Analysis and Conclusions-Mahabharata and Migration from Egypt
V. Krishnakumar, N. M. Krishnakumar
Hitherto we compared the gods of Egypt and India, and some of their myths, gods and festivals. In doing so, we got the first convincing evidence that Mahabharta has its origin in Osiris story of Egypt, further the Draupadi cult stories stand in between the Osiris story and the Sanskrit Mahabharata. Thus we hypothesized that the Draupadi cult stories had their origin in the Osiris story and have provided, at least partly, the substance for the Sanskrit Mahabharata.
We found that the Egyptian and Tamil calendars have a commonality that is beyond coincidence. Further we compared the festivals of Osiris with those of India and found that they have similarity. In particular, the cart festival of Jagannath at Puri has similarities not only to certain subtle details of Osiris festival but also the relating the myth of the heart of Osiris at Athribis to the Daru-Brahman myth of Lord Krishna. Further we compared festivals, most importantly, Onam and Yaanai Pandigai, which have believable explanation in Egypt; the concept of sacrificing a ‘bride’ for plentiful water resource in both Egypt and India is another similarity. Finally the multitude of Egyptian gods that are so similar to the Indian pantheon and the commonness of Atum and Brahman makes it so convincing that Egyptian civilization had a profound influence on India.
Why Egyptian origin for Mahabharata?
It cannot be the other way, that is the Indian Mahabharata influencing or being the origin for the Osiris story of Egypt. This is because of the following reasons.
- The Osiris story looks much simpler and is in no way comparable to the level of intricacy, and the political and literary complexity of Mahabharata. The dialogues, the plots, the politics played by rivals, all look too complex in Mahabharata, while the Osiris story is more natural, human and simple with good number of emotions coming out of natural instincts. Therefore, the direction of flow should be from Egypt to India and not the other way round.
- Interestingly, one finds the preservation of the Egyptian values in the Indian counterpart that is the Mahabharata, but not the other way round substantiating our claim that it is Mahabharata that had origins in Egypt. A couple of examples would make our claims clear: the Egyptian goddesses Nut and Isis, both had multiple consorts, and Isis was the most sacred goddess for the Egyptians. This is preserved in the Indian counterpart, where both Kunti and Draupadi have multiple consorts, though fundamentally Hindus did not approve it in the ‘normal circumstances’; otherwise Rama would not have been that critical about Sita’s chastity asking her to enter fire, after battling with Ravana for her sake. Since Draupadi is very sacred to Hindus, now the question was how to accept a Draupadi and a Kunti whose stories had a value system that was so different. To explain this what they did was: they brought in a curse to Pandu to stay away from his wives and a boon of six gods to father Kunti’s children. However they could not find a similar divine intervention for the case of Draupadi, therefore they created a naïve pretext that Kunti, not properly hearing what Pandavas said, told them to share whatever they had brought with them; as Pandavas had brought Draupadi with them that day, they had to all marry her to keep up the words of their mother. Had the story gone from India to Egypt, the Osiris story would have preserved this restricted value system with no difficulty because Egyptians were anyway more liberal in their marriage values. However, Draupadi cult version is more liberal in this context than the Sanskrit version. Another example: Isis was claimed to have affection for Seth, to the extent of taking back her harpoon directed against him in a war; this angered her son Horus, he even beheaded her though he had four children from her, Thoth revived her later. The Indian counterpart for Isis love for Seth is Draupadi’s affection to Duryodhana which is not observed in the Sanskrit version. However the Draupadi cult has captured this, but in a toned down way by telling that, Draupadi enjoyed playing dice with Duryodhana.
- Let us suppose that the Egyptians indeed copied Mahabharata. If they had copied it the way the Osiris story goes, they must have been quite primitive. Thus, all their grand civilization must have come later on. Since their civilization was progressing, with a good trade relation with India and hence a good communication, they should have updated their Osiris story with the more sophisticated Mahabharata at later times. This is natural because, since their revered gods were in India and it would be a necessity out of devotion that they keep updating their story with no hesitation. Whereas, if Osiris story was originally Egyptian, they will not update it even after any amount of progress in their civilization because, it is sacred to them. This is, in general true with any religious belief. Whereas, Indians who are inspired by the Egyptian story can always modify, extend and add their own imagination to it with no hesitation because, the characters of Mahabharata were not revered so much by them, except for Draupadi cult, which we suspect would have evolved much later, or it was localized to a small set of followers. This again supports our view that the Osiris story originated in Egypt and influenced Indians.
Thus we conclude that the Egyptian story is the origin for Mahabharata in India and the Draupadi cult version of this story was the first to come and Sanskrit version came later.
The local versions of Mahabharata in India might have evolved with several forces acting on them. The mixing of local myths, creativity of the local poets, stories from other cultures merging, etc. This might have led to:
- New characters and events being added; old ones revised, split or dropped.
- Cities, towns and other places mentioned in the story replacing local ones.
- Religious and moral beliefs amended to suit the times.
This leads to the important question of whether India just got the story or did people also migrate.
Did people Migrate?
Now we come to a more important question: is it that the Indians got just the story, or that the Egyptians also migrated to India? With the overwhelming number of gods, myths and festivals in India that are similar to those in Egypt, it is hard to believe that the “religion” came to India without the people. We have one story from Mahabharata that supports our view. Mahabharata is narrated by Sutha Puranika to the King Janamejaya. The context is that the king was performing a sacrifice where he was exterminating snakes as revenge for his father’s death, which occurred by a snake bite. There are some difficulties in this story as follows:
- A king performing a sacrifice as revenge that too against snakes, looks primitive compared to the sophistication of the main story of Mahabharata.
- With his forefathers as great as Pandavas who heard Bhagavad Gita from Lord Krishna, it is hard to believe that Janamejaya wanted to kill all the snakes in revenge.
Thus, in our opinion, the story can be quite different. It is possible that a tribe called Nagas might have killed the king’s father. While he was taking revenge against this tribe, a ‘Suta’ might have told him not to do so for some reason. Suta is a person who maintains the genealogy. May be the Suta wanted to prevent killing of Nagas by Janamejaya, as both the Nagas and the king were possibly Egyptian migrants.
The likelihood of Egyptian migration to India is supported by another fact. It may be noted that Isis was the goddess of seafarers who spread her cult overseas. There were harbors and followers of Isis in the Arabian sea coasts, as documented in inscriptions . We suspect that the Asura people of India are possibly Egyptian migrants.
Thus to summarize, we have two series of articles as follows:
Series 1: Origin and evolution of the Hindu pantheon
Series 2: Migration
 J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, A study in Magic and Religion, 3rd Edition, Macmillan and Co. London, 1914
 Richard H Wilkinson, The Complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson, London, 2003