Hathor, Tawaret, Isis

Shakti and the Egyptian Hathors, Tawaret and Isis

V. Krishnakumar


Hathors resemble Sapthamatrikas of Hindu mythology to a very large extent. The word Shakti is quite close to Hathor in view of the ‘S-H transformation’: Hathor-Sathor-Sati-Sakti-Shakti.

Hathor as Sapthamatrika

  • Hathor was the goddess of sexuality and fertility.  Also, she is the goddess of maternity [87]. Wooden and stone phalli were dedicated to her. In one of her festivals, a model phallus was carried in procession [5]. Sapthamatrika are found in the temples of lord Shiva as well as Murugan. Shiva is often represented by phallus in the temple.
  • There are seven Hathors in the “Book of the dead”, they are depicted as seven cows [5]. Sapthamatrika are also a group of seven Matrikas or mother goddesses.
  • According to [5] p. 77, different manifestations of Hathor were consolidated into a comprehensible group of seven Hathors, thus though different sets or versions of “seven Hathors” existed, what was more important was their number: “seven”. In the table below, we provide two such sets in the first two columns and try to match them to the Hindu counterpart by looking into their attributes. The names of Hathors in Column 1 are from [5] while those in Column 2 are from Queen Nefertari’s ‘beautifully decorated’ tomb [53]. The names of the Sapthamatrikas in the column 3 are from [54].  The attributes that contributed to matching are discussed in greater detail following the table.
The seven Hathors as in [5] The seven Hathors as in [53] The Hindu Sapthamatrikasas in [54]
Mansion of Kas Braahmani
She who protects Your name flourishes through skill  Vaishnavi
She whose name has power
  • Red hair


Storm in the sky
  • Sky storm
Much beloved Bright Red Kaumari
  • Lady of the universe
She of Chemnis You from Khemmis Chamundi
Silent one
  • You from the land of Silence

We now discuss how we matched them in greater detail:

1)   “Mansion of Kas” of column 1: This Hathor is described by “Ka” is “the father of the father of gods” p.783 in [49], “god of letters and learning” p.784 in [49], “associated with soul and the vital strength” p. 783 in [49], she is the first of the seven Hathors [5]. She maps to “Brahmaani or Braahmi”, who is “the Shakti of Brahma” [55]; Brahma is the father of father of gods. Brahma’s wife Saraswathi, is the goddess of learning. Brahman is the universal soul [48]. Brahmani is the first of the Saptamaatrikas [55] as is the Hathor “Mansion of Kas”.

2)   “She who protects” of column 1: She maps to “Vaishnavi” who is the counterpart of Vishnu, she is a protector [55].

3)   “She whose name has power” of column 1 and “She of red hair” of column 2: She can be compared to “Maheshvari” who wears a “crown of hair”, who is the spouse of Shiva and a form of Shakti whose name means ‘power’ [55].

4)   “Storm in the sky” of column 1 and “Sky storm” of column 2: She Maps to “Indrani”, Indra’s wife; she holds the thunderbolt in her hand [55].

5)   “Bright red” of column 2: She maps to “Kaumari” who is the feminine aspect of Kumara; she is red in complexion, draped in red garments [55].

6)   “Lady of the universe” of column 2: She maps to “Varahi” whois the consort of Varaha, the boar avatar of Vishnu, where he protects the earth [55], thus may match the “Lady of the universe”.

7)   “You from Khemmis” of column 1 and “She from Chemnis” of column 2: Khemmis is the place where Isis gave birth to Horus; Isis is shown to be similar to Shakti later in this article, thus she can be “Chamundi”. Both Chamundi [55] and Isis [1] are black in color.

Additional attributes of Hathors as Sapthamatrikas 

Three of the above listed Saptamatrikas have many more features in common with Hathors. They are Maheshvari, Vaishnavi and Brahmani. We view Maheshwari as the consort of Shiva in general, that is Shakti and Meenakshi. Similarly, Vaishnavi as Lakshmi and Brahmani as Saraswathi.

Hathor as Maheshwari/Shakti/Meenakshi

1)   Hathor is feared as the ‘vengeful eye of Re’ as seen in the story of the narrowly averted destruction of the human race by Hathor in her rage [5]. Shakti is wrathful and in her anger destroys the entire human race.

