domenica, Giugno 13, 2021
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India in Greece


He who would have a correct view of society as it existed in the highest antiquity — it matters not in what countries — will for his truest source of information, refer to those principles which are unaffected by climate or by lineage. Before this, as an impartial tribunal, he will arraign the records of history; and, weighing their evidences by this authority, he will be guided to an impartial decision.
Among those dispensations of unerring Providence, by which good has been brought out of evil, we cannot sufficiently admire the directing hand of the Great Ruler of the world, in turning to the purposes of civilization, and the refinements of social comfort, the struggles of the oppressed, and the cruelty of the oppressor. These instances are not rare. They form so many links in the chain of time, to strengthen our conviction of an Over-ruling Power. The persecution of the Albigenses — the expulsion of the Moors from Spain — the tyranny of that monarchy in Holland — the revocation of the edict of Nantes — the atrocious massacre of St. Bartholomew, and its still more atrocious approval by him who claimed to be the Vicar of Christ upon earth — the tyranny of James the Second in this country — all these, and other enormities, eventuated in results most beneficial to the interests of humanity. But, perhaps, in no similar instance have events occurred fraught with consequences of such manitude, as those flowing from the great religious war which, for a long series of years, raged throughout the length and breadth of India. That contest ended by the expulsion of vast bodies of men; many of them skilled in the arts of early civilization, and still greater numbers, warriors by profession. Driven beyond the Himalayan Mountains in the north, and to Ceylon, their last stronghold in the south, swept across the valley of the Indus on the west, this persecuted people carried with them the germs of the European arts and sciences. The mighty human tide that passed the barrier of the Punjab, rolled onward towards its destined channel in Europe and in Asia, to fulfil its beneficent office in the moral fertilization of the world. The Brahminical and Buddhistic sects, who to this day hold divided sway over the greater part of Asia, were the two great champions in this long contest. The former was victorious. The chiefs of the Buddhistic faith were driven to take refuge beyond the reach of their oppressors, carrying with them into Bactria, Persia, Asia Minor, Greece, Phoenicia, and Great Britain, the devotion of their early sages, and an astonishing degree of commercial energy, attended by singular skill in the sciences of astronomy and mechanics. The virulence of religious feud had run high, and the poets of the Brahminical sect sang of their vanquished opponents with a contempt and ferocity so unnatural, as to give their compositions the air of the wildest fiction; their language, like their exultation, was extravagant; but the reality of their victory is not less certain than the gigantic expulsion of the Buddhist worshippers. It was the issue of this struggle that thence- forward was for centuries to give its devotional complexion to the world throughout northern Asia, and with no un- frequent intervals, from the western hank of the Indus to the Pillars of Hercules. In the Greek language alone — or, rather, the Sanscrit, which we receive as Greek — there are evidences the most convincing, to substantiate this statement. One doctrine and one language were the guard and the missionary of the Buddhist faith. That language was a modified Sanscrit; and, disfigured as it is by a second-hand reception from the Greeks, it offers abundant evidences of the truth of my position, by the readiness with which the names of tribes, rivers, and mountains, are still to be perceived, and faithfully translated, even through this corrupt medium. Those who are not familiar with the transmutations and disguises of language, may not readily comprehend both the certainty and the ease with which such changes may be detected: of these the ordinary dialectic varieties of the Greek will convey a very imperfect idea. As this mighty emigration from India, though intimately connected with the early settlements of Greece, acts only a subordinate part in that complete and united movement, which, as it were, with one effort, gave a population to Hellas, I purpose giving a general view of its results, reserving, for a more connected examination, the original seat, the actual progression, and the final settlement, of the true Hellenic population. Porthe present, I shall take a rapid view of the Pelasgi.
There is, perhaps, nothing more mysterious in the wide circle of antiquity, than the character, wanderings, and original seat of the Pelasgi; a people whose history has effectually baffled the inquiries of the well-informed Greeks of antiquity and the ingenuity of modern research. And now, that I am about to solve this vexed problem, it will doubtless be a subject of astonishment that the same result was not obtained earlier. Still, the distance of the migratory movement was so vast, the disguise of names so complete, and Grecian information so calculated to mislead, that nothing short of a total disregard of theoretic principles, and the resolution of independent research, gave the slightest chance of a successful elucidation. And, though I claim no peculiar merit for the result of this investigation, I cannot but feel happy that I have been permitted to add my testimony to the cause of Truth.
Pelasa, the ancient name for the province of Bahar, is so denominated from the Pelasa or Butea Frondosa[1].
Pelaska is a derivative form of Pelasa, whence the Greek “Pelasgos.”
This country was the very stronghold of the Buddhistic faith, — a religion detested by the Brahmins, because it denied the doctrine of Castes, as well as the necessity of a mediatorial Priesthood. The fierce but protracted conflict between these rival sects, as already noticed, ended in the expulsion of a vast population.
The “Maghedan” (whence the form “Makedonia”) are the people of Maghedha, another name of the province of Pelasa or Bahar. It is so called from the numerous families descended from the sage Magha, in the sacred books of India proudly styled “the offspring of the sun.” The Maghadas came into India at the time of Crishna, and settled in this region[2], then called Cicada[3], the still older name of this Buddhistic province. That there is nothing mythological in this account of Crishna, will be distinctly seen; for Crishna, the son of Devaki” is actually named in the “Chandogya Upanishad,” towards the close of the third chapter, as having received theological instruction from Ghora, a descendant of Angiras[4].”
