DAWN OF RELIGIONS IN THE PARADISE ON EARTH

Ranajit Pal

Of Paradise or EDEN: this had been
Perhaps thy Capital Seat, from whence had spread 
All generations, and had hither come 
From all the ends of th' Earth, to celebrate 
And reverence thee their great Progenitor...... 
		Milton in 'Paradise Lost' 

The discovery of agriculture freed primitive men and women from the woes of food-gathering and thenceforth grew the first cities. The emergence of copper and bronze gave birth to industry and then came the epoch-making invention of writing[1] which totally transformed society and ushered in what we fondly term civilisation[2]. Another great leap forward was the advent of the wheel which brought the nations closer together and broadened the political and cultural horizons of people. Finally the smelting of iron marked another phase in the story of humankind that has had fateful consequences.

      In this 'new' world arose the modern idea of God together with a sharpened notion of human selfhood. This phase is discernable in all the ancient religious texts of the world, the RgVeda[3], the Avesta[4] as well as the Old Testament[5] and has been roughly dated to the mid-eighteenth century B.C. [6]  when the patriarch Abraham left Ur and migrated to Palestine. The Old Testament has often stood on the thin line between history and myth. That many of the outstanding archaeological discoveries in Assyria and Sumer were in part inspired by references in this ancient text is a glowing tribute to its authenticity. It has also stimulated ground-breaking works of world literature like Paradise Lost of Milton.[7] Today no pre-historian or archaeologist would agree with Milton’s claim that the entire mankind had spread from the Eden[8] which was in the East as stated in the Book of Genesis. However, his assertion that even after the fall, Eden remained a principal religious centre where people from all the ends of the earth came 'to celebrate and reverence thee....', cannot be dismissed as mere reverent circumlocution as it has echoes in many other independent sources. Archaeological and historical considerations indicate that the ancient Paradise was in Seistan which may be seen as the original home of all the ancient religions[9] of the world.

 

Max Muller and The Ur-Heimat of Religions

 

The confident assertion in the Lalitavistara, Gotama’s birth-story, that all the Buddhas are born in the same place, has been ignored by all, yet this seems to be a vital clue in the history of religions that points to the existence of a common origin of religions. More than hundred years have passed since the great German scholar Max Müller (1823-1900) first initiated the study of the history of religions on a cross-cultural basis, not limited only to biblical religion. Max Müller's approach was characterized by a deep commitment to the methods of empirical science and his compilation of the critical edition of the RigVeda marks a new age in Indology.

 

Max Muller

 

The approach of the Dutch scholars C. P. Tiele and P. D. Chantepie de la Saussaye was also similar and it soon became apparent that despite widely different external manifestations, there are extraordinary parallels between the basic thoughts in the great ancient religions.

The close parallelisms between the sayings of the ancient mystic schools were noted by many scholars. Ananda Coomaraswamy and Heinrich Zimmer noted that there was an essential unity between the eastern civilizations spanning from the Mediterranean to the Ganges. In the core, the doctrines of the Maxxus of Mesopotamia, Moksha of the Hindus, Nirvana of the Buddhists, Fana of the Sufis, Kaivalya of the Jainas, Kephalaia of the Manichaeans, and Kabbala of the Jews speak of the same mystical background. The words 'Nomos' of the Greeks[10], 'Namoh' of the Indians, 'Namaz' of the Islamists point to the same unity. Although Coomaraswamy and the phenomenologists like and Van der Leew maintain that there is something innate in human nature itself for which similar ideas appear in distant cultures, the real reason appears to be a physical contact in a Ur-Heimat as Max Mueller envisaged. This nucleus was Seistan-Baluchistan, the land of Paradise, which was known as the ancient Dharmasthana.

From his profound comparative study of eastern and western mysticism Rudolf Otto drew attention to close similarities between the writings of the medieval Hindu philosopher Shankara and the medieval German mystic Meister Eckehart. The renowned art critic and theologian Ananda Coomaraswamy pointed to close similarities between the work of Christian writers such as St. Thomas, Ruysbroek and Boehme, and some passages in the Vedic literature - similarities which are so striking that many sentences from the Christian writers can be taken as almost literal translations of Sanskrit sentences. T. W. Rhys Davids, the famous scholar of Buddhism, drew attention to close parallels between the Buddhist and Christian doctrines. Coomaraswamy saw this as an expression of basic unity of the great religions but Max Muller wrote that this cannot be attributed to chance alone. In his view the real reason was more profound but mundane - there must have been an early historical contact between ancient peoples in an Ur-Heimat. Max Muller's enthusiasm was not shared by the next generation of scholars like Otto and the Dutch phenomenologist Gerardus van der Leeuw who decried the reliance on high scientific ideals[11]. However, a careful study of history and archaeology seems to vindicate Max Muller. Recent archaeological discoveries in southeastern Iran, Baluchistan and Afghanistan point to the existence of a Terrestrial Heaven in Seistan which was the cradle of nearly all the great religions like Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism and perhaps also Christianity[12]. An important obstacle in the history of religions is the problem of the origin of Judaism which has been greatly distorted due to the blunder of Jones and the forgery of Fuhrer. This calls for a careful study.

