Stories of long lost civilizations, paradisiacal lands and hidden centres of esoteric knowledge are part of most ancient cultures. Is there any truth in these legends?
What if our ancestors were not the great apes scientific evolutionists would have us believe? And what if civilizations far advanced than ours peopled by superhuman beings flourished on earth long before the dawn of history? That hidden communities of realized adepts shape our planet’s destiny from earthly paradises built upon power spots is a view long held in spiritual traditions, which is now gaining currency among New Agers and alternative thinkers. Even though these myths might seem like speculative scenarios from sci-fi films, they are being taken seriously by those who believe that the truth is out there.
In his 1933 novel The Lost Horizon: Shangri La, author James Hilton told the tale of a hidden paradise in the Himalayas—Shangri La, the valley where no one grows old. The Tibetan myth of Shambhala was thus etched in the western imagination.
Shambhala is believed to exist even now, hidden from the world by a psychic barrier. Nicholas Roerich, the eminent Russian artist and poet who travelled extensively in the Himalayas, believed Shambhala to be the hidden principle uniting all religious traditions.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Shambhala is the source of an esoteric branch of mysticism called the Kalachakra, and great gurus are believed to visit Shambhala to receive these teachings. The myth also finds mention in the indigenous Bon tradition of Tibet, where it is known as Olmolungring.
Shambhala is described as being made of eight regions arranged in a mandala of an eight-petalled lotus, each region being surrounded by a ring of snow-clad mountains. In the innermost ring lives the king, who represents the Kalachakra’s deity. The cosmic mountain Meru and the tree of life are located in that centre of Shambhala. The latter is held to be the cosmic axis that unites heaven, earth and the underworld. Says religious historian Mircea Eliade: “The summit of the cosmic mountain is not only the highest point of the earth, it is also the earth’s navel, the point at which the creation began.”
According to French Sufi scholar Rene Guenon, Shambhala is a centre of high evolutionary energies located in central Asia. Guenon believes that Shambhala exists both below and above the ground, and that there is a vast underground network of tunnels beneath it where Agarttha, a centre of secret initiations, is located. Guenon likens Shambhala-Agarttha to a major earth chakra where immense power is concentrated. He accords it the status of the world’s secret government, the source of all wisdom, yoga and tantra.
Shambhala is said to exist simultaneously in the material, psychic and spiritual dimensions. Only realised beings can enter it, since certain features of the kingdom are accessible only to an advanced clairvoyant vision. It is said that the inner circle of adepts in Shambhala keeps a record of earth’s geological history. Inhabitants of Shambhala are fabled to have developed advanced technology and paranormal abilities by focussing planetary energies.
According to the Kalachakra prophecy, the last Shambhala king Rudra Chakrin, an incarnation of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, and a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, will defeat the forces of evil at the end of Kaliyuga and establish a Golden Age through planetary initiation. Some legends equate him with Kalki, the doomsday avatar of Vishnu.
New Agers connect this prophecy to Nostradamus’ prediction of the emergence of a young Indian leader who will restore sacred order in the world. The Shambhala prophecy is also believed to be the source of legends of a future messiah in all religions. Many lamas believe this may happen around 2012, which is also the end of the Mayan calendar.
Paramahansa Yogananda, in his Autobiography of a Yogi, writes about his guru’s guru’s guru, Mahavatar Babaji, an immortal sage of great age who remains forever young. Yogananda mentions the sage’s abode to be a spot pulsating with the energy of siddhas and yogis—Gyanganj.
Hidden in a valley somewhere in the Himalayas, Gyanganj or Siddhashram is supposed to be the abode of immortal saints with supernatural powers who silently and secretly guide humanity’s destiny. Sai Kaka, a yogi who claims to have visted Gyanganj, says: “On the adhyatmic or spiritual level, it (Gyanganj) runs the universe. On the adhidevik or celestial level, the earth and water elements are absent, enabling powerful activity. At this level, Gyanganj impacts many planes (of existence) and beings. On the adhibhautic or gross level, Gyanganj siddhas guide human beings in spiritual and social fields.”
Available accounts place Gyanganj north of Kailash-Manasarovar in Tibet. It is also believed to exist on a higher plane. References to it are found in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Gopinath Kaviraj, in his book Siddhabhoomi Gyanganj, details the place and its superhuman inhabitants. He talks about the experience of his guru, Swami Vishudhananda, who visited Gyanganj to learn surya vigyan or solar science. This knowledge empowered him to manifest objects and transform one object into another by manipulating the rays of the sun.
In his autobiography, Yogananda describes his encounter with Swami Vishudhananda in Calcutta where he witnessed the master creating perfumes out of thin air. Paul Brunton, in his “A Search in Secret India”, claimed that he not only witnessed Vishudhananda create perfumes but also bring a dead bird back to life.
