Many would have watched the 8-part series on "Ancient Apocalypse" presented by Graham Hancock in his search for Pre-history dating back to the Ice Age. Though interesting, it disappointed me that the well recorded inputs of Pre-history from Indic texts were ignored by him. Perhaps he, like many mainstream archaeologists was conditioned to rely only on physical existence of evidence in stone, but times are such that even oral traditions such as the flood legends of Australian aborigines are accepted nowadays for understanding past and pre-history. The Indic evidences are far ahead of the oral traditions in that they are written records preserved safely for ages. One such important evidence from an Indic text unravels the mystery of Gunung Padang, the oldest of all the eight structures that Hancock had passionately brought out.
Incidentally the Gunung Padang mystery seems to offer the best answer to other structures discussed by him, particularly those built with huge boulders such as the pyramid of Cholula, the megalithic structures of Malta and the under-water Bimini rock formation. Only Indic texts, particularly Tamil texts bear information on the first ever masonry work done by inventing tools and methods to cut the rocky slopes of mountains during pre-Holocene.
Pre-History traced to Skanda’s Kumari country / Shāka Dwīpa
The celebrated deity, Skanda who lived in a place called Southern Madurai in the Indian Ocean region (in the southern hemisphere) was known to have broken a mountain called “Krauncha” using a tool called “Chendu”. His country was known as Kanni Nādu or Kumari country (கன்னி நாடன் மேருவில் செண்டு எறிந்து வைப்பு எடுத்த Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam: 1-1112).
This Kanni country is recognised as one among nine Khandas (sub divisions) of Bharata varsha along with the present-day India (Siddhanta Shiromani: 3-41,42). Known as Kumarikā Khanda (in Siddhanta Shiromani) this place was earlier known as Shāka Dwīpa known for the growth of Shāka tree.
Shāka Flower (click to enlarge)
The location of Shāka Dwīpa is deduced from Brahmānda Purana (Ch: 21- 73,74) which says as follows:
Śravana (Altair) and Uttarāṣāḍhā (Nunki) being the stars in the sign of Capricorn and Sagittarius, it is deduced that this refers to the movement of the sun on the Tropic Capricorn on the globe and slightly north of it. That locates Shāka Dwīpa close to Australia. During Ice Age, i.e., before 12,000 years ago many parts around Australia, particularly in the north of Australia were above the sea level. Somewhere there and perhaps in the now sunken parts of Sundaland, Skanda’s Shāka Dwīpa alias Kumari Khanda had existed.
At different times in the past this place was known as Raivataka after the fall of a comet that disturbed the moon from its orbit near the star Revati (zita Piscium) and later as Kumuda and Kaumara taking the name of Skanda as Kumara.
From the narration given in Mārkaṇḍeya Purana, it is possible to deduce the time period of the comet-fall in Raivataka. This happened during the Last Glacial Minimum, i.e., around 26,500 years ago. That was also the time the first speech was developed as per the Purana. Click the following video to watch the narration on the Puranic account of the development and the time period of the first speech of the ancestral Indic people.
In that period of extreme cold, mankind could have thrived only around the equator where there was some warmth and scope for convectional rainfall. Only Sundaland (Indonesia archipelago) and Northern Australia (now gone under water) were found to be hospitable which is further reiterated by the genetic studies of Oppenheimer. That was where the early and ancestral Indic people had lived, the earliest datable period starting from the time the first speech evolved.
Here I am reproducing the vegetation map during Last Glacial Maximum ending with 15,000 BP. It shows that landforms of that time above the sea level and also the distribution of vegetation. One can find that the equatorial region was dotted with rain forest (circled in red)
Skanda appears in the next major period in the Indic time line. His period can be deduced from both the Sangam age texts and the oft repeated information on the first floods and sudden sea level rise experienced during his time. That was just at the time of the end of the Ice age, i.e.,12,000 years ago. It also appears that the comet of 10,800 BCE that ushered in Younger Dryas hit the earth during Skanda’s time.
