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QUEEN MOO AND THE EGYPTIAN SPHINX.
We infer the spirit of the nation in great measure from the language, which is a sort of monument to which each forcible individual in a course of many hundred years has contributed a stone.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, XX., "Nominalist and Realist.")
IN ages long lost in the abyss of time, when Aryan colonists had not yet established their first settlements on the banks of the river Saraswati in the Punjab, and the primitive Egyptian settlers in the valley of the Nile did not fancy, even in their most hopeful day-dreams, that their descendants would become the great people whose civilization was to be the cradle of that of Europe, there existed on the Western Continent a nation-the Maya-that had attained to a high degree of culture in arts and sciences.
Valmiki, in his beautiful epic the "Ramayana," which is said to have served as model to Homer's "Iliad," tells us that the Mayas were mighty navigators, whose ships travelled from the western to the eastern ocean, from the southern to the northern seas, in ages so remote that "the sun had not yet risen above the horizon; " that, being likewise great warriors, they conquered the southern parts of the Hindostanee
'Valmiki, Ramayana, Hippolyte Fauché's translation, vol. i., p. 353.
peninsula, and established themselves there; that, being also learned architects, they built great cities and palaces.1 These Mayas became known in after times under the names of Danavas,2 and are regarded by modern historians as aborigines of the country, or Nâgás as we shall see later on. Of these J. Talboys Wheeler in his "History of India" says: "The traditions of the Nâgás are obscure in the extreme; they point, however, to the existence of an ancient Nagá empire in the Dekkan, having its capital in the modern town of Nagpore, and it may be conjectured that, prior to the Aryan invasion, the Nâgá rajas exercised an imperial power over the greatest part of the Punjab and Hindostan. The Nágás, or serpent worshippers, who lived in crowded cities and were famous for their beautiful women and exhaustless treasures, were doubt
1 Valmiki, Ramayana, vol. ii., p. 26. "In olden times there was a prince of the Danavas, a learned magician endowed with great power; his name was Maya. It was he who, by magic art, constructed this golden grotto. He was the vicvakarma (“architect of the gods ") of the principal Danavas, and this superb palace of solid gold is the work of his hands."
Maya is mentioned in the Mahabharata as one of the six individuals who were allowed to escape with their life at the burning of the forest of Khandava, whose inhabitants were all destroyed.
We read in John Campbell Oman's work, The Great Indian Epics (p. 118): "Now, Maya was the chief architect of the Danavas, and in gratitude for his preservation built a wonderful sabha, or hall, for the Pandavas, the most beautiful structure of its kind in the whole world."
" Danava = Tan-ha-ba: Tan, "midst; " ha, "water;" ba, a compositive particle used to form reflexive desinences; "they who live in the midst of the water "-navigators.
This Maya etymon accords perfectly with what Professor John Campbell Oman in his work The Great Indian Epics, "Mahabharata " (p. 133), says with regard to the dwelling-place of the Danavas:
"Arjuna carried war against a tribe of the Danavas, the Nivata-Kavachas, who were very powerful, numbering thirty millions, whose principal city was Hiranyapura. They dwelt in the womb of the ocean." (The name Hiranyapura means in Maya "dragged in the middle of the water jar.") 'J. Talboys Wheeler, History of India, vol. iii., pp. 56–57.
less a civilized people living under an organized government. Indeed, if any inference can be drawn from the epic legends it would be that, prior to the Aryan conquest, the Nagá rajas were ruling powers, who had cultivated the arts of luxury to an extraordinary degree, and yet succeeded in maintaining a protracted struggle against the Aryan invaders."
Like the English of to-day, the Mayas sent colonists all over the earth. These carried with them the language, the traditions, the architecture, astronomy,1 cosmogony, and other sciences-in a word, the civilization of their mother country. It is this civilization that furnishes us with the means of ascertaining the role played by them in the universal history of the world. We find vestiges of it, and of their language, in all historical nations of antiquity in Asia, Africa, and Europe. They are still frequent in the countries where they flourished.
It is easy to follow their tracks across the Pacific to India, by the imprints of their hands dipped in a red liquid and pressed against the walls of temples, caves, and other places looked upon as sacred, to implore the benison of the gods-also by their name, Maya, given to the banana tree, symbol of their country, whose broad leaf is yet a token of hospitality
'H. T. Colebrooke, "Memoirs on the Sacred Books of India," Asiatic Researches, vol. ii., pp. 369–476, says: "Maya is considered as the author of the Sourya-Siddhanta, the most ancient treatise on astronomy in India. He is represented as receiving his science from a partial incarnation of the Sun." This work, on which all the Indian astronomy is founded, was discovered at Benares by Sir Robert Chambers. Mr. Samuel Davis partly translated it, particularly those sections which relate to the calculation of eclipses. It is a work of very great antiquity, since it is attributed to a Maya author whose astronomical rules show that he was well acquainted with trigonometry (Asiatic Researches, vol. ii., pp. 245–249), proving that abstruse sciences were cultivated in those remote ages, before the invasion of India by the Aryans. (See Appendix, note vi.)
2 Codex Cortesianus, plates 7 and 8.