Reaching Our Fullest Potential with Vedic Spirituality, by Stephen Knapp

These days fewer people are interested in taking up anything that they cannot immediately apply to their lives. The common question is: “What is this going to do for me?” Or “What am I going to get out of this?” So if we cannot relate the purpose of Vedic culture or its spirituality to people today, especially to the youth, then it is not likely they will take an interest. Yet, everyone is interested in gaining more out of life, or reaching their higher potential, which, actually, has been the purpose of the Vedic system from time immemorial. Yet we have either forgotten that, or have failed to present that purpose properly. So this is one angle we can use to impress the importance of Vedic culture and its spiritual philosophy to people today.

Everyone should want to reach their highest potential. But to do this we also need to focus on our spiritual potential, which is actually a way to become much more refined, developed and useful than merely focusing on our material possibilities, or only developing marketable skills for earning a big paycheck.

The Sri Isha Upanishad, Mantra 11, explains: “Only one who can learn the process of nescience (or material knowledge) and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessing of immortality.”

One point here is that through the advancement of material knowledge we do not solve the problem of our reincarnation or being completely free from repeated birth and death through numerous situations in this material world. We have no idea how many lives we have lived, nor how many more we will go through unless we add the study and application of spiritual knowledge to our lives. What is the point of this human existence if all we do is find better ways to eat, sleep, have sex, produce children, and advance our economic development and living condition? And then we simply repeat this pattern life after life? For what? Animals work in the same way, and often times with fewer problems. So what is the difference?

The way to solve all of the problems of life and to perfect this existence is the prime opportunity of human life, which is to become advanced in spiritual knowledge as well as in our material occupation. One without the other is incomplete. This is the only way we can reach our highest potential and not merely work at attaining success in a temporary material profession.

Spiritual knowledge is also the means to attain real happiness, especially through realizing our true identity, and thus become fulfilled by our real mission in life. It is also the means to attain a permanent blissful life after we leave this body. If we forget our true identity as a spiritual being, we will think that this body and this life, and everything connected with it, is the all in all. We will think that the happiness of this mind, body and senses is the complete goal of everything we are meant to do here in this world. But this is like being caught in a dream, attached to clinging to a hologram, a false conception of life. No one is truly happy in such a fleeting situation since the happiness therein is always being interrupted by different forms of suffering, or stress, anxiety, worry, concern, and of course disease, old age and death. No one wants that because that is not our real nature, it is not our real identity, but it is forced on us from the beginning of simply having a material body. The human body is a wondrous machine, a means to accomplish the goal of life, but it is still a machine that we are situated inside. It is not who we really are, like a driver in a car. We may have a fabulous and beautiful car that we are proud of, or an old clunker we are ashamed to be seen in, but in either case we are only the driver. We are not the car itself. So we must realize who and what we are and regain our spiritual identity beyond the body we have, and also realize our connection with the Supreme.

Real happiness is possible to experience when we rise above the limitations of our material condition and misidentification as a temporary material being. The modern trend of material civilization is to increase our material pleasures, which has brought about the false aim of life and the goal to acquire more money, more facilities, more consumerism, more manipulation of nature, etc. Whatever it takes. This has also brought about more problems in politics, economics, international relations and intrigue, lack of cooperation, and increases in corruption, pollution, the constant threat of war, terrorism, new diseases, a decrease in natural foods, and so on. And people call this progress? Is this any way to live? Is this the trend into the future?

Therefore, it is best to use this body and mind to live simply with an honest career and then cultivate spiritual knowledge and help others do the same.

INDIVIDUAL BENEFITS

1. Everyone wants to find joy and happiness. For what other reason are you working or studying? We are working to acquire money, security, a better future for ourselves or our family, or to make improvements in our occupation. Yet, we need to clearly understand that spirituality is the key to real happiness. And by that I mean the happiness that reaches the soul, and not that which merely occupies the ever-changing demands of our mind and senses. It is through spiritualizing our lives that we can change our attitude to joy, and not look at things with the humdrum attitude of “Another day, another dollar” or something similar. This is not unusual because we often see that without spirituality life becomes empty and without real purpose or any deep meaning. By adding spirituality to our lives, it often improves our attitude and is reflected in every other area of our life, including job performance, relations with others, family cooperation, our flexibility, the way we handle problems or inconveniences, and the way we may even inspire others to do the same.

2. Spiritualizing our lives means to spiritualize our consciousness. It is through such spiritual awareness that we can recognize the transcendental essence of all beings. We are all spiritual in nature, but this remains invisible to us as long as we do not uplift the vibratory level of our consciousness. So if we want respect, and if we feel that people need to increase their appreciation and love for each other, this can easily be accomplished by recognizing the similarity we have with one another on the spiritual level. It is through spirituality that can most easily change the selfish interest we have toward ourselves and our clan to a broad or universal love.

Most problems between people or countries or ethnic groups reflect the lack of love, compassion and understanding we have for each other, which is the essence of the Dharmic principles we need to be follow.

3. Spirituality also offers an uplifting view of life. Once we are truly spiritualizing our lives, whatever troubles we have begin to appear as if they are only an interesting play of energy in which we are temporarily involved. We can see that such difficulties are not actually part of our real identity. They are only going on around us and we take them seriously only to the degree that we feel they are affecting us and our bodily or mental happiness. In other words, they affect us to the degree in which we are in the illusion.

Spirituality gives us the courage and lightheartedness to face the difficult situations in life, or the drama around us, and to realize we are different from such externals. By this I mean that we can perceive that we are spiritual beings that are interacting on the temporary material platform. Therein whatever joy or sorrow we experience comes and goes like the winter and summer seasons. It is temporary and that is all we can expect from it because that is all it can offer. But without spiritual understanding, we take these temporary ups and downs and the pursuit for material happiness very seriously. So if we want more than this, or something deeper, we need to reach our real identity through the spiritual path.

4. Spirituality teaches us the art of living, but also the art of dying. This is the means by which we recognize the temporary nature of life and that we must always be prepared for death and for attaining the best position in our next existence. It is considered that without such preparation our life is not complete and we have not used it properly, regardless of whatever else we may accomplish.

5. Spirituality means that you see the big picture. And what is the big picture? It is that this life is but a moment on our great path toward self-realization. That great path encompasses many lifetimes. Each one is like a flash of lightning in the span of eternity. So our progress through the big picture evolves around and depends on our spiritual development. That is all we carry with us from one life to the next. Whatever material assets we attain in this life ripens in this one existence only, whereas spiritual progress is viewed over many, many lifetimes. Whatever spiritual benefits we are experiencing now may have been developed many lifetimes ago. Similarly, our spiritual practice today may provide us with benefits in this life as well as many lifetimes that may follow.

The big picture is that all you have ever been through, including so many lives before this one, has brought you to this very moment. You are the son or daughter of the past, the product of all your experiences and actions. But you are also the father of your future, starting from this particular point in time. It is up to you to decide what to do and where you will take yourself from this point onward. Your possibilities are endless, and spiritual development only increases the possibilities that you have.

6. Genuine spirituality also means that we accept responsibility for ourselves, what we do, how we affect others and our environment, and how we have the power to change our situation. So if we want to improve such things, then we can find that the basis of Dharma and genuine spirituality is also the foundation for the improvement of everything in this world, starting with our own sphere of influence, however big or small that may be. However, we need to emphasize that such spirituality is above the conventional form of religions, which are often dogmatic and based on the emphasis of local traditions and ethnic recognition. This means that their foundations are not the Universal Spiritual Truths that are found in Sanatana-dharma that can be applied to everyone, at anytime and anywhere in this universe. Real Dharma means those spiritual principles that can be applied directly to the soul or real identity of the living being regardless of the temporary material condition or status in which he or she is presently found.

GLOBAL BENEFITS

Just as there are individual benefits to the practice of spirituality in one’s life, naturally there are also blessings that will manifest on a global level.

First of all we have to understand that lust is public enemy number one. Most of the crimes that are committed in the world stems from individual or collective lust. We see around us that many advertising campaigns are based on invoking the desire to acquire something. This desire is based on satisfying the mind and senses for one’s own selfish happiness, and this pleasure is called lust. And we must look within ourselves to see how much lust is there and how to be free of it.

If it is allowed to grow, this lust can develop into a covetousness over land, possessions and power. If we want something, we may work for it honestly, or we may make schemes involving corrupt activities to acquire it. If this sort of lust increases amongst people, the whole planet becomes chaotic. And when the rulers of the planet exhibit such tendencies, then there is no chance for peace in the world, as we can plainly see. Therefore, the collective practice of spirituality can help rid the world of such lust and its various damaging effects.

We must also understand that the two prime factors that keep the world from being united is the presumption of racial superiority and the desire to conquer and convert. These are the antithesis of Dharmic principles. But how many religious paths do we see that incorporate the idea of conquering regions of the world through religious conversions, or that even rejoice in the number of converts they have established? This is not the way of true spirituality.

So it is time for a new breed of humanity, a new species of human beings. This doesn’t mean a new genetic code. It means the appearance of a new level of consciousness, a new level of awareness in which the principle of Dharma is a natural part of life and a natural part of our respect toward each other. And the freedom to pick one’s own level of spiritual development that one needs in this lifetime. This is the world of Vedic Dharma.

Vedic Dharma is full of possibilities. It is open for the individual to develop as he or she needs to. It allows for a person to start at whatever level is best for him or her, and set the goal of one’s spiritual development that they find most suitable. Dharma does not involve teaching a dogma that must be adhered to in order to be saved, or suffer the threat of going to hell and eternal damnation if you don’t fit the mold. That is too limited for the Universal Spiritual Truths found in Vedic Dharma. We have to keep in mind the “big picture,” as previously mentioned. This means that spiritual progress is usually made over many lifetimes, and that this one life is only a small portion of the path we are on.

We also have to be a clear channel through which the unconditional love from God flows through us toward everyone else. To do that we also have to recognize the Divine in all species of life. That can be done only through the serious application of spiritual principles.

The point is that the more spiritual you become, the more you can perceive what is spiritual, and the more the spiritual strata becomes a reality to enter or experience rather than a mystery to solve. Plus, the more you spiritualize your consciousness, the less confused you will be about what is your true identity and, thus, the true purpose of life. It is an automatic process that the more spiritual you are, the more clear is everything else. If society could increase in the number of people who are evolving in this way, naturally the whole world will improve accordingly.

HOW DO WE DO THIS

So how do we manage our time to include the necessary spiritual practice? Spiritual practice means two things, the sadhana and the study. The sadhana itself can mean your meditation, your chanting of japa such as the Hare Krishna mantra, reciting your prayers, or doing your puja or worship. The value of this is often underestimated. What it does is incorporate the spiritual vibration into your consciousness. It raises the frequency level in which you perceive and operate. The next part is to do the study, reading the spiritual books to educate yourself in the tradition and your understanding of spiritual knowledge and of the importance of your Dharmic practice. Such books may include the Bhagavad-gita, Upanishads, Puranas, etc.

So as we do this on a daily basis, we will naturally carry that spiritual consciousness with us wherever we go. For example, you may have a special room where you do your spiritual activities, and if you are burning incense, you might carry the scent with you in your clothes. Then wherever you go and whenever you smell the aroma, it makes you think of the atmosphere in your special room. When that happens you may feel the same uplifting mood that you felt when doing your spiritual practice in your room. So we have to learn how to carry that special atmosphere in our consciousness throughout the day.

So if you are convinced as to why we should spiritualize our lives, then we have to make spirituality as one of the main foundations of our life. It must be viewed as a corner stone upon which we build everything else. So it must be one of the main ingredients in our daily schedule.

You have a life with only so much time, which means you must be careful with how you spend it. An example is that your life can be represented by a glass of water. The glass can only hold so much, and once it is filled, that is it. You can’t put any more into it. So how will you fill it? If you have an assortment of stones, sand and water, what will you begin to put into it first? If you fill it with small stuff, then you will not have any room for the big things, the important items. So first you put in the rocks, or those things which are the most important. These may include school, work, family, but also your spiritual practice. These are four stones. So put those in the glass before you put in anything else. Then in between the stones will fit the sand, the small stuff. And even in between the sand will fit the water, the smaller and less important things. But first always include and make time for the important items, the rocks or foundation of your life, and spiritual practice must be one of them.

So you should set aside a couple hours or more in your daily schedule to do your spiritual practice. If you take an hour, then you can divide it into a half-hour for your sadhana or meditation, and another half-hour for your study. Then as you develop, increase that. Spiritual life is like a train that runs on two tracks, and your sadhana and study together provide the necessary tracks for smooth progress for that train to keep on a rolling. The early morning is always the best time to do this. But some time in the evening also may be suitable for you. However, whatever time you choose, it is necessary to continue with it. Like a daily shower, you can’t stay clean unless you do it everyday. Similarly, you can’t stay spiritually purified or uplifted and enthused unless you are steady at it in your daily schedule.

Furthermore, you may never know when you will need your spirituality. You may need it when dealing with others, settling disputes, carrying out your family duties, and so on. But most importantly, you will never know when you will meet with the final test when you die. That certainly separates those who are prepared from those who are not. I had a friend who spent all of his time on his college studies. Then with only six months left to go before qualifying for his Ph.D., he died in a car crash. Of course, it was completely unexpected. So you never know when death may strike. So the point is that you continue to make your plans for this life and take care of your responsibilities, but also make time for your spiritual development, which prepares you for everything else, this life and beyond.

The final point to remember is that any path of accomplishment requires self-sacrifice, no matter whether you are attempting to acquire material benefits or spiritual advancement. We are always looking to develop our future, no matter whether it is with a better job, a nicer home, or financial security for our family, or other things. But if you can reach that strata where there is no more sacrifice, no more war, no more difficulties, but instead find universal love and understanding and cooperation, don’t you think that is a sacrifice worth doing? Don’t you think that is an endeavor worthy of attempting? Don’t you think the knowledge of this is worth spreading to let the whole world know of it or how to reach it?

There is no reason why we cannot bring an increasing amount of the spiritual atmosphere to this earth planet. We can indeed change things here and bring improvements in so many ways. But we need to start with ourselves first, and that depends on our spiritual practice and the spiritual principles we incorporate into our own lives, which can bring about deep and personal spiritual realizations and insights. From there it can spread through our sphere of influence, however big or small that may be. We all want peace and cooperation, but you will never get that as long as we see and operate according to our differences, which will always be there on the material platform. So we must rise above that to a higher level of reality, the higher dimension. And this dimension is all around us. All we have to do is train our mind and consciousness to be able to tune into it so that it opens up to us. Then through our continued spiritual development we can enter into it. That is the ultimate advantage of spiritualizing our lives and making time for it. And to do that most effectively is why the process of yoga has been provided and described by the great rishis and Vedic literature.

Plus, the easiest yoga to perform, especially in this age of Kali-yuga, is bhakti-yoga, the yoga of devotional love aimed at the Supreme Lord. This also includes the Yuga Dharma, which means the most effective path for this age, which is the chanting of the Lord’s holy names, especially as found in the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. This is what should be studied, practiced and shared to provide the most practical level of spirituality for everyone. Then our higher potential in life can be attained and our superior purpose can be accomplished.

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How the Essence of Religion Came From Vedic Culture, by Stephen Knapp

(An Excerpt from the book Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire, by Stephen Knapp)

As we look over the various cultures and religions of the world, we may ask if all religious systems are divine. Though they seem to conflict with each other on various points, still there are many areas of truth in which they all agree. Or you could say that some of the same essential truths can be found within each of them. And by a careful comparison, we can trace the essence of that truth back to what was originally explained in the Vedas, the oldest of all written texts, and, more importantly, what was the most developed of all cultures and philosophies.

In this way, we can also trace these essential truths back from one religion to another, and how the Vedic culture influenced Zoroastrianism, which influenced Judaism, which influenced Christianity, which influenced Islam. However, each succeeding religion became more distant from the original spiritual teachings and understanding, until each one thought that, rather than offering truths and processes to be followed, they promoted the idea that they were also the only way, superior to all else. When, actually, they were becoming increasingly narrow in their views, and less able to give people true enlightenment by showing how to uplift their consciousness to perceive the spiritual dimension, but demanding merely blind faith to follow it or go to hell, or some other such thing. This strategy hardly offers any real improvement or social upliftment, other than offering what may be a few moral principles, but little of any genuine spiritual development. And this is the loss, and what becomes a complete misdirection of the actual purpose of a spiritual path.

One of the early religions that others are traced back to is Zoroastrianism. But even this can be traced further back to the Vedic culture and the Rig Veda. To help explain some of this, we will reference Suhotra Swami’s book Dimensions of Good and Evil, where he describes what he calls the “Zoroastrian Nexus.”

It starts with a person named Jarutha described in the Rig Veda in less than complimentary terms, wherein he is against the sage Vasistha. It is also said (RV 7.9.6) that Vasistha had later killed Jarutha, possibly with Agni, fire. In the Rig Veda (7.13.1) Agni is also called the demon (asura) slayer.

In the Vedic texts, Jarutha is also called Jarasabdha. The Bhavishya Purana (Chapters 139-140) describes the history of the Maga Jarasabdha. The word maga refers to a dynasty of priests whom Jarasabdha was a progenitor, born in the family line of vira aditya, the powerful Aditya, meaning the sun god. So worship of the sun was important in their line.

Mandala Seven of the Rig Veda talks about Vasistha’s devotion to Varuna. Varuna was a great god of the rivers and seas, and was also called Asura-maya in the Rig Veda. Asura-maya means lord of the demons, the non-Vedics, because Varuna had power over the demonic undersea creatures. (Asura comes from the Sanskrit asun-rati, meaning he who gives life or rejuvenates, and maya because he measured out the sky. The word asura later became connected with those who were against the Vedic standards.)

Vasistha was fathered by the demigods Varuna and Mitra. It seems that both Jarutha and Vasistha were priests of Varuna, but a rivalry broke out between the two. Because of this rivalry, Jarutha left the Vedic culture and preached something different. He did not accept the Vedic standards and began to promote a different view, which was not accepted by Varuna. Due to this disagreement, Varuna cursed Jarutha and rejected him from Brahminical culture. So Jarutha was expelled from the region of Bharatvarsha, and he went to Persia. There he was able to propagate his own religion and philosophy.

