Sunday, 13 October 2013

Was Homer inspired by the Mahabharta ?

*       Read these facts carefully:-

         ^     The Mahabharta was written two centuries before Homer wrote
         the Iliad.

         ^     Both the epics describe was; while the Mahabharta was fought
         for 14 days the Trojan for 10 years.

         ^     In the both, fighting during the nights ceased and people from
         one side did talk to another after fighting stopped after last night.

         ^     Two mercurial characters; Achilles and Karn were born out of
         union between human mother and god father.

         ^     Helen and Draupadi, were the two women over which the wars
         had been fought.

         ^     Gods played important roles in both the wars and took sides.

*       There are many more similarities between the two epics. This leads to one important question. Was Homer inspired by the Mahabharta ?

*       The presence of a large body of Indian troops in the Persian army in Greece in 480 B.C. and the discovery of modelled heads of Indians at Memphis, of about the fifth century B.C. show that Indians were living in Greece for trade.

*      It is significant to note that although the Indians and Greeks (Yavanas) had come from the same Indo-European stock, they met as strangers in the sixth century B.C. Persian Empire. Soon, the cousins became associates in a common cultural enterprise. Similarities in language and in religious beliefs indicate that these two people must have been either in close contact at some early period or have had a common origin, even though neither had any recollection of those times.

*    For example, the gods of heaven (Varuna - Ouranos; Dyaus - Zeus ) and the dawn (Ushas - Aurora) were common to the Greeks and Indians. The most prominent characteristics of the gods of both races was their power of regulating the order of nature and banishing evil. The Olympian religion of the Greeks and Vedic beliefs had a common background. The Greek concept of logos was very close to the vedic Vac, which corresponds to the Latin Vox.

*     The brisk intercourse between India and Greece is attested by the fact that a special rule was inserted in the great grammar of Panini to distinguish three feminine forms of yavana: a Greek woman was yavani, the curtain was yavanika, and the Greek script was yavanani. There is also a striking similarity between the social life described in the Homeric poems- the Illiad and Odyssey- and that found in the Vedas. Homeric gods, like the heroes who believed in them, often rode in the horse driven chariots. Horse-chariotry was a feature of the life of the Indo-European people.

*      The Homeric idea of a language of the gods is also found in Sanskrit and Greek literatures. Some scholars have even asserted that elements of the Trojan war story are to be found in the war between the bright deities and the night demons as described in the Rig Veda. It is clear from Homer that even they used articles of Indian merchandise which were known by names of Indian origin, such as Kassiteros (Sanskrit, Kastira), elephas (Sanskrit, ibha), and ivory.

*     Alain Danielou (1907-1994), son of French aristocracy, author of numerous books on philosophy, religion, history and arts of India, remarks that: "the Greeks were always speaking of India as the sacred territory of Dionysus and historians working under Alexander the Greek clearly mentions chronicles of the Puranas as sources of the myth of Dionysus." He quotes Clement of Alexandria who admitted that "we the Greeks have stolen from the Barbarians their philosophy."

*     There is irrefutable evidence to prove that there was a free exchange between  the Greeks and Indians in trade, philosophy etc.

*     Therefore, it's quite possible that the story of the Mahabharta, written earlier than the Iliad, would have reached the Greeks through Indian travellers to Greece.
And it's quite possible that Homer would have got inspired by the Mahabharta while penning down his own Illiad.

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