Giants—Myth or Fact?

Gayatri-for-WomenGāyatrī for Women
Gita-Govinda-of-Jayadeva-GosvamiGītā-Govinda of Jayadeva Gosvāmī

by Swami B.G. Narasingha

“Giants—Myth or Fact?” was the last article written by Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja. In this historical essay, Mahārāja gives various evidence from śāstra for the existence of giants, and looks at the phenomenon in other cultures, as well as modern day hoaxes.

Could giants have walked the Earth in bygone ages? Vedic śāstra as well as the Yavana and Mleccha scriptures such as the Torah, the Bible, the Quran, and countless legends around the world, say yes. But where is the evidence?

In Rāmāyaṇa, the demon-king Rāvaṇa is portrayed as a giant, not as a human. To be exact, Rāvaṇa was a ten-headed giant.

“There was only silence as Rāma glanced over the mountain with red-hot eyes. Rāma then prepared to release His arrows at the mountain when Lakṣmaṇa pointed out Sītā’s footprints, along with those of the giant rākṣasa. Following the footprints, Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa soon came upon Rāvaṇa’s broken bow and quiver, portions of his shattered chariot, along with pieces of Sītā’s broken ornaments. Then, when drops of blood were found, Rāma concluded that Sītā was indeed devoured by the rākṣasas, for it appeared that two man-eaters had fought over her at that spot.” (Rāmāyaṇa, Āraṇya-kaṇḍa)

“O Lord, as the gem of the sons of Janaka You were victorious over all the asuras (demons), and You smashed the greatest asura, the ten-headed Rāvaṇa. Glories to Lord Hari.” (Daśāvatāra Stotram by Jayadeva Gosvāmī)

In the Mahābhārata, the demon rākṣasas are portrayed as giants. The Ādiparva of Mahābhārata describes the birth of Ghatoṭkaca, the son of the she-demon Hiḍimbā and Bhīma. Make no mistake about it, Ghatoṭkaca was a giant, not a man:

“Hiḍimbā, assuming the handsomest form, sported with Bhīma and studied to make him happy. Endued with the speed of the mind, she sported with Bhīma in all these regions, till in time, she conceived and brought forth a mighty son begotten upon her by the Pāṇḍava. Of terrible eyes and large mouth and straight arrow like ears, the child was terrible to behold. Of lips brown as copper and sharp teeth and a loud roar, of mighty arms and great strength and excessive prowess, this child became a mighty bowman. Of long nose, broad chest, frightfully swelling calves, swiftness of movement and excessive strength, he had nothing human in his countenance, though born of man.”

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam accounts the giant Vīrabhadra who destroyed the arena of Dakṣa:

“A fearful black demon (Vīrabhadra) as high as the sky and as bright as three suns combined was thereby created (by Śiva), his teeth very fearful and the hairs on his head like burning fire. He had thousands of arms, equipped with various weapons, and he was garlanded with the heads of men.” (Bhāg. 4.5.3)

“When that gigantic demon asked with folded hands, ‘What shall I do, my lord?’ Lord Śiva, who is known as Bhūtanātha, directly ordered, “Because you are born from my body, you are the chief of all my associates. Therefore, kill Dakṣa and his soldiers at the sacrifice.” (Bhāg. 4.5.4)

The Skanda Purāṇa (6.27) states that in Satya-yuga, an average human is five tālas high. (one tāla is the size of a palm tree). In Treta-yuga, an average human is one tāla high. In Dvapara-yuga, an average human is four to five hastas high (approx 6 -7.5 feet). As Kali-yuga advances, the average human reaches the height of 3.5 hastas (approx. 5 ft) and as Kali proceeds, humans continue to diminish.

The Torah, the Bible and the Quran also make specific references to giants having lived on this Earth as one of God’s early creations:

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (King James Version, Genesis 6:4)

The same verses of the Hebrew Torah refer to the giants of the Christian Bible as Nephilim:

“The Nephilim were in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

And what to speak of the most famous of all giants known to almost everyone with a Christian upbringing – Goliath.

