Monday, 29 February 2016

INDIAN SHIVA, EGYPTIAN SOBEK AND THE OASIS OF SIWA IN EGYPT

Sobek, also called Sevak, was an ancient Egyptian deity. He is associated with the Nile and is represented as a human with a crocodile head. Sobek was the god of fertility, military prowess. He served additionally as a protective deity with the power to avert evil influences or bad luck and was invoked particularly for protection against the dangers presented by the Nile river. Myths and legends associate his name with the forging of the Nile. One of his names was 'Lord of the waters' and his myths bear a considerable closeness to that of the Vedic Lord Shiva.


A stone-relief of Egyptian God Sobek. 
His name is associated with that of the Nile


Another representation of  Egyption god Sobek

The Siwa Oasis is an oasis in Egypt and its settlement is one of the most isolated in Egypt, inhabited by about 20000 people, descendants of the Berber tribe. They have their own unique culture and language.  Siwa is a site of active bubbling hot springs and cold springs. Apart from those there are therapeutic sulfur springs and sand baths. Siwa was known as Sekht-am to the pharaohs. Though it is said that 'sekhtam' translates as 'field of trees', it is is the Sanskrit 'sektR; (सेक्तृ) meaning 'sprinkler' that describes the site the best.

There seems to be some evidence that perhaps this site was named after Sobek, also called Sevak, the Egyptian Shiva. Siwa is today known primarily as the site of an Oracle Temple built in 6th century BC and dedicated to the Egyptian sun god Amun.  

In his book, Egypt, author Mathew Firestone states,that the Temple of Oracle was built probably on top of an earlier temple. He says that in the vicinity of the Amun Ra Temple are many other ancient temples which were once connected to the main Amun Ra Temple. There is the Temple of Unm Ubayd also dedicated to Amun Ra, the Temple of Mesus-Isis with beautiful depictions of cobras, another Temple that has survived as depictions of the yellow crocodile representing Sebak

In his book 'The doctrine of the Deluge; Vindicating the Scriptural Account from the doubts cast upon it' by Leveson Venables V. Harcourt, published 1838, the author finds enough evidence to link Sebak and the Oasis of Siwa with the Indian god Shiva. He says, "In the time of Herodotus, the Oases near Egypt, were called the Island of the Blessed, and it is in no words they appeared such to the travellers, who arrived there hungry and thirsty, and weary, from the vast deserts which encompassed them. But there were other reasons too, for that denomination; on a hill in the oasis stands Siwa, which seems to have been a place sacred to the Indian god of the deluge, Siva, or as he was called in Egypt, Sevak ....".


Lord Shiva with serpents around his neck and arms
Lord Shiva with the River Ganges in his top-knot.

And it is not in Siwa alone that the traces of Vedic civilization and Hinduism are found. Monsieur Chevalier, a French Egyptologist who was appointed the French Governor of Chandennagore (now a part of West Bengal) in 1768, had 'recognized' the idols of Vishnu, Jagarnath and Ganesh in the Temple of Osiris in Abydos in Egypt too. 

The legends of Vishnu and Sri Krishna also seem to be interwoven with that of Amun-Ra. Bibhu Dev Misra of Hare Krishna Society says, "In the typical depiction of Vishnu in Hindu iconography, the sacred river Ganges is always shown emerging from the toe of Vishnu, while in Egypt, we find a very similar imagery associated with Amun." The Nile is said to emerge from the feet of Amun-Ra.  He adds,"Amun was always depicted in funerary art and temple inscriptions with a ‘blue skin colour’ and having two feathers in his headdress.” ... a reminder of Sri Krishna.

Siwa is intriguing. In the background of the temple of Amon-Ra is the Gebel-el-Mawta - a cone shaped mountain, much like the top-knot of Shiva. Gebel-el-Mawta is riddled with tombs from the 26th Dynasty and the Ptolemaic era cut into the side of the rock.

