The Mahabharata and The Puranas are two of the ancient epics of Hinduism that refer to events dated between 1500 and 1000 BC and probably developed into their present form between 400 BC and 200 AD. They make mention of Attala, the white island, a continent located in the western ocean. This vague similarity with the name of Atlantis may be purely coincidental, but it is regularly produced as ‘evidence’ of pre-Platonic reference to Plato’s flooded island.
*A brief, but highly speculative attempt to link Atlantis with Mahabharata is offered by Santosh Kumar(c).*
A quite radical suggestion has come from the Italian writer, Michele Manher, who has proposed(a) that Homer’s Iliad originated in India where elements of it can be identified in the Mahabharata!
The website(b) supporting the ‘Atlantis in Indonesia’ theory of Arysio dos Santos has an extensive article with the self explanatory title of The Hindu Origin of the Myth of Atlantis.
*(c) https://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/atlantis-in-the-Mahabharata (offline Mar. 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20170912013243/https://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/atlantis-in-the-mahabharata*
Harald A.T. Reiche, (1922-1994) was born in Germany and studied in Switzerland before arriving in the United States. He received a BA degree in classics from Harvard in 1943, an MA in 1944 and a PhD in 1955. He was a professor of classics and philosophy at M.I.T from 1955 to 1991. His principal interest was Greek cosmology and astronomy, subjects on which he lectured and wrote extensively. Reiche offered an astronomical interpretation of the Atlantis story, based on precession*; a concept discussed at length in Hamlet’s Mill by Santillana and Dechend who were colleagues of Reiche at M.I.T. Their view is that “myths were vehicles for memorising and transmitting certain kinds of astronomical and cosmological information”. A comparable suggestion has been proposed by Kenneth Wood and his wife Florence, built on the research of his mother-in-law, the late Edna Leigh, which they outlined in Homer’s Secret Iliad, a book that attempts to prove that the Iliad was written as an aide memoire for a wide range of astronomical data. Guy Gervis has adopted some of their work and specifies a date of around 2300 BC for the events described in the Iliad and Odyssey, based on an analysis of this astronomical data(b). Hamlet’s Mill has received widespread critical acclaim but perhaps it might be no harm to also consider a more sober view presented by Jason Colavito(a).
In a paper, some years ago, Reiche suggested that Plato’s description of the city of Atlantis mirrors “features of the southern circumpolar sky”. Understandably, this quote has been gratefully seized upon by the Flem-Aths to bolster their Atlantis in Antarctica theory.
*Precession is the name given to the astronomical feature whereby the gradual change in the direction of the Earth’s axis of rotation, producing a shifting of constellations around the celestial sphere.
(b) See: Archive 3606