The Secret Doctrine Vol I

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The Secret Doctrine Vol I

By H.P. Blavatsky

The Zodiac and its Antiquity

“All men are apt to have a high conceit of their own understanding, and to be tenacious of the opinions they profess,” said Jordan, justly adding to this—“and yet almost all men are guided by the understandings of others, not by their own; and may be said more truly to adopt, than to beget, their opinions.”

This is doubly true in regard to scientific opinions upon hypotheses offered for consideration—the prejudice and preconceptions of “authorities,” so called, often deciding upon questions of the most vital importance for history. There are several such predetermined opinions held by our learned Orientalists, and few are more unjust or illogical than the general error with regard to the antiquity of the Zodiac. Thanks to the hobby of some German Orientalists, English and American Sanskritists have accepted Professor Weber's opinion that the peoples of India had no idea or knowledge of the Zodiac prior to the Macedonian invasion, and that it is from the Greeks that the ancient Hindûs imported it into their country. We are further told, by several other “authorities,” that no Eastern nation knew of the Zodiac before the Hellenes kindly acquainted their neighbours with their invention. And this, in the face of the Book of Job, which is declared, even by themselves, to be the oldest in the Hebrew canon, and certainly prior to Moses; a book which speaks of the making of “Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades [Osh, Kesil, and Kimah] and the chambers of the South”1109; of Scorpio and the Mazaruth—the twelve signs1110; words which, if they mean anything, imply knowledge of the Zodiac even among the nomadic Arabian tribes. The Book of Job is alleged to have preceded Homer and Hesiod by at least one thousand years—the two Greek poets having themselves flourished some eight centuries before the Christian era (!!). Though, by the bye, one who prefers to believe [pg 711]Plato—who shows Homer flourishing far earlier—could point to a number of Zodiacal signs mentioned in the Iliad and Odyssey, in the Orphic poems, and elsewhere. But since the cock-and-bull hypothesis of some modern critics that, so far from Orpheus, not even Homer or Hesiod has ever existed, it would seem time lost to mention these archaic authors at all. The Arabian Job will suffice; unless, indeed, his volume of lamentations, along with the poems of the two Greeks, to which we may add those of Linus, should now also be declared to be the patriotic forgery of the Jew Aristobulus. But if the Zodiac was known in the days of Job, how could the civilized and philosophical Hindûs have remained ignorant of it?

Risking the arrows of modern criticism—rather blunted by misuse—the reader may make himself acquainted with Bailly's learned opinion upon the subject. Inferred speculations may be shown to be erroneous. Mathematical calculations stand on more secure grounds. Taking as a starting point several astronomical references in Job, Bailly devised a very ingenious means of proving that the earliest founders of the Science of the Zodiac belonged to an antediluvian, primitive people. The fact that he seems willing to see some of the Biblical patriarchs in Thoth, Seth, and in the Chinese Fohi, does not interfere with the validity of his proof as to the antiquity of the Zodiac.1111 Even accepting, for argument's sake, his cautious 3700 years B.C. as the correct age of the Zodiacal Science, this date proves in the most irrefutable way that it was not the Greeks who invented the Zodiac, for the simple reason that they did not exist as a nation thirty-seven centuries B.C.—at any rate not as a historical race admitted by the critics. Bailly then calculated the period at which the constellations manifested the atmospheric influence called by Job the “sweet influences of the Pleiades,”1112 in Hebrew Kimah; that of Orion, Kesil; and that of the desert rains with reference to Scorpio, the eighth constellation; and found that in presence of the eternal conformity of these divisions of the Zodiac, and of the names of the Planets applied in the same order everywhere and always, and in presence of the impossibility of attributing it all to chance and “coincidence”—“which never creates such similarities”—a very great antiquity indeed must be allowed for the Zodiac.1113
[pg 712]
Again, if the Bible is supposed to be an authority on any matter—and there are some who still regard it as such, whether from Christian or Kabalistical considerations—then the Zodiac is clearly mentioned in II Kings, xxiii. 5. Before the “book of the law” was “found” by Hilkiah, the high priest, the signs of the Zodiac were known and worshipped. These were held in the same adoration as the Sun and Moon, since the
priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense ... unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven,
or to the “twelve signs or constellations,” as the marginal note in the English Bible explains, had followed the injunction for centuries. They were stopped in their idolatry only by King Josiah, 624 B.C.

The Old Testament is full of allusions to the twelve zodiacal signs, and the whole scheme is built upon it—heroes, personages, and events. Thus in the dream of Joseph, who saw eleven “Stars” bowing to the twelfth, which was his “Star,” the Zodiac is referred to. The Roman Catholics have discovered in it, moreover, a prophecy of Christ, who is that twelfth Star, they say, and the others the eleven apostles; the absence of the twelfth being also regarded as a prophetic allusion to the treachery of Judas. The twelve sons of Jacob, again, are a reference to the same, as is justly pointed out by Villapandus.1114 Sir James Malcolm, in his History of Persia,1115 shows the Dabistan echoing all such traditions about the Zodiac. He traces the invention of it to the palmy days of the Golden Age of Iran, remarking that one of the said traditions maintains that the Genii of the Planets are represented under the same shapes and figures they had assumed when they showed themselves to several holy prophets, and thus led to the establishment of the rites based on the Zodiac.
Pythagoras, and after him Philo Judæus, held the number 12 as very sacred.
This duodenary number is perfect. It is that of the signs of the Zodiac, which the sun visits in twelve months, and it is to honour that number that Moses divided his nation into twelve tribes, established the twelve cakes of the shew-bread, and placed twelve precious stones upon the breast-plate of the pontiffs.1116
According to Seneca, Berosus taught prophecy of every future event and cataclysm by the Zodiac; and the times fixed by him for the conflagration [pg 713]of the World—Pralaya—and for a deluge, are found to answer to the times given in an ancient Egyptian papyrus. Such a catastrophe comes at every renewal of the cycle of the Sidereal Year of 25,868 years. The names of the Akkadian months were called by, and derived from, the names of the signs of the Zodiac, and the Akkadians are far earlier than the Chaldæans. Mr. Proctor shows, in his Myths and Marvels of Astronomy, that the ancient Astronomers had acquired a system of the most accurate Astronomy 2,400 years B.C.; the Hindûs date their Kali Yuga from a great periodical conjunction of the Planets thirty-one centuries B.C.; but, withal, it was the Greeks, belonging to the expedition of Alexander the Great, who were the instructors of the Âryan Hindûs in Astronomy!
Whether the origin of the Zodiac is Âryan or Egyptian, it is still of an immense antiquity. Simplicius, in the sixth century A.D., writes that he had always heard that the Egyptians had kept astronomical observations and records for a period of 630,000 years. This statement appears to frighten Mr. Gerald Massey, who remarks on it that:
If we read this number of years by the month which Euxodus said the Egyptians termed a year, i.e., a course of time, that would still yield the length of two cycles of precession [51,736 years].1117
Diogenes Laërtius carried back the astronomical calculations of the Egyptians to 48,863 years before Alexander the Great.1118 Martianus Capella corroborates this by telling posterity that the Egyptians had secretly studied Astronomy for over 40,000 years, before they imparted their knowledge to the world.1119

