Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Day and Night of Brahma and the Cycle of Mass Extinctions

Note: This article has been published in the New Dawn Magazine, Special Issue Vol.6 No.1., under the title "The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes: Evidence from Science & Ancient Records". Different versions of this article have also been published on Esamskriti, the Graham Hancock website, and the Viewzone Magazine .

The Vedic concept of time, like that of the ancient Egyptians and the Mayans, was cyclical. The ancient Sanskrit texts tell us that, in addition to the cycles of day and night, and the cycles of the seasons, there exists another cycle of time known as the Yuga Cycle or the Cycle of the World Ages. As per the Laws of Manu and the Mahabharata, the Yuga Cycle is of 12,000 years duration, and is comprised of four Yugas or World Ages – Satya Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yuga (Silver Age), Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age) and Kali Yuga (Iron Age). As humanity moves from the Satya Yuga to the Kali Yuga, the level of virtue and human capabilities gradually decrease, and reaches its nadir in the Kali Yuga, the age of darkness, in which we currently find ourselves.

The belief in the Yuga Cycle was widely prevalent in the ancient world. Giorgio de Santillana, professor of the history of science at MIT, mentions approximately thirty ancient cultures that believed in the concept of a series of ages, with alternating Dark and Golden Ages, as documented in the book Hamlet's Mill (1969). The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Hopi Indians - all have detailed accounts of the World Ages which are surprisingly alike in their descriptions.

Sometime prior to 500 CE, some errors had crept into the Yuga Cycle doctrine in many Sanskrit texts. The Yuga Cycle was considered to be of 12,000 "divine years" duration, wherein one "divine year" was believed to comprise of 360 "human years". The 12,000 years duration of the Yuga Cycle was, therefore, multiplied by 360, thereby arriving at the abnormally high value of 4,320,000 years.
However, texts such as the Manusmriti (Chapter 1) and the Mahabharata (Santi Parva) still mentioned the Yuga Cycle as being of 12000 years duration. Many other ancient cultures such as the Greeks, Chaldeans, Zoroastrians also belived in a Cycle of the World ages of similar duration. Not surprisingly, many eminent Sanskrit scholars and saints of India such as Lokmanya Tilak, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Yukteswar also supported this view.  

In the book The Holy Science (1894), Sri Yukteswar had clarified that a complete Yuga Cycle takes 24,000 years, and is comprised of a descending Yuga Cycle of 12,000 years when virtue gradually decreases (Satya, Treta, Dwapara, Kali) and an ascending Yuga Cycle of another 12,000 years (Kali, Dwapara, Treta, Satya), in which virtue gradually increases.The idea of an ascending and descending cycle of yugas was also prevalent amongst many ancient cultures including the Buddhists, Jains and the Greeks. According to the Jains, a complete Time Cycle (Kalachakra) was composed of a progressive half (Utsarpini) and a regressive half (Avasarpini), which followed each other in an unbroken succession for eternity. The Greek poet Hesiod had mentioned in the Works and Days that the succession of races is not linear but cyclical, and after the "Iron Age" (i.e. Kali Yuga), the sequence of ages reverses itself.

Besides, all the known time cycles of nature are composed of ascending and descending phases. A 24 hour day is comprised of 12 ascending time periods (AM) and 12 descending time periods (PM). In the cycle of the seasons too, we can see that the intensity of sunlight gradually increases from winter to summer for a period of roughly 12 lunar hemicycles (i.e. the time taken from New Moon to Full Moon and vice versa), and then decreases from summer to winter for another period of 12 lunar hemicycles. Therefore, the Yuga Cycle should adhere to this inherent pattern of nature.

Interestingly, the complete Yuga Cycle of 24,000 years closely matches the Precessional Year of 25,765 years, which is the time taken by the sun to ‘precess’ i.e. move backwards, through the 12 zodiac constellations. In order to understand the phenomenon of precession we need to remember that the 12 constellations of the zodiac encircle our Solar System like a giant ring. As a result, the sun always rises each morning against the backdrop of a particular constellation. If you consider a fixed date on our calendar, say the Vernal Equinox date of March 21st, you will find that the sun rises against the constellation of Pisces on this date. However, in a couple of hundred years from now, the Vernal Equinox sun will rise against the backdrop of Aquarius. There is a very slow apparent movement of the heavens, because of which the background constellations appear to move backwards i.e. ‘precess’ along the zodiac. The Vernal Equinox sun takes nearly 2,147 years to move through each zodiac constellation of 30 degrees, and an entire cycle of 360 degrees is completed in approximately 25,765 years, known as the ‘Precessional Year’.

In recent years, it has been observed that the rate of precession is "increasing", which means that the duration of the Precessional Year is "decreasing". The duration of the precessional cycle has dropped by nearly 20 years in the past 100 years of record keeping. If we assume that the precessional rate will decrease at this rate for the next 10,000 years, then we would end up with a Precessional Year duration of close to 23,000 years. It is possible, therefore, that the current precessional value of 25,765 years is simply a cyclical deviation from its Mean Value, which is close to 24,000 years. As per the Sanskrit treatise on astronomy called Surya-Siddhanta, the precession of the equinoxes takes place at the rate of 54 arc seconds per year[i] (as against the current value of 50.29 arc seconds per year.) This translates into a Precessional Year duration of exactly 24,000 years!


In addition to the Yuga Cycle, the Vedic texts also tell us of another large cycle of time known as a ‘Day of Brahma’, (also referred to as a Kalpa), which is equal to a 1000 Mahayugas or Yuga Cycles. The Vishnu Purana states that at the end of a ‘Day of Brahma’ the physical universe is destroyed and all life forms are extinguished. This is followed by a ‘Night of Brahma’ which is of equal duration as the Day of Brahma, when no life forms exist. At the end of the Night of Brahma, the universe is once again created by Vishnu. This phenomenon of cyclic creation and destruction events is explained by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:

“Those who understand the cosmic laws know that the Day of Brahma ends after a thousand Yugas and the Night of Brahma ends after a thousand Yugas. When the day of Brahma dawns, forms are brought forth from the Unmanifest; when the night of Brahma comes, these forms merge in the Formless again. This multitude of beings is created and destroyed again and again in the succeeding days and nights of Brahma.”[ii]

In order to derive the value of a Day of Brahma we need to remember that the Yuga Cycle (also known as a Caturyuga or Mahayuga), consisting of the four Yugas, is of 12,000 years duration. Therefore, a Day of Brahma lasts for 12,000*1000 i.e. 12 million years, which is followed by a Night of Brahma of equal duration. The implications are fascinating: all life forms on the planet earth are extinguished after 12 million years!  These life forms then remain in a dormant, unmanifested form for a further 12 million years. And then, at the beginning of the next Day of Brahma, new life forms are brought forth by the creative process from unmanifested matter.

