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India's Cultural Link with Ancient America
Right from the period of first Spanish historian Mr. Fray Shahaun (1515 AD) till today a number of scholars have worked over the life of native Americans and some of them came to the conclusion that in ancient times people from India and the Indian archipelago migrated to America and developed a great civilization there. In his book 'A Compact History of Mexico' Mr. Ignacio Bernall states that people from Asia entered America some thirty-five thousand years before, whereas Mr. Arcio Nuns, a Brazilian nuclear scientist, mentions about the Dravidians of Asia with America as old as eleven thousand years.
An article published in the 'Hindu' of 27th Sept. 1985 about the discovery made by Dr. Harry Fell, renowned epigraphist of USA goes to suggest that the early merchant settlers of South-East Asia had sailed to far off lands in pursuit of their profession, whose presence in Mexico is available in the form of inscriptions. Dr. Fell has deciphered the Indic inscription from Tihosuco which reads that merchant Vusaluna, the captain of the ship, sailing along the coast line, had got the inscription engraved on the stone slab in the month of July of the year 845. It is assumed that year mentioned is of Saka era.
Worship - The archaeologists found many Hindu deities like Shiva, Shiva linga, Ganesh, Kali, Sun, Buddha etc. (in similar or slightly different forms) which were worshiped in ancient America. The Hindu God of luck, Ganesh, was worshiped in Central-South America. Images of Ganesh have been excavated in plenty in Mexico. This god with the elephant's trunk is frequently depicted in Mexican manuscripts and in the temple ruins in Central America as the god with a proboscis-like horn, whence water is squirting and his head is most frequently portrayed on the corners of temple walls, which are always built with reference to the original points. And image of 'Ekadant Ganesh' was noticed in the temple at Kopan by great Indologist late Dr. W.S. Wakankar.
An image of Hanuman called by the name 'Wilka Huemana' and measuring 50 feet in height and 12 feet in breadth was found in Guatemala. Similar one was found during an excavation of an Aztec temple in Mexico City and was known as 'Euhectal', a wind God, a monkey God.
Buddhism also had a vast influence on pre-Colombian America. Professor F.W. Putnam found in the jungles of Honduras a sculpture which greatly resembles Buddha. According to the July, 1901 issue of American Harper's Magazine, it has been proved with evidence that five Buddhist monks had reached Mexico in ancient times, via Alaska.
Ceremonies, Beliefs and Customs:
Hindu culture, civilization, custom and belief also dominated ancient America to some extent. Ancient Americans believed in legendary cataclysm, rebirth, four yugas and the concept of two planets like Rahu and Ketu causing solar eclipse. The Hindu doctrine of the ages is preserved in a stone monolith popularly known as the Aztec calendar. This remarkable piece of stone carving is in the form of an immense disc 12 feet in diameter and weights over 20 tons. A festival called Sita-Ram (Situa-Raimi) was celebrated in Mexico during Nav-Ratri or Dussehra period which has been described on page 5867 in the book 'Hamsworth History of the World'. Both in Central and South America, there are found Sati cremation, priesthood, gurukul system, yajna, birth, marriage and death ceremonies to some extent similar to the Hindus.
The ancient American's dresses (male and female) were simple and similar to those of Hindu dresses. Mexican face types were found to be similar to those of Assam, Naga, Nepal and Haryana people. Even their reddish brown skin complexion bears distinct similarity with those of Nepalis and Nagas. If an Indian is shown a Maya lady of Yucatan province from Mexico, he will recognize her as a Jat Lady of Haryana. Ayar Inoa King used to wear a turban, earring and a trishul type trident in his hand.
Today native Indians of America live in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico who number only few lacs (lac = 100,000). These tribes are still vegetarians. Similarly, only two lacs natives are survived in Canada who are still called as 'Indians'. Their lifestyle, customs, and beliefs are similar to Bharatiya people.
Goldsmiths from Peru and Mexico prevailed working style similar to Indian traditional goldsmiths. Mr. Michael Long of the National Geographic Society was surprised to see the back strap weaving method in handloom at Santa Rosa of Peru. This is used to separate thread. It is very well known that cotton is a gift given by Indians to the whole world.
Professor Raman Mena, curator of the National Museum of Mexico, said that the general appearance of Maya's writing is considered of oriental origin. According to scholar Orozco V. Berra, Maya and other languages are of Sanskrit origin. A few Sanskrit and Quichua words are given here to show their similarity and origin.
A hina (also) ena (also) Killa (moon) Kil (shining) Illapi (chant) lap (to speak) Paksa (fortnight) Paksha (fortnight)
The word 'Wara', a unit of measurement, was also used by Maya people. They used to call Antyas as Antis. Professor Hug Fox of Michigan State University found a strange mix of Tamil and local American languages in use some millennia ago. For example, shasta, Indiana, Arevada, Utah, Guyana etc. Mr. Arcio Nuns from the Federal University of Brazil found evidence of our Gorani language in the form of Bruhi language during his long research work conducted in South America. 'Gorani' language was practiced thousands of years before in Tamilnadu as per Arcio Nuns. This language is still used in the Adi-Chandlur tribal area of Tamilnadu and shows similarity to the Bruhi language being practiced in South America.
