From time and again, humans have tried to establish a strong connection between ancient Greece and Hindu civilization. On doing so, it was found that most of these Greek gods from history shared the same traits and characteristics similar to the deities in Hindu mythology. Since both civilizations are billion years old, it would be impossible for anyone to uncover the whole truth regarding the link and correlation between these two great advancements. Surprisingly, Zeus and Indra are the most ancient and powerful godly figures that shall stand as a stronghold in establishing an interconnection between these two vast and intense civilization.
King of Heaven and Gods
In Greek mythology, Zeus is known as the god of sky and thunder, who is said to have ruled Mount Olympus by becoming the king of all gods. After the fall of Titans, Zeus and his brothers drew lots to divide rule of the cosmos. On doing so, he won the heaven, Poseidon- the sea and Hades- the underworld. From that day onward, Zeus came to be known as the Ruler of Heaven.
Indra is a Vedic deity in Hinduism, regarded as the king of Swarga(Heaven) and Devas(Gods). According to Rig Veda, there once arouse a conflict among gods regarding who shall ascend the throne in heaven as all deities considered themselves mighty and superior than the other. In order to resolve this conflict, a Brahman appeared in front of those gods in the form of a Yaksha(Nature Spirit) and asked if anyone among them was worthy enough to determine his true nature.
In front of the Fire-god, it appeared as fire which he could not burn. It took the form of a feather which the Wind-god could not blow. At last came the turn of Indra, the 1000 Eyed-god. When he looked at the Yaksha, it appeared invisible before him. Realizing what was going on, he deducted the fact that it had no physical form of his own as it was the creator of its own nature. Because of his wits, he was declared the king of both heaven and gods.
Serpentine Enemies Defeated Using Thunderbolt
It may sound a little bit surprising but both of these gods hurled the same weapon-the thunderbolt as a weapon to defeat their enemies. There are many encounters where Zeus defeated his enemies by using it, the famous one being the battle between him and Typhon. For those who may not know, Typhon was the guardian of the underworld. He was a beast that was shaped like a human but had snake-like features.
Indra is famously known for slaying his arch-enemy named Vritra, his greatest adversary. In the Rig Veda, Vritra appears as a dragon obstructing the course of the rivers who is later killed by Indra using Vajra (Thunderbolt), thus freeing the rivers from Vritra’s captivity.
In both of these encounters, they killed their serpent-like enemies using the same powerful weapon.
We all know that Zeus had two brothers-Poseidon and Hades. Poseidon is the god of the seas and protector of all aquatic kingdom. He was second to Zeus in power. Hades is the god of the underworld and the ruler of the dead. Together, these three Olympian gods combined their forces and overthrew Cronus, their father.
In the same manner, the Hindu deity Indra is accompanied by two of his brothers-Agni and Pushan. Agni is the fire god. He possesses the ability to control fire, making him one of the most powerful among gods. Pushan is the god of meetings. He dealt with conducting of souls to the afterlife which somehow sounds similar to that of Hades.
According to Greek Mythology, Zeus abducted quiet a number of women, disguising himself to different shapes and forms. In one famous encounter, he appeared in front of Europa in the form of a tame white bull. Seeing the bull, she caressed it and eventually got onto its back. Zeus took this opportunity and abducted her and took her took an island far away from her home. In another story, he is shown assuming the form of a Satyr and taking Antiope by force, just like he did with Europa.
In the Vishnu Purana, one of the most ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism, it is mentioned that Indra abducted Kadru, wife of an evil daitya(demon) named Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was doing a penance in the name of Lord Brahma so that he could gain a boon from him that would grant him with almost indestructible power. This feared Indra so much that he took the step of abducting Kadru, thinking that he could use her as a means of destroying Hiranyakashipu’s penance once and forever. However, Narada, one of the greatest devotee of Vishnu intervened and convinced him to let go of her as she was carrying the unborn child of Hiranyakashipu on her womb.
Mount Olympus & Mount Meru
Mount Olympus was the home of Greek gods. It was created after the Titanomachy, the battle during which the Olympian gods defeated Titans. The throne of Zeus was located somewhere in this mountain. Besides him, there were other 12 Olympian gods who resided at Mount Olympus.
Mount Meru is a sacred mountain with five peaks in Hindu Cosmology and is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. The five peaks represent the five elements that created our world. In ancient texts, Lord Indra is said to have resided at the top of this great mountain along with the supreme lords Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and other Devas(Gods).
After doing various research on these two aspects, one thing that does not change in both of these mythologies is the fact that both of these gods used these two great mountains as a destination for heavenly meetings and formulating their battle strategies. Moreover, both of these mountains are considered to be some kind of heavenly place that was ruled by them.
Ambrosia V/s Amrita
Ambrosia and Amrita are two heavenly drinks, related to immortality. In ancient Greek, ambrosia is the food or drink of Greek gods, often depicted as conferring longevity or immortality upon whoever consumed it. Each day, doves brought ambrosia to Zeus which he distributed among other Olympian gods.
