Tibet ! Tibet !

 

Remembering The Heaven It Was …

Now trampled, exploited and displaced beyond repair.

With Occupation. Cultural Genocide. Brutality.

By Guns, monochromatically greedy Han Chinese …

Tibet

Tibetan People

Tibet Culture

Represents the best we have.

But now in other lands. Exiled.

Chinese In Tibet

Beauty Of The Quest

Cover of "Altai-Himalaya A Travel Diary"

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part X : INDIA (1924)

The Talmud relates that the dove brought the first olive branch to Noah from Mount Moriah. And Mount Moriah and the mountain Meru both lie in Asia. Here is the beginning of all things. Here is the source for all travelers and all searchers. Here is raised the first image of the Blessed Maitreya—Messiah—Muntazar, the Messiah now awaited by the Mohammedans. Thrice powerful M ! Here, above all disputes, the teachings have raised up the olive branch of the new world. Here is ordained the universal commune.

Some one voluntarily approached and touched our tent ! Who is this man, with his long black braid and a turquoise earring in his ear, and garbed in a white kaftan ? It is the Lama, Pema Don-dub, the local ikon painter. We ask, “Can you paint for us the Blessed Maitreya, exactly like the one in Tashi-lhunpo ?” He consents and now he sits on a tiny rug in the corner of the white gallery, and with various pigments, paints the Image full of symbols. He prepares the fabric for the painting and covers it with levkas (a mixture of chalk on glue), and irons it with a shell. He works exactly like Russian ikon painters. In the same way does he grind his colors, heat them on a coal pan; and thus does he keep an additional brush in his thick black hair. His Tibetan wife helps him to prepare his colors.

And so, in the corner of the white gallery is being conceived the ingenious image, many-colored. And each symbol upon it more clearly defines the Blessed One. Here is the frightful bird-like Garuda and wise Magi and Ganeshi, elephant of happiness, and Chintamani, the Steed, bearing on its back the miraculous stone, Treasure of the World. A sacred cycle of chosen symbols. And upon the image and the hands is laid pure gold.

Like our ikon painters, the artist lama chants hymns as he labors. The chants become more fervent; this means he is beginning upon the Image itself.

And another wonder occurs, only possible in this land. In the deep twilight when the waxing moon possesses all things, one hears through the house the silvery tones of a handmade flute. In the darkness, the artist lama is sitting upon his rug, playing with rapture before the image of Maitreya-Messiah-Muntazar.

The Strings of the Earth !

Talai-Pho-Brang.


Panoramic Kashmir

Panoramic Kashmir (Photo credit: NotMicroButSoft

PIR-PANZAL (1925)

Where have passed the hordes of the great Mongols ?

Where has the lost tribe of Israel concealed itself ?

Where stands the “Throne of Solomon” ?

Where lie the paths of Christ the Wan­derer ?

Where glow the bonfires of the Shamans, Bon-po, of the religion of demons ?

Where is Shalimar, the gardens of Jehangir ?

Where are the roads of Pamir, Lhasa, Khotan ?

Where is the mysterious cave, Amarnath ?

Where is the path of Alexander the Great to forgotten Taxila ?

Where are the walls of Akbar ?

Where did Ashvagosha teach ?

Where did Avan-tisvamin create ?

Where are the citadels of Chandragupta-Maurya ?

Where are the stones of wisdom of King Asoka ? . . .

All have passed by way of Kashmir. Here lie the ancient ways of Asia. And each caravan flashes by as a connecting link in the great body of the East. Here are the sandy deserts on the way to Peshawar; and the blue peaks of Sonamarg; and the white slopes of Zoji-La. And in the flight of the eagles is the same untiring spirit; in the fleet steed is the same unalterable motion. Nor does the world of roses and shawls of Kashmir resemble that forgotten and hidden world of Kashmiri blades.

Sacre du Printemps“— when we composed it together with Stravinsky, we could not conceive that Kashmir would greet us with its very setting. In Ghari, camping out by night, when the vivid spring sky became afire with stars and the mountains were azured, we observed rows of fires upon the mountains. The fires started into motion, separated and strangely circled about. Then the mountain slopes became aglow with these fiery processions. And in the village below, dark silhouettes began to whirl about brandishing resin torches on long staffs. The flaming circles proclaimed the end of winter frosts. And the songs proclaimed the Sacred Spring. This is the festival of the Ninth of March.

Bulbul,” the nightingale, sings on the apple tree. The cuckoo reckons out a long life. White linens are spread on the meadow and a samovar is boiling. Red and yellow apples and sweet cakes are passed around to those seated upon the spring grass. The eyes of the violets and the white and yellow narcissus are woven into a many-hued carpet. At evening, flocks of ducks and geese completely cover the tiny islands over the lakes. Small bears steal out on the spring glades. But none fears them—unless the mother-bear is with her cubs. . . .

The river banks are sloping. A line of boatsmen steer their canopied boats. . . . Upon a broad road the oxen drag themselves and the wheels grind along. Three-hundred-year-old plantains and tall poplars guard the ways. And the teeth of the encoun­tered travelers gleam often in the smile of greeting.

In the sheds lie the sleighs—veritable Moscow sleighs. In the yard, a crane screeches above the well. The straw roof is over­grown with green moss. Along the road are gnarled willow trees. And the greetings of the children are noisy. But where is this ? Is it in Schuya or Kolomna? It is in Srinagar, in the “City of the Sun.”

Tiny, big-bellied pillars—small ornamental designs—steep little steps of stone—the gilded roofs of the temple—creaking, orna­mented window-shutters—rusty locks—low little doors with their “curtesy”—carved balustrades—slanting tiles on stony floors—the odor of old lacquer—small windows with diminutive panes. Where are we then ? Is this the Kremlin of Rostov ? Are these the monasteries of Suzdal ? Are they the temples of Yaroslavl ? And what of the endless flocks of daws ? What of the naked branches behind the windows ? This is the chief palace of the Maharajah of Kashmir. How curious is everything which re­mains from antiquity. But the modern additions are hideous.

Upon the road are many Fords. In the hotel dining room one sees the faces of Americans. In the jewelry shop, side-by-side, hang two paintings—one of the view of Delhi, the other the view of the Moscow Kremlin. Among the crystals into which one gazes for destiny; among the sapphires of Kashmir and the Tibetan turquoises, are shimmering green Chinese jadaites—and like a garden, many-colored are the borders of the embroidered kaftans. Like precious shawls, the rooms of the museum are strewn with minute Iran-designs and “Gandhara,” belabored by destiny, unifies the cleft branches of West and East.

In the styles of the temples and mosques; in the angular carved dragons; in the tentlike, sloping hexagonal tower, is seen an unexpected combination of the old wooden churches of Norway and the Chinese pagodas. Out of one well is drawn the Roman­esque Chimera, the animal ornaments of Altai and the tiny animals of Chinese Turkestan and China. The Siberian paths of the nations have carried afar the same meaning of adornment.

The fort of Akbar stands firmly planted. But after you have climbed the steepnesses and flights, you may perceive that the old bricks and the claybeaten cement barely hold together. The arches are ready to give way.

Nishad, the garden of Akbar, occupies the site from the lake to the hill—a high place. The structures are modest and upon the corners are the little towers so beloved by him. They are characterized by simplicity and brightness.

Shalimar—the garden of Jehangir—is also in character with its possessor, standing “for itself.” There is less of outward show, but more of luxury—of that luxury which brought the descend­ants of the Moguls to poverty. The last Mogul, in Delhi, secretly sold furniture out of the palace and destroyed the valuable fac­ings of the walls of Shah Jehan and Aurungzeb. Thus ended the great dynasty.

The weaver of Kashmir accompanied the making of each of his designs with a special chant. Such a searching for rhythm reminds us of the great harmony of labor.

No song relates why the mountain “Throne of Solomon” bears this name. This is a place of such antiquity. Janaka, son of Asoka, had already dedicated here one of the first Buddhist temples. Seven centuries later the temple was rebuilt and con­secrated to Mahadeva. . . . But whence comes the name of Solomon? The mountain received the name of Solomon from a legend that Solomon, desiring a respite from the conventions of a sovereign’s life and from the burdens of his court, trans­ported himself upon a flying carpet to this mountain with his favorite wife. Here, again, we come upon the mention of that “flying apparatus” possessed by Solomon. A similar mountain is in Turkestan and in Persia.

It is not alone the mountain “Throne of Solomon” which transports the consciousness into biblical spheres. In the valley of Sindh the prophet Elijah is reverenced in a special manner. Most stirring are the legends; how the prophet sitting in his cave saves fishermen and travelers. Under various aspects, at times benevolent, at times stormy, the prophet appears to defend the works of justice and piety. Mohammedans and Hindus, divided by many differences, equally reverence the prophet Elijah.

Purple iris will always recall Moslem cemeteries. They are covered with these flowers. But there is also joy. The lilacs have blossomed, lilies of the valley are nodding and the wild cherry tree glistens.

Mount Moriah Cemetery Gate


Journal : June 20, 2013

It’s a depressing morning.

The colossal calamity due Nature’s fury in Uttarakhand is heart wrenching and the global despair I read in outpourings of minds aware dumps me in darkness. In the celestial underground, Sisyphus eyes the rock before starting to heave against it, in order to roll it back up to the top of the hill.

*  *  *

Bank of America- Funding Coal, killing Communities

‘We Were Told To Lie,’

Say Bank Of America Employees

http://fe.gd/yuH

“The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP),

which gave banks cash incentives to modify loans under certain standards,

was supposed to streamline the process and help up to 4 million struggling homeowners

(to date, active permanent modifications number about 870,000). In reality, Bank of America used it as a tool, say these former employees, to squeeze as much money as possible out of struggling borrowers before eventually foreclosing on them. Borrowers were supposed to make three trial payments before the loan modification became permanent; in actuality, many borrowers would make payments for a year or more, only to find themselves rejected for a permanent modification, and then owing the difference between the trial modification and their original payment.”

Six former employees and one contractor say Bank of America’s mortgage servicing unit consistently lied to homeowners, fraudulently denied loan modifications and offered bonuses to staff for intentionally pushing people into foreclosure.

The allegations were made in sworn statements added to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts.

Have we evolved as yet
to having severely punishing laws
against Corporate lies and fraudulent behaviour ?

*  *  *

Call 1098, if you have after-party food that is likely to be wasted !

It’s the Child Helpline in India. They will come and collect the food. It’ll nourish the starved and the half-hungry; and, perhaps, inform him of how the more advantaged in society, in his very own country, live it off.

*  *  *

How Money Makes You Lie and Cheat

http://fe.gd/yuM

The Rich Are Different :

More Money, Less Empathy

http://fe.gd/yuN

Capitalism channelises bothe the strengths and failures of humanity. Unfortunately, the strengths are few; failures more severe and far too many.

But humanity’s misfortune does not end there. It quadruples with capitalist success; for then, they have concentrated the resources and the means of Surround Propaganda, to beat the dead horse to wonderful tunes of intoxicating music !

*  *  *

In my country …

English: Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand

Kedarnath Temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several Thousands have been killed.

Hundreds of Thousands are stranded for days …

in Uttarakhand.

 ‘I watched my wife being swept away by the torrent’ …

Scores of entire villages have been washed away.

The venerated Kedarnath Temple site is back to how it was 500 years ago !

The catastrophe renders our political process so peurile.

The populist democracy has nothing in it to take up long-term interests of humanity.

Do we need an autocratic leadership then ? Yes, but in this very democratic and institutional set up.

English: Narendra Modi in Press Conference

Narendra Modi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We need a leader who strong and wise.

Which is why I regard Sudheendra Kulkarni’s eulogy for BJP‘s LK Advani,

his former boss and mentor, as trash;

his diatribe against Narendra Modi, the one leader I have come to trust for now,

is pure dickscum.

The fellow is making career out political brokering.

Then, there are these small minds who’ve begun their ‘aerial’ visits

and announcing a few ‘millions’ in assistance.

Typically Congressmen, who neither have the balls nor the intelligence

— a perfect mix for moral torpidity, corruption and debauchery.

It has taken the spine out of watchdog institutions,

the bureaucracy and a good part of judiciary.

The Congress leaders compare so vulgarly with the champions who’ve waded the ground with their personal presence, their hand and

RSS Flag

RSS Flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

provisions, medicines and relief. They are the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

the RSS, who are the first and completely engaged with any national calamity anywhere.

Am I ‘Sanghi’ ? They don’t even know that I exist.

Or a ‘BJP’wala ? The answer is the same. I’ve never been anywhere close to them anytime in my life.

All that I observe and assess draws my empathy and affiliation. It political, not politics.

Hell, I would not even exactly agree with the slogan : India First …

If it also does not mean : People First ! That’s where my entire concern is anchored.

the-log-hut-blog-header-009.jpg

Light, Beauty And Truth.

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part IX : INDIA (1924)

Cover of "Altai-Himalaya A Travel Diary"

In the twilight under the flowing stars, in the purple sheen of the mist, sounds the soft voice of the lama, telling his calm tale of the “King of the World,” of His power, of His action and wisdom, of His legions, in which each warrior shall be possessed of some extraordinary gift. And he tells of the dates of the new age of general well-being.

The tale is taken from an ancient Tibetan book, wherein, under symbolic names, are given the future movements of the Dalai-Lama and Tashi-Lama, which have already been fulfilled. There are described the special physical marks of rulers under whom the country shall fall during the reign of the monkeys. But afterwards the rule shall be regained and then will come Someone of greatness. His coming is calculated in twelve years —which will be in 1936.

When the time came for the Blessed Buddha to depart from this earth He was asked by four lords of Dharmapala to bequeath to mankind His image. The Blessed One consented and desig­nated the most worthy artist, but the artist could not take the exact measurements because his hand trembled when he ap­proached the Blessed One. Then said Buddha, “I shall stand near the water. Thou shalt take the measurements from my reflection.” And the artist was thus enabled to do so, and exe­cuted four images, modeled from a sacred alloy of seven metals. Two of these images are now in Lhasa and the remaining two are still hidden until the appointed time.

One Tibetan ruler married Chinese and Nepal princesses in order that through them he might attract to Tibet the two sacred images of Buddha.

Twelve hundred years after Buddha, the teacher Padma Sambhava brought closer to men the teachings of the Blessed One. At the birth of Padma Sambhava all the skies were aglow and the shepherds saw miraculous tokens. The eight-year-old Teacher was manifested to the world in the Lotus flower. Padma Sambhava did not die but departed to teach new countries. Had he not done so the world would be threatened with disaster.

In the cave Kandro Sampo, not far from Tashi-ding, near a certain hot spring, dwelt Padma Sambhava himself. A certain giant, thinking to penetrate across to Tibet, attempted to build a passage into the Sacred Land. The Blessed Teacher rose up and growing great in height struck the bold venturer. Thus was the giant destroyed. And now in the cave is the image of Padma Sambhava and behind it is a stone door. It is known that behind this door the Teacher hid sacred mysteries for the future. But the dates for their revelation have not yet come.

Wherefore do the giant trumpets in the Buddhist temples have so resonant a tone ? The ruler of Tibet decided to summon from India a learned lama, from the place where dwelt the Blessed One, in order to purify the fundamentals of the teaching. How to meet the guest ? The High Lama of Tibet, having had a vision, gave the design of a new trumpet so that the guest should be received with unprecedented sound; and the meeting was a wonderful one—not by the wealth of gold but by the grandeur of sound !

Why do the gongs in the temple ring out with such great volume ? And, as silver, resound the gongs and bells at dawn and evening, when the atmosphere is tense. Their sound re­minds one of the legend of the great Lama and the Chinese emperor. In order to test the knowledge and clairvoyance of the Lama, the emperor made for him a seat from sacred books and covering them with fabrics, invited the guest to sit down. The Lama made certain prayers and then sat down. The emperor demanded of him, “If your knowledge is so universal, how could you sit down on the sacred books ?” “There are no sacred volumes,” answered the Lama. And the astonished em­peror, instead of his sacred volumes, found only blank papers. The emperor thereupon gave to the Lama many gifts and bells of liquid chime. But the Lama ordered them to be thrown into the river, saying, “I will not be able to carry these. If they are necessary to me, the river will bring these gifts to my monastery.” And indeed the waters carried to him the bells, with their crystal chimes, clear as the waters of the river.

Talismans… A mother many times asked her son to bring to her a sacred relic of Buddha. But the youth forgot her request. She said to him, ‘I shall die here before your eyes if you will not bring it to me now.’ The son went to Lhasa and again forgot the mother’s request. A half day’s journey from his home, he recalled the promise. But where can one find sacred objects in the desert ? There is nought. But the traveler espies the skull of a dog. He decides to take out a tooth and folding it in yellow silk he brings it to the house. The old woman asks of him, ‘Have you forgotten again my last request, my son ?’ He then gives her the dog’s tooth wrapped in silk, saying, ‘This is the tooth of Buddha.’ And the mother puts the tooth into her shrine, and performs before it the most sacred rites, directing all her worship to her holy of holies. And the miracle is accomplished. The tooth begins to glow with pure rays and many miracles and sacred manifestations result from it.”

A man searched for twelve years for Maitreya-Buddha. No­where did he find him, and becoming angry, he rejected his faith. As he walked along his way he beheld one who with a horsehair was sawing an iron rod, repeating to himself, “If the whole of life is not enough yet will I saw this through.” Con­fusion fell upon him— “What mean my twelve years,” he said, “in the face of such persistence ? I will return to my search.” Thereupon Maitreya-Buddha himself appeared before the man and said, “Long already have I been with you but you did not see me, and you repulsed me and spat upon me. I will make a test. Go to the bazaar. I will be upon your shoulder.” The man went, aware that he carried Maitreya. But the men around him shrank from him, closing their noses and eyes. “Wherefore do you shrink from me, people ?” he asked. “What a fright you have on your shoulder—an ill-smelling dog full of boils!” they replied. Again the people did not see Maitreya-Buddha, for each beheld only what he was worthy of seeing.

The lama says, “There are three kinds of teaching—one for the stranger, one for our own, and the third for the initiated who can retain. Now through ignorance they slaughter animals, they drink wine, they have property and eat meat and live squalidly. Does religion permit all this ? Where is beauty, there is teaching; where is teaching, there is beauty.

The people here are sensitive. Your emotions and desires are transmitted so easily. Therefore know clearly what you desire. Otherwise instead of Buddha you shall behold the dog.

That which is hidden in the past is not of importance—that which in age-old books, copied and unfinished, lies covered with dust. For the new construction, that which now resolves itself into life is important. Not through library shelves but through the living word is measured the possibility of future structures.

Under Kinchenjunga are secreted the caves in which are rest­ing the treasures. In stone coffins the cave dwellers are praying, torturing themselves in the name of the future. But the sun has already defined the future; not in secret caves, but in full sunlight one perceives the worship and expectation of Maitreya-Buddha. It is now three years since the Tashi Lama solemnly and openly dedicated the great New Image in his Tashi-lhunpo. The intense, invisible work progresses.

The Tashi Lama is now on his way to Mongolia by way of China. Unprecedented through the ages is this event. Mystery ! Incidentally, it may be that through Sikhim passed only the ab­ducting detachment and the Lama himself moved on to Mon­golia.

On a sacred morning upon the mountain started to glow rows of fire—another mystery !

Just now the wave of attention is turned toward Tibet—behind the mountain rampart events are stirring, but Tibetan secrecy is great. Information is contradictory. Whither disappeared the Tashi Lama ? What military manoeuvers proceed on the Chinese border ? What transpires on the Mongolian line ? A year of events !

Sikhim is called the land of lightning. Of course, here also occurs lightning but is it not simpler to call it “the land of future steps” ? For it would be difficult to imagine a better threshold to the mysteries of the future than this unexplored, rarely pene­trated country of rocks and flowers.

As behind a tiny silver apple on a saucer, do the hills and steps of the Himalayas reveal themselves. Hundreds, perhaps more, are the monasteries in Sikhim, each crowning the top of a summit. A small temple in Chakong; a big suburgan and monastery in Rinchenpong. Upon the next mountain appears gleaming white Pemayangtse, still higher, Sanga Chöling. Tashi-ding is almost unseen. On the other side of the valley is Daling and opposite Robling and still nearer Namtse. For a distance of forty miles one may behold the monasteries, for we must not forget that here one sees extremely far.

And again before us is the wall to Tibet. And not the back­bone of the lizard but the snow-white girdle is outlined upon the peaks of this wall—the girdle of the earth. Let us point the arrow northward—there must be the base of Mount Meru.

English: I took this photo of the 110 ft (35 m...

110 ft (35 metre) Maitreya Buddha facing down the Shyok River, Nubra Valley near Diskit Monastery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Page From India’s Recent History …

English: Jawaharlal Nehru, circa 1927

Jawaharlal Nehru – An Epitome OfNaivete, Propaganda And Ineptitude

Essay adapted from Neville Maxwell‘s piece on Rediff online …

Source : http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/oct/08max1.htm

This one is about the lies propagated in respect of the 1962 Indo – China War.

After the 1962 war, the Indian Army commissioned Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat to study the debacle. Their report was never made public and lies buried in the government archives. But some experts have managed to piece together the contents of the report.

One such person is Neville Maxwell, who studied the 1962 war in depth and wrote “India’s China War” and “How The East Was Lost”.

Whilst the Indian government had good reason to keep the Henderson Brooks Report Top Secret in 1963, when it gave only the vaguest and largely misleading indications of its contents, declassifying the Army’s report is absolutely necessary today, for the truth to be out in public space. 

However we look at it, the Nehru Congress government’s effort at playing the duplicitous propaganda game was shameful, even though successful. It convinced the political public that the Chinese, with a sudden ‘unprovoked aggression,’ had caught India unawares in a sort of Himalayan Pearl Harbor. The Report’s cool and detailed analysis, if made public, would have shown that to be self-exculpatory mendacity.

But a series of studies in late 1960s, and through the 1990s, revealed to any serious enquirer the full story of how the Indian Army was ordered to challenge the Chinese military into a conflict it could only lose. Bureaucratic inertia, combined with the natural fading of public interest, could explain the continued non-publication of the Report, but for the fact that so many in India still cling to the soothing fantasy of a 1962 Chinese ‘aggression’ and the disgrace of the Nehru governement that had lied to the Indian public about his ineptitude and his completely avoidable misadventure !

The truth is that by early 1950s the Indian government of Nehru and his acolytes had shaped and adopted a policy whose implementation would make armed conflict with China not only “thinkable” but inevitable. The Sino-Indian borders had been left undefined by the departing British and territorial disputes with China were part of India’s inheritance. China’s other neighbours had settled their borders satisfactorily through the normal process of diplomatic negotiation with Beijing. But the Nehru government decided upon the opposite approach.

Nehru led India along a path whereby the country would, through its own research, determine the appropriate alignments of the Sino-Indian borders, extend its administration to make those good on the ground, and then refuse to negotiate the result. Barring the inconceivable — that Beijing would allow India to impose China’s borders unilaterally and annex territory at will — Nehru’s policy thus willed conflict without “foreseeing” it.

Expectedly, that policy generated friction along the borders and bred a steadily increased distrust, growing into hostility, between the neighbours. By 1958, Beijing was urgently calling for a standstill agreement to prevent patrol clashes and negotiations to agree on boundary alignments. India refused, believing it would be an impediment to intended advances and insisted that there was nothing to negotiate since the Sino-Indian borders are already settled on alignments claimed by India, through “blind” historical process.

Then began India’s accusations that China was committing ‘aggression’ by refusing to surrender to Indian claims. From 1961, India launched its attempt to establish an armed presence in all the territory it claimed, and to extrude the Chinese from there. Observing the Indian Army’s exertions, Beijing issued a series of warnings that the Chinese forces would have to hit back if India did not desist from its expansionist thrust.

Without heeding signs of the impending War, Nehru proclaimed India’s intention to “drive the Chinese out” of areas India claimed. That bravado had by then been forced upon him by public expectations that his charges of ‘Chinese aggression’ had aroused. Beijing naturally read in it a declaration of war. The unfortunate Indian troops on the frontline, under orders to sweep the superior Chinese forces out of their impregnable dominating positions, instantly appreciated the implications : ‘If Nehru had declared his intention to attack, then the Chinese were not going to wait to be attacked.’

