India's Vedic Cultural Link with Ancient America

India's Vedic Cultural Link with Ancient America
Ancient America

India's Cultural Link with Ancient America

American swastika
American swastika

Arun Chinchmalatpure

Right from the period of the first Spanish historian Mr. Fray Shahaun (1515 AD) till today a number of scholars have worked on the life of native Americans and some of them came to the conclusion that in ancient times people from India and the Indian archipelago migrated to America and developed a great civilization there. In his book,

'A Compact History of Mexico' Mr. Ignacio Bernall states that people from Asia entered America some thirty-five thousand years before, whereas Mr. Arcio Nuns, a Brazilian nuclear scientist, mentions about the Dravidians of Asia with America as old as eleven thousand years.

An article published in the 'Hindu' of 27th Sept. 1985 about the discovery made by Dr. Harry Fell, renowned epigraphist of USA goes to suggest that the early merchant settlers of South-East Asia had sailed to far off lands in pursuit of their profession, whose presence in Mexico is available in the form of inscriptions. Dr. Fell has deciphered the Indic inscription from Tihosuco which reads that merchant Vusaluna, the captain of the ship, sailing along the coastline, had got the inscription engraved on the stone slab in the month of July of the year 845. It is assumed that year mentioned is of the Saka era.

Cultural Links:

Worship - The archaeologists found many Hindu deities like Shiva, Shiva linga, Ganesh, Kali, Sun, Buddha, etc. (in similar or slightly different forms) which were worshiped in ancient America. The Hindu God of luck, Ganesh, was worshiped in Central-South America. Images of Ganesh have been excavated in plenty in Mexico. This god with the elephant's trunk is frequently depicted in Mexican manuscripts and in the temple ruins in Central America as the god with a proboscis-like horn, whence water is squirting and his head is most frequently portrayed on the corners of temple walls, which are always built with reference to the original points. An image of 'Ekadant Ganesh' was noticed in the temple at Kopan by the great Indologist late Dr. W.S. Wakankar.

An image of Hanuman called by the name 'Wilka Huemana' and measuring 50 feet in height and 12 feet in the breadth was found in Guatemala. A similar one was found during an excavation of an Aztec temple in Mexico City and was known as 'Euhectal', a wind God, a monkey God.

Buddhism also had a vast influence on pre-Colombian America. Professor F.W. Putnam found in the jungles of Honduras a sculpture that greatly resembles Buddha. According to the July 1901 issue of American Harper's Magazine, it has been proved with evidence that five Buddhist monks had reached Mexico in ancient times, via Alaska.
Mexican Buddha
Mexican Buddha

Ceremonies, Beliefs, and Customs:

Hindu culture, civilization, customs,s and beliefs also dominated ancient America to some extent. Ancient Americans believed in legendary cataclysm, rebirth, four yugas, and the concept of two planets like Rahu and Ketu causing a solar eclipse. The Hindu doctrine of the ages is preserved in a stone monolith popularly known as the Aztec calendar. This remarkable piece of stone carving is in the form of an immense disc 12 feet in diameter and weighs over 20 tons. A festival called Sita-Ram (Situa-Raimi) was celebrated in Mexico during the Nav-Ratri or Dussehra period which has been described on page 5867 in the book 'Hemsworth History of the World'. Both in Central and South America, there are found Sati cremation, priesthood, gurukul system, yajna, birth, marriage, and death ceremonies to some extent similar to the Hindus.

Social life:
The ancient American dresses (male and female) were simple and similar to those of Hindu dresses. Mexican face types were found to be similar to those of Assam, Naga, Nepal, and Haryana people. Even their reddish-brown skin complexion bears distinct similarities with those of Nepalis and Nagas. If an Indian is shown a Maya lady of Yucatan province from Mexico, he will recognize her as a Jat Lady of Haryana. Ayar Inoa King used to wear a turban, earrings,s and a Trishul type trident in his hand.

Today native Indians of America live in the states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico number only a few lacs (lac = 100,000). These tribes are still vegetarians. Similarly, only two lacs natives survived in Canada who are still called 'Indians'. Their lifestyle, customs, and beliefs are similar to Bharatiya people.

