David Frawley (or Vāmadeva Śāstrī वामदेव शास्त्री) is an author on Hinduism, Yoga and Ayurveda, and the founder and director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is also a Professor of Vedic Astrology and Ayurveda at the International Vedic Hindu University (IVHU). He is a Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor), and a Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer).
In 2000, his book How I Became a Hindu, details his own spiritual journey from his earlier Catholic upbringing to finally embracing Hinduism as his religion. He learned Sanskrit from a Sanskrit grammar book and a copy of the Vedas around 1970
Through his institute, he offers courses on Yoga philosophy, Hindu astrology (jyotisha), and Ayurveda. In addition to directing his institute, he conducts major lecture tours in India every year, delivering talks at universities, Hindu conferences, and to the general public.
His complete works can be accessed through www.vedanet.com
Secrets of Ancient Civilizations: the Vedic Connections
Secrets of ancient humanity and lost civilizations can be found all over the world. Yet they are perhaps most common in India, which even today the spiritual practices of the ancient world continue and its characteristic regard for the sacred. The same type of temples with similar forms of ritual worship that were known in ancient Egypt, Babylonia, or Greece thousand of years ago still occur throughout India today from Badrinath in the Himalayas to the north to Kanyakumari in the south. Indeed it seems that the ancient world never ended in India but has continually maintained and, at times, reinvented itself.
Spiritual and occult arts such as abounded in the ancient world – including Yoga, Vedic astrology, Ayurvedic medicine and the use of rituals (Yajnas) to improve all aspects of our lives – remain commonly used and are honored by the culture of India as a whole. Indeed we could say that India is a living museum of the ancient world and its lost civilizations. To understand the ancient world, it may be better to visit the holy places of India where the ancient traditions are still unbroken, rather than try to interpret ancient ruins through bricks and pottery shards, which scholars today usually do so according to their own modern mindsets, not recognizing the all-pervasive regard for the sacred that was the basis of ancient life and culture.
Most notably, ancient India presents us with by far the largest literature that has survived from the ancient world. The Vedic literature of India, by all accounts dating from well before the time of the Buddha (500 BCE) and by traditional accounts extending back well over five thousand years (3100 BCE), covers several thousand pages. This is with the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur,Sama and Atharva), their various Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.
The Vedas contain many ancient poems, commentaries, dialogues and teachings, of which the famous Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita – the bedrock of Indian philosophy and Yoga – represent only the last layer or a late summation. There is no comparable ancient literature remaining from any other country, much less an on-going tradition of its interpretation and application according to both ritual and meditation.
The Vedas are not directly concerned with history or with the mundane aspects of culture. Yet a mentioning of these does occur in a peripheral way in the texts. In the Vedas, we can find references to the names of peoples, places and to certain events. Beside the deep spiritual knowledge, there are indications of astronomical, mathematical and medical knowledge of a profound order. There are also indications of natural disasters like floods, earth quakes, the melting of glaciers and the shifting of rivers, with a cataclysmic sense of life based upon a long experience of Nature’s changes.
Yet, even by way of understanding their spiritual side, it requires a deeper vision to appreciate the Vedas. The Vedas are composed in a cryptic ‘mantric code’ that cannot be understood without the proper orientation and right keys. Vedic mantras were said to have been cognized by great yogis and seers from the cosmic mind. They reflect a different type of language in which the higher truth is deliberately hidden in a veil of symbols, sacred sounds and correspondences. What may appear outwardly as a seeking cows and horses, for example, can inwardly refer to a development of higher powers of the senses (cows) and pranas or vital energies (horses). In fact, Vedic words have many layers of meaning, of which the surface appearance can be misleading, particularly to the modern mind not used to such a multidimensional language. This is also a phenomenon that we find throughout the ancient world. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, for example, abounds in similar symbols that unless we can grasp the spiritual meaning, which few may be willing to look for, can appear quite superstitious.
