Indian and Persian ‘Moses’

Taken from our “Lost Cultural Foundations of Eastern Civilization”:

CHAPTER TWO: INDIAN AND PERSIAN ‘MOSES’

In this chapter only I shall diverge from the New Testament, to the Old. Kersten, beginning on p. 40 (Chapter Three), has a section ‘Who Was Moses?’, parts of which are worth recalling given the significant rôle played by Moses in my first article:

  • The name of the man who laid down the social and religious laws in ancient India was Manu. The lawgiver of the Egyptians was called Manes.
  • The Cretan who codified the laws of the ancient Greeks – laws that he had learned in Egypt – was called Minos.
  • The leader of the Hebrew tribes and the promulgator of the Ten Commandments was called Moses.
  • Manu, Manes, Minos and Moses, foremost contributors to the world’s humanity, all belonged to the same archetypal pattern. All four stood by the cradle of important civilizations of the ancient world. All four laid down laws and instituted a theocratic priestly society.

In Sanskrit, manu signifies a man of excellence, a lawgiver…..

My comment: Menes, (Kersten’s Manes), is considered to be the first unifying king of Egypt at the beginning of Egyptian dynastic history. He is probably, however, the mighty 12th dynasty pharaoh Amenemes I/III (= Menes) – whom I have equated with the 4th dynasty’s Cheops (Egyptian Khufu) as the oppressive ‘new king’ of Exodus 1:8. As such he – rather than his younger contemporary Moses (Egyptian Musa) – was likely the prototype for the Cretan reformer king Minos. The Sanskrit manu is, as we are going to find, the name given in the Vedas to the hero of the Flood, and may therefore be a variation of the name Noah (MaNU = NOah?).

Kersten gives an interesting Indian ‘take’ on Moses’ serpent miracle before pharaoh:

manu … are endowed [by God] with an aura of mystery …. In their skilled hands, every physical phenomenon is transformed to become a manifestation of a heavenly power, which they can summon or suppress at will.

Conjurors (‘magicians’) in both Israel and India, for instance, certainly knew how to put a snake into a catatonic trance, before transforming it back to its original condition – a feat still performed by Indian fakirs. ….

Kersten at least accepts (p. 41) “that Moses was a genuinely historical figure”. But he follows the old chronology in assuming that Moses’ Law (Torah) had for its precursor Hammurabi of Babylon’s law code. And similarly (p. 43):

Nor is Moses the originator of monotheism. The notion of a single, invisible and immortal God, the Creator of the Universe, a father of love and goodness, of compassion, sensibility and trust, had long already been in evidence in the Vedas and in the tradition that became the Nordic Edda. Zarathustra, founder of Zoroastrianism, also expressly proclaimed his God to be the One and Only.

In the Papyrus Prisse (dating about one thousand years before Moses) God says of himself: ‘I am the unseen One who created the heavens and all things. I am the Supreme God, made manifest by Myself, and without equal. I am yesterday, and I know the morrow. To every creature and being that exists I am the law’.

This One God without equal was referred to in Egypt as ‘the nameless’, ‘the One Whose name cannot be spoken’, long before Moses: Nuk pu Nuk ‘I am who am’. (Compare this with the account in Exodus 3:14, where God declares: ‘I am that I am’).

… [Moses’] ‘miracles’ are … for the most part based on much older traditions – for instance, on the legend of the ancient (originally Arab) god Bacchus, who crossed the Red Sea on foot, who inscribed laws on stone tablets, whose armies were led by columns of fire, and from whose forehead shone rays of light.

My comment: Kersten is seriously a victim of the conventional chronology here. Firstly, Zoroaster appears to be in fact, at least in part, the Persian version of Moses, as we shall see at the bottom of this page from Kersten’s own admission. [Though Hebrew legends identify Zoroaster with Baruch, scribe to Jeremiah; a point that I shall be taking up at another time]. Secondly, Kersten is wrong in saying that the Papyrus Prisse – with its extraordinary metaphysical likenesses to the Book of Exodus – long pre-dates Moses, since the latter needs to be shifted back from Egypt’s New Kingdom era (where convention places him) to the Old Kingdom. Thirdly, I would have thought that the Bacchus legends were extremely late, post-dating Moses by any estimation. And indeed Kersten himself will locate them to the 8th century BC on p. 129.

