Vedas as alternative source.
We live in the times where the official academia version on the origin of humanity no longer satisfies the intelligence of many. Even though, up until now, mainstream academia has effectively banished the Vedic concepts, have we received a consistent theory to cling to in its place? What happens when the evidence pops up that completely contradicts the official vision?
Disregarding the established academia, modern scholars and Vedic practitioners believe that the theory that we have been taught in regards to the history of humanity on this planet radically differs from reality.
Vedic knowledge explains universal concepts and gives guidance to that spiritual process that lets each person go into their own heart and have a firsthand experience of the Divine Intelligence. Even though coming from a particular geographical location this knowledge can be applied to any person in any country at any time and circumstance. It gives “the direct perception of oneself by realization, it is everlasting and joyfully performed.” (Bhagavad-Gita). To the extent one is successful in reestablishing an inner self-identity, the connection to the outer world becomes more balanced.
Vedas describe themselves as “apurusheya” or not of human origin. On the dawn of creation when the first living entity Brahma found himself helpless and needing guidance, the Vedas poured into the material cosmos from the transcendental reality. They gave the most detailed account of the structure and purpose of the material creation and served as the best manual for getting the most efficiency within its laws. This one body of knowledge was later divided into branches and sub-branches and constitute content of any contemporary science.
The search for truth could not be served by superficially becoming a neo-Hindu just because there is great knowledge in the Vedas. Modern India is far from being a role model for the living truth of the Vedas, but there in simple lifestyles of it’s residents we nonetheless find the living remnant of a once great civilization that gave rise to much of world culture. And even more importantly, India is still repository of crucial knowledge that has not yet been totally revealed to the rest of the world.
Vedas compare themselves to a torchlight that dissipates darkness of ignorance. Most suffering of this world is born out of forgetfulness of the true nature of things: the living entity is designed to be eternally happy, but by coming down and connecting with inferior world of illusion it becomes fascinated by shadows. The history of humanity can be seen as a constant struggle to rediscover Paradise Lost, to “break onto the other side”: into the light of eternal knowledge.
Unlike time in both Judeo-Christian religious tradition and the current view of modern science, Vedic time is cyclic. What goes around comes around: the Universe passes through repetitive cycles of creation and destruction. In a similar way the Vedic knowledge was going through phases of rediscovery and lose again and again. This material cosmos being the world of “ tamas” or ignorance is designed in such a way that those spirit souls desiring to be in illusion can have ample supply of ways to do so. Let’s have a look at what appears to be the most recent advent of Vedic knowledge out of India into the Western World.
Modern discovery of Vedic knowledge.
Initially European interest in India centered exclusively upon trade. Marco Polo the thirteenth-century explorer gave Europeans their first authoritative information on East Asia and specifically described India as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Later Christopher Columbus would examine the “ Travels of Marco Polo”, but his inspiration was somewhat different. Being a devotee of the Second Book of Esdras, a popular text in the early Christian Church, he believed that a future age would succeed the world order existing at the time the Romans conquered Jerusalem. He also learned a system of Earth from that scripture that would see the Earth round and set out in search of Far East.
In 1498 Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama reached Southwest India, reestablishing direct economic link between Europe and Far East that ceased about one thousand years earlier. After the decline of the Roman Empire Arab rulers made the trade very dangerous and almost impossible. Upon their arrival the first European settlement in India began. They have encountered the Christians of St. Thomas and first professed friendship with them, but later forced them to accept the dominance of Rome, Latinized them and replaces native bishops with Portuguese.
Struggle for power in Europe would decide who would dominate the future of India: in 1580 Spain annexed Portugal, then 8 years later British defeated Spanish navy. Disappearance of Spanish fleet would let Dutch ventured to India, British and French followed. The British established their first trading post in India in 1600, defeated French and Portuguese, then Dutch and finally Indian army in 1752. The British Crown granted the British East India Company an official monopoly on rule and trade in India. Then by 1818 after removing all the rivals out of India the British Empire of India was pronounced.
After cleaning the seas of naval competition British set up their minds for establishing efficient and lasting regime. To learn more about the cultural environment, as well as to publish the literary heritage of the Vedas, in 1784 the Asiatic Society of Bengal was established in Calcutta. Charles Wilkins was the first to study Sanskrit and in 1785 the first English rendition of Bhagavad-Gita was published.
