We have discussed earlier the resemblance of Osiris to Pandavas, Lord Krishna and Mahabali. We shall discuss the other possible mappings of Osiris to Indian gods.
A. Resemblance to Lord Ranganatha of South India:
Lord Ranganatha is basically a god of South India. There are very few Vishnu idols in sleeping posture in North India (example: Vishnu temple in Chamba, HP, India; Udayagiri Caves near Gyraspur, MP, India; Ranganatha of Bhandavgarh National park, MP, India; Budha Neelakantha temple in Khatmandu, Nepal). We shall compare Ranganatha to Osiris as follows:
1) The posture of Ranganatha: Ranganatha is found in the recumbent posture sleeping on his side; with his right arm outstretched. He is defined as sleeping in the ocean, though he actually floats on the snake god Adishesha. His two wives are at his feet, at times one of them shifted beside his knee. His son Brahma is depicted as seated on a lotus that arises from his navel. There are three pictures of Osiris that are very close to Ranganatha. The picture on p.119 in  has Osiris in the recumbent posture on water and a snake with his right arm stretched  and he is sleeping on his side . The picture on page 20 in  has Horus, the son of Osiris, in the form of a hawk connecting to him through a feather and circular ‘Shen’ or eternity-hieroglyph. This may map to the Brahma on lotus connected through the lotus stalk. The two wives of Osiris are on either side of him. The other picture on p.147 in  also has a snake underneath Osiris with its hood raised. Note that Osiris is ithyphallic in the first and the third pictures, while he connects to Horus in the second through a feather. The ithyphallic nature of Osiris might have got replaced by the lotus stalk at the navel with Brahma at the apex out of moral shyness, though both mean fertility and procreation.
2) There are three most sacred Ranganatha temples in South India at Srirangapattanam, Madhyarangam and Srirangam; which are islands in the river Kaveri. Several of the sacred shrines of Osiris are in the delta region:
- The very sacred shrine of Osiris is in Athribis, which is an island in the delta region of Nile .
- The coffin of Osiris got caught in a Tamarisk tree in the delta region. That particular tree was very sacred to Egyptians and was worshipped in a temple in the delta region .
- The ‘ba’ or ‘soul’ of Osiris was believed to reside in the sacred ram ‘Ba-neb–dzedet’, which was worshipped in the Delta town of Mendes .
- The Apis bull of Memphis, another delta town, was seen as a manifestation of Osiris .
3) The idols of Ranganatha in Srirangam and Thiruvarangam, another sacred temple, are not made of stone and hence they have no Abhishekham or the sacred ablution; on the contrary they are embalmed with spices, oil, saffron and herbs. There are many more such temples in South India. According to the myth, Osiris’ body was embalmed by gods, while he was resurrected. His idols and effigies are embalmed in the festivals similarly .
4) Ranganatha is painted black or green. Osiris is represented as a human mummy whose skin is usually black due to his chthonic association and the dark Nile alluvium; or he is colored green as a representative of vegetation and fertility .
5) The birthday of Ranganatha of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India is celebrated on the day of Onam, the day Mahabali was pushed to the netherworld by UAP . Recall that we have already mapped Mahabali to Osiris. Ranganatha’s birthday celebrated on the same day strengthens the mapping of Ranganatha to Osiris.
B. Resemblance to Nammalvar
As the myth goes Nammalvar was a peculiar child; he didn’t cry after birth, did not open his eyes nor did he respond to any external stimuli. He was never suckled. Parents left him to the care of god. The child somehow got into a hollow in a tamarind tree. Madhurakavi Alvar, led by a light emanating from the tree, found him and asked him a question: If a tiny thing is born from the womb of a dead what will it feed on and where will it live? Nammalvar’s answer was “It will eat that and stay there”. The question and answer are quite enigmatic and is open to interpretation. The myth goes that Madhurakavi recorded a thousand verses delivered by Nammalvar. Nammalvar is viewed as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Osiris was found inside the hollow of a tamarisk tree, was dead and possibly mummified. Gods Thoth and Anubis found him and revived him from death; finally Osiris becomes the god of the netherworld. Horus was born to Isis after her union with dead Osiris with Thoth’s assistance. There is a myth that says Horus was weak and fragile. The great teachings of Osiris were carved on stone in Egypt.
Now we shall compare the two stories. Thoth is called the ‘god of Sacred words’; therefore he can be mapped to ‘Madhurakavi’ meaning a ‘poet of melody’. Nammalvar is a mix of Osiris and Horus: The mummified body of Osiris or the weak and fragile Horus. Consider mapping him to Osiris: Thoth must have asked the dead Osiris, regarding Horus who is yet to be born: “If a tiny thing is born from the womb of a dead, what will it feed on and where will it live?” out of sympathy on the yet to be born Horus. The noble ideas of Osiris might have later been captured as the “Sacred words” of Thoth. Mapping Nammalvar to Horus has the following supportive points:
- Nammalvar is the son of Kari, whose name means ‘black’ or ‘elephant’, both are attributes of Osiris (Osiris maps to Indra, hence can be represented by Airavatha, the mount of Indra).
- Horus is the god of knowledge and together with Thoth is mapped to Lord Murugan who is Gyana Kulandai. Nammalvar, also being revered for his knowledge, maps to Horus.
Thus, Nammalvar can be a Vaishnava version of Lord Murugan.
We mentioned in an earlier article that the floating heart of Lord Krishna, that is Daru-Brahman, was emanating light. This resembles the light from the tree of Nammalvar. We have already mapped Lord Krishna to Osiris. Thus, we can map Nammalvar to Osiris.