Rama

Still on p. 43, Kersten gives an account of the Indian Moses, Rama, the first part of whose name I find has some resonance with Moses’ full Egyptian name Re-mu-sa (or Musare), Rama = Remu? His chronological estimation for Rama’s era is hopelessly exaggerated, however. The Ramayana, attributed to the poet Valmiki, was written down during the first century A.D., although it is thought to be based on oral traditions that go back six or seven centuries earlier – still however much later than Moses:

The Indian epic called the Ramayana tells the story of the hero Rama, who led his people on a journey through the heart of Asia finally to reach India more than five thousand years ago. Rama, too, was a great lawgiver and a hero of extraordinary powers. He caused springs to gush forth in the deserts through which he led his people (cf. Exodus 17:6), provided them with a kind of manna to eat (cf. Exodus 16:3-35), and suppressed a virulent plague with the sacred drink soma, India’s ‘water of life’. Finally he conquered the ‘promised land’, Sri Lanka, he crossed the sea via a land bridge apparently exposed by the low tide at a place still known as the Bridge of Rama. Like Moses, Rama is depicted with rays of light streaming from his head (the flames of the enlightened one …).

Zarathustra

P.44 Zarathustra, like Moses, also possessed a sacred fire that he could put to use in various ways. According to the Greek [sic] writers Eudoxus, Aristotle and Hermodoros of Syracuse, Zoroaster (that is, Zarathustra) lived about five thousand years before Moses, and like him, was of royal blood, was taken from his mother, and was left exposed to the wild. In his thirtieth year [more like Jesus than Moses in regard to his age here] he became the prophet of a new religion. [Now back to the Moses’ likenesses] Heralded by peals of thunder, God appeared to him robed in light, seated on a throne of fire on the holy mountain Albordj, encircled by flames. There, God bestowed on him His sacred law. Finally, Zoroaster likewise wandered with his followers to a remote ‘promised land’, and came to the shores of a sea where, with God’s help, the waters parted so that His chosen people might cross the sea on foot. [55]

In his section ‘The Tomb of Moses in Kashmir’, commencing on p. 45, Kersten argues that Kashmir was the actual ‘promised land’. Given the geographical names to be found there, it certainly appears to have become a later ‘promised land’ for the people of Israel. …. Kersten takes “five landmarks in relation to Moses’ burial site (Deuteronomy 34:1-7)”, namely, Mount Nebo (in the Abarim mountains), Mount Pisgah, Beth-peor, Heshbon and the plains of Moab, and claims – not entirely unconvincingly – to have found these same names “in one well defined location” of Kashmir. Beth-peor he identifies with Bandipur (“formerly Behat-poor”); Heshbon as Hasba or Hasbal, Mount Pisgah “now Pishnag”, plains of Moab, now “plains of Mowu”; and Mount Nebo, “also called Baal Nebu or Niltoop”. But that is not all. On p. 57 Kersten writes:

Of more immediate interest is the fact that well over 300 of the names of geographical features, of towns, regions and estates, and of tribes, clans, families and individuals in the Old Testament can be matched with linguistically related or phonetically similar names in Kashmir and its environs.

