Thursday, July 26, 2012

Assam riots: What leaves Bodos angry and frustrated?

Why are the Bodos on a short fuse all the time? As another conflagration sweeps across the Bodoland districts—nearly 50 people have been killed and 170,000 rendered homeless so far in the latest one—the time is apt to revisit the crux of the problem.

It’s unfortunate that the largest and the oldest plain tribe in Assam with a rich cultural history would be known for conflicts only. It has indeed been a trouble-torn history — the Bodos have found themselves at war with different people from time to time with devastating results for both sides in the conflict. Their leaders would say it is about rights, not alone claim over land and local resources.

CRPF personnel keeps vigil at the curfew bound street in Kokrajhar district on Wednesday. PTI

“It is not land issue alone. It is deprivation on several fronts. Our areas remain underdeveloped,” All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) president Pramod Boro told Firstpost from Kokrajhar over telephone.  “With the Assamese and Bengali population we have led a fairly peaceful life. In 1996, we had an ethnic clash with the Adivasis. But I believe that it was a third force that ignited the fire between the Santhals and the Bodos,” Boro said. 

Boro, however, chose to differ. “The enquiry commission set up by the state government to look into the 
Bodo-Santhal conflict never gave its report. So it is wrong to blame the Bodos for the conflict. I still believe that some outside force were behind this. If you go to a village today, you will find that both Bodos and Santhals are co-existing peacefully,” the ABSU president said. Given the history of conflicts this only appears partial truth. The Bodos have been in fight against Bengalis too though it never escalated to unmanageable levels.

The latest conflict involves Bangladeshi migrants. According to Bodo leaders, there has been large scale influx of illegal migrants to the Bodo districts. The local population is now at the risk of turning into a minority. The increasing population increases pressure on common economic resources too, they maintain. “Bangladeshis are filling Assam every day. This is not a secret…They would no longer be a minority. They would be majority very soon. Bangladeshis are a real threat.” Kameswar Brahma, president, Bodo Sahitya Sabha (BSS), agrees. When there would be pressure from external population, temperature will simmer, he said.

Anjali Daimary, convenor, Bodo National Conference, said, “In the 80s and 90s the Muslim population was so less. Today the indigenous population is facing a threat. People now say we are just a 20 percent of the population.”

Boro pointed out that new non-Bodo organisations coming out in BTAD areas were a matter of concern. “These non-Bodo organisations are working against the interest of the Bodos and also the non-Bodos. They are instigating a sense of insecurity among the non-Bodo population in Bodo areas,” the ABSU chief said.

Brahma blamed the mess in the Bodo areas directly on the Central government. “The Centre has failed to provide rights to the Bodos and Santhals. Even though we have the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) under the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) it is more or less toothless,” Brahma told Firstpost. “The state government is also neglecting the Bodo areas. Had the BTC got full administrative and police power the present situation would not have escalated to this extent. Lack of executive power to the body worsened the situation,” he said, adding lack of opportunity and years of neglect have put the Bodos in a state of distress.”

Both called for short and long term policies to end the recurring violence. “There is an urgent need to review the entire internal security scenario in our areas. The entire law and order situation needs an evaluation and reorganisation to instil confidence among people,” Boro said.

The ‘invisible’ Assam riots: When cameras looked away

One of the more abstruse philosophical musings begins with a simple question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

At its core, the philosphical exploration is centred around the “knowledge of reality”, but the question has been invoked in a pure science domain as well. As far back as in 1884, the science magazine Scientific American observed: “Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear, and recognised as sound only at our nerve centres. The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound.”
But far away from the scientific and the philosophical domains, a similar question may be asked in the context of the ongoing Assam  riots: If riots are raging in Assam, and television cameras don’t cover them for days, does it mean there were no riots at all?

There’s always someone watching. AP

All over the various social media platforms, the mainstream media – and particularly some if its star TV anchors – are being hectored and vilified for what they perceive as inadequate coverage of the Assam riots.

The contrast with 2002, when the same electronic media, then in its infancy and with far fewer technological resources than they can marshal today, had provided saturation coverage of the Gujarat riots, came in for much pointed criticism from right-wing commentators.

The point, which they belaboured to a nicety, was that the electronic media was looking away from the Assam riots because it was unfolding in a Congress-ruled state, and was showing the government up in a bad light. And given the widespread perception that much of the electronic media are politically soft on the Congress, the media stood accused of orchestrating a veritable news blackout of the Assam riots – in contrast to the time when they had indulged in orgiastic coverage of the Gujarat riots.

The few feeble attempts by star anchors to engage with their critics on social media platforms like Twitter only inflamed the anger of the latter even further.

The suggestion that the number of deaths in the two riots – Gujarat 2002 and Assam 2012 – established a hierarchy of news interest received extraordinary pushback, and was subsequently retracted. (Only 40 people have been killed so far in the Assam riots, whereas the toll in Gujarat was in excess of 1,000.)
The reasoning that logistical challenges to getting live cameras in place across the trouble spots in the  northeastern State too was met with cynicism. In the perception of the media critics, the fact that in this day and age of advanced technology and 4G connectivity, television cameras couldn’t get to the scene of the crime quickly enough and beam live images was merely an extension of their political bias.

Getting live cameras in place in trouble spot isn’t just about getting perverse gratification from “riot porn”. By documenting riots as they unfold, electronic media can do an admirable job of documenting crimes in real time, which can help speed up the response from otherwise flatfooted officials. There is something about the live TV camera output in conflict situations that commands instant response in the way that even the most graphic depictions in the print media cannot hope to match.

But 2012 is not 2002: for a start, we have vibrant social media platforms, where anyone with a cellphone can become an eyewitness and a chronicler of  heinous crimes. In Assam, the vacuum in the coverage of the riots by the mainstream media was somewhat compensated by social media users, who put out their accounts of disturbances as they unfolded, in some cases with images captured on their cellphone cameras.

But equally important, the social media networks were put to effective use to convey information on safety shelters and their material needs. Information on helpline numbers to access were also put out with admirable alacrity. It’s the kind of situation that typically brings out the electronic media, but this time around they were left flat-footed by the speed of response of the social media activists.

Of course, there was one downside to this: unverified information, and on occasion even malicious rumours, began to circulate unfiltered. For instance, on Wednesday, Twitter was abuzz with reports that the Pakistani flag had been put up in parts of the troubled regions; since they came complete with the screenshot of a news channel’s television screen, the reports appeared to carry an element of authenticity. Given that illegal Bangladeshi immigration has in the past proved to be an instrument of Pakistani ISI efforts to push jihadists into India, they also seemed plausible.

The only problem was that the screenshot of the TV screen was from a television report in 2008; it didn’t happen now. But the omission of this detail by those who were disseminating the image on Twitter only served to inflame passions in a volatile situation even further. That’s the kind of vetting of information that would happen in a mainstream news media platform.

It is in contexts like these that the mainstream electronic media, with all their faults, can serve a useful purpose in putting out credible information in real-time. But in the Assam situation, the slowness of their response – for whatever reason – created an information vacuum that the social media networks, with all their faults, filled to capacity.

It just goes to show that if riots unfold, even in a remote part of India, and the television cameras look away, there are other agents at work that bring out the news in this day and age. Not always flawlessly, and sometimes with their own agenda, but they play a quasi-documentary role.

In other words, if a giant tree falls in the forest, and the mainstream media isn’t around to hear it, it still makes a thunderous roar in the age of social media.

Default assam in turmoil

Nearly four years after violent clashes between the indigenous Bodo community and the immigrant minority Muslim land settlers rocked Assam’s Darrang and Udalguri districts in 2008, violence has once again flared up on similar lines in Assam. In October 2008, violence over issues of land took 55 lives and injured 111 while forcing 200, 000 people to take shelter in 82 relief camps. The proximate cause of the 2008 violence was the incident of alleged violence meted out to a Bodo youth, Rakesh Swargiary, by Muslim minority youth. The news of this attack spread like wildfire amongst the Bodo community resulting in widespread violence between the two communities. The Bodo community was already on the edge after two Bodo youths were killed in Rowta, Udalguri in August 2008 after they had refused to take part in a bandh called by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU).

The scene today is a repeat of the past. Violence erupted on July 20 when four Bodos were allegedly hacked to death in a Muslim dominated area in Kokrajhar district. The violence quickly spread to neighbouring Dhubri district after a bandh was called by the AAMSU in the Bodo Territorial Area districts thereafter. Consequently, 32 people have been killed so far and 100, 000 people have fled to relief camps in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts forcing the state government to issue a shoot at sight order to quell the violence. As in 2008, the army has been called in and has staged flag marches in Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Bongaigaon districts. Overall, 400 villages have been targeted with arson and violence. Train services between the Northeast and the rest of India have been halted as the affected districts in Assam are the only existing land link between Assam and the other states of India.

