American Origin of Buddhism


Proving that the Shan Hai King Refers Geographically and Historically to America; and that, According to the Ancient Writings, the “Fair God,” Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulcan, the Winged Serpent, was a Native of America and Identical with Buddha, the Dragon.



I am in possession of an immense mass of evidence concerning the passage of the Mound Builders or Yuchi from America to Siberia. Curiously enough, the apparently darkest part of the subject is that upon which we will get the greatest light. I cannot just here even so much as hint at the nature of the proofs in hand, for they are founded on data not yet reached by the reader, and which must be evolved by the subject itself in a natural manner. I may, however, mention that many writers have been convinced that the remains of fortifications found in Canada—in the far Northwest—prove a migration from the one continent to the other. They suppose the movement to have been from Asia to America, but the evidence equally supports the supposition of a march the other way. The one assertion per se is surely no stranger than the other. (When the Toltecs came to America it was via the Atlantic.)

Sir Duncan Gibbs refers to a monument found to the west of Lake Superior, which “consisted of great pillars formed of a single stone each, with others laid across the top of them, forming a sort of a wall. * * * In it a smaller one was fixed, which was covered on both sides with an inscription in unknown characters. This stone, twelve inches by six, was detached, carried back to Canada, and sent to France.”

Humboldt notices this monument and informs us that the engraved stone was stolen from the museum in which it was deposited. He further tells us that the Jesuits pronounced the characters to be of Mogul origin. If so they must have been like others sculptured on the cliffs of America and Tartary. But where did the Moguls come from? It is true that they (I mean the white and bearded race) are now in Asia, but I can show that they were unknown in Tartary before the twelfth century of this era. Moreover, the books of these people contain accurate accounts of North America, showing that the information was carried into Tartary.

American origin of buddhism
The Mammoth Prehistoric Mound Moundsville, WV.

Some mounds forty feet high have been discovered in Canada, but in thinly inhabited regions it was not necessary to erect formidable earthworks, nor was it possible in stony places or ice-bound latitudes. Making do and therefore very great allowance for difference in climate and surroundings, the following description of a fortification in Canada agrees with those in the South: “This work [near Prescott, on the St. Lawrence] is about eighty rods in length, its greatest width twenty rods. The westerly part has a half-moon embankment, extending some ten rods across a neck of land, terminating to the north in a swamp and to the southwest near the edge of a creek. It has three openings, which are from twenty to twenty-five feet wide. Upon the embankment there is a pine stump four and a half feet across, five feet from the ground, with it’s root extending over the embankment, showing that it has grown there since the erection of the earthwork. * * *

“The tumuli are four in number, situate at the corners of a parallelogram, containing between one and two acres of ground, within which are to be seen the regular streets and lines of a village; outside of the mounds, on three sides, are double lines of circumvallation.”

Here earthenware was found, “some of which was of the most elaborate workmanship.” “The ‘terra cotta’ here is elaborate in its workmanship and as hard as the stoneware of the present day.

“The great size of the trees, the stumps of which remain upon the embankments, are in some degree chronological evidence of the long time that has elapsed since these monuments were erected.

“These vestiges of a proud and once powerful race are traceable from the rude earthen embankments of the north to the extended ruins of Central America, and are worthy of patient and continued investigation, though their unwritten (?) history may never be fully revealed.

“It is by the careful collection and preservation of facts, minute though they may be in detail, that a sufficiency of data will be gathered from which some future historian may do justice to the memory of the earlier inhabitants of this continent and erect a beautifully proportioned and massive ethnological structure.”

Evidence like the foregoing is exceedingly useful as serving to establish the truth of the histories of America now in the libraries of Asia.

American origin of buddhism

Another antiquarian says: “A connected line of mounts extends down the Red River of the North to Lake Winnipeg, and the western feeders of the river run through a fertile country in which many groups of mounds are found.”

“In character the mounds closely resemble the burial and hearth (crematory?) mounds of the Ohio. I have opened several and secured sea shell forgets, stone tubes, shell heads, pottery, &c. * * *

“Though it is the favourite theory of many that the Mound Builders came from the northwest, no systematic attempt has been made to follow up the theoretical migratory path by exploration for the remains, in the form of mounds and embankments, left by this much-discussed people.”

Elsewhere this worthy worker records some of his discoveries and adds: “I am now receiving letters from correspondents in the Canadian northwest which inform me of the whereabouts of mounds on lakes and streams. This is the first extensive discovery of prehistoric remains in that district and it extends the mound system to limits not before recognized or known.”