It is also believed that Quichua's (language of Peruvians) characteristic of mouth transmission is derived from Indians. Writing mathematical figures by using vertical and horizontal straight lines was a system commonly practiced by Indians and Mayas.
Southern and Central American excavations revealed ancient cities, forts, bridges, tanks, canals, houses and pyramids which indicated the high state of civilization and what is found that some sculptures of those archaeological remnants are similar in form and design to that found in Indian sculptural monuments. 'Supporting the buildings over the arms of Yaksha' is an Indian art. Similar types of construction was found in ancient Mexico. Similarly, sculptures of human figures with headgear similar to Tamils, sculptures of Indian style ornamentation of elephants were found in Kopan (Honduras) and Palenque. Thousands of ancient baked-clay bricks were found in Comalcalco in Mexico over which Pali scripts were engraved and these were used in the construction of pyramid temples which were similar to the pyramid temple in the Chidambaram village situated on the Coromandel coast in Southern India. In an article written by scholar Ronald Shiller named 'Unsolved Mysteries of the Incas' (published in Reader's Digest of August 1982) he claims to have seen the imprints of South-East Asian culture over the sculptures found in Peru dating to the second century BC.
I hope my findings will help the scholars to study the influence of Indian culture over the Meso-American culture, so as to bring before the world the universality of great Vedic culture in the past.
Vedic Roots of Ancient America
Baffling Links to Ancient India:
History is full of misnomers; one such term is the New World, as applied to the Americas. The landing of Columbus in 1492 undoubtedly created a new life on the continents, but it neither created nor discovered a new world. Many centuries ago Asian migrants had come to the western shore in substantial numbers. What if the popular idea that Tibetans and American Indians have much in common in terms of their spiritual culture is largely a result of another historical scenario?
What if Hindus and Hopis, Advaitins and Aztecs, Tibetan Monks and Mayans were part of one world culture - a spiritual one?
Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), an eminent European scholar and anthropologist, was one of the first to postulate the Asiatic origin of the Indian civilizations of the Americas. Swami B.V. Tripurari asks, " What mysterious psychological law would have caused Asians and Americans to both use the umbrella as a sign of royalty, to invent the same games, imagine similar cosmologies and attribute the same colors to the different directions?"
The first Maya Empire had been founded in Guatemala at about the beginning of the Christian era. Before the fall of Rome the Mayas were charting accurately the synodical revolutions of Venus and whilst Europe was still lingering in the Dark Ages the Maya civilization had reached a peak of greatness.
It is significant that the zenith of Maya civilization was reached at a time when India had also attained an unparalleled cultural peak during the Gupta period. Indian cultural intercourse with Southeast Asia, the Gupta period, had begun more than a century before the Mayan classical age in 320 and Buddhism and Hinduism had been well known in neighboring countries for centuries. If there was contact between Mayan America and Indianized Southeast Asia, the simultaneous cultural advance would not appear surprising. In marked contrast, this was the darkest period in Europe's history between the sack of Rome and the rise of Charlemagne.
The most important development of the ancient American or Asiomerican culture took place in the south of the United States, in Mexico, in central America and in Peru. The early history of Asiomericans is shrouded in mystery and controversy due to the absence of definitive documentary evidence, which was destroyed by the European conquerors in their misguided religious zeal. [note: A well-known account of this history comes from Bartolome de las Casas.]
However, it appears that after the discovery of introduction of maize into Mexico, Asiomericans no longer had to wander about in search of food. Men in America, as in other parts of the world, settled down to cultivate food and culture, a by-product of agricultural life, inevitably followed.
Of the Asiomerican civilizations, the best known are the Maya, the Toltec, the Aztec, and the Inca. The Mayas were possibly the earliest people to found a civilization there; they moved from the Mexican plateau into Guatemala. They were later pushed out, presumably by the Toltecs, who, in turn were dislodged by the Aztecs.
Baron Alexander Von Humboldt, whilst visiting Mexico, found similarities between Asian and Mexican astrology. He founded systematic study of ancient American cultures and was convinced of the Asian origin of the American-Indian high civilization. He said:
"If languages supply but feeble evidence of ancient communication between the two worlds, their communication is fully proved by the cosmogonies, the monuments, the hieroglyphical characters and the institutions of the people of America and Asia."
In 1866, the French architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, also noted striking resemblances between ancient Mexican structures and those of South India.
Scholars were also greatly impressed by the similarity between the Hindu Trinity - Brahma-Visnu-Shiva and the Mexican Trinity Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc as well as the likeness between Indian temples and American pyramids. The parallels between the Hindu Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trinity and the Mexican Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc Trinity and the resemblances between the attributes of certain Hindu deities and those of the Mayan pantheon are impressive. Discussing the diffusion of Indian religions to Mexico, a recent scholar Paul Kirchhoff has even suggested that it is not simply a question of miscellaneous influences wandering from one country to the other, but that China, India, Java and Mexico actually share a common system."
