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 The Vedic Druids of Ancient Ireland
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Kirtanman

USA
1651 Posts

Posted - Aug 03 2009 :  8:12:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit Kirtanman's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
Curiouser and curiouser, I'd say .....

It appears, more and more, that non-yogic, exoteric religion is the recent historical exception to the conscious spirituality which has covered the world from (literally) before recorded history; yogic/experiential paths covered the globe at one time, identical in all but specific symbols and language.

The Vedic society of ancient India appears to have been global, or near global in scope, per information and academic research in every major field of study, in recent decades.


And yes, this is a very long post.

I plead "not-guilty by reason of 'the information is staggering'".



You see, it seems that, in recent years, academic researchers have found a few interesting connections between the Vedic Brahmins of ancient India, and the Vedic Druids of Ancient Ireland.

Yes, I said Vedic.

And, well, okay .... a bit beyond interesting.

And, well, okay .... a bit beyond connections.

*Identical mythological symbolism.
*Identical political system and legal structures.
*Identical poetic and musical structures.
*Identical *Language*.

Yes, Language:


Old Irish - arya (freeman),Sanskrit - aire (noble)
Old Irish - naib (good), Sanskrit - noeib (holy)
Old Irish - badhira (deaf), Sanskrit - bodhar (deaf)
Old Irish - names (respect), Sanskrit - nemed (respect)
Old Irish - righ (king), Sanskrit - raja (king)

**


"Professor Calvert Watkins of Harvard, one of the leading linguistic experts in his field, has pointed out that of all the Celtic linguistic remains, Old Irish represents an extraordinarily archaic and conservative tradition within the Indo-European family. Its nominal and verbal systems are a far truer reflection of the hypothesized parent tongue, from which all Indo- European languages developed, than are Classical Greek or Latin.

The structure of Old Irish, says Professor Watkins, can be compared only with that of Vedic Sanskrit".

"The Druids were not simply priesthood. They were the intellectual caste of ancient Celtic society, incorporating all the professions: judges, lawyers, medical doctors, ambassadors, historians and so forth, just as does the brahmin caste. In fact, other names designate the specific role of the "priests." Only Roman and later Christian propaganda turned them into "shamans," "wizards" and "magicians."

The scholars of the Greek Alexandrian school clearly described them as a parallel caste to the brahmins of Vedic society.

The very name Druid is composed of two Celtic word roots which have parallels in Sanskrit.

Indeed, the root vid for knowledge, which also emerges in the Sanskrit word Veda, demonstrates the similarity. The Celtic root dru which means "immersion" also appears in Sanskrit. So a Druid was one "immersed in knowledge."

Because Ireland was one of the few areas of the Celtic world that was not conquered by Rome and therefore not influenced by Latin culture until the time of its Christianization in the 5th century ce, its ancient Irish culture has retained the most clear and startling parallels to Hindu society."

"This {similarities} applies not only in the field of linguistics but in law and social custom, in mythology, in folk custom and in traditional musical form. The ancient Irish law system, the Laws of the Fénechus, is closely parallel to the Laws of Manu. Many surviving Irish myths, and some Welsh ones, show remarkable resemblances to the themes, stories and even names in the sagas of the Indian Vedas.

Comparisons are almost endless. Among the ancient Celts, Danu was regarded as the "Mother Goddess." The Irish Gods and Goddesses were the Tuatha De Danaan ("Children of Danu"). Danu was the "divine waters" falling from heaven and nurturing Bíle, the sacred oak from whose acorns their children sprang. Moreover, the waters of Danu went on to create the great Celtic sacred river--Danuvius, today called the Danube. Many European rivers bear the name of Danu--the Rhône (ro- Dhanu, "Great Danu") and several rivers called Don. Rivers were sacred in the Celtic world, and places where votive offerings were deposited and burials often conducted. The Thames, which flows through London, still bears its Celtic name, from Tamesis, the dark river, which is the same name as Tamesa, a tributary of the Ganges.

Not only is the story of Danu and the Danube a parallel to that of Ganga and the Ganges but a Hindu Danu appears in the Vedic story "The Churning of the Oceans," a story with parallels in Irish and Welsh mytholgy. Danu in Sanskrit also means "divine waters" and "moisture."

In ancient Ireland, as in ancient Hindu society, there was a class of poets who acted as charioteers to the warriors They were also their intimates and friends. In Irish sagas these charioteers extolled the prowess of the warriors. The Sanskrit Satapatha Brahmana says that on the evening of the first day of the horse sacrifice (and horse sacrifice was known in ancient Irish kingship rituals, recorded as late as the 12th century) the poets had to chant a praise poem in honor of the king or his warriors, usually extolling their genealogy and deeds.