The comet-hit of Skanda’s period that caused Younger Dryas
Named as ‘Asi’ (deduced from the narration in Mahābhārata), this comet had landed on the earth as numerous pieces, some of which landed in India near the Tropic of Cancer (a location known as Bhadravata (likely to be Mahākāleśwar in Ujjain) where Maheśwara drives his chariot managed by Time) and parts of east India.
In the above figure, the red arrow marks signify the direction of the fall and the location of the cometary fragments so far accounted by researchers. The arrow marks in white are drawn by me based on the deduction from the legend of burning body parts of Sati Devi and the earliest locations of that fall. Four fragments of the comet landed at four places in India visualised as the fall of fiery body parts of Sati Devi, the consort of Rudra (Shiva in furious form). Those places came to be worshiped as Shakti Pīṭha-s (seat of Shakti). The recognition of only four Shakti Pīṭha-s initially as Adi Shakti Pīṭha-s goes to show that only four fragments landed in India of Asi, the comet (which was described as Mahiṣa, the Dānava who threw down fire and boulders from the sky. The entire episode of the fall of the comet was described as Deva- Dānava war fought by Skanda in which Skanda was made the celestial Commander-in Chief)
Four Adi-Shakti Pīṭha-s – the landing sites of the burning comet-pieces.
The four locations are 1. Bimala (Pada Khanda, inside the Jagannath Temple of Puri, Odisha), 2. Tara Tarini (Sthana Khanda, Purnagiri, Near Berhampur, Odisha), 3. Dakshina Kalika (Mukha Khanda, Kolkata, West Bengal), 4. Kamakhya Temple (Yoni Khanda, Near Guwahati, Assam) and
Decoding of these stories from the Indic sources help us to build up the chronology of events during pre-historic times that can be corroborated with scientific discoveries.
By the time of Skanda (12,000 BP), lot of improvements were made. Speech was refined into Tamil (lingua franca for the local people) and Sanskrit (for intellectual pursuits). This happened under the auspices of Shiva, the father of Skanda who was also raised as a divinity in due course. Only in Skanda’s time masonry work got a fillip after he and his clan found ways to break the rocks and mountains for building purposes. Interestingly, unbelievable masonry works with huge boulders are found in plenty only in the regions around Sundaland and the adjoining Australia and in Peru and Chile on the other side of the sea. A rocky tunnel lined up with huge boulders found in NSW Australia close to Shāka Dwīpa , is not yet dated (picture below).
Use of such huge boulders is found in many structures in Sundaland, including Gunung Padang. The connectivity by ocean must have enabled the movement of early masons all across the tropics even before Holocene started, whose expertise must have been passed on generationally and was manifest in the structures of Cholula, Bimini, Gobekli Tepe and Karahan Tepe.
Ekādaśa Rudra-s in Karahan Tepe
The eleven pillars in a pit in Karahan Tepe with a human face projected on a snake have all the trappings of the Hindu concept of Ekādaśa Rudra-s. Rudra was the earliest concept, formed earlier than the concept of Shiva and was recognised as the 11 parts of a human being – 10 senses and the atman (soul) – which when departed from mortal body (upon death) makes others weep. The 11 Rudra-s are the custodians of the second-generation ancestors (grand-parents) by worshiping whom those departed ancestors are worshiped (given oblations). There is vast literature on Ekādaśa Rudra-s in various olden Hindu texts which can be read here: Ekādaśa Rudra-s.
Even today worship of Ekādaśa Rudra-s continue by offering sacred bath in many temples of India. A temple at Mangrauni dedicated to Ekādaśa Rudra-s is shown below.
Picture courtesy: http://koitohai.blogspot.com/2012/10/ekadasha-rudra.html
One can see the image of snakes on all the Rudra-s. Shiva Himself is depicted as having the snake. The image of the head on the neck of a snake on the side wall of Karahan Tepe is hardly surprising when we visualise the entire structure as the early form of Ekādaśa Rudra iconography.
The pedestal on which all the 11 Rudra-s are mounted look similar to the structure of Karahan Tepe. That is the shape of the seat of any Shiva Linga in the temples of India. In many places the Shiva Linga is consecrated in lower than the ground level as seen in Karahan Tepe. That seat served as a bath tub too.
According to Hancock the enclosure at Karahan Tepe contained water to the depth of one meter. Water is part of ancestral oblations and also worship. There are many temples in India of Shiva linga-s standing in water or with continuous pouring of water on the Shiva linga as an act of sacred bath. Worship of Shiva Linga located on a lowered pedestal is shown in the picture below:
Coming back to evidence of ancient works on huge boulders, the masonry technique seemed to have spread further to Egypt and Tiryns.
The influence of ancestral Indic people located in Indian Ocean habitat seems to have contributed to the lithic structure of the pre-Greek society going by the time of period of the dispersal of sea-bound people of Pāndyan-s (Tirayan) – the descendants of Skanda’s dynasty (Pāndya dynasty) 3500 years ago. It is highly likely that they landed in the Mediterranean region as sea-people and found a home for themselves. Malta structures (Mnajdra) could also be attributed to the displaced sea-farers of the Pāndya country.
There is a close parallel between Cyclopes, the Mycenaean masons who had worked on gigantic boulders and the descendants of the people of Skanda’s clan. Cyclopes were said to be having an eye on the forehead. Eye on the forehead is characteristic of Shiva, the father of Skanda. Wearing Bindi (mark on the forehead) by all Hindus (both men and women) perhaps started from the third eye concept of Shiva. The Cyclopes could have worn the eye-mark on the forehead like any Shiva worshiper.
For details: Indic influence on Mycenaean culture
With this brief outlook on Indic narration on pre-history and Holocene period, let me take a look at Hancock’s version on Gunung Padang.
Three dates of Gunung Padang
Hancock gives evidence for three time periods on human involvement in the structural development of Gunung Padang. The earliest evidence comes at a depth of 100 feet dated to a period, 20,000 to 24,000 BP. This matches with the period of first speech described earlier. Any masonry work necessitates verbal communication among the workers. So, speech was somewhat developed at that time as indicated by Mārkaṇḍeya Purana.
Hancock identifies the second period at around 11,600 BP with evidence coming from 50 feet below the structure at Gunung Padang. This is exactly the period of Skanda! A surge in masonry activities had happened in that period as per Indic sources.
There is a third period identified by Hancock – that was 7000 BP, around 5200 BCE, which is the period of Rāma of Ayodhya (of Rāmāyana fame)! Rāma’s time is deduced from cross references within Rāmāyana and Tamil sources. By 7200 BP Southern Madurai (in Shāka Dwīpa ) was completely lost into the sea and a new capital was established at Kavātam which also got submerged in the last deluge 3500 years ago. In other words, like Southern Madurai and the country of Kanni, Kavātam was not part of present-day India!
Kavātam finds a mention in Rāmāyana of Vālmīki, the original and authentic version. In the course of describing the countries and places one by one towards the Southern direction, the Vānara king Sugreeva mentions Kavātam of Pāndyan-s. So, Rāmāyana had happened only after Kavātam was established. In fact, a careful reading of the Rāmāyana shows that the deluge had occurred sometime between the 11th and 14th year of exile of Rāma. In that period Southern Madurai and a vast expanse of land in SE Asia had sunk due to sudden sea level rise and also due to subductions. By the 14th year (last year) of Rāma’s exile Kavātam came to be established as the capital of the Tamils.
Right from Kavātam, it is possible to trace the locations south off India and in SE Asia from the Rāmāyana description. This search leads us to the location of Gunung Padang!
Locating Gunung Padang from Rāmāyana verses
From Rāmāyana Verses, let me decode the southern route from Malaya Mountain (Western Ghats) where the river Kāviri has its origins. Kāviri was confined within a receptacle (today also) on top of the mountain where sage Agastya was seated. As per Rāmāyana he was standing in the water of Kāviri receptacle and doing a penance for 12 years.
After crossing that location, one has to cross the river Tāmraparani. After crossing Tāmraparani, one reaches the Pāndyan city of Kavātam! Today this is under the sea. No one knows the exact part of the sea where this was situated. From Rāmāyana we come to know that after crossing Kavātam one comes to the sea shore. It was in the southern side where a mountain range called Mahendragiri starts. Only one part of this range was visible (above the sea) while the other end was steeping into the sea, says Rāmāyana. Rāmāyana gives a fascinating input that this mountain was pressed by Sage Agastya such that one end had gone under the water with only the other end still above the water.
Such descriptions are not mythical but contain deeper and secret info. Agastya’s name is invoked whenever a mountain or land form is lifted up or pushed down and when some water bodies are also impacted. Rāmāyana speaks about Kavātam in the off-shore region of south India and a mountain range beyond that in the sea. Today no such mountain is detectable in the off shore region anywhere around the southern tip of India. This means further subsidence had happened in the later period. Anyway, Indians with their habit of retaining the memory of lost past, had named a peak of the western ghats in South India as Mahendragiri. This should not be confused with the Mahendragiri that existed beyond the shore of Kavātam.
In the following map, I have placed Kavātam on the eastern shore of South India based on the other input from the Rāmāyana that Lanka was located on the other side of the Mahendragiri that was steeping into the sea (tasya = its - Mt. Mahendra's; apare paare = on the other, shore; - Vālmīki Rāmāyana)
After Mahendragiri (now lost under water due to subsidence), the next location is Lanka (Sri Lanka). Going southward from Lanka, the next land forms appear only in Sundaland. Rāmāyana refers to the next stop at Mt. Pushpitaka and then closer to it, Mt. Suryavān.
The three verses of Rāmāyana on Mt. Pushpitaka are crucial for understanding the appearance of that Mountain. They are reproduced below:
"On crossing over that isle and after a hundred yojana-s a mountain named Pushpitaka is there in that august ocean, which is adored by the celestials like siddha-s, caarana-s. [4-41-28]
"Well-settled in oceanic waters that Mt. Pushpitaka will be shining forth with a resplendence similar to sunrays on one side and with that of moonshine on the other, and its lofty crests will look as if they are scribbling on the sky. [4-41-29]
"One of its summits will be golden which the Sun adores, and the other will be silvery whitish which the Moon adores, and that mountain is unperceivable to the unfaithful ones, or to the unkindly ones or to unbelievers. [4-41-30]
The last two verses show that this mountain has twin crests or peaks! Since the next verse (4-41-31) refers to Mt. Suryavān closer to Mt. Pushpitaka, we are able to understand that these mountains were closer to the equator (Surya in Suryavān refers to Sun).
So, our search starts for locating a mountain near the equator having two peaks. And there is one – just across Gunung Padang, 15 miles from that! That is a stratovolcano having twin peaks, Gunung Pangrango and Gunung Gede. (Gunung = Mountain)
The twin peaked Volcano – Mt. Pangrango and Mt. Gede
Their location as per Rāmāyana version is shown below:
Mt. Gede likely to be Mt. Pushpitaka of Rāmāyana
Gunung Gede (Mt. Gede) is known for its rich and diverse eco system. Along with its sister peak Mt. Pangrango, it is designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. More importantly, the name Pushpitaka means brimming with flowery plants. Mt. Gede is popular for a rare pre-historic flower, Edelweiss flower, recognised as an eternal flower that doesn’t wither but dries up without changing its appearance and shape. This flower is treated as a symbol of eternal love.
The mountain blooms with this flower in summer months. Gede along with Pangrango are favourable locations for viewing sunset and sunrise even today. Let’s recall Rāmāyana verses on reflection of sun’s light on one peak and moon light on the other. Such a panoramic view is possible during Full-Moon days, and the best viewing point is offered by Gunung Padang! In other words, Mt. Pushpitaka (Mt. Gede) was more popular in olden days that people had viewed it regularly and a raised platform over prehistoric caves was used for viewing. And that platform was the megalithic structure at Gunung Padang – an open area artificially raised into a hill (Gunung).
Gunung Padang, an observatory for Gunung Gede?
The appearance and the purpose of Gunung Padang had been variously discussed by researchers, but none had thought why it is Gunung (mountain) and why it is Padang. Several places in Indonesia and Malaysia are known as Padang which means ‘open field’ in the local language. There is a city called Padang in Sumatra. The meaning of Open field doesn’t go with Gunung which means mountain.
Gunung Padang doesn’t exactly appear to be a mountain but an elevated structure by human activities.
It is not exactly a hill, or a pyramid but an elongated raised platform. According to Natawidjaja interviewed by Hancock in the movie, the entire hill is an artificial pyramid. There are chambers or caves underneath the structure, frequented by people in the past upon which lithic structures were raised in different time periods (written earlier). Why did they make this structure? What was the purpose? There is no evidence of burials and no evidence of a ceremonial activity here. But the alignment of the structure facing exactly Mt. Gede seems to contain the secret of this site.
Gunung Padang is seen with 5 terraces, sloping from south east and north west. Researchers have tried to locate some object, celestial or terrestrial – to make sense of the direction or the axis of Gunung Padang.
The only probable alignment is seen at right angles to the terrace. From the terrace stretching from South east to northwest, the twin peaked Gede and Pangrango can be viewed in the east. Of these two Pangrango is to the west and Gede in in the east. Gunung Padang is seen aligned to Mt. Gede!
Andrew Collins, a leading researcher and scholar in ancient civilizations who worked on the site found out that “the centrally positioned, and now collapsed rectangular rock mound on the east of which is a long pathway that ends at the base of a stairway, marked by standing megaliths… targets the main Gede peak, which contains the volcano’s most notable crater, known as Gumuruh. This suggests that the centrally-positioned rock mound, originally perhaps a viewing platform used for ceremonial purposes, was the first construction on the terrace, the rest of the stone settings most likely coming afterwards.”
He found out that the lower terrace (shown by the arrow mark in the picture below) was exactly aligned to Mt. Gede.
The local legends indicate that Mt. Gede was the original location of importance in pre-historic period. The earliest eruption of Gede was said to have occurred 45,000 years ago but the “radiocarbon evidence coming from the geological surveys carried out at Gunung Padang, …feature the dates 22,000-22,000 BC, 14,700 BC, 9600 BC, 4700 BC and 2800 BC.”.
He also opines, “It is possible that the rock mound defining Gunung Padang’s principal axis was built following a major eruption of the Gumuruh crater, perhaps in order to honour or appease some kind of fire spirit or deity thought to inhabit the volcano.”
However, from the description from Rāmāyana that watching the twin peaks as a kind of meditation was unperceivable for unfaithfuls, unkindly and unbelievers, it is deduced that the twin peaks were held in high reverence for spiritual elevation which was practiced by watching it from the nearest possible location. Gunung Padang was that location.
Adding substance to this deduction is the name-cause for Mt. Pangrango. It sounds like Pāndarangam, the dance in white colour mentioned as the earliest dance of the 11 dances given in the Tamil text called Silappadhikāram. It was the dance of Shiva with his body smeared with white ash. That dance was done after the destruction of Tripura – the three-sided asura-s (demons) as per Indic texts. This is symbolic of the destruction of a volcano that throws up white ash and fire. The after-effect of a volcanic eruption was viewed as a dance of devastation spewing white ash everywhere. Thus, the name Pāndarangam had come up. The dormant peak adjacent to Gede might have been the centre of that destruction in the past.
The people who were displaced by the volcanic burst in a distant past might have held the power of the mountain with awe and revered it in due course. The scenic beauty of sun rise and moon rise from behind the twin peaks must have been captivating that pre-historic people might have drawn spiritual succour by meditating on it from a nearest location – the caves at Gunung Padang which could have been developed into chambers and then platforms (terrace) built periodically after fresh eruptions of Mt. Gede. The bloom all over Gede for most part, barring the sparing eruptions, must have earned the name Pushpitaka!
For corroboration of this deduction from Vālmīki Rāmāyana, let me analyse the other locations southward as mentioned in the Rāmāyana.
Mt. Suryavān likely to be Gunung Nagara Padang.
