Shiva and Egypt

Egyptian Gods resembling Lord Shiva

V. Krishnakumar

1)  Atum 

Atum resembles Lord Rudra in many respects; here are the points from [5] that can be compared to Rudra.

1)   Atum’s name is founded based on the word ‘tem’ [5], which means the following:

a)    To complete or finish in both constructive and destructive senses [5]

b)   The creator of heaven and earth because he fashioned the phallus of Shu and the womb of Tefnut [49]

c)    An aged god who punishes the wicked [49]

d)   A staff surmounted by human head wearing a disc [49]

e)    Nothingness [49]

2)   This is very similar to the god Rudra/Shiva: We have the corresponding points as follows:

a)    Rudra is both a destroying as well as benevolent deity

b)   Rudra as Shiva is creator and destroyer

c)    He punishes the bad

d)   We find the image of Rudra with a human head on a staff held by him [56]

e)    This is resembles attaining ‘Shunya’, a concept of Veerashaiva saints. Note that our comparison for this item is not rigorous.

3)   Atum destroys everything and can also be called ‘uncreator’ [5]. Rudra is the destroyer and the lord of ‘the uncreate’ [8].

4)   At the end of the world he will destroy everything he has created and return to the form of the primeval serpent [5]. Rudra is the god of destruction, he is an all-consumer [48]. To this extent Atum matches Rudra. However the Indian counterpart for the primeval serpent is Adishesha, the snake on which Ranganatha reclines.

5)   Re is the rising sun of the day and Atum is the setting sun of the evening [5]. The setting sun is called Re-tmu [6]. ‘Tmu’ resembles the Hindu ‘Tamas’ which is ‘dark and descending’, and is associated with Lord Rudra [8].

6)   Atum was the primeval, which rose from the waters of creation. He is also represented as the primeval hill [5]. Shiva is the lord of ‘the uncreate’ [8].

7)   Atum is represented by a bull [5]. Rudra’s mount is a bull.

8)   Atum subdues the hostile netherworld serpents Apep and Neheb-kau. Apep was a huge serpent, who created a solar eclipse by swallowing the solar barque [50]. Apep resemble the Hindu Rahu. Shiva is depicted holding the snakes Rahu and Kethu in Mahakaleshwara temple in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India.

9)   Atum copulated with himself to produce the first divine pair with the hand utilized by the god in this act representing a female principle inherent within himself [5]. The Shiva-Linga normally has two counterparts, the male and the female. A similar depiction is the Ardhanarishwara, which is half-male and half-female.

10) Atum is shown as an aged, ram headed figure, who supervises the punishment of the evil-doers and enemies of the sun god [5]. Rudra is the god of the netherworld having a similar function.

Other Hindu concepts closer to Atum: 

1)   Atum is created by himself; then he created the first gods through his semen [5]. There is a legend, which claims all life including the first man was created by Brahma’s semen [8].

2)   Atum was the god who created the world from primeval chaos [5], this is similar to Brahman. [8].

3)   Atum was the one from whom all else originally came. He is the lord of totality. The magical formulae in pyramidal texts aid the king to unite with Atum, and to become one with him after death [5]. This concept is closer to the concept of god in Hindu: worshippers of Vishnu and Siva respectively believe in merging with the respective gods after death.

4)   Everything that existed was a part of his flesh…[5]. In Isa Upanishad it describes god as ‘everything which is moving is pervaded by Isa’.

5)   He is called ‘he who came into being of himself’ [5]. Shiva is called Swayam-bhu, meaning born of himself.

6)   Atum is the one from which, all else came [5]. Shiva is called Sarva-kaaraka meaning doer of everything or Sarva-kaarana meaning cause of everything.

Lizard worship:

Atum is also represented as a lizard. Amulets of lizards were worn in honor of the god in the late period [5]. A Lizard idol is worshipped in the temple of Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram Tamil Nadu, India.

2) Seth 

Seth resembles Lord Rudra:

1)   Seth was ill tempered and known for his rage and violence [87]. Rudra is often angry and his third eye has fire.

2)   Seth opposed truth; he was associated with crimes, sickness, disease, civil unrest and foreign invasion [5]. According to Taithiriya Samhita, Rudra is lord of plunderers and thieves [8].

3)   Seth stood in the sun god’s barque to repel the cosmic serpent Apep [5]. In the Mahakaleshwara temple of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India, Lord Shiva holds the serpents Rahu and Kethu in his hands.

4)   Seth’s name should not be uttered and hence he is referred to indirectly as ‘Son of Nut’; his image is not carved, instead a surrogate animal represents him [5]. Rudra’s name should not be even uttered [8].