The cause of this violence is rising tensions between the Bodos and the immigrant Muslim communities over issues of land. In the past five years, Muslim immigrants have migrated in large numbers from Dhubri to Kokrajhar district especially its Gosaigaon sub-division. This has created enormous pressures on agriculture land, one of the vital means of livelihood for indigenous communities. The failure of the state to protect people’s land from illegal occupation is one of the primary reasons for overwhelming insecurity over land holdings. In fact, the issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration and a covert move to legalize it had been first been noticed in Mangaldoi in Darrang district in a Lok Sabha by-election in 1978 when around 45, 000 illegal migrants’ names were found on the voter’s list. The first strike against this was kick started on June 8, 1979 resulting in the massive All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) led ‘Assam Agitation’ against illegal Bangladeshi migration from 1979 to 1985. Districts like Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Darrang, etc, had also witnessed violence during the Assam Agitation over illegal migration.

While it is too early to blame either side of the ethnic divide for the ongoing violence in Assam, the growing fear of the indigenous Bodo community of being swamped by illegal Bangladeshi migrants has to be taken seriously. The issue is further fuelled by the existence of Bodo armed groups like the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Moreover, there is a general suspicion in Assam that most of the local political parties depend on the votes of these illegal migrants for their hold on power. This is a political paradox at its most extreme form as it creates the largest disincentive (or perhaps motivation) not to do anything at the most representative level in Assam on an issue that affects the society which is ironically represented in power structures by these very political parties. Hence, there is a sense of growing helplessness and cynicism amongst the local population on the credibility of local political party discourses on tackling illegal migration from Bangladesh.

A porous border, continued illegal immigration, nexus between Bangladesh-based terror outfits and extra regional forces with local militant groups, and arms trafficking across the border creates a situation of distrust, anxiety and insecurity in volatile districts like Kokrajhar, Darrang, Dhubri, etc. But policy makers often tend to ignore the harsh realities of an ethnically volatile region and adopt an ad hoc strategy without a deeper understanding of the social and political contradictions existing on the ground. Even after 27 years of the signing of the Assam Accord, the fence along the India-Bangladesh border has not been completed. Both the Central and state governments have failed to check the flow of illegal migrants, upgrade the National Registrar of Citizens (NRC), arrest arms traffickers, and deal with armed movements. Unless the social and political impact of land loss on ethnic communities of Assam due to unabated migration from Bangladesh is checked, Assam will continue to remain vulnerable to ethnic clashes, armed violence and communal tensions in the near future. 

 The truth that I have got from my friends in armed forces deployed in Assam is that more than 500 people have been killed so far. this matches the details of people who have taken shelter in special relief camps. The state government is delibrately telling lies aabout the death count as they face riots much bigger in scale than Godhra. The congress has all this while attacked BJP and NAMO in particular over Godhra, but in Assam there was no such extreme provocation like burning of hindu karsevaks. Most deaths are of ethenic Bodos who have had to flee to hills and jungles. The dead bodies are being hidden and secretly desposed off. This is my info from my sources.


Illegal Bangladeshi Immigration: People Take the Mantle When the Government Gives Up

by Anand Kumar
 The illegal immigration of Bangladeshis has become a serious problem for India . To deal with this, the government had earlier decided to deport at least 3,000 Bangladeshi migrants every month. But toward the end of April this year, the government took a U turn. The Union Home Ministry has now decided to do a rethink on the policy, as it felt the deportation exercise was ‘‘unimplementable’’. Almost at the same time people in Dibrugarh district in Assam started a social mobilization against these illegal immigrants. In sharp contrast to the government effort, their approach appears to be working. The economic sanctions imposed on illegal immigrants have forced a large number of them to move out of the district and seek living elsewhere. The non-governmental organization which started a campaign against the illegal Bangladeshis wants other districts to follow their example so that the state as a whole can get rid of them.
 Illegal immigrants have been one of Assam 's biggest issues for the last two decades. Assam shares a 272-km-long border with Bangladesh . A vast stretch of that is still unfenced. India says that the large-scale infiltration from across the border was threatening the region's demographic profile. Though the exact number of illegal immigrants is not known, generally it is estimated that about 20 million Bangladeshis are illegally staying in India . Of this number, about 6 million are present in Assam alone. There are no official estimates for the number of migrants in Assam , but state governor Ajai Singh has said that up to 6,000 illegally enter the region every day. The outgoing judge of the IMDT Tribunal, which is supposed to detect and deport infiltrators has also admitted that infiltration is continuing on a large scale. Due to this unabated illegal immigration at least five districts of lower Assam is now dominated by the Bangladeshis.
 The Congress led Assam government says that it wants to solve the issue of illegal immigration on the basis of Assam Accord and make 1971 as the cut off date for migrants. But this assertion of government remains only a statement of intent. Very little has been done on the ground to check the influx of Bangladeshis.
To remedy the situation, people of three districts in Upper Assam decided to act on their own within the boundaries of law. It first began in the district of Dibrugarh, where on April 12 this year a group of youngsters got together to form the Chiring Chapori Yuva Mancha. They published leaflets asking residents not to harbour, employ or provide food to suspected Bangladeshis. They also started sending SMS messages through mobile phones. As the messages spread, there was all-round cooperation from people in the district and nearby areas. 
After which thousands of Bangladeshis who have been working as labourers and rickshaw pullers have been leaving the town of Dibrugarh . However, the estimate of number of people leaving varies. The group convened a press conference and thanked people for their support. A member of the forum said, “The response to the campaign against illegal migrants has been very encouraging. People from all quarters of this township, irrespective of caste, creed and community, have responded fully to our sincere appeal.” The group urged “indigenous Muslims” not to be frightened. It asserted that its fight was only against those who are illegally settling in Assam . It also ruled out possibility of any clash. 

The organization reiterated that it had only  appealed to the people to which they have responded.The organization has denied any political linkage. It has asked all conscious and law-abiding citizens to join its campaign. It says that its basic aim is to make Dibrugarh town clean and healthy. It also appealed to people from other districts of the state to launch similar sort of campaign to make the state free from illegal migrants. They have appealed to all political parties to support their cause.

The success of the campaign started by the 'Chiring Chapori Yuva Manch', in Dibrugarh, has encouraged other groups like All Assam Students Union, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad, Tai Ahom Students Union and Motok Students Union also to join the campaign.

The Bangladeshi immigrants in this area were hired by local contractors in brick kilns, road and building construction works. A large majority of them also pulled rickshaws. Women worked as maids. After the campaign began, these workers started fleeing from Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Golaghat in Upper Assam to the five immigrant-dominated districts of Dhubri, Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Morigaon and Nagoan in Lower Assam .

The state government initially did not know how to react. The government spokesman and rural development minister Ripun Bora maintained that the group behind the anti-Bangladeshi campaign, Chiring Chapori Yuva Mancha, had not harassed any suspected illegal migrants. Bora said that those who left Dibrugarh were mostly from the religious minority. "But it was out of fear that they left. The Mancha did not drive them out. Anyway, it is the duty of all Indian citizens to be vigilant on the movement of foreigners."

However, soon the state government feared a communal backlash as certain quarters tried to give the issue a religious colour.  Assam Home Minister Rokibul Hussain asked the district administration and the police to remain vigilant to ensure that no genuine Indian citizens are harassed in the name of hounding Bangladeshis and also to prevent any sort of communal tension. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi asked Hussain, Planning Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma and Home Commissioner B K Gohain to rush to Dibrugarh and take stock of the situation.

The government issued a mild warning, saying it would take "appropriate action against anyone found harassing or intimidating minorities in the name of illegal migrants." It has instituted two inquiries into the exodus. Apart from Dibrugarh additional deputy commissioner Mukul Gogoi, home commissioner Biren Gohain has been asked to investigate the development and submit a report within a month. A press release from Dispur said a preliminary investigation revealed that the people who fled Dibrugarh hailed from Darrang, Sonitpur, Goalpara, Barpeta and Nagaon districts.

The Union government took note of the exodus of suspected migrants from this Upper Assam district after Congress MP Anwar Hussain raised the issue in the Lok Sabha. The centre decided to bypass the Tarun Gogoi government, and has asked central intelligence agencies to compile reports on the exodus of suspected illegal settlers from Dibrugarh district. These agencies have been specifically told not to rely on inputs from the state administration or the police.

The fleeing Bangladeshis have caused concern in other states of northeast. The North East Students' Organisation (NESO), the apex body of all student groups in the northeast, has warned the state governments in the region to be alert against fleeing Bangladeshi nationals from Assam entering other states. NESO leader N.S.N. Lotha said, "Some 10,000 Bangladeshis have already left for greener pastures in other states after the economic blockade against migrant workers in Assam ."

Unfortunately, soon afterwards, the State Government started hunting for a political motive behind the anti-migrant campaign launched by a little-known organisation. On May 16, Minister of state and government spokesperson Ripun Bora stated that a “political hand” behind the developments in Dibrugarh could not be ruled out. He said both the AGP and the BJP were on the lookout for an issue to pin down the government with, considering Assembly elections are barely a year away. He said, “They are looking for an emotional issue and this is one. The AGP came to power twice by cashing in on this issue. So nothing can be ruled out.”

However, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which had come into being on the issue of infiltration from Bangladesh , chose to distance itself from the ongoing drive against “foreigners” in Dibrugarh. Its president Brindaban Goswami stated that his party wanted this issue to be resolved on the basis of the 1985 Assam Accord and while seeking a solution to the vexed issue, genuine Indian citizens should not be harassed.

Commenting on the exodus of suspected illegal immigrants, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stated that their oft-repeated claim that Assam has become a hunting ground for Bangladeshi nationals stands vindicated after the reports of the exodus. The zonal organising secretary of BJP V Satish welcomed the move of the Mancha saying this kind of social pressure was needed to remove the illegal migrants. He said, "The Congress government is protecting the migrants for their vote bank so this Mancha had done the right thing."

The All Assam Minority Students Union warned both Delhi and Dispur to be ready to face an unexpected situation if stern action was not taken against the “communal leaders” responsible for the exodus of the “working class” minorities from the Upper Assam districts. The student group claimed that the religious minorities working as wage earners in the Upper Assam districts are actually from the erosion-hit villages of Morigaon and Barpeta districts. It said dubbing them foreigners and imposing an “economic blockade” on them was a conspiracy of both the BJP and the AASU for their narrow political gain, which would ultimately lead to ethnic bloodbath.
Unfortunately this social action against illegal immigration in Assam has now become politicized and communalized. In Assam a law, the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1986, was enacted to check the problem of illegal immigration. But later it was found that the law itself has become a big hurdle in checking the problem. Police throughout the border areas of Assam have found it tough to detect and evict illegal migrants who have flooded the North-Eastern states in recent years. Local police says that it is next to impossible to throw out foreigners from Assam because the IMDT Act required "too much documentation before a person can be identified and deported." In such a situation the social action of people against the illegal immigrants was proving to be very effective. But with local elections just one year away, even the initiative of people has taken a political colour. The Assam government has now come out openly in favour of these illegal migrants whom it considers its vote bank. The approach of the state government shows why this problem has been around for so long and its magnitude which has increased over the years. 

(The author can be reached at

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Maya In Ramayana

 This article is a part of a series of articles on individuals described in the Vedas, Epics and Puranas, with the name 'Maya' and related concepts like 'Maaya'. Their connection with the Meso American Mayans too is explored in detail. Read the main article:- Danava Maya and Mayans of America


Maya in Ramayana

Maya / Maaya is mentioned around 23 times in Ramayana. Here one Maya belonging to the Maya tribe is described as a great architect and father of Mandodari who became the queen of Rakshasa king Ravana. Maya is variously described as an Asura, a Danava and as a Daitya. He is mentioned as son of Diti, the mother of all Daityas. The Daityas and Danavas were both Asuras. It seems there is some ambiguity in ascertaining if Maya belonged to the Daitya group or to the Danava group, but there is no doubt that he was an Asura. The question whether Maya was a Daitya or a Danava has some importance if we consider the theory that a section of Iranians (the Ahura worshipers, who migrated from India to Iran) descended from Daityas and a section of the Greeks (the Danaans, who migrated from India through Iran and Turkey to Greece) descended from the Danavas.

There is a possibility that the Maayan tribe or the Maya tribe of ancient India contains members belonging to the Daitya clan as well as the Danava clan and the name Maya is used by them when they were experts in creating technological wonders (magic or illusions) using their metallurgy, metal smelting and metal working technologies.

Another person Mayavi with some connection with Maya is mentioned in Ramayana six times.


Vishnu Maaya

Ramayana contains the term Vishnu-Maaya (vrm.1.29), which is the illusory power of Vishu. This indicate the generic usage of the word Maaya to mean illusion. The word Maaya is used in the same sense at (7.117) and (7.123) as well. Thus such references are found only in the first and last book of Ramayana well known as containing later additions.


Asura Maaya of Maya

The following verse (13) in Aranya Kanda (Book 3), Chapter 54 refers to Maya and his 'Asura Maaya':-
tatra taam asita apaa.ngaam shoka moha paraayaNaam || 3-54-13
nidadhe raavaNaH siitaam mayo maayaam iva aasuriim |

Its meaning is as follows:- Ravana {raavaNaH} placed {nidadhe} Seetha {siitaam} having black eyelashes {asita apaa.ngaam} but with full of sorrow and bewilderment {shoka moha paraayaNaam}, as if by some Asura Maaya {maayaam iva aasuriim} of Maya {mayo}.

This verse clearly indicate that Maya or people belonging to the Maayan tribe of ancient India is the source of Asura Maaya (technological wonders of the Asuras) which was used by other Asuras and Rakshasas like Ravana. Ravana was a king of the Rakshasas ruling at Lanka (Srilanka). (In Mahabharata we see these technologies are used by the Pandavas as well, to construct an assembly hall).



Kishkindha Kaanda (Book 4), Chapter 9, Verse 4:-
maayaavii naama tejasvii puurvajo dundubheH [mayaH] sutaH |
tena tasya mahad vairam vaalinaH strii kR^itam puraa || 4-9-4
Meaning:- There was a fierce {tejasvii} one named Maayaavi, the elder brother {puurvajo} of Dundubhi and the son {sutaH} of Maya. There occurred a great enmity {vairam} between this Maayaavi and Vali owing to some female {strii-kRtam}.

Thus Maayaavi is mentioned as a son of one Maya. Subseqently he fought with Vanara king Vali ruling at a southern Indian kingdom (Hampi, east central Karnataka) and was killed. This information goes well with the presence of the Maya / Maayan tribe in southern India, which will eventually led them to a sea-faring voyage to Meso America.


Danava Maya's Mansion

Kishkindha Kaanda (Book 4), Chapter 43, Verse 30:-
mayasya bhavanam tatra daanavasya svayam kR^itam |
mainaakaH tu vicetavyaH sa saanu prastha ka.ndaraH || 4-43-30
Meaning:- The mansion of the Maya {mayasya bhavanam} which that Danava himself built {svyam kRtam} and that mountain Mainaaka is to be searched out, inclusive of its crests, grades and caves. This is an instruction given to the Vanaras who are to search for Sita, who was abducted by Ravana. It is not clear where this mansion is situated, but the mention of Mainaka mountain that lied in the sea separating Lanka and India and the southern Indian region close to Kanyakumari could be probable locations.


The Riksha Cavities of Maya

Another mansion of Maya (which could be same as the one discussed above, but as per epic Ramayana and Mahabharata, he constructed for his lover Apsara Hema) is describes as situated inside an elaborate cave network that ran several hundred kilometers underground. To see the references in Mahabharata about this topic see:- The underground Mansion of Maya, described in Mahabharata.
Kishkindha Kaanda (Book 4), Chapter 50, Verse 7:-
giri jaala aavR^itaan deshaan maargitvaa dakSiNaam disham |
vicinvantaH tataH tatra dadR^ishuH vivR^itam bilam || 4-50-7
durgam R^iksha bilam naama daanavena abhirakshitam |

Meaning:- That province {deshaan} in southern direction {dakSiNaam disham} is encompassed with interlocked mountains {giri jaala}. During their search there they have observed {dadRishuH} a wide-opened {vivRitam} and impassable {durgam} cavity {bilam} known as Riksha cavity {Riksha bilam} which is well guarded {abhirakshitam} by a Danava {daanavena}. Chapters 50, 51 and 52 elaborate on this Riksha cavity and describe the creator of this cavity with full of illusions (technological wonders) as none other than Danava Maya. Chapters 53, 54 and 57 too mentions about it further. For want of space I am providing here only a summary of this wonderful narration spanning 3 chapters in Ramayana.
Those entered into this mesmerizing cave network said thus:- 'We entered into this cave, overpowered with hunger, seeking some food. Initially we saw only darkness. Now we see diverse and marvellous mansions {vidhaan bhaavaan} and other such wonders {adbhuta upamaan} like golden trees {kaa.ncanaa vRikSaaH} splendid like young suns {taruNa aaditya sannibhaaH}, golden colored air-crafts {kaa.ncanaani vimaanaani} in silver colored houses {raajataani gRihaaNi}"


History behind the Riksha Cavities as per Ramayana

A lady named Swayamprabha (meaning:- the self glowing one) who protected the cavities replied:-
mayo naama mahaatejaa maayaavii daanavarSabhaH || 4-51-10
tena idam nirmitam sarvam maayayaa kaa.ncanam vanam |

There was a brilliant {mahaatejaa} illusionist (technologist) {maayaavii} by name Maya {mayo naama}, who was a bull among the Daanavas {daanavarSabhaH}. He constructed {nirmitam} all of these {sarvam} illusory golden forest {maayayaa kaa.ncanam vanam}.
puraa daanava mukhyaanaam vishvakarmaa babhuuva ha || 4-51-11
yena idam kaa.ncanam divyam nirmitam bhavana uttamam |

Foremerly {puraa} he was the chief among the Danavas {daanava mukhyaanaam} and their Universal Craftsman {vishvakarmaa}. He constructed {nirmitam} this superb {uttamam} mansion {bhavana}, golden {kaan.ncanam} and divine {divyam}.
tam apsarasi hemaayaam saktam daanava pu.ngavam || 4-51-14
vikramya eva ashanim gR^ihya jaghaana iishaH pura.ndaraH |
That best of the Danavas {daanava pu.ngavam} was infatuated {saktam} with an Apsara {apsarasi} named Hema (meaning:- the golden one). Then the ruler of the world {iishaH} Indra, the destroyer of enemy citadels {pura.ndaraH} struck {jaghaana} him with his Thunderbolt {ashanim}.
mama priya sakhii hemaa nR^itta giita vishaaradaa || 4-51-17
tayaa datta varaa ca asmi rakSaami bhavanam mahaan |

My dear friend {mama priya sakhii} Hema is well-versed {vishaarada} in dance {nRitta} and music {giita}. By the authority she has given me {tayaa datta varaa} I am protecting {rakSaami} this superb mansion {bhavanam mahaan}.


