Continuing the serialization of
Damian Beeson Bullen’s
In which a few more of the world’s greatest mysteries… are finally solved
Available to buy in book form, 18-04-18
During my research trip to India in 2013, hard upon the trail of an oriental Jesus, & musing that Issa-Jesus could have visited the battlefield of Kurukshetra in order to write the Bhagavad Gita, I thought a visit to the very locale might assist my studies. Cue orange-clad holy men, chunky old bicycles, clouds of dust, a faint smell of spice, air like a white hot blanket and nobody speaking English anywhere. After an hour of utter confusion, I eventually made my way within a jewller’s shop, owned by a friendly English-speaking chap called Parikshit, who happened to share his name with Arjuna’s grandson. On enquiring about the battlefield’s location, he laughed and said I was standing in the middle of it, and that it spread around us in all directions for forty square miles. Moments later, Parikshit very kindly arranged a rickshaw for me, and I began to tour the ‘battlefield’ with its many monuments, memorials and temples dedicated to quasi-historical moments found in the greatest Indian epic poem, the Mahabharata.
Composed by a certain Vyasa, & approaching 100,000 slokas, or couplets, the MB is the world’s longest epic, concerning a great civil war of the Bharatas and the establishment of the Dhurmarajya, or universal sovereignty in that house. It still flourishes in the subcontinent to this day, an ever living, ever present inspiration to society, whose iconography & quotations are spread prolifically across the entire Hindu sphere. The poem is considered to be, ‘Vyasochchishtam Jagath sarvam,’ meaning ‘the whole world is the spit of Vyasa.’ This implies that the MB touches all topics & conditions of humanity, an encyclopaedia of early Indian culture & history whose allogerical teachings have been the guiding light of Hindus for millennia. Just how many millennia is the question I would like to investigate today.
Attempting to make any sense of the origins of the MB is rather like getting caught up in a n extremely sticky spider’s web. It doesn’t take long to get a headache when analyzing the MB, & solving this particular problem is one for the supercomputers of the future – or about a decade in my seventies wandering India like a mad saddhu. But an attempt shall here be made – well at least a start. I first came across the ‘problem,’ in a little book I picked up in the south Indian mini-state of Pondicherry. I discovered ‘On the Mahabharata’ in the depths of a bookshop in Auroville, an international ashram established by the gosh-golly amazing Indian poet Sri Aurobindo. My blog at the time details my stay at the ashram. In it I use the word ‘litology’ in place of Chispology, which would be coined at some point over that winter.
Since Chennai, Victor & I have trundled down the coast of Tamil Nadu, whose seas are not to be swam in, only admired from the safety of the shore. First port of call was Mamallapuram, a touristy place in which to eat fish & dawdle awhile, which we did for a couple of nights. The highlight for me was making use of a posh hotel’s swimming pool (£3 for two hours), followed by a poolside lunch for another £3 quid. Inbetween dips I worked on my version of the Thirukural & felt solace once again in my choice of vocation, where another man’s vacation becomes my personal office!
After a couple of nights we jumped on a bus south. The distance between Chennai & Kannayakamari, India’s southernmost point, is1000 kilometres, which is more or less the length of Britain. Thus, by reaching the Pondicherry area we have gone about as far, in comparative terms, as Aberdeen. Our actual residence has been taken up about ten miles from Pondy, in the spacious international ashram of Auroville. My first visit was back in 2002, an occasion on which I encountered a majestic & divine epic poem called Savitri, by the Oxford-educated ascetic Sri Aurobindo (born 1872).
It was the main work of his life, & is read out at the ashram once a week to devotees, an occasion which Victor & I were lucky enough to arrive for just in time. Auroville is also the world’s repositary of Aurobindo’s works, stored in a modern library on site, in which I have found a number of interesting paragraphs that have assisted me in my studies. It was while studying his words, I came across this remarkable description of poetry, which lovers of the art must enjoy.