5)   Seth was the dark side to the fabric of the universe [5]. This resembles the Vedic thought of the cosmos, which is a fabric woven by the gods, wherein each thread of the cosmic fabric according to the Samkhya consists of three strands- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, where Tamas is descending and dark, and is associated with Lord Rudra [8].

6)   Sacrificing of the Sethian animals such as antelope, donkey, goat, pig, hippopotamus, crocodile and some fish, was part of the religious activity [5]. Animal sacrifices form part of Rudra temple rituals.

7)   Seth was invoked or mentioned in magical spells [5]. Lord Rudra is associated with witchcraft and hence called Vamadeva.

8)   Seth seized the soul of the dead [5]. Lord Rudra is the destination of the dead.

9)   Seth is associated with a rebel band [67]. This resembles the ‘Bhuta-Ganas’ of Rudra.

10) Rudra is Vastospati, who is the guardian of the house of Varuna [8]; Varuna is the lord of water. Osiris has come forth from the water [6], hence maps to Varuna. Since Seth guards Osiris’ doors and he maps to Rudra.

Seth also resembles the demons Kethu and Rahu of Indian mythology: 

1)   The word Seth may have got transformed into Kethu as follows: Seth= Hetu = Kethu. It may be noted that ‘Sa’ and ‘Ha’ are interchangeable at times: Saraswathi versus Haradwati, Soma versus Homa; ‘Ka’, ‘Ga’ and ‘Ha’ are interchangeable in Tamil.

2)   Seth put out the eye of Horus [1]. Since the eyes of Horus are Sun and Moon, putting out may mean he is shrouding those celestial bodies. Rahu and Kethu are two demons, who according to Hindu mythology, swallow the sun or moon causing an eclipse.

3)   Seth has an erect arrow like tail [1]. Ketu’s lower part of the body is snake and upper human. This erect arrow like tail may represent snake tail.

4)   Mythologically Seth is associated with the serpent Apep who causes chaos [5]. Apep resembles Rahu as he causes eclipse.

5)   Birthday of Seth was regarded as a particularly unlucky day in the Egyptian calendar [5]. In Hindu mythology there is a specific time called Rahu-kaala every day, which is considered to be particularly inauspicious.

The Vedic Indra shares certain qualities with Seth as follows:

1)   He is the god of thunderbolt and is viewed as an agitator of water [133]. Seth has similar attributes [5].

2)   Vedic Indra is an obstacle and opposes truth [133], as is Seth.

3)   “Indra is the iron one” [133], similarly Seth is god of metals, his bones are made of iron [87].

Seth can be Lord Ganesha:

We have some suspicion that Ganesha might have evolved from Seth. Following are the reasons why we do so.

1)   Ganesha is worshipped in order to avoid obstacles. Seth is viewed as an obstacle [1,87].

2)   Ganesha is placed at the entrance of forts, temples and even houses, quite similar to Yali.

3)   Ganesha is the lord of Ganas, Seth is the god of rebel bands [67].

4)   Ganesha does not get along with Lord Murugan. We have mapped Horus to Murugan. Seth is the opponent of Horus.

5)   Historically, the worshippers of Vishnu did not honor him. We have mapped Rangantha, a form of Vishnu to Osiris; and Srinivasa, a form of Vishnu to Horus.

6)   Ganesha concept is not as old as Lord Murugan.

7)   Ganesha does not have children; likewise Maga was not considered to be the son of Seth, though at times he was alluded to be so.

8)   Ganesha is depicted occasionally at the entrance of Buddhist monasteries in red color, Seth is depicted as red hippopotamus.

9)   We have already mentioned that Seth was represented by the biggest animal of Egypt, thus he was depicted as a large hippopotamus; quite similar in theme, he must have been represented as an elephant in India; recall that his counterpart in Mahabharata of Draupadi cult, is Duryodhana and the person who plays that role was hefty and called ‘Little elephant’.

10) One of the myths of Ganesha story describes his anger on the moon; Osiris, the opponent of Seth is considered to be the moon god.

11) Additional corroboration in Yaanai Pandigai adds to the claim.

12) Ganesha was a party in dismantling of the Shiva-Linga; in this case he was not on the side of Ravana, an Asura and a devotee of Shiva. We have already shown the relation between Osiris and Linga, thus Ravana, Linga and Osiris are on one side, while Ganesha and Seth are on the opposite side. Ganesha as the son of Shiva-Linga might have evolved later when he had to amalgamte with Shiva.

