Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Mesh (Mitra) and ṛtá (arta)

Posted by Fredsvenn on March 21, 2014

Mitra (Sanskrit Mitrá) is an important divinity of Indic culture, and the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings. He is a figure of the Rigveda, distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of ṛtá. The word ṛtá, order, is also translated as “season”.

There may be some relation with the Zoroastrian divinity Mithra (Mitra), possibly descending from a Proto-Indo-Iranian mitra, “contract” or “binder”. He is originally ‘agreement’ (between tribes) personified.

Mithra (Avestan: Mitra, Old Persian: Miça) is the Zoroastrian angelic divinity (yazata) of covenant and oath. In addition to being the divinity of contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing protector of Truth, and the guardian of cattle, the harvest and of the Waters.

The term Mithra is from the Avestan language. In Middle Iranian languages (Middle Persian, Parthian etc.), Mithra became Mihr, from which Modern Persian Mihr, Northern Pashto Nwar, Waziri Pashto Myer and Armenian Mihr/Mher ultimately derive.

The Indo-Iranian word mitra-m means “covenant, contract, oath, or treaty”, and only later on, “friend” (retaining the original neuter gender, mitram). The second sense tends to be emphasized in later sources, the first sense in the Veda and in Iranian.

The word is derived from a root mi- “to fix, to bind” (Indo-European Hmei), with the “tool suffix” -tra- (compare man-tra-), a contract is thus described as a “means of binding.” The use of ‘mitra’ to mean friend, may therefore be a shortening of the term ‘bond of friendship’.

Mitra and Varuna are two deities (devas) frequently referred to in the ancient Indian scripture of the Rigveda. They are both considered Adityas, or deities connected with the Sun; and they are protectors of the righteous order of rta. Their connection is so close that they are frequently linked in the dvandva compound Mitra–Varuna.

Varuna and Mitra are the gods of the societal affairs including the oath, and are often twinned Mitra-Varuna (a dvandva compound). Varuna is also twinned with Indra in the Rigveda, as Indra-Varuna (when both cooperate at New Year in re-establishing order).

In Vedic religion, Varuna, or Waruna, is a god of the water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law of the underwater world. A Makara is his mount. In Hindu mythology, Varuna continued to be considered the god of all forms of the water element, particularly the oceans. Together with Mitra he is being master of ṛtá, he is the supreme keeper of order and god of the law.

Varuna is often compared to the Greek god Poseidon and the Roman god Neptune as they are all water deities who ride on celestial sea animals. Varuna rides on the Makara while Poseidon rides on the Ketos. They both are sometimes depicted as wielding nooses and tridents, and are both considered an elder brother to the ruling deities in Vedic and Greek mythology respectively: Indra and Zeus.

As chief of the Adityas, Varuna has aspects of a solar deity though, when opposed to Mitra (Vedic term for Surya), he is rather associated with the night, and Mitra with the daylight. As the most prominent Deva, however, he is mostly concerned with moral and societal affairs than being a deification of nature.

In the Vedic religion, Ṛta (Sanskrit “that which is properly joined; order, rule; truth”) is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders.

Ṛta is derived from the Sanskrit verb root ṛ- “to go, move, rise, tend upwards”, and the derivative noun ṛtam is defined as “fixed or settled order, rule, divine law or truth”. The word is attested in Old Persian as arta.

As Mahony (1998) notes, however, the term can just as easily be translated literally as “that which has moved in a fitting manner”, abstractly as “universal law” or “cosmic order”, or simply as “truth”. The latter meaning dominates in the Avestan cognate to Ṛta, aša.

The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’.

The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

Artashat (Armenian: Արտաշատ; Hellenized as Artaxata), is a city on Araks River in the Ararat valley, 30 km southeast of Yerevan. Being one of the oldest cities of Armenia, Artashat is the capital of Ararat Province.

