THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 11, September, 1928
(Pages 513-520; Size: 25K)
(Number 32 of a 59-part series)
(Compiler's Note: This is the second of four installments)
A LAND OF MYSTERY(5), BY H.P.B.
(Continued from August)
EVIDENTLY we, THEOSOPHISTS, are not the only iconoclasts in this world of mutual deception and hypocrisy. We are not the only ones who believe in cycles and, opposing the Biblical chronology, lean towards those opinions which secretly are shared by so many, but publicly avowed by so few. We, Europeans, are just emerging from the very bottom of a new cycle, and progressing upwards, while the Asiatics -- Hindus especially -- are the lingering remnants of the nations which filled the world in the previous and now departed cycles. Whether the Aryans sprang from the archaic Americans, or the latter from the prehistorical Aryans, is a question which no living man can decide. But that there must have been an intimate connection at some time between the old Aryans, the prehistoric inhabitants of America -- whatever might have been their name -- and the ancient Egyptians, is a matter more easily proved than contradicted. And probably, if there ever was such a connection, it must have taken place at a time when the Atlantic did not yet divide the two hemispheres as it does now.
In his Peruvian Antiquities (see the Theosophist for March) Dr. Heath, of Kansas City -- rara avis among scientific men, a fearless searcher, who accepts truth wherever he finds it, and is not afraid to speak it out in the very face of dogmatic opposition -- sums up his impressions of the Peruvian relics in the following words:-- "Three times the Andes sank hundreds of feet beneath the ocean level, and again were slowly brought to their present height. A man's life would be too short to count even the centuries consumed in this operation. The coast of Peru has risen eighty feet since it felt the tread of Pizarro. Supposing the Andes to have risen uniformly and without interruption, 70,000 years must have elapsed before they reached their present altitude."
"Who knows, then, but that Jules Verne's fanciful idea(1) regarding the lost continent Atlanta may be near the truth? Who can say that, where now is the Atlantic Ocean, formerly did not exist a continent, with its dense population, advanced in the arts and sciences, who, as they found their land sinking beneath the waters, retired part east and part west, populating thus the two hemispheres? This would explain the similarity of their archæological structures and races, and their differences, modified by and adapted to the character of their respective climates and countries. Thus would the llama and camel differ, although of the same species; thus the algoraba and espino trees; thus the Iroquois Indians of North America and the most ancient Arabs call the constellation of the 'Great Bear' by the same name; thus various nations, cut off from all intercourse or knowledge of each other, divide the zodiac into twelve constellations, apply to them the same names, and the Northern Hindus apply the name Andes to their Himalayan mountains, as did the South Americans to their principal chain.(2) Must we fall in the old rut, and suppose no other means of populating the Western Hemisphere except 'by way of Behring's Strait'? Must we still locate a geographical Eden in the East, and suppose a land, equally adapted to man and as old geologically, must wait the aimless wanderings of the 'lost tribe of Israel' to become populated?"
Go where we may, to explore the antiquities of America -- whether of Northern, Central, or Southern America -- we are first of all impressed with the magnitude of these relics of ages and races unknown, and then with the extraordinary similarity they present to the mounds and ancient structures of old India, of Egypt and even of some parts of Europe. Whoever has seen one of these mounds has seen all. Whoever has stood before the cyclopean structures of one continent can have a pretty accurate idea of those of the other. Only be it said -- we know still less of the age of the antiquities of America than even of those in the Valley of the Nile, of which we know next to nothing. But their symbolism -- apart from their outward form -- is evidently the same as in Egypt, India, and elsewhere. As before the great pyramid of Cheops in Cairo, so before the great mound, 100 feet high, on the plain of Cahokia, -- near St. Louis (Missouri) -- which measures 700 feet long by 800 feet broad at the base, and covers upwards of eight acres of ground, having 20,000,000 cubic feet of contents, and the mound on the banks of Brush Creek, Ohio, so accurately described by Squier and Davis, one knows not whether to admire more the geometrical precision, prescribed by the wonderful and mysterious builders in the form of their monuments, or the hidden symbolism they evidently sought to express. The Ohio mound represents a serpent, upwards of 1,000 feet long. Gracefully coiled in capricious curves, it terminates in a triple coil at the tail. "The embankment constituting the effigy, is upwards of five feet in height, by thirty feet base at the centre of the body, slightly diminishing towards the tail."