All poetry is an inspiration, a thing breathed into the thinking organ from above; it is recorded in the mind, but is born in the higher principle of direct knowledge or ideal vision which surpasses mind. it is in reality a revelation. The prophetic or revealing power sees the substance; the inspiration perceives the right expression. Neither is manufactured; nor is poetry really a poiesis or composition, nor even a creation, but rather the revelation of something that eternally exists. the ancients knew this truth & used the same word for poet & prophet, creator & seer, sophos, vates, kavi.
Across the several square miles of land that Auroville takes up, there are various places to stay, & we got quite a good ‘un called Reve (pronounced rave), where Vics got a great hut on stilts & Im in a cheaper hit on the roof of the kitchen. The place is full of young, mainly French, ashram-heads, & is a picture of perfect tranquility. To get about the place, a moped/scoooter is essential, & a steal at only a quid a day – with petrol being 70p a litre.
Vic’s even had a few goes on it, declaring it to be like riding a pushbike with a motor (well-observed that man). I love bikes me, for they provide moments like this morning when I razzed down to the boulangerie for chocolate croissants, listening & singing to Betty Boo – the chorusus especially startling folk on the roadside. Also filling the roads are loads of cute birds on bikes, from all over the world, which is always good for a poet’s soul.
The word boulangerie is of course French, for Pondicherry is the old French morsel of empire that carried on during the British Raj in much the same way the Portuguese held on to Goa. Cue boulevards & avenues & white-washed villas that are positively Marseilleian at the seafront, but then get swallowed by India street by street as one drifts inland. Ten blocks in all traces of the French have dissappeared. It was in Pondy that Victor & I conducted a little travel arranging – Vic bought a flight from Goa to Delhi for the 17th December, & we both got a ticket from Calicut to Goa for the 27th November, This gives us ten days – starting Sunday – to razz round Tamil Nadu & Kerala – about a thousand miles of travel – during which I’ll be still hunting for Jesus. It should be quite Indiana Jonesey, which is why I got into Litology in the first place, & I reckon there’s gonna be plenty to write about in the coming fortnight…
I left Auroville with Aurobindo’s book firmly ensconced in my backpack. Since then, I have picked at the contents occasionally, & finally feel ready to add my own tuppeneth to the long-running investigations. Of these, Sri Aurobindo has left many interesting pre-independence, anti-western, but undoubtedly correct remarks, including;
Only a serious scrutiny of the Mahabharat made with a deep sense of critical responsibility and according to the methods of patient scientific inference, can justify on in advancing any considerable theory on this wonderful poetic structure.
It is not from European scholars that we must expect a solution of the Mahabharata problem. They have no qualifications for the task except a power of indefatigable research and collocation; and in dealing with the Mahabharata even this power seems to have deserted them. It is from Hindu scholarship renovated and instructed by contact with European that the attempt must come. Indian scholars have shown a power of detachment and disinterestedness and a willingness to give up cherished notions under pressure of evidence which are not common in Europe. They are not, as a rule, prone to the Teutonic sin of forming a theory in accordance with their prejudices and then finding facts or manufacturing inferences to support it. When, therefore, they form a theory on their own account, it has usually some clear justification and sometimes an overwhelming array of facts and solid arguments behind it
All that we know of the Mahabharata at present is that it is the work of several hands and of different periods — this is literally the limit of the reliable knowledge European scholarship has so far been able to extract from it.
