Angkor Wat and India

The central Angkor Wat Temple complex

On January 20, 2015, I left Los Angeles for a trip to Cambodia and India. My Thai Airways flight made a stop in Seoul, Korea, and then continued on to Bangkok. From Bangkok I took a Bangkok Air flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, so I could visit the temple at Angkor Wat, something I have been wanting to do for a long time. One reason I wanted to go is that it is a Vishnu temple, and I am a Vaishnava (a devotee of Vishnu, or Krishna). The temple, which was built about a thousand years ago, has magnificent relief carvings of the pastimes of various avataras (incarnations) of Vishnu.  Also, a lot of Vedic cosmology and astronomy is built into the structure of the temple. The temple stands on a large, square tract of land, surrounded by a moat. You enter the temple complex from the west by crossing a stone bridge over the moat. If you stand on the western end of the bridge, you see before you, on the far side of the moat a long columned wall, with a gate in the middle and a gate at each end. If you were standing on the western end of the bridge of the morning of the spring equinox you would see the sun rise directly over the center gate. On the morning of the winter solstice you would see the sun rise over the southern gate, the one to your right. On the morning of the summer solstice, you would see the sun rise over the northern gate, the one on your left. So exact astronomical knowledge of the yearly movements of the sun is built into the temple structure. The Vedic time cycles (the yugas) are also built into the structure of the temple. For this understanding, I am indebted to the book Angkor Wat: Time, Space, and Kingship by scholar Eleanor Mannikka, which I used as my guide. For example, the stone bridge across the moat is 432 cubits long. Mannikka takes this a reference to the length of the Kali Yuga (432,000 years). When you pass through the center gate, you find yourself on a stone walkway that leads to the central temple complex. This walkway is 864 cubits long, a reference to the Dvapara Yuga (864,000 years). Other key measurements in the temple are 1,296 and 1,728 cubits, corresponding to the lengths of the Treta Yuga (1,296,000 years) and Satya Yuga (1,728,000) years. One reason I am interested in such things is that I am a member of an advisory group for The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium being built in Mayapur, West Bengal, by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, of which I am a member.

After my visit to Angkor Wat, I proceeded to India, to Mayapur. While in Mayapur, I did some research into another one of my interests: spiritual archeology. By this I mean discoveries of old sacred places or objects made by saintly persons who were guided by visions, dreams, or other paranormal methods. About an hour's drive from Mayapur, near the town of Shantipur, is a place called Advaita Vat, where there is a small temple in a grove of mango trees. Advaita was a great spiritual personality who appeared in Bengal about 500 years ago. His paternal home was located near Shantipur. But shortly after the time of Advaita the nearby Ganges River changed its course and the house was lost. About 300 years ago, a saintly person named Sitanath Baba had a vision in which Advaita appeared to him and told him to go to a certain place near Shantipur where if he dug he would find objects belonging to Advaita. He went there and found the objects, which included a small deity that had been worshiped by Advaita. He then built a temple at the spot, which is the place where Advaita's house had originally stood. I went to this temple, and spoke with the temple priest about how this sacred site was rediscovered by spiritual archeology.

Survival of Humanity Conference

The weekend of March 26 to March 29, 2015, I spoke at the Survival of Humanity Conference, which was held at a hotel near the Los Angeles International Airport. Over the course of the weekend, I was a speaker in two panels, including one led by Coast to Coast AM radio talk show host George Noory.  I have been interviewed by him many times over the years and it was good to see him in person. I also gave a talk about my book Forbidden Archeology and another talk on Evidence for Spacecraft (Vimanas) in the Ancient Sanskrit Writings of India. I focused on descriptions of vimanas from a text called the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Some of the vimanas are made of spiritual elements, some of subtle material elements, and some of gross material elements. As part of the entertainment, the conference organizer invited the Temple Bhajan Band, headed by Sura Dasa, to sing Sanskrit mantras.

Spirit of Alaska Cruise

Aerial view of Eagle Glacier

On Friday, June 12, 2015, I boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Jewel of the Seas in the Port of Seattle. I was a speaker for The Spirit of Alaska Cruise, organized by Divine Travels. After finding my way to my cabin, I attended an opening session for the Spirit of Alaska Cruise, joining the other speakers for our group on stage. On Saturday while we were at sea, headed for Juneau, Alaska, I gave my scheduled talk, the title of which was "The Cosmic Hierarchy: Alaskan and Vedic Perspectives." Here is a summary of what my talk was about:

"Although mainstream science denies it, there is scientific evidence that a human being is composed of three things: matter, a mind with paranormal powers, and a conscious self that can exist apart from matter, apart from the body. The Tlingit people of Alaska also had such ideas. The anthropologist George T. Emmons noted: The Tlingit recognize three entities in man: (a) the material body; (b) the spirit, a vital force through which the body functions during life, and which, leaving the body, causes death; and (c) the soul, a spiritual element that has no mechanical connection with the body, and is eternal, dwelling in spirit land or returning from time to time to live in different bodies. This leads to the related assumption that our cosmos itself is divided into regions dominated by ordinary matter, mind, and  purely spiritual elements. Such cosmologies have existed in a vast number of cultures down through history, including the Tlingit culture of Alaska and the Vedic culture of India. These cosmologies include hierarchies of beings adapted to life at various levels. At the top of the hierarchy is some kind of supreme guiding intelligence. Next comes a subordinate creator god, who produces the bodies of demigods, humans, animals, plants, ghosts and demons. The bodies are vehicles for souls, which travel from body to body in the cycle of reincarnation. Cosmologies embodying such concepts were once dominant in the world. But in today’s world, a materialistic cosmology has become dominant, spreading  over the planet a web of economic, political, cultural, and intellectual institutions that entangles people in values and actions that are detrimental to their spiritual health and the spiritual health of our planet. Studying the cosmologies of indigenous peoples can be an antidote to the overwhelming materialism of the current age."

At Tracy Arm Fjord

<>On Sunday we reached Juneau. In the morning, I took a flight over the glaciers overlooking Juneau, including the Mendenhall Glacier. In the afternoon I attended a cultural program put on by Tlingit elders. In the evening the ship set sail again, bound for Skagway, Alaska, arriving the next morning. Our group took a ride on an old narrow gauge railway up to White's Pass, high up in the mountains, following the route taken by gold prospectors during the days of the Yukon gold rush. The ship set sail in the evening and in the morning arrived in the Tracy Arm fjord. The ship stopped at the end of the fjord, at the base of the Sawyer Glacier. The next day we were at sea. One of the Spirit of Alaska cruise speakers had to leave the ship in Skagway, so I was scheduled to give an extra talk. I decided to speak about accounts of vimanas (spacecraft) in the ancient Sanskrit writings of India. On Thursday, June 18, the ship docked in Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada. I participated in a shore excursion, visiting Butchart Gardens. The next morning the cruise finished, with the ship docking in the port of Seattle.

Norway Trip

Wild strawberries hiding in a Norwegian meadow

A few months ago, Knut Johan Nerhus invited me to speak on my book Forbidden Archeology at a small festival he was organizing in the countryside near Bergen, Norway. I had never been to Norway, so I accepted his invitation. On July 28, 2015, I flew from Los Angeles to London, arriving the next day, and then got a connecting flight to Bergen, Norway, arriving in the early evening. Knut met me at the airport and drove me from Bergen to his farm near the village of Hatlestrand on the Hardanger Fjord. The ride took a bit over two hours. The farm has been in Knut's family for hundreds of years. After introducing me to his wife, and offering me some dinner, Knut took me to my room in one of the farm houses. I had a comfortable sleep and the next day was free. I spent some time walking around the farm. The front part of the farm is pasture. The back part is forest. I followed a path through the hills and forest to the Hardanger Fjord. In a meadow there I found wild strawberries. I picked some and, following the tenets of my faith, offered them to Lord Krishna. Then I tasted them. They were small, but very sweet.

View of the Hardanger Fjord

The next evening, Friday evening, I gave my talk on Forbidden Archeology in a village community hall near Knut's farm. The next day Knut staged a Norse festival in a clearing in the forest on his farm. These events were not huge, but I liked them very much. The next day, Sunday, we went on an expedition, taking a ferry across the Hardanger Fjord, to visit an open air geology park, featuring samples of the different kinds of rocks and minerals found in that part of Norway. Sunday evening, a friend of Knut's drove me back into Bergen, where I stayed overnight. A friend of my host brought me a vegetarian meal he had prepared. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this friend of my host was, like me, a member of the Hare Krishna movement. We talked a bit. The next morning I was taken to the Bergen airport, and I flew from there to Helsinki, Finland, connected to a flight to Chicago, where I cleared US Customs, and then continued on to LA, arriving late at night.

