The history that vanished when disbelieving Western scholars messed with past and tempered with time to fit the 4000-year-old biblical creation
"The History That Vanished
Since the early 1920s, archaeologists have been unearthing an astonishing ancient civilization in northwestern India, now called the Indus-Saraswati culture. It was enormous, at least seven hundred miles from north to south and eight hundred miles from east to west. If you dropped the entire Egyptian civilization along with all of Sumer (two high cultures which were flourishing at about the same time) into that same geographical area, you still would have lots of room left over!
Here researchers found the best-planned cities anywhere on the planet. The neatly arranged gridiron pattern of streets and houses revealed organizational and construction skills unparalleled in the ancient world, and not always equalled in the world today. There cities were gargantuan for the time—three miles in diameter, which isn't a bad size for a town even today.
The quality of the drainage system in these towns, which included brick-lined sewers complete with manholes, would not be seen again till Roman engineers set up shop two thousand years later.
The people who lived there had many of the trappings of civilization as we know it today (except maybe TV). They had nicely appointed bathrooms where they took bucket showers. They had one of the earliest written languages in the world. They had a sophisticated system of weights and measures that was burrowed by the businessmen of Mesopotamia.
They had seaports, but those excavated docks are eerie to look at these days because the river tributaries they once served have gone away. The long-abandoned piers now overlook the bleak Thar desert.
Messing with the Past
Western archeologists were astounded by these findings but orthodox Hindus weren't surprised at all. Their ancient chronicles—enormous religious anthologies like the Puranas and the Mahabharata—often mentioned glorious cities of the distant past. They even mentioned legendary architects like Asura Maya who could whip up spectacular buildings with gardens and lotus-laden pools and mirrored walls.
But western scholars never believed those ancient chronicles for a minute. The surprising thing is that even as they dug up more and more evidence that the Hindus' own version of their history was more or less correct, Western scholars still couldn't believe it!
Here's why. In the nineteenth-century European intellectual circles, Oxford University professor Frederick Max Muller was held in only slightly less esteem than God. One day Muller announced that the Veda, India's most ancient classic and the very foundation of its faith, had been composed between 1200 to 1000 B.C.E. As far as Western scholars were concerned, God had spoken. This in spite of the fact that some of the positions of the stars and planets mentioned in the Veda could only have occurred sometime between 3500 and 4000 B.C.E.!
Tampering with Time
Where did Muller come up with a date as late as 1000 B.C.E. for a scripture Hindus themselves considered much older? It turns out that unlike the Hindus who believed the universe was billions of years old, a Christian Muller believed the world had been created in 4004 B.C.E. By adding the ages of the patriarchs listed in the Bible who lived between Adam and Noah, Muller could calculate the number of years that had passed since the creation and the Great Flood. This brought him to 2488 B.C.E.
Now, Muller was no fool. He knew it would take time for Noah's descendents to migrate to India, repopulate the subcontinent, and create the hundreds of different languages and distinctive cultures flourishing here. This, he figured out, must have taken at least 1,200 years, maybe as much as 1,400. Veda, the earliest Hindu scripture, could not have been written earlier than 1200 B.C.E. University textbooks uncritically repeated this date through the mid- 1990s!
To give this guy credit, later in life Muller had second thoughts about his guesstimate, admitting," Whatever may be the date of the Vedic hymns, whether 1500 or 15,000 B.C., they have their own unique place and stand by themselves in the literature of the world.”But the damage had been done: Everyone believed that when he's given out that date of 1200 B.C.E. he knew what he was talking about.
Muller's mistake had catastrophic consequences for the study of Indian history. Saints who according to the Hindus had lived before 3000 B.C.E. were shifted to 1000 B.C.E. The Buddha, who according to Northern Buddhist school lived around 1000 B.C.E., got shuffled to somewhere around 500 B.C.E. No less an authority than the sixteenth Dalai Lama has appealed to Western scholars to get together, clear their minds, and straighten out this mess for once and for all!
"There is no more absorbing story than that of the discovery and interpretation of India by Western consciousness," noted the renowned Rumanian professor of religion, Mircea Eliade. You can say it again, Mircea.
Back to our archeologists. They've discovered a high civilization that flourished in north-western India between 2700 and 1900 B.C.E. Since the Veda wasn't composed till maybe 1000 B.C.E. (according to Muller) and the sages who composed the Veda were the founders of Hinduism (according to Western scholars), then the people who lived in these cities must not have been Hindus. They supposedly lived nearly 2000 years before Hinduism was invented! Who were these people and where did they go?
Enter the Aryan Invasion Theory. It was decided that the original inhabitants of India were Dravidians. They are the people who fill up much of South India today. They speak a totally different language from most north Indians, and some of them have skin that's a little darker in color. Till 1000 B.C.E., they must have inhabited the whole of India, Muller's twentieth-century disciples decreed. The ancient cities in the north were built by them.
