THEOSOPHY, Vol. 43, No. 9, July, 1955
(Pages 416-421; Size: 17K)
LORE OF CENTRAL ASIA(1)
NORTHERN Asia is as old as the Second race. One may even say that Asia is contemporary with man, since from the very beginnings of human life its root-continent, so to speak, already existed, that part of the world now known as Asia being cut off from it in a later age, and divided by the glacial waters. But most of our present Asia issued from under the waters after the destruction of Atlantis. It was toward the close of the Miocene Age, The Secret Doctrine relates, that the first sub-race of the Fifth root-race (the Aryan-Asiatics) witnessed the doom of the last of the populations of Atlantis. The stanzas of the book of Dzyan say of this event: "The first great Waters came. They swallowed the seven great Islands. All Holy saved, the unholy destroyed." The seven great islands (Dwipas) belonged to the continent of Atlantis. The "unholy" are referred to as those Atlanteans who had turned "black with sin." "The nations that were led away, were as thick as the stars of the Milky Way," says a modern Commentary, written in Sanskrit only. "This was due, however, as much to the prevision of the 'holy' ones, who had not lost the use of their 'third Eye', as to Karma and natural law." It is further said that "Alone the handful of those Elect, whose divine instructors had gone to inhabit the Sacred Island ... now kept mankind from becoming one-half the exterminator of the other" [as mankind does now--H.P.B.].
The Aryan race was born and developed in the far north, though after the sinking of the continent of Atlantis its tribes emigrated further south into Asia. Thus: "Seek for the remains of thy forefathers in the high places. The vales have grown into mountains and the mountains have crumbled to the bottom of the seas" .... Fourth race mankind, thinned after the last cataclysm by two-thirds of its population, instead of settling on the new continents and islands that reappeared while their predecessors formed the floors of new Oceans -- deserted that which is now Europe and parts of Asia and Africa for the summits of gigantic mountains, the seas that surrounded some of the latter having "retreated" and made room for the table-lands of Central Asia. [Subsequently] the latest, seventh sub-race of the Atlanteans, already swallowed up in one of the early sub-races of the Aryan stock, had been gradually spreading over the continent and islands of Europe, as soon as they had begun to emerge from the seas. Descending from the high plateaux of Asia, where the two races had sought refuge in the days of the agony of Atlantis, it had been slowly settling and colonizing the freshly emerged lands.
The lands of the ancestors of those whom Ammianus Marcellinus called the "Brahmins of Upper India" stretched from Kashmir far into the (now) desert of Shamo. "When geology shall have found out how many thousands of years ago the disturbed waters of the Indian Ocean reached the highest plateaux of Central Asia, when the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf made one with it, then only will they know the age of the Aryan Brahminical nation, and the time of its descent into the plains of Hindostan, which it did millenniums later." Traces of an immense civilization in Central Asia are still to be found. This civilization is undeniably prehistoric. Can there be a civilization without a literature, in some form, without annals or chronicles? In the history of departed nations common sense alone ought to supplement the broken links. It should be known too that there are also things never recorded in scrolls, but as in Central Asia, on rocks and in subterranean crypts.
The gigantic, unbroken wall of the mountains that hem in the whole tableland of Tibet, from the upper course of the river Khuan-Khé down to the Kara-Korum hills, witnessed a civilization during millenniums of years and would have strange secrets to tell mankind. The Eastern and Central portions of those regions -- the Nan Schayn and Altyne-taga, were once upon a time covered with cities that could well vie with Babylon. A whole geological period has swept over the land, since those cities breathed their last, as the mounds of shifting sand and the sterile and now dead soil of the immense central plains of the basin of Tarim testify. The borderlands alone are superficially known to the traveler. Within those tablelands of sand there is water, and fresh oases are found blooming there, wherein no European foot has ever yet ventured. But there is no need to send the reader across the desert when the same proofs of ancient civilization are found even in comparatively populated regions -- one of which, situated about 4,000 feet above the level of the river Tchertchen-D'arya, is surrounded with the ruins of archaic towns and cities in every direction. There, some 3,000 human beings represent the relics of about a hundred extinct nations and races -- the very names of which are now unknown to our ethnologists. An anthropologist would feel more than embarrassed to class, divide and subdivide them; the more so, as the respective descendants of all these antediluvian races and tribes know as little of their own forefathers themselves, as if they had fallen from the moon. When questioned about their origin they reply that they know not whence their fathers had come, but had heard that their first (or earliest) men were ruled by the great genii of these deserts.
