Mythology – Hindu & Greek

Stories. Every culture is based on stories, which have been told over and over again, modified, changed for tens of thousands of years; and this is what we call mythology.

There is a deeper meaning to it though, because different people believe that different mythology has existed, because they believe it in their own respective religions.

Ever since I was a child, I have been immersed in Indian mythology, whether it be with my family during festivals like Diwali and Holi, or the collection of books my dad has collected over the years.

Meanwhile, I was also deeply interested in Greek and Roman mythology, which are both inherently similar, reading books like ‘the Roman mysteries’, ‘Percy Jackson’.

This essay has many different answers, and possibilities to explore. Here comes the hypothesis of my essay; are these 2 mythologies connected? Similar, but different?

One similarity in Indian Mythology, apart from all the other Gods, Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer) are considered to be the three most important Gods. In the same way, in Greek mythology, you have Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon who respectively rule the heavens, the underworld, and the seas. These three gods are like a holy trinity to their respective religions.

Like in Hindu mythology, Greek mythology has a god or a goddess for everything. It is interesting to think of how the myths have travelled and how cultures were influenced. There are 12 gods in Greek mythology, whereas there are Hindu deities, who take many, many forms of themselves, for instance, one of Vishnu’s incarnations is Krishna, and one of Lakshmi’s incarnations is Sita.

 In terms of appearance, of the gods, each one has a special thing that they carry around with them; like for instance, the two goddesses of wisdom, Saraswathi and Athena, both carry around an object, and are followed around by different animals. Saraswathi carries around a veena, which symbolises an ethos of passion, creativity and wisdom, which is exactly the kind of ethic that Athena portrays in the epic ‘Homer’s Odyssey’, in which she becomes the goddess of good counsel, in which she shows practical insight to help Hercules with his task and helps Homer return home after the Trojan war.

  And there are more correlations; Hinduism has the Saptarishis (the seven sages), and Greek mythology has the Pleiades (the seven sisters), and both of these are a cluster of stars.

 Moreover, another parallel the with gods; the god of death in Hinduism is Yama, and in Greek mythology it’s Hades. They both rule the underworld and decide the fate of anyone who crosses it. Furthermore, both mythologies have a sacred mountain which they both reside on; Mt Kailash for Hinduism, and Mt Olympus for Greek. Both the religions are monotheistic as well (worship more than one God).

Nonetheless, there are also many differences between the two, like what happens after death. The Greeks mummify their gods to prepare them for their sacred burial ground, and normal people go to the underworld if they’ve been bad, good people go to Mt Olympus if they’ve been good. However, in Hinduism, there is a seven-life cycle called Moksha – मोक्ष (freedom of endless cycle – samsara)

Greek gods also appear to live with and intermingle with humans, whilst Hindu gods live away from humans and are at most times, invisible.

Another part is the ethics of the cultures and mythologies because of the overlap; they began to incorporate elements of each other’s beliefs into their own mythologies when they came across eachother throughout, which can be referenced in the above paragraphs. The Hindu story “Mahabharata” also shares resemblances with the Greek epic “Iliad” in terms of themes of war, morality and duty.

All the similarities that I pointed out all add up to answer the hypothesis that I proposed in the beginning of this essay: and my answer is, I think that Hindu and Greek mythology are not entirely linked, but very similar, like with the gods and the fact that each one has a special (or more than one) attribute, or characteristic, or the cluster of stars.

Or maybe they’re similar because they are both ancient and were formulated over many years by writers who have composed stories to preach humanity’s lessons of life.

Every small little detail adds up to the fact that two entirely different worlds may be interconnected.

Two different worlds!… but thousands of parallels.