A century ago the above berated ‘European scholarship’ did not have the resource of chispology to call on, so let us see what we can do, shall we? First things first, let us look at records of the MB’s authorship. In the poem’s massive prolegomena, we learn that because the Mahabharata was written in so difficult a style, Vyasa himself could remember only 8,800 of the Slokas, Suka an equal amount and Sanjaya perhaps as much, perhaps something less. Another passage in the prolegomena then states quite plainly that Vyasa first wrote the Mahabharata in 24,000 Slokas, adding that he afterwards enlarged it to 100,000. The quadrupling of the poem is actually a factochisp, for it is clear from a study of the MB that following the composition of the core poem concerning the War Parvas, a redaction was created by a lesser poet, to which was later added a great deal of new material by much inferior poets. In this passage, Sri Aurobindo ascribes the second poet as being like Valmiki in style – ie similar to the composer of India’s other great epic, the Ramayana;
In the Mahabharata we are struck at first by the presence of two glaringly distinct and incompatible styles. There is a mass of writing in which the verse and language is unusually bare, simple and great, full of firm and knotted thinking and a high and heroic personality, the imagination strong and pure, never florid or richly coloured, the ideas austere, original and noble. There is another body of work sometimes massed together but far oftener interspersed in the other, which has exactly opposite qualities, it is Ramayanistic, rushing in movement, full and even overabundant in diction, flowing but not strict in thought, the imagination bold and vast, but often garish and highly-coloured, the ideas ingenious and poetical, sometimes of astonishing subtlety, but at others common and trailing, the personality much more relaxed, much less heroic, noble and severe. When we look closer we find that the Ramayanistic part may possibly be separated into two parts, one of which has less inspiration and is more deeply imbued with the letter of the Ramayana, but less with its spirit
India’s capital is an amazing architectural feast, and before catching my ongoing flight to Ladakh, I spent a few hours touring the city. In Delhi, the rush of life, scent and colour that is in an Indian city is magnified a thousand-fold, accompanied by a grandiose array of tombs, forts and parks. Over the centuries they have been bequeathed to the city by a steady stream of conquerors, all of whom have ruled their Indian empires from this fortress in the north. Of the places visited, it was an hour spent within the idyllic fortified oasis of the Puran Quila that whetted my appetite the most for my mission ahead. The fort was built around a village named Indrapat, a phonetic match to the city of Indrapashtra. The great Indian epic poem, the Mahabharata, tells us this was the capital of the Pandavas, those members of an ancient and noble family who were both the cousins and the enemies of another Indian family known as the Kuru. Brought to conflict, a great and deadly war was fought between these two clans which sucked in all the peoples of ancient India, the story of which constitutes the bulk of the Mahabharata. Through astrological data found in the text, these events have been traditionally dated to c.3100 BC, yet the earliest archaeological strata of occupation at Purana Qila is c.1000 BC, somewhat confusing the issue. Because of this contradiction, Indian scholarship has been divided over the two dates for a century or two, and like any academic debate, both schools remain firmly entrenched in their mindsets. The actual answer lies tangled up in a series of layers, or strata, which were added to the poem’s contents over many centuries – in essence both schools are partially right.
As for the other book-end in time, Hopkins in his, ‘The Great Epic of India’ (1902) concluded that the epic is dated after the youngest vedic works, ie post 600 BC, adding there was ‘no evidence of an epic before 400 BC.’ In the Chisper Effect I showed how the 1st century AD Issa-Jesus, or Ishvarakrishna, was the author of the Bhagavad Gita, & when searching for a figure to use as his mouthpiece for the Gita, Issa-Jesus chose Krishna. An objection may well be raised by traditionalists, who state that the Mahabharata, in which the Gita is contained, was written well before the 1st century AD. On the other hand, a growing number of modern scholars concur on the Gita being a late interpolation into the Mahabharata. Where Amit Chaudri calls the Gita a ‘slightly anomalous, somewhat unassimilate episode,’ Sri Aurobindo remarks on the Gita’s insertion, ‘into the mass of the Mahbharata by its author in order to invest its teaching with the authority and popularity of the national epic.’
