THEOSOPHY, Vol. 15, No. 12, October, 1927
(Pages 543-549; Size: 22K)
(Number 21 of a 59-part series)
SOURCES OF EARLY AMERICAN CIVILIZATION
WHAT is the origin of the American Indian? The civilizations of Persia, China and Egypt had their roots in the remote past of the Fourth, Atlantean Race. But who ever associates American civilization with so ancient a source? Do we not assume that, for all practical purposes, American history began with Columbus' discovery of the New World? Yet, this New World, geologically considered, is older than Europe, the continent having risen from the ocean bed during the palmy days of Atlantis, which began to sink millions of years ago. Does it seem probable that any land would remain uninhabited for millions of years?
In consideration of these questions, we should apply first of all the principle of continuity: Nature's processes are never broken, although a constant change of land masses as well as races is always in progress. This transforming process culminates at certain periods in the breakingasunder of land surfaces, on which reincarnate and develop races gradually adapted to and modified by the new conditions, thus producing new cycles of history. Hence wherever separated land areas or divergent races appear, we must look for the hidden connections and intervening types which once bound them together in one continuous line of evolution, the whole process preparing for higher races and at last for Perfected Man.
Although one anthropologist assigned an age of 50,000 years to the remains of a human skeleton found at New Orleans, most so-called "authorities" believe there is no evidence of early man in America. On the other hand a great number of scientists accept the existence of the former continents of Lemuria and Atlantis and agree that there was a connection between the latter and America in former times. If such connections ever existed, why would there not have been migrations from those older continents to America? In fact the Mayas of Central America, the Toltecs and many other tribes maintained that their ancestors came from the East. For generations, according to Lewis Spence, the Antilles or West India Islands were recognized as being the remains of an Island continent called Antilia, shown on a globe by Behaim in 1492. This writer also says that in a letter to Columbus in 1474, Toscanelli refers to Antilia; also that long after the South American coast had been explored and demonstrated as a continental area, it was identified with Antilia, as two maps in the Egerton manuscript (now in the British Museum) distinctly prove. But Antilia was very evidently only the disconnected portion of a larger region, as indicated by deep sea soundings in the Atlantic basin. These have revealed the presence of an elevated ridge 9,000 feet higher than the ocean floor, beginning near the coast of Ireland, extending through the Azores southwesterly to the vicinity of the Amazon river; then shifting almost at right angles it proceeds southeast toward the African coast and on down to Tristan d'Acunha. Other indications of a former connection between the New World and the Old are the similar geological structure of the opposing coast lines of South America and Africa; and either an identity or close resemblance between the fauna and flora of the United States and Europe. In the forests of Virginia and Florida are many varieties of trees corresponding with European flora of the tertiary age term for term. How did they reach the New World? That the transition was not by way of the isthmus that once filled up Behring Strait is proved by the fact that a great number of these are not found west of the Rocky Mountains. Stones in the Canary Islands -- a remnant of Atlantis -- bear sculptured symbols similar to those found on the shore of Lake Superior. The form of skull belonging to the Guanches of the Canary Islands is the same as that of the Caribs of the West Indies, the Mayas and other tribes, which leads us to postulate the unity of race of the early men of these islands and America. (See Secret Doctrine, II, 789 for further proofs).
Basing their ideas on such facts as these and also on Plato's story of Atlantis -- the name given by him to the last island only, which was engulfed some 11,000 years ago -- many reconstructions of the lost continent have been mapped out in recent years; but these give only an approximate idea of its size and shape, confined as they are to a small area of the Atlantic. Although the origin and development of the Fourth Race was at about the mid-point of the present ocean, the continent extended from the coast of Venezuela, across to North Africa and from Newfoundland nearly to the coast of France. And who can tell but what Lindbergh's air flight parallelled a well-known route on old land now buried beneath the water? Going still further back -- how long, who can say? -- when a tropical climate prevailed in the Arctic region, one could cross almost by dry land from Norway, via Iceland and Greenland, to the lands that now surround Hudson's Bay. This may account for the similarity between the artificial mounds in the United States and the tumuli in Norway, which have led some archaeologists to suggest that they were the work of Norwegian mariners who discovered America a thousand years ago under the leadership of Leif Ericson: a re-discovery rather, for no one knows the age either of the mounds or the tumuli.
