Excerpts from writings on the origin of dragon symbolism

Naga Serpent King

Above: The legend of the Naga Serpent King as depicted in Indian and SEA symbolism and iconography

Below: Qin Dynasty (475-207 BCE) bronze dragon  – Shaanxi History Museum, Xi’an, China

Qin Dynasty (475-207 BCE) bronze dragon design - Shaanxi History Museum, Xi'an, China

Qin Dynasty (475-207 BCE) bronze dragon design –

Below: China – BCE 6th c-5th c Eastern Zhou Jade Dragon Pendant 1 and dragon bronze bell  Smithsonian Sackler 


Above 4th-5th c. ceramic dragon tomb guardian, The Walters Art Museum

Tan Chung’s work “A SINO-INDIAN PERSPECTIVE FOR INDIA-CHINA UNDERSTANDING” (excerpted below) is an important work presenting an overarching theory of India and China as cultural twins from which the symbolism of the dragon in China is a kind of mirror of the naga-serpent symbolism in India. This work deserves our consideration in the light of genetic studies especially on the common genetic pool of Haplogroup O (Y-DNA) and its subclades in the two countries, and many other M derived lineages out of India into China.  In tracing the origins of early Buddhism, this work is also invaluable. It might also be read with a view to understanding the identity of  how “China” “cinas” came about see “The Polity of Yelang (夜郎) and the Origins of the Name ‘China’” ; see also the board discussion  on all mentions in India of Chinna especially in Indian sacred texts . Finally, these works are being examined for a background understanding of the development of early Buddhism, and the forms it took as it spread to East Asia, particularly to Japan. One of the important early symbols or icons similar to the naga serpent was that of the xuanwu found on tomb murals, the influences, ideas and iconic art hailed from Taoist monasteries of China, such those on the Wudang Mountain.

Turtle and Snake, symbols of Wudang Mountain Taoism

Symbol of Wudang Mountain, the Xuanwu tortoise-serpent-dragon at Purple Cloud Temple Photo: Silent Tao

Left: The Genbu black warrior seen on the Takamatsuka Kofun tomb mural in Asuka Village, Japan | Right: The Koguryo hyunmu that is regarded as a mythical beast (black turtle that has a snakes for a tail) guarded the north of a Koguryo tomb mural, National Museum of Korea

Xuanwu (or Genbu equivalent in Japanese ), whose shape is like the play between a tortoise/turtle and a serpent, is the god in the north in Chinese ancient legends as well as on East Asian constellation charts. Seen from the sky, the shape of Heavenly Pillar Peak of Wudang Mountain, is said to be like a large tortoise/turtle, and the walls and buildings are just like a divine serpent winding around the tortoise/turtle; which form a miraculous picture of tortoise/turtle and serpent.

However, this tortoise-serpent myth likely had its origins in the Indian mythical World Tortoise the Kurma or Kurmaraja. The Shatapatha Brahmana identifies the earth as its lower shell, the atmosphere as its body and the vault of heaven as its upper shell. The concept of World-Tortoise and World-Elephant was conflated in popular or rhetorical references to Hindu mythology. A tortoise Chukwa was said to be supporting the Mount Meru that is central to Hindu and Buddhist cosmology (Source: The Turtle and the Elephant).

The developed form of the iconic and ornate dragon actually emerges rather late in China, earlier Shang and Zhou dragon art appeared in cruder coiled serpent-like forms.


“If we regard India and China as cultural twins from the same cradle, it is important to find the cultural affinity of the two civilizations. One common symbol is the powerful snake whose legendary image is known as Nagaraja in India, and LonglDragon in China. In Chinese Buddhist literature, these two symbols have merged into “Long”. (Chinese translators, like the famous pilgrim Xuanzang, rendered the supernatural Naga in ancient Indian texts into Longldragon on purpose.) Ancient Chinese heard about the magical power of Indians to call rains whenever they wanted. Some Indian Buddhist monks, like Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra etc., demonstrated such a power by playing with the symbol of NagalDragon. We have records of Indian monks presiding over imperial rain-invoking ceremonies when China was visited by severe drought in the years 366, 726, 772 and 889, the last occurred in independent Yunnan -the state of Nanzhao.2 Both India and China were agrocultures (I have coined the term to replace the tongue-twister “agricultural culture”) for which rain-fall assumed great importance. The imaginary powerful NagamjalDragon symbol definitely had a connection with it. We can describe the two civilizations as Snake-Power Twins before the advent of Buddhism in China.

I have taken this proposition of Naga-Long twinhood to the academic fora both in China and in Taiwan, and have encountered violent opposition. My opponents argued that Long had had its independent existence for five-six thousand years, that China was always the Homeland of Dragon, and the Chinese were famous for being the “Progenies of Dragon” {Long de chuanren). Even the idea of a part of the social functions of the dragon symbol might originate from India was unacceptable because it hurt the Chinese pride in their thousand years of affinity with Long. This, in a way, underlines the daunting task of popularizing the Sino-Indian perspective among Chinese (and also Indian) scholars while studying the history and culture of India and China. The Sino-Indian perspective involved here is to treat Chinese and Indian cultures not as two separate entities developing in isolation, but as the two faces of the same culture developing in different socio-cultural surroundings constantly benefited by interface synergy. The mystification of the supernatural power of snake in India and Long in China was the product of agriculture of both the countries. While we don’t have concrete evidence for the Indian input in the imagination of the pre. Buddhist Chinese Long, we certainly can trace the Indian influence on the Buddhist (and post Buddhist, if you wish) Chinese Long. For one thing, the artifacts that symbolize Long created in pre-Buddhist China are by and large free from the fierce look that typifies the Buddhist Long (like the Chinese say, “zhangya wuzhua”, i.e. baring its teeth and waving its claws) which clearly demonstrate the inner social function of LonglDragon as the guardian of the imperial system. It is in this function that we clearly see the Indian contribution.

To recapitulate what I have spelt out elsewhere, during the pre-Buddhist period, even as late as the Han Dynasty, the Dragon/Long was treated as a “beast” (chu). The famous Han scholar, Wang Chong (27-97?), cited Chinese traditions like Long being reared so that people could eat its liver.3 But, in Indian legends, Siva was a Naga, Buddha was also a Naga, and the Indian traditions of Nagaraja performing the role of a guardian-angel for the God/Buddha and the sacred treasure. It was this message which was driven home in Chinese oral culture as well as literary tradition. Only after absorbing this cultural function from the Indian Nagaraja did the Chinese Long become a close companion of the Chinese imperial families in all dynasties from Sui. Tang till the Manchu. Another clear Chinese borrowing from India is the “Dragon-King” (Longwang) from the Indian Nagaraja. China scholars have found that this cult of Longwang has settled deeply in China’s socio-cultural chemistry as many penetrating studies, like that of Prasenjit Duara, who has included Longwang in his projection of the “cultural nexus of power” in China.4 Longwang/Dragon King is undisputably the symbol of Sino-Indian cultural twinhood that demonstrates the existence of Snake- Power Twins of India and China.

As culture advanced, the Snake-Power Twins transformed themselves into a new and higher stage of relations. This was brought about by the “Great Carrier” Mahayana -here I use the Sanskrit word from a non-religious perspective, viewing it as the carrier of a large treasure of Indian culture to China in the name of Buddha. Before I delve into the Sino-Indian cultural synergy wrought by the Buddhist evangelic movement, let me take up the early Sino-Indian contacts from the firm ground backed by historical evidence. We are in a position to say that Indians were among the earliest foreigners to know about the Chinese silk, and also to engage in its international trade long before the famous “Silk Road” between Luoyang and Rome became a thriving international phenomenon. The first foreign words for Chinese silk were “cinamsuka” (Chinese silk dress) and “cinapatta” (Chinese silk bundle) enshrined in Kautilya’s Arthasastra which goes back to the 4th century BC. There was the famous “Chinese discovery of India” in the 1st century BC by Zhang Qian (also spelled as Chang Ch’ien), personal envoy of the powerful Han Emperor Wu (reigning from 140 to 87 B.C). When he was sent to Central Asia to conclude alliances against the Hun tribes, he saw silk fabrics, the products of the southwestern Chinese province Sichuan, in the market place of “Daxia” (probably Afghanistan or north of it). He was told that the fabrics were re-exported by the Indian merchants to the hinterland of Central Asia.5

When Yunnan was annexed into the Han Empire in the 1st century AD, the Chinese authorities found that among the foreign settlers there was an Indian community named “Shendu” (perhaps a corruption of “Hindu”) that was “Indians” or “India.” But, the Chinese knowledge about “Shendu” went back to as early as the pre-Han days (3rd century BC) according to some ficticious historical accounts. India also loomed large in the broad rubric “xiyu” (western regions), because if we glean the data from all early Chinese narratives about Xiyu, we definitely find the depictions of India. Another ambiguous rubric is “Daqin” which was connected with India in two ways. First, India was trading with “Daqin” (denoting Roman Empire) on the sea. Second, ancient Chinese confused Europe with India and other far-away lands which they had had contacts through the sea. For instance, the Chinese records attributed elephant-teeth and rhinoceros as products of Daqin (while these were clearly Indian specialities not produced in Europe). Thus when the Han records say that Daqin was keenly interested in Chinese silk it actually indicated a triangular route of the Chinese export of silk reaching India, and also Europe via India. In 166 AD, the Chinese recorded the arrival of an embassy probably sent by the Roman Emperor, Mareus Aurelius Antonius, in the Han court. The Roman embassy arrived by sea and landed somewhere near the present Guangdong Province in southern China, and journeyed to the Han capital, Luoyang, by road. The embassy made a present to the Chinese emperor which contained ivory, rhinceros’ hom (a precious ingredient for Chinese medicine) and the shell of haw”sbill turtle, all products of India.6 From these accounts, we see fairly brisk contacts between the two great civilizations across great distance either through Central Asia overland, or over the sea. This would not exclude the direct trans-Himalayan contacts as well. Only when there were contacts could legends travel between the two civilizations.

I now return to the legend of Longwang which forms a part of the “cultural nexus of power” in China. Longwang provides an interesting academic phenomenon of historical development of mythology through which an imaginary symbol has been transformed into material social power. Such a transformation is no strange phenomenon in India as well. When foreign and native tourists see historical sites in India and China they are fed with a lot of information originated from legends packaged as historical data. This commonality between India and China speaks of their shared richness of cultural traditions, and also their common possession of unscientific cultural temperament. But, as scholars of cultural studies, we scientifically recognize religion as a component of culture although religion is not science. A historian makes a scientific observation that Buddhism was spread to China, and, as a result, Chinese created some holy shrines on their soil. So, when we look at the cultural map of China we see the sanctification of mythology in China’s day-to-day life as if it forms a part of China’s historical development. Let me spell out a little.

Among the legends of Yunnan, there is one recorded in the Gazetteer of Yunnan Province compiled during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). A “Cock’s Foot Hill” (Jizushan) at Binchuan County in the province was obviously christened after the Sanskrit Kukkutapadagiri -the name of the hill only 50 kilometres away from the bodhi tree under which Gautama Buddha attained his enlightenment. The Yunnan legend claims that Jizushan, too, was the place where Lord Buddha had practised asceticism. A mystic fragrance would greet a visitor, says the legend.7 Here, the duplicating effect of culture was at work. Ramapithecus split into two groups and settled on both sides of the Himalaya, Kukkutapadagiri begot its double, and Lord Buddha pursued his enlightenment twice -once in ancient Bihar (Magadha), and another time in ancient Yunnan! My observation here is a mix between archaeological findings and legends, but it is an objective assessment of the cultural reality in between the Indian and Chinese civilizations. Many, particularly the people of Yunnan, have accepted the mix as a cultural heritage.

Let me give another example. In Chinese historical and semi-historical documents: there are places called “Shang Tianzhu”, “Zhong Tianzhu”, and “Xia Tianzhu” which literally mean, “Upper India”, “Middle India”, and “Lower India”. These three names actually indicate just a few square kilometres in Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province in eastern China. How has such a mix-up come about? It is because of a legend that was the making of an ancient Indian Buddhist monk-scholar “Huili” (whose real identity is lost). In 326, this monk from western India came to Hangzhou. After seeing a hill in this area (in the vicinity of the scenic West Lake), he authoritatively proclaimed that the hill had been flown to China from Magadha (Bihar)! The Chinese believed him and, henceforth, called the hill “Tianzhushan”(the “Indian Hill”) and “Feilaifeng”(the “Peak that has flown here from India”).8 It was this legend that has contributed to the existence of “Upper” , “Middle” and “Lower” India on the Chinese map. …

Chinese legend-makers have claimed that four Indian Bodhisattvas have settled in China: Avalokitesvara at Mount Putuo in Zhejiang Province, Manjusri at Mount Wutai in Shanxi Province, Samantabhadra at Mount Emei in Sichuan Province, and Ksitigarbha at Mount Jiuhua in Anhui Province. Now, these legends have gone beyond their originally designed substance of oral literature. They have been utilized by people of China today, particularly the tourist departments, as facts confirmed by cultural traditions as well as by history and geography. China’s being a tourist attraction today (so is India) contrasts greatly to, say, America’s attraction. Millions of tourists go around China climbing mountains and reaching very remote corners of the country not only to appreciate natural scenery, but also pay homage to historical memories -visiting a Tang monastery, a Song pagoda, or a Northern Wei cave etc. Ninety per cent of these historical memories are associated with the spread of Buddhism in China. When we see architectural wonders being built hundreds and more than a thousand years ago in the remote corners of China to commemorate the arrival of Buddhism we know that in historical times immense human activities were attracted to these places surmounting many folds of difficulties than the tourists do today -being beckoned by legends and mythology. In other words, legends became an important investment in China’s cultural splendours. This is her gain as the Buddhist-twin of India -the country that has invented Buddhism.

It {urns out that though India invented Buddhism she benefited much less from this invention as compared with China. For Buddhism, it had a horizontal development, and for some time it was as if all the roads were leading to China -eminent monk-scholars, scriptures, artifacts, and legends. To the Chinese, the four great Buddhist Bodhisattvas (as alluded to just now) had left India for good, but not the Buddha. No Chinese account, however daring, has the audacity to claim that Buddha is no longer residing In India. Indian mythology, i.e. the Tantric traditions, however, reached a very daring and pro-China conclusion proclaiming China as the country where the true Buddha lives. The Tantric literature Taratantra in the section entitled “Rudrayamala”, described an Indian ascetic, Vasistha, having failed to obtain siddhi (divine power) in India, travelled to China -the “land of Atharvaveda” where he saw Buddha having an indulgence in meat, wine and women. Vasistha emulated such behaviours of Buddha and “attained final liberation”,10

All this shows that Buddhism has injected a special dynamism in our studies of the history of India, China and India-China relations, and should force us to adopt the Sino-Indian perspective, What we have cited above are indications of the non- demarcation of an international boundary between India and China in the cultural arena. As the Chinese say: “Ni zhong you wo, wo zhongyou ni,” (There is me in you, and you in me,) so is there India in China and vice versa. I should think that such a holistic phenomenon surely exists independent of Buddhism, but it is Buddhism which has made the phenomenon so obvious. The study of legends has served to sharpen our awareness of this holistic vision which is the essence of the Sino-Indian perspective I am discussing.

Let me move from legend to historical records which is a strong Chinese turf. According to a recent study the term “Zhongguo” (now the Chinese name for “China”) appeared 178 times in all written documents before China’s unification in 221 BC. “Guo” in the bisyllable denoted “country”, or “state”, while the other syllable “zhong” denoting “centre”, (This has given rise to the international term “Middle Kingdom”, and also the international stigma of “sinocentrism”.) But, politically China was not one state when these terms appeared. A detailed investigation of these 178 concepts proves that they mean different things in various contexts, and were anything but the suggestion that China lay in the centre of the universe. One scholar felt that “zhongguo” arrived as a symbol of a kind of unity in diversity,11 This shows clearly that the progenies of the Ramapithecus north of the Himalaya started an endeavour in the hinterland of present China to build up a commonwealth sharing a common cultural development, Such a commonwealth would not exclude communities from various directions who might not be the direct descendants of the trans-Himalayan Ramapithecus. It can be said that in ancient India, the same movement towards establishing a commonwealth was in action culminating in the establishment of the Maurya and Gupta empires.

To continue with the historical employment 9f the “Zhongguo” terminology. Chinese Buddhist scholars, from the early centuries of our common era onwards, attached to it a new signification, i.e. India, Daoxuan, In Shijia Fangzhi (Gazetteer of Sakyamuni World) wrote :

“When we discuss terminology we generally say ‘zhongguo’ is the western regions [xiyu], its another name is ‘Central Tianzhu’ [Central Heavenly India]. Sages of this land reiterate that the western country is Zhongguo.”12
Here, Daoxuan was citing the ancient Indiar) signification of “Madhyadesa” for Magadha. That he had no hesitation in transposing the Chinese term “Zhongguo” (Central state) to Magadha, the heartland of Buddhist India (in modern Bihar) may indicate his absolute loyalty to Buddha, but also indirectly reflects the open-mindedness among Chinese intellectuals of his times. He, further, in the same text, cited a debate taken place in the court of Emperor Wen of Song (reigning from 424 to 453 AD), In the presence of the emperor, Buddhist monk-scholar Huiyan out-smarted learned scholar He Chengtian by saying that in summer in India there was no shadow which proved that India was the real “zhongguo”, The emperor was pleased to hear that and offered an appointment to the monk.13 Once again, it was the Chinese ruler’s being convinced, (in this case, that India, not China, was the central state and lay at the centre of the earth) that should be noted than monk Hulyan’s going overboard to compliment India.

We notice that Shijia Fangzhi was a famous Chinese book penned in “High Tang”, i.e. when Tang Dynasty attained highest power and prosperity, while Tang Dynasty 1s generally regarded as the “golden period” of China’s cultural development. During such a period, Chinese Buddhist writers, Daoxuan and many others, used the term “Zhongguo” only to signify India, while calling China “Dong tu” (Eastern Land). In non-Buddhist literature during Tang one seldom comes across (if ever) the teim “Zhongguo” -and denoting China. But, terms like “Tianzhu” (Heavenly India), and “Xitian” (“Western Heaven” also denoting India), are replete in Tang literature, The conclusion drawn from this phenomenon is the absence of narrow feelings of nationalism, which explains how the name of India attained a special status of respect and intimacy when Chinese imperial power reached its zenith in the ancient period, Beyond doubt, this cultural intimacy was more because of the sharing of Buddhist culture as the two civilizations graduated from the stage of Snake-power Twins to a higher stage of Buddhist Twins.”

Kanashibari (金縛り) – sleep demons

Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013

John Henry Fuseli – The Nightmare, Institute of Fine Arts

To see a picture of a portrayal of a Japanese sleep demon called  Kanashibari (金縛り) click here(Matrhew Meyer’s blog).

How Japan’s teens can avoid sleep demons

Have you ever woken up but been unable to move; felt a powerful pressure holding you down, gripping you tight? Haruki Murakami has, and he describes it like this: “I was having a repulsive dream — a dark, slimy dream. … After I awoke, my breath came in painful grasps for a time. My arms and legs felt paralyzed. I lay there immobilized, listening to my own labored breathing, as if I were stretched out full-length on the floor of a huge cavern.”

News photo
The stuff of nightmares: Whether he’s flat out due to alcohol or sleep deprivation, this Tokyo train traveler is more likely than the average person to be having bad dreams. In this excerpt from the short story “Sleep” from his “The Elephant Vanishes” collection, Murakami is describing an episode of sleep paralysis, which is better known in Japan as kanashibari (literally, “bound in metal”).

In other cultures, the experience has been attributed to a ghost (China and Korea), a demon feeding on the living (Fiji) and, in the southern United States, to a witch.

People all over the world experience kanashibari, but with accounts going back at least as far as the kaidan (ghost stories) of the Edo Period (1603-1867), it has a particularly Japanese flavor.

In Japan, too, the phenomenon seems to disproportionately affect young people, while homegrown horror films often play on a psychological fear of ghosts manifesting in the real world. It’s no surprise that these movies depict young people as being disproportionately affected by these apparitions.

Fiction that may be, but in fact a nationwide survey of junior and senior high school students in Japan conducted in 2011 by Yoshitaka Kaneita of Nihon University School of Medicine in Tokyo, and colleagues, found that of the 90,081 questionnaires analyzed, 35.2 percent of respondents reported having nightmares, and 8.3 percent experienced kanashibari — compared with 6.2 percent of the general population in the United States who separate studies have found to report instances of kanashibari.

The results of the Japanese survey — as reported in the journal Sleep Medicine (DOI reference: 10.1016/j.sleep.2010.04.015) — show that Kaneita and his team found a number of factors that seem to increase the chance of having a nightmare or experiencing an episode of kanashibari.

