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Antiquity and Continuity of Indian History (Part 2)




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            Antiquity and Continuity of Indian History : Part 2
                (From Swayambhuva Manu to Gupta Dynasty)
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Index
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4. RgVedic Era
5. Swayambhuva Manu
6. Vedic Homeland


4. RgVedic Era
--------------

The RgVed is not a work of the original and the descendants of the
aryan nomads, but exhibits a great degree of philosophical thought
and advanced knowledge about astronomy. The RgVed, Samhitas and
other related Vedic literature have documented the seasons and
related changes occurring over a certain epoch in time.
Astronomical configurations are also chronicled. The evaluation of
these annals enable the determination of the periods when the
particular configurations occured. Examinations of the recent
archaeological findings also appear to support these datelines. 

The analysis of astronomical references in the Taiteriya Brahman
(3-1-15), where Brushaspati (Jupiter) crossed the Pushya
constellation, gives a date of 4650 B.C. The Aiteriya Brahmana
points to dates to the order of 6000 B.C. From the calculation of
the vernal equinox cycle, the Taiteriya Samhita provides dates that
reach as far as 22000 B.C (Ref: Vartak, Tilak).

In his book "Are the Gathas pre-vedic" H.S.Spencer quotes another
scholar stating that "Dhanista was the first of the naskshatras in
the Rgvedic times and this takes us back to 21788 B.C., at least,
to the origin of the Rgved." According to Dr. B.M. Sidhartha,
director of the Birla Science Center, "Rgved .. was a product of a
well-settled civilization going back to 8000 B.C. and beyond on the
basis of astronomical dating .. and supported by archaeological
excavations in south eastern Turkey... the more antique date of
10,000 B.C. proposed for RgVed or Vedic culture seemed more
plausible in view of the epi-paleolithic agricultural and proto-
agricultural civilizations going back to the same period ..." (TOI,
August 2, 1993). These datelines were already proposed by Tilak
when he says, " The Vedic hymns were sung in post-glacial times
(8000 B.C.) by poets who had inherited their knowledge or contents
thereof from their antediluvian forefathers". B.G. Tilak has done
some extraordinary work of deciphering the concealed astronomical
allusions in the ancient Vedic texts.

The geological discovery of the mighty Vedic river Sarasvati, which 
originally  flowed  somewhat parallel to Indus, dried up around
2000 B.C. Now the Rgved speaks of a mighty Sarasvati and it is in
much later literature that we hear of the disappearance of the
river. It is definitely known that the Veda are much older than the
Mahabharat period (3100 B.C.) This establishes that the Rgved
itself could not be later than the 4th millennium B.C. A paper
presenting technical evidence concerning a newly discovered bronze
idol states, " The life sized head has a hair style which the Vedas
describe as being unique to Vasishtha, one of the Rishis who
composed parts of Rig Veda ... Carbon 14 tests indicate that it was
cast around 3700 B.C., with an error in either direction of upto
800 years .. an age also confirmed by independent metallurgical
tests" (J. of Indo-European Studies, v.18, 1990, p.425-46). More
and more archaeological findings are coming forth that place the
Vedic age to remote antiquity.

An assessment of the Vedic literature thus provides a chronology of
events in steps of 2000 years, starting from the early period of
the RgVed (23,000 B.C.) upto the occurance of the Mahabharat War,
a period when Vedvyas compiled the scattered Vedic knowledge into
four parts. It is also worthy to note that the Indian history can
be traced continuously from 29,000 B.C., when the great law-giver
Swayambhuva Manu, flourished. 


5. Swayambhuva Manu
-------------------

A majority of events available in the chronicles provide ages from
the beginning of the Kaliyug, and as such, fixing this date becomes
necessary. The precise moment for advent of the Kaliyug (3102 B.C)
has been reckoned based from references in the Mahabharat as well
as from the literature provided by Varahamihira, Kalhana, Arya
Bhatta, Vruddha Garga and also the Puranic annals. Count
Bijornstierna in his "The Theogony of Hindus", has aptly summarized
on the calculation of Kaliyug Thus, "According to the astronomical
calculations of the Hindus, the present period of the world,
Kaliyuga, commenced 3102 years before the birth of Christ, on 20th
February, at 2 hours, 27 minutes and 30 seconds ..." However, for
the sake of convenience in calculations, only 3102 B.C is assumed.

