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  INDIA and the period before VEDISM  

 

 

The archaic Indian period of the Dravidians and Moundases

Why can we assign some stories of ancient India to the period 8000BC to 9000BC without having any real material evidence ? Because, even though the book of the Rig Veda, (considered to be the oldest of Vedic religion,) was written around the Xth century BC, its stories had surely been transmitted orally for a very long time. It is part of Indian tradition, and mentions some unexplained phenomena which until now, had been regarded as legends !

In this "indefinable period", historians feel that India was peopled by men with dark skin : the DRAVIDIANS and the MOUNDASES. The religion of the Hindus is one of the oldest religions in the world; it started long before the emergence of the first known civilizations in Orient and probably before the first scripts which appeared around 3000BC in Egypt and in Mesopotamia.

Dravidians were renown to be a sociable, less aggressive people than the other peoples. Yet, suddenly, around 1700 BC, their civilization nearly disappearred before the Aryan troops invading from the North, which decimated them as cattle. In the same way, Egypt, that for a thousand years had battled only in civil or "border" wars, would also know defeat in 1785 BC, and submit to the yoke of the Hyksos invaders from East of the Caucasus. Fortunately, the Hyksos appeared less ferocious and accepted a religious compromise that lasted two hundred years, between their gods and those of Egypt.

What really happened in the north of Asia to drive south so many warriors and invaders with different complexions of skin, from so many different and distant regions ?...

 

 

  INDIA and the VEDIC period  
The Gods from INDIA :  
from 1700 to 650 BC

 

 

I.  The Creator - God of the Rigveda : BRAHMA

This creator "protector" was also given other names:

NARAYANA-PRAJAPATI OR PURSHA = The Father of all creatures
  The cosmic man. His Son DAKSHA is ONE of the 10 wise men (Rishes)  
 

 

 II.  Triad of the 3 great Vedic gods :

1)  INDRA : the god of thunder or  
  INDONIS or Purandana. He was the king of gods.

2)  AGNI : the god of the sky -  
  guardian of the word and giver of eternal life.

3)  SURYA  :  the sun god 
 

 

 III. Other secondary ancient gods of the Vedic periods :  
 

  • ARJUNA (the dew) : God of the dawn and the charioteer of the sun.  
      He was the son of Vinata and the wise Kasyapa.

  • KUBERA : god of wealth - chief of the wicked people.

  • MANU the Hindu Noah.  

and the 14 legislators :

 


Temple of Maduria, showing many ancient Hindu gods.

 
Around the year 1700BC by tribes of Iranian invaders (and people of fairer skin), who came from Northern India and from beside the Caspian Sea. They were later named ARYAN people.

Arriving in wild unruly hordes, these Aryans first invaded the valley of the Indus and destroyed the cities of HARP and MOHENJO-DARO. After settling on the verdant plains, they gradually spread out and conquered the ancient people of the South West of India, but allowing the conquered peoples to venerate their own gods and rituals.

Their principal divinity was INDRA, the god of war and thunder, whose power was capable of destroying the walls of cities, of burning them down in order to conquer and pillage them… For a long time the behaviour of the gods would reflect that of wicked men with the mentality of Aryan conquerors, materialistic and pitiless! Where did this god originate who could destroy ramparts and whom these these half savage men feared as they feared thunder ?  

In India, a thousand years would pass before there was a noticable change in men's thinking. A new kind of spirituality and with it a new way of looking at the gods came due to the teachings of the Brahmans (the priests et monks of India). These men who refused to commit any act of violence, demonstrated by the example of their saintly life, that the gods were not there to kill all living things, but instead to help the weak, and to inspire the human race to live in a new spirit of conciliation and a search for perfection. This new faith found one of its principal tenants in the theory of the reincarnation cycles of the lives of souls, which are sent back to earth until they are judged to be worthy of going up to heaven and becoming immortal, like the gods. From this evolution of spirituality was born successively : Hinduism, Buddhism and Jaïnism, which replaced the Vedic religion.

Gradually India began to turn away from the gory ritualistic sacrifice of animals and human beings to the cruel Vedic gods, replacing this by offering cereals, oils and vegetables. They began to discover another spirituality, which would open for them the way to the gods who would strengthen the image of a perfect, just and merciful god.

 

The importance of sacrifice in the Vedic religion

 
In order to better understand the role of ritual sacrifices at the beginning of the Vedic period, we must try to put ourselves in the position of these primitive Aryan people who had left their homeland for reasons of sheer survival. The man of this period was a conqueror, a hunter and a predator; he followed the example of nature, where the strongest devour the weak, allowing him to live and reinvigorate himself.

