Demystifying the Sufis
December 31, 2009
Determining the age of Saraswat Community
May 30, 2010

Similarities between Vedic, Aztec & Mayan Culture

In 1940 a little known Buddhist Bhikshu (monk) – Chaman Lal – authored & published a book entitled “Hindu America” with the intent of “revealing” the forgotten story of the ancient Americas, especially India’s “immortal links” with the Aztec and Mayan civilizations of Mexico and the Ayar-Inca rulers of the Ayar Empire.

The book, though coupled with several circumstantial evidences and supporting theories, failed to make its point owing to several misrepresentations. But the very idea of Vedic, aka Harappa & Mohenjo-Daro, civilization having links with their American counterparts, namely Mayan & Aztec, was never completely ruled out. This was because of several resemblances found between the two civilizations in their customs and traditions though geographically miles apart. Here are few compelling similarities:

Panchisi & Patolli

Who has not heard about the game of dice – Panchisi (Pagade in Kannada)? Approximately 130 years ago Sir Edward B. Taylor[1] had point out that the ancient Mexican game of Patolli (see image) was similar in details to the game of Panchisi played in India and the whole region of Southern Asia. Later on Stewart Culin[2] proved that even the “cosmic meaning” of the Mexican game with it’s relation to the four quarters of the world and to the calendars ascribed to them was essentially the same.

Afterwards even Dr. Kroeber[3][i], leading anthropologist from California, observed that “the mathematical probability of two games invented separately agreeing by chance in so many specific features, is very low. The close correspondence between rules of two games indicates a real connection.”

The Lotus Motif

Lotus is one of the most sacred symbols in India even today. Hinduism is essentially embodied in the lotus. One of the most frequent motifs of early Indian art is the lotus plant. Interestingly, the same kind of lotus motif occurs in America at Chichen Itza (Mexico) as a border in the reliefs of the lower room of the Temple of the Tigers. Dr. Robert Heine-Geldern had long pointed out that “the water lily panels at Chichen Itza closely resemble those of southeastern Asia.” Further they state that “It is certainly remarkable that in India as well as in Middle America, the rhizome, a part of the plant not normally visible because it is submerged and deeply buried in mud should have been the basic element of a whole motif and, moreover, be stylized in the same unrealistic manner as undulating creeper.”[4] They were also of the opinion that such a combination of highly specific details cannot be accidental.

In a paper published in American Antiquity, January, 1953, Gordon Ekholm of the American Museum of Natural History, pointed out the close similarity of the lotus motif used in Buddhist (essentially derived from Vedic) and Mayan carvings. He states “Perhaps among the most significant parallels between Hindu-Buddhist and late classic and post-classic Maya art are those we can classify under the heading of lotus panels… For the Maya we will refer to carvings occurring at Chichen Itza and Palenque. The lotus motifs at these two sites are remarkably similar although the more elaborate and more Asiatic-like panels are at Chichen.”

Charak Puja & Volador Ritual

Charak Puja, a very enchanting folk festival of the Southern Belt of Bangladesh and West Bengal, is also known as Nil Puja. The Hindus, even to this day, celebrate it on the last day of Chaitra believing that the festival will carry prosperity by eliminating sorrow and sufferings of the previous year.  In this festival a human Charak is made ready and is tied with a hook on his back and then he is moved around with a bar with a long rope. Though it’s risky they arrange. Interestingly the Mexican ritual of Volador practiced in Mexico and Peru is very similar to Charak Puja. “The people take part in this ceremony asking the gods for fertility and bountiful crops.”[5]

Parasol as a Symbol of Royalty: The use of Parasol (Chattra in Sanskrit) is an age old sign of royalty and rank in India, Burma, China and Japan. The Maya Aztec and Incas also used it as a sign of royalty[6]. Frescos of Chak Multum in Yucatan show two types of parasols both of which correspond to types still in use in Southeast Asia.[7][ii]

Thrones and Palanquin: Chaman Lal in his book strongly asserts that “The use of throne and of fans mounted standard like on long poles as insignia of rank and royalty in the countries of Central and South America bears the strong imprint of India.” According to him “… the last Ayar ruler of Peru was carried in his palanquin on the day the Spaniards invaded Peru. His turban with plume and his Mudra (hand symbol) of the hand are unmistakable proofs of his Hindu origin. His four Ranis performed Sati after he was murdered by the Spaniards.”

Use of Zero: After Vedic people the Mayas of Yucatan were the first people to use a zero sign and represent number values by position of basic symbols. The similarity between the Mayan and Vedic Indian zero is undisputedly striking. Though the logical principle are the same the expressions of the principle are quiet dissimilar. While Vedic system of notation was decimal, like the European, the Mayan was Vigesimal (i.e. relating to or based on the number twenty).