On October 20, the Chinese launched a pre-emptive offensive all along the borders, overwhelming the feeble but, in this first instance, determined resistance of the Indian troops and advanced some distance in the eastern sector. On October 24, Beijing offered a ceasefire and Chinese withdrawal on the condition that India agree to open negotiations : Nehru refused the offer even before the text was officially received. Both sides built up over the next three weeks, and the Indians launched a local counterattack on November 15, arousing in India fresh expectations of total victory.

The Chinese then renewed their offensive. Now many units of the once crack Indian 4th Division dissolved into rout without giving battle and, by November 20, there was no organised Indian resistance anywhere in the disputed territories. On that day, Beijing announced a unilateral ceasefire and intention to withdraw its forces : Nehru, this time, tacitly accepted.

Naturally the Indian political public demanded to know what had brought about the shameful debacle suffered by their Army. On December 14, a new Army commander, Lieutenant General J N Chaudhuri, instituted an Operations Review for that purpose, assigning the task of enquiry to Lieutenant-General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat.

*  *  *

The report continues to be classified by the Indian Government . In April 2010, India’s Defence Minister A.K. Antony told Parliament that the Report could not be declassified because its contents “are not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value.”

The report is said to be openly critical of the Indian political and military structure of the time, as well as of the execution of operations.

In Feb 2008, MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar again requested that the Report be declassified in the interest of national security. It was declined by Minister A K Antony. A call was repeated by senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh on October 21, 2012. Silence … untill the truth will prevail.

The Indian government's 1954 maps unilaterally...

India Government’s 1954 map – unilaterally delimited the Sino-Indian border.

Yamunotri, By Default

Unable to head for the mountains, for reasons beyond me, I recall this saunter through Garhwal during the rains …

I am not a religious person, though not an atheist and certainly not an anti-theist. If I would have chosen to go to Yamunotri, it would have been for the Himalayan panoramas it offers, the testing journey that provide opportunities for my challenged perfection, and the culture the region particularly fosters.
On this day, the 28th of August 2011, I had not chosen to proceed towards Yamunotri. My general desire was to visit the ” Kaurav County ” in the northwest-most region of Uttarkashi district, including Netwar and Mori in Tons Valley along the route to Har-ki-Dun in the middle of Govind Wild Life National Park, up northwest of Mori.
Mori is a sleepy hamlet of amazing scenic beauty, surrounded by greenish and yellowish paddy fields at this time of the year, on the banks of Tons River. The place lies in a region that has a uniquely Vedic culture and a history that local folks trace back to Kauravas and Pandavas, the royal warriors and kings in the epic age of Mahabharata. It was said that if one had to learn Sanskrit and true Vedic practices, in their detail, there was no better place to go to than this region in Uttarkashi.
Mori seemed to be a perfect vacation retreat to me, with its seclusion and high mountain solitudes. It had the tallest pine trees that thickly populate its forests. A primary curiosity of mine was this ancient historic temple dedicated to Duryodhana, who is generally reviled in the epic and by people in the rest of the country. In Netwar, 11 km up ahead, there is a temple with Karna as the local deity, another character from the epic who is better regarded but still an anti – hero compared to the Pandavas, the ultimate victors who had the support of Krishna. And, the villagers follow a tradition that includes polygamy !
The cultural diversity of the region then seemed fascinating to me… full of legendary temples, architecture, mythology and that ancient culture that still seemed alive to me in its texts. And thus I rolled out for Kaurav County that early morning before dawn, covering the potholed roads onto the tolled highway of recent construct. I noticed the morning sun when I had to stop for relief some distance before Muzaffarnagar.
That’s also when I was charmed by the paddy and sugarcane fields all around.
There was nothing exciting on the way up through Haridwar on to the bypass at the left, before the ancient town and world’s famed yoga capital of Rishikesh, that passes through THDC Colony and meets the National Highway 94, gaining about 700 m in height at Narendranagar. Unawares, I had given up the option of passing over the hanging bridge called Laxman Jhula and of visiting the Vashisht Ashram and Cave, located about 25 km away on the way to Devprayag.
The Greens …

It had gotten exciting, the drive pleasurably demanding, mountain sides intimately pleasing and views… clouds rubbing against the hill sides and the tops … and the houses yonder !

The road remained undulating but gradual, by and large. It wasn’t in the best of shape. The entire region seemed to be terribly neglected in terms of infrastructure. Frequently, there would stretches without metal top on the roads. People were generally disadvantaged with little work opportunity, and seemed severely depressed economically.

But, if anything, the Himalayas represent a continuity. There’s a cultural togetherness and homogeneity that shared beliefs inculcate in people’s outlook… to each other, to other beings, their animals, trees and vegetation, the mountains, temples, river and streams. There were enough of water lines, thick and thin, flowing down the mountain slopes.

The altitudes… 1000 m at Narendranagar… 1200 m at Hindolakhal Village… over a hump of 1600 m before Agrakhal at 1400 m… down to 800 m after Jajal… up again through 1200 m, Mohanchatti, to 1400 m, 1600 m, and 1676 m at Chamba, where I called it a day.
Chamba is situated at the junction of roads converging from Mussoorie, Rishikesh, Tehri Dam/ Lake and New Tehri. It  is a beautiful town, in the heart of Tehri district. Chamba is well-connected and just 60 km from Mussoorie. For travellers from Delhi, Chamba is an ideal interlude on the way up to Gangotri, Yamunotri and north-western parts of Uttarkashi.Some places of interest nearby are Dhanaulti, Surkanda Devi Temple, Ranichauri, and Kanatal, midway through Chamba-Dhanaulti road.

It was still cloudy when I click started the next day. I was heading for Barethi, Dharasu, on to Barkot, Naugaon and Purola, where I intended to halt. It was to be my base for forays into the Kaurav County of Netwar and Mori and, perhaps, the closest I could drive up to Har-ki-Dun. It turned out to be a wrong choice… due to landslides and road construction projects ! On hindsight, I should have taken the left branch off from NH-94 at Chamba, through Dhanaulti – NH 123 – Nainbagh – Kuwa – Naugaon – Purola.

Barely 10 km up Chamba, the National Highway 94 comes close to the bank of the Tehri Dam Reservoir on Bhagirathi River, down at 800 m altitude above sea level, and remains almost parallel right up to Dharasu at 1200 m. A little ahead, the highway forks into NH – 94 on the left and NH – 108 on the right, which continues to run along with the River Bhagirathi to Uttarkashi.

I took to the NH – 94 from Chamba. At Barethi too, I had the option to take a left branch – off to NH – 123 and on to Naugaon. But I was not aware of it and, frankly, felt no need to review my travel plan just then, even though the indications were there of roads being blocked or under construction. So on I continued towards Dharasu, rising up to 2200 m through some of the worst stretches, holdups, soft soil and treacherous mud… down to 1400 m at a sharp bend from where a branch – off to left went to Barkot barely 2 km away.

The place at the neck of that sharp bend, identified from a small signboard, was called Dobatta. The entire area was in a mess, with construction work. I stopped to look about. To my left, I could see school children crossing over a stretch of road paved with large boulders. There was a trekker jeep waiting about 50 m away, beyond the rough un-motorable stretch, to transport the public and the school children. I could only ” sigh ” and resume my way on the main to Yamunotri… to let the disappointment pass.

The road up from Dobatta ( Barkot, 1280 m ) remained difficult and neglected in patches… gaining altitude through Gangani to Sayanachatti ( 2135 m ), where a young man flagged my car. I stopped, curious, when he suggested that I stay the day at his place ! It was drizzling. The landslides and road conditions on the way had been tiring to negotiate. I dropped anchor at his rather basic ‘ hotel.’

The lodge had no food preparation facilities. There was a ‘ dhaba ‘ down the way I’d come, where I could have a simple fare. It was too early for a meal right then and I did not want to step out in the evening when I might be hungry. So, the only alternate was for me to buy something now that I could retain for later.

I went out for a stroll. The place had few houses, mostly villagers from far away who had built by the roadside to participate in the commerce that tourists to Yamunotri bring in. There was a tea stall where a few people sat gossiping… smoking, browsing through the newspaper, sipping tea or simply gazing. I joined them… had a no-sugar tea, made to order. There was sadness on the faces and reeked of depression when people spoke.

The tea stall did not have the eggs I was looking for. Almost the whole of Uttarkashi is supposed to be a sacred zone and non-vegetarian preparations were generally barred from local cuisine. Someone suggested I try a smaller stall across the road. I did find the eggs there and a couple of buns for my evening meal.

Back at the hotel, I tried calling up home but there was no network. I was told only the Govt owned telecom company had it here ! The gray evening passed into a dark night.

Next morning, I started off with a washed car… not toward Yamunotri but return to Chamba, where about I intended to stay overnight before starting for the home leg. Alas, traffic was held up barely a few miles down, due to landslide. The bulldozer came after 3 hours ! Tour operators found it convenient to handout lunch cooked for the tourists they were carrying. And travellers had their wash in the mountainside stream flowing half a furlong up.

The mess cleared up around 1 PM. I spent those 4 hours chatting up occassionally, listening to music most of the time, and gazing at a mule pair grazing in front of me !

On my way back, I followed the Yamuna River until Dobatta ( Barkot ).About 10 – 15 km before Chamba,  I stopped at a ‘ Guest House ‘ that I later discovered was a poor, dilapidated homestay run by a father – son duo. However, the lady of the house had cooked some wonderful chicken curry. But I did take the precaution of calling up the local Police Station and informing them of my stay there !
The next day, I made it home, by late afternoon.

Alternate Destinations. Authentic Experiences…

English: Draupadi and Pandavas

English: Draupadi and Pandavas

Journal : Legend And Conjuration

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part VIII : INDIA (1924)

Are the inhabitants of Sikhim poor ?

Where there are no riches there is no poverty. The people are living simply.

Upon the hills, amidst blossoming trees, stand the quiet little houses. Through the colored branches shine the bright stars and glimmer the snow-covered peaks. Here are people carrying their vege­tables; here, they pasture their cattle and smile kindly. Here, with fairylike music they walk along the steep paths in wedding processions. Knowing of reincarnation they quietly cremate the bodies. And they are singing. Mark, they are often singing.

Verily, one can sing under a canopy of various flowers and plants. Orchids, like colorful eyes, cling to the trunks of the giant trees. Pink, purple and yellow bouquets are strewn along the way like bright sparks. And these are not simply plants; many have their ancient powers of healing.

Nature awaits here full of gifts. Come hither and be cured. Charura, Parura, Orrura are the three important curative fruits against cough, cold and fever. Charura is like a yellow cherry; Parura like a green chestnut and Orrura like a yellowish-green crab-apple. All three are sharp to the taste and full of tannin. Here is the red bark of Aku Ombo, to cure wounds. Salve against fever is Sergi Phurba, like a dry giant bean. Chuta, the dry bitter root, will cure swelling and heal the throat. Bassack is a brown powder for colds. The red-stemmed Tze produces magenta; bitter Purma is for incenses. A broth from the roots of Berekuro is effective for women’s ailments. The flowers of Dangero heal the stomach, much like the flower of the red rhodo­dendron; while the leaf of Dysro is a disinfectant for wounds. Memshing Pati is a sacred plant in Nepal, where it is used for head ornaments at festivals. Endless are the useful plants…

The leaves of the herb Ava Duti are said “to soften” stones, just as do the “snow-frogs” * in the Himalayas. Therefore, if upon a stone you see the print of an elk’s foot or the paw of an animal, it seems they have eaten or touched this wondrous herb. Turning again to legends : near Phalut, on the road to Kanchenjunga, grows a precious plant, the black aconite. Its flower lights up at night, and by its glow one locates this rare plant. Here again is the trace of the legend of the Russian fire flower, that enchanted blossom which fulfills all wishes— and which leads us not to superstition but to that same source wherein so much still lies concealed.

* Snow-frogs”—a legend which attributes to snow-frogs the ability to soften stones.

Before our gates was found a strange gift. The branches of a fir tree, rhododendron and some other plants were there, with their leaves pointing to our house, and covered with a flat stone. This is a conjuration (Sunnium) and the man who raises this offering receives upon himself all which is sworn upon it, whether of good or evil, sickness or sorrow, or joy. For many days it lay there and even horses shied at it. The same conjuration we observed in the suburb of Jaipur; there in the middle of a street, in a flat basket, lay a lamb’s liver, flowers and three silver rupees. None touched them. These conjurations are of very ancient origin.

Everywhere are legends of the accidental discoveries of sacred spots, the revelation of which was followed by dumbness and even death. Thus it is told that one Shikari (a hunter) in Assam, accidentally wandered into a sacred place and beheld its mys­teries, and when he attempted to reveal them he was stricken dumb.

On the shore of the sea is moving a stick. It moves on alone and near the top of it is tied a lighted tinder. Thus do the conjurers of the coast of Malabar invoke their conjurations to burn the house of an enemy. Doctor Jones of Calcutta tried to overtake such a stick but it “walked away” beyond his own pace.

A legend from around Mongolia : “A venerated mother died and her son was desirous that a high lama possessed of exalted powers should perform the services over her. But such a lama could not be found. The son at the moment of death deposited the spirit of the departing one into a sandalwood casket, strongly sealed this sanctuary and himself invited the best lamas from Tibet. The lamas concentrated upon the casket; one of them be­gan to change in countenance, first becoming red, then blue from exertion. Then suddenly the casket burst into splinters before the eyes of all. This lama was able to free the spirit and thus could perform the service.”

The people here know everything; they have heard everything. One can remember and disclose all things in the twilight : of “Nam-Yg” (heavenly letters)—the letters and sacred books which are falling from heaven; of rings of silver or turquoise which change their color as a sign of foreboding and warning; of Si, the stone bead, sent from heaven to guard the health; of the finding of objects which disappear afterward. All this is known.

A woman was very pious and dreamt that she might receive the image of Buddha. Working in the morning amid her flowers she discovered an image and brought it into her shrine. But soon she forgot it and Buddha disappeared from the shrine. Next time the woman found in her garden a whirling sparkling stone and put it into a coffer and forgot it. Then the stone disappeared. Neglect always results in the disappearance of the bestowed happiness.

Do not record the things which can be read in books but those which are related to you in person; for those thoughts are the living ones. Not by the book but by the thought shall you judge life.

Understand the sparks of the primordial bliss.

Journal : Integrated People

ALTAI-HIMALAYA
A Travel Diary
By Nicholas Roerich
[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part VII : INDIA (1924)
In the first full moon after New Year, which fell this year on the twentieth of February, there was the annual festival in Tashi-ding. The miracle of the self-filling chalice occurs at the time.

Since ancient days—more than eight generations ago—this miracle has been ordained. From a designated spot in the mountain river a small vessel of water is drawn and poured into an ancient wooden chalice. In the presence of witnesses, representatives of the Maharajah of Sikkim, the chalice is closed and hermetically sealed. A year later at sunrise during the same full moon, the chalice is unsealed amidst due ceremony and the quantity of water is measured. Sometimes the water has diminished but sometimes it has increased considerably. In the year of the great war the water tripled in quantity, which meant war. Now the water has diminished by half, which means famine and disorder.

This evil omen has been intensified by another sign. On February twentieth there occurred a complete eclipse of the moon. Never has there been so evil a sign.

The trumpets sound, the whistles shriek, the people in cos­tumes, as though from the “Snowmaiden,” proceed to the great stupa. The choir, singing, winds its way around the crowds. (extra space below – no indent)
Many prostrate themselves. The drums of the lamas resound­ingly thunder. At this moment darkness falls athwart the clear moonlight ! The golden fires of offerings gleam out as though against black velvet. Occurs a complete eclipse ! The demon Rahu has stolen the moon ! Never was it so until this day of miracle in Tashi-ding.

Said Asura Rahu to the sun : “Because thou hast carried away Razayana by deceit, I shall swallow thee, god of sun, at that time when, on the thirtieth day, you will unite the knots of the orbit!” And further Rahu pronounced a prophetic threat : “In penalty that thou, moon, although recognizing me, commanded that I be cut asunder, I shall seize thee and devour thee on the date of the fifteenth, during the time of the full moon!” And attentively the people are watching the eclipse of the moon and sun and beat upon the drums and threaten Rahu.

But there was also one good omen. At sunrise the head lama beheld garlands of fire starting to glow upon the peaks of the mountains.

When the moon was restored to the world, the dancing com­menced around the main stupa, a typical Russian round. The songs are also like the Russian; their import is spiritual. “In a monastery dwells our Lord Buddha. We bring to him our offering”—so begins one song; or “Mighty is the sacred book but I shall find a spot for it close to my heart” or, “I recollect the sacred monastery.”

In a white kaftan the artist who decorated the local temple approaches. We have arranged for him to go with us to paint the Blessed Maitreya. He will demonstrate the technique of the local painting.

Red, yellow, white, purple kaftans; women’s sleeves of crim­son, green and white. Peaked hats, fur-edged. The people talk, sing, and for two nights walk around the stupa.

They are touching their foreheads to the stone upon which the teacher, Padma Sambhava gave his benediction of the site. They walk around another stone bearing the imprint of the teacher’s foot and the imprint of hoofs and paws of beasts. And again the chorus marches around the stupa, singing of the fulfillment of all desires.

Entering the temple, you walk along your left up to the wall of the altar. Within the temples of the Yellow Sect, in the center of the altar wall, is the statue of Buddha. Or now, perhaps Maitreya-Buddha is at the right. Sometimes the lower temple is dedicated to Padma Sambhava and the upper one to Buddha. These positions are closely related to the inner meanings of the teachings : Buddha represents heaven; Padma Sambhava the earth. Upon the side niches are images of Avalokiteshvara— a spiritual conclave of brotherhood, many-headed and many-armed, like our Russian Hundred-Armed One. There are also statues of the “Keepers of Lightning,” of the founders of Mon­asteries and of sixteen Arhats, sitting in carved caves. Upon the altar are lamps and various offerings, seven chalices with water, a saucer of rice, censers with incense, a shrine with relics.

The walls are generally covered with frescoes, especially one wall, that of the altar. At the entrance stand the images of the guardians of the four hemispheres. In every temple will be found an image of the seven treasures vouchsafed to humanity; among them on a white horse is the image of the miraculous stone.

In a special compartment are kept the sacred books. The common dream of the monasteries is to increase the number of books; but books are expensive—a sacred volume costs up to a thousand rupees.

Especially touching is the service of the thousand lights, in the evening, here in the low frescoed temple, with its columns and ornamented beams. In the center is a long table on which fires are set; along the walls also stand rows of lights, and this sea of fires caressingly undulates and sways, wrapped in a veil of smoke from the sandalwood, wild mint and other fragrances, which are consumed in the urns. During this service the singing, too, is of exquisite harmony.

Along all paths, the caravans of the pilgrims wind their way. High saddles are covered with bright fabrics. Wild white ponies are bearing the bulging-bellied luggage. There are crowds of pilgrims seeking a resting place for the night. Here and there are a few banners raised in memory of the living and oftener for the dead. A crowd up to 1,200 collects together—but a peaceful, good crowd.

At early dawn, long before sunrise, when the snows on the mountain are still soft amber, the camp begins to stir. The drone of life creeps along and broadens; the cadence of early prayer mingles with the stamping of horses and mules.

In the morning, a procession makes its way toward our tents. The head lama himself proclaims the bringing of gifts. After him follow high uplifted trays with rice, with the ribs of a ram, with sugar-cane, with ale and fruit. The lama himself makes the offering to our traveling kitchen.

Amidst the stupas are spread the tents of the pilgrims. Here under a green canopy are sitting lamas from Tibet. Women are turning for them the lengthy pages of the prayer book. The lamas are intoning Tantrik songs, to the sounds of hand drums and gongs. Where is Stravinsky, Stokovsky, Prokofieff, where Zavadsky, to portray the powerful modes of these stirring calls ? And how fine is the white-gold face of her who turns the pages before the singers.

Not far off, a group from Nepal are clapping hands in rhythmic beat and chanting. In the center, a woman, with features un­moved, ecstatically dances the Sherpa Dance, full of the fine gestures of conjuration. Sometimes she moves her hands in a fluttering motion like a bird and utters a weird birdlike call. It is indeed striking.

There the wanderers from Bhutan are praying under a red canopy. Before the distribution of the healing waters, a sacred procession walks around the stupas. In the front are trumpeters in high red hats; after them the lamas in tiaras, and behind are borne a long row of sacred books.

At sunset, within the tent, the head lama quietly speaks of the sanctuaries of Sikhim. He relates the “miracles” which he has heard, or has himself seen; of the buzzing of swarms of invisible bees; of the singing and celestial music; of the appari­tions of sacred images. At our departure the lama pointed out two gracious omens. Upon our way, coming to meet us, were three brimming bamboo water-pails carried by water carriers and two woodsmen with full fagots of wood.

* *
Tashi-ding is one of Sikhim’s prominent sites and belongs to the parish of a great monastery, Pemayangtse, and is a day’s travel away. It is also on the peak, standing like a bulwark. It has been newly rebuilt. Its renovation has been done with such sensitiveness that even the most recent painting gives you joy by its fine and ingenious decoration. And the carvings on the casements are fairylike. And the tall heavy doorways lead you into the wooden temples of Russia. Dignified are the head lamas with their festive purple garments and with their impres­sive red tiaras adorning their heads. Nevertheless one recalls with most pleasure the eighty-year-old abbot of Tashi-ding, ever zealous and careful to improve his structure, with his economical eye penetrating everywhere.

Behind the gates of Pemayangtse are standing as guardians three-hundred-year-old ancient trees—like the fairy forest of Berendey. A tiny street of the lamas’ homes is like the suburb of Berendey, painted and ornamented with its many-colored porches and stairways.

Here is “Heaven’s Sacred Mountain” and upon its peaks shines a small mountain lake. There is also a small temple erected on the spot where the founder of the Red Sect in Sikhim lived. From Dubdi, the founder passed to the Sacred Lake and thence into the ancient Sanga Chöling.

The four most ancient monasteries of Sikhim are Dubdi, Sanga Chöling, Daling and Robling. And the meanings of their names are noble ones : “Palace of Meditation,” “Island of Secret Teach­ing,” “Island of Lightning” and “Island of Happy Striving.”

An excellent monastery is Sanga Chöling; nor do we forget Daling with its blue-white, porcelain-like entrance amidst a bam­boo grove. Here at the altar is preciously kept a sealed box con­taining relics of the founder of the monastery. There are ban­ners—gold on a black background. In Sanga Chöling there are no relics, but there lies a stone made sacred by the blessing of the founder; when the life in the monastery is undefined the stone is firm, but each besmirching of life makes the stone crack.

Here are those tiny doors, beloved to me in Novgorod and Yaroslavl. Here is beautiful fresco painting. Here are the polychrome ornaments entwining all casements of the windows and doors. Here are the same rounded backs of pilgrims devoted to the faith, and the fires of dedicated offerings. Our coolies are also lighting a fire—a true widow’s mite. And above them adamantly rises “the Keeper of Lightning.”

Although the teacher, Padma Sambhava, was never in Pemayangtse, yet in the monastery are kept the things which belonged to this founder of the religion. The things are kept sealed but on some occasions are shown; a garment, headdress, beads, tiny bells of a wondrous chime, two magic daggers and a small exquisite image of Buddha.

And the trumpets sound more thunderous in Pemayangtse and the dragon guardians seem more terrifying and the influence of the monastery is greater. The ruins of the palace of the Maha­rajah are near. According to the biblical custom the first Maharajah was chosen to reign by the head of the religion. But there is no figure of Maitreya in the big monastery.

A few solitary temples with a single fire before them, sur­rounded by peach and rose flowers and intertwining orchids and wild peonies, indicate closer the path of simple attainment of the Teaching.

Out of the forest walks a peasant and his head is adorned with white flowers. Where is this possible? Only in Sikkim.

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part VI : INDIA (1924)

Before the New Year, the evil entities are destroyed by con­jurations and dances. In the Dance of the Stags, the effigy of the evil entity is hacked and its parts strewn around. In the midst of the circle proudly walks the Guardian of the Teaching, brandishing his sword — while black-headed lamas whirl around, swirling the wings of their broad sleeves. Musicians in high yellow hats are coming to the fore, like Berendeys in “Snow-maiden.” And above the ornamented cornices of the temple the eagles wheel, while from the turrets of the hill the assembled crowds stand out in colorful relief.

