If the Vedic culture existed all over the world in ancient times, why are there so many dissimilarities in ancient cultures?
The Egyptian civilization is more than 5000 years old. They have Sphinxes and Pharoahs, and a civilization apparently different from the Vedic civilization (they have their own religious texts, quite different beliefs such as mummification etc). Similarly the Chinese civilization appears unconnected to Vedic civilization as evident from the dissimilarities in language (no obvious connections between Sanskrit and Mandarin); yet the Chinese civilization is more than 5000 years old- the Buddhist influence cam later. So how should understand these in the context of Srila Prabhupada’s statement that formerly only one civilization ruled the earth and that Hastinapura was its capital.
When the civilization was spread all over the world (like Australia, North and South America, Siberia etc), then how did King Yudhisthira govern such far flung places? Is there are any mention of these lands in the scriptures similar to the cities and conquests in India that are mentioned.
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(Transcription by Sarthak Tapasvi)
Firstly, the Vedic scriptures, though they contain knowledge on history geography politics and many similar fields, have a primary focus that is- the moral and the spiritual growth of Human Beings and the message of the scriptures is focussed for that purpose. This does not mean that the other knowledge is irrelevant or invalid but we need keep in mind that it is not the primary purpose of scriptures and that is why, you may not find systematic or exhaustive description of geography in the Vedic scriptures, but yes there are for example description of the geography – when its described that Maharaja Yudhishthira wanted to perform the Rajasuya Yajna he sent his brothers in the four different directions to conquer the lands over there. But at the same time, the focus over there is not to describe the geography of the lands. The focus over there is that how the rule of dharma was established by Yudhishthira Maharaja. Now, are there similarities between the various civilizations that the history tells us were existing 5000 years ago and the Vedic civilization that we come to know about in the Vedic Literatures as they existed 5000 years ago. We have to clearly understand that even then the Vedic civilization spanned all over the world, that does not mean necessarily that everybody was within the fold of Vedic Culture. The Kings would offer their tributes to the Emperor who was Yudhishthira Maharaja that time. But beyond that they would have their own jurisdiction and they would have many times their own rules and laws and those were respected and continued by the Emperor who was ruling from Hastinapur. So we don’t necessarily have to expect that every where Maharaja Yudhishthira was ruling, there has to be necessarily Krishna worshipped, there has to necessarily be the recitation of Bhagvad Gita, Rig Veda or whatever. No, even in that time if you look at the Vedic literatures themselves, they have themselves accommodating multilevel spirituality- that means they talk about different scriptures, and different deities to be worshipped by different people according to their levels of consciousness. So, if certain people have their own culture,which had some basic level of morality which had some basic level of God consciousness and most importantly, if they agree to the overall rule of Maharaja Yudhishthira as the Emperor, then they were let alone; so we see even in the Mahabharata, that Drupad Maharaja- he was primarily the worshipper of Shiva and he was respected by Krishna and the Pandavas. He worshipped Shiva and that’s how he got Draupadi as his daughter and Dhrishtadyumna as his son so that he could take revenge against Drona. Nothing, it is not considered wrong over there because the Vedic Culture recognize that the different people may have different inspirations and inclinations. So similarly, within the Vedic Literature itself, we have the talk about those who are not within the fold of Varnashram- those who are Malechhas and Yavanas and we may sometimes use the words Malechhas and Yavanas in a very value judgemental way to talk about people who are very low in their consciousness – that is true at one level but at the same time, it is also an objective term referring to those who don’t follow the Vedic culture and the very fact that the words like these are found in the Vedic Scriptures, indicates that even when the Vedic literatures were written, and even when in the Vedic culture was ruling the world, there were people who were outside the pool of Vedic culture .So therefore, we should not be surprised if our history reveals dissimilar cultures in the different parts of world. Of course the dissimilarities are not necessarily hoped. Certainly the architecture, cultural rites seemed to be different, but even Egypt had a strong belief in the soul and even to a large extent in reincarnation. In China we know that the belief in reincarnation was not only started by the influence of Buddhism but even before that Confucius believed in it. And Confucius derived his belief in reincarnation from an older tradition that existed in China. So, what do we need to look for- we need to look for whether, the overall understanding of the world is more or less similar. Yes, the idea that- There is a God, there is a Supreme Being that we are not a body, there is an aspect of our personality that continues to exist and that goes on in the cycle of birth and death and that we are countable to our actions and therefore we should act in a prudent and mature way all these are beliefs which we find universally in the world culture 5000 years ago. So just as even today, if we go to various ISKCON centres all over the world, we will find that there is an essence which is common but there is also a lot that is different. Probably the diet of the devotees may be according to the local dietary preferences. They’ll of course offer Prasad and make it spiritual and eat it but still the diet may be according to the local preferences. Their dresses- most of the times according to the local dressing preferences and habits, even their language may be different. So of course Krishna Consciousness is by most streach in power in the world right now, as Yudhishthira Maharaja was, the point remains that whenever we are looking for the influence of an ancient tradition, we need to know that it is not different than the Vedic Culture indicating the Xerox copy of India all over the world- No, the material world is created for the souls having different varieties of desires and the different varieties of desires are reflected in the external varieties that manifest. The eating style, eating preferences, the dress style, even the worship style- “yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah shraddhayarcitum icchati” (BG 7.21)Krishna says thatAccording to whatever way one desires, whatever form one desires to worship,” yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah..” whatever form one desires to worship,Krishna says that”I’ll facilitate that worship.” So, that indicates essentially .. this is from BG 7.23 Krishna talks about demigod worship in the Bhagvad Gita and so we need not expect that we find say the Xerox copy of Indian culture all over the world. Now what can be reasonable case for as Vrtkarma Prabhu has made in his ”Human Evolution” book on the chapter about the cross-cultural similarities in cosmology and cosmological world views. He says that practically, in the pre-Christian world, all the civilization that existed talked about 3 realms of existence – the spiritual realm, a higher celestial realm and the human realm. So this itself is a remarkable similarity. And essentially, we need to focus on the principles- Krishna Consciousness is ultimately the matter of the heart, its the matter of offering our Heart’s love to Krishna and thereby become purified to return back to Him. Now, there are certain culture specific expressions of the Bhakti which are given in the Vedic Literature, but even the Vedic Literature makes room for variety and individuality and that is why we don’t have to deny the existence of these in the historical track record of the world because they are understandable from the point of view that, Krishna Consciousness is primarily a matter of offering our heart’s love to Krishna and of expressing that heart’s love in the ways that are individually best suited according one’s own up bringing , one’s own culture, one’s own circumstances. So this is in no way contradicts the principle that Maharaja Yudhishthira had a kingdom spread all over the world. The very fact that there is a significant similarity in the thought system is itself is significant and beyond that we do know that, there is very different rule in the world history 5000 years ago. And although the traditional historical storyline says that we moved linearly from primitive stone age to sophisticated cyber age human beings but there is a strong body of evidence that contradicts that and not just people like Graham Hancock with the fingerprint of Gods but there are also these serious researchers have made cases that there is an ancient civilization in the past which has talked about by also Devamrta Maharaja in His book “Searching for Vedic India” which makes a cogent case that, that lost and advanced civilization which existed all over the world is likely to have its roots in India from which it reached outwards. Thank you.