Saturday, 21 September 2013

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, GUATEMALA & INTI RAYMI FESTIVAL, PERU - THE RAMAYANA CONNECTION

Sir William Jones (1744 - 1794) states in his papers published by the the Asiatic Society that the Incan festival 'Rama-Sitva' celebrated on the Winter Solstice Day gets its name from the Hindu God King, Sri Rama and his wife, Goddess Sita. The Winter Solstice Day is celebrated in June in Peru. (Peru lies in the southern Hemisphere and the winter solstice day falls in June).

The festival that William Jones referred to as 'Rama Sitva' is also known as 'Inti-Raymi'. It is said that the name 'Inti Raymi' comes from the ancient South American Quechua language and means 'resurrection of the sun'. According to Incan mythology, Inti was the Sun god, son of Vira-cocha
(वीर- कोच), creator of civilization. In the Hindu tradition Virochana (विरोचन) is the name for 'Sun' and also 'Sun God'. As an adjective 'virochana' in Sanskrit means 'illuminating', 'brightening' or 'shining'. 

But are there any historical (often dismissed as mythological) pointers that connect Guatemala and Peru to India. There are of course many ancient Peruvian sites that are known to derive their names from Sanskrit (discussed elsewhere on this blog site). Also many historical and archaeological facts have emerged since the time of Sir William Jones that establish the connection between the Incan civilizations of South America and India. 

One of the most remarkable finds has been the deciphering of what is the archaeological sculpture 'Panel 3 of Piedras Negras' in Guatemala.


Panel No. 3 of Piedras Negras, Guatemala,depicts the coronation of  the 'Hero Twins' of 'Popul Voh'. Their story has a remarkable likeness to the story of 
 'Luv and Kush', the twins of 'Ramayana'. In the panel, the two young boys 
on the right could be 'Luv' and 'Kush'. In the centre is Sri Rama. 
On the left are Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrugna.

Scholars generally accept that this glyph is a representation of Yax Balam (or Xbalanqué, one of  the Hero Twins) from the Popol Vuh. Popol Vuh (Book of Community) is a corpus of historical narratives of the ancient Incan kingdoms of Guatemala and its surrounding areas, and as is customary, this narrative too is dismissed as myth by mainline historians. 

Popul Voh features among other stories, description of the 'creation of the world', a description of the 'great flood',  the epic tales of the Hero Twins named Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and the genealogies of the God Kings of ancient lands that include present day Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia and Belize. To those who have read the Indian Epic Valmiki Ramayana, the above mentioned list of descriptions and stories are the same as that contained in Book-I (Bala Kanda) of the Ramayana. 

In the context of the Popul Voh, the text in Panel No. 3 of Piedras Negras has been interpreted as the depiction of the throne accession or coronation ceremony of the Hero Twins, the description of the palace and those attending the ceremony. For more on the interpretation of the text inscribed on the many sculpture panels of Piedras Negras click here.

The Ramayana however sheds more light. If we were to interpret 'Piedras Negras Panel No. 3' as the depiction of the coronation of the Hero Twins, the twins of Popul Voh might just be the equivalent of Luva & Kush of the Ramayana. On the panel (see picture above) they can be identified as the two young boys standing on the right hand side. Just behind them are seen two lady attendants. In the centre, seated on the throne is Sri Rama, and on the left hand side are three men, identified as Lakshman with folded arms, with Bharat in the centre and Shatrugana on the outer-left.

This interpretation gets credence from the fact that there are other indicators that point to the fact that in ancient times, there was contact between India and the ancient civilizations of South America.   

Ancient Indian texts have mapped the world from different perspectives. For example, the Bramha Purana describes the world geography from the perspective of the four directions. It says that the world is divided into seven islands (continents) divided by seven seas. One of the islands is Jambudvipa (India) which is at the center. To the east of Jambudvipa is Ketumala, to the north is Uttarakuru, to the west lies  Bhadravarsha and to the south lies Ramyakavarsha.

Many scholars have identified 'Ketumala' with Guatemala. Though the sceptics do not accept this argument, but it is a fact that a place by the name 'Ketumala', spelled 'Chetumala' does exist in Mexico today. The Vishnu Purana mentions that Ketumala is situated to the far west of Jambudvipa.

The Bramha Purana also describes the world in terms of 'above the surface' and the 'world under' called 'Patala' that is present day South America.

In the Ramayana, Goddess Sita is said to be 'Dharti Putri' born of 'Mother Earth', and, as the story of Ramayana closes, Sita returns to  the fold of 'Mother Earth'. It may just have been that Sita belonged to 'Patala' which was interpreted as 'world under', but really pointed towards the mighty kingdoms of the ancient South America. 

In fact in the Ramayana, there is a host of indicators that point towards a connection with Peru and its neighbouring countries. The most remarkable of this is Sugriva's description of the route map to the 'vanara commando brigade' going east from India. They go far enough in the eastern direction, crossing oceans and reaching all the way to the 'Udaya' (identified as the Andes) mountains via 'Shalmali Dvipa' (Australia). For more on the 'vanara route' from 'New Zeland to Peru' click here. For more on the 'vanara route' from India to Australia click here. The account of this route as described in the Valmiki Ramayana is fascinating. Fascinating! 

Then there is the ancient 'Howler Monkey God' sculpture of Copan in Honduras. This sculpture has been equated with the Hindu God Hanuman.


Ancient 'Monkey God' Sculpture
Copan, Hondurus.
Because of his stance and the mace
in his hand, he has been equated with
Sri Hanuman of Ramayana

Sri Hanuman
Notice that the stance and the mace
are the same in the Copan Monkey God Sculpture

 as Sri Hanuman.
Coming back to the Incan God Vira-cocha and the Vedic Sun God Virochana, there is an interesting story in the Bhagwat Purana that indicates that the story of Vira-cocha and Virochana might be two different versions of the life-story of the same entity, albeit with some discrepancies. 

Many scholars regard the Incan God Vira-Cocha the equivalent of the Vedic Lord Indra. The myths and stories about the two are close. Vira-cocha is the 'King of Gods' just as Lord Indra is. Vira-cocha also wields the 'Thunderbolt', like Indra does. 

In the Bhagwat Purana there is a very interesting link between Lord Indra and an 'asura' by the name Virochana, the son of Prahalad and the father of Bali. In short, the story goes that both Indra and Virochana vie with each other to impress Brahma with their knowledge about 'Atman' or 'Supreme Consciousness'. Bramha promises to grant control of the universe to the one who proves his knowledge about 'Atman'. Could Virochana the son of Prahalad mentioned in the Bhagwat Purana be the 'Vira-cocha' of the Peruvians. Could the lightening rod of the Peruvian 'Vira-cocha' be the 'Vajra' of Indra. Who finally wins control in the story depends on which version one reads. In Indian texts it is Indra who establishes control which is passed on to him by Brahma. 

The son of Virochana who is named 'Bali' is killed by his own brother 'Sugriva'. Sugriva and Bali are 'monkey gods'. What is interesting is that in the Ramayana it is Sugriva who is shown as being well versed with the global map and it is he who directs the 'vanaras' (monkey commandos) in all directions, including the brigade that travels right upto the 'Udaya' (Andes) mountains in search of Sita. The Hondurus Monkey-God sculpture of Copan is therefore no surprise. 

Earlier blogs on this site have discussed the details about the Paracas Trident of Peru and its connection to the Ramayana. Click here and here for more on this subject.


Suggested Links:
1. The Puranas
2. A brief History of Piedras Negras
3. Flying Machines from Valmiki Ramayana
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