We, thus, have a cyclical 24 million year period of cosmic creation and dissolution, much like the 24,000 year Precessional Year, and the 24 hours of day and night. The essential similarity between the macrocosm and the microcosm couldn’t be any clearer! It is easy to see that the time period between two successive cosmic dissolution events is 24 million years. If this information is correct, then this cycle of creation and destruction should also be reflected in the fossil records of our planet. And amazingly enough, this is exactly what has been revealed by recent paleontological evidence: every 26 million years there is a mass extinction of species on the earth!

Consider this: 66 million years ago the dinosaurs were thriving on the earth. However, today we can only find their bones and fossils in natural history museums. What happened to them? Scientists believe that 65.5 million years ago the earth went through a period a rapid death, called a mass extinction. But this episode is not the only mass extinction event in the fossil record. There are many more. And in recent years paleontologists have suggested that these mass extinctions occur in a regular cycle.
Fig 1: Stegosaurus fossil in the Field Museum, Chicago.
In 1984, paleontologists David Raup and Jack Sepkoski of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, published a paper[iii] claiming that they had identified a statistical periodicity in extinction rates over the last 250 million years. In his research, Sepkoski prepared a listing of about a quarter of a million species of sea-dwelling creatures, both extinct and current, noting the point in time where they appeared and became extinct. Sepkoski confined the study to marine organisms because the chances of finding fossils are much higher under the sea-bed. The oceans are areas of net sedimentation, whereas land is an area of net erosion, which means fewer rocks and fossils are found on land. Although the study was originally devised to be a broad study of the distribution of marine life through geologic time, it, quite unexpectedly turned into a critical component of the mass extinction debate. 

David Raup, a senior colleague at the University of Chicago, suggested that Sepkoski examine the date for any evidence of a pattern in the timing of the mass extinctions. To further study extinction periods Sepkoski decided to concentrate on the last 250 million years of geologic time and to throw out animals whose point of appearance and disappearance were debated. He was left with about 500 of his original 3,500 marine families (250,000 species). Sepkoski put the data through computer analysis and was surprised to find that life forms on earth disappeared in great numbers approximately every 26 million years. Both of them checked for errors and confirmed the pattern; life seemed to disappear drastically every 26 million years. In the paper Raup and Sepkoski wrote:


“The temporal distribution of the major extinctions over the past 250 million years has been investigated statistically using various forms of time series analysis. The analyzed record is based on variation in extinction intensity for fossil families of marine vertebrates, invertebrates, and protozoans, and contains 12 extinction events. The 12 events show a statistically significant periodicity (P <0.01) with a mean interval between events of 26 million years. Two of the events coincide with extinctions that have been previously linked to meteorite impacts (terminal Cretaceous and late Eocene). Although the causes of the periodicity are unknown, it is possible that they are related to extraterrestrial forces (solar, solar system, or galactic.)”

Raup and Sepkoski had also explored the possibility of the existence of a longer cycle, but they had discounted it as a weaker description of the data. In their original paper they wrote that, “It is possible that the appearance of a 26 Myr cycle actually results from a longer cycle of, say, 52 Myr in combination with a scattering of random events. This model has been tested and found to be a weaker description of the data than the simple 26 Myr cycle.” The 26 million year cycle has since been corroborated by a number of detailed analyses carried out by Sepkoski, Rampino, Caldeira and other scientists, which establishes the periodicity of the mass extinction events.
Fig 2: The original extinction data of Raup and Sepkoski. The extinction rate peaks every 26 million years.
The extinction of the dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago has since been followed by two more extinction events. We can find a surprising correlation between the mass extinction dates calculated by scientists and those arrived at from the Vedic texts. 

According to the Vishnu Purana, we are now at the middle of the first day of the 51st year of Brahma. In the current Day of Brahma, 453 Mahayugas have elapsed out of a total of 1000 Mahayugas that comprise it. Since a Day of Brahma lasts for 12 million years, this means that it has been roughly 5.5 million years since the beginning of the current Day of Brahma. Therefore, the most recent destruction event would have taken place (5.5 + 12) i.e. 17.5 Myr (million years ago). 

Using this data we can infer that, as per the Sanskrit texts, the last five destruction events should have taken place as per the following timelines: 

17.5 Myr, 41.5 Myr, 65.5 Myr, 89.5 Myr, and 113.5 Myr. 

This is very strongly correlated to the extinction dates computed by Raup and Sepkoski from the fossil records:
 
11.3 Myr, 38 Myr, 65 Myr, 91 Myr and 125 Myr 


And, quite incredibly, there is an exact match with the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago!

Fig 3: The Mass Extinction Events specified in the Vishnu Purana are strongly correlated with the dates calculated by Raup and Sepkoski
In case of some of the extinction events, there is a slight difference between the dates calculated from the Vedic texts, and those computed by Sepkoski. We should remember that the extinction timelines calculated by Sepkoski are approximate, and depend on the sample characteristics and various assumptions inherent in the model. Other scientists have arrived at slightly different values for the extinction events. For instance, the most recent extinction event, which has been termed as the Middle Miocene disruption, is now considered to have taken place during the middle of the Miocene Epoch, nearly 14.8 – 14.5 Myr. This is much closer to the value arrived at from the Vedic texts (17.5 Myr). 

We also need to remember that the duration of the Precessional Year is not constant, and may fluctuate around the Mean Value of 24,000 years. If this is correct, then the duration of a Day and Night of Brahma will also fluctuate around a Mean Value of 24 million years. The periodicity of these fluctuations needs to be understood and considered in order to correctly calculate the previous dates of cosmic destruction.

It would be fair to conclude on the basis of the above analysis that, the 24 million year cycle of creation and destruction, comprising of a Day and Night of Brahma, is embedded in the fossil records of the planet earth. One might argue that in a mass extinction event, all species do not become extinct (the most intense extinction events result in the extinction of 90 % of all species), which contradicts the principle of complete annihilation at the end of a Day of Brahma. But that is not a valid argument. The Sanskrit texts state that all "lifeforms" are destroyed at the end of a Day of Brahma. They do not claim that all species become extinct. The same species may be created once again in the subsequent Day of Brahma.