The Vedas say, “The Gods prefer the cryptic and dislike the obvious.” The higher powers speak in symbols, riddles, paradoxes or conundrums. The Vedas speak of four levels of speech, of which ordinary human beings only know and speak with one (Rig Veda I. 164.45). They refer to a Divine Word or imperishable syllable on which they are based (Rig Veda I. 164.39). They reflect a pattern of cosmic sound that underlies all the laws of the universe and has its counterparts on all levels of both individual and cosmic manifestation. For this reason, the Veda was called the Shruti, or ‘revelation’ behind the Hindu tradition.
The Vedas speak of secret meanings to their mantras that were veiled to protect the teaching from its application by the spiritually immature. To receive the key to the Vedic mantras required years of work of ascetic practices, mantras, yoga, meditation, special initiations and the special favor of a teacher who knows the tradition and has realized the teaching in his own deeper consciousness. We cannot expect such cryptic mantras to unlock their secrets to a casual reading, particularly done in limited or bad translations in a language and mindset quite alien to the Vedic or ancient world view.
Modern scholars, particularly from the West, have not been able decipher this Vedic code. Most have not even recognized that it exists. This is not surprising because scholars have largely failed to understand the deeper meaning of the symbols of ancient Egypt, Sumeria, Mexico and other ancient cultures. Ancient cultures like India and Egypt were carrying on great traditions of spiritual and occult knowledge, not just the rudiments of technology, trade or empire building.[i] Since modern scholars have little background in that spiritual knowledge, with its recognition of higher states of consciousness extending into the Infinite and Eternal, naturally they cannot find it in symbols in which it is specially encrypted.
Scholars look upon the Vedas, just like the Egyptian religion, as little more than primitive nature worship, though the nature symbols like Fire in the Vedas have a vast cosmic symbolism and connect to the fire of the breath, the fire of the mind, the fire of consciousness and the Cosmic Fire through which the entire universe exists. [ii]
This failure to understand the ancient literature is often related to a failure to understand ancient archaeological ruins and their implications. Ancient sites abound in artifacts that reflect the same type of spiritual symbolism of the ancient literature. These are usually dismissed as fetishes rather than looking for any deeper meaning.
Once we have decoded the mantric and symbolic nature of the Vedic language, Vedic literature can help us understand the ancient world and the ancient mind, its symbols, rituals and aspirations, as well as the legacy and heritage that it has left for us. But it requires that we approach the ancient teachings with an honoring of the sacred, a respect for our elders and gurus, a regard for our ancient human spiritual heritage and a devotion to the cosmic powers of the greater Conscious Universe.
The Living Vedic Tradition
The Vedic tradition remains alive and many great modern yogis have given their comments on the Vedas and have revealed some of the Vedic secrets in the modern world. Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), perhaps modern India’s greatest philosopher, among his voluminous writings wrote several books on the Vedas and translated many Vedic hymns according to an inner yogic meaning.[iii] Many of his disciples like Kapali Shastri, M.P. Pandit and R. L. Kashyap have expanded this work.
Ganapati Muni (1878-1936), the chief disciple of the great Indian guru Ramana Maharshi, left a number of important Sanskrit works on the Vedas, as did his disciple Brahmarshi Daivarata.
Swami Dayananda (1828-1886), founder of the Arya Samaj, the largest modern Hindu sect, based his entire movement on a return to the Vedas and a recognition of a deeper spiritual and scientific knowledge in Vedic texts, a task which many of his disciples have expanded in a number of books, teachings, research and schools.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (founder of the Transcendental Meditation or TM movement), based his work on the Vedic mantras and through them promoted a renaissance of all the Vedic sciences including Ayurveda, Vedic astrology and Vastu.
Other great modern Yogis like Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, have spoken of the greatness of the Vedas, their antiquity and the Vedic culture as the one of the main sources for ancient civilization and world spirituality, though they have not written specifically on the Vedic texts themselves.
The Theosophical Society, also, particularly in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, similarly affirmed the deeper meaning of the Vedas. She wrote of the Vedas as having been composed by the rishis mainly when they resided by the Manasarovar Lake by Mount Kailas in Tibet.