 

Terah, the Father of Abraham, Was Yudhisthira of the Mahabharata

 

As Judaism is older than Abraham, it is natural to expect that many Judaic traits are in fact continuations from the religion of his ancestors, but where in reality was the Jewish homeland and when did Abraham start his Journey?. According to most scholars Abraham’s started his westward journey in the 18th century BC. This was a period of unprecedented world upheavals. Both the Indus-Saraswati and the Sumerian civilizations collapsed by about 1750 BC which in turn may have triggered off the westward migrations of the Kassites, the Hurrians, the Hittites and probably also the Hyksos. This also seems to be the date of the fateful Bharata war which was a kind of an Armageddon (Magadha war). As the Seistan area was the ancient Dhamasthana, it is in its vicinity that one has to search for Yudhisthira who was called Dharmaputra. Yudhisthira’s name is usually rendered as ‘one who remains unperturbed in battle’ but this is not convincing as he was not a distinguished warrior. A far better rendering appears to be Yadus-Terah. Krishna, cousin of Yudhisthira, was a Yadu and Tir was the name of the god Nabu who was greatly revered by Nebuchadrezzar. After the Bharata war Yudhisthira went westward to Mount Meru which may be Babil in Seistan. In fact it now appears that Abraham’s trek may have been a continuation of Yudhisthira’s journey. Meru was sacred to not only the Yahdus before the migration but the entire civilized world. The linking of the Yadus of the Indian tradition with Abraham and the Yahdus takes one a step closer to Max Muller’s idea of a Ur-Heimat.

 

Eastern Judaism, Abraham, Babil and Seistan

 

         A crucial clue regarding the link of Eastern Judaism with Seistan is provided by the name Bible which is some kind of an enigma. It is claimed to have originated from the Greek word Byblion (book) or from Byblos which meant the rind of a stem of the papyrus plant which was used for writing in the ancient era. However this sense of the term has not been traced to a date earlier than the 4th century AD and as such cannot be taken seriously. The word has also been linked to the name of Byblos through which papyrus was usually imported into Judaea. A careful study shows that the name Bible is linked to the ancient name Babil which was changed to Babylon by the Greeks. But as the renowned scholar I. J. Gelb has suggested, the name Babil (on) is an echo of an older city named Babil. This city can easily be seen to be ‘Bawer’ in Baluchistan-Seistan which, according to Herzfeld, was founded by Jamshid. Bawer is the same as Baveru of the Indian Jataka Tales. It is significant that the Bible, comprising only the Pentateuch, was first put together at Babil(on), not Jerusalem. It is significant that even the Babylonian Talmud had greater authenticity.

Even E. Herzfeld, the famous expert on Iran, did not suspect that Sara-i-Ibrahim, the local name of Kuh-i-Khwaja in Seistan, which hints that it was the abode of Abraham, could, in fact, be true. Although Jewish scholars like Ran Zadok place Abraham's abode at Ur in Sumer, this is certainly false. Prof. Zadok rightly denies that Sumer was Shinar yet due to his ignorance of the Indian tradition fails to realise that Shinar of the Old Testament is the same as Sineru of the Pali texts and Usinara of the RigVeda. The fact that Usinara was in the north-west is certain and this links Abraham and the early Judaic people with greater India. Sir Leonard Woolley startled the world by claiming that Abraham’s Ur was the site he had excavated in Mesopotamia, but like Jones’ ‘discovery’ of Palibothra at Patna, this is false. A more reflective scholar, W. F. Albright, pointed out  several fatal flaws in Woolley’s arguments. To resolve the mystery one has to recall E. A. Speiser’s theory that Sumerian city-names echo of earlier names in Elam. Thus like Babil (on), there was another Ur in Seistan. During Woolley’s day Shahr-I Shokhta, near Kuh-I Khwaja in Seistan which is as old as Ur in Sumer but larger, was unknown.

 

Kapilavastu, Gotama's Birthplace, Was Babil In Seistan

 

The biggest hurdle in the reconstruction of the Ur-Heimat is the false location of Gotama Buddha's birthplace Kapilavastu in modern Nepal, far away from Seistan. From a painstaking study of the original documents, T. A. Phelps has recently shown that the identification of Lumbini in Nepal is a heinous forgery masterminded by a crafty forger Dr. A. Fuhrer[13]. Vincent Smith was well aware of the activities of Fuhrer and his pessimistic remark about the endless disputes regarding the identification of Kapilavastu,

 

 "The mystery of Kapilavastu will continue for many years to be the sport of unverified conjecture".