Even now, there is no consensus in the scientific community regarding the possible trigger for these periodic extinction events, even though scientists agree that there must be a single underlying cause. Raup and Sepkoski had favored extraterrestrial factors in their original analysis:

“A first question is whether we are seeing the effects of a purely biological phenomenon or whether the periodic extinction results from recurrent events or cycles in the physical environment. If the forcing agent is in the physical environment, does this reflect an earthbound process or something in space? If the latter, are the extraterrestrial influences solar, solar system, or galactic? Although none of these alternatives can be ruled out now, we favor extraterrestrial causes for the reason that purely biological or earthbound physical cycles seem incredible, where the cycles are of fixed length and measured on a time scale of tens of millions of years. By contrast, astronomical and astrophysical cycles of this order are plausible even though candidates for the particular cycle observed in the extinction data are few. One possibility is the passage of our solar system through the spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy, which has been estimated to occur on the order of 100 million years. Shoemaker has argued that passage through the galactic arms should increase the comet flux and this could, following the Alvarez hypothesis, provide an explanation for the biological extinctions.  Two of the extinction events considered here (Late Cretaceous and Late Eocene) are associated with evidence for meteorite impacts. However, much more information is needed before definitive statements about causes can be made.”

The link between the mass extinction event that eliminated the dinosaurs, and meteorite impacts from outer space, was known for a few years before Raup and Sepkoski had published their paper. In 1980, the Alvarez group proposed the asteroid impact theory to explain the sudden extinction of dinosaurs at the K-T (Cretaceous–Tertiary) boundary, some 65.5 million years ago. A team of researchers, which included Nobel prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez and his son, geologist Walter Alvarez, discovered that sedimentary layers found all over the world at the K-T boundary contain a concentration of iridium many times greater than normal (30 times background in Gubbio, Italy and 160 times at Stevns). Since Iridium is extremely rare in the earth's crust but is abundant in chondritic meteorites and asteroids (the isotopic ratio of iridium in asteroids is similar to that of the K–T boundary layer but significantly different from the ratio in the Earth's crust) the Alvarez team suggested that the iridium spike at the K-T boundary is extraterrestrial in origin and had settled out of a global dust cloud triggered by the impact of an asteroid 10 km in diameter. They proposed that this giant asteroid crashed into the earth at nearly 90,000 km/hr and produced an impact crater of diameter 250 km, which led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Fig 4: An artist's concept of a catastrophic asteroid impact with the Earth.

The consensus among scientists who support this theory is that the impact caused extinctions both directly, by heat from the meteorite impact (which could have also triggered global firestorms as incendiary fragments from the blast fell back to earth) and mega-tsunamis, and also indirectly via a worldwide cooling brought about when matter ejected from the impact reflected thermal radiation from the sun. This would have blocked sunlight and inhibited photosynthesis, and accounted for the extinction of plants and organisms. 

In 1990, scientists confirmed that that an asteroid, 15 kilometers wide must have hit in the vicinity of the Yucatan Peninsula (in southeastern Mexico), creating the approximately 180 km wide and 10 km deep Chicxulub Crater, triggering the mass extinction. At the time of the impact, the asteroid was travelling at nearly 70,000 miles hour (roughly 20 times the speed of a rifle bullet), and the impact released about a billion times more energy than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and a million times larger than the largest nuclear bomb ever tested. According to scientists of the Imperial College of London, the impact would have triggered massive earthquakes, landslides, continental shelf collapses and mega-tsunamis, as well as a global winter, which wiped out much of life on Earth in a matter of days.

The multiple impact theory suggests the possibility of near simultaneous multiple impacts, possibly from a fragmented asteroidal object. This is supported by the discovery of several other craters, which appear to have been formed at the K–T boundary. Among these are the Boltysh crater, a 24 km diameter impact crater in Ukraine; and the Silverpit crater, a 20 km diameter impact crater in the North Sea. Recently, another major impact structure, the Shiva Crater, has been identified at the India-Seychelles plate margin, in the Indian Ocean to the west of Mumbai, almost antipodal to the Chicxulub structure. In a paper published in 1997, paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee writes:

“This buried oblong crater is 600 km long, 450 km wide and 12 km deep and may represent the largest impact structure of Phanerozoic age. The KT boundary age of the crater is inferred from its Deccan lava floor, Paleocene age of the overlying sediments, isotope dating (~ 65 Ma) of presumed melt rocks, and the Carlsberg rifting event that split the crater into two halves…It is estimated that a 40-km diameter meteorite crashed on the western continental shelf of India around 65 Ma, excavating the Shiva Crater, shattering the lithosphere, and triggering the India-Seychelles rifting.”[iv]
Fig 5: The Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona, 1.2 km wide, 170 m deep. It was created nearly 50,000 years ago by a small meteorite about 50 meters across, which released about 10 megatons of energy. In contrast, the asteroid that created the 180 km wide Chicxulub Crater in Mexico released about 100 million megatons of energy.
Another important discovery in this regard was made independently by Alvarez and Muller, and by Rampino and Stothers, and subsequently validated by Shoemaker, which showed that the impact craters on earth had a periodicity of either 28.4 or 30 Myr, which matches the periodicity of mass extinctions. This suggested that the impact craters must have been created during ‘comet showers’ or ‘storms’ – a large number of impacts over a relatively short period of time.

Subsequently, two teams of astronomers, Whitmire and Jackson,[v] and Davis, Hut, and Muller,[vi] independently published similar hypotheses to explain Raup and Sepkoski's extinction periodicity in the same issue of the journal Nature. This hypothesis proposes that the Sun may have an as yet undetected companion star in a highly elliptical orbit that periodically disturbs comets in the spherical Oort cloud that surrounds our Solar System, causing a large increase in the number of comets visiting the inner Solar System, with a consequential increase in impact events on Earth. This became known as the Nemesis hypothesis. If Nemesis does exist, its exact nature is uncertain. Richard A. Muller suggests that the most likely object is a red dwarf star with magnitude between 7 and 12. He also states that if the last comet shower was 13 Myr ago, then Nemesis would be at its greatest distance, about 3 light-years; if the shower was 5 Myr ago, then Nemesis would be only half that distance.[vii]

However, a binary companion of the sun has not been found till date, in spite of extensive sky surveys. It has been noted by many scientists that the orbit required for a 26 to 30 million years period is unstable against perturbations from passing stars and molecular clouds. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that the proposed companion star has been in this orbit for the past 250 million years, and hence it cannot account for the 26 million year periodicity in impact events. However, supporters of this hypothesis are still hoping that the WISE mission (an infrared sky survey that covered most of our solar neighborhood in movement-verifying parallax measurements) will be able to be able to find it, if it exists. Preliminary results of the WISE survey were released on 14 April 2011. The final release of analyzed results is scheduled to be released in March 2012. It would be fair to say, though, that the Nemesis hypothesis has lost credibility within the scientific community.

The explanations for the mass extinction events provided in the ancient texts have been couched in mysterious symbolisms that have been impossible to decode. The Mahabharata tells us that “a fire from the mouth of the underground serpent will burn the lower worlds, then the surface of the earth, and will set the atmosphere ablaze. This mass of fire will burn with a great noise. Surrounded by these circles of fire, all animate and inanimate objects will be destroyed.” 