For nightmares, they are: drinking alcohol, having trouble going to sleep, poor mental health — or simply being female, though there is little to be done about this factor.

For kanashibari, males were found to be more susceptible than females, with their odds of affliction shortening more due to taking a long daytime nap, having an early or late bedtime — and again, having difficulty going to sleep and/or poor mental health.

Kaneita’s team concluded that regular sleep habits are important to help prevent nightmares and episodes of sleep paralysis. However, Japanese high school students are often cited as being overloaded with work to the point that they have to get by on as little as four hours’ sleep a night. Indeed, in a separate survey of 3,478 Japanese high school students aged 16 to 18 (equivalent to 10th- through 12th-graders), researchers found that on average they slept for 6.3 hours, going to bed at 00:03 and rising at 06:33.

As the evidence suggests that teenagers in both Japan and South Korea are more sleep-deprived than those in Western countries and China, Kaneita and his coauthors recommend that health education about regular sleep habits should be promoted among Japanese adolescents.

Kanashibari — attributed to supernatural causes for centuries — may even shed light on the surprising mysteries of that most ubiquitous, beguiling and enjoyable of experiences: sleep. By monitoring volunteers in sleep labs, scientists have found that episodes of sleep paralysis occur when rapid-eye-movement (REM) stages of sleep overlap with waking stages.

Nonetheless, for something so intrinsic to the human condition, sleep remains poorly understood. There are many explanations, and probably many are correct. Sleep has numerous functions. It helps regulate emotions (we’re invariably in a better mood after a good sleep); it helps us recharge and conserve energy; it helps the brain to process memory. Sleep also helps the automatic functioning of the body — the heart rate, breathing and hormone production.

What seems to happen in kanashibari is that the person starts to wake up while REM sleep is still continuing. This leads to a situation where you are aware but “trapped” in a frozen body — because during REM sleep the muscles are paralyzed.

We’ve all probably experienced moments of this intriguing and (to me) pleasurable feeling of the consciousness “floating,” unmoored to the body. But it’s only ever been a few seconds for me. If the feeling lasted for minutes or even hours, as it does for some unfortunate people, I can see how if could generate panic.

It turns out that the brain becomes hyper-vigilant during these episodes, and can hallucinate a presence — a supernatural being, it may seem — holding them down. For some people it’s an evil cat, or a witch, or the bedclothes appear to become the twisted limbs of a dead body pressing on top of them.

But let’s not end on such a horrific note. Consider, for instance, dolphins and seals: When they sleep, half the brain is dormant while the other half stays alert. What on Earth does that feel like?

Perhaps dolphins have nightmares — being trapped in a cove by Japanese drive fishermen armed with spears, for example — but whatever their experience, it doesn’t last long: The sleep of marine mammals tends to occur in short bursts. Sweet dreams to all in this new year of 2013!

Rowan Hooper (@rowhoop on Twitter) is the News Editor of New Scientist magazine. The second volume of Natural Selections columns translated into Japanese is published by Shinchosha at ¥1,500. The title is “Hito wa Ima mo Shinka Shiteru (The Evolving Human).”

Further reading



「金縛り」 Kanashibari

金縛りはどうして起こるの? – goo ヘルスケア


“Kanashibari no Jutsu is an advanced Ninjutsu technique used to temporarily bind an individual or animal. With the person frozen in place, the ninja can either take the opportunity to attack or to retreat” — Naruto ninjutsu – Kanashibari no jutsu

Isani-and-Iswara vs Izanagi and Izanami: Similarities and common Saka-Sassanian-Sila roots of the royal myths of Indian and Japanese tribes

We attempt to trace in this article the origins of three of the elements of the Izanagi and Izanami myth: the mating ritual Dance of the Cosmic Couple around the sacred pillar, the Churning Sea of Milk setting for the creation of the Japanese isles, and  the harae purification or ablution ritual as Izanagi leaves the Underworld, as detailed in the ancient historical Kojiki and Nihongi chronicles that record the  mythology of early royal lineages of Japan. As the story tradition of Izanagi and Izanami goes:

The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Ame-no-ukihashi (“floating bridge of heaven”), and churned the sea below with the spear. When drops of salty water fell from the spear, Onogoroshima (“self-forming island”) was created. They descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island.

Eventually they wished to be mated, so they built a pillar called Ame-no-mihashira (“pillar of heaven”; the mi- is an honorific prefix) and around it they built a palace called Yahiro-dono (one hiro is approximately 182 cm, so the “eight-hiro-palace” would have been 14.56 m²). Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions and, when they met on the other side, Izanami spoke first in greeting. Izanagi didn’t think that this was the proper thing to do, but they mated anyhow. They put the children into a boat and set them out to sea, then petitioned the other gods for an answer as to what they did wrong. They were told that the male deity should have spoken first in greeting during the marriage ceremony. So Izanagi and Izanami went around the pillar again, this time Izanagi speaking first when they met, and their marriage was finally successful.

From their union were born the ōyashima, or the “great eight islands” of the Japanese chain. Izanagi-no-Mikoto lamented the death of Izanami-no-Mikoto and undertook a journey to Yomi (“the shadowy land of the dead”). Quickly, he searched for Izanami-no-Mikoto and found her. At first, Izanagi-no-Mikoto could not see her at all for the shadows hid her appearance well. Nevertheless, he asked her to return with him. Izanami-no-Mikoto spat out at him, informing Izanagi-no-Mikoto that he was too late. She had already eaten the food of the underworld and was now one with the land of the dead. She could no longer return to the living.

Izanagi-no-Mikoto was shocked at this news but he refused to give in to her wishes of being left to the dark embrace of Yomi. While Izanami-no-Mikoto was sleeping, he took the comb that bound his long hair and set it alight as a torch. Under the sudden burst of light, he saw the horrid form of the once beautiful and graceful Izanami-no-Mikoto. She was now a rotting form of flesh with maggots and foul creatures running over her ravaged body.

Crying out loud, Izanagi-no-Mikoto could no longer control his fear and started to run, intending to return to the living and abandon his death-ridden wife. Izanami-no-Mikoto woke up shrieking and indignant and chased after him. Wild shikome (foul women) also hunted for the frightened Izanagi-no-Mikoto, instructed by Izanami-no-Mikoto to bring him back.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto burst out of the entrance and quickly pushed a boulder in the mouth of the Yomotsuhirasaka cavern that was the entrance of Yomi). Izanami-no-Mikoto screamed from behind this impenetrable barricade and told Izanagi-no-Mikoto that if he left her she would destroy 1,000 residents of the living every day. He furiously replied he would give life to 1,500.

The next part of the myth describes Izanagi descent into the Underworld as tradition goes.

The tale of Izanagi’s journey to the underworld is one of the most elaborate underworld legends of East Asia. The story is found in the Kojiki, a centuries-old account of Japanese Shinto history. According to the tale, Izanagi and his wife Izanami, created the Japanese islands and gave birth to many gods and goddesses. The couple lived happily under the blessing of heaven, until Izanami died while giving birth to the god of fire. The Kojiki says that when Izanami dies, Izanagi travels to the Land of Darkness to retrieve her. When he arrives in the underworld, he discovers that she has built herself a castle there and is reluctant to see him. He begs her to return with him to earth, promising that a life of happiness and splendor awaits them in the land of the living. But Izanami refuses, saying it is too late. Her husband persists, unaware of the fact that she has eaten the food of the dead and has begun to decay. She hides in the shadows and keeps him at a distance, telling the grieving widower to go back without her. But Izanagi is determined and pulls his bride out into the light. To his horror, he discovers that his once lovely wife is now a green, rotting, maggot-infested corpse giving off an unbearably foul stench. He screams, flings her aside, and flees. Humiliated by this insult, Izanami sends an army of 1,500 shikome (DEMONS) after her husband to punish him for disgracing her in the underworld.

As the shikome descend upon Izanagi, he throws off his headdress. It immediately turns into grapes, and the shikome stop to eat them. Next, he casts off his right comb, which becomes a patch of bamboo shoots. They devour these, and the pursuit continues. But before the shikome catch up with Izanagi, he is saved by the August Male, a kind protector. The August Male sympathizes with him and strikes down many of the shikome with an enormous sword.

Finally, Izanagi reaches the passageway between the Land of Darkness and the Land of Light. Here he finds three peaches and throws them at the last of his pursuers, demanding that they leave him and return to the underworld. He escapes into the land of the living and blocks the passage with a huge boulder.

Izanami shouts out to her husband from behind the stone. She vows to kill a thousand men every day until he returns to the Land of Darkness to appease her. Izanagi laughs, saying he will cause enough births to offset the deaths. Realizing at last that she is defeated, Izanami says good-bye to her love and they make a final break. Izanagi returns to the living while Izanami must forever remain in the Land of Darkness

Stephen Oppenheimer in his book “Eden in the East: The Drowned continent of Southeast Asiasuggested that the legend of Izanagi and Izanami resembled the Hindu gods Isani and Iswara in respect of the fertility garden analogy and of the “pillar” fertility mating ritual, and of the Izanagi-Izanami creator deities, that they “perform ritual acts of creation (like Brahma and Vishnu) with and around a spear, which has phallic properties including the production of semen.” During these acts Heaven and Earth separate and the Heavenly bodies are formed.” Others have suggested that the “Tree of Heaven pillar” might be an obvious reference to the Cosmic Tree or Axis of the World.

This Cosmic Dance is danced out elsewhere: the Austro-Asiatic speaking Bengal Oraon and Munda tribes when the time comes for planting out rice seedlings, the young men and women go to the forest to ritually cut down a ‘Karma Tree’ that they bring back to the village where it is planted in the middle of the dancing ground. They then dance around the tree attached with ribbons like a maypole dance. After the dance, barley seedlings are offered to the tree and then cast out to sea or water, whereupon the spirits of the grove are expected from there on to take care of the year’s barley harvest.  In Flores, they select from the forest, a carefully selected Ngadu-tree trunk which is considered hot and dangerous until it is cut down into a Ngadu pole and covered in carvings and placed in the middle of the village, with ‘phallic’ implications, alongside of a bhaga womb house.  Last but not least, a sacred garden (paradise?) is also created for Isani and Iswara in Oedeypoor, Rajputana, like the idyllic residence Izanagi and Izanami build for themselves.

Oppenheimer also observes that the royal myth in Nihongi “there is a preface of a Chaos and an egg separating into heaven and Earth” which brings forth the first light, and that these events have echoes in the differing Chinese, Polynesian, Finnish, Phoenician as well as Indonesian versions of creation myth, the last of which even has a creator who “sails into the eastern horizon and spears the sun into pieces [with his magic lance], thereby releasing both the moon and the stars. The sky is separated from the earth…The lance is also stuck to the front of the boat like a plow thus effecting the separation of the islands from the mainland.

We can now begin to trace the source of the Izanagi and Izanami myth as related to the royal myth of the Rajput-Gehlote-Sessodian clans, “Iswara and Isani”.

“Mahadera or Iswara, is the tutelary divinity of the Rajpoots in Méwar; and from the early annals of the dynasty appears to have been, with his consort Isani, the sole object of Gehlote adoration”. — James Tod, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan 

However, Izanagi and Izanami in the aspect of their descent into the Underworld also seem to find echoes in the Sumerian myth of Dumuzi or Dumuzid and Innana,  Inanna, after descending to the underworld, is allowed to return, but only with an unwanted entourage of demons, who insist on taking away a notable person in her place. Izanagi on the other hand, escapes by the skin of his teeth from the Underworld’s demons by throwing peaches at them  (see The peach as a kami and Mother goddess, and symbol of fertility and immortality  Then when the demons come to Uruk, they find Dumuzid the Shepherd sitting in palatial opulence, and seize him immediately, taking him into the underworld as Inanna’s substitute…  Inanna gives Dumuzid over to the demons as her substitute; they proceed to violate him, but he escapes to the home of his sister, Ngeshtin-ana (Geshtinanna). The demons pursue Dumuzid there, and eventually find him hiding in the pasture….thus we find a somewhat inverted mirror-image version of Izanagi and Izanami. But we find an even better fit and parallel with the ritually married Japanese Cosmic Couple in the Marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi a hymn of Sumer. They declare their love for each other in an orchard, under an apple tree:

“Dumuzi spoke:

Inanna I would go with you to my garden.
I would go with you to my orchard.

Inanna spoke:

I would go with you to my apple tree.
There I would plant the sweet, honey-covered seed.”

And a prayer for the fertility and prosperity of the land is uttered as “Ninshubur, the faithful servant of the holy shrine of Uruk, Led Dumuzi to the sweet thighs of Inanna and spoke”:

From the land of the huluppu-tree to the land of the cedar,
Let his shepherd’s staff protect all of Sumer and Akkad.

As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile,
As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply,
Under his reign let there be vegetation,
Under his reign let there be rich grain.

In the marshland may the fish and birds chatter,
In the canebrake may the young and old reeds grow high,
In the steppe may the mashgur-trees grow high,
In the forests may the deer and wild goats multiply,
In the orchards may there be honey and wine,

In the gardens may the lettuce and cress grow high,
In the palace may there be long life.
May there be floodwater in the Tigris and Euphrates,
May the plants grow high on their banks and fill the meadows,
May the Lady of Vegetation pile the grain in heaps and mounds.”

The Rajputana and Sumerian examples make it easy for us to imagine that ritual union of Izanagi and Izanami couple before as it became recorded as a creation story into the Kojiki and Nihongi chronicles, was likely to have had the same kind of effect as the Inanna and Dumuzi hymn on the royals and their entourage watching the Cosmic Dance as it might have been performed as an early prototype kagura dance in the earliest palaces of proto-historic Japan.

Inanna & DumuziThe marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi

A traditional autumn festival among a Miao tribe  is the Yanu Festival, commemorating a folk hero “Yanu” from ancient times. A “Cosmic Couple”, a man and a woman are dressed in traditional Miao costumes, upholding the corns and paddy under the swing frames, take central place in the ceremony for the celebration of the bumper harvest. The community turns up all dressed-up Miao people, and begin to play swing, climbing “sword ladder” and perform Lusheng dance. At the festival, the unmarried young men and girls will take chance to seek their lovers. There may also be a performance of climbing the “ladder of knives” (see Climbing a Ladder of Knives and Miao cosmic pillar dance).

In the winter however, the Miao have another Flower Mountain Festival that takes place between January 1 to 15 of each lunar calendar year to pray for happiness of the Miaos and blessings of safety and prosperity. During the festival, the Miaos get dressed up, gather in the green near the village. The people erect the day  in the mountain, before the festival begins, a “flower pole” dyed in red and blue in 12 segments to pray to the god of childbirth. Over three days of animated festive dancing and singing, the young men court the young women in the mating ritual. The Flower Pole is the icon of the Flower Mountain. It is also the performance tool in the festival. Made of straight fir several zhang (1 zhang = 3.3 m) high, the people plant it in the middle of the Flower Mountain to form the center of the entertainment. The Lusheng players play the Lusheng and dance under the Flower Pole with the contests displaying acrobatic skill in pole climbing while playing Lusheng, and pole climbing doing Lion Dance.

The pair of myths also appear to be related to solar and astronomical reckonings – see the article on the Izanagi Jingu‘s theory regarding the identification and positioning of Awaji Island at the centre of the Creation of Japan myth, and the island’s guardian shrine for the myth, Izanagi Jingu, in summer and winter solstice alignments with other important sites such as Amaterasu’s cave, Suwa Taisha and Izumo Taisha. Astronomical reckoning is also important in the case of Angkor Wat, like many pyramids:

At the pivot point of this magnificent relief is the figure of the Hindu solar deity Vishnu (right), who occupies the one position in the panel that is directly illuminated by the rising sun on the day of the vernal equinox each March. In addition to the relief, the temple of Angkor Wat features solar alignments in which the Sun appears to rise out of its central tower on the day of the vernal equinox each March from at observation point located at the western end of the long causeway that leads up to the temple gates.

On solar myths,  in “Vala and Iwato: The Myth of the Hidden Sun in India, Japan, and beyond” Michael Witzel draws close parallels between the RigVedic Indian winter solstice and release of dawn myth and the Japanese Amaterasu sun myth:   “The ancient Japanese myth of the sun deity Amaterasu-ō-mikami hiding in and reemerging from the Iwato cave is first recorded in the oldest Japanese texts, the Kojiki and Nihonshoki (712/720 CE). The Indian version, the myth of Indra’s opening the Vala cave and his release of the ‘first dawn’ is found in the oldest Indian text, the gveda (c. 1200-1000B.C.)7 the Vedic myth of the Usas – Dawn”.

“Its classical Indo-European form is found in the Vedic literature of oldest India, from the gvedic hymns onwards. According to these poems that are meant for praise of the gods, the early morning sun, is regarded as a beautiful young woman (Uas “Dawn”)16 who heralds the rising of the sun. One of the most prominent myths connected with Us as is that of a “first” U as who – for reasons to be further detailed below – was hidden in a cave found on an island in the middle of the stream, the Raså,17 at the end of the world. The cave is opened18  by the strong warrior god Indra, who is accompanied by poets and singers, the Agiras.19 

They recite, sing, shout, and make a lot of noise outside the cave that is blocked by a robust lock (phaliga). The ‘strong-armed’ (tuvi-gråbha, ugra-båhu) god Indra smashes the gate with his weapon (vajra). He is helped by the recitations and the noise made by his A
giras friends (B 5). Helped by their various combined efforts, he opens the cave and the “first dawn” emerges, illuminating the whole world.”

Witzel finds most of the elements of the Indian and Indo-Iranian (East Iran and Nuristan, Afghanistan myths) to be intact and to correspond in the Japanese Amaterasu version, but finally concludes that the Japanese myth takes an intermediate position between the Indo-Iranian version and the ones belonging to Southeast Asia — the Austro-Asiatic Khasi, and the Tibeto-Burmese Naga (both in Assam), and the Austric Miao (Hmong) in S. China.


Discerning ancestry and Divine Descent from the Sun … which has parallels for Japan as Land of the rising Sun and its people as the ‘children of the sun’

This next segment of the article aims to sift through the ancestries behind the myths under discussion. We  begin by asking the question: Who were the Rajputs and Gehlotes or Gahlots to whom the Isani-Iswara deities are attributed?

This next article by R.V. Russell from “The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India” Vol. IV of IV is particularly significant, as it suggests to us the  historical provenance of Silla princely lineages of the Kofun era Japan who arrived via Korea.

Rajput, Sesodia, Gahlot, Aharia_.–The Gahlot or Sesodia is generally admitted to be the premier Rajput clan. Their chief is described by the bards as “The Suryavansi Rana, of royal race, Lord of Chitor, the ornament of the thirty-six royal races.” The Sesodias claim descent from the sun, through Loh, the eldest son of the divine Rama of Ajodhia. In token of their ancestry the royal banner of Mewar consisted of a golden sun on a crimson field…The last king of Valabhi was Siladitya, who was killed by an invasion of barbarians, and his posthumous son, Gohaditya, ruled in Idar and the hilly country in the south-west of Mewar. From him the clan took its name of Gohelot or Gahlot. Mr. D.R. Bhandarkar, however, from a detailed examination of the inscriptions relating to the Sesodias, arrives at the conclusion that the founders of the line were Nagar Brahmans from Vadnagar in Gujarat, the first of the line being one Guhadatta, from which the clan takes its name of Gahlot [566] The family were also connected with the ruling princes of Valabhi. Mr. Bhandarkar thinks that the Valabhi princes, and also the Nagar Brahmans, belonged to the Maitraka tribe, who, like the Gujars, were allied to the Huns, and entered India in the fifth or sixth century. Mr. Bhandarkar’s account really agrees quite closely with the traditions of the Sesodia bards themselves, except that he considers Guhadatta to have been a Nagar Brahman of Valabhi, and descended from the Maitrakas, a race allied to the Huns, while the bards say that he was a descendant of the Aryan Kshatriyas of Ajodhia, who migrated to Surat and established the Valabhi kingdom. The earliest prince of the Gahlot dynasty for whom a date has been obtained is Sila, A.D. 646, and he was fifth in descent from Guhadatta, who may therefore be placed in the first part of the sixth century. Bapa, the founder of the Gahlot clan in Mewar, was, according to tradition, sixth in descent from Gohaditya, and he had his capital at Nagda, a few miles to the north of Udaipur city. [567] A tradition quoted by Mr. Bhandarkar states that Bapa was the son of Grahadata. He succeeded in propitiating the god Siva.”