Modern Artashat is situated on the Yerevan-Nakhichevan-Baku and Nakhichevan-Tabriz railway and on Yerevan-Goris-Stepanakert highway. The name of the city is derived from Iranian languages and means the “joy of Arta”.

Founded by King Artashes I in 176 BC, Artashat served as the capital of the Kingdom of Armenia from 185 BC until 120 AD, and was known as the “Vostan Hayots” or “court” or “seal of the Armenians.”

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC identified with Aleppo, or Arev, meaning sun, in Armenian.

Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show.

Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus. The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, in the Ebla tablets when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

Armani, Arman or Armanum, was an important Bronze Age city-kingdom during the late third millennium BC located in northern Syria, identified with the city of Aleppo. Aleppo was the capital of the independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, Naram-Sin of Akkad mentions Arman or Armani as a city that he sacked along with Ebla, this Armani was identified by some scholars with Armi.

Knowledge about Armi comes from the Ebla tablets and while most historians identify Armi with Aleppo. Historians who disagree with the identification of Akkadian Arman with aleppo, place it (along with Akkadian Ebla) north of the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq.

Armi was a vassal kingdom for Ebla, it had its own kings, it worked as a trade center and Trading intermediary for Ebla, the kingdom had a religious Importance, The main temple of the storm god Hadad was located on the citadel hill in the center of the city, and the city was known as the city of Hadad .

Armi was the most quoted city in Ebla texts, Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego, however the relations between the two cities is complicated, for it wasn’t always peaceful, the texts of Ebla mentions gifts exchange between the kings but it also mentions wars between the two kingdoms.

The complicated relations between Ebla and Armi is very similar to the relations between Ebla and Mari, the eblan texts mentions two interdynastic marriages with the son of the king of Nagar and that of Kish, but despite very close relations between Ebla and Armi an interdynastic marriage is never attested.

During its last years, Ebla in alliance with Nagar and Kish conducted a great military expedition against Armi and occupied it, Ibbi-Sipish son Enzi-Malik resided in Armi.

Naram-Sin mentions that he captured the king of Arman when he sacked the city. Naram-Sin gives a long description about his siege of armani, his destruction of its walls and the capturing of its king Rid-Adad.

Astour believes that the destruction of Syrian Ebla and Armi couldn’t have occurred on the hands of Naram-Sin and would have happened c. 2290 BC during the reign of Lugal-zage-si, if Naram-Sin was the destroyer of the Syrian Ebla and Armi then the event can be dated to c. 2240 BC, in all cases, its a confirmed fact that the whole of northern Syria including Ebla and Armi was part of the Akkadian empire during the reign of Naram-Sin.

After the fall of the Akkadian Empire the city recovered and emerged in the 18th century BC as the capital of the kingdom of Yamhad.

Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-. Muṣaṣir (Assyrian Mu-ṣa-ṣir and variants, including Mutsatsir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake ), in Urartian Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin) was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC.

The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were the chief god Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk, the god of Ardini, the god of sky and storm Teshub, the god of Kumenu, and the sun god Shivini, or Artinis, the god of Tushpa, the 9th-century BC capital of Urartu, later becoming known as Van which is derived from Biaina the native name of Urartu.

Shivini, or Artinis, (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day) was a solar god in the mythology of the Urartu. He is the third god in a triad with Khaldi and Theispas and is cognate with Shiva in Hinduism.

Shiva is regarded as one of the primary forms of God, such as one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer” among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva of the highest level is limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. However, Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms.

In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and His three children, Ganesha, Kartikeya, and Asokasundari, or as the Cosmic Dancer.

In fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. The most recognizable iconographical attributes of the God is a third eye on his forehead, a snake around his neck, the crescent moon adorning and the river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his instrument.

The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini. He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription.

Shivini is generally considered a good god, like that of the Egyptian solar god, Aten, and unlike the solar god of the Assyrians, Ashur to whom sometimes human sacrifices were made.

Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup, in the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.” Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia.

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El.

