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Central Asia, Cradleland of our Race
Side-Lights on H. P. Blavatsky
Companions, I want to speak to you about something that H. P. B. has very vaguely alluded to, but as I have heard some of our speakers and writers refer to this inaccurately, I feel the need of steering our ship a little closer to the true north, in this respect. It is with regard to what science used at one time to call the center of dispersal of the peoples of the earth. Old-fashioned science used to place the origin of civilization, and of the Aryan folk especially, in Higher Asia, on what are now the great plateaus of Central Asia. And that in a sense is quite true; but the subject is not so simple as that. Before our present Fifth or Aryan Race was formed as a race sui generis, that is to say, a race of its own type and kind, distinct from the Fourth Root-Race, its predecessor, it had had an evolution of millions of years, while the Atlantean Root-Race was slowly going to pieces. I have often wondered if some day the science of the future will not be able to discover in a certain vast tract of land in Central Asia, now a howling wilderness of sand and stone and alternating cold and heat — I have often wondered if science will not some day discover in this vast central Asian tract remains of peoples who were more civilized than we are today, more advanced in invention, more advanced in discovery, more advanced in philosophy, science, and religion, than we are now, far more.
Where is this Central Asian tract? If you take a map of Asia, and on it find Persia, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Bokhara, and Turkestan, the Sea of Aral, and the Caspian, and to the east the Pamir and the Hindu Kush, and the Tien Shan, the Altyn Tagh, etc. — an enormous tract of country, most of it desert waste — there you will find the seat from which we came as a racial stock. The time was when that land was covered with highly developed civilizations succeeding each other in time. Hundreds of wonderful cities flourished there. The land was green and fertile, it was an aggregate of beautiful countries. And it was out of this cradle of our race, as a race sui generis, please, from its northern parts, that later descended into the Indian peninsula those peoples who call themselves 'Aryans,' the 'High Caste,' who later were divided into Four Castes: Brahmanas, Kshattriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. From the southeastern parts came later the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Medes and the Persians; and the peoples of Europe, Greeks, Romans, especially. And on the outskirts and all surrounding these highly civilized tracts of land, immense in extent, there were outlying peoples. These last were remnants of the Atlanteans, like the Chinese, the people of Japan, the Javanese, the Siamese, and the Tibetans. They all migrated after a while and changed their seats, but at that time they were the surrounding folk in various grades of civilization. On the outskirts of the more highly civilized peoples were some of their own off-shoots, later sub- and sub-sub-races to come, then in their infancy and childhood. They became the Celtic peoples and the Teutons of Europe and the West of Europe. But at that time Europe was largely under water. The Alps were rising: only the peaks and a certain amount of the foot-hills of the Alps were as yet above the sea. The Arabs at that time were just wild savages, offspring of the mixed Atlantean and early Aryan peoples. They have not come into their own yet. Some day they will.
This vast stretch of Asiatic country which, except in spots, now is a lofty plateau swept by icy winds in winter and by what some people call the hellish winds, hot as hell, in the hot months, then was comparatively low as regards height above sea-level. There was an immense inland sea to the north of it, emptying itself into the Arctic. That sea has now almost disappeared, has shrunken to almost naught, so that all that remains of it is the little Sea of Aral, the Caspian, the Sea of Azov, yes, and the Euxine, the Black Sea. There was likewise a hid sea in what is now Mongolia. H. P. B. speaks of this one. That is now evaporated, vanished; very much as the Great Salt Lake of Utah is slowly vanishing. Why? Because slowly the land began to rise; the waters drained off; vast stretches of what is now Russia began to rise above the waters; southern Germany, coastal France, later the British Isles and Ireland appeared. The whole aspect of things changed. The geography changed entirely, the climate changed.
Yet I believe that some day archaeology, by delving into the sands of the howling wastes there, will uncover the stony remnants of vast cities. Heaven knows what else they may find in Persia, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Bokhara, Turkestan farther north. In that previous historical epoch, when this vast tract flourished, it was a wonderful land, or aggregate of lands, a wonderful continent surrounded by sea, or almost so, with outlying islands and countries.
Millions of years before that was the period of the birth of the Aryan stock from the degenerate Atlantean tribes where now the Atlantic Ocean rolls its restless waves. Seven to eight million years ago our great Aryan race was born, and migrated in serial surges under spiritual guidance to the then rising lands of Central Asia, now the desert of Gobi: another high plateau, now windswept and barren. There was then a beautiful inland sea there. No wonder we are told that Geography considered as a science was one of the sciences of the Mysteries of ancient days.