In the region of Persia, Jarutha became known as Zarathustra, and began what became known as Zoroastrianism, called after his other name Zoroaster, which is a Greek derivative from the name Zarathustra. But even historically it is known that his early teachings aroused great hostility towards him.

In ancient Iran, the hereditary priestly caste was called the Magi. So it appears that the lineage of Maga Jarasabdha (Jarutha, Zarathustra) began from Varuna, the chief of the solar deities. In the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta, the name of God is Ahura-mazda, which matches Varuna’s Vedic title of Asura-maya. So, Zarathustra changed what had been the Vedic view into a different philosophy. Ahura Mazda, which means Wise Lord, became the name of the Zoroastrian God.

Furthermore, the Vedic demigods are headed by Brihaspati, whose other name is Angirasa, from where we get the name of Angra Mainyu in Zoroastrianism, who is depicted as the devil or Satan. So the Satan of Zoroastrianism is the Vedic spiritual master of the demigods.

In this way, Jarutha took the side of the demons and, though accepting Varuna as the main god, he promoted the idea that the non-Vedics were superior in their position. Basically, his philosophy was a rejection of the Vedic view, and he refashioned it in his own way. So there were still many Vedic aspects that remained. Even the language in the Zend Avesta is very similar to Sanskrit, and contains much pre-Zoroastrian material that can be related to the Rig Veda.

Nonetheless, Jarutha/Zarathustra called the demons Ahuras, or the pious ones, opposite of the Vedic view of them being called asuras, the demons. He also called them the daivas, similar to the Sanskrit name devas for demigods. In this way, the whole philosophy of Zoroastrianism was to take the Vedic philosophy and turn it upside down. So in Zoroastrianism the power of darkness became the power of light because he agreed with the non-Vedic point of view.

The point is that now we had Angra Mainyu as the name of the devil and Ahura Mazda as the name of God in this new faith. This idea of a God and a counterpart known as the devil, who could threaten the plans of God and divert the good intentions of the pious, now appeared for the first time, and is what filtered down through other religions of that region, including Judaism, Christianity and then Islam. The basis of this whole idea was pure concoction. And this idea and lack of higher spiritual knowledge is what has negatively affected any of the philosophies that followed this premise. This was because Zoroaster had accepted one demigod in contrast to another, rather than accepting the purer form of Lord Vishnu or Krishna as the Supreme, who has no rival. However, even in the Vedic system there may be evil spirits, subtle beings who are misguided and malevolent, and who cause trouble, but they are not beings who can threaten the will of the Supreme Lord.

As Suhotra Swami explains further: “It is curious how Zoroastrianism amplified this dualism [of a devil against God]. In the Vedic version, Asura-maya, Varuna, lord of the waters, dwells in the depths of the cosmic Garbhodaka Ocean, far below the earth. Yama’s [Yamaraja, the lord of death] underworld heaven and hell are very near that ocean; in the matter of chastising the sinful, Yama and Varuna are closely allied. In the Zoroastrian version, Ahura-mazda (Varuna) is the lord of light who gave his servant Yima an underworld kingdom called Vara, a realm that, while dark to human eyes, is mystically illuminated. In the Vedic version, Mitra and Varuna are a pair of demigods who in ancient times served the Supreme Lord as a team by supervising the realms of light and darkness. In the Zoroastrian version, Varuna is the supreme lord. Mitra is his light. The mantle of darkness (evil) is worn by an unceasing enemy of Ahura-mazda named Angra Mainyu or Ahriman. It appears that Angra Mainyu is the Vedic Angirasa (Brihaspati), spiritual master of the devas and a great foe of Shukracharya, the spiritual master of the asuras. From Mahabharata 1.66.54-55 we learn that Varuna took the daughter of Shukracharya, named Varuni, as his first wife.

“In the Vedic version, the powers of light and darkness or good and evil are not ultimate. By taking them to be ultimate, and moreover by reversing them (portraying the asuras as good and the devas as evil), Zarathustra twisted the Supreme Lord’s purpose for the cosmos that is administered on His behalf by such agents as Varuna, Yama and Brihaspati. Zoroastrianism was a revolutionary departure from Vedic philosophy.” (Suhotra Swami, Dimensions of Good and Evil, pp. 120-121)

Professor Norman Cohn, who heads an influential school of thought among religious historians, feels that the teachings of Zarathustra are the source of the philosophy of the apocalypse, the end of times–the belief in a final war between God’s army of angels and the devil’s army of demons. It is this idea that has continued down through various religions today.

In Zoroastrianism, this apocalyptic war was expected to start with the appearance of a messiah or savior, named Saoshyant, who would prevail against the forces of evil, at which time the dead would be resurrected from their graves. Then there would be a great assembly which would be a final judgment of all souls, the wicked ones would be destroyed and the righteous would become immortal, and the kingdom of God would be established on earth, wherein the righteous would enjoy life forever. It was the first time this sort of idea was promoted.

This has paved the way for many believers who are waiting for the end of times, the end of days, and they see signs of its approach in every evil thing that happens around them, expecting that they will be delivered to eternity in a resurrected but purified material body on a new earth. All of this shows a lack of deeper spiritual understanding, which has also paved the way for what can be seen as a sense of religious superiority, the feeling that my religion is better than yours and is the only way to salvation in the eyes of God. And from this has spread humongous quarrels, torture, hatred, and war, from nothing more than what has been traced back to a product of someone’s imagination simply because he rejected the Vedic system.

This borrowing from one religion to another can be recognized in many other ways as well. So let us look at a few more. For example, the idea that Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden that we find in the Bible, and where they are tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit by Satan, is almost entirely taken from the Jewish scriptures. Also the description of angels, such as Gabriel, Michael, Azrael, and Israfil, who have particular positions and purposes as we find in the Jewish tradition, which took these from the Persians, was also borrowed by Mohammed, who was said to have been given what became the Islamic teachings from the angel Gabriel.

Another example is the bridge to heaven. This is called Al Sirat by Mohammed. This is said to go over the abyss of hell, and is said to be finer than a hair, and sharper than the edge of a sword. Being led by Mohammed, Muslims are supposed to easily cross over it, whereas the wicked will lose their footing and fall into hell beneath them. However, the Jews had previously spoken of the bridge of hell, which is also no wider than a thread. But going further back, both the Muslims and the Jews are equally indebted to the Zoroastrians who had taught that on the last day, all men will be forced to pass over such a bridge, in their language called Pul Chinavad. 1

Even the concept of heaven and hell can be traced back to Zoroastrianism. Of course, there were also descriptions of both the heavenly and hellish planets in the Puranic texts. This was adopted by Zarathushtra and explained in the Gathas that heaven, or Garo-de-mana (Garotman in Persian), is where the angels sing hymns to God. This is described in the Yas xxxviii, 10; xxxiv, 2, which agrees with a similar description in Isaiah VI and Revelation of St. John.

Another example is the idea of paradise. In the Islamic faith, after crossing the Al Sirat, the faithful will reach paradise, which is situated in the seventh heaven. In this paradise, there are beautiful gardens, furnished with springs, fountains, and rivers, along with milk, honey, and trees with trunks of gold which produce the most delicious fruits. And more attractive than that are the 70 or so ravishingly beautiful girls called hur-ul-ayun on account of their big black eyes. However, most of this description is indebted to the Jews, for which, unfortunately, many of the Muslims have a great dislike. In the Jewish texts, such as Gemar Tanith, f. 25; Biracoth, f.34; Nidrash Sabboth, f. 37, all relate the future mansion of heaven as being a delicious garden in the seventh heaven. And the Midrash, Yalkut Shewini also describes it as having three gates with four rivers flowing with milk, wine, balsam, and honey. Anyone can see the similarities, one religion inheriting or borrowing from the other.

However, the Zoroastrians also described paradise in a similar manner. Paradise was called Bihisht and Minum which indicates crystal, where the righteous will enjoy all manner of delights, especially the company of huran-i-Bihisht or black-eyed nymphs of paradise, the care of whom is under the angel Zamiyad. So this seems to be the roots of the nymphs of paradise that was borrowed by later religions. Also, in one of the later writings of the Parsis (a group of Zoroastrians), the Nama Mihabad (40 & 41) describes that the lowest order of heaven is where the residents will enjoy all the delights of this world; nymphs, male and female slaves, meat and drink, clothing and bedding, articles of furniture, and other things too many to describe. 2 Of course, this sounds like hardly anything spiritual, but merely a continuation of the comforts any materialist would dream of having. Surely an enticing picture for those who think they deserve it.

Even Satan or the principle of evil is often described as a serpent, first in the Zend Avesta in Zoroastrianism, which in turn gave this to Christianity, and then on to Islam. Thus, all these often depict the evil principle as a serpent. 3 The German philosopher Schopenhaur also recognized this, as he stated in his book Religion and Other Essays (p.III): “And this confirms the views which has been established on other grounds that Jehova is a transformation of Ormuzd [Ahura Mazda], and Satan of the Ahriman [Angra Mainyu] who must be taken in connection that Ormuzd himself is a transformation of Indra [the Vedic demigod of heaven].”

We must consider, in this example, that in the Vedic philosophy, heaven is still a part of the temporary material creation and is not a part of the spiritual world. Therefore, Indra is a demigod and not the Supreme Being of the spiritual domain, which is beyond and outside the material worlds.

Another idea was the resurrection of the body, which actually is not found in the Vedic principles, but started with the Zoroastrian doctrine. The whole idea that during the last judgment the body would be resurrected was then accepted by the Jews, who lent it further to the Christians, especially through the teachings of Paul who was previously a Jew anyway, and then it went to Islam. The seed of this idea can be found in the Zend Avesta where it states (Zamyad Yasht XIX, 89-90): “This splendour attaches itself to the hero (who is to rise out of the number) of prophets (called Saoshyant) and to his companions, in order to make life everlasting, undecaying, imperishable, imputriscible, incorruptible, for ever existing, for ever vigorous, full of power, (at the time) when the dead shall rise again, and imperishableness of life shall commence, making life lasting by itself (without further support). All the world will remain for eternity in a state of righteousness; the devil will disappear from all those places whence he used to attack the righteous man in order to kill (him), and all his brood and creatures will be doomed to destruction.”

Herein we can see the Vedic premise of the eternal nature of the soul within the body, which will continue after the death of the body, but it has been misinterpreted to be the idea that the body is what will rise again. That it will live without the influence of the illusory nature, which here is suggested as the freedom from the presence of the devil, the principle of evil or illusion. And once free in this way, the living being can reach his full potential, such as described here as being indestructible, vigorous, everlasting, etc. This is all but a misinterpretation of the Vedic spiritual concepts, but filtered through the idea that the body is still the permanent identity of the eternal soul. We could discuss this for a lengthy time, which I have already done in some of my other books, but here we will leave it at this.

Even the Islamic phrase from the Koran “La-Elah-illiullah” (there is no God but God) is nothing but a repeat of the Zoroastrian formula “Nest ezad Magar Yazdan.”

Also, as every chapter of the Koran (except the ninth) opens with the words “Bismillah uar Rahman er Rahim,” this merely corresponds to the same formula which begins the Zoroastrian books, namely “Banam Yazdan Bakhshish gar dadar,” both basically meaning “in the name of the most merciful God.” So one is not so unique from the other, though they do not realize this.

As the Vedic followers called themselves Aryas or Aryans, the Parsis also called themselves Aryas, as described in the Zend Avesta, in such places as, “To the glory of the Aryas,” (Sirozah I, 9); “We sacrifice unto the glory of the Aryas made by Mazda,” (Sirozah II, 9); “How shall the country of the Aryas grow fertile,” (VIII, Yast, 9); “Ahura Mazda said, If men sacrifice unto Vretreghna made by Ahura… never will a hostile horde enter the Aryan countries, nor any plague, nor leprosy, nor venomous plants, nor the chariot of a foe, nor the uplifted spear of a foe.” (Bahram Yast, 48)

The question should be: Is it not about time for the Muslims to realize how much of their doctrines, ideas and sayings were inherited from previous cultures and religions, like Judaism and also Zoroastrianism? It can hardly be called a new revelation or special message from God. Each religion professes that their God is merciful, kind and loving. Or that their prophet or savior is giving something new. But as we find by studying the Koran and the Old Testament of the Bible, the revengeful nature of the God of the Torah is very much the same as the threatening nature of Allah in the Koran, where there are certain passages that tell the followers to make war upon and slay the infidels. These are both far different than the love for your neighbor that was recommended by Jesus in the New Testament. 4

As explained by Ganga Prasad in his book The Fountain-Head of Religion: “As for Zoroastrianism, its theism is in no way inferior to that of either Judaism or Mohammedanism. ‘Ahurmazda’ says the Rev. L. H. Mills, ‘is one of the purest conceptions which had yet been produced, and–we might add–is undoubtedly the prototype of the God of the Koran as well as the God of the Bible… But however superior to the belief of his contemporaries, the theism of the Koran can hardly be said to be superior to that of Judaism. The claim of the Koran, therefore, to be an independent revelation of God, on the plea of teaching a better theism than Judaism and Zorastrianism, to which it can be traced, is untenable.’” 5 Plus, the conception of Ahura-mazda was but a carry-over from the basics of the Vedic understanding of God.

There are also many similarities between the parables of Buddhism and Christianity, and between the lives of Buddha and Christ. Both are said to have been miraculously born, at which time they were surrounded by great omens, with a star presiding over each, in which case for Buddha was the Pushya Nakshatra. Both were visited by wise men upon their birth, such as when the rishi Asita came to King Suddhodana to see the newborn Buddha, and wise men came to Jerusalem to worship Jesus, as explained in the book of Matthew. And as the evil spirit of Mara came to tempt Gautama before he became the Buddha, Satan also tempted Jesus. Furthermore, many of the teachings of Jesus in the area of compassion, mercy, kindness, and inward development were also the same as or similar to those of Buddha. We could go on with many more of these kinds of similarities, others of which I have described in my book Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence.

Furthermore, just as in the Vedic traditions there was the spiritual river of the Ganges (considered to be descending from the spiritual Karana Ocean) or the Yamuna (considered spiritually purified because Lord Krishna played in it), and wherein devotees would take a dip to be spiritually purified, the Hebrews also accepted the Jordan River whose waters were used for the same purpose, especially for baptizing to be free from one’s past sins.

In regard to the similarities between Sanskrit and the language of the Zend Avesta, even Max Muller recognized this very clearly. He went on to explain in his Chips From a German Workshop (Volume I, pp. 82-3): “It is clear from his (Eugene Burnouf’s) works and from Bopp’s valuable remarks in his ‘Comparative Grammar’ that Zend in its Grammar and Dictionary is nearer to Sanskrit than any other Indo-European language; many Zend words can be retranslated into Sanskrit simply by changing the Zend letters into their corresponding forms in Sanskrit… It differs from Sanskrit principally in its sibilants, nasals and aspirates. The Sanskrit s, for instance, is represented by the Zend h… Where Sanskrit differs in words or grammatical peculiarities from the northern members of the Aryan family, it frequently coincides with Zend. The numerals are the same up to 100. The name thousand, however, sahasra, is peculiar to Sanskrit and does not occur in any of the Indo-European dialects except in Zend, where it becomes hazanra.” 6

Even the biblical rendition of the universal creation, as described in Genesis, was adopted from that given in the Parsi scriptures, which is but a summary of that given in the Vedic literature, which is practically the most elaborate version of the process of the universal creation found anywhere in any religious text.

One last example of similarities that we will look at is the premise for the next appearance of a savior, or a second coming, after which everyone will rise again to live in a world of peace and God consciousness, without evil, or when their tribe will triumph over their enemies. This gives any believer a great deal of faith and hope in the future that they will be saved or delivered, if they continue to follow that particular religion. However, the idea that God or His prophet will appear again is not new, but was first related in regard to the avataras of God in the Vedic tradition.

As Lord Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita (4.7): “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I descend Myself.”

However, unlike other religions, Lord Krishna descends in regularly scheduled appearances for specific purposes. It is not that He will descend one last time and that is the end. That is incomplete information. But He will continue to appear in the material creation as the need arises, throughout the various time periods known as yugas. These avataras are fully described in the Puranas so we can understand when and how often They will appear. Therein we see that God regularly descends into the material worlds in His different forms at different times to give society the spiritual knowledge they need to know in order to attain the purpose of life.

The Vedic texts also describe the next appearance of God in the future, this time as Lord Kalki when He will appear at the end of Kali-yuga to bring in the next golden age known as Satya-yuga. Therein He will kill all the miscreant kings and rulers and relieve the world of this burden and bring back a time of peace, harmony, cooperation, and God-consciousness. And this schedule of avataras continues through Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and again into Kali-yuga, all of which continue to repeat as many as 1000 cycles, called a kalpa or day of Brahma. In any case, this is the basis of any religion’s idea for the next coming of God.

All of these various similarities would show that many of the world’s religions and their legends and traditions, and even their precepts are to a great extent derived from Vedic culture. They may not be directly the same, but it is easy to see upon careful study that Christianity owes much to Vedic Dharma. Or as Max Muller said in his book Chips From a German Workshop (Volume I, Introduction, p.11), “There has been no entirely new religion since the beginning of the world. If we once understand this clearly, the words of St. Augustine, which have seemed startling to many of his admirers, become perfectly clear and intelligible, when he says, ‘what is now called the Christian religion has existed among the ancients and was not absent from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, from which time the true religion, which existed already, began to be called Christian.’” 7

In this way, we can understand that the earliest of spiritual knowledge, which can be accepted as that found in the most elaborate Vedic texts, has but filtered down through generations, and that each successive religion did little but adopt in its own way or interpretation of what was already there, and that the essential spiritual truths found in all religions are but inheritances of the more elaborate teachings found in the Vedic texts and traditions. Thus, Vedic Sanatana-Dharma is like the roots and trunk of the tree of the various religions, which are like the branches of the tree. Just as rivers ultimately meet at the sea with a common goal, in spite of coming from different areas and conditions, as if coming to their ultimate unity, similarly Vedic Dharma is like the parent authority and root of all other religions.