But why did a Greek philosopher, 400 B.C. give the name Atlantis to the lost continent? It is not a Greek word, nor can it be referred to any known language of the Old World. The root of the word is found, however, in the Nahuatl (Mexican) tongue: atl signifies, among other things, water. From this comes a series of words, one of which is Atlan, the name of a town in Darien in existence when Columbus discovered America. Is it not very extraordinary to have found in aboriginal America a town called by a name which contains a purely local element, foreign to every other country, in the alleged fiction of Plato? -- for until quite recently his story was considered a mere myth. The same may be said of the name America, says H. P. Blavatsky, which may one day be found more closely related to Meru, the sacred mount in the center of the seven continents, than to the name Amerigo Vespucci. Prof. Wilder thinks Vespucci would have been more likely to have used his surname if he had designed to give a title to the country. When first discovered America was found to bear among some native tribes the name Atlanta.
But how, on the basis of an Atlantis connection alone, are we to account for apparent similarities to the Chinese language among some American tribes, or between the cyclopean structures of Tiahuanaco and Easter Island? A Chinese writer referred to America, says H.P.B., when speaking of that "far distant land into which pious men and heavy storms had transferred the sacred doctrine." And she adds that this sacred doctrine of the land which was the cradle of physical man and of the Fifth Race had found its way into the so-called New World ages and ages before the "sacred doctrine" of Buddhism. But no doctrine is taken to a land without inhabitants. Who were these men, whose fossil remains even have never been exhumed; or if so, are believed to be comparatively recent? De la Vega, a native historian of Inca blood, states that "Masses of enormous human bones were found in America near Misorte precisely on the spot which local tradition points out as the landing of those giants who overran America when it had hardly risen from the waters." The natives believe that the massive buildings at Tiahuanaco were erected by giants. But there was, according to the Secret Doctrine, a western connection with India. The India of pre-historic times stretched into the Gobi desert and included Mongolia, where the yellow race was developed. Hence it was that a pedestrian going north might then have reached -- hardly wetting his feet -- the Alaskan peninsula through Manchuria, across the Gulf of Tartary, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands; while another traveller with a canoe and starting from the south, could have walked over from Siam, crossed the Polynesian Islands and trudged into any part of South America. Might not this account for the traditions of the Peruvians that their ancestors came from the south? In fact, De la Vega calls himself an Antarctic Indian. We know, too, that old Lemuria lay in the Antarctic region and remaining portions of it might easily have been adjacent to the southernmost part of South America.
A connection between India and America was always assumed. When Columbus set out on his voyage of discovery, he had in view a western route to India. Until the appearance of a map published at Basle in 1522, wherein the name of America appears for the first time, the latter was supposed to be a part of India. Why were the islands reached by Columbus called the West Indies, or how did the aborigines of America come by the name "Indians?" Did it just happen, or was there some natural cause for the application of an old name, just as pioneers today bring with them the names of localities from which they came, or speak of themselves as French or Germans although on American soil? At any rate, an identity is found in the names of certain "medicine men" and priests who exist to this day in Mexico, and East Indians. In Hindu works America is referred to as Patala, meaning the antipodes, and Arjuna, Krishna's disciple, is said to have descended to Patala and married a daughter of one of the Nagas, or Serpents of Wisdom. That must have been 5,000 years ago at least. There is a very curious statement in the Secret Doctrine (Vol. II, 132) about a race of Nagas, one thousand in number only, born or rather sprung from Kasyapa's wife, for the purpose of peopling this country. Was there a time, then, when Wise Men dwelt in America? And were these men Red Indians?