Kirchhoff has sought "to demonstrate that a calendaric classification of 28 Hindu gods and their animals into twelve groups, subdivided into four blocks, within each of which we find a sequence of gods and animals representing Creation, Destruction and Renovation, and which can be shown to have existed both in India and Java, must have been carried from the Old World to the New, since in Mexico we find calendaric lists of gods and animals that follow each other without interruption in the same order and with attributes and functions or meanings strikingly similar to those of the 12 Indian and Javanese groups of gods, showing the same four subdivisions."
E. B. Taylor also found the counterparts of the tortoise myth of India in ancient America.
Donald A. Mackenzie and other scholars, however, are of definite opinion that the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians were familiar with Indian mythology and cite in support close parallels in details. For instance, the history of the Mayan elephant symbol cannot be traced in the local tradition, whereas it was a prominent religious symbol in India. The African elephant has larger ears. It is the profile of the Indian elephant, its tusk and lower lip, the form of its ear, as well as its turbaned rider with his ankus, which is found in Meso-American models. Whilst the African elephant was of little religious significance, it had been tamed in India and associated with religious practices since the early days.
The Mexican doctrine of the World's Ages - the universe was destroyed four consecutive times - is reminiscent of the Indian Yugas. Even the reputed colors of these mythical four ages, white, yellow, red and black are identical with and in the same order as one of the two versions of the Indian Yugas. In both myths the duration of the First Age is exactly the same, 4,800 divine years. The Mexican Trinity is associated with this doctrine as in the Hindu Trinity with the Yugas in India.
Later, two English scholars Channing Arnold and Frederick J. Tabor Frost, in their The American Egypt, made a detailed examination of the transpacific contacts, reinforcing the view of Buddhist influences on Central America. The most recent and by far the most systematic well-reasoned, and effective case has been advanced by the eminent archaeologist, R. Heine-Geldern and Gordon Ekholm, who favor Indian and Southeast Asian cultural influences on ancient America through migration across the Pacific.
According to the Mayan calendar, which is extant, the time record of the Mayas began on 6 August 613 B.C. It is an exact date based upon intricated astronomical calculations and prolonged observations. To work out this kind of elaborate calendar must have taken well over two thousand years of studying stars and the Asiomericans must have been remarkably shrewd observers.
Use of Zero
The Mayas of Yucatan were the first people besides the Indians to use a zero sign and represent number values by the position of basic symbols. The similarity between the Indian zero and the Mayan zero is indeed striking. So far as the logical principle is concerned, the two are identical, but the expressions of the principle are dissimilar. Again, whilst the Indian system of notation was decimal, as was the European, the Mayan was vigesimal. Consequently, their 100 stood for 400, 1000 stood for 8000, 1234 for 8864. While the place of zero in the respective systems of the Indians and Mayans is different, the underlying principle and method are the same and the common origin of the Mayan and Indian zeros appears to be undoubted. Disputes continue amongst scholars in the absence of conclusive evidence. As chronological evidence stands today, the Mayan zero appears to be anterior by several centuries to its Hindu counterpart.
In 1949, two scholars, Gordon Ekholm and Chaman Lal, systematically compared the Mayan, Aztec, Incan, and the North American Indian civilizations with the Hindu-oriented countries of Southeast Asia and with India herself. According to them the emigrant cultures of India took with them India's system of time measurement, local gods and customs. Ekholm and Lal found signs of Aryan civilization throughout the Americas in art (lotus flowers with knotted stems and half dragon/half fish motifs found commonly in paintings and carvings), architecture, calendars, astronomy, religious symbols and even games such as our Parchessi and Mexican Patilli, which have their origins in India's pachisi.
Both the Hindus and Americans used similar items in their worship rituals. They both maintained the concept of four Yuga cycles, or cosmological seasons, extending over thousands of years, and conceived of twelve constellations with reference to the sun as indicated by the Incan sun calendar. Royal insignias, systems of government and practice of religious dance and temple worship all showed remarkable similarities, pointing strongly to the idea that the Americas were strongly influenced by the Aryans. The theory is found in the Vedic literature of India. The ancient Puranas (literally "histories") and the Mahabharata make mention of the Americas as lands rich with gold and silver. Argentina, which means "related to silver", is thought to have been named after Arjuna (of silver hue).
Another scholar, Ramon Mena, author of Mexican Archaelogy, called the Nahuatl, Zapoteca, and Mayan languages "of Hindu origin." He went to say, "A deep mystery enfolds the tribes that inhabited the state of Chiapas in the district named Palenque... their writing, and the anthropological type, as well as their personal adornments... their system and style of construction clearly indicate the remotest antiquity... (they) all speak of India and the Orient."
