In 1905 Albert Einstein turned the world of physics upside down—for the first time the world saw the now famous equation, E=MC². Einstein fundamentally altered our understanding of the physical universe by proving that all matter was essentially condensed energy.
The nineteenth century view of the physical world was primarily mechanical; all matter was considered solid and fundamentally immutable. Although matter was considered to be made up of infinitesimally small objects, these were seen as solid objects nonetheless, and were believed to obey the same basic laws as the sun and the planets. Time, too, was thought to be an unyielding constant throughout the universe, unaffected by changing conditions. In the nineteenth century the universe was seen as a very large machine, a clockwork of infinite size, functioning precisely and inexorably in its slow grandeur.
Today we hold a very different view of the physical world. All matter is understood to be energy in a condensed form. Not only do we consider matter mutable, we know that the tiniest atom is capable of being transmuted into vast amounts of energy. Both the incredibly destructive force of nuclear weapons, and the prodigious energy of nuclear power, testify to the profound implications of the deceptively simple equation E=MC².
Our view of the larger universe has also undergone a revolution. We now know that objects in space do not move in straight lines—because there are no straight lines. Space itself is curved and the universe is finite. No physical object can go faster than the speed of light. The speed of light is, in fact, the only constant in the universe—all else is measurable only in relation to that constant. Even time is understood to be relative to light.
The atom, previously conceived of as a constellation of tiny objects, like a miniature solar system with the nucleus taking the place of the sun (you probably made a model of one in sixth grade), has given way to a concept that cannot even be visualized. Physicists now conceive of the atom as a tiny area of space in which objects wink into and out of the quantum, sub-atomic world—a world where the very act of trying to observe the atom actually changes what is observed. Neils Bohr, the eminent early twentieth-century physicist and Nobel Prize winner, called the quantum world Potentia. Others have referred to it as quantum flux or quantum foam, an energetic maelstrom just below the threshold of measurable perception.
String theory, the latest “theory of everything,” goes even further. String theory posits that there are no actual physical structures at all, that even the unimaginably small sub-atomic structures that physicists try to study, such as quarks, are, in reality, made up of even smaller vibrating strings and rings of energy.
Just a little more than a hundred years ago we understood our world to be made up of matter, interacted with by energy. Now we understand our world to made up of energy, assuming the form of matter.
Today we are on the brink of another major conceptual change—this time, not in the field of physics, but in the field of history and the development of civilization. Just as Einstein overturned conventional thinking due to the anomalous, but undeniable fact that the speed of light is constant, history and archeology are similarly confronted with undeniable anomalies that are beginning to overturn conventional thinking about the course of man’s development.
The current theory of the development of mankind is linear, much as was the nineteenth century’s view of the universe. According to current theory, prior to roughly 8000 BC, mankind existed in wandering tribes of hunter-gatherers on the edge of survival. Sometime between 8000 BC and 3000 BC, mankind learned to cultivate crops and domesticate livestock. These agricultural skills are believed to have allowed groups of people to settle in one place permanently, and because they had adequate food supplies, to have significantly increased their chances of survival. Once populations were permanently settled, large structures were built for the first time, trading and commerce began, language developed, government became necessary, tools and implements became more complex and useful—and this development continued in a more or less straight line culminating in today’s modern civilization.
However, there are many facts that simply do not fit into the theory of mankind’s development as described above. Some of these anomalous facts that don’t fit into conventional theories have come to light recently as the result of applying modern scientific disciplines, such as DNA mapping and radiometric dating, to artifacts from the past. Other anomalous facts have been around so long that their very familiarity blurs their significance—but they are staring us right in the face!
The most famous structures in the world are the Pyramids of Giza, sited together with the enigmatic Sphinx. To this day, after thousands of years of conjecture, we still don’t know two of the most basic things about the pyramids: how they were built and why they were built.
