Monday, November 19, 2012
Book Review: The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos: Humanity and the New Storyby Brian Swimme (Orbis Books 1996)
This is a neat book that explores cosmology in terms of ‘embodying cosmological awareness’. Swimme sees the event of our knowing through science of the origin of the universe and the center of the universe approximately 15 billion light years away and yet also everywhere, as a monumental achievement 4 million years in the making – since we became thinking primates. The author notes that:
“Science is not the same as cosmology, even when a cosmology is deeply informed by science. Cosmology is the story of the birth, development, and destiny of the universe, told with the aim of assisting humans in their task of identifying their roles within the great drama.”
The author notes that all the science that went into our discovery of the birthplace of the universe was several million years in the making and represents a milestone in man’s awareness of origin and possible fate. He notes that among animals or early humanoids the awareness of being aware, ie. conscious self-awareness, had a beginning. Our cosmological awareness is an extension of that, being aware of our place in the universe.
Cosmology was/is acted out in indigenous societies through creation myths. It can be a melding of science and religion. Science provides the facts while religion (or philosophy) involves the quest for meaning and values. Recently I heard a science news story about the space probe about to break free of the gravity or influence of the solar system – I think this means going beyond the orbit of the sun. Although it was unclear if and when this would occur it too would be a milestone of sorts where our human influence would extend beyond the influence of the sun, the source of power for us – although the physicality of the probe is still a manifestation of the sun’s energy.
The author suggests that the old tales, chants, creation stories, and sky gazing has given way in modern times to the cult of consumerism where we are bombarded with advertisements and commerciality. He says that consumerism serves to train us about our place in the world in a similar way that cosmology did in the past. I am not sure if I agree or even if I follow the arguments in this part of the book though later he does tie it to a misconception of materiality.
Early cosmologies were of an earth-centered universe. This is the apparent truth that was once considered to be obvious truth. Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543 proved that this was not the case and the age of the sun-centered universe began. This was a new paradigm indeed and broke with tradition and common sense.
Swimme suggests an exercise for embodying the earth’s and other planet’s relationships to the sun. Since we assume the sun is going down even when we know it is really just the earth rotating away from the sun, he suggest a way to embody the knowledge. By going out just before sunset and noting Venus on the horizon and preferably another planet as well – Jupiter maybe. He suggests simply observing the sunset and planetary motions in this light, mentally noting their distances from the sun, ie. earth 93 million miles, Venus 65 million miles, and Jupiter 480 million miles. He also suggest taking a child along, perhaps to make the occasion into a way of sharing lore. We are people on a planet but we are also part of a planet circling a star. With clear skies this meditation is always available at dawn and dusk. The sun holds us with its gravity. It is a million times larger than the vast earth.
“Cosmology is a wisdom tradition drawing upon not just science but religion and art and philosophy. Its principal aim is not the gathering of facts and theories but the transformation of the human. …… science aims at an understanding of the Earth’s rotational and revolutionary movements around the sun, while cosmology aims at embedding a human being in the numinous dynamics of our solar system.”
Swimme notes that there can be an aesthetic or even an ecstatic quality to enhanced understanding of cosmology. With cosmology one is delving into the mysteries of the universe and one’s own being. He suggests that early cultures initiated their young into the prevailing worldview with various rites of passage and that we may do this today with cosmological education.
Even though we now know that the sun is one of billions of stars and is not the center of the universe it is still the center of our solar system. Each second the sun transforms 4 million tons of itself into light. This light brings energy to our planet and is the root energy of all energy on and in the earth. Our flaring star feeds us all that we imbibe. It is what we are – the eaters of the sun energy. The author seems to long for a cosmological nature mysticism that perhaps has healing abilities like the mythologies of old that can yet be seen as archetypal psychological forces. I think he is suggesting that our newer understandings of the nature of the universe can add to that mythological and psychological healing and integration. Certainly enshrining the scientific narrative of cosmology history can induce a state of wonder and affect us psychologically. Contemplating the story, the history, and the details of the sun’s gift of energy and our close relationship to the sun does seem a worthwhile endeavor. The sun’s bestowal of energy can be seen as the generosity of the universe. Perhaps waking up and greeting the sunrise can be a form of cosmological therapy. Perhaps it was to those past cultures who have done so but now we have so much more scientific knowledge of the mechanisms of the solar system. Mentally relating the sun’s generosity to our own generosity can even be a seen as a practice that extends as a lineage from the sun.
