Solar Outbursts, Cataclysmic Events, and the Yugas
In The Holy Science Sri Yukteswar describes a recurring cycle of human development called the cycle of the yugas (ages), caused by influences from outside our solar system that affect the consciousness of all humanity. He explains that as the yugas advance, humanity increasingly manifests its higher potentials and expresses divine virtue more and more completely. The world is now in the ascending half of the cycle, in the second age (Dwapara Yuga), which began in 1900 A.D. The highest age, (Satya Yuga) will begin in 7700 AD and reach its peak in 12,500 A.D. The last Satya Yuga ended about 9000 years ago. (See right sidebar.)
The system of yugas outlined by Sri Yukteswar teaches us to look to the distant past for clues to what lies ahead, in our own future. Sri Yukteswar asserts that in ancient times, say 12,000 years ago, human beings had far greater capacity for understanding than we enjoy today – an idea directly at odds with mainstream conventional archaeology, which insists that only small groups of primitive hunter-gathers roamed the earth in those days, ignorant of the trappings of civilization, and certainly not capable of coordinated projects.
Recent discoveries, however, provide persuasive support for Sri Yukteswar’s assertions while discrediting those of mainstream archeology.
Scientific support for Sri Yukteswar’s theories
In plain sight in south-eastern Turkey is an archeological dig, ongoing since 1995, which is forcing a drastic change in thinking. It is called Göbekli Tepe. Picture if you will a hill with perhaps twenty stone circles somewhat Stonehenge-like, but with T-shaped finely finished pillars with a scattering of elegantly carved positive reliefs of animals. When Stonehenge was built, Göbekli Tepe’s monumental architecture was already more ancient than Stonehenge’s is to us today. After about two thousand years of use, the Göbekli Tepe site was very carefully buried, preserving it intact. Then the people who built it seem to have simply disappeared.
The four stone circles of Göbekli Tepe so far excavated have been radiocarbon dated, not only from organic material found at the site, but also from accumulated mineral deposits. This analysis indicates that the site dates to 12,000 to 11,000 years ago and was intentionally buried about 10,000 years ago.
In the conventional theory of linear progress from cave-man to astronaut, there is really no place for Göbekli Tepe, but it fits well in a Satya Yuga, 12,000 years ago, when mankind had no need of farming or metal tools or writing, or mechanical means of transportation and communication.
The “new archaeology” movement
It is an accepted notion in science that, while a theory can never be proved to be true for every possible case, if it is known to fail in even a single instance it is clearly at least partly false or incomplete. Has Göbekli Tepe overturned the conventional linear picture of the development of human society?
Not quite yet! Many a scientific career is firmly wedded to the status quo, and conventional archaeology is slow to accept the full implications of Göbekli Tepe – that such a refined level of megalithic construction could exist at such an early date.
However a “new archaeology” movement is developing that is open to examining the facts rather than following established dogmas. A leading light in this movement is the scientist Robert Schoch, geology professor at Boston College. In addition to his many technical academic works, Schoch is the author of a whole shelf of books and articles addressed to the general reader. *
The new archaeology is but one aspect of the revolution in thinking that is underway, a sweeping revolution that crosses all boundaries of narrow academic disciplines – as it must if a more coherent world view is ever to emerge. Robert Schoch’s latest book is a great example, touching as it does on plasma physics, paleoclimatology, astronomy, archaeology, geophysics and mythology. Yet the book is very readable and accessible to a lay audience.
Did solar outbursts end the last ice age?
Starting with the scientific observation that the sun is presently increasing in its activity and thereby posing a threat to our high-tech society, Schoch looks at geological and archaeological evidence of past solar eruptions and associates a major solar outburst with the very sudden global warming that ended the last ice age. He ties that solar event, which would have been a horrendous catastrophe, to archaeological evidence from Göbekli Tepe, Easter Island and elsewhere.
We are accustomed to think of our sun as the epitome of constancy and dependability, but astronomers know that stars in general are variable to some degree – some extremely so, and many, if not most, varying in a cyclic way. Although a roughly twenty-two year cycle of sunspots has long been well known, it is only recently, with the advent of space probes, that detailed observations of solar activity has been possible.
Occasionally the intense magnetic fields around a sunspot will generate a brilliant flare and create an eruption called a “coronal mass ejection,” or CME. Such outbursts are now observed with a variety of instruments, and their trajectories through the solar system to the earth and beyond are carefully tracked. When a CME is directed toward our planet, astronauts on the International Space Station head for protected areas to wait out the onslaught of charged particles, and observers in the far northern and southern latitudes watch for magnificent auroral displays.**
Are we vulnerable to a major solar outburst?
In his recent book, Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in Our Past and Future, Robert Schoch calls our attention to such a major such outburst that struck the earth in 1866, one called the Carrington Event after the astronomer who spotted its brief initial flare on the sun. As a result of the Carrington Event, the magnetic field of the earth was wildly disrupted and the currents induced in telegraph lines caused fires and nearly electrocuted operators. If such an event occurred today it would be devastating to our modern interconnected electronic society, and Schoch attempts to describe the horrendous consequences that would result.
