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Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, [1885], at

p. 250



Als ich erfunden han,
Us dem paradise ran
Zu fühten baum und gras,
Und alles das darynne was,
Zu guter moss ein wasser gross,
Das in vier teil darnachefloss

Wir haben hier ein merkwürdiges Stromsystem.—GRILL.

"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became into four heads."

In chapter second of Part Second we presented the simple and natural interpretation suggested by the hypothesis of a primitive circumpolar continent. If the reader will kindly turn back to the statement there made (p. 51), he will see in how natural a manner the water system of that lost "land of delights" might have become, in after tradition, the one disparted river which waters the whole earth.

The insuperable difficulties of all hitherto attempted identifications of the four rivers are too numerous to present here in detail. 1 In our interpretation

p. 251

the original river is from the sky; the division takes place on the heights at the Pole, and the four resulting rivers are the chief streams of the circumpolar continent as they descend in different directions to the surrounding sea. Does such a view find any support in the traditions of the ancient world?

That it does will be clear to any one who has carefully read thus far. Let us take the rivers of the Persian cradle of the race. Where do they rise? If the investigator of this question have made no previous studies in Comparative Sacred Hydrography, he will be surprised to find that in Persian thought, not only the Paradise rivers, but also all the rivers of the whole earth, have but one headspring and but one place of discharge.

This head-spring is the Ardvî-Sûra, situated in heaven,—the heaven of the Pole. "This heavenly fountain," says Haug, summarizing the contents of the Abân Yasht,—"this heavenly fountain has a thousand springs and a thousand canals, each of them forty days’ journey long. Thence a channel goes through all the seven keshvares, or regions of the earth, conveying everywhere pure celestial waters." 1

p. 252

The following is an ancient invocation to Anâhita, the spirit of these heavenly waters: "Come before me, Ardvî-Sûra Anâhita!—come down from yonder stars on to the earth created by Ahura-Mazda! Thee shall worship the handy lords, the rulers of countries, sons of the rulers of countries." 1

From its elevation the heavenly height is called Hûgar, i.e., "the lofty:" "Hûgar, the lofty, is the mount from which the water of Ardvî-Sûra leaps down the height of a thousand men." 2 Again it is written, "Hagar, the lofty, on which the water of Ardvî-Sûra flows and leaps, is the chief of summits, since it is that above which is the revolution of Satavês, the chief of reservoirs." 3

As all the rivers of the earth's seven regions, so all lakes and seas and the ocean itself, are from this one celestial fountain. "Through the warmth and clearness of the water, purifying more than other

p. 253

waters, everything continually flows from the source Ardvî-Sara." 1 However named, all waters are simply portions of the same heaven-descending stream. "The other innumerable waters and rivers, springs and channels, are one in origin with those, so in various districts and various places they call them by various names." 2 Even plant-sap, and blood, and milk, and all the seventeen kinds of liquid enumerated in the Yashts, are parts of the one cosmic current. "All these, through growth, or the body which is formed, mingle again with the rivers, for the body which is formed and the growth are both one." 3

Everything of a liquid nature, therefore, in the whole world is conceived of as proceeding from one source high in the north-polar sky. Whither is it tending? What becomes of it all in the end? Where do its myriad rills and rivers at last discharge? As according to the cosmological conception so often illustrated in these pages, all start from the zenith, we should naturally expect all to reunite at last in the nadir. This is found to be the fact. But in this nether gathering place the waters, now polluted from their contact with all the filth and vileness of the world, are not allowed to rest and

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accumulate. 1 This cesspool of the universe has a pervious bottom. By the various processes of straining, vaporizing, aeration, etc., the polluted waters are by Tishtar brought back distilled and purified, and are re-discharged into the zenith-reservoir which perpetually supplies the gushing streams of Ardvî-Sûra. 2 Into such a marvelously complete cosmical circulatory water system did the Iranic imagination develop the primitive head-stream of Eden. But never, even in the most extravagant mythological adornments of the idea, was it for a moment forgotten that the original undivided stream originates in the north polar sky; and that its division into earthly streams and rivers is on the holy mount which stands in the centre of Kvanîras, the central and circumpolar keshvare of the whole habitable earth. 3

The various fragmentary allusions of the oldest Greek poets to Okeanos and the rivers would seem to imply the early existence, and perhaps early loss, of a similar Hellenic conception of the water circulation of the entire earth. Thus, according to Homer's familiar couplet, it is from Okeanos, in