Unfortunately, the Parsi, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions do not discuss in depth such things as the law of karma and reincarnation, even though these are mentioned in places or hinted at, but hardly described or analyzed very deeply. They do not discuss the nature or size of the soul, the soul’s transcendence beyond the body, nor do they mention the idea of a Supersoul. Nor do they describe much about the nature of God, His characteristics, personality, how He looks, or His numerous pastimes, except in only the briefest of ways. It seems, therefore, that the higher spiritual knowledge actually becomes reduced in succeeding religions as the information is passed down over the following generations of religious traditions. In Judaism, Christianity and then Islam, the true depth of spiritual knowledge was increasingly forgotten. Even the detailed descriptions of God and His real loving nature, as found in the Vedic literature, has similarly deteriorated in passing from the Vedas and Puranas into the Zend Avesta, the Old Testament, Bible, and further down the line. Therefore, to get back to the heart of the matter, we must get back to the roots, where it all began, with the Vedic tradition.

The evidence provided in this chapter concludes that at a very remote time, long before the dawn of history, the forefathers of all Aryan nations, such as India, Persia, Afghanistan, and even most if not all of Europe, lived under the banner of one common religion. Their common name was Arya, which they gave to Aryavarta (ancient India, the land of the Aryans), as well as to Iran (Persia), and other countries. In this way, Sanskrit was the mother of all Aryan languages, just as the Vedic religion is the parent of all religions which prevailed in all branches of the Aryan family, and we can recognize the remnants of this in many parts of the world today, if only we are educated in understanding what is the real Vedic Aryan culture.

It is this Vedic culture that gave humanity the deepest level of spirituality that has descended and circulated around the world in the various ways and into the religions that followed. The previous chapters of this book should have clearly illustrated this point.

Furthermore, there are three distinctions between any of the bone fide religions today, and that is: 1) The area in the world in which the religion was taught, 2) the time in history in which it appeared, and 3) the capacity of the people to understand it. In this way, only so much spiritual knowledge could be given if the people of the area were not able to comprehend deep spiritual knowledge. Saint Tukaram also saw these distinctions when he said, “the teaching is as per the capacity of the taught.” Because of this, in some cases the knowledge is given in a straightforward manner, such as we see in the Vedic literature in which so many questions are asked, and so many deep answers are provided, with the means by which the student can actually realize and perceive the spiritual truths that are described. In other religions we see the use of parables and stories, in which the followers can only understand the preliminary principles, which often go no farther than establishing the moral ethics by which to live. They often do not hold much in the way of higher spiritual principles. This means that to understand deeper spiritual truths, the person must go elsewhere.

This is like the difference between an abridged dictionary and an unabridged dictionary. They both hold the same knowledge, but one is more complete than the other. The unabridged dictionary will contain hundreds or thousands more words than the abridged dictionary. This is the same difference between the religions. The Vedic texts will contain much more spiritual knowledge and information on understanding God or the Absolute Truth. So the more complete religion or spiritual path will give you the deeper means of understanding who you are and your relationship with God and all other beings. It will also provide you the process by which you can spiritualize your consciousness to the degree in which you can begin to directly perceive this higher reality. It is much more mature and developed, over and above those that are simplified and elementary. A most developed religion will also facilitate one’s becoming free from attachment, selfishness, violence, malice and hatred, by which a person can more easily focus on the spiritual nature of oneself and God, and the unity we all share with each other in that light. Whereas a religion that is incomplete and allows followers to hold on to these negative characteristics, especially violence, hatred toward others, emphasis on our differences, etc., will keep one bound up to this earthly plane of duality, which is the exact opposite purpose of any genuine spiritual process.

Vedic Dharma, on the other hand, is defined as that which leads to glory, peace, prosperity, and elevates society to liberation from this earthly existence. It is the understanding that this world is not our real home, never was and never will be. But it is also the portal through which, by living the right way, can propel us into the spiritual dimension, far away from this temporary earthly existence. This is why Vedic Dharma is meant to help all of society, and not divide society into those who are “saved” and those who are not. It teaches society to discard hatred toward one another and attain mental peace and internal contentment. This is actually meant to be the fundamental principle of all religions, which then encourages right conduct for attaining realization of the Eternal Truth, the reality of who and what you really are, and your relation to the Supreme Lord.

However, the attainment of moksha or liberation from material existence is unique in Vedic culture because most religions proclaim the ideal of merely reaching heaven, which is still considered part of the material creation. Yes, moksha also means rising above material suffering, ignorance, and the attainment of the Eternal Truth and bliss, right here and right now, in this life. It is not necessarily something that only can be attained after death. Whereas the non-Vedic religions often put emphasis on moral conduct, social behavior, ethics, etc., for reaching heaven in the next life, mainly with the idea of continuing the enjoyment of material facilities, yet give little emphasis on deeper spiritual philosophy. So in such religions there remains many philosophical questions for which there are limited answers. But it is up to the individual to choose which process he or she wants to accept in reaching a natural level of spiritual realization. That is why no Vedic or Hindu sect has tried to propagate or increase their followers through the use of the sword or by force, or through fear of torture, intimidation, or other such means. There is no history that shows the use of brutality for the propagation of Vedic culture. It is spread only through the purity of its teachings and the means by which people can use it for their own enlightenment. It is that means alone which is meant to attract people to investigate and then follow this spiritual way of life. It is meant to be a natural process, not forced.

This is why Dharmists, Hindus or devotees do not interfere in the religion of others and expect the same respect in return. This is also why anyone of any religion can easily live amongst those who follow Vedic Dharma.

Vedic culture contains a philosophy that goes back to a time beyond history, and has developed over millenniums. Even Sanskrit is considered to have descended from the Shabda-brahman, or the spiritual vibration that exists outside of the material creation, beyond time and space. Furthermore, we find that the insights given by the great rishis and sages are coming from a spiritually realized level of consciousness that is beyond mere faith or cultivated knowledge. Such insights and revelations come from a level of direct spiritual perception and experience, with the means and directions given to others so we can follow them to attain our own realizations.

The completeness of the Vedic spiritual philosophy can be seen with but a small analysis. This does not mean there are not great amounts of wisdom in all religions, but where else are you going to go to understand the roots of the knowledge of karma, or reincarnation, or the science of the nature or size and location of the soul, or the understanding of the Paramatma or Supersoul, and the means to unite with the Supreme? Where else are you going to find such detailed descriptions about God, or our relationship with God, or so many instructions given by God, or the means to acquire a direct connection with God? What other religion has such clear descriptions about the spiritual realm and how to reach that level of existence? We need to recognize the unique nature of the Vedic tradition and its philosophy.

Furthermore, the Vedic spiritual path offers the view that every creature is sacred. Spiritually we are all of the same quality. As explained in the Sri Ishopanishad: ishavasyam idam sarvam, yat kincha jagatyam jagat, which means that everything in this creation, both animate and inanimate, is part of the Lord’s energy, and that God’s energy is within all beings. Therefore, every creature has a spiritual significance. Plus, through the Vedic system of spiritual development, everyone can access that spiritual perception. It is not a matter of faith, but a process of realization. The Vedic process begins with faith, as all spiritual paths do, but if the path is practiced properly, it is expected to bring you to the level of having your own spiritual realizations and perception. And to do this there are so many means of assistance, such as the instructions from the Vedic texts, guidance from the realized gurus, and the association of other sadhus or devotees, all meant to help inspire and propel you forward to higher and higher levels of spiritual perception, realization and experience.

However, in Western religions, it is often presented that a follower can only attain such access through the approval of or connection with the church or religious institution. Without that, then you are finished, sometimes to eternal damnation, depending on the religion. In this way, the religion creates an air of exclusiveness, that the only way you can understand anything spiritual or have a connection with God is by accepting that particular church or denomination, or their specific savior or prophet. And, of course, the only people that are privileged to being “saved” are those who follow that same religion. Quite honestly, this is a very shallow level of understanding, like showing your allegiance to your religion by disliking, demeaning or even hating all others.

The Vedic or Dharmic approach to spiritual development is the antithesis of this. There is no restriction to spiritual knowledge, and all questions can be asked. The avenues of spiritual discovery are the guru (spiritual teacher), shastra (spiritual texts) and sadhus (other devotees or sages). This leads to the freedom of choice in the ways of understanding and ultimately experiencing the Divine. This is the real goal of human life. Everyone is coming from different backgrounds, and everyone has different lessons to learn. So personal investigations to find spiritual truth should be allowed and provided for everyone. It should not be controlled or limited by any certain religious persuasion.

This should especially be the case when we realize the premise of this chapter, that the essence and heart of all spiritual knowledge is descending from Vedic culture, Sanatana-Dharma, and that to get to the deepest level of spiritual understanding would be to take a deeper look at what it has to offer all of humanity, socially and individualistically, not only for peace, compassion, cooperation, harmony, etc., but to attain a closer link with the Divine. Nothing else offers a higher level of happiness, completeness or fulfillment, which is ultimately for what everyone is searching. This is the purpose of life.

CHAPTER NOTES

1. Prasad, Ganga, The Fountain-Head of Religion: A Comparative Study of the Principal Religions of the World and a Manifestation of Their Common Origin From the Vedas, The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, U.P., 1927, p.5.

2. Ibid., p.6.

3. Prasad, Ganga, The Fountain-Head of Religion: A Comparative Study of the Principal Religions of the World and a Manifestation of Their Common Origin From the Vedas, The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, U.P., 1927, p.59.

4. Ibid., pp.11-13.

5. Ibid., p.13.

6. Muller, Max, Chips From a German Workshop, Volume I, pp. 82-3.

7. Prasad, Ganga, The Fountain-Head of Religion: A Comparative Study of the Principal Religions of the World and a Manifestation of Their Common Origin From the Vedas, The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, U.P., 1927, p.26.

The Purpose of Ritual Worship, by Stephen Knapp

Some people may ask what is the point of doing ritual worship? To this we should understand that traditional rites have a definite influence upon individuals. The activities involved while performing rituals may include a yajna, chanting mantras, special offerings, and group participation, which are based upon scientific principles. Scientists acknowledge the influence of sound and music, color, magnetic vibrations, and knowledge on which we concentrate. There is no doubt about the uplifting effect of rites and rituals. Good actions promote good habits and positive impressions that are absorbed by the mind and consciousness. Even psychologists admit that a person picks up good habits quickly when directed by good people in the correct environment.

The conscious mind controls the bulk of everyday activities. The unconscious mind looks after the more subtle and finer activities. The conscious mind collects impressions and influences from the outside world. The Vedic rituals provide a means for this to happen. However, the unconscious mind sorts the information and builds memories. Depending upon the kind of impressions and influences one gathers from the environment, the subconscious mind gradually transforms itself accordingly. A skillful and efficient mind renders the best support and service to the soul. It is not possible to awaken the perception of one’s soul without a knowledgeable, controlled and pure mind.

During rites and rituals a priest invokes the blessings of the deities. When individuals experience the kindness of gods and are emotionally touched during the yajna and other activities, the mind gets charged with religious feelings. The importance of the occasion, the enthusiasm, the purity of the place, an emotional oath by the individual, the presence of the family, relatives and friends together add up to create a special kind of mental state. Activities during rituals leave an indelible impression upon the individual. This impression specially influences and educates the mind.

The effect of the ceremonies depends upon the atmosphere on the occasion and the way it is conducted. Hindus observe a variety of rites and rituals. The Gautam Smriti mentions that there are 40 basic rituals. Some religious texts place this figure at 48. According to Maharishi Angira, there are 25 basic forms of rituals.

THE PURPOSE OF THE AGNIHOTRA RITUAL

Agnihotra simply means a sacrificial fire. This is the ritual in which ghee and sesame seeds, and on some occasions other items, are offered into a small fire, usually in a pot or special container, while the priest chants various mantras for petitioning the presence and mercy of God. The fire, Agnideva the fire god, becomes the mouth of God, through which He accepts our offerings. These are also distributed to the other demigods, thus, prayers to many divinities may be chanted during the ceremony. The ritual invokes auspiciousness, peace, goodwill, and changes the vibrations and atmosphere wherever it is held.

Amongst Hindus, there is a family name Agnihotri, which is derived from the fact that at one time these families maintained a perpetual fire in their homes. In many homes even today prayers are offered with the fire.

In the Valmiki Ramayana (1/6/12), it is said: Everyone performed Agnihotra in Ayodhya everyday. Lord Ram and Sita performed Agnihotra on the day of the coronation. It is also said the aggrieved Kaushalya did not miss out on Agnihotra even on the day Rama left home for 14 years of exile.

In the Suttinipat (568/21), Buddha explained the importance of Agnihotra: Just as the ocean amongst the rivers, a king amongst the people, and Savitri amongst the verses, Agnihotra is amongst the yajnas (rituals).

In the Atharva-Veda (19/55/3) it is also explained: May the fire in the home give us happiness and peace in the morning and evening, a happy temperament, resolve and good health. May it give us fame and honor. May we awaken you through yajna fire so that we may be robust and strong. Agnihotra promotes good health and mental contentment. It is a ladder to spirituality.

In the Atharva-Veda (9/2/6) it is said: Agnihotra destroys enemies.

The flames, smoke, and vibrations of the Agnihotra promote mental peace and give contentment. It clarifies the air in the home, spreads fragrance, purifies the atmosphere and thus helps householders. It gives them energy and the power to concentrate. It releases mental tension. Through a cleaner environment it promotes good health for everyone and has innumerable benefits.

The Agnihotra ritual is also called a yajna, or Vedic ritual. However, when conducting a yajna (pronounced as yagya) it is customary to have a havan or fire sacrifice. The fire is ceremoniously lit, symbolic of inviting Agni, the fire God. Thereafter as mantras are chanted an offering in the form of ghee or havan samagri (a mixture of herbs and ghee) is offered to the fire at the end of the mantra. This is also called ahuti, which is an oblation or offering that is put into the fire. While making the offering, the word Swaha is uttered loudly.

The Matsya Purana says that when the five essential constituents – gods, havan fluid or offering (such as ghee), Vedic mantras, the divine law, and a gift to the Brahmin – are there, it is a yajna (complete sacrificial ritual). Any good activity done for universal welfare is a yajna.

Sages and saints have identified three purposes of a yajna – prayer to gods, developing harmonious company, and charity. Prayers to gods are used as models to shape our lives. Harmonious company is having relatives and friends who share similar thoughts and are motivated towards togetherness and mutual support. Charity is to share one’s blessings, extend support to society and create a feeling of universal brotherhood.

Through a yajna one attains physical, mental and internal peace, purification of the self, spiritual progress, and protection from sickness. The yajna fire has five qualities – it is always hot or active; it is exemplary; it is attractive to all that come to it; it is generous because it gives rather than stores its benefits; and the flame is always high, symbolizing concern, character, and self-respect.

In the Kalika Purana  (23/7/8) it is said: Yajnas please the gods. It was through a yajna that the entire world was established. Yajnas support the whole world. Yajna protects people from sin. People live on grain. Grain is produced from clouds that bring rain. Clouds emerge from the yajnas. The whole universe depends upon yajnas.

In the Upanishads it is also explained: Through yajnas the gods attained heaven and overcame the demons. Through yajnas even enemies become friends. Therefore outstanding people consider a yajna a special activity.

In the Agni Purana (380/1) it is said: Through a yajna the gods grant one’s wishes.

In the Padma Purana (Shristhi Khand, 3/124), it is said that pleased by a yajna the gods bless mankind with well-being.

In the Manu Samhita (3/76), it is related that an oblation dutifully offered to the fire is received by Surya.

In the Sama-Veda (879) it is said that whoever offers oblations to the fire is blessed with good children, wisdom, wealth and prosperity.

When Brahma created mankind, man visualized that his life would be full of need, problems and sorrow. He complained to Brahma, “Lord! Who would nourish and protect insecure mankind?”

Brahma responded, “Dear son! Through a yajna offer oblations to the gods. They will bless you with wealth, prosperity, well-being and fame.”

In a yajna, after chanting the mantra it is customary to say Swaha when making an oblation to the fire. Swaha is the name of Agni’s wife. It is customary to invoke her name during an offering to make her the medium of the oblation. Swaha literally means good speech.

THE PURPOSE OF A TEMPLE

A temple is a place where the deities are enshrined and worshiped. In personal expression, a temple is the abode of God. A temple represents an ocean of spiritual energy, which preserves and protects culture and tradition. It magnifies the spiritual vibration which the devotees can then use like a spiritual launching pad from which one can hasten and charge one’s own spiritual development by coming closer to the spiritual dimension. Even a temple room in one’s own house can work in this way to some extant.

PURPOSE OF THE DEITY OR IMAGE (MURTI) IN THE TEMPLE

Followers of Sanatana-Dharma believe in the concept of Atma (soul) and Paramatma (Super Soul). The Atma is the individual soul and is present in all beings. The Paramatma is the plenary expansion of Lord Vishnu which expands and appears as the Supersoul in all beings, and accompanies the individual soul in any situation or species. Yoga is meant to establish a connection, link or relationship between the soul and Supersoul, God. It is easier to build a relationship with God if one thinks of Him as a person. The deities are the personal manifestation of God that provides the mercy for us to see Him with our material eyes. Generally, until we become more spiritually developed, we cannot see spiritual items with our material mind and senses. So, the deity is the Lord’s mercy on us so that we can still see Him in our present materialistic conditioning. The deity, once formed under strict rules, is then also installed in the temple in a special ritual in which by various means we call the Lord to inhabit the deity. Then the deity is considered to be no different than the Lord Himself.

WHY WE WORSHIP IMAGES

Almost any person [except maybe Jews] believes or utilizes an image or symbol of their religion, culture, or even business. This is not unusual. The Cross in the Christian church, the picture of Jesus Christ, the statue of Mary, statues of patron saints, even the black stone in Kabba are all what we could call images. If anyone bows in front of any of them, they are breaking laws of Old Testament. [LE 26:1, and EX 20:2-5.] So, use of images is practically everywhere and all people worship something or someone. In fact, the first sculpture of Christ was in the form of a small boy holding a lamb. Now, everywhere in the world people have pictures of Christ according to their culture. A loving, young, white man in the USA, or a tough man looking like a judge in Russia, a nice black man in Africa, and you find a man looking like a typical Chinese with a sheepish beard in China. All religions have some concept of God with name and form, but Hindus have the courage to present the details as described in their scripture.

