Nw

N, central All

Tools;petroglyphs Cattle;pottery

Centralized grain storage citadel towns;water supply, drainage systems;mother-goddess worship Sanskrit texts: Rig-Veda;

Sama-, Yajur-, Atharva-Vedas;Brahmanas;rise of Buddhism and Jainism (Buddha: 563-483; Mahavira: 540-468)

Foreign invasions: Achaemenid (Cyrus) Alexander (2 years)

Ashoka (~269-232) (decree of nonviolence) Bilingual coinage

Greco-Babylonian astronomy;Brahmin states;visit of Suan Sung to obtain Buddhist ms. (405-411) Sultanates;Varahamihira (6th century);Moslem conquests;last Hindu regime 1565;new influx of Greek astronomy Moguls;Persian invasion (1739) British imperialism marked the vernal equinox about 2240 b.c. and were the closest asterism to the equinoctial point in the interval ~2720-1760 b.c. (Parpola 1994, pp. 204-205), corresponding closely to the Mature Harappan Period. In Hindu lists, the Pleiades are the first of a series of 28 lunar mansions marked by asterisms (called in Sanskrit naksatras, naksatra in the singular, sometimes anglicized to nakshatra). The naksatras delimited 28 divisions of the sky that were used to define the positions of the Moon and other heavenly bodies and were of unequal widths. A comparative listing of the lunar mansions is given in Table 15.3. The 20th in the Indian series, called Abhijit,1 was identified as Vega and was eliminated from the series possibly because of precession, as the degrees allocated to it on the ecliptic began to overlap those of the neighboring naksatras.2 Six other naksatras formed three pairs3 of stars, in each case in the form of a tetragon, possibly conceptualized as a square. In later Indian tradition, the square was associated with the Moon (Parpola 1994, pp. 200-201). In later India, a list of 28 animals is associated with naksatras. There is some variation in the lists, but usually one of the animals associated with the paired naksatras is a cow, mythologically associated with the Moon, with the horns of the crescent Moon regarded as cattlehorns. Parpola (1994, p. 204) argues that the naksatra series fits best on the ecliptic of about the 24th century b.c. Another factor, worked

1 Among the Jains, the equivalent of Abhijit was the first in the series.

2 A similar change concerning Vega as a xiu (the Chinese equivalent of a naksatra) occurred in China (Needham 1959, III, p. 251);in this case, the xiu was redefined by other stars. How this may have happened is illustrated in Figure 10.3.

3 One of the pairs was also part of a paired set both in China and in Ethiopia. See §15.4.1.

out on the related system of Chinese mansions (xius), is a tendency to have paired markers of about equal width on opposite sides of the sky. Precession will change the widths of the individual mansions over time, if they were used as we construe them to have been used. Assuming that the original xius were paired with equal-width opposites, the best fit was calculated by Saussure to indicate a date ~24th century b.c. In India, certain stars called Yogataras or "determinative" stars were used as indicators of the boundaries of the naksatras. A boundary line associated with the beginning of the naksatra ran from the equatorial pole to the ecliptic/ equator. As precession changed the declinations of these stars, the boundaries diverged or converged. The Yogataras are attested from a relatively late date, but are presumed to have existed from earlier times (see §15 for a fuller discussion). The congruence of these independently derived dates with that of the mature Harappan culture is suggestive. There is indirect evidence of Dravidian origin also. Personal names derived from the naksatras are now very common in India and go back to late Vedic times. At a slightly earlier date, the Code of Manu (a Brahmanic text, cited by Parpola 1994, p. 208), prohibited marriage between an Aryan and a woman "named after a constellation, a tree, or a river, one bearing the name of a low caste, or of a mountain, or one named after a bird, a snake, or a slave, or one whose name inspires terror." The constellation names seem to be associated with low castes and slaves—presumably the conquered Dravidian enemies of the Aryans. Parpola (1994, p. 206) also draws attention to an old name for the naksatras, bhekuri. He shows that an alleged Sanskrit origin for this name is incorrect, and it is probably borrowed into Sanskrit from Dravidian.

