Shakti and Egypt

Egyptian Goddesses resembling Shakti

V. Krishnakumar

All the Egyptian data are from [5] unless explicitly stated.

1)   Sekhmet 

1)   The word Sekhmet means ‘powerful female’; “Sekhem” means “powerful”. Goddess Shakti in Indian mythology is the “powerful goddess”; the word ‘Shakti’ means power.

2)   Sekhmet is a military patroness as is Shakti.

3)   Sekhmet breathes fire. Kali, a form of Shakti is depicted with fire emanating from her mouth.

4)   Sekhmet is the most important leonine deities of Egypt. The mount of Shakti is a lion.

5)   Both Sekhmet and Shakti are draped in red. Also the women when worshipping Shakti wear a red dress.

6)   Sekhmet is portrayed with minimal clothing or naked in sculpture. Shakti is often portrayed nude, especially Chinnamasta [106] (also see [4]).

7)   Sheshmet is another form of Sekhmet who is mother of the deceased. In Indian mythology Lord Shiva, the consort of Shakti, is the lord of the deceased.

8)   Sekhmet is associated with Hathor who is associated with Phallus. Shakti is the wife of Shiva, also represented as Lingam.

9)   Both Sekhmet and Shakti have dangerous and benevolent aspects.

  1. Sekhmet is the mother goddess and mother of the king. In India, Shakti is addressed as ‘mother’.
  2. Sekhmet was also called the ‘Mistress of dread’, ‘Lady of slaughter’ and ‘She who mauls’. Shakti has plenty of such names: Kaalaropini
  3. Sekhmet is associated with plague. Rituals are performed to appease the goddess to prevent/cure them. In Bangalore, there is a Shakti temple to fight plague called Plague Mariamma.
  4. In India people pray to Shakti to protect or heal them from epidemics such as Small pox, Chicken pox and plagues. In fact the diseases are themselves called ‘Amma’ meaning mother Shakti.

10) Priests of Sekhmet practiced medicine, witchcraft, prayers and spells for healing. Amulets were tied at the beginning and end of a year, and at difficult times. Sacred threads, at times with lockets, as amulets are given in Shakti temple for protection from various diseases and distress.

11) The annual festival where Egyptians used to drink and dance to pacify their goddess is related to preventing flooding of the Nile at the beginning of each year. This was the time when the silt laden blood-red Nile was swallowed by Sekhmet to save from calamity. The following morning Sekhmet woke up, saw the creator god Ptah and fell in love with him, and and ultimately gave birth to Mahees and Nefertem. We have already compared Nefertem to Lord Murugan. The name Mahees is interesting: In Sanskrit ‘Maaheshvara’ means ‘derived from Maheshvara’, who is his son in this context. In Hindu mythology the creator god Shiva, drank the poison that came out of the ocean churning with Mount Meru and save the world. This gave him the epithet Nilakantha, where Nila means black, the color of the poison. Note the similarity of the words Nile and Nila.

12) Fearing Sekhmet’s anger, Egyptians installed more than seven hundred statues of her in a single temple of Amenhotep III to be worshipped one image a day. Do we have 52 Shaktipeethas for weekly worship round the year in India? This is because there are 52 weeks in a year. This concept of having a new idol each day out of fear may be the reason why we have thousands of Lingas in Koti-Linga Kshetra, Karnataka, India.

13) Sekhmet was considered as the fiercest hunter by Egyptians. The most colorful festival of Bangalore, India is Karaga. In this festival, a man will represent Draupadi; he is draped in a yellow saree with a sword in hand and a beautiful head-dress made of flowers. We have heard from our seniors that this procession commemorates Draupadi, who is viewed as Goddess Shakti, hunting in the night in the form of a lioness in the forest.

2)   Anat 

1)   She is a warrior goddess, very powerful, as is Kali.

2)   She is a virgin as is Draupadi who is viewed as a ‘Kanya’ meaning virgin in Hindu. Also, goddess Kumari a form of Shakti in Hindu is a virgin.

3)   However, Anat united with Reshep. Reshep sound like Vrishabha of Hindu. Vrishabha is the mount of Shiva, the word also means manly.

4)   Anat also united with Baal, who is considered equal to Seth. We have equated Seth to Shiva.

5)   Anat’s consort is Seth; we have equated Seth to Shiva.

3)   Mut 

Mut resembles goddess Shakthi in many respects:

1)   Mut is associated with lioness [5], as is Shakti.

2)   Mut is the consort of Amun in a familial context [5], as is Shakthi with Shiva. Also, Mut is associated with Ptah in Memphis. Both Amun and Ptah are mapped to Shiva, and hence Mut to Shakti.

3)   Mut is also associated with Ptah of Memphis [5]. Ptah, we have equated to Shiva.

4)   Mut is associated with oracles and amulets [5], as is Shakti.

5)   Mut is the ‘savage eye of Re’ [5]. The Shakti is depicted as just a pair of eyes.

6)   Mut wears a bright red dress [5] as is Shakti.

7)   Mut is the mother goddess [5] as is Shakti.

8)   Mut is depicted with papyrus and lily [5], as is Shakti depicted with lotus.

4)   Astarte 

Astarte resembles Savithri:

1)   Astarte thwarted the demands of the tyrranical god Yam though the details of this myth are lost to us [5]. This story may resemble the story of Savithri who claims her dead husband back from Yama, the lord of the Netherworld.

2)   Also the name Savithri sounds like Astarte, also known as Isthar.

Astarte resembles Shakti:

1)   She has a benevolent and terrifying nature [5]. She is the goddess of love and fertility and also of war. Shakti has a benevolent and a terrifying aspect.

2)   She is the wife of Seth [5]. Seth resembles Shiva as shown in an earlier article.

5)   Seshat 

Seshat resembles goddess Saraswathi in some respects:

1)   Seshat was the goddess of writing, notation, record keeping, accounting and census, foremost in the house of books, the patroness of temple libraries and other collection of texts [5]. She resembles Saraswathi in the above role.

2)   Seshat had an important role in the foundation ceremony and was a part of every temple building [5]. Saraswathi’s image must be made in every building as the general features of edifices. See p. 216 in chapter 18 in [52].

6)   Wadjet 

Wadjet, the cobra goddess, local to Buto, her image, appearing in the royal crown as a cobra wrapped around the head [113]. We have similar decoration for Lord Shiva. Wadjet is represented by two eyes shown in the sky [113] as is Kali. The name Wadjet means ‘papyrus colored one’ that is green [113]. The color of Goddess Meenakshi is also green. The word ‘wadj’ is close to ‘patche’ meaning ‘green’ in Tamil. Another depiction of Wadjet, as a snake around papyrus stem [113] resembles cobra entwined on Trishulam.

7)   Bastet 

Bastet is called ‘the lady of flame’ and depicted as lioness warrior [112]. Perfume is believed to emanate from her [112]. These three qualities she shares with Draupadi. In addition Bastet is also depicted with ointment jar [112].

Bibliography 

[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

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

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

[106] E A Benard, Chinnamasta, the aweful Buddhist and Hindu tantric goddess, MLBD, India, 2010

[112] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastet

[113] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadjet

 

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2 Responses to Shakti and Egypt

  1. Narasimha says:

    I like this

  2. ihaiva says:

    Although there are resemblances, India’s mythology was underpinned by a philosophy that survived intact, unlike the eventual demise of the Egyptian mythological tradition, where the occult aspects diverted from the spiritual symbolism. Sri Aurobindo has written about this

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