The images and deities of the Divine that are worshiped in the Vedic temples or in homes of those who follow Sanatana-dharma are not someone’s concocted imaginings. They are based on the detailed descriptions of God’s form as described in the Vedic texts. This is another beauty of the Vedic culture. Whereas most texts of other religions offer little information on God’s appearance and characteristics, these become specifically revealed in the Vedic tradition. Thus, we know what God looks like and can form images accordingly. Then these deities are installed, calling the personality of the Divine, according to specific prayers and rituals. And this is called the Prana Pratishta ceremony.

As the Supreme Controller, God can appear to His devotees in any of His specific forms. And even if some say that these images that are presented are made of nothing but stone or wood, still God can turn what is spiritual into something material, or something material into something spiritual. In this way, we can use our material senses and still have the vision of God in the form of the deity, and approach Him with our love and service. Thus, the authorized deity is not an idol, and should not be called an idol, but is the Lord’s mercy in giving us the chance to see something spiritual with material eyes. Of course, as we become more spiritualized, we can see with our inner spiritual eyes the transcendental form and activities of the Supreme Being, even while in this body that we have now.

An example is that the Post Office has authorized post boxes in which we put our mail, which is then picked up and delivered to the address on the envelope. If, however, we make our own unauthorized box and put it where we like, if we put our mail in it, it will not go anywhere. In the same way, by praying to the authorized forms of God our service will reach Him and be accepted by Him. Besides, there are many stories of how deities have come to life and interacted with devotees and engaged in all kinds of pastimes with them in very personal ways. So they are always full of potential to interact with us, or merely watch and see what we do, or even leave the deity form if we are too offensive or do not understand the basis of the deity. Thus, a deity, though appearing to be made of material ingredients, should in no way be considered material. The Lord can indeed make what is material into something spiritual, or take what is spiritual and make it appear as material. In short, the deities are the personal manifestation of the gods or goddesses they depict. So we should never think that deities are nothing but stone or wood. In fact, the Vedic scripture says that anyone who thinks in such a way exhibits a hellish mentality.

In this way, even though we may be unqualified to see God, who is beyond the perceptibility of our material senses, the living beings in this material creation are allowed to see and approach the Supreme through His archa-vigraha or His form as the worshipable deity in the temple. This is considered His causeless mercy on the materially conditioned living beings that He would allow Himself to appear to humanity as a deity to accept our worship and service.

In this manner, the Supreme Being gives Himself to His devotees so they can become absorbed in serving, remembering and meditating on Him. Thus, the Supreme comes to dwell in the temple to accept our worship and attract the eyes to concentrate and meditate on the deity, and the temple becomes the spiritual abode on earth. In time, the body, mind and senses of the devotee become spiritualized by serving the deity, and the Supreme can become fully manifest to him or her. Worshiping the deity of the Supreme and using one’s senses in the process of devotional service to the Supreme provides a means for one’s true essential spiritual nature to unfold. The devotee becomes spiritually realized and the deity reveals His spiritual nature to the sincere souls according to their progressive spiritual development. This can continue to the level in which the Supreme Being in the form of the deity engages in a personal relationship and performs reciprocal, loving pastimes with the devotee, as has previously taken place with other advanced individuals.

At this stage, darshan is not simply a matter of viewing the deity in the temple, but to one who is spiritually realized it is a matter of experiencing the deity and entering into a personal, reciprocal exchange with the Supreme in the form of the deity. At that stage, you may view the deity, but the deity also gazes at you, and then there is a spiritual exchange wherein the deity begins to reveal His personality to you. This is what separates those who are experienced from those who are not, or those who can delve into this spiritual exchange and those who may still be trying to figure it out. For those who have experienced such an exchange with the Supreme or His deity, at this stage the worship of the Supreme Being in the deity moves up to a whole different level, with no limits as to the spiritual love that can be shared between the devotee and the deity. This also opens up a completely new level of conversation on this topic, which we can save for another time. But this is why the deity in the temple is the main focal point of everything that goes on there.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ARATI CEREMONY

The arati ceremony is the most performed of any ritual in the temple, and is the offering of a ghee lamp to the deity or object of respect. These lamps usually have five or more flames on them. Arati is performed in the temples to the Deities several times a day. It is also offered to special guests and holy saints. It is also accompanied with ringing a bell, singing or playing musical instruments.

In offering the lamp to the deity, it is held in the right hand and waved in a clockwise motion, 4 times to the feet, 2 times to the waist, and seven times around the whole body. It is a way of adding an intensity to the prayers and the image of the Lord. Besides, the aroma of the burning ghee is quite pleasing. Afterwards, the ghee lamp is passed around the room so that everyone can place their hands over the flame that has been offered to the deity, accepting it as holy remnants, prasada, and then touch the hands to the eyes or head. This is a gesture of accepting the light of knowledge, and the light which revealed the Lord. We use the lamp to light the form of the Lord who is in fact the source of all light. This was particularly significant before there was electricity and when temples were lit by lamps. The arati ceremony would especially provide light to various parts of the deity when the priest would wave the lamp in front of it. Some of the older temples in India are still like this today. We also accept this lamp as a symbol of lighting our own vision and thoughts with hopes that they may be divine and noble.

Sometimes camphor is also used in place of ghee. This also presents a pleasing scent. The ghee or camphor also represents our inherent tendencies that are being offered to the fire of knowledge, which reveals the form of the Lord and thus increases our mental and physical purity in service to the Lord.

In some arati ceremonies there is not only the ghee lamp or deep that is offered but also the incense, a camphor lamp, a water filled conch shell, flowers, chamara fan, peacock feather fan, etc. These are for several reasons. One is that these are items to honor and offer comfort to the deity, but they also represent the different elements, such as earth, fire, water, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and ego. So we are also offering all the elements back to the deity, as well as our own mind, senses, intelligence and ego. This means that the performer of the arati is offering all of themselves to the deity, and if those who observe the arati follow along with the right meditation, then they also can meditate on offering all of themselves to the deity. You ask the deity to accept these items for their pleasure, but also to accept your whole being in their service, and as an offering for the deity to bless you to help you reach them and the spiritual atmosphere.

THE REASON LAMPS ARE USED

In many homes and temples there are lamps that are lit. And many special functions start with the lighting of a lamp. Light symbolizes knowledge which keeps us free from the darkness of ignorance. Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Therefore, the lamp is lit and we bow to it as this knowledge is the greatest form of wealth. It is kept lit during special functions as a guide and witness to our thoughts and actions. Of course, now lamps are not as necessary with the use of electric bulbs, etc. But the lamp is the traditional instrument which represents our vasanas or negative inclinations, while the wick signifies our ego. As the lamp burns, it also represents the burning away of our bad habits and bodily ego. The flame burns upward, as knowledge also takes our views higher.

In the old days when the temples did not have electricity, the lamps offered to the deity during the arati ceremony were also the main way the devotees could see the shape of the deity. So it is the lamp, which represents knowledge, that lights the deity, just as it is with transcendental knowledge which allows us to understand or awaken to the awareness of God. So after the lamp is offered to the deity it is circulated amongst the observes, and they receive the lamp of knowledge that has revealed the deity by touching it or waving their hands over it, and then bringing their hands up to their forehead or eyes. This is a gesture of respect toward the lamp and knowledge that has revealed the deity, and also that this knowledge will awaken spiritual awareness within them.

WHY RING BELLS IN TEMPLES

When entering a temple, most of them have one or more bells hung from the ceiling. The devotee rings the bells as he or she enters, then proceeds for darshan to see the deities. The ring of the bell produces a sound similar to Om, the universal name of the Lord. This helps create an atmosphere of auspiciousness when entering the temple. This is also a reason why a bell is rung by a priest, pujari, while doing the arati ceremony. Ringing the bell, blowing the conch, and engaging in the kirtanas or singing holy songs, are all ways to worship the Lord and keep away all inauspicious and irrelevant noises and thoughts that might disturb or distract the worshipers from their devotions and inner peace. In this way, the bell is also a call to focus our attention on the ceremony.

WHY A CONCH SHELL IS BLOWN

Whether in temples or in our household temple rooms, the conch shell is blown three times before the arati ceremony or puja worship. It is kept on the altar as a symbol for Truth, dharma, auspiciousness, and victory. It also was blown before a battle or after the victory of an army. Blowing the conch emanates the sound of Om, which contains all the knowledge of the Vedas. It is an auspicious sound and represents the truth behind the illusion. It also can purify the atmosphere, as well as the minds of those who hear it. It also represents dharma or righteousness. So it is appropriate for it to be blown before the arati or puja. The sound of the conch draws one’s attention to the presence of the Lord and the Vedic sound vibration. It thus drowns out the negative noises that may distract us from the sacred atmosphere or disturb our minds. This is also why sometimes devotees bow to the sound of the conch when it is blown.

The tradition relates that there was once a demon named Shankhasura who had defeated the devas and stole the Vedas from them. He then hid at the bottom of the ocean. The devas prayed to Lord Vishnu for assistance. He incarnated as Matsya and killed the demon. The Lord blew one of the conch shells that hung from His ears and the Om resonated, from which the Vedas returned. For this reason the conch is also called shankha after Shankhasura. The Lord’s conch shell is named Panchajanya.

WHY COCONUTS ARE OFFERED

One of the most common items that are offered to the deities in the temple is the coconut. You will also see it being used to start special occasions, like weddings, festivals, etc., when it is offered and then broken. You may also see it sitting on top of a ceremonial pot with mango leaves. This is a representation of Lakshmi devi, the goddess of fortune, or sometimes Lord Shiva. The coconut is offered to the deity as a representation of the body (the coconut shell), the mind (the white fruit within) and the soul (the coconut milk). All these are offered to the deity, and then it is broken to let out the milk and fruit. This indicates the breaking of the ego. Then, after it is offered to the Lord, what remains is accepted as remnants from the Lord, as prasada. This represents a complete circle in which God accepts our offering of the body, mind and soul and gives back the mercy, prasada, of the Lord.

WHY A KALASHA (POT) IS WORSHIPED

Sometimes, especially during a homa ritual, there is a special pot or kalasha, topped with a coconut, that is given special attention. The pot may be made from brass, copper or mud, and filled with water. Tied around its neck may be a red and white string. The pot often has designs on its sides. It may be used for special occasions like weddings, or set near entrances of homes, etc. The water in the kalasha symbolizes the waters of creation when the cosmic manifestation appeared with the arrangements of Lord Vishnu and Brahma. The leaves and coconut represent the creation, while the string indicates the love that is the foundation of the whole creation. When prayers are offered to the kalasha, it is considered that all the holy waters, the Vedic knowledge, and the blessings of the deities are invoked in it. The purified water within is then used in the rituals. At other times, the prayers are used to invoke the energy of the Goddess of Fortune, Lakshmi Devi, and the kalasha becomes a representation of Lakshmi Devi.

PURPOSE OF CIRCUMAMBULATING TEMPLES OR DEITIES

Another thing that you may see is when devotees circumambulate and go around the deities in the sanctum of a temple, or even around the temple itself, or around sacred places, like special hills or even holy towns. This is called pradakshina. This is a means of recognizing the center point of our lives, the center of the circular path we take in honor of the deities of the Lord, or something connected with Him. This is done in a clockwise manner so to keep the deity on our right, which is the side of auspiciousness. So in a way, it is a reflection of going through life while keeping God in the center. Walking around holy sites is another way of undergoing austerities for spiritual merit. It is accepted that each step takes away some of our material karma, and thus helps us get free from the mundane affairs and worldly consciousness which causes us to undertake the actions which create our karma, which helps free us from further rounds of birth and death in this material world. Respect can be shown to our superiors or parents by circumambulating them three times as well.

THE POTENCY OF CHARANAMRITA

The word charanamrita comprises two words, charan and amrita. Charan means feet and amrita is the celestial nectar that makes one immortal. Together the words mean nectar of God’s feet. This is the water that has been used to bathe the deity of the Lord in the temple. It glides down the body of the deity and through His lotus feet. It is then gathered and sometimes mixed with yogurt and a little sugar and offered to all who come to the temple to see the deities. Thus, having touched the body of the deity form of the Lord, the water becomes spiritually very powerful. Those who come to the temple to see the deities gladly accept three drops in the palm of their right hand, which is supported by their left, and then sip it from their palm.

Charanamrita is normally kept on a special table near the deities in a copper vessel, as copper has many curative qualities. Ayurveda and homoeopathic practitioners have confirmed this. Copper cures spasmodic pains. It is believed that drinking water stored in a copper vessel improves intellect, memory, and wisdom.

The Padma Purana says that even if one has not done any pious activities at all, if a person accepts the charanamrita of the deity, he becomes eligible to enter Vaikuntha.

In the Ramayana (Ayodhya Kand, Doha 101) Tulsidas has said: When Kewat washed the feet of Sri Rama and accepted the water as charanamrita, not only did he attain salvation, but his forefathers also attained it.

In the text called Ranvir Bhaktiratanakara Brahma, it is said: To absolve oneself of sins and get rid of disease God’s charanamrita is like medicine. If tulasi leaves are added, the qualities are enhanced.

In the Ranvir Bhaktisagar it is said: Charanamrita protects one from untimely death. It destroys all kinds of diseases. It breaks the chain of death and rebirth.

In this way, Charanamrita has great qualities and benefits a person physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Therefore, always accept charanamrita with grace and humility.

PURPOSE OF OFFERING FOOD TO THE LORD BEFORE EATING

We often see that food preparations are offered to the deities during the worship or at festival times. Or even in homes of devotees, food is prepared and then offered to the deities in the family temple room before anyone else accepts it. Then it is taken as prasada or mercy of the deities or God as spiritualized food. Even in many western homes food is taken only after observing a prayer. This is a recognition that whatever blessings we receive in life is a result of the Lord’s arrangement. After all, everything is God’s property, and we are merely borrowing it. So we offer to God whatever we accept before taking it ourselves. We can especially do this with food.

Furthermore, it has been detected that the particles of food change when prayers are said over it. So offering the food increases the high level of energy that goes into it that would otherwise not be there. More about this can be found elsewhere.

Were There Two Buddhas, by Stephen Knapp

        I was asked to look into this a few years ago by someone who knew of my research abilities. But I have not been able to until now because of other priorities. But this topic has come up before, that actually there were two different Buddhas that played the part to establish Buddhism and its principles of ahimsa and nonviolence and its monist philosophy.

In the following material, we will look at the evidence that seems to indicate that there was first the Avatara Buddha, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu who appeared near 1800 BCE, and then there was another person who became known as Gautama called Buddha, born around 560 BCE.

1. The first Avatara Buddha established the philosophy of Ahimsa, nonviolence, and convinced those followers of Vedic customs who had become bent toward animal sacrifice to give up such rituals and simply follow him, and become kind to animals. Being an avatara of Vishnu, He did not establish any godless or monist philosophy.

2. The Avatara Buddha was also born of his mother Anjana in what became known as Bodhgaya.

3. The second Buddha known as Gautama, Siddhartha, or Shakyamuni – sage of the Shakyas – was born in Lumbini, now in Nepal, with Mayadevi as his mother. He is the one we often hear about, the prince who left home to do austerities to find enlightenment. He went to Bodhgaya to meditate because of its spiritual potency as the birthplace of the avatara Buddha. Then he became enlightened to the reasons for suffering in this world, and developed a godless way of becoming free from suffering. From that point he established the monist and godless philosophy of Buddhism, which became named after him.

Of course, the Theravadin texts refer to six preceding Buddhas (those who have awakened) as Vipasyin, Sikin, Krakuccanda, Konagamara, and Kashyapa, and Maitreya as the Buddha of the future. But we are not talking of any of these.

4. The reason why these two Buddhas became merged into one identity was partly because Adi Sankaracharya, in discussions with others, related them as one person and did not discriminate between the purpose of one or the other. Sankaracharya developed his own sunya philosophy, which was very much like the Buddhist philosophy, replacing the Buddhist nirvana with his Vedic Brahman, to defeat Buddhism and drive it out of India. He succeeded most effectively. At that time many were leaving Vedic culture altogether and converting to Buddhism. But with this new Mayavadha philosophy from Sankaracharya, Buddhism bowed and the conversions stopped, and Buddhism itself started to decline.

However, those important acharyas who followed Sankaracharya defeated his monist or impersonalist Mayavada philosophy and more clearly defined the Vedic view, such as:

Sri Vishnuswami with his Suddha-advaita-vada,

Ramanujacharya with his Vasistadvaita-vada,

Nimbarkacharya with his Dvaita-advaita-vada,

Madhvacharya with the Dvaita-vada,

Sri Chaitanya with his Acintaya-bheda-bheda-vada,

with further commentary and arguments against Sankaracharya’s impersonalist philosophy by Srila Baladevavidyabhushana and others.

Therefore, no matter how much some schools of thought have clung to the Mayavada philosophy of Sankaracharya, it has been defeated and dismissed many times over. Yet, Sankaracharaya played an important part in paving the way for protecting the Vedic culture by using his own imagined philosophy, based on his own interpretation of some of the Vedic stanzas, to defeat Buddhism at the time.

Much of the evidence that follows comes from a book called Beyond Nirvana: The Philosophy of Mayavadism: A Life History. This was written by Srila Bhakti Prajnan Keshava Gosvami Maharaja of the Gaudiya Math, the person who gave sannyasa initiation to His Divine Grace Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. The book was later translated and published in English by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, and published in 2003 in Mathura, India.

The whole book gives a lengthy dissertation on the development, history and present situation of the impersonalist point of view. Chapter Two especially focuses on the evidence for two Buddhas that had existed.