Parpola (1994, pp. 110-113) draws attention to a series of Harappan tablets that contain short texts and pictures of animals. Unfortunately, the context is unclear. More different animals appear than would be necessary for the later 12 animal cycles, and there is no way of determining if the animals were conceptualized as a series. On one of the tablets, an "endless knot" appears rather than an animal. This resembles a known Burmese asterism, and most of the animals appear in Burma (currently, Myanmar) as asterisms; so the Harappan depictions may be asterisms also.

Parpola (1994, pp. 218-224) has drawn attention to the presence of seven fire altars at the Harappan site of Kaliban-gan. He argues that they are associated with a phallic cult and compares them to Vedic rituals associated with Soma, both the Moon and a drink, perhaps originally derived from a hallucinogenic mushroom. The guardians of Soma are the Seven Sages (the stars of the the Big Dipper). In later times, the construction of the fire altars involved elaborate numerological symbolism. Menon (1932, pp. 74-75) points out that the Satapatha Brahmana states that the fire altar is the universe and composed of 756 bricks. This number is the product of two numbers, 27 and 28, of lunar significance (see §4.1.4). Again, the indications of Vedic borrowing from Dravidian sources are strong.

Early seals depict a god who may be the forerunner of Shiva, a principal god of Hinduism, although the Indus culture to which these seals belonged is thought to have been Dravidian, not Sanskrit-speaking. Among other mythical themes that are attested at Harappan sites and are probably of Dravidian origin, are the following:

(1) The god of the Fig tree (Dravidian: vaam) identified as a pole star god (Dravidian: vaa, north) (Parpola 1994, pp. 243, 256-261);

(2) The conflict of Lion and Bull (Parpola 1994, pp. 246-256);

(3) The tale of the Buffalo Wife (Parpola 1994, pp. 256-267); and

(4) The many stories of Krishna, the amorous cow-herd, identified with the Moon and said to have been born "under"the naksatra Rohini (Parpola 1994, pp. 221,269).

Parpola (1994, pp. 255-256) also emphasizes the similarity between a building of the Dashly-3 period (~1900-1700 b.c.) in Bactria with the format of the tantric temple called Mahakali ("Great Black"?), an epithet of Uma, wife of Siva.

Most scholars believe that a group known as the Aryans invaded the area around 1700 b.c. from the NW and settled the area between the Indus and the Ganges. Their language was proto-Sanskrit, their priests were the Brahmins, and their sacred hymns were the Vedas, which were written much later.

The Vedic texts include the four Veda Samhitas (hymns, prayers, and spells directed to the gods), a primary source of Hindu literature; and three commentaries: the Brahmanas (ritual treatises), Aranyakas (forest treatises), and the concluding commentary on the Vedas (Vedanta = end of the Vedas), the Upanishads (treatises by various philosophical schools treating cosmological and theological questions). The four Veda Samhitas are the Rigveda Samhita, the Samaveda Samhita, Yajurveda Samhita, and the Athar-vaveda Samhita. The Rig (or R. g) Veda is said to be the oldest religious text,4 bearing hymns to the gods, chiefly, but not exclusively: Indra (god of the heavens), Varuna (creator and sustainer god), Agni (god of fire), Surya (Sun god), and Yama (god of death).

The Rigveda relates the creation of the world and of the gods. Following the creation and sacrifice of the Man, his mouth became the brahmin or priestly caste, his arms the warrior caste, his thigh "the people" (the merchant caste), and his feet, the servants. The Moon was born from his mind, the Sun from his eye, Indra and Agni from his mouth, and the wind from his breath. There are references to the "ancient gods," the Sadhyas, who dwell in the "dome of heaven," and who performed the sacrifice of "the Man." There are 33 heavenly gods, each in a separate heaven, and each more powerful than those of Earth.