It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC (the Kelashin Stele). The city’s tutelary deity was Ḫaldi, (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini.

Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) panthenon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, shakti. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Since Shiva is called Kāla – the eternal time – Kālī, his consort, also means “Time” or “Death” (as in time has come). Hence, Kāli is the Goddess of Time and Change.

Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”). Kāla primarily means “time” but also means “black” in honor of being the first creation before light itself. Kālī means “the black one” and refers to her being the entity of “time” or “beyond time.” Kāli is strongly associated with Shiva, and Shaivas derive the masculine Kāla (an epithet of Shiva) to come from her feminine name.

Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation of evil forces still has some influence. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman.

She is also revered as Bhavatārini (literally “redeemer of the universe”). Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. Kālī is represented as the consort of Lord Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing. Shiva lies in the path of Kali, whose foot on Shiva subdues her anger. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (Parvati).

Hayk, or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (410 to 490).

The figure slain by Hayk’s arrow is variously given as Bel or Nimrod. Hayk is also the name of the Orion constellation in the Armenian translation of the Bible. Just as Hayk fled from Babylon because of Bel, whom he eventually killed, so Zeus had escaped to the mountains of the Caucasus, later to return to Sicily and hurl fatal arrows into the bodies of his titanic foes. Some Armenians hold that the Greek stories of Hercules are based on Hayk.

Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa was a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms of Armenian Highlands, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa. The Hayasa-Azzi confederation was in conflict with the Hittite Empire in the 14th century BC, leading up to the collapse of Hatti around 1190 BC.

The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis. The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian).

Some historians find it sound to theorize that after the Phrygian invasion of Hittites, the theoretically named Armeno-Phrygians would have settled in Hayasa-Azzi, and merged with the local people, who were possibly already spread within the western regions of Urartu.

After the fall of the latter, and the rise of the Kingdom of Armenia under the Artaxiad dynasty, Hayasan nobility (given they were truly Armenian) would have assumed control of the region and the people would have adopted their language to complete the amalgamation of the proto-Armenians, giving birth to the nation of Armenia as we know it today.

The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is a landlocked exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Armenian tradition says that Nakhchivan was founded by Noah.

The oldest material culture artifacts found in the region date back to the Neolithic Age. The region was part of the states of Mannae, Urartu and Media. It became part of the Satrapy of Armenia under Achaemenid Persia c. 521 BC.

According to the 19th-century language scholar, Johann Heinrich Hübschmann, the name “Nakhichavan” in Armenian literally means “the place of descent”, a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah’s Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat.

First century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also writes about Nakhichevan, saying that its original name “Αποβατηριον, or Place of Descent, is the proper rendering of the Armenian name of this very city”.

Hübschmann notes, however, that it was not known by that name in antiquity. Instead, he states the present-day name evolved to “Nakhchivan” from “Naxčavan”. The prefix “Naxč” was a name and “avan” is Armenian for “town”.

Nakhchivan was also mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography and by other classical writers as Naxuana. Modern historian Suren Yeremyan disputes this assertion, arguing that ancient Armenian tradition placed Nakhichevan’s founding to the year 3669 BC and, in ascribing its establishment to Noah, that it took its present name after the Armenian phrase “Nakhnakan Ichevan”, or “first landing.”

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. A “possible reflex” has been suggested in Sanskrit Āraṭṭa or Arāṭṭa mentioned in the Mahabharata and other texts.

The Bible says that Noah’s ark landed on the mountains of Ararat. This does not refer to any specific mountain or peak, but rather a mountain range within the region of Ararat, which was the name of an ancient kingdom of Urartu. Nonetheless, one particular tradition identifies the mountain as Mount Masis, the highest peak in the Armenian Highland, which is therefore called Mount Ararat.

Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span.

The word “Mashu” itself may translate as “two mountains”, from the Babylonian for twins. The “twins”, in Semitic mythology, were also often seen as two mountains, one at the eastern edge of the world (in the lower Zagros), the other at the western edge of the world (in the Taurus), and one of these seem to have had an Iranian location.

Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli) or Kangrinboqe is the name of the central world-mountain in Buddhist cosmology. Etymologically, the proper name of the mountain is Meru (Pāli Neru), to which is added the approbatory prefix su-, resulting in the meaning “excellent Meru” or “wonderful Meru”.

The concept of Sumeru is closely related to the Hindu mythological concept of a central world mountain, called Meru, but differs from the Hindu concept in several particulars.

Mount Meru, also called Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli) or Kangrinboqe to which is added the approbatory prefix su-, resulting in the meaning “excellent Meru” or “wonderful Meru” and Mahameru i.e. “Great Meru”, is a sacred mountain with five peaks in Hindu, Jain as well as Buddhist cosmology and is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.

Many famous Hindu and similar Jain as well as Buddhist temples have been built as symbolic representations of this mountain. The highest point (the finial bud) on the pyatthat, a Burmese-style multi-tiered roof, represents Mount Meru.

Samuel Noah Kramer suggested that the concept of a Garden of the gods or a divine paradise might be of Sumerian origin. The concept of this home of the immortals was later handed down to the Babylonians who conquered Sumer.

Bohl has highlighted that the word Mashu in Sumerian means “twins”. Jensen and Zimmern thought it to be the geographical location between Mount Lebanon and Mount Hermon in the Anti-Lebanon range.

Edward Lipinski and Peter Kyle McCarter have suggested that the garden of the gods relates to a mountain sanctuary in the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges. Other scholars have found a connection between the Cedars of Lebanon in the forest of the Cedars of God and the garden of the gods. The location of garden of the gods is close to the forest.

Masis is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural ‘Masiq’) may refer to both peaks. The History of Armenia derives the name from a king Amasya, the great-grandson of the Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after his own name.

In Sumerian mythology, a me (Sumerian, conventionally pronounced [mɛ]) or ñe [ŋɛ] or parşu (Akkadian, [parsˤu]) is one of the decrees of the gods foundational to those social institutions, religious practices, technologies, behaviors, mores, and human conditions that make civilization, as the Sumerians understood it, possible. They are fundamental to the Sumerian understanding of the relationship between humanity and the gods.

The Mushki were an Iron Age people of Anatolia, known from Assyrian sources. They do not appear in Hittite records. Two different groups are called Muški in the Assyrian sources (Diakonoff 1984:115), one from the 12th to 9th centuries, located near the confluence of the Arsanias and the Euphrates (“Eastern Mushki”), and the other in the 8th to 7th centuries, located in Cappadocia and Cilicia (“Western Mushki”). Assyrian sources identify the Western Mushki with the Phrygians, while Greek sources clearly distinguish between Phrygians and Moschoi.

Identification of the Eastern with the Western Mushki is uncertain, but it is of course possible to assume a migration of at least part of the Eastern Mushki to Cilicia in the course of the 10th to 8th centuries, and this possibility has been repeatedly suggested, variously identifying the Mushki as speakers of a Georgian, Armenian or Anatolian idiom.

The Eastern Muski appear to have moved into Hatti in the 12th century, completing the downfall of the collapsing Hittite state, along with various Sea Peoples. They established themselves in a post-Hittite kingdom in Cappadocia.

Whether they moved into the core Hittite areas from the east or west has been a matter of some discussion by historians. Some speculate that they may have originally occupied a territory in the area of Urartu; alternatively, ancient accounts suggest that they first arrived from a homeland in the west (as part of the Armeno-Phrygian migration), from the region of Troy, or even from as far as Macedonia, as the Bryges.

The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture notes that “the Armenians according to Diakonoff, are then an amalgam of the Hurrian (and Urartians), Luvians and the Proto-Armenian Mushki (or Armeno-Phrygians) who carried their IE language eastwards across Anatolia.”

