Myths, Legends and Deliberate Misinformation
If you were to ask a random selection of Indian people about the history of the India, you would get as many different stories as people to whom you asked the question. This is because as the history of the world and human origins is a mystery, India seems like the epitome of all mysteries.
When we look back and think if we evolved from the apes, some of the evidence says maybe but some of it says not. When we look at the global landscape and the anomalies in the historical record without going into what is referred to as "forbidden archaeology" it is very hard to know what to think. The problem is that there has been very little record-keeping and given that India has suffered from invasion, occupation and loss of territories over the past 1200 years.
The first waves of Muslim invaders burned the libraries and it is said that the library at Nalanda which is in modern day Pakistan took three days to burn and some researchers consider that it was a larger library than the one in Alexandria, Egypt that was burned by the Romans.
There is archaeological evidence of human habitation in India around 75,000 BC. This evidence is verified by the world's archaeological and scientific community although it's not especially clear whether or not these people were hunter gatherers or simple agriculturalists.
Then there is a blank until around 15,000 BC when it is said that the first yogi revealed the science of being human. This knowledge was shared with a small group of men who became known as the Saptarishies or great sages. After these gentlemen graduated as accomplished (enlightened) yogi's with a sound appreciation of the nature of existence, they separated and travelled to the corners of the earth.
The words 'India' and 'Hindu'
There has been much discussion as to their origins but "the word Indu in the authoritative Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary represents not only the Soma drop but also the Soma Itself. In the Brahmanas Indu is used for moon. In the famous River hymns of Rig Veda (Nadistuti Sukta नदिस्तुति सूक्त, X.75) the river Indus is named as “Good Soma” (Su-Soma). So we have the droplets of Soma – Indu and the flowing Soma Sindhu. Both Indu and Sindhu refer to the central Vedic religious ritual – Soma." ~ swarajyamag
Soma is the essence of life and this argument makes sense.
One of the Saptarishies went to Africa, another to South America, another to central Asia, another to the Middle East, another to East Asia, one to the Indian subcontinent and one remained in the Himalayas whether teachings were first given.
Thus the science and technology was transmitted to those who would listen and over the generations, many men and women have followed what is referred to as the path of yoga. They understood the nature of existence and the relationships between all life forms in this planetary system that we all call home.
At this time from about 14,000 BC it is thought that India had a substantial human population which is evidenced from the submerged cities that have been found on today's continental shelf. Now because life in the Himalayas is a very arduous place to live during the winter, a great many yogis and yoginis travelled down through the subcontinent where life was a little easier, but they would return to the Himalayas for the summer.
As they travelled, these enlightened men and women were given hospitality by the people and in return for that kindness, these enlightened beings came up with solutions to help improve the lives of the population. This included irrigation schemes, how to improve crop yields, how to improve health and how to get the best experience out of life.
Those enlightened beings recognise that the creative principal of life permeates all existence and therefore all existence is inherently sacred. As in every culture, folk heroes became deities and took on godly status, but this was something that believers in Islam and Christianity could not comprehend.
The intellectual, scientific and cultural development of India was far ahead of anything in Europe. Many people around the world find it difficult to accept that so many ordinary things like language and numbers, astronomy and the sciences all had their roots in India. For those who know how to see, there is evidence of Indian technology in every corner of the world.
In the India that existed before Alexander, and before the Islamic invasions, India was a dysphoria of kingdoms and tribal groups. When travelling back then, in the course of 50 miles, the language, colours and flavours of land and people would be remarkably different. Yet while they spoke different languages, there was a spiritual understanding that gave everyone on the continent a sense of unity, a sense that they were all part of a great unfolding drama.
This connection with life came to be called Hinduism as if it was a religion because it confounded the minds particularly of the British who occupied India for more than 250 years. But it's estimated that they robbed India that in monetary terms alone was in excess of $300 billion.
The work of the travelling yogis engendered a respect and a celebration of life, and Sanatana Dharma is a term that is more respectful than Hinduism. Sanatana Dharma did not guarantee an entirely peaceful life, because neighbours will often squabble and the epic Hindu book "the Mahabharata" describes some of these squabbles.
"Hinduism..... gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the God ward endeavour of the human spirit. An immense many-sided and many staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, "Santana Dharma" said Sri Aurobindo.
But the teachings of yoga were memorised and philosophised, and when writing evolved across the subcontinent, all the books that had been passed on through an oral tradition were written down and are known collectively as Vedanta.
The philosophy of Vedanta and Sanatana Dharma was well circulated around the world by 5000 BC and this was a governing influence in all societies. So there are a great many cultural, genetic and intellectual threads connecting India to every part of the world.
