There has been a lot of discussion over the origin of the ancient American races and their culture among the scholars. Not only historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and scientists but also famous institutions and church organizations take up strong position on this question.
Even the theory of continental drift which claimed that America, Asia and Africa were joined in a solid land mass and later broke up into continent and island cannot account for man’s presence on the American continent, for the continental drifted away from each other if at all, it was before man had evolved anywhere in the world.
THEORY OF COINCIDENCE
The study of the ancient civilization of the new world baffled many of the scholars. These civilizations presented such an extraordinary likeness with the Asian civilization that the scholars were divided over the interpretation of the resemblances of the two cultures, the Ancient American culture, especially represented by the Incas, Mayas and the Aztecs and the Indian culture which has continuity of millenniums.
Many of the American scholars tried to explain the similarities between the two cultures as the coincidence. They opined that the contacts between the Asian and American civilizations, which are on two opposite sides of the world, are unbelievable and the existence of trans-pacific communication was impossible in those times. It is purely a coincidence. Two groups of people may develop similar type of cultures independently without any contact with each other. The uniformity of human mind is behind such process.
The theory of coincidence was bitterly criticized right from the beginning. Now here in the world are two cultures alike found developed independently. All the ancient Mediterranean and Asian cultures represent the story of contacts of human civilization. The resemblances are convincingly due to the diffusion of the ideas and practices between the two civilizations.
THEORY OF ASIAN MIGRATION
The opinions are also divided over the believers of Western migration across the Atlantic and those who support the Asian settlers going across the Pacific. The later view of Asian migration has gained considerable ground.
When Baron Von Humboldt talented explorer and scientist visited Mexico, he found similarities between Asian and Mexican astrology. He founded the systematic study of the ancient culture of the New World. Convinced of the Asian origin of the American Indian’s high civilization he declared. “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 1761 a French scholar D. Guignes, published his opinion that some Buddhist missionaries were sent from China to Mexico which accordingly to early Chinese annals was known as Fu-sang in the 5th century A. D. Later H. J. von Klaproth endeavored to disprove this theory on the ground that the monk in question had come from south eastern Japan. However many scholars have since rallied round the theory of Buddhist influence. M. D. Paravey, Violet-le-Due, Alexander von Hamboldt, Friedrich de Neuman, M. Foucaux and many prominent scholars were supporters of this school.
Rivero and Tachudi urged that Quetzalcoatl in Mexico and Manco Capac in Peru were the Indian missionaries. Arnold and Frost even traced the chronological passage of Buddhism from India to Central America. As Buddhism was spread all over the Eastern Asia by the 8th century, it was rightly poised, they argued, to launch itself further eastwards across the seas.
At this time Buddhism was in extremely flourishing state in China, Japan and South East Asia and was backed actively by powerful Asian Empire such as those of the Khmers and of Shrivijaya. It would not appear surprising that some Buddhist monk had voyaged across the Pacific. Later two English scholars Canning Arnold and Frederick J. Tabor Frost in their “The American Egypt” made a detailed examination of the trans-Pacific contacts, reinforcing the view of Buddhist influences on Central America. In 1947 Harold S. Gladwin suggested successive waves of Asian migrants belonging to specific archaeological culture and linguistic groups.
The most systematic, well-reasoned and effective case has been put forward by the well known archaeologists, Robert Heine Geldern and Gordon F. Ekholm, who favour Indian and South East Asian cultural influences on ancient America through human migrations across the Pacific. About capability of trans-Pacific voyages of ancient India they remark.
