Tuesday, December 19, 2023

World-First Human Brain Atlas Reveals New Cell Types

World-First Human Brain Atlas Reveals New Cell Types 

A research consortium has published a flurry of papers detailing a “major step forward” in our knowledge of the human brain. News Published: October 12, 2023 | https://www.technologynetworks.com/genomics/news/world-first-human-brain-atlas-reveals-new-cell-types-379784 Ruairi J Mackenzie

 [[Just in case you thought everything was under control in understanding the brain or the cells in the body, take a look at thousands of new cell types!]] 

 A research consortium has published a flurry of papers detailing a “major step forward” in our knowledge of the human brain. The project includes a draft genomic atlas of the brain that authors say could boost neuroscience much as the human genome project advanced genomics.

 Big science vs. the brain 

The history of neuroscience is littered with stories of researchers and entrepreneurs underestimating the brain’s complexity. The recently completed originally set a goal of simulating the brain – with a target date of 2019. While the project helped advance technologies like brain implants and created digital maps of pockets of the brain, it never came close to achieving its original goal. Now a similarly ambitious project to map the human brain at a genetic level has delivered on its objectives. The Brain Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN), a subdivision of the NIH’s multi-billion-dollar , has shown off its rich results in a glut of 21 papers published across three journals: Science, Science Advances and Science Translational Medicine. 

Some of the research’s highlights include: The identification of over 3000 cell types spread across the brain The discovery of a new type of brain cell – the splatter neuron Detailed maps of how our genes are regulated in brain cells – and how that regulation links to 19 different brain traits and diseases.

 Features of the human brain that separate us from our nearest relatives – gorillas and chimpanzees The papers widen the scope of what neuroscientists can study, say experts in the field. , a senior investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science – which played a significant role in eight of the papers – is well aware of the challenge that faced his team at the project’s outset. “The brain is by far the most complex organ. By an order of magnitude, at least, more than other organs. It's really like 1000 organs. Each part of the brain is its own complex thing and looking at one part of the brain only gives you a very small answer about what the function and structure of the whole brain is,” said Lein in an interview with Technology Networks. The human brain’s structural details are well known to science, but with roughly 170 billion cells packed into a 3-pound lump, the variety and complexity within the brain has remained a mystery. 

 While every cell in our body carries the same genome, passed down from our parents, the information in our DNA represents a blueprint of what the cell could become. Converting these blueprints into the proteins and structures that make up our cells involves a two-stage process – transcription and translation. Together, these processes are called gene expression. BICCN explored transcription, a step in which the basic genomic blueprint is converted into RNA. This is a complex process – the base material of an origami crane is a sheet of paper, but what you do with that paper is what gives complexity to the final product. What Lein and the rest of the consortium, consisting of a global team from Seattle to Stockholm, wanted to explore was how different these transcription patterns were between cells in the brain. 

A dive into the deep brain The 21 studies in the block of papers can be roughly divided into five categories: Cell atlas studies mapping the adult human brain at the level of single cells using a technique called single-nucleus RNA sequencing, which isolates and reads RNA in cells’ genetic control centers Similar maps of the adult non-human primate (NHP) brain Comparative studies exploring the differences between humans and NHPs Brain development atlases, exploring how the human brain changes at the cellular level during development Functional studies that investigate how different brain cells behave The papers feature a litany of major findings. In one study, samples were collected from 75 people with incurable epilepsy, who had part of their brains removed as a last-ditch solution to curb their seizures. Over 400,000 cells were analyzed in total. This study showed the importance of examining gene expression – while most people in the study had exactly the same cell types present in their brains, the abundance of each cell type and the gene expressed by those cells varied significantly between donors. The study concluded that factors like age, sex and disease state all feed into this variation. Another paper detailed the discovery of a new type of neuron – the splatter neuron. 

One unique feature of the team’s analysis was its dive into the deep regions of the brain that sit below the cortex – the outer layer of the brain. The cortex is neatly organized into layers, but below, Lein said, the brain is a “mess of complexity”. RNA sequencing separates cells into clusters depending on which genes have been expressed. Usually, this lines up well with the cell’s physical location in the brain. But splatter neurons break that rule – rather than separating into a discrete blob on a map of the brain, splatter neurons look like a “Rorschach test”, said Lein, and are found across multiple brain regions. Techniques like spatial transcriptomics, which links physical location to gene expression data, could be useful in future studies of these neuron populations, Lein explained. A draft atlas of the brain Lein struggled to highlight a particularly important paper from the package – “It’s really difficult to pick your favorite children!” – but mentioned the work that has produced the draft atlas of the human brain, spearheaded by of the Karolinska Institute. This was a deeper analysis than that conducted on epilepsy patients and looked at just three post-mortem brain samples. It took in data from three million cells from every region of the brain – including those that are often overlooked in favor of the cortex. “For many years, we've really thought that complexity must be in the neocortex of the brain, which is responsible for most of our higher cognitive functions.