Mainstream historians and archeologists maintain that the pyramids were built over two or three decades by thousands of workers, using simple tools. Even if we grant that a primitive culture could figure out how to transport the vast amounts of stone to the building site, we are still left with the mystery of how they cut, dressed, and placed 2.5 million blocks, at an average rate of one block every four minutes for twenty years. Some of these blocks weigh as much as 70 tons and were taken to a height nearly half that of the Empire State Building. Further, if conventional thinking is to be accepted, all this was accomplished using only wood, stone, or copper tools, and plaited ropes.
Even if a “primitive culture” can plausibly be shown capable of dealing with such major construction challenges, no one has been able to explain the degree of accuracy and skill achieved in the construction. Nor has anyone been able to explain how a “primitive culture” could have designed such complex structures (which needed to be designed in detail before they were begun), or how such a culture could have maintained the organizational commitment, for two or three decades, that was required to build the pyramids.
The accuracy and skill demonstrated by the construction of the pyramids is remarkable even by today’s standards. The base of the Great Pyramid, the largest of the three central pyramids, covers an area of thirteen acres, yet the level of its base does not vary more than five-eighths an inch. The joints between the stone blocks facing the pyramid are not mortared, and are cut so accurately that one cannot put something even as thin as a credit card between the stones.
Of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one still standing—and it may still be standing long after the skyscrapers of today fall down. It was built with amazing foresight: the site has been able to support the weight of the heaviest structure on earth for thousands of years, without the pyramid shifting or tipping.
Mainstream archeologists and historians date the construction of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza to approximately 2500 to 2900 BC, but there is intriguing evidence that the Great Sphinx may be far older than the Pyramids. The age of ancient structures is often determined by carbon dating any wood or organic material found in the structure, but the Sphinx is made entirely of stone, offering nothing to carbon date. However, the long-term weathering effects of wind and water on stone do give us a rough estimate. Geologist Dr. Robert Schoch, a well-respected scientist and a tenured member of Boston University’s faculty, makes a convincing argument that the results of water erosion found on the Sphinx indicate that it was carved at least 7,000 years ago, far, far earlier than accepted by conventional theory.
We might be excused for ignoring the significance of the Sphinx and the Pyramids, if they were the only anomalies that didn’t fit into a linear view of history and man’s development of civilization.
But there are many more anomalies.
Mainstream thinking has it that man learned to cultivate crops and domesticate animals in a period of a few thousand years (8000 to 3000 BC), more or less haphazardly, in isolated areas such as the Fertile Crescent, the Indus River Valley in Pakistan, or the Yellow River Valley in China. New scientific methods applied to artifacts unearthed in recently excavated archeological sites around the world, however, indicate that domesticated animals and cultivated grains existed far earlier than 8000 BC. Evidence of domesticated goats and sheep has been found in Afghanistan dating back to 13,000 BC, and recent research indicates that cultivated spelt grains found in Israel date to 21,000 BC.
Mainstream thinking has it that mankind learned to build structures gradually, by trial and error, learning from mistakes and often literally building on top of the older, cruder structures. This pattern of development holds true back to about 500 BC. Archeologists working under modern Rome have found, for example, that the more recent, upper layers of their excavations employ more sophisticated building techniques, and that the older, lower layers employ more primitive building techniques.
There are even older archeological finds, however, that reveal the pattern of development in reverse. In the ancient ruins of Mohenjo-daro, near the Indus River in Pakistan, the oldest layers (from approximately 3000 BC) revealed the most sophisticated buildings. City streets were laid out in straight lines with cross streets and formed a grid similar to that found in modern cities. Houses had running water, radiant heat, and systems for sanitation. There were public baths and plazas. And perhaps most intriguing, there were standard-sized bricks and standard weights used consistently in the construction of buildings in an area of 100,000 square miles. By contrast, later development in the same area became increasingly less sophisticated over the succeeding centuries, until by 1500 BC the building standards were significantly poorer.
Mainstream historical and archeological thinking has it that language developed in isolated areas around the world, and that, through time, languages mixed and borrowed from one another until we have what we know today. Yet there is solid linguistic evidence that all Western languages from Finish to English, from Hebrew to French can trace their origins back to Sanskrit, the most ancient language of India. Furthermore, Sanskrit, one of the most complex and sophisticated written languages in the world, can be traced back to at least 7000 BC; even then, it possessed a greater degree of structural and grammatical sophistication than it has today. It would be more true to say that the Western languages of today devolved from Sanskrit rather than that they evolved from Sanskrit.