Trade:
Goldsmiths from Peru and Mexico prevailed in working styles similar to Indian traditional goldsmiths. Mr. Michael Long of the National Geographic Society was surprised to see the back strap weaving method in the handloom at Santa Rosa of Peru. This is used to separate threads. It is very well known that cotton is a gift given by Indians to the whole world.

Language:
Professor Raman Mena, the curator of the National Museum of Mexico, said that the general appearance of Maya's writing is considered of oriental origin. According to scholar Orozco V. Berra, Maya and other languages are of Sanskrit origin. A few Sanskrit and Quichua words are given here to show their similarity and origin.

Quichua Sanskrit

A Hina (also) ena (also) Killa (moon) Kil (shining) Illapi (chant) lap (to speak) Paksa (fortnight) Paksha (fortnight)

The word 'Wara', a unit of measurement, was also used by the Maya people. They used to call Antyas Antis. Professor Hug Fox of Michigan State University found a strange mix of Tamil and local American languages in use some millennia ago. For example, Shasta, Indiana, Arevada, Utah, Guyana, etc. Mr. Arcio Nuns from the Federal University of Brazil found evidence of our Gorani language in the form of Bruhi language during his long research work conducted in South America. 'Gorani' language was practiced thousands of years before in Tamilnadu as per Arcio Nuns. This language is still used in the Adi-Chandlur tribal area of Tamilnadu and shows similarity to the Bruhi language being practiced in South America.

It is also believed that Quichua's (language of Peruvians) characteristic of mouth transmission is derived from Indians. Writing mathematical figures by using vertical and horizontal straight lines was a system commonly practiced by Indians and Mayas.

Shilpa:

Southern and Central American excavations revealed ancient cities, forts, bridges, tanks, canals, houses, and pyramids which indicated the high state of civilization, and what is found is that some sculptures of those archaeological remnants are similar in form and design to that found in Indian sculptural monuments. 'Supporting the buildings over the arms of Yaksha' is Indian art. Similar types of construction were found in ancient Mexico. Similarly, sculptures of human figures with headgear similar to Tamils, and sculptures of Indian-style ornamentation of elephants were found in Kopan (Honduras) and Palenque. Thousands of ancient baked-clay bricks were found in Comalcalco in Mexico over which Pali scripts were engraved and these were used in the construction of pyramid temples which were similar to the pyramid temple in the Chidambaram village situated on the Coromandel coast in Southern India. In an article written by scholar Ronald Shiller named 'Unsolved Mysteries of the Incas' (published in Reader's Digest in August 1982), he claims to have seen the imprints of South-East Asian culture over the sculptures found in Peru dating to the second century BC.

I hope my findings will help the scholars to study the influence of Indian culture over the Meso-American culture, so as to bring before the world the universality of great Vedic culture in the past.

Vedic Roots of Ancient America

Sushama Lodge

Baffling Links to Ancient India:

History is full of misnomers; one such term is the New World, as applied to the Americas. The landing of Columbus in 1492 undoubtedly created a new life on the continents, but it neither created nor discovered a new world. Many centuries ago Asian migrants had come to the western shore in substantial numbers. What if the popular idea that Tibetans and American Indians have much in common in terms of their spiritual culture is largely a result of another historical scenario?

What if Hindus and Hopis, Advaitins and Aztecs, Tibetan Monks and Mayans were part of one world culture - a spiritual one?

Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), an eminent European scholar and anthropologist, was one of the first to postulate the Asiatic origin of the Indian civilizations of the Americas. Swami B.V. Tripurari asks, " What mysterious psychological law would have caused Asians and Americans to both use the umbrella as a sign of royalty, to invent the same games, imagine similar cosmologies and attribute the same colors to the different directions?"

The first Maya Empire had been founded in Guatemala at about the beginning of the Christian era. Before the fall of Rome, the Mayas were charting accurately the synodical revolutions of Venus and whilst Europe was still lingering in the Dark Ages the Maya civilization had reached a peak of greatness.

