Sunday, 30 January 2011

Ancient world history in Indian scriptures - Historical events

This is the third (last) part of an essay on depiction of world and Indian histories in the famous Hindi writer Acharya Chatur Sen’s book Vayam Rakshamah. The first part of this essay introduced the figure of Chatur Sen and his works. The second part of the essay explained the broad context of Chatur Sen’s writings.

All the descriptions given here are from Acharya Sen's work, based upon decades of studies of ancient Hindu sacred books.

Knowledge of the world in ancient India

Ancient people living in different parts of the world had knowledge of different groups of persons living in different parts of the world, and had visits and communications among them, according to Sen. Some of the geographical areas mentioned in the book and their old Indian names in ancient Hindu sacred books are as follows:

Jambu dweep: Mainland Asia
Ang dweep: Sumatra
Java: Yav dweep
Malay dweep: Malaysia
Shankh dweep: Borneo
Kush dweep: Africa mainland
Varaha dweep: Madagascar
Swarn dweep: Sri Lanka
Andhralay: Australia
Kolavarah or Ketumaal dweep: Norway
Aryaviryan: Azerbaijan

Names of different locations according to Hindu scriptures

Origin of Clans that peopled India

According to Sen, the stories of different clans that later peopled India cover the geographical areas that start from northern India in the east and goes up to Gulf of Persia and the coast of Caspian sea in the west. In fact all the important clans that peopled India and many other countries started somewhere near Caspian sea around 4 to 5 thousand BC. This same area, that is today constituted by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Persia, called Elam or Elavrat in ancient Hindu texts, continued to be important for the forefathers of the future Indians for about 1500-2000 years, that means till about 3000 BC. Even after this period, till today, the memories of those initial millenniums in Elam continue to be central in Hindu mythologies.

Many different clans of people who later grew as very different people, originated from the same groups of persons near the Caspian coast. Thus the three most important bloodlines that peopled India – Dev, Danav and Daitya, originated from the same family. Dev clans contributed to the Suryavanshi line of Aryans and Daitya clans contributed to the Chandravanshi line of Aryans. For the initial thousand or more years, there was constant inter-mixing between these three bloodlines, but later wars separated Dev group of people from the other two, who were jointly called “Asur” group of people.

There were other groups of people such as Garud and Naag near the Caspian coast and Pichash, Gandharav and Kinnar, in the northern part of mountainous India.

Original families near the Caspian coast and the first waves of emigration towards India

The story starts some where around 4 to 5 thousand years BC, at the beginning of Satyug, on the south coast of Caspian sea, the family of Swayambhu Manu. Manu had two sons, Priyavrata and Utanpaad. That land was divided into four areas – Sugd, Maru, Varvadhi and Nisha. Later on Harayu (Heart) and Vakrit (Kabul) also joined the western areas.

About 4000 years BC, Nabhi, grandson of Priyavrata moved east towards the area of Sapt Sandhu. Bharat, grandson of Nabhi, gave the name Bharat Varsh to that land. Descendents of Utanpaad also moved east towards Saptsandhu and later on, became the kings of this area, taking over from the descendents of Priyavrata.

Reverse emigration, back from Sapta Sindhu towards the Caspian sea

In a few generations, the families that had moved east lost contact with the families in the west. In any case, even in the west, families from the same forefathers, were fighting with each other for power and domination. Thus, children of Chakshuk Manu, a descendent of Uttanpaad line of family, with a kingdom in Sapt Sandhu, decided to go to the west and attack the kingdoms there. Five sons of Chakshak Manu - Atyarati, Jananpati, Manyu (Abhimanyu), Ur, Pur and Taporat, took part in the battle expedition to the west. One of the sons of Ur, called Angira, accompanied his father in the war. This expedition had success and they established kingdoms in different parts of the western lands.

Thus elder sons, Atyarati and Janapati settled in the central part. Ancient Persian history speaks of Manu as Manyu, while Greeks called him Maimnen. He built the city of Manyupuri or Susha. Ur dominated parts of Africa, Syria and Babylonia. Pur settled south of Caspian sea and gave his name to Persia. Taporat settled in Taporia region (Manjadiran). Angira went off in Africa.

Alborz mountain in Taporia region was considered as paradise. On the mountain lived Tapsi Vikuntha and his son Vaikuntha, and thus the area was known as Vaikunthadham in ancient Indian texts. The attack of the five brothers wreaked wide-spread destruction and the event is recorded in ancient Persian history as “destruction of paradise” and the five brothers were called Aahirman or Shaitan.

The big floods in the paradise

A few centuries later, about 3,200 BC, the big rivers in ancient Persia had huge floods, probably after the eruption of a volcano in the western coast of Caspian sea, near the city of Baku.

All the western part of Persia, and parts of Babylonia were submerged in water. Palestine, that is 6000 feet above sea level was also submerged. Only the high mountains reaching up to 18,000 feet were not submerged. These floods have been recorded in almost all the different ancient texts.

