become greater impersonalists, monists and self-worshipers than they had already become under the spell of this age. Therefore the Personality of Godhead and His different incarnations and forms played the parts of devotees to instruct the conditioned souls how to approach the transcendental stage of devotional service. Advaita Acharya especially intended to teach the conditioned souls about devotional service. The word acharya means ‘teacher.’ The special function of such a teacher is to make people Krishna conscious. A bona fide teacher following in the footsteps of Advaita Acharya has no other business than to spread the principles of Krishna consciousness all over the world. The real qualification of an acharya is that he presents himself as a servant of the Supreme. Such a bona fide acharya can never support the demoniac activities of atheistic men who present themselves as God. It is the main business of an acharya to defy such imposters posing as God before the innocent public.”

In spite of all the powers of Sri Advaita Acharya, He still felt it was best to call Lord Caitanya to descend into this material world to do what no other form of the Lord can do. However, the means by which He called Lord Caitanya will give us the techniques which we should also use to call the Lord into our own lives, as described in text 34:
“He worshiped Krishna with tulasi leaves and water of the Ganges and called for Him in a loud voice. Thus Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared on earth, accompanied by His personal associates.”
In this way, Sri Advaita Acharya called Lord Caitanya in a Loud Voice. In other words, there was no other focus for Sri Advaita Acharya. All other thoughts were vacant because of this intense clarity, intention, and singleness of purpose. This is what we should have, singleness of purpose to the point wherein all other intentions and desires are expelled from our minds. We need to call on Lord Krishna with full focus on Him, and this is how He will respond.
Of course, in our present condition it does not mean we give up all of our other responsibilities, but our understanding should be that out of everything else we may need to do, this is our ultimate goal, to attain love of Krishna. If that is our focus, then Lord Krishna will arrange that as we develop, all our other responsibilities will fade, until our main goal stands fully revealed, which is to attain singleness of purpose toward our full service to Lord Krishna. Until then, we should always be calling for Krishna in a loud voice, either verbally or mentally.

However, as the following verses (texts 35-43) explain, Sri Caitanya accepted Sri Advaita as His master and descended into this material world. But Sri Advaita Acharya accepted the position of a servant to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. But why would He do this? This is explained:
“It is through Him [Advaita Acharya] that Lord Caitanya spread the sankirtana movement and through Him that He delivered the world.
“The glory and attributes of Advaita Acharya are unlimited. How can the insignificant living entities fathom them?
“Sri Advaita Acharya is a principal limb of Lord Caitanya. Another limb of the Lord is Nityananda Prabhu.
“The devotees headed by Srivasa are His smaller limbs. They are like His hands, face and eyes and His disc and other weapons.
“With all of them Lord Caitanya performed His pastimes, and with them He spread His mission.
“Thinking ‘He [Sri Advaita Acharya] is a disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri,’ Lord Caitanya obeys Him, respecting Him as His spiritual master.
“To maintain the proper etiquette for the principles of religion, Lord Caitanya bows down at the lotus feet of Sri Advaita Acharya with reverential prayers and devotion.
“Sri Advaita Acharya, however, considers Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu His master, and He thinks of Himself as a servant of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
“He forgets Himself in the joy of that conception and teaches all living entities, ‘You are servants of Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu.’”

Here is the key that opens the door to the bliss for which we are always hankering. This is what is taught by Sri Advaita Acharya more than anything else, that we are the servants of Sri Caitanya, we are the servants of Lord Krishna. This concept allows us to enter into the blissful exchange, the ecstatic reciprocation between ourselves and the Lord. This opens our heart and our consciousness to supreme revelation of who we are and our eternal connection with the Lord. This bliss is so powerful that once a person experiences it, he or she will never forget it. Such bliss may not always be constant in our developing stages of bhakti-yoga, but it becomes stronger and more constant as we practice and become increasingly purified, and more Krishna conscious.
The prime key to opening the experience of this bliss, which is deeper than the mental, intellectual or emotional stages of consciousness, is the mood of servitude. It is this mood of servitude that opens the natural joy of the soul. This is clearly explained in the following verses:
Texts 44-46:
“The conception of servitude to Sri Krishna generates such an ocean of joy in the soul that even the joy of oneness with the Absolute, if multiplied ten million times, could not compare to a drop of it.
“He [Sri Advaita Acharya] says, ‘Nityananda and I are servants of Lord Caitanya.’ Nowhere else is there such joy as that which is tasted in this emotion of servitude.
“The most beloved goddess of fortune resides on the chest of Sri Krishna, yet she too, earnestly praying, begs for the joy of service at His feet.”

