Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jambudweep - The Global Island

Earth - The Blue Planet..

Home to every Hunter and Forager,
Every Hero and Coward,
Every Creator and Destroyer,
Every King and Peasant,
Every Inventor and Explorer,
Every Mother, Father and Child,
Every teacher of Morals,
Every Corrupt politician,
Every Superstar, Saint and Sinner,
Aggregate of our Joy and Suffering,
This tiny mote of dust,
Suspended in a sunbeam,
This is Home, This is Us!


Beautiful words by Carl Sagan.. Everyone you love, Everyone you know, Everyone you have ever heard of, Every human being who ever was, has completed his existence on this planet. The planet, which is the only home Humanity has known in its history.


Our Home - The Blue Planet



In the post {Heaven at the North Pole?}, we saw a brief description of the containing landmass - Jambudvipa.  Geographical descriptions in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain texts repeatedly throw up this well-defined yet not-so-well-recognized term.

Different scholars consider it variously as either the 'Indian sub-continent' or the 'Asian continent'. However, as we shall see, none of them come even close to the TRUTH!! Let me share some of the important scriptural references here with you:

  • Markandeya Puraan describes Jambu-dvip as being depressed above and below and broad in the middle just like a Globe.
  • Srimad Bhagavatam points out that on Jambu-dvipa, night prevails diametrically opposite to a point where it is day and Sun sets at a point opposite to where it rises.
  • Mahabharat describes the Universe as a series of shells divided in two by an earth plane called the Bhu-mandala; Jambu-dwip is the central landmark on this plane.
  • Jain and Buddhist cosmologies indicate Jambū-dweep at the centre of Madhyaloka or the middle part of the universe, the place where Human-beings reside.
  • And last but perhaps the most important for our current post, various assorted texts describe Bharat Varsha or India as just ONE of the NINE divisions of Jambu-dweep.


Jambu-dvipa in the center of Bhu-mandala & Madhyaloka



From the above descriptions, it would be clear that this landmass DOES NOT refer to India or even Asia.. The references in fact indicate Jambudvipa to be NOT a small portion of our planet, but the ENTIRE Planet itself!!


Jambudvipa in Jain Cosmology



Alongwith Jambu-dweep, the scriptures describe various other Islands which some scholars tend to confuse with the different islands of our planet and hence get flabbergasted. Sitting at the southernmost tip of the island of Lanka right now, I can understand this is definitely NOT the case.

The staggering dimensions of these so called 'Islands' should be indication enough to negate that possibility completely. Moreover, these Dvipas are located around the central landmass of Jambudvipa in a concentric fashion which suggests each of them revolving in circular orbits.


Arrangement of Dvipas in a circular fashion



I believe the Dvipas refer to the different planetary systems of the Madhya Loka that are inhabited by Humans and is perhaps the FIRST reference in World literature to Humanoid races inhabiting MORE than ONE planet!! This interpretation seems to me most likely, especially if the planets being talked about exist in Parallel dimensions. However, for our current study, we shall focus only on the central island, and leave the analysis of others for a subsequent post.



Jambudweep - the Global Island

Repeatedly, the entire landmass of Jambu-dvipa is described as a continuous stretch of land subdivided into different continents by means of various mountain ranges with each of these divisions being governed by the 9 sons of Emperor Agnidhra, the grandson of Adam/Manu.

This, however, is clearly NOT the current state of affairs! The present landmasses on Earth are quite spread out and no where are they close to forming a global island. Besides, instead of Mountain ranges, it is the water bodies that separate them from each other.

So is the legend of this Global-Island a POETIC reference or does it refer to an ACTUAL hither-to-undeciphered fact??

Even preliminary research on this topic shows, that there indeed was a time in the history of our planet when the ENTIRE land on Earth was joined to form a SINGLE landmass! In Geology, such an entity is called a Super-continent and quite suitably, the Scientists have labeled it as Pangea.


Super-continent Pangea



Could it be, that the scriptural reference of Jambudweep, actually originated in a time when the Entire Earth was ONE whole Continent and not broken up into different landmasses!?!