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some application of the term, that "all rivers and every sea and all fountains flow."  1 Euripides presents the same idea. 2 There is, therefore, one fountain of all the world's waters. The same conception is expressed by Hesiod in his Theogony, where all rivers, as sons, and all fountains and brooks, as daughters, are traced back to Okeanos. Then we have a constant descending movement of all waters until they reach the world-surrounding Ocean-river at the equator, beyond which is the Underworld. From this equatorial ocean, parting off from the southern or under shore, new branches diverge and form the river system of the Hadean kingdom. Other Underworld rivers were perhaps conceived of as percolating through the earth and emerging to the surface in the lower hemisphere. There is at least some evidence that the Greeks, like the Persians, had this idea of interterranean water-courses, and even rivers, resembling the circulation of the blood in the human body. 3 Sometimes these Underworld rivers are represented as four in number, thus making the circumpolar water system of the Underworld a perfect counterpart of the Eden rivers at the summit of the upper hemisphere. 4 All, moreover, like those of the Persian Underworld, seem to be plunging forward and ever downward, until in the last glimpse which the imagination can catch they are seen streaming from the roof of the grot of the goddess Styx, and, as Preller expresses it,

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[paragraph continues] "falling thence, beneath the Earth, downward into the deep, deep Night." 1

Here, then, we have a unitary water system, embracing the whole earth, and the remarkable Homeric and Hesiodic term ἀψόῤῥοος, "refluent," may well imply that the Underworld προχοὴ, or "outflow," 2 returns in nature's perfect order to feed its original fountain, thus conforming the whole, in every part, to the sacred hydrography of the Persians. 3

Granting this, one should locate the Okeanos-fountain, not where Preller and Welcker and Völcker and the other mythographers have hitherto placed it, but in the farthest North, and in the sky. That this location was the original one is plain from all the local implications of the mythological accounts of the proper home of Okeanos and Têthys, and is further confirmed by many incidental evidences connected with such myths as those of the Eridanus, 4 the Acheloös, the birth of Zeus, and particularly those of Atlas and his children. 5

p. 257

In the most ancient Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian literature there are expressions which seem clearly to indicate the presence among these peoples of a precisely similar conception with respect to the waters of the world. 1 The same is true of Egyptian literature, but in both these cases the data are as yet too meagre to make them entirely conclusive in argument. 2 We therefore pass them by, and close with a glance at the Eden river of the ancient Aryans of India.

This, as already seen, is the heaven-born Gangâ. The Vedas call it "the river of the three worlds," for the reason that it flows through Heaven and Earth and the Underworld. In Vedic times "the original source and home of the waters was thought to be the highest heaven (paramam vyoman), the region peculiarly sacred to Varuna." 3 This is clearly

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illustrated in scores of passages: for example, in the beautiful prayer for immortality, where the fourfold 1 head-spring of all waters is located in the sacred Centre of Heaven. 2 Sometimes the heaven-sprung stream is called the Sindhu, 3 sometimes the Sarasvatî. 4 In the later Mahâbhârata its head-spring is placed in the heaven of Vishnu, high above the lofty Pole-star (Druva). On their descent the ethereal waters wash the Pole-star, and the Seven Rishis (the Great Bear), and the polar pivot of "the lunar orb," 5 thence falling upon the top of beautiful

p. 259

[paragraph continues] Meru. "On the summit of Meru," says the Vishnu Purana, "is the vast city of Brahma, . . . inclosed by the river Gangâ, which, issuing from the foot of Vishnu and washing the lunar orb, falls here [on the top of Meru] from the skies, and, after encircling the city, 1 divides into four mighty rivers, flowing in opposite directions. These rivers are Sítá, the Alakanandá, the Chakshu, and the Bhadrá. The first, falling on the tops of the inferior mountains on the east side of Meru, flows over their crests, and passes through the country of Bhadráswa to the ocean. The Alakanandá flows south to the country of Bhárata, and, dividing into seven rivers on the way, falls into the sea. The Chakshu falls into the sea after traversing all the western mountains and passing through Ketumála. And the Bhadrá washes the country of the Uttarakurus and empties itself into the northern ocean." 2

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Here, again, as our interpretation of Genesis requires, the four rivers traced back to their origin bring us to the summit of the earth at the Pole,—to the one river which descends from the north polar sky. Curious confirmations of this primitive conception come even from the most distant continents. 1 Late Christian legend shows evident traces of it, for in Maundeville's description of the Paradise-fountain he says, "All the sweet waters of the world above and beneath take their beginning from that well of Paradise;" and again, "Out of that well all waters come and go,"—giving thus clear expression to the idea of a unitary cosmic water

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circulation. 1 So, again, in the apocryphal "Revelation of the Holy Apostle Paul," the angel who was showing the apostle the wonders of the heavenly city brought him to just such a World-river, whose spring was in heaven, but whose main body surrounded the earth.