Several valuable quotations are made in Natural Genesis with the view of supporting the author's theories, but they justify the teaching of the Secret Doctrine far more. For instance, Plutarch is quoted from his Life of Sulla, saying:
One day when the sky was serene and clear, there was heard in it the sound of a trumpet, so loud, shrill, and mournful, that it affrighted and astonished the world. The Tuscan sages said that it portended a new race of men, and a renovation of the world; for they affirmed that there were eight several kinds of men, all being different in life and manners; and that Heaven had allotted each its time, which was limited by the circuit of the great year [25,868 years].1120
This reminds one strongly of our Seven Races of men, and of the [pg 714]eighth—the “animal man”—descended from the later Third Race; as also of the successive submersions and destruction of the continents which finally disposed of almost all that Race. Says Iamblichus:
The Assyrians have not only preserved the memorials of seven-and-twenty myriads of years [270,000 years], as Hipparchus says they have, but likewise of the whole apocatastases and periods of the Seven Rulers of the World.1121

This is as nearly as possible the calculation of the Esoteric Doctrine. For 1,000,000 years are allowed for our present Root-Race (the Fifth), and about 850,000 years have passed since the submersion of the last large island—part of the continent of Atlantis—the Ruta of the Fourth Race, the Atlanteans; while Daitya, a small island inhabited by a mixed race, was destroyed about 270,000 years ago, during the Glacial Period or thereabouts. But the Seven Rulers, or the seven great Dynasties of the Divine Kings, belong to the traditions of every great people of antiquity. Wherever twelve are mentioned, they are invariably the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
So patent is this fact, that the Roman Catholic writers—especially among the French Ultramontanes—have tacitly agreed to connect the twelve Jewish Patriarchs with the Signs of the Zodiac. This is done in a kind of prophetico-mystic way, which sounds to pious and ignorant ears like a portentous token, a tacit divine recognition of the “chosen people of God,” whose finger has purposely traced in heaven, from the beginning of creation, the numbers of these patriarchs. For instance, curiously enough, these writers, De Mirville among others, recognize all the characteristics of the twelve Signs of the Zodiac, in the words addressed by the dying Jacob to his Sons, and in his definitions of the future of each Tribe.1122 Moreover, the respective banners of the same tribes are said to have exhibited the same symbols and the same names as the Signs, repeated in the twelve stones of the Urim and Thummim, and on the twelve wings of the two Cherubs. Leaving to the said Mystics the proof of exactitude in the alleged correspondence, we quote it as follows: Man, or Aquarius, is in the sphere of Reuben, who is declared as “unstable as water” (the Vulgate has it, “rushing like water”); Gemini, in that of Simeon and Levi, because of their strong fraternal association; Leo, in that of Judah, “the strong Lion” of his tribe, “the lion's whelp”; Pisces, in Zabulon, who “shall dwell at the haven of the sea”; Taurus, in Issachar, because he is “a strong ass couching down,” etc., and therefore associated with the stables; [pg 715](Virgo-) Scorpio, in Dan, who is described as “a serpent, an adder in the path that biteth,” etc.; Capricornus in Naphtali, who is “a hind (a deer) let loose”; Cancer, in Benjamin, for he is “ravenous”; Libra, the Balance, in Asher, whose “bread shall be fat”; Sagittarius in Joseph, because “his bow abode in strength.” To make up for the twelfth Sign, Virgo, made independent of Scorpio, we have Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob. Tradition shows the alleged tribes carrying the twelve signs on their banners. But indeed the Bible, in addition to the above, is filled with theo-cosmological and astronomical symbols and personifications.
It remains to wonder, and to query—if the actual, living Patriarchs' destiny was so indissolubly wound up with the Zodiac—how it is that, after the loss of the ten tribes, the ten signs also out of the twelve have not miraculously disappeared from the sidereal fields? But this is of no great concern. Let us rather busy ourselves with the history of the Zodiac itself.
The reader may be reminded of some opinions expressed as to the Zodiac by several of the highest authorities in Science.
Newton believed that the invention of the Zodiac could be traced as far back as the expedition of the Argonauts; and Dulaure fixed its origin at 6,500 years B.C., just 2,496 years before the creation of the world, according to the Bible chronology.
Creuzer thought that it was very easy to show that most of the Theogonies were intimately connected with religious calendars, and were related to the Zodiac as to their prime origin; if not to the Zodiac known to us now, then to something very analogous with it. He felt certain that the Zodiac and its mystic relations are at the bottom of all the mythologies, under one form or another, and that it had existed in the old form for ages, before it was brought out in the present defined astronomical garb, owing to some singular coördination of events.1123
Whether the “genii of the planets,” our Dhyân Chohans of supra-mundane spheres, showed themselves to “holy prophets,” or not, as claimed in the Dabistan, it would seem that great laymen and warriors were favoured in the same way in days of old in Chaldæa, when astrological Magic and Theophania went hand in hand.
Xenophon, no ordinary man, narrates of Cyrus ... that at the moment of his death he thanked the Gods and heroes, for having so often instructed him themselves about the signs in heaven—?ν ο?ραν?οις σημε?οις.1124
[pg 716]
Unless the Science of the Zodiac is admitted to be of the highest antiquity and universality, how can we account for its Signs being traced in the oldest Theogonies? Laplace is said to have felt struck with amazement at the idea of the days of Mercury (Wednesday), Venus (Friday), Jupiter (Thursday), Saturn (Saturday), and others, being related to the days of the week in the same order and with the same names in India as in Northern Europe.
Try, if you can, with the present system of autochthonous civilizations, so much in fashion in our day, to explain how nations with no ancestry, no traditions or birthplace in common, could have succeeded in inventing a kind of celestial phantasmagoria, a veritable imbroglio of sidereal denominations, without sequence or object, having no figurative relation with the constellations they represent, and still less, apparently, with the phases of our terrestrial life they are made to signify,
—had there not been a general intention and a universal cause and belief, at the root of all this!1125 Most truly has Dupuis asserted the same:

Il est impossible de découvrir le moindre trait de ressemblance entre les parties du ciel et les figures que les astronomes y ont arbitrairement tracées; et de l'autre côté, le hasard est impossible.1126
Most certainly chance is “impossible.” There is no “chance” in Nature, wherein everything is mathematically coördinate, and inter-related in its units. Says Coleridge:
Chance is but the pseudonym of God [or Nature], for those particular cases which He does not choose to subscribe openly with His sign manual.
Replace the word “God” by Karma, and it will become an Eastern axiom. Therefore, the sidereal “prophecies” of the Zodiac, as they are called by Christian Mystics, never point to any one particular event, however solemn and sacred it may be for some one portion of humanity, but to ever-recurrent, periodical laws in Nature, understood only by the Initiates of the Sidereal Gods themselves.

No Occultist, no Astrologer of Eastern birth, will ever agree with Christian Mystics, or even with Kepler's mystical Astronomy, his great science and erudition notwithstanding; and this because, if his premisses are quite correct, his deductions therefrom are one-sided and biassed by Christian preconceptions. Where Kepler finds a prophecy directly pointing to the Saviour, other nations see a symbol of an eternal law, decreed for the actual Manvantara. Why see in Pisces a direct reference to Christ—one of the several world-reformers, a Saviour for his direct followers, but only a great and glorious Initiate [pg 717]for all the rest—when that constellation shines as a symbol of all the past, present, and future Spiritual Saviours, who dispense light and dispel mental darkness? Christian symbologists have tried to prove that this sign belonged to Ephraim, Joseph's son, the elect of Jacob, and that therefore, it was at the moment of the Sun's entering into the sign of Pisces, the Fish, that the “Elect Messiah,” the ?χθ?ς of the first Christians, had to be born. But if Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah, was he really born at that “moment,” or was his birth-hour thus fixed by the adaptation of Theologians, who sought only to make their preconceived ideas fit in with sidereal facts and popular belief? Everyone is aware that the real time and year of the birth of Jesus are totally unknown. And it is the Jews—whose forefathers made the word Dag signify both “Fish” and “Messiah” during the forced development of their rabbinical language—who are the first to deny this Christian claim. And what of the further facts that Brâhmans connect their “Messiah,” the eternal Avatâra Vishnu, with a Fish and the Deluge, and that the Babylonians also made a Fish and a Messiah of their Dag-On, the Man-Fish and Prophet?
There are learned iconoclasts among Egyptologists, who say that:
When the Pharisees sought a “sign from heaven,” Jesus said, “there shall no sign be given .... but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Mat., xvi. 4.).... The sign of Jonas is that of the Oan or Fish-Man of Nineveh.... Assuredly there was no other sign than that of the Sun reborn in Pisces. The voice of the Secret Wisdom says those who are looking for signs can have no other than that of the returning Fish-Man Ichthys, Oannes, or Jonas—who could not be made flesh.
It would appear that Kepler maintained it as a positive fact that, at the moment of the “incarnation,” all the planets were in conjunction in the sign Pisces, called by the Jewish Kabbalists the “constellation of the Messiah.” Kepler averred:
It is in this constellation that the star of the Magi is to be found.
This statement, quoted from Dr. Sepp1127 by De Mirville, emboldened the latter to remark that:
All the Jewish traditions, while announcing that star that many nations have seen [!],1128 further added that it would absorb the seventy planets that preside over [pg 718]the destinies of various nations on this globe.1129 “In virtue of those natural prophecies,” says Dr. Sepp, “it was written in the stars of the firmament that the Messiah would be born in the lunar year of the world 4320, in that memorable year when the entire choir of the planets would be celebrating its jubilee.”1130
There was indeed a rage, at the beginning of the present century, for claiming restoration from the Hindûs for an alleged robbery from the Jews of their “Gods,” patriarchs, and chronology. It was Wilford who recognized Noah in Prithî and in Satyavrata, Enos in Dhruva, and even Assur in Îshvara. After being residents for so many years in India, some Orientalists, at least, ought to have known that it was not the Brâhmans alone who had these figures, or who had divided their Great Age into four minor ages. Nevertheless writers in the Asiatic Researches indulged in the most extravagant speculations. S. A. Mackey, the Norwich “philosopher, astronomer, and shoemaker,” argues very pertinently:

Christian theologians think it their duty to write against the long periods of Hindû chronology, and in them it may be pardonable: but when a man of learning crucifies the names and the numbers of the ancients, and wrings and twists them into a form, which means something quite foreign to the intention of the ancient authors; but which, so mutilated, fits in with the birth of some maggot preëxisting in his own brain with so much exactness that he pretends to be amazed at the discovery, I cannot think him quite so pardonable.1131

This is intended to apply to Captain (later Colonel) Wilford, but the words may fit more than one of our modern Orientalists. Colonel Wilford was the first to crown his unlucky speculations on Hindû chronology and the Purânas by connecting the 4,320,000 years with biblical chronology, by simply dwarfing the figures to 4,320 years—the supposed lunar year of the Nativity—and Dr. Sepp has simply plagiarized the idea from this gallant officer. Moreover, he persisted in seeing in them Jewish property, as well as Christian prophecy, thus accusing the Âryans of having helped themselves to Semitic revelation, whereas the reverse was the case. The Jews, moreover, need not be accused of directly despoiling the Hindûs, of whose figures Ezra probably knew nothing. They had evidently and undeniably borrowed them from the Chaldeans, along with the Chaldean Gods. They turned [pg 719]the 432,000 years of the Chaldean Divine Dynasties1132 into 4,320 lunar years from the world's creation to the Christian era; as to the Babylonian and Egyptian Gods, they quietly and modestly transformed them into Patriarchs. Every nation was more or less guilty of such refashioning and adaptation of a Pantheon—once common to all—of universal into national and tribal Gods and Heroes. It was Jewish property in its new Pentateuchal garb, and no one of the Israelites has ever forced it upon any other nation—least of all upon the European.