C. Resemblance to Linga and Jyothirlingas:
1) There is a legend that states that Ravana gave a Linga, for Ganesha to hold it for a while. Ganesha found it heavy and hence placed it on the ground. Ravana tried to lift it again, but it broke into pieces. We will be mapping Lord Ganesha to Seth in a future article, thus justifying his role in the dismantling of the god.
2) There are twelve Jyothirlingas. We met a Sadhu, who told us that there are two more Jyothirlingas in Madhyapradesh known only to the Sadhus and did not reveal their locations. Thus if he is correct, there must be fourteen Jyothirlingas. Osiris body was also torn into fourteen pieces by Seth, out of which, thirteen were recovered by Isis; she made arrangements to build temples for these thirteen in Egypt. Do these Jyothirlingas represent the parts of Osiris body? If so, should we link the story of Ganesha of item 1 above with this? That is, are Jyothirlingas the dismantled pieces scattered by Ravana due to Ganesha’s (Seth’s) action or did Ganesha himself scatter them?
3) Osiris is sometimes depicted as a Djed pillar with human arms and head . In some of the pictures, the Djed pillar resembles Linga. Interestingly, the Djed pillar is also draped like Linga in South India, see the picture in .
4) In India we have phallic worship, Linga is believed to be another representation of Shiva/Rudra. Isis made an image of Osiris phallus since it was the missing part of his body, which she could not recover to preserve it. According to , this image of Osiris’s genital member is used in festivals . Note that the festival of Dionysus is also celebrated with processions of phallus , and he is considered to be the Greek version of Osiris.
D. Resemblence to Indra:
Osiris resembles Indra in several aspects. Attributes of Indra are from  and those of Osiris are from  unless explicitly stated:
1) Indra is son of mother earth and he is the brother of Agni. He is the son of Aditya. Osiris is the son of Geb, the earth god, and brother of the fire goddess Isis. He is also the son of Nut who is the wife of Re the Egyptian Sun god.
2) Indra is the defender and protector of Dharma, as is Osiris.
3) Indra’s epithet is bull. Osiris is represented by a bull .
4) Deceased warriors go to Indra’s hall and live there without sadness, pain or fear. Osiris as lord of netherworld, he protects the righteous.
5) Indra is father of Arjuna. Osiris is father of Horus, we have mapped Arjuna to Horus.
6) Indra’s daughter is Devayaanai, who marries Lord Muruga. Horit is the daughter of Osiris who marries Horus . Horus is mapped to Lord Murugan in an earlier article.
7) Mahishasura ousts Indra from his place, Shakti kills Mahishasura and restores Indra. We have shown in an earlier article that this story resembles Isis helping Horus in killing Seth , where Mahishasura maps to Seth, Isis to Shakti. Hence Indra maps to Osiris. Another evidence that supports this mapping is that Mahishasura seduces Shakti , as Seth did to Isis .
8) There are fourteen Indras as are fourteen parts into which Osiris body was cut and later temples built for him.
9) Indra brought water to earth. Osiris is viewed as the god of water; as we have discussed in an earlier article in the context of the ceremony of building dam across the Nile.
10) Interestingly, Indra was the lord of 33 gods, and together with him there are 34 gods. Osiris being the lord of 34 gods was taken for a ceremonial boat ride in 34 boats in Khoiak festival (see p. 88 in ).
a. Resemblance to Rudra:
1) Osiris is lord of the netherworld  as is Rudra.
2) Rudra is feared by people and his name should not be even uttered; Rudra is of terrible form, according to . Osiris is at times referred to as “Osiris in his mighty and terrible form” in the Egyptian book of the dead .
3) Rudra grows in size and stands in front of the sacrificial fire according to . Similarly, Osiris is alluded to as ‘The son of Ra, drawing himself from Nu, nursing himself, increasing his limbs…’ in the Egyptian Book of the dead .
b. Resemblance to the story of Sathi
The scattering of pieces of Osiris body also resembles the story of Sathi whose body was dismantled into 52 pieces giving rise to 52 Shakti-Peethas where she is worshipped.
c. Resemblance to Vishnu
The wives of Vishnu are Shree, Bhu and Nila. Since Osiris is associated with the inundation of Nile , Nile may map to Vishnu’s wife Nila.
d. Resemblance to Yama
Yama is viewed as lord of the netherworld and he is called Asu-niti, resembling Osiris . Lord Dharmadeva is represented by a bull as shown in the picture of . Osiris is also represented by a bull  and he is lord of righteousness .
e. Resemblance to Prajapati:
Both Osiris  and Prajapati-Brahma  are mapped to constellation Orion. Different parts of the constellation are mapped to the parts of Prajapati’s body. This may resemble the act of scattering Osiris’ body parts by Seth.
f. Resemblance to Ekapada Shiva
The Ekapada Shiva of  resembles Osiris tied in mummy wrappings. There is one more reference to one footed god with a relation to Osiris. Recall our comparison of Osiris and Prajapathi  both mapping to Orion. The Purva Bhadrapada star there is presided over by Aja ekapada, the ‘one-footed’ Aja .
 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
 E.A.Wallis Budge, Egyptian book of the dead, Dover publication, New York, 1895
 David Frawley, Gods, sages and Kings, Vedic secrets of ancient civilization, MLBD, New Delhi, 1993
 Stella Kramrisch, Presence of Shiva, MLBD, New Delhi, 1988
 Alf Hiltebeitel, The Cult of Draupadi, MLBD, New Delhi, 1991