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WHERE DID MEDITATION ORIGINATE

Where did meditation originate? What archeologists and scientists have been able to discover so far, is that recorded evidence of meditation has been in existence for at least 4,608 years. Considering recorded history in any format has only been around for 6,000 years, it seems likely that meditation surpasses the 4,600 year date that has been proven so far.

The first recorded written histories of any kind began in Mesopotamia in the 4,000 B.C. period (6,000 years ago). But it wasn't until 3,000 B.C. (5,000 years ago) that writing developed in the Indus Valley, where the earliest recorded mention of meditation occurred. The earliest recorded mention of meditation occurred in Hindu Scripture approximately 5,000 years ago in Indian scriptures called tantras.

where did meditation originate
A 17th century manuscript fragment from the Upanishads

Another recorded sign of meditation was found by archeologist, Sir John Marshall in the 1920's. He discovered a carved figure on a seal of a yogi sitting in meditation pose in excavations of the city Mohenjo-daro, which dates back to 2,600 B.C. (4,600 years ago).

origins of meditation mohenjo daro seal yogi meditating
The Mohenjo-Daro seal found by Sir John Marshall
The earliest proof of meditations inception.

Mohenjo-daro was the capitol city of the Indus Valley Civilization which spanned across Pakistan and India and included approximately 5 million people.

So the answer to the question where did meditation originate, is that as far as archeologists can tell so far, meditation originated in the India/Pakistan region approximately 5,000 years ago. However there is a strong following that believe meditation was here for much, much longer, and that if recorded history stretched back even further, we would continue to discover signs of it's presence.

buddha statue pakistan origins of meditating
Buddha Carving from 3rd Century Gandhara (Currently Pakistan)
(Carving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The first Buddha, Siddhârtha Gautama lived from approximately 560 B.C. to 450 B.C. It is known that he left his palace and went to study meditation and other spiritual affairs with two holy men, Kalama and then Ramaputta. What this signifies is that around 500 B.C. (approximately 2,058 years ago), meditation was a widespread and well-known concept throughout India. There were holy men who practiced and taught the art of meditation as a means to enlightenment. With the first Buddha, meditation spread across Asia and what is now known as the Middle East, and became more and more widespread.

Buddhism (and in relation, meditation) was once practiced heavily in what is now the Middle East, with a majority of the population following the religion. With time, it's practice faded in those regions, but continued to strengthen and grow throughout all of Asia.

How can we really know the answer to the question where did meditation originate? Researchers speculate that meditation has been with us since beginning of human existence. A primal urge to connect more closely with self and universe.

Researchers also have proof through the writings and seals found 2,500 years before Siddhârtha Gautama's birth that meditation practices were in existence long before the first Buddha, and the rise of the Buddhist religion.

Where did meditation originate is a question that will be with us for eternity, as researchers, scholars, and archeologists continue to uncover the lost history of meditation. What is known, is the powerful, beneficial effects that come from a steady meditation practice.

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