Oodeypoor in Rajputana was also a Sisodian clan, read more on Sessodians (a.k.a. Sassanians) from the same work:

“According to tradition Bapa went to Chitor, then held by the Mori or Pramara Rajputs, to seek his fortune, and was appointed to lead the Chitor forces against the Muhammadans on their first invasion of India.^ After defeating and expelling them he ousted the Mori ruler and established himself at Chitor, which has since been the capital of the Sesodias. The name Sesodia is really derived from Sesoda, the residence of a subsequent chief Rahup, who captured Mundore and was the first to bear the title of Rana of Mewar. Similarly Aharia is another local name from Ahar, a place in Mewar, which was given to the clan. They were also known as Raghuvansi, or of the race of king Raghu, the ancestor of the divine Rama. … From the fourteenth century the chronicles of the Sesodias contain many instances of Rajput courage and devotion. Chitor was sacked three times before the capital was removed to Udaipur, first by Ala-ul-Din Khilji in 1303, next by Bahadur Shah, the Muhammadan king of Gujarat in 1534, and lastly by Akbar in 1567. These events were known as Saka or massacres of the clan…”. 

According to historian Sir Jervoise Athelstane Baines, Gujjars are forefathers of Sisodiyas.

Sisodias claim their descent from Lord Rama who was from the Raghav (Raghuvanshi) clan of Suryavanshi dynasty and the hero of the famous Hindu epic The Ramayana through his son Luv who were their close associates.[4]. They continued with the flag of Luv that has insignia of ‘Sun’ that embossed on a crimson back ground. The clan claims that they had moved from Lahore that was also known as ‘Lohkot’ or ‘Lavasthali’ to Shiv Desh, or Chitor in V.S 191” — Source: “Sisodia

Identifying the ‘children of the sun’ and the fire-worshippers

According to the Encyclopedia of Shinto (by the Kokugakuin University):

The first wedded couple in the age of the gods (the seventh generation of deities). They gave birth to the terrestrial regions (Oyashimaguni), mountains, rivers, seas, plants, animals, and men, and became the gods of the earth and of all things on earth. Izanami died giving birth to the God of Fire and became a goddess in the land of Yomi. Izanagi went to visit her there but broke a taboo and was forced to part with her. Having come in contact with pollution, he feared that misfortune would result, and so went to the sea and purified himself. (See misogi.) He is thus regarded as the founder of the practice of harae. The three most important deities born to Izanagi and Izanami are Amaterasu Ômikami, Susanoo no mikoto, and Tsukiyomi no mikoto.

Persian presence in Japan

Were there ever any Persians in Japan?

An introduction to the Simorghian culture and Mithraism in East Asia Tojo writes of the widespread influence of Persian S. cultural ideas on Central Asia, China and Japanese Shinto beliefs:

“Zoroastrianism is dominant in Iran all the time until the fall of Sasanid dynasty. In the Achaemenid dynasty Ahura Mazda worship was one of the many sects, and was not so prominent as the western scholars imagine. The elite magi were Simorghians and Mithraists. The Seleucid, Parthia and Bactria were the golden age of the Simorghian (ancient Aryan) religion and Mithraism, the dark age for Ahura Mazda worshippers. Zoroastrianism was a mere branch of the ancient Aryan religion in the Central Asia. The Simorghian culture and Mithraism retained their power all the time even in early Islamic Iran. (Aoki. A History of Zoroastrianism, Ch. 1, 2, p212-213, afterword)

Its[Ancient Aryan religion] origin is far older than the Zoroastrianism. It held not only Mithraism (Mehrparasti) but also worship (cult ) of Anahita, Tyr, Daevas and other gods. In the Central Asia it flourished and retains its dominance even in early Islamic time. It held not only Mitharism and worship (cult) of Anahita, Daevas and other gods but also Zoroastrianism (Ahura Mazda worship) as its branch. There was a possibility that it was influenced by Manichaeism and Mahayana Buddhism. (Aoki. A History of Zoroastrianism, p200-201) There were its temples which have images of Mithra, Anahita, Farrah (prn) and other gods in the Central Asia and North China… (Aoki. A History of Zoroastrianism, p202).

Iranian Mithraism (Mehrparasti) It is simply called “Mithraism” in this article. It is a religion in the Simorghian culture. 
It is a religion in the same way as Shaivism and Vaishnavism in the Hindu culture. Neither Shaivism nor Vaishnavism is able to exist without the Hindu culture as its basis. 

So is Iranian Mithraism (Mehrparasti).
A monotheistic Mithraism was in its forming process in 12th-9th BC (Aoki. A History of Zoroastrianism, p26, 34). In my opinion Roman Mithraism is the extension of this process which proceed in the West Iran (Kurdistan), however, it retains strong connection with the Simorghian culture, unlike Zoroastrianism which denied the Simorghian culture….
In the Central Asia (present Afghanistan and Pakistan) Iranian religions met primitive Buddhism and made a syncretic new religious movement. The first is Miroku Buddhism 弥勒仏教, the second is Pure Land Buddhism 浄土教, the third is Esoteric Buddhism 密 … These three syncretic religions brought Simorghian culture and Mithraism to Japan. 

On Mihr’s-day everybody rest their work and wear white clothes to celebrate Mithra.

Recent Chinese and Japanese researchers attested that the Iranian religion which spread in the Central Asia was not Zoroastrianism (Mazda worship) but the ancient Aryan religion (and Simorghian culture) which includes Zoroastrianism as a branch sect. They also think that it is this ancient Aryan religion that came to Japan in Asuka era (592-710 AD).
(Aoki. A History of Zoroastrianism, p201, 205-207) It seems Manichaeism was a branch of it as well.

Mahayana Buddhism was formed under the strong influence of Mithraism, (2) there were also strong influence of Roman Mithraism. It is possible to say that Mahayana Buddhism is a syncretism of primitive Buddhism and Mithraism. 

The name Miroku itself is the definitive attestation that the origins of Miroku is Mithra. According to Prof. Imoto, the origin of the name Miroku is Middle Persian Mihrak, which is the nickname for Mithra. Mihrak was transcripted into Mi-l’әk* (Miroku 弥勒) in Northern Buddhism (Mahayana Buddhism) ( Imoto “Influence of Iranian Culture to7 Japan”, pp1-6). He is the first scholar who proposed the theory that Iranian religion, which was merged with Buddhism, came to Japan in Asuka era 592-710. Today he has many supporters among researchers.
Why did Buddhists use the name Mi-l’әk for the Chinese name of Maitreya of Mahayana? It is highly likely that they knew the origin of Mahayana Maitreya is Mithra and thought it adequate to use Mi-l’әk. There is an attestation. Manichaeran in Central Asia calls Maitreya Mitri-Burkhan (Mitra-Buddha) (Mirecki, Paul & Jason BeDuhn ed. Emerging from Darkness Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources, p94). It is an attestation that Mahayana Maitreya is Mitra-Buddha and Maitreya and Mithra is identical in the Central Asia

A Brahmi connection of Japanese mythology has also been made by Anon  Prajapati, in the article The Shinto Mirror of Yata Inscription which relates to the central Amaterasu royal myth. The article asserts that the words on the Yata mirror have been decoded by a combination of the reading of Brahmi Sanskrit and Hebrew and early Japanese letters (notwithstanding the veracity of the Yata mirror’s existence and authenticity).  The above analysis of Saka-Sassanian/Persian-Sila invaders of India locate their origins in the Hurrian-Mittanian-Persian or Hindu Kush region but if this theory were confirmed to be true, it would bring the semitic peoples into the context of the Kojiki founding myths instead.
This next section traces the origins of Saka-Scythian-Sisodian (Sassanian) segments of the populations of Northwest India and cultural elements that Japan has in common with India. The scholars trace their them back to Persian and Hurrian-Mitannian populations. The writings of Tojo Masato offer an extensive exposition of the influences of the Persian-Simorghian Culture on Shintô Myth.

A description of the Saka-descended peoples of northwest India is given in Khshatrapa Gandasa’s Origin of the Saka Races (Chap 3)

“Herodotus from the 5th century BC writes in an eye-witness account of the Scythians: “they were the most manly and law-abiding of the Thracian tribes. If they could combine under one ruler, they would be the most powerful nation on earth.” According to their origin myth recorded by Herodotus, the Sakas arose when three things fell from the sky: the i) plough, ii) sword and iii) cup. The progenitor of the Sakas picked them up and hence the Saka race began its long history of conquering lands, releasing its bounties and enjoying the fruits of their labor (the cup has a ceremonial-spiritual-festive symbolism). The relevance of these symbols and codes of life and culture to the traditional Punjabi and northwest society are tantalizingly obvious. A branch of the Sakas kown as the Alani reached regions of Europe, Asia Minor and the Middle East….

Some of these Saka tribes entered northwest India through the Khyber pass, others through the more southerly Bolan pass which opens into Dera Ismail Khan in Sindh — an entry point into Gujarat and Rajasthan. From here some invading groups went north (Punjab), others went south (Maharasthra), and others further east (UP, MP). This explains why some Jat, Gujjar and Rajput clans claim descent from Rajasthan (Chauhan, Powar, Rathi, Sial etc.) while others from Afghanistan…


Sir Cunningham (former Director General of Indian Archeological survey) writes:
“the different races of the Scythians which succesively appeared as conquerors in the border provinces of Persian and India are the following in the order of arrival: Sakas or Sacae (the Su or Sai of the Chinese – B.C. ?), Kushans (the great Yue-Chi (Yuti) of the Chinese – B.C. 163), Kiddarite or later Kushans (the little Yue-chi of the Chinese – A.D. 450) and Epthalites or White Huns (the Yetha of the Chinese – 470 A.D.).

Cunningham further notes that “. . . the successive Scythian invasions of the Sakas, the Kushans, and the White Huns, were followed by permanent settlements of large bodies of their countrymen . . “.

Cunningham and Tod regard the Huns to be the last Scythian wave to have entered India.
Herodotus reveals that the Scythians as far back as the 5th century B.C. had political control over Central Asia and the northern subcontinent up to the river Ganges.

…the agrarian and artisan communities (e.g. Jats, Gujars, Ahirs, Rajputs, Lohars, Tarkhans etc.) of the entire west are derived from the war-like Scythians who settled north-western and western South Asia in successive waves between 500 B.C. to 500 AD. Down to this day, the very name of the region `Gujarat’ is derived from the name `Khazar’, whilst `Saurashtra’ denotes `Sun-worshipper’, a common term for the Scythians. The Gujarat-Rajasthan region continues to be the most Scythic region in the world.

The oldest Rajputs clans found in southern and western Rajasthan arose much later from earlier Scythic groups; or are of Hun origin (5-6th century AD); and many are no doubt of mixed Scythic-Hun origin. Virtually all are of Scythic descent.

Regarding the Mauryas, Dehiya [p.147] states “Another indication of the foreign origin [ ie. Saka ] of these people is . . . The Vishnu Purana calls them [ Gupta rulers ] Sudras. The Markandeya Purana brands the Mauryas as Asura. The Yuga Purana called them `utterly irreligious, though posing as religious’. The Mudra Rakshasa calls these people as Mlecchas and Chandragupta himself is called ‘Kulahina’, an upstart of unknown family”.
It has also been suggested that this Scythic influence was occasioned by the immigration of Iranic Scythians fleeing the Greek conquest. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the main civilizing impetus behind the Mauryan empire was Scythic.

The Mauryas were themselves perhaps of Scythic origin. D.B. Spooner who evacuated Pataliputra was struck by his findings and writes in his article “The Zoroastrian Period of Indian History” as follows:
“For Chandragupta’ s times, the evidences are more numerous and more detailed, and indicate a following of Persian customs all along the line – in public works, in ceremonial, in penal institutions, everything“.

The theory of a Scythic descent of the Mauryas is supported by the following pieces of evidence :
Mauryan coins have the symbol of the sun, a branch, a humped bull and mountain (Dehiya, p.155). All these are pre-eminently Scythian MassaGetae icons who were Sun worshippers with the high mount symbolizing earth and the irregular curving lines alongside it symbolizing water. The tree branch is a symbol of productivity of the earth – agriculture and soldiering were the traditional noble occupations of Sakas. The historians of Darius record that when he attempted to attack the Scythian MassaGetae (an old-Iranian culture of Central Asia) along the Black sea in the 5th century BC, “the Saka kings swore by the sun god and refused to surrender earth and water”.

Survivals of Sakas  | Based on coins, inscriptions, archeology and early Indian/Buddhist/Chinese/Greek/Persian manuscripts dating back to 500 BC, historians and ethnographers since the 19th century (e.g. Cunningham, Tod, Rapson, Ibbetson, Elliot, Ephilstone, Dahiya, Dhillon, Banerjea, Sharma, Sinha, Puniya etc.) have shown that the traditional agrarian and artisan communities of the entire northwest (e.g. Jats, Gujars, Tarkhans, Khatris, Ghakkars, Rajputs, Awans, Khambos, Lohars, Yadavs, Ahirs, Meos, etc. including various BC groups) are descended from Scythian (or Saka) tribes of central Asia (an aggressive and expansionist old Iranian speaking culture) who settled western and north-western South Asia in successive waves between 5th century B.C. and 1st century AD. The capital-lion Saka inscriptions at Peshawar and Mathura state “Sarvasa Sakasthanasa puyae” (for the merit of the people of Sakasthana). Inscriptions and coins mentioning ‘Sakastan’ are found all over the Saka core region of Rajasthan-Gujarat and surrounding tracts….

Political control over the western and northwestern subcontinent post 500 BC (Gandharan period) was primarily in the hands of Sakas (Scythians) and their descendents who mainly patronized Buddhism and Solar cults prior to 9th century AD. Based on analysis of coins, inscriptions, archeological finds and early Indian/ Buddhist/ Chinese/ Greek/Persian manuscripts dating back to 500 BC, historians and ethnographers (e.g. Cunningham, Tod, Rapson, Ibbetson, Elliot, Ephilstone, Dahiya, Dhillon, Banerjea, Sharma, Sinha, Shrava, Puniya etc.) have shown that the traditional agrarian and artisan communities (e.g. Jats/ Gujars/ Tarkhans/ Khatris/ Rajputs/ Lohars/ Yadavs etc.) of the entire northwest are the descendants of Scythian tribes from central Asia.

The Sakas of the northwest did not accept the supremacy of the Brahmins, did not practise the chaturvarna caste system advocated by their “law givers” like Manu, had their own Saka priests (Magas), and mainly patronized Buddhism mixed with their own religion (sun-worship) prior to 9th century AD. … In the Saka social order, zamindari, cultivation, artisanship and soldiering were considered the “noblest” and “highest” professions and way of life. These social ideals and cultural heritage are diametric opposites of eastern Brahmanical social dogma in which those who worked the land and worked for their living were designated “polluted” and “sudras” while those following non-Brahmanical religions were “mlechas” (barbarians).

…  the northwest country (“Saptha-Sindhva” in Rig Veda) was politically independent from rest of southasia over 97% of its history from the start of its Vedic period to the Afghan conquest (500 BC – 1200 AD), as was the Sakasthan region surrounding Rajasthan. Between 500 BC-1200 AD, it was under the political rule of Saka tribes and dynasties who form 65% of the present western population based on ethnological information collected in colonial censuses. Saka priests were known as “Magas” (Sun priests who prayed to the sun for bountiful harvests) who, along with Buddhist masters of Sakasthan, found themselves out of work when Buddhism and its institutions declined during 8-10th century.”

The fire-race:

Excerpted from “Rajputs” (Encyclopedia.com) who are known as the “fire-race”:

“Rajput” identifies numerous ksatriya or warrior castes in northern and western India. The term “Rajput” comes from rajaputra, which means “son of kings.” Rajputs are famed for their fighting abilities and once ruled numerous Indian princely states. The British grouped many of these states into the Rajputana Province. Today, it is the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Most believe Rajputs come from tribes in central Asia such as the Parthians, Kushans, Shakas, and Huns. These groups entered India as conquerors and became kings or rulers. They often married high-caste Hindu women or converted to Hinduism. By the ninth century, Rajputs controlled an empire that extended from Sind to the lower Ganges Valley, and from the Himalayan foothills to the Narmada River.

About 120 million people in India call themselves Rajputs. They live throughout northern India, although Rajasthan is considered their cultural homeland…. Rajputs speak the language or dialect of their region. In Rajasthan, Rajputs speak one of the dialects of Rajasthani, which sounds a little like Hindi. Some Rajasthani dialects include Jaipuri, spoken in Jaipur, and Marwari, spoken in Marwar… 

Many folktales describe Rajput exploits… Rajputs were known as the agnikula (“fire-race”) and were the ancestors of clans such as the Chauhan, Solanki, and Ponwar Rajputs. Other Rajput clans trace their ancestry to the Sun or Moon.

Most Rajputs are Hindu. They were known for protecting Hinduism against Buddhism and Islam. Today, in their religious practices, Rajputs differ little from other high-caste Hindus. They use Brahmans (priests and scholars) for ceremonial and ritual purposes. They worship all major Hindu deities. Most Rajputs are devotees of the god Shiva. Many also worship Surya (the Sun God), and Durga as Mother Goddess. In addition, nearly every Rajput clan has its own patron god to whom it turns for protection.

From Wikipedia:

Rajput is from the Sanskrit word Raja-Putra (son of a king).[1] The word is found in ancient texts, including the Vedas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. It was used by the ancient Sanskrit grammarian Pāṇini in the 4th century BCE. The word Kshatriya (“warrior”) was used for the Vedic community of warriors and rulers. To differentiate royal warriors from other Kshatriyas the word Rajputra was used. Rajputra eventually was shortened to Rajput; gradually it became a caste. Rajputs belong to one of three great patrilineages, which are SuryavanshiChandravanshiand Agnivanshi. Further, many Rajputs also claim patrilineage from Nagavanshi clan.

Suryavansha  lineage: the sun

The Suryavanshi, which means Sun Dynasty, claim descent from Surya, the solar deity. The Sun Dynasty is oldest among Kshatriyas. The first person of this dynasty was Vivasvan, which means the Fire Bird. Ikshvaku was the first important king of this dynasty. Other important kings were Kakutsth Harishchandra, Sagar, DileepaBhagirathaRaghuDashratha, and Rama. The poet Kalidasa wrote the great epic Raghuvaṃśa about the dynasty of Raghu. Rajput Suryavanshi clans that claim descent from Rama are the RathoresJamwalsRaghuvanshiPundirs,SisodiasMauryasHill ChauhansBargujarsDurgvanshiMinhas (Manhas), Vardhans and the Kachwaha.

Chandravanshi lineage: the moon

The Chandravanshi, which means Moon Dynasty, claim descent from Chandra, the lunar deity. This Lunar Dynasty is very ancient, but is younger than the Sun Dynasty. Som was the first king of this dynasty (Source: Rajput, Wikipedia)


Connecting the geography and civilizations of Hamitic or Kushitic Egypt, Hittite Anatolia, vs. Mithraic Iran and Mittanian N. Syria-SW Anatolian and Mitraic India…

This next article “The Aryans” gives a strong historical and chronological account of the origins of the earliest Vedic Brahmans or Brahmin-kshatriyas-Vaisya “Aryan” caste groups and their affinity to the stories of the Rig Veda as evidenced by a treaty recorded in cuneiform at El Amarna, Egypt. It also establishes the time frame of arrival of the first Brahmins, earliest evidence of Vedic (as well as early Mithraic) worship as well as the identity of the Mitannians (Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC which at its peak during the 14th century BC, had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River), and their fragile alliance with the Anatolian Hittite-Akkadians at Boghazhoy (ancient Hittite city of Hattusa), brokered by the mediator Egypt at El-Amarna against the backdrop of hostile Israelites. Although at the beginning of its history, Mitanni’s major rival was Egypt under the Thutmosids, with the ascent of the Hittite empire, Mitanni and Egypt made an alliance to protect their mutual interests from the threat of Hittite domination. At the height of its power. Eventually however, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire. This may have propelled migrations of the Hurrian-Mittani elites en masse into Central and East Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

“The term Aryan is applied to the three so-called forward castes in India – Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas who constitute about 12% of India’s population. However, this minority group has for the most part gained control of the religious, political and economic power in India today.

In tracing the Brahmin ancestry, the best evidence seen thus far is their religious affinity to the Rg Veda. That is why they are often referred to as the Vedic people.2 The earliest evidence of Vedic worship is seen in on a cuneiform tablet excavated at El-Amarna in Egypt, on a document from Bogazkoy in Anatolia (Asia Minor)3. The tablet is in Hittite cuneiform and written in the Akkadian language, and is an adjunct to a treaty between the Hittite king Suppiluliuma and his son-in-law, the Mitannian king Kurtiwaza, and it contains a long list of the gods of the peoples who were parties to it.4 The tablet is dated around the 14th century BC.