“There appears to be little doubt but that ship building and navigation were sufficiently advanced in southern and eastern Asia at the period in question to have made trans-Pacific voyages possible. As early as the time of Ptolemy, in the second century A. D. Indian ships sailed to the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia not coastwise, but across the Bay of Bengal. In the third century horses were exported from India to the Malay Peninsula and Indo-China, an indication that there must have been ships of considerable size. When the Chinese Buddhist scholars Fa-hein returned from India around A.D. 400, he embarked on a ship, which carried more than two hundred sailors and merchants and which therefore must have been larger than the ships of Columbus and other early Spanish explores. This ship sailed directly across the ocean from Ceylon to Java. From Java Fa-hien travelled in another merchant vessel which again carried more than two hundred persons. This ship too sailed not along the coast, but right across the China sea to northern China. Ships of that size able to cross India ocean and the China Sea with their dangerous cyclones could certainly cross the Pacific as well.”
INDIA- THE COUNTRY OF NAVIGATORS
Right from the dawn of History, Indians (Bharatiyas) have been engaged in playing boats and ships, carrying cargoes and passengers, manufacturing vessels of all types and dimensions, studying the stars and winds, erecting lighthouses and building ports, dockyards and warehouse. From rustic beginning they developed precise science of navigation and composed regular manuals as well as elaborate treaties on the subject. The very term navigation is derived from ‘nau’ which is the Sanskrit word for ship or boat. The same ‘nau’ or ‘nav’ as well as its synonyms or diminutive ‘nauka’ is even now commonly used in all the Indian languages.
Sanskrit literature is full of references to river transport and sea voyages. Sometimes we have graphic descriptions of fleets, even of shipwrecks. The Rigveda is taken as the earliest extant work of the Indians. Tradition ascribes it to a hoary past though archaeologists, place it between 2500 B.C. and 1500 B.C.
However recent discoveries defiantly push back the date of Rigveda at least by 2000 years. The discovery of the long track of the dried river Sarasvati, presenting about 1200 archeological sites on her banks has challenged all the previous theories about the origin of the Aryans and early Vaidic settlements of India. Sarasvati was a mighty river taking its source from the glaciers of Har-ki-dun in the Himalayas, and flowing through Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat states emptied itself into the Arabian Sea near Somnath Pattan. Sutlej (Shatadru of Vedic times) and Yamuna (Drishadvati) were the tributaries of Sarasvati. Due to the tectonic movements the Sutlej changed its course and joined ‘Sindhu’ turning to the west and Yamuna turned to east to join the course of the Ganga. The glacial source of the river Sarasvati was also disconnected and the mighty river having the average width of about 15 KMs dried up completely in a course of time.
Rigveda contain a complete ‘Sukta’ on river Sarasvati. The hermitages of the learned sages like Vasishtha and Vishvamitra were on the bank of Sarasvati. The Vedic civilization that originated on the bank of Sarasvati takes the history of Indian civilization to the remote antiquity.
Another epoch-making remarkable discovery is that of Cambayan port, the remains of which have been dated by 7500 B.C. It has proved to be the oldest civilization of the world.
In Rigveda we find frequent references to the marine activities. The references of Ashvinikumars, who were the great navigators and rescued the ship-wrecked merchant Bhujyu who owned a ship of a hundred oars, tells us that Ashvini Kumars owned the fleet containing three sailing ships. Such frequent references present the Rigveda as if the book of marine culture.
Archaeologically again the evidence of Lothal excavation reveals that the marine history of the Indians goes back to 3000 B.C.
Panini, who flourished in 8th century B.C. in his ‘Ashtadhyayi’ the most commendable work on Sanskrit grammer, has incidentally recorded certain usages which reflect in a way the maritime activity before and during his period. According to one sutra various types of small river crafts were in use and their names were Utsanga, Udyapa, Utputa, Pitak etc.
Chandragupta Maurya,s minister Vishnugupta Chanakya alias Kautilya, the celebrated author of the treaties on statecraft (Kautilya-Arthashastra) of the 4th century B.C. devotes a full chapter on the state department of waterways.
Jain scriptures, Buddhist literature as well as classical Sanskrit literature abound in reference of sea voyages. Brihatkatha that of Gunadhyay of second century B.C. gives ample references to the distant islands, adventurous sailors and merchants and the external trade and commerce.