Still another scholar, Ambassador Miles Poindexter, a former ambassador of the United States to Mexico, in his two-volume 1930s treatise The Arya-Incas, called the Mayan civilization "unquestionably Hindu." He proposed that primitive Aryan words and people came to America by the island chains of Polynesia. The Mexican name for boat is a South Indian Tamil word, Catamaran, and Poindexter gives a long list of words of the Quichua languages and their analogous forms in Sanskrit. Similarities between the hymns of the Inca rulers of Peru and Vedic hymns have been pointed out. A. L. Krober has also found striking similarities between the structure of Indo-European and the Penutian language of some of the tribes along the northwestern coast of California. Recently, an Indian scholar, B. C. Chhabra, in his "Vestiges of Indian Culture in Hawaii", has noticed certain resemblances between the symbols found in the petroglyphs from the Hawaiian Islands and those on the Harappan seals. Some of the symbols in the petroglyphs are described as akin to early Brahmi script.
Indeed, the parallels between the arts and culture of India and those of ancient America are too numerous and close to be attributed to independent growth. A variety of art forms are common to Mexico, India, Java, and Indochina, the most striking of which are the Teocallis, the pyramids with receding stages, faced with cut stone, and with stairways leading to a stone sanctuary on top. Many share surprisingly common features such as serpent columns and banisters, vaulted galleries and corbeled arches, attached columns, stone cut-out lattices and Atlantean figures; these are typical of the Puuc style of Yucatan. Heine-Geldern and Ekholm point out that temple pyramids in Cambodia did not become important until the ninth and tenth centuries, a time coinciding with the beginning of the Puuc period.
The fact that a highly civilized race inhabited America long before the modern civilization of Europe made its appearance there, is quite clear from the striking remains of ancient and his refinement existing in the country. Extensive remains of cities which must have been once in a most flourishing condition, of strong and well-built fortresses, as well as the ruins of very ancient and magnificent buildings, roads, tanks and canals that meet the eye over a very wide area of the southern continent of America, irresistibly force us to the conclusion that the country must have been inhabited at one time by a very highly civilized nation. But whence did this civilization spring?
The researches of European antiquarians trace it to India. Mr. Coleman says: "Baron Humboldt, the great German traveler and scientist, describes the existence of Hindu remains still found in America."
Speaking of the social usages of the inhabitants of Peru, Mr. Pococke says: "The Peruvians and their ancestors, the Indians, are in this point of view at once seen to be the same people." The architecture of ancient America resembles the Hindu style of architecture. Mr. Hardy says: "The ancient edifices of Chichen in Central America bear a striking resemblance to the tops of India." Mr. Squire also says: "The Buddhist temples of Southern India and of the islands of the Indian archipelago, as described to us by the learned members of the Asiatic Society and the numerous writers on the religion and antiquities of the Hindus, correspond with great exactness in all their essential and in many of their minor features with those of Central America." Dr. Zerfii remarks: "We find the remarkable temples, fortresses and viaducts, aqueducts of the Aryan group."
A still more significant fact proves the Hindu origin of the civilization of ancient America. The mythology of ancient America furnishes sufficient grounds for the inference that it was a child of Hindu mythology. The following facts will elucidate the matter:
Americans worshiped Mother Earth as a mythological deity, as the Hindus still do - Dhatri mata and Prithvi mata are well known as familiar phrases in Hindustan.
Footprints of heroes and deities on rocks and hills were worshiped by the Americans as devoutly as they are done in India even at the present day. Mexicans are said to have worshiped the footprints of Quetzal Coatl and the Indians worship the footprints of Buddha in Ceylon and of Krishna in Gokula near Mathura.
The Solar and Lunar eclipses were looked upon in ancient America in the same light as in modern India. The Hindus beat drums and make noises by beating tin pots and other things. The Americans, too, raise a frightful howl and sound musical instruments. The Carecles (Americans) think that the demon Maleoyo, the hater of light, swallows the moon and sun in the same way as the Hindus think that the demons Rahu and Ketu devour the sun and the moon.
The priests were represented in America with serpents round their heads, as Siva, Kali and others are represented by the Hindus.
Native Indian stories and traces of Vedic civilization
Notes by JanM, November 2000
General Vedic traces:
BearAndIndianWife: (Haida, British Columbia)
bears previously people-like [cf. rkshas - ape/bears, yetti], crossbreeding possible
BirdSerpent: (Powhatan, Virginia)
birds as visible spirits of the deceased [cf. Pitas fed through pinda offerings left on the ground for birds]
BlessingWay: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
chants and rituals revealed by higher beings, the mantra is a holy being satisfying devas
BuffaloWife: (Blackfoot, Alberta and Montana)
revival of a man from a bone (cloning?)
ChangingWoman: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
children of devas grow up within a few days, deva is a planet's inner form [cf. Surya etc.]