First, however, we should point out that there had always been a conflict in the dates of the Buddha’s birth. One birth is around 560 BCE, but when analyzing the records, there is evidence for a much earlier birth of Lord Buddha, of which I have written before as follows:

Reestablishing the Date of Lord Buddha

(Excerpt from Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence)

Most of us are taught that Buddha was born around 560 to 550 B.C. However, once we start doing some research, we find evidence that this date may be too late. Buddha may have been born much earlier.

For example, in Some Blunders of Indian Historical Research (p. 189), P. N. Oak explains that the Puranas provide a chronology of the Magadha rulers. During the time of the Mahabharata war, Somadhi (Marjari) was the ruler. He started a dynasty that included 22 kings that spread over 1006 years. They were followed by five rulers of the Pradyota dynasty that lasted over 138 years. Then for the next 360 years was the 10 rulers of the Shishunag family. Kshemajit (who ruled from 1892 to 1852 B.C.) was the fourth in the Shishunag dynasty, and was a contemporary of Lord Buddha’s father, Shuddhodana. It was during this period in which Buddha was born. It was during the reign of Bimbisara, the fifth Shishunag ruler (1852-1814 B.C.), when Prince Siddhartha became the enlightened Buddha. Then it was during the reign of King Ajatashatru (1814-1787 B.C.) when Buddha left this world. Thus, he was born in 1887 B.C., renounced the world in 1858 B.C., and died in 1807 B.C. according to this analysis.

Further evidence that helps corroborate this is provided in The Age of Buddha, Milinda and King Amtiyoka and Yuga Purana, by Pandit Kota Venkatachalam. He also describes that it is from the Puranas, especially the Bhagavata Purana and the Kaliyurajavruttanta, that need to be consulted for the description of the Magadha royal dynasties to determine the date of Lord Buddha. Buddha was the 23rd in the Ikshvaku lineage, and was a contemporary of Kshemajita, Bimbisara, and Ajatashatru, as described above. Buddha was 72 years old in 1814 B.C. when the coronation of Ajatashatru took place. Thus, the date of Buddha’s birth must have been near 1887 B.C., and his death in 1807 B.C. if he lived for 80 years.

Professor K. Srinivasaraghavan also relates in his book, Chronology of Ancient Bharat (Part Four, Chapter Two), that the time of Buddha should be about 1259 years after the Mahabharata war, which should make it around 1880 B.C. if the war was in 3138 B.C. Furthermore, astronomical calculations by astronomer Swami Sakhyananda indicates that the time of the Buddha was in the Kruttika period, between 2621-1661 B.C.

Therefore, the fact that Buddha lived much earlier than what modern history teaches us has a number of ramifications. First, the time of the Buddha’s existence is underestimated by about 1300 years. Secondly, this means that Buddhism was in existence in the second millennium B.C. Thirdly, we also know Buddha preached against the misused Vedic rituals of animal sacrifice. Such misuse or misinterpretation of something in a culture generally only happens after a long period of prominence. So the purer aspect of Vedic culture must have been around for many hundreds if not thousands of years before its tradition began to be misused. Therefore, this pushes the Vedic period to a much earlier time from that of Buddha than originally figured, and much earlier than many people have calculated. And lastly, everything else we have figured according to the time frame of the appearance of Buddha now has to be re-calculated. Again we find that history has to be adjusted away from the speculations of modern researchers, and that many of the advancements in society and philosophy, as outlined in the Vedic texts, had taken place much earlier than many people want to admit.

* * *

However, now with new evidence, we can begin to see that the above information may be quite right for the timing of the Buddha Avatara, but the later birth figure of 560 BCE may also be correct for the second Buddha. The first Buddha avatara established a form of Buddhism by revolting against those rituals that accepted animal sacrifice and emphasized the godly principles of ahimsa, nonviolence based on recognizing the Divine in all beings, and divinity of all souls, arousing compassion for all. The second Buddha styled what became Buddhism that was known for its monist or impersonalistic philosophy (that God, the Absoute Truth, is inert, nonactive, and without any characteristics) and that reaching the same inert and non-active state of nirvana is the goal for attaining freedom from all suffering.

To give further information in this regard, I will now simply include the second chapter of Beyond Nirvana: The Philosophy of Mayavadism: A Life History, as follows, with my own few comments in brackets:

Two Buddhas

Shakya Simha Puddha and the Vishnu Avatara Buddha

It may be observed in different places in the Puranas that Mayavadism had been referred to as Buddhism [or “covered Buddhism”. It is this “covered Buddhism” that is described in the Puranas as being the major religion after 10,000 years of Kali-yuga have passed, and when the world will have forgotten all information about the personal form of God.]. It is therefore necessary in this context to briefly discuss Buddhism. Sri Buddha’s philosophy or views is Buddhism. Hence, it is imperative that readers become acquainted with scriptural facts about Lord Buddha, who is declared by scripture to be one of the ten incarnations (avataras) of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu. This is described in Srila Jayadeva Gosvami’s composition “Gita Govinda“:

vedan uddharate jaganti vahate bhugolam udbibhrate

daityam darayate balim chalayate kshatra kshayam kurvate

paulastyam jayate halam kalayate karunyam atanvate

mlecchan murccayate dasaktikrite krishnaya tubhyam namaha

        “O Krishna, He who accept ten incarnations! I offer my obeisances unto You for saving the Vedic scriptures as Matsya-incarnation; You help up the universe as Kurma-incarnation, and lifted up the world as Varaha, the Boar incarnation; as Nrishimha You vanquished Hiranyakashipu; as Vamana You deceived Bali Maharaja; as Parashurama You exterminated the corrupt warrior class; as Rama You slew Ravana; as Balarama You took up the plough; as Buddha You bestowed compassion, and as Kalki You kill the Mlecchas.” 1

In his Dasa Avatara Stotram, Srila Jayadeva writes in the ninth verse:

nindasi yajna vidherahaha shrutijatam

sadaya hridaya darshita pashughatam

keshava dhrita bhuddha sharira

jaya jagadisha hare jaya jagadisha hare

        “O Lord of the universe, Keshava! You took the form of Lord Buddha Who is full of compassion and stopped the slaughter of animals which is strictly forbidden in the Vedas.”

If this Lord Buddha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, then Sri Sankaracharya’s connection to Him requires further elaboration and analysis. It becomes imperative to research this matter if Sankaracharya’s philosophy is referred to as another presentation of Buddhism. Sri Sankaracharya’s assessment of Buddha seems opaque, for he would have us believe that Shakya Simha Buddha [the human] and the Lord Buddha [the avatara] that the Vaishnavas worship, are one and the same personality. However, this is far from the truth. Our revered gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, revealed that Shakya Simha Buddha was simply a highly intelligent mortal, a vastly learned person who had attained some inner realizations [his enlightement]. So by declaring Shakya Simha to be Lord Buddha or by equating him with Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, Sri Sankaracharya gives sufficient proof of the respect and dedication he quietly nurtured within him for Shakya Simha. The berating and admonishment he directed towards Shakya Simha is indeed only an “eye-wash” intended to hoodwink the public.

One may ask at this point, in which context did Sri Sankaracharya opine Shakya Simha Buddha (also known as Gautama Buddha [the human]) and Avatara Buddha to be the same personality? In response, I kindly request the learned readers to scrutinize Sri Sankaracharya’s commentaries. In his commentary to Brahma Sutra that I referred earlier, the word sugatena refers to Gautama Buddha, the son of Shuddhodana and Mayadevi, and not to the original Vishnu incarnation of Buddha [as the Srimad-Bhagavatam describes as the son of Anjana who appeared in the province of Gaya, or more specifically Bodhgaya]. While discussing Buddha’s philosophy, Sri Sankaracharya mentions his name in his commentary: sarvatha api anadarniya ayam sugata-samayah shreyaskamaih iti abhiprayaha. In this statement sugata again refers to Gautama Buddha, the son of Mayadevi [the person who appeared in the town now known as Lumbini in Nepal]. However, it is true that another name for Vishnu Avatara Buddha is Sugata, and thus Sankaracharya falsely interpolated Shakya Simha Buddha as if he were Vishnu Avatara Buddha. The use of the name Sugata-Buddha for Vishnu Avatara Buddha was already existing in Buddhist scriptures [so combing the two into one was not difficult]. This is substantiated in the book Amarakosha, an extremely ancient treatise written by the famous nihilist and atheist Amara Simha. It is believed that Amara Simha was born approximately 150 years prior to Sankaracharya’s birth. Amara Simha was the son of the brahmana Sabara Svami, who fathered a host of children with different mothers of different castes. The ancient verse about Amara Simha was well known in the learned circles of yore:

brahmanyam abhavad varaha mihiro jyotirvidam agranihi

raja bhartriharish cha vikramanripah kshatratratmajayam abhut

vaishyayam harichandra vaidya tilako jatash cha shankuh kriti

shudrayam amaraha shadeva shabara svami dvija sya atmajaha

        “Varaha Mihira, foremost among the greatest astrologers, was born from the womb of a brahmana lady. King Vikrama and King Bhartrihari were born from a kshatriya mother. From a vaishya mother were born Harichandra, a vaidya tilaka – an excellent Ayurveda physician and Shanku; and from a maidservant (shudra) mother was born Amara Simha. These six were fathered by the brahmana Shabara Svami.”

The Amarakosha Speaks of Two Buddhas

        Amara Simha was the author of many books on Buddhism. By coincidence all these books came into the possession of Sri Sankaracharya, who subsequently preserved only the Amarakosha and burnt all the others. The following verses about Buddha are found in the Amarakosha:

sarvajnah sugato buddho dharmarajas tathagataha

samanta bhadro bhagavan marajil lokajij jinaha

shadabhijno dashabalo dvayavadi vinayakaha

munindra shrighanah shasta munihi

        “All knowing, transcendental Buddha, king of righteousness, He who has come, beneficent, all encompassing Lord, conqueror of the god of love Mara, conqueror of worlds, He who controls his senses, protector of the six enemies, possessor of the ten powers, speaker of monism, foremost leader, lord of the ascetics, embodiment of splendour and teacher of the ascetics.”

The above verse contains eighteen names of Vishnu Avatara Buddha including the name Sugato, and the verse below contains the seven aliases of Shakya Simha Buddha [the human] without any mention of Sugato.

Shakyamunis tu yah sa shakyasimhah sarvarthasiddha shauddhodanish cha

gautamash charkabandhush cha mayadevi sutash cha saha

        “Teacher of the Shakyas, lion of the Shakyas, accomplisher of all goals, son of Shuddhodana, of Gautama’s line, friend of the entrapped ones, the son of Mayadevi.”

In these verses, starting with sarvajnah and finishing with munih are eighteen names addressing the original Vishnu incarnation Lord Buddha. The next seven names beginning with Shakya-munistu to Mayadevi-Sutascha refer to Shakya Simha Buddha. The Buddha referred to in the first eighteen names and the Buddha referred to in the later seven names are clearly not the same person. [This clearly indicates that knowledge of the two Buddhas was well known long ago.] In the commentary on Amarakosha by the learned Sri Raghunatha Cakravarti, he also divided the verses into two sections. To the eighteen names of Vishnu Avatara Buddha he writes the words “astadash buddha“, which clearly refers only to the Vishnu avatara. Next, on his commentary for the seven aliases of Shakya Simha he writes: “ete sapta shakya bangshabatirneh buddha muni bishete“, meaning “the next seven names starting from Shakya-munistu are aliases of Buddha-muni [the human] who was born into the Shakya dynasty.”

Thus from the above verses and their commentaries it is indeed transparent that Sugata Buddha [the avatara] and the atheist sage Gautama Buddha are not one and the same person. I take this opportunity to request the learned readers to refer to the Amarakosha published by the respected Mr. H. T. Colebrooke in 1807. 2 On pages 2 & 3 of this book the name ‘Buddha’ has been explained. The ‘Marginal Note’ on page 2 for the first eighteen names, states they are names of Ajina or Buddha and the ‘Marginal Note’ for the later seven states these are aliases of Shakya Simha Buddha. A further footnote is added to clarify the second Buddha, of the latter seven names – Footnote (b) “the founder of the religion named after him.”

Mr. Colebrooke lists in his preface the names of the many commentaries he used as references. Besides Raghunatha Cakravarti’s commentary, he took reference from twenty-five others. It can be said with certainty that the propagator of Bahyatmavada, Jnanatmavada and Sunyamavada, the three pillars of atheism, was Gautama Buddha or Shakya Simha Buddha. There is no evidence whatsoever that Sugata Buddha, Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, was in any way connected with atheism in any form. Shakya Simha or Siddhartha Buddha, received the name Gautama from his spiritual master Gautama Muni, who belonged to the Kapila dynasty. This is confirmed in the ancient Buddhist treatise Sundarananda Charita: “guru gotrad atah kautsaste bhavanti sma gautamah” – meaning “O Kautsa, because his teacher was Gautama, they became known from his family line.”

Other Buddhist Literatures Recording Two Buddhas

        Besides the Amarakosha, so highly favored by Sankaracharya, there are other famous Buddhist texts like Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Astasahastrika Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Sata-shastrika Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Lalita Vistara, etc. Proper scrutiny of these texts reveals the existence of three categories of Buddha, namely:

Human Buddhas: like Gautama, who came to be known as Buddha after enlightenment.

Bodhisattva Buddhas: Personalities like Samanta Bhadraka who were born enlightened.

Adi (original) Buddha: the omnipresent Vishnu Avatara incarnation of Lord Buddha.

The Amarakosha states that Lord Buddha, Sri Vishnu’s incarnation, is also known as Samanta Bhadra, whereas Gautama Buddha is a human being. Other than the eighteen names of the Vishnu Avatara Buddha mentioned in Amarakosha, many names of Lord Buddha are recorded in the above mentioned Buddhist texts. In Lalita Vistara, Chapter 21, page 178, it is described how Gautama Buddha meditated on the same spot as the predecessor Buddha:

cha dharanimunde purvabuddhasanasthaha

samartha dhanur grihitva shunya nairatmavanaiha

klesharipum nihatva drishtijalancha bhitva

shiva virajamashoham prapsyate bodhim agryam

        “The one seated on the hallowed earth of the previous Buddha’s birthplace is on the path of voidism and renunciation. With his weapon, the powerful bow, he vanquishes the enemies of distress and illusion. Thus with wisdom he will attain the auspicious state of grieflessness and worldly detachment.”

It is transparent from this verse that Gautama Buddha, realizing the spiritual potency of the previous Buddha’s birthplace, chose to perform meditation and austerities in that vicinity, under a pipal tree. The ancient and original name of this place was Kikata, but after Gautama attained enlightenment there, it came to be known as Buddha Gaya (Bodhi Gaya) [now Bodhgaya]. Even to the present day, the rituals of worship to the deity of Buddha at Bodhi Gaya are conducted by a sannyasi (renounced monk) of the Giri order, belonging to the Sri Sankaracharya sect. It is commonly accepted amongst those monks that Buddha-Gaya (Vishnu Avatara Buddha) was a predecessor of Gautama Buddha, who came later to the original Buddha’s birthplace to practice meditation. Shakya Simha Buddha chose this place to attain liberation, knowing it to be saturated with immense spiritual power.

        Lankavatara Sutra is a famous and authoritative Buddhist scripture. From the description of the Buddha, which is found in this book, it may be firmly concluded that he is not the more recent Shakya Simha or Gautama Buddha. In the beginning of this book we find Ravana, King of Lanka, praying first to the original Vishnu incarnation Buddha and then to the successive [and in this case the] future Buddha. A part of this prayer is reproduced here:

lankavatara sutram vai purva buddha anuvarnitam

smarami purvakaih buddhair jina-putra puraskritaihi

sutram etan nigadyante bhagavan api bhashatam

bhavishyatyanagate kale buddha buddha-sutas cha ye

        “Ravana, the king of Lanka, at first recited in the Totaka metre, then sang the following – ‘I invoke in my memory the aphorisms known as Lankavatara-sutra, compiled and propagated by the previous Buddha (Vishnu’s incarnation). The son of Jina (Lord Buddha) presented this book. Lord Buddha and his sons, who will appear in the future, as well as Bhagavan, the Vishnu incarnation, will continue to instruct all from this book.’”

Anjana’s Son, Named Buddha, is Different from Shuddhodana’s Son

        Some people may consider that it is not Sankaracharya but the Vaishnavas who demonstrate a greater degree of respect and sincere reverence towards Buddha, therefore, it is they who should also be known as Buddhists. In this regard my personal view is, according to the Linga Purana, Bhavishya Purana, and the ninth of the ten Vishnu incarnations mentioned in the Varaha Purana, the Buddha described therein is not the same personality as Gautama Buddha, [the person] who was the son of Shuddhodana. Vaishnavas never worship the nihilist and atheist (sunyavada) Buddha or Gautama Buddha, They only worship Lord Vishnu’s ninth incarnation, Lord Buddha, with this prayer from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 10/40/22:

namo buddhaya shuddhaya daitya-danava-mohine

        “O Supreme Lord Buddha! I offer my obeisance unto You, Who is faultless and have appeared to delude the demoniac and atheistic class of men.”

Earlier in the Srimad-Bhagavatam 1/3/24, Lord Buddha’s advent is described in the following manner:

tatah kalau sampravritte

sammohaya sura-dvisham

buddho namnanjana-sutaha

kikateshu bhavishyati

        “Then in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Buddha, son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.”

The Buddha mentioned in this verse is Lord Buddha, son of Anjana; also known by some as Ajina’s son. Sri Sridhara Svami writes in his authoritative commentary to this verse:

buddha avartaramaha tata iti anjanasya sutaha

ajina suta it pathe ajino’ pi sa eva kikateshu madhye gaya-pradeshe

        “The words tatah kalau etc., describe Vishnu’s incarnation Buddha as the son of Anjana. Ajina in the word ajina sutaha actually means Anjana. Kikata is the name of the district of Gaya.”

The monists, either by mistake or some other reason, regard Sri Sridhara Svami as belonging to their sect and persuasion. Be as it may, his comments however on this matter can easily be accepted by the Mayavadis as true without hesitation. The following quote is from the Nrisimha Purana 36/29:

kalau prapte yatha buddho bhavannarayana – prabhuh

        “In Kali-yuga the Supreme Lord Narayana appears as Buddha.”