The descriptions in scriptures clearly define an island of gigantic proportions covering this entire globe and it is more than likely that they refer to one of the super-continents that have existed in our pre-history! Let us try to understand, how in the World (pardon the pun) could the ENTIRE World have been joined as one.



Jambudvipa as a Super-continent

It is a scientifically documented fact that Earth's Crust floats on the hot, molten layer called Magma. The solid crust not only moves on top of the fluid layer but is also broken into separate pieces called Plates that move relative to each other. This movement is referred to as Plate-tectonics.


The Tectonic Plates



Plate-tectonics can be used to explain the formation of many geological features on our planet right from the highest mountain ranges of Himalayas (which came up when the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate!!!), to the deepest ocean formations like the Marina trench.

Scientists have observed that the different plates are in CONTINUOUS motion with respect to each other, and plotting their course in the past, they have realized that at some point of time, these plates were all TOGETHER giving rise to our Super-continents!!


Observe changing positions with focus on the Indian plate


Moreover, this process is still going on and our Earth is going to look quite different in the future as well!

Earth's crust changing shape over the past and future!


The presence of these super-continents has also been proved using Fossil studies which shows a remarkable similarity amongst the distribution of wild-life in the southern continents.


Fossil co-relation found in Present Continents



The movement of these Plates has resulted in formation and disintegration of Super-continents in the 4.5 Billion year old history of our Planet MORE than ONCE!

The earliest known super-continent on our planet was formed 3.1 Billion Years Ago (!) and is called the Vaalbara. Since its break-up, a series of global islands have taken shape and disintegrated and the most important of these have been the KenorlandColumbia, Rodinia and the most recent one, the Pangaea


Arrangement of current continents in past Super-continents



Now, which of these is the Earth-Island of our texts, would have to be ascertained through deeper study of the scriptures, (or maybe even Time-Travel!!). For our current purpose, it should be sufficient to understand that Jambudweep refers to one of these Global Islands, perhaps like the Pangea.

Interestingly, this movement of tectonic-plates might have a parallel in mythology as well!!



The Cosmic Turtle

It is interesting to note, that Hindu texts talk about the Earth (land) being situated on the back of a Turtle which, to me, seems an allegorical representation of the slowly sliding Earth plates!!!


Earth plate on the back of a Cosmic Turtle
Tortoise-like slow movement of Earth's Plates
Animation showing the slow movement of Earth plates



Shatapatha Brahman identifies Earth as the lower shell, the atmosphere as the body and the vault of heaven as the upper shell of this Cosmic Turtle. Also, the serpent around the world is similar to the  one in Norse mythology that binds Midgard or middle-earth together. Similar concepts can also be found in Chinese, as well as Native American mythology. In fact the Mayan, Incan and Navajo descriptions of the Earth closely mirror the descriptions of Jambu-dvip from ancient Indian texts!

Numerous other scriptures also give matching descriptions which, due to lack of correct understanding, were ridiculed by early European Historians. There's nothing ridiculous about the descriptions from ancient scriptures; we only need the right INSIGHT to decipher their profound meaning!


Jambu-dvipa Map according to Native American and Indian texts



This might be a reflection of beliefs passed on by oral tradition remembering the common origins of mankind or perhaps the wisdom passed on by Gods, or who knows, maybe even Aliens ;o)



Description of Jambu-dweep

Ancient texts describe 9 divisions of Jambu-dweep with precise locations ascribed to each of them. Also, bang in the center of this global-landmass is an enormous mountain called Meru.

Now, we have already discussed Mount Meru earlier {Check - Heaven at the North Pole} and have understood that it actually refers to the Earth's Axis. Also, in the previous post {Check - Naming a Nation}, we have identified and studied the description of our own Indian sub-continent.

On the basis of the last TWO posts, there are at least TWO things we can definitely state:
  1. One, BhArat Varsha refers to the Indian sub-continent;
  2. Second, Mount Meru and therefore its containing continent Ilavrit Varsha, is situated around the North pole.

To me, the descriptions of Jambudvipa seem like a Polar projection i.e. a view of the Earth as seen from above the North Pole. We will therefore try to extrapolate the continents based on these three reference points.