These and other anomalous facts and discoveries simply do not fit with the current linear theory of the development of civilization. Not only do we need to push back the dates of man’s development farther and farther into the past, but we have to find a way to understand how mankind knew many things in the distant past that are now considered modern knowledge. How is it possible that the Sphinx was carved perhaps as long as 7,000 years ago? How was it possible for the pyramids, some of the most well constructed structures in the world, ancient or modern, to be built with such accuracy and skill at the supposed dawn of civilization? How was it possible for ancient man to already be using cultivated grains 23,000 years ago? How can the first construction of an ancient city, such as Mohenjo-daro, be the best? How could Sanskrit have started out as one of the most complete and well-structured languages in the world over 9000 years ago?
The picture that emerges from these and myriad other mysteries is that mankind had highly sophisticated knowledge in the past, much earlier, than is commonly thought—and that mankind lost much of that knowledge for several thousand years between then and now.
What could explain this?
In 1894, near Calcutta, a small work was written—The Holy Science, by Swami Sri Yukteswar. In the introduction to this slim volume, Sri Yukteswar not only explained the knowledge and sophistication of the past, but also predicted the explosion of knowledge in the twentieth century. He further predicted that the keynote discovery for the twentieth century would be that all matter was made up of “fine matters and electricities.” Sri Yukteswar's prediction was made over twenty years before, and a world away from, the publication in 1905 of Einstein's theory of relativity, including E=MC², that energy and matter are equivalent. Sri Yukteswar did not write as a scientist, but as a seer and sage, and as a modern exponent of the wisdom long held in India’s ancient tradition of teachers and texts.
In The Holy Science, Sri Yukteswar describes a recurring cycle of human development, called the cycle of the yugas, or ages. The complete cycle is made up of an ascending half, or arc, and a descending half, or arc, each lasting 12,000 years. In the ascending arc of 12,000 years, mankind evolves through four distinct ages, or yugas, reaches the peak of development, and then devolves through the four ages, in reverse order, in another 12,000 years of the descending arc. Thus, in the course of 24,000 years, mankind as a whole rises in knowledge and awareness, and again falls, in a cycle that occurs again and again.
Sri Yukteswar tells us we are currently in the ascending half of the cycle, in the second age, or Dwapara Yuga. Sri Yukteswar goes on to describe higher ages beyond our own when mankind will communicate telepathically; will understand the subtle laws of thought that underlie energy; will overcome the limitations of time; and will perceive the subtlest law of all—that Divine consciousness underlies all reality.
Sri Yukteswar explains that the cycle of the yugas is caused by influences from outside our solar system that affect the consciousness of all mankind. As mankind’s consciousness changes as a result of this influence, so also does mankind’s perception, awareness, and intellect. In the higher ages that Sri Yukteswar describes, mankind not only knows more but is able to perceive more than we do today; mankind as a whole not only has more advanced capabilities but becomes motivated profoundly differently as the ages unfold. In the higher ages described by Sri Yukteswar, perceptions and abilities considered highly unusual today, will be as normal to everyone alive at that time, as cars, planes, and telephones are to us today.
Where, you might be asking, is the evidence for the yugas? Much of it is right under our noses.
For centuries, during what Sri Yukteswar describes as mankind’s lowest age, or Kali Yuga, most Europeans believed that the world was flat. Intelligent, educated men and women held it to be self-evident that the world was flat. Today a child knows the world is round—and can tell you how one can deduce it for oneself. Watch a ship come into view far out to sea. You will see that the top of the ship appears first, and gradually the rest of the ship comes into view from top to bottom.
Today we hold it just as self-evident that the world is round, and we chuckle over the thought that people could have imagined it to be flat. In 1900 AD, scientists thought the earth and universe to be an enormous machine, running with clocklike precision from the beginning of time. We may perhaps chuckle over how wrong they were. Yet that was barely more than a hundred years ago, and now we take the Einsteinian view of the universe for granted.