Sculptural evidence come from the Sanchi sculptures dating second century B.C. where Indian ship is represented. Ajanta paintings also depict sea going vessels. One of the paintings commemorates the landing of prince Vijaya in Ceylon in 543 B.C.
Indian sailors frequented the South East Asian islands and Chinese sea long before the Indian empires were established in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The ‘Stupa’ of Borobudur in Java presents a live sculpture of an ocean-going ship, used by the then Indian sailors. The Maritime contacts between India and South East Asia can be traced back to 4th century B.C.
DHARAMA – CHAKRA – PRAVARTANA OF BAUDDHA MONKS:
There existed a close and constant contact and regular communication by sea between South India and South East Asian countries which is attested by the series of inscriptions found in South East Asia.
In the history of the southern Tsi (479-501) of China with reference to Fou-nan it is stated “In 484 A.D. Jayavarman sent the Indian monk ‘Shakya Nagasena’ to present a memorial in the imperial court which began with a panegyric of the emperor as one of the patrons of Buddhism in whose empire law flourished more and more.”
Two Buddhist inscriptions found in Malacca, one from Kedah and another famous inscription of sea caption Buddhagupta are of the same period. The existence of Buddhism in West Borneo Pahat. In Cambodia the Vat Prey Vier Sanskrit inscription dated in 664 A.D. speaks of two bhikshus, Ratnabhanu and Ratnasimha by name. In the 7th century A.D. numerous Buddhist inscriptions appear in south-east Asia and almost all of them belong to Shailendra kings of Sri Vijaya.
A number of Buddhist monks from China frequently visited India and many Indian monks visited South East Asian countries and Far East countries. The spirit of Buddhist monks was above all the obstacles appearing during the voyages. They did not care even for the calamities. Their souls charged with the aspiration of spreading the teaching of Buddha all over the world and their hearths were full of sympathy (Karuna) for the humanity. They spread in middle and West Asia, Siberia, China, Korea, Japan and all the South East Asian countries.
India was a maritime country and her trading contacts were wide spread, the Buddhist monks accompanied the traders and merchants wherever they went, the merchants and sailors were never satisfied with the known world and were anxious to know the new land, in fact unknowingly they were the explorers of Oceania. Indian mariners had developed fast going ships, with all the requirements for long distant sailing.
The period of about 500 years, from 3rd century A.D. to 8th century A.D. was of hectic marine activities for the generations of Indian mariners. They were directly trading with and colonizing the island of Oceania. The western coast of America contains hundreds of inlets of rivers and creeks which served as landing places, the land beyond the ocean especially Peru and Bolivia, was the treasure of copper and gold, the stories of treasure land travelled far and wide more speedily than the ships.
On land men leave roads, on the sea they leave no track. Their journeys can only be inferred from the traces they left at their points of departure and at their destination. According to Miles Poindexter it was the chain of Polynesian island that decided route of communication between America and South East Asia.
These islands include New Zealand, Hawais, Samosa, Line, French Polynesia, Cook Island, Finix, Elis, Tonga, Easter islands and many other islands. Polynesian tribes seem to have been in contact with the people coming from South East Asia. There is the tradition among many of the tribes such as Maories of the extensive voyages of their early ancestors who came from the west.
The island of Kusai is situated at the South East corner of the Easter Island group, On Kusai and surrounding Islands there are ruins of several canals crossing each other at right angles, between their intersections were made artificial Islands which originally had buildings on them. Native tradition tells us that the people who once lived here were mighty navigators; they had large vessels in which they made long voyages.
There are many unsolved mysteries of the ocean. The origin of the flat topped islands beneath the Pacific surface is one of the mysteries; about a thousand islands have been charted while the geologists expect to find about ten thousand more when the ocean is fully explored. The islands are encrusted with coral providing, at one time they must have been at or near the surface.