The gods are invoked to witness the conclusion of the treaty and guarantee its observance. The gods of the Mitannians are named in these forms: Mi-it-ra, U-ru-ua-na, In-da-ra, and Na-sa-at-ti-ia-an-na. It is evident that these names correspond to Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatuau of the Vedic pantheon

In this treatise, Mithra (or Mitra) is invoked as the god of contract and mutual obligation. In short Mithra may signify any kind of communication between men and whatever establishes relations between them.6 The treatise is in the time frame of Israel invading the land of Canaan and their occupation causes a migratory movement in Canaan and surrounding areas. Thus these early Vedic elements spread to other nations.

The worship of Mithra is next seen in Iran where he has evolved and become the god of the sun, justice, contract and war. Before Zoroaster (6th century BC) the Iranians had a polytheistic religion and Mithra was the most important of their gods.7 However, Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic faith, displaces the importance of Mithra. Zoroaster’s teaching centered on Ahura Mazda, who is the highest god, creator of heaven and earth and alone is worthy of worship.8

Zoroastrianism seems to have slowly decayed into fire worship. Early reliefs show the king praying to Ahura Mazda before a flaming altar. However, later the king appears on coins without Ahura Mazda, dressed in the costume of a fire priest, praying directly to a fire. This change occurred around the late 5th or 4th century BC.14 The worship of fire, Agni, is also of importance to the Vedic people.

When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire around 330 BC, the old structure of worship appears to have broken down completely and about the worship of Mithra in Persia no more is heard.4 However, the worship of Mithra spreads to other parts of the world. In the Roman Empire, Mithraism is a western mystery cult which sprang into existence in the last century BC and flourished during the first centuries of the Roman empire.

In India, the first evidence of Vedic worship is seen in 183 BC in the Sunga Empire. For some fifty years Mauryan kings continued to rule in Magadha until about 183 BC when Pusyamitra Sunga, a brahman general of Brhadratha, the last Mauryan king, succeeded in gaining power by a palace revolution. Pusyamitra was a supporter of the orthodox faith and revived the ancient Vedic sacrifices, including the horse sacrifice.18

Most scholars agree that the Sungas were the ancestors of the Brahmins, though they were not called Brahmins at this time. However, their affinity to the Vedic practices and the usage of Mitra in their names (Pusyamitra’s son was called Agnimitra) are evidence that they were Vedic people. The Sungas were overthrown by the Kanvas in 72 BC, and the Kanva dynasty came to an end in 28 BC. The Kanvas are also considered in the Brahmin ancestry.19 The Sungas and the Kanvas were weak empires which did not last very long.

Thus the present Brahmin race can be traced from the Sunga empire through Persia to western Asia. They were nomads and their gods were inspired by nature and sacrifice is an important part of their ritual. However,

“Sacrificial ritual was beginning to be replaced by the practice of bhakti (personal devotion), positing a personal relationship between the individual and the deity”20

The numerous Vedic deities lost significance and, the numerous solar deities of the Vedas were merged in Hinduism into a single god, usually known as Surya (“the Sun”)21

Numerous temples of the sun are found in Gupta and medieval times. Amongst these is the “Black Pagoda” of Konarak, Orissa, built in the 13th century AD.

After the fall of the Sungas and Kanvas nothing significant is heard of the Brahmin ancestors for a while and there was religious and social harmony in the land,

Till the close of the sixth century AD different religious sects lived together in admirable harmony.23

However, after the death of Harshavardhana in 647 AD, his empire crumbled and there was great confusion in India. From this confusion arose the Rajputs,

The Rajputs maintained their unchallenged supremacy over northern India from the death of Harsha to the first Turk invasion. That is why, the period between 647 to 1200 AD is known as the Rajput period.24


The Rajputs were the descendants of Sakas, Hunas, and Kushans who came to India and settled here. Later, they entirely mixed themselves in the Indian society and almost lost their individuality.

The presence of Charans and Bhats (bards) was a new feature of the Rajput period. They were appointed at the courts to recite poems in praise of their masters. They also used to sing the heroic deeds of the ancestors of Rajputs. They used to accompany the army to the battlefield. Their duty was only to sing the heroic deeds and rouse the feelings of courage and bravery in the soldiers. They often used to act as messengers.

Further the caste system was the foundation stone of the Rajput society. The posts of Purohitas (family priest or court chaplain) were reserved exclusively to the Brahmin ancestors and the posts were hereditary. These Purohitas were never given capital punishment since they were considered an authority in the field of religion and spiritualism and they seem to have been the chief advisors to the king during the Rajput period. The Rajput society was marked by a lack of unity, mutual quarrels and pride. Sati system, child marriage and female infanticide were evil practices rampant.28

Thus based on these evidences we can see that the Brahmin ancestors and Rajputs set up the caste system during the Rajput period to control the Dravidian population of India which constitute about 88% of India’s population today. The Brahmin ancestors became the religious leaders and the Rajputs, the rulers or Kshatriyas. This was the beginning of the mythical race called the Aryans. The foreigners who were involved in trade were later included as the Vaishyas29.

Source: The Aryans


Excerpt from The Aryans and the Vedic Age

“The Aryans are said to have entered India through the fabled Khyber pass, around 1500 BC. They intermingled with the local populace, and assimilated themselves into the social framework. They adopted the settled agricultural lifestyle of their predecessors, and established small agrarian communities across the state of Punjab.

The Aryans are believed to have brought with them the horse, developed the Sanskrit language and made significant inroads in to the religion of the times. All three factors were to play a fundamental role in the shaping of Indian culture. Cavalry warfare facilitated the rapid spread of Aryan culture across North India, and allowed the emergence of large empires.

Sanskrit is the basis and the unifying factor of the vast majority of Indian languages. The religion, that took root during the Vedic era, with its rich pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, and its storehouse of myths and legends, became the foundation of the Hindu religion, arguably the single most important common denominator of Indian culture.

The Aryans did not have a script, but they developed a rich tradition. They composed the hymns of the four vedas, the great philosophic poems that are at the heart of Hindu thought. …A settled lifestyle brought in its wake more complex forms of government and social patterns. This period saw the evolution of the caste system, and the emergence of kingdoms and republics. The events described in the two great Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, are thought to have occurred around this period. (1000 to 800 BC).

The Aryans were divided into tribes which had settled in different regions of northwestern India.



Identifying the ‘children of the sun’, and fire-worshippers

Excerpts from Genealogical Evidence Chapter 4 Scythic Origin of the Rajput Race by Mulchand Chauhan (from his book “Scythic origins of the Rajput race” emphasize the predominance of Saka-Scythian constitution of the Northwest populations of India:

The Jats, Gujjars, Thakurs and all others as Saka Rajputs… a few notes about the Rajput Race. The Jats are in fact, Rajputs, as are Thakurs and Gujjars. There are no racial differences between these stocks, all are descendants of Saka immigrants; the differences are purely social and customary, reflecting partly the degree of pollution by Indo-Aryan customs.

Thus, the noted anthropologist Sir Denzil Ibbetson wrote : “It has been suggested, and I believe held by many, that Jats and Gujjars and perhaps Ahirs also, are all of one ethnic stock.” [ Ibb.185 ] This ethnic stock is the Scythic ethnic stock.

The overwhelming majority of the population of Rajputana and Gujarat is of Scythic origin, and even a sizeable proportion of Punjab is too. Jats and Rajputs alone form approximately 28 % of Punjab population. [ Ibb.97 ]. Tod holds that Jats are one of the great Rajput tribes, and that both are Getae [ Ibb.97 citing Tod.I.52-75 and 96-101 ] The Jat Rajput ratio is 3:1 in Punjab [ Ibb.102 ] Adding the other Scythic races to the Rajput total yields well over 50 % of the population of Rajputana and Gujarat as Saka. Sakas no doubt dominated in the Punjab and parts of the Ganges valley as well, but they have here been more or less overwhelmed in the flood of Mughalloid (Indo-Muslim) immigration.

The Thakur and Rathi are “lower grade of Rajputs rather than separate castes.” [ Ibb.132 ] and the Rawat is also Rajput [ Ibb.161 ] Adding these to the Rajut total greatly increases the number of Rajputs.

The distinction between Jat and Rajput is “social and not ethnic” [ Ibb.100 ] “the same tribe even is Rajput in 1 district and Jat in another.” [ Ibb.102 ]. I…

Even casual observers note that the Rajputs form a majority of the population in the Greater Rajputana region: ” … they [ Jats/Jits ] now constitute a vast majority of the peasantry of western Rajwarra, and perhaps of northern India.” [ Tod.II.138 ] This feature is most obvious in Rajwarra or Rajputana, and is less obvious in the Punjab, where Mughal immigration has effectively overwhelmed any Saka survivals. The Sikhs are mixed Saka-Mughal stock, with ample evidence showing that both Mughallic and Scythic populations converting to the faith. Thus, Sikhism displays a combination of Saura-Saka and Islamic-Mughal influences. There is very little Indo-Aryan influence on Sikhism; it is Saka influence which was deliberately ignored and suppressed.

In Rajputana, even the commercial class are Scythic : “Nine-tenths of the bankers and commercial men of India are natives of Maroodes, and these chiefly of the Jain faith .. All these claim a Rajput descent.” [ Tod.II.127 ] Adding these classes leads to the startling conclusion that, except for the Brahmans (ca. 10 %), Black Untouchables or Sudroids (ca. 15 %), and Mughals (ca. 10 %), the rest of the population, comprising 65 % of Rajputana, is of Saka descent.

Mughal (Indo-Muslim) Genealogy

It is generally assumed that Col. Tod was the first to discover that the Rajputs were of Scythic descent. The concept of a Scythic origin of the Rajputs is thus often dismissed as a `Christian Colonialist Conspiracy to divide Hindus.’ However, the Mughal genealogists were completely aware of the Scythic extraction of several Rajput families. Indeed, there was, politically speaking, an alliance of Sakas and Mughals. The Sakas inhabited Sakasthan comprising Rajputana-Gujarat, whilst the Mughals inhabited Mughalstan comprising the Indus-Ganges Valley. It is only later, as a result of Brahmin conspiracies that the Sakas and Mughals fought each other and destroyed each others’ empires. Thus, Abul Fazl fondly narrated the Scythic descent of the Rajput allies of the Mughals :

`Let us see what Abul Fuzil says of the descent of the Ranas from Noshirwan. ” The Rana’s family consider themselves to be descendants of Noshirwan. They came to Berar (Berat), and became chiefs of Pernalla, which city being plundered eight hundred years proir to the writing of this book, his mother fled to Mewar, and was protected by Mandalica Bhil, whom the infant Bappa slew, and seized his territory” — [ Met.197 ]

Akbar commenced his reign in 1555 AD, and had been 40 years on the throne when the Institutes were composed by Abul Fazil. The Zoroastrians were not restrained from eating beef [ Met.197 ]. Another act which testifies to the tolerance of the Mughals towards the Sakas. There are further abundant mentions of the Sakas in Mughal chronicles –

The work which furnished all the knowledge which exists on the Persian ancestry of the Mewar princes is the `Maaser-al-Omra’, or that (in the author’s possession) founded on it, entitled `Bisat-al-Ganaem’, or `Display of the Foe’, written in AH 1204. The writer of this work styles himself `Latchmi Narrain Shufeek Arungabadi’, or `the rhymer of Arungabad’. He professes to give an account of Sevaji, the founder of the Mahratta empire; for which purpose he goes deep into the lineage of the Ranas of Mewar from whom Sevaji was descended, quoting at length the Maaser-al-Omra, from which is the following literal translation: ” It is well known that the Rajahs of Oodipur are exalted over all the princes of Hind, Other Hindu princes, before they can succeed to the throne of their fathers, must receive the khuskhka, or tiluk of regality and investiture, from them. This type of sovereignty is received with humility and veneration. The khushkaof these princes is made with human blood: their title is Rana, and they deduce their (p.198) origin from Noshirwan-i-Adil (ie. the Just), who conquered the countries of [ lacuna in MS ], and many parts of Hindustan. During his life-time his son Noshizad, whose mother was the daughter of the Kesar of Rum [ Maurice, emperor of Byzantium ], quitted the ancient worship and embraced the `faith of the Christians’ [ Din-i-Tersar ], and with numerous followers entered Hindusthan. Thence he marched a great army towards Iran, against his father Noshirwan; who despatched his general, Rambarzeen with a numerous force to oppose him. An action ensued, in which Noshizad was slain; but his issue remained in Hindusthan, from whom are descended to Ranas of Oodipur. Noshirwan had a wife from the Khankhan of China, by whom he had a son called Hormuz, declared heir to the throne shortly before his death. As according to the faith of the fire-worshippers it is not customary either to bury or burn the dead, but to leave the corpse exposed to the rays of the Sun, so it is said that the body of Noshirwan has to this day suffered no decay but is still fresh.” — [ Met.197-8 ]

Continuing the quotation from the work of Arungabadi,

” Of the eldest daughter of Yezdegird, Maha Bahoo, the Parsees have no accounts; but the books of the Hindus give evidence to her arrival in that country, and that from her issue is the tribe of Sesodia. But, at all events, this race is either of the seed of Noshizad, the son of Noshirwan, or that of the daughter of Yezdegird.”— [ Met.199

” Ali Ibrahim, a learned native of Benaras, was Wilford’s authority for asserting the Rana’s Persian descent, who stated tohim that he had seen the original history, which was entilted “Origin of the Peishwas from the Ranas of Mewar.” (Ibrahim must have meant the Satara princes, whose ministers were the Peishwas.) From this authority three distinct emigrations of the Guebres, or ancient Persian, are recorded, from Persia into Guzerat. The first in the time of Abu Beker, AD 631; the second on the defeat of Yezdegird, AD 651; and the third when the descendants of Abbas began to prevail, AD 749. Also that a son of Noshirwan landed near Surat with eighteen thousand of his subjects, from Laristhan, and were well received by the prince of the country. Abul Fuzil confirms this account by saying `the followers of Zerdesht (Zoroaster), when they fled from Persia, settled in Surat, the contracted term from the peninsula of Saurasthra, as well as the city of this name’ “— [ Met.197.ftn. ]

Cacustha and Suryavamse are synonymous according to the genealogists. The term Cacustha may be traced to “the Persian `Kai-caous’, a well-known epithet of the Persian dynasties.” [ Met.200.ftn ].


Rajput tradition records 36 Royal Races (`rajcula’) as being the highest Rajput families. The bulk of these are Scythic in origin. Thus, the following table shows the direct one-to-one correspondence for some of the more prominent Rajculas –

        Rajput Royal Clan           Scythic Progenitor
        Dahya                        Dahae
        Hoon                         Huns
        Jit                          Getae
        Camar                        Camarii
        Sessodia                     Sassanian

The abundant mention of Yavanas or Ionians clearly shows that the Greeks merged into the Scythic races; a fact already evident from the abundant usage of Greek legends on Saka coins found in Rajasthan. Thus, whilst the Brahmanists hold that the Yavanas disappeared into thin air, these persons in fact merged into the Saka population, adopting the Saka Saura faith

 The food which the Rajput consumes once again bears the imprint of his Scythic ancestry:

“Caesar informs us that the Celts of of Britain would not eat the hare, goose, or domestic fowl. The Rajpoot will hunt the first, but neither eats it, nor the goose, sacred to the god of battle (Hara). The Rajpoot of Mewar eats the jungle fowl, but rarely the domestic”– [ Met.74.n ]

The Rajput consumes boar, deer and fowl :

“The Rajpoot slays buffaloes, hunts and eats the boar and deer, and shoots ducks and wild fowl (cookra); he worships his horse, his sword, and the sun,m and attends more to the martial song of the bard than to the lit of any Brahmin.”– [ Met.68 ]

Dietary Customs

The food which the Rajput consumes once again bears the imprint of his Scythic ancestry :

“Caesar informs us that the Celts of of Britain would not eat the hare, goose, or domestic fowl. The Rajpoot will hunt the first, but neither eats it, nor the goose, sacred to the god of battle (Hara). The Rajpoot of Mewar eats the jungle fowl, but rarely the domestic”— [ Met.74.n ]

The Rajput consumes boar, deer and fowl :

“The Rajpoot slays buffaloes, hunts and eats the boar and deer, and shoots ducks and wild fowl (cookra); he worships his horse, his sword, and the sun,m and attends more to the martial song of the bard than to the lit of any Brahmin.”

— [ Met.68 ]


The religion of the Scythians was Sun-Worship in all its forms; the Rajput is thus, not surprisingly, a Sun-worshipper. They are thus referred to in Sanskritic and Prakritic tradition as `Sauras’ (devotees of Surya). Indeed, the Saurashtra peninsula in Gujarat is named after the Scythic Solar deity :

“the remains of numerous temples to this grand object of Scythic homage [ the Sun ] are still to be found scattered over the peninsula; whence its name, `Saurashtra’, the country of the Sauras, or Sun-worshippers; the Surostrene or Syrastrene of ancient geographers; its inhabitants, the Suros of Strabo.” — [ Met.183 ]

This religion is decidedly non-Brahminist as Sauras neither revere the Vedas nor accept Brahmin racial supremacy. The Sauras are thus not included among the 6 orthodox (`astik’) schools of Brahmanism (Vedism and Vaishnavism). As a result, the Rajput Saura is, along with Sudra Shaivas, Tantriks, Bauddhas and Jainas referred to as `nastik’ (heretic) and as a result the Saura has had to suffer considerable religious persecution.

The Scythic Sacae worshipped the god “Gaeto Syrus”, whence the Roman Sol, the Sanskrit Surya, the state of Syria and the Nordic Thor or Sor ( the commentator of the `Edda’ mentions that the ancient Nordics pronounced `th’ as `ss’), and Suarashtra peninsula of Gujarati Rajastan, the `Land of Sun worshippers’ [ Met.448 ]. Indeed the Sacae may have been the acestors of the Saxons of Europe. Thus the Sanskrit term for Sun, Surya, is derived from the Scythic Syrus.

The Surya-mandala is the supreme Rajput heaven [ Met.448 ]. The first day of the week, Aditwar/Aitwar/Thawara (cf. the Nordic Thor) is dedicated to the Sun [ Met.447 ].

Zoroastrianism: In the Vedas, Surya is frequently referred to as “the eye of Mitra, Varuna, and Agni” (RV 1.115.1, RV 6.51.1, RV 7.63.1, WYV 4.35, WYV 7.42, WYV 13.46, AV 13.2.35). This bears striking similarities to Zoroastrian scriptures, where the Sun is described as “the eye of Ahura Mazda”.

[This Vedic passage creates parallels between Surya and Amaterasu who was born from the left eye of Izanagi vs. Mitra=friend/mediator; Varuna=water or ocean deity; Agni=fire. Here the common important role that is assigned to water fountains or springs and the sun by both Persians and ] 

” That there existed a marked affinity in religious rites between the Rana’s family [of Mewar ] and the Guebres, or ancient Persians, is evident. With both, the chief object of adoration was the sun; each bore the image of the orb on their banners. The chief day in the seven [ Sooraj-war or Adit-war, Sun-day ] was dedicated to the sun; to it is sacred the chief gate of the city, the principal bastion of every fortress. But though the faith of Islam has driven away the fairy inhabitants from the fountains of Mithras, that of Surya has still its devotees on the summit of Cheetore, as at Ballabhi; and could we trace with accuracy their creeds to a distant age, we might discover them to be of one family, worshipping the sun at the fountain of the Oxus and Jaxartes.” — [ Met.194 ]

However, some corruption has taken place with the infiltration of Sakta rituals :

“with the exception of the adoration of the `universal mother’ (Bhavani), incarnate in the person of a youthful Jitni, they were utter aliens to the Hindu theocracy. In fact, the doctrines of the great Islamite saint, Sekh Fareed, appear to have overturned the pagan rites brought from the Jaxartes.”

— [ Tod.II.139 ]

Indeed, the classification of Rajpoots as Brahminist Hindus is entirely absurd. It is akin to classing the Jews as Germanic Nordics. What the German did to the Jew, the Brahmanist (or dolicocephalic Later Aryan) did to the Saka. Despite the fiercest and most savage of persecutions at the hands of `astik’ Later Aryan Brahminists, the Saura religion has managed to survive :

“The religion of the martial Rajpoot, and the rites of Hara, the ground of the battle, are little analaogous to those of the meek Hindu s, the followers of the pastoral divinity, the worshippers of kine, and feeders on fruits, herbs and water. The Rajpoot delights in blood as his offerings to the god of battle are sanguinary, blood and wine. The cup (kharpara) of libation is the human skull. He loves them because they are emblematic of the deity he worships and his taught to believe that Hara loves them, who in war is represented with the skull to drink the foeman’s blood, and in peace is the patron of wine and women. With parbutti on his knee, his eyes rolling form the juice of the p’fool ? and opium, such is this Bacchanalian divinity of war. Is this Hinduism, acquired on the burning plains of India ? Is it not rather a prefect picture of the manners of the Scandinavian heroes ?” — [ Met.68 ]

Indeed, the ancestors of the Rajput royal families proudly claim to be descendants of the Su : The children of Bapa [one of the Gehlote ancestors], were named `Agni-upasi Sudrya-vamsi’ or sun-born fire-worshippers.” [ Met.191 ]

The Jhalore fortress of South Marwar has four gates, that from the town is called `Sooruj-pol’ and to the North-West is the Ba’l-pol (`the gate of Bal, the Sun-God). [ Tod.II.240 ]

The architecture of the Rajputs is decidedly Scythic. All across the Sakasthan core regions of Rajputana and Gujarat one finds even today numerous tumuli, sacrifical pillars and burials reminiscent of Central Asia.