The dances themselves on the New Year’s day acquire signifi­cance, with their frightful symbols of evil entities. How far removed is the impression made by these awe-inspiring masks, against the sunny background of the Himalayas, from the oppres­sive dark corners of Museums where these examples are so often collected, frightening the visitor by the apparition of a conven­tional hell! Of course, this hell is invoked only for the terrifying of the weakly developed souls, and much fantasy is devoted to the intensifying of these hellish countenances.

In the monastery of the Red Caps the impression is not so luminous. In the Red Monasteries of Padma Sambhava, this symbolization is more physically conventional. The play starts with a simple “mystery” of the judgment over the dead. The chief lord of hell approaches with his assistants. The beast-like servitors drag forward the black soul of a dead murderer. They weigh out his crimes. The chalice of his sins weighs down the balance, and the murderer is thereupon thrust into a seething caldron. The same occurs to the soul of a female sinner.

But then there is summoned forth a saint in the vestments of a lama. He is adorned in a white scarf. Of course, the court must be just, so three messengers of joy lead the exalted one into paradise !

Fifteen years ago there died a remarkable lama who came from Mongolia. We saw his image — resembling the type of Russian ascetic. A powerful visage, unconquerably hard are the cheek bones; the eyes are piercing. “During the departure of this strong spirit, a rainbow shone over the monastery founded by him.”

The lama possessed rare books — and it is very difficult to obtain rare books. One must send a trusted person into remote districts. Remarkable books exist; there is the book of one Tashi-Lama, concerning his visit to sacred Shambhala. There are collections of symbolic parables. There is a treatise on the transmigration of souls. They are not translated.

The teachings brought from Shambhala often find their way into the works of European scientists. For instance, in the ceme­tery of Darjeeling is buried an enigmatic man, Hungarian by birth, who lived at the end of the eighteenth century. He came walking from Hungary to Tibet, remaining many years in un­known monasteries. In the thirties of the last century, Csoma de Körös, as he was called, died. In his works he pointed out the teachings from Shambhala, designating the next hierarchy to succeed Buddha. It is very characteristic that this savant came here from Hungary. His activity was entirely enigmatic.

One more spark about Shambhala. A very well known Tashi-Lama often fell into an ecstasy during his talks with his pupils. Sometimes he seemed to disappear altogether, being transported into the sanctuary, Shambhala. These ecstasies vividly transport one to the discourses of the time of Saint John de la Croix with Saint Theresa, when both blessed conversationalists in exultation were raised to the ceiling of the room.

Remembering exalted occurrences, one also recalls the sparks of indignation. “A slanderer once approached Buddha, but the Blessed One was so indignant, that a spark of lightning struck the offender. Of course, the Blessed One arrested the counter­-blow and revived the defamer, but the latter had been so shocked that he forgot his plan of attack. The sparks of the counter-­blow !”

“The case is also told that Sengchen Lama, before his execu­tion in Lhasa, pointed out that he would soon reincarnate again on earth. And truly very soon in Chinese Turkestan was born a boy with the same rare and characteristic physical defect on his knee, which distinguished the late Lama. Now this Mongolian prince is more than twenty years of age. At present in our service is the son of the servant of the late Lama, and he was wont to travel on the errands of his father to the young prince.”

Whoever is acquainted with riding horseback in Caucasia or in the Arizona and Colorado canyons, will know how to climb the steeps of the hills of Sikhim. Only, instead of the colorful tragedy of American wonders, here you behold an ascending garden cultivated by the mysterious rise of exalted teaching. And in its unknown caves sit hermits, who upon the strings of earth are composing the legend of celestial life.

He who has known the approaches to the old monasteries and ancient town sites in Russia with their blossoming hills and fragrant pine groves, will understand the feeling on the approach to the monasteries of Sikhim. I always repeat that if you want to see a beautiful spot, ask the inhabitants of a town to point out the most ancient site. These people of times immemorial knew how to select the most beautiful places.

Every mountain summit is crowned by a beautiful mendong (in the glossary it is spelled mendang), with its wheels of life, its prayers carved in relief and with its niches for seats from which you behold the image of the far-off distances. Here lamas and travelers are meditating. Here ban­ners are fluttering. Here each rider will slow down his horse.

From the mountain summit, you plunge again into the receding hills. The ribs of the checkered hillocks also disappear, like the backs of panthers, tigers and wolves.

After the hills, again the fairy-tales of the forest. Green gnomes and monsters impede the way. The verdant webs intertwine. The snakes wind themselves around the trunks. The moss-like tigers and leopards here are lurking. An enchanted world this !

The most fantastic hills and rocks form themselves into a seem­ing Sacred Chalice — a vast valley. In the center of the valley stands the unapproachable mountain of the White Stone, girded by two rivers. It is crowned by the Monastery Tashi-ding, which means “Valley open to Heaven.” An ancient place this. Try to search the endless wrinkles and cavities of its rocks. Try to unearth the treasures collected by the monastery — the miraculous stone, fulfillment of all wishes; the immortal Amritha and a hundred images of Buddha; as well as all the sacred books tem­porarily hidden; and all else spoken of in the ancient manuscript, “The Voyage through Sikhim.”

The approaches to Tashi-ding are very difficult. Only recently have the impossible trails been transformed into steep footpaths. Verily, the path of the spirit must be traversed by human feet !

One crossing on the suspended bamboo bridge is especially hazardous. Below, the mountain river rushes and roars, bearing down the icy current from Kanchenjunga. And above the bridge, on the steep slope, you pause many times : Shall I at last arrive ? One must hold one’s breath to conquer this age-old mountain.

Upon the upper slope, an honorary reception arranged for us by the land owners. Ale, sugar-cane and tangerines await us under the canopy of rushes, adorned with their yellow garlands. Farther off resound the reverberant drums and silver gongs.

The reception of the monastery. On the last slope we are met by the pipers and trumpeters.

Amidst the rows of a colorful crowd you reach the ancient place. Behind the gates of the monastery, in purple garments, the lamas receive you. In the front row a venerable old man, head lama of the monastery, stands like a delicately carved image of the fifteenth century. Thus you walk up to the spreading turquoise tents in the midst of a forest of stupas and amidst many-colored banners, amidst the sparkling rows of fires.

Journal : Spirit In The Eye

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

 

Part V : INDIA (1924)

The motley figures of hell are being trampled down by the powerful feet of the White Guards. Red and green “guardians of the entrances,” many-armed and with horrible grins, are threatening the violators. In explosive gasps flare up the gold tongues of the primeval flame. The misty aureoles of lights are glowing. . . .

With cold respect or else with a clerical sense of the scientific, do we examine the Tibetan and Nepal banner-paintings in the British Museum, the Musée Guimet in Paris, or the Field Museum in Chicago. But in a completely different attitude do we ap­proach the same paintings on this site, and they speak to you quite differently. Every gesture of Buddha’s hand is of vital meaning for the local world. The good and evil entities with their endless symbols are transformed from ornaments into a living epos. The images are enfolded in a stirring harmony of tones. The finest of these are of ancient work although the new paintings are also at times excellent. 

Let us predict for these images a great future—just as twenty years ago the future importance of the old Russian ikons was predicted. Merited attention has been given to the Chinese and Japanese art. An elaborate literature has expressed this free art concisely. But after a study of classic Egypt, after the subtlety of Japan, after the romance of China and after the arabesque of the Persian and Mogul miniature, now appears a new object for study and admiration. 

The art of Central Asia is coming to the fore. In the fiery fantasy; in the dignity of the fine form; in the intense and complex gradation of tones is manifested this completely unique and striking art. But in its quiescent expres­sion this art responds to the mystery of the cradle of humanity. In itself it forms Asia, to which in time shall be directed inquiries and researches. Only, it is necessary to knock upon the doors of this beauty without threats, without weapons, without pillage. With full readiness must we gather the pearls of profound and anonymous achievements; without superficial scientific hypocrisy and without bribed treachery. 

To study the life of a nightingale by first killing it — is it not barbaric ? 

One remembers keenly some objects discovered by Kozloff in Kara-khoto in Mongolia. Especially does one recall the wondrous image of the woman’s head. If such a people lived in the silenced cities of the deserts — how far were these places from being a wilderness ! 

Wisely, wisely did the deserts succeed in guarding for pos­terity new treasures, and not only material treasures. . . . One must recall not only the swords of the Tartar in measur­ing the life of Central Asia. There are also the tents of all travelers and searchers. Even to the Khan’s camps were sum­moned the finest of artists. 

I remember how badly fared one young doctor who was sent to Urga in Mongolia for service. Poor soul, he knew not what and how to search. If the young generation could realize what treasures were prepared for it, and lie at the edge of the road — unlifted. Sometimes it is only a question of lifting up the treasures. 

A little shepherd boy found 120 pounds of gold in Scythian objects, because he was attracted by the glimmer of metal which sparkled on the slope of the hill, washed off by the rain. How many such sparks are glimmering ! But often our eyes are dulled by laziness. 

The blessed Maitreya is always represented crowned by a wreath, in a great image. In Tashi-Lunpo, the monastery of the Tashi-Lama, three years ago there was placed a gigantic image of Maitreya, bearer of the new age of universal Unity. This idea has been invoked with the new approaching era of Tibetan chronology.

During the service in the temples, smoking Tibetan tea is passed around. Therein is the idea of the grail in this filling of the vessels before the Blessed Image. One must never leave the vessel empty — this is contrary to the custom of the East. Then the gigantic trumpets are sounded, like the voices of storm and thunder, with their summons to the future. Backs adorned with their purple mantles are bent low, thinking of the future. And like a fiery field, under the image of the Dream of the World, one hundred and eight fires (108) are glimmering. 

In a special compartment are guarded the masks of the keepers. Is it possible that these frightful visages can symbolize the way of benevolence ? However, these are not symbols of benevolence but symbols of earthly elemental forces. For there is the heaven and the earth. Even the physical world of Tantrik teaching, which has been so degraded in modern understanding, must be conceived sub­limely. The teacher, Padma Sambhava, would not have pro­claimed only a physical teaching. 

I look upon an ancient painting of the Monastery Daling. Here are the acts of the teacher, Padma Sambhava. All his forces are represented in action. Here is the teacher as a black-hatted lama with Solomon’s Star upon his headdress, striking a dragon. Here is the teacher summoning the rain. Here he saves a drowning one; he charms small evil spirits; weaponless, he conquers beasts and by a magic weapon he smites a tiger, first covering his head with the sacred triangle. Here he makes harmless the serpents; here he conjures the stormy current; and he sends rain. Now he fearlessly converses with the gigantic mountain spirit. Here the teacher flies above all mountains. Now out of the shelter of the cave he hastens to comfort the world. And finally in the circle of a poor family, he prays for a be­nign sea voyage for the absent master of the house. No matter how clouded is his teaching now, its foundation stills gleams through. 

Or again, another ancient painting: “The Paradise of Padma Sambhava.” The teacher sits in the Temple surrounded by the Righteous Ones. The Temple stands upon a mountain separated from the earthly world by a blue river. Across the river are stretched white hatiks (scarfs) and upon them the self-denying voyagers are crossing to the temple. A clear picture of the illuminated ascent ! Of course, his commentators have besmirched even this manifestation. How encrusted with false grimace are all religions ! 

Of course, the teacher, Tsong-kha-pa, is still nearer. He rose beyond the confines of magic. He forbade the monks to have recourse to magic powers. His teaching — that of the Yellow Lamas — seems less spoiled. 

On New Year’s Eve, February 4, after sunset, the fires in the monasteries upon the hill dart up. And the ringing gongs and the far-away drums reverberate. … In the morning are held the dances.

Journal : Amazing Pic

It was just as awesome while I driving through it … on the way to Recong Peo, past Sangla More, along the Sutlej River … in Himachal Pradesh !

 

136

Journal : Pilgrim’s Quest

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part IV : INDIA (1924)

SIKKIM : evokingly and sharply the arrows whistle across the gulley, from out the bamboo grove. The Sikkimese remember their favorite ancient pastimes. One says : “The arrow is better than a bullet. It sings as it strikes while the bullet screeches as it flies outward.”

In the morning a red leaf was brought to us : “In the evening Senge will arrive.” After sunset upon the zigzag of the path, the fires began to flash out and the trumpets to resound. And finally it came rolling on — motley, noisy, trumpeting, drumming; with a dragon, with handmade horses, with paper yaks. With pop­guns and many-colored fires the dance proceeded, the motley crowd receding into the violet enamel of the night amid the explosions of the flaming spark. . . . These are Polovetsky dances ! And the banners upon the staffs — these are the stand­ards of Genghiz Khan !

If you understand, then you will be understood. Touching are some of the gifts of the lamas. Knowledge is needed in order to understand all the finesse of intention in these gifts : To whom an image, and just which image; to whom, a bearskin; to whom, a leopard skin; to whom, a fur coat; to whom, a khalat; to whom, a khatik; and if so, whether one with designs or a white one. By the hieroglyphs of these objects one can read their entire relationship with you. Are you recognized as a great scientist ? Or are you left within the limits of conventional politeness ? Or are you left without attention ? Often the non-understood “ceremony” is simply a short subtle code of gesture and conduct.

Two worlds find expression in the Himalayas. One is the world of the soil — full of the enchantment of these parts. Deep ravines and grotesque hills rear up to the cloud-line, into which melts the smoke of villages and monasteries. Upon the heights gleam banners, suburgans or stupas. The ascending mountain passes curve with sharp turns. Eagles vie in their flight with the colorful kites flown by the villagers. In the bamboo-stalks and amid the fern the sleek body of a tiger or a leopard adds a glimmer of rich supplementary color. On the branches skulk the dwarfed bears; and a horde of bearded monkeys often escorts the solitary pilgrim.

An earthly world this, full of diversities ! A stately larch stands beside a blooming rhododendron. All is entangled. And all this earthly wealth shades into the blue mist of the rolling distances. A chain of clouds crowns the lowering mist.

Above this synthetic picture, it is strange, unexpectedly startling, to behold new ramparts mounting the clouds. Above the nebu­lous waves, above the twilight, glimmer the sparkling snows. Erect, infinitely beauteous, stand these dazzling, impassable peaks. Two distinct worlds, intersected by a mist !

Besides Mount Everest, fifteen peaks of the Himalayan chain surpass in height Mont Blanc. If from the great river Rangith we survey all the approaches to the snowy border and all the white domes of the peaks, nowhere, to one’s recollection, is there such an open barricade of elevations. From this superb pros­pect one obtains an especially enthralling impression of the grandeur of the Himalayas — “Dwelling of snows.”

To the side of the ascent, the summits merge into one implacable wall — the jagged, unending ridge of the Sacred Lizard. It is difficult to discern that just at that point are hidden the snowy summits of Jelep-la and Nathu-la on the way to Shigatse and Lhasa — the fog seems especially often to envelop this road. The upper portion of the Buddhist banners bear the cross-shaped spear, disk, crescent and lotus-petals. Are not the emblems of all teachings intertwined upon one flagstaff ? In these re­minders of the symbols of the elements of Nature every one will find an image near to him.

Upon the ikons and ornaments of Tibet often is found, glow­ing with precious stones, the image of the fish — that happy sign — the same found upon the walls of the Roman catacombs. In one conception is united the Buddha’s “Wheel of life,” the Circle of the “Elements forming the mystery” of the Christian church and the “Wheel of Ezekiel.” The many-eyed seraphim and multiple eyes of the Luminous Mother of the World penetrate equally into the recesses of the soul.

In the cults of Zoroaster there is represented the chalice with a flame. The same flaming chalice is engraved upon the ancient Hebrew silver shekels of the time of Solomon and of an even remoter antiquity. In the Hindu excavations of the periods from Chandragupta Maurya, we observe the same powerfully stylized image. Sergius of Radonega, laboring over the enlightenment of Russia, administered from the flaming chalice. Upon Tibetan images, the Bodhisattvas are holding the chalice blossoming with tongues of flame. One may also remember the Druid chalice of life. Aflame, too, was the Holy Grail. Not in imagination; verily by deeds are being interwoven the great teachings of all ages, the language of pure fire !

It has long since been said, “Faith without deeds is dead.”

Buddha pronounced three paths: the long way of knowledge, the shorter way of faith, and the shortest way—through action. David and Solomon also glorify the strivings of labor. The Vedanta extols the manifestation of works. Verily, in the foun­dation of all covenants, action is placed foremost. This is the creative fire of the Spirit.

Are the symbols of the Hindu Trimurti alien to the Trinity ? Does the Buddhist Tree of Wishes, hung with the objects of all desires, not respond to our conception of the Christmas Tree ? What of the details of the arrangement of the temple altars ? What of the ascetics and hermits, who buried themselves in their stone coffins ? What of the image-lamps and the fires of con­jurations; the wreaths and candles of heartfelt prayer, flung upon the bosom of the Ganges ? And the birch of Trinity, the musk and incense ? And the wrought gem-bedecked vestments ? And the stones flung at Buddha by his closest kin—are they not like the stones of Stephen ? Verily, not by accident have Buddhist legends been carved upon the frescoes of the Campo Santo in Pisa.

From times immemorial have the most ancient forgotten temples extolled the anticipation of the new epochs. In the ancient city, Kish, has recently been discovered the Temple of the Mother of the World. Sarnath and Gaya, the scenes of Buddha’s personal achieve­ments, are fallen in ruins, now only the goal of pilgrims. So too, Jerusalem. “Because Jesus himself witnessed that the prophet is without honor in his own country.”

According to the legend, Buddha’s initiation was performed in the presence of the High Ones. The site of initiation is called “the holiest stupa” but its location is not disclosed. The sites of Buddha’s achievements on the Ganges are known, as well as the scenes of the birth and death of the teacher — in Nepal. Ac­cording to some indications the initiation was performed farther north — beyond the Himalayas, because Buddha came down from the north for the performance of his works. But where was Jesus until his thirtieth year ? Who knows those haloed retreats ? Whither lies Korya-Morya ? Shall they be revealed? The legendary mountain Meru, according to the Mahabharata, and the equally legendary height Shambhala in Buddhist teaching, both lay in the north and served as the summit for initiations. And not everywhere until the appointed date, can the details of these places of high knowledge be told.

Wise intercourses — one sees clearer from above. Instead of petty quarrels of denunciation, history recalls to us truly inter­national ties. It is pointed out as a historical fact that a Mon­golian, Bogdo Khan, was saved from illness by the “appearance of Nicholas.” This is averred by the Mongolian Khutukhtus, whose knowledge is considered very high. All is full of signs, only do not overlook them. Observe keenly and joyously, and flexibly.

Upon the wrist of a Tibetan woman we observed a strange blue sign, which on closer inspection showed the appearance of a tattooed blue cross of equal ends. When she was asked the explanation of this sign, the woman revealed that a Tibetan physician had applied the sign during “a very dangerous cough” —evidently pneumonia. Tibetan physicians generally inject medicines under such signs. This sign was made by the per­sonal physician of the Dalai-Lama during his three years’ stay in Darjeeling. Swastika is a symbol of the conception of fire and life.

According to the prophecy of Lama Tsa-rinpoche, the present attempt to conquer Everest will end only in losses. Let us see whether the old lama is right.*

* The Lama proved to be right. 

The lama seemed astonished at the desire of foreigners to ascend the summit of Everest, at any risk. “Why expend such efforts in the physical body ? Is it not simpler to be there in spirit ?” For with ease do lamas project their astral bodies, for which, of course, no height is an obstacle.

From this very window ** the high priest sent prayers to Tibet which was troubled by the Chinese. For three years, facing the wall of the Himalaya, he kept vigil.

** The author lived in the so-called Talai-Pho-Brang where the Dalai Lama stayed about three years during his flight from Tibet.

In the time of the old Jesuit mission, about 300 years ago, in Lhasa, there was a Christian chapel. Great lamas visited it. Now no one even remembers the approximate site of it.

The lama here bewails the visiting hunters — they came and killed many stags ! And now when the lama strolls into the forest, few are the stags that come to him. And he loves the animals to approach him ! Not savagery but deep culture rings in his complaint. We are reminded of the tale of old Avramy, who was a shepherd beyond the Ural, and when he prayed to the East, all the sheep in silence turned also toward the sunrise.

In Buddhist monasteries it was the custom to confine in the library him who was defeated during a scientific argument. Let him learn more ! An excellent custom !

“A Chinese Amban (governor), an evil and dissolute man, was desirous of visiting a venerated holy abbot of the local monastery in Tibet. By persistence and force he demanded an audience, but when he entered the reception room of the abbot, he saw on the throne, instead of the holy man, the image of a hideous pig, and in fright he rushed from the presence. Thus the dissolute man, making his way by force, found an image worthy of him ! A fine reminder to all despots : As ye measure so shall it be meas­ured unto you.”

A legend of Central Asia tells of the mysterious nation, under­ground dwellers—the Agharti. Approaching the gates into this blessed kingdom, all living beings become silent, reverently paus­ing in their course. Recall, now, the Russian legend about the mysterious “Tchud” which went underground to escape the persecution of the evil forces. To this secreted place also leads the sacred legend of the subterranean Kitege. Everything comes from the North.

The whole world tells its tales of underground cities, treasure troves, temples merging under water ! The Russian and Norman peasant relates about this with equal surety. So, too, does the inhabitant of the desert know of the treasures which sometimes glimmer from under the sand waves and then — until the ordained time — recede again under the earth.

Around one beacon-fire are gathering those who remember the predestined dates. We do not speak of superstitions but of knowledge — knowledge revealed in beautiful symbols. Why in­vent, when truth is so manifold ? In La Manche even now is seen the city which has been “submerged” under water.

Many sources tell of the subterranean dwellings in the district of Lhasa and Koko-Nor. A lama from Mongolia recalls the following legend : When the foundations of the monastery Genden were built during the time of the Teacher Tsong-kha-pa, in the fourteenth century, it was noticed that through the gaps of the rocks there arose the smoke of incense. A passage was broken through and there was found a cave in which, motion­less, was seated an old man. Tsong-kha-pa aroused him from his ecstasy and the old man asked for a cup of milk. Then he asked what teaching now existed upon earth. After which he disappeared. It is also pointed out that the Potala, the palace of the Dalai-Lama, has hidden recesses of the greatest antiquity. By the facial expressions of the high lamas one will not discover anything. One must seek through other paths.

If so much lies underground—how much more lies under the veil of silence. It is naïve to insist, after the first cautious re­sponse. An authoritative astrologer assures us that he knows nothing — has only heard rumors. Another who is versed in the ways of antiquity just now insists he has not even heard of such things. And why should they answer otherwise ? They must not betray. Most heinous is treason — and there are many traitors. We discern the true devotion and behind it the structure of the future.

It is said that Solomon manifested such devotion toward the Temple that even when breathing his last, lest he interrupt or harm the work of construction, he remained upright in prayer until an ant bored through his staff. The example of perse­verance and devotion !

Unexplained have remained the strivings of Solomon toward the One Beginning, sheltering all forms of knowledge. Aban­doned Fatehpur-Sikri (near Agra) is full of the signs of this unity which was understood by Akbar the Great who preached the spirit of One Temple. In the center of the palace-court is still standing the temple of united religion. Superficial writers wonder why the walls of this mysterious structure bear the remains of such varied signs — the traces of Buddhism mingled with Hindu and Christian fragments. This united torch was already mani­fested in life !

“Wise in heart and mighty in strength; who hath resisted Him and hath had peace, Who spreadeth out the heavens and treadeth upon the waves of the sea — Who maketh Arcturus and Orion and the Pleiades and the inner part of the south — Who doeth things great and incomprehensible and wonderful of which there is no number” — exclaims Job about the One. And are not the mysterious signs of Watan and Senzar received by great lamas pointing toward it ? We asked the Lama, “Is it true that the Festival of Unity is approaching ?” He looked closely at us, then answered, “Such are the prophecies.”

In 1924, according to Tibetan calculations, the new era began, for here a century is not calculated as a hundred years but as sixty.

You listen to the reading of the Bhagavad-Gita; you hear the exclamation of the Buddhist servers of the temples. You listen to the singing of the choir. Does there not appear before you the One Image — the One common Will toward happiness and joy, to the unity of consciousness, embracing and conquering, to the exalting and enlightening Aum ?

Should we not reflect why all Covenants tell of the same active beginning ? Why is the manifestation of phenomena always accompanied not only by the same unexplainable words, but always by a vivid action of spirit ? The writings say, “He re­volted.” And without the wondrous “uprising,” without this invisible action, nothing is decisive. He realized and became en­lightened; became filled with invincible courage !