Primitive man saw his gods in a materialistic way and believed he could please them by offering them human flesh. Priests drank the blood of the animal sacrifices (mixed with wine and also SOMA, a macerated plant in a kind of liqueur, which produced trance like states).

 

Physical love as a Symbol of the Creation of the Universe

 
Like the Egyptians and Assyrians, ancient Indian society honored first the sun and the moon, the latter often being considered as a feminine deity, who was both the companion of the sun and the Great Mother of Life and the Universe.

This very ancient cult of a feminine deity had its origin in prehistory. It was quickly stamped out by the arrival of the Aryans, who during several years returned India to patriarchal worship, which was more suitable to the nature of these wild, aggressive invaders. (The first Dravidian farmers had left the defense of their communities, villages and families largely to the women).

However, slow evolution towards Hinduism, and inter-marriage with the invaders led to a return to the ancient rituals and the cult of the mother god. This was accompanied by a return to the worship of fleshly "desires" symbolized by Shiva : the phallic god, who (like the Egyptian god Min) fertilized nature as represented by 8 million Yonis (female organs).

" Like a father and mother, Nature and the Cosmic Being gave birth to all the different forms of life. In this world, men who want to have children impregnate women with their sperm. In the same way the Supreme Being wanting offspring impregnates Nature " (Karapatri, Siddhanta)

When an egg is cut open 2 distinct parts are seen: the white represents the sky, having the earth at its yellow center. The Cosmic egg becomes the symbol of the universe, showing the male and female elements, which unite to create a new life..

" The universal Mother becomes the altar and the phallus represents the consciousness of life " (Shiva Puran), and it is written in the same look that :

" Those who venerate the phallus, knowing that it is the reason and source of consciousness and the substance of the Universe is nearest to me. "

These are the first primitive religious concepts known from ancient India.

 

POLYTHEISM in Vedic times :

 
When one realizes that there were in the many different regions of India several versions of the creation story, it is not surprising that there were no less than 3,000 gods venerated in Vedic times.

The sage Yajanavalka, assigned the gods to different spheres reduced their number to thirty-three :

 
1 - The 8 Spheres of influence or VASUs  

  1. The earth (Prithivi)
  2. Fire (Agni) : food
  3. Space (Antariksha)
  4. Wind (Vayu): life giving breath
  5. Sky (Dyaus)
  6. Sun (Surya): intellect
  7. The Constellations or stars: (Nakshatra)
  8. The moon (Soma): oblation, seed of immortality.

These are the 8 (Vasu-s) who live in the world and the world lives in them.

 
2 - The 11 life PRINCIPLES, the gods of space and life

The "angry ones": RUDRAs. These are believed to be 10 kinds of vital energy. When we die, they leave our bodies and we mourn their loss. Thus they are called the "cause of tears". They are the sons of the saga Vision (Kashyapa) and Fragrant Earth (Surabbi). They are the companions of Rudra-Shiva.

 
3 - the 12 sovereign PRINCIPLES - ADITYA-s 

These are the 12 months of the year and govern the passage of time. They are also guides of life.

 
4 - The Celestial Ruler (the thunder) - INDRA

He is the being who is the manifestation of the heart.

 
5 - The Progenitor - PRAJAPATI

He is the Supreme Ruler (Parameshthin) the immovable one, the renewer of life (the Eternal or SVAYAMBHU).

 

The double incarnation of "RITUAL ART" or DAKSHA
( The supreme creation principle )

 
He was later known as "Brahma" (Mahabharata 13)

He is the son of the "Immense Being" and considered to be the source of cosmic life, the father of the gods, of men and the anti-gods. He represents the power of ritual, which joins men to the gods. He gave birth to the moving universe and his cult was linked to that of the King of the dead (Yama) and his scribe Citra.

The first "RITUAL ART" or DAKSHA was born during the Cakshuana Manu cycle, the son of Manisha and 10 awakened beings (Pracetas.) Daksha married Obscure (Asini) the daughter of Depth, (Virana) who was also a creation god. DAKSHA had at first 10,000 sons called the "Happy Horses" (Haryashva), andthen 10,000 speedy horses (Saralashva), who were born from spiritual union. However the sage Narada prevented further creation by forcing them to take holy vows and lead an ascetic life.

 
The first "RITUAL ART" also gave birth to 69 daughters conceived naturally :

According to the Bhagavata Purana, the second "RITUAL ART"or DAKSHA married Prasuti, the daughter of Sva-yambhura Manu and she bore 16 daughters, 13 of whom married the law of Perfection (DHARMA). SATI, the youngest, (named FIDELITY) married SHIVA.