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna speaks of four castes distinguished by the color of their skin: Brahmas, white; Kshatriyas or warriors, red; Vaisyas or merchants, yellow; Sudras or servants, black. Some consideration of the colors of the different races might be suggestive in this connection. The Occultist does not accept the Biblical division of races as descendants of Shem, Ham and Japhet, yet recognizes but three entirely distinct primeval races whose evolution, formation and development followed parallel lines with the evolution, formation and development of three geological strata, namely black, red-yellow and the brown-white. Man was universally considered in antiquity as born of the earth, and such was the profane explanation of the term autochthones. For human complexion was as much derived from the earth as it was determined by climate. The light yellow was the color of the first solid race (the later Third). The Third gave birth to the Fourth, which became "black with sin;" this portion of humanity being gradually transformed into red-yellow (of whomthe Red Indians and the Mongolians are descendants), and finally into brown-white, the color of the Fifth Aryan Race. (S.D., II, 250, 424-425). So Arjuna and the race of Nagas must have been an Aryan infusion among a people which in course of time became a distinct type -- Fourth Race Americans, known by the general name now of Red Indians. The Master, in a letter to Mr. Sinnett, states that the majority of people on the globe today belong to the seventh sub-race of the Fourth Race. There are now practically no pure races, unadulterated by admixtures of many different branches. There were brown, red, yellow, white and black Atlanteans, giants and dwarfs, for the term "Atlantean" covers an almost countless number of races and nations. And again, "In nearly every vulgarized popular fable from the Sanskrit Arya ... down to Adam, fashioned of 'red earth,' the genetical story has a deep occult meaning, and an indirect connection with the origin of man and of the subsequent races." Donnelly is responsible for saying that in later ages so desirous were the Egyptians of preserving the aristocratic distinction of the color of their skin that they represented themselves on the monuments as of a crimson hue -- an exaggeration of their original race complexion. In this nation, however, as in others was a variety of peoples and colors. So it is but natural that in the dispersion of races from Atlantis, both before and as the continent was visited by cataclysmic disturbances and showed signs of sinking, some went east, locating on the shores of the Mediterranean and penetrating into the more remote regions of Asia, and some came west; and thus the same varieties of color obtained and still persist.
We can now understand how it was that the Spaniards in the Cibola expeditions met with white savage chiefs. The name "White Indians" was given to the Menominees once around Lake Michigan; many of the Zunis are almost white, with blue eyes and auburn hair; the Mandans are almost white, while their neighbors, the Crows, are very dark; the Dakotas are a shade lighter than olive. William Penn in a letter to a friend describes the tribes in Pennsylvania as being of "so lively a resemblance" to the Jews that "a man would think himself in Duke's Place or Berry Street in London where he seeth them." The Toltecs in Mexico resembled the Jews and, according to a native writer, are their descendants. The ancient Peruvians appear, from hair found in their tombs, to have been an auburn-haired race. Ferdinand Columbus, in the account of his father's voyage, compares the inhabitants of Guanaani to the Canary Islanders and describes the people of San Domingo as still more beautiful and fair. Donnelly concluded that there was no doubt but that red, white, black and yellow men had united to form the original population of America and said, "When science is able to disabuse itself of the theory that the aborigines of America are all red men, and all belong to one race, we may hope that the confluence upon the continent of widely different races from different countries may come to be recognized and intelligently studied." Many recent "authorities" still contend that there is but one general type of American Indian. We will remember Mr. Judge's statement in The Ocean of Theosophy (pp. 127-128) that by the method of mixture, precipitation and separation, Nature brings about the greatest perfection. The remotest ancestors of some of the inhabitants of the now miserable pueblo of Aclo -- the former Atlan -- were allied at one time as closely with the old Greeks and Romans as they were with the true inland Chinamen. Many Greek designs and forms of architecture are found in Central America. The Greeks as well as the Egyptians and the Phoenicians trace back to the last sub-race of Atlantis. Many tribes emigrated to lands which in course of time, owing to new geological convulsions, became islands. Being thus forcibly separated from larger centers of civilization, they gradually degenerated and fell into an abject and savage condition. (The student may supplement this sketch by turning to S.D., II, 743-745).