Such a view of the Vedas as a great spiritual treasure house of great antiquity remains at odds with dominant academic views that regard the Vedas as a primitive product of invading nomads into India around 1500 BCE, the so-called ‘Aryan Invasion theory’. This theory proposed the Vedic people, whom they called Aryans, were a white skinned racial group from Central Asia who invaded and destroyed the native cultures of India, bringing in the Vedic literature along with them. Though this theory has never been proved or linked to any conclusive evidence on the ground, it has not been abandoned by textbooks either. It has been reduced from an invasion to a migration and now to largely only a language change but still seems to persist in one form or another.
This theory of the Vedic culture as originally based outside of India was first proposed by western scholarship a few centuries ago to explain connections between languages of India and Europe, the Indo-European family of languages that show many connections of grammar and etymology. An equally valid theory, however – and one which agrees more with both the literary and archaeological data – would have such linguistic influences derive from India and its nearby regions.[iv] But during the colonial era, when the Aryan Invasion idea was formed, India as a source of western culture or languages was not such an appealing idea!
The Vedic tradition, we should note, has its own view of history. While the Vedas themselves as religious works do not contain specific or complete historical accounts, the Puranas, another set of ancient Indian literature, has a list of over a hundred kings going back before the time of the Buddha and a delineation of many dynasties from throughout greater India going back to Manu, the primal king at the time of a great flood.
More importantly, Vedic and Puranic literature speaks of previous world ages called yugas andkalpas, extending back many tens of thousands of years and connected to astronomical cycles of various types going back millions of years. They hold that our current civilization is neither the first, nor the highest. In fact, they regard it as a fallen materialistic culture of low spiritual development. Vedas and Puranas also speak of contact with beings of other worlds, both in subtle realms and other physical planets, regarding true human civilization as linked to the greater universe. Such ideas of human history as determined by cosmic time cycles are shared by many other ancient cultures like Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and Mexico and are characteristic of ancient thought as a whole.
Sri Yukteswar, guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, in his Holy Science relates the fifth and last Manu or founder of Indian civilization to a period that ended around 6700 BCE. This information is similar to what the Greeks found in India at the time of Alexander circa 300 BCE. Megasthenes in his Indika, still available in fragments, recorded a tradition of 153 kings in India going back over 6400 years, to a date around 6700 BCE. The king lists of Egypt are not as long as these.
This Vedic view of the Yugas or world ages, particularly the 24,000 Great Year, such as Yukteswar describes, is important for understanding Vedic thought and its antiquity, as well as its outlook for the future.[v] It tells us that we cannot put the Vedas in an historical time line of three thousand years as scholars would still like to do.[vi]
My Work as a Vedic Scholar and Vedic Practitioner
In my personal work, I have spent more than thirty years studying, translating and writing on the Vedas and connected Vedic sciences including Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology. I have written several books on the Vedic view of ancient history as well as translated over a hundred of the Vedic hymns. This has resulted in more than thirty books and over a hundred articles on these topics.
I learned traditional Vedic Sanskrit and have gone through the Vedic texts repeatedly in the original language with recourse to Sanskrit commentaries and the works of modern yogis like Ganapati Muni. I approached the Vedas according to an inner vision born of poetry, study of symbolism and a practice of Yoga and meditation. I received a training in the Vedic tradition itself, studying with gurus, pandits and yogis in India. For this reason my views of the Vedas can be different than those of scholars writing on the subject from training outside of the Vedic tradition and usually unaware of its views.
My views, therefore, will be from ‘inside the tradition’, noting also such ancient traditions still have their own voices. Hopefully, they will at least provide a good alternative to the outside the tradition and non-spiritual approach to Vedic texts which is what is usually presented in universities today. It was early on in my studies obvious to me that what we find in existing historical accounts and translations only touch the surface of the Vedic teachings.
Points of Discussion:
Vedas and Ancient Yogic and Occult Knowledge
The Vedas contain spiritual, occult and cosmic secrets that we are just beginning to become aware of. The great India based religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism may represent only later aspects of ancient enlightenment traditions that were probably more common during the Vedic era. The Vedas represent the remains of these early traditions, of which there were no doubt many more.