A fair estimate of Lord Buddha’s appearance can be made from this verse; that He lived approximately 3500 years ago, or by accurate astronomical and astrological calculation around 4000 years ago. Regarding the astrological facts at the time of His birth, the treatise Nirnaya-sindhu states in the second chapter:

jyaishtha shuka dvitiyayam buddha-janma bhavisyati

        “Lord Buddha will appear on the second day of the waxing moon, in the month of Jyaishtha.”

Elsewhere in this book is described the procedure for Lord Buddha’s worship:

pausha shuklasya saptamyam kuryat buddhasya pujaanam

        “Lord Buddha is especially worshipped in the seventh day of the waxing moon in the month of Pausha.”

The rituals, prayers and procedures for worship mentioned in these scriptures all clearly indicate that they are meant for Lord Vishnu’s ninth avatara incarnation. Lord Buddha also finds repeated mention in many authentic Vedic scriptures like the Vishnu Purana, Agni Purana, Vayu Purana, and Skanda Purana. The Buddha mentioned in the Devi Bhagavat, a more recent text, and in Shakti Pramoda, refers to Shakya Simha Buddha – not the Vishnu Avatara Buddha.

The truth remains that there are many different demigods and demigoddesses who are worshipped by their respective devotees, in the same way that Shakya Simha Buddha (who was an atheist) is worshipped or glorified by his followers. However, this is all completely separate and unrelated to the path of Sanatana-dharma, which is the eternal religion of man enunciated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

According to the German scholar Max Mueller, Shakya Simha Buddha was born in 477 BC in the Lumbini gardens, within the city of Kapilavastu. This ancient and at that time well-populated city in the Terai region of Nepal was well known. Shakya Simha or Gautama Buddha’s father was known as Shuddhodana, while his mother was called Mayadevi, this is all accepted as historical fact. Although Anjana’s son and Shuddhodana’s son both share the name of Buddha, they are nevertheless two different personalities. One of them was born in Kikata – which is now famous as Bodhi-Gaya, while the second Buddha was born in Kapilavastu, Nepal. Thus, the birthplace, parents, and era of Vishnu Avatara Buddha and the birthplace, parents, era, etc., of Gautama Buddha are totally at variance.

We can therefore now observe that the famous personality generally referred to as Buddha is not the Vishnu incarnation, the original Lord Buddha and, hence, Sankaracharya’s views on this are completely unacceptable. It is not uncommon to find disagreements in matters of tradition and history, but in regards to important and significant issues an unbiased and objective discussion is imperative. Attracted by Buddha’s personality and fame, it is one thing to honor and respect him, but being impressed by his philosophy and teachings and reverentially surrendering to him is wholly another matter. Whatever the case may be, I am sure that the respected readers have grasped the crucial point that Buddha is not a single person, but at least two separate identities – Shakya Simha is not the same as Lord Buddha, Vishnu’s ninth incarnation. It is certainly undeniable that there are some similarities between these two Buddhas, yet it is incontestable that they are two different persons [with two different purposes].

Footnotes

1. Mleccha – derived from the Sanskrit root mlech meaning to utter indistinctly (Sanskrit) – a foreigner; non-Aryan; a man of an outcaste race; any non-Sanskrit speaking person who does not conform to the Vedic social and religious customs.

2. This book was published under the auspices of the Asiatic Society and can be referenced at it library. See www.indev.nic.in/asiatic/

END OF CHAPTER TWO – BEYOND NIRVANA

CONCLUSION

        Actually, there is much I like about Buddhism. I like its peaceful and gentle ways, the basis of its connection with all of life, but also its principle of detachment and renunciation as a means to enter higher forms of existence. I like some of the forms of meditation that it uses to gain more understanding and control of the mind. I like its mild form of determination to the principles and its goals.

However, from the above descriptions we can understand that the worship of the first Buddha, which at this point in time has practically been forgotten, is a means of definite spiritual progress through nonviolence, compassion for all and renunciation from the world for one’s self-interest. However, these days most of what is known of Buddhism is based on the monistic path as established by Shakya Simha Buddha, the second Buddha who was but a mortal who, with great intellectual ability, propounded a path that promised the end of suffering, and the eventual entrance into what is called nirvana. This goal of entering nirvana actually requires such a discipline that, in this day and age, it is practically impossible to achieve. This would also mean that, no matter how much one progresses along this path, the most one can attain, besides a more peaceful life which may be good enough for some people, are still future rounds of birth in this world. Praying to Shakya Simha or Gautama Buddha, or any of the other forms of which he may be depicted, still cannot offer any Divine assistance, since he is not really Divine. Nor does Buddhism really acknowledge God, either outside us or within. The soul is also not recognized. So, it is perfect for those who wish to follow a path that is basically atheistic in nature.

In this way, it is very similar to the philosophy that was established by Sankaracharya who proposed, through his own imaginative interpretation of some basic Sanskrit verses, that the Absolute Truth was impotent, inert, and without any characteristics. Like the Buddhist sunya or void, nirvana, or Great White Light, Sankaracharya also propounded a monistic Brahman that is the eternal and timeless void, nondual, an impersonal oneness, and great white light, the Brahman effulgence. You could say that it is merely an adaptation of the core concepts of Buddhism but with a Vedic slant. As Shakya Simha Buddha tried to nullify the sufferings of the world through voidism, Sankaracharya tried to do the same thing with his conception of impersonal Brahman. Sankaracharya says that Brahman is all that is eternal, while Shakya Simha proposed that the void is all that remains.

Students of Sankaracharya will accept him as a scholar of Vedanta and a great theist and will follow what appears to be his apparently theistic teachings, but in this way they actually become atheists by giving up the concept of God and any chance of establishing a relationship with the Supreme Being.

Sri Krishna-Dvaipayana Vyasadeva, who compiled the major Vedic texts, has declared in his writings in the Puranas that the monistic, impersonal Mayavada philosophy is false and non-Vedic. The same would apply to what we presently know as Buddhism. You can find this in the Padma Purana 25/7:

mayavadam asacchastram pracchannam bauddham uchyate

        “The theory of Mayavadism is a concocted scripture and is known as a disguised Buddhism.”

Therefore, if we accept the traditional and major Vedic view, as found in all Vedic samhitas and original texts, it ultimately leads to the premise that God is personal, with personality and characteristics, active and eternal, though beyond our mental ability to comprehend, but with whom everyone has a relationship that only needs to be reawakened. The real Vedic tradition points to the ways in which we can grow beyond our limitations and realize by direct perception our natural spiritual identity and reawaken our eternal loving relationship with the Supreme Spirit. This is the direction and ultimate goal of all truly Vedic processes of spiritual development.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This additional information is from the book, “Dasavatar: Ten Manifestations of Godhead,” By Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, published by Mandala Publishing and Sree Caitanya Gaudiya Math, downloaded from http://www.sreecgmath.org.

Among the Dashavataras, Sri Buddha is the ninth avatara. Additionally, Sri Buddha is the twenty fourth lila-avatara.

In order to condemn the practice of animal sacrifice, Supreme Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Buddha. Srila Jayadeva Gosvami prays to the Lord of the universe in his Dashavatara-stotra:

nindasi yajna-vidher ahaha sruti-jatam

sadaya-hridaya-darshita-pashu-ghatam

keshava dhrita-buddha-sharira jaya jagadisha hari

(Sri Jayadeva’s Dashvatara-stotra, 9th Verse)

“O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha! All glories unto You! O Buddha of compassionate heart, You decry the slaughtering of poor animals performed according to the rules of Vedic sacrifice.”

The name of Buddha also appears in the verse that describes the ten avataras in Srimad-Bhagavatam:

matsya kurmo varahashca nrisimha vamanastatha

ramo ramashca ramashca buddha kalki ca te dashah

In the dashavatara verse of Sahitya-darpana,1 we find the names of Buddha and Kalki. The Agni, Vayu and Skanda Puranas also mention the name of Buddha, as does the following verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam:

tatah kalau sampravritte sammohaya sura-dvisham

buddho namnanjana-sutaha kikateshu bhavishyati

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.24)

“Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya2 (Bihar) just for the purpose of infatuating those who are envious of the faithful demigods.”

In Chapters 17-18 of the 3rd Section of Vishnu Purana, Buddha has been designated as Mayamoha’. Once, while bathing in the waters of the Yamuna, Akrura was astonished to see Krishna-Balarama within the river. Coming out, he saw Them seated in a chariot as They had been before appearing in the water. Again he immersed himself in the water, and saw the yellow-clad four-handed Vasudeva Sri Krishna along with His associates, graciously seated on the lap of the thousand-hooded Sri Anantadeva while being worshiped by Brahma and other demigods. At that time, he prayed to the Lord in the following manner:

namo buddhaya shuddhaya daitya-danava-mohine

mleccha-praya-kshatra-hantre namas te kalki-rupine

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.40.22)

“O Lord! I offer my obeisances unto Your form of Buddha, who, possessing a faultless nature, deluded the miscreants by composing anti-Vedic scriptures. I also offer obeisances unto Your Kalki form, the annihilator of the wicked kshatriyas who are no better than barbarians.”

The Vedas encode instructions according to the eligibility or qualification of various living beings, especially human beings. But in the course of time, ignorant men took the tamasika3 orders to be the only instruction of the Vedas4 and engaged in the extensive killing of animals, sometimes even sacrificing human beings during worship of the demigods. At that time, the Supreme Lord descended in the form of Buddha and outwardly rejected the teachings of the Vedas for the welfare of human beings incapable of comprehending the true teachings of the Vedas. This implies that He disputed and cancelled His own prior teachings, propounded the futility of belief in God and preached to human beings four noble truths, to free them from their violent practices. This act of Buddha provided instantaneous benediction to mankind of that period. As Lord Buddha was the Supreme Lord Himself, many people resolved to follow ahimsa-dharma the path of non-violence, due to His influence. As a result of non-violence, the hearts of human beings became pious and their qualifications gradually increased, so Lord Shiva appeared as Shankaracarya. He re-established the supreme authenticity and decorum of the Vedas, and founded the philosophy of brahmakarana-vada’ (Brahman as the ultimate cause). In later ages, the Vaishnava stalwarts built the philosophy of bhakti upon this same foundation stone. From the personal and aggregate point of view, these are the steps of progress.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the Lord Himself, removed the incompleteness of the previously propagated philosophies through His acintya-bhedabheda-tattva’ philosophy (the principle of inconceivable simultaneous distinction and non-distinction).

It is said that Sakyasimha Buddha, the son of Shuddhodana and Maya, and Buddha-avatara, the Vaishnavas’ object of adoration, are not one and the same person. Our Most Revered Nityalilapravishta Om Vishnupada 108 Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada has clearly said, “Shakyasimha Buddha was merely a vastly learned person, so we cannot call him the original Buddha or Lord Buddha.”

Acarya Sri Shankara has by mistake referred to Maya’s son, Buddha, as Sugata Buddha’ in the following commentary: sarvatha api anadaraniya ayam sugata-samayaha shreyaskamaih iti abhiprayaha.

The Amarakosha-grantha (Sanskrit dictionary) states:

sarvajna api sugato buddho dharmarajastathagataha

samastabhadro bhagavan marajillokajijjinaha

sarvabhijno dashabalo ‘dvayavad‚ vinayakaha

munindraha srighanaha shasta muniha shakyamunistu yaha

“All-Knowing, Transcendental, Buddha, King of Righteousness, He Who Has Come, Beneficent, All-Encompassing, Lord, Conqueror of the God of Love Mara, Victorious of Three Worlds, He Who Controls His Senses, Protector from the Six Enemies, Possessor of the Ten Powers, Speaker of Monism (One Absolute), Teacher, Lord of the Sages, Embodiment of Splendor and Eminent Saint.”

In his commentary on the above verse, Srila Ragunatha Cakravarti has written: “All eighteen names of Buddha from sarvajna’ ( omniscient) to shakyamuni,’ refer to Vishnu-avatara Buddha. Therefore, Sugata’ clearly refers only to Vishnu-avatara Buddha.

sa shakyasimhah sarvarthasiddhah shauddhodanishcha sah

gautamashcarkabandhushca mayadevisutashca sah

“Teacher of the Shakyas, lion of the Shakyas, accomplisher of all goals, son of Shuddhodana, of Gautama’s line, friend of scholars, son of Mayadevi.”

Here, Shrila Ragunatha Cakravarti has written: ete sapta shakyabangshabatirneh buddhamuni bisheshe

“The seven aliases from shakyasimha Buddha’ down to mayadevisuta’ (the son of Mayadevi) refer to monks belonging to the Shakya Dynasty.”

Thus, Sugata Buddha and Shunyavadi (Shakyasimha) Buddha are not the same person.

Further evidence is found in Mr. H. T. Colebrooke’s Amarakosha, published at Ramapura in 1807. It is written in Chapter 21, Page 178 of Lalitavistaragrantha that Gautama Buddha performed penances at the same place as the previous Buddha (Vishnu avatara Buddha). Maybe it is for this reason that in later ages he and Lord Buddha are considered as being one:

esha dharanimunde purvabuddhasanasthaha

samartha dhanurgrihitva shunya

nairatmavanaih klesaripum nihatva dristijalanca bhitva-shiva

virajamshokam prapsyate bodhimagryam

Currently this place is known as Buddha Gaya, but Srimad-Bhagavatam refers to it as Kikata Pradesha:

tatah kalau sampravritte sammohaya sura-dvisham

buddho namnanjana-sutah kikateshu bhavishyati

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.24)

“Thereafter, in the twenty-first manvantara at the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in Kikata Pradesha (the province of Gaya Bihar), just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful demigods.”

According to Sri Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentary: anjana suto ‘jina sutashceti pathadvayam kikateshu madhye gayapradeshe

“The names Anjanasuta5 and Ajinasuta can both be found in the above verse. The province of Gaya has been called Kikateshu.”

Srila Sridhara Svamipada has written in his commentary:

buddhavataramaha tata iti

anjanasya sutah

ajinasuta iti pathe ajino ‘pi sa eva

kikateshu madhye gayapradeshe

“Buddha-avatara refers to Buddha who is the son of Anjana, and also in another reading, the son of Ajina. In the above verse, the name is written as Ajina or Anjana, and Kikata refers to Gaya Pradesha.”

It is written in the 29th Verse, 36th Chapter of Sri Nrisimha Purana: kalau prapte yath„ buddho bhavennarayana prabhuh

“Lord Narayana appeared as Buddha when the age of Kali Started.”

This clearly implies that Lord Buddha appeared five thousand years ago.

The following verse can be found in the second paragraph of Nirnaya-sindhu: jyaishtha shukladitiyayam buddhajanma bhavishyati

“Buddha will take birth on the 2nd day of the shuklapaksha6 of the month of Jyaishtha7.”

Another part of this book describes the mode of worshipping Buddha: pausha shuklasya saptamyam kuryyat bhuddhasya pujanam

“Worship Lord Buddha on the 7th day of the shuklapaksha of the month of Pausha.8

This is the prescription for the worship of Buddha, the avatara of the Supreme Lord. The full moon day of the month of Vaishakha9, known as Buddha-purnima, is to be celebrated for both Buddhas, subject to consideration of both Buddhas together.

In Sri Madhvacarya’s commentary on Verse 1.3.24 of Srimad-Bhagavatam, from his book Bhagavata-tatparya, the following quotation from Brahmanda Purana has been referred to:

mohanartham danavanam balarupi pathisthitaha

putram tam kalpayamasa madhabudhirjinah svayam

tatah sammohayamasa jinadyana suramshakan

bhagavan vagbhirugrabhirahimsa vacibhirharihi

(Brahmanda Purana)

“In order to delude the demons, He (Lord Buddha) was present in the form of a child on the way while the fool, Jina (a demon), imagined Him to be his son. Later on, Lord Sri Hari (as avatara-Buddha) expertly deluded Jina and other demons by His strong words of non-violence.”

There is an authentic Buddhist book, Lankavatarasutra’ 10, in which Ravana, the king of Lanka, prays to Jina’s son, the ancient Lord Buddha, and to all the Buddhas and Buddhas’ sons who would appear in the future, via this eulogy (stava):

atha ravano lankadhipatih gathagiten anugayati sma

lankavatarasutram vaih purvabuddhanuvarnitam

smarami purvakaih buddhairjinaputra-puraskritaih

putrametannigadyate bhagavanapi bhashatam

bhavishyantyanapate kale buddha buddhasutashca ye

Therefore, this source leaves no doubt that the ancient avatara-Buddha and the modern Gautama Buddha are not the same person.

Buddha-avatara has been discussed in various Puranas such as Linga, Bhavishya, Varaha, Agni, Vayu, Skanda, Vishnu, and many others. In the 17th and 18th Chapters of the 3rd Section of Vishnu Purana, Buddha is referred to as Mayamoha. It should be remembered that the Buddha-avatara whose narrations are found in various Puranas and other scriptures, is not the nihilistic Buddha, the son of Shuddhodana. namo buddhaya shuddhaya daitya danava mohine

The preceding eulogy to Lord Buddha, taken from Akrura’s prayer in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10-40-22), is the essence of all the Vedas, Vedanta, Puranas, Itihasas and other scriptures. The meaning of this prayer is:

“O Lord, I offer my obeisances unto Your faultless beguiling form of Lord Buddha who enchanted the demons and devils by composing anti-Vedic mantras.”

Commenting on this, Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has written: shuddhaya vedaviruddha shastra pravarttakatve ‘pi nirddoshaya

“The meaning of the word ‘shuddhaya’ is that although He is the founding element of anti-Vedic literature, yet He remains inculpable.”

Therefore, by establishing shastras opposed to the Vedas, He (avatara- Buddha) hypnotized devils and demons. This is the reason why some writers of Buddha’s biography consider avatara-Buddha and human Buddha to be the same.

In Canto 6,Chapter 8,19th verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, King Indra prays to Lord Buddha with the mantra, buddhas tu pashanda-gana-pramadat. This mantra is from the Narayana kavacha of Vishvarupa, the son of Sage Tvashta. By reciting this mantra Indra prayed, “O Lord Buddha! Save me from the defect of indifference born out of atheistic hypocrisy.”

