Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chariots of the Gods - Erich Von Daniken

I have known this book for the last 10 years or more. I just finished reading it.

The subject of the book is extra terrestrials. It is not science fiction but simply science. I was disappointed and annoyed to find this book in the “Occult” section of the Landmark bookshop.

One would expect this book to discuss in detail all the UFO sightings that have been reported all over the world. But surprisingly this book has much more to it than that.
The author brings to the fore the many archeological evidences that can be found all over the world to prove (or suggest) that our ancestors did receive visits from “Gods” from outer space.

The book is a result of extensive research and travel. It is replete with so many interesting facts that it is difficult to follow them all and put them together to understand the author’s perspective. It covers the entire range of the spectrum beginning from ancient maps to the Bible, the Mahabharat, the pyramids, ruins in South America, cave paintings in different parts of the world, the Mayan civilization, to reports of UFO sightings by various people in recent times.

I will mention a few arguments here to illustrate how thought provoking this book is.

The theory of probability: there are 10 to the power of 11 stars in each galaxy and 10 to the power of 11 galaxies in the universe. So there are 10 raised to 22 stars in the universe. So the probability that life exists around only one star is 1 divided by 10 raised to 22, that is 0.000000…(22 zeroes)…01 !!!! So there must be life elsewhere in the universe too….

At the beginning of the 18th century, ancient maps belonging to an officer in the Turkish navy were found in a palace. The maps (after being carefully studied) were absolutely, fantastically accurate. The maps not only produced outlines of continents but also showed the topography of the interiors! Comparison with modern photographs of our globe taken from satellites showed that the original maps must have been aerial photographs taken from a very great height. This was before 18th century when man did not know how to fly!!!
Were the maps were drawn from a high flying spaceship?

Cave drawings in Kohistan, France, North America, Southern Rhodesia, Sahara, Peru and Chile all contribute to the theory of extra terrestrials. At Tassili, in the Sahara, the paintings reveal beings in a diver’s suit. There is a drawing of a “man” 18 feet high, depicted in a space or diving suit. Note that this painting is next to the pictures of animals and humans in their life size. On his heavy powerful shoulders rests a helmet which is connected to his torso by a joint. Similar drawings have been found in many different parts of the world!!! One may argue that the paintings were born out of imagination. Even so, the imagination has to be triggered by some reality. And then why should the same imagination occur to people in so many geographically dispersed parts of the world?

The island of Elephantine: the island is called Elephantine even in the oldest texts because it was supposed to resemble an elephant. The texts were right. The island does look like an elephant. But how did the ancient Egyptians know that? This shape can be recognized only from an airplane at great height! Were the natives told about the shape of their island by flying men from other planets?

Monuments like the pyramids, monolithic gate of the Sun at Tiahuanaco (South America) were built during times when man did not have the technology or the necessary implements to construct these. Not only that, these very built scientifically on the basis of a vast amount of astronomical knowledge. The author suggests that these might have been built with the help of superior intelligence from outer space.

In Mahabharat, the Hindu epic, Kunti receives a visit from the Sun god from whom she begets a son. She also receives visits from other gods from whom she begets other sons. All old scriptures in almost all parts of the world are replete with descriptions of flying men, flying gods that visited earth. The author suggests that during ancient times, our ancestors did receive visits from men of superior intelligence from outer space who sometimes copulated with the people of earth and he also suggests that we could be the descendants of these alien astronauts!

When we come across Brahmaloka, Indraloka and other lokas, have we ever considered the possibility that these could be other galaxies or universes?

A lot of archeological evidence has been corroded owing to the onslaught of time and weather. Also some men made the situation worse. Easter island for instance; the place was a mysterious one and had several pointers but the European missionaries went to the place, burned the tablets with hieroglyphic characters; they prohibited the ancient cults of Gods and did away with every kind of tradition.

And now, it’s time to mention what eyes have seen. Reports of UFO sightings.

UFO’s have been sighted in America, Philippines, West Germany and elsewhere. We may dismiss most of the reports as cases of common people mistaking ball lightening, weather balloons, strange cloud formations, new unknown types of aircraft and even odd effects of light and shade in the sky for UFO’s. But, when a well trained airline pilot, who is familiar with mirages, weather balloons, etc, who has first class vision, who is not allowed to drink alcohol during flying reports a UFO sighting, one should listen to him.