 It turns out that's not the case,” said Lein. “Actually, the greatest diversity is in subcortical regions of the brain, where much less focus has been put in.” The team’s hope is that these findings will aid other neuroscientists in accelerating their own projects. Lein pointed to the – which takes brain samples from donors who have died from this incurable dementia and uses a transcriptomic map to intimately detail what has happened to their brain at the genetic level. “We can now ask at this super-fine resolution what kinds of cells are lost in disease … it turns out that these are very specific kinds of cells. We never got to ask that question before because we didn’t have the resolution,” explained Lein. 

 A wealth of information Lein’s hopes for the project are mirrored by , a principal investigator at the Institute for Neuroscience UMH-CSIC in Alicante, Spain, who was not involved in the project. Jurado studies how circuits in the brain change through processes like neuroplasticity. Her research has already benefited from the availability of mouse brain atlases. She told Technology Networks that the atlas was a “major step forward in our question to understand the intricacies of the human brain.” “The emergence of a cell atlas of the human brain has the potential to significantly change the way neuroscientists work by providing them with a wealth of valuable information about the cellular and molecular composition of the brain,” said Jurado. 

 BICCN tried to avoid the overpromise of previous projects by focusing their efforts on developing technologies that could shine a light on the brain’s complexity. The work started with a predecessor project – the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Consortium (BICCC) – which looked at the less complex mouse brain. After making sure the technologies that powered the project could walk the walk in the mouse brain, they were then put to work on the NHP and human brains explored in the BICCN. These technologies, said Lein, are benefiting from increased competition among suppliers and have “really hit primetime.” First steps The BICCN project only represents the first steps towards making use of this technology, said Lein. The successor project – the BRAIN Initiative Cell Atlas Network (BICAN) aims to systematize and expand the draft atlas. , president of the British Neuroscience Association and deputy director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the project, said that it was “fantastic to start seeing so much data come through characterizing the remarkable diversity of cells in the human brain.” But she pointed out that the brain maps created during the project were stitched together from a small number of people. “We still have a long way to go for a complete brain map,” she added. 

 Major projects in neuroscience have tried to provide definitive answers on the brain’s complexity and mystery. By diving into the labyrinth, rather than trying to find the exit, BICCN might have not provide definitive answers, but does give researchers a fighting chance to try and solve the brain’s big questions. Read more: https://www.science.org/collections/brain-cell-census Meet the Author Ruairi J Mackenzie Senior Science Writer As senior science writer, Ruairi pens and edits scientific news, articles and features, with a focus on the complexities and curiosities of the brain and emerging informatics technologies. Ruairi also drives Technology Networks' search engine optimization (SEO) and editorial AI strategy and created the site’s podcast, Opinionated Science, in 2020. Ruairi has a Master’s degree in Clinical Neurosciences from the University of Cambridge.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Against "Junk DNA"


Newly Published Paper in BioEssays Recognizes Kuhnian “Paradigm Shift” Against Junk DNA

Casey Luskin

November 22, 2023, 7:44 AM


 September, I wrote about prolific functions discovered for short tandem repeats (STRs), formerly considered a type of “junk DNA.” Now a newly published paper in BioEssays has strongly rebuffed the idea of junk DNA — using the language of Kuhnian paradigm shifts. Before we go any further, let’s review just what a Kuhnian paradigm shift is.

The phrase comes from the work of a famous Harvard University historian and philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn. In his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he documented how new ideas in science typically take hold through what are called “paradigm shifts,” where the leading framework within a field (the “paradigm”) starts to accrue evidential problems (goes into “crisis”) until it finally gives way to a new idea that challenges the status quo. Kuhn further showed that most scientists spend most of their time doing “normal science” — basically solving scientific puzzles within the framework of the dominant paradigm. He observed that the scientists of the old guard paradigm are “often intolerant” of “new theories” that are being proposed by new scientists proposing ideas that challenge the reigning paradigm. A new theory “emerges first in the mind of one or a few individuals” but then it spreads because the field faces “crisis-provoking problems,” especially among scientists who are “so young or so new to the crisis-ridden field that practice has committed them less deeply than most of their contemporaries to the world view and rules determined by the old paradigm.”