The Tumulus

Strikingly, tumuli for which the Scythians of Central Asia are so famous exist in abundance in Rajputana and surrounding regions. Baron Metcalfe noticed the occurrence of tumuli in Rajputstan :

The tumulus, the cairn, or the pillar, still rise over the Rajput who falls in battle; and throughtout Rajputana these sacrificial monuments are found, where are seen carved in relief the warrior on his steed, armed at all points; his faithful wife (Sati) beside him, denoting a sacrifice, and the sun and moon on either side, emblematic of neverdying fame.”
— [ Met.73 ]

Tumuli containing “ashes and arms” exist, “especialy in the South about Golwalcoond” [ the Chohan dominions about Mt. Aboo ] and hence these structures are Scythic as per the testimony of Col. Tod [ Tod.II.357 ].

In addition to the province of Central Asia and the Russian Steppes, the Getes of the Jaxartes built tumuli, as did the Scandinavians. The Getic Alaric’s tomb is only one of numerous such examples [ Met.73 ].

Sacrificial Pillars

Sacrificial pillars are another remnant of the Scythian. They are abundant in the regions surrounding Rajputana which comprise the historic Sakasthan :

” In Saurasthra, amidst the Catti, Comani, Balla and others of Scythic descent, the Pallia or Joojar (sacrificial pillars) are conspicuous under the walls of every town, in lines, irregular groups and circles. On each is displayed in rude relief the warrior, with the manners of his death, lance in hand, generally on horseback, though sometimes in his car.”

— [Met.73 ]

Stone Circles

Stone circles are another feature generally recognised as representing Saka domination. The Jesuits found amidst the Comani of Tartary stone circles, a circumstance which testifies to the Scythic heritage of the region. Baron Metcalfe noted that “it would require no great ingenuity to prove an analogy, if not a common origin, between Druidic circles and the Indu-Scythic monumental remains.” [ Met.73 ]

Sun-Based Architecture

The Sun, the Supreme God of the Saura Rajputs, forms the most important theme for Rajput architecture. The main entrance of Oodipur (Udaipur) is referred to as the Surya-pol [ Met.448 ]. The chief hall of Udaipur palace is called Surya-mahal [ Met.448 ]. A huge painted sun adorns the hall of audience and is behind the throne [ Met.448 ]. These prove that most of the triumphal monuments of the Indo-Scyths were erected to the Sun, further confirming their Saka ancestry. There even exist fountains sacred to the Sun :

“There was a fountain (Suryacoonda) `sacred to the Sun’ at Ballabhipura, from which arose, at the summons of Siladitya (according to legend) the 7-headed horse Saptaswa, which draws the car of Surya, to bear him to battle.” [ Met.185 ]


The Scyths used to fight on horseback. The worship of the sword prevailed among the Scythic Getae as described by Herodotus. Likewise, the Rajput also pays his devotion to his sword, he `swears by the steel’ and prostrates himself before his defensive buckler, his lance,his sword, or his dagger [ Met.73 ].

” The worship of the sword in the Acropolis of Athens by the Getic Atila, with all the accompaniments of pomp and place, forms an admirable episode in the history of the decline and fall of Rome; and had Gibbon witnessed the worship of the double-edged sword (khanda) by the prince of Mewar and all his chivalry, he might have even embellished his animated account of the adoration of the scymitar, the symbol of Mars” [ Met.73 ]


The Rajput, true to his Sun-worshipping Rajput heritage, follows the Solar calendar. This is in sharp contrast to the customs of the Indo-Aryans, who follow the Lunar calendar.


Who are the Children of the Sun?

Eurasian-Scythic and Indian Rajput Connections by Vrndavan Parker

The major extant Indian branches of the Scythic (`Saka’) tribes and their historical ancestry are shown –
Jat                        =>Getae or Jutii [ EB ]
Gujjar                  => Gujarati Khazar [ EB ]
Thakur                => Tokharian [ EB ]
Abhira                => Avars [ EB ]
Saurashtri         =>Sauro Matii (Sarmatians) [ EB ]
Saka                     =>Scythii  [ EB ]
Madra                 =>Medes [ Cakra.10 ]
Dahya                  => Rajcula Dahae [ Met. ]
Sessodia             =>  Sassanian [ Met. ]
Trigarta              =>   Tyri Getae [ Cakra.16 ]
Sulika                  =>   Seleucid [ Cakra.16 ]
Sisunagas of Magadh Sse [ Cakra.10 ] => Magadhi Magii [ Cakra.10 ]
Other tribes classed as Scythic are the Malavas, Arjunayanas, Yaudheyas, Sivis, Parthians, Kushans & Trigarttas [ Cakra.16 ].

The Keraits of Mongoloid race were referred to as Kirata [ Cakra.10 ]. The Sanskritic Aryan texts refer to the Scythians collectively as `Saka’, the Mongoloids as `Naga’ or `Kerait’ and the Negroids as `Sud’; a word related to the stem `Sud – ‘ in `Sudan’. Thus, recent genetic evidence indicates that the Sudroids of India are in fact the Sudanic Negroids who settled in India in ancient times. There is nowhere any concept of a monolithic “Hindu” race mentioned anywhere even up to the Puranic period.

The Sakas are mentioned as being clearly distinct…. Indeed, such well-known Saka races as the Sogdians and Cathii are all represented amongst the Indo-Scythic races :

” He [ the historian ] would find the Soda, the Catti, the Mallani, affording in history, position of nominal resemblance, grounds for inferring that they are the descendants of the Sogdi, Cat’hi and Malli, who opposed the Macedonian in his passage down the Indus.”
— [ Tod.II.256 ]

Col. Tod notes that ” The Gets or Jits and Huns, hold place amongst the 36 royal races of ancient India.” [ Tod.II.256 ]
The Gujjars are the 8th largest Punjabi caste after the Jats, Rajputs, Pathans, Arains, Brahmans, Camars and Chuhras [ Ibb.182 ]. The highest authorities have declared them to be the ancient Khazars who entered India :

“They [ Gujjars] are identified by General Cunningham with the Kushan or Yuchi or Tochari, a tribe of Eastern Tartars. About a century before Chrsit their chief conquered Kabul and the Peshawar country; while his son Hima Kadphises, so well known to the Panjab Numismatologist, extended his sway over the whole of Upper Panjab and the banks of the Jamna so far down as Mathra and the Vindhyas, and his successor the no less familiar king Kanishra, the first Buddhist Indo-Scyth prince, annexed Kashmir to the kingdom of Tochari. These Tochari or Kushan are the Kaspeiraei of Ptolemy, in the middle of the 2nd century of our era, Kaspeira, Kasyapapara or Multan was one of their chief cities.”
— [ Ibb.182 ]

The Indo-Aryan terms Gujjar and Kushan is clearly derived from the original name Khazar via the standard rules of phonetic change. Thus, Indo-Aryan languages universally lack the -kh- and the -z-, transforming them into -g- and -j- respectively. By end of the 3rd century, a portion of the Gujjars had moved south down the Indus and by the mid-5th century there was a Gujjar kingdom in South-Western Rajasthan. They were driven by the Baluchis into Gujarat [ Ibb.182 ]. Gujarat remains their stronghold to the day, and they settled there in such large numbers that the very name `Gujarat’, the `Land of Khazars’ came to be applied to the tract :
“Gujarat is still their [ Gujjar ] stronghold, and in that district they form 13.5 % of the total population.”
— [ Ibb.183 ]

Adding the other Saka tribes present in Gujarat, such as the Rajputs, the Saurashtrians or Sauro Matii and the Kathiawadis or the Catti one obtains well over half the entire population of the region. It is little wonder that this is the case, for the Gujarat-Rajputana region was the locus for the glorious Saka kingdoms of yore. The list of Rajput rajcula (royal races) indeed clearly mentions the Huns and other immigrant Sakas :
” so late are 7 centuries ago we find Getes, Huns, Catti, Ariaspas, Dahae, defnitely settled and enumerated amongst the Chhaties rajcula [of the Rajput ].”
— [ Met. 185 ]

The Rajput Sesodias are the seed of the Sassanid Noshirwan [ Met. 198-200 ] whence the Mewar kings are descended, a circumstance which justified Shivaji’s descent. General Cunningham also considered the Jats to be Scythic :

” General Cunningham and Major Tod consider the Jats Indo-Scythic [ Tod’s Raj. I.52-75 and page 96-101 Madras reprint ] [ Cunningham, ASI reports, II, p.51-61 ] Cunningham identifies the Jats with the Zanthii of Strabo and the Jatii of Pliny and Ptolemy and holds that they probably enterd the Punjab from their home on the Oxus very shortly after the Meds or Mands (also Indo-Scythic) and moved into the Punjab in the 1st century BC ”
— [ Ibb.97 ]

The Parthians also settled in India in large numbers : “Arrian, who resided in the 2nd century at Barugaza (Baroach) descrbies a Parthian sovereignity as extending from the Indus to the Nerbudda.” [ Met.184 ]

The Indo-Scyths were designated by the names of animals, just as their Scythic forbears : ” The Indo-Scythic tribes were designated by the names of animals, Barahas or hogs, Noomries or foxes, Takshacs or snakes, Aswas and Asis or the horse.” [ Tod.II.185.n1 ]


Abundant survivals of the Scythic era of Indian history can be gleamed from the numismatic record. The frequency of archaeological discoveries of Saka coins reaches its maximum in the Rajputana-Gujarat region, the traditional locus of the Saka Kshatrapa kingdom.

” Based on analysis of coins, inscriptions, archeological finds and early Indian/Buddhist/Chinese/Greek/Persian manuscripts dating back to 500 BC, historians and ethnographers (e.g. Cunningham, Tod, Rapson, Ibbetson, Elliot, Ephilstone, Dahiya, Dhillon, Banerjea, Sharma, Sinha, Shrava, Puniya etc.) have shown that the traditional agrarian and artisan communities (e.g. Jats/Gujars/Tarkhans/Khatris/Rajputs/Lohars/Yadavs etc.) of the entire northwest are the descendants of Scythian tribes from central Asia (an aggressive and expansionist old Iranian speaking culture) who settled north-western southasia in successive waves between 5th century B.C. to 5th century AD. Sociological and ethnological information collected in colonial censuses shows that the majority (+65%) of the population of the northwest (“Sakasthan” including Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, northern Maharashtra and western UP) is of Saka origin . Terms like “Sakasthana” appear on ancient Saka inscriptions found as far as Mathura in western Uttar Pradesh (formerly, United Provinces).”

— [ Khalsa, Ch.2 ]

In addition, many of the coins of the Sakas include Greek legends. This indicates that the Greeks were absorbed into the Rajput stock, and that the Rajputs of today possess a considerable Greek ancestry.

The Gujjars are the 8th largest Punjabi caste after the Jats, Rajputs, Pathans, Arains, Brahmans, Camars and Chuhras [ Ibb.182 ]. The highest authorities have declared them to be the ancient Khazars who entered India :

“They [ Gujjars] are identified by General Cunningham with the Kushan or Yuchi or Tochari, a tribe of Eastern Tartars The Indo-Aryan terms Gujjar and Kushan is clearly derived from the original name Khazar via the standard rules of phonetic change. Thus, Indo-Aryan languages universally lack the -kh- and the -z-, transforming them into -g- and -j- respectively. By end of the 3rd century, a portion of the Gujjars had moved south down the Indus and by the mid-5th century there was a Gujjar kingdom in South-Western Rajasthan. They were driven by the Baluchis into Gujarat [ Ibb.182 ]. Gujarat remains their stronghold to the day, and they settled there in such large numbers that the very name `Gujarat’, the `Land of Khazars’ came to be applied to the tract  Adding the other Saka tribes present in Gujarat, such as the Rajputs, the Saurashtrians or Sauro Matii and the Kathiawadis or the Catti one obtains well over half the entire population of the region. It is little wonder that this is the case, for the Gujarat-Rajputana region was the locus for the glorious Saka kingdoms of yore. The list of Rajput rajcula (royal races) indeed clearly mentions the Huns and other immigrant Sakas :

” so late are 7 centuries ago we find Getes, Huns, Catti, Ariaspas, Dahae, defnitely settled and enumerated amongst the Chhaties rajcula [of the Rajput ].”

— [ Met. 185 ]

The Rajput Sesodias are the seed of the Sassanid Noshirwan [ Met. 198-200 ] whence the Mewar kings are descended, a circumstance which justified Shivaji’s descent. General Cunningham also considered the Jats to be Scythic :

The Indo-Iranian Kambojas may also have been contributed to the horsemen culture of early Japan  (see KambojasKamboj and Kamboja Asvaka Ksatriya (Indo-Iranian Light Cavalry) / Bactria) as well as clans such as the Ashinas and Wusuns (see Why Soma and Sake are both the drink of the gods).

Purification rituals of the solar Saka-Scythian tribes and festivals dedicated to Sun God Surya in India:

Surya Jayanthi or Makara Sankaranthi is most Widely celebrated Hindu festival dedicated to the Sun God. It is celebrated as Makara Sankranti throughout India and as Pongal by Tamils all over the world. People thank the Sun God for ensuring a good harvest and dedicate the first grain to him.

This day is also known as Surya Jayanthi because it celebrates the power of the Sun God who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu in his form as Surya is usually worshiped on this day. Usually, Rathasapthami begins in households with a purification bath by holding a few calotropis leaves on one’s head and shoulders while bathing and chanting a verse which is supposed to invoke the benevolence of the Lord in all that one takes up the rest of the year. It also involves doing a puja with the ritual ‘Naivedyam’, flowers and fruits. On this day at Tirumala (Andhra Pradesh), Lord Venkateshwara (Balaji) is mounted on Seven Vahanas (Celestial Vehicles) one after the other starting from Suryaprabha Vahana and ending with Chandraprabha Vahana. Other Vahanas are Hanumad vahana, Garuda Vahana, Peddashesha Vahana, Kalpavruksha vahana and Sarvabhupala vahana. Origin of celestial vehicles – omatsuri

Surya is not mentioned as one of the Adityas in the first book of the epic Mahabarata, but may be regarded as the compound of the twelve solar deities mentioned there, to be understood in connection to the Jyotisha vedic astrology: DhatriMitraAryamanSakraVarunaAmsaVagaVivaswatUshaSavitriTvashtriVishnu.

In Mahabharata, Surya is referred to as father of Karna, as he begot the latter on Kunti when she was virgin. With his grace and in order that Kunti is not spoken of badly in the world, Kunti could retain virginhood even after delivering a child.Makara Sankranti to slide further over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makar Sankranti was on December 31.

Sankranti is a solar event. So while dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing as per the Gregorian calendar, the date of Makar Sankranti remains constant over a long term, 14 January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha.

Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. According to the lunar calendar, when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn or from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana, in the month of Poush in mid-January, it commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the earth from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makar in Hindi, this occasion is named as Makar Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year.

Makar Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the ‘holy phase of transition’. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.

As it is the festival of Sun God and he is regarded as the symbol divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.

In 2011, Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on 15 January 2011.

Maharaja Bhagiratha, performed great penance to bring Ganga down to the earth for the redemption of 60,000 sons of Maharaj Sagar, who were burnt to ashes at the Kapil Muni Ashram, near the present day Ganga Sagar. It was on this day that Bhagirath finally did tarpan[clarification needed]with the Ganges water for his unfortunate ancestors and thereby liberated them from the curse. After visiting the Pataala(underworld) for the redemption of the curse of Bhagirath’s ancestors the Ganges finally merged into the sea. A very big Ganga Sagar Mela is organized every year on this day at the confluence of River Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. Thousands of Hindus take a dip in the water and perform tarpan for their ancestors.[2]

Bhageeratha was the king of Kosala, a kingdom in ancient India. He was a descendent of the great king Sagara of the Suryavamsa, or Sun Dynasty. He was one of the forefathers of Lord Rama, of the Ramayana, the epic in which Bhageeratha’s tale is primarily recounted.

He lost his father when he was just a child, and was raised by his mother. Bhageeratha was very intelligent, virtuous and kind hearted. When he came of age, Bhageeratha ascended to the throne of the kingdom of Kosala, today located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He was a pious, benevolent ruler who adhered to his duties as a king as prescribed by dharma.

Wikipedia Sources: Bhageeratha and Makara Sankaranthi

Note: The above Bhagiratha story illustrates the purification by water ritual that is required for redemption from a curse. This element is found in the Izanagi and Izanami myth, where Izanagi has to carry out ablution rituals after his ascent and escape from the Underworld, and which have formed the ritual basis for the harae rites of Shinto practices.

DNA evidence for the ‘children of the Sun’ and possible origins:

Zhongming Zhao, et al. Presence of three different paternal lineages among North Indians: A study of 560 Y chromosomes Ann Hum Biol. 2009 Jan–Feb; 36(1): 46–59.

Three distinct lineages were revealed based upon 13 haplogroups.

The first was a Central Asian lineage harbouring haplogroups R1 and R2.

The second lineage was of Middle-Eastern origin represented by haplogroups J2*, Shia-specific E1b1b1, and to some extent G* and L*.

The third was the indigenous Indian Y-lineage represented by haplogroups H1*, F*, C* and O*. Haplogroup E1b1b1 was observed in Shias only.

The results revealed that a substantial part of today’s North Indian paternal gene pool was contributed by Central Asian lineages who are Indo-European speakers, suggesting that extant Indian caste groups are primarily the descendants of Indo-European migrants. The presence of haplogroup E in Shias, first reported in this study, suggests a genetic distinction between the two Indo Muslim sects. The findings of the present study provide insights into prehistoric and early historic patterns of migration into India and the evolution of Indian populations in recent history.

All Indian populations were clustered together, but there was further bifurcation between North Indian Brahmins and South Indian Brahmins (Vizag Brahmins). The five populations selected in this study (i.e. three Brahmin groups and two Muslim sects) were distributed along a single branch. Interestingly, not unexpectedly, the Central Asian populations were clustered; however, they were overall closer to Indian populations, depicting the gene flow from Central Asia.

North Indians carry three Y-lineages, one derived from Central Asia or West Eurasia (R1a1, R1b1b2 and R2 haplogroups), one derived from the Middle East (J2, Shia-specific E1b1b1, and to some extent Gand L haplogroups). …data revealed that there may have been admixture between Sunni Muslims and Brahmins in North India. However, a recent study has shown the presence of the YAP + element in lower caste groups, namely Panchamas and Vaishyas of North India (Uttar Pradesh) (Zerjal et al. 2007). It may be postulated that there was admixture between Shia Muslims with both higher and lower caste groups from Uttar Pradesh in the past. Our previous results based on mtDNA analysis (Terreros et al. 2007) revealed that the two Muslim sects (Shia and Sunni) appeared to lack significant levels of the haplogroups (M2, U2, R5) which are believed to represent the proto-Indians involved in the initial migration out of Africa along the southern Asian coast 60 000–80 000 ybp.

Our examination of the 32 UEPs in 560 North Indian Y chromosomes revealed 13 different haplogroups (C, E1b1b1, F, G, H1, J2, K, L, O, P, R1a1, R1b1b2 and R2), of which nine (C, F, H1, J2, K, O, P, R1a1 and R2) were present in all the studied populations.