Such praise poems are found in the Rig Veda and are called narasamsi. The earliest surviving poems in old Irish are also praise poems, called fursundud, which trace back the genealogy of the kings of Ireland to Golamh or Mile Easpain, whose sons landed in Ireland at the end of the second millennium bce.

When Amairgen, Golamh's son, who later traditions hail as the "first Druid," set foot in Ireland, he cried out an extraordinary incantation that could have come from the Bhagavad Gita, subsuming all things into his being:

Celtic cosmology is a parallel to Vedic cosmology. Ancient Celtic astrologers used a similar system based on twenty-seven lunar mansions, called nakshatras in Vedic Sanskrit.

Like the Hindu Soma, King Ailill of Connacht, Ireland, had a circular palace constructed with twenty-seven windows through which he could gaze on his twenty-seven "star wives."

There survives the famous first century bce Celtic calendar (the Coligny Calendar) which, as soon as it was first discovered in 1897, was seen to have parallels to Vedic calendrical computations. In the most recent study of it, Dr. Garret Olmsted, an astronomer as well as Celtic scholar, points out the startling fact that while the surviving calendar was manufactured in the first century bce, astronomical calculus shows that it must have been computed in 1100 bce.

One fascinating parallel is that the ancient Irish and Hindus used the name Budh for the planet Mercury. The stem budh appears in all the Celtic languages, as it does in Sanskrit, as meaning "all victorious," "gift of teaching," "accomplished," "enlightened," "exalted" and so on. The names of the famous Celtic queen Boudicca, of ancient Britain (1st century ce), and of Jim Bowie (1796-1836), of the Texas Alamo fame, contain the same root. Buddha is the past participle of the same Sanskrit word--"one who is enlightened."


Amairgen was the first Druid to arrive in Ireland. Peter Berresford Ellis, author of The Ancient World of the Celts, states:

"In this song Amairgen subsumes everything into his own being with a philosophic outlook that parallels the declaration of Krishna in the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita.

The Song of Amairgen the Druid

I am the wind that blows across the sea;
I am the wave of the ocean;
I am the murmur of the billows;
I am the bull of the seven combats;
I am the vulture on the rock;
I am a ray of the sun;
I am the fairest of flowers;
I am a wild boar in valor;
I am a salmon in the pool;
I am a lake on the plain;
I am the skill of the craftsman;
I am a word of science;
I am the spearpoint that gives battle;
I am the God who creates in the head of man the fire of thought.
Who is it that enlightens the assembly upon the mountain, if not I?
Who tells the ages of the moon, if not I?
Who shows the place where the sun goes to rest, if not I?
Who is the God that fashions enchantments-- The enchantment of battle and the wind of change?


It also is quite similar in style and content to the more ancient Sri Rudra chant of the Yajur Veda."

SOURCE: http://www.hinduwisdom.info/article...uism/258.htm

But wait ... there's more ........

"The Druids also highly revered the number three, and it is believed that they may have taught much of their philosophy in poetic, triadic form. "

(Compare with the Trika path of Kashmir Shaivism, spoken of by Abhinavagupta as the "highest" yogic path.)

"There has been a lot of speculation about the secret wisdom that the Druids possessed, that so impressed the learned men and priests of the ancient world, but their policy was to never write any of it down, preferring instead an emphasis on the art of memory and oral teachings to specially prepared candidates."

(Compare to Vedic/yogic oral traditions, and guru-disciple initiatory relationships.)


It is believed that sun worship may have played an important part of their beliefs, and that Druidism was monotheistic, as they ultimately believed in one divine spirit, while deeply venerating the sun, moon, stars, and nature spirits.

(Compare to Vedic Hinduism/Tantric Shaivism.)