Several of the British intellectuals began noticing that the Vedic culture was far more ancient then anything they have encountered before on the Middle East. In 1786 Sir William Jones announced to the Asiatic Society of Bengal that Sanskrit was related to Latin and Greek, as well as Persian, Celtic and Gothic. Even though a hundred years earlier this was noticed before by Florentine merchant Filippo Sassetti, he was the first to make to present this to academia. Though a devoted Christian Sir William Jones proclaimed fascination with Vedic literature:
“ I am in love with Gopia, charmed with Crishen ( Krishna ) and admirer of Raama……I am no Hindu, but I hold the doctrine of the Hindus concerning the future state (reincarnation) to be incomparably more rational, more pious and more likely to deter men from vice than the horrid opinions inculcated by Christians on punishment without end.”
Asiatic’s Society of Bengals’ journal attained immediate fame in European circles of intellectuals and it’s studies were translated into German and French. Vedic knowledge and Sanskrit became the center focus of attention for German romanticists. Having no economic agenda, their interest in India was purely intellectual.
The first one to express his passion for Vedic knowledge was Johann Gottfried von Herder – a philosopher and thinker who’s writings formed the basis of German Romanticism and influenced Goethe. He wrote: “ the brahmins…so effectively established their people in virtues that, in comparison, Europeans frequently appear as beastly, drunken and mad.”
Another German writer Friedrich von Schlegel took to studying Sanskrit and published “ Essay on Language and Wisdom of Indians” in 1808 where he expressed his opinion that migration of intellect from India had introduced civilization in Europe. His brother August von Schlegel became the first professor of Sanskrit at the University of Bonn. Seeing Sanskrit as the unifying power and wanting Germans to be established as the first to embrace the new rediscovery he proclaimed Germany as the Orient of Europe. Other European community joined soon and the term Indo-Europeans was born shortly after.
The Prussian minister of education and the founder of linguistics Wilhelm von Humboldt began study of Sanskrit in 1821 and published works where he described Bhagavad-Gita – as “ the deepest and loftiest thing the world has to show”. Ludwig van Beethoven published manuscripts containing fragments from Gita and Upanishads.
Another well-known German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer became absorbed by the Latin translations of the Upanishads. He considered them to contain almost superhuman values and called them “ the production of the highest human wisdom”. He stated Vedas to be “most satisfying and elevated reading which is possible in the world; it has been solace in life and will be the solace of my death.”
So deep was immersion of Germans into the Vedic studies that when numerous German states were united into German Empire in 1871 Sir Henry Maine declared that “ a nation has been born out of Sanskrit.”
Other nations also got fascinated by the new discovery. In 1775 Voltaire the philosopher of the French Enlightenment wrote: “ I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges: astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc.” Soon enough the works of Germans were translated into French and in 1816 the first university chair was established in Paris. Jules Michelet renown historian and author of Histoire de France claimed India to be “ the womb of the world” and Diderot suggested that “ sciences of India may be more ancient than of Egypt.”
Russia published it’s first Sanskrit text in 1787 – Novikov translated from English Charles Wilkins’s edition of Bhagavad-Gita. In 1810 an Asian Academy was established in St. Petersburg with a Sanskrit department. Famous Indologists of the 19th century were Vasilyev and Minaev.
In 1718 in America, a former governor of British East India Elihu Yale had funded Yale University and the former Indian studies begun in 1841. In 1836 at Harvard University the cream of America’s literary world – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman formed the Transcendental Club of America. In 1842 the American Oriental Society was founded contributing to interest in Vedic knowledge.
Emerson wrote about Gita: “ I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spake to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence….”
Thoreau stated: “What extracts from the Vedas I have read fall on me like the light of a higher and purer luminary….. In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita. The reader is nowhere raised into and sustained in a bigger, purer or rarer region of thought than in the Bhagavad-Gita.” He boldly declared: “ The religion and philosophy of the Hebrews are those of a wilder and ruder tribe, wanting the civility and intellectual refinements and subtlety of Vedic culture.”
Other American intellectuals influenced by the Vedas were T.S. Eliot, Paul Elmer and Irvin Babbitt. They had all studied at Harvard under renowned Sanskritist Charles Lanman, who taught for almost forty years and published many books on the Vedas.
The change of winds.
The junction of eighteen-nineteen centuries gave us a fresh breeze of readiness for acceptance of Vedic culture. The European intellectuals talked about an “Oriental renaissance”. They believed that just like the study of Greek culture paved the way to the first Renaissance, so the study of Sanskrit and the Vedas would initiate the second.
Unbiased reactions of the world’s progressive intellectuals of that time can become an indicator of what value the Vedas can bring to the world. But the breezes of appreciation did not last: British Crown had some economic agenda in India to tend and by the turn of the twentieth century all appreciation of Vedic culture became void. Last thing the British wanted was an independent India inspired by the Vedic heritage.
