Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, , at sacred-texts.com
To the first men, if the Garden of Eden was located at the Pole, there could have been but one day and one night in a year. Moreover, at the break of that strange day the sun must have risen, not in the East, as in postdiluvian times, but in the South. Do the traditions or sacred books of the ancient world afford any hint of such a sunrise and of such an Eden day?
A partial answer to this question is found in the beliefs of the ancient Northmen. A learned Danish writer pronounces it "remarkable" that the Scandinavian mythology informs us that, before the establishment of the present order of the world, the sun, which now rises in the East, "rose in the South." 1
Equally striking confirmations appear in other mythologies. Turning to the second Fargard of the Avesta, we find the most ancient Iranian account of Yima, the first man and "the King of the Golden Age." A detailed account is also given of a certain
[paragraph continues] Vara, or inclosure, which as a safe habitationa kind of Garden of Edenhe was divinely commanded to make. Then comes this singular question and answer: "O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! What lights are there in the Vara which Yima made?"
"Ahura Mazda answered: There are uncreated lights and created lights. There the stars, the moon, and the sun are only once a year seen to rise and set, and a year seems only as a day." 1 Haug's version of the last clause is, "And they think that a day which is a year." 2 Spiegel's is the same, 3 although in his Commentary he confesses himself perplexed as to the meaning of so remarkable a declaration. "The really genuine words," he observes, "are very difficult." They are not so when once the key is found.
That the East Aryans had the same idea is also evident from the Laws of Manu. Among this people Yamathe same as the Iranian Yimawas the first man. His first abode, as we have seen, was at the North Pole, and at death he became a god, the guardian of the South Pole, at which was the region of the dead. But though the Hindus no longer associated him with the North at the time of the writing of this ancient book, they well understood that Yama's primitive Eden in Ilâvrita, around the north polar Meru, where the gods reside, has only one day and one night in the year. This is the language of the Code: "A year of mortals is a day
and a night of the gods, or regents of the universe seated around the North Pole; and again their division is this: their day is the northern and their night the southern course of the sun." 1
In like manner, in the Sûrya Siddhânta we read, "The gods behold the sun, after it is once arisen, for half a year." 2
Equally unmistakable is the language of the probably more ancient work, lately translated under the title of "The Institutes of Vishnu:"
"The northern progress of the sun is a day with the gods.
"The southern progress of the sun is (with them) a night.
"A year is (with them) a day and a night." 3
This strange notion is perfectly clear and comprehensible the moment we assume that the long-lived fathers and first regents of the human race originally dwelt at the North Pole, and that these, apotheosized and glorified in the imagination of later generations, in time became the gods which ancient nations worshiped.
Both in the Iliad and Odyssey the learned Anton Krichenbauer finds two kinds of days continually referred to. In what he considers the more ancient portions of the poems, the day is a period of one year's duration, especially when used in describing the life and exploits of the gods; in what he considers the more modern portions, the term has its modern meaning as a period of twenty-four hours. He quotes Lepsius as recognizing a similar "one-day year" in the Egyptian and other ancient chronologies; also the mention made of it by Palaifatos and Suidas. 1
In all such hitherto unnoticed testimoniesand we have not exhausted the list of them 2we have new and singularly unimpeachable evidences that in the thought of these ancient peoples the land in which the generated gods and men alike originated was a land in which, as in our Polar Eden, a day and a night filled out the year. And if such was their
idea, whence, save from actual tradition, could they have derived it? As cautious a scientific authority as Sir Charles Lyell, speaking of these cosmological and chronological traditions of the Hindus, says: "We can by no means look upon them as a pure effort of the unassisted imagination, or believe them to have been composed without regard to opinions and theories founded on the observation of Nature." 1
Even where the tradition has become distorted or inverted among barbarians, the parallelism of the year and the day is not always lost. A curious instance of this has come under the notice of the writer since the present chapter was begun: "In those days (in the world before the present) the seasons were much shorter than they are now. A year then was but as a day of our time." 2
197:1 "Ce quil y a de plus remarquable dans la mythologie du Nord, cest quelle nous reconte quavant lordre actuel des choses (avant que les fils de Bor, cest-à-dire les dieux, eussent créé Midgard), le soleil se levait au Sud, tandis quà présent il se lève à lEst."Frédérik Klee, Le Déluge, Fr. ed. Paris, 1847: p. 224.
198:1 Darmesteter's Translation, vol. i., p. 20.
198:2 Haug's Essays on the Religion of the Parsis, 2d ed., p. 235.
198:3 "Diese (die Bewohner) halten für einen Tag was ein Jahr ist." Spiegel, Avesta. Leipsic, 1852: vol. i., p. 77. See also his Commentar über das Avesta. Wien, 1864: vol. i., pp. 78, 79.
199:1 Code of Manu, i. 67.
199:2 Chapter xii., 74.
199:3 The Institutes of Vishnu, translated by Julius Jolly. Ch. xx., 1, 2, 3. Sacred Books of the East, vol. vii., p. 97. I cannot help thinking that in these alternate approaches and recessions of the sun we have the true explanation of the origin of the old Rabbinical idea of half-yearly cold and heat in hell, this latter being located, as we have shown, at the South Pole: "The great Jalkut Rubeni gives us the following account of hell: Sheol is half fire and half hail, and therein are many rivers of fire. The seven abodes (or divisions) of hell are very spacious; and in each there are seven rivers of fire and seven rivers of hail. The uppermost abode is sixty times less than the second, and thus the second is sixty times larger than the first, and every abode is sixty times larger than that which precedes it. In each abode are seven thousand caverns, and in each cavern seven thousand clefts, and in each cleft seven thousand scorpions; and each scorpion hath seven limbs, and on each limb are one thousand barrels of gall. There are likewise seven rivers of rankest poison, which when a man toucheth he bursteth; and the destroying angels judge him and scourge him every moment, half a year in the fire and half a year in the hail and snow. And the cold is more intolerable than the fire." Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, vol. ii., p. 345 (English translation, vol. ii., p. 52). According to the Sûrya Siddânta, the demons as well as the gods behold the sun for six months at a time.
200:1 Beiträge zur homerischen Uranographie. Wien, 1874 pp. 1-34. Comp. p. 68.
200:2 Even the Bushmen of South Africa have the strange idea that the sun did not shine on their country in the beginning. Only after the children of the first Bushmen had been sent up to the [Northern?] top of the world and had launched the sun was light procured for this [subterranean] South African region. Bushman Folk-lore. By W. H. J. Sleek, Ph. D., Parliament Report. Capetown and London, 1875: p. 9. A similar myth was found among the Australian aborigines.
201:1 Elements of Geology, 11th ed., vol. i., p. 8.
201:2 W. Matthews, "The Navajo Mythology," in The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal. Chicago, July, 1883: p. 209. Compare the expression given by Garcia as from the Mixteque cosmogony, in P. Dabry de Thiersant, Origin des Indiens du Nouveau-Monde. Paris, 1883: p. 140 n. 2.