Similar accounts have been preserved by the Nordic people of Ragnarok, the final destruction of the world. The event states that during Ragnarok, Jörmungandr, the Midgard serpent, will rise from the deep ocean bed to proceed towards the land, twisting and writhing in fury on his way, causing the seas to rear up and lash against the land. With every breath, the serpent will spew venom, staining the earth and the sky in poison. Some of the catastrophes that occurred during the last time the universe was dissolved are still remembered and recounted: "The ash tree Yggdrasil was shaken from its roots to its topmost branches. The Earth itself was beginning to lose its shape. The stars were coming adrift from the sky and falling into the gaping void. The giant Sun set the entire earth on fire; the universe was no longer more than an immense furnace. All living things, all plant life, were blotted out. All that remained was the soil."

These descriptions seem to suggest a cosmic catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. But the exact nature of this phenomenon still eludes us. Are these descriptions hinting at a ‘galactic core explosion’? We know that the Milky Way galaxy is a ‘Seyfert’ galaxy, which periodically has highly energetic explosions taking place in its core that result in the ejection of huge amount of cosmic debris including stars, dust and cosmic ray particles. Astronomers speculate that this kind of explosive activities may occur as infrequently as once in every 10 to 100 million years, which falls pretty much in the range of the 26 million year mass extinction events. Once the core becomes explosive, the galaxy remains in that explosive stage for a few million years, and then becomes quiescent, before erupting again. 

Scientists believe that interstellar magnetic fields in the galactic nucleus will trap the emitted particles in spiral orbits causing them to reach the earth very slowly, and thereby not pose any grave threat to the earth. However, Paul LaViolette, the author of Earth Under Fire is of the opinion that “cosmic ray electrons and positrons generated in a core explosion travel radially outward from the Galactic Center at very close to the speed of light and pass through the entire galactic disk with minimal attenuation”[viii], and bombard solar systems like our own residing in its spiral arm disk. These emitted cosmic rays travel radially outward “in the form of an expanding spherical shell that has a thickness of several hundred to several thousand light years”. Such an explosive event can cause substantial damage to life on earth, and may be responsible for the periodic cataclysms that impact our planet.

It is possible, therefore, that the ancient myths may be hinting at a cyclical ‘galactic core explosion’ that takes place every 26 million years. However, such a hypothesis requires much more analysis. What is certain, however, is this: the ancients were aware of the mass extinction events that are recorded in the fossil history of the earth, as well as the cosmic phenomenon that triggers these periodic catastrophic destructions. And this information has been transmitted down to us for uncounted millennia, couched in various mysterious symbols, myths and metaphors. It is now up to us to decode this information.


[i] Surya-Siddhanta:a text-book of Hindu astronomy, Ebenezer Burgess, Phanindralal Gangooly, Chapter 1, p 1
[ii] The Bhagavad Gita 8.17-8.20
[iii] Raup and Sepkoski, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol 81, pp 801-805, February 1984
[iv] Sankar Chatterjee, Proc. 30th Intern. Geol. Congr., Vol 26, pp 31-54, 1997
[v] Whitmire, D.P.; Jackson, A.A. (1984). "Are periodic mass extinctions driven by a distant solar companion?", Nature 308 (5961): 713–715.
[vi] Davis, M.; Hut, P., Muller, R.A. (1984). "Extinction of species by periodic comet showers". Nature 308 (5961): 715–717.
[vii] Muller, R.A. (1985). “Evidence for Nemesis: A Solar Companion Star”. LBL, University of California.
[viii] Paul LaViolette, Earth Under Fire, p 67, Bear & Company, 2005

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vishnu Symbolism in Crop Circles: Does it signify the coming of a ‘Chakravartin’?

Note: This article has also been published by the Iskcon News Service

Crop Circles are a modern enigma. These intricate and gigantic formations, appearing almost overnight, have confused and fascinated us for the past couple of decades. Some of the crop circles are enormous – more than 1000 feet in diameter – while the average size of crop circles in the UK is around 200 feet. While most of these formations appear almost overnight, many of them have been formed mysteriously in the space of a few minutes, in broad daylight! 

An array of scientific anomalies has been noted in the plant and soil samples collected from crop circle sites, which do not appear to conform to any rational explanations. Scientists examining the plant and soil samples from crop circles sites have stated that "some kind of natural, but unknown, force is at work" and “our present knowledge provides no explanation.” Recently, the Laurence Rockefeller funded study into crop circles, conducted by BLT Research, has concluded that "it is possible that we are observing the effects of a new or as yet undiscovered energy source." Clearly, some inexplicable phenomenon is transpiring in our immediate cosmic neighborhood. We do not know how these circles are being created or by whom. But, it appears as if some unknown force is leveraging scientific knowledge that is not yet known to us, and sending us some important messages through these complex formations, which depict various sacred symbols of the ancient wisdom traditions.

One of the earliest crop circle formations which had captured the imagination of the world was the Barbury Castle formation of 1991. Ever since this exquisite formation appeared near Barbury, England, a plethora of scientific, mathematical and mystical interpretations have been proposed by various researchers to explain its symbolic meaning. However, there is no doubt in my mind that this extraordinary formation is a composite, two-dimensional represention of the four attributes of the Vedic Creator God Vishnu, who is also synonymous with his mortal incarnation Krishna. These four attributes which have been depicted in this formation, and which are always associated with Vishnu (and Krishna) are the Lotus Flower, the six-spoked discus known as the Sudarshana Chakra, the Mace, and the Conch Shell.

Fig 1: Barbury Castle Crop Circle Formation, 1991.

At the center of the Barbury Castle formation there is central circle, enclosed by a pair of concentric circles. In ancient traditions, the "circle with a dot in the center" always represented the "divine consciousness at the center of the cosmos". In Hinduism and Buddhism, the concentric circles also denote the resplendent Lotus Flower which bloomed in the midst of the Primeval Ocean at the beginning of time, containing within it the Great Spirit. This understanding is reflected in the Buddhist mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" which translates to "Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus". It is apparent, therefore, that the central part of this formation reflects Vishnu, and his attribute, the Lotus Flower.


Fig 2: Vishnu on the Lotus Flower, with his four attributes: Lotus, Discus, Conch-shell and Mace
The concentric circles are enclosed within an equilateral triangle which, once again, is an ancient symbol of the Trinity. At the bottom-left corner of the formation we can see a "racheted spiral form", which has been identified as the famous Fibonacci sequence (a sequence of numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 etc. where each number is the sum of the preceding two numbers). The ratio of two successive terms in the Fibonacci sequence is the famous Golden Ratio 1.618033989. Fibonacci sequences are found in many places in nature: in plant growth, leaf patterns, floral petals and stems; while the Golden Ratio is found in the proportions of the human body, and in art and architecture.  