The formulas themselves often astonish by their universality. In them are united the summons of the mysteries with the prayers of the most unexpected cults separated by whole epochs and whole continents. The language of the Mother of the World is the same for all cradles.

“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,” or “Halelu, Halelu, Halelu” is a conjuration of ancient rites. From the Chaldeans, Babylonians, through the Israelites it reached our era. It is also known by several tribes of India.

In this region the simple guide will suddenly turn around on his path and proclaim : “But men must finally realize that pos­session is one and all are equal ! But will That soon come, Which will unite men ?” So thinks and ponders the simple, poor man, among the blue hills of Sikkim. In the hope of the guide you discern the powerful proclamation of Vivekananda; without depreciation, only in all powerful unity and righteous understanding, he walked. One wishes that our priests of the West valued Buddha in the same way as the enlightened lamas speak of us. Only in such benevolent understanding lies the guarantee of the future structure.

All creators of Unity must be recognized. Principally let us have less of ignorant denials.

With difficulty one succeeds in getting plants which nurture the musk-deer. But how to bring this mountain pine to the laboratory ? Below the altitude of 6,000 feet, the plants perish.

Most often from Bhutan the ragged, deep blue furling waves of fog crawl upward. Not only the snowy ridges but also the steps to the mountain paths are wrapped in the dense mist. It is difficult to believe there is a hidden glimmer. Shall we not begin denying the very existence of the Himalayas ? If they are invisible, that means they are non-existent ! Whenever some­thing is invisible to us we presume it does not exist. Such is the decision of ignorance.

Intricate are the mountain paths with their many turns. How many are the earth-covered pits under the horse’s hoofs ! Many are the intercrossing currents and streams, with the torpid damp­ness under the green-blue foliage. Truly many are the serpents beneath the flowers. And the language of the murmuring foliage is incomprehensible.

Early are the stars aglow here. Toward the East, undiminished, flames the triple-constellation of Orion, this astonishing constella­tion which finds its way through all teachings. In the archives of the old observatories, undoubtedly much remarkable data could be found about it. The cults which surround some con­stellations such as the Bear and Orion amaze you by their wide­spread popularity.

The wisdom of the Shamans designates them for worship. Nor did Job accidentally point to them alone as the supreme act of achievement. The glimmer spreads everywhere. In the latest number of the Journal of the London Asiatic Society is this very important item : “The Emperor Baber near the begin­ning of his memoirs says : ‘On the outskirts of Barakoh is a mosque called the Jawza Madjid. The real meaning of the word is House of Orion. Jawza is a name of Orion.’ “With what ancient cult was the mosque pointed out by Baber identified ?” It is now most likely effaced by the sands of the great desert. Thus we see how unceasingly does Orion attract the eye of men. Again are the astronomic bulletins telling of the inexplicable pink rays, which have suddenly flashed from this constellation. The constellation of Orion contains the signs of the “Three Magi.” The significance of Orion, too, in ancient teaching was compared to the significance of Atlas, supporting the weight of the world. Verily, the Star of the East ! Only in the East do you feel the vital sense of astrology and astro-chemistry in its scientific import. The observatories in Jaipur and in Delhi over­whelm one with their fantastic conviction.

The air is pure. The small Lepchas, coolies of Sikkim, bear huge stones up to the mountain on their backs. It is for the unknown structure. Their heads are bent so low that one cannot distinguish their faces, because of the shawl and metal rings and chains. Will they be able to bear it safely ? How is it possible to overload a body four feet high with such an immeasurable burden of stones ! Yet instead of groans you hear laughter from under the bent back. Much laughter is heard in Sikkim. The further one goes toward Tibet the more communicative are the people. And the more often one hears singing accompanied by a pleasantry. The air is clearer here.

The chief of the caravan is called Sardar. In his purple kaftan, he is mounted firmly on the white mountain pony. Many are the white horses here. The caves of Kinchenjunga, where were guarded the treasures, are still far off. In one of the caves is the statue of Padma Sambhava (teacher of Tibet) and behind it is seen a stone door — never yet opened by man. And yet they say : “Nothing remains hidden !”

The human consciousness often is “like a dog’s tail. If it has curled itself — no matter how you straighten it out, it still per­sists in curling back.” Thus it was told by the ancient Chinese.

But it is also known how completely the consciousness has been transformed by a mere touch.

“Why do you not tell us all you know, as if you were strewing pearls or setting landmarks ?” By these signposts you yourself will pass the entire way. You alone — by human feet. Accord­ing to your growth shall you yourself gather pearls. By your own hands shall you match them. By your own hands will you develop dynamic power. “You will return” and project your will.

Otherwise matter will again not flow out in the “song of cease­less labor.” In this way, superficial curiosity will be divided from true striving. They tell of one “modern sage” who offered to found an institute where any one coming from the street could at once be convinced of phenomena. But this “sage” forgot to offer these strange comers from the street at least the wherewithal to wash their hands for the tests. There are ways which we must approach only with pure hands and with our own will.

And if through the shell of the objects of every day you will be enabled to behold the summits of the cosmos — what a new wondrous and undiminishing outlook shall the world have for the unsheathed eye. The medical lore of the ancients acclaimed laughter as useful for the purification of the glands. How useful then must a smile be for the brain ! Thus shall the trembling conjuries of fear be transformed into the valiant call of joy.

India Travelogue From A Century Ago …

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part III : INDIA (1924)

The Tibetan tailor is making kaftans. He takes all measure­ments with his eye, but most astonishing is it that the kaftan comes out well-fitting. And all this is not done without care ! The quality of gold for the trimming, the color of the lining and the length—all this is thought out. The local homespun is very narrow and one is astonished how evenly they can smooth the many seams.

If we take the accredited historical data of the last century it is astonishing how definitely the folk-consciousness was freed from the obvious survivals of the middle ages. Those who defend such survivals should examine these historic paths and convince themselves and realize that what is occurring now is not acci­dental but under rational guidance and control. He who fails to recognize this rationality, cannot understand evolution.

In sudden support of fundamental Buddhism, the realist of realists, Huxley says, “No one but a superficial thinker rejects the teaching of reincarnation as nonsense. Like the teaching of evolution itself, reincarnation has its roots in the world of reality and is entitled to the same support commanded by every con­sideration which evolves from analogies.”

Two beautiful characterisations of Buddhism : “As a lion unafraid by noise. As a wind beyond being captured by a net. As a lotus leaf impervious to water. As a rhinoceros treading in solitude !” — “The study and manifestation of energy in all its forms. Energy of armament. Energy of application in action. Energy of dissatisfaction giving birth to the eternal striving which brings man into the cosmic rhythm.” So said Asanga.

Where, then, is the inactive pessimism ? Where is the philos­ophy of despair, as Buddhism is sometimes called by persons of small comprehension. How many books have been written under the false romanticism of the nineteenth century ? How many scientists, not versed in the languages, have fed their minds with these vague sour conclusions ? And now there has appeared again an image — Buddha, with a sword, with leonine daring, armed with all energies, within the universal structure, cosmic in striving.

“Watch the movement of the stars, as one who participates in them, and constantly consider the transmutation of one element into another, because such a process purifies one from the grime of earthly life.” So reflects Marcus Aurelius.

So also says an educated Hindu from out the Himalayas.

L. Horn writes : “With the acceptance of the teachings of evolu­tion, the old forms of thought everywhere are crumbling. New ideas arise in the place of outlived dogmas and we have before us the spectacle of a general intellectual movement in a direc­tion becoming ever more strange — parallel with eastern philos­ophy.

“The unheard-of speed and variety of the scientific progress current in the last fifty years cannot but call forth an equally unprecedented hastening of thought in the broad non-scientific circles of society. That the highest and most complete organisms develop out of the simplest organisms; that upon one physical basis of life stands the whole living world; that there cannot be traced a line which divides animal and vegetable kingdoms; that the difference between life and non-life is a difference in grada­tion and not substance — all this already has become commonplace in the new philosophy. After the recognition of physical evolu­tion it is not difficult to say that the acknowledgment of psychic evolution is only a question of time.”

The observation of the East astonishes and rejoices one. And not the obvious power of observation which leads to a dead stereotype; but observation, fine and silent in its substance. One remembers how the teacher asked the newly arriving pupil to describe a room, but the room was empty and in a vessel was swimming only a tiny fish. In three hours the pupil wrote three pages, but the teacher rejected him saying that about this one little fish he could have written all his life. In technical imita­tion is revealed the same sharp observation.

In the adaptation of the meter of a song, in the character of a call, in movements, you see an all-powerful culture. Somewhere the Hindus, en­veloped in their mantles, were compared to Roman senators. This is an inane comparison. Rather liken them to the philos­ophers of Greece, and still better, call them the creators of the Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, Mahabharata. For neither Rome nor Greece existed when India was flourishing. And the latest excavations begin to support this indubitable deduction.

In the Tao Te Ching are drawn the following subdivisions of the types of scientists : “Scientists of the highest class, on hear­ing about Tao, seriously bring their knowledge into life. Scien­tists of the middle grade, on hearing about Tao, sometimes observe it. And sometimes lose it again. The scientists of the lowest class on hearing about Tao, only laugh loudly at it.”

Lao Tze knew.

Hindus regard objects of art with fine understanding. From a Hindu, you naturally expect an interesting approach and un­usual remarks, and so it is. Therefore to show paintings to a Hindu is a real joy. How captivatingly they approach art ! Do not think that they are occupied only in its contemplation. You will be astonished by their remarks about tonality, about tech­nique, and about the expressiveness of the line. If the observer be long silent, do not think that he has become tired. On the contrary this is a good sign. It means he has entered into a mood, and one can expect from him especially interesting deduc­tions. Sometimes he will tell you a whole parable. And there will be nothing vulgar or crude in it. It is astonishing how transformed are the people of the East before the creations of art. Indeed it is more difficult for a European to enter into the current of creation and as a rule he is less able to synthesize his impression.

In the epic designs of India all can be coördinated. If in the crowd, your next neighbor should be a skeleton, pale with lep­rosy, you are not frightened. Next to you will lean a Sadhu, colored with blue stripes and with a head-dress made of cow dung. You are not surprised. A Fakir with toothless cobras will cheat you. You are smiling. The chariot of Juggernath crushes the crowd — you are not astonished. There is a procession of fearful Nagis of Rajputana with blades like curved fangs. You are calm.

And where are those for whose sake you have come to India ? They do not sit in the bazaars and they do not walk in processions. And you will not enter their dwellings without their consent. But do they really exist ? Are not leisurely authors writing about them only for the sake of being unique ? Yes, yes, they exist, and there exists their knowledge and their skill. And in this sharpening of human qualities is being exalted all human substance. And no leprosy will turn you away from India.

All that takes place at the metapsychical institute in Paris — the experiments of Nötzing and Richet in ectoplasm; the experi­ments of Baraduque in the photography of physical emanations, the works of Kotik in the exteriorisation of sensitiveness and the attempts of Beckhterev in thought – transmission at a distance — all this is familiar to India. Only, not as unbelievable novelties, but as laws long since known. They speak little on these themes, because of the dearth of scientifically enlightened fellow – conver­sationalists.

The ancient method of Hinduism and Buddhism is to open the doors to him who knocks, but not to call any one and not to coerce any one. But the quality of the knock also must be powerful. In the practical teaching of Buddhism, inde­pendence of consciousness is sharply emphasized, and as its consequence, an unconquerable forbearing and all-conquering patience. The greatest patience will win a victory. So let the ignorant deniers immerse themselves in the true East to learn and to absorb the power of containment.

Two characteristic episodes are related about the Tashi Lama. When he was in India, he was asked whether he possessed any psychic powers. The Tashi Lama silently smiled. In a short time, though closely surrounded by guards and officers, he sud­denly disappeared. All search was in vain. Finally, after a considerable period of time, the officers saw him calmly sitting in the same garden and around him were running, in fruitless search, the guards.

This incident reminds me of Gorki, who many years ago told me that he himself saw vivid images of Indian cities upon the blank metallic leaves of an album, which was shown to him once in Caucasia by a Hindu. With all his realism, Gorki absolutely affirms that he saw in vivid colors that which the Hindu pointed out to him. Greetings to Alexei Maximovitch !

Attraction by thought is astonishing. The desire was expressed to have an old Tibetan Buddha, but this is already difficult now. We spoke and thought among ourselves how to get it. In a few days came a lama and brought an excellent Buddha : “The lady wanted to have a Buddha and I am told to give the Buddha from my house altar. I cannot sell the sacred image — accept it as a gift.”

“But how did you know of our desire to have a Buddha ?”

“The White Tara came in a dream and told me to bring it to you.”

And so it happens.

Recently we read in the Statesman that the lowest castes of India begin willingly to accept Buddhism. Rabindranath Tagore, in a talk with Gandhi, spoke against castes. Out of the mouth of a Brahmin this avowal is significant. Many significant and beautiful signs.

Special attention must be given to the Puranas — therein are many most valuable indications : “When the sun and the moon, and Tishya and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, then the Krita (Satya) age will begin.” So does the Vishnu Purana point out the age of Maitreya.

Lamas are constantly coming to us. They spread paintings on the lawn; and chantingly pointing with a little stick, they relate a whole epic. The vivid colors of the paintings merge with the natural colors of nature. The visual reactions have been valued since long ago. A nun comes. She sits at the threshold and throwing back her handsome head she chants her prayers. We can only distinguish “Tra shi sho !”

Altogether the ques­tion of language is very difficult. All these mountain dialects somewhat resemble Tibetan. But still the difference is very great and the number of dialects of the small tribes is also great. Finally from Lhasa comes Kung Kusho of Doring to salute the house of the Dalai Lama. The Kung (this is a title like a duke; remarkable is the coincidence of Conung, Kung, King) is an important old man with a wife and daughter, round of face like a Ukrainian; with numerous servants; on big black mules shod with silver are high saddles and many-colored horse blan­kets. On their foreheads they wear vivid red caps with the image of Chintamani. In 1912 the Kung was attacked by Chinese soldiers. They almost wounded him. They killed his secretary. This led to a revolt in Tibet. The Kung is astonished and rejoices at our Buddhist objects. We are breakfasting. We are making Tibetan dishes. We speak of the movement of Buddhism. He is a very ceremonious old man.

Interesting are the tales about the attacks of the cavalry of Kham and Golok. Wild riders do not need reins. Their horses, as in ancient narratives, take part in the battle with teeth and hoof. During battle, the riders take off their khalats up to the waist. Helmeted, with swords, lances and guns, this avalanche is borne onward. Sometimes they disappear under the stomachs of the horses. If all means of attack are exhausted the riders take stones from the ground and fight with screams resembling laughter. There is one sign which at once quiets this avalanche. Of course every tribe has its particularities in battle and by not knowing them one can weaken the best force. Tibetan women in songs, and in life sometimes, are not behind in manifesta­tions of courage. They throw hot water on the enemy; they meet the temporary conquerors with derision.

Near Ghum stands a high rock. It is said that on its peak is lying a significant prophecy. In each stupa are enclosed significant objects. It is wrong to think that the bookshelves dis­played in temples to some travelers comprise the entire book treasures of the monastery. Besides these official volumes of teachings everywhere in the secret recesses of the abbot there are manuscripts of unusual interest. One thing is dangerous. Often these hidden places are harmed by dampness, or mice, or are simply forgotten during some hasty evacuation. Often a lama will tell you : “I have written down the prophecies but I do not carry them with me. They are lying under a stone.” Then some unexpected event happens; the lama hastens to put his sack on his back and depart; and the invaluable manuscripts are lost.

Some idiomatic commands are characteristic : “To put on trousers” means to get ready for a march. Idiomatic terms often bring difficulties into negotiations. Once an ambassador spoke in very high terms about “the hair of Brahma.” Nobody understood him and the negotiations had to stop. However, he had nothing else in mind than the river Brahmaputra. Often the languages taught in universities do not help in the local places.

A Chinese book, “Wei Tsang T’u-Shih,” thus describes the Potala : “The mountain palaces are glowing in a purple sheen. The luster of the mountain peaks is equal unto emerald. Verily the beauty and perfection of all objects make this place incom­parable.”

We are reading of the builder of the Potala, the fifth Dalai Lama, named “Ruler of conjurations, eloquent, holy ocean of fearlessness.” It is he, who on becoming His Worthiness the Dalai Lama in 1642, built Potala, the red palace, Pho Brang dMarpo, on the red mountain Marpo ri. He also built the remarkable monasteries Mo-ru, Labrang Garmakhiya, and many others. He also erected on the rock the colossal relief of Buddha and the saints of Buddhism. During his rule Mongols entered Tibet the second time. Gruber, the Jesuit, dislikes very much this strong leader, although he finds that he was cautious in his methods, assiduous and devoted to art and knowledge.

Unusual is the end of this Dalai Lama. According to one version the Dalai Lama died in the eighties and his death was hidden for a few years in order to give opportunity for various political matters to be adjusted. According to another version the Dalai Lama voluntarily abandoned his rule and hid himself for several years in the very same seclusion in the Himalayas.

History is paralleled by the following ancient legend : “Every century the Arhats make an effort to enlighten the world. But until now not one of these efforts has been successful. Failure has followed failure. It is said that until the day when a lama will be born in a western body and appear as a spiritual conqueror for the destruction of the century-old ignorance, until then there will be little success in dissolving the snares of the West.”

The Chinese emperors lived according to the astronomical seasons of the year. For each season of the year there was a special colored garment. Each period of the year used to be spent in a special part of the palace.

The method of Buddhist teaching reminds one of the method of the Kabala, that of not imposing, but attracting, and pointing out the best way. They speak about a remarkable monastery, Mo-ru, and about the special learning of the lamas of that monas­tery. For the three summer months the lamas go away to the west for meditation.

During the “hearings,” the lamas often cover their heads with cloth. This recalls “biblical” ceremony. It recalls the statement of Damis, the pupil of Appolonius of Tyana, of how Appolonius, when he heard a “soft voice,” always wrapped himself com­pletely, from head to foot, in a long scarf of woolen texture. This scarf was kept only for this purpose. From altogether other times, the very same details reach us. Contemporaries were astonished how strangely Saint Germain sometimes “wrapped himself up.” Let us remember also the warm shawl of Blavatsky. Lamas carefully observe a certain condition of tempera­ture which is favorable to the induction of different manifes­tations.

Lady Lytton came to see the pictures. In the Lytton family splendid traditions remain from their celebrated grandfather Bulwer-Lytton. Then came Colonel Bailey. Then came the whole Everest Expedition. By the way, they persistently wanted to find out whether we did not ascend Everest. In the painting, “Burning of Darkness,”* they recognized the exact image of the glacier near Everest, and they did not understand how this characteristic view, seen only by them, could have come into the picture.

A page of the true East : “Again they will come with the ques­tion, ‘How shall one deal with obstacles ?’ One person is hin­dered by the family; one by a distasteful occupation; one by poverty; one by the attacks of the enemies. A good rider likes to show his skill on untrained horses and prefers obstacles to a smooth path. Every obstacle must be the birth of possibilities. When difficulties appear in the face of obstacles, they result precisely from fear. No matter in what attire a coward would garb himself we must find the page about fear.

Friends, so long as obstacles do not seem as the birth of possibility, so long do we not understand the teaching. Success lies in the enlarging of the consciousness. It is impossible to come near in the presence of fear. The ray of courage shall lead above the manifestations of obstacles, because now, when the world knows where to go—the seed of blood is growing. If the path is strewn by bones one can go courageously. If peoples speak in unknown languages— it means we can open the soul. If one has to hasten—it means that somewhere a new enemy is ready. Be blessed, obstacles, through you we grow.”

India, I know thy sorrows, but I shall remember thee with the same joyous tremor as the first flower on the spring meadow. From thy Brahmins we shall select the greatest who understood the Vedic wisdom. We shall select the Rajah who strove for the finding of the path of truth. We shall notice Vaishya and Shudra who have exalted their craft and labor for the upliftment of the world. A boiling kettle is the forge of India. The dagger of faith over a white goat. The phantom flame of a bonfire over a widow. Conjurations and sorcery.

Complicated are the folds of thy garments, India. Menacing are thy vestures blown by the whirlwind. And deadly burning are thy inclement rocks, India. But we know thy fragrant essences. India, we know the depths and finesse of thy thoughts. We know the great Aum, which leads to the Inexpressible Heights. We know thy great Guiding Spirit.

India, we know thy ancient wisdom ! Thy sacred scriptures in which is outlined the past, the present, the future. And we shall remember thee with the same tremor as the most precious first flower on the spring meadow.

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part II : INDIA (1924)

In the very backyard, in a tiny bed of meager flowers, rests a small homely image of Ganeshi, elephant of happiness. The family of Hindu coolies living in the shanty offers to him its last grains of rice. Not much happiness has this image brought to them.

Against the evidence of such refined values as are seen in Ramakrishna, Rabindranath Tagore, Sir Jagdish Bose, one cannot become reconciled to that which still constitutes the contents of the temples. Here is a phallic cult—Lingam in Elephanta. Up to now, in the sanctuaries of this cult are seen the traces of fresh offerings. From the ancient wisdom we know that “Linga is the vessel of knowledge” and we know the scientific explanation from times immemorial of this wise distribution, of energy. But now the basis of this worship is forgotten and it has degraded into superstition.

Another ugly spectacle ! In a golden temple of Benares, before us, was led a white little goat. She was led into the sanctuary. There evidently she was approved of because in a little while, frantically protesting, she was hurriedly dragged before us. In a minute, she was stretched out on the threshold of the temple and the broad knife cut off her head. It was difficult to believe that a sacred action had taken place ! The meat of the goat evidently went for food, because priests do not partake of any meat except that of offered sacrificial animals. And such animals the population evidently brings each day.

The teaching which sanctioned the priests, evidently pictured them as quite different. Even their appearance is undecorative and they cannot guard the beauty of the symbols of knowledge. As long as the rule of castes is not comprehended properly the country cannot develop. During our stay we read of several difficult family dramas founded on this ground of an evidently surviving prejudice. At the same time, the Vedanta and Advaita clearly establish the principle of unity. Some of the most cosmogonic parts of the Vedas are written by women, and now in India has arrived the epoch of the woman. Greetings to the women of India !

In spite of a superabundance of tourists they seem to know America very little. One can understand this. The whole mass of tourists quickly flows through the sheet-iron channels of tourist companies, and never enters into a real and active contact with the life of the country. In the north of India, Americans are called “nomads” because the agencies give to these hurrying, breathless groups a special character, completely outside of the people’s understanding.

Out of the windows of the car glide by huddled little villages, those original producers of all utilities and the makers of the nation. But who cares for these primary sources ?

Ramakrishna says : “In Atman there is no distinction of male or female, of Brahmin or Kshatriya and the like.”

Ramakrishna executed the work of the sweeper to show, per­sonally, that there were no distinctions.

In December, we want to go into the Himalayas. We are regarded with astonishment : “But now there is snow !” Snow is feared. Whereas the only time for the Himalayas is from November to February. Already in March the curtain of fog rises. From May to August only rarely and for brief periods can one see the entire glimmering range of snow; and truly such grandeur is nowhere paralleled.

Just as when you are approaching the Grand Canyon of Ari­zona, when you approach the foothills of the Himalayas you go through the most uninteresting landscape. And only for a moment, at dawn, in Siliguri, do the white giants appear before you as the first messengers. And again they are hidden in the curly jungles. And again tea plantations. And again barrack-like structures and factories. And only some­times does a typical habitation appear and conceal itself again as a vision from another world. There are tales about the attacks of tigers and leopards. There are mountains of cases of tea with the mark, Orange Pekoe. There is a Belgian mis­sionary from Kurseong.

It becomes cool. Crowds of small coolies are repairing the cave-ins from the last monsoon. In the frosty air one cannot even imagine the pressure of the summer monsoon downpour from which all nature becomes moldy. There are few birds. Eagles are seen.

Mountains are densely covered. The view of Darjeeling itself disappoints you. Is it necessary to seek the Himalayas in order to find merely a corner of Switzerland ? The colorful types of the bazaar are not apparent at once, and the regular barracks and bungalows already strike one’s eye.