The next suggested meditation is to contemplate the galaxy by gazing on the Milky Way. The Milky Way can be pictured as an egg in a frying pan or as Swimme suggests, a manta ray – with a flattened body and a bulge in the center. We are lucky to live far enough out in the country where we can walk outside on any clear night and contemplate the Milky Way – yet I don’t do it in any detail. This book perhaps gives a deeper dimension to stargazing and to learning the map of the heavens. Just as we travel through the galaxy with our solar system so too do we travel through the universe with our galaxy. The earth is two thirds of the way out from the center of the Milky Way along one of the long thin spiral arms. The ancients did not have any of this cosmological knowledge. Swimme suggests that we can reconfigure our whole idea of up and down as that is just a notion relative the earth, our nearest and strongest gravitational partner. Just as the earth holds us, the sun holds the earth and the galaxy holds the sun. The meditation is to contemplate the Milky Way by laying on your back and imagine that the stars are not up but down and note any physical, emotional, or mental sensations encountered. This is a way to become a part of the Milky Way contemplating itself. Our solar system moves through the Milky Way at 180 miles per second. Another contemplation involves finding the constellation Sagittarius. This is the center of the Milky Way. I have done this as someone pointed it out to me but would have trouble finding it on my own. This galactic center is about 30,000 light-years away – so the light from that region that we see now left there 30,000 years ago! Indeed it is an amazing universe. Swimme gives the context of the earth 30,000 yrs ago – with wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and paleo-Indians. Again he suggests having children along to make the cosmological meditation a multi-generational experience. Another meditation given is to look upon the Andromeda galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years away. He says a faint spiral can be seen with binoculars and a faint blur of light can even be detected with the naked eye. This is another galaxy with hundreds of billions of its own stars. When that light left that galaxy early humanoids were first discovering the use of tools. The use of those tools and ever newer ones would eventually develop to the point where we can know these things about the universe that we now know. The newer tools include our own arts and languages as well as telescopes and mathematics. Also of note is that the vastness of the human journey in time can be compared to the vast distances of the galaxies in space. The Milky Way and Andromeda pinwheel about one another and both have satellite galaxies. The Magellanic Clouds contain the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. All these galaxies together are referred to as the Local Group. Yet this Local Group is satellite to another group of galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. This is a massive group of around a thousand galaxies about 53 million light-years away. And there are many more of these superclusters of galaxies.
The age of the universe is predicted to be between 10 and 20 billion years old and 15 billion years is just a center guess. That also means that the center or origin point of the universe is approximately 15 billion light-years away. Astronomer Edwin Hubble and the famed Albert Einstein were key to this discovery of the origin center and expansion of the universe. Swimme notes that our astronomical instruments detect and decipher the “news” that the universe brings us. Hubble’s astronomical observations confirmed Einstein’s original hypothesis. But there is more to this. He also discovered that the further away from one another they are the faster the galaxies move away from each other. It is said that the universe began as a sextillion-ton pin-prick singularity that burst forth in a Big Bang. This idea is not so far away from the creation stories of ancient peoples who see the universe as arising from the “Cosmic Egg”. Swimme suggests that this was an intuitive knowing that accords with the Big Bang Theory. Yet there is more. The center of the universe 15 billion light-years away is true in terms if the light from the beginning of time. In terms of the expansion of galaxies we are at the center of the universe as it expands away from us in every direction. Hubble also discovered this great paradox which is termed the Omnicentric Universe. Every point in the universe is the center of the universe. This is a great leap from the Newtonian paradigm as is Einstein’s space-time notions and the paradoxes of quantum physics. But as Swimme notes the universe is not seen as expanding into pre-existing space but can be seen as expanding the boundary of space-time, the space-time that began at the beginning of this universe.