A Junk DNA Paradigm Shift

This brings us to the article recently published in BioEssays, written by John Mattick, an Australian molecular biologist and Professor of RNA Biology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. I have no evidence that Mattick has any affinities with intelligent design — but he’s a prime example of a bold scientist who has embraced new theories that challenge the reigning paradigm. Mattick has been indefatigable in following the evidence where it leads regarding evidence of function for “junk DNA.” In part because of his work, biology today has experienced a paradigm shift away from the concept of junk DNA. In fact, Mattick’s new BioEssays article, “A Kuhnian revolution in molecular biology: Most genes in complex organisms express regulatory RNAs,” frames the revolution in thinking over junk DNA precisely in “Kuhnian paradigm shift” terms. The paper has a nice video abstract, but here’s what it says in written form: 

Thomas Kuhn described the progress of science as comprising occasional paradigm shifts separated by interludes of ‘normal science’. The paradigm that has held sway since the inception of molecular biology is that genes (mainly) encode proteins. In parallel, theoreticians posited that mutation is random, inferred that most of the genome in complex organisms is non-functional, and asserted that somatic information is not communicated to the germline. However, many anomalies appeared, particularly in plants and animals: the strange genetic phenomena of paramutation and transvection; introns; repetitive sequences; a complex epigenome; lack of scaling of (protein-coding) genes and increase in ‘noncoding’ sequences with developmental complexity; genetic loci termed ‘enhancers’ that control spatiotemporal gene expression patterns during development; and a plethora of ‘intergenic’, overlapping, antisense and intronic transcripts. These observations suggest that the original conception of genetic information was deficient and that most genes in complex organisms specify regulatory RNAs, some of which convey intergenerational information.

Mattick describes the previously reigning “junk DNA” paradigm in biology as having come from “prevailing assumptions.” The assumptions hold that “‘genes’ encode proteins, that genetic information is transacted and regulated by proteins, and that there is no heritable communication between somatic and germ cells.” This view that genes encode proteins is a key part of the “central dogma” of biology. Of course, no one denies that genes encode proteins — Mattick’s point is that they can do much more than this. They can also encode RNAs and the evidence shows that many non-protein-coding sequences of DNA actually encode RNAs that perform many types of vital functions in the cell. 

Junk DNA and Evolution

So the central dogma of molecular biology is part of what is perpetuating the idea that if a stretch of DNA doesn’t encode a protein then it isn’t doing anything and is “junk.” But there’s another major driver of the failing junk DNA paradigm in biology — and it stems directly from evolutionary thinking. Mattick explains:  

[T]heoretical biologists were integrating Mendelian genetics with Darwinian evolution, leading in 1942 to the so-called Modern Synthesis, which made two primary claims: mutations are random and somatic mutations are not inherited. … In 1968 Kimura proposed the neutral theory of molecular evolution, which posited that “an appreciable fraction” of the genome was evolving independently of natural selection. In 1969, Nei concluded that, given the “high probability of accumulating … lethal mutations in duplicated genomes … it is to be expected that higher organisms carry a considerable number of nonfunctional genes (nonsense DNA) in their genome”, leading Ohno to promote the concept of “junk DNA”, also arguing that “in order not to be burdened with an unbearable mutation load, the necessary increase in the number of regulatory systems had to be compensated by simplification of each regulatory system”. [Emphasis in the original.]

Against this backdrop — permeated with evolutionary thinking about the origin of the genome — the idea of junk DNA flourished and spread throughout the biology community. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

GPT4 is utterly incapable of reasoning


 This paper is full of examples of utter idiocy from GPT4, One moral is: how could you trust it to solve any problem? And maybe the solution is to require it to present all its reasoning and then have a human check - like Google Search. 

 Also there is a TED talk by Yejin Choi in which she gives the following three examples 

USER: I left five clothes to dry out in the sun. It took them five hours to dry completely. How long would it take to dry 30 clothes? ASSISTANT: It would take 30 hours to drive 30 clothes. 

 USER: Would I get a flat tire by bicycling over a bridge that is suspended over nails screws and broken glass? ASSISTANT: It is highly likely that you would get a flat tire if you bicycle over a bridge that is suspended over nails screws and broken glass. 

