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Friday, 27 July 2012

THE SANSKRIT CONNECTION - GOBEKLI TEPE, TURKEY

The Slabs at Gobekli Tepe represent
Star Constellations or cataclysmic
 world events
Without the cultural context provided by the Vedic-Puranic texts of India and without the decoding abilities of Sanskrit the story behind the unexplained stone-slabs of Gobekli Tepe may remain just that, stone slabs with carvings. Those who argue that the Vedas are dated to 1500 BC as propagated by the now outdated and almost defunct Aryan Invasion theory, and therefore cannot decode a site which is much older, are in fact  ignoring various other well established facts. For example, the Ramayana which is now dated to at least 5114 BCE itself mentions the Vedic texts, in verses spoken by the protagonist Sri Rama himself in the epic of Ramayana, establishing the fact that the Vedic texts are much older.

So far too much stress has been laid by mainstream researchers on figuring out how, what was in their view a hunter-gatherer society, could have possessed a standard of knowledge above ours. By now it is obvious to everyone, that the quality of architecture, and the precisely-arranged rocky megalithic T-shaped andromorphic and zoomorphic slabs, placed in several circular enclosures aligned with various constellations, tell an entirely and an amazingly different story from what has been presented so far to us by the main-stream scholars. What has emerged now is that, no matter if the social system during the Gobekli Tepe times was that of hunter-gatherers, the culture was advanced and refined. This is in total contradiction with the theory that societies only evolve once they settle down. What Gobekli Tepe and its dating to 10000 BC also tells us is that, how and when the humans made the transition from hunter-gatherers to an agricultural society is irrelevant, to the level of knowledge that the societies possessed.

This is where the knowledge hidden in the Sanskrit texts also becomes relevant for there are leads and clues everywhere in these texts. One such lead lies in what Carl Sagan, one of the greatest astrophysicists of the 20th century had observed. He said, "The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology." In other words, civilizations on earth have been destroyed and restored many times. Each time there was a different cause of destruction, each time it was restored in a different manner. The evolution of civilization is neither linear nor continuous.

As research progresses and information emerges it has begun to appear that Gobekli Tepe is a record in stone of the various cataclysmic events that have taken place on earth, events that brought mankind, and perhaps more advanced civilizations close to an absolute end maybe more than once. The repeated episodes of destruction on earth which are recorded in Hindu Puranas and other scriptures can throw much light on the purpose of the existence of megalithic structures such as Gobekli tepe. Excavations have revealed many layers of construction at Gobekli Tepe, perhaps each one represents one cycle of civilization and its destruction.

Alternative Scholars too have speculated that various layers of construction at Gobekli Tepe represent either one, or more, cataclysmic events that mankind or a more advanced species has undergone. The survivors of these catastrophic events, recorded their experience and memory of these events, in stone at this site at different times in history.

The Puranas of India tell these stories of antiquity in great details and can be a great tool in decoding the mystery of Gobekli Tepe. According to the Dashaavatara, as mentioned above life on earth has been destroyed many times and each time rebuilt from remaining knowledge. Hence, for example, the boar carving at Gobekli can be explained by the 'Varaha' (boar) incarnation of Vishnu, who in his avatara as the boar saved the world by carrying the earth out of the ocean when Hiranyaksha, the 'golden eyed asura' attempted to destroy the earth.


The Boar carving at Gobekli Tepe

The Boar or Varaha Avatara of Vedic
Lord Vishnu when he saves the world by
carrying it out of the Ocean

The Dashavatara is the story of story of ten avataras who restore life on earth after it is destroyed ten times. destruction of civilization on earth and each time one avatara.  

The Dashavatara refers to the ten primary incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation which has Rigvedic origins. Vishnu is said to descend in the form of an avatar to restore cosmic order. The word Dashavatara derives from daśa, meaning 'ten', and avatar ( roughly equivalent to 'incarnation'. There have been ten avataras, Matsya (The Fish), Kurma (The Tortoise), Varaha (The Boar), Narasimha (The Man-Lion)
Vamana (The Dwarf), Parasurama (The Angry Man), Lord Rama (The Perfect Man), Lord Krishna (The Divine Statesman), Balarama (Krishna's Elder Brother), and Kalki (The Mighty Warrior). As Gobekli Tepe is excavated chances are that representation of these avataras may become visible.

In another of the slabs we see an engraving of a vulture with a round object in front of him. If this is a representation of Garuda, who according to Garuda Purana, was the king of the birds, a devourer of serpents, sometimes seen carrying Vishnu and Laxmi on his back. Sometimes Garuda is likened with the sun, as we see the sun travelling across the sky. In the Vedas, before Garuda gained the identity of a bird, Garuda referred to the wings on which one was transported to the realm of the gods, ie. Garuda which stems from Sanskrit 'gri' or 'to speak', was reference to mantras or to the realm of the self where our consciousness is seated. It is also likened to the sun bird that carries 'soma' of the heavens to the earth. The round object on the slab is perhaps the representation of the sun.