It has been shown scientifically that the cross section of a Conch shell traces out a Fibonacci sequence (“Fibonacci Structure in Conch Shell”, Current Science, February 2005). In this article, the authors Saroj Kumar Rath and P.C.Naik, after performing extensive X-ray analysis of the Conch-shell, conclude that, “Our measurement of the parameters in the structure satisfy the celebrated Fibonacci patterns found abundantly in nature. The parameters, when judiciously chosen, fairly furnish the Fibonacci pattern and Golden Ratio.” Therefore, the Fibonacci spiral depicted in the Barbury Castle crop circle must be a two-dimensional representation of the Conch Shell held by Vishnu.


Fig 3: A Nautilus Shell . Source: Chris73/Wikipedia
At the bottom right corner of the formation, we find a six-spoked circle which is undoubtedly the six-spoked Sudarshana Chakra, the famous discus wielded by Vishnu; and at the top of the formation we find a "Circle with a stick attached to" which can be recognized as the cross-section of the Mace, the other attribute associated with Vishnu. Each of these individual symbols are interconnected by straight lines, thereby forming an extraordinary two-dimensional representation of Vishnu, along with his four attributes.

This is not the only instance, however, where the various attributes of Vishnu have appeared in crop circle formations. There have been multiple instances where the Conch Shell or its cross section, the six-spoked Sudarshana Chakra or the six-petaled Lotus Flower, have appeared in the formations. The Barbury Castle formation is, however, the only instance where all the four attributes of Vishnu have been depicted in a unified form. What could be the meaning behind these formations?


Fig 4: Pewsey July 2002. Cross section of a Conch -shell.
Fig 5: Wiltshire, June 2007.Conch-shell.
Fig 6: Huish, Aug 2001. Six-spoked rotating discus.
Fig 7: West Stowell July 2000 Six petalled flower.
Fig 8: Stonehenge July 2002. Six petalled flower
Fig 9: Woolstone July 2000
Fig 10: Wiltshire July 2007. The AUM symbol
Each of the four attributes of Vishnu has a symbolic meaning associated with it. The irresistible Sudarshana Chakra is the weapon wielded by Vishnu and it signifies the destruction of one's ego, burning away of spiritual ignorance and illusion, and developing the vision to realize god. From the Conch Shell emanates the primordial sound of creation "AUM", which pervades the entire cosmos. The vibration of AUM is the original sound that contains all other sounds, all words and all languages. It is considered to be the supreme object of meditation and is uttered before all Vedic mantras. The Mace held by Vishnu denotes his power to destroy the materialistic or demonic tendencies within us. And the Lotus Flower is symbolic of divine creation, the formation of the universe from the eternal.  The Lotus is also an emblem of divine perfection, purity and enlightenment. Vedic gods and sages always exhorted their devotees to be like the Lotus; just as Lotus blooms in a marshy watery body, and yet remains unaffected by dirt and mud, in the same fashion one should be of this world, and yet remain untouched by sin. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that "those who surrender to Brahman all selfish attachments are like the leaf of a lotus floating clean and dry in water. Sin cannot touch them."

Clearly, these messages are significant for our times. It appears that the crop circle makers urging us to imbibe the wisdom encoded within these symbols. I wondered if the symbolic meaning of the Barbury Castle formation is more than just the sum of its individual parts. Since such an elaborate, composite depiction of Vishnu has been created, could it also contain a deeper meaning?

I reflected on the global consciousness changes that have been predicted by various spiritualists around the years 2012. The date 21st December 2012 is widely believed to represent the end of a 5125 year cycle (also known as a Great Cycle or a 13 Baktun cycle) in the Mayan Long Count Calendar. Inspite of all the excitement around 2012, there exists only one piece of inscription which makes a prediction specific to the end of the Great Cycle of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. It’s a hieroglyphic text found on Monument 6 at the site of Tortuguero in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It states, quite mysteriously, that on the date the Mayan Calendar ends, “an (unknown) event shall occur and Bolon Yokte K’u shall descend at an (unknown) place”. Bolon Yokte K’u has been identified by Mayanists as the "Nine Foot Tree God", which indicates that he is a representation of the Tree of Life or the Cosmic Mountain, the central axis of our world. This seems to indicate that a very powerful deity has been prophesized to incarnate on the planet earth around the time the calendar ends.  

Of course, the exact year and date relating to this prophesized event is under question, since it is very difficult to map the Mayan Calendar dates to the Gregorian calendar.The projected end-date is based on a correlation called the GMT correlation (Goodman-Martinez-Thompson correlation), according to which the current cycle started on August 11, 3114 BC and will end on December 21, 2012. Some researchers have, however, pointed to errors that have crept into the Mayan Long Count Calendar over the years. This leads us to a range of predicted end-time dates as early as 28 October 2011, and stretching out to 2038. New research conducted by Gerardo Aldana, associate professor at UC Santa Barbara, suggests that the GMT constant itself could be inaccurate by 50 to 100 years. 

Even Mayan religious leaders do not concur with the 2012 end-date for their calendar. One of the most respected Mayan Elders is Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj, who is a 13th Generation Quiche Mayan High Priest and the President of the National Council of Elders. In an interview given on March 17th, 2009, in Antigua, he stated: “this is the time when we don't know exactly if it is going to be 2012 or if it is going to be later on. Because 2012 is a Gregorian date, sometimes it does not coincide with the Mayan calendar. There are many reasons why we don't know exactly the timing. It has to do because when the invasion came, a little over 500 years ago, the men and women of wisdom were the first ones to be assassinated. Then Bishop Diego de Landa, during the invasion, gathered all the books where all the information was and they set them on fire. So they burned all the information. On the other hand, the calendar that was at that time in effect, they have gone through so many modifications..." And in another interview in 2010, Don Alejandro reiterated that the Mayan Elders do not concur with the 2012 end date that has been proposed as the possible ending date of the 13th Baktun. He says that: “The years that they are talking about that it will happen, 2011, 2012, 2013, nothing of that is going to happen. I will say it again. The Mayan Calendar has nothing to do with the Gregorian calendar…We are finalizing the 13th Baktun but we do not have an exact date. It may be another 40 to 50 years before the 13th Baktun ends and the cycle of the 5th sun begins.”


It seems funny that the end-date of the Mayan Calendar has been "decided" by scholars and so many apocalyptic prophesies have been made for 2012, without consulting the Mayan religious elders, who are the guardians of the native wisdom. Most Mayan Elders and religious leaders have strongly resented the apocalyptic prophecies that have been associated with 2012 by many western writers. Instead, they believe that the end of the Great Cycle of the Mayan Calendar heralds the beginning of a new age of enlightenment and consciousness; one in which man will learn to live in peace and harmony with his natural surroundings. 

