[Notes on “A Letter from Surb Ohannes”]
Theosophist, July, 1881
Article Selections by the Adept Hillarion Smerdis (signed “X. . . F.T.S.”) | Notes by H.P.B.
. . . Your archaeologists and ethnologists are yet bound hand and foot by the Biblical weeds which, for a century or so, will still prevent the Plant of True Knowledge from taking firm root on the Western soil. . . . But, I may tell you of a popular tradition the nucleus of which is built upon fact. Upon hearing of my intention to start on exploration of the mountain fastnesses, a venerable Armenian patriarch of Dyadin, on the decline of life, and who tries to put to the best use the only and solitary organ left in him intact by the Kurds, namely, his tongue, let it loose upon that occasion. He tried his best to frighten me out of my intention. No mortal man, he said, could ever visit that particular place and live. Besides every cave being the private property of “Mathan,” he would cause the sacred fire to appear under the traveller’s foot and burn him to death for his sacrilegious attempt; and then Noah’s Ark is preserved in the highest cave . . . “And what do you make of the Arc on Mount Ararat then?” I inquired of him. Forthwith I was appraised of the novel geological discovery that Ararat had formed once upon a time part and parcel of Ala-Dag, but falling into the hands of the Persians it broke away from the latter and placed itself on Christian territory, leaving in its precipitate flight the “sacred” ark in the safe keeping of Ala-Dag. Since then “Mathan” refuses to give it up.1
1. In George Smith’s The History of Babylonia, the author expresses an opinion to the effect that the Biblical Ararat “does not mean the mountain now called Ararat, but a mountainous country south of this and near the lake Van” (pp. 49-50). The great Assyriologist can hardly have heard of that popular tradition and must have been prompted to say this on some knowledge grounded upon weightier reasons than popular tradition. But one corroborates the other.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
. . . You know, of course, that the Armenians, who, until the fourth and even seventh centuries of the Christian era were Parsees in religion, call themselves Haiks, the descendants of Haig, a contemporary of Bilu (Belus), a king of the Babylonians2 who deified and worshipped him after death as a Sun and Moon God. Haig is made to have flourished 2200 B.C. according to accepted date, and more than 7,000 agreeably to truth.
2. Not to be confounded with the Sun-God Belus and Baal—two far more ancient deities.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
Their legend states that Haig and his clan were compelled to emigrate from Babylonia to Armenia on account of the religious persecutions to which they were subjected from Bilu who sought to pervert them from pure Parseeism to Sabaeanism by including the moon in sun worship. Twenty-six centuries later, (accepted date) their King Tiridates the last of the Arsacidae began to force then into Christianity (fourth century) and the new faith had spread its own versions of cosmogony from Genesis, that Haig had the honour of finding himself transformed into a descendant of Japhet, the son of Noah—that virtuous old man who had performed every achievement but that of being born. But even in their forgotten traditions we find that they claimed to have remained true to the teachings of Zoroaster. These they had accepted ever since Musarus Oannes or Annêdotus—the Heaven or Sun-sent (the first Odakôn Ano-Daphos, the man-fish) arising daily from the sea at sunrise to plunge back into it at every sunset, taught them the good doctrine, their arts and civilization. That was during the reign of Amenon the Chaldean, 68 sari, or 244,800 years before the Deluge. Since then (as demonstrated by the Assyriologists, according to the cylinder records), several other Odakôns had ascended from the sea, the last coming during the days* of the Chaldean King Ubara-Tutu—“the glow of sunset,”—the last but one of the antediluvian kings of Berosus. Each and all of these aquarian teachers came from his habitat, in lands unknown ascending from the Persian Gulf.3
* During the millenniums rather, since, according to the chronology left to us by Berosus, the reign of that king lasted 8 sari or 28,800 years.
3. One of the cylinders states that this sea was part of the great chaotic deep out of which our world was formed; the celestial region where the “gods and spirits” (the initiated Magi, or Sons of God) dwelt was in their neighbourhood, but not in their country.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
. . . the Chaldean Oannes and Zoroaster are one in their reminiscences. The Chaldean Annêdotus was called the “Son of the Fish,” and the latter was the name of Zoroaster’s mother. Wonder, what your Zend scholars, Parsees and Europeans, will say to this? They will not feel a little surprised, perhaps, when told, that it was the Hellenized name of their Zoroaster—Annêdotus, whom the Greeks called Oannes that led the old Armenians more easily into accepting Christianity than they otherwise might—as I am now prepared to show. . . . The Armenians, during a century and a half of subjection to Macedonia (from 325 B.C.) had accepted the name of Ohannes for their Chaldean man-fish Annêdotus. They were easily made to believe that “Ohannes the Baptist” who led them into the water, was identical with Ohannes or Oannes, who had instructed their forefathers arising out, setting in, and replunging back into the water before, during, and after the preaching. The identity of the name and the element, in short, proved useful allies in the plan devised by the diplomatic Saint. Before the end of the eleventh century all Armenia was baptised.4
4. Jôannês, the Baptist who is usually associated with waters, is but a Petro-Paulite name and symbol of the Hebrew Jonah (the Jonas swallowed by the whale) and the Assyrian Oannes . . . The fishermen and fishers of man in the Gospels are based on this mythos.” (Enoch, the Book of God, Vol. II, p. 80.) This appears the more probable as the Mohammedan inhabitants of Mosul, near the ruins of Nineveh have assumed for centuries that the mound called by them—“Nebbi Yunus”—contained the tomb or sepulchre of the prophet Jonah, on its summit; while the excavations of Layard brought to light on the neighbouring mount Kuyunjik a colossal image of the Fish-God Oannes—the cause most probably of the later legend.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]