Further mention of the Cavities

Below are some more references to these strange Cavities (Cave Networks):-
(4.53) That highly impassable cavity is contrived by Maya and it is abundant with trees, water, eatables and potables, and there is no fear even from Indra in that cavity, nor from Raghava, nor from Sugreeva, the king of Vanaras.

(4.54) "Indeed, once Indra thudded his Thunderbolt on this very underground illusory place, but that act was indeed a trivial deed for that Thunderbolt made a single Rakshasa sized aperture to eliminate a single Danava, Maya, which we now call Riksha bila, Black Hole, nevertheless Lakshmana will splinter whole of this Black Hole with his acute arrows, as if it is leafy bowl. (This statement help us know that the Vanara's entered into Maya's marvelous underground construction works through the crude aperture created due to the striking of Indra's thunderbolt and not through its proper entrance, which explains the initial darkness encountered by the Vanaras while entering. The real entrance could be else where or is hidden and could have been more refined).

(4.53) Which month is set as timeframe for the Vanaras by king Sugreeva that month passed off while the Vanaras are searching mountains, impassable areas and within the cavity concocted by the wizardry of Maya. (4.57) During our search in that Black Hole, which was crafted by the wizardry of Maya, the month fixed by our king for our return has been elapsed. (This indicate that the underground structures were quite elaborate and spread in a vast area, like in the case of Meso American Maayan constructions).


Geographical Location of the Cave Networks

From the narration and geography described, Maya's abode inside the cave network was somewhere close to Kanyakumari (the southern tip of India), with sea-shore (Indian ocean) and mountains (Malaya, Sahya) nearby in Tamilnadu-Kerala boarder. The narration also make it clear that the cave network itself was quite extensive spreading several hundred kilometers and it ran parallel to some interlocked mountain networks. Such mountain network exist in Tamilnadu as part of the southern portions of Eastern Ghats starting from Vellore in the north and passing through Selam, Madurai and finally reaching up to Kanyakumari. These interlocked mountains (Giri Jaala) joins with Malaya Mauntains (southern portion of Sahya Mountains to the south of Palakkad), at Rajapalayam in Tamilnadu.

After searching for the presence of underground cave network in these region, I found a surprising a fact that many temples in this region starting from Vellore to Madurai have sacred underground cave structures and subterranean passages.

  1. Vrinchipuram Temple near Vellore:- This temple is located 15 km away from the Vellore city with an underground route from the Virinchipuram temple to the Vellore Jalagendeswarar temple.
  2. Sri Vilvanatheswarar Temple, Thiruvalam near Vellore - In the left side outer Praharam, beneath the Bali Peetam, there is a underground passage and no one knows where it leads to!
  3. Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam, Madurai:- The temple tank is fed by water of the Vagai river, brought through an ingenious system of underground channels.

From all these field data, one could conclude that Hanuma and the Vanaras entered the Maya's network of caves somewhere around Vellore and emerged out of it close to Kanyakumari, passing through Selam and Madurai. It is not clear if all of it were a continuous subterranean passage or there were intermittent emergence to outer surface (covered with forests or mountain folds) and re-entry back into another underground cave structure.

Such underground cave structures of Mayans are quite common in Mexico and generally in Meso America.

It is also clear that these cave network interconnects the territories controlled by the three major kingdoms in southern India, viz. Chola, Pandya and Kerala (Cheral, Chera). Vellore and Selam falls in Chola territory. Maturai falls in Pandya territory and Malaya mountains falls in the Kerala-Pandya boarder.


Chola king and the love story of Maya and Hema

See Also:- Indra-Chola, Varuna-Chera Connection

Chola kings are connected to their northern cousins viz. the Sivi tribe (Sibi, western Pakistan), who, as per references in Mahabharata, had assumed the title 'Indra'. A Sivi king is mentioned as one among the many Indras. The same title 'Indra' is sometimes assumed by Chola kings like Rajendra Chola. The story of a Sivi king protecting a dove from a hawk by sacrificing flesh from his thigh is also attributed to a Chola king (a story which is also attributed to king Solomon known in the west).

Thus it is possible that the Indra mentioned in Maya-Hema love story of Ramayana was an ancient Chola king who disapproved architect Maya's infatuation with the Apsara, Hema, described as a dancer girl. This make Hema similar in profession to Matavi, a dancer girl mentioned in Tamil epic Silappatikaram, who too was mentioned as an Apsara.


Maya and the construction of Lanka city

The following statement compares the architecture of the mansion of Ravana, the ruler of Lanka with the excellent architectural constructions of Maya:- (5.7) Hanuma saw those houses of the ruler of Lanka, constructed by great effort as though constructed by Maya himself oni earth with all best qualities.

From elsewhere in Ramayana we know that Lanka city was constructed not by architects known by the tribal name Maya but by architects known by the tribal name "Vishvakarma" (universal craftsman) which is a generic term applied to engineers working on all types of construction, art, craft and architecture fields. The construction of the city of Lanka took place during the reign of Yaksha king Vaisravana Kubera (Kuvera) who ruled Lanka before Ravana. Often in Puranic literature, we see descriptions like the Mayas were the architects among the Asuras and the Vishvakarmas were the architect among the Devas, as if each of them were distinct tribes with opposing political affinities. But in close examination, we find that the boundaries separating the Vishvakarmas from the Maayans are blurred, especially since the title 'Vishvakarma' is applied to Maya as well. The tribe Vishvakarma now survives as a caste name in India who are skilled architects and engineers.


Maya's relationship with Ravana

The following statement establish that a certain individual belonging to the Maya / Maayan tribe of ancient India was the father-in-law of Rakshasa Ravana. This verse also indicate that Maya gave his daughter to Ravana due to fear (unwillingly) and hence desiring Ravana's friendship (thinking it would be beneficial to advance his position since Ravana was powerful and controlled southern India and the southern ocean) :-

mayena daanava indreNa tvad bhayaat sakhyam icchataa |
duhitaa tava bhaaryaa arthe dattaa raakSasa pumgava || 6-7-7
(6.7) Maya {mayena}, the best among the Danavas {daanava indreNa}, gave {dattaa} his daughter {duhitaa} (Mandodari) to you as wife {bhaaryaa arthe}, due to fear {bhayaat} from you and hence desiring {icchataa} your friendship {sakhyam}, Oh, the best of Rakshasas {raakSasa pumgava}!

Rakshasas and Danavas were distinct tribes, who were not always in good terms with each other. Daityas-Danavas and Adityas formed one genetic group. Daityas and Danavas were known as Asuras while Adityas were known as Devas. Puranic texts of ancient India look upon Asuras as demons and Devas as gods. Rakshasas, Yakshas and Gandharvas formed another genetic group. Puranic texts of ancient India look upon the Rakshasas as demons, the Yakshas sometimes as demons and sometimes as demi gods where as they look upon Gandharvas mostly as demi gods. These are but later developments.


Maya's skill in creating realistic sculptures

The statement below gives and indirect evidence of Maya architects' skill in creating realistic sculptures or images. Here Sita is compared to an image created by Maya! :- (6.12) Looking like an idol of gold and being placid She appears like an illusory image created by Maya.


