In his famous book, “Chariots of the Gods?” Erich von Däniken raises the hypothesis that members of an advanced civilization had visited our planet in the past and supported the advancement of culture and technology in our planet. Although some of the evidence given in the book was disproved in the following years, still his theory gained traction and found its place in collective imagination.
What the Vedas say about that? There are aliens out there? Have they visited our planet in the past and interfered with our civilization? In case of an affirmative, how they look and what kind of technology they possess?
Actually, the answer for both questions according to the Vedas is “yes”.
There, it’s given the explanation that creation doesn’t happen by chance, but is a careful and organized process conducted by superior beings. In other words, instead of starting by unicellular organisms and gradually progressing to more complex beings, life in our universe starts with the most advanced living entity and from him goes to progressively less advanced beings.
This happens because life, according to the Vedas, is a combination of matter and consciousness. In his form of Maha-Vishnu, Lord Krishna impregnates the material energy with numerous souls, just by glancing over it, thus creating the material universes. In each universe, the most qualified soul becomes Lord Brahma, the architect of this particular universe, and the others assume different positions, from celestial beings to plants and ants according to their qualification and desires, and from there they move up or down following the cycle of samsara.
This makes sense, since it’s logical that an advanced being can create lesser beings, while the opposite is much more difficult. To accept that inanimate matter could give birth to the first unicellular beings, and that such beings could spontaneously evolve into more complex organisms, culminating into human beings, without the interference of any superior force, actually demands much more faith.
Lord Brahma creates different classes of devas, highly evolved beings who control the forces of nature and keep the balance of the cosmos, maintaining the conditions favourable for the existence of life. He then creates the prajapatis, powerful beings that are capable of creating the millions of different life forms that populate the universe.
According to modern science, human beings share about 97.5% of their DNA with mice, and 99% with chimpanzees. Considering the explanation given in the Vedas, such similarities are no wonder, since the DNA of all different species were coded by the same class of superior beings. The same way a software developer reuse blocks of code in different applications, changing only what is necessary according to the functionalities added, the same way the prajapatis don’t start from scratch for every creature they create. Every creature is given tools to be able to adapt and survive in its environment. Their creation is so ingenious that creatures can even change their form over time to answer to changes in the environment, becoming bigger, smaller or developing other adaptations.
Similarly, the prajapatis create other species of intelligent beings that live on other planets. Some are more evolved than human beings, others are at a similar level, while others are less developed. Superior beings have a greater control over matter, and most are capable of travelling to different planets using celestial vehicles called vimanas. These vimanas are however very different from a plane or rocket, in the sense they are not machines that move by burning fuel, but comfortable vehicles that are capable of moving through the cosmos by the use of mantras and the manipulation of subtle physical laws.
Some classes of beings are so advanced that they can freely travel through the universe without even the need for vimanas. Narada Muni, an inhabitant of Siddha-loka is an example of personality that has visited our planet several times in the past, at each time coming to teach knowledge about self-realization to different human beings, that in turn transmitted this knowledge to others.
Similarly, other evolved beings have visited our planet in the past, in most cases with the same goal of transmitting transcendental knowledge. In the Bhagavad-Gita, for example, Lord Krishna describes how in the past He had transmitted the same knowledge to Vivasvan, the deva who presides over the sun. He transmitted that knowledge to Manu, who in turn transmitted it to Iksvaku, an earthly king, who started a line of disciplic succession that persisted for a long time. Lord Krishna explains that with the passage of time, this line was broken and thus the knowledge was forgotten. For this reason, He was again speaking the same knowledge to Arjuna, giving birth to the Bhagavad-Gita we have in our time.
These evolved beings from superior planets are very beautiful and effulgent. They also don’t touch the ground when they come, levitating a few centimeters above the surface. The descriptions of angels we have in traditional beliefs fit very well the descriptions of these beings we get from the Vedas.
When we speak about extraterrestrial life, we imagine beings with an advanced technology, but the Vedas describe that higher beings don’t have need for machines, since they can manipulate matter at will. Their technology is this knowledge about the application of subtle material laws, that allow them to satisfy any material desire they may have. Their main concern is spiritual elevation, and that is the knowledge they regularly transmit to human beings in the form of the Vedas.
Similarly, there are also living beings who are less evolved than humans. In the Vedas, different civilizations are not classified according to their technological advancement, but instead according to their spiritual advancement. Some of them are more technologically advanced than us, but being concerned only with sense gratification and material achievements, they are not really people to hang out with. If you see an alien coming in a spaceship, it’s probably not a good idea to get close. They are probably not here with the best intentions.
In fact, the Srimad Bhagavatam relates that in a distant past, several cosmic cycles before, there was an advanced civilization of human beings in our planet that became advanced technologically and were able to construct spaceships capable of traveling to other planets. Despite the technology, they were not very advanced in knowledge, therefore they were using this power to subjugate and exterminate other races. In such a circumstance, Lord Buddha appeared to teach them non-violence, making them stop their genocide. It’s interesting that the same Lord Buddha also appeared recently to give the same teachings of non-violence in a time when human beings were indiscriminately killing animals. This shows that there are superior forces that maintain the balance of the cosmos, and intervene when there are too many disturbances.