The prevailing wind, earth’s rotation, the differences in the density of the sea has been helping to the mariners by forming the currents which carry the ships naturally 20 to 60 KM/Day. The East Australian current would push the ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to join the south Equatorial current which would reach the ship to the coast of Peru in South America. A ship leaving Java or Sumatra towards the east would pass through between present New Guinea and Australia; touch the island in every 15th day till it reaches its density. After Tuamotu if the ship drives slightly South Eastern track, it would reach and land at some port of Chile – say at Chiloe or some landing place between 30◦ or 45◦ south of Equator. The distance covered will be of about 17000 KM. (from the Eastern coast of India)
North Pacific current takes the ship right from Borneo through the crowdy groups of Caroline Islands (Melanesia) and further through Marshall Islands of Mycronesia. Leaving Hawaii islands in the north the ship would advance towards the Central America and embrace the Mexican coast.The distance is approximately 18500 kms. A favorable wind runs the ship like a deer. Sometimes it drives the ship with its full sail at 15 to 20 KM/Hr. When the wind fall the ship lingers leisurely at the speed of 2 to 5 KM/Hr. On water the sailors do not have short cuts and lined roads. Sometimes the wind drifts away the ship from its assumed course with violent action. It is not a wise thing for a sailor to touch an unknown island when he does not know if it is friendly and safe for the anchorage.
Taking all the possibilities, however, the ship if guided by the sun at day pole-star at night accurately would travel with the average speed of a 100 KM/Day. The voyage of six to eight months was not a novel thing for the then adventurous Indian mariners.
Mexican tradition itself claims that their ancestors came from a far and beautiful country. Montezuma, emperor of Mexico, told the Spaniards that his ancestors came from the Far East, across great waters and they were white people. There are many legends which tell the arrival of the people across the ocean. Peruvian legends tell of giants who came across the Pacific, conquered Peru and erected great buildings. Some of Brazil was a white, bearded man who, however came from the East. He introduced agriculture and had powers to raise and still tempests. The Cabocles of Brazil persecuted him and before he retired from their country, he left the prints of his feet on rocks, as did Buddha in Ceylon and elsewhere. The apostle of the Chileans was a white man who performed miracles and cured the sick. He “caused rain to fall and crops to grow and kindled fire at a breath.” The Buddhist monks were supposed to be in possession of such powers (Sindhi). The law giver of the Mayas, was a white bearded man, wearing long robes. He regulated the calendar, established festivals and vanished in time like others. He was supposed to be the ‘Son of the Sun.’
The legend of white bearded men wearing long robes was widespread and persistent over wide areas in America. In all cases they were seafarers, teachers and preachers, like the Buddhist missionaries who for centuries visited distant lands and left the impression of their techniques and memory of their activities in the religious traditions of many different and widely separated people.
Quetzalcoatl, the Buddha of America
Mackenzie thinks that the people, whose civilization is represented by Quetzalcoatl, were evidently seafarers who settled on the coast lands and introduced the dragon belief, as is found in India, Japan and China. They introduced various arts and crafts and well defined laws. Their priests were penitents given to self-mortification like Indian Brahmanas. They hated war and violence and instead of sacrificing animals made offerings of flowers and jewels to their deities. The view that they came under Buddhist or Hindu influence cannot be lightly dismissed.
Like the Buddhist Bhikshus, the disciples of Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec priest God ‘went forth at the command of their master to preach his doctrines.’ They founded several centers of worship in Oajaca. At Achiuhtla, the center of Mexico religion, there was a cave with idols in which religious ceremonies were performed. A large transparent Chalchiuitl, entwined by a snake, whose head pointed towards a little bird, was a sacred relic, which was ‘the heart of the people’. This heart belief resembles with Japanese Buddhism.
Votan was the first historian of the Mayas, and wrote a book on the origin of the race, wherein he declares himself a snake, a descendent of Imos, of Chan, of the race of Chivim. Snake worship is an important link between the Indians (Hindus) and Mexicans (Mayas and Aztecs). The cultural hero Kukulkan is the snake deity (Naga-devata in Hindus) of the Mayas and Nahuas. The walls enclosing the court of the great temple of Mexico were covered with sculptured serpents.