Vedic literature portrays an ancient solar religion of Yoga and enlightenment, such as was once common throughout the entire world. The Sun is a symbol of the higher Self, the Atman or Purusha of yogic thought. This Vedic religion of light is a religion of consciousness, which is the supreme form of light.[vii]
The Vedic teaching centers a worship of the sacred fire, called Agni, through which we can connect to the cosmic powers. It details many yajnas or ‘fire sacrifices’ that can help attune us to the blessings of the universe and which remain the foundation of yogic and Hindu rituals to the present day.[viii]
The Vedic teaching used special sacred plants, called Somas. These were powerful plants and plant preparation to help promote longevity, counter disease, aid in rejuvenation and help us access higher states of consciousness. Vedic doctors are mentioned in Vedic texts along with special herbs, oils (ghees), and Soma mixtures of great power.
Yet Soma was not just an outer plant but an inner practice. The Vedic science of Soma included ways of accessing our own sacred plant or inner set of energies through the spine, brain and nervous system. Indeed the original Soma was not a single plant but an entire science of inner and outer healing, with outer Soma plants having their correspondence in the inner yogic Somas of mantra, Pranayama and meditation. Such yogic Somas are more important than the plant Somas and more crucial for not only accessing but remaining in higher states of awareness.[ix]
Outer Vedic ritualistic practices mirror inner Yoga practices balancing the fire and water, Agni and Soma within us. Vedic literature contains the secrets of the practice of Yoga, including the ascending of the Kundalini-fire force and the descent of the Soma nectar that open all the chakras. The practice of Yoga itself arose from the inner Vedic sacrifice in which speech, mind and prana were offered to the immortal Divine Fire present within our own hearts.[x] Vedic deities reflect a profound psychological and spiritual symbolism relative to the practice of Yoga and meditation, not just outer ritualistic concerns.
The Vedas may hold in their mantras the keys to the yogic and shamanic secrets of ancient humanity. The Vedic rishis describe in their hymns various higher states of consciousness including Self-realization, like the great sage Vamadeva (Rig Veda IX.26.1) who proclaims “I was Manu and I am the Sun,” a statement quoted in the Upanishads (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I. 4.10) relative to the realization of Brahman or the Absolute.
Vedic mantras have been described as a kind of universal language. Classical Sanskrit, which evolved out of Vedic Sanskrit, remains the most scientific language in the world. The Vedic language is the oldest of all Indo-European languages and the best preserved language that we have from the ancient world. As language itself is the best repository of culture, the Vedic language is perhaps our best key not only to ancient culture but to the ancient mind, which is very different in its world view and orientation than the modern mind.
Mathematical secrets of the universe are mentioned in the Vedas like a time cycle of 4,320,000,000 years and names for numbers from one to ten to ten followed by twelve zeroes (1,000,000,000,000,000). The zodiacal number 360 and its divisions and derivatives are common in Vedic texts. Vedic mantras are said to be inherent in the rays of the Sun. Noted Vedic scholar Subhash Kak has found a planetary code in the numbering of the books of the Rig Veda.[xi]
Vedic astrology contains an extensive knowledge not only of the planets, signs and houses but of the 27 Nakshatras or lunar constellations going back to the Vedas.[xii] The Vedas relate the Nakshatras to various deities and rishis and states that after death the soul can travel to the star it is most connected to in life. The mythology of the Nakshatras is quite profound and helps us understand the ancient star lore of many cultures.
Vedic astrology divides the lunar month of twenty nine and a half solar days into thirty equal lunar days or tithis. This amounts to 371 tithis in a solar year of 365 days. The number of deities in the Rig Veda are 3339, or 371 X the mystic number 9, reflecting the importance of the influence of the Moon. The Vedas were oriented to astronomical influences of a profound order and at perhaps a much earlier date than that of Babylonia.[xiii]
Vedic Vastu, its architectural and directional science, shows how the great forces of the universe impact us through the orientation of our rooms, houses, building and the direction that we face. Ayurvedic medicine preserves many Vedic secrets of herbs, foods, subtle physiology and keys to rejuvenation. It is still widely practiced in India and becoming recognized worldwide.
Vedic mantras themselves have a tremendous power to change the psyche and bring in higher cosmic influences into our minds and hearts. Vedic mantras like Gayatri (Rig Veda III.62.10) to the Sun God are still practiced by millions in India and now being taken up by many in the West as well.