Use Elephant in Sculpture: The American writer and explorer, John L Stephens, who, accompanied by Catherwood, an accomplished artist, visited the ruins of Maya civilization in Central America in the middle of the last 20th, detected the elephant on a sculptured pillar at Copan, which he referred to as an “idol”. “The front view”, he wrote, “seems a portrait, probably of some deified king or hero. The two ornaments at the top appear like the trunk of an elephant, an animal unknown in that country.” [8] A reproduction of one of the ornaments in question should leave no doubts as to the identity of animal depicted by ancient American sculptor. It is not only an elephant, but an Indian elephant, a species found in India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Borneo and Sumatra. The African elephant has larger ears, a less elevated head and a bulging forehead without the indentation at the root of the trunk which is a characteristic of the Indian species. The African elephant has in the past been less made use by man than the Indian, and has consequently not figured prominently in African religious life. In India the elephant was tamed since Vedic period.


[1] Sir Edward B. Taylor, Anthropology: an introduction to the study of man and civilization, London: Macmillan 1881 – similarities between Hindu Panchisi and Mexican Patolli

[2] Stewart Culin, Chess and Playing-Cards (Report, United States National Museum for 1896, pp. 665-942, 1898), p. 855

[3] Charles John Erasmus, Patolli, Pachisi, and the Limitation of Possibilities, South-Western Journal of Anthropology Vol. 6, 1950. Pp 369

[4] Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 151. Can be accessed online at: http://www.archive.org/stream/bulletin1511953smit/bulletin1511953smit_djvu.txt

[5] Sergioy Rosa, The ritual of the “Volador” (flyer) at Guachimonton @ http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/8f66c/

[6] Jean Leonard Gilder & Joseph Benson Gilder, The Critic Vol. 11, Good Literature Pub. Co. 1884-1906 pp. 256

[7] Shyam Singh Shashi, The World of Nomads, Lotus Press Publisher 2009, pp. 213.

[8] J. L. Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucata, London edition, 1842, Vol. I, p. 156.


9 Comments

  1. Ed B says:

    May I recommend the book ‘1421’ by Gavin Menzies .. a book suggesting that the Chinese had at least once sailed the western coasts of the Americas almost a century before Columbus ‘discovered’ the new world.
    Ed

  2. nanda kishor says:

    oh…
    there are so many similarities between the nations…
    thank you sir.

  3. Ed B :
    May I recommend the book ’1421′ by Gavin Menzies .. a book suggesting that the Chinese had at least once sailed the western coasts of the Americas almost a century before Columbus ‘discovered’ the new world.
    Ed

    May be Chinese did indeed sail one century before Columbus – Who knows
    But the first Chinese “discovery” of America was 13,000 years ago.
    Based on geological evidence, climatology and DNA and other evidences, the native Americans (of America of course) are Mongoloids/Chinese predecessors who crossed over the Alaskan land bridge (from Asia to north America) before the end of the last ice age (13,000 years back). The ice age had landlocked the water that oceans were considerably lower than today and hence they could cross over by foot

  4. Madan Gopal says:

    It is possible because in indian mythology indians and Mayans have close relationships. Mayans are reagareded as great architect in Indian mythology. It is persumed that Delhi, formerly known as Inderprastha , was estblished by Pandavas 5000 yrs ago with the help of Maya people. The Maya people desigend and planed the city named delhi. Before this, we have the mention that the Ravan, very intellient and mighthy king of Shri Lanka who has been depicted as the demon king in indian mythology, married with the daughter of the Maya king named maya. The name of the daughter was Mandodari. All the maya kings in indian mythologies have been named maya that why we could not corelate the mayan kigns with indian kings .

  5. asdfg12345 says:

    i think modern history depicts things in the point of view of the europeans.
    eg: Migration of aryan into india etc…
    Europeans only use accounts of history from what they think is right or known to them as tales etc..like history of ancient greece / roman history and stories from the gospels.
    Thou thr is no proper evidence proving these to be true.
    but when it comes to history of some other people they debase it (maybe it was the white man’s burden)
    Currently many people have opened their eyes to new historical facts like the findings of ancient city “dwarka” and also seeing that the world was not the same in 10,000 BC
    map of the world: http://www.atlan.org/copyright/1997/articles/checklist/zoom/fig1.jpg

    so the idea of history is a flawed one….true history is far fetched from us at the moment.

  6. P.K.Ramakrishnan says:

    The word Maya in these places does not refer to the name of the person. It refers to the nationality of the
    person. For example, the Bhilai Steel Plant and Bokaro Steel Plant were built by Russians. If we say that
    a Russian built these plants, it should not be construed that one and the same Russian built these plants.
    Similarly one Maya built Lanka for Ravana. Ravana married his daughter. Another Maya built Indraprastha
    for the Pandavas. Mayas were great architects in those days. Now we come to know this from the Mayan
    country of South America.

  7. vikram says:

    Mayans are Indian origin,those who built Tripuram.all new religions trying to manipulate its theories by force.but Hindus never manipulate /conquer anything,it is standing with its solid truth structure,

  8. DG says:

    This is missing the fact that they both believe in a cyclical view of the universe.

  9. Abhishek says:

    Mahesh from can i buy this book? Its unavailable in Indian bookstores and neither online.

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