In process of time, the kings of Bahar so extended their territories by conquest, that the name of Magadha was applied to countries lying along the course of the Ganges[5] and even to the whole of India. We have, then, the nomenclature of this Indian province, in quadruple sequence, Pelasa, Cicada, Maghadha, and Bahar or Bihar. The latter name it derived from the numerous biharas[6]” or monastic establishments of the Jainas, a sect which the orientalist will be surprised to hear, existed in the most ancient Grecian society. Although the province of Pelasa or Bahar sent forth a body of emigrants so powerful as to give a general name to the great Oriental movement which helped to people the mainland and islands of Greece, yet the numbers from this province alone, give no adequate idea of the population that exchanged the sunny land of India for the more temperate latitudes of Persia, Asia Minor, and Hellas. The mountains of Ghoorka; Delhi, Oude, Agra, Lahore, Moultan, Cashmir, the Indus, and the provinces of Rajpootana; sent forth their additional thousands to feed the living tide that flowed towards the lands of Europe and of Asia. With these warlike pilgrims on their journey to the far West, — bands as enterprising as the race of Anglo-Saxons, the descendants, in fact, of some of those very Sacas of Northern India, — like them, too, filling the solitudes, or facing the perils of the West, — there marched a force of native warriors, sufficiently powerful to take possession of the richest of the soil that lay before them.
Though unsuccessful in the great struggle that terminated in the expulsion of themselves and their religious teachers, their practised hardihood left them nothing to fear from the desultory attacks of any tribes who might be bold enough to obstruct their march.
That their movement, however, toward the land of their adoption was not uniform, though possessing singular harmony in their Grecian colonization, and that not a few intermediate settlements were effected, — some of them of a durable character, — is evident from the names of tribes, rivers, mountains, and religious sects, which lie scattered in profusion between the north-western frontier of India, and the north-eastern boundary of Greece.
I would here pause awhile, to impress upon the reader the vast extent of this Pelasgic emigration, and its historcal value. The primitive history of Greece is the primitive history of India. This may appear a startling theory: it is not the less a simple fact. It is the history of much of India, in its language, in its religion, in its sects, in its princes and bravest clans; and he who shall attempt to decipher those venerable manuscripts, miscalled “Greek Mythology, “and “Greek Heroic-Legends” without bringing these combined lights to bear in one focus upon their time-worn surface, will still continue a stranger to the true history of primitive Hellas. To the reader, unless thoroughly convinced of the source, direction, and vast extent of this emigration, many of my future observations may appear the result of a romantic, or, at least, a too enthusiastic temperament.
And liere I would introduce the authority of one whose sagacity and profound learning enabled him to grasp” and to classify” and to store up, every particle of solid information to be derived from purely classical sources. “I will here” he observes, “close my account of these researches; for I feel that the greater extent they assign to the Pelasgians, the more scruples will they raise, I am now standing at the goal from which a survey may be taken of the circle, where I have ascertained the existence of Pelasgian tribes; not as vagrant gipsies, but firmly settled as powerful nations, at a period for the most part prior to our historical knowledge of Greece. It is not as a mere hypothesis, but with a full historical conviction that I assert there was a time when the Pelasgians, then perhaps more widely spread than any other people of Europe, extended from the Po and the Arno, almost to the Bosphorus. The line of their possessions, however, was broken in Thrace; so that the chain between the Tyrrhenians of Asia, and the Pelasgians of Argos, was only kept up by the isles in the north of the JEgaean.
“But in the days of the genealogists and of Hellanicus, all that was left of this immense race, were solitary, detached, widely-scattered remnants, such as those of the Celtic tribes in Spain; like mountain-peaks that tower as islands, where floods have turned the plains into a sea. Like those Celts, they were conceived to be, not fragments of a great people, but settlements formed by colonising or emigration, in the same manner as those of the Greeks, which lay similarly dispersed”
These remarks of the illustrious Niebuhr, are amply confirmed, by the sifting process to which I have subjected the Greek geographical accounts, in their broadest and most practical form. Those geographical terms, whether of mountains, tribes, rivers, or cities, they heard with the ears of Greeks” they wrote down in the fashion of Greeks, and the result was, a medley of names, uniform only in their corrupt orthography. The actual extent of the Pelasgic race, (which, in fact, became a synonym for the general population of India, when transplanted to Europe and Asia,) far exceeded the idea of Niebuhr. So vast were their settlements, and so firmly rooted were the very names of kingdoms, the nomenclature of tribes — nay, the religious systems of the oldest forms of society — that I do not scruple to assert that the successive maps of Spain, Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, Persia, and India, may be read like the chart of an emigrant.
As such, I shall peruse them -, the information they give will neither be deceptive, nor, I trust, will it be unfaithfully rendered. To the perfect coherence and practical result of this branch of my investigation, I fearlessly appeal; nor will any casual error of interpretation invalidate the correctness of the principle.


[1] The Butea is rather a large tree, not very common in the lowlands, but much more so up among the mountains. It casts its leaves during the cold season: they come out again, with the flowers, about the months of March and April, and the seed is ripe in June or July. The leaves which are alternate and spreading, are from eight to sixteen inches long. Its flowers are papilionaceous and pendulous, and their ground of a beautiful deep red, shaded with orange and silver-coloured down, which gives them a most elegant appearance.” — De. Roxburgh’s Description of the Pelasa Tree. Asiatic Researches, vol. iii.”, p. 469.
[2] Wilford, As. Ees.
[3] Wilson, Sansc. Lex. “Cicada.”
[4] Colebrooke, “Asiatic Researclaes” vol. vii., p. 293.
[5] Properly “Anu Gangam.” See Col. Wilford’s “Ancient Geog. of lnd; “Asiat. Researciies, vol. ix.
[6] Vihara, or Bihara, a Jaina monastery. The name of this province has also been derived by some, from the aboriginal tribe of Bahrs.

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