If I can take a moment to tell my own personal story of feeling this bliss, it was right after I was initiated by Srila Prabhupada, which itself is a great boost to one’s spiritual development, I felt an overwhelming ecstasy in my service to Lord Krishna. It did not matter what I was doing, whether polishing the Deity silver, transferring the prasadam from the Deity plates, mopping the temple floor, chanting Hare Krishna, or even taking a shower, it was all engaged in the mood of simply trying to serve to increase the happiness in the pastimes that were going on between Radha and Krishna in the form of the Deities in the temple. All I wanted to do was to stay in touch with this ecstasy by staying in this mood, which is what maintained my connection with Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, through Srila Prabhupada. Even today when I become absorbed in this mood, no matter whether I’m preaching to others, writing and publishing, or helping manage the local Krishna temple in various ways, if I am in this mood of servitude to the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Kunjabihari here in Detroit, or to Srila Prabhupada, the service takes on a whole new level of feeling the bliss of spiritual life. This is certainly enough to prove that this process of bhakti-yoga works, and that the Lord will reciprocate with His devotees in various ways, which itself continues to instill the confidence to keep working at one’s spiritual development. And do not let any negativity, faultfinding, or offenses get in the way of that, all of which will decrease or prevent you from feeling the ecstasy. And if you lose your bliss, you will know why. It is simply a matter of staying in the right mood.
Not only does Sri Advaita Acharya and Lord Nityananda long to remain in this mood of servitude, but all of the demigods and other great sages and associates of Lord Caitanya also wish to feel this ecstasy by remaining in this mood. In fact, it makes them mad in ecstasy, as described:
Texts 47-53:
“All the associates of Lord Krishna, such as Brahma, Shiva, Narada, Suta and Sanatana Kumara, are very pleased in the sentiment of servitude.
“Sri Nityananda, the wandering mendicant, is the foremost of all the associates of Lord Caitanya. He became mad in the ecstasy of service to Lord Caitanya.
“Srivasa, Haridasa, Ramadäsa, Gadadhara, Murari, Mukunda, Candrashekhara and Vakreshvara are all glorious and are all learned scholars, but the sentiment of servitude to Lord Caitanya makes them mad in ecstasy.
“Thus they dance, sing and laugh like madmen, and they instruct everyone, ‘Just be loving servants of Lord Caitanya..’
“Sri Advaita Acharya thinks, ‘Lord Caitanya considers Me His spiritual master, yet I feel Myself to be only His servant.’
“Love for Krishna has this one unique effect: it imbues superiors, equals and inferiors with the spirit of service to Lord Krishna.”

Herein is another symptom of this bliss, the attainment of indifference to one’s position after attaining this ecstasy in the mood of servitude. In other words, the ecstasy is so powerful that everyone feels united in this mood of serving Krishna. It takes away all differences of position, status, age, sex, ethnicity, or other egoistic forms of identity, and makes way for the ultimate of mutual respect, cooperation, assistance, etc., with other devotees, all for the attainment of the mood of servitude to Lord Krishna. Anyone who experiences this only wants to share it with others, knowing that Lord Krishna also feels great joy when His pastimes expand and His devotees increase by the introduction of other beings into His service. In this way, our own attitude of servitude increases, and the feeling of ecstasy goes deeper.
This is also why Krishna consciousness is a prime system that can pave the way for genuine peace in the world between everyone. If people can begin experiencing this bliss through devotional love for Lord Krishna, so many differences, quarrels, disagreements, wrong perceptions, the influence of the bodily conception of life, etc., will become insignificant. Then we can all move forward together to enter more deeply into our real spiritual identity as servants of the Supreme Lord.
Texts 54-59:
“For evidence, please listen to the examples described in the revealed scriptures, which are corroborated by the realization of great souls.
“Although no one is a more respected elder for Krishna than Nanda Maharaja in Vraja, who in transcendental paternal love has no knowledge that his son is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, still ecstatic love makes him, what to speak of others, feel himself to be a servant of Lord Krishna.
“He too prays for attachment and devotion to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, as the words from his own mouth give evidence.
“My dear Uddhava, please hear me. In truth Krishna is my son, but even if you think that He is God, I would still bear toward Him my own feelings for my son. May my mind be attached to your Lord Krishna.
“May our minds be attached to the lotus feet of your Lord Krishna, may our tongues chant His holy names, and may our bodies lie prostrate before Him.
“Wherever we wander in the material universe under the influence of karma by the will of the Lord, may our auspicious activities cause our attraction to Lord Krishna to increase.”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada: “These verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.47.66–67) were spoken by the denizens of Vrindavana, headed by Maharaja Nanda [Krishna’s father] and his associates, to Uddhava, who had come from Mathura.”