American origin of buddhism

North of the region of Columbia there are no remains worthy of consideration. Here there is a vast stretch along the Pacific destitute of vestiges of the Mound Builders. We may assume that it has been well examined for signs of a migration and that the silence results from the failure of explorers to find the sought-for trail. But the region east of the Rocky Mountains of Kwenlun range (how could the travellers report that this chain ran up for a distance of 11,000 ll toward the North Pole if they did not perceive or traverse its length?) is rich in antiquities, for the reason that the mound builders proceeded in that direction, spreading themselves out over an immense area in quest of game for food and also for fur clothing. We shall find accounts of the Northwest region in the Mogul books, along with the details of mountains stretching to Mexico from the frozen ocean of Arctic Sea. To say that the wanderers crossed the ice or water between the region of Alaska or the extremity of the Rocky (Kwenlun) Mountain range and the coast of Tartary (where we find rivers called the Maya, the Jenisee, the Tula and the Colima, all of them American names (the peculiarity of the word “jenisee” in Tartary, according to an authority who never dreamed of America in this connection, is that it means “a river having falls,” and in this respect it completely applies to our own Genesee, the “G” being sounded like “J”) would be merely to repeat what has been said ten thousand times. I simply contend that in the case of the Mound Builders the passage was from the coast of America to the coast of Asia, and not from Asia to America. (There is little doubt that the American Indians crossed over from Tartary. The same custom of scalping existed in both regions. But let us not confound two very different migrations.)

American origin of buddhism

An objection, if not anticipated by us, will certainly be made, that the Buddhist accounts represent a yellow river as flowing from the region of the Kwenlun Mountains, and as this yellow stream has been identified as the Hoangho of China, it follows that the Kwenlun range must be situated in Thibet.

The distance, however, of the chain just mentioned leads us to America. There, then, we should look for a yellow stream, and we actually find one in the Yellowstone River and its continuation—the Missouri-Mississippi.

American origin of buddhism

One writer says: “The excess of sulphur in the rock walls of the [Yellowstone] canon give a brilliant yellow colour to the rocks in many places.”

Again, we are told of “large formations of yellow clay,” constituting “bluffs as high as a hundred feet.” The Indians use it as a paint.

The earl of Duuraven says of the Missouri: “For hundreds of miles the river washes against its banks of clay, getting yellower and muddier as it flows.” And, again, the same traveller says “Southward ever rolls its waters, shaggy with imbedded pine trees, yellow with the clays of the ‘bad lands,’ receiving the currents of the Big Cheyenne, the Niobrara, and many lesser tributaries.”

We do not deny that there are yellow rivers in Asia. We merely maintain that the yellow stream which has its rise in the Kwenlun Mountains must be situated in the same quarter of the world.

A learned commentator says: “The old Chinese opinion was that the source of the river (the Yellow River) was from the Milky Way.”

American origin of buddhism
Map of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. Hayden, F.V. 1869.

Do they claim that it descends from the stars? Well, then, what do they mean? In the case of the yellow stream, called by us the Missouri, we find that its main tributaries are the Yellowstone and the Milk River. It is, therefore, by no means strange to find it said that the Yellow River flows from the Milky Way. Surely this is a more reasonable view than to persist in deriving the stream from a cluster of stars. We are informed of a river called the Sita, which flows to the northeast from a lake and subsequently turns into the Yellow River. Sometimes it is describes as being itself of a yellow color, so it is mixed up with the great Yellow River—and ought to be. We would identify it with the Yellowstone (which turns into the Missouri), because it flows from a lake and proceeds in a northeasterly direction.

But all the commentators would cry out against such a conclusion. They have found the lake, which is called Anavatapta (explained to mean “cold”) in a number of places in Asia!

Let us examine this matter. In order to sift it we must descend to the tedious or minute method, avoiding generalities as much as possible. The dryness of detail will be overlooked in view of the importance of results.

American origin of buddhism
A diagram of the Anavatapta Lake from the Harvard scroll. Section from Buddhist Cosmology (Nihon koku narabini Shumi shoten zu) with text copied by Monk Ryūi; Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Hofer Collection of the Printed and Graphic; ©President and Fellows of Harvard College; Accession Number: 1973.66; Image Numbers: DDC101828.

