Hellenic And Hindu Mythology: How Similar Are They?
Legends and myths have always been a fascinating and enchanting part of civilisation. As mankind progresses, age-old beliefs take the form of religion and mythology, which are adopted and imbibed by generations. They live forever in the minds of people all over the world, due to the intrigue and mystery surrounding them. While in the West, Greek legends are considered as the keystone of Western mythology, in the East, the same can be said for Indian mythology to a certain extent. Both these cultures have not only been a canon of ancient religions and mythology, but also possess a great number of similarities. Today we’ll take a look at some of the elements common to both cultures so you can judge for yourself whether they share similarities or not.
Zeus and Indra: Both these gods hold the title of being the chief of the gods and live on a mountain. Zeus calls Mount Olympus his home, while Indra lives on Mount Meru. Their weapon is the thunderbolt, which was used to slay a multi-headed dragon which had taken control of the waters. Zeus’ dragon was called Typhon, whereas Indra slew Vritra, which is why Indra is also called Vritraghan, meaning ‘the vanquisher of Vritra’. Both gods share similar traits since both of them are known to be arrogant and jealous and have a weakness for women.
Hermes and Narada: Greece and India both have assigned an entity for the transmission of messages between gods and mortals and between gods themselves, known as Hermes and Narada respectively. Hermes is the son of the all-powerful Zeus, while his Indian friend is the son of the Creator of the Universe, Brahma. Both are mischievous and cunning and are notorious for having tricked the gods many times over for their personal benefit or for the greater good of mankind. They travel at lightning speed and move between the three worlds of their free will. While Narada is one of the twelve Chiranjeevis or immortal beings, Hermes too is counted among the twelve Olympians of Hellenic culture.
Kamadeva and Eros: In India, the god of love and desire goes by the name Kamadeva and in Greece, he is known as Eros. Both are depicted holding a bow and arrow, ready and waiting to shoot it in the heart of any stone-hearted person or simply to awaken love and desire within their target!
Amrita and Ambrosia: Last but not the least, who can forget the heavenly drink of the gods?! In India, it is known as amrita (nectar), whereas its Greek version is called ambrosia. They even sound similar! Both these drinks are sought after by beings from all three worlds, but are safely kept in the custody of the gods. Although the gods are considered immortal, a major reason for their vitality and immorality is attributed to these beverages, which are touted to be extremely delicious, potent and exclusively made for the gods.
Hades and Yama: Hades and Yama are gods of death in their respective countries and share their love for justice and fairness. Moreover, although both of them are associated with a negative emotion, i.e. death, they are considered to be righteous and sincere, who do not discriminate against anyone or anything. Even their pet dogs who guard the netherworld, Yama’s Sharvara and Hades’ Cerberus or Kerberos, respectively, have similar names and qualities.
Saptarishis/ Krittika and Pleiades: Pleiades, the seven sisters born to Atlas and Pleione in Greek mythology are a constellation of seven stars used by sailors for navigation and by farmers for guidance to sow and harvest crops. These seven stars are known as Saptarishi (seven sages) in Hindu mythology, who have the power to control even the sun. Alternatively, Hindu mythology states that they are the Saptarishi’s seven wives, who are collectively called Krittika.
Mount Kailash and Mount Olympus: Both these mountains which exist in the real world find mention in Indian and Greek mythologies respectively. Both are designated as the residence of heavenly beings. Mount Olympus is home to the twelve Olympians of Greek mythology, whereas Mount Kailash is claimed by Lord Shiva, the Destroyer in the Hindu trinity, and his wife Parvati. Both are important pilgrimage centres in the Hellenic and Hindu world.