We search for a house. The first information is not encour­aging. We are assured there are no good houses. Some are shown to us, lacking outlook and grounds, some immersed in the little streets of wooden country houses and fences. This is not suitable. We want something, beyond—there before the image of all the Himalayas, where the city orchestra does not play its conventional tunes. “You will find nothing there !” But we are persistent. We go ourselves, and we find an excellent house. And calmness and solitude, and the entire chain of Himalayas before us. And still another surprise : Just here lived the Dalai Lama during his long flight from Lhasa. For us, this house is just what is needed.

Not on one occasion only were we awakened by the chanting and the rhythmic beats around the house. These are the lamas who, bowing to the ground many times, marched around our dwelling.

Somewhere the people are babbling that in this house lives a devil which appears as a black pig. A haunted house, as we were told. But we are not afraid of devils, and in the neighboring village, Bhutia Basti, there are many black pigs which resemble boars. Did not our dear monkeys who came into the bathroom and ate the peas and flowers around the house play the part of the devil ?

There is the tiresome need of having many servants—and the reason always the same : castes. It reaches absurdity. The porter does not clean the path. Why ? It appears that according to caste, he is a blacksmith and has no right to take a broom into his hand. Otherwise he will become defiled and become a sweeper. He decides the problem in a very original fashion. He begins to brush around the garden with five fingers, creeping along the ground. The groom is from the high Kshatriya caste and hints at his descent from a king, which did not hinder him from mysterious operations with the horse feed. Sometimes in the kitchen religious meetings are arranged. And the cook, chairman of the local Arya Samaj, persistently persuades his listeners to something. Buddhists are not limited by caste and are free to perform all kinds of work. They work fast, are merry, are quick to understand and easy to adapt themselves.

There are many tales about Tibetans, the warriorlike tribe of Kham and about the wild Goloks, who call themselves wild “dogs.” They bring one back again even to the times of Sieg­fried : They cement their brotherly oaths by mixing and drinking brotherly blood. They never part with their weapons.

“His Country” begins to unfold, as the series “Banners of the East” is begun. In June, after the first rains, all the tempera begins to be covered with white spots of mold. One has to heat up the place considerably in order that the mold should dry and come off.

“His Country.” In Sikhim, itself, was one of the Ashrams of the Mahatmas. To Sikhim, Mahatmas came on mountain horses. Their physical presence communicates a solemn im­portance to these parts. Of course now the Ashram has been transferred from Sikhim. Of course now the Mahatmas have left Sikhim. But they were here, and therefore the silver peaks of the chain glimmer still more beautifully. . . .

Accompanied by pupils, artists and a sculptor, comes the majestic Rinpoche from Chumbi. He walks throughout the whole country erecting new images of Maitreya. All is being hastened. In a long talk, the lama points out that all may be attained only through Shambhala. For those who imagine Shambhala as a legendary invention, this indication is a super­stitious myth. But there are also others, fortified by more prac­tical knowledge.

The noble Atisha, the Pillar of the teaching, walked from India to Tibet for the purification of the teaching. The teacher passed by the retreat of Milarepa. The great hermit became conscious of the passing procession and wishing to test the forces of the Pillar of the teaching, appeared sitting on the end of a blade of grass. The noble Atisha seeing this manifestation of the hermit, came down from the porte-chaise and also rose upon the end of the next blade of grass. And when the teachers exchanged brotherly greetings, Milarepa said : “Our knowledge is equal, but why is the blade of grass under me slightly bent, while under thee, it has retained its tension ?” The noble Atisha smiled : “Verily, equal is our knowledge; but I come from the country where the Blessed Tathagata himself lived and taught, and this consciousness raises me.”

What magnets are laid in India ? Indescribable is the charm of the children’s round dance near Madras, with its tiny Gopis and miniature Krishna, Lel and Kupava. The best images are strewn in the unrealized wealth.

India knows the all-penetrating power of the magnet. And how about miracles in India, friends of the west will ask ? We will say that we have not seen “miracles,” but we have encoun­tered every manifestation of psychic energy. If one wants to speak about the manifestations of a “higher miraculous” power— then it is useless to talk altogether. But to comprehend the materially-attained development of psycho-physical energy, then India gives even now the most remarkable manifestations. The celebrated “evil eye” of the east exists, and the people die sub­missively at the ordained date, if they are not able to counter­act it by a still more greatly trained will. The transmission of the command of will from a distance does exist. Suggestion in any form exists in highly complicated correlations. Some mani­festations are being performed consciously and a greater part subconsciously through natural ability and beneficial atmospheric conditions. And that which is unusual for a civilized European, that very thing for the cultured Hindu, or rather Asiatic, will be an almost daily material occurrence.

Observe how remarkable are the physiological comparisons traced by the Hindus between cosmic manifestations and the hu­man organism. The womb, the navel, the phallus and the heart, all these long since have been included in the fine system of development of the universal cell. Only it is difficult to entice the people into a discussion of this. Again is necessary that con­fidence which cannot be established at the dining table.

During the period of Inquisition people were burned for in­voking the teraphim. But in India even now this means of influence is practiced. And now, in the Malabar Hills dark per­sons may come and because of an unfulfilled request will try to touch you, while they say to you : “Sahib will be sick” or “You will live only ten days.” If the organism at that moment is fatigued or if the will is weak, the command is fulfilled, and one can remedy this only by a counter-suggestion. But often the counteraction is less powerful or not applied in time.

The cases related about the “evil eye” provide a remarkable, and as yet untouched, problem for the psychiatrists and criminologists. The person who has received this stroke of the will, on the appointed day begins to lose his life energy and his power of resistance and finally the apparatus stops. The doctors who do not apply suggestion in time are at loss for a cure, and begin to poison the paralyzed nervous system still more. Incipient anæmia, a stroke of the heart or spleen, or gall bladder, nervous spasms and choking are often the visible effects of the command of the invading will. It is difficult to ascertain just how the nature of the attack on the particular organs occurs; one may rather imagine that the most feeble organ succumbs to a nervous attack. In a small and more crude manner the same practice is apparent in Shamanism, but the gradations of the will and its applications are entirely incomparable. It is justly pointed out that such murder or harm by will power is far more dangerous than a physical one. And where can one seek the limits of such sug­gestions? In the East one sometimes hears a significant sentence: “He shall not live.” It means one has sensed the spark of the will-stroke.

Two qualities must be conceded to the English : steadfastness and precision. For the East, both qualities are remarkable. Pre­cision according to the ordained dates of course is absolutely necessary because “the worst theft is the theft of some one else’s time.” Do not be late if you wish to be respected.

It all began with the unknown traces found by the Everest Expedition. Then, in the Statesman, an English Major related how during one of the expeditions into the region of the Hima­layas, he encountered a strange mountain inhabitant. At sun­rise, amidst the frosty snows, the Major walked away from the camp and climbed the neighboring rocks. Glancing at the near-by rocks, the Major to his astonishment beheld a tall man almost naked, standing, leaning on a high bow. The mountain inhabitant did not look at the Major, his attention being com­pletely attracted by something unseen behind the curve of the slope. And suddenly the man bent, strained himself, and by madly dangerous leaps rushed from the rocks and disappeared. When the Major told his people about the meeting they smiled and said: “Sahib has seen a ‘snow’ man. They are watching the guarded places.”

They tell of a recent case in Bengal. A Sadhu was traveling in a train without a ticket. At the first station he was put out of the train. The bells rang. The locomotive whistled and did not move. So it continued for some time. The passengers re­membered the Sadhu who had been put off and demanded that he be put back in his place. Then the train moved. This is verily mass suggestion !

A European lady living in India entered a dense part of her garden and became lost in a revery as to why the garden walks were not laid out in that place. Three days later she went there again and saw a freshly traced path, but the end of the path was somewhat lost. 

She called the old gardener: “Who has made the path?”

“Mem-Sahib wanted to have the garden path but I did not know how to end it !” 

Then the woman remembered that the completion of her thought about the garden path was not clear.

Sir Jagdish Bose affirms that the sensitiveness of plants is com­pletely astonishing. As the plants feel the formation of a cloud long before it is visible to the eye, so the East feels the thought at its inception. In the close interrelation between the visible and the invisible, and in the epic simplicity of their interplay, lies the charm of India.

 

Journal : Beauty, In Truth

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Serge Whitman : We who search the paths of international understanding and the structure of universal peace, must look upon Roerich as the apostle and forerunner of this new world of all nations.

An extensive literature is dedicated to Nicholas Roerich. A large monograph “Himalaya,” published by Brentano’s, New York (1926), gave 100 reproductions of paintings Roerich made during 1923-25. Another, published by Corona Mundi in 1923, International Art Center, introduced to the world the phases Roerich”s consciousness morphed through in its quest for beauty and peace that he sought for us after the gore and gloom of the First World War.

For four and a half years, Roerich traveled the Indian Himalayas, over the Silk Route through Central Asia to Mongolia, before returning to Tibet. Precisely, his expedition started in 1924 from Sikkim, then an independent kingdom, through British India region of Punjab and Kashmir in Himalayan foothills, on to Ladak, Karakorum, Khotan, Kashgar, Karashar, Urumchi, Irtysh, Altai Mountains, Oyrot region, Mongolia, Central Gobi, Kansu, Tsaidam, and Tibet.

Apart from the paintings he made during that mem­orable journey, Roerich kept a diary of sort with jottings, travel notes, those “thoughts upon horseback and in the tent,” contemplations induced by lofty mountains and boundless deserts, all wrapped in the inviolable secrecy of the East.

The publishers called Roerich’s write up “The Symphony of Asia.” But Roerich himself wrote in a letter, in 1925 : “Friends, it would have been far easier for me to have set down the entire journey in all its fairy-tale of ‘fantasy,’ which colors every peak and every desert space with unprecedented truth. But then some will be incredulous, as he who sleeps in darkness does not believe in the sun. Is it possible that the sun is already rising ? Facts are needed. I am writing only facts. I am setting down fragments of the thoughts as they now live in the East. I am setting down distances and tales, as they are now related. But even in facts, the Sunrise comes from the East.”

Then, after its lengthy wanderings in Tibet, came this telegram on May 24, 1928 :

Roerich American Expedition after many hardships has reached Himalayas. Thus ended big Central Asiatic Expedition. Many artistic and scientific results. Already sent several series of paintings to New York. Hope last sending from Mongolia safely reached you. Many observations regarding Buddhism.

Peaceful American flag encircled Central Asia. Everywhere warmly greeted except Khotan and Lhasa Governments. Further movement Expedition from Khotan assisted by British Consul at Kashgar. On Tibetan territory have been attacked by armed robbers. Superiority of our firearms prevented bloodshed. In spite of Tibetan passports Expedition forcibly stopped by Tibetan authorities on Oct. 6, two days north of Nagchu. With inhuman cruelty Expedition has been detained for five months at altitude of 15,000 feet in summer tents amidst severe cold about 40 degrees below Centigrade.

Expedition suffered from want of fuel and fodder. During stay in Tibet five men, Mongols, Buriats and Tibetans died and ninety caravan animals perished. By order of authorities all letters and wires addressed to Lhasa Government and Calcutta British authorities seized. Forbidded to speak to passing caravans. Forbidded to buy foodstuffs from population. Money and medicines came to an end. The presence of three women in caravan and medical certificate about heart weakness not taken into consideration. With great difficulties on March 4, Expedition started southward. All nine European members of the Expedition safe. Courageously bore hardships of exceptionally severe Winter. Greetings.”

I have chosen to serialise Roerich’s work because, I believe, we all need to have a glimpse of that spirit and its quest, that yet oriental culture, as it was before its westernisation, that yet untrampled topography and pioneering adventure, and those words yet special, in their wonder and pithiness. The excellent “intoduction” here below speaks of “surface existing for depths” and an “aura that brightens the darkness” with which you, dear reader, might well strain to connect but emerge refreshed in ways that is becoming increasingly rare in our electronic age. It merits both my extraordinary belief in beauty and my hope for personal evolution.

INTRODUCTION – By Publisher

ON May 8, 1923, Nicholas Roerich left America for India, and he has been wandering about in remote, dangerous and seldom-visited parts of Asia ever since. “Altai-Himalaya” is the record of his mission, just as his series of pictures “Tibetan Paths,” “Banners of the East,” “His Country,” are records in terms of paint. But “Altai-Himalaya,” though penned on horseback and in the tent, under conditions the most difficult, is as much more, and as much richer than the ordinary diary of travel, as his paintings of the Himalayas are more than a literal transcription of some of the earth’s most magnificent scenery. For in whatever medium Roerich works, or in whatever he is expressing, there shines forth not only the artist, but the embodied intelligence – the man, the whole character of the man. Though sincere and simple, it is a character compounded of such unusual elements as to be on its esoteric side uncomprehended.

Now, “esoteric” is to most ears either a meaningless or a hateful word : what do I mean by it in this connection ? I should perform for Roerich an ill service if I failed to answer such a question, because it would be to avoid mentioning what seems to me the very raison d’être of his journey, his art, his life. And yet how is it possible to make intelligible or even plausible what I have in mind ? Without attempting to elucidate, explain or justify it, therefore, I shall simply say that there is a tenable point of view from which one may regard Roerich as an envoy of those powers which preside over the life and evolution of humanity in the same sense that gardeners preside over a garden : that he journeys into desolate and forbidden lands for the fulfillment of a mission, the purpose of which will increasingly reveal itself. Whether one believes this or not, it would be hard to imagine a better ambassador of good will from the West to the East, for the reason that although he represents the summit of European accomplishment and culture, Roerich is deeply Oriental in his temperament, sympathies and point of view.

One has only to look at him to see – or, if you must have it so, imagine – the reincarnated Eastern sage. In Little Tibet, and in the white vastness of Siberia he was received with an honor, accorded a confidence and even an affection, quite different from the ordinary attitude of these peoples toward strangers, which has the reputation of being covertly or openly hostile. Roerich and his caravan encountered frustration and hostility, too, and in full measure, but it is interesting to note how exactly in proportion to the spiritual development of the various peoples he encountered was their response to his unique quality, and their recognition of the unprecedented nature of his mission among them.

This book was written “in the saddle,” more literally than figuratively. There is a certain vividness, immediacy, authenticity about it for this reason, giving the reader a sense of actual participation perhaps impossible to be imparted in any other way, together with intimate glimpses of the workings of the author’s mind in the presence of sublime scenery, new human types, strange manners and customs, and under the assaults of hardship, danger, and the stresses and strains of exploration in almost untrodden lands. Roerich is a man of original, strong and definite personality, of which everything he does bears the stamp. His expressions are themselves revealing, eloquent – not only of himself, but of the thing he is attempting to describe. The one-, two-and three-word sentences, the subjects without predicates – they have been suffered to remain just as he wrote them because they have so much the merit of the sketch, the jotting, put down in the moment of that “first fine careless rapture” which in a more premeditated form of art is likely to leak away.

This is a book whose surface exists for the sake of its depth, and even for concealing from all but the most penetrating, what that depth contains, as surfaces sometimes do. But in order to give you every possible advantage, and for your further enlightenment upon Roerich’s antecedent accomplishments and life, I shall devote the remainder of this essay to what I have learned and know of Roerich, and what I think of him.

In the history of the fine arts, certain individuals have appeared from time to time whose work has a unique, profound and indeed a mystical quality, which differentiates them from their contemporaries, making it impossible to classify them in any known category or to ally them with any school, because they resemble themselves only – and one another, like some spaceless and timeless order of initiates. Such were Leonardo, Rembrandt, Dürer, Blake, and, in other fields, Beethoven and Balzac; such also, in our own times and in a lesser way, were Rodin, Ryder and Burne-Jones, for their work show flashes of that dæmonic and eerie beauty which is the sign whereby they may be identified as belonging to that mythical, mystic brotherhood.

Roerich, in his life, in his character and in his art reveals himself as a member of this fraternity. For thirty-five years – since the time of his first exhibition in Russia – he has been going up and down the world – Europe, America, Asia – absorbing the auras of diverse peoples, making pilgrimages to remote places, and always and everywhere scattering wisdom, planting seeds of beauty, some of which have sprung up, flowered and scattered seeds of their own.

In Russia, as secretary of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, and later as director of the school of that society, he was an important agent in organizing and coördinating that native, new and powerful impulse which in painting, in music, in the drama and the dance later spread throughout the civilized world : for it is not too much to say that everything which now goes by the name of modernism had Russia for its cradle. It is significant in this connection that Stanislavsky enlisted Roerich’s aid in the Moscow Art Theatre, that Stravinsky dedicated to him the Sacre du Printemps, for which Roerich designed the original mise-en-scène, and that Andriev, Gorky, Mestrovic, Zuloaga, Tagore and others throughout the world, who represent the newness, have paid him the tribute of their homage and their praise.

Coming to America with an exhibition of his paintings, at the invitation of the Chicago Art Institute, Roerich immediately took steps to resume and repeat the work he had inaugurated in Russia, that of uniting the arts, and thus uniting men through beauty, for he believed, as many others are coming to believe, that beauty is the universal and true solvent whereby racial and national animosities may be dissolved. To this end, he founded, with the help of friends, a school in which all of the fine arts were to be taught, under the title of Master Institute of United Arts, and a year later he established Corona Mundi, an International Art Center. The school passed through those vicissitudes which usually beset enterprises of this character in a civilization such as ours, the best image of which would be a rush-light in a wind-swept darkness – but it survived, and has today a permanent home on Riverside Drive, New York. Other vast outlines, sketched by Roerich at this time, have not been filled in : they include Cor Ardens, an affiliation of the creators of beauty everywhere throughout the world, and Alatas, an international, non-commercial publishing association for the interchange and dissemination of new and constructive ideas through the mediumship of the “art preservative.”

I mention these enterprises to show the vast sweep of Roerich’s vision, to indicate his function as a prophet and pioneer, clearly foreseeing and quietly planning a better order in a world still in the grip of its so recent terrible nightmare, not yet risen from a bed drenched with blood and stained by tears.

Should his prophecies come true, and should his dreams of binding humanity into a brotherhood through beauty materialize, it is for this that he will doubtless be most honored and longest remembered, but to us, his contemporaries, he is naturally best known as a painter of hauntingly beautiful pictures. These are of all kinds and on a vast variety of subjects, but in general they represent nature strained though a mystical consciousness – the light that is on sea and land translated, by some potent magic, into the light that never was on sea or land. Roerich satisfies the idealist without affronting the realist. Mukerji, the Hindu novelist and poet, remarked to a friend that if he wanted to know how the Himalayas impressed a beholder, he should see Roerich’s paintings of them, because along with true rendering of their form and color, something of their spirit was communicated too.

After a brief sojourn in America he forsook the ordered and easy life of cities, and unappalled by the rigors, dangers and difficulties of such a quest, he set out for Asia, “trailing clouds of glory” as he went, so to speak, in the shape of paintings of the Grand Canyon, the Santa Fe country, the Pacific, India and the Far East. The culmination of his life work, up to the present, is in those groups of paintings named by him “The Tibetan Path,” “Himalaya,” and “Banners of the East.” These are freighted with mystical meanings which, even though unintelligible to all save the initiated, yet act upon the unenlightened consciousness as does perfume upon the senses, or as music upon the emotions. It is not that Roerich attempts to be deliberately cryptic – on the contrary, a very great deal of his symbolism is almost naïve in its simplicity – but the average mind so resents the very idea of esotericism, that it closes itself to a certain extent.

Roerich’s symbolism, as I say, requires no glossary, possessing the characteristics of directness and universality. An example of his general method is seen in that painting of what he names the Messiah series, entitled, “The Miracle.” It represents a titan valley, not unlike the Grand Canyon, a world primeval, stark, rock-strewn, without visible flora or fauna. Prominent in the foreground is a natural bridge, and over this bridge passes a road. On the near side of the bridge are a few human figures, prostrate before the miracle of a great radiance coming from behind the bridge, the aura of some supernatural presence whose figure is not yet visible. Here is a simple, natural symbology subject perhaps to different interpretations, but none of them contradictory. Considered objectively, the picture is simply a dramatization of that expectancy of a messiah which is so general nowadays, and it holds forth the healing promise, that though his presence is not seen, his aura brightens the darkness, his influence is already felt. Considered from the standpoint of subjectivity, the denuded valley might symbolize the condition of the soul after trials and purgations; the road, the “small old path” to freedom and perfection; the bridge, that stage on that path where the transit is effected between the lower and the higher consciousness; the prostrate figures, those “qualities” which must be redeemed and “carried over,” awe-struck at the miracle of the felt approach of the “golden person” bringing release from the bondage through the shining of the inward light.

But the great merit of this picture, freighted as it is with meaning (and that of others of its class), lies in its beauty of color and composition. The mystic and metaphysician in Roerich never submerge the artist, with the result that when he permits himself the use of symbols he is still lyrical and not literary: his pictures are not sermons, but songs. “The Miracle,” despite the fact that it conveys a message, is not a morality so much as a delight to the visual sense, abounding in spatial rhythms and color harmonies as fine and subtle as those of some priceless old yellow Chinese rug. The “story” is there, but the final indelible impression is one of beauty, and this is as it should be, for in the hierarchy of trades and talents the creative artist is nearest to the throne of God.

Of Roerich’s archæological pictures I shall not speak, nor of his pioneer work in the theatre, important as that has been, because I feel that these things, which at one time absorbed his mind and dominated his consciousness have since become far less important to him than what I shall call his mystical quest. One has the feeling that in everything he does he is seeking the hidden truth, the unrevealed beauty, the Lost Word, in point of fact. Like some mighty indefatigable hunter, armed not with a gun, but with his pen and brushes, he stalks his quarry across oceans, rivers, mountains, though knowing all the while that the thing he is seeking is in himself. Both in his writing and in his paint­ing he permits us to participate in this adventure, and thus draw nearer to that truth which is beauty, and that beauty which is truth.

CLAUDE BRAGDON

Journal : The River Sarasvati And Its People

Part II : Unbroken Continuum Since 8000 BC

http://www.scribd.com/doc/7734365/2Chapter-08-93117

Some Pics are borrowed from http://www.harappa.com/indus2/index.html

priestking

I am uploading this address by an archeologist, by someone who has and offers the whole picture of ancient Indian history from bits and pieces we have of it. It is hard to disagree with everything he propounds. More importantly, the facts highlight the Christian, Islamic, British and American hegemonist leadership of the world is found so much on shortsight : they just did not and do not have enough history, enough cumulative collective experience behind them to judge and assess the sense of direction with an universal and time-integrated perspective.

It is like someone setting the direction without being informed enough. China, which seems to be the next partial hegemonist in line, has likewise long repudiated the wisdom from its old continuum and is ever since seized with expedience. India in her current demogogue situation, scrambled belief and broken circumstance will have to wait. But it has the continuum to empower itself when the jigsaw harmonises. It will step up when, as the saying goes, “its people will have exhausted all their follies.” The nation, which humanised even wars with set rules, will then be able to articulate and will be heard.

The Mother of Indian Civilization

by B. B. Lal, Padma Bhushan

Former Director General, ASI

Former Director, IIAS, Shimla

(Paraphrased Here Below)

I speak of the Sarasvat∂ basin and beyond in the 3rd millennium BCE, of a civilisation that had its roots deep into the 5th millennium BCE, if not earlier. It has left a lasting contribution to Indian culture, as it is even today.

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The River Sarasvati

Unfortunately, there are historians who doubt even her identity. What an irony ! One of these non-believers, noted historian Prof R.S. Sharma, was in limelight during mid-1990s as a Babri Masjid protagonist, had the uncharitable generosity of remarking (Sharma1999 : 35) :

“The fundamentalists want to establish the superiority of the Sarasvat∂ over the Indus because of communal considerations. In the Harappan context they think that after the partition the Indus belongs to the Muslims and only the Sarasvat∂ remains with the Hindus.”

What an unfounded accusation ! The learned Professor goes on to say : ” The Sarasvat∂ receives much attention in the Rig Veda and several sukta sare devoted to it… It seems to have been a great river with perennial water. The Hakra and the Ghaggar cannot match it. The earliest Sarasvat∂ is considered identical with the Helmand in Afghanistan which is called Harakhwati in the Åvestå.”

First and foremost, it is imperative that we take into full account what the Rigveda itself has to say about the location of this river. Verses 5 and 6 of the famous Nad∂-stuti hymn of the Rigveda (10.75.5-6) lists several rivers known to Vedic people in a serial order from east to west, i.e. from the Ga∆gå-Yamumå to the Indus and its western tributaries. In this enumeration, Sarasvat∂ is mentioned between the Yamunå and the Sutlej.

