V. Krishnakumar, A. M. Adhyapak, N. M. Krishnakumar
In the forthcoming articles we will be comparing the myths and gods of Egypt and India. We also compare some of their festivals and rituals. Our aim is to see whether the two civilizations have a common origin or at least an exchange of ideas and may be migrations.
There are several challenges one encounters in this endeavor. Some of the important ones are discussed below.
What similarity is ‘beyond coincidence’?
Consider any one of these topics that we wish to compare, for example sun worship practiced in Ancient Egypt and India; even though similarities exist between the two peoples who are separated by time and space, this is not sufficient for one to conclude that they had a common origin: that is, we cannot conclude that they both belong to a common race, or one of them learnt sun worship from the other, or one of them migrated to the other’s land or that they interacted in some way leading to an exchange of practices and so on. It is perfectly possible that such similarities can be dismissed as coincidence. This is true especially when the worshipped deities are part of nature such as sun, moon, earth, wind, or day-to-day necessity such as water, fire, food, etc. Similarly, worshipping the dead can be natural. One can see an overwhelming number of examples for such similarities among various peoples of the world in .
A similarity can be called as ‘beyond coincidence’ when one sees patterns that are hard to believe to have occurred at two different points of time and space, independently. Such patterns suggest and at times, prove that they did interact in some way. For example, consider worshipping sun as a god in Egypt and India, so far as viewing him as a god, the two civilizations are similar, but this is not sufficient to claim that they interacted or one of them migrated to the other place. Suppose that they have a common ritual with some complicated practice, or a common belief that sun navigates on a chariot with seven horses, or on a boat, then that may not be a coincidence. Suppose the following hypothetical case: both Egyptians and Indians have the exactly same ritual of Sandhyavandanam (this is only a hypothetical example for this discussion and we are not claiming that this is true). Then one cannot dismiss at all, the idea that they interacted. These are three hypothetical examples to illustrate what can or cannot be called as ‘beyond coincidence’. That is, we have shown three levels of complexity in ‘similarity suggesting certainty of interaction’. But then, how to quantify the complexity of an observation so as to call it ‘beyond coincidence’? It is true that the ‘complexity’ is a continuum from the simplest to the most complex and subject to individual variation.
Conflicts in mapping, and multiple mappings can exist:
When we compare myths, we encounter the following problem. The overall set of events in an Egyptian story may very well map to similar events in an Indian story. But the characters, their relationships and attributes may differ. For example the events associated with a particular character in an Egyptian myth may actually get split in two or more characters in its Indian counterpart; some of the events may spread over generations; or the order of events may change and so on. Thus one has to blur or smudge the myths, that is, look into them at a sufficiently coarser granularity to see similarities, but at the same time not making them too vague so as to make any two stories look identical! That is, we are trying to capture the themes and concepts behind myths, leaving the “local” details.
An Egyptian myth may map reasonably well to several Indian myths, wherein at times the Indian counterparts of an Egyptian character may have conflicting roles. For example, the Egyptian Seth maps to two characters A and B in two different Indian myths: as a wicked man in one and a god in the other. This is possible because the story might have got transmitted to India at different points of time and possibly to different geographical parts of India and amalgamated with local myths. Equally well, the original story from Egypt itself might have had several versions.
Conflicts due to norms:
The comparison of the stories may have a natural restriction or at times, an advantage because of the local customs, norms, moral values etc. For example, Isis is both a sister and wife of Osiris because siblings marry in Egypt. While mapping this story to an Indian story of Pandavas, wherein a sister cannot also be a wife, the mapping may get restricted, whereas in a different context it may be to our advantage in getting a better mapping. Thus in such situations we have to go beyond individual characters and relations, and try to see similarities in the theme.
A word of caution regarding sex and morals:
There is something nice about ancient Indian culture. Ancient Indians treated love and sex with great respect. They treated them in the most natural and mature way. They had phallic and yoni worship. They carved beautiful sculpture in their temples depicting love and sex. One can see such sculptures not only in the outer walls as in Khajuraho, but on the very doorframe of the sanctums of Kalyani-Chalukya temples in Karnataka, India. Sex was never a sin to them; their Gods made love. For the ancient Indians love and sex were mandatory elements of Mahakavyas or epic poetry. They had treatises like Kamasutra that were respected. Love and sex were sacred for Tantrics. Rarely, one finds a mythical story where a person is punished for love and sex. On the contrary, people were cursed and viewed as sinners if they disturbed a couple making love. Likewise, Egyptians too differed from our modern beliefs. They had a very different outlook to marriage. Men married sisters and mothers. There were many gods and goddesses who had multiple partners. They never felt shy to have ithyphallic gods.