In the Life of Issa, we learn how Issa-Jesus visited a tomb at the Jaggernatha temple in Orissa, ‘where repose the mortal remains of Vyassa-Krishna, and where the white priests of Brahma welcomed him joyfully.’ I myself have dabbled with the poetic arts, and have visited the tombs and shrines of several poets, such as those of Shelley and Keats in the Protestant cemetery of Rome, and the tomb of Dante in Ravenna. The latter was the author of the great Italian epic, the Divine Comedy, in which poem he actually places the Roman poet Virgil, who had lived over a thousand years before him. In the same fashion it feels as if the poetic Jesus was visiting one of his own poetic idols. One can see from this pilgrimage to Vyasa’s tomb how much of an interest Issa-Jesus had in the Mahabharata – so much so he ended up adding the Gita to it. In this poem, Krishna is in all essence a god incarnate, but Vyasa’s Krishna is very different, whose divinity is not presupposed at all. Sri Aurobindo reports;
Krishna’s divinity is recognised but more often hinted at than aggressively stated. The tendency is to keep it in the background as a fact to which, while himself crediting it, the writer does not hope for a universal consent, still less is able to speak of it as a general tenet and matter of dogmatic belief; he prefers to show Krishna rather in his human character, acting always by wise, discerning and inspired methods, but still not transgressing the limit of human possibility
In the millennium between the foundation of Indrapashtra at Purana Qila, & the visit of Issa-Jesus to the tomb of Vyasa, we encounter a certain Panini, whose mentioning of the Mahabharata narrows our time frame down by about three centuries. In his famous Sanskrit grammar the Astadhydyi, Panini gives names connected to the Mahabharata – including Arjuna, Vasudeva, Yudhisthira – & even the name Mahabharata itself. With the classical Indian writers Brihatkatha and Mañjuśrī-mūla-kalpa both placing Panini as a contemporary of the short-lived Nanda empire, he must have lived some of his life between 345 & 321 BC.
In the same era there is a mention of a certain ‘Arya Krishna,’ who could well be our Vyasa Krishna. Within the pages of the ‘Tibetan Blue Annals,’ written in the 15th century by a monk called Gos lo-tsa-ba gZon-nu-dpal, the author introduces and translates what he calls, ‘a stray page from an Indian text on the hierarchy of the Doctrine which is in my possession.’
Arya Krishna in his turn protected the Doctrine, benefited living beings and entrusted the Doctrine to Arya Sudarsana, and passed into Nirvana. Arya Sudarsana in his turn fully protected the doctrine, benefited living beings and then passed into Nirvana. About that time in the city of Vaisali monks issued a statement containing the ten improper regulations. In order to expel these monks from the community, seven hundred arhats, including Sarvakamin and others, held a council. At that time three hundred years had elapsed since the Parinirvana of the blessed one. King Asoka having died, Sudarsan was reborn in Kashmir.
Arya Krishna was the 5th patriarch entrusted with the ‘dharma,’ ie the teachings of the Buddha. He is known for spreading Buddhism in Ceylon (Ramayana territory) with 500 followers at the request of that island’s king. As for his floruit, If we go backwards in time from the end of this passage, we may ascribe decent dates to those notices made in the Blue Annals.
238 BC: Death of Ashoka = King Asoka having died
c.250 BC: 300 years after the Buddha’s enlightenment = About that time… three hundred years had elapsed since the Parinirvana of the blessed one.
In the earliest part of the passage, we learn that Sudarsana had succeeded Arya Krishna, whose life-span could easily stretch into the 4th century BC in which those earliest mentions of the Mahabharata appear in Panini. For me, the leading Buddhist of the time, Arya Krishna was also Vyasa Krishna, the composer of the great Hindu epic, for the Chispologist must learn to train their minds away from such linear notions as, ‘because Arya Krishna was a Buddhist, he could not have composed a Hindu poem.‘ In my Chisper Effect I showed how Issa-Jesus wrote the biography of the Buddha AND the Hindu-centric Gita. There are traces here & there in the MB of Buddhist influence, such as the presence of the notion of Shambhala, alongside seventeen of the Jātaka that are parallel’d in the MB; including the Sammodamānajātaka, Mitacintijātaka (114) MBh 12,135 Pañcatantra, Sasajātaka (316) [MBh 12,141–145 Pañcākhyānaka & the Kuntanijātaka. During my studies, I came across the research of a German expert on the MB who noticed an anomaly. At certain times in the poem the Pandavas are seen as scheming gamblers, which Adolf Holtzmann in his Grammatisches aus dem Mahabharata, saw as evidence of an inversion. GJ Held succinctifies Holtzmann’s theory;
It is only by a patient scrutiny and weighing of the whole poem, disinterestedly, candidly and without preconceived notions, a consideration Canto by Canto, paragraph by paragraph, couplet by couplet that we can arrive at anything solid or permanent. But this implies a vast and heartbreaking labour
