Feature Articles – Mu Revisited: Was Churchward Right After All?
New evidence suggests that James Churchward, the man who claimed to have seen evidence of the lost civilization of Mu, was indeed shown a secret library. German tour operator Thomas Ritter claims he has been able to enter it.
by Philip Coppens
James Churchward was a patented inventor, engineer… and a man who claimed that he had found evidence of a lost civilisation: Mu. Mu was said to have been the Pacific equivalent of Atlantis, though Churchward said it was a colony of Mu. The first man to write about Mu was Augustus LePlongeon, who in archaeological circles has the distinction of being the first to make a photographic record of the ruins of Chichen Itza. In his books “Sacred Mysteries Among the Mayans and Quiches” (1886) and “Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx” (1896), LePlongeon related his decipherment of the so-called “Troano Codex”, which he claimed showed that the Maya were the ancestors of the Ancient Egyptians. The Mayans had originated from a lost civilization, Mu, which was on par with Atlantis, and which had been destroyed by a volcanic eruption. He added that Queen Moo – clearly linked with Mu – had travelled from this continent to Egypt, where she had gone down into the history books under her new name of Isis. Unfortunately, when the Mayan language was deciphered several decades later, it was learned that LePlongeon’s interpretation of this document was completely erroneous, sometimes even using letters that were in fact no such thing. Jack Churchward, a descendent of James Churchward, states that LePlongeon relied on the translation of Brasseur de Bourbourg. Jack Churchward received an email from one of de Bourbourg’s descendants, who stated that the translation was done by channelling a spirit, which explains why LePlongeon erred so much when he interpreted the document based on this translation.
LePlongeon did put the lost civilization of Mu on the books, but left it to Theosophist Helena Blavatsky to popularize the lost continent, claiming it was the mystical birthplace of occult traditions. But the man who brought Mu from theory and speculation to reality was James Churchward, who claimed to have found hard physical evidence for the continent’s existence, when he was shown a secret library in India. Born in Britain, Churchward eventually settled in the United States. But it was years before, while living in Sri Lanka, where he owned a tea plantation with his wife, that he travelled to India; during this journey, he later claimed, he found a lost epoch of Mankind’s history. In India, he befriended a priest who taught Churchward to read an ancient dead language. Allegedly, only the priest and two others were the only people in the world able to read it. The language was written down on numerous tablets, which the priest allowed Churchward to see and read. Churchward intimates in his books that he tricked the priest into showing him the tablets, as well as teaching him the meaning of the dead language. As he did so, Churchward claimed, he realised that the tablets he saw were not the complete library. Nevertheless, he was able to create a homogenous picture of the lost civilisation of Mu by consulting other sources and people.
These events happened in the late 19th century, even though Churchward only went public with his Mu material in 1924 – a very long time to remain silent on such a tremendous existence. Too good to be true? No, as it is known that Churchward had long been interested in ancient civilizations. In the 1890s, he personally discussed the subject of Mu with LePlongeon and his wife Alice. Jack Churchward states that an unseen publication from his ancestor is “Copies of Stone Tablets Found By William Niven at Santiago Ahuizoctla Near Mexico City.” It is known that in 1927, the two exchanged letters.
One of the symbols of Mu, which Churchward saw on the tablets Churchward’s discovery became famous when a major article on it appeared on November 10, 1924 in the “New York American” newspaper. In it, the central framework of Churchward’s claims about Mu was put forward. The civilisation was labelled “Empire of the Sun”. It was once a civilisation that had 64 million inhabitants, known as the Naacals, the priestly brotherhood, keepers of the sacred wisdom, who lived 50,000 years ago. All known ancient civilisations – India, Egypt and the Mayas – were decayed remnants of its many colonies.
In 1926, at the age of 75, Churchward published “The Lost Continent of Mu: Motherland of Man”. Where was Mu? It extended from north of Hawaii to the Fijis and Easter Island. Geologists find it hard to imagine dry land here, as the area is crossed by the so-called Andesite Line, making it geologically unlikely there was a landmass here. As Churchward never produced any evidence for his visit to the Naacal Library, several people treat his claims with scepticism.