But what was the date of all this? you may ask. When lived this wonderful group of peoples, of highly civilized folk, with their many, many inventions that we have not found out yet? When lived they in Central Asia, in these lands flowing with crystalline waters, filled with wonderful verdure, having mild and equable climate? When did all this happen? It began with the beginning of krita-yuga. Count up. We are now in the beginning of kali-yuga.
Therefore add: krita-yuga, 1,728,000; treta-yuga, 1,296,000; dwapara-yuga, 864,000 — a total of three million, 800 odd thousand years ago. You see how it happened. As the climate changed, as the land rose, as the seas receded, as the deserts began to encroach upon the stretches of the cultivable land, the peoples found the climate becoming impossible. They migrated in turn, in surges; they spread over the newly risen lands to the west and to the east, and Europe was born. Then was to be found also the beginning of the Assyrian, the Hindu, the Mede, the Persian, the Babylonian, the Greek, the Roman, the Celt, the Teuton, the Scandinavian: not here recited in their chronological order of appearance, but just as the names come to me.
Of course they mixed; miscegenation proceeded apace. At times these peoples were as haughty and proud of the supposed purity of their blood as some of our folk are. But gradually they mixed, producing stocks as we have today. There is no such thing as a pure race on the face of the globe. We are all mixed. We simply differ from each other because of isolation. Peoples have been isolated, some for hundreds of thousands of years until even the coloring of hair and eyes and texture of the body has somewhat changed. Thus the true Chinese, although the last remnant of the last or seventh sub-race of the Atlantean, is no true Atlantean. He is a mixed Aryan, because he belongs to our Aryan race in time and karman. Mixed, also, are the Japanese and the Javanese, and many others.
But please do not suppose, Companions, that this tract of Central Asian lands I speak of was the only habitable land on the surface of our globe. I do not mean that at all. I was speaking of the origins of our Aryan peoples, those which peopled Europe with its different stocks, those which likewise sent their migratory hordes into India, Tibet, Siam, Burma, even into China, mixing with the aborigines there. But on the other side of the globe there were vast tracts of land which were inhabited by fairly civilized peoples in some cases, others by barbarians. For example, the great Island in the Indian Ocean later called by the Hindus Daitya, and inhabited by what they called Rakshasas, was in existence simultaneously with these early Aryan peoples who migrated from this wonderful tract of land in Central Asia. Furthermore, modern Ceylon is the northernmost headland of what was a vast island of enormous extent, now submerged. Islands great and small there were all over the globe.
Australia existed then of course. Parts of the American continent were above the waters, parts not yet; just as in the future parts will sink and other parts arise. Egypt was there. It too was coming into its own slowly. The colony of Atlanteans from the Atlantic had come in two or three migratory waves. And later on, Egypt received a migratory wave from what the ancients call the Ethiopians, not Negroes, but people whose skin was so dark, because of the torrid climate in which they lived, that they were called Ethiopians, 'burned-skin folk' out of the East, from Southern India and original Ceylon, represented by the Tamils there today. And the latest Rakshasas of Lanka, of Ceylon, had become Aryanized. The Egyptians received the migratory horde from Lanka called the sons of "Shesu Hor," the sons of Horus — Aryanized peoples.
Question — What has become of those egos who made that great civilization so long ago in the Gobi region? Will they come again and make on earth another such civilization?
Answer — The whole matter is complicated and deals with long periods of even geological time. There were two different epochs. One was at the very beginnings of the Fifth Root-Race, during the heyday of Atlantis, which established a focus for itself on a land- and water-district pretty nearly where now the Gobi desert is and north-western China. But this was millions of years before the time which I specifically alluded to above, which was the beginning of the European part of the Fifth Root-Race, or Asian-European, after the former focus had already become legendary through long passage of time. In any case, I can answer the question this way. The egos which then inhabited those civilizations of western Asia and central-western Asia, which I hereinbefore especially spoke of, are we ourselves; for I was not alluding to any particular esoteric focus except incidentally, but merely to the rising, racially speaking, of the Fifth Race and its early civilization in the lands I pointed out, and how when the land rose, the climate became inhospitable, the seas receded, and arid stretches replaced the once fertile countries of that district. From that district, big as it was, as a sort of center migrated east and west and south, not all at once, but through thousands and thousands of years, the beginnings or earliest portions of those peoples who later became the Chinese, and the Tartars and the Hindus and the Greeks and the Romans and the Celts and the Germanic and Scandinavian tribes, etc. Even this was long before Egypt had come into real being, because you must remember that Egypt is really and has been the gift of the Nile: land built out into the Mediterranean Sea by silt, sand, detritus, brought down by the Nile through ages from interior Africa, and deposited age after age at its mouth, so that its mouth gradually extended into the Mediterranean and thus built up the Egyptian delta. Thus you see Egypt, though very early, came after even the second and later period I have mentioned above. But the answer to your question is briefly: the egos who inhabited those civilizations are we ourselves, or at least some of us, because there were decaying civilizations even in those far distant past times, on other parts of the earth — decaying remnants of Atlantis; and some of these last egos are among us now too.