(3) The neck is stretched out and its mouth wide opened, holding within its jaws an oval figure. "Formed by an embankment four feet in height, this oval is perfectly regular in outline, its transverse and conjugate diameters being 160 and 8 feet respectively," say the surveyors. The whole represents the universal cosmological idea of the serpent and the egg. This is easy to surmise. But how came this great symbol of the Hermetic wisdom of old Egypt to find itself represented in North America? How is it that the sacred buildings found in Ohio and elsewhere, these squares, circles, octagons, and other geometrical figures, in which one recognizes so easily the prevailing idea of the Pythagorean sacred numerals, seem copied from the Book of Numbers? Apart from the complete silence as to their origin, even among the Indian tribes, who have otherwise preserved their own traditions in every case, the antiquity of these ruins is proved by the existence of the largest and most ancient forests growing on the buried cities. The prudent archæologists of America have generously assigned them 2,000 years. But by whom built, and whether their authors migrated, or disappeared beneath victorious arms, or were swept out of existence by some direful epidemic, or a universal famine, are questions, "probably beyond the power of human investigation to answer," they say. The earliest inhabitants of Mexico, of whom history has any knowledge -- more hypothetical than proven -- are the Toltecs. These are supposed to have come from the North and believed to have entered Anahuac in the 7th century A.D. They are also credited with having constructed in Central America, where they spread in the eleventh century, some of the great cities whose ruins still exist. In this case it is they who must also have carved the hieroglyphics that cover some of the relics. How is it, then, that the pictorial system of writing of Mexico, which was used by the conquered people and learned by the conquerors and their missionaries, does not yet furnish the keys to the hieroglyphics of Palenque and Copan, not to mention those of Peru? And these civilized Toltecs themselves, who were they, and whence did they come? And who are the Aztecs that succeeded them? Even among the hieroglyphical systems of Mexico, there were some which the foreign interpreters were precluded the possibility of studying. These were the so-called schemes of judicial astrology "given but not explained in Lord Kingsborough's published collection," and set down as purely figurative and symbolical, "intended only for the use of the priests and diviners and possessed of an esoteric significance." Many of the hieroglyphics on the monoliths of Palenque and Copan are of the same character. The "priests and diviners" were all killed off by the Catholic fanatics, -- the secret died with them.
Nearly all the mounds in North America are terraced and ascended by large graded ways, sometimes square, often hexagonal, octagonal or truncated, but in all respects similar to the teocallis of Mexico, and to the topes of India. As the latter are attributed throughout this country to the work of the five Pandus of the Lunar Race, so the cyclopean monuments and monoliths on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the republic of Bolivia, are ascribed to giants, the five exiled brothers "from beyond the mounts." They worshipped the moon as their progenitor and lived before the time of the "Sons and Virgins of the Sun." Here, the similarity of the Aryan with the South American tradition is again but too obvious, and the Solar and Lunar races -- the Sûrya Vansa and the Chandra Vansa -- re-appear in America.
This Lake Titicaca, which occupies the centre of one of the most remarkable terrestrial basins on the whole globe, is "160 miles long and from 50 to 80 broad, and discharges through the valley of El Desagvadero, to the south-east into another lake, called Lake Aullagas, which is probably kept at a lower level by evaporation or filtration, since it has no known outlet. The surface of the lake is 12,846 feet above the sea, and it is the most elevated body of waters of similar size in the world." As the level of its waters has very much decreased in the historical period, it is believed on good grounds that they once surrounded the elevated spot on which are found the remarkable ruins of Tiahuanaco.
The latter are without any doubt aboriginal monuments pertaining to an epoch which preceded the Incal period, as far back as the Dravidian and other aboriginal peoples preceded the Aryans in India. Although the traditions of the Incas maintain that the great law-giver and teacher of the Peruvians, Manco Capac -- the Manu of South America -- diffused his knowledge and influence from this centre, yet the statement is unsupported by facts. If the original seat of the Aymara, or "Inca race" was there, as claimed by some, how is it that neither the Incas, nor the Aymaras, who dwell on the shores of the Lake to this day, nor yet the ancient Peruvians, had the slightest knowledge concerning their history? Beyond a vague tradition which tells us of "giants" having built these immense structures in one night, we do not find the faintest clue. And, we have every reason to doubt whether the Incas are of the Aymara race at all. The Incas claim their descent from Manco Capac, the son of the Sun, and the Aymaras claim this legislator as their instructor and the founder of the era of their civilization. Yet, neither the Incas of the Spanish period could prove the one, nor the Aymaras the other. The language of the latter is quite distinct from the Inichua -- the tongue of the Incas; and they were the only race that refused to give up their language when conquered by the descendants of the Sun, as Dr. Heath tells us.
