Cosmic Order in the Vedas and Avesta – Part 1

Archeoastronomy

Ancient texts make it clear that the Aryan peoples lived in an environment that is unimaginable in the modern world, involving repeated close encounters with other astronomical bodies.  These occurred between about 3700 and 687 BC and were the origin of all religions of the period.  Each culture recorded the details of these events in unique ways.  The Vedic rishis, – Indo-Aryan priests, observed these events from the safety of an elevation of 5000 feet, probably to the west of what is now the Punjab, in Pakistan.  Their observations comprise some thousand stanzas in the Rig Veda.  The proto-Iranian peoples lived in the same Aryan lands, spoke the same language (with a different dialect) and essentially shared the Vedic view.  I have used English translations of this and Egyptian texts to deduce a sequence of cosmic events never imagined to date.  The observations of different cultures are in agreement because everyone on Earth observed and recorded the same cyclic cosmic events, which, because they occurred with a periodicity of 30  years, were consistent throughout one hundred generations of men.

After the encounters ceased (687 BC) there ensued a period of revisionism in which the generations who had not witnessed them began to modify the contents of the Rig Veda.  The most flagrant distortion being the enormous inflation of the periodicity, resulting in the idea that each encounter, a ‘day of Brahma’ (a kalpa), was 4.32 billion years.  No such great duration was stated in the Rig Veda.  Also, actions or attributes of one deity in the Vedas began to be transferred to another ‘favorite’ one, and were understood to apply to human-like super beings.  Although the Hindu texts contain additional useful information, the Classics, Puranas and Upanishads systematically distort what were actually observations in the Vedas to the point of historical uselessness.  Zarathustra, to whom the Avesta and the resulting Mazsdayasnan religion is attributed, similarly introduced such distortion in his arbitrary choice of Ahuramazda as the supreme deity.  This implies that he lived after 687  BC

Suras vs Asuras

The conflict between these archetypes was a theme in both the Avesta and Vedas, as in every culture.  The Vedic suras are translated ‘gods’ and the asuras ‘demons’, whereas Zarathurstra called the suras  daevas ‘demons’ and proclaimed Ahuramazda, an asura, the supreme god.  His portrayal of the combatants (below) might imply a personal (astronomical) observation, however the term “reknowned” implies a story passed down from ancestors.

Truly, there are two primal spirits, twins reknowned to be in conflict.  In thought and word, in act they are two:  the better and the bad. [Yasna 30.3]

Reinforcing the latter notion, his bias is based on human-like attributes – “thought and word”.  Although the following statement from the Rig Veda is similar, it implies that two astronomical bodies, Hari and Agni, have unique orbital periods.

Two periods of different complexions revolve for their own purposes, and each in succession severally nourishes a son; in one Hari is the receiver of oblations, in the other the brilliant Agni is beheld.

The problem of interpreting ancient texts lies not in their inability to express technical terms, such as planets and orbits.  Certainly the people who lived during the cosmic encounters knew exactly what the texts, more correctly the chants, described.  In fact, a number of ancient texts describe these astronomical bodies as ‘worlds’, because when close to the Earth, they could be seen as such.  But in modern times this has always been translated as our ‘world’, such as ‘Atlas holding up the world’.

Originally the Vedic terms sura and asura, and the corresponding proto-Iranian daeva and ahura, referred to the physical characteristics of cosmic bodies which approached the Earth.  Due to their physical effects on the Earth, such as earthquakes and tidal flooding, they soon became the object of offerings (oblations), intended to ameliorate their devastating  effects such as earthquakes and tidal flooding. As a result they became known by subsequent generations as ‘gods’.  Actually they were more present and threatening than the remote gods of modern times.

Sura meant a ‘glowing (body), consistent with the ‘glory’ generally associated with gods to this day.  A century ago, scholars incorrectly interpreted asura as ‘demons’ because of the Sanskrit method of negation by preceding a word with ‘a’, that is, the opposite of sura (god) was thought to be asura – not god, therefore ‘demon’.   However, they later concluded that asura was based on the Sanskrit stem asu which refers to breath or breathing.  But to date, no one has suggested that this applied to astronomical bodies.