“A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span (9 feet, 9 inches). He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armour of bronze weighing five thousand shekels (125 pounds); on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back.” (Bible, 1 Samuel 17)

According to the Prophet Muhammed, Adam was a giant as were others:

“Allah created Adam, making him 60 cubits tall (27 meters). When He created him, He said to him, “Go and greet that group of angels, and listen to their reply, for it will be your greeting (salutation) and the greeting (salutations of your offspring).” So, Adam said (to the angels), As-Salamu Alaikum (i.e. Peace be upon you).”

Ancient Greek mythology tells us of a plethora of giants, most notably the Thracian Gigantes. The Gigantes as they were called were oversized men, many of monstrous proportions, some with only one eye (such as Polyphemus, the Cyclops, son of Poseidon), or those with a hundred arms and fifty heads (the Hekatonkheires), man-eating giants (Laistrygonians) and many more, often said to be closely related to the gods.

The giants in Greek mythology engaged in the war between the Titans and the Olympians, mostly fighting on the side of the Titans. Many of the giants were killed just to be reborn again to continue fighting the Olympians (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes and Dionysus). At the end of the War of the Titans, the Olympians were victorious.

References and legends of giants abound, but where is the evidence? Where is the hard evidence like bones or fossil remains? Some say they have it. Others say it’s a hoax.

In 1952 Fate Magazine published the following statement:

“The Iroquois, the Osage, the Tuscaroras, the Hurons, the Omahas, and many other North American Indians all speak of giant men who once lived and roamed in the territories of their forefathers. All over what is now the U.S. are traditions of these ancient giants.”

According to authors and researchers Jim Vieira and Hugh Newman:

“Over a two-hundred-year period, more than 1000 accounts of seven-foot and taller skeletons have been reported unearthed from ancient burial sites in North America. Newspaper accounts, town and county histories, letters, scientific journals, diaries, photos and Smithsonian ethnology reports have carefully documented this. These skeletons have been reported from coast to coast in burial chambers, stone crypts, caves, ancient battlefields and massive mounds. Strange anatomic anomalies such as double rows of teeth, jawbones so large as to be fit over the face of the finder, and elongated skulls, were documented in virtually every state. Smithsonian scientists identified at least 17 skeletons that stood at over seven feet in their annual reports, including one example that was 8 feet tall, and a skull with a 36-inch circumference (an average human skull has a circumference of about 20 inches). The Smithsonian Institution is mentioned dozens more times as the recipient of enormous skeletons from across the United States.”

True or not, the reported finding of giant human skeletons has been published in numerous newspapers in America dating back to the early settlers up to our modern era. Here are a few such accounts:

In 1519, Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda while mapping the Gulf Coast came upon what he called a mixed race of giants and pigmies that had settled in large towns near the Mississippi river, “A race of giants, from ten to eleven palms in height and a race of pigmies only five or six palms high.”

According to Vieira and Newman:

“In the summer of 1579, just north of San Francisco, Sir Francis Drake recounted his witnessing of living giants in his diary. In 1602, the California Channel Islands were ‘discovered’ by the Spanish, an area that has become a mecca for giantologists. Over 3,000 skeletons were discovered on the islands in the early 1900s, some being between 8 and 9 feet tall. Numerous mysterious reports of skulls containing ‘double rows of teeth’ were also reported on the neighbouring islands.”

One hundred and ten years later in 1869, on a small farm belonging to William C. “Stub” Newell of Cardiff, New York, the fossilized remains of a 10-foot giant was unearthed. The next day the citizens of Cardiff rode out to Newell’s farm on their horse and buggies to behold the wonder of wonders. Before it was over the 10-foot giant had become a national fixation. So popular an attraction was the giant that P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus fabricated a replica of the 10-foot giant and declared that the Cardiff Giant was a fake. A court case ensued and at the end a friend of Newell, a George Hull, admitted to the court how he had gone about creating the elaborate hoax, mainly to make fools of the local Methodist congregation, who when the giant was discovered declared its authenticity by enthusiastically citing verses from the Bible. The judge ruled that P.T. Barnum could not be sued for having a hoax for that which was already a hoax.