Much of what is today considered self-evident support for a linear theory of mankind’s development may soon make us chuckle again. There are children’s puzzles that ask the child to try and find other objects cleverly “hidden” in a picture—perhaps the shape of a swan in a cloud, a trumpet in tree branches, or a wagon in a porch railing. These objects, initially hard to find, seem to jump out at us once we’ve identified them. So too, as we take a fresh look at our past with a cyclic view of human development in mind, evidence that has been hiding in plain sight “jumps out at us.”
Museums have thousands of artifacts that are not on display, stored in basements and vaults. These artifacts are usually considered to be of less interest—or, as is often the case, have not, for lack of time, expert resources, or money, been thoroughly examined. Some of these artifacts may well be unappreciated evidence of higher knowledge in the past.
For example, the Antikythera Device, considered to be at least 2,000 years old, was found underwater off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901. It was only recently examined thoroughly enough, using modern imaging techniques, to discover that it contained over 120 highly precise clockwork gears—evidence of technology that shouldn’t have existed so long ago. Who knows how many other objects, some in dusty storerooms, some on public display, will suddenly "jump out" at researchers and scientists as their new implications become obvious in the light of new understanding.
What’s more, there are thousands of ancient structures, such as the pyramids in Central America, that have not even been excavated or that, like the Pyramids of Giza, remain unexplained. As another example, the Nazca plains in Peru have stylized depictions of animals, such as a hummingbird and a monkey, “drawn” on the ground on such a large scale that they are recognizable as a hummingbird or a monkey only when one is hundreds of feet in the air—such as one would be in an airplane or helicopter. It remains unexplained why a society would invest years of toil in creating things they couldn’t see—unless they did have a way to see them!
Puzzling over both old and new finds is a new generation of scientists, archeologists, paleontologists, paleo-geneticists, paleo-astronomers, underwater archeologists, linguists, and practitioners of myriad other disciplines, taking a closer look at current assumptions, dogmas, and unsolved mysteries of history and prehistory. Many of these scientists are applying never-before-used techniques and state-of-the-art technology to re-examine ancient artifacts and sites. While often considered crackpots by mainstream historians and archeologists, these scientists are presenting findings that are increasingly hard to ignore—and their findings are often at variance with mainstream thinking.
In this book we highlight some of the most interesting discoveries of the new generation of archeologists and other scientists that shine a fresh light on our distant, often hidden, past. It is now known, for example, that science, astronomy, and mathematics were far more advanced in the India of the fifth and sixth millennia BC, than in Europe during the first millennium AD. Indian thinkers then knew that the earth and other planets orbited the sun. They used the concept of the zero within a sophisticated system of mathematics, and they had a concept of the atom not so different from ours of today.
We also explore the implications of Sri Yukteswar’s yuga cycle for our emerging present. Sri Yukteswar explains that we fully emerged from the lowest age, or Kali Yuga, into our present energy age, or Dwapara Yuga, in 1900 AD. The subsequent twentieth century discoveries and knowledge have changed not only our understanding of the physical sciences, but have also profoundly changed our culture and society. Business, government, popular culture, religion—everything—is currently undergoing rapid change, and, according to Sri Yukteswar, will do so for some time to come.
We also explore the future. According to Sri Yukteswar, mankind as a whole will become telepathic, and in the highest age, or Satya Yuga, will be aware of the Divine consciousness underlying all reality. According to Sri Yukteswar, mankind is just emerging from the darkest of ages, and the future holds the promise of much greater things to come—not just in the realm of technology and invention—but in expansion of knowledge, awareness, and perception, that will usher in an enlightened future.
We hope you will find this book both intriguing and inspiring. Many people lament the pace, and results, of the kaleidoscopic changes taking place in the world. Though our times show rapid changes, the cycle of the yugas shows us, reassuringly, that these changes are not random, but rather are the unfolding of man’s innate potentials. And though mankind’s future will bring lessons, some of them hard ones, we are moving forward into expanding awareness and undreamed-of potential.