Next Swimme explores the notion of the “Quantum Foam”. As a way to understand the nature of the universe the idea of a vacuum is imagined where all particles to a smaller and smaller degree are removed. Yet when this is investigated it is found that particles appear out of nowhere “foaming into existence.” Usually the particles erupt in pairs which nearly instantaneously annihilate each other. The pairs are electron and positrons or protons and anti-protons which may contain photons. Apparently this creative and destructive process occurs in every part of the universe. This “space-time foam” is considered to be the ground, or basis, for the universe. This is another paradoxical situation that seems to be beyond the limits of reductionistic materialism. We have come to understand that all matter is composed of the same atomic/sub-atomic framework. But the atoms and subatomic particles are not the reality itself – they only arise from the reality. What he is getting at is that material “stuff” is not the foundation of the universe. We and the world are not really made of atoms as building blocks – it is just a convenient way to explain things and chemical relationships. This he suggest may be a basis for our affair with materialism and subsequent consumerism. This is a similar notion to that of Industrial Society arising out of Newtonian physics as many have suggested.
Next we come to an investigation of the nature of this space-time foam:
“The true significance of the study of the quantum vacuum is the new understanding it provides concerning the reality of the nonvisible. I say nonvisible rather than invisible, for many things are “invisible” to us and yet are capable of being seen. Individual atoms are too small for the unassisted human eyesight to detect but such atoms can be seen if they are magnified sufficiently. The nonvisible, on the other hand, is that which can never be seen, because it is neither a material thing nor an energy constellation. In addition, the nonvisible world’s nature differs so radically from the material world that it cannot even be pictured. It is both nonvisible and nonvisualizable. Even so, it is profoundly real and profoundly powerful. The appropriation of the new cosmology depends upon an understanding of the reality and power of the nonvisible and nonmaterial realm.”
This nonvisible world is depicted mathematically and includes notions such as possibility-waves that can travel both ways in time. Swimme explores both scientific and theological hints of this fundamental level of reality but notes that as a cosmological idea it is neither strictly scientific nor religious. He likes the term “All-Nourishing Abyss” as a way to describe this ocean of potentiality from which all things rise and into to which all things fall. It is similar to but perhaps slightly different than Ervin Laszlo’s idea of the “Akashic Field” though I think they point to the same thing perhaps described slightly differently as Laszlo’s Akashic Field is described in terms of information. This accords with the observation that matter is mostly empty space. I still remember that physics class when the instructor had us imagine a football field with a penny at one end. The penny represented the nucleus of the atom with protons and/or neutrons. At the other end of the field would be the first level of electrons, even smaller in size. In between and all around is simply empty space. I suppose imagining such an analogy is a way of embodying awareness of the nature of the subatomic level of reality. This all-nourishing abyss pervades every bit of the universe. I suppose it is reality itself (as is everything that appears according to the mahasiddha Manibhadra). Swimme uses the idea of the particle pairs annihilating into the abyss with new pairs arising out of it – to suggest that the light of the Moon is in fact the light of the Moon rather than the light of the Sun reflected off of the Moon – for the photons of the light are continually absorbing into and reappearing out of the quantum foam – the sunlight goes to the moon and the reappearing moonlight comes to us (if I understand correctly). In this sense the universe is continually dying and being reborn and in the omnicentric sense every point is the origin and center of it.
The next section returns again to Einstein and how he worked and contemplated the mysteries of the universe – he being a sort of archetype, a breakthrough of humankind’s understanding of the universe. Like us, he was a piece of the Milky Way contemplating itself. Einstein perhaps had the ability to open up and let the universal knowledge open up within him as it was passing through. He even said that he often relied on imagination. Swimme notes an aphorism of a tribe of South American Indians: that to become human “one must make room in oneself for the immensities of the universe” as Einstein seemed to be able to do.
“The center of the cosmos is each event in the cosmos. Each person lives in the center of the cosmos. Science is one of the careful and detailed methods by which the human mind came to grasp the fact of the universe’s beginning, but the actual origin and birthplace is not a scientific idea; the actual origin of the universe is where you live your life.”
“The consciousness that learns it is at the origin point of the universe is itself an origin of the universe. The awareness that bubbles up each moment that we identify as ourselves is rooted in the originating activity of the universe. We are all of us arising together at the center of the cosmos.”