The original Cardiff Giant is still on display at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, New York. As P.T. Barnum said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” The replica created by P.T. Barnum is on display at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan and yet another replica of the Cardiff Giant is on display at the Fort Museum in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

In 1895 the Smithsonian Institute purchased the “San Diego Giant”, a skeleton found at San Diego, California for the whopping price of $500 ($15,000 plus in today’s money). Shortly afterwards, the Smithsonian declared the San Diego Giant a hoax.

1895 was a good year for discovering giant skeletons. In the “Town History of Deerfield, Mass” (pg. 78, 1895), Historian George Sheldon writes:

“At the foot of Bars Long Hill. Just where the meadow fence crossed the road, and the bars were placed that gave the village its name, many skeletons were exposed while plowing down a bank, and weapons and implements were found in abundance. One of these skeletons was described to me by Henry Mather who saw it, as being of monstrous size — ‘the head was as big as a peck basket, with double teeth all round.’ The skeleton was examined by Dr. Stephen W. Williams who said the owner must have been nearly eight feet high.”

“The Story of Martha’s Vineyard” by Charles Gilbert Hine (pg. 136, 1908) paints a similar picture:

“Some 15 years ago the skeleton of an Indian Giant in almost perfect preservation was dug up in the same locality (Cedar Tree Neck), the bones indicated a man easily six feet and a half possibly seven feet high. An unusual feature was a complete double row of teeth on both the upper and lower jaws.”

The “History of the Town of Rockingham, Vermont”, by Lyman Simpson Hayes (pg. 338, 1907) echoes the same. It seems that the double rows of teeth were a reoccurring phenomenon in skeleton discoveries of that era, as if to say a double row of teeth made the skeleton’s owner something other than an ordinary human—what else but a giant.

“When the earth was removed from the top of the ledges east of the falls, a remarkable human skeleton, unmistakably that of an Indian, was found. Those who saw it tell the writer the jaw bone was of such size that a large man could easily slip it over his face and the teeth, which were all double, were perfect.”

The Steelville Ledger of June 11, 1933 gives the account of a boy out looking for arrowheads:

“…he turned up the skeleton of an eight-foot giant. The grisly find was brought to Dr. R.C. Parker here and stretched out to its enormous length in a hallway of his office where it has since remained the most startling exhibit Steelville has ever had on public view…An appeal to Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, anthropologist of the National Museum in Washington and celebrated authority on primitive races is expected to help. Dr. Parker has written to him, offering to forward the skull or the whole skeleton, if necessary for scientific study.”

A photo of local man, 6-foot tall Les Eaton, was taken laid out next to the giant skeleton. The Steelville Ledger further reports that the skeleton was shipped off to the Smithsonian—never to be heard of again.

Could the photo of Les Eaton lying next to the giant have been a hoax? It certainly could have been faked even back then when photography was in its infancy. In today’s world, fake photos of giant skeletons are easily found with a Google image search. A real human skeleton in an archaeological dig, a little Photoshop touch up and there you have it—definite proof that giants once roamed the earth, and plenty of gullible, naive people to believe anything they read or see on the internet (like Flat Earth). The question remains. Could giants have actually walked the Earth in prehistory?

In conclusion: The faithful and the credulous will remain fixed in their belief in giants. As for the cynic, he will continue to doubt such things as giants until he finds the genuine fossil remains to prove it. The conspiracy theorists, on the other hand, say many such skeletons have already been found, but that the government are hiding the truth.

What do you believe the truth to be? Were there giants on this earth at some time in earth’s history? Drop us an email and tell us what you think is true…

Gayatri-for-WomenGāyatrī for Women
Gita-Govinda-of-Jayadeva-GosvamiGītā-Govinda of Jayadeva Gosvāmī

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“Guruvayur” was an article written by Śrīla B.G. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja in 1989 for ‘Clarion Call’ magazine, Vol.2, issue 3. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja explains the history of the famous temple in Kerala as well as some of its peculiarities.

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