One of the highly respected Mayan religious leaders is Carlos Barrios, who is also a Mayan Ajq'ij i.e. a ceremonial priest and spiritual guide. Mr. Barrios has spoken with hundreds of Mayan Elders regarding their viewpoints. Mr. Barrios says that the process of transition to the new age of light has already begun. “This is a time when the right arm of the materialistic world is disappearing, slowly but inexorably. We are at the cusp of the era when peace begins, and people live in harmony with Mother Earth”, he said. “This is the time in-between, the time of transition. As we pass through this transition there is a colossal, global convergence of environmental destruction, social chaos, war, and ongoing Earth changes.”  Although Mr. Barrios talks about environmental destruction and social upheaval during this time of transition, he cautions that one should not interpret the Mayan Calendar end-date as the end of the world and create apocalyptic world visions based on these interpretations. He says, “Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya. They say that the world will end in December 2012. The Mayan Elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed…Humanity will continue, but in a different way. Material structures will change. From this we will have the opportunity to be more human."

So these are the times of evolution and transformation. There is a prevalent belief which states that the light of wisdom will come from the east. Chapter 3 of the Zoroastran text Zand-i Vohuman Yasht contains very lengthy prophecies about the later days of this era, and it says that, “in the direction of Chinistan, it is said - some have said among the Hindus - is born a prince; it is his father, a prince of the Kayanian race, approaches the women, and a religious prince is born to him; he calls his name Warharan the Varjavand, some have said Shahpur. That a sign may come to the earth, the night when that prince is born, a star falls from the sky; when that prince is born the star shows a signal." Other prophecies refer to the birth of the "Great Serpent" in the east, who will bring the lamp of wisdom to the different nations

All these prognostications about the impending birth of a "messiah" made me wonder if the Barbury Castle formation may be hinting at a similar possibility. It is said that before Buddha’s birth, the great court seer Asita had observed various auspicious symbols and astrological configurations and had concluded that the new prince will either be a chakravartin or an enlightened spiritual leader. The word chakravartin originated from the Sanskrit "chakra", meaning "wheel", and "vartin", meaning "one who turns". Thus, a chakravartin may be understood as a ruler "whose chariot wheels roll everywhere", or "whose movements are unobstructed". He is an emperor of the world, a universal monarch, who rules by virtue of his wisdom, compassion and righteousness. 

It is believed that the birth of a chakravartin heralds the onset of seven wealth’s or abundances which arise in the realm; a wealth of faith, morality, honesty, modesty, learning, renunciation and wisdom. The term chakravartin refers particularly to the incarnations of Vishnu who appear to restore dharma and righteousness on earth. The most famous chakravartin in Hinduism is the incaranation of Vishnu as the universal monarch Rama in the Treta Yuga, sometime around 7000 BC. Other religions have their own equivalents of the chakravartin.


Fig 11: A Chakravatin, 1st century BC. Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati. Preserved at Musee Guimet
Fig 12: Flag of Sikkim (1914-1962). The symbol of the Chakravartin and the seven jewels.
As it turns out, Asita’s prognosis about Buddha was also correct for Buddha was both an enlightened spiritual leader as well as a chakravartin. In choosing the path of renunciation and winning dominion over the realms of the spirit, the Buddha also attained sovereignty over the earth. 

Is it possible, therefore, that the crop circles, which are essentially circular in form, and thereby resemble a chakra or a wheel, are heralding the birth of another chakravartin - the savior whose coming is widely anticipated by the people across the world? 

The symbol of the chakravartin has always been a chakra or a wheel; it is widely believed that the body of the chakravartin as well as his palms and soles bear the auspicious discus symbol, indicating his divinity. The Buddhist text Kalachakra-Tantra proclaims that, “The Chakravartin shall come out at the end of the age, from the city the gods fashioned on Mount Kailasa. He shall smite the barbarians in battle with his own four-division army, on the entire surface of the earth.” Perhaps the Barbury Castle formation is telling us that an aspect of Vishnu shall soon descend on earth in order to steer humanity towards the path of dharma, and prepare us for our evolution towards a new age of enlightenment? That is an outcome we can certainly wish for.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Krishna worship and Ratha Yatra Festival in Ancient Egypt?

Note: This article has been published on the Iskcon News site, the Graham Hancock website, eSamskriti, Satyameva Jayate and the Viewzone Magazine


Amun and Krishna

An interesting piece of information caught my attention during my journey across the sacred sites of Egypt during early 2010. During the light and sound show in the magnificent temple complex of Karnak, I heard a voice booming over the loudspeakers: “I am Amon-Ra...The waters of the Nile sprout from my sandals.” This immediately reminded me of the Creator God Vishnu in Hinduism. In the typical depiction of Vishnu in Hindu iconography, the sacred river Ganges is shown emerging from the toe of the Vishnu, while in Egypt, we find a very similar imagery associated with Amun. But who was Amun? I knew that Amun was the presiding diety of Karnak, and he was worshipped there as the Creator God, along with his wife Mut, and his son Khonsu. The next day, while discussing about the light and sound show with my tour guide, he gave me another piece of information that I was not aware of, and that took me completely by surprise: “Amun was always depicted in funerary art and temple inscriptions with a ‘blue skin colour’ and having two feathers in his headdress.”

Now, if anyone ever travels to India, and he talks to the people there about a god having a blue skin colour, with a couple of feathers in his headdress, and from whose sandals or toes a sacred river emerges, he will get a single answer: Vishnu, or more likely Krishna, for it is Krishna who was always depicted with two peacock feathers in his headdress.
 
This realization has significant implications. Krishna is an exclusively Indian diety, whose demise in 3102 BC signified the start of the present Kali Yuga in the Vedic Yuga system. Amun on the other hand, was not worshipped in Egypt prior to the beginning of the New Kingdom in c.1550 BC. He is mentioned in the creation myth of Hermopolis as one of the four pairs of divinities who were present in the Primeval Waters of Nun. As Amun-Amaunet, he represented the “hidden” properties of the Primordial Ocean. An early Twelfth-Dynasty inscription in the jubilee chapel of King Senusret I (c.1965 – c.1920 BC) at Karnak describes Amun as the “king of the gods”. While he was known to the Egyptians, he was not a part of the Egyptian Ennead, the Divine Company of Gods, who were the primary deities of worship. 

But suddenly at Karnak, at the beginning of the New Kingdom in c.1550 BC, Amun usurped the position of Atum, as the head of the state patheon. He became the self-engendered Creator God. Evidence indicates that the construction of the temple complex at Luxor and Karnak may have started as early as the Middle Kingdom (c.2055 – c.1650 BC), although the buildings visible today date from the reign of Amenhotep III (c.1390 – c.1352 BC), the great temple builder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. What could have trigerred his precipitous rise to the head of the Egyptian pantheon from relative obscurity as a diety of the Primeval Ocean? How did a whole new patheon of deities, along with associated symbolisms, rites and rituals suddenly spring up in Egypt during the New Kingdom? 
Fig1: The blue-complexioned Amun. Source: edupics.com

Fig 2: Krishna with Radha, 18th century Rajasthani painting.