Gebel-el-Mawta at the Siwa Oasis.
Egypt
Kailash. The abode of Shiva

Some names in Egyptian mythology are remarkably close to names in Sanskrit. Each one individually may not mean that they are indeed connected to Sanskrit, but collectively there may be more than just coincidence. 

In the ancient Egyptian language, the Nile was known as Iteru, meaning 'waters'. The 'teru' in the name 'iteru' may be explained by the Sanskrit 'tar' (तर) which is 'crossing a river', tarala (तरल) 'fluid', and 'taran' (तरण) 'to swim'.

Another example of traces of Sanskrit in ancient Egyptian lore is the deity Ptah. Ptah is the creator god par excellence and it was from his thought that the material world took form. 

In his book 'Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction' on pages 305 & 34, Antonio Loprieno states that the name 'Ptah' was vocalized as 'Pitaḥ' in ancient Egyptian (language) which is the equivalent of 'Pita' (पिता) -Sanskrit for 'father', and fits the characteristics of 'Ptah' to the core.



'Ptah' is pronounced as 'Pitah' in ancient Egyptian

And Ptah or Pitah survives today in the name 'Egypt'. Mainstream historians say that the name Egypt is derived from Ancient Greek Aígyptos, via Middle French Egypte and Latin Aegyptus. The Greek forms were borrowed from Late Egyptian 'Hikuptah' meaning 'home of the soul of Ptah'.

Suggested Readings:

1. Sacred Sites of Egypt 
2. Egyptology
3. Siwa
4. Jesus: Last of the Pharaohs



Tuesday, 9 February 2016

SUVERNEYA OR IRELAND, NAGA WORSHIP AND VEDIC-PURANA-SANSKRIT CONNECT

In his book ,'Modern Geography: A Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States, and Colonies, John Pinkerton states, "The large fertile island of Ireland, being situated to the west of Great Britain, was discovered by the Phoenicians.. and it appears that the island was known to the Greeks by the name Juverna about two centuries before the birth of Christ."

The name Juverna appears in the writings of Pomponius Mela, the earliest known Roman geographer who wrote in the year about 43 AD. Leveson Venables V. Harcourt traces the source of the name Juverna to Suvarna in his book 'The Doctrine of the Deluge'. He says that the Celtics who were the first inhabitants of all British Islands were undoubtedly of Eastern Origin and they had a close affinity to the people living as far off as the banks of the Indus as well as the shores of the Mediterranean. He says the above has been "...un-answerably concluded from an accurate examination and analyses of these languages...". Harcourt quotes Captain Francis Wilford who did extensive research in India and published his work in the 'Asiatic Researches', "...Accordingly Mr Wilford was assured by the Brahmins, that a great intercourse anciently subsisted between India and the countries in the West; that the British Isles are described in the Puranas, one of them being called Breta-sthan, or the place of Religious Duty, but the general name was Tricatachal, or the Mountains with the Three Peaks, which were Suvarnacuta, Rajatcuta and Ayacuta;... and the three peaks of the Indian Ararat were, therefore readily transferred in imagination to all islands." These mountains are also reffered to as Svaranachal, Rajatkuta and Lohakuta in Indian texts.


Some have questioned  the credibility of evidence that the Brahmans may have presented to Francis Wilford about the view that Ireland was ever known as Tricatachal, but there is some relevant evidence in Irish records which is stated in the following passage.

In the 'Monthly Review' published in 1799 by Ralph Griffiths and George Edward Griffiths an article by the heading "The Ancient History of Ireland, proved by the Sanscrit Brahmins of India", written by a General Vallency states," ....assuming it as proved that the Suvornanchal or golden mountain (the other are of silver and iron) was no other than Ireland, it remained only to explain a legend respecting a pious monarch of the country, contained in a real extract from Bramhanda Purana, accurately translated by Captain Wilford. His name was Cracacheshwara. Now there is a mention made in Irish records of King Crach,  who attempted to kill St. Patrick...".