This is a mind-boggling foray into the notion of “embodying cosmological awareness.” This small book packs a wallop in terms of implications. With these ideas we can “reorient” ourselves to some extent in relation to the universe, the container that contains us, yet we are inseparable from it.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Book Review: Family of the Gods: Volume 7 of Indo-European Mythology by William G Davey – (Kindle E-book edition 2006)
Apparently, this is only available in an edition for Kindle. This is the last book in the series and presumably the one that puts everything together into final conclusions. The main mythic traditions compared are Indian, Irish/Celtic, Greek, Welsh & Arthurian, Norse/Germanic, Persian, Roman, and occasionally Baltic. The main points of comparison are names and stories, and there are some fascinating and compelling comparisons. The book is annoyingly repetitive at times with word for word re-hashing but perhaps it helps one remember. The title, “Family of the Gods” refers to the author(s)’s (he says we a lot) classifying the gods of various Indo-European traditions into six or seven main types, or perhaps archetypes, in the context of family relations. There is nothing in this book about the nature of myth and religion. It is mainly the comparison of names and stories, and the derivation of these types from them. There was vaguely even a mention of other IE researcher’s work, such as Dumuzil, or anyone else for that matter. The book was detailed and interesting but with the only goal, it would seem, being the deciphering of some original IE story from which all the other myths were derived. I am not so sure that is the best way to go about things as this makes for quite a bit of inference even though the comparisons can be interesting. It seems more likely to me that the various myths, stories, and even names, changed and evolved in various ways through time and circumstances – rather than having all originated from a single set of stories more or less set in time, which the author seems to suggest. On the other hand, some of the story and especially the name parallels suggest a common origin at some point.
It is suggested that the family of the gods involves seven members of six generations. The most complete set of all six is found in Indian tradition. Various genealogies, or histories of kings, of Indo-European peoples, are a major source of information, especially where they link and define various generations. They call these seven members of the six generations as follows: 1) Brahma, 2) Sons of Brahma, 3) the Kings of the Gods, 4) the Magus, 5) the Warrior, 6) the Hero, and 7) the Last of the Gods.
Brahma is equated to the Irish Braiment and also possibly to Abraham (as I have read before but there are good arguments against this). Norse giant Ymir, Irish Umor, the Indian Bhuri, Norse Buri and son Bor, and Greek Boreas (the North Wind). These are all related as Fathers of the Gods and of others in the family linked as offspring. Indian Varuna and Greek Uranos, long linked by IE scholars, and Indian Pushan. Pushan, like Thor, rode in a goat-drawn chariot. But they equate Thor to a later generation. The authors suggest Brahma as the original leader of the clan that came to dwell in a new land. This is one parallel to Abraham as founder of a new nation in a new land. He suggests that this new place they entered was in the vicinity of
is given with two wives, Gayatri and Savitri, both related to the sun – as
Pushan is married to Suryaa, also as the sun. Another name of the wife of
Brahma is Medhavini which the author equates to the Welsh (usually thought to
be male) ancestor Mathonwy. The story of the “mind-born” sons of Brahma is
interpreted as these sons of Brahma and his wives (and possibly sister) went
off and mated with the local indigenous people. Gayatri as wife of Brahma is
equated to Gaia as wife of Uranus. They equate the sacrifice of Ymir with that
of Brahma – as the Purusha-Sukta (cosmic person) in the Rig Veda. Ymir’s skull
as the sky and the crown of Purusha’s head as the sky – their flesh as earth,
their bones as stones, and their blood as the sea are all direct parallels. In
name and attributes there is the similarity to Indian Yama and the Persian Yima
(very close to Ymir) but these are not mentioned or even explained away, but
are given to a subsequent generation. The sacrifice of Uranus is also given as
the same story and as previously noted by others, the rising from the Ukraine and Lakshmi after this
sacrifice is a parallel. Brahma, often called grandfather, is the great granter
of boons to all who show determination. ocean of Aphrodite
The second generation involves the sons of Brahma and he says this generation is only complete in the Indian version. In Irish this is given as Math son of Umor and in Norse as Mada son of Ymir. Apparently there is an Indian Mada as well. Two of the sons of Brahma are Uttanapada and Priyavrata. Uttanapada is the father of Dhruva, a name for Indra. This whole ‘generation’ is rather confusing to me but there are some interesting name comparisons. Math is the uncle of Gwydion in Welsh as the Indian Mada (as Priyavrata) may be the uncle of Gadhin, another name for Indra according to the author. Indra is also called Kashyapa. Another comparison given is that of the Vedic sage and family called Bhrigu and the Norse lord of poetry called Bragi. Bhrigu is a son of Varuna, equated here to Brahma.