” O Sindhu (Indus), flowing

Thou first meet the Trishtåmå,

Then the Susartu, Raså and the Vetå (Swat),

And thereafter Kubhå (Kabul),

Gomat∂ (Gomal), Krumu (Kurram) with the Mehatnu,

And (finally) you move on

In the same chariot with them (i.e. carry their waters with you).”

Does the Harakhwat∂ of the  Åvestå, identified by Sharma with modern Helmand in Afghanistan, foot this unambiguous geographical bill? Surely, not. There is no Yamunå or Sutlej in Afghanistan to sandwich the supposed Sarasvat∂ (Harakhwati).

” O Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati,

Shutudri (Sutlej) and Parushni (Iravati, Ravi) !

This hymn is in your praise.

O Asikni (Chenab) Marudvriddha, Vitasta (Jhelum),

With Arjikiya (Haro) and Sushoma (Sohan) !

Listen, and accept this hymn.”

Further, RV 3.23.4 mentions the Drishadvat∂ and Åpayå as tributaries of the Sarasvat∂ and there are no rivers by these names in Afghanistan. On the other hand, these two rivers are located in Haryana and Rajasthan in India.

Finally, there is the oft-quoted hymn, RV 7.95.2 :

” ekåchetat Sarasvat∂ nad∂nåm ‹uchir yati giribhya å samudråt/ ” which clearly states that the Sarasvat∂ flowed all the way from the mountains to the ocean. While there do exist mountains in Afghanistan, there is no ocean. Then, how does one make the Helmand ( the supposed-to-be Sarasvat∂) fall into the ocean and conform to the geographical description in the Rigveda ?

Having said that, which river in India meets all the three pointed descriptions referred to above, namely : (i) location between the Yamunå and Sutlej; (ii) existence of the Drishadvat∂ and Åpayå as its tributaries; and (iii) flowing into the ocean.

There does flow a river called the Sarasvat∂ (locally, sursati or sarsuti) between the Yamunå and Sutlej and thus passes the first of these tests. Today it starts at the foot of Siwalik hills and flows through Panjab into Haryana, passes by the towns of Pipli, Kurukshetra and Pehowa, and merges into the Ghaggar, which dries up near Sirsa. The dry bed of Ghaggar, which varies in width from 2 to even 8 kilometres at places (Yash Pal et al. 1984), is traceable all the way to the sea, cutting across the Indian border at Cholistan (now in Pakistan), where it is called the Hakra.

We quote from a study by Louis Flam (1999) :

” From Fort Derawar to the south, the Hakra can be aligned with the Raini and Wahinda remnants, which subsequently connect with and blend into the Nara channel. ….. In addition to the Sindhu Nadi [Indus], the Nara Nadi has been recognized as an exclusive perennial river which flowed in the north-eastern, east-central and south-eastern portions of the lower Indus basin during the fourth and third millennia BC. ….”

The Drishadvat∂, also now as dry as Sarasvat∂, has been identified with present day River Chautang. Passing by the towns of Bhadra, Nohar, etc., it joins the Sarasvat∂-Ghaggar combine near Suratgarh. Maps show the existence of a huge Sarasvati Valley settlement, Kalibangan, which came up at the confluence. And there are scores of smaller ancient towns, excavated and not, along the course of river Drishadvati.

Thus the data today available leaves no doubt that the Sarasvat∂-Ghaggar combine, which is now dry beyond Sirsa but flowed in ancient times all the way down to the sea, is none other than the Rigvedic Sarasvat∂. While Professor Sharma takes delight in dubbing Indian historians as “fundamentalist”, he does not use the epithet for scholars like C.F. Oldham (1893) and A. Stein (1942) who too have had no hesitation in identifying the Ghaggar-Hakra combine with the °Rigvedic Sarasvat∂. In fact, Stein’s 1942-paper even bears the caption : A Survey of Ancient Sites along the Lost Saraswati River …

In the basin of this Rigvedic Sarasvat∂, westwards up to the Indus and even down to Gujarat, there flourished in the third millennium BCE a mighty civilization which in many ways overshadowed some of the other contemporary civilizations of the ancient world. Having been excavated first at Harappa, this civilization came to be known as the Harappan Civilization. With the excavations at Mohenjo-daro on the Indus, it was given a name after that river. During the past five decades, hundreds of sites have been discovered in the Sarasvat∂ basin in India and Pakistan and thus a new name has come into vogue, namely the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization.

Sarasvati Valley Settlements

Excavated on the Indian side, one may refer to a few important sites : Kalibangan, Banawali, Rakhigarhi, Dhalewan, Rupnagar, Kunal and Bhirrana. Each one of these has added something new to our knowledge since the days when Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were excavated. But here we shall refer only briefly to some of these discoveries. Kalibangan, located on the left bank of the Ghaggar in Hanumangarh District of Rajasthan, has shown for the first time that not only was the smaller part of the settlement – the Citadel – fortified but the larger one, known as the Lower Town, was also well protected.

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Subsequent excavations at several other sites on the Sarasvat∂, as also those in Gujarat in India and at Harappa itself in Pakistan, have shown that putting up of fortifications around both the units of the settlement was indeed a normal feature with the Harappans. Further, the streets at Kalibangan show that in width these bore an inter se ratio of 1:2:3:4, the actual measurements being 1.8, 3.6, 5.4 and 7.2 metres. What a meticulous layout !

These sites have also negated the one-time theory that the Harappan Civilization was monotonous. Indeed, each site has shown its own features in respect of the integration of the two units, namely the Citadel and the Lower Town. Though not located in the Sarasvat∂ valley, we may draw attention to Dholavira in Gujarat (Bisht 1991), which consisted of three units, viz. the Citadel, the Middle Town and the Lower Town. Such divisions of the settlement do call for a re-assessment of the socio-political set-up of the Harappan Civilization. Kalibangan has brought to light a sizeable settlement which preceded the Mature Harappan stage. But even this settlement was fortified.

Further, two no less remarkable observations were made about this Early Harappan township. First, it was the discovery of an agricultural field, laid out on a criss-cross pattern, with the widely-distanced furrows running north-south and the narrower ones going east-west … a pattern which is in vogue even today in Rajasthan and Haryana. These days the farmers grow mustard in thewidely-distanced furrows and grams inthe other; and one can well imagine a similar pattern of crops having existed during Harappan times.

Incidentally, the Kalibangan agricultural field is the earliest of its kind ever brought to light through an excavation. The Early Harappan settlement at Kalibangan, which began some time at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE, was brought to an end by an earthquake, as evidenced by faulted strata and ruptured walls. Datable to around 2700 BCE, this is the earliest earthquake ever to have been identified in an excavation.

Kalibangan is not alone in yielding the remains of the Early Harappan settlement. Most of the other sites mentioned in an earlier paragraph also inform us about their life and their ways. Indeed, Rakhigarhi (Nath 1998-99) has thrown up nearly 4.5 metres of Early Harappan deposits, which cry for a horizontal excavation in order to throw further light on this stage. Kunal (Khatri and Acharya 1995) is yet another site which is noteworthy in this regard. It has given evidence that, at the beginning, people lived in pit-houses and thereafter constructed over-ground houses made of mud bricks. Their pottery, having a red surface, was painted in black outline with white in-filling. The designs included the pipal-leaf and the peacock, which at once remind us of their Mature Harappan counterparts.

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Even in the Early Harappan Stage, people used seals though these were not inscribed as were the (later) Mature Harappan ones. Further, what is most remarkable is the discovery of silver ornaments from within a pot in a large-sized house at Kunal. These included two tiaras, small and large, each with a fully opened flower having petals topped with a decoration ! The excavator has a reasonable case for believing that these may have belonged to the chief of the settlement, throwing light on the then political set-up. And the surprise, as Carbon-14 dates suggest, the settlement at Kunal may well have begun in the last quarter of the 4th millennium BCE.

At Bhirrana, we have discovered sizeable remains of a stage of settlement that is clearly earlier than that of the earliest at Kunal. It is characterised by a pottery known in archaeological terminology as Hakra Ware, first identified at sites in the Hakra (Sarasvat∂) valley in Cholistan. The Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, has provided the following C-14 dates for the early (not the earliest) levels of the site (Rao etal. 2005).

Sample No. BS 2314. Calibrated age: 1 Sigma 4770 (4536, 4506, 4504 BC) 4353 BCE

Sample No. BS 2318. Calibrated age: 1 Sigma 5336 (5041) 4721 BCE

Sample No. BS 2333. Calibrated age: 1 Sigma 6647 (6439) 6221 BCE

Even if we temporarily ignore Sample No. BS 2333, the other two samples clearly show that the ancestry of the Harappa Culture in the Sarasvat∂ Valley goes back to the beginning of the fifth millennium BCE. For all one knows, further field-work in the Sarasvat∂ basin, which is a crying need of the hour, may reveal a stage earlier than that of the Hakra Ware !

How The River Disappeared

With roots going back to 5th millennium BCE and earlier, it is evident that the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization was raised by people local to the region. It was indigenous to this country and thus its authors too, to borrow an expression, were “sons of the soil.”

Let us revisit Kalibangan, a noteworthy site of the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization on the bank of now-dry Sarasvat∂ river. When site excavations were over in 1960s, we were naturally keen to ascertain the reasons for drying up of this river, since the massive settlement at Kalibangan could not have flourished without the life-giving waters of the adjacent river.

With this end in view, a project combining the efforts of the Archaeological Survey of India, Geological Survey of India and an Italian firm named Raikes and Partners (headed by R.L. Raikes), was launched. Bore-holes were dug in the river-bed, which brought to light a greyish sand at a depth of about 11 m below the present flood-plain; and it was very similar in mineral content to that found in the bed of present-day Yamuna river. It was a clear indication that the source of the Ghaggar-Sarasvat∂ lay high up in the Himalayas, from where the Yamunå also originated, thus making their sand deposits identical. However, no less important was the revelation, as explained by Raikes in his 1968-paper, “Kalibangan : Death from Natural Causes,” that the Harappan settlement at Kalibangan came to a sudden end because of the drying up of Sarasvat∂.

How did the Sarasvat∂ dry up ? Geologists (Puri and Verma 1998) have shown that major seismic activity in the Himalayan region caused the rise of Bata-Markanda Divide, which is as much as 30 metres in height. It blocked the westward flow of the Sarasvat∂. Since there was the Yamunå Tear opening not far off, the water found its exit into the Yamunå system. Thus the Sarasvat∂ was left high and dry and, in consequence, its valley was abandoned by Mature Harappans. They moved north-eastwards into the region between the upper reaches of Yamunå and Ga∆gå, as is evident by the presence of many Late Harappan sites in that region but hardly a few of Mature Harappan phase.

It is also interesting to note that the drying up of the Sarasvat∂ finds a mention in the later Vedic literature as well. Thus, says the Panchavimsa Brahmana (XXV.10.16) :

” At a distance of a journey of forty days on horseback from the spot where the Sarasvat∂ is lost (in the sands of the desert), (is situated) Plaksha Pråsravana…” (Calandís translation 1931, reprint 1982, p.636).

The next question is : Is it possible to date the drying up of the Sarasvat∂ ?

As just mentioned, the Mature Harappan occupation at Kalibangan had to be given up suddenly because of stoppage of water-supply due to drying up of the adjacent river.

The radiocarbon dates show that this abandonment of Kalibangan took place around 2000 BCE (Lal 1997:245-46). It follows, therefore, that this was approximately the time when the Sarasvat∂ dried up. Now, since the Sarasvat∂ was a mighty flowing river during the Rigvedic times that dried up around 2000 BCE, the Rig Veda itself obtains for itself a date earlier than 2000 BCE. But, how much earlier … by 500 years, 1000 years or even more ? It demands reasonable projections, based on an understanding of civilisational build up and decay cycles and on actual correlating evidence – archeological, literary and liquistic.

Cf. “Alternate History” Series @ https://vamadevananda.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/journal-alternate-history-10/

What are the ramifications of such a dating of the Rig Veda in terms of history ? To recall, according to the famous Nad∂-stuti Sµukta of the Rig Veda (RV 10.75.5-6, quoted earlier), the area occupied by the Rigvedic Aryans extended from the upper reaches of the Ga∆gå-Yamunå on the east to the Indus and its western tributaries on the west.

Indus Saravati And Indo – Aryan People

The fact occasions a simple question :

Who were these authors of Indus Sarasvati Civilisation ?

Our reply lies through a counter question : Which archaeological culture flourished in this very area during the pendency of the Rigvedic times, i.e. prior to 2000 BCE ? The inescapable answer : The Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization and none else. In other words, the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization and the Vedas are two faces of the same coin. As discussed earlier, the C-14 dates from Bhirrana show that the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization was indigenous. It thus becomes a natural corollary, arising from what has just been stated in the preceding paragraph, that the authors of the Vedas were indigenous and not invaders or immigrants, as held by some scholars.

And now to the final question : Did this Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization die out or has it left any impress on the Indian civilization ?

Writing in 1947, Mortimer Wheeler asserted as follows :

” What destroyed this firmly-settled civilization ? Climatic, economic, political deterioration may have weakened it, but its ultimate extinction is more likely to have been completed by deliberate and large-scale destruction. It may be no mere chance that at a late period of Mohenjo-daro men, women and children appear to have been massacred there. On circumstantial evidence, Indra stands accused.” (Emphasis added.)

A detailed analysis of Wheelerís statement has been made by many scholars (e.g. Dales1964; Lal 2002 : 69-70; Renfrew 1988: 188 &190). In summary, there is no case for an Aryan Invasion nor for the extinction of the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization. Further, as fully explained in my Inaugural Address delivered at the 19th International Conference on South Asian Archaeology, held at University of Bologna, Ravenna, Italy, July 2-6, 2007, there is also no case for an Aryan Immigration (supposedly from the Bactria-Margiana region) (Cf. Lal 2007).

There is no doubt that the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization did not continue ad infinitum in its Matureí form; and this is a most normal happenning with any civilization.

With over-exploitation of agricultural land,

change of climate,

drying up of the Sarasvat∂ river,

sharp fall in internal as well as external trade

and allied reasons … all the trappings of urban living

such as meticulous town-planning, weights and measures,

seals and sealings, the system of writing, etc.

began to disappear from the scene.

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The cities made way for villages which must have whispered to one another : Cities may come and cities may go, but we go on for ever. But in this urban-to-rural reversal, the down-to-earth way of life still continued unhindered.

I have given a detailed exposition of this remarkable phenomenon in my 2002-book, The Sarasvat∂ Flows on : The Continuity of Indian Culture, and would not dilate on the subject here. However, to put it succinctly, there is no walk of life in which the cultural continuity is not reflected, whether it be make-up by ladies, agricultural activities, food-habits, games, bed-side stories narrated by grandmothers to children, religious worship, and so on.

The unbroken continuum from those city-folks 5000 years ago to this day is, in fact, striking. At Nausharo site, we’ve discovered a painted Terracotta female figure. The yellow colour on ornaments suggests that these were made of gold; the hair is black, while the red on the line of partition of the hair in the middle indicates the use of vermilion. It is dated 2800-2600 BCE but could as well portray an Indian woman you may accost anywhere in Indian streets today.

Likewise, at Mohenjo-daro, in Mature Harappan era … the famous bronze figure of a dancing girl, wearing spiralled bangles on the upper left arm, reminds us of rural women in Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat, who adorn themselves similarly in present times.

The gold cone discovered at Mohenjo-daro, called “chauk” in Hindi, is still used by ladies in Haryana and Rajasthan. Even cosmetic gadgetry is no exception. Thus, a three-in-one gadget of copper from Harappa has its modern counterpart. Of the three objects, the pointed one is used for cleaning the spaces between the teeth, the cup-ended tool is used for taking wax out of the ears, and the tweezers are for picking up tiny hair that often grow in old age on the inner side of the eyelids.

The rural people in Rajasthan and Haryana even today plough their agricultural fields in the same style as did their forefathers 5000 years ago. An Early Harappan field discovered at Kalibangan and ascribable to circa 2800 BCE has two sets of furrows, cutting each other at right angles. Of these, the ones with a greater intermediary distance (1.9m) run north-south, while the others at a distance of mere 30 cm run east-west. It is surprising, yet true, that the same pattern is followed even today by Indian peasants : they grow mustard in the wide-distance furrows and gram in the others. It is most likely that the Harappan people did the same.

We find too, bullock-carts in rural India today built on the same pattern as were the Harappan ones. And that is not all. At Harappa, we’ve discovered cart-tracks beneath the Cemetery H and thus ascribable to the late 3rd millennium BCE. It is astonishing that the gauge computed from these tracks is exactly the same as that in case of modern Sindhi carts !

Grandmothers often take the grandchildren to their beds and narrate some fairy tales before putting them to sleep. The paintings discovered on pots at Lothal, the well-known Harappan site in Gujarat, bring out some of these stories. One of them shows a crow, a pitcher, a tree, a deer and again a tree. The story depicted is a well known one, viz. that of The Thirsty Crow. According to it, briefly, a thirsty deer came across a pitcher with some water in it. He tried to drink water from it, but his long antlers did not permit him to put his head inside it. Disappointed, he was about to leave. Just then, a thirsty crow appeared on the scene. Even on finding that the water inside the pitcher was at a low level, he did not lose heart. He picked up tiny pebbles lying nearby and dropped them into the pitcher. As the level of the water rose, he drank to his heart’s content. The painting shows the crow just withdrawing his beak from the pitcher and the bewildered deer looking back at it.

Thirsty Crow

Religion is again something that gets deeply ingrained in human psyche and its elements continue generation after generation. We all know about the depiction of a figure on a seal from Mohenjo-daro that has been identified with Shiva, in the form of Pasupati. But the discovery of a terracotta linga – cum – yoni from a Harappan level at Kalibangan re-confirms the antiquity of Shaivism. Further, on a terracotta tablet found at Harappa is depicted a person piercing a buffalo with a harpoon-end long rod, evidently as a sacrificial offering to the Shiva-like deity seated on the right. The practice of sacrificing a buffalo before Shiva is still prevalent in parts of Himachal Pradesh.

Pasupati

Yogic åsana, a craze not only in India but across the world, goes back to Harappan times. A terracota seal shows several åsanas and, to cap, there is the famous limestone figure of a priest in dhyåna-mudrå (meditative pose). And finally, there is a terracotta from Harappa, greeting you and me with a “namaste” in typical Indian style, as is the norm to this day !

Asanas - Posture

*** **

From what has been stated in the above paragraphs, the following facts emerge :

  1. The Sarasvat∂ of the Rig Veda is not the Helmand of Afghanistan, but the present-day Sarasvat∂-Ghaggar combine in India.

  2. In its basin there flourished a mighty civilization called variously the Harappan, Indus or Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization.

  3. In the Sarasvat∂ basin, its roots go back to the 5th millennium BCE (radiocarbon dates from Bhirrana), if not earlier. This clearly shows that the Indus-Sarasvat∂ Civilization was indigenous.

  4. Hydrological – cum – archaeological – cum – radiocarbon – dating evidence shows that the Sarasvat∂ dried up around 2000 BCE.

  5. Since during the Rigvedic times the Sarasvat∂ was a mighty flowing river, the Rig Veda must be dated prior to 2000 BCE.

  6. According to RV 10.75.5-6, the Vedic Aryans occupied the region between the upper reaches of the Ga∆gå-Yamunå on the east to the Indus on the west.

  1. Which archaeological culture flourished in this very region and during the Rigvedic times, i.e. prior to 2000 BCE ? The only answer is : the Indus – Sarasvat∂ Civilization.

  2. Thus, the Indus – Sarasvat∂ Civilization and the Vedas are two faces of the same coin.

  3. Since, as seen from No. 3 (above), the Indus – Sarasvat∂ Civilization was indigenous, it becomes self-evident that the Vedic Aryans were indigenous. This lays at rest the view that they were invaders or even immigrants.

  4. As seen from a number of examples, this civilization did not die away but is still living in Indian culture and psyche.

Sacrificing To Shiva

 

Journal : The River Sarasvati And Its People

Part I : The Saga Of The Quest

http://www.slideshare.net/jannap/vedic-river-sarasvati

The Saga of the Quest for the River Sarasvati :

M.A. Jayashree, M.A. Narasimhan and Haribhau Vaze

There has been many a saga in the history of mankind that has captured the imagination of generations of humanity. In our millennium we speak of adventures of Marco Polo, Columbus’ discovery of the shores of America, Amundsen’s expedition to the North Pole, Vasco da Gama reaching the shores of Bharata and many more. All these look dramatic and fascinating when we realise they were undertaken more with courage and determination than in the security of reliable information. Yet they succeeded in obtaining for posterity enormous benefits in terms of the perspective about the world that we lived in.

One such saga of recent times is the quest for river Sarasvati. Looking back, we see the formidable obstacles that one faced in trying to investigate the history of a river that was non-existent and believed to be a myth : Was there was a real physical river called Sarasvati or was it just a myth, a poetic creation of the Aryans ? If such a river existed where did it flow ? How are we to trace its source, course and termination ? If it did exist : why, how and when did the river disappear ? If it was an ancient river with claims as the cradle of an ancient civilization, is there any archaeological evidence of the its banks ?

Louis Renous 1947 map of the Sarasvati basin

Added to the confusion was the reverential and emotive association Bharatiyas had with the River Sarasvati, that made them identify every other river, big or small, with the divine river Sarasvati itself. They still have the same inclusive approach and attitude towards the rive Ganga. Thus the Haradvati that flows in the north-west region was also Sarasvati. It was the third (invisble) river at Sangam, the confluence of Ganaga and Yamuna at Prayag. A branch of Ganga near Calcutta, a river flowing from Abu to Khambayat in Gujarat, the river that joins the ocean at the Prabhasa Kshetra … all are called Sarasvati. Under such a condition, in the hostile atmosphere of the world of historians monopolised by western scholars who were bent upon proving that the existence of river Sarasvati was a myth, that all literary evidence were figments of imagination and who, demanding material evidence for proof, declared that the quest and the search for it was an exercise in futility, there were bravehearts who proceeded undeterred.

The “Quest For River Sarasvati” scholars came together under the banner of Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Samiti. Yes, we call them brave because they staked their international academic reputation to chase a myth and to prove that the seeming mirage was in fact a reality. The academic world scoffed at them and laughed at the venture. Well, it did last for more than a decade. Most of them are no longer with us now to celebrate the fruition of their foundational quest. This post is to honour and pay homage to them.

Our deepest appreciation and gratitude goes to pioneer Sri Sridhara Vaman Wakanker and his team Sarasvati Samshodhana Mandal. At the same time we recall that the quest for river Sarasvati has a long history, spanning nearly two centuries. All scholars and lovers of Bharata and its heritage fell under the spell of this mysterious river Sarasvati, after going through the vast Vedic literature. They did their best to verify the physical existence of the river with tools then available. The voluntary attempts of Oldham (1893), Wadia (1938), Amal Ghosh(1960), H.S. Parikh (1965), WilHelmi (1969), Alwin, Goudse, and Dr. Hegde(1978) merit our scholarly attention.

Extensive studies to survey the invisible course of Sarasvati in 1942 by Gen Cunningham, Arthur A. Macdonnel, A.B. Keith and Aurel Stein were well publicized. In 1963, Dr Narasimha Narayana Godbole surveyed the route of the Sarasvati in Rajasthan. Dr. M.A. Krishnan gives us in detail the course of the river in his work, Geology of India and Burma, published in 1968. Dr M.N. Godbole’s monumental work, Rgvedic Sarasvati, based on geological research throws more light on many of the ticklish problems associated with the quest.

The current quest had its origin in 1981, when Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, Nagpur, was celebrating the District History Day at Kurukshetra, in the presence of Sri M.N. Pingale, the Working President of Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, who drew the attention of the audience to the need and relevance of a research work on the lost Vedic river Sarasvati and the possible consequences of that research on the ancient history of Bharata. Dr. Vishnu Sridhar Wakankar, the senior most archaeologist of the country then, explained with great fervor the archaeological importance of the issue. Immediately there was a vociferous demand from the audience for setting up of a Samiti for such a “Quest.” Thus, the All India Project of Sarasvati Shodhan was born.