The Opet Festival

I was also taken aback by the descriptions of the annual Opet festival that used to be celebrated in Karnak, during the season of the flooding of the Nile. In this grand festival, the idols of the Theban triad of divinities - Amun, Mut and Khonsu - were placed on sacred barques (boats), which were carried in a splendid, joyous procession down the Avenue of the Sphinxes, along the 2 mile road that connects the temples of Karnak and Luxor. The celebrations have been depicted in detail on the walls of the Great Colonnade at Luxor. At Karnak, the idols of the Thebian triad were first ceremoniously washed and magnificently dressed with colorful linen and precious jewellery and placed on sacred barques. The pharaoh then offered his obeisance to each of the barques. The barques were then carried by the priests on their shoulders, accompanied by musicians, and soldiers carrying standards decorated with brilliant plumes and streamers. Elegantly decorated horse drawn chariots would also accompany the procession. Huge crowds of people gathered along the road, blowing trumpets, dancing and singing, clapping, offering prayers, burning incense sticks and generally raising a tremendous din. Nubian musicians and female acrobats entertained the crowd. The barques rested along the way at six way-stations that were built by Queen Hatshepsut.

Once the idols reached Luxor Temple, the coronation rites of the king were repeated in a sacred ritual, which effectively transferred the power of divine rulership from Amun to the pharaoh. The idols rested in Luxor for a period of time and subsequently came back to Karnak, in another procession along the river Nile. Although the Opet festival was initially celebrated over only 11 days, later it was extended to nearly 24 to 27 days. The festival not only symbolized a restoration of the divine right of the king to rule, but also signified a rejuvenation of the creative forces of the cosmos, through the sacred rituals and boisterous celebrations. 

Fig 3: The Opet Festival. Source: i-cias.com

Jagannath Ratha Yatra

Amazingly enough, an exactly similar festival is still celebrated every year in the coastal town of Puri, in the state of Orissa in eastern India, after the onset of monsoon in the month of July. Here, in the yearly Ratha Yatra festival, the idols of Krishna (or Jagannath), his brother Balaram and his sister Subhadra are carried in three magnificent chariots pulled by thousands of devotees along the 2 km (1.5 mile) road that connects the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple.

I had the good fortune of being able to witness this grand spectacle in the year 2010. An immense collection of humanity had descended on Puri on this day from all over India. The actual festival, of course, had started nearly two weeks earlier when the idols of Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra were given a ritual bath and redecorated. On the day of the Ratha Yatra, the idols were installed on the three massive chariots, nearly 45 feet high, which had been constructed for the three deities. The chariots were kept outside the Jagannath Temple walls, and the endless stream of devotees blew conch-shells and played trumpets as soon as the idols were brought out of the temple on decorated palanquins and placed on their respective chariots.

Then the King of Puri paid his obeisance to each of the chariots. He sprinkled sacred water on the chariots, and swept the chariots clean with his golden broom. The chariots then started making their way along the Grand Avenue one by one, pulled by ropes by the thousands of devotees. Needless to say, a considerable din ensured. There was loud chanting and singing, beating of drums and blaring of trumpets, as the procession slowly made its way to the Gundicha Temple. The chariots stopped at many points along the way, in order to provide an opportunity to the devotees to catch a glimpse of the idols inside the chariot and offer their prayers. It is said that one who observes the face of Jagannath during the Ratha Yatra festival gets absolved of all past sins. I did not accompany the procession the entire way to the Gundicha Temple. But what happens is that, after the procession reaches the Gundicha Temple, the idols rest there for a period of 7 days. After this they return back to the Temple of Jagannath, in another joyous, noisy procession known as the Ulta-Rath. The entire celebration, starting from day of Jagannath’s bathing ceremony, till his return from the Gundicha Temple, lasts for 25-26 days, nearly the same as the Opet festival of Karnak and Luxor.


The similarities between these two ancient festivals are obvious and striking. There can be no doubt that the Opet festival of Karnak is identical in form and spirit to the Ratha Yatra festival of Puri.

Fig 4: The chariot of Subhadra being pulled along the Grand Road by the devotees at the Rathayatra Festival, Puri. Image Credit: Bibhu Dev Misra
Although in the Jagannath Ratha Yatra, the idols are carried in large chariots, as opposed to the barques used in the Opet Festival, we should remember that the idols are brought out of the temple on decorated palanquins carried on the shoulders of the temple priests, before they are mounted on their respective chariots. During the annual Dol Yatra the utsav murti of Jagannath is carried around the city on a decorated palanquin accompanied by musical troupes. All across India, during specific festivals, there is a continuing tradition of placing the utsav murti (i.e. the idols used during festivals) of the presiding deity of the temple on a decorated palanquin, and carrying it around the town in a joyous procession.

Fig 5: The flower decorated palanquin (poo-pallakku) of goddess Meenakshi taken out in a procession in the evening of 10th day of the Chithirai festival – when Goddess Meenakshi weds Lord Sundareswarar. Source: http://www.thehindu.com
Now, the worship of the Theban triad of divinities – Amun, Mut and Khonsu – was established at Thebes only at the beginning of the New Kingdom in c.1550 BC.  On the other hand, the festival of Ratha Yatra has been celebrated in India for thousands of years, although the current Temple of Jagannath only dates from the 12th century AD. The festival has been mentioned in multiple Puranas, which are historical documents of unknown antiquity. The Skanda Purana states that the first Jagannath Temple was established in the Satya Yuga i.e. Golden Age (which could have begun at around 12,600 BC). Since Jagannath refers to Vishnu - the Lord of the Universe - he was worshipped in different forms in the different yugas. In the Kali Yuga he is worshipped in the form of Krishna. In many other Sanskrit texts such as the Narada Purana, Padma Purana and the Ramayana, the virtues of worshipping Jagannath have been extolled.

That implies that this ancient festival, along with the triad of divinities - Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra – must have been transferred from India to Egypt, sometime prior to 1550 BC.
Fig 6: Amun, Khonsu and Mut (left to right) Source: kenseamedia.com
 
Fig 7: Krishna, Subhadra and Balarama (right to left). Source: Wikipedia

Migration from India?