Polar Projection of the present landmass



Let us first understand the exact arrangement of continents in this Super-continent. Broadly, the four landmasses of Bharat, Ketumal, Bhadrashva and Kuru are placed in the four directions, like petals of a lotus flower around the central pericarp of Meru (and Ilavrit Varsha). Let's see how it appears diagramatically.


Central Meru with lotus like arrangement of continents



Going Southwards from Meru, we first come across Kimpurush-varsha followed by Hari-varsha and finally Bharat-varsh which is the southernmost continent. In the North, Ramyak is the first landmass followed by Hiranyamay and Uttarkuru divisions (As a corollary, we get Kuru Varsha on the exact opposite side of India when mapped on the globe).

Towards the East is Bhadrashva which would today lie somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and towards the West is Ketumal which would probably be submerged under the Atlantic Ocean of today. The image below has been taken from Hitxp forum and maps these descriptions onto the current World Geography.



Sub-divisions of Jambudweep
 {Image courtesy Hitxp Forum}



We should understand that owing to different arrangement of continents, most of Southern America, Afric and Australia were either located very different to their current positions OR probably submerged under water!

If this theory is correct, the reference to this Super-continent points to existence of an extremely ancient civilization that has retained the memories of a Global-Island or at the very least had the technical know-how to find out this pre-historic description ages before modern science!!

Repatedly, my research throws up such astonishing facts that I am forced to think twice before writing each article! But then, I think it is my duty to share my findings with whoever is interested in reading about such topics and let them form their own opinions. There is NO other agenda for me but to find out the HIDDEN science in the enormous religious data available in our country. Not only Hindu, even Jain and Buddhist texts are full of beautiful insights into the mysteries of the Universe.

Coming back to the mystery of Jambudvipa, most geologists claim that this is a cyclical process and in about 250 Million Years from now, all the continents would AGAIN come together to form a super-continent called the Pangea Proxima.

Many models have tried to predict the future shape of this global-island but I would like to propose a new and more attractive one :o)


Jambu-dweep of Love




Just as the Jambu-dweep has split over the eons, so has the Human species and we are today divided into innumerable tribes, religions, races and nations. Whatever shape the landmasses take next I just hope and pray that by then, MANKIND has learnt to live in Love and Harmony!

.
Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:
.


Friday, January 13, 2012

India or Bharat or Nabhivarsh


The Land of a Million Contradictions,
The Land of a Billion representatives of Humanity,
The Land of the Oldest Existing Civilization on the Planet!





What is it about this land that fills one with a sense of Enigma??? The very name conjures up vivid images of contrasting Geographies and colorful Traditions..

The Sub-continent where some of the Greatest religions of the World originated,
The Nation which created History by attaining Freedom through Non-Violent means,
The Economy which is the 4th largest in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity,
The Land supporting a Multi-lingual, Multi-ethnic, Multi-cultural and yet Functional Democracy!

Home to over a billion people, India is where people live with variety, thrive on diversity and are too familiar with largeness of it all to let it boggle them..


Incredible India!



As the Sun God Surya enters Northern Hemisphere (Uttarayan) today, it Inspires us all to move away from darkness and towards light.  In different parts of the country, we are celebrating Lohri/Makar Sankrant/Pongal and Bihu -One festival, many names- Just like our nation..

In a previous post, (Genetics of the Wandering Indian), I talked about the morphological distinctness of Indians hiding Genetically identical constitutions. The same plurality has been preserved in the variety of names that we posess and I am suddenly inclined to explore the history behind them..




Naming a Nation

Our country has two official names - India and Bharat. The Persians and Arabs used yet another name for the country - Hindustan/Al Hind and since Persian has played a big part in the development of our National language Hindi, the term Hindustan is also used in common parlance today.

Both Hindustan and India however, are derived from the name of the river Indus which marked the Western boundary of India for travelers. Indus again is derived from the Sanskrit name Sindhu and both the terms have been in use since at least 5th century BC. However, these are the names given to us by travelers and traders.. What did the indigenous people of ancient India refer to their country as??