Here I give only a few of these names as listed by Kersten:

Name in Kashmir

Amal

Asheria

Attai

Gomer

Name in the Bible

Amal

Asher

Attai

Gomer

Bible Reference

1 Chronicles 7:35

Genesis 30:13

1 Chronicles 12:11

Genesis 10:2

Rather though than this being an Israelite influence in Kashmir at the time of Moses, it was more likely a Jewish influence about a millennium later, consequent upon the Babylonian Captivity, with a subsequent Jewish influx into Persia, Afghanistan and Kashmir. Perhaps this immigrant people, like the Afghanis who Kersten says (p. 56) “trace their lineage back to King Saul of Israel and call themselves “Ben-i-Israel”,” were in fact scattered members of Saul’s tribe of Benjamin taken captive from Judah. The Book of Esther (11:2) indeed records Benjaminites living in Persia’s capital of Susa; Queen Esther herself being one of them. Apropos to this situation. Kersten tells on p. 58:

The inhabitants of Kashmir are different from the other peoples of India in every respect. Their way of life, their behaviour, their morals, their character, their clothing, their language, customs and habits are all of a type that might be described as typically Israelite. Like present-day Israelis, the Kashmiris do not use fat for frying and baking: they use only oil. Most Kashmiris like boiled fish, called fari, eaten in remembrance of the time before their Exodus from Egypt – ‘We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely’ (Numbers 11:5).

Butchers’ knives in Kashmir are made in the half-moon shape typical of the Israelites, and even the rudders of the boat people (Hanjis) are of the similarly typical heart shape.

The men wear distinctive caps on their heads. The clothing of the old women of Kashmir (pandtanis) is very similar to that of Jewish women, and like them they also wear headscarves and laces. Like young Jewish girls, the girls of Kashmir dance in two facing columns with linked arms, moving together forwards and backwards to the rhythm. They call their songs rof .

After bearing a child, a woman of Kashmir observes forty days’ seclusion for purification; this, too, is a Jewish custom (Leviticus 12). Many of the older graves in Kashmir are aligned in the east-west orientation, whereas Islamic graves normally point north-south. A great number of such graves are to be found in Haran, Rajpura, Syed Bladur, Sahib, Kukar Nagh and Awantipura. In the cemetery at Bijbihara, the place where the bath and stone of Moses are located. There is also an old grave that has an inscription in Hebrew.

The Flood

Moses’ burial is thought by the locals to have occurred in Kashmir in that defined region that we discussed earlier in connection with Mount Nebo. And Solomon’s Temple is said to have been built there [50]. P. 49: “Kashmir is still known among the local Muslim population as Bagh-i-Suleiman, the ‘Garden of Solomon’.”

As for the Flood, since more than 250 versions of it have been recorded worldwide – indicating a common human ancestry (which is supported genetically, via mitachondrial DNA) – it is to be expected that India would also have its own version. Indeed it is given in the Vedas (the Indian equivalent of the Old Testament). Thus Kersten (p. 52):

The gods had decided to cleanse the world with an enormous flood, but Manu, the great seer and sage, was to be exempted in order to preserve the human race. The god Vishnu thereupon took on an earthly incarnation for the first time as an avatar, in the form of the fish Matsya, and revealed himself to Manu on the bank of a river. The fish warned Manu that the earth was soon to be submerged, and that everyone living on it would perish. He ordered the sage to build a ship to carry himself and his family, as well as the seven great Rishis (seers), the seed of every plant, and one pair of each kind of animal. And he was also to take the Vedas, to ensure that the sacred texts were preserved.

Just as the construction of the ship was completed, the great rains began, the rivers burst their banks, and Vishnu as the fish positioned himself at the prow of the boat, his horn above the water. Manu fastened a rope to the horn, and the fish pulled the ship safely through the raging elements until they found shelter on the peaks of the Himalayan mountains (cf Genesis 6-8). The Vedic Flood lasted 40 days – a duration that coincides exactly with that described in the account of the Flood in Genesis.

The Indian account distinguishes between the hero’s family and seven sages; whereas according to the Genesis account, Noah’s saved family members numbered seven (with Noah being the eighth). Noah was, according to St. Peter (2 Peter 2:5) “the eighth preacher of righteousness”.

The Indian hero takes on board also the sacred Vedic texts; just as Jewish tradition has it that Noah took on board the Ark the sacred records of his ancestors (or toledôt).

In one account of the Flood in Polynesia “the hero is”, according to Kersten (p. 52), “even called Noa”.

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