Evidence of Indian Astronomy
The Indian (Bharatiya) astronomy was far advanced by the 5th century A.D. The text book on astronomy ‘Surya Siddhant’ of ‘Maya’ composed in this period identified and described ‘Patala desha’ in definite terms. Latin America was ‘Patala desha’ (desha i.e. country)
Surya Siddhant says that the ‘Devas’ and ‘Asuras’ live on the earth. The Devas live in the Northern hemisphere and Asuras in the Southern hemisphere. The ocean which surrounds the poles of the earth had divided the planet into two great continents. Continent of the Devas (Eurasia) and continent of the Asuras (Latin America). When the sun is in the northern hemisphere, it appears first to the Devas and again when the sun is in the southern hemisphere it appears first to the Asuras. When the Sun is at equator, days and nights are equal (22 Sept and 21 March). When the Sun is on the northern hemisphere the Devas experience summer because of the directness and intensity of the solar rays, while the Asuras experience the winter. This indicates that Patala desha was Latin America.
The author of Surya Siddhanta aslo mentions the four great cities situated on the opposite ends of the world equidistant from one another.
- Yamakotipura in Bhadrashva Varsha in the East.
- Lanka in Bharata-Varsha in the South.
- Romak in Ketumala-Varsha in the West.
- Siddhapura in Kuruvarsha in the North.
The celebrated astronomer of 12th century A.D. Bhaskaracharya gives the time difference of these cities. When the sun rises at Lanka the time at Yamakotipur to the east of Lanka will be midday. Below the earth at Siddhapur it will be twilight and at Romaka desha the time will be midnight.
Bhaskaracharya also explains that the inhabitants of the cities on opposite side of the globe consider one another as living below them, but because the earth is round and rotates in the empty space how can there be any top or bottom?
It is evident from such location of places round the globe and the movement towards the east that many Indian merchants used to sail frequently, some even settled down in South East Asian Island and many of them used to sail on to Polynesia and then further on to South and Middle America. It was not in a single ship and in a single effort, but after stop overs at the important ports on the other islands, chain of which seems to have existed then and some of which submerged later because of tectonic movement.
The Asuras colonized Latin America
The inhabitants of the Patala desha are called Asuras and Nagas. Suras (Devas) and Asuras both were the sons of creator “Kashyap Prajapati”. Both of them were first considered divine or spiritual beings. Later they became enemies of each other. The Asuras were excellent seafarers, skilled in warfare and had the knowledge of magical feats. The Asuras had established powerful empires in India and spread in many regions outside India. They were also better known for the skill in construction.
In earlier times both the Devas and Asuras were worshipped as equal. Afterwards the worshippers split among themselves. The Asura devotees were pushed out of India. Some of them went across the Pacific Ocean to Patala desha i.e. Latin America. The Puranas give a vivid picture of the country of Patala. Patala is divided into seven states and these seven kingdoms are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Taltala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala. The name of the ocean Atlantic might have derived from Atala. For the Aztec ‘Atl’ ia a day as well as the deity represented at times with a water filled vessel.
Vishnu Purana describes the Patala desha, which excels even the heaven. The inhabitants of the Patala include Danavas, Daityas, Yakshas, Nagas and several others.
The same chapter describes the ‘Shesha Bhagavan’ who is adorned with ‘Swastik emblems and who has a thousand heads.’
This description clearly indicates to the people who follow the snake cult, were head dress and tail resembing those of the snake and their god, the dragon.
Dr. B. Chakraborty identifies Atala with the coast of Atlantic in Central America, Vitala with the region around Veracruz, Tabasks and Campeche, Sutala with Palenque and Guatemala, Tatala with Yucatan, Mahatala with Mexico, Rasatala with Ecuadore and Patala with Peru.
– Dr Sharad Hebalkar