She allowed herself to be burned to death because she could not bear the dispute between her father and husband. SHIVA, who loved her dearly, sent the monster Virabhadra to avenge her death.

Virabhadra decapitated DAKSHA, in the fire of the South. After a while, SHIVA decided to revive DAKSHA, on condition that he could take in exchange the first head he saw. It was that of a goat, which was being led to sacrifice.

 

The Great Lord BRIHASPATI,
The tutor of the Vedic gods

 
Shradda (Devotion) was unfaithful to her husband (the sage "Flamboyant" or ANGIRAS) and gave birth to a still born child. However, due to her piety, she pleased her husband who gave her a child named BRIHASPATI, the god of intelligence and the tutor of the other gods.

The "son of the sky" with 7 faces and 7 rays, he had pointed horns, a golden axe and arrows. Seated on his chariot pulled by red horses, he controlled the movements of the sky and the planets. His son is the sage BHARDVAJA, (the swallow).

He was given several other names: The Lord of the priests (Brahmanaspati), the Lord of celestial cohorts (Gasnapati) or the king of the ancients (Jyeshtha-raja.) With his wife (Vani or Dhena), (the word), he teaches the science of the luminaries (astronomy and astrology). He reigned over the sun and moon.

The TUTOR of the gods also inspired a book on charity, which teaches the ascetic to become finally an equal with the gods !

According to the Shankaracarya, the main Vedic gods that govern the different areas of the body are :

 

THE SEERS  :

 
Seers represent the "fundamental energies" which combine to create and protect all life. They are 7 forces, which live in the sky, with the gods of the elements.

They are usually represented as the 7 stars of the Great Bear. Each of these is a form of energy, which is part of the law of perfection (Dharma). This is the basis of the universe and is manifested in the revelations of the Veda.

 

THE SEVEN FIRST  SEERS  
(their cosmic origin and functions) :

 
1. "Ray of light" = MARICI, husband of Good Health = Sambhuti, who was also the god of the wind and the father of Vision.

2. "Devourer" = ATRI, husband of GUILESS = Anasuya, who gave him Datta, Durvasas and Soma in his first life, and Aryaman (Nobility) and his sister Anala (Purity) in his second life. Born out of the imagination of the Great Being (Brahma) he spurted forth from his eyes. The sons of Brahma had been killed by a curse from Shiva but Atri the devourer revived them in the flames of a sacrifice offered by Brahma.

3. "The Flamboyant" = ANGIRAS, whose principal wives were : Modesty = Lajja; Tradition = Smiriti, and DEVOTION = Shraddha. He also married several daughters of the Seer Daksha and 2 daughters of Maitreya.

Devotion gave him 4 sons : fire = Agni, Immanent truth = Utathya; the movement of the cosmos = Samvarta and the grand Master = Brihaspati (the preceptor of the gods).

The 4 daughters of Devotion and Agni were Sinivali (the first day of the moon, the symbol of fertility); Kuhu (the new moon); Raka (full moon) and Anumati (acceptation or the most auspicious day for the gods to receive their offerings).

ANGIRAS was considered to be the source of light, the priest of the gods and Lord of sacrifices. He was a manifestation of Agni, the power of spiritual illumination and transcendent consciousness born of the thought of the Great Being.

04. "The bridge into space" = PULAHA, whose wife was Pardon = KSHAMA. Pulaha and Rulastya were Seers of the antigods of whom Kashyapa was the progenitor

05. "Inspiration" =KRATU, whose wives were: Humility = Sannati, and Action = Kriya (who had the head of the horse named Hayashiras). He was the source of all intelligence, one of the 10 sons of the great being who had conceived the human race. He was also the father of 60,000 Valaskhilyas, wise men who were only an inch tall and surrounded the chariot of the sun (Bhagavata Purana).

06. "Smooth hair" = PULASTYA and his wife Tenderness = PRITI. His sons the Yakshas were the guardians of treasures and of the Great Being (Brahma). Kubera, the companion of Shiva was also the son of "Smooth Hair".

07. "The Possessor of riches" = VASISHTA, whose wife was Fidelity = Arundhati. He was the son of the cow of Abundance (Delight = NANDINI). Son of Varuna and Mitra; (his mother would become the nymph Urvashi.)

 

FIVE NEW SEERS :

 
Several centuries later the power of the fundamental energies or seers diminished and was considered instead as celestial SAGES, bearing the ordinances of the gods. There were also created 5 new Seers :

08. "Ritual Art" = (Daksha) gradually lost its functions as Creator and was replaced by Vishnu and placed among the new sages.