The third generation refers to Indra as the King of the Gods. Indra is also Gadhin which is close to Welsh Gwydion and Norse Gwoden (Woden, Odin). Another Indian name is Partha which equates to Irish Partholon, and Indian Jayapida which equates to Greek Iapetus and Roman Jupiter. Another name given for Indra is Vritraghna (killer of the drought-demon Vritra) which is equated to Welsh Vortigern. Indra as Kashyapa is possibly equivalent to the Greek muse Cassiopeia. His wife is given as Danu in Irish, Don in Welsh, Don or Dana in Nordic, as well as in the names of the great rivers such as the Don in
Southern Russia. She is also the mother of the Danes,
Danae – the Greek mother of Perseus, the female Danaids, and Danaus – the son
of King Belus. Other names of her are given as the Indian Shakti, the Norse
Skathi, the Irish Scota, Germanic Schoette, as well as Indian Arundhati and
Welsh Arianrhod. The Indian city of Tripura is
paralleled with the city of
as well as the Irish Tara and the war is equated with that of the Aesir and
Vanir (given as Danava). Danu is called Goddess of the Danavas. The stories of
all these kings of the gods and their wives are compared and suggested to have
come from one original tale where the king kills his father – like Zeus kills
Kronos and Indra as Dhruva does, and then usurps the throne as does Vortigern
in Welsh myth – though the authors take out the Saxon elements of the story. In
Welsh Gwydion kills Pryderi as the Indian Gadhin kills Prahrada. Welsh Pryderi
is equated to Peredur, Percival, and Parzival in Arthurian cycles. The Irish
Partholon loses an eye which also identifies him with Gwoden/Odin. Both
Partholon and Gwoden take their people to new lands. Gwoden deludes King Gylfi
and takes his land possibly similar to Welsh Gwydion who would delude his
brother Gilvaethwy, whose name has some resemblance to Gylfi. This trickery was
done through magic as Gwoden/Indra/Gwydion was a wizard. Another role of the king of the gods is as
priest – Brihaspati, Gadhin, or the creator Kashyapa in Indian. Descendants of
prominent families in Troy
can be appended the name Kashyapa (presumably Kashyapi for female). The Greek
Cassiopeia is a descendant of Zeus and Hermes so they suggest this as the
application for her name. In the Troy story India is identified with the Indian
Parashurama. As has many times been pointed out, the Norse Aesir and the Indian
Asura demons are equated. The Vanir are equated with the Indian Devas, or
Danava, as well as the Irish Tuatha de Danaan, the children of the goddess
Danu. The Indian Kashyapa is apparently the father of Danu and the Danavas. In
Welsh, Don is the mother of Gwydion. Thus, Danu is considered the ‘Mother of
the Gods.’ There is also the story of “The Fisher Maiden’ in Indian legend
where King Uparicara (possibly equated to Indra as King of the Gods) mates with
a woman of a fishing village while traveling. The fisher maiden is equated to
Danu as a river goddess – as in the river names of eastern Europe north of the
Black Sea – Paris Danube, Don, Dneister, Dneipr. In
the Irish story of the sons of Mil – there is the story of Scota, whose son was
Gaedil. He was bitten by a serpent when a child and taken to Moses to be
healed. After this he became known as Gaedil Glas, or Gaedil the Blue – because
his neck had turned blue or blue-green due to the poison. This is a rather
uncanny parallel to the story of Shiva whose neck turned blue after drinking
the poison (at the request of the gods) churned up from the .
In the German version of Parzival – he is also Gandin and is married to
Schoette. This is paralleled in the Indian Gadhin and Shakti. The German
parents had a son called Gahmuret while the Indian parents had a son named
Garutmat. The King of the Gods kills his father in Indian (Indra) and Irish
(Partholon). After the long war between Aesir and Vanir/Troy/Tripura/Tara and
the woman Helen, the Vanir witch Gillveig (Freya?), etc, there is a truce where
hostages are traded in a ceremony of reconciliation. This truce is given as the
“Churning of the Ocean” by the Asuras and Devas in Indian myth where they
cooperate in order to share the sacred drink Soma (Mead of Inspiration?). The
hostage trading is given in Indian myth as the marrying of the fisher maiden,
daughter of the Fisher King and admitting the Fisher King’s son into the court.
