Krsna and Balarama in Greece
"The people of Marathon worship both those who died in the fighting, calling them 'heroes,' and [a semi-divine being called] 'Marathon,' from whom the country derives its name, but also Heracles . . . . They say also that a man took part in the battle who looked and was dressed like a farmer. He slaughtered many of the Persians with his plowshare, and when everything was over he disappeared. But when the Athenians consulted the oracle, the god would not tell them anything except to honor 'Echetlaeus' [i.e. the man with the plowshare] as a hero."
However, the worship of Sankarsana appears to have been quite popular in the fourth century BC and Megasthenes seems to refer to him. The Greek writer referring to Dionysos clearly states that the Indians speak of three individuals of this name appearing in different ages and they assign suitable achievements to each of these. The oldest of these was Indos, apparently the same as Indra, "who crushed grapes and discovered the use of the properties of wine." He further states that Dionysos also found out the method of growing figs and other fruit trees and taught this knowledge to others whence he was called Lenaios. This may be a corruption of Lingayasas or Lingin, a name for Siva. The third god spoken of in this context is Katapogon; and Megasthenes states that he was so named because it is a custom among Indians to grow their beards with great care. Katapogon is evidently the same as Kapardin, meaning one wearing braided and matted hair. The epithet is usually applied to Siva, but it may have been applied to Sankarsana also since the worshippers of Sankarsana, as we have noted earlier, wore braided (jatila) hair.
At any rate, the three gods who could have been confused with Dionysos by Megasthenes are apparently Indra, Siva and Sankarsana, all the three are associated with wine and renowned for their bacchanalian habits. Arrian informs us that before the coming of Dionysos, Indians were nomads subsisting on the bark of the trees known as tala (fan-palm) and that when Dionysos came to India he taught them to sow the land, and it was he who "first yoked oxen to the plough and made many Indian husbandmen and gave the people the seeds of cultivated plants."
The description eminently suits the agricultural divinity Sankarsana, the wielder of the plough, with the fan-palm as his emblem. Arrian also writes that according to the Indians, Dionysos was earlier than Herakles by fifteen generations; and, as Herakles is generally identified with Vasudeva-Krsna in the popular mythology of the fourth century B.C., the Krishna and Baladeva legends had not yet acquired the final shape in which they are presented to us in the Mahabharata and the Puranas."
From Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.32.4, quoted in George Lucks Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, (1985)
"It is pointed out in the Bhagavad-gita that Arjuna often addresses Vasudeva Krsna as Visnu. But the date of this work is highly controversial. It is closely linked with that of the epic in its present form. The assertion of another scholar (Pusalkar) about Megasthenes "The Greek ambassador definitely states that Krsna was regarded as an incarnation of Visnu" is evidently baseless. All that Megasthenes is reported to have said is "This Herakles is held in especial honour by Sourasenoi, an Indian tribe who possess two large cities Mathora and Cleisobora and through whose country flows a navigable river called Iobares." Herakles has been identified with Vasudeva Krsna and Sourasenoi with the Surasena Yadavas. The use of the words "especial honour" clearly indicates that Krsna was still a minor divinity, far from being the supreme god that he becomes with his identification with Narayana-Visnu; by no stretch of the imagination can it be construed to refer to Narayana-Visnu.
In the early centuries preceding and succeeding the Christian era, the entry of foreign tribes into India produced a favourable impact on the cults of Vaisnvaite and Saivite divinities, which, on the whole, enjoyed the support of the foreigners. The Greeks identified Krsna with Herakles and Sankarsana with Dionysos, and it is no wonder that they were favourably inclined to their worship. The Besnagar inscription describes the Greek ambassador Heliodorus as a Bhagavata who dedicated a Garuda banner to Lord Vasudeva.
The earliest epigraphic evidence for the existence of the Bhagavata cult is found in Madhya Pradesh. The discovery of the Garuda pillar inscription of Besnagar is a landmark in the history of Bhagavatism. The inscription records the erection of a Garuda standard in honour of Vasudeva, the god of gods, by a Greek ambassador Heliodorus who describes himself as a Bhagavata (see Heliodorus Column), and a resident of Taksasila. The ambassador came from the Greek king Antialcidis to Kautsiputra Bhagabhadra identified with the fifth Sunga king, and the record is dated in the fourteenth year of his reign, approximating to c. 113 B.C."
Suvira Jaisval, The Origin and Deveopment of Vaisnavism (Munshiram Manoharlal, 1967)
The Times of India reports a major archeological find of structures dating back to the Mahabharata period:
"Archaeologists have discovered ancient monuments, dating back to the Mahabharat period, during excavations carried out near Gwalior. The excavations, carried over a period of five months, were suspended on July 7 due to the monsoon.' The archaeologists believe that Gwalior town was established in the first century AD and not in eighth century AD, as was believed earlier. They came to this conclusion following the discovery of a large community structure at the Gwalior fort.