A few salient points about ancient history and Vedas:
Besides the knowledge side of the Vedas, there are also important historical implications of the Vedic literature. Vedic literature along with the current state of archaeology and genetics suggests a much longer history for the Vedas in India, perhaps extending into the Ice Age Period. It suggests that the Vedic idea of previous cycles of civilization may indeed reflect Ice Age cultures. For example, the Puranas regard agriculture the creation of Manu Chakshusha, the fourth Manu, before the fifth Manu Vivasvan of the flood. We do note that agriculture began already in the late Ice Age period more than ten thousand years ago.
Many of these points have been mentioned in Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age, where Graham Hancock quotes my work and that of other Vedic scholars like N.S. Rajaram on several issues, particularly on his sections relative to India.
Ancient India of the third millennium BCE presents us with the largest urban civilization of the ancient world and the most uniform, with hundred of sites from Afghanistan in the northwest to across the Ganga in the north east, to the coast of Iran in the southwest and nearly to Mumbai in the southeast. This civilization is usually called the Indus Valley civilization, as the main initial sites were found by this river or the Harappan civilization after its major site.[xiv]
Mohenjodaro and Harappa are the two most famous and best excavated of the Harappan sites. Today there are five sites larger in size than Mohenjodaro and Harappa, though not as well excavated, and over two thousand smaller sites, the largest being Rakhigari in the Kurukshetra region west of Delhi. This Harappan or Indus Civilization is the largest in size and the greatest in uniformity of all ancient civilizations and India at the time, as India today, hosted a much larger population than the arid regions of the Near East.
However, modern scholars portray this Harappan culture as a civilization without a literature, a mysterious civilization that arose and disappeared with little connection to the later history and peoples of India. Meanwhile the Vedas, which as we have already noted represent the largest literature from the ancient world, are portrayed by scholars as a literature without a civilization. In other words, the largest urban civilization of the ancient world is portrayed as civilization without a literary record, while the largest literary record of the ancient world is regarded as a literature without a civilization, though both come from the same part of the world and are traditionally linked together.
Yet if we simply combine these two, the Harappan ruins and the Vedic literature, we can end the mystery on both sides. Both the Harappan ruins and Vedic literature speak of the same region and reflect many of the same artifacts and practices. For example, the most common symbol found in Harappan ruins is the swastika, which is the most sacred symbol of Hindu and Buddhist thought. Indus sites also contain fire altars, sacred water tanks, images of figures seated in meditation (proto-Shiva) or performing Yoga postures, such as Vedic and Hindu thought has always given prominence to.
Moreover, the so-called Indus Valley civilization is not located on the banks of the Indus River. The great majority of ancient urban ruins in ancient India have been discovered on the dried banks of river traditionally called the Sarasvati, which flowed to the east of the Indus, which Landsat satellite photography has revealed as having been a huge river system, up to five miles wide, in northwest India, east of the Yamuna River that dried up around 2000 BCE.
Vedic literature is also placed on the Sarasvati River, the most revered of all the Vedic rivers and the great mother of the Vedic people. The Sarasvati, not only in the Vedas but in later literature is located east of the Yamuna as the Vedic River hymn that starts with the rivers as Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati and then other rivers to the West. The sacred land of the Vedic people in Vedic literature (Rig Veda III.23.4) and Manu Samhita is placed between the two Divine rivers Sarasvati and Drishadvati in the Kurukshetra region west of Delhi where the Mahabharata War was fought at the time of Krishna. Both Sarasvati and Drishadvati were great rivers in ancient times before largely disappearing around four thousand years ago except as occasional run off streams. That the Vedas speak of these rivers as their immemorial homeland is a strong evidence of their antiquity.
Moreover, the Rig Veda speaks of the Sarasvati as the largest river of the region, pure in its course from the mountains to the sea (Rig Veda VII.95.2). Later texts like the Mahabharata speak of the Sarasvati as a broken stream drying up in a series of lakes in what are now Rajasthan and Haryana.[xv] In other words, the stages of the drying up of the river are mentioned. Disasters along nearby rivers like the Shutudri (Sutlej) are mentioned in the Mahabharata, with the river breaking into a hundred streams, reflecting such changing of rivers in the region.