The principal gods on Earth are the trimurti (triad): Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Brahma is usually depicted as a four-faced god, or sometimes with four heads, but nearly always facing the four directions.5 He lives at the summit of the world, Mt. Kailasa. These gods may take different forms in different times and places; Vishnu's avatars (incarnated life-forms on Earth) include Krishna (Krsna) and Rama. Shiva demonstrates the attributes of both Death and Time; one of his aspects is Nataraja, Lord of the Cosmic Dance, with the power to create as well as to destroy worlds. One of Shiva's forms is that of the spirit of the underworld and of cremation. His creative aspect is seen in the linga (phallus), which is placed in the very heart of the garbha griha (sanctuary), beneath the shikhara (high tower) of a temple complex. Shiva is said to ride the cosmic bull, Nandi; a statue of Nandi is also found in the temple complexes. According to Stierlin (1998, p. 142), in the complex at Khajuraho, famous for its erotic friezes, the sanctuary of the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is utterly in darkness except for "certain days of the year," when "the rays of the rising sun strike, as if to waken the image of the deity from its slumbers." The connection between the erotic art and the linga image of Shiva seems relatively clear, but the relationship of these to the sunrise illumination, if indeed intentional, is not elaborated on. Seasonal renewal may plausibly play a central role. We return to the temple as cosmos in §9.1.2.

The Vedas and the two epic poems of Hindu literature, the Ramayana (of which Rama is the hero) and the Mahab-harata, were transmitted orally for generations before being written down, no mean feat when it is realized that the latter has 90,000 verses. This should be remembered later when we discuss the technique observed by Europeans for predicting an eclipse in modern India. The Upanishads emphasize the peace and freedom of the human spirit, and they became a principal source for later Hindu philosophy. Hinduism crys

4 Bridget and Raymond Allchin (1982) suggest that the completion of the Rigveda occurred between 1500 and 1300 B.c.;Coward, Dargyay, and Neufeldt (1988/1992, p. 9), suggest between 1200 and 900 b.c. for the Rigveda and ~900 b.c. for the Atharvaveda, the most recent of the Samhitas. See §9.1.6 for an astronomical attempt to date this body of literature.

5 See Watts (1963, Fig. 20b) for an image of a modern folkart sculpture that bears four heads facing one direction.

tallizes from Vedic ideas in the late centuries b.c., and the cosmology is well attested in concepts of the cosmic egg. A Hindu painting of the cosmic egg (shown for comparative purposes by Caillat and Kumar 1981, Fig. 12, p. 59) shows the tortoise at the base, surmounted by a white boar with the Sesa (many-headed snake) behind. On the snake lies Vishnu, from whose navel a lotus grows through the seven underworlds. Brahma sits on the lotus. The diagram shows upper worlds and, above all, the paradise of Krishna. Seven colored bands surround these representations (from the center out: yellow, light blue and white, red, green, dark blue, white, and gray). Elsewhere in Hindu culture, the boar is identified as Mars and the tortoise is identified as Saturn. Whether these astronomical identifications are intended here is uncertain, however. For a different representation of similar concepts, see §15.3.2.1.

9.1.1.1. Jainist Cosmology

Jainist practitioners consider Mahavira ("Great Hero") to be the 24th and last of a series of saints entitled "the ones who lead to the other shore" (Tirthamkaras), also known as heroes or victors (jinas). Their followers are called "sons of victors" (Jains). Jains extended the idea of nonviolence to an extraordinary degree: Compelled by their somewhat atomistic doctrine to regard all matter as being composed of minute particles, all of which have souls, they wear masks to avoid breathing in the small, airborne particles, and sweep ahead of their steps to prevent others from being crushed to death. Each of the 24 Tirtham. karas is represented by a symbol, of which 16 are animals, three are plants, and the others varied. The 24 Tirtham. karas are correlated with 24 Yaksas, "goblins," and their consorts, Yaksinis. Four of the Yaksas had two consorts each; so there are 28 consorts, the third of whom was named Rohini, which is also the name of the third lunar mansion counted from Asvini. A correspondence with the goddesses of the lunar mansions is suggested.