Maya's skill in creation of weapons

The following passages clearly shows Maya created and supplied weapons to Ravana.
mayena vihitan raudramanyadastraM mahaadyutiH |
utsraShTun raavaNo ghoraM raaghavaaya prachakrame || 6-100-2
(6.100) Ravana {raavaNo} started to release {utsraShTun} in a terrifying manner {ghoraM}, another fearsome {raudram} missile {astraM} endowed with extraordinary splendor {mahaadyutiH}, created {vihitan} by Maya, upon Rama {raaghavaaya }.
ityevamuktvaa taan shaktimaShTaghaNTaaM mahaasvanaam |
mayena maayaavihitaamamoghaan shatrughaatiniim || 6-100-30
lakShmaNaaya samuddishya jvalantiimiva tejasaa |
raavaNaH paramakruddhashchikShepa cha nanaada cha || 6-100-31
(6.100) Thus saying, the greatly enraged Ravana roared and hurled towards Lakshmana, that unfailing spear {shakti}, which was adorned with eight loudly clamouring bells {aShta ghaNTaam}, which had been designed by Maya by his Maaya (technology) {mayena maayaa-vihitaam} , capable of destroying adversaries and blazing with splendor {jvalantiim-iva tejasaa}.


Maya mentioned as Diti's son

The only mention of Maya as Diti's son and hence a Daitya is found in Book 7 (Uttarakanda) which contain many later additions.

(7.12) The Raksha was wandeing about for the purpose of hunting, when he happened to see Diti s son, named Maya. In the same chapter which describe the encounter of Ravana with Maya and his beautiful daughter Mandodari, Maya is described as a Danava (that Danava and foremost of Asuras, Maya) and again as a Daitya:- Maya lord of Daityas laughing, said unto that lord of the Rakshasas, This daughter of mine, O king, borne by the Apsara, Hema, this my daughter named Mandodari do thou accept as thy wife.

Maya In Mahabharata

 This article is a part of a series of articles on individuals described in the Vedas, Epics and Puranas, with the name 'Maya' and related concepts like 'Maaya'. Their connection with the Meso American Mayans too is explored in detail. Read the main article:- Danava Maya and Mayans of America


Maya in Mahabharata

Maya / Maaya is mentioned around 61 times in Mahabharata. Thus Mahabharata contains the largest reference to Maya. Here one Maya belonging to the Maya tribe is praised as a great architect and creator of many technological illusions. Another Maya is credited with the creation of space-crafts rotating around Earth in precise orbits. One architect Maya constructed a wonderful assembly for the Pandava king Yudhisthira. He was respected by the king as a great man. Like in Ramayana, in Mahabharata too there is varying references that make Maya a Daitya or a Danava, but undoubtedly and Asura. Mahabharata also contains references to a battle between Indra and Maya, where Indra defeated or killed Maya. This corroborate with some of the references in Rig Veda where a battle between Indra and Gandharva is mentioned. The designation 'Gandharva' in this case may be point to the location of this Maya's territory in Gandhara region (north-western Pakistan).


Maya mentioned among great kings

Mahabharata gives the highest respect to a member of the Maya / Maayan tribe of ancient India by counting him among great kings as found in the following passage:-
(Mbh.1.55) Like the sacrifice of Maya, of king Sasavindu, or of king Vaisravana, of the sacrifice of Nriga, of Ajamida, of the son of Dasaratha, is this sacrifice of thine O son of Parikshit.


Maya's association with the Pandavas

Chapter 229 of the Book 1 (Adi Parva) of Mahabharata gives the detail account of how one architect belonging to the Maya tribe became a friend of the Pandavas. Due to the enormity of the narration it is described in a summary here:- Danava Maya (around 3100 BCE) was dwelling in the territory of Naga king Takshaka called the Khandava (modern day Delhi and its surroundings). He was there to construct some buildings for Takshaka. Since the territory of Naga Takshaka was a threat for the newly created city of the Pandavas, viz. Indraprastha (now the Delhi city), Arjuna (brother of King Yudhisthira ruling at Indraprastha) and his friend Krishna decided to burn the Naga settlements at Khandava. While the territory was thus burned, Maya sought the protection of Krishna and Arjuna. They gave him protection and did not slay him. In return Maya asked what he shall do for them. Then Krishna said:- "Let a palatial Sabha (meeting hall) as thou choosest, be built by thee, if thou, O son of Diti, who art the foremost of all artists, desirest to do good to Yudhishthira the just (Mbh.2.1)". Having heard those words, Maya became exceedingly glad. Then Krishna and Arjuna after having narrated everything unto king Yudhishthira the just, introduced Maya unto him. Yudhishthira received Maya with respect, offering him the honour he deserved. Maya accepted that honour thinking highly of it.


Exotic articles collected by Maya

For details see Maya at Kailasa

(2.3) Then Maya Danava addressed Arjuna, that foremost of successful warriors, saying, I now go with thy leave, but shall come back soon. On the north of the Kailasa peak near the mountains of Mainaka, while the Danavas were engaged in a sacrifice on the banks of Vindu lake, I gathered a huge quantity of delightful and variegated vanda a kind of rough materials composed of jewels and gems. This was placed in the mansion of Vrishaparva. There is also, I think, a fierce club placed in the lake Vindu by the King of the Danavas after slaughtering therewith all his foes in battle. Besides being heavy and strong and variegated with golden knobs, it is capable of bearing great weight, and of slaying all foes, and is equal in strength unto an hundred thousand clubs. It is a fit weapon for Bhima, even as the Gandiva is for thee. There is also in that lake a large conch-shell called Devadatta of loud sound, that came from Varuna. I shall no doubt give all these to thee.

Having spoken thus unto Partha, the Asura went away in a north-easterly direction. On the north of Kailasa in the mountains of Mainaka, there is a huge peak of gems and jewels called Hiranya-sringa. Near that peak is a delightful lake of the name of Vindu.

Maya brought back the club and the conch-shell and the various crystalline articles that had belonged to king Vrishaparva. And the great Asura, Maya, having gone thither, possessed himself of the whole of the great wealth which was guarded by Yakshas and Rakshasas. Bringing them, the Asura constructed therewith a peerless palace, which was of great beauty and of celestial make, composed entirely of gems and precious stones, and celebrated throughout the three worlds. He gave unto Bhimasena that best of clubs, and unto Arjuna the most excellent conch-shell at whose sound all creatures trembled in awe.


The Maya Sabha: The Palatial Hall created by Maya

The palace that Maya built consisted of columns of gold, and occupied an area of five thousand cubits. The palace, possessing an exceedingly beautiful form, like unto that of Agni or Suryya, or Soma, shone in great splendour, and by its brilliance seemed to darken even the bright rays of the sun. And with the effulgence it exhibited, which was a mixture of both celestial and terrestrial light, it looked as if it was on fire. Like unto a mass of new clouds conspicuous in the sky, the palace rose up coming into view of all. Indeed, the palace that the dexterous Maya built was so wide, delightful, and refreshing, and composed of such excellent materials, and furnished with such golden walls and archways, and adorned with so many varied pictures, and was withal so rich and well-built, that in beauty it far surpassed Sudharma of the Dasarha race, or the mansion of Brahma himself. And eight thousand Rakshasas called Kinkaras, fierce, huge-bodied and endued with great strength, of red coppery eyes and arrowy ears, well-armed and capable of ranging through the air, used to guard and protect that palace.

Architect Maya (right) with the five Pandavas and Krishna (left), after the Construction of 'Maya Sabha' (right). From my paintings on Mahabharata


Tank inside the Palace

Within that palace Maya placed a peerless tank, and in that tank were lotuses with leaves of dark-coloured gems and stalks of bright jewels, and other flowers also of golden leaves. And aquatic fowls of various species sported on its bosom. Itself variegated with full-blown lotuses and stocked with fishes and tortoises of golden hue, its bottom was without mud and its water transparent. There was a flight of crystal stairs leading from the banks to the edge of the water. The gentle breezes that swept along its bosom softly shook the flowers that studded it.

The banks of that tank were overlaid with slabs of costly marble set with pearls. And beholding that tank thus adorned all around with jewels and precious stones, many kings that came there mistook it for land and fell into it with eyes open.

Many tall trees of various kinds were planted all around the palace. Of green foliage and cool shade, and ever blossoming, they were all very charming to behold. Artificial woods were laid around, always emitting a delicious fragrance. And there were many tanks also that were adorned with swans and Karandavas and Chakravakas Brahminy ducks in the grounds lying about the mansion. And the breeze bearing the fragrance of lotuses growing in water and of those growing on land ministered unto the pleasure and happiness of the Pandavas.

And Maya having constructed such a palatial hall within fourteen months, reported its completion unto Yudhishthira.


The underground Mansion of Maya

For details see Vanara's searching for Sita

The Riksha cavities of Maya mentioned in Ramayana is also mentioned in Mahabharata, in a passage describing the history of Rama:-

Having searched the southern region with all its hills, forests, and mines for some time, we became very weary. At length we beheld a great cavern. We entered that cavern which extended over many Yojanas. It was dark and deep and overgrown with trees and infested by worms. And having gone a great way through it, we came upon sun-shine and beheld a beautiful palace. It was the abode of the Daitya Maya. And there we beheld a female ascetic named Prabhavati engaged in ascetic austerities. And she gave us food and drink of various kinds. And having refreshed ourselves therewith and regained our strength, we proceeded along the way shown by her. At last we came out of the cavern and beheld the briny sea, and on its shores, the Sahya, the Malaya and the great Dardura mountains. And ascending the mountains of Malaya, we beheld before us the vast ocean And beholding it we felt sorely grieved in mind.