Even in Krishna’s topmost spiritual domain of Goloka Vrindavana, where the residents do not even understand that Krishna is God, they experience the highest bliss by engaging in loving service to Him. How this happens is explained in texts 62-66, as follows:
“Lord Krishna’s friends in Vrindävana, headed by Sridämä, have pure fraternal affection for Lord Krishna and have no idea of His opulences.
“Although they fight with Him and climb upon His shoulders, they worship His lotus feet in a spirit of servitude.
“Some of the friends of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, massaged His feet, and others whose sinful reactions had been destroyed fanned Him with hand-held fans.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.15.17)
“Even the beloved girlfriends of Lord Krishna in Vrindavana, the gopis, the dust of whose feet was desired by Sri Uddhava and who are more dear to Krishna than anyone else, regard themselves as Krishna’s maidservants.”

This is the great good fortune that we all share, as has been given to us by Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, as handed down through the parampara from Sri Advaita Acharya and Lord Caitanya, which gives us the key to open the door to the highest experience of bliss in whatever service we do to Lord Krishna, simply by cultivating the mood of servitude. Therefore, if we are not experiencing this bliss, then we only need to analyze our own attitude, our own mood, and discern where we are going wrong, or what we need to do to make the proper adjustments in our mood and consciousness. When we do that, we may also become mad in the ecstasy of serving the Supreme Object of affection, the God of Love, Lord Sri Krishna. Whether we are jumping in kirtan, or simply absorbed in the bliss of service within ourselves while sitting calmly meditating on the pastimes of Lord Krishna, the bliss can become a constant companion that compels us to bring ourselves ever closer to wanting to perfect our devotion to Lord Krishna, as described next:
Texts 86-87:
“I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, a servant of Lord Caitanya. I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, and a servant of His servants.
“Saying this, Advaita Prabhu dances and loudly sings. Then at the next moment He quietly sits down.”

Not only are all of Lord Krishna’s servants hankering to enter deep into the mood of servitude which enables us to experience the highest ecstasy, but also all of the avatars that expand from Lord Krishna feel the same way.
Texts 88-97:
“The source of the sentiment of servitude is indeed Lord Balarama. The plenary expansions who follow Him are all influenced by that ecstasy.
“Lord Sankarshana, who is one of His incarnations, always considers Himself a devotee.
“Another of His incarnations, Lakshmana, who is very beautiful and opulent, always serves Lord Rama.
“The Vishnu who lies on the Causal Ocean is an incarnation of Lord Sankarshana, and, accordingly, the emotion of being a devotee is always present in His heart.
“Advaita Acharya is a separate expansion of Him. He always engages in devotional service with His thoughts, words and actions.
“By His words He declares, ‘I am a servant of Lord Caitanya.’ Thus with His mind He always thinks, ‘I am His devotee.’
“With His body He worshiped the Lord by offering Ganges water and tulasi leaves, and by preaching devotional service He delivered the entire universe.
“Sesa Sankarsana, who holds all the planets on His heads, expands Himself in different bodies to render service to Lord Krishna.
“These are all incarnations of Lord Krishna, yet we always find that they act as devotees.
“The scriptures call them incarnations as devotees [bhakta-avataras]. The position of being such an incarnation is above all others.”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead appears in different incarnations, but His appearance in the role of a devotee is more beneficial to the conditioned souls than the other incarnations, with all their opulences. Sometimes a conditioned soul is bewildered when he tries to understand the incarnation of Godhead with full opulence. Lord Krishna appeared and performed many uncommon activities, and some materialists misunderstood Him, but in His appearance as Lord Caitanya He did not show much of His opulences, and therefore fewer conditioned souls were bewildered. Misunderstanding the Lord, many fools consider themselves incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but the result is that after leaving the material body they enter the lower species.”

In this way, we should not take for granted the great treasure we have been given in understanding how to engage in bhakti-yoga, devotional service to Lord Krishna, but should strive to overcome our impurities, and discern how we can enter ever more deeply into that mood of servitude. Thus, we can reach the highest level of ecstatic love and share the means for others to reach the same. Nothing is more pleasing to Guru and Gauranga, or to our own soul. There is nothing greater to attain in this world than this.