"And he set me upon the river whose source springs up in the circle of heaven, and it is this river which encircleth the whole earth. And he says unto me: This river is Ocean." 2


250:1 "We entirely agree with Delitzsch [the elder] that 'Paradise is lost,' and the four streams are on this account a riddle which cries, 'Where is Paradise?' the question remaining without an answer." Ebers, Ægypten and die Bücher Mose, p. 30. See McClintock and Strong's Cyclopædia, Arts. "Gihon," "Pison," "Eden," etc. "Wherever there is a river-head that can be made to run on all-fours, even by assuming the existence of water-channels no longer extant, p. 251 the Biblical Eden has been discovered,—whether in Asia, Africa, Europe, or America." Gerald Massey, The Natural Genesis, vol. ii., p. 162. We may add that Mr. Samuel Johnson's suggestion (Oriental Religions; Persia. Boston, 1885: p. 253), to the effect that the "four rivers" of the Hebrew story consisted of two real rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, plus two imaginary "words, that simply mean 'flowing waters,' and that were used as generic terms for the purpose of making up the number four, the conventional sign of completeness in all Eastern mythologies," is a characteristic specimen of the unscholarly and dogmatic caprice of pantheistic exegesis in the field of ancient religious ideas and their history.

251:1 Essays, 2d ed., p. 198. See Darmesteter's translation: "From this river of mine alone flow all the waters that spread all over the p. 252 seven keshvares; this river of mine alone goes on bringing waters both in summer and in winter." The Zend-Avesta, Pt. ii., pp. 52-84.

252:1 Haug, Ibid., p. 198. Darmesteter, Ibid., p. 73.

252:2 Bundahish (West), xii. 5. The Zend-Avesta (Darmesteter), ii. p. 54.

252:3 Bundahish, xxiv. 17. When West (Pahlavi Texts, Pt. i., p. 35, note 6) uses the last clause of this quotation to show that the location of Hûgar is "probably" in the western quarter, his argument rests upon two mistakes, both of which seem to be shared by all modern Avestan students. The first mistake is to suppose Satavês a different star from Tishtar (Tistrya); and the second is the notion that Tishtar was the star now called Sirius. The fact is that originally Satavaêsa and Tistrya were simply two designations for one and the same object, and that object was not our Sirius, but the Pole star. I say our Sirius, because there is evidence that this name also once belonged to a very different heavenly body, and to one situated in "die Mitte des Himmels," i.e., at the Pole. (Ideler, Sternennamen, p. 216.) Hûgar (Hukairya) is the heavenly height of the polar sky, high above Harâ-berezaiti, whenever this term is applied, as originally, to the terrestrial polar mount. Âbân Yasht, 88. See Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, p. 171.

253:1 Bundahish, ch. xiii., 3. The chapter on Seas.

253:2 Ibid., xx. 33. Raṅha, the original Avestan name of the world-river, became corrupted into AraṅhâmArangAring—and finally into Arg. Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, pp. 187, 189.

253:3 Ibid., xxi. 2. Henry Bowman, in his Eighteen Hundred and Eighty-one; or the End of the Æon (St. Louis, Mo., 1884, p. 36), gives the following remarkable interpretation to the heaven-descending river: "The throne of God is the apex, culmination, directly over the pole's axis, and so in the centre of the city,—corresponding to the tree of life, which in the old creation was situated in the centre of the garden,—from which proceeds the electrical current, the 'pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal.'"

254:1 This underworld is the long-misunderstood "cave," in which, in the Vedic myth, the demons try to imprison the stolen rain-cows, so that the earth may be cursed with drought.

254:2 Ibid., xx. 4. Vendîdâd, v. 16-19. More fully and graphically described in Dâdistân-î Dînîk, ch. xciii. The ancient idea seems yet to survive in modern folk-lore: "In der Geschichte von Ikirma und Chuseima (in den Erzählungen der 1001 Nächte) sitzen zwei Engel der eine in Gestalt eines Löwen, der andere in der eines Stieres vor einer Pforte, Wache haltend und Gott preisend. Die Pforte, welche nur der Engel Gabriel öffnen kann, führt zu einem von Rubingebirgen umflossenen Meere, der Quelle aller Wasser auf Erden; aus ihm schöpfen Engel die Gewässer der Welt bis zum Auferstehungstage." Justi, Geschichte des alten Persiens, 1879, p. 80.