Although we know that Indian traders had trade relations with the first Pharaohs of dynastic Egypt in 3000 BC, and sold them cotton, muslin, spices, gold and ivory, such a major influence of India on Egyptian religious systems has not been explicitly identified till now. Some scholars have, however, pointed out the similarity between the culture of Egypt and India. Peter Von Bohlen, a German Indologist, mentioned that there are elements of folk art, language, place names and rural culture of Bengal (the state adjacent to Orissa and included in it in ancient times) which have an affinity with their Egyptian counterparts. However, when you consider the fact that an entire patheon along with associated ceremonies and rituals seems to have been exported to Egypt from India, it appears that the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Emperors of India must have maintained very close relations since ancient times. This pantheon transfer would have been possible only through express royal patronage. But when and why did this happen? Who all were involved?

We know that when the Hyksos invaders of Egypt were finally evicted from the country after 200 years of occupation, the pharaohs Kames and Ahmes had fought under the banner of their new-found god - Amun. This event, which took place in 1550 BC, marked the beginning of the New Kingdom and the 18th dynasty, which is acknowledged as the greatest royal families of Egypt. Amun became the supreme protector god of the monarchy and the state and his priesthood gained immense power. Magnificent temple complexes dedicated to Amun were established in Thebes. Is it possible, therefore, that this pantheon transfer from India to Egypt was also accompanied by a transfer of armed forces which enabled the pharaohs Kames and Ahmes to defeat and drive out the Hyksos invaders and reunify Egypt?   


Interestingly, the people of Egypt themselves claimed to have come from a land called “Puanit” (corrupted to “Punt”) located on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Punt was referred to as the “Gods land” or the “land of gods and ancestors”. Punt can be reached leading off the Red Sea, in a south-east direction, and is described by the scholar Dr. Adolf Erman as “a distant country washed by the great seas, full of valleys, incense, balsum, precious metals and stones; rich in animals, cheetahs, panthers, dog-headed apes and long tailed monkeys, winged creatures with strange feathers to fly up to the boughs of wonderful trees, especially the incense tree and the coconut trees.” 


These descriptions may be a reference to India. The ancient maritime trade routes, popularly known as the Silk Route, led from Egypt in a south-east direction, to the flourishing ports on the western and eastern coasts of India. Along these ancient routes, Egyptian and Indian ships plied back and forth since unknown antiquity, carrying precious objects of trade such as gold, ivory, myrrh, incense etc.

Fig 8: The Silk Route. Source: Wikipedia
Col. Henry Steel Olcott, a former president of the Theosophical Society, explained in the March, 1881 edition of The Theosophist that, “by the pictorial hieroglyphic inscription found on the walls of the temple of the Queen Haslitop (Hatshepsut) at Der-el-babri, we see that this Punt can be no other than India. For many ages the Egyptians traded with their old homes, and the reference here made by them to the names of the Princes of Punt (King Parahu and Queen Ati) and its fauna and flora, especially the nomenclature of various precious woods to be found but in India, leave us scarcely room for the smallest doubt that the old civilization of Egypt is the direct outcome of that the older India.” The expedition of Hatshepsut to the land of Punt was done primarily with the objective of acquiring incense and a number of exotic goods, which she dedicated to Amun, the presiding diety of Thebes. Does that not indicate that Punt and Amun may somehow be connected? Is it possible that Hatshepsut felt that by bringing these items from the land of her forefathers, and from the place where Amun himself had originated, she would be performing a great service to her “father”, Amun, and thereby acquire his divine blessings.

It was widely in the ancient times accepted that Indians had colonized Ethiopia. The earliest Ethiopian tradition says that they came from a land situated near the mouth of the Indus, and this has been confirmed by the testimony of Eusebius and Philostratus. In the seventh century, St. Isidore made a summary in his Encyclopedia of knowledge derived from ancient Greek and Latin authors, many of whose works have now disappeared. Regarding the Ethiopians, he says in his Etymologiarium (IX.2.128): “They came in ancient times from the River Indus, established themselves in Egypt between the Nile and the sea, towards the south, in the equatorial regions.” Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren (1760-1842) an Egyptologist has observed (Historical Researches - Heeren p. 309): “It is perfectly agreeable to Hindu manners that colonies from India, i.e., Banian families should have passed over Africa, and carried with them their industry, and perhaps also their religious worship. Whatever weight may be attached to Indian tradition and the express testimony of Eusebius confirming the report of migrations from the banks of the Indus into Egypt, there is certainly nothing improbable in the event itself, as a desire of gain would have formed a sufficient inducement.”

Many questions are raised here. If Punt is India, then when did the ancient Egyptians migrate to the shores of the Nile from Punt? If we assume that the migration took place sometime around 3000 BC, at the beginning of the Kali Yuga, then who built the Giza Pyramids? Evidence indicates that the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids might be far older than what Egyptologists have been claiming so far. It has been shown by Boston University geologist Dr. Robert Schoch and Egyptologist John Anthony West that the intense weathering of the Sphinx and the Valley Temple due to water erosion could have been possible only if these structures had been exposed to the damp and watery "pluvial" period that accompanied the end of the last Ice Age. The implication of the distinctive "water induced weathering" was that the Sphinx and the Valley Temple must have been constructed before 7000 BC.  Schoch's analysis has been broadly corroborated by another geologist, David Coxill, who agrees that the Sphinx has been heavily weathered by rainwater and must therefore have been carved in pre-dynastic times. 

In addition, Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval have argued (The Message of the Sphinx ) that the relative positions of the three pyramids of the Giza plateau correspond exactly to the relative positions of the three stars of the Orion belt (Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka), as they appeared in the skies above Giza at 10,500 BC. In other words, the three pyramids are a terrestrial map of the three stars of Orion's belt. The period from 10,970 BC - 8810 BC was the “astronomical age of Leo” during which time the spring equinox sun rose against the backdrop of the Leo constellation. Therefore, the Sphinx (which has a lion's body) would face directly towards the Leo constellation as the sun rose on the spring equinox during this period.
Fig 9: The Sphinx, with the Giza Pyramids in the background. Image Credit: Bibhu Dev Misra
In addition, since this magnificent pyramid complex is entirely devoid of any hieroglyphic engravings or inscriptions, which is very unlike the Egyptian pysche, it raises the question whether the Giza Pyramid complex was built by the ancient Egyptians or by others before them. Is it possible that was it built by a “race of giants” who built similar megalithic structures around the world, including many of them in Mesoamerica? Maybe the arrival of the ancient Egyptians to the shores of the Nile from the distant Punt displaced this ‘race of giants’ and a new civilization was initiated? No one knows what secret knowledge lies embedded within these fantastic tombs and inside the innumerable underground chambers and network of tunnels that exist below the Giza plateau, and what new secrets the future will unfold. Whatever be the truth about ancient Egypt, it is clear that we are barely scratching the surface of it in the present times.

Note: I have written a follow-up article to this one titled: "The journey of Jagannath from India to Egypt: The Untold Saga of the Kushites".