This means that Lord Buddha, in His asura-vimohanalila’ (the pastime of hypnotizing the demons), deluded the wicked natured people by establishing scriptures opposed to the Vedas. “Save me Lord Buddha from the terrible offence of disobeying the Vedas due to ignorance of their secret meanings.”

Factually, Lord Buddha is not a condemner of the Vedas for any reason whatsoever. This pastime is meant only to mesmerize the demons. It is written in the 40th chapter of the Maheshvara section of Skanda Purana that: “After the passing of 3600 years of Kali-yuga, Lord Buddha, the avatara of Vishnu, the saviour of dharma, will appear in the Magadha territory from the womb of Anjani, fathered by Hemasadana. He will perform many glorious tasks and rule over the earth containing seven islands, for sixty-four years. Then, safeguarding His glories with His devotees, He will retreat to His abode.”

Thus, we can see by the authentic words of genuine scriptures, that Lord Buddha and Shakyasimha/Gautama Buddha are not the same. The Lord has established many anti-Vedic scriptures for deluding the demons. Other Buddhas also followed Him and propagated anti-Vedic nihilism. That is why many doubts arise, as all of them have been mentioned together in several places11. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has written: veda na maniya baudha haya ta nastika.

“With no regard for the Vedas, Buddha has become atheistic.”

This means, in India, those who have no faith in the Vedas are considered to be atheistic.

According to the German scholar Max Muller, Shakyasimha Buddha was born in the Lumbini Forest of Kapilavastu in 477 B.C. Ancient Kapilavastu is a famous district situated near Nepal. Gautama’s father’s name was Shuddhodana and His mother’s name was Mayadevi. Anjana’s son and Maya’s son both share the same name but one appeared at Gaya and the other at Kapilavastu. Thus, the appearance places and parents of Vishnu Buddha and Gautama Buddha are totally different. Because the human Buddha was unable to understand the asura-vimohana-lila of Lord Vishnu Buddha, he propagated anti-Vedic nihilism [voidism].

    NOTES:

1 A Bengali reference encyclopedia

2 Gaya Region: This is famous as Bodha Gaya or Buddha Gaya. This is the most important pilgrimage place of Buddhists. This place was famous even before the time of Christ. The remains of the Mahabodhi Temple and the Stupa (monument), built by King Ashoka, are evidence of its fame and antiquity. The Pippala tree (ficus religiosa), under which Buddha attained enlightenment, is still there today. In the journey diary of the Chinese traveler, Fahiyan, a description of the Mahabodhi Temple of Uruvilva has been provided.

3 The mode of ignorance.

4 In the scriptures animal sacrifice is specified to enable society to gradually rise above violent tendencies.

5 Suta’ means son’.

6 Shukla-paksha: The moonlit half of a lunar month the bright fortnight.

7 Jyaishtha month: the 2nd month of the Hindu (Lunar) calendar (Summer).

8 Pausha month: the 9th month of the Hindu (Lunar) Calendar (Winter).

9 Vaishakha month: the 1st month of the Hindu (Lunar) Calendar.

10 Lankavatara-sutra’ was published with the help of the Indian Buddhist Text Society and Bengal Government in January 1900 A.D.

11 In the 21st issue of the 18th volume of Gaudiya (Magazine), in the articles of Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura entitled, Pracchanna Bauddha and Nastikyavada’ (Disguised Bauddha and Atheism) and Gautama’ as well as in the book Sri Gaudiya Darshana: History and Elements’ by Sri Sundarananda Vidyavinoda (a disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura), the name of Shakyasimha Gautama Buddha has rarely appeared while writing about the Buddhist philosophy.

Pujyapada Tridandi Svami Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja, the beloved disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura and founder of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, in his writing, Mayavadera Jivani’ (The Life History of Impersonalism), has written: “The lila of the Supreme Lord, the expansion of the Lord, Buddha, appeared around 3500 B.C.” (Page 74)

“Nihilistic Siddhartha was the disciple of Sage Gautama of Kapila’s lineage. Therefore, his other name is Gautama.” (Page 14)

Shakyasimha Buddha appeared around five hundred years before.” (Page 18)

12 Buddha married Yashodhara at the age of sixteen years. Buddha renounced the world at the age of twenty-nine years. He attained emancipation at the age of eighty years (New Bengali Dictionary of Asutosh Dev)

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

http://www.sltda.gov.lk/ramayana   and

http://www.tourslanka.com/ramayana-sri-lanka/tours/ramayana-site-tours-excursions.php

The Out of Africa Theory Verses the Vedic View

By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)

Many geneticists view that modern man developed and came out of Africa where they migrated across lands to settle in ancient India. From there they spread out in all directions, even into Europe. This is called the “Out of Africa” theory. This certainly helps contradict the Aryan Invasion Theory, which proposes that the Vedic Aryans were not indigenous to the region of India, but came from the Caucasus Mountains, bringing their culture into India. However, over the past several years, an increasing number of finds have been made that suggest modern humans also lived in other regions besides Africa, and at older dates. This is giving rise to the “Multi-Regional Theory,” putting into question the “Out of Africa” theory. This also gives rise to the “Simultaneous Multi-Species” view, in which different species of human-like beings existed at the same times. These two later theories seem to be much closer to the Vedic version as well. So let us take a closer look at this.

THE GENERAL PREMISE ON HUMANITY’S

EVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT

Modern views of evolution place the first appearance of apelike beings on the planet during the Oligocene period, from about 38 million years ago. The first apes considered to be in line with humans are said to have appeared in the Miocene period, which is about 5 to 25 million years ago. The first hominids or erect walking humanlike primates appeared in the Pliocene period, which is said to have started about 5 million years ago. The earliest hominid is the Australopithecus, the southern ape, which dates back about 4 million years ago. This near human is said to have stood about 4 to 5 feet tall with a cranial brain capacity of 300 to 600 cubic centimeters. The head appeared somewhat ape-like, while from the neck down appeared more human-like. Once this brain capacity enlarged, it is said to have developed the branch known as the Homo habilis around 2 million years ago. This gave rise to the Homo erectus around 1.5 million years ago, and stood 5 to 6 feet tall with a cranial capacity of 700 to 1300 cubic centimeters, appearing more like modern humans, but the forehead slanted back behind massive eye brow ridges, with large jaws and teeth, and no chin. It is this Homo erectus which is said to have lived in Africa, Asia, and then Europe until about 200,000 years ago (some say 500,000 years ago). It is from this Homo erectus that modern humans, or Homo sapiens sapiens emerged gradually, first appearing around 300,000 to 400,000 years ago. These early Homo sapiens sapiens still had lesser degree of receding forehead from large brow ridges. Examples of this have been found in Swanscombe in England, Steinheim in Germany, and Fontechevade and Arago in France. These are classified as pre-Neanderthals.

It is these classic Western European Neanderthals from the last glacial period which are considered the direct ancestors of modern humans. The faces and jaws were much larger, with low foreheads, and large eyebrow ridges. Remains of Neanderthals have been found in Pleistocene deposits from 30,000 to 150,000 years ago. However, finding remains of early Homo sapiens in deposits far older than 150,000 years effectively removed the Western Neanderthals from the direct line of descent leading from Homo erectus to modern humans.

The Cro-Magnon appeared in Europe around 30,000 years ago, and look anatomically modern. Scientists used to say that modern humans appeared first around 40,000 years ago, but many have changed that view after the findings in South Africa and other places to 100,000 years or more. Thus, again the views are always changing based on new discoveries of fossils. 1

Only gradually, based on increasing evidence, did a consensus grow in the scientific community to accept that possibly modern human beings had existed as far back as the Pliocene and Miocene periods (5 to 25 million years ago), or even earlier. Anthropologist Frank Spencer admitted in 1984: “From accumulating skeletal evidence it appeared as if the modern human skeleton extended far back in time, an apparent fact which led many workers to either abandon or modify their views on human evolution.” 2

THE OUT OF AFRICA THEORY

Most scientists today think that modern human beings, Homo sapiens sapiens, appeared first on earth in Africa between 200,000 and 500,000 years ago. They first became fully developed in Africa, and then about 80,000 to 125,000 years ago began to expand and migrate out of the continent to the northeast and into the Middle East and to India. As they grew, they out-competed and replaced all other species of humans, such as the Homo erectus, Neanderthal, and archaic humans with no or very little interbreeding.

The Homo erectus supposedly came into existence about 1.8 million years ago and existed up to about 300,000 years ago. At least this is what evidence from the fossils seem to tell us, along with DNA analysis, although the estimation of the time when Homo sapiens sapiens appeared and when the Homo erectus disappeared keeps changing with every new discovery that takes place.

It is explained that some of the oldest known fossils of modern humans had been discovered in Herto, Ethiopia. An international team let by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found the skulls of two adults and a child dating from 160,000 years ago, 40,000 years earlier than the previous oldest remains of Homo sapiens. The discovery as described in Nature, fills a gap in the human fossil record; the absence of accurately dated hominid remains in Africa between 120,000 and 300,000 years ago. As related by Clark Howell of UC of Berkeley, “The fossils are unmistakably non Neanderthal and show that (modern) humans had evolved in Africa long before the European Neanderthals disappeared. They demonstrate conclusively that there was never a Neanderthal stage in human evolution.” 3

This leads to some serious controversy because not everyone accepts this analysis. Others feel that the Neanderthals were a separate species of humans, and, for the most part, did not interbreed with other species. They evolved through time in a particular direction, distinct from modern humans, but separated about 400,000 years ago from the human lineage, with a separate evolutionary history, and, as many suggest, became extinct about 30,000 years ago.

When it comes to DNA analysis, humans and all mammals have two sets of DNA which do not recombine; it is said that the male sex chromosomes Y, which is passed from father to son and never recombines with its partner the X chromosome (X chromosomes do recombine in women, so these are less useful), and mitochondrial DNA; DNA found outside the nucleus in organelles called mitochondria, and which are always inherited through the female line. It is therefore easy to assess the rate at which these chromosomes have accumulated mutations, making them a prime target for scientists interested in tracing the divergence of human populations.

When scientists examined the X chromosome they came to the conclusion that all humans had a common female ancestor approximately 160,000 years ago. This hypothetical female ancestor is sometimes known as the ‘Mitochondrial Eve’. The Y-chromosomal DNA yielded even more surprising evidence: all male humans apparently shared a single male ancestor 60,000 years ago, sometimes called the ‘Y-chromosomal Adam’.

This was not the end of the DNA story. Scientists were also able to analyze the entire human genome to look for diversity within different groups. By analyzing the DNA of thousands of volunteers from around the world it was possible to build up a rough family tree for humanity. This suggested that the greatest human diversity was found within African populations – all non-African populations, no matter what they look like – are comparatively closely related to one-another.

When we combine the strong belief in Darwin’s evolutionary theories with paleontology, we get a bias that accepts all fossil evidence as proof of mankind’s evolutionary development. And this is basically what the “Out of Africa” theory provides.

However, when depending on nothing but fossils, we have to take something into consideration, and that is that fossils alone may not be a sure way of determining the past, or an evolutionary process of mankind’s development. As Bernard Heuvelmans stated in a letter (April 15, 1986) to researcher Stephen Bernath, who was working for Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson; “Do not overestimate the importance of the fossil record. Fossilization is a very rare, exceptional phenomenon, and the fossil record cannot thus give us an exact image of life on earth during the past geological periods. The fossil record of primates is particularly poor because very intelligent and cautious animals can avoid more easily the very conditions of fossilization–such as sinking in mud or peat, for instance.”

In this way, the most advanced or intelligent beings are the most likely not to be found as fossils. Furthermore, in the Vedic civilization, the common way to deal with the dead was through ritual cremation. Therefore, fossils of humanlike beings from that society is least likely, though there have been some buried bodies that have been found. Nonetheless, when we put all of the evidence together, including whatever fossils have been found from ancient layers of earth, and recent sightings of humanlike beings that wander in the wilderness, the conclusion is that many species of humanlike creatures have been simultaneously existing throughout the world in various environments for millions of years, rather than displaying a sequential pattern of evolution from one type of body or species to the next. So. it may not necessarily be that one species of humanity gives way to another, while the previous species ceases to exist. We will discuss this more as we proceed through this article.

EVIDENCE AGAINST OUT OF AFRICA

The fact is that up till a few years ago, the “Out of Africa” theory was generally accepted by most scientists. But from 2007 onwards, there have been an increasing number of discoveries that are putting that theory into question. Recently, for example, discoveries of early human remains in China and Spain have done just that. As reported in December of 2010 in England’s The Daily Mail, archeologists from Tel Aviv University say that eight human-like teeth found in the Qesem cave near Rosh Ha’Ayin, 10 miles from Israel’s international airport, are 400,000 years old, from the Middle Pleistocene age, making them the earliest remains of Homo sapiens yet discovered anywhere in the world. The size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man. Until now, the earliest examples found were in Africa, dating back to 200,000 years. Other scientists have argued that human beings originated in Africa before moving to other regions 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Previously, Homo sapiens discovered in Middle Awash, Ethiopia, from 160,000 years ago, were believed to be the oldest ‘modern’ human beings.

Therefore, the findings of Professor Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of the Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in early December, 2010, suggest that modern man did not originate in Africa as previously believed, but in the Middle East. The Qesem Cave was discovered in 2000 and has been the focus of intense study ever since. Along with the teeth–the parts of the human skeleton that survive the longest–the researchers found evidence of a sophisticated early human society that used sharpened flakes of stone to cut, along with other impressive prehistoric tools.

The Israeli scientists said the remains found in the cave suggested the systematic production of flint blades, the habitual use of fire, evidence of hunting, cutting and sharing of food, and mining raw materials to produce flint tools from rocks below ground. Thick-edged blades, shaped through retouch, were used for scraping semi-hard materials such as wood or hide, whereas blades with straight, sharp working edges were used to cut soft tissues. Thus, a rather developed society is indicated by the findings in the cave, where they expect to continue their research for additional evidence. 4

In the scientific journal called Nature, there was the news that humans seemed to have organized sea journeys as far back as 800,000–880,000 years ago. The evidence was the finding of stone tools on the island of Flores, 340 miles east of Bali. The intricacies of organizing such trips from South Asia would have required the use of language way back then to make it possible. 5

It was previously considered that the first major sea journey took place around 40,000–60,000 years ago, when anatomically modern humans are said to have arrived at Australia from eastern Indonesia.

Another example is that a news item on January 9, 2012, relates that Australian scientists had analyzed the oldest DNA ever taken from human remains, and that the results challenge the theory that humans developed only in Africa. Researchers at Australian National University said they had analyzed DNA taken from remains unearthed in 1974 at Lake Mungo in the state of New South Wales. Dating them in May 1999 put the age of the skeleton at between 56,000 and 68,000 years old. ANU anthropologist Alan Thorne said that neither “Mungo Man’s” completely modern skeleton nor its DNA had any links with human ancestors from Africa found in other parts of the world. Thorne said that there are modern humans in Australia that have nothing to do with Africa at all. These findings, as reported in The Australian newspaper, challenge the prevailing “Out of Africa” theory because “Mungo Man” has a genetic line which has vanished yet his skeleton is completely modern.

The previously oldest human DNA tested from the area came from the Neanderthal remains–a 45,000-year-old specimen in western Germany and 28,000-year-old from Croatia. ANU evolutionary geneticist Simon Easteal told Reuters, “If he [Mungo Man] was part of a wave of modern people that had come out of Africa and spread, eventually reaching Australia, then his mitochondrial DNA would reflect that.” Thorne also said that dating Mungo Man meant that there was no doubt that ancestors of Australia’s Aborigines came to the continent from Asia about 70,000 years ago–some 30,000 years earlier than thought. As he put it, “There’s no question that somewhere in southeast Asia is where watercraft got invented. The first oceanic crossings were to Australia.” 6

For the evolutionists, this means that at least one group of Homo erectus descendants evolved outside of Africa. It could also mean that modern man was a completely separate species who had already been evolved and traveled the globe, remnants of which we are only now discovering. And that ancient India was indeed where watercraft was invented and from where came the earliest residents of Australia.

What this seems to indicate is that modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, have been wandering the earth for quite some time, meaning many hundreds of thousands of years. Many instances of proof can be supplied that can help verify that.

For example, the Ph. D. degree holding geologist Dr. Virginia Steen McIntyre was a fellow of the United States Geology Survey. When in Mexico she carefully presented research conclusions about the stone tools found at Hueyatlaco that dated back to 250,000 years BCE. Then, while using four different methods of dating the material, two other USGS certified members agreed with her. This went drastically against the notion that humans that made stone tools did not appear until 100,000 years ago in Africa.

Another item of January 11, 2012 reports that scientists from Germany, Bulgaria and France discovered a hominid pre-molar tooth near the Bulgarian town of Chirpan, which is estimated to be seven million years old. This means that great apes survived in the area two million years longer than previously estimated. It had been thought that they could not have survived because of a lack of food. However, alongside the hominid tooth, scientists found the remains of animals typical of a savannah environment with seasonal changes, such as several species of elephant, giraffes, antelopes, rhinos, and saber-toothed cats. The implication is that hominids had adopted efficiently to the area. They said the discovery may cast doubt on the “Out of Africa” theory. Professor Madelaine Bohme of the University of Tubingen related, “We now also need to rethink where the origin of humans took place. There is increasing evidence… that a significant part of human evolution happened outside Africa, in Europe and Western Asia.”

This brings about what some people call the multi regional theory, meaning that various human species have been developing and existing in many areas of the world at the same time.

THE MULTI-REGIONAL THEORY

The Multi-Regional Theory postulates that various species of humans spread around the globe about 2 million years ago, and that these separate species evolved into modern races of humans, possibly by interbreeding. For example, the Homo erectus has been found in a range that includes eastern Africa, Georgia in southeast Europe, Turkey, India, China, Vietnam, and Java, which is a wide range of territory, though not all scientists accept that all these specimens belonged to the same species. Nonetheless, it would give evidence that not all modern humans may have developed in Africa directly.