Question — There is a hint given in The Esoteric Tradition concerning the fact that the mid-point of the Atlantean Root-Race was some 8 to 9 million years ago. I believe you spoke just now of the Asian cradle-civilization as having flourished as long ago as three and a half million years.
Now the point is, what are we to make of the famous 850,000 years since the submergence of the bulk of Atlantis, to judge by The Secret Doctrine? Or is this a mere blind? Did the main portion of the continent of Atlantis sink while the Asian cradle-civilization of the Aryans was flourishing, or even after it?
There is a great deal of interest at present regarding the Gobi, as you know. Any additional light on the Gobi civilizations would be welcome. The understanding is that the Gobi, as a center of civilization, was more recently so than the highland civilization of three and a half million years ago, of which you spoke.
Answer — In what I have previously said I did not attempt, of course, to go into any detail; I simply drew attention to one, or two or three highlights in esoteric history connected with Central Asia. That was all.
Answering now this latter question: the central point of Atlantean civilization, which was the kali-yuga of the Fourth Root-Race, was some four or five million years agone. This means equivalently that our own Fifth Root-Race, which had its first beginnings of birth about that time, is likewise between four and five millions of years old. Furthermore, we are likewise beginning our own Fifth Root-Race kali-yuga, and we see the first beginnings of the birth of the Sixth Root-Race amongst us today. In other words, we are beginning to see the first beginnings of the birth of the Sixth, as the middle point of Atlantis saw the beginnings of the birth of the Fifth — of us. Is that point clear?
Yet while from our original germinal condition, so to speak, we are four or five millions of years old; yet as a race sui generis, which means a race which is of its own type or character, with its own distinct swabhava, our Fifth Root-Race is one million years old more or less. H. P. B. alludes to this in The Secret Doctrine.
Now, as said before, it was from Central Asia that were born the beginnings of the civilizations of the European stocks. Only the last of these minor sub-races of our Root-Race is known to us, the Germanic. There are but remnants today of the preceding large sub-races, such as the Mediterranean, Greeks and Romans prominent among them; and preceding them the Celtic; preceding them others whose names have been lost in the night of time. Yet all these different minor sub-races of our present Fifth Root-Race were born in Central Asia at different times, each wave coming forth from that motherland and cradle of our Fifth Root-Race, and spreading over the world in different directions, mainly westward; for as the English poet has intuitively pointed out: "Westward the course of empire takes its way." Let us change this word 'empire,' with its infernal political associations, to "westward the course of civilization takes its way."
Now Central Asia comprises an immense extent of territory. Mongolia, the desert of Shamo or Gobi, Tibet, including the northern parts of Tibet: the immense ranges of mountains there, such as the Tien Shan and Karakorum and others, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Persia, and what is now called Turkestan: most of it desert land, desiccated and dry, some of it below the level of the sea, rising thence into some of the highest mountains of the globe, the Himalayas.
All this land — except portions covered by lakes and seas — that is now inhabited by partly civilized or barbarous or even savage tribes was, at different times during the last four or five million years since the midpoint of Atlantis, covered with flourishing civilizations which succeeded each other in different parts of Central Asia over this vast district to which I have pointed. At one time one great civilization in this part of it, later on succeeded by another civilization in some other part of it, still later in time the march of events carrying a civilization to a third part, and so forth; yet each one of such civilizations being in its turn a cradle out of which grew children-colonies sent forth to carry light and initiation to what were then barbarous and uncultivated parts of the world, such as what is now Europe, what is now China, what is now Siberia, what is now India.
It was from one of the later of these mid-Asian civilizations that came the early Brahmanas when they descended into the Indian peninsula, calling themselves Aryans as they did: 'the select,' 'the noble,' terms of pride — aryas. But such is the fashion of conquerors always. Sometimes the conquerors are conquered by the science and wisdom of those conquered. Graecia capta Romam victricem subducit. Greece, the conquered, subdues Rome the conqueror. It is true.