3) Amun

1)   Amun, was the symbol of strength and fertility. He was called ‘bull of his mother’ [5]. Shiva’s ride is a bull called Nandi and he is associated strongly with procreativity.

2)    Amun was represented in ithyphallic form. He was amalgamated with Min to form Amun-Min [5]. Shiva is worshipped in the phallic form of Linga.

3)   Karnak temple was said to occupy the mound of the beginning [5]. Shiva is the lord of ‘the uncreate’ [8].

4)   Amun is the god of wind, of the eight primeval deities forming the Ogdoad [5]. In Kalahasti, India, Lord Shiva is believed to manifest air, one of the five fundamental elements.

5)   Amun, Mut and son Khonsu constitute the local triad of Thebes [5], the related festival of Opet is discussed elsewhere in the context of Lord Murugan. The triad of Somaskandar resembles this, Amun as Lord Shiva, Mut as Shakti and Khonsu viewed as Murugan.

6)   Amun is associated with spells and charms in Egyptian magic [5]. Shiva is called Vamadeva meaning the ‘Lord of occult sciences, black magic and witch-craft’.

7)   Amun is the god for eye diseases [5]. Shiva, also called as Vaitheshvaran, is the god of medicine. The Vaitheshwaran temple of Tamil Nadu, India, is dedicated to him.

8)   The daughter of the ruling king was offered as the ‘divine wife’ to Amun [5]. Meenakshi is the daughter of a Pandian king who became the wife of Lord Shiva, of Madurai, India.

9)   The obelisk in front of the great temple of Amun-Ra resembles the Vel or harpoon found in the hands of Lord Murugan [111] (p.312, Plate 5).

10) In the picture of Page 67 of [5], Amun coronating Hatshepsut resembles Shiva tying the hair of Markandeya in Gangaikonda-cholapuram, India.

11) Amun created the cosmos by his thought [5]. Shiva created the world by his thought.

12) Criosphynx, which is a ram headed lion represents Amun-Re [5]. These Criosphynxes run in line in large numbers in front of Amun’s temple in Karnak. This resembles rows of Nandi’s found outside or on the temple walls in South India.

13) The ram-headed human form of Amun resembles Nandi in India.

4) Ptah 

Ptah resembles Lord Shiva or Shiva-Linga in many respects:

1)   Ptah is depicted under the Moringa tree [5]. Also Shiva in his form of Dakshina-murthy is under a tree.

2)   According to [5], Ptah was the ancient god. He was a unified form of the primeval deities Nun and Naunet, who are respectively male and female. There are two Hindu counterparts to this:

  1. Ardhanarishvara in Hindu mythology is a similar union of the ancient god Shiva and Shakti.
  2. Brahma is split into two parts, a male and a female, the female part called Braahmi [55].

3)   The Linga in Jambukeshwara temple or Thiruvanaikaval temple of Trichi, India, contributes to both the items 1 and 2 discussed above: In this temple, Linga is under a tree and represents the water element.  Note that Nun and Nauneth represent water element [5].

4)   Ptah was called ‘the great leader of craftsmen’. Ptah’s name comes from the root word meaning ‘to sculpt’. He was a sculptor and creator of the arts and crafts [5]. Rudra/Shiva as Vastospati is the god of art. Nataraja is the god of all art forms.

5)   Ptah and Apis bull are the chief gods of Memphis. Apis bull is the manifestation and intermediary of Ptah [5]. Nandi, the bull on which Rudra rides is an intermediary to reach Rudra, one has to pray Nandi first in a Shiva temple.

6)   He stands on a stepped dais suggestive of the primeval mound. Rudra is lord of ‘the uncreate’ [8].

Ashby has compared Ptah with Shiva [4] while comparing the trinity in Egypt and India.

5) Reshep 

1)   Reshep sound like Vrishabha of Hindu. Vrishabha means bull in Sanskrit, which is the mount of Rudra. Further Reshep’s crown has horns [5].

2)   Reshep is identified with Seth by Egyptologists [5]. Also Reshep is a god of thunder as is Seth [5]. We find some similarity between Seth and Rudra.

3)   Reshep is a god of pestilence and war [5]. Rudra is god of Tamas or darkness [8].


[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

[6] E.A.Wallis Budge, Egyptian book of the dead, Dover publication, New York, 1895

[8] Stella Kramrisch, Presence of Shiva, MLBD, New Delhi, 1988

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

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


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




[111] Toby Wilkinson, The rise and fall of Ancient Egypt, Bloomsbury, London, 2011



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One Response to Shiva and Egypt

  1. Narasimha says:

    This is interesting

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