Wednesday, November 12, 2014

iraq iran hindu


In the Ramayana, four 'vanara'* brigades are readied to be sent out in four different directions for the search of 'Goddess' Sita, the wife of  God-King Sri Rama who ruled from the city of Ayodhya, after she is abducted by Ravana, the king of the mighty Lanka (now Sri Lanka) empire. 

At the time when it was not yet established where Sita was being held in captivity, the search party headed West. The search-party is given a route-map by Sugreeva the vanara chief, which leads them right up to what was known as the Asta Mountain. 'Asta' (अस्त is Sanskrit for 'Sunset', and for the 'vanara' commando brigade  Mt. Asta was the limit of the western most point that they were to scour for Sita. 

An ancient carving of Sri Rama and Hanumana
from Silemania in Iraq. Notice the ancient Akkadian inscription on the right.
The rock relief is located on the cliff of mountain Darbadi Belula, Hori w Shekhan area, Sulaimaniya, near Iranian border, Iraq. Circa 2100 BC.

Sage Valmiki traces the route of the 'vanaras' going in thewestern direction. An easily identifiable location that he mentions in the Ramayana is the geographical point where the Sindhu, that is the Indus falls into the Arabian Sea. That would be close to  present day Karachi. 

Since 'sindhu' (सिंधु)  is also a noun which means river, in this case Valmiki might have been making a reference to the Narmada River which also falls into the Arabian Sea from the west coast of India.

Valmiki then states that at the junction of River Sindhu with the ocean, Mouth of Indus, there is a huge mountain namedHemagiri, or the 'golden-mountain', which has hundreds of summits and gigantic trees. That indicates that Valmiki is indeed referring to the Narmada and the coastal mountains of the Satpura Range and the weatsern ghats, as the description does not fit the topography of where the Indus falls into the Arabian Sea. But it any case, the 'vanaras' are now on the sea coast and moving ahead.

The 'vanaras' are directed to move forward in the sea towards awaterlogged mountain by the name 'Paariyatrainhabited by the ferocious 'Gandharvas', its peak glittering like gold. The 'vanaras' are instructed to search quickly for Sita and not engage with the 'Gandharvas', nor pluck any fruit from their date-palm trees.

In the sea beyond Mt. Pariyatra, the 'vanaras' are told that they will come across Mt. Vajra, which  shines like a diamond. And further ahead in the fourth quarter of the sea from the land that they left behind they will find Mt. Chakravaan on which is located the Sudarshana weapon, the 'thousand-spoke wheel' that was constructed by Vishwakarma, the celestial architect. 

The names Chakravan and Sudharshana Chakra suggest the existence of a megalithic circular ('chakra' means 'circular') wheel like structure atop a mountain. This site has not yet been identified though circular megalithic structures exist in Arkaim in Russia and Goebekli Tepe in Turkey. For more on this click here.

Then, moving ahead the 'vanaras' are told that they will in succession come across, many mountain peaks which are named as VarahaMeghavanta and finally MeruThese appear to be mountain peaks of the Zagros range, located across the Arabian Sea in Iran, extending to Iraq. Valmiki also mentions a city by the name of Pragjyotisha. If we assume that the sea-levels during the Ramayana era were higher than they are today many of the mountains of the Zagros range in Iran would be water-logged.

Mt. Varaaha is described in the Ramayana as an entirely golden mountain with many waterfalls. The Iranian Zagros Mountains too are known to have many waterfalls even today. One of the most magnificent ones is called 'GanjnaMeh'. Once again the name can be decoded with Sanskrit. 'Ganjana-Meh' (गञ्जन-मिह्) means 'Excellent Mist'. 'Kanchan-Meh' would mean 'golden-mist'.

The closest cognate to the name 'Varaaha' in Iran is the Kuh-e-Vararu or Mt. Vararu. This is located, not in the Zagros  but in Elburz mountain range in the northern part of Iran close to the city of Tehran. If indeed Valmiki was referring to what is today called Kuh-e-Vararu, then the close by 'golden city of Prag-jyotisha' that Valmiki writes about must be in the vicinity of ancient Tehran. 

The ancient Avestan name of Tehran was 'Raghes' and may be derived from the name of Sri Rama who was also known as 'Raghu' (रघु). The Ramayana says that Pragjyotish was the abode of the demon 'Naraka' (नरक) and there indeed is a town by the name of 'Naraku' in Bhushehr province of Iran.  

Close by is the volcanic peak of Damavand, its most ancient known name dating to the Sassanid era is is 'Donbavand'. In Sanskrit 'danav' (दानव) means 'demon' but the name stated in the Ramayana is 'Meghavant'. Once again it is difficult to trace whether the names 'Damavand' and 'Meghavant' have any ancient links but the popular traditions of the villages around Damavand mountain are filled with legends and superstitions of which traces can be found in place names, as in the upper valley of the Lar, where a small ravine sprinkled with marshes, warm springs, and geysers is named Div Asiab or the 'the devil’s mill'. 

The Zagros Mountains in Iran were named after an ancient nomadic tribe, referred to by the name 'Sagar-tians'. Stephanus Byzantinus (6th century AD), who was the author of a geographical dictionary entitled 'Ethnica', wrote that there was a peninsula in the Caspian Sea called 'Sagartia' and that the Sagartians moved south from Sagrtia to what were later known as Zagros mountains. In Sanskrit 'Sagara' (सागर)means 'Sea and its other form 'Sagartia' means 'of the sea'. The Zagros mountains were named after the Sagar-tian tribe who were also referred to as Zagar-thians. 

The golden mountain peaks of the Zagros Mountains.
Zagros gets its name from a sea-faring tribe called 'sagara'.
Sagara is Sanskrit for 'sea'.

The 'vanaras' are told to then move along this range of many radiant peaks till they reach the magnificent 'Savarni Meru' Peak. Moving west of  Savarni Meru  is the 'Asta-Giri' which translates as 'Setting Sun Mountain'. The 'vanaras' are told not to go beyond Mt. Asta in search for Sita. The 'vanaras' are also told that they will see a 'gigantic ten-leaved date-palm-tree, which is completely golden and shines forth with a marvellous podium' as they travel from 'Sarvaani Meru' to Mt. 'Asta'.

This gigantic date palm tree seems to have some sacred significance in the ancient civilizations of the region and Assyrian artifacts seem to support this view.

In this artifact Assyrian Gods are seen
with a stylized palm tree

Assyrian Goddesses with a stylized palm tree

A mural depicting a sacred palm tree

Assyrian artifact depicting  a sacred palm tree

This ten leaved date palm tree has not been traced. But what is interesting is that in the Ramayana, the 'vanaras' travelling east in search of Sita are told to keep going forth across many oceans, till they see 'a three-leafed palm tree etched on a mountain near Mt. Udaya which will be visible from the ocean'. This has been identified as the ancient 'Paracas' Trident of Peru etched on a mountain in the Andes chain. See picture below.

The ancient Paracas Trident of Peru is
described as a three-leafed-palm-tree in the 

Valmiki Ramayana.

*'Vanara' is commonly translated as 'monkey' but refers to the 'commando brigade' of Sri Ram's troops. 'Vanara' here refers to 'those who live in the forest'.

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