Maat or ma’at (thought to have been pronounced, also spelled māt or mayet, was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her (ideological) counterpart was Isfet.

The earliest surviving records indicating Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BC).

Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth and their attributes are the same. After the rise of Ra they were depicted together in the Solar Barque.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls that took place in the underworld, Duat. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.

Pharaohs are often depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.

Ra, or Re, is the ancient Egyptian solar deity. By the Fifth Dynasty (2494 to 2345 BC) he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the midday sun. The meaning of the name is uncertain, but it is thought that if not a word for ‘sun’ it may be a variant of or linked to words meaning ‘creative power’ and ‘creator’.

The major cult centre of Ra was Heliopolis (called Iunu, “Place of Pillars”, in Egyptian), where he was identified with the local sun-god Amun. Through Amun, or as Amun-Ra, he was also seen as the first being and the originator of the Ennead, consisting of Shu and Tefnut, Geb and Nut, Osiris, Set, Isis and Nephthys.

Originally, Wusun probably sounded more like Asman (ah-sman < asman, or o-sən, uo-sen or ah-swē depending on the authors) suggesting that they may have been the Asii of Geographica.

Around 107 BCE a Han princess married to the Usun Hunmo composed a song that called the Wusun country a Sky (Tian) country, and in China the Wusun horses (Usun ma) were called heavenly horses (Tian ma). Ptolemy (VI, 14, 177 CE) knew an Asman tribe, located east of the Volga River.

The Chinese name Wusun literally means Wu = ‘crow’ or ‘raven’ + Sun = ‘grandson’. Through the legend of an infant son, left in the wild, miraculously saved from hunger by suckling from a she-wolf, and being fed meat by ravens, they shared a similar ancestor myth with the ruling Ashina clan of the Göktürks (Asena legend), and many other Eurasian peoples. See, for example, the legend of Romulu and Remus and the founding of Rome.

According to Chinese archaeologists, the excavated skeletal remains of a people presumed to be the Wusun are of the short-headed Europoid Central Asian interfluvial type. On the basis of six skulls from the first century BC/AD found at Semirech’e (Zhetysu) and presumed to be those of the Wusun, Soviet archaeologists have described them ranging from primarily Europoid with some Mongoloid admixture to pure Europeans.

Asii, also written Asioi, were one of the Indo-European tribes mentioned in Roman and Greek accounts as responsible for the downfall of the state of Bactria circa 140 BCE. These tribes are usually identified as “Scythian”, “Saka” or Tocharian peoples.

The Asii/Asiani may simply be a transcription of the Issedones of Herodotus. Taishan Yu proposes that Asii were “probably” the dominant tribe of the confederacy of four tribes “from the time that they had settled in the valleys of the Ili and Chu” who later invaded Sogdiana and Bactria.

“This would account for their being called collectively “Issedones” by Herodotus.” He also states that the “Issedon Scythia and the Issedon Serica took their names from the Issedones.” Yu believes that the Issedones must have migrated to the Ili and Chu valleys, “at the latest towards the end of the 7th century B.C.”

The Asii/Asiani have also been identified with the Alans – i.e. a western Central Asian population, rather than the Yuezhi-Tochari of eastern Bactria – from whom the modern Ossetians derive their name.

The Asii have also been identified with the Sanskrit Asiagh. According to Kautilya they were “The people who depended on Asii (sword) for their living”.

The Aswa or Asvaka people are generally believed to be a sub-section of the wider Kamboja group, a widespread tribe of horsemen inhabiting both sides of the Hindukush mountains.

The Yuezhi or Rouzhi were an ancient Central Asian people who originally settled in the arid grasslands of the eastern Tarim Basin area, in what is today Xinjiang and western Gansu, in China, before they migrated to Transoxiana, Bactria and then northern South Asia, where one branch of the Yuezhi founded the Kushan Empire.

The name is formed from yuè “moon” and shì “clan”. According to the Kangxi Dictionary, it referred to a country beyond China’s borders.