UFO’s have been identified on radar screens flying at a speed of 4350 miles an hour.
In an incident in 1953, a pilot was given permission to chase a “thing” that he found on his radar screen while flying. After chasing for 160 miles, both objects became one and thereafter there was no trace of the aircraft or the pilot! No wreckage was found anywhere. Qualified witnesses reported having seen a gleaming red object in the sky!
It is also said that Phobos, one of the satellites of Mars is hollow and artificial, like our own artificial satellites. This could mean that there was intelligent life on Mars which probably moved to another planet for unfathomable reason.

There has been an ongoing debate about whether millions and billions should be spent in space research while there are causes on earth screaming for attention and for funding. Here is the most convincing answer.
More than 4000 new articles owe their existence to space research. They are virtually by products of research for a higher goal. Electronic calculating machines, mini transmitters and mini receivers, transistors in radio and television sets were discovered on the periphery of research and so were the frying pans in which food does not stick.

Precision instruments in aircrafts, fully automatic ground control systems, automatic pilots and rapidly developed computer are by products of space research and so are new welding and lubricating processes in vacuum, photoelectric cells. Out of the millions and billions poured into space research, the returns flow back to the taxpayer in a steady stream. And what more, even nations that do not participate in space research are benefiting by the technical revolution. The majority of medical life saving machines is the product of atomic research, space travel and military technology. Designs used to diminish the risk for passengers when collisions of automobiles occur are a by product of space research!!!!

The book is full of such thought provoking arguments.

With all the arguments, the book fails to make the impact that it deserves to make. The reason is the way the content is presented or in other words, the style of narration.

The book could have been more detailed and more elaborate. It is just 150 pages in volume. It should have been 350 pages at least.
The author has made a mistake of assuming that the common man already has the background information necessary and is able to keep pace with the author’s speed. He should have furnished us with more details.
When certain locations are mentioned, names of surrounding places, some details of geography and time could have been given. For instance, when he says some tabloid was found in Tiahuanaco or some strange lines found in Nazca, I don’t where these places are, what the recorded history says about these places, which civilization inhabited these places and what their current condition is. Sometimes, you are without a perspective.

The arguments are kind of incomplete. The author starts with an interesting argument using a place and its story, but even before giving all the details, he rushes to the conclusion – and the same conclusion each time - that modern technology should be employed to find the truth of our past and that people should change their perspective.
Basically when one reads the book, one gets the feeling that the author is fighting a battle with someone – those who refuse to believe in extra terrestrials, especially the scientists.

All the different kinds of proofs are discussed in all chapters. Old Maps, Nazca lines, Pyramids, monuments, cave paintings and statues, mention of flying men and flying gods in scriptures of different religions and reports of UFO sightings.…all mixed up in all chapters.
Instead, if each chapter focused on only one kind of evidence building brick by brick, then the argument would have been more clear, stronger and convincing.

He is continuously defending his position and the tone gets accusatory at many places which could actually do more bad than good to his end purpose. (He is accusing the conventional, traditional thinkers who don’t consider the possibility of extra terrestrials). The tone is too sarcastic…
The best way to convince people of something is to state it as if it were the most natural thing in the world and not get too defensive or accusatory. It is important to be calm, confident and composed while presenting … the more pushy, aggressive you get, the more skeptical your audiences will become.

One can imagine the author to be speaking almost the entire book in a single breath. He should have paused and explained more patiently. He has many things to say but he is hurrying.

One should read the book if one is to understand that delivery is as important as content.

Not a very well written book although I would recommend this book to everyone under the Sun for the knowledge and research that has gone into the making of this and for presenting before the world some facts and thoughts that are astounding.

By the way, two books were written after this one by two different people to counter the arguments in this book. “Crash Go The Chariots” and “Space Gods Revealed”. I plan to read it someday. Also, South America seems to have a lot of mysteries… got to visit this place someday and see for myself.

I will conclude this rather detailed review with the thought – “Only the fantastic has a chance of being real in the cosmos”!


Satish said...

This post took me to my childhood days when stories of UFOs, Bermuda Triangle kept us occupied during our summer vacations.

I have seen many documentaries on Discovey, National Geography which reject and support UFO's and Aliens.

Whether UFO exists or not, i donot know, but they have given us some of the best entertainers( ET, Men In Black, X Files, Koi Mil Gaya)

As long as the debate continues, we can let our imagination free and get creative

Sowmya said...

THANKS Satish for having so much patience to go through this loooonnnggg post...

Anonymous said...

Hmm...quite intresting! well, i can suggest you read this article "UFO Evidence:- Project BlueBook" (you can do a google search as well) which is more factual..i am quite sure you would like this!

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. Though not a UFO buff, made this a wonderful read. :)