Modern Knowledge Tour

Lecturing at Modern Knowledge Tour event in Victoria, British Columbia

A few months ago, the organizers of the Modern Knowledge Tour asked me to participate in a series of lectures they were organizing all over Canada. The events would each feature three or four speakers in the alternative science field. I said I could participate in the events in Vancouver and Victoria, in British Columbia. On Friday, July 28, 2015, I flew from LA to Vancouver and spent a night in a hotel there. The next day the organizers took me to the conference venue on Granville Island in Vancouver. I spoke about my book Forbidden Archeology.  Hundreds of people attended. After the day of lectures, we went by ferry to Vancouver Island. The next day, I spoke on Forbidden Archeology at the conference venue in Victoria. Among the people who attended were a couple I had met when I was a speaker on a cruise to Alaska earlier this year. The next day I returned to LA.

California Lecture

On Sunday, October 4, 2015, I gave a lecture on my book Forbidden Archeology for a group of Indian-American intellectuals called Bharatiya Vichar Manch. The event was held at the Sanatan Dharma Mandir in Norwalk, California. I explained that according to the Puranas, the Vedic histories, humans like us have existed for millions of years on earth, and reviewed some of the archeological evidence supporting this.

Madhya Pradesh Trip

Tent auditorium for the Living the Right Way Conference

Earlier this year, I was invited by Shivraj Singh Chouhan,the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, a state in India, to participate in a conference held in connection with a spiritual festival that was taking place in the town of Ujjain. The name of the festival (mela) is Simhastha Kumbha Mela. Simha means "lion." Simhastha refers to Jupiter being in the sign of Leo (the lion). Kumbha means "pot", and it refers to a celestial pot of nectar. Long ago the demigods and demons fought over this pot for twelve years. On four successive occasions during those twelve years, a drop of nectar fell to earth from the celestial pot. The four places on earth where the drops of nectar fell were Prayag, Hardwar, Nasik, and Ujjain. Millions of people gather at these four cities every twelve years to celebrate the Kumbha Mela, especially by bathing in sacred rivers. The Kumbha Mela at Prayag, at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers, draws worldwide attention. During the Simhastha Kumbha Mela in Ujjain, which takes place when Jupiter is in Leo, millions of people take bath in the Shipra River there. Huge tent cities spring up, as if by magic, to house and feed the huge numbers of pilgrims. Why was the conference held? Chief Minister Chouhan explained, "In keeping with the age old tradition of holding deliberations during Simhastha on matters relevant to humankind, the Government of Madhya Pradesh organized an international conference on Living the Right Way from 12th May to 14th May, 2016." Chouhan acknowledged the inspiration and support of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, who came and spoke at the conference. Some of the topics for the conference were science and spirituality, sustainable agriculture, climate change, and cottage industry.

Why was I invited to speak at the conference held in connection with the festival? I suppose it is because I have written books that provide scientific evidence in support of the ideas about human origins and antiquity found in the ancient Sanskrit writings of India. It was a honor to be invited. I was provided with air transportation from Los Angeles to Indore, the nearest airport to Ujjain. I was met at the Indore airport by a government officer, who served as my guide during my entire  visit. A driver was also provided. I was taken from the Indore airport to a nice hotel in Indore, where the international conference delegates were housed. The next morning I was taken to the conference venue near Ujjain. The conference was held in a large temporary auditorium. Such temporary structures are called pandals, and in India they are very expert at constructing them. Sometimes they are done on a small scale, with a bamboo superstructure covered by cloth. But the conference auditorium, which accommodated over five thousand specially invited guests (government officials, educators, media, swamis, etc.), was on a more elaborate palatial scale, with air conditioning, which kept the temperature inside at a comfortable 75 degrees Fahrenheit, while outside the temperature reached 105 degrees and more.

I spoke on the first day of the Living the Right Way conference. I was part of a session that included other scholars of Western birth who were through their work promoting various aspects of India's Vedic culture. The session organizer, in introducing me, mentioned my work in documenting archeological evidence consistent with the accounts of extreme human antiquity found in the historical writings of ancient India. I will here summarize my remarks. I first paid my respects to my guru, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Then I said to live in the right way, you have to know the answers to two important questions: "Who am I?" and "Where am I?" Modern science says we are machines made of molecules living in an accidental universe. But Vedanta does not say "aham molecules" ("I am molecules"). Vedanta says "aham brahmasmi" ("I am spirit"). And according to the Upanishads, we do not live in an accidental universe. The Upanishads say ishavasyam idam sarvam ("Everything is God's property"). We are living in a  universe that is created by God. Modern science also says we have come from apes. They say the first humans appeared less than 200,000 years ago. But the Vedas and Puranas say humans have always existed on earth. For example the Bhagavata Purana tells about Dhruva, who lived during the Svayambhuva Manvantara almost 2 billion years ago. There are many sacred places all over India dedicated to the memory of personalities who existed millions of years ago. There is evidence for this kind of human antiquity in my book Forbidden Archeology. So the main point is we have to know who we are and where we are. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that we are eternal spirit souls who find ourselves now in the world of matter. Our purpose is to go to the spiritual level of reality. Asato ma, sad gama. We have to go from the temporary to the eternal.