Superintending archaeologist of Madhya Pradesh A.K. Sinha said the excavations had exposed a 1.7-metre thick burnt brick wall having a height of about three metres. Mr Sinha told TOINS that the wall appeared to be a part of a large community structure, possibly a huge reservoir. On the basis of the ceramic industry and workmanship, the structure was dated to the first century AD. Though Naga coins dating to the 2nd or 3rd century AD were found from the surface on earlier occasions from Gwalior fort, this is the first time that any structural remains dating back to the beginning of the Christian era has been found. The ASI plans to carry out more excavations after the monsoon.
A Mahabharat period site has also been found at Kotwar, about 40 km from here. The site is located about eight km from Noorabad, a sub-divisional town on the Agra-Mumbai highway. The excavations, which started in February last, will be resumed after the monsoon. According to the archaeologists, the site has been identified with Kamantalpur, which was derived from the name of its founder, Kamant, father of the mythological character in the Mahabharat, Kunti, who later became the mother of the five Pandva brothers.
The site has a 18 to 20-metre-high mound and covers an area of about 2.5 sq km, according to Mr Sinha. He said the site had also been identified as one of the chief cities of the nine., Naga kings.The archaeologists claim that the digging at Kotwar had led to the recovery of painted greyware which had been interpreted by noted archaeologists B.B. Lal, as belonging to the Mahabharat period.
During the excavations at Kotwar, black and redware and black slipped ware, typical ceramic industries which pre-dated even the painted greyware (1100-800 BC), were found from the lowest levels. The remains found at Kotwar have been sent to the Physical Research Laboratory and the Birbal Sahni Institute of Botany for precise dating. The excavations also revealed a number of ring wells which date back to the later half of the first millennium BC."
Vedic literature and the Gulf of Cambay discovery
It is sad to note how intellectuals in India are quick to denigrate the extent and antiquity of their history, even when geological evidence like the Sarasvati River or archaeological evidence like the
Harappan and Cambay sites are so clear.
THE RECENT find of a submerged city in the Gulf of Cambay, perhaps as old as 7500 BC, serves to highlight the existence of southern sources for the civilisation of ancient India. The Gulf of Cambay find is only the latest in a series that includes Lothal (S.R. Rao), Dholavira (R.S. Bisht) and others in Gujarat. These discoveries have been pushing the seats of ancient Indian civilisation deeper into the southern peninsula. We should not be surprised if more such sites are
discovered in South India, especially the coastal regions, for the south has always played a significant if neglected role in ancient India going back to Vedic times. Vedic Hymns found from this submerged city is the biggest achievement. Further stating that Vedic Culture in India is from at least 10,000 BC I will like to involve more points to support my theory. If you are not satisfied by the Vedic artifacts found in submerged city.
Such coastal origin is mentioned in book Rig Veda and the History of India. This is largely because of the oceanic character of Vedic symbolism in which all the main Rig Vedic Gods as well as many of the Vedic rishis have close connections with samudra or the sea. In fact, the image of the ocean
pervades the whole of the Rig Veda. Unfortunately many scholars who
put forth opinions on ancient India seldom bother to study the Vedas in the original Sanskrit and few know the language well enough to do so. The result is that their interpretation of Vedic literature is
often erroneous, trusting out of date and inaccurate interpretations from the Nineteenth century like the idea that the Vedic people never new the sea!
The Rig Veda states that "All the hymns praise Indra who is as
expansive as the sea" (RV I.11.1) Agni wears the ocean as his vesture
(RV VIII 102.4-6). The Sun is called the ocean (RV V.47.3). Soma is
called the first ocean (RV IX.86.29). Varuna specifically is a God of
the sea (RV I.161.14). These are just a few examples of out of well over a hundred references to samudra in the Rig Veda alone, including references to oceans as two, four or many (RV VI.50.13). This is obviously the poetry of a people intimately associated with the sea and not of any nomads from land-locked Central Asia or Eurasia.
Vedic seer families like the Bhrigus are descendants of Varuna, the God of the sea as the first Bhrigu is called Bhrigu Varuni Bhrigu, the son of Varuna. The teachings of Varuna to Bhrigu are found in the
Taittiriya Upanishad and Taittiriya tradition of the Yajur Veda, which has long been most popular in South India. The recent find at
sea in the Gulf of Cambay is near Baroach or Bhrigu-kachchha, the famous ancient city of the very same Bhrigus.
These oceanic connections extend to other important Vedic rishis as well. In the Rig Veda, Agastya, who became the main rishi of South India, has twenty-five hymns in the first book of the Rig Veda and is mentioned in the other books as well. He is the elder brother of Vasishta who himself has the largest number of hymns in the text (about a hundred), those of the seventh book. Both rishis are said to have been born in a pot or kumbha, which may be a vessel or ship (RV VII.33.10-13). Vasishta is specifically connected to Varuna who was said to travel on a ship in the sea (RV VII.88.4-5). Both Vasishta and Agastya are descendants of Mitra and Varuna, the God of the sea.
Vishvamitra in the Rig Veda (IIII.53.16) mentions the sage Pulasti,who was regarded as the progenitor of Ravana and Kubera and whose city, Pulasti-Pura was located in ancient Sri Lanka. He is mentioned along with Jamadagni, another common Rig Vedic sage and the father of Parshurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, before Rama and Krishna, whose main sphere of activity was in the south of India.