The Jain cosmos is divided into an upper world of layered heavens, a middle world where humans reside, and a lower world of layered hells. The middle world consists of alternating rings of continents and oceans. At the center is Jambu-dvipa, the "continent of the rose-apple tree," centered on Mt. Meru (Caillat and Kumar 1981, pp. 19-28), where the gods dwell. One of the surrounding continents is Nandisvara-dvipa, "where the gods go to celebrate the birth of the Tlrthainkaras," (Caillat and Kumar 1981, p. 27). Their Fig. 52 shows a plan representing the features of the 52 main sanctuaries of Nandisvara-dvipa, 13 in each of the main directions. There are four doors leading into the main temple, and statues of four Tlrthamkaras are set on platforms. Outside the main temple, there are four lesser temples of the same pattern, so that 20 of the 24 Tlrthamkaras are shown. Each of the stupas (temples) is marked with a tree, a flag pole, and auspicious emblems. The trees, although drawn in virtually identical form, are supposed to be emblematic of four different kinds. The 12 lower heavens (kalpas) are characterized by animal symbols that are markedly distinct from other animal lists. They are antelope, black bull, boar-headed human, green lion wearing a red and white striped choker, goat, frog or leopard, horse, elephant, snake, rhinoceros (with flowers), and a different kind of antelope (Caillat and Kumar 1981, Fig. 33). Another interesting animal series is that of eight hunting animals with their prey, called by the Jains "birth-companions"—surpris-ingly, one of these couples is a prince and princess sitting in a swing; another is a black bowman hunting a white goatlike animal and a rabbit (Caillat and Kumar 1981, Fig. 26).

Kirfel (1928, Fig. 19) gives a depiction of the 28 lunar mansions in a Jain version, beginning with the equivalent of Abhijit, with the stars defining the outlines of the depictions. Caillat and Kumar (1981, pp. 182-183) show an 18th-century painting of the "cosmic man" marked with asterisms: the 28 lunar mansions and several others, some of which correspond to symbolic representations of the mansions in Hindu sources. The cosmos has also been depicted as a woman6 with a spider at her navel wearing a stepped pyramidal skirt with a checkered pattern, and a checkered "blouse" in a stepped diamond pattern. The arrangements suggest the layers of heaven and hell. The spider at the navel is surrounded by a circle, also in layers (Kirfel 1928, Fig. 2). In another version, the skirt has seven main steps, divided into 24 levels, marked off in squares. Each of the seven main layers portrays an anthropoid figure in an athletic pose which is different for each layer (Kirfel 1928, Fig. 3).

Caillat and Kumar (1981, Fig. 5) show a diagram of a Tlrthamkara preaching from a pillar at the center of a circular mound surounded by three circles. The first circle contains gods, princes, monks, and sect members, the second circle contains 20 animals, and the third circle contains people traveling by various means of transport. There are four monumental staircases (each said to have 80,000 steps) cutting across the circles.

9.1.1.2. Buddhist Cosmology

The Buddha was born Gautama Siddharta and raised as a prince in the city of Kapilavastu in northeastern India. On observing the dreadful conditions in which ordinary people led their lives, he became a monk, evolving through stages of asceticism, contemplation, and preaching. In subsequent times, Asoka or Ashoka (ca. 269-232 b.c.), considered the greatest king of the Maurya dynasty, converted to Buddhism, and became its foremost missionary. Asoka had followed the way of dig-vijaya (military conquest) successfully, but after he witnessed the extent to which his campaign brought death and devas.tation to a neighboring kingdom— the Jain kingdom of Kalmga (see below)—he renounced this way of conducting statecraft and thereafter followed the way of dharma-vijaya (spiritual conquest). Records of his edicts survive; at Dhauli in southeastern India, not far from the temple complex of Bhubaniswar, for instance, there is a rock inscription bearing 14 edicts, among which is one calling on his magistrates to exercise fair and impartial judgments for everyone in this conquered land. The site is marked by a sculpted elephant emerging from the rock, a symbol in this

6 The figure resembles Jain depictions of women, but is sometimes called a "cosmic man";perhaps there had been a reversal of sex roles for the cosmos.

case of the Buddha (gajatame, or, in Sanskrit, gajottamah, "best of elephants").