The Vedas as a lost civilization rest upon these lost rivers. After the Ice Age ended, the melting of glaciers kept the river flows in north India much higher, until the bulk of the glaciers melted.
Most notably, to date there is no archaeological evidence of any Aryan invasion or migration into India. No one has ever been able to locate the so-called Aryans in the archaeological records. The attempts to do so, like that of Mortimer Wheeler and his proposed massacre at Mohenjodaro, have proven erroneous and are no longer accepted. There are no Aryan skeletons, no Aryan horses or chariot remains, no Aryan encampments or any identifiable special Aryan artifacts, no cities found destroyed by the Aryans, and no memory or literary records of any such invasion in the history of India, whether in the Vedas, Puranas or Buddhist and Jain literature. In other words, apart from linguistic speculation, which itself has many variant opinions, there is nothing in the archaeological record to show any incoming Aryans at all.[xvi]
The whole idea of an Aryan race has been discredited, along with most nineteenth century views it was connected to. The Aryan race idea was a product of European nationalism anyway, not of Vedic thought for which Aryan was a term of nobility only, not ethnicity. It is much like the swastika, which is a Hindu and Buddhist symbol of the wheel of dharma, which was perverted into a Nazi symbol by German Nazis.
The Indus or Harappan culture came to an end owing to geological and climate changes along with the drying up of the Sarasvati River. The decline of the river began by 3000 BCE before ending around 1700 BCE. But the same peoples remained and continued the same types of arts, crafts and customs until the next urban phase began on the Ganga a few centuries later.
Relative to natural history and genetics, it is now known that the people of India are more than fifty thousand years old in their own country. They have endured there with its subtropical climate throughout the Ice Ages, unlike Europe and Central Asia, which became largely uninhabitable through the Ice Age glaciations. There is to date no genetic record of any incoming Aryans. The main genetic markers are of a movement of peoples outside of Southeast Asia after the Ice Age ended and displaced the populations there. The so-called incoming Aryans have failed to turn up in the genetic record as well. Rather we see the continuity of the same peoples in India going back into the Ice Age period.[xvii]
Curiously the Vedic and Puranic view is that the Vedic people hailed from the south of India after a great flood. The Puranas relate Vedic Manu as great yogi as having come from Kerala (Malaya) in the south (Matsya Purana I.13-14). Vedic rishis and sages like Vasishta and Agastya are connected to the south. In fact the Bhrigus, one of the two main families of Vedic rishis, are descendants of Varuna, the God of the ocean. The Rig Veda itself has over 150 references to the ocean (samudra) as well as to ocean travel and crossing oceans and rivers, though western scholars claim it is a product of land locked nomads from Central Asia! The Vedic people likely came from the south of India, perhaps connected to the fabled Kanya Kumari continent that was once said to have existed before the waters rose at the end of the Ice Age submerging it.
If the Vedas do contain such spiritual and yogic secrets, this affirms the idea found not only in Vedic literature but that throughout the ancient world that in early ancient times people were more spiritually evolved than today. We find such a myth of a primordial spiritual Golden Age in the Taoist literature of China, Greek and Babylonian ideas of earlier ages, Hopi literature, Maya literature and so on. What this would mean is that the Vedas could preserve for us a direct record from such sages.
If Vedic civilization is indigenous to India, then we would need to rewrite world history, particularly the history of the Europeans. We would find that the Indo-European groups of Europe, which includes, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Germans, Slavs and others, must have had a great cultural affinity with India prior to their connections to the Near East or their dispersal throughout Europe.[xviii] This would be just one aspect of connecting ancient cultures with yet older cultures extending perhaps back into the Ice Ages.
Clearly there are many secrets of lost civilizations and in seeking these out we cannot forget the role of India where the ancient world still lives. The history and literature of India, reflecting a knowledge of lost civilizations, should be given greater attention, not only the Vedas but also the Puranas and various yogic texts.