India/Bharat/Hindustan/Al Hind



I was fascinated by this question and tried to look into all the scriptural data I could lay my paws on. NOT surprisingly, I found plurality here as well :o)

The Indus-Saraswati people extended in the West from Afghanistan-Pakistan border right upto Yamuna in the East and Gujarat in the South. This region, especially the land between Saraswati and Ganga rivers was known as Aryavarta or the Land-of-the-Noble.

The Mesopotamians with whom ancient Indians ahd extensive trade relations, referred to this region as Meluha. The same name has been popularized by one of my favorite authors Amish Tripathi in his best-seller - 'The Immortals of Meluha'. But again, this was an apellation for a particular region of the country and not the entire Indian sub-continent..


Aryavarta/Meluha/Northern India



Delving further into the research, I quite literaly stumbled onto an ancient ruler, Emperor Agnidhra, the grand-son of the FIRST MAN - Swayambhu Manu who is believed to have ruled over the ENTIRE globe, then known as the Jambu-dweep.{For more details, click on this link - Jambudweep - The Global Island}

While retiring, Agnidhra divided his kingdom (aka the entire planet) into 9 Continents or Divisions handing them over to his 9 sons to rule. Thus, the peninsular stretch spreading from Himalayas to the Ocean, came under the supervision of his eldest son Nabhi, thereby giving us the oldest appellation of our land - the NABHI-VARSHA.

As most of you would know, the term Nabhi refers to the 'Navel' in Sanskrit and thus Nabhi-varsha could easily be translated as the 'Central Region'. Interestingly, the Japanese name for India was Tenjiku. Tian, the root word, means "Heaven", while, jiku, means: "The center of", translating it to "The Heavenly Center of the World".


Nabhi Varsha/Tenjiku/Navel of the World



So I managed to find the oldest name of our sub-continent as per the scriptures. But then, I wondered, where and how did the name BHARAT come from??





India and BhArat

According to at least half a dozen different scriptures, our country is called BhArat as a mark of respect to the legendary Emperor, Chakravarti Raja Bharat.

This fact has been attested by the Vishnu Puran (2,1,31), Vayu Puran (33,52), Ling Puran (1,47,23), Brahmand Puran (14,5,62), Agni Puran ( 107,11-12), Skanda Puran (37,57) and Markandeya Puran (50,41)!! For example, Vishnu Puraan states-

उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् ।
वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ।।
The country lying North of the Ocean and South of the snowy mountains is called Bhārat; There dwell the descendants of Bharat.

BhArat Varsha extending from Himalayas to the Ocean



Now, there are again TWO very interesting stories about this ONE name and I'm gonna share both of them with you today..



The Legends of Bharat

The FIRST legend begins with Emperor Nabhi, the great-grandson of Manu, whom we encountered above.

Emperor Nabhi, First ruler of the Indian sub-continent



According to Hindu as well as Jain scriptures, Nabhi-dev was married to Meru-devi, the daughter of Indra, and their eldest son was the Saint-King Rishabh Dev.

Now, RISHABH Dev was the first Tirthankar according to the Jain tradition and I should mention here that Srimad Bhāgavatam also counts Him as 8th of the 24 Incarnations of Lord Vishnu. According to the Bhagavatam, He was born to show the people of this world the path of salvation. It was He who laid down the foundations of Civilization and advised people to follow the path of spiritual bliss, instead of indulging in a life of worldly pleasures and enjoyment.


Adinath Rishabdev



Rishabh Dev had many sons, and the eldest two from his two wives were Bharat and Bahubali. The two sons were competing for the illusive title of Chakravarti (Emperor-of-Entire-World) but Bharat was the natural winner and as per the scriptures, it is THIS Bharat after whom our country is named.

 In Hymns 2.1.31 and 2.1.32, the Vishnu Puraan states-

Rishabh was born to Merudevi, Bharat was born to Rishabh,
Bharatvarsha was named from Bharat, and Sumati arose from Bharat. [2.1.31]

This country is known as Bharatavarsha,
Since the time the father entrusted the Kingdom to the son,
And himself went to the forest for ascetic practices. [2.1.32]

Talking of Ascetic practices, it has been observed, that a lot of Indus-Saraswati Civilization seals and figurines depict Yogic postures on them, which BTW highlights the continuity of Yogic practice in India since at least 5000 years ago.