It is significant that the zenith of Maya civilization was reached at a time when India had also attained an unparalleled cultural peak during the Gupta period. Indian cultural intercourse with Southeast Asia, the Gupta period, had begun more than a century before the Mayan classical age in 320, and Buddhism and Hinduism had been well known in neighboring countries for centuries. If there was contact between Mayan America and Indianized Southeast Asia, the simultaneous cultural advance would not appear surprising. In marked contrast, this was the darkest period in Europe's history between the sack of Rome and the rise of Charlemagne.

The most important development of the ancient American or Asiomerican culture took place in the south of the United States, in Mexico, in Central America, and in Peru. The early history of Asiomericans is shrouded in mystery and controversy due to the absence of definitive documentary evidence, which was destroyed by the European conquerors in their misguided religious zeal. [note: A well-known account of this history comes from Bartolome de las Casas.]

However, it appears that after the discovery of the introduction of maize into Mexico, Asiomericans no longer had to wander about in search of food. Men in America, as in other parts of the world, settled down to cultivate food and culture, a by-product of agricultural life, inevitably followed.

Of the Asiomerican civilizations, the best known are the Maya, the Toltec, the Aztec, and the Inca. The Mayas were possibly the earliest people to found a civilization there; they moved from the Mexican plateau into Guatemala. They were later pushed out, presumably by the Toltecs, who, in turn, were dislodged by the Aztecs.

Similarities:

Astrology

Baron Alexander Von Humboldt, whilst visiting Mexico, found similarities between Asian and Mexican astrology. He founded a systematic study of ancient American cultures and was convinced of the Asian origin of the American-Indian high civilization. He said:

"If languages supply but feeble evidence of ancient communication between the two worlds, their communication is fully proved by the cosmogonies, the monuments, the hieroglyphical characters, and the institutions of the people of America and Asia." In 1866, the French architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, also noted striking resemblances between ancient Mexican structures and those of South India.

Hindu-Mexican Trinity:

Scholars were also greatly impressed by the similarity between the Hindu Trinity - Brahma-Visnu-Shiva and the Mexican Trinity Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc as well as the likeness between Indian temples and American pyramids. The parallels between the Hindu Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trinity and the Mexican Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc Trinity and the resemblances between the attributes of certain Hindu deities and those of the Mayan pantheon are impressive. Discussing the diffusion of Indian religions to Mexico, a recent scholar Paul Kirchhoff has even suggested that it is not simply a question of miscellaneous influences wandering from one country to the other, but that China, India, Java, and Mexico actually share a common system."

Kirchhoff has sought "to demonstrate that a calendaric classification of 28 Hindu gods and their animals into twelve groups, subdivided into four blocks, within each of which we find a sequence of gods and animals representing Creation, Destruction, and Renovation, and which can be shown to have existed both in India and Java, must have been carried from the Old World to the New, since in Mexico we find calendaric lists of gods and animals that follow each other without interruption in the same order and with attributes and functions or meanings strikingly similar to those of the 12 Indian and Javanese groups of gods, showing the same four subdivisions."

E. B. Taylor also found the counterparts of the tortoise myth of India in ancient America.

Donald A. Mackenzie and other scholars, however, are of the definite opinion that the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians were familiar with Indian mythology and cite in support close parallels in details. For instance, the history of the Mayan elephant symbol cannot be traced in the local tradition, whereas it was a prominent religious symbol in India. The African elephant has larger ears. It is the profile of the Indian elephant, its tusk and lower lip, the form of its ear, as well as its turbaned rider with his ankus, which is found in Meso-American models. Whilst the African elephant was of little religious significance, it had been tamed in India and associated with religious practices since the early days.

The Mexican doctrine of the World's Ages - the universe was destroyed four consecutive times - is reminiscent of the Indian Yugas. Even the reputed colors of these mythical four ages, white, yellow, red, and black are identical to and in the same order as one of the two versions of the Indian Yugas. In both myths, the duration of the First Age is exactly the same, 4,800 divine years. The Mexican Trinity is associated with this doctrine as in the Hindu Trinity with the Yugas in India.

