On Greek and Indian Mythologies

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Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian physician turned mythologist and author whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology. He has written a number of books related to Hindu mythology.

Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik discussed about his latest book with Arshia Sattar at the Tollygunge Club.

In his book “Olympus” he has attempted to find similarity and differences between Greek and Indian mythologies.

Talking about similarities he says that just like Amravati of the Hindu devas, Olympus is the home of the Greek gods

Zeus the leader of Olympians, wields a thunderbolt like Indra and rides an eagle like Vishnu.

Also, the deeds of the Greek hero Heracles, known to Romans as Hercules, reminded many of Krishna, as did his name, ‘Hari-kula-esha’ or lord of the Hari clan.

Prometheus embodies fore-thought and his brother Epimetheus, after-thought; in Hindu mythology, Bhrigu is an intuitive and Brihaspati a rational adviser.

The Greek epic of a husband sailing across the sea with a thousand ships to bring his wife, Helen, back from Troy seems strikingly similar to the story of Ram rescuing Sita from Lanka.

In Indian mythology, we worship beings that are a combination of multiple animals like Narasimha (half-lion, half-bull) and Yali (part lion and elephant) and the Nagas.

They are similar to Greek monsters like Minotaur (half-bull and half-man), Medusa (woman with snakes for hair), Chimera (part lion, goat and snake).

The question then is there a connection between Greek and Hindu mythology then? Does it have something to do with a common Indo-European root? Or maybe an exchange of ideas in the centuries that followed the arrival of Alexander the Great?

Well according to the author there are fundamental differences because the Greeks believed in one life and so one chance, while Hindu mythology believed in rebirth.

Unfaithful wives are common in Greek mythology while fidelity is of paramount importance in Indian mythology.

The book is fascinating as it is an attempt by an Indian to look into Western Mythology.

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