In Hinduism, Amrita is repeatedly referred to as the drink of Devas which granted them immortality. In Vishnu Purana, Indra is cursed by sage Durvasa to be cast down from his position as the king. This causes all Devas to lose their immortality too. In order to regain it, they called for a truce with Asuras(Demon) and teamed up together to churn the ocean of milk for obtaining Amrita, on the pretext of sharing it between them. In the end, Devas deceived Asuras and drank Amrita(the nectar of immortality) all by themselves, thus regaining their immortality once again.
Rape In a Disguise
There are many accounts where Zeus is found deceiving various women either by disguising himself as a person or taking the form of some other being. According to Greek Myth, he seduced Leda in the form of a swan; impregnated Queen Danae with the hero Perseus in the form of a golden rain. On another account, during Amphitryon’s expedition against the Taphians and Teleboans, Zeus disguised as Amphitryon and visited Alcmene to sleep with her. When Amphitryon finally returned to Thebes, he learned from Tiresias what Zeus had done to Alcmene in his absence.
According to the Ramayana, Sage Gautama once went to take a bath in the river Ganges early morning. Ahalya, Gautama’s wife fascinated Indra so much that he came in the form of Gautama and made love to her. While escaping, Indra got caught and was cursed by sage Gautama in the worst way possible.
The epic scene where Zeus stole Alcmene’s chastity sounds identical to the story where Indra deceived Ahalaya and made love to her. In both of these scenarios, they took advantage of the absence of their victim’s spouse and also performed the crime in the same manner by impersonating themselves as the sufferer’s mate.
Cronus was the leader of Titans. In fear of a prophecy that he would, in turn, be overthrown by his own son, he swallowed each of his children as they were born. However, Rhea managed to save the youngest Zeus by hiding him away on the island of Crete and fed Cronus with a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes instead. Zeus grew up, forced Cronus to disgorge his swallowed offspring, and led the Olympians in a ten-year war against Titans, finally driving them in defeat into the pit of Tartarus.
In the Rig Veda, Tvashta is the divine artificer. Surprisingly, he is also referred as Indra’s father. Tvashta wanted revenge on Indra for the death of his other son named Vishwarupa and conducted a sacrifice to obtain a son who could slay the chief of Gods. He wished to chant the incantation “Indrashatrur Vardhasva…”, but mispronounced it. He had intended the Mantra to say “May Tvashta’s son grow to be the slayer of Indra.” Instead, by stressing the wrong syllables, the incantation turned out to be “May Indra grow to be the killer of mine.” The son born as a result of this sacrifice was the Asura Vritra. Due to the mispronounced incantation of Tvashta, he and his son were eventually slain by Indra’s thunderbolt at the end.
In both the stories, Zeus and Indra were the ones who overthrew their father and claimed the throne as the new king of gods.
Extra Marital Affairs
The official wife of Zeus was Hera in Greek Mythology. She was the queen of Heaven. Aside Hera, Zeus was known for having sexual relationship with quite a number of women such as Leda, Alcmene, Aegina, Europa, Antiope, Callisto and many more. He seduced all these women by taking different appearances of either a person or an animal. Because of his extramarital affairs, Hera came to be known as the goddess of jealousy and vengeful nature, who bore the grudge against all of Zeus’s lovers and his creation.
In Hinduism, Sachi, also known as Indrani, is said to be the consort of Lord Indra. There are little-known facts about him to convey he was indulged in the love affair with other women. However, in the ancient texts, he is exhibited laying his eyes on Tilotama, an enchantress of the gods. She was created by taking the best quality of all three world. Also, let us not forget the story of Ahalya, sage Gautama’s wife, who tempted Indra so much that he disguised himself as sage Gautama and seduced her.
Thunderbolt V/S Vajra
Thunderbolt is a weapon given to Zeus by the Cyclops. In the Theogony by Hesiod, he released three one-eyed cyclops-Brontes (“thunderer”), Steropes (“lightning”) and Arges(“bright”) from the dark pit of Tartarus. Together, these three cyclops forged the weapon thunderbolt for Zeus to wield by adding thunder, lightning, and brightness as its key ingredient.
In Sanskrit, Vajra stands for thunderbolt and indestructibility. According to Rig Veda, it was made for Indra by Tvastar, the divine carpenter. In the Puranas, Indra was once driven out from heaven by a demon named Vritra. Vritra, being a recipient of a boon made him invulnerable to any weapon made from wood or metal. So instead, a weapon was forged using the bone of a sage named Dadhichi whose spine was given the shape of a Vajra. Later, Indra slew Vritra using Vajra and reclaimed his place in heaven.
The symbol used to denote the Vajra and Zeus’s Thunderbolt remains the same in both mythologies.