Of the several versions of the origins of Soma one says that it was stolen by
Indra from the Gandharvas (which btw Dumuzil identifies with the Greek
Centaurs) just as Odin stole the Mead of Inspiration. In both the Indian and Norse
versions there is an eagle (or a shapeshifting
to eagle-form) involved in the protection of the soma/mead. The King of the
Gods was known as a womanizer – ie. Zeus, Indra, Odin. Both Odin and Indra are
lords of the furious host – Maruts or the Furious Army of the Wild Hunt. Another
name of Indra, Arkas, is equated to the Greek Argus. Some genealogy charts are
given for these rather confusing parallels. Milk Ocean
The next generation is given as that of The Magus, the son of the King of the Gods. He is given as Indian – Vishwamitra, Devapi, Yama, Garuda, Balin, Virata, Mardana (equated to Myrrdin), Manasa, and Parameshthin. Welsh/Arthurian is given as Balin, Belinos, Bladud as well as Merlin/Myrddin. There are many more of these including Persian Yima and Jamshid, Norse Balder, Heimdall, Frey and in Irish the sons of Partholon and Cathbad the Druid. Others are Hephaestus, Volund (both smiths) and Prometheus. He is the son of the Fisher Maiden, thus the fish names of the male-female twins Yima and Yama (Persian Yima and Yimak). He is often in myth the boy of an unknown father. Merlin also has a twin sister/mate as does Frey-Freya. The Magus also had a brother or two that figure in. In name the Indian Garuda is equated to the Norse Geirrodr. The Magus eventually becomes a priest in the Indian version. He is somehow unable to rule as king – due possibly to a wounding (like the Irish king Nuada). The Magus raises the one to become hero – Arthur/Rama. The Indian Vishwamitra is mentor to Rama as Merlin is to Arthur. The Magus is also considered to be the founder of the classes, or castes. In one Indian version this is
Bali, or Balin. In others it is Yama
or Vishwamitra. In Persian it is Jamshid (a version of Yima). In Norse it is
Heimdall, a son of Odin, also called Rig. The crippled Arthurian Fisher King is
another version of the Magus. As Indian Yama and Greek Minos – he is a judge of
the dead. The Indian wife Kalini is equated to a Greek wife of Prometheus,
Calaeno. The Irish “physician of the gods”, Diancecht (who replaces Nuada’s arm
with a silver one) is suggested as similar at least in beginning part of name
with Indian Dhanvantari, another physician of the gods. The Norse story of Tyr,
who also loses an arm, is similar but his arm is not replaced. Merlin is
imprisoned inside a rock. Prometheus is chained to a rock. The Indian Balin is
also imprisoned as is the Norse Volund. The Arthurian Balin was killed by his
brother Balan while the Indian Balin was also killed by a plot of his brother,
Sugriva, by Rama, with an arrow. Arthur kills Merlin while he is in a battle
with his brother Uther. The Norse Balder is killed by his brother Hotherus
(Hoder) with the help of Loki, also with an arrow. Uther and Hotherus are
equated. In Persian Yima is killed by his brother when sawed in two while
hiding in a tree. In Baltic myth there is Menes who is cut in two. Author notes
the similarity of Menes and Minos. More name comparisons and genealogies are
given in charts.