One afternoon my guide and driver took me into Ujjain to see the Shipra River, the bathing pilgrims, the campsites, and the Mahakaleshwar temple (this Shiva temple is one of the main temples in Ujjain). On the last day of the conference, some concluding resolutions were published. Some of the resolutions were about science and spirituality. For example, "Human existence is not merely physical. Its consciousness and perception has infinite dimensions which permeate the animate and inanimate worlds." And, "Science and spiritualism complement each other." And, "Educational curricula should include study of spiritualism." Other resolutions were about ecology. "Excessive consumerism has to be curbed to protect the ecology." Others were about the need to preserve village life and cottage industries.

World Archeological Congress in Kyoto, Japan

Himeji Castle

From August 28 to September 2, 2016 I was in Kyoto, Japan, where I presented a paper at a meeting of the World Archaeological Congress, one of the world's largest organizations of archeologists. The WAC holds its congresses every four years in a different country. My paper was about my research into archeological evidence
in museums that is consistent with the accounts of extreme human antiquity found in the Puranas, the historical writings of ancient India. Most archeologists believe humans like us first appeared less than 200,000 years ago. The Puranas contain histories of a human presence going back millions of years. The hotel I stayed in was just across the street from the old imperial palace and gardens. In the early mornings, before the conference sessions, I would go there to meditate on the Hare Krishna mantra. Luckily the restaurant at my hotel had some dishes that were suitable for my vegetarian diet (no meat, no fish, no eggs).  One day of the conference was dedicated to tours. I went on a tour to an ancient burial mound in Kobe, an archeological museum for Hyogo prefecture, and the Himeji Castle from samurai times (see photo). The tower of the castle is actually all constructed of wood, although the outside is covered with a white plaster. It is amazing that such a huge structure was built only with wood, using huge wooden pillars and beams.

Trip to India and United Kingdom

In early October I flew from Los Angeles to New Delhi. On October 8 and October 9, 2016, I attended the 10th All India Student Conference on Science and Spiritual Quest, organized by the Bhaktivedanta Institute of Kolkata at the Hindustan College of Science and Technology near Mathura, India. I was one of the keynote speakers. My paper was titled Puranic Time and the Archeological Record, with Some Thoughts on Knowledge Filtration. The Puranas, the historical and cosmological texts of ancient India, present a cyclical concept of time. Human populations are present throughout these time cycles, going back many millions of years. The Puranic accounts therefore differ from the modern scientific consensus that humans like us first appeared less than 200,000 years ago. However, a detailed study of the scientific literature reveals many reports of discoveries of human bones, human footprints, and human artifacts that are far older than 200,000 years—in some cases going back millions of years. This evidence is consistent with the Puranic accounts of extreme human antiquity. The absence of these reports from current scientific discourse may be explained by a process of knowledge filtration that operates in the world of science. This knowledge filtration can be seen as related to the accounts of the influence of paradigms in science given by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Also speaking at the conference was Chandra Wickramsinghe, a British/Sri Lankan astrophysicist. He is favorable to the idea that life comes from life, not from chemicals.

After the conference, on October 10,  the organizers took the participants on a tour of sacred places in Vrindavan, where Lord Krishna appeared five thousand years ago. I enjoyed the tour.  On October 11, I attended the dedication of the samadhi (final resting place) of Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami (Dr. Thoudam Damodar Singh), founding director of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. Dr. Singh, was, like me, a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. His samadhi is located in the back couttyard of a small temple on the banks of Radhakunda, one of the most sacred places in Vrindavan. On October 12, I came to New Delhi, where I stayed at the ISKCON temple in Punjabi Bagh, giving lectures about my work to groups of students and professionals. While in Delhi, I visited a small Radha Krishna temple in the narrow lanes of the Chippiwada district of Old Delhi. In the early 1960s, my guru Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada stayed there, while preparing to come to the United States. He was finishing his translation of the Bhagavata Purana and arranging for its printing. The Bhagavata Purana, or Shrimad Bhagavatam, is the main inspiration for my work. So it was very meaningful for me to visit the Chippiwada temple. On October 16, I traveled by train from New Delhi north to the town of Roorkee. On October 17, I gave a lecture (Revisiting Human Origins: Archeological Evidence for Extreme Human Antiquity) at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee. The auditorium was full, with students sitting in the aisles. While I was in Roorkee, my hosts took me to Hardwar, to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges. Hardwar is in the foothills of the Himalayas. After bathing in the Ganges, I felt spiritually refreshed. 