This may be put down as superstition, yet in view of the teachings of The Secret Doctrine the answer may be based on primeval tradition. Alone, the tribe of Khoorassan claims to have come from what is now known as Afghanistan, long before the days of Alexander, and brings legendary lore to that effect as corroboration. The Russian traveller, Prjevalsky, found quite close to the oasis of Tchertchen the ruins of two enormous cities, the oldest of which was, according to local tradition, ruined 3,000 years ago by a hero and a giant; and the other by the Mongolians in the tenth century of our era. He relates that "the emplacement of the two cities is now covered, owing to shifting sands and the desert wind, with strange and heterogeneous relics; with broken china and kitchen utensils and human bones. The natives often find copper and gold coins, melted silver ingots, diamonds, and turquoises, and what is the most remarkable -- broken glass. ... Coffins of some undecaying wood, or material also, within which beautifully preserved embalmed bodies are found ... The male mummies are all extremely tall and powerfully built men with long waving hair ... A vault was found with twelve dead men sitting in it. Another time, in a separate coffin, a young girl was discovered by us. Her eyes were closed with golden discs, and the jaws held firm by a golden circlet running from under the chin across the top of the head. Clad in a narrow woolen garment, her bosom was covered with golden stars, the feet being left naked." To this, the famous traveller adds that all along their way on the river Tchertchen they heard legends about twenty-three towns buried ages ago by the shifting sands of the deserts. The same tradition exists on the Lob-nor and in the oasis of Kerya.
Around no other locality, not even Peru, hang so many traditions as around the Gobi desert. In Independent Tartary this howling waste of shifting sand was once, if report speaks correctly, the seat of one of the richest empires the world ever saw. Beneath the surface are said to lie such wealth in gold, jewels, statuary, arms, utensils, and all that indicates civilization, luxury and fine arts, as no existing capital of Christendom can show today. The Gobi sands move regularly from east to west before terrific gales that blow continually. Occasionally some of the hidden treasures are uncovered. But not a native dare touch them, for the whole district is under the ban of a mighty spell. Bahti -- hideous, but faithful gnomes -- guard the hidden treasures of this prehistoric people, awaiting the day when the revolution of cyclic periods shall again cause their story to be known for the instruction of mankind. The district of the Gobi wilderness and, in fact, the whole area of Independent Tartary is jealously guarded against foreign intrusion. Those who are permitted to traverse it are under the particular care and pilotage of certain agents of the chief authority, and are in duty bound to convey no intelligence respecting places and persons to the outside world. But for this restriction even we might contribute to these pages accounts of exploration, adventure, and discovery that would be read with interest. The time will come, sooner or later, when the dreadful sand of the desert will yield up its long-buried secrets, and then there will indeed be unlooked-for mortifications for our modern vanity.
To deny to any peoples of Asia, whether Central, Upper or Lower, the possession of any knowledge or even perception of spiritual things, is perfectly ridiculous. From one end to the other the country is full of mystics, religious philosophers, Buddhist saints, and magicians. Belief in a spiritual world, full of invisible beings who on certain occasions appear to mortals objectively, is universal. "According to the beliefs of the nations of Central Asia," remarks I. J. Schmidt, "the earth and its interior, as well as the encompassing atmosphere, are filled with spiritual beings which exercise an influence, partly beneficent, partly malignant, on the whole of organic and inorganic nature. ... Especially are deserts and other wild or uninhabited tracts, or regions in which the influences of nature are displayed on a gigantic scale, regarded as the chief abode or rendezvous of evil spirits. And hence the steppes of Turan, and in particular the great sandy Desert of Gobi have been looked upon as the dwelling place of malignant beings, from days of hoary antiquity." Marco Polo, in describing his passage through the great desert of Lop speaks of a marvellous thing "which is that, when the travellers are on the move by night ... they will hear spirits talking. Sometimes the spirits will call him by name ... even in the daytime one hears these spirits talking. And sometimes you shall hear the sound of a variety of musical instruments, and still more commonly the sound of drums." Another translator quotes the Chinese historian, Matwanlin, who corroborates the same. "During the passage of this wilderness you hear sounds," says Matwanlin, "sometimes of singing, sometimes of wailing; and it has often happened that travellers going aside to see what those sounds might be, have strayed from their course and been entirely lost; for they were voices of spirits and goblins" (Visdelon). "These goblins are not peculiar to the Gobi," adds the editor, "though that appears to have been their most favored haunt. The awe of the vast and solitary desert raises them in all similar localities."