CloudCatcher: (Ojibwa, Great Lakes)
devas eat sacrificed animals, time scale difference between the heaven and earth
Creation: (Tlingit, southern Alaska coast)
flood of the world, Raven in the role of savior, giant animals on earth (dinosaurs?), darkness in the beginning
DanceDead: (Luiseno, southern California)
dead people turned into birds [cf. sraddha offering to birds; reincarnation mentioned]
EarthMaking: (Cherokee, Great Lakes, eastern Tennessee)
flat earth, as an island on water, animals originally living on higher planets (see also SolitudeWalker)
Emergence: (Jicarilla Apache, northeastern New Mexico)
darkness and winds at the beginning; earth - mother, sky - father; underworld origin of people
EveningStar: (Karasha, South America)
a deva taught people to grow crops
FirstManFirstWoman: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
magic number 4
FishMonster: (Menomini, Wisconsin-Michigan)
biblical Job & leviathan analogy
Flood: (Zuni, southwestern U.S.)
sins punished by the flood
FloodOnSuperstitionMountain: (Pima, southwestern Arizona)
sinful people killed by flood, only a virtuous shaman and his wife survived in an "ark"
GirlMarriedDog: (Cheyenne, Minnesota)
sexual relations between humans and Pleiadeans
GreatFlood: (Salish/Cowichan, Pacific Northwest)
flood of the world
GreatSerpent & Flood: (Chippewa, Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin)
flood, people saved on a raft
GustOfWind: (Ojibwa, Great Lakes)
earth as a woman [cf. Bhumi] (see also MotherOfAllPeople), crossbreeding of devas and humans
HowCornCameToEarth: (Kansas state?)
in old times there were giants on earth, they stopped smoke sacrifice so God killed them by flood; people were told to hide in a large cave with all the animals, the cave was sealed from the floodwater, the people were lead out by a devi, taught various skills and wisdom and populated the earth
HowHopisReachedTheirWorld: (Hopi, southwestern U.S.)
underworld [cf. Bila-svarga] origin of people, degradation of dharma makes things go worse (first appearance of death, plant cultivation progressively more difficult)
IntheBeginning: (Yuchi, southeastern U.S.)
lower, middle and upper world [cf. Bila-svarga, Bhur-loka, Svarga-loka], extraordinary people and animals from the upper world visited the middle world but later returned home where they lived more comfortably
InvisibleOne: (Micmac, eastern Maritime Canada)
time on death planet [cf. Yamaloka] moves slowlier than on earth (one day as one year)
Manabush: (Menomini, Wisconsin-Michigan)
a deva took a human wife and became a mediator between devas and humans
devas' children grow very fast
MarriedRattlesnake: (Pomo, north central California)
crossbreed between humans and snakes
MedicineMan: (Passamaquoddy, northwestern U.S.)
who desires to live very long will become a tree [reincarnation mentioned]
MenVisitSky: (Seminole, Florida)
earth has an edge (see also SolitudeWalker)
MeteorLegends: (Ojibwa, Great Lakes)
Native Americans lived together with giant animals (dinos?)
who were destroyed by a comet
MicMacCreation: (Micmac, eastern Maritime Canada)
sacrificed animals brought back to life by the Great Spirit
MonsterSlayer: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
a deva keeping his heart, nerves, breath and blood in different places outside of his body [cf. Mahiravana, brother of Ravana]
sun is a being like ourselves
MorningStar: (Great Plains)
humans joining devas in marriage in heaven, planets as persons
Nisqually: (Nisqually, Puget Sound, Washington)
sinful people punished by the flood, a deva determined the women to be subservient to men, Pandora's box analogy
NorthStar: (Paiute, southwestern U.S.)
high central mountain in the universe [cf. Sumeru]
OldWomanSpring: (Cheyenne, Minnesota)
parallel dimension behind the waterfall as the original place of buffalo and corn
Opossum: (Cherokee, Great Lakes, eastern Tennessee)
previously the deer had sharp teeth [cf. ferocious deer of Ramayana]
OriginAnimals: (Apache, southwestern U.S.)
Apache origins in underworld [cf. Bila-svarga]
OriginOfCuring: (White Mountain Apache, southwestern U.S.)
healing songs [cf. mantras] revealed to people by the Creator
OriginOfSweatLodge: (Blackfeet/Piegan, Montana)
a man taken to higher planets to learn
ReleaseOfAnimals: (Comanche, southwestern U.S.)
buffalo were kept from the people by an evil being [cf. demon Vrtra of Rg Veda keeping heavenly cows in a cave], they were released by Coyote's trick (see also EmpoundedWater)
ScabbyOne: (Toltec, Mexico)
world destroyed because of people's sins (karma)
SeekYourFather: (Seneca, northwestern U.S.)
Sun living on a high mountain [cf. Sumeru] in the east
Shonto: (Anasazi-Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
punishment for adharma by the devas
SnakeBrothers: (Sioux/Dakota, South Dakota)
men turned into snakes, living underground, friendly relationship with people
SpiritLand: (general info)
astral travel of shamans, exorcism
SunMoonStars: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
people originating from the lower world [cf. Bila-svarga]; sun - male, moon - female; Milky Way as the path for the spirits between earth and heaven [cf. devayana] (see also OwlHusband, StoneMother)
TheFaster: (Winnebago, Wisconsin-Michigan)
the devas and spirits can't grant immortality (see also HuntingMedicine)
TheftOfLight: (Tsimshian, British Columbia)
analogy of Garuda stealing nectar from heaven and Prometheus stealing fire
ThunderBird: (northwestern Coast)
thunderbird analogous to Garuda
analogies of Jupiter/Indra
TotemAnimals: (general info)
totem animals in both Siberia and North America
TwinsAlterBook: (Winnebago, Wisconsin-Michigan)
a deva in charge of dead keeps a book of life [cf. Yama/Citragupta]
TwoGhostlyLovers: (Dakota, South Dakota)
a violent death indicates a man will turn into ghost [cf. Garuda Purana, Preta-khanda]
TwoJeebiUg: (Chippewa, Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin)
WellBakedMan: (Pima, southwest Arizona)
Creator made humans according to his own form, breathing life into their bodies [cf. prana]
WhiteBuffalo: (Lakota, Great Plains)
a devi teaches a prayer
WhiteBuffaloWoman: (Lakota, Dakota, Great Plains)
a sacred buffalo [cf. Dharma bull] losing a leg in each age [cf. yuga], when he loses all four the Earth will be inundated
WhiteDeer: (Chickasaw, middlewestern U.S.)