The passing of the Red Indians is not without sadness to them nor without a tremendous weight of Karma on the white races. Upon first meeting, the Indians were friendly and unsuspicious, and it was chiefly on account of the white man's treachery, plunder and cruelty, that their original attitude was changed to distrust and hatred. Preserving in their legends and holding many beliefs closer to fact than those current among their conquerors; observing many customs and ceremonies truer to Nature than those of the people to whom they became subject; forced to adopt ideas which in their hearts they rejected, they have watched the gradual encroachment upon their territory and abolition of their rights with resentment. Not so very many years ago, some Indians in the United States appealed to the great "White Father" in Washington for the possession of four small lakes, the petition being written on the tiny surface of a piece of fabric, covered with barely a dozen representations of animals and birds. This ideographic writing is the earliest mode of recording events and ideas. And how old this is may be inferred from some signs found on hatchets of the Palaeolithic period, which began hundreds of thousands of years ago. The American savages have a number of such kinds of writing. "As the chief element in the languages of the Fifth Race is the Aryan Sanskrit of the 'Brown-White' geological stock, so the predominating element in Atlantis was a language which has now survived but in the dialects of some American Red Indian tribes, and in the Chinese speech of the inland Chinamen ... a language which was an admixture of the agglutinative and the monosyllabic." (Five Years of Theosophy). All of those who have regarded the ideographs of the Red Indians and even the Chinese characters as "attempts of the early races to express their untutored thoughts," will be loath to accept the statement that writing was invented by the Atlanteans and not by the Phoenicians.
As the Fourth Race overlapped the Third, so the presence side by side of the Indians and the white man is witness of the overlapping of the Fifth and Fourth. Already there are indications that many red men have reincarnated among the white races, there to receive and work out their karmic relations. Nor are all these ties of hate, for many bonds of love and friendship have been cemented between the two peoples.
Pure Anglo-Saxons hardly three hundred years ago, the Americans of the United States have already become a nation apart and, owing to a strong admixture of various nationalities and inter-marriage, almost a race sui generis, mentally and physically. They are the germs of the sixth sub-race which is now forming here and which in some few hundred years more will become most decidedly the pioneers of that race which must succeed to the present European or Fifth sub-race. In about 25,000 years they will launch into preparations for the seventh sub-race, after which the Sixth Root Race will have appeared on the stage of our Round. When this will be who knows save the Masters of Wisdom? And they are as silent upon the subject as the snow-capped peaks that tower above them. All we know is that it will slowly and silently come into existence. But, do we think the future race will come about of itself, as tomorrow will succeed today, without any effort on our part? H.P.B. says, "It is the mankind of the New World whose mission and Karma it is to sow the seeds for a forthcoming, grander, and far more glorious Race than any we know of at present." If this prophecy is fulfilled, it will be due to the fact that the great object of the original Theosophical Society has been achieved by having established a real Universal Brotherhood, without distinction of race, creed, caste or color, because it will embrace all. And who will compose this race? Who, indeed, but ourselves and reincarnated Red, Yellow, Black, Brown, and White Men of all climes and ages."The Present is the Child of the Past; the Future, the begotten of the Present. And yet, O present moment! Knowest thou not that thou hast no parent, nor canst thou have a child; that thou art ever begetting but thyself? Thus, are the Past, the Present, and the Future, the ever-living trinity in one -- the Mahamaya of the Absolute Is."
THE CHILDREN OF THE SUN
(Part 22 of a 59-part series)
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