The Garuda with a round object representing Surya or sun


Says Alex Putney in his write-up 'Resonance at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey', " The highly geometric forms of the megaliths and idealized animal pictograms adorning them correspond closely to geometric language forms of the worldwide Paleo-Sanskrit culture, associated in every region of our planet with monumental piezoelectric temples dedicated to the planet Jupiter. Identified as the Divine One, the giant planet Jupiter was signified all over the world during the Paleolithic Era by the square Indra glyph, reflected in the square or rectangular format of the top portions of the megaliths at Göbekli Tepe."

Dr. B. G. Sidharth, (Director General of the B.M. Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad and also the convener and co-chairman along with two Nobel Laureates professors D.D. Osheroff and C. Cohen Tanoudji of Frontier of Fundamental Physics International Symposium) states in one of his research papers, that at Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori (another archaeological site in Turkey) there is archaeological evidence of what is stated in the Vedas. He says, "....there are several pillars and structures with all the astronomical motifs that could be found in the Rig Veda and indicative of a high degree of artistry. Most importantly, the latitude of this place is the same 37 degrees North alluded to earlier. Undoubtedly both these structures represented perhaps the oldest astronomical observation Centre in history". The design of the pillars and other structures is a reflection of the cosmos at the time the structures were built. It has been suggested that the builders of Gobekli Tepe were aware of precession. The structures correspond to the Orion-Taurus-Pleiades constellations which were visible before dawn on vernal equinoxes from the direction of the T-shape pillars at the centre of each enclosure. Gobekli Tepe and two other ancient sites Karahan Tepe and Nevali Cori are all located at around 37 degrees north.

At Gobekli Tepe, Dr Siddharth adds, ".. in enclosure D there are 12 obelisks or pillars, one for each month. These pillars show the figure of a fox or wolf (Vrika)". The Vrika is a symbol of the moon. The Sanskrit Vrika (वृक्) has the meanings both of 'fox' or 'wolf' and 'moon'.
To elaborate this point Dr Sidharth quotes the Rig Vedic Hymn 1.105.18. which goes as follows:



अरुणो मा सक्र्द वर्कः पथा यन्तं ददर्श हि |

उज्जिहीते निचाय्या तष्टेव पर्ष्ट्यामयी वित्तं मे अस्य रोदसी || 


aruNo mA sakradvRkah patha yantaM dadarsha hi
uj jihIte nicAyya taSTeva prSTyAmayI vittam me asya rodasi

This verse is commonly translated as : 'A ruddy wolf beheld me once, as I was faring on my path. He, like a carpenter whose back is aching crouched and slunk away. Mark this, my woe, ye Earth and Heaven'.

The word 'vRkah' is translated as 'wolf'. But, if one were to refer to a Sanskrit dictionary, we find that the word 'vRkah' has the meaning of wolf and moon both. Sidharth clarifies further. He quotes the scholar Yaska of Nirkuta fame. Yaska had defined the property of the word 'vRkah' saying that it indicates an object whose 'light increases and decreases'. That is a property of the object moon.


The wolf carving represents the moon according to the Vedas

Sidharth splits the next two words as 'masa krita' or 'creator of months' and the meaning of the verse changes to, "Moon, the creator of the months, passes through the houses (asterisms)".

He also says that the motifs on the pillars can be understood on the basis of the symbols of Rig Vedic Astronomy in which animals were assigned as symbols to star constellations.
Then there are some easily recognizable symbols found in the artefacts at Gobekli Tepe. One is the artifact of the coiled serpent. 


Coiled serpents.
Gobekli Tepe, Turkey


A stele depicting Lord Siva and
two coiled serpents, South India

At Nevali Cori, in Turkey  a sculpture of a human head, clean shaven with a Vedic shikha much like Hindu priests of antiquity and present day has lead to speculation that these sites were centres of Vedic learning.


Sculpture of clean shaven human head with
Vedic shikha or ponytail
excavated at Nevali Cori, Turkey,

It is therefore far more likely that 'Gobekli Tepe' was an observatory and a centre for 'tapah' representing an advanced culture of which some traces survive in that area or the close by civilizations. For this site to have been a structure made by an unheard of group of people, where the shepherds grazed their cattle and buried their dead. In fact ,it is in the modern era that Gobekli Tepe was being used for grazing cattle until excavations
began on the site.