Manu himself, the Vedic primal sage and king, is a flood figure and the Angirasas, the other main seer family apart from the Bhrigus, join him in his ship according to Puranic mythology. Southern peoples like the Yadus and Turvashas were said to have been glorified by Indra (RV X.49.8) and are mentioned a number of times in the Rig Veda as great Vedic peoples. So we have ample ancient literary evidence for the Vedic seer and royal families as connected with the ocean and southern regions.
The Cambay site is in the ancient delta of the now dry Sarasvati River, one branch of which flowed into the Gulf of Cambay, showing that this site was part of the greater Sarasvati region and culture, which was the main location for Harappan cities in the 3300-1900 BCE period. Such an ocean front was important for maritime trade for the inland regions to the north. In this regard, important Vedic kings like Sudas were said to receive tribute from the sea (RV I.47.6).
When the Greeks under Alexander came to India in the Fourth century BCE, the Greek writer Megasthenes in his Indika, fragments of which are recorded in several Greek writings, mentioned that the Indians (Hindus) had a record of 153 kings going back over 6400 years (showing that the Hindus were conscious of the great antiquity of their culture even then). This would yield a date that now amounts to 6700 BCE, a date that might be reflected in the Gulf of Cambay site which has been tentatively dated to 7500 BCE. So the old Vedic-Puranic king lists may not be that far off after all!
A few scholars, like Witzel in the United States in spite of such massive evidence as the Sarasvati River and its intimate connection to Vedic literature still try to separate Vedic culture from India and attribute it to a largely illiterate and nomadic culture that migrated into India from the northwest of the country in the post-
Harappan period (after 1500 BCE). Ignoring all other evidence that connects the Vedic and Harappan, they point out the importance of the horse in the Rig Veda and argue that not enough evidence of horses has been found in Harappan sites to prove a Vedic connection. They fall back upon this one shot argument to ignore any other evidence to
However, one should note that these invasionists or migrationists are
even more deficient in horse evidence to prove their own theory.There is no trail of horse bones or horse encampments into ancient
India from Afghanistan during the 1500-1000 BCE period that is required for their theory of Aryan intrusion. In fact, there is no
solid evidence for such a movement of peoples at all in the form of camps, skeletal remains or anything else.
Those who claim that Vedic culture must have originated outside India because of its lauding of the horse are even more lacking in horse evidence. The real problem is not `no horse at Harappa' but `no horse evidence, in fact no real evidence of any kind, to prove any Aryan migration/invasion'. It has been convincingly shown that what the Rig
Veda with its seventeen-ribbed horse (RV I.162.18) describes is a native Indian breed and not any Central Asian or Eurasian horse that has eighteen ribs.
The Rig Veda mentions many Indian animals like the water buffalo (Mahisha), which is said to be the main animal sacred to Soma (RV
IX.96.6), which does occur commonly on Harappan seals. The humped Brahma bull (Vrisha, Vrishabha), another common Harappan depiction, is the main animal of Indra, the foremost of the Vedic Gods. Elephants are also mentioned. Most of the animals depicted on Harappan seals are mythical, not
zoological specimens anyway. Most common is a one-horned animal that is reflected in the one-horned boar or Varaha of the Mahabharata and the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Many other Harappan depictions are of animals with multiple heads or half-animal/half-human figures. This is similar to the depictions in Vedic imagery which largely consist of mythical animals of this type. For example, Harappan seals portray a three-headed bull-like animal. Such an animal is described
in the Rig Veda (III.56.6).
The horse issue is meant as a smokescreen to avoid facing the facts of the Sarasvati River and the many new archaeological sites in
India. These show no such break in the continuity of civilisation in the region as an Aryan invasion/migration requires, including the existence of fire altars and fire worship from the early Harappan
period. Vedic and Puranic literature itself records the shift of the centre of culture from the Sarasvati to the Ganga at the end of the Vedic period, referring to the drying up of the river. Scholars like Witzel would have the Vedic people coming into India after the
Sarasvati was already gone and yet making the river their ancestral homeland and most sacred region! Vedic literature is the largest preserved from the ancient world,
dwarfing in size anything left by other cultures like Egypt, Greece or Babylonia. The Harappan-Sarasvati urban civilisation of India was by far the largest of its time (3100-1900 BCE) in the ancient world
spreading from Punjab to Kachchh. We can no longer separate this great literature and this great civilisation, particularly given that both were based on the Sarasvati River, whose authenticity as a historical river before 1900 BCE has been confirmed by numerous geological studies. This great Vedic literature requires a great urban culture to explain it, just as the great Harappan urban culture requires a literature to explain it. Both come from the same region and cannot be separated.
Finally it is sad to note how intellectuals in India are quick to denigrate the extent and antiquity of their history, even when
geological evidence like the Sarasvati River or archaeological evidence like the Harappan and Cambay sites are so clear. However one
may interpret these, the truth that civilisation in India was quite
ancient and profound cannot be ignored. I don't think there is any other nation on earth that would be so negative if such ancient glories were found in their lands.
In the end I would like to say some words to Aryas, when will you wake up. From centuries you have forgotten your culture. Dawn is here now wake up and get your share of history