Finally, I want to conclude not with the idea that the Vedas are the origins of everything, though they are certainly much more important than our current historical accounts indicate. Probably, all the main ancient cultures in the world are much older, more evolved and more spiritually based than what modern history has afforded them. Similarly, ancient populations and languages may be much older in the lands that we find them in than current estimates indicate. This would include the Proto-Europeans and the Persians, also regarded as products of nomadic invasions from the north and east.
Our current human history of 5,000 years makes little sense if our species is over 150,000 years as current science estimates. The destructive effects of the end of the Ice Age, which saw huge land masses and coastlines submerged, the destructive influence of long periods of time, and the lack of attention by modern scholars used to a short historical time line may explain why such ancient and pre-Ice Age cultures have not been better discovered or recognized, even though in the case of India, they are still alive among us.[xix]
True history, not as mere technology, but as the development of enlightened cultures likely goes back tens of thousands of years on all the continents. The great civilizations of the early ancient world that we find like the Sumerians, Egyptians, Mayas or ancient Hindus are more likely the remnants or survivors of yet earlier great cultures that our history has so far failed to uncover. Indeed all the great ancient cultures that we find at the beginning of history do not present themselves as the founders of something new but as connected to earlier cultures going back into the Ice Age and before.
To go forward as a species into a real planetary age, we need to reclaim this spiritual and yogic heritage of ancient humanity. It provides much of the wisdom we need to help us deal with our global challenges. Our great gurus, elders and ancestors can still be called upon. A few remain. Their voices can be heard. Their words have been recorded. But unless we approach them with respect and seek to uncover the deeper meanings behind their mantras, symbols and myths, we will not be able to access their wisdom or gain their blessings, and the blessings of the greater universe that they carry.[xx]
In light of such issues, we can discuss both the spiritual and historical implications of the Vedic literature. I can hopefully present the reader with a view from inside the Vedic tradition, reflecting the deeper Sanskrit meanings and Vedic yogic practices, that the reader will otherwise may not find easily.
I have also included links to may various books on the Vedas, Ancient India, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology, some of which are available on line. We have included links to a whole set of on-line articles and on-line resources.
Relevant books of David Frawley
Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self Realization and Planetary Transformation explains the Vedic world view, its global connections and above all its spiritual implications and relevance for a new age for humanity.
Yoga, the Greater Tradition, succinctly explains Yoga in the broader sense as a spiritual practice including its roots in the Vedic tradition.
Wisdom of the Ancient Seers: Selected Mantras from the Rig Veda contains a translation at a yogic level for over eighty hymns of the Rig Veda. Google book preview available on line.
Astrology of the Seers: A Guide to Vedic (Hindu) Astrology explains the basic system of Vedic astrology and its philosophy, including the Yuga theory of world-ages.
Yoga and Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-realization explains how Yoga and Ayurveda interrelate as Vedic sciences of Self-healing and Self-realization.
Hidden Horizons: Unearthing 10,000 Years of Hindu Culture, though a special publication of a Hindu religious movement, the Swami Narayan order, www.swaminarayan.org, contains endorsements from many prominent religious and cultural leaders in India today. The Swami Narayan movement has built the largest Hindu temples in the world today, including the London Neasden temple, temples in Toronto, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago. Their largest temple is in Delhi, which is the largest to be built in modern India, and features an entire historical display on ancient India, a ten minute boat ride down the Sarasvati river for which this book was written as a reference guide.
In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (Frawley, Feuerstein and Kak), a collaborative work that examines the main issues of ancient India and why India is likely much more important as a center for civilization in the ancient world. Google on-line preview available.
Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization, a detailed examination of Vedic historical references including with regard to Vedic connections to civilizations all over the world. Google on-line preview available.
Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India, a short text, explains the key points of the so-called Aryan invasion and migration and why these are incorrect and even biased. 1995 book available in its entirely on line
And in video (not audio) format:
Note update to Myth of the Aryan Invasion 2001
And update to the Myth of the Aryan Invasion 2005
Rig Veda and the History of India is an extensive semi-technical book that explores the historical implications of Vedic literature and its references to various peoples and kings, particularly the connections to the south of India for the Vedic people.
The Secret of the Soma Plant by David Frawley
Shows how Soma is not just a single plant but part of an entire healing system using many plants and inner Yoga practices opening the inner Soma of bliss through the crown chakra.