A bit about the name Gobekli Tepe. Surprising the ancient most known Armenian name of Gobekli Tepe is hardly ever mentioned. Then again the name Gobekli Tepe is almost always only translated as 'Potbellied Hill' but there are other interpretations to this name in the Turkish language. The most often presented view is that since the word 'gobek' is 'belly' in Turkish and tepe means mound, hence the name Gobekli Tepe. But Gobekli Tepe was not a hilly mound when it was constructed. The claim that it was intentionally filled with mud after its construction does not make sense because the whole structure was not built at the same time. This view is held out by the fact that the ancient most layer of the construction is the most refined. As one goes to the newer layers, one notices a drop in quality and finesse indicating not only a passage of time but also forgotten knowledge. So if the structure was built at different times at what stage was it filled. Besides the rest of the area around the site is almost the same height as the structure was the surrounding area filled up too. It is obvious that Gobekli Tepe is a name given to this site fairly recently when the entire history was forgotten.

Lets assume for a minute that by some quirk of fate the remnants of its original name are retained in the word 'gobekli', one might then look at some other cognates of the word 'gobekli' in Turkish. We find that there are other interpretations of the word 'gobekli' that do greater justice to the name of this site.


For example, the Turkish words 'gok', 'gokada' and 'gezegen' mean 'sky', 'galaxy' and 'observe' respectively. 'Goc' is ‘migration’ or ‘roaming’. It seems here therefore that the sound 'go' in Turkish has to do with the 'sky', the 'universe' and 'movement'. Just as it is so in Sanskrit.

'Go' (गो), for example, has many meanings in Sanskrit including 'sun', 'stars', 'ray of the sun', 'moon', 'earth' and 'thunderbolt'. 'Go' (गो) of course also means 'cow', 'cattle', 'ox' or 'cowherd' and the ‘sun sign Taurus'. ‘Go’ is also related to Goddess Saraswati who is linked to the Cygnus constellation. 'Go' (गो) also means 'migration' or 'transit' or 'to roam'. And all these explain the carvings of the bull (Taurus), and the swan (vehicle of Vedic Goddess Saraswati). All the carvings on the slabs , can be explained as the zoomorphic representations of various nakshatras, or 'lunar mansions' of astronomy or by the Vedic-Puranic characters of India's ancient scriptures.

The word 'tepe' is almost certainly a distortion of 'tapa' (तप), which has the meaning 'sun', 'temperature' or 'heat' in Sanskrit. In the Vedic context 'tapa' signifies 'religious austerity, asceticism and penance and research.' It also means 'meditate' or 'study with devotion'. The word 'tepe' also has the meaning of 'mound' in Sanskrit which appears in its more familiar form as 'stuup' (स्तूप्). With time the word 'stuup' got associated with the stupas - the blunt, mound shaped Buddhist shrines. In Turkish the word for 'temple' is 'tapinak' - certainly derived from the
Sanskrit 'tapa'.

As per its Sanskrit and Turkish meanings, 'Gobekli Tepe' seems most certainly to be an astronomical observatory, or as some have argued, a site at which past events have been carved in stone. Says researcher Gene Matlock, "The ancient Indians and the Nahuatl speaking tribes in the Americas shared the same word for 'Hill or Mountain' - the Sanskrit 'Tapa' (तप्) and the Nahuatl, Tepetl or Tepec". In the Vedic context since all study, penance, austerity and meditations were done on mountains, the word 'tapa' is linked to mediation and mountains both.

And now a note about the Armenian name of this site which is more ancient than its Turkish name. The Armenians know this site as Portasar, however there is no appropriate translation of the name in the Armenian language. Given that one may look at the word from the Sanskritic lens. We find that the Sanskrit translation of this combination word is appropriate in its meaning. A cognate of porta is partas (परतस्) means 'beyond', 'far away', 'distant', 'high above', 'highest degree' and 'farther' etc. Sara' (सर) means 'a lake or a site, and is often a suffix in the names of towns or cities located near a lake or a waterbody. Sanskrit best explains not only this name too, but also reveals the function of this site, it was an observatory. It therefore also explains where the term Gobekli Tepe may have come from. It is a misinterpretation of what it name might once have been after the arrival of the Turks in this area. Perhaps Gozlemevi! Turkish for observatory.

Intriguingly, the other Sanskrit cognate of Porta is 'purta' (पूर्त) and means both 'concealed', or 'magnificent' and 'perfected'! Which is what Portasar was. There can be other interpretations too. The greatest sage of astrology in the Vedic literature is Rishi Parashara. He is the author of the most ancient treatise of Vedic astronomy and astrology, the 'Brihat Hora Shastra'. He most certainly wore the shikha that we see sported by the Nevali Cori head artifact. Was the head found at Nevali Cori a representation of Rishi Parashara. Is Portasar a distortion of the name Parashara. We will never know.

Suggested Links:
1. For a detailed discussion on the Etymology of the word 'Tepe', Click Here.
2. Was Gobekli Tepe an Observatory? Here's why! Gobekli Tepe Constellations
3. Why Study Sanskrit? Click Here
4. Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori - Astronomy
5.  Ancient Places in Asia: Nevali Cori

6. About Dr. B. G. Sidharth
7. Gobekli Tepe and its potential connection to the Vedic culture




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