Agartha (sometimes Agartta, Agharti, Agarath, Agarta or Agarttha) is a legendary kingdom that is said to be located in the Earth’s core. It is related to the belief in a hollow Earth and is a popular subject in esotericism.
The legend remained mostly obscure in Europe until a detailed account by the nineteenth-century French occultist Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre was published posthumously, in 1910.
In his 1922 book Beasts, Men and Gods, explorer Ferdynand Ossendowski relates a story which was imparted to him concerning a subterranean kingdom which exists inside the Earth. This kingdom was known to a fictional Buddhists society as Agharti.
Connections to mythology
Agartha is frequently associated or confused with Shambhala which figures prominently in Vajrayana Buddhism and Tibetan Kalachakra teachings and revived in the West by Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society. Theosophists in particular regard Agarthi as a vast complex of caves underneath Tibet inhabited by demi-gods, called asuras. Helena and Nicholas Roerich, whose teachings closely parallel theosophy, see Shambhala’s existence as both spiritual and physical.
In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Shambhala (Sanskrit: शम्भल Śambhala, also spelled Shambala or Shamballa; Tibetan: བདེ་འབྱུང, Wylie: Bde’byung; Chinese: 香巴拉; pinyin: Xiāngbālā) is a spiritual kingdom. Shambhala is mentioned in the Kalachakra Tantra. The Bon scriptures speak of a closely related land called Tagzig Olmo Lung Ring.
The Sanskrit name is taken from the name of a city mentioned in the Hindu Puranas.
There have been theories and presumptions that the place is probably in reference to Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh or in reference to Sambalpur in Odisha, But this theory doesn’t have any scriptural proof or evidence as the scriptures speak of a pure land with good people as the inhabitants and as we speak of the places in India, No place fulfills that description. Furthermore, Scriptures describe it to be devoid of the influence of Kali and no country right now is free from the influence. So the chances are that, It is a mystery land hidden in deeper himalayas or a place conducive for that as described by the Buddhist scriptures. The Buddhists call this mystery land as “Shangri-La”.The exact length of Shambhala is 245 yojanas (approximate) as per Vishnu Purana. The mythological relevance of the place originates with a prophecy in Vishnu Purana (4.24) according to which Shambhala will be:
- The birthplace of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu, who will usher in a new age (Satya Yuga);
- The prophesied ruling Kingdom of Maitreya, the future Buddha
The Hollow Earth is a concept proposing that the planet Earth is entirely hollow or contains a substantial interior space. Notably suggested by Edmond Halley in the late 17th century, the notion was disproven, first tentatively by Pierre Bouguer in 1740, then definitively by Charles Hutton in his Schiehallion experiment around 1774.
It was still occasionally defended through the mid-19th century, notably by John Cleves Symmes Jr. and Jeremiah N. Reynolds, but by this time it was part of popular pseudoscience and no longer a scientifically viable hypothesis.
The concept of a hollow Earth still recurs in folklore and as a premise for subterranean fiction, a subgenre of adventure fiction.
In ancient times, the concept of a subterranean land inside the Earth appeared in mythology, folklore and legends. The idea of subterranean realms seemed arguable, and became intertwined with the concept of “places” of origin or afterlife, such as the Greek underworld, the Nordic Svartálfaheimr, the Christian Hell, and the Jewish Sheol (with details describing inner Earth in Kabalistic literature, such as the Zohar and Hesed L’Avraham). The idea of a subterranean realm is also mentioned in Tibetan Buddhist belief. According to one story from Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is an ancient city called Shamballa which is located inside the Earth.
According to the Ancient Greeks, there were caverns under the surface which were entrances leading to the underworld, some of which were the caverns at Tainaron in Lakonia, at Troezen in Argolis, at Ephya in Thesprotia, at Herakleia in Pontos, and in Ermioni. In Thracian and Dacian legends, it is said that there are caverns occupied by an ancient god called Zalmoxis. In Mesopotamian religion there is a story of a man who, after traveling through the darkness of a tunnel in the mountain of “Mashu”, entered a subterranean garden.
Chapel, bell tower and penitential beds on Station Island. The bell tower stands on a mound that is the site of a cave which, according to various myths, is an entrance to a place of purgatory inside the Earth. The cave has been closed since October 25, 1632.
In Celtic mythology there is a legend of a cave called “Cruachan”, also known as “Ireland’s gate to Hell”, a mythical and ancient cave from which according to legend strange creatures would emerge and be seen on the surface of the Earth. There are also stories of medieval knights and saints who went on pilgrimages to a cave located in Station Island, County Donegal in Ireland, where they made journeys inside the Earth into a place of purgatory. In County Down, Northern Ireland there is a myth which says tunnels lead to the land of the subterranean Tuatha Dé Danann, a group of people who are believed to have introduced Druidism to Ireland, and then went back underground.
In Hindu mythology, the underworld is referred to as Patala. In the Bengali version of the Hindu epic Ramayana, it has been depicted how Rama and Lakshmana were taken by the king of the underworld Ahiravan, brother of the demon king Ravana. Later on they were rescued by Hanuman. The Angami Naga tribes of India claim that their ancestors emerged in ancient times from a subterranean land inside the Earth. The Taino from Cuba believe their ancestors emerged in ancient times from two caves in a mountain underground.
Natives of the Trobriand Islands believe that their ancestors had come from a subterranean land through a cavern hole called “Obukula”. Mexican folklore also tells of a cave in a mountain five miles south of Ojinaga, and that Mexico is possessed by devilish creatures who came from inside the Earth.
In the middle ages, an ancient German myth held that some mountains located between Eisenach and Gotha hold a portal to the inner Earth. A Russian legend says the Samoyeds, an ancient Siberian tribe, traveled to a cavern city to live inside the Earth. The Italian writer Dante describes a hollow earth in his well-known 14th-century work Inferno, in which the fall of Lucifer from heaven caused an enormous funnel to appear in a previously solid and spherical earth, as well as an enormous mountain opposite it, “Purgatory”.
In Native American mythology, it is said that the ancestors of the Mandan people in ancient times emerged from a subterranean land through a cave at the north side of the Missouri River. There is also a tale about a tunnel in the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona near Cedar Creek which is said to lead inside the Earth to a land inhabited by a mysterious tribe. It is also the belief of the tribes of the Iroquois that their ancient ancestors emerged from a subterranean world inside the Earth. The elders of the Hopi people believe that a Sipapu entrance in the Grand Canyon exists which leads to the underworld.
Brazilian Indians, who live alongside the Parima River in Brazil, claim that their forefathers emerged in ancient times from an underground land, and that many of their ancestors still remained inside the Earth. Ancestors of the Inca supposedly came from caves which are located east of Cuzco, Peru.