2)   Hathor is the deity whose standard was the skull of a cow mounted upon a pole [5]. Shakti holding a pole with a skull mounted on it is common sculpture in Hosysala temples, India, see picture in [57].

3)   Hathor is protective and healing [5]. Shakti has a protective and healing aspect.

4)   She is often depicted in a turquoise or red sheath dress or in a garment combining these colors and at Edfu she is specifically called ‘mistress of the red cloth’ [5]. Meenakshi is draped with a green saree and Shakti a red one.

Hathor as Vaishnavi/Lakshmi

1)   Hathor was the resplendent goddess who accompanied the sun god on his daily journey in the solar barque [5]. Surya, the sun god and Vishnu are associated in Hindu mythology. Lakshmi accompanies Vishnu on the snake Adishesha.

2)   Hathor is called the golden one [5]. Lakshmi is depicted as having a pure golden complexion, see p.550 in [52].

3)   Hathor was described as the ‘beautiful one’ and was associated with love, female sexuality and motherhood and venerated by Egyptian women. Greeks associated her with Aphrodite [5]. Lakshmi is associated with beauty and fertility.

4)   Lotus is the symbol of procreativity in Egypt [5]. Lakshmi is depicted on a lotus always.

5)   Hathor is often depicted in a turquoise or red sheath dress or in a garment combining these colors. She is specifically called ‘mistress of the red cloth’ at Edfu [5]. Laksmi is depicted with blue or red lotus [52].

Hathor as Brahmani/Saraswathi

1)   Hathor is the goddess of song [5]. Saraswathi is depicted with a lute, that is ‘Veena’ in hand and hence called Vinadhara-Saraswathi.

2)   Hathor holds a papyrus stem [5]. Sarswathi holds a bundle of paper in her hand.

Hathor as Jyeshtadevi

Hathor as ‘mistress of the west’ wears a falcon perched on a pole, which was the hieroglyphic sign for west [5]. Jyesthadevi idol of the Rashtrakuta rulers, has a bird on a pole [51].

Other similarities

Hathors nurse (suckle) the pharaoh. Chalukyas are claimed to be nursed by Sapthamatrikas [92], suggesting their Egyptian relation (origin?).

Hathor’s divine marriage

1)   The sacred marriage of Hathor and Horus is celebrated in the third month of the summer season [5]. Shivarathri, the marriage of Shiva and Parvathi is celebrated around March quite an early summer.

2)   The ritual of the Hathor-Horus marriage is as follows: Fourteen days before the appearance of new moon the statue of the goddess was taken from her shrine at Dendera in a procession to the temple of Horus about 70 kilometers to the South. The statues of Hathor and Horus participated in various rituals before being placed in the birth house where they spent the night together. The next fourteen days of the divine marriage celebrations was one of the greatest religious festivals of ancient Egypt in which everyone participated [5]. In the temple of Meenakshi at Madhurai, India, Lord Sundaresvarar, her consort, is carried to her sanctum where he spends the night with her. Also Lord Murugan was carried on procession to attend Meenakshi’s marriage from his temple on Azhagar hills. Horus resembles Muruga as we have shown in our earlier articles.


According to [5], we have the following:

1)   Tawaret is the Hippopotamus goddess, who was equated with Isis in the late period.

2)   She is related to goddess Opet, we will be showing Opet elsewhere as a form of Shakti.

3)   Tawaret is also equated to Hathor. In vignette accompanying “The book of the Dead” chapter 186, she stands with Hathor cow and seems to be identified as Hathor herself as the spell mentions Hathor only. Tawaret shares the headdress with Hathor.

4)   Tawaret is depicted with pendulous breasts and swollen belly of a pregnant woman. She is shown with mouth open, lips pulled back, showing her teeth, which may indicate her protective function.

5)   Tawaret was considered as concubine of Seth as he was associated with the male hippopotamus.

6)   Tawaret was also the consort of Bes. Bes is controller of beasts, which are evil, unrighteousness and the lower self [4] (p. 129).

7)   She holds the torch or the flame, intended to dispel darkness and inimical forces.