a ferocious deer [cf. deer of Ramayana]
WhoIsStrongest: (Zuni, southwestern U.S.)
similar to a Vedic story
stars are living beings, world has an edge, planet Jupiter wards off an evil
WomanFell: (Seneca, northwestern U.S.)
people came from the higher planets; original water in the universe [cf. Garbhodaka], Earth is made from the soil of its bottom; animals were originally bigger and later made small
FloodStories: in old times an old man came to Muysca tribe
and taught them agriculture, crafts, religion, and government [cf. dharmas of the four varnas]
tribe legend analogous to Arjuna & Ulupi story
Hopis and chakras: Frank Waters. Book of the Hopi, The Viking Press 1963, p.9-10, 26-27
On preservation of stories:
"In ages past, our old ones were the storytellers. This was the way things were passed along to the generations that followed. For this reason the aged people made it a point to remember every detail so they could relate it at a later time. They were the word and picture carriers making history and spirtual values alive and important. In recent times we have made our old ones think they are not so important. We spoof their stories and make them feel foolish. The truth is that we are ignorant of what is precious and how to 'a da li he li tse di -- appreciate age. Rigidity can creep in and set even the young mind if there are no soft memories, no laughter, no times too deep for tears. Age is grace -- a time too valuable to waste." (A Cherokee Feast of Days - Daily Meditations, Joyce Sequichie Hifler)
Mythology and Folklore
Native American Lore Index
Native American Traditional Storytelling
Native American Wisdom
Raven: Pacific Northwest Tales
Stonee's Buffalo Part I
Voodoo and Vedic tradition
It might surprise you that Voodoo is not about casting spells and sticking pins into dolls. You might find it even more surprising that Voodoo is a legitimate religion that is, in many ways, very similar to Vedic religion. In order to promote greater understanding and respect, I have decided to show some similarities as well as differences between Voodoo and Vedic religion.
First, let us start with where Voodoo came from: During the sixteenth century, slave traders began taking people from the West Coast of Africa (also known as the Slave Coast), the area comprising Benin (formerly Dahomey) and Togo, and selling them to French owned plantations in the Caribbean. The French Catholics tried to forcibly convert the slaves to Catholicism. What instead happened was an integration of the Yoruba and Fon traditions of Africa with Catholicism, thus creating Vodou. The later movement of these slaves also brought Vodou to New Orleans and the Carolina coast.
The word Vodou means "Spirit" or "Deity" in the Fon language of Dahomey. Like Vedic religion, Vodou is monotheistic. They believe in one God, called Bondye (from French Bon Dieu, "Good God") who is unfathomable. In Vedic religion, guru provides a link between God and man. In Vodou, that link is accomplished by spirits very similar to the demigods: the loa (also spelled lwa). It is also accomplished by the Mambo (priestess) or Houngan (priest).
There is no difference between Houngans and Mambos other than gender. They are equals in respect and power. But, they complete the link between man and God by helping us connect to the loa. In many ways, the Houngan and Mambo are like our spiritual parents. They provide spiritual guidance, emotional support, and they even provide herbs when we are ill. Whereas any person can pray to the loa and feel them in their lives, the mambo or houngan has the ability to bridge the gap between our plane of existence and theirs and actually call them into our realm of experience.
As far as the loa themselves, who are they? They are archetypical and ancestral spirits, bridging the gap between man and God. Their similarity to the demigods is surprising. For instance, the loa Ghede corresponds to Yama and the loa Papa Legba corresponds to Ganesh. In Vodou they realize that the demigods are below God and so they serve God _through_them.
A major theme in Vodou is service, just like in Vedic religion. As Sallie Ann Glassman (my old Mambo and author of Vodou Visions, a book where you can find this information on Vodou as well as a lot more) says, "The core focus of a Vodou Sosyete (society or congregation) is on service. Be true to yourself and make your life the most beautiful offering that you can give. Service to the Lwa is service to the community. Service to the community is service to the Lwa."
The lwa are honored in much the same way as Krishna and the demigods. They are offered incense, water, food (they even have favorite foods), etc. A difference is that the loa are also offered liquor and cigarettes or cigars (which signifies lower gunas of the worshiper). But the idea is the same. The offering is made, the loa accept the offering, and then the now sacred food can be consumed by the congregation (as prasadam).