The narration matches with those found in Ramayana except that the name of the guardian of the palace was mentioned as Prabhavati (the glowing one) instead of Swayamprabha (the self glowing one). From the narration and geography described, Maya's abode was somewhere close to Kanyakumari (the southern tip of India), with sea-shore (Indian ocean) and mountains (Malaya, Sahya) nearby in Tamilnadu-Kerala boarder.


The city of Hiranyapura built by Maya

This is a dialog between sage Narada and Matali, the chariot driver of Indra. They were looking for a bride for Matali's son Gomukha. For details see The city of Hiranyapura.

Here in these regions called Patala is that spacious and celebrated city of cities, called Hiranyapura, of the Daityas and Danavas, possessing a hundred diverse kinds of illusion. It hath been built with great care by the divine artificer, and planned by the Danava Maya. Many Danavas lived here, exhibiting a thousand different kinds of illusion.

They were incapable of being vanquished by Sakra (Indra) or any other celestial. Here dwell, Those Asuras called Kalakhanjas and those Rakshasas also called Yatudhanas. All of them are endued with frightful teeth, terrible impetus, the speed and prowess of the wind, and great energy depending on powers of illusion. Besides these, another class of Danavas called Nivatakavachas, who are invincible in battle, have their abode here. Thou knowest how Sakra is unable to vanquish them.

Many times, O Matali, thou, with thy son Gomukha, and Indra with his son, had to retreat before them. Behold their homes, O Matali, that are all made of silver and gold, and well-adorned with decorations done according to the rules of art. All those mansions are decked with lapis lazuli and corals, and made effulgent with the lustre of the Arka-sphatika (solar-glass), and the radiance of gem called Vajrasara. And many of those palatial residences seem, as if, they have been made of the shine of these gems called Padmaragas, or of bright marble, or of excellent wood. And they are also possessed of the radiance of the sun, or blazing fire.

And all the edifices, adorned with gems and jewels, are very high and stand close to another. Of spacious proportions and great architectural beauty, it is impossible to say of what material these mansions are built or to describe their style of beauty. Indeed, they are exceedingly beautiful in consequence of their decorations. Behold these retreats of the Daityas for recreation and sport, these beds of theirs for sleep, these costly utensils of theirs set with precious stones, and these seats also for their use. Behold these hills of theirs, looking like clouds, those fountains of water, these trees also that move of their own will and that yield all fruits and flowers that one may ask.

Here when Narada asks Matali to search for a bride, Matali replied:- "It behoveth me not to do anything that may be disagreeable to dwellers of heaven. The Devas (gods) and the Danavas, though brothers, are ever at hostility with each other. How can I, therefore, make an alliance with those that are our enemies?" This vindicates our analysis that the Daityas, Danavas and Devas shared close kinship.


Battles between Maya and Indra

As a corroboration of the battles mentioned in Rigveda between Maya and Indra we have some of them mentioned in Mahabharata, Bhishma Parva (Book 6):- (6.101) Routing that large army and causing many mighty car-warriors to tremble, he gladdened his friends like Vasava gladdening the celestials after vanquishing Maya. (6.102) The son of Subhadra then, in that battle, with his straight shafts, obliged the Rakshasa to turn his back upon the field, like Sakra repulsing Maya in days of old. (6.111) And they encountered each other in dreadful battle like Maya and Sakra in days of old.

This is also repeated in Drona Parva (Book 7), where the battle is mentioned as between Maya and Vishnu:- (7.172) Seizing then that gigantic prince of Rakshasas, viz, Alamvusha, who thus struggled with him, he pressed him down on the earth, like Vishnu slaying the Asura Maya in battle.

In Shalya Parva (Book 9) Bhima and Duryodhana about to commence a dual fight with mace is compared to Indra and Maya (9.53).


The space-cities created by Maya

For more details see The Three Space Cities

The three Daityas, sons of Asura Taraka (the one belonging to the stars) named Tarakaksha (the star-eyed one), Kamalaksha (the lotus-eyed one) and Vidyunmalin (the one adorned with electricity) asked Danava Maya, who was respected by Daityas and Danavas alike, to make three space-cities for them. Then Maya, of great intelligence, by the aid of his own ascetic merit, constructed three cities, one of which was of gold, another of silver, and the third of black iron. The golden city was set in heaven, the silver city in the welkin, and the iron city was set on the Earth, all in such a way as to revolve in a circle.

Each of those cities measured a hundred yojanas in breadth and a hundred in length. And they consisted of houses and mansions and lofty walls and porches. And though teeming with lordly palaces close to each other, yet the streets were wide and spacious. And they were adorned with diverse mansions and gate-ways. Each of those cities had a separate king. The beautiful city of gold belonged to the illustrious Tarakaksha: the silver city to Kamalaksha, and the iron one to Vidyunmalin. Maya became the supplier of every thing they wanted. Whoever amongst those residing in the triple city wished for any object in his heart had his wish fulfilled by Maya aided by the latter's powers of illusion.


The lake that can revive the wounded and dead

Hari, son of Tarakaksha, created a lake in his city that was capable of reviving the dead. In whatever form and whatever guise a Daitya might have been slain by means of weapons, if thrown into that lake, he was restored to life, in the self-same form and guise and with redoubled strength.


Destruction of the cities

The Asuras in these cities began to shamelessly exterminate the cities and towns established all over the universe. Sakra, surrounded by the Maruts, battled against the three cities by hurling his thunder upon them from every side. However, Purandra failed to pierce those impenetrable cities. The cities were finally destroyed by Siva with a single projectile weapon shot from Earth, while they came aligned in a straight line, while in their respective circular orbits:- (8.34) Then Sarva, having stringed his bow and aimed that shaft with which he had united the Pasupata weapon, waited thinking of the triple city. The three cities during that time became united losing their separate characters. Siva, then drawing that celestial bow, sped that shaft which represented the might of the whole universe, at the triple city. They began to fall down towards the Earth. Burning those Asuras, he threw them down into the Western ocean.



Mahabharata also contains extensive mention of the concept of Maaya (illusion) used in the sense of the divine illusion that deludes all the sentient beings giving them a sense of living in a universe. These references are found in Book 12 and 13 (Santi and Anusasana Parvas) which are huge philosophical discourses and well known as later additions. Some examples are as follows:- (12.47) Salutations to thee in thy form as Maya illusion! (12.231) Then the original Creator of all beings, having by his Maya divided Himself, enters that subtile form for surveying or overlooking everything. (12.248) Thou art concealed in consequence of being invested with Maya or illusion. (12.320) .. the seventeenth and the eighteenth principles called Prakriti and Vyakti ie, Maya and Prakasa. (12.320)… the four together viz, Purusha and his Maya and Jiva and Avidya. (13.17) consciousness endued with Maya. (13.149) …the deity that overwhelms the universe with His Maya (illusion).

Other Indian Tribes in America

 This article is a part of a series of articles on individuals described in the Vedas, Epics and Puranas, with the name 'Maya' and related concepts like 'Maaya'. Their connection with the Meso American Mayans too is explored in detail. Read the main article:- Danava Maya and Mayans of America.



Yakshas were an ancient Indian tribe, similar to the Mayan tribe with a pan-Indian presence. They were present in Tibet, the Himalayas, the Western Mountains (now in Pakistan), Narmada valley and in Southern India. The Yakshas of Tibet, living around mountain Kailasa and Manasarovar controlled the northern trade routes (predecessors of later day Silk routes), where rich mountain goods were traded. Through the sea ports in Dwaraka, Vanga, Southern India and Lanka (Srilanka) they traded these goods to distant lands crossing all the major Oceans. The southern Yakshas controlled the sea-ports in Southern India and Lanka.


South Indian Yaksha territory

From the analysis of Valmiki Ramayana, we have already seen the presence of Yakshas in southern India during Ramayana era (reign of Rama and Ravana). There they inhabited the Malaya mountains (southern portion of Western Ghats of India) that lies along Kerala-Tamilnadu, Kerala-Karnataka boarder. We have also explored the possibility of them having their sea port at Kanyakumari, where Malaya mountain terminates at the sea shore of Indian Ocean, close to Mahendragiri.

This territory of southern-Yakshas (Dakshina-Yaksha / Ten-Yaksha / Yaksha-Ten / Yaksha-Dakshina) lied to the west of Chola territories and to the immediate west of Maya's cavities / cave networks (Vellore-Selam-Madurai-Kanyakumari).


Yucatan, the Yaksha territory in Meso America

It is interesting to note that there existed a Yaksha territory in Meso America as well, which was considered as a part of the ancient Mayan cultural region in Meso America. There are many territorial entities with names resembling Yaksha, Yaksha-Desa (Yaksha Country), Ten-Yaksha, Yaksha-Ten, Yaksha-Dakshina, Yaksha-Deccan, Yaksha-Tekkan (southern Yaksha) here such as Yucatan one of the 31 states of Mexico and Yucatan Peninsula. These territories are located in South Eastern Mexico along the Atlantic coast.