254:3 Compare Spiegel, Erânische Alterthumskunde. Leipsic, 1871: vol. i., pp. 198-202.

255:1 Iliad, xxi. 195.

255:2 Hippolytus, 119.

255:3 Bundahish, viii. 4.

255:4 "In der Unterwelt gab es ausser dem Styx noch drei Flüsse. Die Vierzahl entspricht derjenigen der vier Paradiesflüsse."—Wolfgang Menzel, Die vorchristliche Unsterblichkeitslehre, vol. ii., p. 6.

256:1 Preller, Griechische Mythologie, i. 29. Plato, in his cosmical sketch in Phædo, makes the Hadean rivers pour into Tartaros.

256:2 Odyssey, xx. 65.

256:3 "Fountful Ida" corresponds almost perfectly to the Iranian Hagar, down whose sides leap and flow the waters of Ardvî-Sûra. Moreover, in its very name Lenormant and others see a root connecting it with Ilâvrita, the circumpolar paradisaic varsha of Puranic geography. It should be added that to Ilâvrita corresponds significantly the Norse Idavöllr, or "plain of Ida," which is "in the middle of the divine abode." Mallet, Northern Antiquities, p. 409.

256:4 "Der Eridanus ist ursprünglich ein mythischer Fluss." Ideler, Ursprung der Sternennamen, p. 229. See especially Robert Brown, Jr., Eridanus. London, 1883.

256:5 Compare the like conclusion of Grill, Die Erzväter der Menschheit. Leipsic, 1875: i., pp. 222, 223. Grill also claims that the ancient Germans had a similar world-river, p. 223. I cannot help thinking that in the descending Ukko's stream and in the ascending Ämmä's stream of Finnish mythology we have traces of a like cosmic p. 257 water circulation. See Castrèn, Mythologie, p. 45. After reading the long note in Buxtorfii, Lexicon Chaldaicum, Talmudicum et Rabbinicum, Lipsiae, 1865, pp. 341, 342, one could also readily believe that we have here the true origin of the two movements or paths set forth in the omnifluent philosophy of Heraclitus: τὴν ὁδὸν κάτω, and τὴν ὁδὸν ἄνω. Again, "In the Edda all rivers derive their origin from that called Ilver gelmer." Asiatic Researches, vol. viii., p. 321.

257:1 Attention is only called to the ancient Akkadian hymn given by George Smith, Assyrian Discoveries, pp. 392, 393; to the exceedingly interesting article by Professor Sayce on "The Encircling River of the Snake-God of the Tree of Life," in The Academy, London, Oct. 7, 1882, p. 263; and finally to the instructive account of the Akkadian "mother of rivers" given in Lenormant's Origines, ii. I, p. 133, a citation from which has already been made on p. 171. See also Robert Brown, The Myth of Kirkè, p. 110.

257:2 "Die Ægypter wussten schon frühe von einem die Erde umfliessenden Strom."—Grill, Die Erzväter der Menschheit, i., p. 277.

257:3 E. D. Perry, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1882, p. 134. He adds in a foot-note, "In the Veda, 'water' and all corresponding terms, such as stream, river, torrent, ocean, etc., are used indiscriminately of the water upon the earth and of the aqueous vapor in the sky or of the rain in the air." Compare M. Bergaigne: "L’eau p. 258 des rivières terrestres est reconnue identique par sa nature et son origine à celle des rivières célestes," etc., etc. La Religion Védique, tom. i., p. 256. See pp. 251-261.

258:1 Rig Veda, ix. 74, 6.

258:2 Rig Veda, ix. 113, 8. Grassmann translates it:—

"Wo König ist Vivasvats Sohn,
 Und wo des Himmels Heiligthum
 Wo ewig strömt des Wassers Born,
 Da mache du unsterblich mich."

[paragraph continues] See the "Hymns to the Waters" generally, and particularly that addressed to Apām Napāt, the "Navel of the Waters," R.V., ii. 35, comparing therewith the invocations to the "Navel of the Waters" in the Yashts. Darmesteter, Zend-Avesta, ii. 6 n., 12, 14, 20, 36, 38, 39, 71, 94, 102, 202. Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, pp. 177-186.

