Vijayanagar and Egypt

Analysis and Conclusions: Vijayanagar Kingdom and Egypt

V. Krishnakumar

The kingdom of Vijayanagar is the most important of all in South India, if one thinks of their contribution to the country at a crucial juncture. They sprang from nowhere and built a grand empire; renovated hundreds of temples by adding massive structures around them; traded and prospered to the extent that there are poems in Kannada which say “pearls and precious stones were sold in units of liters on the streets”, literature and art was patronized. It is unfortunate that their contribution is understated.

1)   To commemorate the death of his young son King Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar built a Ranganatha temple, but could not complete it. The main idol is still kept at a village called Bagali about 60 km away. The question is, why did he build a temple of Ananthashayana for commemorating his son’s demise? Kings of Vijayanagar have not built Ranganatha temples with great fondness anyway. Thus, can one conclude that Ananthshayana, that is the god in ‘eternal sleep’, is in some sense related to taking care of the souls of the dead, similar to Osiris of Egypt?

2)   There is one commonality between the city plan of Vijayanagar and that around Bastet temple discussed by Herodotus. The four major temples of Vijayanagar namely, Virupaksha, Achyutharaya, Vijayavittala and Krishna temples command a beautiful view at the beginning of a long and wide massive market place. This is very similar to the description of Bastet’s temple by Herodotus as discussed in [126,127]. Some of the salient points of Bastet temple are as follows:

  1. The temple is in the midst of the city at a lower level, so that the rest of the city, being at a higher level, can have a complete view of the temple.
  2. The temple has a stone wall with figures carved round it.
  3. The temple is a large square.
  4.  A paved road several furlongs long, hundreds of feet wide runs through the market place and leads to the temple.

The above mentioned four temples of Vijaynagar are in the floors of natural valleys, therefore the city commands an unobstructed view of the temples. Temples have stone walls around, are square in shape and very huge. The massive market area in front of each temple flanks the roadway that leads to the temple entrance.

3)   Kings of Vijayanagar are fond of building mega structures like Egyptians. They build massive corridors, courtyards, marriage halls, halls for various ceremonies and Gopurams all over South India up to Rameshvaram with an overwhelming ambition to glorify their religion, whereas their palaces were relatively small. Very few temples in India can match in size the temples built or expanded by the Vijayanagar kings. This spirit can only be compared to Egyptian temple construction suggesting their possible Egyptian link.

4)   Vijaynagar kings have sculpted the image of Yali in great numbers, some of them massive, in most of the temples they have either renovated or constructed. We have already mapped Yali that guards the main deity in a temple to the Egyptian Seth, who guards the doors of Osiris in the netherworld [1]. Fondness to Yali suggests their possible Egyptian inclination.

5)   Kings of Vijayanagar are followers of Panduranga, Panduranga is mapped to Egyptian Pataikos. Pataikos is a dwarf god with a large head, standing on a brick with his arms folded and hands resting on his waist; and considered to be protective (picture on p.123 in [5]); thus he matches Lord Panduranga (see picture in [143]).

6)   According to [125], a shield of a king by name Recamai is discovered in a town called Asyut in Egypt. The names ‘Recamai’ and ‘Asyut’ are very similar to ‘Rakhumai’ and ‘Achyut’ of Vijayanagar. Rakhumai is the wife of Lord Panduranga, who is one of the most important gods for the Vijayanagar kings. One of the most important temples in Vijayanagar was the Achytaraya temple, meaning the ‘temple of Achyuth, the lord’, the two words are quite close: Achyut=Asyut.

7)   The most important god of Vijaynagar is Virupaksha. Interestingly there is a town called Aksha in Egypt [5].

8)   The Dasara festivities were first started, by the Vijayanagar Kings in the 15th Century, according to [122]. The celebration in particular includes the cutting of a twig of Banni tree by the king that is still a practice in Mysore Dasara; this commemorates Pandavas hiding their weapons while they were incognito [123]. The association of Dasara to Mahabharata is not peculiar to Vijayanagar kings; Draupadi cult also has a very similar ten-day long Dasara festival [13]. We provide the details of the festivities of these ten days as practiced by the Draupadi cult. The themes of alankara or decoration for the idols taken for processions are as follows [13]:

  • Day 1: Draupadi and Pandavas
  • Day 2: Krishna and Radha
  • Day 3: Vedic Gayathri with six heads
  • Day 4: Draupadi and Yudhishtira as Meenakshi and Sundareswarar
  • Day 5: Draupadi and Ashtalakshmi
  • Day 6: Arjuna’s chariot driven by Krishna
  • Day 7: Ayyappan with eighteen steps
  • Day 8: Hill of Thirumala made of books
  • Day 9: Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganesha
  • Day 10: Draupadi commemorating victory of Durga

This shows that the festival of Dasara has a strong link to Mahabharata story, and both the Draupadi cult and Vijayanagar kings view Dasara from this perspective.

9)   The relation between Vijayanagar and Draupadi cult is far beyond Dasara, the following points substantiate this:

  1. Konars are one of the three main followers of the Draupadi cult [13].
  2. Founding of Konar dynasty also marked the beginning of Gingee’s history as a kingdom [13].
  3. At the end of Konar dynasty, Vijayanagar kingdom begins [13].
  4. Vijayanagar kingdom history is closely entangled with Gingee, the place where Draupadi is believed to have had her second birth, and it is the center of Draupadi cult [13].

Thus, Vijayanagar kings seem to be strongly related to the Draupadi cult of South India. We have already shown that the Draupadi cult was the conduit for the story of Mahabharata from its Egyptian counterpart story of Osiris; also we suspected that the followers of the cult are in some way connected with Egypt: they can be migrants, traders, cult propagators, etc.

Summary: 

The kings of Vijaynagar are related to Draupadi cult, they show the spirit of Egyptian civilization. Their relation to Egypt cannot be ruled out. By relation we mean anywhere from a mere memory of past interaction at one end to possibly a racial history of migration at the other end.

Bibliography 

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

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

[13] Alf Hiltebeitel, The Cult of Draupadi, MLBD, New Delhi, 1991

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

[122] Ravi Sharma. “Mysore Dasara: A historic festival, Online Edition of The Frontline, Volume 22 – Issue 21, dated 2005-10-08:2005-10-21. 2005, Frontline

[123] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysore_Dasara

[125] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asyut

[126] Herodotus, ed. H. Stein (et al.) and tr. AD Godley (1920), Herodotus 1. Books 1 and 2. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass.

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

[143] http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/40/Vitthala.jpg/220px-Vitthala.jpg

 

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One Response to Vijayanagar and Egypt

  1. Narasimha says:

    I like this

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