Pilgrims bathing in the Ganges at Hardwar

On the morning of October 19, I flew from New Delhi to London. From London's Heathrow airport, I traveled to Oxford. I had made a request to examine some stone tools in the Pitt Rivers Museum. The stone tools were collected in the early 20th century by the Belgian geologist A. Rutot at a place called Boncelles, Belgium. What interests me most about Rutot's Boncelles tools is their age. They were found in Oligocene formations. The Oligocene is the geological period that goes from about 23 million to 33 million years ago--impossibly old for most scientists today. Some years ago, I had seen some of the Boncelles artifacts in the archeology department of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. On October 24, I returned to London for my flight back to Los Angeles.

A Visit to India

With faculty at
Maharaja Agrasena Institute of Technology

On February 6, 2017, I flew from Los Angeles to Dubai on Emirates Airline, arriving the morning of February 8. I then took a connecting flight to Kolkata, India. From the airport, I took a taxi to Mayapur, West Bengal. Mayapur is a sacred place on the banks of the Ganges River. About 531 years ago, an avatar of God called Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, appeared there. His mission was to spread the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra to every town and village. In Mayapur, I stayed at the center of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), of which I am a member. I am a disciple of the Society's founding guru, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In Mayapur I attended some meetings. Some of the meetings were connected with the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP), currently being constructed there. I am part of a committee responsible for planning exhibits that will be housed in the museum wing of the TOVP. The exhibits will be related to the Vedic conception of the origin and nature of life and the universe. On February 16, I flew from Kolkata to New Delhi, where I stayed at the ISKCON center in the Punjabhi Bagh district. While in New Delhi, I gave lectures about my book Forbidden Archeology at the Maharaja Agrasena Institute of Technology and the Guru Govind Singh University. Both lectures were well attended. I like speaking about my work in India, which is the source of many of my ideas. My book Forbidden Archeology documents archeological evidence for extreme human antiquity. Modern science says humans like us appeared less than 200,000 years ago. But the Puranas, the historical texts of ancient India, inform us that humans like us have existed for millions of years. There is some archeological evidence consistent with this. One of the principal Puranas is the Bhagavata Purana, or the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The Shrimad Bhagavatam is the record of a conversation that took place five thousand years ago beneath a banyan tree, in which the great sage Shukadeva Goswami answered questions put to him by King Parikshit. One of the topics was human history, which according to the Shrimad Bhagavatam, goes back millions of years. During my time in New Delhi, I took a trip to the spot where the conversation between Shukadeva Goswami and King Parikshit took place. It is called Shukratal, and is located about 120 miles north of New Delhi. There is a large banyan tree there, and also a small temple. It was very meaningful for me to visit this holy place. On February 21, I flew from New Delhi back to Los Angeles.

Panel presentation facilitated by Sean David Morton at 5D Conference

At the 5D "They Are Among Us" Conference

On March 10, 2017, I gave on lecture titled "Forbidden Archeology and the Extraterrestrial Intervention Hypothesis" at a conference held at the LAX Holiday Inn in Los Angeles. My ideas on this topic are inspired by my studies in the ancient Sanskrit writings of India, especially the Puranas, which deal with cosmology and history. Some extraterrestrial researchers believe that life evolved on earth as most scientists now say it happened. They say the first single celled organisms self-organized from chemicals a couple of billion years ago. Then came multicellular organisms, first in the ocean, then on land. Gradually the first apes came into existence, then, a few million years ago, the first apemen (hominins). Around 400,000 years ago, there was the apeman, Homo erectus. Some ET researchers believe that at this point, some extraterrestrials came and manipulated the genes of Homo erectus, thus forming humans like us, Homo sapiens. I disagree with this. Archeological evidence, as documented in my book Forbidden Archeology, shows that humans like us have been present on earth for tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of years, going all the way back to the very beginning of life on this planet. It is crucial to understand that a human being, or any other living thing, is not just a machine made of molecules. The human body, or any other body, is a vehicle for a conscious self, a soul. This conscious self is not produced by molecules in the brain. It exists independently from matter. It is never created, never destroyed. The conscious self comes from a higher, timeless level of reality. So in that sense, as conscious selves, we are all extraterrestrials. We are not from this planet. We are from a higher level or reality, to which we should strive to return. As conscious beings, we have not evolved up from matter, but have devolved, or come down from a higher realm. I have explained this in more detail in my book Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin's Theory.

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