Then, the Western experts concluded, somewhere between 1500 and 1000 B.C.E., the primitive barbarians who composed the Veda invaded northern India, driving the hapless Dravidians into the southern part of the subcontinent where they live today. There were two difficulties with this popular theory:
1. Today's northern Hindus have absolutely no memory of having ever driven the Dravidians out of north India. None of their ancient manuscripts mention any such thing.
2. Today's Dravidians have absolutely no memory of ever having lived in North India. In fact, their ancient traditions suggest that their forebears came from the South, not from the North.
The Aryan Invaders
Minor problems like these did not discourage the European and American scholars of the time. Thousands of pages of the Hindus' own historical records were simply dismissed as fiction. These white scholars were sure a virile white race of white warriors, much like themselves, had invaded India.
Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism, pages 18-20
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (October 11, 2001)
Sages who were already ancient to its composers living in 4000 B.C.E.!
One of the great ironies of religious history is that, although the religions that came out of the Near East—Judaism, Islam, Christianity—adamantly reject most of Hinduism's fundamental teachings, their mystical traditions—the Kaballah, Sufism, and Christian Gnosticism—reflect Hindu insights in almost every detail. Numerous students of comparative religion, from Muslim scholar Al Buruni in 1000 C.E. to the world famous writer Aldous Huxley nearer our own time, have expressed their amazement at the parallels between the major mystical traditions of the world and Hinduism...
Hinduism is by far the most complex religion in the world, shading under its enormous umbrella an incredibly diverse array of contrasting beliefs, practices, and denominations. Hinduism is by far the oldest major religion. It has had more than enough time to develop a diversity of opinions and approaches to spirituality unmatched in any other tradition.”
Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism, pages 76-77
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (October 11, 2001)
"The Eternal Religion
Hinduism is so ancient its origins are lost in the mist of prehistory. Many sages are associated with it, but none claim to be its first prophet. Hindus believe their religion has existed forever, even before the universe came into being. They say the truths of their faith are inherent in the nature of reality itself, and that all men and women peering into the depths of their inner nature will discover the same truths for themselves.
The image too many outsiders have of the Hindu tradition is of primitive, superstitious villagers worshipping idols. As we get to know the Hindus better, we'll see that their understanding of who and what is God is is incredibly sophisticated. In fact, their view of the world and our place in it is so stunningly cosmic in scope that our Western minds start to boggle!
Let's enter the universe of Hinduism, an amazing world where inner and outer realities reflect each other like images on a mirror, and the loving presence of the divine is a close as the stillness behind your own thoughts...
You might think it takes a lot of chutzpah (if I may borrow a Jewish term) to claim that your religion is eternal. What Hindus mean when they say this is their tradition doesn't come from any one founding father or mother, from any single prophet towering over the bastion of hoary antiquity. In fact, the first few verses of the Veda, an incredibly old book, parts of which were composed 6,000 years ago, acknowledge the sages who were already ancient to its composers living in 4000 B.C.E.!
Very old Hindu texts speak of a time when it became almost impossible to survive on Earth because of ice and snow. This could be a reference to the last Ice Age, some Hindu scholars believe. Archaeologists have unearthed small statues of goddesses from 10,000 years ago (that's about the time the Ice Age was ending) like those being worshipped in Indian villages today. So even if we're not willing to grant that Hinduism is eternal, we still have to admit it got a jump on the other major religions...
I'd really like to bring home to you the vastness of the time scale Hindus are talking about here. One area where Hinduism and Judeo- Christian tradition agree is in saying that at the moment we're in the seventh day of creation. But according to the Hindu sages, a day for God is a bit longer than our human day of 24 hours.
The following schema was taught to me by Swami Veda Bharati, a renunciate who lives in a tiny ashram in Rishikesh in northern India. He's a devotee of the Divine Mother. (The Goddess is a major league player in Hinduism, and you'll soon see.)
Swami Bharati's time frame, preserved in the Hindu mystical tradition, starts with a day and a night in the life of our local creator god. Years here mean human years:
> One day and night in the life of Brahma is 8,640,000,000 years.
> The lifetime of Brahma is 311,040,000,000,000 years.
> One day and night in the life of Vishnu equals 37,324,800,000,000, 000,000 years.
> The life of Vishnu is 671,846,400,000,000,000,000,000 years long.
> One day and night in the life of Shiva lasts 4,837,294,080,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000 years.
> Shiva's lifetime corresponds to 87,071,293,440,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 years.
> One glance from The Mother of the Universe equals 87,071,293,440, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years...
If you had been around in the third millennium B.C.E., India is where you would have wanted to be. The quality of life was higher there than practically anywhere else in the world. In fact, the towns of North India in 2600 B.C.E. were more comfortable and technologically advanced than most European cities till nearly the time of the Renaissance!
Religious life was vibrant in ancient India. Some of the oldest surviving spiritual writings came from this part of the world. They reveal a religion that was both boisterously earthy and transcendently mystical—not unlike Hinduism today.”
Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism
Alpha; 1st edition (October 11, 2001) pp. 1-17
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