The ruins afford every evidence of the highest antiquity. Some are built on a pyramidal plan, as most of the American mounds are, and cover several acres; while the monolithic doorways, pillars and stone-idols, so elaborately carved, are "sculptured in a style wholly different from any other remains of art yet found in America." D'Orbigny speaks of the ruins in the most enthusiastic manner. "These monuments," he says, "consist of a mound raised nearly 100 feet, surrounded with pillars -- of temples from 600 to 1,200 feet in length, opening precisely towards the east, and adorned with colossal angular columns -- of porticoes of a single stone, covered with reliefs of skilful execution, displaying symbolical representations of the Sun, and the condor, his messenger -- of basaltic statues loaded with bas-reliefs, in which the design of the carved head is half Egyptian -- and lastly, of the interior of a palace formed of enormous blocks of rock, completely hewn, whose dimensions are often 21 feet in length, 12 in breadth, and 6 in thickness. In the temples and palaces, the portals are not inclined, as among those of the Incas, but perpendicular; and their vast dimensions, and the imposing masses, of which they are composed, surpass in beauty and grandeur all that were afterwards built by the sovereigns of Cuzco." Like the rest of his fellow-explorers, M. D'Orbigny believes these ruins to have been the work of a race far anterior to the Incas.
Two distinct styles of architecture are found in these relics of Lake Titicaca. Those of the island of Coati, for instance, bear every feature in common with the ruins of Tiahuanaco; so do the vast blocks of stone elaborately sculptured, some of which, according to the report of the surveyors, in 1846, measure: "3 feet in length by 18 feet in width, and 6 feet in thickness"; while on some of the islands of the Lake Titicaca there are monuments of great extent, "but of true Peruvian type, believed to be the remains of temples destroyed by the Spaniards." The famous sanctuary, with the human figure in it, belongs to the former. Its doorway 10 feet high, 13 feet broad, with an opening 6 feet 4 inches, by 3 feet 2 inches, is cut from a single stone. "Its east front has a cornice, in the centre of which is a human figure of strange form, crowned with rays, interspersed with serpents with crested heads. On each side of this figure are three rows of square compartments, filled with human and other figures, of apparently symbolic design...." Were this temple in India, it would undoubtedly be attributed to Shiva; but it is at the antipodes, where neither the foot of a Shaiva nor one of the Naga tribe has ever penetrated to the knowledge of man, though the Mexican Indians have their Nagal, or chief sorcerer and serpent worshipper. The ruins standing on an eminence, which, from the water-marks around it, seem to have been formerly an island in Lake Titicaca, and "the level of the Lake now being 135 feet lower, and its shores, 12 miles distant, this fact, in conjunction with others, warrants the belief that these remains antedate any others known in America."(4) Hence, all these relics are unanimously ascribed to the same "unknown and mysterious people who preceded the Peruvians, as the Tulhuatecas or Toltecs did the Aztecs. It seems to have been the seat of the highest and most ancient civilization of South America and of a people who have left the most gigantic monuments of their power and skill" ... And these monuments are all either Dracontias -- temples sacred to the Snake, or temples dedicated to the Sun.
Of this same character are the ruined pyramids of Teotihuacan and the monoliths of Palenque and Copan. The former are some eight leagues from the City of Mexico on the plain of Otumla, and considered among the most ancient in the land. The two principal ones are dedicated to the Sun and Moon, respectively. They are built of cut stone, square, with four stories and a level area at the top. The larger, that of the Sun, is 221 feet high, 680 feet square at the base, and covers an area of 11 acres, nearly equal to that of the great pyramid of Cheops. And yet, the pyramid of Cholula, higher than that of Teotihuacan by ten feet according to Humboldt, and having 1,400 feet square at the base, covers an area of 45 acres!
It is interesting to hear what the earliest writers -- the historians who saw them during the first conquest -- say even of some of the most modern of these buildings, of the great temple of Mexico, among others. It consisted of an immense square area "surrounded by a wall of stone and lime, eight feet thick, with battlements, ornamented with many stone figures in the form of serpents," says one. Cortez shows that 500 houses might be easily placed within its enclosure. It was paved with polished stones, so smooth, that "the horses of the Spaniards could not move over them without slipping," writes Bernal Diaz. In connection with this, we must remember that it was not the Spaniards who conquered the Mexicans, but their horses. As there never was a horse seen before by this people in America, until the Europeans landed it in the coast, the natives, though excessively brave, "were so awe-struck at the sight of horses and the roar of the artillery," that they took the Spaniards to be of divine origin and sent them human beings as sacrifices. This superstitious panic is sufficient to account for the fact that a handful of men could so easily conquer incalculable thousands of warriors.