258:3 "Der vedische Inder redet von dem Sindhu κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, dem Einen himmlischen Strom oder Weltstrom, in dem er die Gesammtheit der atmosphärischen Dünste und Wasser als in Bewegung begriffener und die Erde rings umfliessender sich zur Anschauung bringt."—Grill, Die Erzväter der Menschheit, Th. i., p. 197.

258:4 See the Vedic passages in Bergaigne, La Religion Védique, tom. i., pp. 325-328.

258:5 Wilkins, Hindu Mythology. London, 1882: p. 102. In Indian cosmology the lunar sphere is concentric with and includes the earth-sphere; hence water falling perpendicularly from the celestial to the terrestrial pole can yet on its way "wash the lunar sphere." So too a mountain at the North Pole, if only high enough, will reach to the "lunar sphere." Such, in fact, was the case with the Paradise mountain of Indian cosmology, and traces of the idea live on in the Talmud p. 259 and in Patristic theology too plain for even Massey to render valueless: "Meru is shown to be the mount which reached to the moon and became a figure of the four lunar quarters. . . . Hence the tradition that Paradise was preserved during, or was exempt from, the Deluge because it was on the summit of a mountain that reached to the moon (Bereshith Rabba, xxxiii.); which shows the continuation of the typical mount of the seven stars into the lunar phase of timekeeping, where the mount of the four quarters carried Eden with it." The Natural Genesis, vol. ii., p. 244.

259:1 Here is probably the origin of the curious notion of the Sabæans touching the Euphrates. Or was the borrowing on the other side? "Les Soubbas ont la certitude que l’Euphrate, qui, d’après eux, prend sa source sous le trône d’Avather (personnage qui préside au jugement des âmes et dont le trône est placé sous l’étoile polaire), passait autrefois à Jérusalem." M. N. Siouffi, La Religion des Soubbas ou Sabéens. Paris, 1880: p. 7, note. Jehovah's city here takes the place of Brahma's.

259:2 The Vishnu Purana, Wilson's version, vol. vii., p. 120. Compare herewith the notions of the Chinese Buddhists: "With reference to this land of Jambu-dwîpa [the earth], the Buddhists say that in the p. 260 midst of it is a centre (heart), called the lake A-nieou-to (Anavataptu); it lies to the south of the Fragrant Mountains, and to the north of the great Snowy Mountains (Himavat). It is 800 li in circuit. In the midst of this lake is the abode of a Naga, who is in fact the transformed appearance of Dasabhumi Bodhisatwa (or of the Bodhisatwas of the ten earths). From his abode proceed four refreshing rivers, which compass Jambu-dwîpa. At the east side of the lake, from the mouth of a silver ox, flows out the Ganges River. After compassing the lake once it enters the sea towards the southeast. From the south side of the lake, from the mouth of a golden elephant, flows the Sindhu [Indus] River. After compassing the lake once it enters the sea on the southwest. On the west side of the lake, flowing from the mouth of a horse of lapis-lazuli, flows the river Foh-tzu (Vakshu, i.e., Oxus), which, after compassing the lake once, enters the sea on the northwest. On the north side of the lake, flowing from a crystal lion, flows the river Sida [Hoang-ho], which after making one circuit flows into the sea on the northeast." Beal, Buddhist Literature in China. 1882: p. 149.

260:1 Thus in Africa, among the Damaras, "the highest deity is Omakuru, the Rain-giver, who dwells in the far North." E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, Am. ed., vol. ii., p. 259. So also in America: "Die alten Mexikaner glaubten, das Paradies liege auf dem höchsten Berge, wo die Wolken sich versammeln, von wo sie Regen bringen, and von wo auch die Flüsse herabkommen." Lüken, Traditionen, i., p. 115. And this Paradise-mountain was in the farthest North. See the pathetic prayer to Tlaloc in Bancroft, Native Races, vol. iii., pp. 325-330.

261:1 Compare verses 482-487 of the Old German legend of Brandan in Carl Schroeder, Sanct Brandan. Erlangen, 1871: p. 61:—

“Vor dem sale stûnt ein brunne,
“ûz dem vlôz milch and wîn,
“waz mohte wunderlîcher sîn.
“ouch olei and honicseim darûz vlôz
“daz an vier enden sich ergôz.”

The editor (p. 105) connects this last line with the quadripartite river of Paradise, and the lines immediately following give it an unequivocally cosmical significance:

“Von dem selben brunnen
“haben die wurze saf gewunnen
“die got liez gewerden ie.”

261:2 The Apocryphal Gospels, Acts and Revelations. Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. xvi., p. 483.

Next: Chapter VI. The Central Tree