In Vodou, respect and honor are paramount. It is not some empty respect for a God that you cannot see, but it is respect for all life. Each individual is a creation of God and is thus sacred. Every item, when used in the service of the Lwa, becomes sacred. Whereas many people go to a church which they consider holy ground, Vodou makes the ground they live on holy. Vodou makes the things of your everyday life sacred. Vodou makes the here and now an act of worship, and not just the "there and on Sunday".
Like in the Vaisnava tradition, song and dance is an integral part of the Vodou ceremony. When you dance in Vodou, you offer your energy and body to the lwa. You feel the drumbeat pulse through you like the heartbeat of the loa and you immerse yourself in their caress. The trappings of everyday life bleed from you and you become spirit, dancing in honor and ecstasy. You commune with the lwa.
No article on Vodou would be complete without also touching on three often misunderstood subjects: magic, possession, and sacrifice:
In Vodou, like in the Vedas, animal sacrifice is a reality. But also, like the Vedas, Judaism, etc., animal sacrifice is done with a sense of compassion and respect. The idea is not to torture or harm the poor animal, but instead to offer it up to the lwa, life and body. Afterwards, the animal is cooked and eaten by the congregation. This is not a barbaric rite, but one that affirms life. Whereas in the West we eat meat that comes wrapped in plastic and anonymous, these animals are cared for, respected, and eventually offered to the lwa. All life is sacred. Their gift does not go unnoticed.
There is often a difference in Vodou in the United States and Vodou in Haiti in that regard. In Haiti it is believed that without the life force the lwa cannot manifest in our realm of experience. It is also worth noting that the Haitians don't enjoy the luxury of buying anonymous animals wrapped in plastic. They have to kill their own animals. So, it can be argued, if they have to kill their own food, why should they not be able to kill the food for the loa?
That brings up another issue: How do the loa "manifest" in our realm of experience? Some people see them in their dreams or visions but the primary way of manifestation is that of possession. In the West, when you mention possession immediately you think of a setting something like that from the movie Exorcist. The thought of losing control over our own bodies terrifies us. In the context of Vodou, however, possession is a beautiful thing.
When someone is possessed by a lwa in Vodou, the lwa essentially borrows that body for a time. Then they can interact with the congregation directly. This is an amazing experience, being able to talk, dance, and laugh with a being that is, for all intents and purposes, identical to the demigods. For the person who is possessed, they do not remember the incident. They have given the ultimate sacrifice: their own body for the good of the congregation even though they weren't around to enjoy! However, they're later told what has happened and can take comfort in knowing that _they_ were inhabited by the lwa... and they are transformed by the knowledge that they themselves were chosen by the lwa and shared their bodies with such a powerful and beautiful spirit.
As far as the value to the people around a possessed person... they actually get more value than the possessed person. The loa acts through that body. They will talk... eat the offerings... dance... It's like having them there as a flesh and blood person. The person possessed won't remember this... but the people in the congregation will actually get to spend time _with_ the loa... in a very real sense.
The last thing I want to touch on is the issue of magic. For those familiar with Vedic traditions it comes as no surprise that other religions acknowledge magic to be possible. However, in the context of Vodou, there is a difference between a sorcerer (bokor, "one who offers with a left hand", which suggest a left-hand tantra connection) and the priest or priestess. The priest and priestess deal with spiritual transformation and the bokor deals with magic. Magic is temporary whereas spiritual transformation follows you for all your life.
It is not simply a case of good and evil, because the bokor can do spells for good _or_ bad. But, like Gandhi said, "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves." Anything the bokor does is necessarily temporary because it works on the material plane, which is in a constant state of change. However, when we enact real spiritual change with the help of the Mambo or Houngan and the loa, that change follows us all the days of our lives. I would like to end this article with a quote from Gandhi as well: "The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.
Links Between Ancient India and Mayans
From the Deccan Chronicle
HYDERABAD, INDIA, April 29, 2002: Recent studies suggest a link between Indus Valley and Mayans of Central America. The studies focused on the calendars of the two advanced civilizations. The Indus Valley inhabitants followed a calendar based on the movements of Jupiter and the Mayans followed one based on the Venus. In the Puranas, a secondary Hindu scripture, Jupiter, Brihaspati, was acknowledged to be the leader of the gods, while Venus, Shukra, was the leader of the asuras. The texts further state that the devas and asuras lived on opposite sides of the Earth. Mexico and India are at opposite sides in longitude. The correspondences were pointed out by B. G. Siddarth, director of the B. M. Birla Science Centre in Hyderabad. He also said the Hindu story of the churning of the ocean has been found in carvings in Mexico, as well Mayan representations of a tortoise carrying twelve pillars similar to Indian illustrations. Dr. Ganapati Sthapati of Chennai, a foremost expert on Vastu Shastra, the ancient Hindu architecture, has visited the Mayan structures in Central America and found many similarities between the design and construction methods of the Mayans and that of the ancient Hindus.
More: Were the Mayas’ Pyramids Built By the Vedic Architect Maya?