The population of India had a reason for being, they felt connected to life and they had an especially strong influence across the broader Asian region. There is evidence of Indian construction technology in Lebanon, Indian elephants were used during construction periods in Greece and Rome, the actual country of India which may have been better known as Bharat included Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh Myanmar (Burma) and Malaya.
Sanatana Dharma also had a strong influence in Indonesia and then Buddhism arrived. The evidence suggests that the man who became the Buddha was born around 630 BC (based on the analysis of the excavation at Lumbini from December 2011 to February 2012). 100 years after the birth of Buddha in the 6th Century BC, Buddhism spread quite rapidly across the entirety of North India and into Southeast Asia where it remains strong today. It's worthy to note that the Temple city of Angkor Wat in Cambodia was built as a Hindu temple and it was a replacement for a Hindu temple complex that preceded it. But apparently after Angkor Wat was completed, Buddhism became more dominant.
Buddhism is actually a yoga practice because it teaches that all life is a form of suffering and the Buddha laid out the pathway to end suffering by achieving enlightenment or self realisation. Yet because Buddhism is a path to enlightenment, it is also a path of yoga and the enlightenment achieved through one of the branches of yoga or one of the branches of Buddhism (because like yoga there are many) Buddhism and yoga have the same end, it's just that the words to describe the path and some of the technical aspects of meditation are slightly different.
Many of the characters in Hindu legends have been proved as real, they offer inspiration and encouragement to live a joyful life in harmony with nature and fellow man.
This video takes us to the holy places of Lord Rama in India, where events from the Ramayana have taken place. We visit Ayodhya, Chitrakut, Nasik, Hampi, and Ramesvaram, and see the major holy sights and temples in those places. It is a travel meditation on Lord Rama.
As we close in on year zero, there was the invasion of the young man known as Alexander the great. I'm not sure where the idea of great comes from, he was simply taking revenge on the Persians who'd been a thorn in the side of Greece for many years, then after his victory over the Persians he kept on going until he got kicked out of India.
After another period of relative peace, the Muslims arrived. They slaughtered their way across the north of India and down across Southeast Asia. The word Islam simply means submit and when Islam comes knocking, people have a few choices, convert to Islam, become a slave or die. To be fair, you may also become a Dhimmi, a little better off than a slave whereby you have to turn over about 50% of everything you earn or produce to the Moslems.
The subcontinent was treated to generations of barbaric abuse and the slaughter of millions of Hindus (here the word Hindu is the geographical name for the region meaning the land of the seven rivers). It took a few hundred years, but the Moslems were on the verge of being completely expelled from the Indian subcontinent when the British and other colonialists arrived and a new chapter of unparalleled catastrophes followed.
Today India is all mixed up, the British did all they could to rewrite Indian history and transform the Hindu landscape. The built railways to extract the produce and bureaucracy to administer the country as they wanted. This means that some intellectual circles within India are promoting personal survival at any cost which includes denying and even destroying the rich history and attempting to conform to British and Christian ideologies.
It could take a lifetime to unravel the truth and yet the land and the life still resonates with the energy of Sanatana Dharma, the search for enlightenment or liberation from suffering. The modern day India also suffers under the weight of capitalism, communism and the growing hand of Islam.
Anyone travelling to India need not necessarily know the history, they can simply imbibe the flavour and colour of the land and people. Anyone spending a few months or more may well find their life is transformed and they will appreciate the journey with less concern for the destination.
From the editors of Hinduism Today magazine in collaboration with Dr. Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus of History, California State University Northridge.
This video is a very good start for non Indian people. Today with modern science and archaeology, the influence of India can be seen across the world. But this history runs much deeper and further back to the traces of Indian civilization at 75000 BC, the ancient submerged cities on the continental shelf circa 15,000BC, the origin and spread of yoga from 14000BC , the influence of India in the world while Europe consisted of hunter gatherer societies, trade with Rome and China, the construction of Ankor Wat in Cambodia and the influence of Sanatana dharma over South East Asia, central Asia, Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies, the Tamil circumnavigation of the world by 5000BC and so much more. This great civilization that today is struggling with its identity came close to destruction under Islam, but the British did a better job as today most Indians, Hindu's, the peoples of Bharat (the original Sanskrit name for the Indian subcontinent including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka) are confused about their identity.
The History of India part one (above) is intended to provide an authentic presentation of the history of India and Hinduism for use in American 6th grade social study classes, as well as Hindu temple study groups and general presentations on the Hindu religion and history. The documentary is based on the first chapter of the textbook, The History of Hindu India, published in 2011. For more information and for class lesson plans based on the book visit hinduismtoday.com/education/. Funded by the Uberoi Foundation, Institute for Curriculum Advancement, this video may be freely distributed for educational purposes.