Now there are many things to think of in connexion with a study like this. There are questions geographical, religious, ethnological, and racial. Not one people alone inhabited and built up these civilizations of Central Asia. They were recurrent waves of our present Fifth Root-Race. The earliest waves largely mingled with Atlantean immigrants, emigrants from the sinking islands of the Atlantic, the sinking remnants of the Atlantean land-continent. The later ones of these civilizations were far more aryanized, far more truly belonging to our Fifth Root-Race.
As an example: whence came the civilization of Greece and whence came the glory that was Greece? Whence came the civilization of Etruria and of the other Italian folks and of the Romans? Whence came they? In these particular instances they were some of the later emigrants of Central Asia who descended from the high plateau down towards the inland sea and settled on the land we now call Greece: Crete among them first, including the mainland of Greece. Then the advancing wave at a later date settled Italy and became the Etrurians and the earliest Romans, the Sabines, the Samnites, the Oscans, and so forth. But of course all this was not done without a struggle. There were many wars in those days, terrible wars, between the dying out remnants of the Atlantean peoples, the true Atlanteans who were in continuous warfare with the Fifth races, if I may so phrase myself. So that as Plato points out in one of his Dialogs, telling a story told to him by his ancestor Solon and told to Solon by the priests of Egypt: "There was a time when a horde came out of the Atlantic Ocean essaying to settle on the lands that are now Greece and Italy. You Greeks are but children, children of a day. You have forgotten your glorious past when your forefathers gathered together and repelled the invaders, holding the civilization that you had intact."
In the same way was Hindusthan builded by the Brahmanas. Thus were Greece, Rome, and Western Europe likewise populated, settled, refined and civilized by the emigrants from the different civilizations that grew and waxed and waned, and grew and waxed and waned, that had their seats in that cradle-land of our Fifth Root-Race, Central Asia.
Now all these things happened within a time-period beginning some four or five million years agone — the time of the prime of the material height of the civilizations of Atlantis — down to the present. The questioner asks whether the island which H. P. B. speaks of as sinking 850,000 years agone refers to the sinking of Atlantis. Oh no! To talk about the sinking of Atlantis would be like today talking of the sinking of the different land-massifs of today. Do you mean Europe, Asia, or the two Americas? Atlantis was a far larger land-massif than our own today, but it was divided into continents, and such continents separated by seas shallow and deep. The reference by H. P. B. to the time 850,000 years ago was to the sinking of the last great-sized island in the Pacific called Ruta. And it was followed later, a couple of hundred thousand years ago from our time, by the sinking of the still smaller island called Daitya; and then there were no more sinkings of outstanding importance until 11,000 or 12,000 years ago when Poseidonis, referred to by Plato as a relatively small island in the Atlantic, an island about the size of Ireland today, sunk beneath the waves with all its civilization, temples and gods, men and women, in one night and one day, according to the legend. One night of horror following a day of terror. The island was a nest of sorcerers, magicians of the blackest sorcery. And it was from this small island about 11,000 years agone that came that wave of emigrants trying to conquer the settled people of Greece and of Rome of which I spoke.
No, the doom of Atlantis struck four million and a half years agone; and I now mean Atlantis in general, not of any one of its continents or vast islands, but of the race. That was the time when our Fifth Root-Race began to have its beginnings, its germinal epoch.
Some day I believe that our archaeologists and other scientists, delving in the wind-swept deserts, the sandy, arid plains of Turkestan, Persia, Baluchistan, will uncover remains showing that there was at least a civilization the equal of anything we have today, if we can judge by what may then be found there in the shape of buildings, or the foundations of buildings, of imperishable stone, perhaps even artifacts of copper and glass. Who knows?
There was a civilization, some few thousand years before the earliest history that we know about Greece and Crete and Asia Minor, in what is now the arid lands of Persia, that would have put to shame anything that ancient Greece or Rome or Egypt or Babylon could show — a civilization gentler, greater even than ours. That was the mother-land of the Greek and Roman and Italiot peoples. Thence they came as colonists; and back of this, as I have already pointed out, in still earlier times of now utterly forgotten history, what is now and plain and sandy desert, barren mountain and howling wastes, whereon the wind plays all the laments of Hell, could have been seen beautiful lands covered with verdure and beautified with fruit and forest trees, green grass, well paved roads lighted at night, town connected with town, city with city — well organized system on all sides. Now that is all forgotten — as we shall some day be.