09. The 10 awakened forms of consciousness - Pracetas.

10. The sparks of fire (Brighu) or the power of knowledge.

11. "The GIVER of ADVICE" = (Narada) or the power of persuasion. Associated with Parvata (the Immovable) he acted as a messenger between the gods and man. Son of Brahma, he liked to spread discord. He was born from the thigh of Brahma ! He is the god of music.

12. "The MOVER of MOUNTAINS" = (Agastya) or mover of the Immovable. He was the son of Mitra-Varuna and despite his small size represented the power of knowledge and of the sciences. It is said that one day he swallowed the ocean and even made the Vindhya mountains bow down before him. His wife was Lohamundra and his father was King of the Videhas.

 

The 14 MANUS or cycles of Creation

 
The day of the great Being is divided into 14 parts and over each one a Manu reigns. Each period called a Manvantara corresponds to 4 million, 320 thousand human years. These 14 parts form a Kalpa.

The first Manu is the sun of the self-begotten after it had divided into 2 parts: male & female. From him were born the 12 Great Seers and the human race, and 3 times a day the Seers and their sons prayed for the stability of the world:

  1. The cycle of the Lawgiver - the Son of the Self-begotten: Svayambhuva.
  2. The cycle of the Son of the Self-illuminated : Svarocisha.
  3. The cycle of the Son of the Very-High : Auttama.
  4. The cycle of the Son of obscurity : Tamasa.
  5. The cycle of the Son of Wealth : Raivata.
  6. The cycle of the Son of Sight : Cakshusha.
  7. The cycle of the present time : Vaivasvata.
  8. The cycle of the Parent of the Sun : Arka Savarnika.
  9. The cycle of the Parent of Ritual Art : Daksha Savarnika.
  10. The cycle of the Parent of Immensity : Brahma Savarnika.
  11. The cycle of the parent of Perfection : Dharma Savarnika.
  12. The cycle of the parent of the Lord of tears : Rudra Savarnika.
  13. The cycle of the parent of Light : Deva Savarnika or the son of clarity: Raucya.
  14. The cycle of the Parent of Power : Indra Savarnika.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

The study of all these names and functions can appear arduous at first to those who wish to understand the Vedic, Hindu and Buddhist religions and their sects.

Our classification will help to define the different periods, which at first are not ancient. At least we can try to understand the spheres of influence (which can vary somewhat) of the gods and their functions along the road to "realization" and "illumination".

No matter what their names they unite adepts of all religions who extol ethics, tolerance and compassion for those who are suffering.

 

The 12 Gods or Elements called "ADITYAS" :

 
In Vedic times, the 12 elements/gods represented the moral principles, which rule our world and the world of the gods. They are represented as the spokes of the wheel of time.

 

The Wheel : symbol of Eternity : Natamandir.

 
They are the children of Infinity, the great Aditi, the mother of the gods who extends infinitely way beyond the sea and the clouds. Aditi is the daughter of Ritual Art, (Daksha). From her marriage to Vision (Rashyapa) were born 12 children who are the elements:

VISHNU penetrates all, knows all, is everywhere. Vishnu is spoken of in the Rigveda and even though he is not in the first rank of gods, he is very important. He is called the brother of Indra.

These are the 12 elements that mature beings discover mostly in the later part of their life on earth. They prepare us for our spiritual rebirth.

In Vedic times, Varuna was the omniscient, the master of the Adityas. He was an invisible being that guided birds, the tides, the moon and the course of the winds. (Rigveda)

In later mythology, Varuna became the god of death and Indra replaced him as regent of the sky.

 

I N D R A - the King of the Vedic Gods

 
Indra is the god of storms that sink ships and of thunder knocks down walls of defense during siege. He crosses the sky on his horse or in a god chariot. He is the son of Privithi (the Earth) and byaus (the sky), who are also the parents of the gods and of men.

The nature of the world to Vedic Seers appeared to be one of perpetual sacrifice. A strange system where the weakest become food and vital energy for the growth of the strongest.

After creating the universe by his will, (Maya the principle of justice and truth, a name that is found in Central America). Indra used his third eye (Varuna) to supervise the human race. (In Egypt, one speaks of the eye of Re!).

Here are two excerpts from the Bhagavad-Gita (chap 10), that not only show the superiority of the powers of Krishna over Indra but also mention (as in the Bible) the sacred tree that grew in Paradise and the deluge or flood :

1.)  Fearing the birth of a son more powerful than himself, Indra struck the stomach of his wife Didi with lightning and the embryos born were the 60 Maruts (small demons) who became gods of the storm. A great battle took place between the gods and demon monsters (Daityas) whom with Rahu churned up the primordial sea. During this battle there was an eclipse of the moon and also Dhanvantani, the physician of the gods and AMRITA : The Water, that assures us eternal life.