The Middle East is often called the Fertile Crescent due to the emergence of agriculture during the Neolithic era and is one of the most important geographical areas contributing to the initial population and re-population of Europe (Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman 2003). There were two putative mutations found in the Middle Eastern populations: YAP/PN2/ M35 and 12f2/M172 (Semino et al. 2000; Underhill et al. 2001). The first mutation creates haplogroup E1b1b1 while the other mutation defines haplogroup J2. The Middle Eastern populations might have contributed differentially to the South Asian gene pool during the last 8000–10 000 years (Lahr and Foley 1998). The Y-lineages observed in the present study may suggest two major episodes of migrations: One carried J2 and to some extent L and G with the Neolithic farmers (Underhill et al. 2001) and the other arrived with the Muslims carrying E1b1b1 and a few more haplogroups such as J2 and G. Kivisild et al. (2003) also reported the presence of a J2 clade and postulated that the origin of the J2 clade in India was probably Central Asia. Their hypothesis is based on eight populations taken from different parts of India. They observed the J2 clade in ~13% of the sample. The major Middle Eastern lineage present in our study was J2 with an average frequency of 13.8% and its frequency among Shias was the highest (19.5%). We suggest that the J2 lineage of the studied populations might be derived from the Middle East. This might have been due to two different episodes of migrations, one concomitant with the development and spread of agriculture ~8000–10 000 years ago (Renfrew 1989; Cavalli-Sforza 2005), and the other more recent migration being the arrival of Muslim rulers 1000 years ago. The supporting evidence of the Middle East or West Asian migrations in Indian Muslims was demonstrated by the presence of 11.0% of haplogroup E1b1b1 in Shia Muslims. Our results revealed that Shia Muslims are different from Sunnis and other upper caste populations. They possess a relatively high frequency of the E1b1b1 haplogroup which was not observed in any other population selected for the present study. It appears that gene pool of extant Shia Muslims reflects the contributions of earlier Islamic invaders who might have maintained the founder population features. Zerjal et al. (2007) have also recently reported the low frequency of E3b3a (old nomenclature in YCC2002) in lower caste populations, i.e. Panchamas and Vaishyas populations of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Saini, JS et al. Genomic diversity and affinities in population groups of North West India: An analysis of Alu insertion and a single nucleotide polymorphism. Gene. 2012 Dec 15;511(2):293-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2012.08.034. Epub 2012 Sep 17

The North West region of India is extremely important to understand the peopling of India, as it acted as a corridor to the foreign invaders from Eurasia and Central Asia. A series of these invasions along with multiple migrations led to intermixture of variable populations, strongly contributing to genetic variations. The present investigation was designed to explore the genetic diversities and affinities among the five major ethnic groups from North West India; Brahmin, Jat Sikh, Bania, Rajput and Gujjar….. Genetic distance estimates revealed that Gujjars were close to Banias and Jat Sikhs were close to Rajputs. Overall the study favored the recent division of the populations of North West India into largely endogamous groups. It was observed that the populations of North West India represent a more or less homogenous genetic entity, owing to their common ancestral history as well as geographical proximity.

The Central Asian or west Eurasian Y-lineages are depicted in terms of presenting a similar high frequency of sibling clades of R haplogroups (R1a1 and R2) in the studied populations. A total of 256 of the 560 individuals (45.7%) in this study belonged to European Y-lineages, i.e. R1a1 (M173/M17), R1b1b2 (M173) and R2 (M124) clades (Figure 1). Similar results were reported in a previous study of the Indian subcontinent (Kivisild et al. 2003). Haplogroup R reflects the impact of expansion and migration of Indo-European pastoralists from Central Asia, thus linking haplogroup frequency to specific historical events (Sengupta et al. 2006). Haplogroup R is widely spread in central Asian Turkic-speaking populations and in eastern European Finno-Ugric and Slavic speakers and is less frequent in populations from the Middle East and Sino-Tibetan regions of northern China (Karafet et al. 1999; Underhill et al. 2000).

Interestingly, the high frequency of the R1a1 haplogroup seems to be concentrated around the elevated terrain of central and western Asia. Several migratory routes of H. sapiens are illustrated in Figure 3. Although haplogroup R1a in Central Asians depicted a low genetic diversity estimate, many researchers (Kivisild et al. 2003; Zerjal et al. 2003) have suggested a recent founder effect or drift that led to the high frequency of R1a in the Southeastern Central Asia. It has also been suggested that R1a might have an independent origin in the Indian subcontinent (Kivisild et al. 2003). We have observed a low frequency of R1b1b2 (0.5%). An additional signature of the Central Asian lineage is haplogroup R2. Its frequency was 22.0% in our sample. This haplogroup is mainly found in Indian, Iranian, and Central Asian populations and has been postulated to have a Central Asian origin (Quintana-Murci et al. 2001; Wells et al. 2001; Kivisild et al. 2003). However, our results have shown that high incidence of R2 clade was also observed in other North Indian populations, which was similarly reported in other studies (Cordaux et al. 2004; Cavalli-Sforza 2005). Overall, we suggest that Central Asia is the most likely source of North Indian Y lineage considering the historical and genetic background of North India (Karve 1968; Balakrishnan 1978).

Ethnic India: A genomic view with special reference to peopling and structure

Races in India notes:  considerable diversity in R1a1-M17 (and R2), especially in the northwest, possibly exceeding 10-15 Ka in time depth, and this has been confirmed in another study. This may be inconsistent with a single recent (i.e. about 5 Ka) entry of the comparatively recent (about 7 Ka) linguistic group called Indoeuropeans into India, though complicated exogamy rules can confound such simple conclusions. In fact, since the maximal diversity is around the Hindukush mountains, one can even postulate that as the source region, but the strong association with the Indo-european languages (which are unlikely to have arisen in that region), and its higher frequency (and lower diversity!) among caste Indians compared to tribals…R1a1 probably marks multiple separate population movement which still remains to be deciphered. …The R1a1 fraction in different populations (Sengupta et al. and Qamar et al.): West Bengal Brahmins: 72%, Konkanasth Brahmins: 63%, Muslims: 58%, Sindhi Pakistani: 52/49%, Kashmiri Pakistani: 51%, Pathan Pakistani: 49%, Balti Pakistani: 46%, Tanti: 41%, Pathan Pakistan: 40/49%, UP Brahmins: 36%, Rajput: 31%, Baluchi Pakistanis: 28%. J2a is more common in India amongst the Iyengar, Iyer, and Kurumba and in Pakistan among the coastal, Sindhis, Makranis, and Baluchis.“

Sources and references:

Source of the Izanagi’s descent into the Underworld;

Creation of Japan (Izanagi Jingu) Part 1


Scythic Origin of the Rajput Race by Mulchand Chauhan, published by Rajputana Liberation Front, Ujjain, 1999, Copyright Notice: Excerpts have been used in this article in accordance with their terms and with credit

The “Red Book” ~ INANNA, QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND EARTH: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer. This book contains the Marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi.

The Miao Flower Mountain Festival

Why Soma and Sake are both the drink of the gods

Notes on Hurrian/Anatolian-Syrian vs semitic burial structure types AND the Syrian Nestorian influences in Central and East Asia

p. 248 Early urbanism on the Syrian Euphrates on the coexistence of ethnic populations distinguishable by the different grave burial types: Hurrian/Anatolian=cist burials vs Semitic shaft rockcut graves cut into slopes

Cist burial graves are likely associated with Anatolian-Hurrian populations — from the north and northeast of Akkad (northeastern Syria; along Euphrates river, south Syria) – ca late 3000 BC

Burials surrounded by shaft graves rock cut types – belong to Semitic populations (eg proto- and Amorites of Northern and Southern Syria) big bend of the Euphrates river; western Syria; Tell Bi’a; Levant and seen in Palestine and Transjordan – but are most numerous at Carchemish; Hurrian and semitic populations co-exist-with Hurrians in the northern areas at the same time, semitic rockcut graves can occasionally also be seen in the northern Anatolia – Early Bronze period, late 3,000 BC

Rockcut tombs of Naqsh-e Rustam (Persian: نقش رستم‎ Naqš-e Rostam) also referred to as Necropolis is an archaeological site located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, in Fars provinceIran. Naqsh-e Rustam lies a few hundred meters from Naqsh-e Rajab. The oldest relief at Naqsh-i Rustam is severely damaged and dates to c. 1000 BC. It depicts a faint image of a man with unusual head-gear and is thought to be Elamite in origin. Four tombs belonging to Achaemenid kings are carved out of the rock face. The tombs are known locally as the ‘Persian crosses’, after the shape of the facades of the tombs. The entrance to each tomb is at the center of each cross, which opens onto to a small chamber, where the king lay in a sarcophagus.

20101229 Naqsh e Rostam Shiraz Iran more Panoramic.jpg

Changan, the upper capital, was the centre of imperial splendour. Caravans brought with them traders and jugglers, monks and pilgrims from Persia, Armenia and even from Antioch and Byzantium. Their strange appearances and outlandish clothes never failed to amuse the Chinese onlookers. Meanwhile Chinese had also been deported to Central Asia or sent there as soldier-peasants to garrison the fortifications across the steppes . Several Chinese leaders during the T’ang Dynasty were of foreign origin. The poet Li Po’s ancestral family had been exiled to the Western region in the 7th century. Li Po himself was born in AD 701, either on the way from Suyab to China or in Suyab , the modern Tokmak, in what is now the Soviet Republic of Turkestan.

Tang China had great confidence in her own cultural heritage. It was a period when China was most receptive to foreign influence and was ready to borrow from outside art forms and motifs and even to assimilate the faiths of her subject nations and friendly neighbors. Against such a setting, Nestorian Christianity first came to China.

Alopen, the Persian Bishop, began the Nestorian mission in Chang-an in AD 635, the same year when St. Aidan came to preach the Gospel in Northumbria

But why 635 ? In the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, the overland route between Persia and China had been barred by the people of Turkestan. The Eastern Turks challenged the authority of the Tang Emperor while the Western Turks held sway over the valley of the River Chu with Tokmak as their centre. However, in 630 the Eastern Turks were overwhelmed by Tang forces and the Western Turks without a fight surrendered to Tang power and influence. The route to Persia was therefore reopened. As we learn from Tangshu 唐書, “When the embassy from Bukhara came to the capital to offer tribute, Taizong 太宗 greeted the ambassador saying, ‘The Western Turks have surrendered. Now merchants are safe to travel.’ All the tribes welcomed the news with great joy.”

The semi-barbarian tribes in Central Asia agreed to honour the Tang Emperor by the title of “Tien-ko-han” (King of the Khans) recognizing him as the leader of the International Peace League. Prof. Shen Shih-min, author of a history of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, has reminded us that in the original Turkish tongue the term Tien-ko-han probably meant the Son of Heaven.

Thus, Alopen was able to make his historic journey to China. However, before 635 many merchants of Persian origin must have lived in Changan, and undoubtedly there were some Nestorians among them. Also, there must have been in the Tang Capital a number of Nestorians of Central Asian origin from Sogdiana or from Bukhara. The very fact that the Emperor sent the minister of state Fang Xuan-ling 方玄齡, to take an escort to the western outposts to meet Alopen suggests that elaborate preparations had been made for his conring. Again, as we learn from the Nestorian Monument, the Emperor granted Alopen permission to translate the Nestorian Sutras in the Imperial Library. This was in line with the Tang Dynasty’s broad policy of toleration and interest in fostering foreign religions. In 638 Alopen with the help of Chinese associates completed the first Christian book in Chinese The Sutra of Jesus the Messiah. It was not a translation but rather a free adaptation to meet the needs of the mission in Changan. Japanese scholars indicate that the original was likely to be in the Persian or Sogdian language rather than Syriac.

The term, “Uo-li-si-liam,” for instance, seems to be a transliteration of Jerusalem in the Persian tongue.

In this first Christian book in Chinese, Alopen took pains to show that Christianity contained nothing subversive to China’s ancient traditions . He pointed out that loyalty to the state and filial piety to one’s parents were not contrary to Christian teaching. The portrait of the Emperor Taizong (627-649), as we learn from the Nestorian Monument of 781, was in fact painted on the wall of the Nestorian monasti.c church, reminiscent of the portrait of the Emperor Justinian (483-565) in the Byzantine church in Ravenna.

But this early Chinese Christian classic was not only an apology. It was an introduction to the Christian faith. The life of our Lord from the Nativity to the Passion was presented for the first time to Chinese readers.

The Emperor was pleased with Alopen’s achievement. An imperial decree proclaimed the virtue of the Nestorian religion and ordered a Nestorian monastery to be built in the Yi-ning quarter by local officials . Now the Yi-ning quarter was in the extreme west of the city where the Persian and Central-Asian traders were concentrated. The site of the monastery was clearly indicated in the Chang-an Chi (AD 1076). “North of the east of the street is the foreign monastery of Persia. In the 12th Ching-Kuan year (AD 639), Taizong built it for Alopen, a foreign monk of Daqin 大秦.” The monastery, therefore, seems to have been located in the north-east angle of the cross formed by the two main streets in the Yi-ning quarter. The monastery began with 21 monks.

During the reign of Gaozong 高宗 (649-693), Nestorian Christianity was further favoured by the court. By Imperial decree, Alopen was promoted to be great Spiritual Lord, Protector of the Empire, ie. Metropolitan of Chang-an. No doubt the Nestorian Monument greatly exaggerated the importance of Nestorianism in Tang China. “The religion_ spread throughout the ten provinces … monasteries abound in hundred cities.” ‘Nevertheless, we have reason believe that there were several Nestorian monasteries outside Chang-an. In Loyang 洛陽 a Nestorian monastery was erected in the Shau-hsien quarter, and there must have been Nestorian monasteries also in Tuan-huang, Ling-wu and perhaps in Sichuan 泗川.

Nestorian Christianity witnessed a serious setback in the reign of the usurping Empress Wu 武則天, a woman of great energy and ability. In 690 she proclaimed herself the founder of a new dynasty -Chou 周- and wished to be remembered by posterity as an outstanding Empress. Accordingly her half brother, Wu San-Ssu, proposed to erect a gigantic column in her honor, to be located outside the Tuan gate of the Imperial city. A famous Indian sculptor and craftsman was commissioned to execute the intricate design. It was to be an octagonal column with a height of 105 feet built in a base with carved unicorns. On the pinnacle of the column was to be a dragon embracing a large orb representing the rising sun. The enormous task of financing and erecting the imposing column was entrusted to the Nestorian layman Abraham. It was a tribute to the skill of the Indian craftsman and to the administrative talent of Abraham that the immense project took only eight months to complete.

Only two years previously, the Buddhists of Loyang had opened an attack upon the Nestorians. Now Abraham’s act of homage must have assured the Empress of the loyalty of the Nestorian congregation and thus averted the Buddhist attempt to uproot the young church from Chinese soil…..

Abraham came from a noble Persian family. Emperor Kao Tsung, noting his remarkable achievement and great fame, summoned him to his court and sent him on a mission to the countries east of Persia. The inscription on his tombstone stated that he brought the holy religion to the barbarian tribes who had since lived in peace and concord. Not least was the virtue of his leadership in summoning the kings of various countries to erect the heavenly column in the reign of Empress Wu. He died on the first day of the fourth month in the first year of Chun Yun (710) at his private residence in Loyang, aged 95.

If Abraham, the nobleman, helped the Nestorians to stand firm and weather the storm of Buddhist antagonism in Loyang. Abraham, the abbot, with Bishop Gabriel, succeeded in “supporting together the mystic cord and tying the broken knot” after the mocking and slandering of the Nestorians by the Daoists in Chang-an (712-713). In 713 the Emperor Xuanzong 玄宗 (712-757) ordered the Prince of Ning Kuo and four other princes to go to the Nestorian monastery to build and set up the altars again. In 744 he decreed that Abbot Abraham, together with Bishop George (Chi-ho), the monk Pu-lun and five other monks, should go to celebrate Holy Eucharist in the Hsing-ching Palace, the residence of the Emperor’s elder brother and four other brothers .

Of Bishop Gabriel (Chih-lieh) we obtain con-siderable information from Chinese sources. It is significant to note that Gabriel came to China by sea. Toward the end of the 7th century, Canton had become the chief seaport for foreign trade. In 8th century Canton, the merchants from abroad were allowed a large measure of self-government and the free exercise of their religion.

Bishop Gabriel arrived in. Canton in 713 or earlier. He worked among Persian merchants and craftsmen and acquired a knowledge of Chinese. The Nestorian Church. in Canton was, no doubt, blessed by the presence and guidance of the Bishop. Furthermore, while in Canton. Gabriel made the acquaintance of the Inspector of merchant shipping, Chou Ching-li. With the encouragement and help of Chou, he began to “carve quaint things and make wonderful objects.” Like Ricci after him, Gabriel cherished the hope that through the gifts of valuable curios, the Emperor might be induced to look more kindly upon the Nestorian mission. It aroused, however, the opposition of Liu Ze, the censor of the Province. He submitted a memorial to the Emperor. “Ching-Ii is seeking to beguile your sage understanding, to shake and subvert your lofty mind. Will your Majesty trust and allow it? This would be to spread decadence in the whole Empire!” Officially, the Emperor gave Liu Tse his approval. The Nestorian Monument, however sug-gests that Gabriel had won the favour of the Emperor. The truth is that, even though Hsuan Tsung may not have been greatly impressed by the wonderful objects, the ministry of Bishop Gabriel and of Abbot Abraham seemed to have created a new atmosphere in Chang-an.

According to the Cefu Yuanguei 冊府元龜, the second mission of Bishop Gabriel took place in October 732 when the King of Persia sent the chief P’an-na-mi with Bishop Cabriel on an embassy to Chang-an. The Emperor was pleased and gave Gabriel a purple kashaya and fifty pieces of silk.

Gabriel’s success must have encouraged the Nestorians in Persia to send more missions. In 744 Bishop George (Chi-ho) took the journey to the Far East. That he was permitted to celebrate the Eucharist in the Palace of the Emperor’s elder brother was a strong indication of the steady progress of the Nestorian Church in China. In addition, the Emperor’s brothers had already had their encounter with the Nestorian Church in 713 and this might prove to be fruitful in due course.

In October 745 an Imperial decree stated that since the cradle of Nestorianism was in Daqin 大秦, the Persian monasteries in the two capitals and in departments and districts of the Empire should be changed to Ta Ch’in monasteries.

The rebellion of An Lu-shan 安綠山 in 755 was the turning point in Tang Dynasty history. It was a traditional policy of the Tang Emperors to employ foreign legions in the defence of the frontiers. An Lu-shan, born of an lranian-Turkic family, had won high favour from the Imperial Court and had a large army under his command. In the Autumn of 755 he led the rebellion against Xuanzong. Early in 756 he captured Loyang and soon his forces entered Chang-an. Shortly before the fall of the capital, Hsuan Tsung fled south to Chengtu and on the way he abdicated in favour of his third son who had his headquarters in Ling-wu.

Suzong (756-763) as Tien-ko-han summoned soldiers from the garrisons of various countries, Turkestan, Kashgar, Kucha and Khotan, to put down the revolt. Some of those foreign soldiers were Nestorians, others were Manichaeans. The military genius General Guo Zu-yi, with the help of these legions, succeeded in crushing the rebels. The General’s influence in the Court may well be the reason why the Nestorians enjoyed a measure of favour under Suzong and his successors. Due to the civil war, undoubtedly some Nestorian monasteries were damaged while others were left ruined and unoccupied. Suzong ordered the restoration of five monasteries in Ling-wu and other districts, as a gesture of Imperial favour.

One of the most outstanding commanders in the campaign was Issu (Yazdbazed), who came to China from Balkh, where his father Milis had been a priest, He was second-in-command to General Kuo and was richly rewarded after the rebellion had definitely been put down. – With his ascendency, the Nestorians experienced a marked revival. Every year Issu assembled the monks of four monasteries for divine service and meditation. The conference lasted the whole of 50 days. Moreover, the Nestorian Monument recorded that he had a deep concern for the welfare of the people.

Early Nestorian missionaries were well known for their medical knowledge and surgical skill We can thus appreciate the devotion and social concern of Issu. Suzong’s successors continued to shower Imperial favours upon the Nestorians. Taizong (763-780), for example, repaid merits with gifts of incense and gave a royal feast to honour the Nestorian congregations . In the reign of Dezong 德宗 the Monument (781), to which we owe so much for our knowledge of Nestorianism in the Tang Dynasty, was erected in Issu’s honour.

In general, the Tang Dynasty was an age of religious toleration and intellectual curiosity. However, when Wuzong ascended the throne, the Daoists came to control the Court. They were in-tensely jealous of the rapid growth of Buddhist, monasteries. In the reign of Xuanzong there were already 5,358 monasteries. In 749 it was estimated that there were 120,000 men and women who had taken the vow. The number continued to grow after the rebellion. But economic and political matters also contributed to Wuzong’s policy of persecution in 845. Monastic establishments withdrew men in great numbers from military and civil services and cut down the receipts of the imperial treasury through their immunity from taxation. In 845 Wuzong suppressed 4,600 monasteries and more than 40,000 private monastic establishments. Only historic Buddhist monasteries of great beauty in the large cities were to be preserved. He also ordered some 260,000 monks and nuns to return to secular lives. Monasteries of Central and Western Asian origins were also involved. A petition to the Court stated, “As for the Daqin (Nestorian) and Muhu (Zoroastrian) temples, these heretical religions must not alone be left when the Buddhists have been suppressed; they must all be compelled to re.turn to lay life and resume their original callings and pay taxes, or if they are foreign they shall be sent back to their native Places.” From this petition it is clear that there were Chinese Nestorian members as well as those of Persian or Central Asian origin. It followed that an Imperial decree “compelled the Daqin (Nestorianism) and Muhu, (Zoroastrianism) to the number of more than 3,000 persons to return to lay life and to cease to confound the customs of China.”