The next generation is that of the Warrior. The Warrior is the brother of the Magus. He is Norse Thor, Hotherus, and Agnar, He is Indian Agni, Shiva (Atalas, Haraka), Sugriva. Arthurian – Uther. Irish Rudraige, son of Partholon – Rudraide is compared to Rudra. He is also the blue-throated Gaedil Glas in Irish – equated to Shiva. In Greek he is Herakles, Peleus and Atlas. Herakles and Atlas are compared to the Indian Harakas and Atalas. In Norse the brothers Geiroddr and Agnar are similar to the Indian Garuda and Agni. The author mentions that many of these original stories have much in the way of bardic embellishments. He also notes several times that often the Norse aspects of the stories are fragmented and sometimes reversed – which may mean they had an earlier split or they were mixed more with other local stories. The Greek Peleus, the brother of Telemon, companion of Herakles, is compared to a name of Shiva, as Pulastya. There are some parallels in their stories as well. In the Rig Veda there is the story of King Shantanu and his priest brother Devapi. King Shantanu is equated to Shiva. Shiva destroyed Tripura as Herakles destroyed
. Thor’s killing of Geiroddr (as Agnar)
is compared to Hother’s killing of Balder – so that Thor, Hother, and Agnar are
all given as forms of the Warrior. Several stories of Thor are given. In one he
keeps a whetstone embedded in his flesh that occasionally stirs which recalls
an Irish story where a piece of a ball of brains mixed with lime (a gruesome
heavy projectile ball weapon) was embedded in a warrior’s flesh. Thor attempts
to drink the ocean as does the Indian Agastya. A common parallel is the
thunderbolts of Thor and Indra, though Indra would be of the previous
generation in this analysis. It is the son of Shiva, Skanda who destroys
Tripura, the second time. Both Tripura and Troy were destroyed twice. In Greek the 1st
destruction is by Herakles, Shiva in Indian. The 2nd is by Achilles
in Greek, Skanda, Achalas, Vishnu in Indian. Achilles is the invincible warrior
as is King Shantanu (as his own son). Troy
The fifth generation is called the Hero. He was the son of the Warrior and the foster-son of the Magus. He is Arthur, Rama (Vishnu), Achilles, Skanda, Irish CuChulain, Norse Loki, Indian Uttara, and Persian Rustum. The birth name of Cuchulain is Setanta which matches the Indian Sutantu. Norse Loki is compared to Indian Lokayana. The story of the birth of Arthur is told where Uther is changed by magic by Merlin to appear as the Duke Gorlois so as to seduce his wife. Gorlois is equated to the Indian Garula, a name of Vishwamitra. Cuchulain had a similar conceiving as the son of Lugh (equated to Shiva as Laghu). Bhishma is an Indian name for this mighty invincible warrior – Achilles/CuChulain.
also may be compared as he is said to have died from a wound to his heal. The
story of Rama is recounted and compared to the others on certain points. The
story of Cuchulain unknowingly killing his son is nearly an exact parallel
(barring details) to that of the Persian Rustum. The same may be true of Arthur
and Mordred. I have also heard of a very near southern Germanic or Anglo-Saxon
version. Loki is compared to the Indian Narada in temperament and
trickster/malicious character. Narada can be seen as a human form of Vishnu.
Another name of Vishnu is Lokayoni. Narada was also, like the Greek Hermes, a
messenger between realms. Stories are given favorably comparing Narada to Loki.
Shiva as Uttaraka is compared to Hother/Uther. The story of the killing of
Balder/Balin with the help of Loki (Rama – like Narada an aspect of Vishnu).
Uttara and Arthur are also compared phonetically. A few other parallels of the
Hero are his upbringing as a woman, being hidden away and his death by multiple
arrows in the case of Rustum and Krishna, or a
single arrow in the case of Achilles.
The final generation is called ‘The Last of the Gods’. Here we have, as nephew to the Hero, the Greek Perseus, the Indian Parashu Rama, who is
Krishna, the Trojan Paris, and the
Arthurian Mordred. Perseus and Parashu Rama apparently behead a woman with a
sickle. Parashurama is called “Rama with an axe” but the axe may be a curved
knife, or sickle. Medusa may parallel Indian Medhasa. The author does mention
that he thinks the life of Krishna and Parashu
Rama is not part of original IE myth but is later Indian. Apparently there are
no Norse versions of this generation. A parallel of the stories of Perseus and Krishna is a prophecy that he will kill an elder
relative, either father or uncle. In the Greek both mother and child are cast in
the sea and rescued while in the Arthurian version Mordred is cast into the sea
and then rescued.
Quite a bit of comparison of stories went into this book and the comparisons seem to vary in plausibility. The idea that the stories of Indo-European gods derive from original stories is plausible but piecing together the originals from all the mythological variations and later additions, conflagrations, and mixing togethers – seems a rather daunting task. This is a very good attempt but is by no means unchallengeable. My own thoughts are that the gods are more important as archetypes, as symbolic depictions of our own human qualities – that are constantly changing and evolving , rather than as original stories of historical people. It seems quite plausible that they started out that way but that they took on lives of their own, mythic lives in our own psyches, and there their power remains as psychological or psycho-spiritual forces of our being. Decent read though – if you are into this sort of thing.