As we note elsewhere, Indian traders brought both Hinduism and Buddhism to southeast Asia. In Sri Lanka, where Asoka's missionary work was especially fruitful and where Buddhism prevailed well after its suppression in many parts of India, Pali Buddhism has preserved texts that contain information about Asoka's reign, among other historical detail.

Buddhist doctrine is rich in numerical symbolism, which is reflected in Buddhist art and architecture. Some Buddhists consider Gautama to be the 4th of five (others to be the 5th of six or the 7th of eight) great teacher-Buddhas7 and to have been in his 500th and final incarnation. The other lives of Gautama are described in the Jataka Tales; the recountings of the last 10 lives, considered the most important, are collected in the Dasajati. After the death of his mother, a week after he was born, Gautama is said to have ascended into the 33 heavens to preach; his ascent, commemorated in Buddhist art, was accompanied by Brahma and Indra. Buddhism seeks to combine meditation through Yoga with understanding to find a solution to the terrible sufferings of individual lives. In the Buddhist cosmological framework, there are five components to everything in the universe:

rupa (form and matter) vedana (sensation) sahha (perception) samkhara (disposition) vihhana (consciousness)

Individual beings have these components in different degrees, and they are constantly changing. The nature of the universe is a hard truth: That the world and everything in it is full of sorrow, impermanent, and without a soul. Imper-manance is so widespread that even the gods are held to be merely transient, and Brahma is not the creator of the world, as in Hinduism, but the first god to emerge in a new cycle of the universe. Despite this profoundly pessimistic view, the recognition of which is held to be necessary to salvation, there is remedy. The main Buddhist prescription is encapsulated in the "Four Noble Truths": That suffering (dukkha) exists, that it has a cause, that it can be overcome, and that this overcoming of suffering can happen by following the "Noble Eight-Fold Path":

Right Belief Right Resolve or Attitude Right Speech Right Conduct Right Livelihood Right Effort Right Mindfulness or Self-Awareness Right Concentration or Meditation

The ultimate goal is nirvaana, when one ceases to be reborn, and achieves a final, ineffable stage of existence.

There are two main schools of Buddhist doctrine: Theravada ("Doctrine of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The

7 The last (Maitreya) of these Buddhas is to appear 5000 years after Gautama. The Pali scriptures specify seven: Vipassi, Sikhi, Vessabhu, Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa, and Gautama.

Greater Vehicle") Buddhism.8 The former, more conservative and, in the views of its practitioners, more pure, is practiced in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand as well as in India and Sri Lanka. It focuses on the individual attainment of nirvana. There may be many Buddhas—those who achieve nibhan or nirvana—but most are not preachers who enlighten others but nonpreaching Pachekas. Mahayana Buddhism, which is prevalent in China, Korea, Nepal, Japan, and Tibet, arose around the 1st century b.c. It emphasizes postponement of nirvana on the part of those who have attained enlightenment in favor of helping others along the path. Theravada is sometimes referred to as Hinayana ("the lesser vehicle") by Mahayana practitioners, but it is not a name the Theravada Buddhists use for themselves. Aside from terminology, both branches extol the absence of conflict or animosity between them.

The rise of Buddhism and Jainism led to further intellectual development and particularly to the Six Systems of thought. The emergence of yoga (as an intellectual and physical discipline) is an example of one of these later developments, and another is the Vedanta Sutra, an elaboration of the short aphorisms of the Vedanta, and from which several systems arose in attempts to interpret it. Still later, Christianity, Islamic incursions from the Middle East, and the rise of Sikhism,9 a monotheistic, warrior religion that combines elements of Hinduism and Islam, helped to complete the patchwork quilt of India's religions. In many areas of Asia, syncretism resulted from the widespread influences of the ideas associated with some of these religions; such influences continue to the present day.

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