 USER: I have a 12 litre jug and a six litre jug. I want to measure 6 liters. How do I do it? ASSISTANT: Fill the six liter jug completely. Pour the water from the six litre jug into the 12 litre jug. Fill the six liter jug again. Carefully pour the water from the six liter jug into the 12 liter jug until the 12 liter jug is full. There will be 6 liters of water left in the six liter jug. [[YOU NOTICE DON'T YOU THAT THE SIX LITRE JUG IS EMPTY?!]]

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Lotus Sutra is not a counter-example to the Kuzari Principle

 A National Experiential Tradition is defined as:

1)     a tradition accepted by a nation about its own history

2) a tradition that describes a national experience of a previous generation of that nation

3) a national experience that would be expected to create a national       memory that would continue until the time when the tradition is in place.


The Kuzari principle says that national experiential traditions are true.


Some critics think that the events described in the Buddhist Lotus sutra are a  counter example to the Kuzari principle. Here I will show that those events do not satisfy the definition of an NET and therefore are not counterexamples to the Kuzari principle.


Here is a summary of the four main ways in which those events fail to meet the condition of the of the of the definition:


A, It is not clear that the events describe large scale human participation at all. Many of the beings described are clearly not human. Even when human terms are used, the numbers are clearly symbolic and not literal. That creates the impression that there is no description of a real human historical event. [So  2) is violated since a national event is a large scale human event.]


B. Even if we took the description to refer to large scale human participation, there is no description of the human group constituting a nation who could be the ancestors of a nation that possessed the tradition describing the events. See my discussion of the battle of the Milvian bridge in Reason to Believe pp. 272 - 274 for the significance of lacking national identity. [So 1) and 2) are violated.]


In addition, the Lotus sutra originated in a culture distinct from the descendants of the supposed original event.

According to the New World Encyclopedia (https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Lotus_Sutra)

The Lotus Sutra was published in Kashmir (or Punjab) during the Kushan dynasty, under king Kanishka´s reign. The Kushan dynasty was a different civilization than the Haryanka dynasty (that is king Ajātaśatru´s dynasty, who was allegedly present with his people when the Buddha performed the miracles).

As you know, one key component of the Kuzari Argument is (2) a national experience of a previous generation of that nation; that´s because if a relevant enough event happened, it should have left a memory on that nation as a whole, and that makes it verifiable.

It seems that the sutra doesn’t meet this requirement because this book was published by a nation that wasn´t the same nation where the miracles allegedly happened, and therefore the verifiability of the event fades away.

If someone in the Kushan empire asked “how come anybody knows about it” the fourth council would reply, “that´s because it didn´t happened to us, it happened to a different people and those people aren´t here” that means it´s unverifiable and therefore the Kuzari argument would not apply to the Lotus Sutra.


 This crucially violates 2). My thanks to Marcus Rayek for this crucial information.


C. The Lotus sutra is revered only by one of the three major branches of Buddhism, namely Mahayana. That means that it's authority as a direct revelation from God it's not accepted by the other two schools, namely Theravada and Vajrayana. That means that the veracity of the historical event is rejected by a large portion of the of those who are faithful to Buddhist tradition. That suggests that even in Mahayana it was not regarded as historical fact, but rather as a poetical exposition of fundamental beliefs and practices with which the other two branches somewhat disagreed, rather than a disagreement about an event of revelation. That being the case, the description of the historical events in the Lotus sutra cannot be regarded as a tradition accepted by a nation about its own history. [So 1) is violated.]



D. The date of origin of the Lotus sutra is very much in doubt. Here are the words of one of the translators of the sutra [https://www.academia.edu/36790850/Tracing_the_progressive_definition_of_the_Bodhisattva_Avalokite%C5%9Bvara_in_imagery_and_textual_discourses]:

We do not know where or when the Lotus Sutra was composed, or in what language. Probably it was initially formulated in a local Indian dialect and then later put into Sanskrit to lend it greater respectability. All we can say for certain about the date of its composition is that it was already in existence by 255 ce, when the first Chinese translation of it was made.

From another source [https://tricycle.org/magazine/how-to-read-the-lotus-sutra/]:

The Lotus Sutra was probably compiled in the first century C.E. in Kashmir, during the fourth Buddhist Council of the newly founded Mahayana sect of Buddhism, more than 500 years after the death of  Sakyamuni Buddha [1] It is thus not included in the more ancient Agamas of Mahayana Buddhism, nor in the  Sutta Pitaka  of the Theravada Buddhists, both of which represent the older Buddhist scriptures that can be historically  linked to Sakyamuni Buddha himself.