I shall present you with one whimper of a possibility of a strata. The year 1424 BC or thereabouts for the MB war is quite popular among scholars, such as S B Roy who used astronomical calculations to obtain that date, while Krishna’s ‘Dwarka City’ seems to have been submerged under the sea in the same period, an event recorded in the MB itself. Arjuna says;
The sea, which has been beating against the shores, suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. It rushed into the city, coursing through the beautiful city streets, & covered up everything in the city. I saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. In a matter of a few moments, it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the city, Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory
Under-water archaeological exploration at the site revealed a prosperous port town which had been in existence for about 60-70 year, before being submerged under the sea in the year c.1450 BC. This really does feel like Aryan Invasion time. In the core of the Mahabharata, Krishna is more a diplomatic mortal than the physical expression of immortal divinity. He is seen as the mover & shaker political statesman behind the armies of Yudhishthira as they conquered India. That an original Krishna figure could have been attached to the Aryan Invasions of India by the Hyksos leads us to the chispology of modern Krishna-scholar, Edwin Francis Bryant;
According to Arrian, Diodorus, & Strabo, Megasthenes described an Indian tribe called Sourasenoi, who especially worshiped Herakles in their land, & this land had two cities Methora & Kleisobora, & a navigable river, the Jobares. As was common in the ancient period, the Greeks sometimes described foreign gods in terms of their own divinities, & there is little doubt that the Sourasenoi refers to the Shurasenas, a branch of the Yadu dynasty to which Krishna belonged; Herakles to Krishna, or Hari-Krishna, Mehtora to Mathura, where Krishna was born; Kleisobora to Krishnapura, meaning ‘the city of Krishna,’ & the Jobares to the Yamuna, the famous river in the Krishna story.
The Shurasenas are named after Shurasena, the first Yadava king of Mathura. If this was Seuserenre, then Krishna would have been his grandson, & thus Egypto-Hyksos. To this day in Puri, the very city where Vyasa-Krishna was lain to rest, the Ratha Yatra festival is almost identical to the Egyptian Opet festival. In the latter, Amun, Mut & Khonsus are placed on sacred barques & floated along the Avenue of the Sphinxes between the temples of Karnak & Luxor. In Puri images of Krishna, Balaram & Subhadra are carried upon chariots through the streets. We may also observe how both triads of idols were then/are still sprinkled with sacred water, decorated with jewelery & flowers & accompanied by musicians on their highly ritualised journey. We should also examine the cosmology of Balaram, for where this Hindu god is represented as an incarnation of the primeval serpent of the abyss, the Egyptian deity Khonsu is shown as the Great Snake who fertilizes the world.
In Sanskrit, Krishna literally means ‘the dark-blue one.’ In the latter term we can see a pathway into Egyptian theology, whose god Amun was clad in the same blue skin as Krishna, & just like Krishna was depicted in funerary art as having two ostrich feathers in his head-dress. Both gods are also depicted as having a ‘sacred river’ emerging from their feet, while the ancient ‘Coffin Texts’ of Egypt associate Amun with the falcon-headed Horus, just as Krishna is linked with the eagle-headed Garuda. In Egyptian, Amun is written as Ymn, which has been reconstructed by Egyptologists to ‘Yamanu,’ which transchispers into the sacred river ‘Yamuna’ in India, where grew up the boy Krishna. What appears to have happened is that after Vyasa used Krishna for the MB, he became personally associated with Krishna, with his creation slowly acquiring the status of Godhead.
Returning to Panini, I would like us for one moment to assume that his knowledge of the Mahabharata was contemporary. leaning further in that direction, let us now assume that with his work in Sanskrit being under the patronage of a Nanda king, this same king also patronised the Mahabharata. It this from hyperfact that we can make quite solid philological associations between members of the Nanda dynasty & characters mentioned in the Mahabharata. The first Nanda monarch was Ugrasena – also known as Mahapadma Nanda – who had eight sons. Of these, it was Dhana who succeeded to the throne, a little time before he was conquered by Chandragupta. Of his brothers, both Panduka & Pandugati seem philochisps of the Pandavas, one of the two main warring families in the MB. As for Dhana, he clearly appears in the MB as Duryodhana, but it is in Diodorus Siculus that we find a rather interesting avatar. This passage is also interesting for history as it sees the moment when Alexander the Great decided attacking the Nanda Empire would not be worth it after all.