Krishna’s Eternal Spiritual Abode–Our Ultimate Goal, by Stephen Knapp

The Vedic texts describe that there are innumerable spiritual planets in the spiritual sky beyond this material creation, each having one of the unlimited forms of the Lord with countless devotees engaging in His service. In the center of all the spiritual planets of Vaikuntha (meaning the spiritual sky where there is no anxiety) is the planet known as Krishnaloka or Goloka Vrindavana. This is the personal abode of the original Supreme Personality of God, Sri Krishna. Krishna enjoys His transcendental bliss in multiple forms on that planet, and all the opulences of the other Vaikuntha planets are found there. This planet is shaped like a lotus flower and many kinds of pastimes are taking place on each leaf of that lotus, as described in Brahma-samhita, verses two and four: “The superexcellent station of Krishna, which is known as Gokula, has thousands of petals and a corolla like that of a lotus sprouted from a part of His infinitary aspect, the whorl of the leaves being the actual abode of Krishna. The whorl of that eternal realm, Gokula, is the hexagonal abode of Krishna. Its petals are the abodes of gopis [friends] who are part and parcel of Krishna to whom they are most lovingly devoted and are similar in essence. The petals shine beautifully like so many walls. The extended leaves of that lotus are the garden-like dhama, or spiritual abode of Sri Radhika, the most beloved of Krishna.”

The only business that Sri Krishna has in the spiritual realm is transcendental enjoyment. The only business of Krishna’s eternal servants or devotees is to offer enjoyment to Him. The more enjoyment the devotees offer to Krishna, the happier He becomes. The happier Krishna becomes, the more His devotees become enlivened and taste eternal, transcendental ecstasy. In this way, there is an ever-increasing competition of spiritual ecstasy between Krishna and His parts and parcels. This is the only business in the spiritual world, as confirmed in Brahma-samhita, verse 6: “The Lord of Gokula is the Transcendental Supreme Godhead, the own Self of eternal ecstacies. He is superior to all superiors and is busily engaged in the enjoyments of the transcendental realm and has no association with His mundane [material] potency.”

Though it is not possible to experience spiritual pastimes or to see the form of the Supreme with ordinary senses, by spiritualizing our senses by the practice of devotional yoga we can reach the platform of perceiving the Supreme at every moment. At that time we start becoming Krishna conscious and can begin to enter into the pastimes of Krishna, although we may still be situated within this material body. If we become fully spiritualized in this manner, there is no doubt that when we give up this material body, we will return to the spiritual world. Until then, we can continue studying the Vedic texts to remember and be conversant about the beauty and loveliness of the spiritual world, as described as follows:

“Vrindavana-dhama is a place of ever-increasing joy. Flowers and fruits of all seasons grow there, and that transcendental land is full of the sweet sound of various birds. All directions resound with the humming of bumblebees, and it is served with cool breezes and the waters of the Yamuna River. Vrindavana is decorated with wish-fulfilling trees wound with creepers and beautiful flowers. Its divine beauty is ornamented with the pollen of red, blue and white lotuses. The ground is made of jewels whose dazzling glory is equal to a myriad of suns rising in the sky at one time. On that ground is a garden of desire trees, which always shower divine love. In that garden is a jeweled temple whose pinnacle is made of rubies. It is decorated with various jewels, so it remains brilliantly effulgent through all seasons of the year. The temple is beautified with bright-colored canopies, glittering with various gems, and endowed with ruby-decorated coverings and jeweled gateways and arches. Its splendour is equal to millions of suns, and it is eternally free from the six waves of material miseries. In that temple there is a great golden throne inlaid with many jewels. In this way one should meditate on the divine realm of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vrindavana-dhama.” (Gautamiya Tantra 4)

“I worship that transcendental seat, known as Svetadvipa where as loving consorts the Lakshmis, in their unalloyed spiritual essence, practice the amorous service of the Supreme Lord Krishna as their only lover; where every tree is a transcendental purpose-tree; where the soil is the purpose-gem, water is nectar, every word is a song, every gait is a dance, the flute is the favorite attendant, effulgence is full of transcendental bliss and the supreme spiritual entities are all enjoyable and tasty, where numberless milch-cows always emit transcendental oceans of milk; where there is eternal existence of transcendental time, who is ever present and without past or future and hence is not subject to the quality of passing away even for the duration of half a moment. That realm is known as Goloka only to a very few self-realized souls in this world.” (Brahma-samhita, 5.56)

By studying and hearing about the beauty of the spiritual world, we will understand that everything we are looking for in life has its origin in that eternal realm. There, as it is described, one finds freedom from all pains and suffering, and the atmosphere is unlimitedly full of ever-expanding beauty, joy, happiness, knowledge, and eternal, loving relationships. It is a world full of recreation only, without the struggle for maintaining our existence. There is never any hunger, and we can feast and never get full. Neither is there any lamentation over the past or fear of the future. It is said that time is conspicuous by its absence. Thus, the needs of the soul for complete freedom and unbounded love and happiness are found in the spiritual atmosphere. That is our real home.

For more information and paintings and photographs of Krishna, go to the Krishna Darshan Art Gallery at http://www.stephen-knapp.com, which presents a collection of photographs of lovely Radha-Krishna Deities from around the world, as well as paintings and prints of Krishna’s pastimes and His incarnations.

[From www.stephen-knapp.com]