Ancient tree-rings provide an indirect record of solar magnetic activity extending back some 9600 years, almost to the end of the last glaciation. This record reveals that in the course of the last 70 years, the sun’s overall level of activity has risen higher than it has been at any time since about the end of the last ice age. That ancient period of high activity was marked by wild fluctuations from one cycle to the next.
Schoch points out that the sun is currently following a similarly erratic pattern: In 2008-2009 we experienced an unusually low and extended minimum count of sunspots. (Sunspot count is one of several correlates of solar activity.) Now, at the close of 2012, the sun is approaching a sunspot maximum which some computer models had initially predicted would peak in 2012 at a level significantly higher than the previous maximum of 2001.Yet by mid-2011 scientists reported an unusual and unexpected drop in solar activity and now anticipate a much lower maximum. So far (December 2012) the sunspot count is only about half of the previous peak and may not even reach the low count presently expected.
An analogy to earthquake faults
If this erratic, unpredictable behavior during a period of overall higher activity is similar to the sun’s behavior 9600 years ago at the close of the ice age, as Schoch suggests, we may well be in for trouble ahead. Schoch suggests an analogy with earthquake faults that often remain quiet for long periods as they build up energy that is then released all at once in a major quake. Could the sun be building up magnetic energy in this quiet cycle to be later released in an outburst of giant coronal mass ejections?
While Robert Schoch is not alone in his concern with our vulnerability to the expected solar outbursts, the connection that he makes to the archaeological evidence of prior solar events is a unique and very important contribution to the discussion.
Four evidence-backed themes
In sum, Robert Schoch weaves together four themes in Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in Our Past and Future:
1) Schoch cites mainstream research that establishes that the sun has recently become more active than at any time since a period of intense activity that coincided with the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years agond explores the catastrophic consequences we would experience from a solar outburst even as minor as the well-known Carrington Event of the 19th century. Schoch’s point is a clear warning to our very vulnerable society of a threat that seems to me more probable than the comet or asteroid impacts that others have been so concerned about.
2) He proposes that the solar eruptions of 12,000 years ago which scientific evidence shows were far more intense than anything since were actually the cause of the end of the ice age (or more exactly the very sudden end of the 1000-year cold snap called the Younger Dryas which began circa 10,900 BC and ended circa 9700 BC)
3) Excavations at Göbekli Tepe have clearly demonstrated that ancient peoples were capable of very sophisticated works 10-12,000 years ago, a far earlier time period than mainstream archaeologists have yet dared to consider assigning to sites of comparable complexity. Schoch examines other sites in that light as well. Against the very vocal objections of conventional archaeologists, he had already assigned the Great Sphinx of Giza to a very early date. In this book he also examines the statues, script and rock drawings of Easter Island as possible remnants of that early period.
4) Schoch looks to these ancient sites for evidence of the solar outbursts that closed the Younger Dryas period and finds it in rock art and symbols that resemble figures that have been produced in the laboratory in plasmas – clouds of charged particles. Such figures would have been seen in the sky as the earth was impacted by the solar eruptions. Schoch also finds evidence in the legends from around the earth of great floods and of ancestors who emerged from underground, and in the extensive ancient tunneling found in various parts of the world, which might have been dug for protection from the solar outbursts. He suggests that these catastrophic events could well account for the disappearance of the advanced cultures that built Göbekli Tepe, the Great Sphinx at Giza, and the Easter Island Moai.
An earth science researcher, Schoch is able to examine archaeological evidence without bias. He lets the evidence of his own eyes and the works of other scientists lead him forward in his ongoing quest for understanding. In a field where most books of this genre are written by journalists, Schoch’s books stand out because as a scientist, he chooses to report the details another scientist would want to know – details that other writers might consider insignificant or too difficult to explain.
We are warned!
In a nutshell: A period of major solar outbursts that may have brought a sudden end to the last glacial period had cataclysmic global consequences for which there is ample mythological, geophysical and archaeological evidence. During the last 70 years the sun has entered a period of higher activity. Our electronics-based society is far more vulnerable to even relatively minor outbursts than humanity ever has been. We are warned!
Byasa Steinmetz’s background includes forty years of scientific work, including astronomy at the University of Arizona and optics at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Currently, he teaches about the yugas, ancient world cultures, astronomy, and physics at the Ananda College of Living Wisdom. He has been writing and lecturing on the topic of the yugas for more than a decade. A longtime Ananda member, he is a Lightbearer and a member of the Nayaswami Order. He lives with his wife at Ananda Village. He is co-author of The Yugas–Keys to Understanding Our Hidden past, Emerging Energy Age, and Enlightened Future, Crystal Clarity, Publishers.
* To learn more, go to Robert Schoch publications
** For daily solar conditions and often spectacular images, go to Spaceweather
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