Analysis and Conclusions: Expansion of the Hindu pantheon-Bahubali
V. Krishnakumar, N. M. Krishnakumar
- The multiple forms of Horus
- Classification of Shiva
- Bahubali and origin of Jainism
- The incarnations of Lord Vishnu
- Arjuna’s penance of Mahabalipuram
- Varadaraja Perumal
Lord Bahubali and origins of Jainism:
We suspect that Jainism is an offshoot of Lord Murugan cult.
Consider the following features of Lord Murugan:
- Murugan is standing as a simple man with no pomp and show
- Murugan is the source of knowledge
- He is the ultimate god
- He is depicted naked
- He is depicted as a young boy
- He is shown as an ascetic with a Rudrakshi ring on his shaven head in Palani, India
- He stands on a hill
- He is kind to animals
The gods of Jainism are called Thirthankaras. All Thirthankaras of Jainism have the above-mentioned features in common, except for the Rudrakshi ring. The only difference in iconography is that the image of a Thirthankara has both hands stretched straight down with no staff or spear. We have shown earlier that Lord Murugan is depicted as a snake god. Lord Parshwanatha of Jainism is also depicted as a snake god with a seven-headed cobra over his head.
People who honored asceticism must have followed this form of Lord Murugan fervently. At some point of time, they would have evolved into a separate sect contrary to the rest who believed in non-ascetic way of life. Also, these ascetics would have been very strict in not killing or hurting animals, the main tenet of Jainsm. The kindness and love for animals of Horus-Bes might have got into Lord Murugan sect, which might have amplified in the rigorous form of abstaining from any harm to animals in Jainism. We have the following additional points to support our claim.
It may be noted that most of the statues/temples of Lord Bahubali, and in general, of Jaina Thirthankaras are on hills, as are Lord Murugan’s temples (there are exceptions such as the Murugan temple of Thirucchendur, of course). One of the holiest places for Jains is Shravanabelagola, a small town in Karnataka, India, with a hill on which we see the tallest statue of Lord Bahubali. The hill is surrounded by marshy land with a lake. Recall that Lord Murugan is also called Sharavana, meaning ‘reeds in a marshy lake’, which he gets due to his birth in a swamp with reeds. Now, observe the name of this town. It has a peculiarity supporting our claim. The name of the town can be split as Shravana+belagola. Belagola means lake with clear or sparkling water. Though it is called Shravanabelagola today, the word can be actually Sharavana-belagola meaning ‘lake with reeds’, signifying the birthplace of Sharavana. It may be noted that in Tamil, one spells ‘Shravana’ as ‘Sharavana’.
The image of Lord Bahubali has two features in common with Osiris and Horus:
- Osiris is depicted with plants growing from his body in one of the pyramids . Lord Bahubali has creepers grown over him.
- While searching for the Neem tree to make Daru-Brahman in the Puri cart festival, one of the requirements is a tree with an anthill and cobras close to it. Lord Bahubali’s statue is sculpted with an anthill surrounding his legs and cobras coming out of the holes.
The very name of Bahubali has the word Bali; we have mapped Osiris to king Mahabali.
Lord Bahubali won wars with his brother Bharatha, but handed over the kingdom to him, went for penance and attained salvation. Bharata was also accepted as Thirthankara at a later point of time and included in the Jaina pantheon. Here we have the Egyptian counterpart: we map Bharata to Seth; Seth was also worshipped at a later point of time as an equally great god, finally merging with Horus into one unified god . We have shown death in Egyptian context to map to penance in the Hindu myths. Here the penance of Bahubali maps to the death of Osiris. This concept of Seth as god extended to India as well; Balarama who is another representation of Seth is part of the triad of Krishna-Balarama-Subhadra in Puri; we will be showing shortly that Varadaraja, UAP and Varaha also represent Seth, who ultimately got amalgamated with Lord Vishnu.
Abydos has the head of Osiris; Sed festival was celebrated once in thirty years there, with the grand wish that the king would ‘come renewed, like the infant moon, grow young again, and become the emperor of the entire earth for ever’ . There is a grand festival called Maha-Masthaka-‘Abhisheka’, celebrated once in twelve years, meaning great-head-‘ritual bath’ for Bahubali.
Our question is: can we compare the two festivals? Abhisheka or sacred bath to the god in India always includes ceremonious pouring of water, milk, honey and other ingredients over the head of the god. Then one may ask why is there an explicit, but redundant, allusion to the head, which is ‘Masthaka’. One can argue that, since the idol of Bahubali is so huge, that only the feet can be bathed often, and the head only once in twelve years. Alternatively, can it be that Shravanabelagola maps to Abydos (has the head of Osiris), the most sacred place of Osiris, hence the reference to head is justified.
 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