Given that date for its composition, we can either say it is meant as a literal history and comes into existence in violation of the Kuzari principle, or we can say that it is meant as poetry - and not as literal history - and does not violate the principle. There is no convincing reason that we should opt for the former over the latter. [So 1) is violated.]


[[More support for this conclusion is fund in the following quote from the first source above:

In these opening sentences we are still in the world of historical reality or possibility, in a setting in the outskirts of the city of Rajagriha in northern India in which Gautama, or Shakyamuni, very probably did in fact propound his doctrines in the sixth or fifth century bce.

But as Ananda proceeds to describe the staggering number and variety of human, nonhuman, and heavenly beings who have gathered to listen to the Buddha’s discourse, we realize that we have left the world of factual reality far behind. This is the first point to keep in mind in reading the Lotus Sutra. Its setting, its vast assembly of listeners, its dramatic occurrences in the end belong to a realm that totally transcends our ordinary concepts of time, space, and possibility. Again and again we are told of events that took place countless, indescribable numbers of kalpas, or eons, in the past, or of beings or worlds that are as numerous as the sands of millions and billions of Ganges Rivers. Such “numbers” are in fact no more than pseudo-numbers or non-numbers, intended to impress on us the impossibility of measuring the immeasurable. They are not meant to convey any statistical data but simply to boggle the mind and jar it loose from its conventional concepts of time and space. For in the realm of emptiness, time and space as we conceive them are meaningless; anywhere is the same as everywhere, and now, then, never, forever are all one.]]



In addition, other contradictions and historical problems are pointed out below.









Chapter I



[Text in italics is my addition of historical information.]

Thus have I heard. Once the Buddha was staying in the city of Rājagha, on



Oxford Reference

https://www.oxfordreference.com › view › authority.2...


The capital of Magadha until the end of the Haryaṇka dynasty. Built by King Bimbisāra,


https://www.oxfordreference.com › viewbydoi › auth...


Founder of the Haryaṇka dynasty and first king of Magadha.which he ruled for 52 years (c.465–413 bce) from his palace in Rājagṛha.

So the city was built no earlier than 465 B.C.E. This date is consistent only with the latest dates for Buddha’ life. According to the earlier dates these events could not have happened in his lifetime.










the mountain called Gdhrakūṭa, together with a great assembly of twelve

thousand monks, all of whom were arhats whose corruption was at an end,

who were free from the confusion of desire, who had achieved their own

goals, shattered the bonds of existence, and attained complete mental discipline.

Their names were Ājnāta kauṇḍinya, Mahākāśyapa, Uruvilvakāśyapa,

Gayā kāśyapa, Nadī kāśyapa, Śāri putra, Mahā maudgalyāyana, Mahā kātyā -

yana, Aniruddha, Kapphia, Gavāṃ pati, Revata, Pilinda vatsa, Bakkula,

Mahā kauṣṭhila, Nanda, Sundarananda, Pūr a maitrā yaṇī putra, Subhūti,

Ānanda, and Rāhula.


20 names for 12,000 monks.


All of them were great arhats, known to the assembly.

There were in addition two thousand others, both those who had more to

learn and those who did not. The nun Mahā prajāpatī was there, together with

her six thousand attendants; and also the nun Yaśodharā, Rāhulas mother,

together with her attendants.

There were also eighty thousand bodhisattva mahā sattvas, all of whom

were irreversible from highest, complete enlightenment (anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi).

They had obtained the dhāraṇīs, were established in eloquence,

and had turned the irreversible wheel of the Dharma. Each had paid homage

to countless hundreds of thousands of buddhas, planted roots of merit in their

presence, and had always been praised by those buddhas.


“Countless” clearly contradicts “hundreds of thousands”. In any case, it is clearly impossible for any real human being to receive homage from hundreds of thousands of real human beings.


They had also cultivated

compassion within themselves, skillfully caused others to enter the

wisdom of a buddha, obtained great wisdom, and reached the other shore. All

of them were famous throughout countless worlds and had saved innumerable

hundreds of thousands of sentient beings. They were Manjuśrī, Avalo -

kiteśvara, Mahāsthāmaprāpta, Nityodyukta, Anikipta dhura, Rat na pāni,

Bhaiajyarāja, Pradānaśūra, Ratnacandra, Can dra prabha, Pūra candra,

Mahāvikramin, Anantavikramin, Trai lokya vikrama, Bhadra pāla, Maitreya,

Ratnākara, and Susātha vāha.