When Krishna went to Paradise to take Parijata, the sacred tree, Indra tried to stop him. However, Indra was not successful and was able to take away the tree.

2.)  Indra was the god of the herders of Vraja. Krishna persuaded them to give up this worship. Furious; Indra sent a flood to earth to drown the herders. Krishna then raised the mountain Govardhana and kept it in place for 7 days to save the men. Indra had to yield to Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu.

 

AGNI : the god of fire in Vedic times :

 
He was the brother of Indra but he started his career by devouring his parents! A mediator between gods and men, he wrestled demons. He was famous for his straightforward speaking. He is the one who welcomes the sky when he died

The 3 parts of the world known to man are :

Agni, the Lord of Fire, resides in all these areas and the gods rest the axes of his wheel. In their hymns, the Seers honor the three forms of the Great Being under the three forms of fire which live in all creatures born in the three worlds: (extract from the Brihad-devata)

AGNI is the second god of the Vedas; he brought success to all enterprises. He gave intelligence, power, health and beauty to man. He was the guardian of the celestial sphere. As the oldest son of the Great Being, he illuminated all things.

His wife (Svaha) "she who brings obligation and duty" bore him 3 sons: Pure One (Pavaka), Purifying One (Pavamana) and Purity (Shuci).

* There are 10 forms of fire : 5 natural and 5 ritual :

  1. Agni is earthly, visible fire.
  2. Indra (Vayu) is the thunderbolt that destroys houses and forests.
  3. Surya (Sun) was named the god of the sky.
  4. Vaishranara (the one who penetrates all things) the food (spiritual and material) which changes into energy for the body and soul.
  5. Destructive fire that sleeps in a volcano and some day will destroy the world
  6. The Immense fire (Brahma-agni ) or the sacred fire of sacrifices.
  7. The fire of the Self-perpetuating One (Prajapatya-agni) and of the promise made at the investiture of the sacred cord at the ritual of Agni-hotra.
  8. The Home fire (Garhapatya-agni) the fire of family life and love, which starts with marriage and must never, go out.
  9. The fire for the ancestors (Dakshina-agni) the fire of memory which exorcises and receives the offerings of the dead.
  10. The funeral fire (Dakshina-agni) which consumes the bodies of the dead.

 

The SUN-SURYA in the sky DYAUS

 
The Sun is the third Great God of the Vedas. It is the center of our planetary system. It represents the boundary between known spheres such as the moon, the earth and the unknown worlds of the Self -Begotten One and the supreme will.

In the Puranas, the Sun is the son of the wise man (Kashyapa), or Vision and of the mother goddess ADITI.

The Sun is the soul of the world (Rik-Samhita). It is the light that has always existed; the being that resides in us and warms us, guiding and regulating our bodily functions.

SURYA has 4 wives :

  1. Samjna (knowledge), who in the Mahabharata is the daughter of the Great ARCHITECT Vishvakarman.
  2. Rajni (Sovereignty)
  3. Prabha (Light)
  4. Chaya (Shade).

Their 3 children are the legislator Manu, Yama the ruler of the dead and the river Tamma. The Sun has 2 names: SURYA (the luminous shining one) and ADITYA (the son of the primordial origin of all things). This was why the ancients believed the sun to be the origin of the world. (There was a parallel idea in Egypt regarding crossing a river to reach the kingdom of the dead).

 

V A Y U : the god of the wind

 
Wind is the friend of fire--perfumed and caressing, it wonders around the abode of the gods, stimulating the senses. It is the messenger of the gods, the breath of the world, the bringer of life to all beings (Mahabharata 12).

Purifying and cleasing, it penetrates all three worlds like celestial musician.

 

Changes after the Vedic Period :

 
We have just listed the ancient Vedic gods, many of which remained unchanged from pre-Vedic times. Their names were passed down by oral tradition from time immemorial.

We also see some gods (who had been thought of as beneficent spirits) being demoted by successive generations to secondary divinities and then to wicked, cruel spirits. They were then replaced by new gods.

The Vedic period passes smoothly into the Hindu period which was flourishing by 700 to 600BC.

With the modifications of the ancient gods a whole new spirituality developed that carried a real harmony of life, light, mental purification and spiritual searching for the Higher Self. Then followed a spiritual rebirth after death.

It is remarkable to note that this evolution was accomplished without the spilling of blood, which cannot be said for most great religious reform.

 

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