Interestingly, a good number of early Celtic beliefs seem to have similarities with early Indian Vedic culture and beliefs. This is most likely because of their common Indo-European heritage, as academics like Dumezil have shown regarding languages. Briefly, Celtic deities included Gods who often had multiple functions, who actualised nature forces, promulgated ethics, justice, knowledge, arts, crafts, medicine, speech, harvests, gave courage for war and battled forces of darkness, and there are Goddesses of land, rivers and springs. The early Irish god Lugh may have been an early solar deity, as he is portrayed as a bright, shining god who is later thought to have been a possible prototype for St. Michael. The name Lugh means "shining one" and his festival is on Lughnasadh, the eve of 1st August. Other gods in the early Celtic pantheon were also believed to have bright, shining qualities. The early Vedic pantheon included deities of fire, solar, atmospheric and nature forces, ritual stimulants, speech, crafts, arts, harvest, medicine, ethical order, war, and battlers of malevolent beings. There are goddesses of land, rivers, and so on and, like the Celtic deities, gods are often shown as having overlapping functions. The word deva means "shining one", or a god that is very bright, a spiritual being.

In Irish mythology, the number seventeen comes up in many contexts - 17 days, 17 years, etc. Why, in an early Irish tale, does the Druid advise Maelduin to take only seventeen men with him on his famous voyage? In the early Book of Invasions, Mil arrived in Ireland in the seventeenth of the moon; the age of consent in early Ireland was seventeen, when boys became men.

But why seventeen? The Vedas say that the heavens were divided into seventeen regions, 'Prajapati is the year, so Prajapati is seventeen.'


Druidism

Druidism is probably one of the most misunderstood subjects in Celtic history, with the popular image of men in white cloaks cutting mistletoe with a golden scythe in an oak grove. The Druids were in fact members of the learned class among the ancient Celts. They served many functions, among them priests, teachers, judges, seers, doctors and philosophers, and were highly respected by many in the ancient world. The origins and meaning of the word "Druid" has been much debated by scholars. In Old Irish, the singular form of the word is "drui"; the plural form is "druid". The celebrated language scholar Rudolf Thurneysen derived the word "druid" from the Old Irish "dru" prefix, meaning "thorough" and "vid", meaning "know", so that a Druid was understood to be a person of great knowledge or wisdom. Early classical writers such as Pliny related it to the Greek word for oak, "drus". Combining these, the word "Druid" has generally come to mean a "wise man or a priest, of the oak". The female equivalent is "Druidess".

The early Irish writers generally wrote of their druids in much the same way as did those on the Continent, using the word "drui". Latin writers usually translated the word "Druid" as "magus", meaning a seer. Further, the early Celtic and Greek languages are branches on the large tree of the Indo-European family of languages, which may explain why there is such a similarity between many Old Irish and Sanskrit words, a subject addressed later in this article.

But any serious study of the Druids should start with examining the earliest sources. The classical writers, such as Caesar (Gallic Wars), Strabo (Geography) and Pliny (Natural History) provide us with information about the customs of the Druids, much of their material attributed to a lost shared source, the writings of the Stoic philosopher Posidonius. The classical writers wrote about the Celts during the 1st century BC and the first few centuries AD. Caesar was hardly unbiased, of course, as he was sent to Gaul to conquer their people and their renowned priesthood - the Druids. His account of the Druids from Book VI of his "Gallic Wars" is the most descriptive that we have:

...The Druids are concerned with the worship of the gods, look after public and private sacrifice, and expound religious matters. A large number of young men flock to them for training and hold them in high honour. For they have the right to decide nearly all public and private disputes and they also pass judgement and decide rewards and penalties in criminal and murder cases and in disputes concerning legacies and boundaries... It is thought that this [Druidic] system of training was invented in Britain and taken over from there to Gaul, and at the present time, diligent students of the matter mostly travel there to study it...

Caesar then continues:

... The Druids are wont to be absent from war, nor do they pay taxes like the others... It is said that they commit to memory immense amounts of poetry. And so some of them continue their studies for twenty years. They consider it improper to entrust their studies to writing...They are chiefly anxious to have men believe the following: that souls do not suffer death, but after death pass from one body to another; and they regard this as the strongest incentive to valour, since the fear of death is disregarded. They have also much knowledge of the stars and their motion, of the size of the world and of the earth, of natural philosophy, and of the powers and spheres of action of the immortal gods...

Caesar and his contemporaries portray the Druids as enjoying high status within Gallic society, of a rank akin to the knights, who were the highest nobility below the tribal chief magistrate or king. In the Celtic world, the priesthood was a separate, highly respected and important grade of society; some early writers compared them to the famed Indian Brahmins, the Persian magi, or the Egyptian priests. They were generally seen by the Romans as priests, seers, healers, prophets, magicians, and, in one account, Strabo comments that in former times, Druids could even intervene and stop armies from fighting.