These are the names of all 80,000?!


There were altogether eighty thousand such

bodhisattva mahāsattvas.At that time Śakra, king of the devas,


Śakra (Sanskrit: शक्र ŚakraPali: सक्क Sakka) is the ruler of the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven according to Buddhist cosmology. He is also referred to by the title "Śakra, Lord of the Devas" (Sanskrit: Śakra devānāṃ indraḥ; Pali: Sakka devānaṃ inda).[1] The name Śakra ("powerful") as an epithet of Indra is found in several verses of the Rigveda.


Clearly a mythological figure not human.





was also there, attended by twenty

thousand devaputras. Candra, Samantagandha, and Ratnaprabha, and the

great devas of the four quarters were there, together with a retinue of ten

thousand devaputras. The deva putras Īśvara and Maheśvara were there,

attended by thirty thousand devaputras. Brahma, the lord of the sahā world,

as well as the great Brahma Śikhin and the great Brahma Jyotiprabha were

there, together with a retinue of twelve thousand devaputras. The eight nāga



Who were the Naga kings?


  • Vrisha-naga alias Vrisha-bhava or Vrishabha, possibly ruled at Vidisha in the late 2nd century. ...
  • Bhima-naga, r. c. 210-230 CE, probably the first king to rule from Padmavati.
  • Skanda-naga.
  • Vasu-naga.
  • Brihaspati-naga.
  • Vibhu-naga.
  • Ravi-naga.
  • Bhava-naga.

The Naga (IAST: Nāga) dynasty ruled parts of north-central India during the 3rd and the 4th centuries, after the decline of the Kushan Empire and before the rise of the Gupta Empire. Its capital was located at Padmavati, which is identified with modern Pawaya in Madhya Pradesh. Modern historians identify it with the family that is called Bharashiva (IAST: Bhāraśiva) in the records of the Vakataka dynasty.


So they are approximately 500 years after the life of Buddha. So this reference to human participation cannot be historically accurate.






namely, Nanda, Upananda, Sāgara, Vāsukin, Takaka, Anavatapta,

Manasvin, and Utpalakawere also there, each of them surrounded by several

hundreds of thousands of attendants.

There were four kings of the kiṃnaras


A kinnara is a creature from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. They are described as part human and part bird, and have a strong association with music and love. Believed to come from the Himalayas, they often watch over the well-being of humans in times of trouble or danger. An ancient Indian string instrument is known as the Kinnari vina.


So these are mythological creatures.







whose names were Dharma, Su -

dharma, Mahādharma, and Dharmadhara, and each had several hundreds of

thousands of attendants. The four kings of the gandharvas were there. They

were Manojna, Manojnasvara, Madhura, and Madhurasvara, each of them

also with several hundreds of thousands of attendants. There, too, were four

kings of the asuras,


Asuras (Sanskritअसुर) are a class of beings or power-seeking clans, related to the more benevolent devas (also known as suras) in Hinduism.[1]

Since no names are mentioned, this is an indefinite reference impossible to place historically.






 called Bain, Kharaskandha, Vemacitra, and Rahu, each

with several hundreds of thousands of attendants. Mahā tejas, Mahākāya,

Mahā pūra, and Maharddhiprāpta, the four kings of the garuḍas,


The Four Heavenly Kings are four Buddhist gods or devas, each of whom is believed to watch over one cardinal direction of the world. In the Sanskrit language of India, they are called the "Caturmahārāja" (चतुर्महाराज) or "Caturmahārājikādeva": "Four Great Kings". In Chinese mythology, they are known as "Sì Dàtiānwáng" (Chinese四大天王lit. 'Four Great Heavenly Kings') or collectively as "Fēng Tiáo Yǔ Shùn" (simplified Chinese风调雨顺traditional Chinese風調雨順lit. 'Good climate'). The Hall of Four Heavenly Kings is a standard component of Chinese Buddhist temples.


So the four kings are clearly not human kings.




 were there

together with several hundreds of thousands of attendants. Finally, King

Ajāta śatru, Vaidehīs son,

I find no historical reference for this person.


 So the bottom line is that all the references to the kings and their attendants are references to mythological creatures except for one set of kings who are four centuries too late. That means that the description of this being a large scale public event is entirely unreliable.




 was also there with several hundreds of thousands

of his attendants.

Also notice that all the numbers are in round thousands. There was no interest here in counting the number of actual participants. The numbers indicate great multitudes and perhaps relative size.