Without stopping to notice this very unscientific chronology more than is necessary, we may yet make a few remarks that may be found to the point. The 4,320 lunar years of the world—in the Bible the solar years are used—are not fanciful, as such, even if their application is quite erroneous; for they are only the distorted echo of the primitive Esoteric, and later of the Brâhmanical doctrine concerning the Yugas. A Day of Brahmâ equals 4,320,000,000 years, as also does a Night of Brahmâ, or the duration of Pralaya, after which a new “sun” rises triumphantly over a new Manvantara, for the Septenary Chain it illuminates. The teaching had penetrated into Palestine and Europe centuries before the Christian era,1133 and was present in the minds of the Mosaic Jews, who based upon it their small Cycle, though it received full expression only through the Christian chronologers of the Bible, who adopted it, as also the 25th of December, the day on which all the solar Gods were said to have been incarnated. What wonder, then, that the Messiah was made to be born in “the lunar year of the world 4,320”? The “Sun of Righteousness and Salvation” had once more arisen and had dispelled the pralayic darkness of Chaos and Nonbeing on the plane of our objective little Globe and Chain. Once the [pg 720]subject of the adoration was settled upon, it was easy to make the supposed events of his birth, life, and death, fit in with the Zodiacal exigencies and the old traditions, though they had to be somewhat remodelled for the occasion.
Thus what Kepler said, as a great Astronomer, becomes comprehensible. He recognized the grand and universal importance of all such planetary conjunctions, “each of which”—as he has well said—“is a climacteric year of Humanity.”1134 The rare conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars has its significance and importance on account of its certain great results, in India and China as much as it has in Europe, for the respective Mystics of these countries. And it is certainly now no better than a mere assumption to maintain that Nature had only Christ in view, in building her (to the profane) fantastic and meaningless constellations. If it is claimed that it was no hazard that could lead the archaic architects of the Zodiac, thousands of years ago, to mark the figure of Taurus with the asterisk a, with no better or more valid proof of it being prophetic of the Verbum or Christ than that the aleph of Taurus means the “one” and the “first,” and that Christ was also the alpha or the “one,” then this “proof” may be shown to be strangely invalidated in more than one way. To begin with, the Zodiac existed before the Christian era, at all events; further, all the Sun-Gods—Osiris, for instance—had been mystically connected with the constellation Taurus and were all called by their respective votaries the “First.” Further, the compilers of the mystical epithets given to the Christian Saviour were all more or less acquainted with the significance of the Zodiacal signs; and it is easier to suppose that they should have arranged their claims so as to match the mystic signs, than that the latter should have shone as a prophecy for one portion of humanity, for millions of years, taking no heed of the numberless generations that had gone before, and of those that were to be born hereafter.
We are told:
It is not simple chance that, in certain spheres, has placed on a throne the head of this bull [Taurus] trying to push back a Dragon with the ansated cross; we [pg 721]should know that this constellation of Taurus was called “the great city of God and the mother of revelations,” and also “the interpreter of the divine voice,” the Apis Pacis of Hermontis, in Egypt, which [as the patristic fathers would assure the world] is said to have proffered oracles that related to the birth of the Saviour.1135
To this theological assumption there are several answers. Firstly, the ansated Egyptian cross, or Tau, the Jaina cross, or Svastika, and the Christian cross, have all the same meaning. Secondly, no peoples or nations except the Christians gave the significance to the Dragon that is given to it now. The Serpent was the symbol of WISDOM; and the Bull, Taurus, the symbol of physical or terrestrial generation. Thus the Bull, pushing off the Dragon, or spiritual Divine Wisdom, with the Tau, or Cross—which is esoterically “the foundation and framework of all construction”—would have an entirely phallic, physiological meaning, had it not had yet another significance unknown to our Biblical scholars and symbologists. At any rate, it has no special reference to the Verbum of St. John, except, perhaps, in a general sense. The Taurus—which, by the way, is no lamb, but a bull—was sacred in every Cosmogony, with the Hindûs as with the Zoroastrians, with the Chaldees as with the Egyptians. So much, every schoolboy knows.
It may perhaps help to refresh the memory of our Theosophists if we refer them to what was said of the Virgin and the Dragon, and the universality of periodical births and re-births of World-Saviours—Solar Gods—in Isis Unveiled,1136 with regard to certain passages in Revelation.
In 1853, the savant known as Erard-Mollien read before the Institute of France a paper tending to prove the antiquity of the Indian Zodiac, in the signs of which were found the root and philosophy of all the most important religious festivals of that country; the lecturer tried to demonstrate that the origin of these religious ceremonies goes back into the night of time to at least 3,000 B.C. The Zodiac of the Hindûs, he thought, was long anterior to the Zodiac of the Greeks, and differed from it much in some particulars. In it one sees the Dragon on a Tree, at the foot of which the Virgin, Kanyâ-Durgâ, one of the most ancient Goddesses, is placed on a Lion dragging after it the solar car. He said:
This is the reason why this Virgin Durgâ is not the simple memento of an astronomical fact, but verily the most ancient divinity of the Indian Olympus. She is evidently the same whose return was announced in all the Sibylline books—the source of the inspiration of Virgil—an epoch of universal renovation.... [pg 722]And why, since the months are still named after this Indian solar Zodiac, by the Malayalim-speaking people [of southern India], should that people have abandoned it to take that of the Greeks? Everything proves, on the contrary, that these zodiacal figures were transmitted to the Greeks by the Chaldeans, who got them from the Brâhmans.1137
But all this is very poor testimony. Let us, however, remember also that which was said and accepted by the contemporaries of Volney, who remarks that as Aries was in its fifteenth degree 1,447 B.C., it follows that the first degree of Libra could not have coincided with the vernal equinox later than 15,194 years B.C.; if we add to this, he argues, the 1,790 years that have passed since the birth of Christ, it appears that 16,984 years must have elapsed since the origin of the Zodiac.1138
Dr. Schlegel, moreover, in his Uranographie Chinoise, assigns to the Chinese Astronomical Sphere an antiquity of 18,000 years.1139
Nevertheless, as opinions quoted without adequate proofs are of little avail, it may be more useful to turn to scientific evidence. M. Bailly, the famous French Astronomer of the last century, Member of the Academy, etc., asserts that the Hindû systems of Astronomy are by far the oldest, and that from them the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and even the Jews derived their knowledge. In support of these views he says:
The astronomers who preceded the epoch 1491 are, first, the Alexandrian Greeks; Hipparchus, who flourished 125 years before our era, and Ptolemy, 260 years after Hipparchus. Following these were the Arabs, who revived the study of astronomy in the ninth century. These were succeeded by the Persians and the Tartars, to whom we owe the tables of Nassireddin in 1269, and those of Ulug-beg in 1437. Such is the succession of events in Asia as known prior to the Indian epoch 1491. What, then, is an epoch? It is the observation of the longitude of a star at a given moment, the place in the sky where it was seen, and which serves as a point of reference, a starting-point from which to calculate both the past and future positions of the star from its observed motion. But an epoch is useless unless the motion of the star has been determined. A people, new to science and obliged to borrow a foreign astronomy, finds no difficulty in fixing an epoch, since the only observation needed is one which can be made at any moment. But what it needs above all, what it is obliged to borrow, are those elements which depend on accurate determination, and which require continuous observation; above all, those motions which depend on time, and which can only be accurately determined by centuries of observation. These motions, then, must be borrowed from a nation which has made such observations, and has behind it the labours of centuries. We conclude, [pg 723]therefore, that a new people will not borrow the epochs of an ancient one, without also borrowing from them the “average motions.” Starting from this principle we shall find that the Hindû epochs 1491 and 3102 could not have been derived from those of either Ptolemy or Ulug-beg.
There remains the supposition that the Hindûs, comparing their observations in 1491 with those previously made by Ulug-beg and Ptolemy, used the intervals between these observations to determine the average motions. The date of Ulug-beg is too recent for such a determination; while those of Ptolemy and Hipparchus were barely remote enough. But if the Hindû motions had been determined from these comparisons, the epochs would be connected together. Starting from the epochs of Ulug-beg and Ptolemy we should arrive at all those of the Hindûs. Hence foreign epochs were either unknown or useless to the Hindûs.1140