While all this was going on, Hephaestion returned with his army from his mission, having conquered a big piece of India. Alexander commended him for his successes, then invaded the kingdom of Phegeus where the inhabitants cheerfully accepted the appearance of the Macedonians. Phegeus himself met the king with many gifts and Alexander confirmed him in his rule. Alexander and the army were feasted bountifully for two days, and then advanced to the Hyphasis River, the width of which was seven furlongs, the depth six fathoms, and the current violent. This was difficult to cross.
He questioned Phegeus about the country beyond the Indus River, and learned that there was a desert to traverse for twelve days, and then the river called Ganges, which was thirty-two furlongs in width and the deepest of all the Indian rivers. Beyond this in turn dwelt the peoples of the Tabraesians and the Gandaridae, whose king was Xandrames. He had twenty thousand cavalry, two hundred thousand infantry, two thousand chariots, and four thousand elephants equipped for war. Alexander doubted this information and sent for Porus, and asked him what was the truth of these reports. Porus assured the king that all the rest of the account was quite correct, but that the king of the Gandaridae was an utterly common and undistinguished character, and was supposed to be the son of a barber. His father had been handsome and was greatly loved by the queen; when she had murdered her husband, the kingdom fell to him.
Alexander saw that the campaign against the Gandaridae would not be easy, but he was not discouraged. He had confidence in the fighting qualities of his Macedonians, as well as in the oracles which he had received, and expected that he would be victorious. He remembered that the Pythia had called him “unconquerable,” and Ammon had given him the rule of the whole world.
According to the MB itself, after Vyasa had recited the poem, then his pupil Vaisampayana recited ‘the entire thought’ of Vyasa at the Snake Sacrifice of King Janamejaya, whose name transchispers into Xandrames, ie our Dhana. The NEXT time the MB was recited, it was a generation later by a certain Ugrasravas, whose name recalls the Nanda emperor, Ugrasena, whose name also appears in a Vedic Sanskrit text known as the Shatapatha Brahmana. Reaching its final version in 300 BCE, this text says Ugrasena was the son of Parikshit, & thus the grandson of Arjuna, alongside three brothers – Janamejaya, Bhimasena & Śrutasena. Thus we have a royal Ugrasena related to a royal Janamejaya, just as a royal Ugrasena is related to a royal Xandrames. It now seems quite likely that the court of the Nanda Kings is the local in which the MB began to take the form recognizable by the world at large. Finally, the MB tells us that Ugrasravas dictated the MB to a certain rishi called Saunaka. Its always nice to finish with a little food for thought, so beginning with Janamejaya’s brother, Srutasena, we can create the following babel-chain.
It is recognizing the cross-pollination of the Nanda kings with the leading arhats of the Palitapura Buddhists in the 4th century BC that brings us to the following possibility. In the legends of Krishna, he is said to be the grandson of a certain Ugrasena. This Ugrasena had a son called Kamsa who is said to have killed the princely sons of Devakai, except of course Krishna, who survived the royal cull. Thus, when the Greek writer Quintus Curtius Rufius gives the name Agrammes to Dhana, we can recognize the Kamsa-Gramsa-Agrammes babel-chain. Curtius also mentions that Dhana’s father, Ugrasena, ‘usurped the supreme authority, and, having put the young princes to death...’ an incident which seems to have later creochisped into the Krishna legend. Convoluted, yes; accurate; seemingly; & chispology, of course!
Next Wednesday, 14/02/17
Chapter 4 : Agastya
THE CHISPER EFFECT
Chapter 1: Chispology
Chapter 2: Princess Scota
Chapter 3: The Ithica Frage
Chapter 4: The Jesus Jigsaw
Chapter 5: Asvaghosha
Chapter 6: Dux Bellorum
Chapter 7: Dux Pictorum
Chapter 8: The Holy Grail
Chapter 9: The Mandylion
Chapter 10: Shakespeare’s Grand Tour
Chapter 11: The Dark Lady
Chapter 12: The Ripper Gang