But, unfortunately, most of the information that we have about the Druids is from their enemies - the Romans. Later descriptions depict the Druids as hiding in forest groves conducting strange rites of sacrifice. But what is indisputable is that the Druids were especially gifted at poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, and all verbal skills. Most early sources agree that the Druidic elite was divided into three parts: the Bards (lyric poets, musicians), Vates (diviners and seers) and the Druids (priests, philosophers, theologians).

One obvious question is: but what happened to the Druids, and Druidism, after the arrival of the Romans? We learn from the texts of Suetonius, Tacitus, and Pliny that the early Roman emperors of the 1st century AD saw their powerful priesthood as a threat and tried to suppress it. Augustus banned Roman citizens from joining the Druids; his successor Tiberius had a much harsher policy, issuing an edict to get rid of the Druids "and that class of seers and doctors" altogether. Under Claudius, it appears that the Druids didn't fare well at all, with Suetonius claiming that he abolished Druidism completely. Many of the battles between the Druids and the Romans were very bloody. In the documents known as the "Augustan Histories", there are references to Druidic prophetesses who acted as fortune-tellers for emperors such as Severus and Diocletian in the 3rd century, but, for the most part, Druidism had largely died out by then.

The Irish manuscripts, written by Christian monks from the 5th century onwards, have numerous references to Druids in them. They are portrayed mainly as prophets or seers and, especially in the saints' lives of Patrick and Brigid, they are shown to be hostile to the new faith. Cathbadh, the Druid attached to the household of Conchobor, King of Ulster, is sometimes portrayed as being more powerful than the king himself. There is still scholarly debate about how, and to what extent, the early Druids may have been assimilated into the new Christian monasteries. As might be expected from devout Christian scribes, the beliefs and magic of the Druids are clearly seen as inferior to the new faith - Christianity. However, Christian saints are sometimes portrayed as using basically the same magical techniques as their Druid counterparts, but in the name of Christ!

So what did the Druids believe? What was their overall cosmology? A number of early writers acknowledge that they were masters of philosophy, of problems secret and sublime, and of religious matters. They were also renowned for their astronomical knowledge and for their healing abilities. The Christian author Hippolytus says that the Druids were capable of foretelling certain events by means of Pythagorean reckoning and calculation. It was known in the ancient world that the Druids, the "magi of the North", believed in the immortality of the soul, and in reincarnation. At funerals, the Druids were known to sometimes throw some letters on the pyre written to the dead by their kinsmen, as they were certain that the dead would be able to know of their content. (Given the supposed illiteracy of the pre-Roman Celts, this is a curious remark!) It was also known that the Druids were so certain of the reality of reincarnation, that if one loaned money to another, it was understood that the debt could be repaid in the next life.

The Druids also highly revered the number three, and it is believed that they may have taught much of their philosophy in poetic, triadic form. There has been a lot of speculation about the secret wisdom that the Druids possessed, that so impressed the learned men and priests of the ancient world, but their policy was to never write any of it down, preferring instead an emphasis on the art of memory and oral teachings to specially prepared candidates. It is believed that sun worship may have played an important part of their beliefs, and that Druidism was monotheistic, as they ultimately believed in one divine spirit, while deeply venerating the sun, moon, stars, and nature spirits.

Interestingly, a good number of early Celtic beliefs seem to have similarities with early Indian Vedic culture and beliefs. This is most likely because of their common Indo-European heritage, as academics like Dumezil have shown regarding languages. Briefly, Celtic deities included Gods who often had multiple functions, who actualised nature forces, promulgated ethics, justice, knowledge, arts, crafts, medicine, speech, harvests, gave courage for war and battled forces of darkness, and there are Goddesses of land, rivers and springs. The early Irish god Lugh may have been an early solar deity, as he is portrayed as a bright, shining god who is later thought to have been a possible prototype for St. Michael. The name Lugh means "shining one" and his festival is on Lughnasadh, the eve of 1st August. Other gods in the early Celtic pantheon were also believed to have bright, shining qualities. The early Vedic pantheon included deities of fire, solar, atmospheric and nature forces, ritual stimulants, speech, crafts, arts, harvest, medicine, ethical order, war, and battlers of malevolent beings. There are goddesses of land, rivers, and so on and, like the Celtic deities, gods are often shown as having overlapping functions. The word deva means "shining one", or a god that is very bright, a spiritual being.