We may add to this another important consideration. When a nation is obliged to borrow from its neighbours the methods or the average motions of its astronomical tables, it has even greater need to borrow, besides these, the knowledge of the inequalities of the motions of the heavenly bodies, the motions of the apogee, of the nodes, and of the inclination of the ecliptic; in short, all those elements the determination of which requires the art of observing, some instrumental appliances, and great industry. All these astronomical elements, differing more or less with the Greeks of Alexandria, the Arabs, the Persians and the Tartars, exhibit no resemblance whatever with those of the Hindûs. The latter, therefore, borrowed nothing from their neighbours.
If the Hindûs did not borrow their epoch, they must have possessed a real one of their own, based on their own observations; and this must be either the epoch of the year 1491 after, or that of the year 3102 before our era, the latter preceding by 4,592 years the epoch 1491. We have to choose between these two epochs and to decide which of them is based on observation. But before stating the arguments which can and must decide the question, we may be permitted to make a few remarks to those who may be inclined to believe that it is modern observations and calculations which have enabled the Hindûs to determine the past positions of the heavenly bodies. It is far from easy to determine the celestial movements with sufficient accuracy to ascend the stream of time for 4,592 years, and to describe the phenomena which must have occurred at that period. We possess to-day excellent instruments; exact observations have been made for some two or three centuries, which already permit us to calculate with considerable accuracy the average motions of the Planets; we have the observations of the Chaldeans, of Hipparchus and of Ptolemy, which, owing to their remoteness from the present time, permit us to fix these motions with greater certainty. Still we cannot undertake to represent with invariable accuracy the observations throughout the long period intervening between the Chaldeans and ourselves; and still less can we undertake to determine with exactitude events occurring 4,592 years before our day. Cassini and Maier have each determined the secular motion of the moon, and they differ by 3m. 43s. This difference would give rise in forty-six centuries to an uncertainty [pg 724]of nearly three degrees in the moon's place. Doubtless one of these determinations is more accurate than the other; and it is for observations of very great antiquity to decide between them. But in very remote periods, where observations are lacking, it follows that we are uncertain as to the phenomena. How, then, could the Hindûs have calculated back from the year 1491 A.D. to the year 3102 before our era, if they were only recent students of Astronomy?
The Orientals have never been what we are. However high an opinion of their knowledge we may form from the examination of their Astronomy, we cannot suppose them ever to have possessed that great array of instruments which distinguishes our modern observatories, and which is the product of simultaneous progress in various arts, nor could they have possessed that genius for discovery, which has hitherto seemed to belong exclusively to Europe, and which, supplying the place of time, causes the rapid progress of science and of human intelligence. If the Asiatics have been powerful, learned and wise, it is power and time which have produced their merit and success of all kinds. Power has founded or destroyed their empires; now it has erected edifices imposing by their bulk, now it has reduced them to venerable ruins; and while these vicissitudes alternated with each other, patience accumulated knowledge; and prolonged experience produced wisdom. It is the antiquity of the nations of the East which has erected their scientific fame.
If the Hindûs possessed in 1491 a knowledge of the heavenly motions sufficiently accurate to enable them to calculate backwards for 4592 years, it follows that they could only have obtained this knowledge from very ancient observations. To grant them such knowledge, while refusing them the observations from which it is derived, is to suppose an impossibility; it would be equivalent to assuming that at the outset of their career they had already reaped the harvest of time and experience. While on the other hand, if their epoch of 3102 is assumed to be real, it would follow that the Hindûs had simply kept pace with successive centuries down to the year 1491 of our era. Thus, time itself was their teacher; they knew the motions of the heavenly bodies during these periods, because they had seen them; and the duration of the Hindû people on earth is the cause of the fidelity of its records and the accuracy of its calculations.
It would seem that the problem as to which of the two epochs of 3102 and 1491 is the real one ought to be solved by one consideration, viz., that the ancients in general, and particularly the Hindûs, as we may see by the arrangement of their Tables, calculated, and therefore observed, eclipses only. Now, there was no eclipse of the sun at the moment of the epoch 1491; and no eclipse of the moon either fourteen days before or after that moment. Therefore the epoch 1491 is not based on an observation. As regards the epoch 3102, the Brâhmans of Tirvaloor place it at sunrise on February 18th. The sun was then in the first point of the Zodiac according to its true longitude. The other Tables show that at the preceding midnight the moon was in the same place, but according to its average longitude. The Brâhmans tell us also that this first point, the origin of their Zodiac, was, in the year 3102, 54 degrees behind the equinox. It follows that the origin—the first point of their Zodiac—was therefore in the sixth degree of Aquarius.