Let us consult the ancient record. In the one work we find two descriptions of Lake Anavatapta. The first purports to be by a Chinese commentator and the second is by a traveller who actually visited the lake. Let us read them both:

FIRST—In the middle of Iambudvipa there is a lake called Anavatapta, to the south of the Fragrant Mountains and to the north of the great Snowy Mountains; it is 800 li and more in circuit; its sides are composed of gold, silver, lapis-lazuli and crystal; golden sands lie at the bottom, and its waters are clear as a mirror. The great earth Bodhisattva, by the power of his vow, transforms himself into a naga-raga and dwells therein, from his dwelling the cool waters proceed forth and enrich Iambudvipa.

From the eastern side of the lake through the mouth of the silver ox, flows the Ganges [King Kia] River; encircling the latter once, it enters the southeastern sea.

From the south of the lake through a golden elephant’s mouth proceeds the Sindhi (Sinto) River; encircling the lake once, it flows into the southwestern sea.

From the western side of the lake, from the mouth of a horse of lapis-lazuli, proceeds the River Vadshu (Po-tsu), and encircling the lake once, it falls into the northwestern sea.

From the north of the lake, through the mouth of a crystal lion, proceeds the River Sita (Si-to), and encircling the lake once it falls into the northeastern sea. They also say that the streams of this River Sita entering the earth flow out beneath the Tsih-shihshan Mountain, and give rise to the river of the middle country (China).

The Pamir Mountains

SECOND—The Valley of Po-mi-Lo (Pamir). It stretches 1,000 li or so east and west, and 100 li or so from north to south; in the narrowest part it is not more than 10 li. It is situated among the snowy mountains. On this account the climate is cold and the winds blow constantly. The snow falls both in summer and springtime. Night and day the wind rages violently. The soil is impregnated with salt and covered with quantities of gravel and sand. The grain which is sown does not ripen; shrubs and trees are rare. There is but a succession of desert without any inhabitants.

In the middle of the Pamir valley is a great dragon lake (Nagahrada); from east to west it is 300 li or so, from north to south 50 li. It is situated in the midst of the great Tsung-long Mountains and is the central point of Iambudvipa. The land is very high; the water is pure and clear as a mirror; it cannot be fathomed; the color of the lake is a dark blue, the taste of the water is sweet and soft. In the water hide the man-ki fish (shark spider), dragoons, crocodiles, tortoises; floating so on; large eggs are found concealed in the wild desert wastes, or among the marshy shrubs, or on the sandy islets.

To the west of the lake there is a large stream, which, going west, reaches so far as the eastern borders of the kingdom of Ta-mo-si-tie-ti and there joins the River Fo-tsn and flows still to the west. So on this side of the lake all the streams flow westward.

On the east of the lake is a great stream, which, flowing northeast, reaches to the western frontiers of the country of Kie-sha, and there joins the Si-fo (Si-ta) River and flows eastward, and so all streams on the left side of the lake flow eastward.

First Japanese Buddhist map of the world showing Europe, America, and Africa. 1710.

Passing over a mountain to the south of the Pamir valley we find the country Po-lo-lo; here is found much gold and silver; the gold was red as fire.

It will be noticed that the same sheet of water is referred to in the foregoing accounts. In the one the lake is in “the middle of Iambudvipa,” and in the other it is “the middle point of Iambudvipa.”

I must protest against the intrusion of the word “Ganges” into the translation, for the simple reason that it has no place in the original. Merely the King-Kia is mentioned. There are other misconceptions which will be noticed in due time. Just now I must object to the notion that the “middle country,” through which the Sito flows, is the Asiatic land called “China.” (See concluding sentence of account the first).

Our translator argues that the Sita and King-Kia of the text must be respectively the Yellow River, or Hoangho of China and the Ganges of India.

The Yellow River and Huai surrounding Sizhou and the Ming Zuling in the Siku Quanshu edition of Pan Jixun’s Overview of River Management. 1590.

But how does it happen that the nicest name “Ganges” does not occur in the account? Passing, however, over this phase of the subject, we ask the question: “Is it a geographical fact that the Hoangho and the Ganges flow from or originate near the one lake?

The lake Anavatapta is supposed by certain Oriental scholars to be the Sarikul. But 600 miles (about 1,800 li) and the Himalaya Mountains intervene between the Ganges and it. It is absurd to suppose that a stream at such a distance from the supposititions lake can be represented as rising in its vicinity. The Hindustan River is not even mentioned. Yet the commentators have succeeded in identifying it.

The Sindh, or Indus, is claimed to be the Sin-to [Zin-Chu] of the text, and it is true that it flows in a southeast direction, but a lofty range of mountains divides it from Sarikul. The Sindh derives its flood from feeders which rise hundreds of miles away from the lake just named.

Republished from Times Union, Brooklyn, New York, March 3, 1888, Page 7.

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