The current Varaaha Kalpa (one period of time) begins with the
reign of Swayambhuva Manu, or the self-born Man, who revived and
established the Veda. In this particular Kalpa, 14 Manu's will
appear. The period of one chatur-yuga cycle, which begins with a
Manu, comprises of 12000 human years. However, to denote the
endlessness of Lord's creation, the Puraan have multiplied the
above period by 360, to get 4320000 "divine" years. And further
multiplying these by 71, the Manavantara period is calculated.

Therefore, going backwards from 3102 B.C., the beginning for this
chaturyuga period (2400 for Dwaapar, 3600 for Treta and 4800 for
Kruta = 10,800) would be 10,800 years before Kali, i.e., at 13902
B.C. approximately, a time when Vaivasvata Manu (leader of the
present chatur-yuga) flourished. The Brahmanda Puraan (1-2-9)
states that Swayambhuva Manu, the king for the current Kalpa, lived
71 (divya) yuga before (Kali yuga). One divya-yuga is 360 human
years, and therefore Swayambhuva Manu's date is calculated to be
about 31000 years before present (360*71 + 3102 + 1996). These
datelines for Vaivasvata and Swayambhuva Manu are corroborated from
the Matsya Puraan (129-76, 77) as well. B.G.Tilak in his "Orion"
has calculated 29101 B.C., using astronomical data, as the time
when Swayambhuva Manu existed, which tallies remarkably with the
date suggested by the Puraan.

According to the Puraan's, 52 generations had elapsed between
Swayambhuva and Vaivasvata, i.e, over a period of 15200 years. Each
generation must therefore be 290 years long. Chakshusha Manu, the
sixth descendent of Swayambhuva, is said to be 12 generations elder
to Vaivasvata and therefore going backwards, his date can be
calculated to be about (14000 + 12*290) 17500 B.C. One very famous
king Pruthu, from whom this earth "Pruthvi" derives its name, is
known to be 5th in line from Chakshushu. His date therefore comes
to roughly 16050 B.C.

The institution of Manu was to revive, establish and promote
ethical and moral principles amongst humanity. They were the pace-
setters of the time, a stature with which they even influenced the
rulers of the time. The Puraan however do not record any Manu's
appearing after Vaivasvata Manu. Their geographical locations are
a matter of further research, however, the following section on
"Vedic Homeland" may provide some clues in that regard.


6. Vedic Homeland
-----------------

The exact location and expanse of the Vedic culture is still a
matter of speculation and discussion. As of today's theory, the
span of ancient Vedic culture has primarily been limited to Punjab,
the five-river region of northwest India. It is beyond any doubt
that the Vedic culture existed in the land of Punjab, however, this
fact does not exclude its existence elsewhere. 

B.G.Tilak is his "The Arctic Home in the Vedas" has provided an
incredible understanding and presentation of the RgVedic geography
and argues for a polar home for the Vedic aryans before the advent
of glaciation. Tilak notes, "in the early geological ages, when the
Alps were low and the Himalayas not yet upheaved ... from
geological evidence of fossil and fauna, we find that an equable
climate and uniform climate prevailed over the whole surface of the
globe .. it is now conclusively proved that before the advent of a
glacial and inter-glacial periods a luxuriant forest vegetation ...
flourished in the high latitude of the polar regions where the Sun
goes below the horizon from November till march, thus showing that
a warm climate prevailed in the Arctic regions in those days".
Tilak quotes many passages from the Vedic as well as Avestan
literature which show acquaintance with these polar
characteristics. According to geological evidence the post-glacial
epoch commenced in about 8000 B.C. The freshness of Siberian
fossils also testify to this event. 