However, with foreign rule for centuries, Indian beliefs have changed; by and large people have attached shame with sex and hesitate discussions on these topics. Thus, what might have looked natural and even sacred in ancient India might have looked unacceptable at a later point of time and hence went through some modification or alternative explanation. Even the Western literature is not exempt from this view. Some of the excellent texts discussing Egyptian civilization, for example , seem to have shown restraint, thus making them incomplete, as are accounts on Dionysus festival.
However, one cannot totally avoid discussing topics related to love and sex when we compare ancient Egypt and ancient India, since these topics were intricately woven with the myths. Thus, the discussions will neither carry the spirit of research nor be complete without touching upon this topic. Therefore, we request the reader to consider such allusions from the scientific perspective and not to consider them as unacceptable. Thus, we suggest parental guidance for the minors who want to read the articles in this blog.
There are several authors who have compared gods in Egyptian myths with the gods of India. We have not made a comprehensive survey of these articles. But, we are giving a flavor of this research.
Osiris-Isis pair is compared to Yama-Yami in [7,12]. Commonality of tree worship in , Purushamriga compared to Sphinx in , Asuras in [73,99], Ptah compared to Shiva, Nun to Narayana and many more in , Heru to Hari and many more in  are other works where Hindu gods are compared to Egyptian gods. Some of the excellent books having a very detailed comparison of Egypt and India are  and . Ashby has compared baby Krishna to baby Horus , where Dharma and Maat are compared. Ashby also compares the commonality of killing of uncle by both Horus and Krishna in . Also, a picture of a Pharaoh on a chariot is compared to Krishna on a chariot . We learnt that  and  have valuable information, but we could not procure them. Quite often the comparisons involve proximity of names, similarity in pictures and attributes such as lord of underworld or air or water, etc. We are sure that there are plenty of articles in this area. We are happy to learn from others the ideas they have regarding the commonality of gods and civilizations of these two parts of the world.
Novelty in our research
We compare Ancient Egypt and India at a greater depth:
- We show the similarity in their myths; try to trace origins of myths and epics of India from Egyptian sources; we show several Indian stories in addition to the great epic Mahabharatha to have origins in Egypt.
- We show the similarities in Indian and Ancient Egyptian festivals, rituals, practices and calendars. In particular we try to explain the rare festivals like Yaanai Pandigai, Bheemana amavasye, etc apart from Dasara and Deepavali.
- We show that several Indian festivals have multiple myths all having a common origin in Egyptian culture. Likewise there are multiple Indian festivals that point to a common entity in Egypt.
- We try to explain some of the vague and inconsistent Indian beliefs through Egyptian civilization, such as the Mahabalipuram sculpture of Arjuna’s/Bhagiratha’s penance and the rituals of Puri Jaggannath, in particular its association with crematorium; the myth behind Parashurama temple of Gudimallam.
- We show the evolution of Indian pantheon, in particular avatars of Lord Vishnu, Lord Venkateshvara, Lord Varadara, Lord Trivikrama, Lord Muruga, Bhagavan Bahubali etc.
- We discuss the origins of Shakti and Draupadi cults.
- We discuss the origin of Asura tribes in India.
- We hypothesize that Egyptians migrated to India.
The above list of items of our novel research is a subset of a more comprehensive set that is discussed in detail in the respective articles.
We have organized our articles as follows:
- Part 1 contains the story of Osiris and its resemblance to several Indian myths.
- Part 2 contains the festivals of Osiris, and their comparison to Indian festivals.
- Part 3 compares Egyptians gods with Indian gods.
- Part 4 contains analysis and conclusions.
- The last part is Bibliography.
 J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, A study in Magic and Religion, 3rd Edition, Macmillan and Co. London, 1914
 Chandra Chakraberty, The racial History of India, Vijayakrishna Brothers, Calcutta, India
 Muata Ashby, The African origins of Civilization, Religion, Yoga Mysticism, and Ethics Philosophy, 2nd Edition, ISBN 1-884564-50-X, 2005
 Richard H Wilkinson, The Complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson, London, 2003
 David Frawley, Gods, sages and Kings, Vedic secrets of ancient civilization, MLBD, New Delhi, 1993
 Abhik Ghosh et al, Prehistory Of The Chotanagpur Region Part 4: Ethnoarchaeology, Rock Art, Iron And The Asuras, The Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology ISSN: 1939-4594
 Saryu Doshi, India and Egypt: Influences and Interactions, South Asia Books, 1993
 Vaduvur K Duraiswami Ayyangar, Long missing links, or, The marvellous discoveries about the Aryans, Jesus Christ and Allah, Oriental Home University, 1931