Meanwhile many Nestorians must have journeyed to Canton and made ready for their long voyage home. In Canton they would learn that the Imperial decree had been revoked by Wuzong’s successor and it was likely that some of them would remain in the southern city. The ninth century Arabic writer, Abu Zaid, edited a collection of travellers’ journals.

His readers were told that in the rebellion of Bansu (Huang Ch,ao), who captured Khanfu (Canton) in 877, many inhabitants were put to death. Persons well-informed about these affairs relate that, without counting the Chinese who were massacred, there perished six score thousand Mohammedans, Jews, Christians and Parsis who were living in the city and doing business there.” This was no doubt an incorrect figure. Yet the fact remains that the foreign population in Canton was large in the ninth century and among them there was a substanial number of Nestorian Christians.

Patriarch Theodosius (AD 852-868) in a list of Metropolitans of the Nestorian Church failed to mention that there was a metropolitan in China. This may be due to the fact that the church had not recovered after the violent persecution in 845.

With the fall of the Tang Dynasty, there was a rapid decline of Nestorianism in China. In 986 a monk from Najran who had been sent by the Nestorian Patriarch to China in 982 was reported to have said, “Christianity is extinct in China; the native Christians have perished in one way or another ; the church which they had has been destroyed and there is only one Christian left in the land.” No one would take this seriously as an accurate report for the whole Chinese Nestorian church. But we may feel sure that the fall of the Tang Dynasty also meant the eclipse of the Nestorian mission in China proper.


Identifying Nestorians:

Worship eastward seems to be the first rule in Nestorian teaching. ‘The Monument relates “Worshipping toward the east, they hasten on the way to life and glory.” In the Mongol period, in the history of Chin-kiang, we also read, “The worship towards the east is regarded as the principal thing in the religion.” William of Rubruck like-worse pointed out “Then on the octave of Holy Innocents (January 4th) we were taken to the court and some Nestorian priests came. I did not know they were Christians and they asked me in what direction we worshipped. I said, ‘Towards the East.'”

The veneration of the cross, as the instrument of redemption, became a Nestorian devotion. According to the Monument, “He set out the cross to define the four quarters,” North, South, East and West. William of Rubruck told us that women of the Imperial Mongol household adored the cross with great devotion as they were instructed in that respect by the Nestorian priests. The cross indeed occupied so prominent a place in Nestorian faith and life that in the Mongol period the Nestorian monasteries were known as the monasteries of the cross. However, the Nestorians venerated the cross but not the crucifix as William of Rubruck reminded the readers of his Journal.

In the Nestorian monasteries, seven hours of ritual praise were kept and prayers were offered for the living and the dead. Sunday worship was especially stressed as “washing the heart and restoring purity.”

The sacrament of baptism occupied a most important place in the Nestorian church. As the Monument stated, “The water and the Spirit of baptism wash away vain glory and cleanse one fine and white.” This was equally true in the Mongol period. As we learn from William of Rubruck, “On Easter Eve the Nestorians baptized in the most correct manner more than 60 people and there was great common joy among all Christians.” (Chap. xxx). This was a fine tribute from a Franciscan witness.

Of the Eucharist, we learn little from early Chinese Nestorian writing. But William of Rubruck’s Journal did throw some light on Nestorian liturgy. He wrote that in the church near Karakorum, the Nestorians celebrated Eucharist with a large silver chalice and paten. Again he recorded, “I said Mass on Maundy Thursday with their silver chalice and paten, which vessels were very large.”

According to The Book of the Honoured Ones, the Trinitarian formula was stressed in divine service. “We reverently worship the mysterious Person, God the Father; the responding Person, God the Son; and the witnessing Person, the Spirit of Holiness We worship the Holy Trinity-three Persons in one.”

We also have a Nestorian order of service dated 720, apparently for a special holy day. After the singing of a hymn, in this case the Hymn of Eternal Salvation, the congregation venerated St. John (probably reciting the collect of St. John’s Day). This was followed by the recitation of the Book of Heavenly Treasure Store (The Breviary), the Psalms and the Gospels.

The Nestorian monks kept the beard and shaved the crown. The clergy were divided into two kinds: the black, clergy were the religious while the white clergy were the percular priests. Issu, for example though married is described as a monk and given the purple kashaya. His father, Milis, as we have noted, had also been a secular priest.

The Nestorian clergy were well-known for their social concern. There was no slavery in the Nestorian household. Moreover, the Nestorian missionaries were known among non-Christians for their medical knowledge and skill. This was one of the reasons for their success during the greater part of the Tang Dynasty.

The eighth century also saw the beginning of Chinese hymnology. One of the oldest Chinese hymns – The Hymn to the Holy Trinity -was written at Chang-an around the year 800. It was probably the East Syriac form of the Gloria in Excelsis. Scholars are impressed with its rich imagery and its free adaptation of Buddhist terms. But it is not syncretism. As Prof. J. Foster of the University of Glasgow has reminded us, “Rather it is a borrowing of terminology, and a relation of doctrine to a familiar background of thought, as the only way of expressing Christian truth in its Far-eastern environment. ”

In any case, we have a sequel to this sutra in The Messiah’s Discourse on Charity which appeared in 642. Some of the terms adopted are quite ingenious. The Holy Spirit is the “Pure Wind;” the Resurrection is the “Holy Transformation.” The first half of this latter document was devoted to a paraphrase of the Sermon on the Mount. The second half resumed the narrative of the life of Christ. It began with a description of the events which occurred at the time of the death and resurrection of Christ the splitting of the rocks, the opening of the tombs of the saints and their appearance for a period of 44 days (Matthew 27:52). In the section on the Ascension, the document ended thus,” Take My words and preach to all peoples. Call them to come to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I shall be with you in all your ways until the end of the earth. “Again it is reminiscent of the last verse of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Indeed, St. Matthew is the Gospel par excellence for the Nestorians, and Alopen used it as the basis of his narrative both in the Sutra of Jesus the Messiah and in its sequel. The Book of the Honoured Ones (ninth century) gave a list of saints and scriptures. Among the saints or fa wongs (spiritual kings) one can recognize John, Luke, Mark, Matthew, Moses, David, Paul, Azariah, Michael, Milis and George. The list of scriptures includes the titles of 35 books which were venerated by the church in China. One can easily identify the Gospels, the Acts, Epistles of St. Paul, the Psalms, parts of the Pentateuch, a Breviary, and at least two of the original Chinese Nestorian books – Sutra Proclaiming the Origin and Root of the Holy Religion and the Sutra of Mysterious Peace and Joy.

In addition to Christian books, some Manichaean and astrological books like The Book of Three Moments and The Book of Four Gates were also included. In putting down the An Lu-shan rebellion, Nestorian tribesmen were fighting side by side with Manichaean Uighurs. In the process, the Nestorians apparently were influenced by the latter’s beliefs. In the beginning and in the middle period of the Tang Dynasty, the Nestorians had freely borrowed Buddhist and Daoist terms and imagery to express Christian doctrine, as we have seen in The Sutra of Jesus the Messiah and in The Hymn to the Holy Trinity. Moreover free adaptation of Daoist terms in the Nestorian Monument is well known. Some of the sentences echoed closely the thoughts of Daodejing 道德經. For example, compare the phrases of the Monument, ” The true and eternal way is wonderful and hard to name; its merits and use are manifest and splendid, forcing us to call it the brilliant teaching;” with those of the Daodejing, “We do not know its real name (to classify it); that we may have it in writing we say, ‘Dao,’ ‘The Way.'”

Now it is evident that the Nestorian Christians freely used Daoist terms and phrases in order to call the attention of the Chinese literati and the Imperial courtiers who favored Daoism to the Syriac religion. Yet after the turn of the ninth century, it ‘ is obvious that Nestorian writings were increasingly becoming syncretic in nature. The way that Buddhist and Daoist thoughts were freely borrowed had gone much beyond Alopen or Adam, the author of the inscription on the Monument. In the Sutra of Mysterious Peace and Joy, the Christian elements had largely disappeared. As the Messiah was surrounded by His disciples, like the Buddha, He enlightened them with divine mystery and at the con-elusion of the discourse, the disciples were imbued with joy and with due ceremony withdrew. The setting bears little resemblance to that by the Sea of Galilee. But what was taught is even more astounding. It was not an adaptation of the Sermon on the Mount as we have seen in the early sutra of The Messiah’s Discourse on Charity. It was rather a discourse on the overcoming of desire and thereby attaining inner peace and joy. It was more akin to Buddhism or Gnosticism than to Christianity.

The question is often raised whether the ministry of the Nestorians in China was aimed at the Chinese people. Or was the main work of Alopen and his successors that of caring for the needs of Nestorians in China and across the frontiers who had been gravely neglected by the Mother Church in Persia and left without episcopal or pastoral care ? To begin with, the congregations of the Nestorian monastic churches in Chang-an and Loyang must have been largely Persian or Central Asian. But it is likely that missionary work among the Chinese also stood high on the list of Alopen’s purposes. The very fact that the liturgy was written in Chinese is sufficient to show that there must have been a number of Chinese in the Nestorian congregations. Moreover, in the persecution of foreign religions in 845 we learn that, besides foreign monks of Persian or Central Asian origin, there were a number of Chinese monks serving the Nestorian Church. These too must “be compelled to return to lay life and resume their original callings and pay taxes.”

Again, the missionary impulse was clearly stated in the Hymn of Eternal Salvation (720), “The Great Holy and Merciful Father will use His wisdom and strength to save the hundreds of millions of people … so that they could also return to the great truth.”

But when all is said, the fact remains that Nestorianism in China was largely. a foreign church, without deep roots in Chinese soil. It had not entered the hearts of the people and really made itself at home. There was no Hsuan-tsang in the Nestorian Church who could translate Christian Scripture into elegant and lucid Chinese. Even Adam, who did so much for Nestorian Christianity in China, was of Central Asian origin. The Nestorians in China relied on the support of the mother church ‘i~n Central Asia of Persia ‘or Baghdad. After the fall of the Tang Dynasty, it was exceedingly difficult to have communications with the Patriarch and no new missionaries could reach China in the time of turmoil. Moreover the Nestorian Church in China was largely dependent on Imperial patronage. The fall of the Dynasty, therefore, meant the eclipse of the mission.

Nevertheless, Nestorianism continued to exist in Central Asia and along the Chinese frontiers. As early as the latter half of the eighth century, Nestorianism began to flourish among the Turkic tribes. In 781, the Patriarch Timothy was requested by the King of the Turks to establish a Metropolitan See there. The Patriarch noted, “The King of the Turks and nearly all the inhabitants of the country left their ancient idolatry and became Christians. He has requested us in his letters to create a Metropolitan See for his country and this we have done.”

It was an age of Nestorian expansion. Central Asia was completely under Nestorian influence. The Patriarch was ruling a large church with 25 Metro-politans from Mesopotamia to the border of China. The Tokmak Cemetery alone contains over 600 gravestones, mostly with Syriac inscriptions dating from the middle of the 9th to the middle of the 14th Century. While in China, in a Nestorian monastery in San-pen Hill six or seven miles north-west of Fang-shan in Hebei Province 河北省, we find inscriptions on a tablet dated 960 and on another dated 1365. These were Syriac inscriptions which included carved crosses. In spite of the eclipse of the mission in Chang-an, Loyang and Canton, the Nestorian C

Church continued to flourish along the frontiers of China and sometimes even in a corner of China itself.

Syrian Nestorian Christians in Japan by the Keikyo Institute

“There is a wealth of information about the Hata clan; an early arrival of a group of Syrian Nestorian Christians in Japan. Contrary to common perception propagated by the Alexandrian faction within the Roman Church of the 320’s, Nestorians did believe in the trinity and the duality of Christ. Nevertheless they were under religious persecution, and many Syrian Christians fled east.

A French king once sent an envoy to central Asia urging the Mongol khan to convert to Roman Chritianity and to kneel before him; the khan roared in laughter ! “I AM Christian ! It is your king who should convert to my church, and kneel before me. The same goes for your pope, too !” I love this Mongol Nestorian khan for his wit surpassing the French bluntness.

The Hatas were a Nestorian tribe who lived originally under Persian domination in Khotan, now in Eastern Turkestan, but migrated to Japan via China and Korea in search of religious freedom. The landed at Sakoshi near the present city of Himeji in Kyogo prefecture some 1500 years ago and there erected the first Christian churches long before St. Francis Xavier arrived in 1549. Later they move to Uzumasa, now Kyoto City, where they erected many other churches. Although they were persecuted by Buddhists in China and Korea, they were granted freedom in everthing except using the Christian name from the time of their arrival to the days of Empress Suiko.

Under Shotoku 聖德太子, Prince Regent under the Empress Suiko in 7th c., the Hatas were happy indeed since the wise Prince Regent, though himself a Buddhist, granted them full liberty under the provisions of his famous Seventeen-Article Constitution. It might be noted that the English scholar, Prof. Lewis Bush, a high official of the Occupation Forces, declared in 1947 that “Shotoku Taishi 聖德太子 was essentially a democrat…Had it not been for the general indifference to this great man, the world would know more about him today.”

In the days of this great Prince Regent the Nestorian church grounds at Uzumasa had their own “Well of Israel” attached to a David’s Shrine, and on the well-spring stood a Sacred Tripod symbolizing the Trinity (cf. Rev. XXI,22,XXII 1,2) from which a limpid stream flowed. Visitors to Uzumasa can still see a tripod, built in the style of a triangular torii, which marks the exact spot where the original Nestorian tripod once stood.

These various Nestorian sites have been identified only recently by the author emplying evidence from stidies in archaelogy, philology, and folklore. The writer admits, however, that this would have been impossible without the suggestions and hypothesis advanced by the English author, Mrs. E. A. Gordon in her several published works. A study of some historical sources has convinced me that it was a Nestorian, Raca, who directed the first orphan asylum ever established in Japan.

Nestorianism in the days of Empress Suiko exerted great influence on Japanese culture. Shotoku may be regarded quite justly as the founder of social work in Japan. He established the Shitennoji Buddhist Temple in Osaka comprising four separate charitable institutions including the Kyoden-in (a sanctuary of religion, learning and music), The Ryobyo-in (a charitable hospital), the Seyaku-in (a charitable dispensary), and the Hiden-in (an asylum for the helpless). To him goes the credit for having been the first to carry on social work on a large scale in Japan, but I believe that it cannot be denied that this work was modeled on the charitable work of the Nestorian church at Uzumasa. I think this name is a variant of the Aramaic, “Ishoo M’shikha” meaning Jesus Christ.

Although Nestorian Christians in Japan went over completely to Conventional Taoism at one time after Prince Shotoku’s death, Emperor Shomu and his consort, Empress Komyo, gave an audience to a Nestorian missionary who came to Japan in 736 and was identified by Mrs. Gordon & Rev. Milis as s Bactrian physician. The emperor had a leper asylum built in the suburbs of Nara, the capital, and the empress worked there as a volunteer nurse. People must have been amazed to see how this young belle in purple went so far as to suck the lepers’ wounds as pious Christians were wont to do in the Middle ages in Europe. The historicity of this story is confirmed by the various data which have made it possible to identify the site of the lazaretto and it would appear that the Emperor and his beautiful consort took their inspiration for this work from Nestorianism preached by the Bactrian missionary.

While it is quite true that Chinese literature and Indian Buddhism conspired to make a cultural nation of the Japanese people before the Meiji Restoration, Nestorianism from the Near East also contributed much towards Japanese civilization long before the introduction of Roman Catholicism some 400 years ago.”

Ningyo mer-creatures and the Yao Bikuni folktale

Ukiyo-e, 1808,  Ningyo, Katsushika Hokusai (Source: Wikipaintings)

Ningyo (人魚, “human fish”, often translated as “mermaid”) is a fish-like creature from Japanese folklore, that according to Wikipedia, from ancient sources, had  “a monkey’s mouth with small teeth like a fish’s, shining golden scales, and a quiet voice like a skylark or a flute”.

A ningyo from Toriyama Sekien’s Konjaku Hyakki Shūi. Source: Wikipedia

The Obakemono Project  describes the ningyo thus:

“The mermaid of old Japan is more reminiscent of the infamous “Fiji mermaid” hoax than the beautiful fish-girls popular today, looking something like a cross between a monkey and a carp. But despite its grotesque appearance, the ningyo’s scales are said to shine like gold, and like the traditional Western mermaid it is a romantically tragic creature. According to legend, a ningyo cannot speak, but its voice has a pleasant sound like a flute, and if it ever sheds tears it will be transformed into a human. But it is most famous for its flesh, a pleasant-smelling and delicious meat that is said to make anyone who eats it nigh-immortal.”

According to Japanese Sea Deities (The Arcane Archive), the ningyo is a Japanese mermaid goddess who cries white pearl tears. And that it was said if women could capture her and take a bite out of her, they would have eternal youth and beauty.

Catching a ningyo was believed to bring storms and misfortune, so fishermen who caught these creatures were said to throw them back into the sea. A ningyo washed onto the beach was also an omen of war or calamity. In Okinawa, people said eating ningyo would be unlucky, and particularly avoid eating the dugong.

The folktale of Yao Bikuni

One of the most famous folk stories concerning ningyo is called Yao Bikuni (八百比丘尼, “eight-hundred (years) Buddhist priestess”) or Happyaku Bikuni. The story tells how a fisherman who lived in Wakasa Province once caught an unusual fish. In all his years fishing, he had never seen anything like it, so he invited his friends over to sample its meat.

One of the guests, however, peeked into the kitchen, noticed that the head of this fish had a human face, and warned the others not to eat it. So when the fisherman finished cooking and offered his guests the ningyo’s grilled flesh, they secretly wrapped it in paper and hid it on their persons so that it could be discarded on the way home.

But one man, drunk on sake, forgot to throw the strange fish away. This man had a little daughter, who demanded a present when her father arrived home, and he carelessly gave her the fish. Coming to his senses, the father tried to stop her from eating it, fearing she would be poisoned, but he was too late and she finished it all. But as nothing particularly bad seemed to happen to the girl afterwards, the man did not worry about it for long.

