Intro: Questioning the Darwinian theory of evolution, New York based freelancer’s attempt to link his findings with Vedic perspective has sparked deliberations in academic community across the world.
Since time immemorial, the antiquity of the human race has been haunting the minds of the thinking men. In spite of several theories and concepts provided by different religions and through scientific research, the quest seeking answer to this fundamental question continues to ignite the curiosity of human mind. In India too, several Hindu texts have proclaimed that humans have existed on this planet for millions of years.
Michael A Cremo, New York based freelance researcher declares that he has unearthed archaeological evidence to prove that humans have existed on this planet for millions of years. Cremo’s attempt to link his findings with the Vedic perspective on human origins has been instrumental for starting serious deliberations in the academic community all over the globe. In his path breaking book, Forbidden Archeology; the Hidden History of human race, questioning the Drawinian theory of evolution, Cremo expounds an alternative theory of evolution. He asserts that the crucial archaeological evidence was ignored by the so called scientific community simply because it contradicted the established ‘Theory of Evolution’. To the question, if we did not evolve from apes, from where did we come from, Cremo, supporting the ancient wisdom of the Vedic seers says, “We did not evolve from matter; instead we evolved, or came down, from the realm of pure consciousness, spirit.” Basing his arguments on modern science and the world’s great wisdom traditions, including the Vedic philosophy of ancient India, in his book ‘Human Devolution,’ written as a sequel to Forbidden Archeology, Cremo asserts that humans are a combination of matter, mind and consciousness (spirit). The book shows how a subtle mind element and a conscious self that can exist apart from the body have been systematically eliminated from main stream science.
He identifies himself as a Vedic creationist and an alternative archeologist and argues that humans have lived on the earth for billions of years. After attending George Washington University from 1966 to 1968, he served in the United States Navy. In 1973 on receiving a copy of Bhagavad Gita, Cremo decided to devote his life to Krishna. Attracted by the teachings of the Gita, he became a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and the Bhaktivedanta Institute. He has written several books and articles about Hindu spirituality under the name Drutakarmā dāsa. He has also been a contributing editor to the magazine Back to Godhead and a bhakti yoga teacher.
After his first visit in 1979, he has visited India several times.On many occasions, he has addressed at universities and scientific institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT Chennai, IIT Mumbai, Benaras Hindu University, University of Kolkata, University of Kerala, etc.
Excerpts from an exclusive email interview with Kerala based senior journalist Pradeep Krishnan.
- Tell us about your journey from Michael A Cremo to Drutakar-madasa?
I liked the ‘Bhagavad Gita as it is’. After that I visited one of the ISKCON centers and was surprised to see American young people living the teachings of the Gita. That really impressed me. After some time, I decided to live in an ISKCON centre, practicing bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion to Lord Krishna. I had the chance to hear some lectures by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada when he was visiting an ISKCON center in America and I became his initiated disciple in 1976 and received from him the name Drutakarma Dasa.
- What are your views on the Vedas, the ancient texts of India? It is often alleged that they only contain a bundle of rituals and superstitions?
Veda means knowledge. There exist different kinds of knowledge, the highest being knowledge of the true nature of the self. Of course, there are several schools of Vedic thought. I confess to being a follower of the Vaishnava school of thought, which holds that the true nature of the self is eternal servant of the Supreme Self, God. The teachings are scientific, in the sense that they give procedures by which the truth of the teachings can be personally verified and experienced.
- Your book ‘Forbidden Archeology’ has attracted attention from some mainstream scholars as it touches the ancient wisdom of Vedic masters of India. However, some describe it as pseudoscience. What are your comments?
Among the Vedic literatures are the historical writings, which are collectively called the Puranas. The Puranas present an account of human antiquity different from that currently accepted by most archeologists. Today, most archeologists believe that the first humans like us appeared less than 200,000 years ago, having evolved from more primitive apelike human ancestors. But the Puranas contain accounts of humans existing many millions of years ago, going back to the very beginnings of life on earth. All over India, one can find places where events in human history took place in different yugas, millions of years ago. It is true that one will not find such archeological evidence in the current textbooks. I decided, however, to look beyond the textbooks. I spent eight years researching the original scientific reports by archeologists and geologists, from the time of Darwin to the present. When I did that I found many reports of discoveries of human bones, human footprints, and human artifacts millions of years old. These reports are not mentioned in the current textbooks, because of what I call a process of knowledge filtration that operates in the world of science. I collected these reports of archeological evidence for extreme human antiquity, consistent with the Vedic histories, in my book Forbidden Archeology, and its abridged edition The Hidden History of the Human Race. I have presented many papers about these things at major international scientific conferences. Some of these papers have been appeared in peer reviewed scientific publications. I have also spoken about this topic at scientific institutions and universities around the world. .
- Your book ‘Human Devolution’ seeks to offer Vedic alternative to Darwin’s theory. Tell us briefly about the book.
The archeological evidence in my book Forbidden Archeology contradicts the Darwinian theory of human origins. So my readers naturally asked, “What are you proposing as an alternative?” To answer that question I wrote Human Devolution: a Vedic Alterna-tive to Darwin’s Theory. Most of the Darwinist scientists believe that we are machines made of matter, machines made of molecules. They believe that our consciousness is produced by chemicals in the brain. But according to the Vedas we are not just machines made of matter. The Vedas say “aham brahmasmi,” I am spirit, pure consciousness. This consciousness is not produced by matter. It exists independently from matter. In my book I review the scientific evidence for this. But although consciousness is by nature independent from matter, it can come into association with matter. That is our current condition. So as conscious beings, we do not evolve from matter, as many scientists now believe. Instead, we devolve, or come down, from the level of pure consciousness. But the process can be reversed, and consciousness can be restored to its original pure state, free from its contact with matter. That is the actual purpose of human life.
- What are your views on Bhagavad Gita?
I see the Bhagavad Gita as summarising the essential spiritual teachings of the Vedas. I find it significant that it is presented as a dialogue between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. In the course of the dialogue, Arjuna presents many questions and doubts, to which Lord Krishna replies. Many philosophical positions are examined before the final conclusion is reached. So I liked it very much that the teachings of the Gita were presented in the text not as some dogmas, but as some conclusions reached after thorough intellectual discussion.
- Your views on vegetarianism?
I follow a spiritual vegetarian diet. When I accepted initiation from my guru, I promised never to eat meat, fish, or eggs (and also no onions and no garlic). In this way, one avoids the karmic reactions that come from killing animals. But there is some karmic reaction even for those who consume only vegetarian things. So from Bhagavad Gita, I learned that a truly spiritual person eats only food that has been offered first to God. That is called prasada, the mercy of God, and it is free of karma. I have been following this diet for forty years now. I think it is good from the point of view of spirituality, health, ethics, and the environment.
- World over Hindu philosophy is gaining wider acceptance. However, in India, teaching/ studying Hindu philosophy and its sacred texts are considered anti-secular.
The secular states all over the world have not been able to stop crime, political corruption, unemployment, recessions, depressions, war, social conflict, environmental degradation and so many other problems. And of course there are the larger problems of birth, death, old age, and disease that confront everyone, even in the secular state. A true understanding of the Vedic teachings offers us not only the chance to elevate consciousness beyond the cycle of birth and death but also the chance to live in this world in the best way possible, even from the secular point of view.
- We have been continuously destroying our planet earth by our actions? What is the solution?
I addressed questions like this in a book that I wrote with Mukunda Goswani, titled Divine Nature: A Spiritual Perspective on the Environmental Crisis. The key is to understand that nature is God’s energy. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, he is the source of everything and that matter, in its various forms, is one of his divine energies. So we should take care of them.