Later, two English scholars Channing Arnold and Frederick J. Tabor Frost, in their The American Egypt, made a detailed examination of the transpacific contacts, reinforcing the view of Buddhist influences on Central America. The most recent and by far the most systematic well-reasoned, and effective case has been advanced by the eminent archaeologist, R. Heine-Geldern and Gordon Ekholm, who favor Indian and Southeast Asian cultural influences on ancient America through migration across the Pacific.

According to the Mayan calendar, which is extant, the time record of the Mayas began on 6 August 613 B.C. It is an exact date based upon intricated astronomical calculations and prolonged observations. To work out this kind of elaborate calendar must have taken well over two thousand years of studying stars and the Asiomericans must have been remarkably shrewd observers.

Use of Zero

The Mayas of Yucatan were the first people besides the Indians to use a zero sign and represent number values by the position of basic symbols. The similarity between the Indian zero and the Mayan zero is indeed striking. As far as the logical principle is concerned, the two are identical, but the expressions of the principle are dissimilar. Again, whilst the Indian system of notation was decimal, as was the European, the Mayan was vigesimal. Consequently, their 100 stood for 400, 1000 stood for 8000, 1234 for 8864. While the place of zero in the respective systems of the Indians and Mayans is different, the underlying principle and method are the same and the common origin of the Mayan and Indian zeros appears to be undoubted. Disputes continue amongst scholars in the absence of conclusive evidence. As chronological evidence stands today, the Mayan zero appears to be anterior by several centuries to its Hindu counterpart.

Other similarities
In 1949, two scholars, Gordon Ekholm and Chaman Lal, systematically compared the Mayan, Aztec, Incan, and North American Indian civilizations with the Hindu-oriented countries of Southeast Asia and with India herself. According to them the emigrant cultures of India took with them India's system of time measurement, local gods, and customs. Ekholm and Lal found signs of Aryan civilization throughout the Americas in art (lotus flowers with knotted stems and half dragon/half fish motifs found commonly in paintings and carvings), architecture, calendars, astronomy, religious symbols, and even games such as our Parchessi and Mexican Patilli, which have their origins in India's pachisi.

Both the Hindus and Americans used similar items in their worship rituals. They both maintained the concept of four Yuga cycles, or cosmological seasons, extending over thousands of years, and conceived of twelve constellations with reference to the sun as indicated by the Incan sun calendar. Royal insignias, systems of government, and practice of religious dance and temple worship all showed remarkable similarities, pointing strongly to the idea that the Americas were strongly influenced by the Aryans. The theory is found in the Vedic literature of India. The ancient Puranas (literally "histories") and the Mahabharata make mention of the Americas as lands rich with gold and silver. Argentina, which means "related to silver", is thought to have been named after Arjuna (of silver hue).

Another scholar, Ramon Mena, author of Mexican Archeology, called the Nahuatl, Zapoteca, and Mayan languages "of Hindu origin." He went on to say, "A deep mystery enfolds the tribes that inhabited the state of Chiapas in the district named Palenque... their writing, and the anthropological type, as well as their personal adornments... their system and style of construction clearly indicate the remotest antiquity... (they) all speak of India and the Orient."

Still, another scholar, Ambassador Miles Poindexter, a former ambassador of the United States to Mexico, in his two-volume 1930s treatise The Arya-Incas, called the Mayan civilization "unquestionably Hindu." He proposed that primitive Aryan words and people came to America by the island chains of Polynesia. The Mexican name for the boat is a South Indian Tamil word, Catamaran, and Poindexter gives a long list of words from the Quichua languages and their analogous forms in Sanskrit. Similarities between the hymns of the Inca rulers of Peru and Vedic hymns have been pointed out. A. L. Krober has also found striking similarities between the structure of Indo-European and the Penutian language of some of the tribes along the northwestern coast of California. Recently, an Indian scholar, B. C. Chhabra, in his "Vestiges of Indian Culture in Hawaii", has noticed certain resemblances between the symbols found in the petroglyphs from the Hawaiian Islands and those on the Harappan seals. Some of the symbols in the petroglyphs are described as akin to the early Brahmi script.