St. Patrick brings us to the cult of the Nagas in Ireland. But before that, a note from the writings of Ptolemy (100-170 AD) , a Greco-Egyptian writer, known as a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer and poet who lived in the then Roman colony of Egypt.

In his treatise 'Geographica', the chief tribes mentioned by Ptolemy are the Darni upon the north-east, the Vencini and Robogdii on the north-west. Beneath them were the Nagnati, Auteri and Gangani on the west, the Erdini in the centre and the Voluntii, Eblani and Cauci on the east. Two names stand out in the Sanskrit-Vedic context , the Nagnati and the Gangani. Here is Ptolemy's map of Ireland that he presented in the 'Geographica'.


Ptolemy's Roman Era Map of Ireland
There are regions named Gangani and Nagnata

Of the name Nanganati, (Sanskrit 'naga' (नाग) or serpent), one might say that no country in Europe is so associated with the serpent as Ireland, and none has so many myths and legends connected with the same. "The serpent has furnished many religious stories in the East, and as the ancient faiths of Asia and Egypt abound in references to it one may reasonably look for some similarity in the ideas of worship between Orientals and the Irish". 

Across Ireland there are hundreds of crosses of which many are entwined with images of serpents. The Druid serpent of Ireland is portrayed in the Tara brooch. Universal tradition in Ireland declares that St. Patrick drove the serpents into the sea however since there were no serpents in nature in Ireland, the serpents that were driven out were probably the symbolical snakes of naga-worship, and it was the Apostle of Christianity which gained over the serpents or nagas of Ireland. It may then have been a Naga worshipping King Cracacheshwara who attempted to rise against the missionary St. Patrick in his bid to save the pagan beliefs of the time.


An Irish Double-Snake Goddess
St. Patrick casting out the symbolical serpents.
The serpent was the symbol of snake-worship of the Druids and Celts
The name Gangani of course reminds one of the Ganges or the Ganga. Of this race it is said that the Gangani were a sea-mobile tribe. They had a tendency to travel by water.The Gangani tribe was connected with an Irish tribe the Concani who occupied the region now known as Leinster . But more about the Gangani in a later post.

The presence of names such as Ganagani and Nagnati on the maps of ancient Ireland from different sources suggests that there indeed was some link between the peoples and practice of the Indus and Irsih civilization.

Ireland was known to the Romans as Hybernia which is similar to Pomponius Mela's Juverna and Harcourt's Suverna or Suverneya. Says Harcourt," .... Suvernaya may become Hybernia, by a change no greater than that converts Hule into Silva and Hus into Sus....".*

*(Note: The etymology of Silva is traced to Proto-Indo-European *sel-, *swel- ‎(“beam, board, frame, threshold”) and Silva is accepted as cognate with Ancient Greek ὕλη ‎(húlē, “wood, timber”). The Latin for pig is 'sus' and changes in Greek to 'hus'. In fact the Latin sus is also traced to the sanskrit 'sukarah' and Avestan 'hu'.with the same meaning). 

By the same token the Herpeditani on Ptolemy's map may have been Serpeditani, sarpa (सर्प) is serpant in Sanskrit which would link this name to the serpant worship tradition in Ireland. The Brigantes or Brit-Magnate on Ptolemy's map may have been the Breta-sthana that Wilford mentioned in his research and there might have been a valid basis to what Wilford had found in Indian texts about the history of Ireland.
Ireland was known to the Romans as Hibernia, derived from their word for winter
Ireland was known to the Romans as Hibernia, derived from their word for winter. Perhaps it's one of the reasons chewy chose not to invade.
Suggested Readings: 

1.British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review Vol II
2.. The Doctrine of the Deluge: Vindicating the Scriptural Account by Leveson Venables V. Harcourt
3. Map of Ireland dated 140 AD
4. Serpent Faith
5. Celtic Tribes
6. Serpent Worship

7. Modern Geography, A Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States and Colonies by John Pinkerton