In Irish mythology, the number seventeen comes up in many contexts - 17 days, 17 years, etc. Why, in an early Irish tale, does the Druid advise Maelduin to take only seventeen men with him on his famous voyage? In the early Book of Invasions, Mil arrived in Ireland in the seventeenth of the moon; the age of consent in early Ireland was seventeen, when boys became men. But why seventeen? The Vedas say that the heavens were divided into seventeen regions, 'Prajapati is the year, so Prajapati is seventeen.'

The Celtic god of thunder was Taranis who carried thunderbolts and was also a god of war. Before the Romans came, Taranis may well have existed as an elemental supernatural force, like the sun; later, he is known to have been a powerful thunder god and also is believed to have been a more universal sky-god, with control over the weather. A Vedic god of rain and thunder was Indra, who carried thunderbolts. Some of the Celtic fire rituals were conducted in pits with offerings of herbs, mead and cakes, by chanting Druids, the priests. A central Vedic ritual was the fire sacrifice, performed in pits with offerings of ghee, spices, and rice - offered by the mantric-chanting Brahmin priests.

It appears that both the early Irish Celts and the Vedic Hindus believed that the gods are particularly fond of music; poet-singers sing and praise the gods with the intention that the gods may be pleased and may grant gifts. Both cultures value music, sound and vibration highly - in early Ireland, particularly vocal music, poetic incantations and harp music; Vedic music is mainly vocal, consisting of singing samans, recitations, etc. While an acknowledgement of the spiritual power of music is almost universal in ancient traditions, musicologists have examined some of these issues, and suggest close correspondences between these particular cultures. The Irish music critic, Fanny Feehan, in a paper entitled "Suggested Links Between Eastern and Celtic Music" (1981) states:

...In the area of vocal ornamentation East and West come close. I once played a Claddagh recording of Maire Aine (Ni Dhonnacha) singing `Barr an tSleibhe' for an Indian Professor of Music who refused to believe, until I showed her the sleeve of the record, that it was an Irish song. She claimed, and demonstrated by singing to me, that the song bore a strange resemblence to an Indian (North) raga about a young girl being lured toward a mountain. The Professor was interested in the mode, the pitching of the voice, and certain notes which were characteristic of both the raga and `Barr na tSleibhe'...

One of the most ancient forms of Celtic music, which still survives in a few areas in western Ireland, is the marbhnai, or "death song", also called keening. (caoine). These songs are sung by women, and have been compared with the raga style of India, which it is similarly improvised around three or four notes. Historian Bryan McMahon plays an interesting game with every Indian guest who visits a certain hotel in County Kerry, Ireland. He hums certain Irish folk music and then asks them to complete it however they like. He says that, almost every time, they will sing it like they already know the song. McMahon believes that, for him, it is an indication that Indians and Irishmen have a common past of some kind. What can be said for sure, is that both cultures greatly valued and enjoyed music on many different levels.

But the two cultures also share the broader concept of a special magico-religious power of music, and an awareness of the breath and of poetic verse.

Druids memorised extremely long poetic sagas that often ended with a three-part cadence at the end; the bards of the Vedic literature are portrayed as memorising lengthy poetic sagas that convey spiritual knowledge and dharmic duty, and the poetic metre often ends with a three-part cadence at the end.

SOUCE: http://www.ancientquest.com/embark/druidism.html

Advaito'ham,

Kirtanman

Edited by - Kirtanman on Aug 03 2009 10:32:19 PM

Kirtanman

USA
1651 Posts

Posted - Aug 03 2009 :  8:34:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit Kirtanman's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Oh, and by the way, most of us with Celtic heritage know the word "Clan".

It comes from (you guessed it), the Sanskrit "Kula" - meaning: *Clan*.



And ... why yes ... as in Kula Tantra.


Edited by - Kirtanman on Aug 03 2009 8:37:09 PM
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Sparkle

Ireland
1431 Posts

Posted - Aug 04 2009 :  05:01:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit Sparkle's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Cool
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jamuna

Australia
102 Posts

Posted - Jul 05 2010 :  06:50:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I love this sort of history, my friend lent me a book called anastasia, in one part there is a description of druids and quite an interesting story, it's very light reading though but has its place.
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Scott

USA
969 Posts

Posted - Jul 05 2010 :  10:05:30 AM  Show Profile  Visit Scott's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Really cool, thanks.
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cosmic

USA
779 Posts

Posted - Jul 05 2010 :  7:37:18 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
FYI - The Norse diversion seems to have been split into a new topic here:

Norse mythology and yoga
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KriyabanSeeking

USA
24 Posts

Posted - Jul 26 2010 :  11:56:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting. Thank you for posting this.

Blessings!
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