8)   Tawaret is one of the most popular household deities. She is found on amulets, beds, headrests, other furniture, cosmetic items such as unguent pots, spoons, other fertility related items such as paddle dolls, faience vases, small jars in human forms to hold mother’s milk with holes at nipples, decorating rooms of houses.

Our analysis:

1)   Since Tawaret is viewed as part of Hathors according to item 3 above, we can map her to two entities in the Sapthamatrika panels in temples:

2)   She can be Varahi, in view of the boar face of Varahi that resembles hippopotamus face of Tawaret. Also, Varahi is mapped to the “lady of universe”, a sort of mother. Tawaret is also a goddess of motherhood, according to item 4 above.

3)   Varahi is depicted with full breasts and a prominent abdomen as if pregnant, see the picture in [62], similar to Tawaret. She is believed to bear the entire universe in her womb [63].

4)   Seth resembles Shiva as we have shown in a later article. According to item 5 above, Tawaret is a consort of Seth. Since Shiva is related to Sapthamatrikas, Tawaret maps to Sapthamatrikas.

5)   Bes resembles Pashupati and Rudra as shown elsewhere. Tawaret being the consort of Bes as told in item 6 above, this argument is similar to the previous one.

6)   Some of the Hindu families have the tradition of worshipping every household article on the eight/ninth day of Navaratri. Here the idea is to view every article as a form of goddess Shakti. They smear sandal paste, turmeric and Kumkumam and fumigate with incense. This looks similar to the placing of Tawaret image on household articles as mentioned in item 8 above.

Some observations and analysis of the picture on the left of Page 186 in [5]:

The picture has a dead person worshipping Tawaret. There is a river or water body behind her with stones that resemble Shiva Linga with three lines on them that we interpret as representing the sacred ash smeared horizontally. In Rajatarangini, Kalhana mentions the worship of a particular variety of Shiva-Linga called Bana-lingas, which are in water [9]. Goddess Hathor is depicted as emerging from the hill representing western necropolis of Thebes, as mentioned in [5]. Hathor has black patches in the shape of Shiva-Linga. It has the Sun disc in between its horns. A similar decoration is seen for bulls in Shiva temples in Karnataka, called “Kole Basava”.


Isis is discussed almost every where in several articles (Mahabharata and Draupadi cult). We include only those points that could not find a place elsewhere. Jyeshtadevi or Moodevi has similarity to Isis as follows:

1)   Since Seth is represented by a donkey, Jyesthadevi sitting on her mount donkey, can be viewed as Isis riding on Seth. See [121].

2)   Also, Isis is viewed as goddess of smallpox and measles, as is Jyeshtadevi.

3)   Jyeshtadevi was also viewed as Mohini who was the female enchanting form of Vishnu [121]. Similarly, Isis was considered as Aphrodite.


[1] J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, A study in Magic and Religion, 3rd Edition, Macmillan and Co. London, 1914

[4] Muata Ashby, The African origins of Civilization, Religion, Yoga Mysticism, and Ethics Philosophy, 2nd Edition, ISBN 1-884564-50-X, 2005

[5] Richard H Wilkinson, The Complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson, London, 2003

[9] Rajatarangini of Kalhana, Translated by M.A.Stein, MLBD, New Delhi, 1961

[48] Monier Williams, A Sanskrit English Dictionary, MLBD, India, 1899

[49] Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Dover Publications, NY, 1978

[51] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jambaimalai_Jyestha_devi.jpg

[52] Architecture of Manasara, Low price publications, New Delhi, India, 1934

[53] http://www.hethert.org/seven_hathors.htm

[54] David Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, MLBD, New Delhi, 1988, verses 8.11-20, p. 156

[55] A concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ramakrishnamutt, India, 2008

[57] http://www.oldindianphotos.in/2010/10/figure-of-durga-at-halebid-in-karnataka.html

[62] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varahi#cite_ref-D155_19-0

[63] http://www.hindu.com/br/2004/06/08/stories/2004060800291500.htm

[87] http://henadology.wordpress.com/theology/netjeru/

[92] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrikas

[121] http://8ate.blogspot.in/2009/05/hindu-deities-from-1774-81by-pierre.html


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One Response to Hathor, Tawaret, Isis

  1. Narasimha says:

    I like this

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