By the early nineteenth century British consolidated their power in India and a debate about it’s purpose unfolded. While East India company had strictly economical interests, Christian missionaries seeing themselves responsible for “shedding enlightenment to the lost” were forcing the British government to end East India’s monopoly. In 1857 religious strife helped set off the Indian Mutiny and shortly after that the British Crown assumed all governmental power.
British government had a job to do in India and no trendy fascination of the West was to interfere. The Governor general the Marquis of Hastings upon arriving in India in 1813, declared: “ The Hindoo appears being merely limited to mere animal function, and even in them indifferent…with no higher intellect than a dog.”
The turning of the tide was marked by publishing of “ Observations on the…Asiatic subjects of Great Britain” by Charles Grant in 1796, some of it’s ideas guided British rule for the next 150 years until India’s independence in 1947. A Scottish evangelical, he did away with the Orientalists’ fascination with the Vedic culture:
“ They have had among themselves a complete despotism from the remotest antiquity; a despotism, the most remarkable for it’s power and duration that the world has ever seen….as a people they are void of public spirit, honor, attachment; and in society, base, dishonest and faithless.”
He claimed the “ disease of Hindoo” to be moral and thus requiring “ introduction to light”: “The Hindoos err, because they are ignorant; and their errors have never fairly been laid before them.” Grant called India’s spiritualism as the “work of crafty and imperious priesthood, who feigned a divine revelation and appointment, to invest their own order.”
The “ Observations” dramatically concluded that the Indian were “ every way different” from the British and had absolutely nothing in common. Thus getting rid of all the Oriental sentimentalism Grant was calling for intensive cleansing with the potent detergent of Western knowledge.
Another established literature for purging British appreciation of India was the History of British India published in 1817 by James Mill. Being a celebrated Utilitarian, Mill proposed secular modernization as opposed to Christian conversion prescribed by Grant in “ Observations.” He declared that “no intelligible system of belief could be detected in the wild, impenetrable legends and the language of the brahmins”, the vices of falsehood, indeed, they carry to a height almost unexampled among the other races of man”. He stated about the arts of India that it is “merely void of attraction…music never progressed beyond levels normal for a primitive society.”
His work became a required reading for students preparing for civil service in India and concluded that: “in India’s history there was nothing but constant was between petty states, India only attained high degree of civilization only when dominated by foreigners, even Europe in the Dark ages was superior to the best India could offer, general character of Indian people was deceitful and treacherous.”
It should not come as a surprise that most of the literature written about Vedic culture has been written by scholars outside that tradition, who often had their own private agendas or were not educated in the secret meaning of the Vedas. Needless to say today’s academic world would find the language of Charles Grant and James Mill revolting, yet none of them take seriously Vedic contention that hidden in antiquity, a highly advanced Vedic civilization thrived. Even a concept that the Vedic presentation of ancient humanity may be worth researching is considered ridiculous. Anyone seen to defy the academic establishment in the official version of human history is immediately banned as intellectual outcast with no means to broadcast or air your research.
The world is longing for a change.
If we judge by the popularity of alternative forms of almost every traditional discipline – science, history or medicine it becomes evident that a new paradigm is emerging. While academic establishment continues to ignore the necessity to open up, intellectual seekers and alternative researches form a global community dedicated to finding meaningful answers. Once the treasures of ancient Vedic knowledge is properly understood by scholars, then hopefully they will overcome ego, national pride and religious bias to learn whatever secrets are hidden there.
The global communications systems seems to be spearheading the paradigm change: media documenting alternative views on history and science flood the internet forming a new alternative way of education and study. The World Values Survey headed by it’s coordinator Ronald Ingelhart examined 43 nations – about 70 percent of the world’s population and concluded that most advanced nations are going through “postmodern shift”. Countries like USA, England, Canada, Scandinavia are dissatisfied with the contemporary government, science, economy and religion; it’s citizens long for alternative lifestyles centered around personal development, trustworthy governments dedicated to the welfare of it’s people.
We have been caught between intellectual corporations vying for our body, mind, money and soul. Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Material Science have been our options. Like the big four media networks, they monopolize the airwaves and teach us not inquiry but sectarianism dogma and often violence. Many people declare themselves atheistic just to be out of the clutches of dogmatic and oppressive religion. They say: “If your idea of God is true, I would rather go to hell.”