The legendary lost continent Lemuria or Mu is said to be the original Garden of Eden and cradle of the human race. Philosopher Rudolf Steiner described Lemuria as the telepathic ‘third root race’. Early Lemurians are credited with founding the civilisation of Atlantis. Lemurians were evolved mystics and some think that they were not fully physical beings but made of finer matter.
In anticipation of the cataclysm that destroyed Atlantis, the Lemurians built underground shelters to preserve their wisdom. They emerged from the earth afterwards and spread out across the planet to seed future civilisations. Lemurians are said to be the ancestors of Native American cultures who preserved their knowledge. The Andes in Peru were part of the Lemurian civilisation, and the Lemurians sought out natural caverns and power spots in the Andes where they stored sacred knowledge. The Inca city of Machu Picchu is believed to be one such spot.
“There occurred violent earthquakes and floods, and in a single day and night of rain all your warlike men in a body sunk into the earth, and the island of Atlantis was sunk beneath the sea.” This is an account of the destruction of Atlantis by Plato in his Dialogues written between 370 and 350 BC. The myth of Atlantis is a baffling tale of an ancient island continent, home to a super civilization founded by god-like beings, destroyed by earthquakes probably triggered by misuse of technology.
This myth still survives, despite debunking attempts from sceptics and scientists. Poseidon, the Greek sea god, is believed to have founded Atlantis with his children born of Cleito, daughter of primitive inhabitants of the island. The couple gave birth to five pairs of male twins, the eldest being Atlas, the Titan who supported the sky in Greek mythology, and after whom the surrounding ocean was called Atlantic and the island, Atlantis.
Atlantis was a land of immense natural and mineral wealth. Atlanteans possessed not only spiritual and creative genius but also an extremely advanced science and technology. They built majestic temples, palaces and harbors. Apart from the Atlantic Ocean, Azores, Sahara, Antarctica, North and South America, Indonesia, Bimini and Malta have been touted as possible locations of Atlantis.
In modern times, interest in Atlantis skyrocketed with the publication of Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882 by Ignatius T.T. Donnelly, a US congressman. His theory was that Atlanteans laid the foundation of all world civilizations. This book was followed by Lewis Spence’s The Problem of Atlantis in 1924. Edgar Cayce, the ‘sleeping prophet’, spoke about Atlantis in his psychic readings, the most detailed of which revolved around the Atlantean use of an instrument called the Great Crystal.
Who were the Atlanteans? Madame Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, proposed that survivors of Lemuria established Atlantis. Plato thought Atlantis was founded by the root race of humanity, the Hyperboreans. Another theory is that extraterrestrials from the star systems of Pleiades and Sirius populated Atlantis.
Archaeologists dismiss the legend as fantasy, probably inspired by Thera, a volcanic island of Crete that was home to the Minoan civilization. Around 1500 BC, an explosion caused more than half the island to sink into the sea. But those who believe Atlantis was real argue that since Atlantean legends existed long before the Egyptian civilization, which came before the Minoans, Atlantis can’t be equated with either Thera or the Minoans.
Many New Agers consider Atlantis to be an ancient wisdom centre that was destroyed when its inhabitants became corrupted by materialism. The final upheaval was caused by the misuse of a technology based on crystal power through which Atlanteans manipulated the earth’s magnetic and gravitational power grids.
Spiritual adepts of Atlantis are thought to have escaped to different parts of the world before its destruction to preserve their precious knowledge. Occult scholars think these migrants from Atantis shaped ancient civilizations like the Egyptian, Native American, Mayan, Inca and Sumerian. Edgar Cayce predicted that the details of Atlantis would be found in a secret chamber underneath the left paw of the Sphinx in Egypt. Sonar readings have proved the existence of the room. Evidently, the last word on Atlantis is yet to be said.
The scientific community looks upon mythical fables of power spots as imaginative creations of ancient cultures. Most religious traditions consider them as spiritual metaphors of ascension of consciousness, though there are others who believe in their material existence. Considering the lack of concrete evidence, it is impossible to decide on the reality or otherwise of these legends.
But there are certain similarities between these myths that are intriguing. For instance, all legends talk of these centres manipulating the planet’s power currents. Interestingly, cutting-edge scientific research admits the possibility of an intricate network of gravitational and magnetic power grids crisscrossing the planet. Intersections of such grids could result in extreme concentrations of energy.
Scientists like Rupert Sheldrake, who have speculated about a planetary energy field similar to the human body’s Kundalini chakra system, are extending James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, which presents the earth as a dynamic organism. The prophecies of a planetary initiation could point to the emergence of a planetary consciousness in the near future.
Those who search for physical locations of these power spots seem to have missed an important fact. These legends could be read as coded morality tales created for future generations. Even advanced civilizations are doomed if they tamper with the delicate ecological balance of the planet, as in Atlantis. The ancient myths of Lemuria, Shambhala and Gyanganj too assert the importance of a holistic paradigm.
The only choice available to humanity if it wants to secure its future is to align its progress with the self-regulating dynamic web of the planet.
~ Prabhath P., article first published in the July 2003 issue of Life Positive Magazine