Aditi

Prior to about 3700 BC, the solar system comprised only two terrestrial planets.  Both were living planets with oceans, atmospheres, plant and animal life.  The original form of Mars, which I call priori-Mars, was in an orbit inside that of the Earth.  Then an enormous impact on Jupiter (Dauspitar), out of which proto-Venus, the Vedic Aditi, was born, triggered some 3000 years of  planetary chaos.  In Greek texts this was Pallas Athene, the young Athena.  This is why Aditi is the first deity mentioned in the Rig Veda. Because proto-Venus was a flaming sphere of rock and iron it trailed two multi-million mile black tails, like a comet.  In the Rig Veda these are pictured as ‘parent brands’ (branding irons) and the ‘two sticks used to start a fire.’  It first approached the Earth as ‘Agni’ (fire) scorching and desiccating a swath from the Sahara to the Himalayas, which is the largest and most prominent feature on Earth when viewed from space.  Its outgassing gradually diminished but remained visible in the night sky for millennia when near the Earth.  As a result it could be seen to have an atmosphere.  Thus the Vedic term asura and by association the proto-Iranian ahura were used to designate a heavenly body with an obvious atmosphere.

Sons of Aditi

Just after its birth, proto-Venus ranged throughout the solar system, and thus was seen in many aspects described in the Vedas.  The name Aditi (a-diti), expresses this, the prefix ‘a‘ negating the meaning of diti (bound), meaning unbounded. Initially it was a very bright star-like form.  It was subsequently called by different names, depending on the sky background and its proximity to the Earth.  These manifestations were called ‘sons of Aditi‘.  When it appeared as a morning star it was Savitar, in the night sky it was Pushan (the guide for travelers at night), when along side the Sun in the day sky it was Surya (Sun maiden), when it approached and devastated the Earth it was Agni (fire) and when still close but no longer threatening it was Mitra or Varuna.  The Rig Veda makes it clear that these ‘sons of Aditi‘ were all forms of the same body, since it states:

What is but one, the wise call (by) manifolds (names).

Mitra-Varuna

Scholars have long been baffled by the intimate relationship of the two Vedic deities Mitra and Varuna which, more often than not are combined into one name, MitraVaruna.  Proto-Venus’ orbit was rapidly reduced by tidal and electromagnetic interactions with the Sun and the other terrestrial planets.  Then for some 3,000 years after its devastation of the Earth, it remained in an eccentric orbit inside that of the Earth.  It still glowed so brightly that its body could be seen in the day sky along with the Sun.  The Vedic word Mitra means ‘solid’, the solid glowing body that could be seen during the day.  At night its extensive out-gassing was visible – a striking attribute which the Vedas described as ‘Varuna’s glorious robe’.  Thus Mitra and Varuna were the same body – explaining the intimate linking of their names.  The Rig Veda corroborates this, stating:

Mitra rules the day and Varuna rules the night.

Zarathustra inverted the Vedic order of sura (gods) and asura (demons?), since he declared Ahuramazda (ahura being the same as the Vedic asura) the supreme god and denigrated the suras as daevas as evil spirits.  This was probably due to the earlier Vedic description of Varuna’ glorious robe.”  This was described in the Avesta, Yasht (Yt. 19), as the kingly glory, hvarnah – the halo, sheen or majesty which surrounds and protects the king as a mark of divine favor.”  Thus Ahuramazda was proto-Venus. Although the Vedic MitraVaruna and the Avestan Ahuramazda were both compound names, their exact translations are not exactly the same. Scholars presently translate Ahuramazda as ‘Lord of Wisdom’ (Sanskrit Asura Medha).  Also the Rig Veda 8.6.10 has the expression medha rtasya “wisdom of truth”, which does not make sense literally.  What is missing here is the failure to understand the meaning of the mysterious Vedic word rta (which evolved to dharma and later karma) and the corresponding Avestan word arta.

To be continued in Part 2.

References

Original Sanskrit Texts, John Muir, Trubner & Co. 1871

The Vedic Religion in Ancient Iran and Zarathustra, Subhash Kak, 2003

Theosophy…, Max Muller,  Longmans, Green ^ Co. 1893

Firmament, John Ackerman, Infinity Publishing, 1996, 1999

~ by Angiras on September 29, 2011.

One Response to “Cosmic Order in the Vedas and Avesta – Part 1”

  1. Wonderfully written. Provides a fresh perspective in the Indo-Iranian mythological concept. Plausible and provoking. Excellent work.

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