 

is a silent reminder of Fuhrer’s fraud. No primary relic of Gotama has been unearthed from eastern India except his ashes which were probably brought from the northwest. As the work of Sir Aurel Stein and others have showed, Buddhist manuscripts are all from Central Asia and Ceylon. Not a single manuscript has been found in modern India. Again Indian Buddhist finds are all post-Asokan with no trace of Gotama or Chandragupta. Even Gotama's mortal remains are mostly from the North-West.

To find the the true Kapilavastu one has to turn to the north-west - to Kuh-i-Khwaja in Seistan near the Afghan border where Stein discovered a Buddhist shrine. Even during Alexander's day this area was densely populated and was the granary of Iran. While all the ancient sites of Iran are in the west, Kuh-i-Khwaja is the only site in the East. Since the Bible alludes to a ancient east, this must have been a centre of great importance. Gotama was a contemporary and namesake of Gomata and stalwarts like Olmstead, Toynbee and Dandamayev realized that Darius had lied in the Behistun inscription - Gomata was not an impostor. His immense popularity is attested by Herodotus' report that the whole of Asia rose in revolt in his support. He was a great benefactor who abolished taxes and freed slaves; his Palace was at Sikayauvati which links him to Sakya, Gotama's title; he proscribed Zarathustra just as Gotama had banished Devadatta and Al-beruni stated that the Zoroastrians drove the Buddhists eastward. In the highly authentic Ajanta caves child Siddhartha is shown dressed as a foreigner. Thus Bagapa, Viceroy of Babylon during Darius' reign was surely Gotama whose title was Bhagava. Bagapa must have been the chief priest of E-Sagila[14]. Before his death Gotama lamented his happy days at the Isigili mount which is the E-Sagila. There is a reference in the Persepolis Fortification tablets(PF 756) to Gaumata in a religious context which indicates that Bardiya was killed, not Gaumata. After Darius-I's death Gotama was probably banished by his son Xerexes who crushed the Daevas or Buddhists. Gotama's mortal remains were also found mostly from the North-West which must have been his arena. After his enlightenment Gotama preached at Uruvela which shows that there was a Ur near Babil. The abode of Yosaphat who is Gotama was Shilvat which may be the same as Uri-Shilome in Seistan. Sakyavatish. That Gedrosia and Carmania were within greater India was stressed by Vincent Smith. Sir Charles Eliot clearly saw a role of Iran in early Buddhism. He boldly suggested that the Buddhist paradise Sukhavati may be linked to the Avestan land of Saukavastan. Babil is cognate with Kapil or Kapilavastu which was in Seistan. That Buddhism is an offshoot of eastern Judaism is clearly indicated by the name Sudda-Yauda-Saramana of Gotama’s father Suddodhana in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets.

 

Prophet Zoroaster was Devadatta, Gotama’s Adversary

 

It is uncanny that like Judaism and Buddhism, Zoroastrianism also seems to be linked to Seistan which shows the depth of Max Muller’s vision. Zoroaster is a colossus of Persian ancient history yet the problems in his life history are enormous. Despite a vast literature on the subject, the problem of his homeland still remains unresolved due to false geography. Zoroaster’s  birth-story, Zarthust-Namah (9th century?) is not supposed to be authentic. It has even been alleged that he was no historical figure, his name being conjured up to match other prophets, but this is untrue. However, recently I. M. Diakonoff and G. Gnoli have located Zoroaster's homeland in Seistan G. Gnoli reckons that the oldest areas known to the Iranians were Afghanistan and areas to its east which can only be partly true in view of the great antiquity of Jiroft. Like Frye, Gnoli misses that India and Iran were once geographically interlinked. A corollary of Gnoli’s claim is that the Avesta is related to not only the RigVeda but also the Buddhist texts.

It has been pointed out that Gaumata[15] of Persian history was Gotama who was called a Deva. Herzfeld, on the other hand, suggested that Gaumata can be Grehma, the Karapan priest of the Daevas who was the enemy of Zoroaster. This indicates that Zoroaster was Devadatta the adversary of Gotama. The religious standpoints of Zoroaster and Gotama are essentially similar as they both oppose the existing orthodoxy. The Avesta refers to Gotama as the enemy of Zoroaster. There is clear indication in the Buddhist texts that Devadatta had established a separate Buddhist Sangha and this seems to be the party of the Zoroastrians.