There occurred, therefore, about this time and place an average conjunction; and indeed this conjunction is given in our best Tables: La Caille's for the sun and Maier's for the moon. There was no eclipse of the sun, the moon being too distant from her node; but fourteen days later, the moon having approached the node, must have been eclipsed. Maier's tables, used without correction for acceleration, give this eclipse; but they place it during the day when it could not have been observed in India. Cassini's tables give it as occurring at night, which shows that Maier's motions are too rapid for distant centuries, when the acceleration is not allowed for; and which also proves that in spite of the improvement of our knowledge we can still be uncertain as to the actual aspect of the heavens in past times.
Therefore we believe that, as between the two Hindû epochs, the real one is the year 3102, because it was accompanied by an eclipse which could be observed, and which must have served to determine it. This is a first proof of the truth of the longitude assigned by the Hindûs to the sun and the moon at this instant; and this proof would perhaps be sufficient, were it not that this ancient determination becomes of the greatest importance for the verification of the motions of these bodies, and must therefore be borne out by every possible proof of its authenticity.
We notice, 1st, that the Hindûs seem to have combined two epochs together into the year 3102. The Tirvaloor Brâhmans reckon primarily from the first moment of the Kali Yuga; but they have a second epoch placed 2d. 3h. 32m. 30s. later. The latter is the true astronomical epoch, while the former seems to be a civil era. But if this epoch of the Kali Yuga had no reality, and was the mere result of a calculation, why should it be thus divided? Their calculated astronomical epoch would have become that of the Kali Yuga, which would have been placed at the conjunction of the sun and the moon, as is the case with the epochs of the three other Tables. They must have had some reason for distinguishing between the two; and this reason can only be due to the circumstances and the time of the epoch; which therefore could not be the result of calculation. This is not all; starting from the solar epoch determined by the rising of the sun on February 18th, 3102, and tracing back events 2d. 3h. 32m. 30s., we come to 2h. 27m. 30s. a.m. of February 16th, which is the instant of the beginning of Kali Yuga. It is curious that this age has not been made to commence at one of the four great divisions of the day. It might be suspected that the epoch should be midnight, and that the 2h. 27m. 30s. are a meridian correction. But whatever may have been the reason for fixing on this moment, it is plain that were this epoch the result of calculation, it would have been just as easy to carry it back to midnight, so as to make the epoch correspond to one of the chief divisions of the day, instead of placing it at a moment fixed by the fraction of a day.
2nd. The Hindûs assert that at the first moment of Kali Yuga there was a conjunction of all the planets; and their Tables show this conjunction while ours indicate that it might actually have occurred. Jupiter and Mercury were in exactly the same degree of the ecliptic; Mars being 8° and Saturn 17° distant from it. It follows that about this time, or some fifteen days after the commencement of Kali Yuga, and as the sun advanced in the Zodiac, the Hindûs saw four planets emerge successively from the Sun's rays; first Saturn, then Mars, then [pg 726]Jupiter and Mercury, and these planets appeared united in a somewhat small space. Although Venus was not among them, the taste for the marvellous caused it to be called a general conjunction of all the planets. The testimony of the Brâhmans here coïncides with that of our Tables; and this evidence, the result of a tradition, must be founded on actual observation.
3rd. We may remark that this phenomenon was visible about a fortnight after the epoch, and exactly at the time when the eclipse of the moon must have been observed, which served to fix the epoch. The two observations mutually confirm each other; and whoever made the one must have made the other also.
4th. We may believe also that the Hindûs made at the same time a determination of the place of the moon's node; this seems indicated by their calculation. They give the longitude of this point of the lunar orbit for the time of their epoch, and to this they add as a constant 40m., which is the node's motion in 12d. 14h. It is as if they stated that this determination was made thirteen days after their epoch, and that to make it correspond to that epoch, we must add the 40m. through which the node has retrograded in the interval. This observation is, therefore, of the same date as that of the lunar eclipse; thus giving three observations, which are mutually confirmatory.
5th. It appears from the description of the Hindû Zodiac given by M. C. Gentil, that on it the places of the stars named the Eye of Taurus and the Wheat-ear of Virgo, can be determined for the commencement of the Kali Yuga. Now, comparing these places with the actual positions, reduced by our precession of the equinoxes to the moment in question, we see that the point of origin of the Hindû Zodiac must lie between the fifth and sixth degree of Aquarius. The Brâhmans, therefore, were right in placing it in the sixth degree of that sign, the more so since this small difference may be due to the proper motion of the stars, which is unknown. Thus it was yet another observation which guided the Hindûs in this fairly accurate determination of the first point of their movable Zodiac.
It does not seem possible to doubt the existence in antiquity of observations of this date. The Persians say that four beautiful stars were placed as guardians at the four corners of the world. Now it so happens that at the commencement of Kali Yuga, 3,000 or 3,100 years before our era, the Eye of the Bull and the Heart of the Scorpion were exactly at the equinoctial points, while the Heart of the Lion and the Southern Fish were pretty near the solstitial points. An observation of the rising of the Pleiades in the evening, seven days before the autumnal equinox, also belongs to the year 3000 before our era. This and similar observations are collected in Ptolemy's calendars, though he does not give their authors; and these, which are older than those of the Chaldeans, may well be the work of the Hindûs. They are well acquainted with the constellation of the Pleiades, and while we call it vulgarly the “Poussinière,” they name it Pillaloo-codi—the “Hen and chickens.” This name has, therefore, passed from people to people, and comes to us from the most ancient nations of Asia. We see that the Hindûs must have observed the rising of the Pleiades, and have made use of it to regulate their years and their months; for this constellation is also called Krittikâ. Now they have a month of the same name, and this coïncidence can only be due to the [pg 727]fact that this month was announced by the rising or setting of the constellation in question.

But what is even more decisive as showing that the Hindûs observed the stars, and in the same way that we do, marking their position by their longitude, is a fact mentioned by Augustinus Riccius that, according to observations attributed to Hermes, and made 1,985 years before Ptolemy, the brilliant star in the Lyre and that in the heart of the Hydra were each seven degrees in advance of their respective positions as determined by Ptolemy. This determination seems very extraordinary. The stars advance regularly with respect to the equinox: and Ptolemy ought to have found the longitudes 28 degrees in excess of what they were 1,985 years before his time. Besides, there is a remarkable peculiarity about this fact, the same error or difference being found in the positions of both stars; therefore the error was due to some cause affecting both stars equally. It was to explain this peculiarity that the Arab Thebith imagined the stars to have an oscillatory movement, causing them to advance and recede alternately. This hypothesis was easily disproved; but the observations attributed to Hermes remained unexplained. Their explanation, however, is found in Hindû Astronomy. At the date fixed for these observations, 1,985 years before Ptolemy, the first point of the Hindû Zodiac was 35 degrees in advance of the equinox; therefore the longitudes reckoned for this point are 35 degrees in excess of those reckoned from the equinox. But after the lapse of 1,985 years the stars would have advanced 28 degrees, and there would remain a difference of only 7 degrees between the longitudes of Hermes and those of Ptolemy, and the difference would be the same for the two stars, since it is due to the difference between the starting-points of the Hindû Zodiac and that of Ptolemy, which reckons from the equinox. This explanation is so simple and natural that it must be true. We do not know whether Hermes, so celebrated in antiquity, was a Hindû, but we see that the observations attributed to him are reckoned in the Hindû manner, and we conclude that they were made by the Hindûs, who, therefore, were able to make all the observations we have enumerated, and which we find noted in their Tables.
6th. The observation of the year 3102, which seems to have fixed their epoch, was not a difficult one. We see that the Hindûs, having once determined the moon's daily motion of 13° 10´ 35´´, made use of it to divide the Zodiac into 27 constellations, related to the period of the moon, which takes about 27 days to describe it.
It was by this method that they determined the positions of the stars in this Zodiac; it was thus they found that a certain star of the Lyre was in 8s 24°, the Heart of the Hydra in 4s 7°, longitudes which are ascribed to Hermes, but which are calculated on the Hindû Zodiac. Similarly, they discovered that the Wheat-ear of Virgo forms the commencement of their fifteenth constellation, and the Eye of Taurus the end of the fourth; these stars being the one in 6s 6° 40´, the other in 1s 23° 20´ of the Hindû Zodiac. This being so, the eclipse of the moon which occurred fifteen days after the Kali Yuga epoch, took place at a point between the Wheat-ear of Virgo and the star θ of the same constellation. These stars are very approximately a constellation apart, the one beginning the fifteenth, the other the sixteenth. Thus it would not be difficult to determine the moon's place by [pg 728]measuring her distance from one of these stars; from this they deduced the position of the sun, which is opposite to the moon, and then, knowing their average motions, they calculated that the moon was at the first point of the Zodiac according to her average longitude at midnight on the 17th-18th February of the year 3102 before our era, and that the sun occupied the same place six hours later according to his true longitude; an event which fixes the commencement of the Hindû year.