The first known references to the Yuezhi are contained in the Yizhoushu, Guanzi (73, 78, 80 and 81) and Tale of King Mu, Son of Heaven. The dates of the most common version of this book are disputed, however, and it may date to as late as the 1st century BCE.

Unlike the neighbouring Xiongnu dynasty, who were also nomadic, the Yuezhi did not engage in conflict with the nearby Chinese states. Rather, the book described the Yuzhi, or Niuzhi, as a people from the northwest who supplied jade to the Chinese.

The supply of jade from the Tarim Basin from ancient times is indeed well documented archaeologically: “It is well known that ancient Chinese rulers had a strong attachment to jade. All of the jade items excavated from the tomb of Fuhao of the Shang dynasty, more than 750 pieces, were from Khotan in modern Xinjiang.

Xi Wangmu (Hsi Wang-mu; literally “Queen Mother of the West”) is a Chinese goddess known from the ancient times.

The growing popularity of the Queen Mother of the West, as well as the beliefs that she was the dispenser of prosperity, longevity, and eternal bliss took place during the second century BCE when the northern and western parts of China were able to be better known because of the opening of the Silk Routes.(Mair, 2006)

From her name alone some of her most important characteristics are revealed: she is royal, female, and is associated with the west. Originally, from the earliest known depictions of her in the “Guideways of Mountains and Seas” during the Zhou Dynasty, she was a ferocious goddess with the teeth of a tiger, who sent Pestilence down upon the world. After she was adopted into the Taoist pantheon, she was transformed into the goddess of life and immortality.

The Queen Mother of the West usually is depicted holding court within her palace on the mythological Mount Kunlun, usually supposed to be in western China (a modern Mount Kunlun is named after this). Her palace is believed to be a perfect and complete paradise, where it was used as a meeting place for the deities and a cosmic pillar where communications between deities and humans were possible.

The Kunlun mountains are believed to be a paradise of Taoism. The first to visit this paradise was, according to the legends, King Mu (976-922 BCE) of the Zhou Dynasty. He supposedly discovered there the Jade Palace of Huang-Di, the mythical Yellow Emperor and originator of Chinese culture, and met Hsi Wang Mu (Xi Wang Mu), the ‘Spirit Mother of the West’ usually called the ‘Queen Mother of the West’, who was the object of an ancient religious cult which reached its peak in the Han Dynasty, also had her mythical abode in these mountains.

One Chinese myth tells a story about Mu, who dreamed of being an immortal god. He was determined to visit the heavenly paradise and taste the peaches of immortality. A brave charioteer named Zaofu used his chariot to carry the king to his destination. The Mu Tianzi Zhuan, a fourth-century BC romance, describes Mu’s visit to Xi Wangmu.

Probably one of the best known stories of contact between a goddess and a mortal ruler is between King Mu of the Zhou Dynasty and the Queen Mother of the West. There are several different accounts of this story but they all agree that King Mu, one of the greatest rulers of the Zhou, set out on a trip with his eight chargers to the far western regions of his empire. As he obtains the eight chargers and has the circuit of his realm, it proves that he has the Mandate of Heaven.

On his journey he encounters the Queen Mother of the West on the mythical Mount Kunlun. They then have a love affair, and King Mu hoping to obtain immortality, gives the Queen Mother important national treasures. In the end he must return to the human realm, and does not receive immortality.

The relationship between the Queen Mother of the West and King Mu has been compared to that of Taoist master and disciple.(Bernard, 2000: 206) She passes on secret teaching to him at his request and he, the disciple, fails to benefit, and dies like any other mortal.

The Bamboo Annals record that in the 9th year of reign of the legendary Chinese ruler Shun, “messengers from the western Wang-mu (Queen Mother) came to do him homage.”

Shun, also known as Emperor Shun and Chonghua, was a legendary leader of ancient China, and one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors.