 

Alexander the Great In Prophthasia, the Abode Of Prophets

 

The large number of Alexandrias founded by Alexander in Asia and Africa were his greatest gift to humanity, wrote Bertrand Russell. Of these one in southeastern Iran has a very curious sounding name - Alexandria Prophthasia. The eminent Hellenic and Oriental scholar Sir William Tarn located  Alexandria Prophthasia (the city was renamed, not founded) by Alexander at Kuh-i-Khwaja in Seistan. Since 'Prophtes' in Greek means 'Prophet', it must have been named after a Prophet. Who was this Seer of Kuh-i-Khwaja? Only Jones' folly obscured that this sage was Gomata the Maga, who was Gotama himself. The name Prophthasia may also be a memory of other Prophets including Abraham and Nebuchadrezzar. Alexander was greatly inspired by Nebuchadrezzar and the same may be true of Gotama. It turns out that both the names Babil and the Bible echo the name of a very ancient city in Seistan - Kapilavastu or Babil. Babylon later continued the holy tradition of Babil. To understand the Asokan Edict at Ruminidei one has to note that Ashoka followed Alexander who had exempted the Ariaspians of Kapilavastu from taxes. The Ariaspians are the Hariasvas of the Puranas. The Mahabharata refers to king Hariasva who was a strict vegetarian.

 

NOTES


[1] The earliest evidence of writing comes from the fourth millennium BC Sumerian tablets which were not religious invocations but temple book-keeping records. From the later documents we get a fairly vivid picture of the ancient cults - of the myths and songs for propitiation of the Gods, for warding off the evil spirits, for celebration of harvests and weddings, and lamentations of death and defeat. The dying and subsequent reincarnation of the shepherd-God Dumuzi played a very important role in the lives of common people of Uruk and other Sumerian cities. His wife Innana was also a very powerful figure who had astral associations and was the Goddess of procreation and war.

[2] What are the driving forces behind this process of civilisation, it is hard to say. A related question is why did the Stone Age people abandon the way of life that had served them well for millennia? Is it that blind monster of history or fate, the ever-increasing thirst for material goods, a mystical awareness of the supernatural and the cosmos, or a combination of all of these factors? Today there is an ever-growing realization that with the progress of civilisation our environment is continually being threatened by man-made perils. The nostalgia for the lost habitat, therefore, has become almost an instinctive response.

[3] The date of the RgVeda has been variously given as 1200BC to 1500BC by the German scholar Max Muller, 2000-1400BC by the American Sanskritist Whitney and 2400-1400BC by Haug. The date given by Max Muller is now generally thought to be rather late. The contention that Vedic society was pastoral having no knowledge of agriculture is baseless.

[4] The root of the name Avesta is said to be 'vid', i.e. 'to see', which is also the root of the name RgVeda. The extant Avesta is said to be only a part of a much larger body of scripture that existed before. It is apparently Zoroaster's transformation of the ancient tradition. There are very large overlaps between the Avesta and the which is likely to have been similar to the RgVeda. Alexander the Great is said to have destroyed the sacred books of the Zoroastrians. Despite several attempts the date of Zarathustra cannot be ascertained with any certainty. This is probably due to the fact that the name signifies the holder of an office. There were many Zarathustras. Herzfeld wrote that Gomata's adversary was Zarathustra.

[5] History as narrated in the Old Testament is not written from a secular viewpoint. As in the Jataka stories the events are seen as revealing the presence and power of God. Nevertheless, owing to the absence of a fictive Jonesian superstructure it is more useful as a stories of real tribes in real geographical settings.

[6] Don Cupitt, "After God", Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997, p.28

[7] Incidentally, before he became a celebrated poet, Milton (1608–1674) was an ardent political activist who not only took part in the making of history but also had a considerable familiarity with the historical literature of his day. David Lowenstein, "Milton and the Drama of History: Historical Vision, Iconoclasm, and the Literary Imagination", Cambridge University Press, 2004.

[8] The current view seems to be that humankind had spread from Africa.

[9] From the earliest times in history, religion must have played an important part in the lives of men and women and in this sense the idea of a precise dawn of religions is not a clear-cut one. Even in the Stone Age (500,000 BC to 10,000 BC) when there were no trappings of civilisation, men and women believed in a hidden magical world inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors, animals, birds and trees. Some of the these animistic beliefs and practices made their way into the later religions. The transformation to agrarian society can perhaps be dated to about the 6th millennium BC and the beginnings of the Bronze age to about 3000 B.C. The discovery of iron  has left imprints in the religious practices of all the civilised nations and it is possible to visualize a beginning of this phase.

[10] In Greek ‘nomos’ generally meant ‘law’ but in earlier periods it designated a deity.

[11] The classicist Gilbert Murray, has termed it as "the failure of nerve" in the academic study of religion.

[12] R. Pal, Non-Jonesian Indology and Alexander, New Delhi, 2002

[13] See http://www.lumkap.org.uk/. Not a single archaeological find corroborates Jones' so-called discovery of Palibothra at Patna, yet Indologists trudge on wearily.

[14] Pal, R. ,"Gotama Buddha in West Asia", Annals of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, vol.77, p.67-120 

[15] R. Pal Non-Jonesian Indology and Alexander, New Delhi, 2002