So was Churchward a liar, or someone with genuine experiences? To understand the man better, it is noted that some aspects of the Mu legend are original to Churchward, some aren’t. It was LePlongeon who had first written about the “Nacaal”, in 1896, where he identifies them as Maya adepts and missionaries, with the word Naacal meaning “the exalted”. But LePlongeon therefore identified their homeland as Central America, not Mu in the Pacific Ocean, which was specific to Churchward.
What about his relationship with Blavatsky? They both claimed that in India, they had been exposed to “lost knowledge”. In the case of Blavatsky, her source of lost knowledge was the “Book of Dzyan”, supposedly written in Atlantis and presented to her by the Indian Mahatmas.
Indeed, though it could be argued that Churchward merely copied from the likes of Blavatsky and LePlongeon in his exploit of Mu, at the same time, it could be said that his story is totally true and that it confirms Blavatsky’s assertions and that Churchward spent several decades cementing his case before he went public and wrote his series of books on the subject.
Churchward was living in India in the 1880s, before he moved to the United States in 1889. It is during his time in India when he allegedly made contact with these Indian adepts – allowing for a period of roughly a decade where he could befriend, learn and study the language – more than sufficient time. Churchward said he studied the language which was said to be Mankind’s original language, which had labelled “Naga-Maya”, for more than two years
After having read the Naacal documents, he continued his searches for further information. In Burma, he visited an ancient Buddhist temple in search of the missing records, carrying letters of introduction from the Indian high priests with whom he studied. But what is lacking from Churchward’s account is any verifiable information. His story truly hinges on whether or not he acquainted an Indian priest and saw numerous rare tablets. As a result, for years, the story of Churchward therefore remained a legend, while his books were reprinted. But never, anything new was found that might change the status quo. That changed when the German independent researcher, author and travel agency manager Thomas Ritter claimed he had entered a “secret library” underneath Sri Ekambaranatha temple in Kanchipuram, India in which he has found evidence of the lost civilisation of Mu.
He claims that on July 23, 2010, he was contacted by one Pachayappa, who invited him to enter the underground complex – and even allowed him to photograph some of its contents! Ritter states how “at chamber no. 4 the priest only allowed me to take pictures from two tablets, not from all this books there. The two tablets he showed me, are a little bit damaged. But you can see clearly the inscriptions.”
These two tablets are the so-called Naacal tablets, which James Churchward claimed to have seen many decades before. When Ritter published the material, there was immediately a torrent of disbelief, not helped by the realization that what Ritter apparently showed was a tablet unearthed in Byblos (Lebanon), discovered by French archaeologist Maurice Dunand. Because of the small amount of writing on the tablets, they have so far not been deciphered, though the script is identified – Proto-Byblian – and therefore not related to India. Indeed, the tablet presented by Ritter is in the Beirut Museum (Cat. 16598) and not a secret library in India.
Ritter claims that in July 2010, he was not welcomed by the usual young priest Narjan, whom he knew well, but an elder man, Pachayappa, who unlike Narjan, did not speak English. Pachayappa took him down into the underground structures of the temple complex. Ritter states: “Before an iron-bound door he stopped and pointed with some gesture to the bottom: ‘Rishi place!’” Then he opened the door, behind which the Nacaal library was located.
Whether Ritter is lying or not, he has at least specifically identified a temple as the location of the library: the Sri Ekambaranatha Temple in Kanchipuram, in the state of Tamil (India). The gate of the temple complex measures more than sixty metres tall, making it the largest temple tower in Southern India, and is made from granite, decorated with the images of gods, goddesses and heroes. The complex is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the five major Shiva temples, each of which representing a natural element. The Sri Ekambaranatha Temple represents the element earth. The temple’s history dates back to at least 600 AD, though could be older and is notorious for its “hallway with a thousand pillars”, as the temple’s inner walls are decorated with an array of 1,008 Shiva lingams, a symbol of the male energy.