It took nearly four years to investigate, consolidate, plan and recruit eminent scholars to form a team to launch the Sarasvati Shodhan project. It was termed as Quest Mandal Expedition and was inaugurated on Tuesday, the 19th Nov. 1985 by the steersman of the Quest, Sri M.N. Pingale. The Quest Mandal headed by Padmashri Dr. V.S. Wakankar, with a team of scholars belonging to all branches of knowledge, set out for Adi Badri in Himachal Pradesh, the presumed source of river Sarasvati. Points of fact were jotted down meticulously as and when they emerged during the visits. Photographs were taken wherever they were considered relevant. Audio tapes, about 19, were effectively put to use to collect more important information related to the river. The notes thus prepared covered a wide canvas including literary sources, art, history, poetry, archaeological remains, oral observations, traditional references, etc.

The Quest team also recorded age-old stories and songs which were full of reverential references to the Sarasvati River from the Charans who reside in Palloo, Bikaner and Karani Devi of Rajasthan. The Charans, as is well known, make their living by singing folk-songs with stories of past heroes and legends.

The Quest got a fortunate filip when the team was provided with clinching evidence about the dried-up river Sarasvati. The Arid Zone Research Institute gave authentic data that literally broke through the great haze of obstruction holding up the quest. A NASA satellite launched in 1972 had taken pictures of a dried-up huge river which ran from the Himalayas to the Rann of Kachchh. The images had been analysed by many scientists associated with scientific institutions of India but none had recognised its historic worth. The compiled information handed over by Dr. Agarwal consisted of studies done on this dried-up river bed by Bimal Ghose et al. (1979), Ramasamy, Bakliwal and Verma (1991), Yash Pal et al. (1980).

The accurate scientific data regarding the course of the river and the time when it went dry gave a powerful impetus to the Quest. The images sent by LandSat disclosed the following : The width of the Ghaggar Sarasvati bed was on an average between 6 and 8 km from its entry in Punjab to present-day Marot in Pakistan; the course of Markanda River got diverted to north-east of Kshatrana and even today the river Sarasvati flows through this route during rainy seasons; the dried-up Y-2 route indicated the width of the present day Choutang River and its confluence with Ghaggar near Suratgarh.

It was clear from the received images that the ancient Ghaggar River got bifurcated near Anupgarh, with one branch getting lost near Marot and the other losing itself at Baireena. It meant that during that period the banks of Sarasvati River had spread to these two places. Incidentally, these details point to a possibility of the Vinashana Tirthin Sarasvati, where Balaram of the Mahabharata offered his reverence to his late father, and that it could be situated near about these two places. The Quest team therefore decided to search for :

1. Information about the course of the river from Adi Badri

through the plains and regions close to Sindhusagar.

2. Traces and collections of the remains and reminiscences

in the environment.

But the search route as indicated by the LandSat was a stupendous, as the dried-up bed was expansive. Dr. Wakankar studied the dried-up bed of Sarasvati with his fellow researchers from archaeological point of view. He was thus able to concentrate their month-long quest only on select spots. The Quest team went though Adi Badri, Ambala District, where the Sarasvati slides into the plains after crossing the mountainous area through Kanthghar, and then to the Shivalik mountain ranges starting from Jagadhari(Yugandhara), beyond which stands the mountain Manu, where the Sarasvati, icy and hidden, flows as an undercurrent through the cracks, crevices and cleavages of the mountains.

The team also visited YamunaNagar, Sarasvata Nagar (Mustafabad), and then on to Kurukshetra where the seed of the whole quest had been sown. At Kurukshetra, under the guidance of Pandit Sthanudatta Sharma, the team went to the actual site of the river Sarasvati in the celebrated city. Remnants and reports related to the site gave the team enough information, motivating them to study in depth the city of Kurukshetra in the context of the course of the lost river. Stone implements of the Prehistoric period were collected in a large quantities from all places visited by the team : painted mud-pots of pre-Harappan period, which are also available in the valleys of Sarasvati (Ghaggar) and Drshadvati (Choutang) at Bhagvanpur, Banavali, Sirisha, Mitthal, Raja Karn ka Keela, Doulatpur, Mirjapur, Sudha, Balu, Kudal, Agroha and nearby places. The team also did a close study of 20 to 30 metres long sand-dunes of Bikaner. In Gujarat, the team visited Ambaji mountains, where Bhel trees are in abundance, and then on to Koteshvar where one stream of the Sarasvati flows underneath.

6-f539097c93

The river, after playing hide and seek, finally emerges on the surface at Siddapur to meet the Nala Sarovar. This mountain range, part of Ambaji, is known as Mainaka, the source of Gurjar Sarasvati. Kunwar, on the banks of Nanuran (Nanukaccha), where the Sarasvati enters the ocean in sevenfolds (saptadha), was the next destination of study. Now Nanu is a sandy desert. Near one of the seven streams, Dr. V.S. Wakankar found pieces of an egg of a Shakha Mrga that helped him to conclude the period of Kunwar could be at least 25-50 thousand years BC. Later, the team came across an old ocean coast harbour called Lothal, which was an ancient city of Nanukaccha. A dockyard specially meant for repair of ships was discovered there. Now there has been an in depth study of Lothal showing the maritime capabilities of our ancestors.

Travelling eastward, on the banks of the Gurjar Sarasvati of ancient times, the team came to the vicinity of the holy Somnath mandir at the junction of rivers Gautami, Hiranmayi and Sarasvati. Thus, the Quest pilgrimage covering a distance of about 4000 km came to an end. Curiously, this Quest did not come up with just a report on the course, date and the civilization that prospered on the banks of the fabled river, as it happens with almost all historical expeditions. It also indicated the possible sites on the banks of Sarasvati for archaeological excavation, the study of which would meet the challenge of proving whether this water mass, which was still flowing underground in most of the places, was really the same river that had its source in Himalayan glaciers.

That seeming impossibility evoked worldwide interest. Many teams of scientists came and did their own investigations and confirmed the existence of the river Sarasvati, proving that most of the narrative history of Bharat, be it folk or of the Vedas, was factual. The spin-off of this information was the opening of another avenue which has never been the forte of history : to resurrect the lost river and bring the hidden Gupta Gamini Sarasvati onto the surface !

That was the task taken up, again, by the Akhil Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Yojana under the title Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalpa. The Prakalpa is now engaged in enabling the waters of Sarasvati flow once again along its course, so that millions of hectares of parched land of this blessed country can become green and give life to over 200 million people. It also provides strength to the devout and vindicates their faith when he and she take a holy dip in their sacred river Sarasvati.

The Prakalpa plans to create National Water Grid in order to reach the Brahmaputra flood waters to Kanyakumari, making every river south of Vidhyas in India a perennial one (jeevanadi) and potentially adding 90 million acres of additional wetland, and enabling four-crop cultivation with availability of water round the year. This revolution would empower rural India consisting of more than half a million villages.

The revival of river Sarasvati is proceeding apace, as part of the National Water Grid : inter-linking of rivers, master plan drawn by National Water Development Agency. The waters of Manasarovar flowing through rivers Sutlej and Beas have already been brought to the Rajasthan Nahar (called Sarasvati Mahanadi Roop Nahar). The Sarasvati Nahar waters have now reached up to Gadhra Road in Barmer District, after traversing a distance of about 1000 km. Another 150 km extension of this Nahar will ensure that Sarasvati River waters will reach Rann of Kachchh and Gujarat.

It’s a miracle of gigantic proportion, my dear reader ! Especially when you consider that the desert of Rajasthan was threatening to extend up to Haryana and even Delhi, the capital city, barely a couple decades before.

The Saraswati Basin Civilisation

Journal : Alternate History

Presentation of  evidence for Indo-European homeland continues …

Inter-Familial Literary, after the researched linguistic and literary evidence earlier placed.

INTER-FAMILIAL LINGUISTICS

The historico-linguistic connection between Indo-European and other language families, like Uralic and Semitic, are projected by many scholars as linguistic evidence for the origin of the Indo-European family in or around South Russia. But the evidence we have discussed fails to prove the point. A rather complex and scientific analysis of such connections forms the subject of a paper by Johanna Nichols, significantly called The Epicentre of the Indo-European Linguistic Spread, which is part of a more detailed study contained in two volumes of  Archaeology and Language, of which the particular paper under discussion constitutes Chapter 8 of the first volume.

Nichols determines the location of “the epicentre of the Indo-European linguistic spread” primarily on the basis of an examination of loan-words from Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent of West Asia. As she points out, loan-words from this region must have spread out via three trajectories (or routes) :

To Central Europe via the Bosporus and the Balkans, to the western steppe via the Caucasus… and eastward via Iran to western Central Asia…”

The first step in specifying a locus for the IE homeland is to narrow it down to one of these three trajectories, and that can be done by comparing areal Wanderwörter in the IE cultural vocabulary to those of other language families that can be located relative to one or another trajectory in ancient times.”

Therefore, Nichols examines loan-words from West Asia (Semitic and Sumerian) found in Indo-European and in other families like Caucasian (separately Kartvelian, Abkhaz-Circassian and Nakh-Daghestanian), and the mode and form of transmission of these loan-words into the Indo-European family, as a whole as well as into particular branches; and she combines this with the evidence of the spread of Uralic and its connections with Indo-European. After a detailed examination, her final conclusions about the locus or epicentre of the Indo-European linguistic spread are as follows :

Several kinds of evidence for the PIE locus have been presented here.  Ancient loan-words point to a locus along the desert trajectory, not particularly close to Mesopotamia and probably far out in the eastern hinterlands.  The structure of the family tree, the accumulation of genetic diversity at the western periphery of the range, the location of Tocharian and its implications for early dialect geography, the early attestation of Anatolian in Asia Minor, and the geography of the centum-satem split all point in the same direction : a locus in western central Asia.  Evidence presented in Volume II supports the same conclusion : the long-standing westward trajectories of languages point to an eastward locus, and the spread of IE along all three trajectories points to a locus well to the east of the Caspian Sea. The satem shift also spread from a locus to the south-east of the Caspian, with satem languages showing up as later entrants along all three trajectory terminals. (The satem shift is a post-PIE but very early IE development).  The locus of the IE spread was therefore somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana.”

This linguistic evidence thus fits in perfectly with the literary and other evidence examined by us and with the theory outlined by us. Nichols’ analysis covers three concepts :

1. The Spread Zone: “The vast interior of Eurasia is a linguistic spread zone – a genetic and typological bottleneck where many genetic lines go extinct, structural types tend to converge, a single language or language family spreads out over a broad territorial range, and one language family replaces another over a large range every few millennia…”

2. The Locus: “The locus is a smallish part of the range which functions in the same way as a dialect-geographical centre : an epicentre of sorts from which innovations spread to other regions and dialects, and a catch-point at which cultural borrowings and linguistic loan-words entered from prestigious or economically important foreign societies to spread (along with native linguistic innovations) to the distant dialects.  If an innovation arose in the vicinity of the locus, or a loan-word entered, it spread to all or most of the family; otherwise, it remained a regionalism.  Diversification of daughter dialects in a spread zone takes place far from the locus at the periphery, giving the family tree a distinctive shape with many major early branches, and creating a distinctive dialect map where genetic diversity piles up at the periphery. These principles make it possible to pinpoint the locus in space more or less accurately even for a language family as old as IE.  Here it will be shown that the locus accounting for the distribution of loan-words, internal innovations and genetic diversity within IE could only have lain well to the east of the Caspian Sea.”

The specific location is “in the vicinity of Bactria-Sogdiana”.

The central Eurasian spread zone, as described in Volume II, was part of a standing pattern whereby languages were drawn into the spread zone, spread westward, and were eventually succeeded by the next spreading family.  The dispersal for each entering family occurred after entry into the spread zone. The point of dispersal for each family is the locus of its proto-homeland, and this locus eventually is engulfed by the next entering language.  Hence in a spread zone the locus cannot, by definition, be the point of present greatest diversity (except possibly for the most recent family to enter the spread zone).  On the contrary, the locus is one of the earliest points to be overtaken by the next spread.”

Further, “the Caspian Sea divides westward spreads into steppe versus desert trajectories quite close to the locus and hence quite early in the spread.”

3. The Original Homeland: “Central Eurasia is a linguistic bottleneck, spread zone, and extinction chamber, but its languages had to come from somewhere.  The locus of the IE spread is a theoretical point representing a linguistic epicentre, not a literal place of ethnic or linguistic origin, so the ultimate origin of PIE need not be in the same place as the locus.  There are several linguistically plausible possibilities for the origin of Pre-PIE.  It could have spread eastward from the Black Sea steppe (as proposed by Mallory 1989 and by Anthony 1991, 1995), so that the locus formed only after this spread but still very early in the history of disintegrating PIE… It could have come into the spread zone from the east as Mongolian, Turkic, and probably Indo-Iranian did.  Or it could have been a language of the early urban oases of southern central Asia.”

This linguistic evidence affirms all conditions that would locate the original Indo-European homeland in India, an exit-point in Afghanistan, and two streams of westward emigration or expansion. But Nichols does not advocate such a conclusion. She does propose or accepts the following :

a. The Pre-PIE language could have come from any direction (east or west), or could have been native to south Central Asia (Bactria-Sogdiana) itself… since the linguistic data only accounts for the later part of the movement, and not the earlier one.

b. The later part of the movement, as indicated by linguistic data, is in the opposite direction… that is, away from India.

c. The literary evidence, as we have seen, provides the evidence for the earlier part of the movement.

Nichols’ analysis of the linguistic data, moreover, produces a picture which is more natural and more compatible with what may be called “linguistic migration theory” :

As defined by Dyen (1956), a homeland is a continuous area and a migration is any movement causing that area to become non-continuous (while a movement that simply changes its shape or area is an expansion or expansive intrusion). The linguistic population of the homeland is a set of intermediate proto-languages, the first-order daughters of the original proto-language (in Dyen’s terms, a chain of coordinate languages).  The homeland is the same as (or overlaps) the area of the largest chain of such co-ordinates, i.e. the area where the greatest number of highest-level branches occur. Homelands are to be reconstructed in such a way as to minimize the number of migrations, and the number of migrating daughter branches, as are required to get from them to attested distributions (Dyen 1956: 613).”

The theories which place the original homeland in South Russia postulate a great number of separate emigrations of individual branches in different directions : Hittite and Tocharian would be the earliest emigrants in two different and opposite directions, and Indo-Iranian, Armenian and Greek would be the last emigrants, again, in three different and opposite directions.

But the picture produced by the evidence analysed by Nichols differs : “no major migrations are required to explain the distribution of IE languages at any stage in their history up to the colonial period of the last few centuries.  All movements of languages or more precisely all viable movements – that is, all movements that produced natural speech communities that lasted for generations and branched into dialects – were expansions, and all geographically isolated languages (e.g.  Tocharian, Ossetic in the Caucasus, ancestral Armenian, perhaps ancestral Anatolian) appear to be remnants of formerly continuous distributions.  They were stranded by subsequent expansions of other language families, chiefly Turkic in historical times.”

Let it be repeated : Nichols does not support the Indian homeland theory. That makes her analytical testimony all the more credible when her propositions admit of no better fit than an Indian homeland theory for proto Indo-Europeans. Nichols suggests that there was a point of time during the expansion of the Indo-Europeans when “ancestral Proto-Indo-Aryan was spreading into northern India,” and that “the Indo-Iranian distribution is the result of a later, post-PIE spread”.

The evidence primarily shows two things :

a. “The long-standing westward trajectories of languages point to an eastward locus, and the spread of IE along all these trajectories point to a locus well to the east of the Caspian Sea.”

b. “The locus of the IE spread was therefore somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana.”

The evidence shows “westward trajectories of languages” from a locus “in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana,” it does not show eastward or southward trajectories of languages from this locus. Nichols’ conclusion that Indo-European languages found to the west of Bactria Sogdiana were due to expansions from Bactria-Sogdiana is based on linguistic evidence, but her conclusion that the Indo-European languages found to the south and east of Bactria-Sogdiana were also the result of expansions from Bactria-Sogdiana is not based on linguistic evidence premised by her.

Also, perhaps, Nichols has no particular reason to believe that India could be the original homeland and, hence, finds no reason to go much further than is absolutely necessary while challenging established notions : as it is, she is conscious that the locus indicated by the linguistic evidence “is unlike any other proposed homeland” and therefore avoids suggesting anything more provocative than that.

We now know though that the Indian homeland theory fits in perfectly with Nichols’ conclusions : that the homeland lay along the easternmost of the three trajectories… the one which led “eastward via Iran to western central Asia,” she says. Obviosly, this same trajectory also leads to India; but such an extension would have been going too far, it seems.

While Nichols’ detailed linguistic analysis brings into focus the location of the original homeland as indicated by geographical relationship of Indo-European with certain western families of languages, other scholars have also noted the relationship of IE with certain eastern families : we refer in particular to two studies conducted respectively by Tsung-tung Chang, in respect of the Chinese language, and Isidore Dyen, in respect of the Austronesian family of languages.

The Chinese Language 

Tsung-tung Chang, a scholar of Chinese / Taiwanese origin, studied the relationship between the vocabulary of Old Chinese, as reconstructed by Bernard Karlgren (Grammata Serica, 1940, etc.), and the etymological roots of Proto-Indo-European vocabulary, as reconstructed by Julius Pokorny (Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1959), and has shown that there was a strong Indo-European influence on the formative vocabulary of Old Chinese.

He provides a long list of words common to Indo-European and Old Chinese, and adds: “In the last four years, I have traced out about 1500 cognate words, which would constitute roughly two-thirds of the basic vocabulary in Old Chinese.  The common words are to be found in all spheres of life including kinship, animals, plants, hydrography, landscape, parts of the body, actions, emotional expression, politics and religion, and even function words such as pronouns and prepositions, as partly shown in the lists of this paper.”

This Indo-European influence on Old Chinese, according to Chang, took place at the time of the founding of the first Chinese empire in about 2400 BC.  He calls this the “Chinese Empire established by Indo-European conquerors” and identifies Huang-ti or “Yellow Emperor”, the traditional Chinese founder of the first empire, as an Indo-European, suggesting that his name should actually be interpreted as “blond heavenly god”.

About Huang-ti, Chang tells us that he was a nomadic king who “ordered roads to be built, and was perpetually on the move with treks of carriages.  At night he slept in a barricade of wagons.  He had no interest in walled towns… All of this indicates his origin from a stock-breeding tribe in Inner Mongolia.  With introduction of horse- or oxen-pulled wagons, transport and traffic in northern China was revolutionized.  Only on this new technical basis did the founding of a state with central government become feasible and functional.”

Chang deduces : “Huang-ti is mentioned also as the founder of Chinese language in the Li-Chi (Book of Rites).  In the Chapter 23 chi-fa (Rules of Sacrifices),… we read : ‘Huang-ti gave hundreds of things their right names, in order to illumine the people about the common goods……’ ” In this way : “The aboriginal people had thus to learn new foreign words from the emperors.  Probably thereby the Proto-Indo-European vocabulary became dominant in Old Chinese.”

What Tsung attempts to do to Chinese civilization is more or less what invasionist scholars have tried to do to Indian civilization, and we can take his insistence that the first Chinese civilization was established by “Indo-European conquerors” with a fistful of salt.  The more natural explanation for similarity in vocabulary is simply that there was mutual influence between the Old Chinese and certain Indo-European branches that were located in Central Asia in the third millennium BC or slightly earlier.

Basically, that is what his own hypothesis also actually suggests.  According to Tsung: “Among Indo-European dialects, Germanic languages seem to have been mostly akin to Old Chinese… Germanic preserved the largest number of cognate words also to be found in Chinese… Germanic and Chinese belong to the group of so-called centum languages… The initial /h/ in Germanic corresponds mostly to /h/ and /H/ in Old Chinese…. Chinese and Northern Germanic languages are poor in grammatical categories such as case, gender, number, tense, mood, etc…”

It is unlikely that this relationship between Germanic and Old Chinese developed in Europe, nor does Tsung himself makes such a claim.  He accepts that “Indo-Europeans had coexisted for thousands of years in Central Asia… (before) they emigrated into Europe”.

The influence on the Chinese language probably, according to Tsung, spread to other related languages later on : “Sino-Thai common vocabulary, too, bristles with Indo-European stems.  In my opinion, these southern tribes were once the aborigines of Northern China, who migrated to the south… Nevertheless they could not escape the influence of Chinese languages and civilization.”

How far Tsung’s hypothesis will find acceptance is not clear.  It is, however, a scholarly work by a Western academician (albeit one of Taiwanese origin) established in Germany, and it is being seriously studied in the West.

Such as it is, it constitutes further linguistic support for the theory that Central Asia was the secondary homeland for various Indo-European branches on their route from India to Europe.

The Austronesian Family of Languages 

Isidore Dyen, in his paper, The Case of the Austronesian Languages, presented at the 3rd Indo-European Conference at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, has made out a case showing the similarities between many basic words reconstructed in the Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Austronesian languages. They include such basic words as the very first four numerals, many of the personal pronouns, the words for “water” and “land”, etc.  And Dyen points out that “the number of comparisons could be increased at least slightly, perhaps even substantially, without a severe loss of quality”.

Dyen is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a supporter of the Indian homeland theory; and in fact such a theory does not strike him even after he notes these similarities. He simply admits that the distribution of the two families and their respective homelands, as understood by him, do not explain the situation.  In his own words: “The hypothesis to be dealt with is not favoured by considerations of the distribution of the two families… The probable homelands of the respective families appear to be very distant; that of the Indo-European is probably in Europe, whereas that of the Austronesian is no farther west than the longitude of the Malay Peninsula in any reasonable hypothesis, and has been placed considerably farther east in at least one hypothesis.  The hypothesis suggested by linguistic evidence is not thus facilitated by a single homeland hypothesis.”

To restate, Dyen feels that the Indo-European homeland is “probably in Europe” and the Austronesian homeland “no farther west than the longitude of the Malay Peninsula”, and hence he finds that the “linguistic evidence is not… facilitated by a single homeland hypothesis”. But, apart from the Indian homeland theory for the Indo-European family of languages, which Dyen does not consider, there is also an Indian homeland theory for the ultimate origin of the Austronesian family of languages : S.K. Chatterji, an invasionist scholar, suggests that “India was the centre from which the Austric race spread into the lands and islands of the east and Pacific”, and that “the Austric speech… in its original form (as the ultimate source of both the Austro-Asiatic and Austronesian branches)… could very well have been characterised within India”.

Therefore the linguistic evidence is “facilitated by a single homeland hypothesis” in the prehistoric past : the Indian homeland hypothesis. Linguistic evidence as it is, in respect of connections between Indo-European and other families in the Proto-Indo-European period, all point towards an Indian homeland for the Indo-European family of languages.

 

LINGUISTIC SUBSTRATA IN INDO-ARYAN

With plenty of linguistic evidence indicating that the Indo-European family of languages originated in India, we will examine the linguistic “evidence” which the linguists usually employ to dismiss the Indian homeland theory and in the name of which archaeologists are classified together with “Hindu fundamentalists”.  Entire schools of scholars are mesmerised into treating the external (to India) homeland and the Aryan invasion of India as linguistically established facts.

There are two main fields of linguistic study which have contributed to this misrepresentation of the linguistic situation :

a. The study of the so-called non-Aryan substrata in Indo-Aryan languages.

b. The study of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language, society and culture.

Let us examine the first. According to many linguists, the Indo-Aryan languages contain a large number of non-Aryan words, as well as grammatical and syntactical features, which appear to be Dravidian, or occasionally Austric – words and features which are missing in Indo-European languages outside India. The feature, it is construed, shows that the Indo-Aryan languages were intruders into an area (North India) formerly occupied by speakers of Dravidian and Austric languages who, in course of time, adopted the Indo-Aryan speech forms.  A special aspect of this argument is that names of Indian animals and plants, in Indo-Aryan languages, are alleged to be adopted from non-Aryan (Dravidian or Austric) population, thereby showing that the original Indo-Aryan speakers were not acquainted with the flora and fauna of India.

Closer analysis of these claims however lead us to following arguments against them :

  1. In respect of the grammatical and syntactical features common to Indo-Aryan and Dravidian, most of these features are also found in different Indo-European branches or languages outside India. That makes such features common and likely consequences of internal developments. 

The modern Indo-Aryan languages do not necessarily represent a change from an originally Vedic like structure, since these modem Indo-Aryan languages are not, as is popularly believed, descendants of the Vedic language. They are derived of other Indo-European dialects that we understand as Inner-Indo-European, whose grammatical and syntactical features may have been different from that of dialects in north-west and northern-most India, the region which sustained both the Vedic and the parent of non-Vedic Indo-European languages. These inner IE dialects are similar to the other non-Indo-European families within India since pre-Vedic times (Dravidian, Austric).

