Thursday, November 13, 2008

Greek Gods and India's Holy

With a 4 year old around at home – we end up having a large “animation” tv diet at home. One such is a program called Greeka Kadhaigal (..Stories) on the Tamil kids channel – Chutti TV.

Every time and wife and I would sit down to watch it there was always a huge sense of déjà vu…God damn…doesn’t this sound like our own stories? In one episode there was this man with an elephant’s head ( psst…does this sound our own top of the pops Ganesha?). And the other day, there was this episode where there is a an argument a few gods were having about which is bigger – money, bravery or knowledge ( guys…if you’re Tamil, you will realize that there is this block buster mythological movie called Thiruvilayadal ( Games of Lord Shiva’s) you’d see exactly the same thing!) That’s when I got goolging around a bit and here was another potential Da Vince Code for the Hindus! Here’s some of that dope….
You’d of course know that Greeks ( Hellenism) and Indian ( Hinduism) had some of the richest mythologies. Both these groups existed around the same time, give or take a 1000 years….and there was a travel and interaction between the people – indo greek coins and architecture is for all to see . So, the point I am heading to is this – Did we get our religion from the Greeks? Ok all right…I hear the guys going wild –..did the Greeks get their mythology from us? (sounds better?) . Here are some thought starters :


Zeus & Indra : In Hindu mythology Kashyapa fathered the Devas (Gods). No…it does not include the triumvirate Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva who are considered superior to the Devas. And the ruler of the Devas was Indra. In Greek mythology the Gods were fathered by Cronus. Zeus is the ruler of Gods just as Indra is his counterpart in Hindu Mythology. Indra and the other gods reside atop Mount Kailash while Zeus and the other Greek Gods reside on top of Mount Olympus. Indra represents Thursday in the days of the week. So does Zeus. Zeus is the God of thunder and lightning. So is Indra.

Good & Evil : Kashyap gave birth to both the Devas and the bad guys Asuras. Cronus gave birth to both Gods and the bad guys Titans. The struggle between the Good and bad is the central theme in both mythologies.

Bad Daddies & the Hero Son : Cronus becomes aware of a prophecy that he will be overthrown by one of his children. So, Cronus begins to swallow each one of his children as soon as they are born. When the sixth child Zeus is born, Rhea (Cronus’ wife) devises a plan to save the kid with the help of Cronus’ mother Gaia. Rhea secretly gives birth to Zeus and arranges for him to be brought up in exile. Later a grown up Zeus comes back to free his siblings and kicks ass. Now, Indian Mythology, King Kansa is foretold that the eight son of his sister Devaki would kill him. To avert this, Kansa imprisons both Devaki and her husband Vasudeva and allows them to live on the condition that they hand over all their newborns to him. Devaki’s eighth son was Krishna (a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) and as Kansa had killed all their previous children, they arranged for the child to be brought up in exile and presented another newborn to Kansa in his place. A grown up Krishna later returned to avenge the death of his brothers and killed Kansa.


The Sickle & Parashuram : Perseus cut off the head of an evil woman called Medusa with a sickle. In Indian legend Parashurama cut off his mother’s head )because she had behaved improperly; and the weapon was called a "parshu" which means either an ax or a sickle.

The Vulnerable Hero : Achilles was the seventh son of Peleus and Thetis or Thea. Thetis had made the first six unnamed sons immortal by burning away the mortal parts in fire and then sent each one in turn to join the gods in Olympus. But Pelus interrupted her when all of Achilles was made immortal except the ankle bone. Peleus snatched the body from the fire and gave Achilles an ankle bone taken from a giant, but, since this came from a mortal, Achilles was vulnerable there. Another version of the story simply says that the six elder brothers died in the fire and that his mother made Achilles immortal by dipping him in the river Styx, but, since she held him by the heel, this was vulnerable and the cause of his death.
The Indian myth comes in two parts.
In the first the god Krishna was given a "boon" by Shiva who told him that he would be invulnerable if he covered himself with "frumenty", a kind of gruel. But Krishna omitted to cover his foot and eventually died when a hunter struck him there with an arrow. In passing we may note that no Indian "boons" (usually given by Brahma) allowed immortality, and that Krishna had elected to die and permitted the hunter to wound him in his foot.
The second story concerns the goddess Ganga who lived in heaven but came to earth to wed King Shantanu – who was Shiva – but on condition thathe never criticized her. And, before going to earth, eight gods known as "Vasus" who had been condemned to live on earth begged her to let them be born as her children; Ganga agreed to this and also undertook to then return them to heaven afterwards. Consequently, after each child was born, it was cast in to the river, died, and returned to heaven. But Shantanu came upon Ganga with the eighth child and prevented his death and return to heaven. This broke his agreement with Ganga and she left with the child who was named Bhishma and became a mighty warrior. Many years later Shantanu met Bhishma and granted him the boon of invulnerability so that he would not die except when he chose to do so.

Gayathri and Gaia : Tthe beautiful second wife of Brahma was called Gayatri; and of the other names of Brahma was "Varuna". The similarity between Varuna and Uranus is close….so is Gaia, Uranus’s wife to Gayathri.

Well, iam no expert in either of these mythologies...for one...dont remember any more of the Ramayan or the Mahabarath than that i read in the Amar Chitra Katha comics....but these snippets from the Web do make you think eh?

2 comments:

rockaholic said...

mythology fascinates me a lot...and i was really enlightened by your article here..great work!!

:D

Anonymous said...

Have you ever looked at Norse mythology?
It's not as rich in content as the vedas or greek mythology as it was never written down when it was in use. But it does tell of a common origin. It would be easy to say that it's a copy of the dominate greek and roman mythology, but there are so much that is more like the Vedas insted. Start by looking up Thor and Indra.