7th. The Hindûs state that 20,400 years before the age of Kali Yuga, the first point of their Zodiac coincided with the vernal equinox, and that the sun and moon were in conjunction there. This epoch is obviously fictitious;1141 but we may enquire from what point, from what epoch, the Hindûs set out in establishing it. Taking the Hindû values for the revolution of the sun and moon, viz., 363d. 6h. 12m. 30s., and 27d. 7h. 43m. 13s., we have—
20,400 revolutions of the sun = 7,451,277d. 2h.
272,724 revolutions of the moon = 7,451,277d. 7h.
Such is the result obtained by starting from the Kali Yuga epoch; and the assertion of the Hindûs, that there was a conjunction at the time stated, is founded on their Tables; but if, using the same elements, we start from the era of the year 1491, or from another placed in the year 1282, of which we shall speak later, there will always be a difference of almost one or two days. It is both just and natural, in verifying the Hindû calculations, to take those among their elements which give the same result as they had themselves arrived at, and to set out from that one among their epochs which enables us to arrive at the fictitious epoch in question. Hence, since to make this calculation they must have set out from their real epoch, the one which was founded on an observation and not from any of those which were derived by this very calculation from the former, it follows that their real epoch was that of the year 3102 before our era.
8th. The Tirvaloor Brâhmans give the moon's motion as 7s 20° 0´ 7´´ on the movable Zodiac, and as 9k 7° 45´ 1´´ as referred to the equinox in a great period of 1,600,984 days, or 4,386 years and 94 days. We believe this motion to have been determined by observation; and we must state at the outset that this period is of an extent which renders it but ill suited to the calculation of the mean motions.
In their astronomical calculations the Hindûs make use of periods of 248, 3,031, and 12,372 days; but, apart from the fact that these periods, though much too short, do not present the inconvenience of the former, they contain an exact number of revolutions of the moon referred to its apogee. They are in reality mean motions. The great period of 1,600,984 days is not a sum of accumulated revolutions; there is no reason why it should contain 1,600,984 rather than 1,600,985 days. It would seem that observation alone must have fixed the number of days and marked the beginning and end of the period. This period ends on the 21st of May, 1282 of our era, at 5h. 15m. 30s. at Benares. The moon was then in apogee, according to the
Hindûs, and her longitude was .. 7B 13° 45´ 1´´
Maier gives the longitude as .. 7 13 53 48
And places the apogee at .. .. 7 14 6 54

The determination of the moon's place by the Brâhmans thus differs only by nine minutes from ours, and that of the apogee by twenty-two minutes, and it is very evident that they could only have obtained this agreement with our best Tables and this exactitude in the celestial positions by observation. If then, observation fixed the end of this period, there is every reason to believe that it determined its commencement. But then this motion, determined directly, and from nature, would of necessity be in close agreement with the true motions of the heavenly bodies.
And in fact the Hindû motion during this long period of 4,883 years, does not differ by a minute from that of Cassini, and agrees equally with that of Maier. Thus two peoples, the Hindûs and the Europeans, placed at the two extremities of the world, and perhaps as distant by their institutions, have obtained precisely the same results as regards the moon's motions; and an agreement which would be inconceivable, if it were not based on the observation and mutual imitation of nature. We must remark that the four Tables of the Hindûs are all copies of the same Astronomy. It cannot be denied that the Siamese Tables existed in 1687, when they were brought from India by M. de la Loubère. At that time the tables of Cassini and Maier were not in existence, and thus the Hindûs were already in possession of the exact motion contained in these Tables, while we did not yet possess it. It must, therefore, be admitted that the accuracy of this Hindû motion is the point of observation. It is exact throughout this period of 4,383 years, because it was taken from the sky itself; and if observation determined its close, it fixed its commencement also. It is the longest period which has been observed and of which the recollection is preserved in the annals of Astronomy. It has its [pg 730]origin in the epoch of the year 3102 B.C., and it is a demonstrative proof of the reality of that epoch.1142

Bailly is referred to at such length, as he is one of the few scientific men who have tried to do full justice to the Astronomy of the Âryans. From John Bentley down to Burgess' Sûrya-Siddhânta, not one Astronomer has been fair enough to the most learned people of Antiquity. However distorted and misunderstood the Hindû Symbology may be, no Occultist can fail to do it justice once that he knows something of the Secret Sciences; nor will he turn away from their metaphysical and mystical interpretation of the Zodiac, even though the whole Pleiades of Royal Astronomical Societies rise in arms against their mathematical rendering of it. The descent and reäscent of the Monad or Soul cannot be disconnected from the Zodiacal signs, and it looks more natural, in the sense of the fitness of things, to believe in a mysterious sympathy between the metaphysical Soul and the bright constellations, and in the influence of the latter on the former, than in the absurd notion that the creators of Heaven and Earth have placed in Heaven the types of twelve vicious Jews. And if, as the author of The Gnostics and their Remains asserts, the aim of all the Gnostic schools and the later Platonists
was to accommodate the old faith to the influence of Buddhistic theosophy, the very essence of which was that the innumerable gods of the Hindû mythology were but names for the Energies of the First Triad in its successive Avatârs or manifestations unto man,
whither can we better turn to trace these theosophic ideas to their very root, than to the old Indian wisdom? We say again: Archaic Occultism would remain incomprehensible to all, if it were to be rendered otherwise than through the more familiar channels of Buddhism and Hindûism. For the former is the emanation of the latter; and both are children of one mother—ancient Lemuro-Atlantean Wisdom.




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