Ancient Heritage of Tamils
Have we not evidence that the ancient Cholas discovered South America long before Columbus and that the Inca Sun Worshipers of Peru are none but the descendants of "our Chola ancestors" (vide Neelakanta Sastri "History of S. India" and M. Monohan's "Chola's in America 1976", p. 11-20). The Incas had their Temple of the Sun God (Peru) much like the one in Konark in Orissa built by the Cholas. The Chola chieftains (Incas) of America styled themselves as "Raghuvamsa Manickam". This shows that they belonged to the Raghuvamsa of Sri Rama whose ancestor Sibi Chakravarti is well described in ancient Tamil literature as the Chola king Sembian. This takes us to a very relevant inference that the ancestors of Dasaratha are as much the ancestors of the Tamils. One other ancestor of Sri Rama, Musu Kunthan, is none other than the Musu Kuntha Chola in ancient Tamil history. This Musu Kunthan's reign was during the second Tamil Sangam age 4800-2800 BC.
Vedic Culture in Peru
In 1994 I saw a newspaper article that showed a photograph of a "huaco" (ancient pot usually made of clay, from the Inca culture or older). The sign that appeared on this "huaco" was a big svastika with four dots inside. This is a Vedic sign that you can see on the top of the gates of ancient temples. (Of course, the archeologists did not know what that symbol meant and maybe they still don't know it).
Also a devotee-scholar told me that he had seen another "huaco" that he described in this way: A monkey supposingly running or flying, holding a small mountain in one hand and a club in the other. The monkey had some kind of helmet. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Jaya Sri Hanumanji!
I've heard that some stories from Ramayana tell that Sri Ramacandra came to the American continent when he was fighting with Ravana & Kumbhakarna. This is very interesting point. When you go to Bolivia and to the south of Peru, you can see a very famous festival called "La Diablada" ("Demoniac Dance"). This festival depicts a very ancient story: two angel-like warriors fight against a ten-headed demon. This demon has a army and the angelical warriors are being helped by animal armies, especially by a society of well organized monkeys. Jaya Sri Ramayana!
I have also heard that the word "Dinka" means "Children of the Sun" or "Worshipers of the Sun" in Sanskrit or some other Indian language. The word "Inka" in Quechua (language spoken by the Inca culture) means "Children of the Sun". And worshiping the Sun gives the worshiper intelligence and gold, a very notorious feature of the Inca empire. Their society was very similar to varnasrama.
American Indian Karna
There are many similarities between Vedic culture and the American Indian traditions. In the Pueblo (Indians of the SW USA) traditions there is an amazing tale which parallels the story of Karna from the Mahabharata. There are some variations but the similarities are striking. Here is the story as retold by Gerald McDermott. He published it in a children story book form and thus many of the details have been simplified. More research will surely find the parallels an even better match.
"Long ago the Sun God sent the spark of life to Earth. It traveled down the rays of the sun, through the heavens, and it came to the Pueblo. There it entered the house of a Young Maiden. In due course, the Boy came into the world of men. He lived and grew and played in the Pueblo (village).
However the other boys would not let him join in their games. "Where is your father?" they asked. "You have no father!" they mocked him and chased him away. The Boy and his Mother were sad.
One day he said, "Mother, I must look for my father. No matter where he is I must find him." So the boy left home.
He traveled through the world of men and came to the Corn Planter. "Can you lead me to my father?" he asked. Corn planter said nothing, but continued to tend his crops.
The boy went to the Pot Maker. "Can you lead me to my father?" Pot Maker said nothing, but continued making his pots.
Then the boy went to the Arrow Maker, who was a wise man. "Can you lead me to my father?" Arrow Maker did not answer, but, because he was wise, he saw that the Boy had come from the Sun God. So he created a special arrow. The Boy became the Arrow.
Arrow Maker fitted the Boy to his bow and drew it. The Boy flew into the Heavens. In this way the Boy traveled to the Sun.
After meeting the Sun God, and passing his tests, father and son rejoiced. The Boy was transformed and filled with the power of the Sun. "Now you must return to Earth, my son, and bring my spirit to the world of men." Said the Sun God.
Once again the Boy became the Arrow. When the arrow reached the Earth, the Boy emerged and went to the Pueblo.
The People celebrated his return in the Dance of Life."
Anyone familiar with the story of Karna can see the similarities. I will point out the obvious ones.
The Sun God is Suryadeva. The Maiden who received the spark of life through his rays is the Maiden Princess, Kunti. The Boy is Karna. The other boys who would not let him join in their games are the Pandavas who mocked Karna for not knowing who his father was.
The Corn Planter and Pot Maker represent the teachers Drona and Kripa. The Arrow Maker represents Parashurama, who accepted Karna as his disciple and made him the greatest archer on earth.
Of course there are many points in the Mahabharata story that don't seem represented here but since the source is a modern retelling of an ancient Pueblo Indian tale, thousands of years of separation from the original version will always create variations. This phenomenon can be found in Vedic culture itself. Example: Hanuman is a well known Brahmacari yet in Thailand he is married.
It is hoped more research and cultural exchanges can be done in the ongoing search for Humanities Ancient World Vedic Heritage. source
The previous life of Karna