Yogic postures in Indus-Saraswati figurines
Three-faced Pashupatinath seal



There are certain seals that depict the Yogic position called Kayotsarga, traditionally described in connection with the penance of Rishabh-dev. It may very well be that the seals record the histories of Jain Tirthankars as much as the Hindu Gods as ultimately both belong to the same Spiritual Tradition.

Before I share with you the second story, I must tell you that many Puranas describe Bharat as the ruler of the whole world. In that sense then, Bharat-varsha would actually refer to the entire globe and not just the country.




The Second Legend of Bharat

The SECOND legend of Bharat, brings us into more familiar territory, probably due to the wider reach and popularity of the Epic containing it, the Mahabharat.

The story begins with Rishi Vishwamitra, one of the Seven Great Seers of Hindu Mythology. The rishis's penance worried Indra sufficiently enough to make him send Menaka, the most beautiful Apsara in heaven, to distract the sage.

The result of their dalliance was Shakuntala who got married to King Dushyant of the ruling Lunar Dynasty. Their story is the stuff of a typical Bollywood movie and has been immortalized in Sanskrit in Kalidasa's poetic rendition and in art by one of the most celebrated Indian artists Raja Ravi Varma.


Shakuntala by Raja Ravi Varma



Dushyant and Shakuntala's son was called Sarvadaman, the subduer-of-all by the caretakers in the ashram where he grew up. Even as a kid, he would play with lions and other ferocious animals of the jungle. By the time he was six, he could subjugate lions and tigers with his bare hands, a feat which is remarkable and is mentioned MORE than once in various scriptures. Nevertheless, this subduing child of Shakuntala was later renamed Bharat as he was 'cherished by all' in his father's kingdom.


Shakuntala introduces Bharat to Dushyant


Interestingly, there's again an Indus-Saraswati Seal that matches the description of Bharat subduing two tigers with his bare hands! The scene may or may not refer to Shakuntala's son, but its iconography is certainly suggestive.. These seals when deciphered, would be an extremely valuable and AUTHENTIC source of our ancient History


Indus Valley Seal probably depicting Bharat



Bharat grew up to be a great warrior and a Chakravarti Raja who conquered and united the entire continent of India again, spreading right from the Ocean to the Himalayas, thus giving the country his name.


Chakravarti Raja Bharat
Image courtesy Grant Morrison's 18 Days
{Art by Mukesh Singh}


This appellation for the country was well noted in the ancient world as well. From the perspective of the Malaysians, Indians were the most common visitors from the West, therefore the word Barat was absorbed into Malay language meaning "West".

For the Middle Eastern traders, particularly Arabs and Turks, spices were the most common materials coming from the East. Therefore, some scholars believe, the term Bharat was borrowed first into Arabic as Baharāt (meaning - spices); and then into the Turkish as Baharat with the same meaning.

It is fortunate that the two BHARATs of our History who gave their name to the Nation were called the same, otherwise one of them could have quite easily been forgotten like the Emperor Nabhi. We should therefore understand BhArat to mean not just the 'Land-of-Bharat' but the 'Land-of-BharatS' instead ;o)


BhAratvarsha, the Land of Bharats



I have heard from various people the view that we Indians have always been fighting with each other and it was the British who actually turned us into a NATION! To the supporters of this belief, I would urge to read their scriptures and understand their own heritage.

There is no Future for any nation, if we do not remember our Past. I hope I was able to share with you some interesting facts about our Origin as a Country and I guess should conclude here with one of the most optimistic poems ever by Gurudev Rabindranath Thakur-

Where the Mind is without Fear,
And the Head is held High,
Where Knowledge is Free,
Where the World has not been broken i
nto fragments
by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of Truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms
towards Perfection;
Where the clear stream of Reason has not lost its Way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by Thee,
into ever-widening
Thought and Action,
Into that Heaven of freedom,

My Father,
Let my Country awake.


Vande Mataram!

.
Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:
.

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