But Ritter has drawn attention to the subterranean system of this complex, where he claims there are ten chambers. In nine of these chambers, they stored the tablets. Each room measured 25 meters long and 15 meters wide, with the ceiling quite low – he could touch it when he stretched his arm out. Pachayappa claimed that the inscriptions detailed the Rishi Puranas, the lives of the culture bringers of Ancient India. Inside were black granite tables, and there were tens of thousands of stone tablets. Ritter notes that “both sides of such postcard-sized stone tablets engraved with tiny lines were narrow characters covered in an unfamiliar script. Other plates showed fine geometric patterns on running, technical drawings, maps and astronomical images.” When he asked what they contained, he said it was the legacy of the Seven Sages.
In the first three chambers, the tablets are made from black granite, in the next three from gold. Each golden tablet was fourteen by ten centimeters, and about two to three milimeters thick and were bound like a book.
In the final three rooms, he found silver and bronze tablets that were hard to read, so Ritter used a handkerchief to polish the tablet, restoring it to its original state.
Ritter claims he was only allowed to photograph two tablets. All of these chambers have inscriptions, describing the lives and deeds of the rishis, and has produced photographs of these inscriptions.
The tenth room was located at the end of the corridor. In the middle of the room rose a column of about 1.50 m high from a solid black material, and according to Pachayappa, the material was not stone. Behind the lingam were statues of the Seven Rishis, placed in a semi-circle, and were made from a shimmering metal, which Ritter thought could be gold or silver-plated. One of them he was able to identify as Aghasthiya, who is always depicted as a dwarf. The Sri Ekambaranatha Temple Throughout the rooms, Ritter also saw rolls of metal foils, one of which Pachayappa opened. He claimed they were easy to unroll and that the material was very thin, reminding him of titanium, as it did not tear or wrinkle. The characters inscribed on it were equally etched, rather than engraved, and Ritter realized that he had seen one of these rolls before: in Churchward’s book.
At the back of this room was another door, but Pachayappa indicated that he would not open this for Ritter. He did learn that the door led to a large underground tunnel system, some of which are said to connect to towns several tens of miles away..
Ritter states that non-Hindus and foreigners normally find the library closed to them, and even access to the central part of the temple is forbidden. But it is Ritter’s conviction that it was here, that Churchward was shown the Naacal tablets and that he, more than a century later, stepped into Churchward’s footsteps. Jack Churchward has studied the material of his ancestor in detail and remains sceptical of Ritter’s material. Ritter claims that some of the scrolls he found, were the same Churchward found. Jack Churchward, however, adds: “If James was there, then the tablets would have been wrapped and put away in what James referred to as ‘chatties,’ and therefore not visible. James said as much in his books. Ritter does not say anything other than he saw a symbol, he doesn’t know that the tablets James saw were unfired clay or that the tablets would have been packed away. Just my two cents.” Since 1993, Ritter has done extensive research in the so-called palm leaf libraries, which were scattered across the entire subcontinent. He also located the presence of such a library in Kanchipuram. The original copy of these palm leaves was said to have been created and kept by the Rishis, who are said to have lived around 5000 BC. The palm leaves are a system of divination. It is believed that each palm leaf contains one incarnation of a human being and there are therefore millions of these leaves. The majority of the palm leaves focuses on India and only ten percent of the library is said to contain information of non-Indian lives.
During a visit to the centers, a priest will guide you in picking some of your past and future incarnations, and interpret the leaves for you. As they are written on palm leaves, they are subject to decay and therefore have been copied numerous times. It is said that the original library, created by the Rishis, was made of more durable material, either engraved stone slabs, or metal tablets.
Ritter explains how his palm leaves “contained information and detailed data about the past, some even from previous incarnations and of my future in this life, and statements about very personal, even intimate matters, which, as far as they concerned the past, are well verifiable, and corresponded to the truth.”
Jack Churchward has been asking Ritter for more evidence, including photographs, to back up his extraordinary claims, but so far, Ritter has not been forthcoming, including missing a deadline upon which he promised he would deliver such material. My own two attempts to contact Ritter equally received no reply. For more information on Jack Churcward, visit jack.churchward.com and www.my-mu.com.
This article appeared in Atlantis Rising, Issue 91 (January – February 2012).