According to Gomera, the four walls of the enclosure of the temple correspond with the cardinal points. In the centre of this gigantic area arose the great temple, an immense pyramidal structure of eight stages, faced with stone, 300 feet square at the base and 120 feet in height, truncated, with a level summit, upon which were situated two towers, the shrines of the divinities to whom it was consecrated -- Tezcatlipoca and Huitzlipochtli. It was here that the sacrifices were performed, and the eternal fire maintained. Clavigero tells us, that besides this great pyramid, there were forty other similar structures consecrated to various divinities. The one called Tezcacalli, "the House of the Shining Mirrors, sacred to Tezcatlipoca, the God of Light, the Soul of the World, the Vivifier, the Spiritual Sun." The dwellings of priests, who, according to Zarate, amounted to 8,000, were near by, as well as the seminaries and the schools. Ponds and fountains, groves and gardens, in which flowers and sweet smelling herbs were cultivated for use in certain sacred rites and the decoration of altars, were in abundance; and, so large was the inner yard, that "8,000 or 10,000 persons had sufficient room to dance in it upon their solemn festivities" -- says Solis. Torquemada estimates the number of such temples in the Mexican empire at 40,000, but Clavigero, speaking of the majestic Teocalli (literally, houses of God) of Mexico, estimates the number higher.
So wonderful are the features of resemblance between the ancient shrines of the Old and the New World that Humboldt remains unequal to express his surprise. "What striking analogies exist between the monuments of the old continents and those of the Toltecs who ... built these colossal structures, truncated pyramids, divided by layers, like the temple of Belus at Babylon! Where did they take the model of these edifices?" -- he exclaims.
The eminent naturalist might have also enquired where the Mexicans got all their Christian virtues from, being but poor pagans. The code of the Aztecs, says Prescott, "evinces a profound respect for the great principles of morality, and as clear a perception of these principles as is to be found in the most cultivated nations." Some of these are very curious inasmuch as they show such a similarity to some of the Gospel ethics. "He who looks too curiously on a woman, commits adultery with his eyes," says one of them. "Keep peace with all; bear injuries with humility; God, who sees, will avenge you," declares another. Recognizing but one Supreme Power in Nature, they addressed it as the deity "by whom we live, Omnipresent, that knoweth all thoughts and giveth all gifts, without whom man is as nothing; invisible, incorporeal, one of perfect perfection and purity, under whose wings we find repose and a sure defence." And, in naming their children, says Lord Kingsborough, "they used a ceremony strongly resembling the Christian rite of baptism, the lips and bosom of the infant being sprinkled with water, and the Lord implored to wash away the sin that was given to it before the foundation of the world, so that the child might be born anew." "Their laws were perfect; justice, contentment and peace reigned in the kingdom of these benighted heathens," when the brigands and the Jesuits of Cortez landed at Tabasco. A century of murders, robbery, and forced conversion, were sufficient to transform this quiet, inoffensive and wise people into what they are now. They have fully benefited by dogmatic Christianity. And he, who ever went to Mexico, knows what that means. The country is full of blood-thirsty Christian fanatics, thieves, rogues, drunkards, debauchees, murderers, and the greatest liars the world has ever produced! Peace and glory to your ashes, O Cortez and Torquemada! In this case at least, will you never be permitted to boast of the enlightenment your Christianity has poured out on the poor, and once virtuous heathens!
(To be continued)
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE FIVE CONTINENTS
Three submerged, or otherwise destroyed, continents -- the first "continent" of the First Race prevailing to the last and existing to this day -- are described in the occult Doctrine, the Hyperborean, the Lemurian (adopting the name now known in Science), and the Atlantean. Most of Asia issued from under the waters after the destruction of Atlantis; Africa came still later, while Europe is the fifth and the latest -- portions of the two Americas being far older. But of these, more anon. The Initiates who recorded the Vedas -- or the Rishis of our Fifth Race -- wrote at a time when Atlantis had already gone down. Atlantis is the fourth continent that appeared, but the third that disappeared. --S.D. II, p. 606, fn.
A LAND OF MYSTERY, BY H.P.B.
(This is the third of four installments)
(Part 33 of a 59-part series)
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FIVE (5) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(5) This article was first printed by H. P. Blavatsky in The Theosophist for April, 1880.
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(1) This "idea" is plainly expressed and asserted as a fact by Plato in his Banquet; and was taken up by Lord Bacon in his New Atlantis.
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(2) "The name America" said I, in Isis Unveiled, (Vol. 2, 591) three years ago, "may one day be found closely related to Meru, the sacred mount in the centre of the seven continents." When first discovered, America was found to bear among some native tribes the name of Atlanta. In the States of Central America we find the name Amerih, signifying, like Meru, a great mountain. The origin of the Kamas Indians of America is also unknown.
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(3) Smithsonian contributions to Knowledge, Vol. I.
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(4) New American Cyclopaedia, Art, "Teotihuacan."
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