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[world-vedic] Vedic culture and Maya Civilization of Mexico

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Maya Civilization of Mexico.

Baffling Links with Ancient India

By Anand Sharma



The archaeological remains of ancient Maya

civilization of Mexico are lying scattered in

the parts of Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco and eastern half of Chiapas as

well as in the territory of Quintana

Roo of the republic of Mexico. Covering an area of about 125,000 square

miles, its traces are to be found in

the western section of Honduras Republic, Peten and adjacent highlands

of Guatemala and practically in the

whole of Honduras.


Admiral Christopher Columbus mistakenly called the New World

inhabitants as Indians. Although he

corrected himself subsequently, the natives of Americas continued to be

called 'Indians'. During the course of

his third journey, Columbus came into contact with 'Maya' people.


Many theories have been advanced by scholars to

explain the origins of these American

Indians and if there were any links between the

ancient civilizations of the Old World and

the New World. There are historians who believe that

the American civilizations were

purely native in origin and also those who maintain

the theory of Asians crossing over

through Bering Strait via Alaska and reaching the

American continent some 12,000 -

15,000 years ago. However, the antiquity of American

Indians remains shrouded in the

veil of mystery. In spite of a great deal of

investigations, explorations and deep study by

scholars and innumerable historians during the last

many centuries, what we know about

pre-Columbus Americas is very little in comparison to

what we do not know. To quote

Glyn Daniel from his book 'The First Civilizations', "within 15 years,

between 1519 to 1533, the Western

world discovered and brutally destroyed three civilizations - the

Aztecs of Mexico, Maya of Yuacatan and

Guatemala and Inca of Peru."


The unique elaboration of the Mayan civilization has been a challenge

to the imagination of explorers and

students of history. The Mayans had attained the highest maturity in

art, craft, sculpture and hieroglyphs.

Innumerable theories exist about these ancient people. Their

magnificent achievements in social, economic,

political and religious fields, their calendar and hieroglyphic

writings, reasons of the sudden collapse of their

classic culture everywhere in Mesoamerica, the reality of 'Kulkulkan

Quetzal-Coatl' myth are some of the

riddles of Mexican history challenging modern research. The 'Maya'

Indians spent thousands of years in

building their magnificent monuments and Mayapan, Palenque, Copan,

Tikal, Kaminalijuyu and Piedras

Negras were the centres where Mayan culture flourished in splendour.

How and why these places were

deserted in the past is still a mystery. Although modern scientists

have achieved significant success in

deciphering Maya calendar system, none has been able to decipher their

hieroglyphic system of writing.


The possibility of links of these people with Old

World civilizations and particularly with

ancient India is not acceptable to many historians.

However, there are those who hold a

different view. Eminent scholar-writers like

Mackenzie, Hewitt, Tod, Pococke and

Mrs. Nuttal have collected plenty of data to show

that ancient American civilizations

were influenced by Old World civilizations. We have

to remember that the

post-Columbus history of America for 300 years was

the story of ruthless destruction

and fanatics like Bishop Diego da Landa burnt a huge

bonfire of valuable documents

and nothing but the three codices of 'Chilam Balam'

could survive the holocaust.


There are two specific archaeological discoveries

pertaining to 761 AD, about which

most Mexican historians are silent, that attract our

attention as possible links of Maya

civilization to ancient India. The first one is a wall panel (Panel No.

3 of Temple 0-13, at Piedras Negras,

Guatemala; reproduced as Plate 69, page 343 of 'The Ancient Maya' by

S.G. Morley) belonging to the Later

Classic Stage of Mexican history, associated with the peaking of Maya

architecture and sculpture. Mexican

historians have not given any interpretation of this panel. It appears

that the scene depicted in the panel relates

to the great Indian epic 'Ramayana'. It shows a king sitting on the

throne and one maidservant with two

children standing on the right side of the throne. A guard stands

behind the three. On the other side of the king,

three important personages are standing whereas the vassal chiefs and

important feudatories are sitting in front

of the throne. The king on the throne is believed to be Suryavanshi Ram

with his three illustrious brothers

standing by his side. The two little children are his two sons with a

maid and a guard behind them. Amongst the

three persons on the right, two are engaged in a discussion whereas the

third one, apparently Lakshman, is

standing with a bold, brave and confident demeanour which was

characteristic of him. The above panel is a

beautiful piece of sculpture and an evidence of great Mayan heritage,

their artistic taste and superior creative

ability and, above all, an archaeological evidence to prove India's

link with Mexico in the 8th century at least.

The artistic design and postures of the figures carved can be compared

to those found at Ajanta and Ellora

caves in India. This interpretation, however, remains only a plausible

one till the hieroglyphics and frescoes

surrounding the wall panel are deciphered.


Another archaeological discovery at the same place i.e. Piedras Negras,

Guatemala, is a stone stela (No. 12,

Plate No. 18, page 61 of 'The Ancient Maya' by S.G. Morley). A

mythological scene has been carved in this

stela, depicting the architectural and artistic maturity of the Maya

people of the Classic Stage (594 - 889 AD).

There is a beautiful image of a deity with eight hands (ashtabhuja).

The art style is discernibly Indian as in no

other religion of the world deities of this type were worshipped. It

may be mentioned that the ruling dynasty of

Mexico at the time of the conquest by Spaniards was 'Aztec' or Ashtak

(Eight). The evidence in the form of

such images leaves little doubt about the presence of Indian culture

amongst the ancient Mexicans. The stela

pertains to the period of more than eight centuries before Columbus set

foot on the soil of the so-called New



The place where these pieces have been discovered -

Piedras Negras - appears to

be a distorted form of 'Priyadarsh Nagraj' in

Sanskrit, as has been the case with so

many words distorted by European pronunciation.

These stone sculptures are

adornments of a Mayan temple and depict some popular

mythology prevalent

amongst the people of the time. Both human sacrifice

and idolatry were much in

practice amongst Maya people. Morley has given a

detailed and vivid account of

Maya culture and society in his book 'The Ancient

Maya', profusely quoting Bishop

Diego de Landa.


Bishop Landa states that Maya people "…had a very

great number of idols and

temples which were magnificent in their own fashion

and besides the community

temples, the lords, priests and leading men also had oratories and

idols in their houses where they made their

prayers and offerings in private". Not only of gods but idols of even

animals and insects were prepared by

Maya people, who believed in immortality of soul and afterlife. This

definitely smacks of an Indian connection.


More serious efforts to connect the ancient American civilizations with

those of ancient India have to be made.

The Trans-Pacific contacts of the people of south-east Asia with the

people of ancient America have been

established beyond doubt. It is also a well-proven fact of history that

Indians of ancient times were great

sea-farers. In pre-Mahabharata era as well as in the subsequent period,

the kings of southern India possessed

large fleets used for trade with the Arabian and European countries

where Indian merchandise was much in

demand. India's links with south-east Asia and other far-off islands of

the Pacific Ocean are an established fact

of history. The conquest of Malaya by Rajendra Chola, the story of

Buddhagupta the Great Sailor

(Mahanavik), the religious expeditions of Indians to preach the gospel

of Buddhism in the distant lands of

Cambodia, Annam, Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Japan, Korea, Mongolia

and China are proofs of the impact

of Indian culture.


A remarkable feature of the Indian culture has been that colonial

domination was never identified with

economic exploitation. The Buddhist Jatakas (folk tales) narrate many

stories relating to maritime adventures

and daring sea journeys which establish that such activities were an

essential part of Indian life at that time.


The author is a historian settled in Vienna.

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