The Yucatán Peninsula comprises a significant proportion of the ancient Maya Lowlands (although the Maya culture extended south of the Yucatán Peninsula, through present Guatemala and into Honduras and highland Chiapas). There are many Maya archaeological sites throughout the peninsula; some of the better-known are Chichen Itza, Tulum and Uxmal. Indigenous Maya and Mestizos of partial Maya descent make up a sizable portion of the region's population, and Mayan languages are widely spoken here.

People inhabiting in this region seems to be of a mixed descend that emerged from the Yaksha and Maya tribes who reached here from the ancient sea-ports of southern India, crossing the Oceans in huge ships, following each other.


Yaksha king Kubera

The king of the Yakshas is mentioned as Kubera (Kuvera, Vaishravana) in ancient Indian texts. There were many places mentioned in ancient Indian sub-continent with Kubera's name both in south and north. Thus there were southern Yakshas as well as northern Yakshas, with some tribal kinship existing between them. The place name Khyber, which now appear as the name of a mountain pass in Afganistan-Pakistan boarder is derived from Kubera, the king of the Yakshas. Kubera's presence in Kailasa (mount Kailas, Tibet), Manasa sara (Manasarovar, Tibet) and Himalaya mountains is also well attested in the epics and Puranas. As per Ramayana he ruled at Lanka (Srilanka). When Rakshasa king Ravana rose to power in Lanka (during the reign of Rama), Kubera retreated to his territories in Malaya mountains of southern India (which is wrongly described as Himalaya mountains in Ramayana due to the tribal connections of southern Yakshas and northern Yakshas). Today, Yaksha tribe is known by the name Yakka, Yakha, Yakhu, Yak, Yaka, Yasha etc in Srilanka (ancient Lanka), Nepal (Himalaya) and southern Tibet (Kailasa).



Kambojas were an ancient Indian tribe mentioned in Mahabharata and Ramayana and in many Puranas. Their territories were spread in Kashmir, north-West Pakistan and the north and west of it. They were sometimes mentioned as an Asura clan. They have taken part in Kurukshetra War described in Mahabharata, siding with the Kuru king Duryodhana.


Khyber and Kamboja

It is interesting to note that the Khyber pass is named after Yaksha Kubera. In ancient times he controlled the trade goods passing through the trade routes passing through this mountain and earned enormous wealth. Thus he earned the title 'the Lord of the Riches'. Khyber pass falls in ancient Kamboja territories. The Kambojas had trade relations with the Yakshas in Tibet as well as sea ports in Dwaraka, Vanga and southern India (some of which belonged to the southern Yakshas).


Kamboja in Meso America

Naturally if the Mayans and Yakshas who coexisted in India (especially in the sea-faring southern India) we would expect the Kambojas too follow them and reach Meso America. Surprisingly we find them in Campeche another Mexican state bordering Yucatan. Campeche lies to the south west of Yucatan. Even the trade route of the Kambojas to Meso America along Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean is traceable as a South East Asian country is named after Kamboja, viz. Kampochia / Kambodjia / Camobodia. Kamboja traders from India first settled in Cambodia, giving the land its name and then moved to Meso America where it gave Campeche state of Mexico its name.


Local Etymology

As per some Western scholars the name of Campeche is derived from the Mayan name of a settlement called “Ah-Kin-Pech” where the city of Campeche is now. The original mean “place of snakes and ticks". This is inaccurate and seems to be a locally derived etymology when the original name 'Kamboja' is lost from memory, a phenomenon not uncommon in many parts of the world as well.


Known History (Western Version)

The first people to dominate the state were the Mayas, who arrived to Campeche from Guatemala (Ketumala), Honduras and Chiapas. The main Mayan cities were Edzna, Xtampak, and later Calakmul and Becán. The Mayan civilization reached it height between 600 and 900 CE. From 1000 on, the Mayan cities collapsed and were abandoned for unknown reasons. This led to the establishment of smaller settlements and a mixing of the Mayan and Chontal people in the south of the state, which had commercial ties to the central highland cultures of Mexico. From the 11th century to the 16th century, Campeche was divided into smaller dominions.


Patala and the Seven Talas

The epics and Puranas describe several vast inhabited continent sized regions called 'Talas'. There are seven Talas identified with what is now known as the seven continents. Among them Rasatala is identifiable with Africa (especially its eastern coast). Patala is identifiable with South America and Meso America. Sutala is identified with Australia (especially its northern western coast) and South East Asia, also known as Suvarna Tala and Suvarna Bhumi (the Golden region). Vitala is the rest of Asia. Talatala is identified with Antartica and Mahatala with North America.

Atala is identifiable with Europe and Atalanta ('Atala' 'anta', the end of Atala) with the western boundary of Europe including some inhabited islands in Atlantic Ocean. One among such island in Atlantic ocean was inhabited by people with advanced civilization, called Atlantis which as per Greek sources, later submerged. The name of this island called 'Atlantis', the name of 'Atlantic Ocean', the place names like 'Atlanta', the name of Greek god 'Atlas' - all of these are derived from the Sanskrit word 'Atala' denoting a vast region known to ancient Indians which is now known as Europe.


Patala is mentioned as a vast region with plenty of precious metals like gold, silver and copper. Ancient Indian sea-traders reached Patala (South America) in search of these. There are places in America where these metals are found in abundance. Argentina (in South America) got its name because of its silver mines. Silver in Sanskrit is called 'Arjuna' (from which its scientific Latin name 'Argentum') is derived. 'Arjuna' means, 'shining white'. There is an island called Copper Island (Kupari-saari)- a local name given to the northern part of the Keweenaw Peninsula (projecting northeastward into Lake Superior at the western end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States of America. Saari means an island inside a Saras (Lake). Some copper mines in America was in use even in 3000 BCE period (post Mahabharata period in ancient India). There were plenty of gold mines too in both north and south America.



There were many kings in ancient India who assumed the title 'Bali' or possessed the tribal name 'Bali' (alternatively pronounced as Vali). Bali means 'the powerful' in Sanskrit. Many kings with the name 'Bali' ruled in the western and eastern coastal regions of India. The territory of Bali kings thus was spread in the coastal region of Indian peninsula. They engaged in sea trade and extended their power into Indian Ocean and into territories lying in Indian Ocean such as South East Asia (Baali) and Eastern Africa.


Western Bali: Mahabali

One of the prominent king named Bali was Maha-bali. He was the son of Virochana and grandson of Prahlada and the great grandson of Daitya Hiranyakasipu. He ruled the western sea shore of ancient Indian Sub-continent, from Baluchistan in the north to Kerala in the south. He is still revered as a great king by people of Kerala, in south western India, where every year they celebrate a festival named 'Onam' (Sravanam) to commemorate Mahabali. Subsequent to the expansion of Kashyapa tribe from Kashmir, his tribe later moved to Rasatala (Africa, especially the eastern coast). The territorial names like Bali (a province in Ethiopia in East Africa] and others in Somalia are the result of the presence of the Bali tribe in Rasatala.

They later seems to have migrated to the western shores of Africa as well (Bali, Nigeria, Bali city in Cameroon).


Astronomical significance of Onam

In Kerala, Onam is celebrated when the Moon is at the star Sravana during the month when Sun is in the constellation of Leo (skt. Simha, mal. Chingam). People of Kerala, Malayalis, celebrate New Year on the day when the sun enters the constellation of Leo following a calender named 'Kolla Varsham'. The current version of this calender started in common era 825 CE (the year of death of the famous sage Sankaracharya / the date when the city Kollam is reopened after it was destroyed due to a natural disaster). However this calendar is the remnant of a much ancient calender established when Vernal Equinox was in the constellation of Leo, around 10,500 BCE to 8000 BCE.

Almost all of the ancient cultures design their calenders such that they start their years with Vernal Equinox when day and nights will be equal in duration so that it is easy to mark the beginning of the year. But the Vernal Equinox shift from constellation to constellation due to Precession of Earth's axis which take 25,772 years to complete one revolution, traversing 1 degree in around 72 years, and one constellation (30 degrees) in around 2148 years.

Around 10,500 BCE is also the period arrived at by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval as the date when the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx were constructed in Egypt. Since I identify Rasatala with east coast of Africa, it follows that the civilization that created these structures could be belonging to the Asura Daitya tribe of Mahabali (his predecessors or successors). Africa (including Egypt) also falls midway to Patala (identified with South America and Meso America) which was the final destination of Mahabali as per the Onam myth. As per this myth Mahabali was sent to Rasatala and Patala by a Kasyapa sage named Vamana who famously measured the Earth in three strides (an allusion to the cartographic measurement of the surface of Earth marking its longitude and latitude).