In the US a study conducted by Paul Ray at the Fetzer Institute shows that 24 percent of the Americans form a segment in society that is longing for spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, personal development and are openly seeking that in synthesis of the East and West. Anthropologist Anthony Wallace says that this global cultural revitalization movement is guided by “ advance guard who wake up an entire culture to see that the old story doesn’t work any more and a new story is needed.”
After examining the transformational periods of the Western World, the renowned historian Lewis Mumford states that: “Every transformation of man has rested on a new metaphysical and ideological base…a new picture of cosmos and the nature of man.” Historians agree that there were four or five major collapses of Western Civilization, that they generally happen only once or twice a millennium and that the shift of the Middle Ages into the Italian Renaissance was the most recent one.
The Vedic seers call for a civilization that is designed so that its members can act upon deepest issues of life. Since the Renaissance, society was fronted with the same issues on how to structure community socially and economically. The Vedas stand ready with those answers: the most comprehensive knowledge of the self and the structure of the society is there. Ancient sciences are waiting to be rediscovered to not only teach us the paths of liberation from the laws of karma in the material world but also how to live harmoniously with Nature in our own lives. Vedic knowledge of architecture, medicine, astronomy, music, martial arts, and so on are there to help us live peacefully in this life and beyond: to gradually break free from the temporary recycling in the world of birth and death and attaining our original position of eternal happiness and knowledge.
Current Times predicted in the Vedas.
Vedas give us account of human history since the moment of material creation and also forecast the future until the time of universal dissolution. Being a detached observer they are not judgmental but outline and warn us about periods and phases in the cosmic cycles. The Vedic system of the four yugas presents the lengths of the ages as 4/3/2 and 1 times an interval of 432,000 years.
Where we are now in the timescale of the Universal clock? If the duration of the Universe would be compared to a 24-hour clock, we would be in about high noon.
Kali Yuga started midnight of 18 February 3102 B.C., when all seven planets were invisible, and is predicted to last for another 427,000 years. At the end of Kali yuga there will be a short reset and then another Satya, or Golden Age will manifest. Thousand rotations of 4 yugas, or 4.32 billion years, constitute one day in the life of the Brahma, the first living entity within the universe and forefather of all living entities. Brahma lives for a 100 years thus making the lifespan of the universe
311.04 trillion years.
Seen from the Vedic perspective, current age of Kali is the most perverse, the diametric opposite of the Golden Age of Truth – Satya Yuga. Srimad-Bhagavatam, the authoritative Vedic scripture states that, whereas in previous ages, either transcendentalists, religious intellectuals, or noble statesmen predominated, in the Iron Age, the norms are set by the crude mentality of laborers and barbarians: “Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali.”
Easy to get lost in this calculations? Vedas fine-tune the forecast and give us a detailed description of the current Kali-yuga, which is remarkable because of the advent of Golden Avatar Sri Krishna Caitanya (1486–1534). Appearing in the land of India this divine messenger of love was destined to deliver to the world the combination of the most sublime monotheistic philosophy of bhakti-yoga and the very simple process of attaining spiritual perfection. As predicted, the Avatar would be “hidden” from the eyes of the world and it’s glories would be revealed centuries later. If we compare the dates, we will see how the advent of Sri Krishna Caitanya caused a ripple effect on uprising of global spirituality and corresponded to the Renaissance movement in Europe.
Current shift of millenniums is special in many ways; what was given 500 years ago by Sri Caitanya will get reinforced and distributed to world. For so many years the self-illuminating Truth was hidden from the public eyes by the will of politicians and academia, but contemporary world cannot be suppressed by individuals anymore. We are going through a time where within the dark age of Kali enters the Golden age of global Renaissance. Many cultures state that in their time calculations and the Vedas explain how for a period of time there will be a “breather” within dominating darkness. Humanity is at the phase where the ones who choose to be liberated have ability to create community with the will for enlightenment and access to the undiluted knowledge.
The same way as the Italians of the Renaissance were looking at the ancient culture of the Greeks and draw their inspiration for the new culture from the ancients, in a similar way contemporary man is looking at the treasures of the Vedic culture and uses it’s content to change the world for better.
From where we are in our journey we are always trying to decide where to go next, material nature will force us to move. As explained in the Vedic scriptures, spirit soul is eternal by nature, but by coming down into the world of matter it becomes conditioned. It does not loose its immortality, but becomes illusioned. Ancient called it the Wheel of Samsara. It does feel that the modern world got a little dizzy with excessive materialism, may be because of the constant rotation of that wheel. Let’s hope we can all take part in this Vedic Renaissance movement and reconnect with the Universe within while getting ready for changes awaiting.