Shun’s ancestral name is Yao, his clan name is Youyu. His given name was Chonghua. Shun is sometimes referred to as the Great Shun or as Yu Shun. The “Yu” in “Yu Shun” was the name of the fiefdom, which Shun received from Yao; thus, providing him the title of “Shun of Yu”).

According to traditional sources, Shun received the mantle of leadership from Emperor Yao at the age of 53, and then died at the age of 100 years. Before his death Shun is recorded as relinquishing his seat of power to Yu: an event which is supposed to have eventuated in the establishment of the Xia Dynasty. Shun’s capital was located in Puban, presently located in Shanxi).

Yu the Great (c. 2200 – 2100 BC), was a legendary ruler in ancient China famed for his introduction of flood control, inaugurating dynastic rule in China by founding the Xia Dynasty, and for his upright moral character. Yu and other “sage-kings” of Ancient China were lauded by Confucius and other Chinese teachers, who praised their virtues and morals

The Xunzi, a third-century BCE classic of statecraft written by a follower of Confucius, wrote that “Yu studied with the Queen Mother of the West”. This passage refers to Yu the Great, the legendary founder of the Xia dynasty, and posits that the Queen Mother of the West was Yu’s teacher. It is believed that she grants Yu both legitimacy, and the right to rule, and the techniques necessary for ruling.

The fact that she taught Yu gives her enormous power, since the belief in Chinese thinking is that the teacher automatically surpasses the pupil in seniority and wisdom.

Avestan aša and its Vedic equivalent ṛtá both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian ṛtá- “truth”, which in turn continues Proto-Indo-European h2r-to- “properly joined, right, true”, from the root h2ar. The word is attested in Old Persian as arta.

The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”.

It is unclear whether the Avestan variation between aša and arta is merely orthographical. Benveniste suggested š was only a convenient way of writing rt and should not be considered phonetically relevant.

According to Gray, š is a misreading, representing – not /ʃ/ – but /rr/, of uncertain phonetic value but “probably” representing a voiceless r. Miller suggested that rt was restored when a scribe was aware of the morpheme boundary between the /r/ and /t/ (that is, whether the writer maintained the –ta suffix).

Avestan druj, like its Vedic Sanskrit cousin druh, appears to derive from the PIE root dhreugh, also continued in Persian “lie”, German Trug “fraud, deception”. Old Norse draugr and Middle Irish airddrach mean “spectre, spook”. The Sanskrit cognate druh means “affliction, afflicting demon”.

The Romans attributed their Mithraic Mysteries (the mystery religion known as Mithraism) to Persian or Zoroastrian sources relating to Mithra. However, since the early 1970s, the dominant scholarship has noted dissimilarities, and those mysteries are now qualified as a distinct Roman product.

Mithras is a Greek form of the name of an Indo-European god, Mithra or Mitra (Old Persian, Mica). Roman writers believed that Mithraism came from Persia and that Mithraic iconography represented Persian mythology. Mithraism was once called the Mysteries of Mithras or Mysteries of the Persians.

In Rome, Mithras was a sun god, and, in Persia, he was a god of the morning sun. The Roman Mithras killed the Primeval Bull, mirroring the death of a Primeval Bull in the Persian religion.

The Roman Mithras wore a Phrygian cap. Phrygia was in the Persian empire for 200 years. Modern scholars have traced Mithras in Persian, Mittanian and Indian mythology.

The Mitanni gave us the first written reference to Mithras in a treaty with the Hittites. These and much more suggest a continuity of belief from India to Rome in a myth of a sun god killing a bull.

Maitreya (Sanskrit), Metteyya (Pāli), Maithree (Sinhala), Jampa (Tibetan) or Di-Lặc (Vietnamese), is regarded as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he is referred to as Ajita Bodhisattva.

The notion of a universal principle of natural order is by no means unique to the Vedas, and Ṛta has been compared to similar ideas in other cultures, such as Ma’at in Ancient Egyptian religion, Moira and the Logos in Greek paganism, and the Tao.

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