Years passed, and the girl grew up and was married. But after that she did not age any more; she kept the same youthful appearance while her husband grew old and died. After many years of perpetual youth and being widowed again and again, the woman became a nun and wandered through various countries. Finally she returned to her hometown in Wakasa, where she ended her life at an age of 800 years. — Source: Ningyo (Wikipedia)

Here’s another version below of Yao Bikuni by the Iwaki (?) Board of Education (translation by The Fresh Prince of Iwaki):

Yao Bikuni

This is a tale from the town of Tabito called “the Mermaid Long-Life Medicine”. Once upon a time, a man held a feast on the night of Koshinko, and everyone in the village came.
First it is important to understand Koshinko. Inside the human body, there is a bug called “Sanshi”. This bug watches every crime that a person does. Every 60 days, on the night of Koshin, the Sanshi bug goes to the Emperor’s house and reports all crimes that have been done. Depending on the crime, the Emperor shortens the lifespan of the evil-doer. When the night of Koshinko comes around, people would gather together, drink alcohol, and frolic about all night without sleeping. Old farming villages believed that doing all of this would prevent the Sanshi bug from reporting anything to the Emperor.
At the Koshinko feast, the food prepared by the host turned out to be some type of mermaid meat. The guests were quite shocked and thought that is was a very odd. Without eating a single bite, all of the guests wrapped their servings in a piece of paper and brought it home with them.
Everyone threw away their portion of this mysterious meat on the way home or after arriving home. But, at one of the homes, a teenage girl found the meat. Thinking to herself, “What a waste! I wonder what it is,” she sneakily ate it.
After eating this, the girl’ appearance did not change, and she lived a long, long life. Before long, she became known as “Yao Bikuni”. “Yao” comes from her living until she was 800 years old; “Bikuni” implies that she was a nun. Depending on the region, she is also called “Happyaku Bikuni” or “Shira Bikuni” (“the White Nun”). Many accounts of the half-human, half-fish mermaid meat were passed down from generation to generation as the “Medicine of Youth and Longevity”.
One by one, one after another, her family and friends began to pass away, but no matter how many years passed, the girl would continue aging without a change in her appearance.
Before long, any happiness she had in her life turned into emptiness and suffering. Not able to take the suffering anymore, she shaved off all of her hair and become a nun. Soon after, she left on a journey to travel around the world. But she never found happiness in her life.
As more time passed, everyone she had ever known had died. She came to hate her unchanging, youthful appearance. To make things worse, people who saw her began calling her a ghost. She felt so backed into a corner that she couldn’t endure living anymore. At the age of 800, the girl left this world, despite being immortal and ageless. Simply, her will to live ceased to be.
“I want to be young forever.” “I don’t want to be old.” “I want to live just a little bit longer.” Many people have these kind of desires, but with time all people grow old. After some time, death will pay us all a visit.
The story of Yao Bikuni is meant for those who fear death, teaching them that “living a long life does not guarantee happiness.” Having a life with an end is the most appropriate thing for us. We should take to heart that fate is not pre-determined and live our lives appreciating each day we have. By doing this and living a healthy lifestyle, we can possibly maintain our beauty as we grow old. — Yao Bikuni (trns. by The Fresh Prince of Iwaki)

Postulating possible mythical derivative sources or affiliations or folkloric connections with other parts of the world:

While the monkey-carplike fishlike ningyo has closer affinities with Siberian or Pacific versions, the ningyo goddess that cried pearl tears, has obvious affinities with the Chinese mermaid:

A 15th-century compilation of quotations from Chinese literature tells of a mermaid who “wept tears which became pearls”. An early 19th-century book entitled Jottings on the South of China contains two stories about mermaids. In the first, a man captures a mermaid on the shore of Namtao island. She looks human in every respect, except that her body is covered with fine hair of many colours. She is unable to speak, but the man takes her home and marries her. Upon his death, the mermaid returns to the sea where she had been found. In the second story, a man sees a woman lying on the beach while his ship was anchored offshore. Upon closer inspection, the woman appears to have webbed feet and hands. She is carried to the water and expresses her gratitude toward the sailors before swimming away.  — Mermaid (Wikipedia)

Amphitrite (‘The Great Embracer’ — pre-Hellenic sea Goddess and wife of Poseidon, Greek/Hellenic sea God);  Nereids the Greek nymphs fathered by Nereus (‘Old Man of the Sea’ — Hellenic sea God);  Atargatis (Syrian mermaid Goddess) – in the Hellenized fish-bodied form, Atargatis was known as Derketo, who was a nymph changed into a fish after having become pregnant by a shepherd boy

Njord (Norse God of sea travel);  Rân (‘The Ravisher’ — Norse sea Goddess); Havmand (Scandinavian merman);

Sedna (Inuit sea Goddess portrayed walrus or seal-like); Rusalky (Russian mermaids) and Vodyanik (Russian mermen);

Ben-Varry (Manx Mermaids) and Dinny-Mara (Manx Mermen) British Isle of Man;  Lir (Irish sea God);  Merrows / the Murdhuachas (Irish); Blue men of the Minch and the Roane (Scottish);  Caesg (Celtic — part trout or salmon);  Neck (Scandinavian fresh and salt water Mermaids);  Merrymaids (Cornish Mermaids); Meerfraulein and Wasserfrau (German)

Nuwa and Fuxi (amphibious or mer-like god and goddess of ancient western China)

Catao (Cebuano, Hiligaynon) and Samar ugkoy (merfolk of the Philippines)


Water Fae

The Mermaid Myth

The Amphibious Gods (Crystalinks)

Primeval Great Mother Dragon Goddess NuWa Tiamat excerpt from Anne Baring & Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess

Arrow divination and the Yakudoshi concept and custom in Japan

Symbolic japanese demon-breaking arrow Hamaya with Ema plaque

Symbolic japanese demon-breaking arrow Hamaya with Ema plaque

There are many shrines that have archery rites, and it is common for some shrine visitors during their New Year visit to buy their decorative arrow charms, made of wood and with a wooden tip, and which are known as “hamaya” which literally means, “demon-breaking/banishing arrow” and they perform the role of misfortune dispelling arrows or as good luck charms to attract good luck.  These are sold at shrines at New Year’s to ward off misfortune and to attract good luck. The hamaya, will be kept for a year, and the old arrow will be burned in the Dondo Yaki Festival held on Jan. 15th in a “cleansing fire” to show gratitude for the past year and bring happiness for the year to come.

From the Edo to the early Meiji period, hamaya were given as gifts to celebrate the first New Year of a male baby’s life, frequently in a set together with a pair of decorative bows called hamayumi (“demon-breaking bows”). The custom of selling the arrow alone is thought to be a later abbreviation of this custom.

According to the Encyclopedia of Shinto:

“…the custom persists of standing such symbolic bows and arrows at the northeast and southwest corners of a new house (called kimon, the directions thought particularly susceptible to evil influences) on the occasion of the roof-raising ceremonies (jōtōsai). The etymological significance of hama is not clear, but it is said to have been an ancient word for an archery target or an archery contest. The practice of making round targets of braided bamboo or straw, or circles of wood, and throwing them into the air or rolling them on the ground as archery targets was a common children’s pastime, but it was also known as a form of New Year’s divination used to foretell the fortunes of the coming year (toshiura).”

The arrow custom likely hails from the Steppe Hun-Mongolic, Northeastern Eurasian tradition and superstitions that have been handed down through archer generations since antiquity.

Belomancy, also bolomancy, is the ancient art of divination by use of arrows. Belomancy was practised also by the Babylonians, Greeks, Arabs and Scythians.

The feathered arrows were typically marked with occult symbols. By one method, different possible answers to a given question were written and tied to each arrow. For example, three arrows would be marked with the phrases, ‘God orders it me’, ‘God forbids it me’, and the third would be blank. The arrow that flew the furthest indicated the answer. Another method involves the same thing, but without shooting the arrows. They would simply be shuffled in the quiver, worn preferably on the back, and the first arrow to be drawn indicated the answer. If a blank arrow was drawn, they would redraw.

This was an ancient practice, and probably that mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel 21:21, shown below in the original Hebrew, and translated to English in the New American Standard Bible,

כִּי-עָמַד מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל אֶל-אֵם הַדֶּרֶךְ, בְּרֹאשׁ שְׁנֵי הַדְּרָכִים–לִקְסָם-קָסֶם: קִלְקַל בַּחִצִּים שָׁאַל בַּתְּרָפִים, רָאָה בַּכָּבֵד.
“For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household idols, he looks at the liver.”
St. Jerome agrees with this understanding of the verse, and observes that the practice was frequent among the Assyrians and Babylonians. Something like it is also mentioned in Hosea 4:12, although a staff or rod is used instead of arrows, which is rather rhabdomancy than belomancy. Grotius, as well as Jerome, confounds the two together, and shows that it prevailed much among the Magi, Chaldean, and Scythians, from which it passed to the Slavonians, and then to the Germans, whom Tacitus observes to make use of it.

A lost traveller might also use belomancy to find his way, by tossing the arrow into the air, and letting its angle show him the way.


The article below refers to the concept of Yakudoshi which is a custom that according to Lára Ósk Hafbergsdóttir’s “Contemporary popular beliefs in Japan” seems to be “originally derived from China, altering in Japan and intermingling with older, non-Chinese practices and beliefs.” Also, ideas about which “differing days associated with luck, with some being lucky and other being bad for new ventures”, most of these are associated with astrological lore and to the old Chinese lunar-solar calendar that was adopted in Japan in the seventh century AD.

Yakudoshi key to happiness
Yoshiko Kosaka / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Yakudoshi is a Japanese folk custom that warns that a person is more likely to experience misfortune or illness at specific ages. To avoid bad things from happening, it is believed one should live modestly during those years.

Yakudoshi is nothing new–it’s a belief that has been passed down for ages. But recently, more people are starting to reconsider their lifestyle by taking better care of their health and making friends of a similar age in their communities.

Generally, men are believed to go through two periods of yakudoshi at ages 25 and 42, while women experience yakudoshi at 19 and 33. Under the yakudoshi concept, a person is 1 year old at birth since the period between conception and birth is considered the first year of life. Year 2 begins at the start of following year.

There are various stories why yakudoshi is set at those ages. Some say it comes from the 12-year cycle of the Chinese “eto” astrological calendar, while other say it’s a play on words. For example, in Japanese, “19” is read as “juku,” which can also be written using kanji meaning “multiple suffering,” while “33” can be read as “san-zan,” meaning “hideous.”

Yakudoshi ages are also calculated differently depending on the shrine or temple.

The Fukuoka-based private research institute Anti-Aging Laboratory, which was established by a health food company, conducted a survey in August on 2,000 people aged between 30 and 69.

According to the survey, 32 percent of respondents “care about yakudoshi,” and 36 percent said they had gone to temple or shrine to receive “yakuyoke” or “yakubarai” blessings to ward off misfortune.

More than 40 percent said they believed they were more likely to become sick during yakudoshi years.

The Anti-Aging Laboratory then studied the relationship between aging and illness to propose a set of “new yakudoshi” to promote health awareness.

With support from the Tokyo-based Japan Medical Data Center, the lab analyzed the medical bills of about 1 million people to measure the frequency of seven health conditions, such as cerebrovascular disease, dementia and cancer, at particular ages.

According to the results, illnesses were more likely to occur in men at the ages of 24, 37, 50 and 63, and at 25, 39, 52, and 63 in women. These ages were then set as the new yakudoshi.

“We hope the new yakudoshi will become a good opportunity for people to review their lifestyles so they can live longer lives,” said Anti-Aging director and arteriosclerosis expert Hiroshige Itakura.


Popular among youth

Young people in particular also seem to be interested in yakudoshi.

Iwashimizu Hachimangu in Yawata, Kyoto Prefecture, a shrine known for specializing in yakuyoke, has seen an increase in the number of young people visiting for that purpose.

“They seem to think of this shrine as a ‘power spot.’ I’m often asked to explain about yakuyoke,” said Norito Sakurai, a spokesperson for the shrine.

Meanwhile, many women in their 30s have taken to visiting Nishiarai Daishi in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. According to the temple, 37 is also an unlucky age for women and as a result, many women who have turned or will turn 37 visit there.

Young people in their 20s and 30s are also often spotted at Sano Yakuyoke Daishi in Sano, Tochigi Prefecture.

“Yakudoshi has another meaning of ‘yaku o morau’ [getting a role]. It’s considered to have a positive vibe as a turning point in a person’s life,” said essayist Hiromi Tanaka, an author of a book on yakudoshi.

“The number of women who visit shrines or temples for fun has increased over the last couple of years, and I think they are showing some interest in experiencing this old custom in the same way foreigners are interested in seeing Japan,” she added.


A reason to get together

Some groups use yakudoshi as a way to get people to interact with others in their community.

Three years ago, Heartwell 21, a nonprofit organization in Kitakyushu, began inviting yakudoshi age employees from local companies to attend yakubarai rituals together as part of exchange events.

“Participants of the same generation wine and dine together [after the ritual] and get to know each other while learning about a traditional Japanese custom,” said an NPO staff member.

At Goyu Shrine in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, men get together to form a “Yakudoshi-kai” group for organizing a summer festival.

The main purpose of the festival is yakubarai, but Yasuyuki Fukui, 40, one of the group’s members, said, “The festival will help strengthen the sense of unity among those of the same generation, while preserving our region’s traditions.”

Kokugakuin University Prof. Takanori Shintani, a folklore expert, said: “Japanese have long felt secure by casually practicing yakubarai. In times when people feel the future seems uncertain, they seek security and review their lives–yakudoshi could be an indicator of that.”

(Dec. 7, 2012)

Further reading:

Astronomy in Japan (the Astronomy in Japan Home Page) by Steve Renshaw

Origin of onigawara ogre-goblin tile production dates from the 6th century Asuka Period


Onigawara goblin gargoyle or roof tile ornament

Kawara means roofing tile and Onigawara (鬼瓦 ) are a type of Japanese ogre- or goblin- gargoyle and roof tile ornamentation found in Japanese architecture. Literally translated as ‘ogre tile’, the roof tile ornaments traditionally depict a Japanese ogre (oni) or a fearsome beast, but also commonly include many other motifs such as floral (alternatively known as hanagawara 花瓦) and animal designs. Swirling or wave patterns found at the bottom right and left of the onigawara are called hire 鰭.

A magnificent example of onigawara at the 1,400 year old Ono-Jodoji temple. Prince Shotoku, is said to be the founder of Onomichi’s Jodoji Temple which is also famous for its connection with the Shogun Takauji Ashikaga, who is said to have worshipped here. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Onigawara are usually made of fired clay  but may occasionally be made of stone or wood.

The oni goblin design motif is thought to have originated from a previous architectural element, the oni-ita,  鬼板 which is a board painted with the face of an oni and was meant to stop roof leaks. The provenance of the earliest onigawara is thought to have been Silla (southeast Korean kingdom)… perhaps of Persian influence.

The earliest kawara tiles are dated to the Asuka Period in the middle of the 6th Century, at the same time Buddhism was introduced from Kudara, now Korea. Kawara tiles were reportedly first used for the Asukadera Temple in Japan. Their manufacture was supervised by tile craftsmen dispatched from the southwestern Korean kingdom of Paekche (Kudara). At the time, temples were the only buildings allowed to use Kawara roofing tiles.

A roofing tile excavated from the ruins of the Asukadera site.

In the Nara period, however, Kawara began to be used for various other types of buildings.  Roof tiles began to be used on palace buildings only after the end of the 7th century, beginning with the Fujiwara-no-miya palace. Government-operated workshops (kobo) appeared and were administered as a part of the ritsuryo governmental system which was becoming established toward the end of the 7th century. The kawara workshops and industry made the mass production of such large quantities of tiles possible. Historically however, Kawara manufacture first emerged in China around 2,800 years ago.

Nara Period onigawara from Todaiji (Kondo structure) Temple. Photo: Fidel Ramos

The largest onigawara (World Guiness Records) made of clay, measures 9 m (29 ft 6 in) tall and 8.8 m (28 ft 10 in) wide, is found on the rooftop of the main building of Nenbutsushu Muryojuji Temple , Mikawa Bay.

In Okinawa, shisa lion roof gargoyles originating from China, are traditional fixtures since ancient times. They have a protective function of warding off evil.

Open-mouthed Shisa gargoyle on a traditional tile roof in Okinawa Prefecture. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Kawara tiles became popular in the Edo period, with new styles introduced. Their widespread use was encouraged because they are fire proof.  There are now more than 1,000 varieties of design shapes of Kawara tiles.

Kawara are of two main types in Japan: Nyouyaku Gawara or Glazed tiles and Ibushi Kawara or tiles which have oxidized and formed a silver- colored carbon film.

Today, Sanshuu Kawara in Aichi, Awaji Kawara in Hyogo and Sekishu Kawara in Shimane are the three biggest production districts of high quality Kawara and represent the finest in Japanese roofing tile making.


Various styles and types of Kawara tiles, according to ASUKA Roof tiles (Kawara):

“Roofs of temples and palace buildings were covered with “round roof tiles” (marugawara, curved downward) and “curved roof tiles” (hiragawara wider with a slight upward curve), arranged in alternate rows. Row ends were ornamented with “round roof-edge tiles” (noki marugawara) and “curved roof-edge tiles” (noki hiragawara), both of which bore designs on their outward-facing surfaces.

Round roof-edge tiles primarily made use of lotus flower designs (rengemon). The majority of such tiles from the end of the 6th century and the first half of the 7th century have simple “individual petal” (tanben) designs of Paekche (southwest Korean) inspiration. However, there are also some tiles of Koguryo (north Korean) inspiration, having vertical ridges (see illustration “d”, page 86), as well as tiles running down the middle of each petal which have Silla (southeast Korean) affinities, showing animal or demon faces.

After around the middle of the 7th century, a new type of tile made its appearance. As in the case of the round roof-end tiles from the Yamadadera, there came into popularity a “layered individual petal” (juben) pattern characterized by smaller petals decoratively superimposed on the larger ones. On some tiles from this period, additional geometric designs concentrically arranged around the circumference of the lotus pattern had begun to appear. Then, during the latter part of the 7th century, from the time of the building of the Kawaradera onward, the most commonly used basic pattern, influenced by Tang Chinese tiles, came to be the “composite-petal” (fukuben) pattern, with the larger petals arranged in pairs, and two smaller petals superimposed on each pair. Round roofedge tiles developed elaborate design modifications such as sawtooth patterns around the outer rims.

Curved roof-edge tiles (noki hiragawara) first appeared during the first half of the 7th century. The curved roof-edge tiles of the Sakatadera have arabesque patterns (karakusamon) incised by hand. Around the middle of the 7th century, “layered arc patterns” (Jukomon) were in vogue. but by the. latter part of the century, arabesque patterns again comprised the mainstream of noki hiragawara decorative art. Temples vied with one another in devising original designs for their round and curved roof-edge tiles, seen as forming a set.”

See related: videoclip of nokimarugawara style tiles. These are semi-cylindrical pendant tiles found at the end of eaves designed to prevent rainwater from seeping between and under the roofing tiles and roof sheathing. The nokimarugawara are found in borders, alternating with concave rectangular pendant tiles.

Another common motif is the swirling tomoe pattern found on tomoegawara 巴瓦 tiles. This image is also found on Chinese roof tiles and is believed to symbolize water as the Chinese character for tomoe 巴 means “whirlpool” or “eddy”. These swirls are thus said to be symbols related to water, and as such are believed to offer protection against the dangers of fire. The basic tomoe style is believed to have originated in China which in turn may have been influenced by other Silk Road cultures (notably the triskeles found on Greek and Eastern Iranian warrior shieldspre-Roman Galicia and pre-Celtic Bronze Age Ireland; bronze discs of the La Tene culture in Romania; coinage of Gaul. The tomoe has been utilized in Japan as warrior shield decorations since at least the Yayoi period (300 BC-300 AD). Other scholars are of the view the tomoe originated as the design on leather clothing or wrist-guards worn by ancient archers (tomo 鞆 thus tomo-e 鞆絵). The use of tomoe motif is well known from the Heian Period, particularly as the warrior-associated kamon heraldic coat of arms (ka means ‘family’ and mon means ‘crest’). The tomoe design also has spiritual connotations and is often found on religious implements and in conjunction with temple and shrine architecture (source: JAANUS).


Recommended Field Trip

Visit the Kawara Museum of the City of Takahama, in Aichi prefecture — the only art museum in the world that specializes in the theme of roof tiles, and just outside the museum, the one-and-a-half-mile goblin trail or “Oni-no-michi” which is dotted with various examples of scowling onigawara. “Kawara” is translated as “roof tile.”

Examine the unmatched kawara tile display in Kawara Museum. Located in Takahama City, which, together with neighbouring Hekinan, has been a major centre of roof-tile (kawara) production for centuries and remains the main producer of Sanshu-kawara with Japan’s top domestic output of kawara.

At the Kawara Museum you can obtain an up-close look at the best of the region’s roof tiles, and feel the beauty and appeal of kawara through the outstanding collection and exhibits of pottery products including kawara from different periods and pottery-producing regions across Japan, as well as kawara/pottery from around the world.

In addition, artwork (paintings, block prints, ukiyoe – Japanese woodblock prints, calligraphy, photography, etc.) and literature related to kawara/pottery can also be viewed at the museum.  Art students can find inspiration in the landscape designs and roof tile paintings as artistic motifs.

Visitors can also experience the joy of hands-on pottery-making by kneading clay at the half-day workshop.

Kawara Museum (Cultural Institution)

かわら美術館 Kawara Bijutsukan9-6-18 Aoki-cho, Takahama city 444-1325   Tel: 0566-52-3366

Access: 8 minutes on foot from Takahama-minato station on Meitetsu Mikawa line. From Meitetsu Nagoya Station to Takahamako Station on the Meitetsu Mikawa Line – Hekinan direction through Chiryu Station (approx. 50 mins, 710 yen), an approx. 10-minute walk from Takahamako Station

To view a stunning collection of onigawara, go to the online Flicker gallery of onigawara photos, and click here and here.


Onigawara (the JAANUS archive)

Kawara Roofing Tile (NIPPON-KICHI website)

Onigawara (Onmark productions)

Onigawara, les gargouilles japonaises

Onigawara (Wikipedia)

Onigawara ridge-end tiles

ASUKA HISTORICAL MUSEUM website “Roofing Tiles (Kawara)

Kawara Museum, of the City of Takahama

Kawara-Kan Tile Museum (Kikuma town, Imabari)

Kawara Museum (Omihachiman, Shiga)

Kawara-bei at Zen temples

Kawara and Ji-gawara

What’s up in Aichi (on the Kawara Museum and goblin trail

Nokimarugawara tiles (JAANUS archive archive)

Tomoegawara (JAANUS)

Ceramic Roof Tile – Nokimarugawara Type Japan Kawara on swirling tomoe symbolism

沖縄諸島における琉球瓦の再編年 Revised Chronology of Ryukyu Roof Tiles in Okinawa Islands by Uehara Shizuka, provides a review of the chronology of modern eaves tiles.