Kerala has yet another calender with New Year (named Vishu, Vaishakhi) celebrated on the day when sun is in the middle of constellation of Aries (skt. Mesha, mal. Medam) around April 15. This calender is the remnant of another ancient calender system when Vernal Equinox was in the middle of constellation of Aries (corresponding to 3100 BCE). Modern Western Astrology which which considers Aries as the first constellation, originated in 2150 BCE in Greece. India's national calender, (current version:- Saka Era which started at 78 CE) too consider Aries as the first constellation of the year.


Vaanara Baali

It is speculated that Vanara Baali (Vaali) mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana as the brother of Vanara Sugriva is a member of the Bali tribe. Baali is mentioned as the son of Indra. As per my analysis Indras are many who ruled as kings at various time at various places, belonging to various tribe. A king of the Sivi kingdom is mentioned as one among the many Indras. Mahabali is also considered as one among the many Indras. Hence Baali could as well be a descendant or son of Mahabali.


Eastern Bali

Another king Bali is mentioned as ruling in Bihar, Bengal, Orissa region as per Mahabharata. His descendants were mentioned as the founders of the five famous kingdoms of ancient India:- Anga (in Bihar), Vanga (in west Bengal), Kalinga (in Orissa), Pundra (in Bangladesh) and Suhma (in Bangladesh). The descendants of this Bali have moved to South East Asia using sea ports of Vanga and Kalinga. The Indonesian island Bali bears the name of ancient territories of Bali in SE Asia. The Bali tribe seems to have also reached China attested by the names like Bali in China.


Belize: Balis in Meso America

Following other tribes like the Mayas, the Nagas, the Yakshas, the Balis too reached Meso America. Their territory became later known as Belize. To the south of it was Ketumala (Gautemala) a prominent geographical territory described in the epics and Puranas of ancient India which describe the geography of the whole world known to ancient Indians. The etymology of the name Belize using the native Maya word belix, meaning "muddy water" is purely artificial and a later invention.


Migration of Bali tribes from India to America

Belize has a sizeable proportion of Africans from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo, who could have brought the name with them, as there is a Belize in Angola as well. This indicate it was the Bali tribe of western India who came by circumventing the Eastern and Western coast of Africa and crossing the Atlantic Ocean, who dominated Belize rather than the Eastern Bali who came by SE Asia and the Pacific Ocean.


Virochana Viracocha Connection

Among the Incas (another ancient civilization in Americas besides Mayan) in the west coast of South America there is a god by the name Viracocha who is none other than Asura Virochana, the father of king Mahabali. Viracocha is the great creator god in the pre-Inca and Inca mythology.
See:- Virochana in Atharva Veda, Virochana in Ramayana, Virochana in Mahabharata, Virochana in Vishnu Purana.

In Sanskrit the name 'Virochana' means 'the bright one', 'the shining one', 'illuminating one', 'light', luster' etc. This name is used to denote sun, moon and fire. It is also used as the name of sun-god. Virochana is also the fifth in descend from Pitamaha Brahma (Spitama in Avesta):- Brahma - 1.Daksha - 2.Diti - 3.Hiranyakasipu - 4.Prahrada - 5.Virochana and thus is the Fifth Sun. Thus Virochana was a contemporary of Zara-tushtra, who is mentioned as fifth in descent from Spitama as per Avesta.


Arrival of Virochana in South America

Viracocha was one of the most important deities in the Inca pantheon and seen as the creator of all things, or the substance from which all things are created, and intimately associated with the sea. This is because Virochana reached South America from India crossing the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.


Virochana established Inca civilization

Viracocha created the universe, sun, moon and stars, time (by commanding the sun to move over the sky)[3] and civilization itself. Viracocha was worshipped as god of the sun and of storms. He was represented as wearing the sun for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and tears descending from his eyes as rain. He wandered the earth disguised as a beggar, teaching his new creations the basics of civilization, as well as working numerous miracles. He wept when he saw the plight of the creatures he had created. This indicate the huge effort Virochana had to make to establish a civilization in South America.


Characteristics of Virochana

Viracocha was described as "a man of medium height (in some narrations, tall), white and dressed in a white robe like an alb secured round the waist, and that he carried a staff and a book in his hands". Spanish chroniclers from the 16th century claimed that when the conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro first encountered the Incas they were greeted as Gods, "Viracochas", because their lighter skin resembled their God Viracocha.

It is possible that Virochana indeed had a lighter skin color since he belonged to Asura Daitya tribe. But the "whiteness" here need not be mere skin color but could as well represent Virochana's role as a sun-god, who was often hailed as 'the bright one', 'the shining one', 'illuminating one', 'light', luster' etc.


Virochana's descendants in South America

In one legend he had one son, Inti, and two daughters, Mama Quilla and Pachamama. In this legend, he destroyed the people around Lake Titicaca with a Great Flood called Unu Pachakuti, saving two to bring civilization to the rest of the world, these two beings are Manco Cápac, the son of Inti (sometimes taken as the son of Viracocha), which name means "splendid foundation", and Mama Ocllo, which means "mother fertility". These two founded the Inca civilization carrying a golden staff, called ‘tapac-yauri’. In another legend, he fathered the first eight civilized human beings. In some stories, he has a wife called Mama Cocha.

In another legend, Viracocha had two sons, Imahmana Viracocha and Tocapo Virachocha. After the Great Flood and the Creation, Viracocha sent his sons to visit the tribes to the Northeast and Northwest to determine if they still obeyed his commandments. Viracocha himself traveled North. During their journey, Imaymana and Tocapo gave names to all the trees, flowers, fruits and herbs. They also taught the tribes which of these were edible, which had medicinal properties, and which were poisonous. Thus it is clear that Virochana's children spread the Inca civilization in South America.


Return of Virochana to India

Eventually, Viracocha, Tocapo and Imahmana arrived at Cuzco (in modern day Peru) and the Pacific seacoast where they walked across the water until they disappeared. It seems Virochana and his son sailed back to India.


Symmetry of Onam myth with Viracocha myth

In Kerala, as per Onam myth, a great king and leader of the people (viz. Asura Mahabhali, the son of Virochana) leaves his south western Indian coastal territory and goes to Rasatala and Patala. As if complementing this myth we have in South America and Meso America the myth of Viracocha arriving there from a far away land beyond the oceans and becoming their king / leader of people / god / builder of civilization. The Kerala myth also states that Mahabali will rule at Rasatala and Patala (identified as Africa and Americas respectively) like Indra as a great ruler and we see that was exactly Viracocha did in the Americas.

Thus it is possible that Viracocha of the Americas was none other than 'Asura Mahabali Virochana Putra' (Asura Mahabali, the son of Virochana) which got abbreviated as Viracocha.

There is also evidence for Mahabali's intermediate presence in Africa (Rasatala) in the Egyptian myth of Osiris. The Egyptian god Osiris is mentioned as the main god who brought civilization to Egypt from a far away land beyond the eastern shore / eastern ocean from a south eastern direction. The name 'Osiris' could be an abbreviation of the name 'Asura' the tribal appellation of Mahabali.



Ketumala is a geographical region mentioned extensively in Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana as an important region in the world known to ancient Indians. It is mentioned as a western region (indicative of America). It is mentioned as among the four continental regions known to ancient Indians as inhabited by people like them:- Bhadraswa (South East Asia), Ketumala (Americas), Jamvudwipa (Indian Sub-Continent), and Uttar-Kuru (Rest of Asia to the north of India). The remnant of the name Ketumala as applied to America is seen in the name Guatemala, a Meso American country, which was part of the Mayan cultural region.

As per Western historians the origin of the name "Guatemala" is unclear, but several theories exist. "Guatemala" is derived from "Goathemala," which means "the land of the trees" in the Maya-Toltec language. Another theory is that it comes from the Nahuatl expression "Cuauhtitlan," meaning "between the trees". All of these etymologies are incorrect and pales in comparison to the etymology derived from the Sanskrit territorial name Ketumala, applied to the Americas.


Uraga Uruguay connection

Uraga is an ancient Naga (snake worshiping) tribe mentioned in Mahabharata and other ancient Indian texts. There presence in Kashmir (with place names like Uri) and in Southern India is well attested in these texts. They were a sea-faring tribe like many Naga tribes. Their presence in South America is attested by the name of the country Uruguay.


Gaya and Apara Gaya in South America

Gaya was another Asura tribe mentioned in ancient Indian scriptures. An Asura by the name Gayasura belonging to this tribe is mentioned as ruling from a territory in what is now Bihar state of India. Currently the place name Gaya is a remnant of this territory. The Gaya-Asura tribe seems to have reached South America forming two kingdoms one (Gaya) in the east of South America and other to its west (Apara Gaya).

The name of two countries Guyana and Paraguay bears the name of ancient Gaya and Apara-Gaya (meaning the other Gaya or the western Gaya) in South America. Guyana is the ancient Gaya of America and Paraguay is the ancient Apara Gaya of America.