When the original land near the arctic regions was found unsuitable
for human habitation, the survivors of the glacial tragedy appear
to have moved down to the south of their earlier home. The Vendidad
contains a picturesque description of different regions to which
these people seem to have moved. The Lord of the Avesta, Ahur
Mazdeo (Asur Mahadeo) is said to have created sixteen such regions.
The original population appears to have split into different groups
which moved in different directions. Scholars concur that the
verses in the Avesta are full of aryan glory, and are composed in
the same meters as the Rgved. So the ancient Brahmanas and Parsis
were two tribes of one nation, called the Aryas, both in the Veda
and Avesta. Of the sixteen lands, the "best region" created by the
Lord was the Sapta-Sindhu region: a vast region stretching to the
east and west of the river Sindhu (Indus).

The river Saraswati, Harahwati of Avesta, is regarded as the most
central and is intimately mentioned in the RgVed, and even a
cursory examination of the text suggests that the Vedics lived on
the banks of the "great goddess stream". According to David Frawley
(G, S & K, pp.73), it has now be found that Saraswati changed its
course at least four times and originally flowed into the sea
through what is now known as Rajasthan. The river Saraswati is also
identified as the modern river Syr-Darya joining the Aral Sea to
the North. For the river to change course four times must have
taken at least a few thousands of years, until the river reduced to
a insignificant tributary at the time of Mahabharat (3138 B.C.).
This takes the Vedic age to remote antiquity, at least to a few
thousand years.

Most of the sites of the Indus-Valley Culture fall to the east of
river Sindhu and appear to be found on the banks of the Saraswati,
when the course of this river was already on its decline. It is
stated in the Rgved (10-75-6) that river Kubha (Kabul) joins river
Saraswati along with other rivers. It is therefore apparent that
the Saraswati in the pre-Indus era must be flowing west from
present-day Afghanistan-Iran area towards the west. Therefore based
on the internal evidence appearing in the Rgved and Avesta, the
central-land of the Vedic aryans can now be located in Afghanistan,
Iran and other regions to their north and east. According to the
Rgved (8-24-27), the land where the Vedics had their hey-day is a
Sapta-Sindhu Pradesh or the Hapta-Hindu Pradesh of the Avesta.
There are references of people migrating to the east of Sindhu and
not the other way around. Thus the land watered by the rivers
Saraswati, Sindhu, Sharayu, Rasa, Oxus, Helmand and one more river
to the west of Sindhu, territory covering regions to the west of
Sindhu, was perhaps the home of the Vedic people for a long time.

The Vedics appear to have migrated on the banks of Sindhu after the
mighty Saraswati began to desiccate. After having established their
stronghold along the Sindhu region, they moved further to the east
to the Ganga-Yamuna region and later to the South. Rsi Agastya,
brother of Sage Vasistha, is reputed to be the first colonizer of
the South. Also, the names and customs of Mittani and Hittite
(Iraq, Turkey region) peoples to the west of river Sindhu show a
close affinity to the Vedics. A clay tablet found near Ankara
invokes gods like Indra, Varun, etc. The landmarks occurring in the
Vedic lore, customs and language extend in the east from Ganga-
Yamuna to Oxus river which joins the Aral sea in the west, which
forms a considerable part of the globe. It should be realized that
the Vedas are a heritage of mankind which record and preserve the
human development for at least a few thousand years.

After the migration from the north, the Vedics settled in the
Sapta-Sindhu region, which also included the present-day Iran. The
incidents depicted in the Rgved, and even the language, thought and
expression, shows a remarkable similarity with the Persian Avesta.
It is of no dispute that the Zarathustran people of Iran (and also
the Greeks) are closely linked or lived together with the Vedics in
the past. However, another major event, as recorded in the Rgved,
appears to have caused a further separation between the Vedics
living in the Sapta-Sindhu region.

[ continued in Part 3 ]

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