  1. The linguists classify words as non-Aryan not because they are recognizable loan-words from Dravidian or Austric (I.e. words which have a clear etymology that is Dravidian or Austric alone, not Indo-European or Sanskrit), but simply because they are words for which, in their subjective opinion, the Indo-European or Sanskrit etymologies are “not satisfactory”.

In most cases, these words or equivalent forms are not even found in the Dravidian or Austric languages. But the scholars divine the “possibility of non-Aryan speeches (other than Dravidian, Kol and later Tibeto-Burman), speeches now extinct, being present in India”, and regard those supposedly extinct dialects as having been the source for these words. It speaks of a predisposition to brand these words as “non-Aryan”, by hook or crook, to fit a favoured notion.

  1. Most of the non-Aryan (Dravidian or Austric) etymological derivations postulated by linguists for particular words are challenged or refuted by other linguists, who give clear Indo-European or Sanskrit etymological derivations for the same words.

There is no consistency or consensus about these linguistic assertions, beyond the favoured dogma that there must be non-Aryan words in the Indo-Aryan languages.

  1. Many of the ‘scholarly’ derivations from Dravidian or Austric are basically impossible, since these words contain phonetic characteristics which are inconsistent with those of the alleged source languages. 

Thus words original to the Dravidian languages could not start with an initial cerebral or liquid (T, D, r, l), did not contain aspirate sounds (h, kh, gh, ch, jh, Th, Dh, th, dh, ph, bh) and sibilants (s, S), could not start with initial voiced stops (g, j, D, d, b) or have intervocalic voiceless obstruents (k, c, T, t, p), and did not contain obstruents with liquids (kr, pi, pr, tr, etc).  And yet, the linguists regularly postulate a Dravidian origin for large numbers of words which contain these phonetic characteristics.

  1. In case of names of Indian plants and animals, the majority of them have been given Sanskrit etymologies, not only by ancient Sanskrit grammarians and etymologists but even by modern Western Sanskritists, like Sir Monier-Williams. 

Linguists who are predisposed to reject these etymologies, without establishing alternates indisputable ones, cannot be taken seriously.

  1. Names of plants and animals which appear to have no clear or credible Indo-European or Sanskrit etymologies cannot be automatically treated as non-Aryan words, purely on that ground alone unless they have clear and indisputable Dravidian or Austric etymologies, since the situation is identical in the case of words which are very clearly and definitely inherited Indo-European words.

Thus, Carl D. Buck points out : “In the inherited names of animals there is little to be said about their semantic nature for, in most of them, the root-connection is wholly obscure.” Likewise, in the few inherited names of plants common to various Indo-European branches, Buck points to the same condition : “the root connections are mostly obscure”. Specifically, even a universal Indo-European word like *kuon (dog) has a “root connection much disputed and dubious”; and the equally universal word *ekwo (horse) has a “root connection wholly obscure”.

Therefore, unless it is to be assumed that the Proto-Indo-Europeans were totally unacquainted with any plants and animals at all, it must be accepted that the names of plants and animals in any language need not necessarily be derivable from the etymological roots of that language : these names are more likely to have been “at first colloquial or even slang words” which subsequently were included in the standard vocabulary.

  1. When the names of certain plants or animals in the Indo-Aryan languages are demonstrably Dravidian or Austric, this will be because the plants or animals concerned are native to those parts of India where Dravidian or Austric languages are spoken.  Thus the Sanskrit word ela is certainly derived from the Dravidian word yela, since the plant concerned (cardamom) is native to Kerala, located in Dravidian speaking area.  The South Indian plant was borrowed, along with its name, by people of North India.

In such cases, it need not even be necessary that the plant must not be found in the area of the borrowers.  If a plant, which is native to both North and South India, was first cultivated and popularised in the South, then it is possible that the South Indian name would stick to the cultivated plant, even in the North.  Thus, the tea plant is native to both China and India (Assam, etc.), and the cultivated varieties of tea today include both Chinese tea and Assamese tea.  But China was the first to cultivate and popularise the beverage, and even today, the plant is known everywhere, including in India (and Assam) by its Chinese names (cA/cAy, tea).

To summarise, the Dravidian or Austric name for a plant in Indo-Aryan languages is due to the geographical origin or historical cultivation of the plant in Dravidian or Austric area, and not because the original Indo-Aryan speakers came from outside into an originally Dravidian or Austric India.

  1. The names of plants and animals which are native to North India are of Indo-European or Sanskrit origin even in the Dravidian languages of South India and the Austric languages of eastern India.  Thus, the words for camel (Sanskrit uSTra), lion (Sanskrit siMha) and rhinoceros (Sanskrit khaDgI or gaNDa) are derived from purely Indo-European roots : the word uSTra, in fact, is found in Iranian (uStra).

The Dravidian words for camel (Tamil-Malayalam oTTagam, Kannada-Telugu oNTe, TodaoTTe, Brahui huch, etc.), for lion (Tamil cingam, Telugu siMhamu, Kannada siMha, etc.) and rhinoceros (Tamil kANDAmirugam, Telugu, khaDga-mRgamu, Kannada khaDgamRga are all derived from their Sanskrit parent.  Similarly, with Austric words for camel (Santali Ut, Khasi ut) and lion (Santali sinho, Sora sinam-kidan, etc.).

This Sanskrit etymology of words in Dravidian and Austric would clearly not have been possible if the northwestern areas, to which the camel, lion and (at least in Indus Valley period) the rhinoceros were native, had originally been Dravidian or Austric, or of any other non-Aryan language, before the alleged advent of the Indo-Aryans.

  1. In addition, it must be noted that the linguists often reject the Sanskrit or Indo-European origins of words in Indo-Aryan languages, and correspondences between Indo-Aryan words and words in other Indo-European branches, on flimsiest of grounds : even a single vowel or consonant in a word is sufficient for them to brand the word as probably or definitely non-Aryan when, according to them, the word is not how it should have been as per the strict and regular rules of Sanskrit or Indo-European derivations.

Thus, the connection between Vedic VaruNa, Greek Ouranos and Teutonic Woden is rejected despite the close similarity of the names being backed by correspondence in the mythical nature and characteristics of the three Gods, because scholars deemed the derivations as irregular.  Likewise, the connection between Vedic PaNi/VaNi, Greek Pan and Teutonic Vanir will also be rejected on similar flimsy grounds, although the three are definitely cognate names.

On the other hand, linguists connecting Indo-Aryan words with Dravidian or Austric words have no compunction about linguistic regularity or accuracy : thus T. Burrow (cf. ‘Some-Dravidian Words in Sanskrit’ in Transactions of the Philological Society-1945, London, 1946) derives Sanskrit paN (to negotiate, bargain) and paNa (wager) from “Tamil puNai, to tie, bond, pledge, security, surety, and to Kannada poNe, bond, bail…” etc.  If these are Dravidian words in Sanskrit, it could be as well surmised that the related Greek Pan and Teutonic Vanir are also Dravidian words in these languages.

It is not only in respect of Indo-Aryan words that the linguists indulge in such hairsplitting : even in respect of the Greek word theós (God), instead of accepting that the word is an irregular derivation from Indo-European *deiwos, the linguists insist that theós is unrelated to *deiwos, and try to suggest alternate etymologies for it, e.g.  “from *thesós (cf. théspharos, ‘spoken by god, ordained’), where the root connection is much disputed and remains dubious. Some linguists go further : “Mr. Hopkins… rejects all the proposed etymologies and suggests that… théos itself is a loan-word from pre-Greek sources.” However, while this kind of hairsplitting is occasional in respect of Greek, it is a regular scholarly pursuit in respect of Indo-Aryan languages.

We have seen how Michael Witzel, while admitting to the fact that rivers in North India have Sanskrit names from the earliest recorded Rigvedic period itself, tries to suggest that at least three river names, KubhA, SutudrI and KoSala, are non-Aryan, on grounds of the suggested Sanskrit etymologies being irregular. But this kind of argument is basically untenable : while there can be no doubt that there is such a thing as regular derivations according to definite phonetic rules of etymology and phonetic change, there can be irregular derivations too, since human speech in its historical evolution has not evolved strictly according to rules.  Thus, the Latin word canis (dog) is definitely derived from Indo-European *kuon : according to Buck, the “phonetic development is peculiar, but connection not to be questioned”. Likewise, the modern Greek ikkos (horse) is definitely derived from Indo-European *ekwo, although, as Buck points out, “with some unexplained phonetic features”.

Hence, it is clear that linguists seeking to reject Indo-European correspondence or Sanskrit etymologies of Indo-Aryan words on grounds of irregular phonetic features are not being strictly honest, and their opinions cannot be entirely trusted.

Beyond the brief summary of our main arguments, an examination of writings of various linguists who have written on this subject shows that logic and objectivity played no part in production of their long lists of “non-Aryan” words constituting the “substratum” in Indo-Aryan languages. In such lists, It is observed that any word in Sanskrit or modern Indo-Aryan languages that appears to be similar in sound to a Dravidian word, with even a vaguely similar meaning, automatically represents a Dravidian word adopted by Indo-Aryan, even when it has a clear Sanskrit etymology, and even while the word or a similar word is found in other Indo-European languages outside India as well.

An examination or comparative study of the works of these linguists has been undertaken by an American scholar, Edwin F. Bryant, in his paper Linguistic Substrata and the Indigenous Aryan Debate, later presented at the October 1996 Michigan-Laussane International Seminar on Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia with the title : Evidence, Interpretation and Ideology. Bryant is currently on the faculty of the Department of History, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA.

Bryant finds that “all these linguists are operating on the assumption, based on other criteria, that the Aryans ‘must have’ invaded India where there could not have been a ‘linguistic vacuum’”, and that, beyond this shared predisposition, there is no consensus among them on any specific point.  His examination of the works of several linguists shows “that they are not internally consistent, since the opinions of the principal linguists in this area have differed quite considerably.  This problematizes the value of this method as a significant determinant in the Indo-Aryan debate…”.

The extent to which these linguists (all of whom are otherwise in agreement in the belief that the Indo-Aryans are immigrants into India from an original homeland in South Russia) differ in the matter is made clear by Bryant :

  1. About the grammatical and syntactical features common to both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan, Robert Caldwell (1856) was the first to draw attention to many of them; but he rejected the idea that these features constituted originally Dravidian grammatical and syntactical elements (which surfaced in Indo-Aryan as a substratum) : “whatever the ethnological evidence of their identity may be supposed to exist… when we view the question philologically, and with reference to the evidence furnished by their languages alone, the hypothesis of their identity does not appear to me to have been established.”

But, a hundred years later, M.B. Emeneau (1956) drew up a whole list of such grammatical and syntactical features, and added to them in his later studies (1969, 1974).  F.B.J. Kuiper (1967) and Massca (1976) also added to the list.  These linguists concluded that these features were definitely evidence of a Dravidian substratum.

However, H. Hock (1975, 1984) strongly rejected the idea that these features are due to a Dravidian substratum.  He pointed out that most of these features actually have parallels in other Indo-European languages outside India, and therefore they were more likely to be internal developments in Indo-Aryan.  Since then, several other linguists, all otherwise staunch believers in the Aryan invasion theory, have rejected the idea that these features are Dravidian features.

F.B.J Kuiper (1974), a staunch protagonist of the substratum theory, admits that “we cannot compare the syntax of the Rig Veda with contemporaneous Dravidian texts.  The oldest Dravidian texts that we know are those of old Tamil.  They probably date from about the second century AD and are, accordingly, at least a thousand years later than the Rig Veda.”

M.B. Emeneau himself, although he sticks to the claim that a Dravidian substratum explains the situation better, admits (1980) that it is not as easy as that : “Is the whole Indo-Aryan history one of self-development, and the complex Dravidian development triggered by Indo-Aryan, perhaps even New Indo-Aryan, influence ? Or, in the case of Kurukh, borrowed from New Indo-Aryan ?… no easy solution is yet at hand.”

  1. F.B.J. Kuiper (1991) produced a list of 380 words from the Rig Veda, constituting four percent of the Rigvedic vocabulary, which he claimed were of non-Aryan (primarily Dravidian) origin.  Earlier linguists were more cautious in the matter of Rigvedic vocabulary.  M.B. Emeneau (1980), for example, hoped that the linguists would agree at least on one word mayUra, as a borrowing from Dravidian : “I can only hope that the evidence for mayuura as a RV borrowing from Dr. is convincing to scholars in general.”

But P. Thieme (1994) examined and rejected Kuiper’s list in toto, gave Indo-Aryan or Sanskrit etymologies for most of these words, and characterized Kuiper’s exercise as an example of misplaced “zeal for hunting up Dravidian loans in Sanskrit”.  In general, Thieme sharply rejects the tendency to force Dravidian or Austric etymologies onto Indo-Aryan words and insists (1992) that “if a word can be explained easily from material extant in Sanskrit itself, there is little chance for such a hypothesis”.

Rahul Peter Das (a believer in the Aryan invasion theory), likewise rejects (1994) Kuiper’s list, and emphasises that there is “not a single case in which a communis opinio has been found confirming the foreign origin of a Rgvedic (and probably Vedic in general) word”.

Therefore, it is clear that claims regarding Dravidian loan-words in Vedic Sanskrit are totally baseless.

  1. So far as the modern Indo-Aryan languages are concerned, also, the untenability of the whole exercise of hunting down non-Aryan words in Indo-Aryan can be illustrated by an examination of a detailed study conducted by Massica (1991), who examined a complete list of names of plants and agricultural terms in Hindi. Incidently, Massica is a staunch believer in the Aryan invasion theory and, in fact, concludes that his study confirms the AIT theory,

Massica’s study found that only 4.5% of the words have Austric etymologies, and 7.6% of the words have Dravidian etymologies, and, even here, “a significant portion of the suggested Dravidian and Austroasiatic etymologies is uncertain”.  When we consider that the few words with proven Austric or a Dravidian etymology probably refer to plants and agricultural processes native to South India or Eastern India, Massica’s study clearly contradicts his conclusions.

Massica, however, classifies 55% of the words as non-Aryan but of “unknown origin” in respect of words other than Dravidian and Austric, and other than non-Indian names for non-Indian plants,

It is words of this kind which have led linguists to postulate extinct indigenous families of non-Aryan, non-Dravidian and non-Austric languages in ancient India, which have disappeared without a trace but which constitute the main non-Aryan substrata in Indo-Aryan.  T. Burrow notes that even the most liberal Dravidian and Austric etymologising may not serve in explaining words which (in his opinion) are non-Aryan, since “it may very well turn out that the number of such words which cannot be explained will outnumber those which can be.  This is the impression one gets, for example, from the field of plant names, since so far only a minority of this section of the non-Aryan words has been explained from these two linguistic families.”

However, although the linguists are compelled to resort to these stratagems, they are not very comfortable with them.  Emeneau (1980), for example, admits : “it hardly seems useful to take into account the possibilities of another language, or language family, totally lost to the record, as the source” for the supposedly non-Aryan words.

Massica himself, although he brands the words as non-Aryan on the ground that there are no acceptable Sanskrit etymologies, admits that “it is not a requirement that the word be connected with a root, of course : there are many native words in Sanskrit as in all languages that cannot be analysed”.

Bloch and Thieme emphasize the point that the names of plants need not be analysable from etymological roots, since most of them will be slang or colloquial words derived from the “low culture” vernaculars of the same language.

  1. It is in Classical Sanskrit word-lists that we find many words which can be, or have been, assigned Dravidian or Austric origins.  This has led the linguists to emphasise a theory first mooted by Burrow (1968), according to which there was a very small number of Dravidian and Austric words (or none at all) in the Rig Veda, which grew in the later Vedic literature, reached a peak in the Epics, PurANas and the Classical Sanskrit word-lists, and finally dwindled in the Prakrits and even more so in the modern Indo-Aryan languages.  This situation, according to Burrow, depicts a scenario where the Aryan immigrants into India were new arrivals at the time of composition of the hymns, and hence hardly any indigenous words had infiltrated into the vocabulary of the Rig Veda.  As the process of bilingualism developed (involving both the local inhabitants of the North preserving some of their original non-Aryan vocabulary as they adopted the Aryan speech-forms, as well as post-first-generation Aryans inheriting non-Aryan words as they merged with the local people), the number of such words increased in the language of the Epics and PurANas, and the Classical Sanskrit word-lists.  Finally, when there were no more bilingual speakers left in the North, since everyone had adopted the Aryan speech-forms, the appearance of non-Aryan words in the Indo-Aryan languages ceased; hence, the modem Indoaryan languages have few such words.

However, Caldwell (1856), who was the first to produce lists of words “probably” borrowed by Sanskrit from Dravidian, rejected this substratum theory.  He noted that the words did not include the essential aspects of vocabulary (such as actions, pronouns, body parts, etc.), and consisted almost exclusively of words “remote from ordinary use”, and hence concluded that the Dravidian languages could not possibly have been spoken in North India at the time of the alleged Aryan invasion.

Bloch (1929), who rejected the substratum theory completely, pointed out that the Dravidian languages of the South, even at the level of common speech, contain a massive amount of borrowed Sanskrit vocabulary covering every aspect of life.  But this is not explained as an Aryan substratum in South India.  The natural explanation for these borrowings is that a relatively small number of Sanskrit-speaking individuals were responsible for them. 

Likewise, the Dravidian words in Sanskrit were reverse borrowings, being introductions of Dravidian words into literary Sanskrit by similar Sanskrit-speaking individuals from the South.  Such words were only part of the Classical Sanskrit lexicon, and few of them percolated to Indo-Aryan vernaculars.  Thus, even popular Sanskrit words like nIra (water, Tamil nIr), mIna(fish, Tamil mIn), heramba (buffalo, Tamil erumai), etc. are not used in the modem Indo-Aryan languages, which use instead derivatives of the Sanskrit words pAnIyam, matsya and mahiSa respectively. 

Such words, as Bloch points out, were artificial and temporary introductions into literary Sanskrit, most of which either died out completely, or remained purely literary words that did not become a part of naturally spoken Indoaryan speech (although it is likely that some of them became so popular that they replaced or accompanied original Sanskrit words and percolated down into modern Indo-Aryan).

Massica, in his later study (1991) already referred to, also notes that Dravidian words in Sanskrit are not found in present-day Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi.  Clearly, these words do not represent a Dravidian substratum in Sanskrit but a process of artificial adoption of vocabulary from regional speech-forms, both Aryan and non-Aryan.

  1. Many linguists question the idea that there could be a Dravidian or Austric substratum in Indo-Ayan languages of North India, even on grounds of likely geographical distribution of these two families in ancient times.  In respect of the Austric languages, even a staunch supporter of the non-Aryan substratum theory like Burrow (1968) admits that the possibility of an Austric substratum is remote since “the evidence as it is so far established would suggest that these languages in ancient times as well as now were situated only in eastern India”.  Massica (1979) and Southworth (1979) also reiterate this point.

R.P. Das (1994) points out that there is “not a single bit of uncontroversial evidence on the actual spread of Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic in prehistoric times, so that any statement on Dravidian and Austric in Rgvedic times is nothing but speculation”.

  1. In fact, when words are similar in both Indoaryan and Dravidian, it is more natural to conclude that the Indoaryan words are the original ones.  According to Thieme, “all the Dravidian languages known to us fairly bristle with loans from Sanskrit and the Aryan vernaculars.  Dravidian literature in South India came into existence under the impulse and influence of Sanskrit literature and speech.  Wherever there is a correspondence in the vocabularies of Sanskrit and Dravidian, there is a presumption, to be removed only by specific argument, that Sanskrit has been the lender, Dravidian the borrower.”

While Thieme is, of course, an opponent of the substratum theory, even so staunch a supporter of the substratum theory as Emeneau (1980) admits that it is “always possible, eg. to counter a suggestion of borrowing from one of the indigenous language families by suggesting that there has been borrowing in the other direction”.

7. Ultimately, therefore, the whole question of a Dravidian, or non-Aryan, substratum in the Indoaryan languages is a matter of dogma rather than scientific study.

R.P. Das (1994), for example, points out that there is little linguistic logic involved in the debate about the Dravidian or Austric origins of Indoaryan words: “Many of the arguments for (or against) such foreign origin are often not the results of impartial and thorough research, but rather of (often wistful) statements of faith.”

Bloch (1929), likewise, had earlier dismissed the Dravidian derivations which many linguists sought to force on Sanskrit words, as being not “self-evident” but “a matter of probability and to a certain extent of faith”.

While both Das and Bloch are opponents of the substratum theory (though believers in the Aryan invasion theory in general), Emeneau (1980), a staunch supporter of the substratum theory, himself admits that these derivations are “in fact all merely ‘suggestions’.  Unfortunately, all areal etymologies are in the last analysis unprovable, are ‘acts of faith’.”

The “faith” in all these cases is the faith in the external (to India) origin of the Indoaryans (and Indo-Europeans), which Emeneau (1980) describes as “our linguistic doctrine which has been held now for more than a century and a half”.

Hence, after his examination of the claims and counterclaims of the linguists, Bryant reaches the logical conclusion that “the theory of Aryan migrations must be established without doubton other grounds for research into pre-Aryan linguistic substrata to become meaningful.  However, the ‘evidence’ of a linguistic substratum in Indo-Aryan, in and of itself, due to its inconclusive nature, cannot be presented in isolation as decisive proof in support of the theory of Aryan invasions or migrations into the Indian subcontinent.”

*  *  *

We shall next present “Proto Linguistic Study” …

Please refer https://vamadevananda.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/journal-alternate-history-7/ and links therein for previous adaptations from the most brilliant, insightful analysis ever undertaken …

by Shrikant G. Talageri available @ http://www.voiceofdharma.org/books/rig/index.htm

 

Journal : The Himalyas …

Himalayas …

The Himalayas undulate over vast stretches of indescribable diversity

of plant and animal life,

people and cultures, soils and rocks,

shrubs and trees, lakes and falls, 

rivers and streams, towering peaks,

glacial passes, settlements quaint

deep canyons, vertical cliffs, 

spread marshlands,

cold deserts, 

beautiful meadows, 

clear sunshine, dark shadows,

colourful flowers, 

breathtaking landscapes, 

loud towns, 

picturesquely terraced fields, 

scintillating sunrises, 

mystifying sunsets 
and dense forested solitudes…

Discover Himalayas. Discover Yourself. 

 

There is nothing like reclusive living to touch ourselves,

away for a while from all claimants on our time and attention, 

among strange lands, stranger people and a different life. 

 

There is nothing like the Himalayas 

to facilitate this process

of happy passage of spirit.

The most massive and highest mountain system on this planet, 

Himalayas, the “ abode of snow ” 

form an arc 2400 km long between the Indus and Brahmaputra river valleys,

and 400 to 150 km wide from west to east.

 

They also contain the largest area of glaciers and permafrost outside of the poles. 

 

The flora and fauna of the Himalayas varies with climate, rainfall, altitude, and soil. 

 

The unique biodiversity it supports include 10000 plant species, 

300 mammals, over 900 birds, and about 550 species of reptiles, fishes and amphibians.

The seasonally marshy zone south of Himalayan foothills offer a mosaic of grasslands, savannas, 

deciduous and evergreen forests, including some of the world’s tallest grasslands

that are home to the Indian rhinoceros. 

Higher up appear the pine and broadleaf forests and open valleys,

before the Lower Himalayan ranges begin. 

Here, at altitudes between 2000 to 3000 m, we find the subtropical forests,

deep canyons, and a handful of places where rivers flowing from the north

gather like candelabra to break through the range.

About a 100 km up north, at altitudes of 4000 m, the Greater Himalayan ranges appear 

with their temperate coniferous and subalpine conifer forests, 

exceptionally diverse rhododendrons, 

and abrupt rise into the realm of perpetual snow and ice.

Being wider, the number of parallel high ranges are more in the west,

where grasslands and shrublands are widespread above the treeline. 

 

The northwestern Himalayan ranges contain alpine shrub and meadows, 

including junipers and rhododendrons.

 

Snow leopards are found in high elevations of

Leh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

 

The Himalaya region is dotted with hundreds of lakes.

Most lakes are found at altitudes of less than 5,000 m, 

their size diminishing with altitude. 

 

Tarns caused by glacial activity can be discovered at still higher altitudes. 

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