For example, in April of 2007 it was reported that the ancient remains of an early modern human found near Beijing, in the Tianyuan Cave in Zhoukoudian in 2003. This suggests that the “Out of Africa” theory may be more complex than first thought. A fossilized remains dated to 38,000 to 42,000 years old makes it the oldest modern human skeleton from eastern Eurasia.

The specimen is basically a modern human, but with a few archaic characteristics in the teeth and hand bone. It is this discovery that casts further doubts on the longstanding “Out of Africa” theory which holds that when modern Homo sapiens spread eastwards from the sub-Saharan Africa to Eurasia about 65,000 to 25,000 years ago, they simply replaced the native late archaic humans, as explained by anthropologist Erik Trinkaus of Washington University. This leads to the growing idea, with respect to western Eurasia, that modern humans interbred with local archaic humans before becoming fully developed. 7

What this also means is one of two things: 1. That it is likely that they interbred to develop the Homo sapien species, or 2. That they were already two separate species that interbred at various places which produced these fossils that display both modern human and Homo erectus characteristics in one skeleton.

As we continue with this line of thought, in November of 2009, an article submitted by Michael Kan, “110,000-year-old Chinese Fossil Poses Challenge to ‘Out of Africa’ Theory” explains that China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology announced the discovery of a human jawbone fragment, found a year previous in southern China’s Guangxi province. Jin Changshu, a researcher with the institute, said the find of the 110,000-year-old jawbone was especially important since very few human fossils from this evolutionary period have been found in China. He added that the jawbone is that of an early modern human, but also bears the traits of our more primitive ancestors.

Wu Xinzhi, a professor with the institute, said he believes the discovery presents evidence to challenge the “Out of Africa” hypothesis. He says that if the “Out of Africa” theory is true, then in China, they should not be able to find a mandible (jaw) of a fossil with modern features older than 60,000 years. “But this Guangxi mandible is 110,000 years old. This means that this ‘Out of Africa’ theory is not true, at least not for China.”

Instead, Wu said the fossil find lends support for another theory called the “multi-regional hypothesis.” Under this scenario, humanity’s ancestors from Africa spread themselves across other continents and developed locally, and possibly interbred with earlier forms of humans, such as the Homo erectus, which gives the reason for the blend of characteristics in the fossil found in China. However, other scholars disagreed that such conclusions could be made from a mere jawbone to determine if it was really a Homo sapien. Still, the discovery presents a challenge to present theories.

However, now a much younger date, possibly as recent as 35,000 years ago, has been suggested for the Solo River site. The Homo erectus species of humanity, which many think became extinct about 200,000 to 500,000 years ago, appears to have survived in Indonesia until about 35,000 to 50,000 years ago at the site of Ngandong on the Solo River. This means that these Homo erectus would have shared the environment with early members of Homo sapiens, who are said to have arrived in Indonesia about 40,000 years ago. This means that they may have been two separate species, not necessarily an outgrowth of one from the other. 8

The existence of the two species in the same area simultaneously has important implications, one of which is that they were indeed separate species and not a sequential development of one from the other.

However, another piece of evidence outdates the above Solo River findings. In June 30 of 2011, in an article written by Daniel Smith, and to show how fast things change in this field of study, it claims that an ancestor of modern humans, the Homo erectus, widely considered a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens, migrated out of Africa 1.8 million years ago. The article claims that by around 500,000 years ago it had vanished from Africa and much of Asia, but until now was thought to have co-existed with their ancestors. The new research suggests this assumption was wrong, and Homo erectus disappeared long before the arrival of Homo sapiens in Asia.

New excavations and dating analysis indicate that Homo erectus was extinct by at least 143,000 years ago, and perhaps more than 550,000 years ago. If this is the case, it again challenges the widely accepted “Out of Africa” hypothesis which holds that modern humans became fully evolved in Africa before emigrating to other parts of the world. The model presupposes an overlap between Homo sapiens and the older species of humans they replaced outside Africa. This late survival of Homo erectus in Indonesia had previously been held up as evidence supporting this theory.

Dr. Etty Indriati, from Gadjah Mada university in Indonesia, who co-led the investigations at two sites on Indonesia’s Solo river, said “Homo erectus probably did not share habitats with modern humans.” In this way, a “Multi-Regional” hypothesis proposes that modern humans evolved from ancestor species in Africa, Asia and Europe. Thus, Africa was not the only place where modern humans developed.

However, here we can also see that the evolutionary idea of Darwin, along with the “Out of Africa” theory, is still itself evolving through many ideas and proposals as time goes by. My prediction is that the “Out of Africa” theory will itself change or even be thrown out as more investigations and discoveries take place.

“In the early 1950s, Thomas E. Lee of the National Museum of Canada found advanced stone tools in glacial deposits at Sheguiandah, on Manitoulin Island in norther Lake Huron. Geologist John Stanford of Wayne State University argued that the oldest Sheguiandah tools were at least 65,000 years old and might be as much as 125,000 years old. For those adhering to standard views on North American Prehistory, such ages were unacceptable. Humans supposedly first entered North America from Siberia only about 12,000 years ago.” 9

This was the standard view, that waves of hunter gatherers crossed into America over the Bering Straights about 12,000 years ago, but now some authorities are willing to place that date back to 30,000 or even 65,000 or more years ago, while a growing few are willing to place that entrance into America back to Pleistocene time frame, beyond 2 million years ago. For humans to reach America that far back in time certainly places the “Out of Africa” theory in doubt that it can continue to hold up under the pressure of newer and newer discoveries.

THE VEDIC VIEW

As we can plainly see, the dates for the development of modern man continue to go further and further back in time. For those of us who are familiar with the Vedic view and its ancient time frame in which it presents on when the creation of the cosmos took place and the development of modern man, this is not all surprising. The ancient Sanskrit texts of India, along with other ancient traditions, agree that humans have existed for many millions of years, going back to the very beginnings of creation, the very beginning of time. I have described the basics of the Vedic view of the process of universal creation in my book, How the Universe was Created and Our Purpose In It, which everyone can read to gain further insights into the Vedic view of this.

Furthermore, in light of the question of whether mankind had sequentially developed or evolved from apes, or whether there were many separate species of human-like beings, the Vedic texts, such as the Padma Purana, explain that there are 8,400,000 species of life throughout the multi-dimensions of the universe. Out of all these, it says there are 400,000 species of humans. What this means is that what are presently called modern humans, or Homo sapiens sapiens, have existed for millions of years along with other types or branches of humans on this planet, though paleontologists and others may call them by so many names.

The Vedic view also includes the premise that evolution (as in Darwin’s theory) does take place, except for minor changes, but that individual living beings, as spiritual entities, evolve through the different species of life that are created in order to acquire the best species or body (a set of senses) that suites the consciousness of that particular living being. Thus, as the living entity grows in consciousness, he or she naturally climbs the ladder of higher and higher species of life to be able to express oneself more appropriately, and to also have the intellect to accommodate the person’s natural search for his real spiritual identity, and to not only understand it, but to actually realize and perceive it. This is essentially the purpose of human life. Then the person can live on that level of understanding and reality, and, thus, attain the spiritual dimension wherein there is freedom from any further existence in the material world or material bodies. (I have written much more about this in my books, such as The Secret Teachings of the Vedas, and others.)

THE SOURCE OF HUMANITY

The Vedic texts say that the source of humanity, and all life, is from much higher dimensions, and that we devolve or descend from that higher dimension, namely from the spiritual strata. All living beings are not only physical, but also the subtle body of mind, intelligence, ego, and, ultimately, the spiritual soul which is beyond everything else. Therefore, living beings have not evolved out of matter, or evolved up from the apes, but are only traveling through matter and the various forms that nature provides, meaning each form or species of life that we accept, based on our level of consciousness. This is to acquire all the experiences that this three-dimensional world can provide, and that our consciousness deems necessary for our own growth. Then, once we are finished with this material realm of existence by regaining our spiritual identity and acting on that level, we make our way back to the spiritual domain.

Furthermore, the Vedic philosophy explains that the universal or material creation is a matter of Divine arrangement, not that it merely happened by chance and here we are. There was and is a plan behind everything, which means there was also an original plan-maker. Therefore, the Vedic texts point out that though species can change to some small degrees, all species of life were planned and created at the beginning of time for the purpose they fulfill, and only now have we been discovering, through the excavation of fossil remains, some of the forms of these species that have existed before, and may still be continuing to live somewhere or other, thus confirming the Vedic view. Plus, though we may call them as Homo erectus, or Neanderthal, etc., and consider them to be extinct, they may still be existing around the world in various environments, though they may not be so well known or observable at present, such as the wildmen, Sasquatch, Almas, etc., which we will discuss next.

THE SIMULTANEOUS MULTI-SPECIES VIEW

Combining the Vedic view with the evidence for the various forms of human and human-like beings, there is also the idea of the simultaneous multi-species view, which means that not only were all species originated at the beginning of creation, but they have all been existing together in various environments at the same time. And we can find further evidence for this in other areas of research, for example, as described by Michael Cremo:

“If we look back into the history of hominid paleontology, we find that Louis Leakey rejected Homo erectus and the Neanderthals (and Australopithecus) as human ancestors, just because of their strangely nonhuman brow ridges. He explains in his book Adam’s Ancestors (1960, p. 164): ‘The brow-ridge over each eye is made up of two component parts in Homo sapiens. One part in each case starts just above the nose and extends sideways and slightly upwards to overlap that second part, which on either side, starts at the extreme edge to the right and left of the eye-socket respectively, and extends inwards and slightly downwards. Thus, above the center of each eye-socket, there is an overlap of the two elements.’ The quite different single horizontal bar of bone found in the Homo erectus ‘suggested not an ancestral stage of human evolution, but a side branch that has become more specialized, in this respect, than any Homo sapiens type.’ Leakey thought it exceedingly unlikely that evolution should take the ancestors through a phase where they had no bar-like brow ridge to a phase where they had a massive bar-like brow ridge, and then back again to a phase with no massive bar-like brow ridge. I think Leakey was correct.” 10

This would indicate that this is a separate species of human-like beings that existed and were not merely an evolving form of humans. Not only were separate species of humanity existing at the same time, but they existed with ancient creatures as well, as explained:

“Dr. J. D. Whitney, in his book The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California (1880) published by Harvard University, details numerous discoveries of anatomically modern human bones and artifacts in layers of rock up to 50 million years old. One human skull fragment, which was sent to the Museum of Natural History in Boston, was found by Col. Paul K. Hubbs in the Valentine Mine shaft at Table Mountain, 180 feet below the surface in gold-bearing deposits, next to fossil bones of mastodons. The fossil-bearing layers were sealed off from the surface by thick layers of volcanic deposits at least 9 million years old. Whitney wrote (1880 p. 265): ‘The essential facts are, that the Valentine Shaft was vertical, that it was boarded up to the top, so that nothing could have fallen in from the surface during the working under ground, which was carried on in the gravel channel exclusively, after the shaft had been sunk. There can be no doubt that the specimen came from the drift [gold-bearing gravels] in the channel under Table Mountain, as affirmed by Mr. Hubbs.’ And reports of human skeletal remains go even further back than that. In the December 1862 edition of The Geologist, we find a report that a complete anatomically modern human skeleton was found ninety feet below the surface of the ground in Macoupin County, Illinois, in deposits about 300 million years old.” 11

“In 1979, researchers at the Laetoli, Tanzania site in East Africa discovered footprints in volcanic ash deposits that were over 3.6 million years old. Mary Leakey and others said the prints were indistinguishable from those of modern humans. To these scientists, this meant only that the human ancestors of 3.6 million years ago had remarkably modern feet. But according to other scientists, such as physical anthropologist R. H. Tuttle of the University of Chicago, fossil foot bones of the known australopithecines of 3.6 million years ago show they had feet that were distinctly apelike. Hence they were incompatible with the Laetoli prints. However, in an article in the March 1990 issue of Natural History, Tuttle confessed that ‘we are left with somewhat of a mystery.’ It seems possible, therefore, to consider a point that neither Tuttle nor Leakey mentioned–that creatures with anatomically modern human bodies to match their anatomically modern human feet existed some 3.6 million years ago in East Africa. Perhaps they coexisted with more apelike creatures.” 12

Even now, after reviewing the fossil hominids of China, there has been signs that humans may have coexisted with more apelike hominids throughout the Pleistocene era. Even today this may be the case when we consider the ongoing sighting of what would appear to be Homo erectus or other humanlike beings around the world. What follows are a few descriptions of these:

“Over the past century, scientists have accumulated evidence suggesting that humanlike creatures resembling Gigantopithecus, Australopithecus, Homo erectus, and the Neanderthals are living in various wilderness areas of the world. In North America these creatures are known as Sasquatch. In Central Asia, they are called Almas. In Africa, China, Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America, they are known by other names. Some researchers use the general term ‘wildmen’ to include them all. Scientists and physicians have reported seeing live wildmen, dead wildmen, and footprints. They have also catalogued thousands of reports from ordinary people who have seen such wildmen, as well as similar reports from historical records. 13

Let us review a few of the cases that are provided in the book, Hidden History of the Human Race:

On June 10, 1982, Paul Freeman, a U. S. Forest Service patrolman tracking elk in the Walla Walla district of Washington State observed a hairy biped around 8 feet tall, standing about 60 yards from him. After 30 seconds, the large animal walked away. Gover S. Krants, an anthropologist at Washington State University, studied casts of the creature’s footprints and found dermal ridges, sweat pores, and other features in the proper places for large primate feet. Detailed skin impressions on the side walls of the prints indicated the presence of a flexible sole pad. 14

The reason why many anthropologists keep quiet about such sightings, or about working with such information, is that they are scared for their reputations or their jobs. Working outside of the mainstream standards of information or accepted theories can cost a person the respect of their peers, even though studying such mysteries is what the business should be in order to get to the truth of such matters.

Nonetheless, another documented example took place in 1963 when Ivan Ivlov, a Russian pediatrician. He was traveling through the Altai mountains in the southern part of Mongolia and saw several humanlike creatures standing on a mountain slope. They appeared to be a family of a male, female, and a child. After watching them with his binoculars until they moved out of his field of vision, his Mongolian driver, who also saw them, said that they were common in that area. Then Ivan talked to the local children in the region, feeling that they may be more open about it than some adults. The children did indeed provide many reports about the Almas, one saying that when he and other children were swimming in a stream, he saw a male Almas carry a child Almas across it. 15

Another most interesting case was when in 1941, V. S. Karapetyam, a lieutenant colonel in the medical service of the Soviet Army, performed a direct physical examination of a living wildman captured in the Dagestan autonomous republic, just north of the Caucasus mountains. He said that he was taken to a shed by two members of the local authorities, and could see the creature before him, barefoot and naked. Its entire shape was human, but the chest, back and shoulders were covered with shaggy hair, one inch in length. The fur was thinner and softer below the chest, and the palms and soles of the feet were free of hair. The hair on its head reached to its shoulders, and was rough to the touch. His face was covered with a light growth of hair but without beard or moustache. Its height was about 5 feet 11 inches, considerably bigger than local inhabitants. He was quite large, and had thick and strong fingers. But his eyes were dull and empty. Such reports like this have led scientists such as British anthropologist Myra Shackley to conclude that the Almas may represent surviving Neanderthals or perhaps even Homo erectus that still live amongst us. It is reported that the Soviet captors shot the creature when they were forced to retreat before the advancing German army. 16

Additional reports similar to this are documented in The Hidden History of the Human Race, and many other books as well, citing such incidents from areas of China, Malaysia, Indonesia, South America, the Himalayas, and Africa. The standard view is that the australopithecines perished more than 750,000 years ago, and the Homo erectus died out around 200,000 years ago, while the Neanderthals vanished about 35,000 years ago. Since that time, only modern humans are said to have populated the earth. However, with sightings like these all over the world, this view may be strongly contested. Some other and older species of humanlike beings still remain amongst us.

Of course, how can science take this seriously when it goes so much against the theories of the day? Nonetheless, there are numerous such incidents that have happened to counter the idea that modern man is but a recent evolutionary development, and that fossils are only of ancient beings that no longer exist.

CONCLUSION

Considering this evidence we have to admit that regardless of whether you call the various species of humans or human-like beings Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus robustus, Australopithecus boisei, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, Cro Magnons, or Homo sapiens sapiens, and designate and catalogue them according to whatever changes there may be in their physique, whether great or small, the conclusion is that we are only discovering the great varieties of humans and humanlike beings that have existed, or even continue to exist, and that anatomically modern humans have been here for many millions of years, along with the other variations of primates, and have co-existed with each other for tens of millions of years. This also coincides with the Vedic view, regardless of whether evolutionists can ever accept this or not.

REFERENCES

1. The Hidden History of the Human Race, by Michael Cremo and Richard A. Thompson, Govardhan Hill Publishing, Badger, CA, 1994, pp. 4-6.

2. Ibid., p. 155.

3. Http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/herto_skulls.php

4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1341973/Did-humans-come-Middle-East-Africa-Scientists-forced-write-evolution-modern-man.html#ixzz1jlRVy4zo

5. Fission-track ages of stone tools and fossils on the east Indonesian island of Flores, M. J. Morwood, Nature 392, March 12, 1998.

6. Http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=99257&page=1

7. http://www.news24.com/SciTech/News/out-of-Africa-theory-in-doubt-20070402

8. New York University, June 29, 2011, http://archeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-findings-raise-doubts-over-out-of.html

9. The Hidden History of the Human Race, by Michael Cremo and Richard A. Thompson, Govardhan Hill Publishing, Badger, CA, 1994, p.xviii.

10. The Forbidden Archeologist, by Michael Cremo, Torchlight Publishing, 2010, p. 48-49.

11. Ibid., p. 49-50.

12. The Hidden History of the Human Race, by Michael Cremo and Richard A. Thompson, Govardhan Hill Publishing, Badger, CA, 1994, p.xvii.

13. Ibid., p.xix.

14. Ibid., pp.219-220.

15. Ibid., p.225.

16. Ibid., p.227.