Central Asia is not only the cradle of civilization of our Fifth Root-Race, but our motherland. To it, in the earliest beginnings when the Fifth Root-Race began to be itself as a stock separate from Atlantis, to it the earliest Fifth Race colonists went and settled there. It was then a land rising above the waters and from its lofty plains and plateaus — through age after age, as age succeeded age — the germinal new races tried to work off the deviltry of their own Atlantean forefathers now rushing to their doom. Protected of karman, protected by the Lodge, the early Fifth lived there. Sub-race succeeded sub-race, as they slowly climbed from innocence to knowledge and from knowledge to a modicum of wisdom — and its abuses, until we now have reached our kali-yuga and are beginning to pay. When will men learn that the only road to happiness and peace, to prosperity and increase in possessions, both spiritual and material, is obedience to the spiritual and moral law, and service. That is the only road: obedience to the divine mandate which whispers in every human heart, and service to mankind. Selfishness defeats its own ends. It grabs and grasps a heavy shadow and opens the grasping hand to find naught. It is by giving that we get, strange paradox. It is by work that the arm grows strong. It is by exercising the heart that its noblest comes forth.
Your Symposium on the origin of the Theosophical Society has been exceedingly interesting. We have all enjoyed it. It has been prepared with thought, and it aroused in us all a recognition of what H. P. B. did. You have pointed out to us the odd, and in some instances the unusual, means that were taken in the beginning of her work to accomplish her ends: means which at the time probably seemed ordinary, but which to us at the present seem strange and unusual: beginning a Theosophical and spiritual and intellectual Movement by means of advertising the ideas of an Egyptological crank who professed to evoke elementals from the vasty deep; and by meeting people in a room which was most artistically decorated although in a bizarre and baroque way.
How strange! How contrary to what most people think should be the grounds upon which a spiritual Movement rightly ought to be launched. But pause a moment over these facts. They are all significant. They all show the penetration of the occultist. They all show the Master-Hand using every means, be they the simplest, in order to bring about a grand end.
This is the lesson that I, as boy, drew from what I read of the foundation of our beloved T. S.: "Truth moves in strange and mysterious ways, its wonders to perform." In these old words of the Christians, which I have slightly changed, you have the key to the situation.
One of the speakers emphasized the fact that H. P. B. was a woman, but may I ask: What does that fact matter? The work would have been performed had H. P. B. been a man, or, were it possible, having no sex at all. Let us not bring questions of sex into this matter. Consider what the Theosophical Society was founded to achieve: To sow the seeds of the religious, and philosophic, and scientific thought of future ages. It is a matter of utter unimportance, whether the Messenger who came was a man or a woman, merely because as a woman she could do things in that hard and materialistic age, which a man could by no means so successfully have done. I will also point out to you that H. P. von Hahn was a 'psychological cripple,' and that through her there worked the directing mind and the spiritual efflux of one of Those who stand very high, and who consequently was above sex, and whose utterances and pronouncements are all marked by that impersonality which we all feel when the soul of a man or of a woman speaks — the spiritual soul.
What did it matter that Jesus was a man? Not at all. It was the fiery spirit and the divine Light working through Jesus which made him so grand in his work, and not merely the fact that he was a man, because conceivably that same work might have been done by a woman.
In our work I fear any reference to the academic question whether one sex is superior to the other. I call your attention to the importance of this.
H. P. Blavatsky sowed the seeds of the thought-life of the generations of the future, and these generations of the future, my Brothers, will, in themselves, be the seeds of the next Sub-Race. H. P. B.'s own individual Teacher was he whom she referred to as M.; but the one who used her as a vehicle was not invariably he. If you only knew the mysteries connected with a Messenger from the Lodge, you would have greater understanding, and greater pity, than even the splendid and loyal devotion that you at present have for your Teachers, has given you the vision for. There is a tragedy in the life of each one of your Leaders; and I think H. P. B.'s life was the most tragic, the most tragically tragic, of all.
What a sublime thing it is to realize that the mighty spiritual influence which she brought permeated a self-ridden and wholly materialistic world, and wrought in it a spiritual magic which changed men's minds, so that now things are talked of and believed in which in H. P. B.'s own day would have sent those who might have believed in them for trial before a lunacy-commission. Think of it, and you will see the working of a tremendous spiritual power, spiritual because it is universal, which is the test of a spiritual energy. In the silence did it work, undermining wrong things, breaking the crystallized molds of men's minds, and warming their hearts. One indomitable human will did it.
Now what may we not look forward to in the future? Look to the East, the inner East, the Mystic East, the East from which springs forth the spiritual daylight, flooding the minds and hearts of our fellows. Teach men to look eastwards, for there is the Light. "Westward the course of Empire takes its way," says the English poet; but traveling constantly westwards you finally come to the East, and out of the East comes the Light.