David Frawley, Author of the Month for December 2008
The Vedic Literature of Ancient India and Its Many Secrets (cont.)
By David Frawley
Vedic mantras have been described as a kind of universal language. Classical Sanskrit, which evolved out of Vedic Sanskrit, remains the most scientific language in the world. The Vedic language is the oldest of all Indo-European languages and the best preserved language that we have from the ancient world. As language itself is the best repository of culture, the Vedic language is perhaps our best key not only to ancient culture but to the ancient mind, which is very different in its world view and orientation than the modern mind.
Mathematical secrets of the universe are mentioned in the Vedas like a time cycle of 4,320,000,000 years and names for numbers from one to ten to ten followed by twelve zeroes (1,000,000,000,000,000). The zodiacal number 360 and its divisions and derivatives are common in Vedic texts. Vedic mantras are said to be inherent in the rays of the Sun. Noted Vedic scholar Subhash Kak has found a planetary code in the numbering of the books of the Rig Veda.[xi]
Vedic astrology contains an extensive knowledge not only of the planets, signs and houses but of the 27 Nakshatras or lunar constellations going back to the Vedas.[xii] The Vedas relate the Nakshatras to various deities and rishis and states that after death the soul can travel to the star it is most connected to in life. The mythology of the Nakshatras is quite profound and helps us understand the ancient star lore of many cultures.
Vedic astrology divides the lunar month of twenty nine and a half solar days into thirty equal lunar days or tithis. This amounts to 371 tithis in a solar year of 365 days. The number of deities in the Rig Veda are 3339, or 371 X the mystic number 9, reflecting the importance of the influence of the Moon. The Vedas were oriented to astronomical influences of a profound order and at perhaps a much earlier date than that of Babylonia.[xiii]
Vedic Vastu, its architectural and directional science, shows how the great forces of the universe impact us through the orientation of our rooms, houses, building and the direction that we face. Ayurvedic medicine preserves many Vedic secrets of herbs, foods, subtle physiology and keys to rejuvenation. It is still widely practiced in India and becoming recognized worldwide.
Vedic mantras themselves have a tremendous power to change the psyche and bring in higher cosmic influences into our minds and hearts. Vedic mantras like Gayatri (Rig Veda III.62.10) to the Sun God are still practiced by millions in India and now being taken up by many in the West as well.
A few salient points about ancient history and Vedas:
Besides the knowledge side of the Vedas, there are also important historical implications of the Vedic literature. Vedic literature along with the current state of archaeology and genetics suggests a much longer history for the Vedas in India, perhaps extending into the Ice Age Period. It suggests that the Vedic idea of previous cycles of civilization may indeed reflect Ice Age cultures. For example, the Puranas regard agriculture the creation of Manu Chakshusha, the fourth Manu, before the fifth Manu Vivasvan of the flood. We do note that agriculture began already in the late Ice Age period more than ten thousand years ago.
Many of these points have been mentioned in Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age, where Graham Hancock quotes my work and that of other Vedic scholars like N.S. Rajaram on several issues, particularly on his sections relative to India.
Ancient India of the third millennium BCE presents us with the largest urban civilization of the ancient world and the most uniform, with hundred of sites from Afghanistan in the northwest to across the Ganga in the north east, to the coast of Iran in the southwest and nearly to Mumbai in the southeast. This civilization is usually called the Indus Valley civilization, as the main initial sites were found by this river or the Harappan civilization after its major site.[xiv]
Mohenjodaro and Harappa are the two most famous and best excavated of the Harappan sites. Today there are five sites larger in size than Mohenjodaro and Harappa, though not as well excavated, and over two thousand smaller sites, the largest being Rakhigari in the Kurukshetra region west of Delhi. This Harappan or Indus Civilization is the largest in size and the greatest in uniformity of all ancient civilizations and India at the time, as India today, hosted a much larger population than the arid regions of the Near East.
However, modern scholars portray this Harappan culture as a civilization without a literature, a mysterious civilization that arose and disappeared with little connection to the later history and peoples of India. Meanwhile the Vedas, which as we have already noted represent the largest literature from the ancient world, are portrayed by scholars as a literature without a civilization. In other words, the largest urban civilization of the ancient world is portrayed as civilization without a literary record, while the largest literary record of the ancient world is regarded as a literature without a civilization, though both come from the same part of the world and are traditionally linked together.
Yet if we simply combine these two, the Harappan ruins and the Vedic literature, we can end the mystery on both sides. Both the Harappan ruins and Vedic literature speak of the same region and reflect many of the same artifacts and practices. For example, the most common symbol found in Harappan ruins is the swastika, which is the most sacred symbol of Hindu and Buddhist thought. Indus sites also contain fire altars, sacred water tanks, images of figures seated in meditation (proto-Shiva) or performing Yoga postures, such as Vedic and Hindu thought has always given prominence to.
[xi] Kak, article Knowledge of the Planets in the Third Millennium BCE. Note also book In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (Feuerstein, Kak and Frawley).
[xii] Frawley book, Astrology of the Seers.
[xiii] Frawley article, Vedic Origins of the Zodiac: the Hymns of Dirghatamas in the Rig Veda.
[xiv] Feuerstein, Kak and Frawley book, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization.