Strange Narrations in Mahabharata
There are certain narrations in Mahabharata, that defies any rational explanations. Some examples are explanations about flying vehicles (Vimanas), Arjuna's travels in a flying chariot across the Himalayas, his visit of the Deva territories (ancient alien base-camp in Tibet?), his battle with the Nivata Kavachas (men in space-suits?), Salwa's attack of the city of Dwaraka in a flying city named Saubha, the triple space-cities of Asuras that revolved around Earth in three circular orbits that was destroyed by Siva using a single projectile weapon, the flying craft of Uparichara Vasu, the Puspaka-Vimana used by Kuvera, Ravana, Vibhishana and Rama, , Rama's bridge to Lanka across the ocean, the narration of the birth of Kauravas from the cells of an embryo outside the womb of a women, the narrations about celestial-weapons (Divya-Astras) that unleash high energy in the form of fire (explosions), water (rain), air (storm), the narration about the after effects of such weapons suggestive of the use of a nuclear weapon (nails falling down, regions turning into deserts, death of embryos even in womb), the idea that these weapons are invoked by mantras (voice enabled weapons?) and many more.
Ancient Science Fiction?
What is the explanation that can be given to these strange narrations? Can we say that the ancient authors of Mahabharata imagined all these? In that case, these are the best science-fiction stories that we have as part of our ancient heritage. Not only the best but some of the ancient science fiction stories.
But there is a problem if we dismiss all these as science-fiction stories written by Vyasa, his disciples and their predecessors. Look at the modern science-fiction stories. They are not just pure imaginations without any basis. They are based on some existing technology or scientific understanding. Of course in some cases certain science-fiction stories had acted as inspiration for a technology invented later. But in most of cases, science-fiction is based on existing scientific understanding and existing technologies.
This would mean that there was some high technology and scientific understanding in ancient India during the period when Mahabharata was being authored. This is a very interesting and very important thought. If this is proved right, the notion of our generation that, we are now at the apex of scientific and technological understanding will fall apart! It would mean that technology far superior than what we see today existed in the past. It would mean that human civilization had experienced technological and scientific advancement in the past. It would mean that the graph of human technology was not exponential in nature but a sine wave! An exponential graph will mean that we or the human society was technologically backward in the past and now is technologically advancing faster and faster as we proceed into the future. This is the picture most people agree with. A sine wave graph would mean that we had peaks of technological advancements in the past, from where we fell down to technologically backward states in the past and again progressed to technologically advanced states, in repeating cycles. After several peaks and troughs now it seems we are marching towards another peak. It also mean that we can again fall down to a trough!
We learn that the cities excavated as part of Indus-Saraswati civilizations were highly advanced with well designed drainage systems, roads were well laid out and houses were furnished with all luxuries. We know the engineering skills of the ancients through the Egyptian pyramids, the iron pillar of Delhi, numerous temples with very complex and detailed art-works and architectural designs. All of these also have stood the test of time. We also learn from the narrations in Mahabharata that the cities like Indraprastha (the city of the Pandavas), Dwaraka (the city of the Yadavas), Lanka (the city of the Rakshasas), Alakapuri (the city of the Yakshas), Amaravati (the city of the Devas), Bhogavati (the city of the Nagas) and Hiranyapura (the city of the Asura-Daitya clan called Nivata Kavachas) were well advanced. Thus we have both material and literary evidence to prove that the ancient world was technologically advanced.
Human or Alien Technology?
Now a basic questions that arise is, were these technologically advanced states in ancient periods, such as during the period of Mahabharata, the result of human effort alone? Or was it some alien technology?
Answering this question will be difficult. If we assume that these technologies were the result of human effort alone, then we should explain why we lost them subsequently. Is there any memory or record in our ancient texts where it explains that we lost the ability to use a celestial-weapon (divya-astras), by invoking a voice-signature (Mantra) due to a certain cause? Was it Kurukshetra war that lead to the fall of ancient Indian technology and science to to medieval levels? Kurukshetra war was indeed a colossal war that had cut into the ancient Indian society creating deep wounds difficult to heal. It had caused terrible loss of people and wealth. But from Mahabharata we learn that it was not an end. Life continued and new kings emerged. So I am unable to conclude that we lost all our technology and science in Kurukshetra war, even if it were a nuclear war, as many researchers think. Similarly I find it difficult to conclude that the technology mentioned in Mahabharata and other ancient texts were purely the result of human effort alone, that was lost due to some human-created catastrophe like the Kurukshetra war.
On the contrary we have many references in Mahabharata and ancient Indian texts, where the source of technology is mentioned as 'non-human'. The source of technological wonders such as the celestial-weapons (Divya-Astras), flying-vehicles (Vimanas), flying-cities, space-cities, rapidly emerging cities (cities built in a few days) were all attributed to Devas and Asuras, especially to the architects among them viz. Viswakarma and Maya. It is a popular theory among many researchers that Devas and Asuras were aliens from other planets. This is in conflict with another view that they were all humans. So where does the truth lie?
What is Alien?
To answer the question we need to define what is alien. It is a common tendency even in our modern times to consider people who are familiar to us as ‘humans’ and people who are outside these ‘familiar circles’ as ‘aliens’. These ‘familiar circles’ can be one’s locality in the country or one’s country as a whole. As the whole world now became a global village (our new 'familiar circle'), those speculated visitors from outside our world came to be called as aliens. I guess during the period of Mahabharata too the situation was more or less same. The authors of Mahabharata considered the people with whom they mingled most of times as 'humans' and all other people as 'aliens', in other words 'non-humans'.
Alien tribes mentioned in Mahabharata
Thus the tribes of Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Pisachas, Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, Vanaras, Nagas, Suparnas, Vidyadharas, Valkhilyas, Siddhas and Charanas all became non-human and aliens. Devas were further classified into Vasus, Rudras, Maruts, Sadhyas and Adityas. Asuras were similarly divided into Daityas, Danavas, Kalakeyas etc. Among the Daityas were a group called the Nivata Kavachas. However today, we can find the remnants of most of these tribes. Yakshas are found as Yakkas in Nepal, Tibet and Srilanka. Nagas are found as Nagas of Nagaland in eastern India, Nairs and Nagars in southern India. Gandharvas were ancient Gandharas. Pisachas lived in Kashmir attested by the Paisachi languages. Asura-philosophy of hatred towards Devas like Indra is found in the Iranian Veda named Avesta. Kinnaras are found as Kinnaurs in Himachal Pradesh. We also know that people who were considered as humans had interbred with these tribes. Asura Vrishaparva's daughter became a wife of Yayati and gave birth to sons like Puru. Pandava Bhima had a son named Ghatotkacha upon a Rakshasa women named Hidimba. Ravana himself was a son of sage Visrava and Rakshasa lady Kaikasi. Ravana's wife Mandodari was an Asura. Ravana had many wives who were Gandharvas. Visrava's eldest son Vaisravana Kuvera is mentioned as a Yaksha. Thus we can conclude that these tribes were humans but were considered as alien or non-human only in relative terms. We also find that these tribes, today have no memory of them being super human in the past as described by the authors of Mahabharata.
Isolated locations of the aliens
If we look at the geographical locations of these tribes, we find that they, at-least for some period of time during their existence, lived in inaccessible regions like mountains and forests and/or lived isolated from the regions of the authors of Mahabharata. Pisachas lived in the mountains of Kashmir. Yakshas, Kinnaras and Kimpurushas lived in high Himalays or in Tibet, cut off from the authors of Mahabharata who lived in the Indo-Gangatic plain to the south of the Himalayas. Gandharvas too lived in the high mountains of Gandhara and only in later stages moved to Saraswati river basin. They also continued to live along with Yakshas in high mountains. Devas lived further north to Yaksha territories, and lied towards the east. The Asuras lived to the west and north of Gandhara. Vanaras lived in the dense forest named Dandaka in the central and south-central India. Rakshasas lived in the mountains of Trikuta (Ravana) and the Himalayas (Ghatotkacha) or in dense forests (Vaka, Kirmira, Hidimba). Thus the attribution that they were non-human or alien was also due to the fact that they were not easily accessible to the writers of Mahabharata and their lives seemed to them to be mysterious.
Aliens in the current sense of the word
Does that mean there are no real aliens? Are we alone in this universe? Certainly not. It will be illogical to conclude that Earth is the only inhabited planet in this universe. The probability that the universe is teamed with intelligent species like humans is very high. Our ancient texts speak of The Fourteen Worlds including the Earth all of them filled with intelligent life. It also mentions travel of people between these worlds. Sometimes it is mentioned that the Devas lived in some of these worlds while the Asuras lived in others. Based on our current definition of alien, all of them were thus extra-terrestrial and hence aliens in the current sense of the word.
However we should not forget that even now the word alien is relative. It is hardly a matter of time that we became familiar with all those extra-terrestrial aliens and then we will stop calling them alien.
Extra-terrestrial aliens and local aliens
For analysis sake let us consider the aliens who live beyond Earth in other planets or worlds as extra-terrestrial aliens and those people on Earth who we consider as not belonging to our community, for what ever reasons as local aliens. I guess what we call Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Pisachas, Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, Nagas, Suparnas etc were both local aliens as well as extra-terrestrial aliens. How this is possible?
What I feel is that the extra-terrestrial aliens always visited the planet Earth. They are doing it now and they did it even during the time of Mahabharata. They camouflaged themselves as the Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas etc, the so called local aliens (as perceived by the authors of Mahabharata) and interacted with these authors of Mahabharata. The society that generated Mahabharata never tried to distinguish the local aliens from the extra-terrestrial aliens, even when occasionally they knew them as different and fused the narrations about both of them (extra-terrestrial and local) into a single whole. This explains why we have these tribe existing today as human tribes, yet have strange narrations about them in Mahabharata.
Alien Human Interactions and Technology Transfer
Why did the aliens come to ancient India (and also to the rest of the ancient world; it wasn't just ancient India) and why they come now? Extra-terrestrial aliens, in the form of local aliens like the Devas, the Asuras, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas etc interacted with ancient Indians and probably transferred some alien technologies like flying vehicles (Vimanas) and voice-enabled non-nuclear, thermo-nuclear and nuclear projectile weapons (Mantra-invoked celestial-weapons aka Divya-Astras) to them. Did they also assist ancient Indians in creating some wonderful cities? While Indraprastha was built by the Pandavas, a special assembly hall in that city is mentioned as built by Asura Danava Maya who was an architect. The city of Dwaraka is mentioned as built by Deva Viswakarma, who too was an architect. The city of Amaravati belonged to the Devas. The city of Alaka belonged to the Yakshas. The city of Bhogavati belonged to the Nagas. The city of Hiranyapura belonged to the Daitya Nivata Kavachas. All these contained several technological wonders aka illusions.
There is also this strange narration of the birth of Kauravas from the cells divided from an embryonic ball of flesh in artificial environments. This could be a later alien genetic experiment. Though I don't think the Kauravas were born thus, the narration of this alien genetic experiment might have added to Mahabharata as a later addition and might have used to explain the birth of the Kauravas by later narrators of Mahabharata.
Role of aliens in human evolution
It is possible that human evolution and the growth of human civilization was supervised by the extra-terrestrial aliens? This could explain the alien presence on Earth in the past and in the present. We know that all the material that resulted in the creation of Earth and our sun is not original. The Sun and the Earth were created out of the material that were part of a past generation of stars and planets, after these stars and planets were destroyed in the remote past upon the expiry of their life. It is also possible thus, that life on Earth is secondary. Life on Earth, including us can be a creation of aliens, who lived long before us and thus were the original life forms of the universe. This resonance of this information can be seen in ancient Indian texts like the Vedas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Puranas as well as other religious texts like the Bible and the Quran. Indian texts considers Devas, Asuras etc as born before humans. Devas are also mentioned as assisting the creation of humans and life forms on Earth. The Bible and Quran maintain that the angels were born before humans and assisted the creation of humans or guided human evolution and the growth of human civilization after humans were created.
Thus it won't be totally wrong if we say that human evolution and the growth of human civilization was assisted by extra-terrestrial aliens.
If aliens are so powerful why they are not attacking or destroying Earth? If they wished they could easily destroy Earth even if we resist with all our latest technologies. The reason is partially because it was they who created us and they don't want to destroy us. Partially because they are more evolved than us and believe in a higher religion and philosophy, which considers violence as very primitive. They may be exploiting us in a subtle level which we cannot understand, much like the animals reared by humans won't understand any kind of exploitation done upon them by humans. Nevertheless, just like we are engaged in a mutually dependent relationship with plants and animals, so are the aliens engaged with us in a mutually dependent relationship. Just like in our relationship with plants and animals we have an upper hand, so do the aliens have an upper hand in their relationship with us.
Is there any hope for humanity?
The fact that aliens are stronger than humans or are more ancient than humans need not make any human uncomfortable. Humans are endued with free-will and are free to make their own choices. Many alien theorist worry that the presence of aliens and alien agenda will put a limit to human freedom and consider the alien presence as a threat to humanity. Alien agenda might put a deterministic prison upon human affairs. But this determinism is operating at such a higher level that it won't clash with the free-will and freedom of humans. In other words, the prison set by the aliens are so wide that we humans will hardly feel that it is a prison or a cage. Ancient Indian sages have hinted in ancient texts like the Vedas, the Itihasas and the Puranas that this prison is nothing but the cycle of birth and rebirth and the law of Karma, that takes humans to various destiny based on the actions they perform, enjoying their freedom to chose and their free-will. In spite of this bondage called the law of Karma and the prison called the cycle of births and rebirths, humans continues to enjoy freedom and free will in their life.
One may argue that the cycle of births and rebirths and the law of Karma is applicable to the aliens too. But they seems to have a greater control over these than us. Yama is mentioned as administrating the affairs of human souls, and in bringing them to their destinies subjecting them to the law of Karma, and passing them through the cycle of births and rebirths. Indra too is mentioned as overseeing the affairs of human soles enjoying the fruits of their good Karma. Yet both Yama and Indra are subjected to the laws of Karma and are mentioned as perishable and not considered as eternal entities by our scriptures. Even their life is finite. Eventually they too undergoes the cycle of births and rebirths and thus belong to a much higher prison!
Significance of ancient Indian Philosophies
Some of the ancient Indian Philosophies like Adwaita and concept like Brahman too comes to the rescue of a doubtful human who may be depressed by the thought that the aliens are superior than us due to their ancient origins and due to their control over our affairs. Adwaita philosophy is highly valuable in the context of aliens. This philosophy asserts without any trace of ambiguity that the ultimate reality is singular. Hence there are no 'them' and there is no 'us'. Hence the fear of them is illusory and the need for the protection of 'us' from 'them' is unfounded. Adwaita urges every thinking mind to exercise their free-will and thus to 'seek' this ultimate truth. It says that the seeker of the ultimate truth whether he or she be alien or human, becomes the ultimate truth, since ultimate truth alone exists.
The Philosophy of Adwaita
Adwaita does not stress upon any personal God. It doesn't argue that Siva is the ultimate God; nor does it say that Krishna is the ultimate God or the supreme personality of the Godhead; nor does it says that Vishnu is the ultimate; nor Durga; nor Jesus; nor Yahova; nor Allah or any other God as described by religions of the world all of which believe in personification of God. Adwaita also do not stress upon any historical event occurred on the planet Earth at some point of time which has to become the basis of once religion, such as the creation of life on Earth, the birth of Jesus, of Buddha, of Mahavira, of Krishna, of Rama or the revelations to Muhammad. It considers only the following:- an illusory state in which seeker(s) of ultimate truth are subjected to an illusory construct called the universe with all its multitude forms and a real state where the seeker(s) identify with the ultimate truth. It urges the seeker to seek the truth within oneself, not outside. Hence the historical events, the miracles and the personal Gods which are all outside phenomena does not help the seeker to see the ultimate truth. These external entities are part of the illusory construct called the universe which the seeker is subjected to experience till the ultimate truth is realized. The external entities may help the seeker by indirectly pointing towards the ultimate truth but focusing too much on them only increase the duration to realize the ultimate truth. If the seeker blindly follow them, they only delude the seeker further giving a much stronger experience of the illusory construct called the universe. The real journey to the realization of the ultimate truth is an introspective journey within ones own self. Self-awareness is the only instrument and the only vehicle needed for this journey. Meditation, introspection and the knowledge of the Self is our soul refuge.
Adwaita, the universal religion
See here for More on Adwaita
This philosophy is accessible to all sentient beings; alien or human. It was accessible to all who are bold enough to think this far. Ancient Indian sages had realized this philosophy in their meditations. I guess this philosophy occurred to the sages without any alien aid. Even Indra is mentioned as unable to grasp the significance of this philosophy. The ancient Indian texts says that the concept of Brahman is incomprehensible even to the Devas like Indra, who if looked from a different angle, were the extra-terrestrial aliens of ancient India. Brahman is the term used in Advaita and other related ancient Indian philosophies. It represents the universal consciousness. It is impersonal and hence not a God. It is a universal intelligence encompassing the collective intelligence of the cosmos, which thus include human and alien intelligence too. It is the ultimate truth.
Perhaps the extraterrestrial aliens encountered this philosophy in the minds of the ancient sages? Perhaps they knew it already? We don't know. This philosophy is not easily accessible to any being who are materialistic in nature and thus becomes completely deluded by the construct called the universe. This will be so even if they were a highly intelligent alien race. However if an alien race is introspective like the ancient Indian sages, sooner or later they will discover this philosophy and religion.
Thus, the concept like Adwaita (singularity aka non-dualism) and Brahman (universal-consciousness) give humans a level playing field with the aliens. We should also not forget that the divisions like them (aliens) and us (humans) is itself illusory and vanish by the realization of the ultimate truth. We are them and they are us too. Hence I feel, the paranoia about aliens or about alien agenda, or feeling uncomfortable about the possibility that we are created and controlled by them, are simply put, unnecessary.
Adwaita philosophy in popular culture
In the Hollywood movie series named the Matrix we saw the concept of an illusory world or a prison created by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Humans are imprisoned in this prison called the matrix by projecting the illusory world onto the five senses of the human brain. In this movie we also encounter the famous question by one of the heroes named Morpheus:- "What is real?", implying that the term real is relative and depend on what information is received by our sense organs and processed by our mind. These concept of illusory world and the relativeness of reality perceived by a sentient being has its roots in the philosophy of Adwaita. Adwaita speaks of the world we think as real (which we experience since our birth till our death) as illusory or only relatively real, much like the illusory construct in which humans are imprisoned by the AI, in the movie. The creator of this illusory universe (where we think, we are now living) could be the alien intelligence or the cosmic intelligence.
Adwaita and popular science
Quantum theory comes close to Adwaita when it says that the observed phenomena is affected by the act of observation. This connect the following three seemingly different entities, viz. the observer, the act of observation and the observed into a single whole, much like the concept of non-dualism expounded by Adwaita. The search for a unified field theory or the theory of everything is also similar to a truth-seekers search for the ultimate truth as mentioned in Adwaita philosophy, which ultimately result in the identification of the seeker with the ultimate-reality resulting into a singularity. There is also a hypothesis which says that the universe is a holograph created out of information stored elsewhere.
Every scientific theory is a jolt to common man's perception of what they consider as real. Astronomy has torn apart the common man's perception that land they live is flat, which turn out to be locally Euclidean parts of the spherical surface of Earth. Advances in chemistry has proved that we are composed of atoms containing within them mostly empty space. Newton's gravity proved that the weight of objects is nothing but a force called gravity. Relativity has proved that time sensation is relative and there is no absolute time or absolute space but only a flexible membrane called the space-time (in which we live), containing local curvatures, which we feel as gravitation. Quantum theory has torn apart our notion of a continuum and asserts that space and time are discontinuous, discreet chunks. Thus, as pointed out by the Adwaita philosophy we are endlessly marching towards understanding the illusory nature of ourselves and our universe aka the construct that has imprisoned us.
- The Fourteen Worlds
I have come across some recent international publications that discuss the subject of ancient-astronauts in relation to ancient India and its Sanskrit language. Most interesting among them is UFO Case Files of Russia written by Paul Stone hill and Philip Mantle