Shortly after Mt. Pushpitaka, one can see Mt. Suryavān which simply refers to sun. The sun is known as Pathanga in Sanskrit and Tamil as well – a name that closely resembles Padang. The presence of too many Padang-s in Indonesia and Malaysia and the Malaysian meaning for Padang (open field) not matching with Gunung Padang, it appears plausible that the original meaning of the word was connected with the sun and not ‘open space’. The presence of ancestral Indic population in this location even as early as 26,000 BP when the first speech was developed from which Sanskrit and Tamil diverged 12,000 years ago lends credence to the hypothesis that Padang was a corrupt form of Pathanga which means Sun.
(Update: Received an update from a Malaysian resident that ‘Padang’ means ‘day light’ or ‘bringing light’ in Sundanese language and in the languages spoken in areas around Gunung Padang. This adds credence to the above deduction that Pathanga (Sun) could have been the original name that changed over time.)
The small mountain called Gunung Nagara Padang in close vicinity to Mt. Gede fits with the description of Mt. Suryavān as it is one of most sacred places in West Java frequented by people in search of spiritual quest to discover their inner being.
According to a source, the “whole mountain was an ancient temple but not the kind that has relief carvings or shapes we see in historical parks…instead they are giant rock boulders that are located in specific spots or seem to be placed there, some have markings unfamiliar to our eyes, all have meaning and purpose. Traditional communities still come to this mountain to perform rituals and celebrations to send gratitude to the universe with beautiful offerings consisting of flowers, fruits, fragrant incense. Traditional music and dances occur to celebrate art as an expressive form of our senses in gratitude, beauty and grace.”
Mt. Ijen, the location of ‘Asura-Fire’
On the southern end of Java, south of Mt. Gede, there is a volcano by name Mt. Ijen which is known for the lake of sulphur in its crater. At times fires erupt from the sulphuric water of the lake.
This finds description in the version of Nārada to Mātali, the charioteer of Rāma. Though this dialogue appears in the Mahābhārata, that was later than Rāmāyana by 2000 years, the description was as it appeared during Rāmāyana time, that is, 7200 years ago. Nārada talks about “Asura- Fire” – a fire that was fed by water that blazes continuously. The sulphur lake of Mt. Ijen burns many times in a day giving an appearance matching with Nārada’s narration that the water is igniting the fire. (Nārada’s description here).
Sandalwood tree location of Australia mentioned in Rāmāyana
The southward locations given in Vālmīki Rāmāyana are identifiable. For example, the mansion of Agastya (star Canopus) sighted from top of Mt. Kunjara could perhaps be the location of the star sighted at around 37-degree S. (These locations do not change as per Indic wisdom that had come down from pre-historic times, that the equinox doesn’t precess continuously but only oscillate to and fro for a length of 54-degrees of the sky. This is made possible by the fact that precession is not caused by the drift in the earth’s axis – which doesn’t happen- but by the helical path of the sun as it surges ahead in space. Check ‘related articles’ at the end of this article for details)
Further down South, Rāmāyana refers to Mt. Rishabha (Holy Bull) where red-coloured sandal wood trees are growing.
“Whereon the sandalwood trees of ochry-yellowy, lotus-leaf-greenly, sky-blue colours, and even the most attractive sandalwood trees which will be in the glow of Fire are produced, that mountain is this Rishabha. [4-41-40b, 41a]”
Sandal wood trees are indigenous to southern Australia. Its distribution is shown in the following map:
There are seven species of sandalwood occurring in Australia at present. Based on the Rāmāyana version, the sandalwood trees were guarded by ‘Gandharva-s’ known as Rohita-s (Rohit = red) who were very fierce in guarding them. They were like the sun or the moon or like fire, says Rāmāyana, which perhaps refer to their body colour as reddish or white. Obviously, they were aborigines who continue to grow sandal wood trees even today. Even today there are red-haired indigenous people in Australia.
Beyond the region of this sandalwood forests, there was no habitation in Rāmāyana times.
The description of the southern locations in Rāmāyana, concurring with the continuing evidence or past evidence on pre-history shows that pre-history is a long history peopled with a well-established population contrary to what we think we know.
More importantly, the southern route helps in positioning Gunung Padang by bringing out its purpose that is still dodging modern researchers.