Indeed, the parallels between the arts and culture of India and those of ancient America are too numerous and close to being attributed to independent growth. A variety of art forms are common to Mexico, India, Java, and Indochina, the most striking of which are the Teocallis, the pyramids with receding stages, faced with cut stone, and with stairways leading to a stone sanctuary on top. Many share surprisingly common features such as serpent columns and banisters, vaulted galleries and corbeled arches, attached columns, stone cut-out lattices, and Atlantean figures; these are typical of the Puuc style of Yucatan. Heine-Geldern and Ekholm point out that temple pyramids in Cambodia did not become important until the ninth and tenth centuries, a time coinciding with the beginning of the Puuc period.

Vedic Americas

Vrin Parker

The fact that a highly civilized race inhabited America long before the modern civilization of Europe made its appearance there, is quite clear from the striking remains of ancient and his refinement existing in the country. Extensive remains of cities which must have been once in a most flourishing condition, of strong and well-built fortresses, as well as the ruins of very ancient and magnificent buildings, roads, tanks, and canals that meet the eye over a very wide area of the southern continent of America, irresistibly force us to the conclusion that the country must have been inhabited at one time by a very highly civilized nation. But whence did this civilization spring?

The researches of European antiquarians trace it to India. Mr. Coleman says: "Baron Humboldt, the great German traveler, and scientist, describes the existence of Hindu remains still found in America."

Speaking of the social usages of the inhabitants of Peru, Mr. Pococke says: "The Peruvians and their ancestors, the Indians, are in this point of view at once seen to be the same people." The architecture of ancient America resembles the Hindu style of architecture. Mr. Hardy says: "The ancient edifices of Chichen in Central America bear a striking resemblance to the tops of India." Mr. Squire also says: "The Buddhist temples of Southern India and of the islands of the Indian archipelago, as described to us by the learned members of the Asiatic Society and the numerous writers on the religion and antiquities of the Hindus, correspond with great exactness in all their essential and in many of their minor features with those of Central America." Dr. Zerfii remarks: "We find the remarkable temples, fortresses and viaducts, aqueducts of the Aryan group."

A still more significant fact proves the Hindu origin of the civilization of ancient America. The mythology of ancient America furnishes sufficient grounds for the inference that it was a child of Hindu mythology. The following facts will elucidate the matter:

Americans worshiped Mother Earth as a mythological deity, as the Hindus still do - Dhatri mata and Prithvi mata are well known as familiar phrases in Hindustan.

Footprints of heroes and deities on rocks and hills were worshiped by the Americans as devoutly as they are done in India even at the present day. Mexicans are said to have worshiped the footprints of Quetzal Coatl and the Indians worship the footprints of Buddha in Ceylon and of Krishna in Gokula near Mathura.

The Solar and Lunar eclipses were looked upon in ancient America in the same light as in modern India. The Hindus beat drums and make noises by beating tin pots and other things. The Americans, too, raise a frightful howl and sound musical instruments. The Carecles (Americans) think that the demon Maleoyo, the hater of light, swallows the moon and sun in the same way as the Hindus think that the demons Rahu and Ketu devour the sun and the moon. The priests were represented in America with serpents round their heads, as Siva, Kali and others are represented by the Hindus.

Native Indian stories and traces of Vedic civilization

Notes by JanM, November 2000

General Vedic traces:

  • universe originally dark and empty except for water,
  • then a god creates earth, sun, stars, animals, and people
  • [cf. Brahma]
  • earth and sky originally as one, later separated
  • [cf. Dyaus & Prthvi]
  • in the beginning, there is often no sun, moon, stars or water; sometimes they are held captured by some envious beings. They must be tricked, usually by the Raven
  • [cf. Rg Veda story of Indra fighting Vrtra demon]
  • natural phenomena have personal forms
  • (e.g. Lightning and Thunder man)
  • devas on higher planets, personifying the planets, sometimes relating to humans, teaching them
  • the existence of the underworld [cf. Bila-svarga], human origin there according to Apache lore
  • shapeshifting of men and animals
  • animals originally man-like (talking, etc.), later they changed into their present forms
  • flood of the world as G/god's punishment for evil behavior of people, few good people saved by warning, being instructed to build a kind of makeshift watercraft or to escape on mountains or other safe places, they also took onboard various animals and plants and later became ancestors of present humans [cf. Manu]
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