The traces of such civilization, and these and like traditions, give us the right to credit other legendary lore warranted by well educated and learned natives of India and Mongolia, when they speak of immense libraries reclaimed from the sand, together with various reliquae of ancient MAGIC lore, which have all been safely stowed away. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, more than one Russian Mystic travelled to Tibet via the Ural mountains in search of knowledge and initiation in the unknown crypts of Central Asia. And more than one returned years later, with a rich store of such information as could never have been given him anywhere in Europe. Several cases could be cited, and well-known names brought forward, but for the fact that such publicity might annoy the surviving relatives of the said late Initiates. The author of the Quabbalah remarks quite truly that "Long before his (Ibn Gebirol's) time ... many centuries before the Christian era, there was in Central Asia a 'Wisdom Religion'; fragments of which subsequently existed among the learned men of the archaic Egyptians, the ancient Chinese, Hindus, etc...." and that ... "The Quabbalah most likely originally came from Aryan sources, through Central Asia, Persia, India and Mesopotamia, for from Ur and Haran came Abraham and many others into Palestine."
"Hurricanes may tear up the sands and sweep whole plains away," they are powerless to destroy that which is beyond their reach. Built deep in the bowels of the earth, the subterranean stores are secure; and as their entrances are concealed in the oases of the deserts, there is little fear that anyone should discover them, even should several armies invade the sandy wastes. Tradition, once again, points to a grotto, a vast cave in the deserts of Central Asia, whereinto light pours through its four seemingly natural apertures or clefts placed crossways at the four cardinal points of the place. From noon till an hour before sunset that light streams in, of four different colours, as averred -- red, blue, orange-gold, and white -- owing to some either natural or artificially prepared conditions of vegetation and soil. The light converges around a pillar of white marble with a globe upon it, which represents our Earth. It is named the "grotto of Zarathustra."
Belonging to Mystery and Initiation are the psychic and spiritual elements in man and nature. Behind the veil of Cosmic and Astrological symbols there were the occult mysteries of primeval genesis; these were things never recorded in scrolls but, as in Central Asia, on stone and in subterranean crypts. Identical glyphs, numbers and esoteric symbols are found in Egypt, Peru, Mexico, Easter Island, India, Chaldea, and Central Asia. Crucified men, and symbols of the evolution of the races from gods -- in spite of the fact that Science repudiates the idea of a human race other than one made in our image. The Cross may be traced back into the very depths of the unfathomable archaic ages. The mystery of the latter -- the Cross -- deepens rather than clears, as we find it on the statues of Easter Island, in old Egypt, in Central Asia, engraved on rocks as Tau and Swastika, in pre-Christian Scandinavia, everywhere! Even the mysteries of the seven gnostic vowels, uttered by the thunders of St. John, can be unriddled only by the primeval and original Occultism of Aryavarta, brought into India by the primeval Brahmans, who had been initiated in Central Asia. Every Cosmogony began with a circle, a point, a triangle, and a cube, up to the number 9, when it was synthesized by the first line and a circle -- the Pythagorean mystic Decade, the sum of all, involving and expressing the Mysteries of the entire Kosmos. This Decade and its thousand combinations are found in every portion of the globe. One recognizes them in the caves and rock-cut temples of Hindostan and Central Asia, as in the pyramids and lithoi of Egypt and America; in the Catacombs of Ozimandyas, in the mounds of the Caucasian snow-capped fastnesses, in the ruins of Palenque, everywhere the foot of ancient man has ever journeyed!
"THE LOST ATLANTIS"
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(1) NOTE.--Collated from Theosophical works.
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