Accounts of Manu being saved by a Matasya (fish) in the ancient Hindu text Matasya-Puran, probably refer to saving of Dev clan persons by fishermen from the Caspian sea coast area.

Daughters of Daksha and their children

Shortly after the floods, important new clans were born that will have important impact on the whole region, from Africa in the west to India in the east. These clans came from the daughters of Daksha, from the clan of Swayambhu Manu.

Aditi, one the daughters of Daksha gave birth to 12 sons. Varun, the eldest son, established the Sumerian clan in Susha. In the lands laid dead by the floods, he built canals for draining the water and flattened the earth, making it fit for agriculture. All these works gave Varun the name of life giver or Brahma, as well as the lord of water. Varun's children took the name of Dev clan. They gave the name Ksheersagar to the bay to the south of their land (Bay of Persia).

Children of Vivaswan Surya, the youngest son of Aditi, established the Suryavanshi clan of Aryans, who occupied north India. Vivaswan Surya married Renu from the family of Bhrigu, son of his eldest brother Varun. Surya and Renu had five children - Vaivasvat manu, twins Yam and Yami, then, another pair of twins, Nasatya and Dasr (also known as Ashwini Kumars).

Growing up, Yam went to his uncle Varun, who made him king of land called Aavivard or Dozakh or Nark, a land that had been completely destroyed by the floods and thus, known as the "land of dead".

Other children of Aditi, such as Vasu, Maru, Bhanu. Ghosh, Sandhya, etc. gave rise to other clans. Rudra, an important figure in Hindu mythology in this line was born in the family of Vasu.

Another daughter of Daksha, Diti, gave birth to Daitya clan. A third daughter, Danu, gave rise to Danav clan. The society was matrilineal, that means only mothers name was important.

Initially all the clans were inter-marrying. But as time passed, the fights among different clans started, called Devasur wars.

Indra, born at the Caspian coast, slowly became friends with Varun and Dev clan. It was the time when writing of first Ved (Rigved) was starting. Varun's son Vashisht made some of the Richa (poems) for it. Indra asked his friend Narad, step brother of Vashista to make some richa about him. Later on other persons in the clans, when they heard the richa about Indra, asked for some richa in their names.

Chandra from the family of Bhrigu, fell in love with Tara, wife of Brihaspati, a priest of Dev clan and ran away with her. Brihaspati with help of other clans declared war on Dev clan, and Devs lost the war. Tara was sent back to Brihaspati, but she was pregnant with Chandra's son. When the child, Budh was born, Brihaspati refused to keep him and he was sent back to Chandra.

Migration of Aryas to India and attack on Sat Sindhu

Vaisvat Manu (eldest son of Vivaswan Surya) and Chandra, both decided to emigrate to the east, and together constituted the two main Arya clans in north India. Vaisvat Manu settled near Saryu river and started the suryavanshi clan of Aryans, while Chandra settled near the meeting place of the two rivers, Ganga and Yamuna and started the Chandravanshi clan of Aryans.

Some time later, Indra attacked Vritra, the king of Saptsandhu area from the Daitya clan. Though Vritra had good relationships with Dev clan, Dev clans chose not to interfere in Indra's attack. Vritra was killed by Indra, that led to the destruction of the major cities of Sapt Sindhu (the ruins of Harappa and Mohan Jo'daro).

A few centuries later, the main clans ruling in the western part in Elavrat, gradually became less important and were mixed up with other population groups.

Conclusions

This is just a simplified summary of Acharya Chatur Sen's theory of early settlements in ancient world and in ancient India, where waves of people came in from the west, spreading not just in India, but also inhabiting Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia on the east and Africa on the west. According to him, the different population groups such as Daitya, Danav, Naag, Kinoor, etc. all came from the same original families and separated after an initial period of inter-mixing lasting some millenniums.

Book cover Vayam Rakshamah

Sen's history has three key events linked to India's inhabitation.

(1) The first settling of Sapt Sindhu, around 4,000 years BC and then, after some generations, return of some of these people back to west to the Caspian sea.
(2) The second is settling of Aryavrata in north India by Surya and Chandra clans around another 1000 years later.
(3) Some time later, there was the attack of people from the west on the kingdoms of Sapt Sindhu.

In Vayam Rakshamah, Sen also looks at the development of different clans of kings living in India, in Aryavrat and in the south in Dandkaranya and Dakshinaranya, that I have ignored in this article. For people interested in understanding more of Chatur Sen's theory of early settlements of people in what we know as India and middle east, read Vayam Rakshamah. It may not be a very interesting work of fiction, as far as the story of Polsatya Ravaan, but it does make for an interesting, if a little confused study on early Indian history according to the ancient Hindu books.

*** 

End of part 3. The first part of this essay introduced the figure of Chatur Sen and his works. The second part of the essay explained the broad context of Chatur Sen’s writings.

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