Vedic Yoga, the Oldest Form of Yoga by David Frawley
Explains the mantra, pranayama and meditation approaches of the Rig Veda.
Vedic Origins of the Europeans: The Children of Danu by David Frawley
Discusses the Danu connection between the ancient Europeans and Vedic texts.
Sanskritization: A New Model of Language Developmentby David Frawley
Discussions the connections between Indo-European languages and possibly greater India based origins and influences.
The Vedas and Ancient Egypt by David Frawley
An overview of the similar spiritual orientations of Vedic and ancient Egyptian culture.
Secrets of the Yugas or World-Ages, adopted from Astrology of the Seers by David Frawley
Explains the Vedic view of 24,000 year yugas and their implications.
Keys to the Yugas or Cycles of the Ages by David Frawley
Studies Yukteswar’s Yuga theory, adding to the longer yugas, shorter yugas to explain changes over current decades.
Vedic Origins of the Zodiac: the Hymns of Dirghatamas in the Rig Veda by David Frawley.
Knowledge of the Planets in the Third Millennium BCE, by Subhash Kak
Shows Vedic evidence for an early knowledge of the planets in India before 2000 BCE.
History in Our Genes: the Situation in Ancient India, by N.S. Rajaram
Shows how current genetics does not support any Aryan invasion or migration into India but only the continuity of native populations in India going back tends of thousands of years.
Additional Links and Resources
Ancient India and the Ancient World
The Vedas and their Interpretation
Vedic Astrology articles
Vedas and Ancient History
Mentions a number of contemporary Vedic groups and resources.
Krishna and the Unicorn of the Indus Seals
[i] Frawley article, The Vedas and Ancient Egypt.
[ii] Frawley, book Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self-realization and Planetary Transformation, for the role of Fire in ancient religions and as a cosmic symbol.
[iii] Notably Secret of the Veda and Hymns to the Mystic Fire.
[iv]Frawley article, Sanskritization: A New Model of Language Development.
[v]Frawley, article, Secrets of the Yugas or World-Ages, adopted from the book Astrology of the Seers by David Frawley.
[vi]Relative to the Vedic view of the Yugas, I would agree with the views of Yukteswar who places us in the early stages of an ascending Dwapara (Bronze) age of 2400 years, which has given humanity knowledge of and control over subtle forces of electricity and nuclear energy. According to this view, we will not get out of the darker phase of this beginning cycle until around 2100 AD. This may be the topic of another discussion. Note article Keys to the Yugas or Cycles of the Ages by David Frawley.
[vii] Frawley, book Wisdom of the Ancient Seers, for a discussion of Vedic deities and their meaning.
[viii] Frawley, book Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self-realization and Planetary Transformation, for the role of Fire in ancient religions and as a cosmic symbol.
[ix] Frawley, article The Secret of the Soma Plant.
[x] Frawley, article Vedic Yoga, the Oldest Form of Yoga, note also Frawley book, Yoga, the Greater Tradition.
[xi] Kak, article Knowledge of the Planets in the Third Millennium BCE. Note also book In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (Feuerstein, Kak and Frawley).
[xii] Frawley book, Astrology of the Seers.
[xiii] Frawley article, Vedic Origins of the Zodiac: the Hymns of Dirghatamas in the Rig Veda.
[xiv] Feuerstein, Kak and Frawley book, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization.
[xv] Frawley book, Gods, Sages and Kings, Part I. Chapter 2 for a discussion of the Sarasvati River and Vedic references to it.
[xvi] Note Frawley book, Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India.
[xvii]Rajaram article, History in Our Genes: the Situation in Ancient India.
[xviii]Frawley article, Vedic Origins of the Europeans: The Children of Danu.
[xix] For a good discussion of these issues note Frawley and Rajaram, book Hidden Horizons: Unearthing 10,000 Years of Indian Culture. Note also the displaces at the Swami Narayan temples (www.swaminarayan.org), particularly the London Neasden Temple and the Delhi Akshardham and Ten Minute Boat ride down the Sarasvati River.
[xx] Frawley book, Yoga and the Sacred Fire, Part IV, A Call for a New Sacred Fire.