Parthenon of Athens and its Hindu Links! (Post No.4122)

Written by London Swaminathan
Date: 2 August 2017
Time uploaded in London- 21-39
Post No. 4122
Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.



pictures by london swaminathan.


Parthenon was the temple of Goddess Athena in the capital city Athens in Greece.

I went to Athens on 27th of July and spent almost a full  day visiting Acropolis, Parthenon and the Acropolis museum. An approved tourist guide approached us ( a group of 11 people0and explained everything in two hours for the price of 100 Euros. This is in addition to the ticket price of 30 Euros per head. As a history student, first I objected to hiring her, the tourist guide. But after listening to her, I said I was happy. she gave the whole history of Greece in two hours. Above all, looking at us she asked whether we were from India. We said we were of Indian origin, but at the moment coming from London, Sydney and New Zealand. The reason she asked us about our origin was that she compared the Goddess River Ganges (ganga devi) with the Goddess Athena. The comparison does not stop there. I will explain it one by one in my article today.


Athens was named after the goddess Athena Parthinos. Naming a city after a goddess is typical Hindu custom. We have the famous Mumbai, Kolkata, Madurai, Kanyakumari and hundreds of towns in India named after Hindu goddesses. Athena Parthenos means Virgin Goddess, i.e. Kanya Kumari.

Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa, Ramayana of Valmiki and Silappadikaram and Manimegalai , the Tamil epics – all these talk about the goddesses of the towns such Lanka Devi, Mathura Devi, Manimeghala, goddess of Ayodhya etc.

The tourist guide beautifully explained how the Christians and Muslims systematically destroyed the building Parthenon and the wonderful Athena statue inside the Parthenon temple. They converted the building as a church and then a mosque and then arms depot. at one time they torpedoed the statue like Muslim terrorists who bombed the tallest Buddha staue in the Bhamiyan cave of Afghanistan. The Greek tourist guide angrily accused the British for plundering the marbles in the Parthenon temple and placed them in the British Museum in London as Elgin marbles. She blamed that Elgin stole them and why did they call Elgin marbles. She rightly told that it should be called Parthennon marbles or Phydias marbles and should be returned to Greece. Immediately I remembered the British looting of Kohinoor and the Victoria looting Sapphire of Madurai Goddess Meenakshi.

Now let us look at the structure of Parthenon:


Parthenon was the temple of Athena Parthinos (the Virgin). It was built on top of Acropolis in Athens. Phydia,s the sculpto,r supervised it and the architects Callicractes and Ictinus built it. It had a beautiful statue of Goddess Athena, made up of gold and ivory. It was a tall statue. The rectangular building is the best specimen of Doric style. It has 8 pillars or columns on one side and 13 columns lengthwise. It is called golden ratio.

The tourist guide added some information which I did not find in the encyclopaedias. Proportionately the Parthenon structure is similarto A 4 size paper. So it is a perfect size. Since it is not on a flat surface the lines drawn from the columns will meet at five kilometres above the Parthenon and it will form a pyramid.

It was built between 447 and 438 BCE. But people believe that there was another building before that.


Parthinogensis means birth without a male’s participation. That is virgin birth. We have Draupadi, Sita, Andal, Five Pandava brothers and several others in this category.

I will compare the birth of Athena and the Ganga in the second part. The story of birth of Athena is a symbolic story like the symbolism we find in the Rig Veda and the Brahmanas. It symbolises the dawn of wisdom. I will also explain how Christians and Muslims destroyed the temple. It is also a repeat of what they did in India and Sri Lanka. The Muslim terrorists who destroyed Bhamiyan Buddha and Syrian Palmyra just imitated the Christians and Muslims of Europe. They were the roll models for these terrorists. The full history of destruction is in Wikipedia and other encyclopaedias. I will just tell you what the tourist guide told us.


–to be continued………………….




OWLS : Are they Good or Bad Omens?

Lakshmi and her Vahana Uluka/owl

Written by London Swaminathan
Post No. 1062; Dated 24th May 2014.

Owls are nocturnal birds. They are known as very intelligent and good birds in the Western World. As a symbol of knowledge and of erudition that can see through obscurity, the owl appears in the emblems of educational institutions, book stores and publishing houses. In Greece owls are associated with Goddess Pallas Athena/Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom.

In India and China owls are not liked by the people because of its demonic gaze. They consider them as the harbinger of misfortune. Owls have earned a bird name in Indian mythology and folk lore. People associate their calls with the God of death.

Goddess Lakshmi and Chamunda have owls as their Vahanas. In Judaism, the female night demon Lilith is described in the company of the owl; Mayan death God Hunahau is often depicted with a head like an owl’s.
In the pre –Aztec civilization of ancient Mexico (Teotihuacan), the owl was the sacred animal of the rain god. But Aztecs considered it an evil omen.

birbeck college,London
Emblem of Birbeck college,London

Owls have negative associations in popular thinking: with their nocturnal habits, solitude, silent flight and plaintive cry they came to symbolize evil and death. Hooting of the owls was regarded an ill omen.

In India the famous fable book Panchatantra has a long story of a fight between the crows and owls. At the end, the owls are burnt with their nests by the clever crows. Indians who practise black magic kill owls during Deepavali to ward off evil or to gain magical powers. Villagers kill owls for their meat thinking that it would cure many diseases.

In the Vedas
“Uluka is the ordinary word for owl from the Rig Veda (10-165-4) onwards. The bird was noted for its cry and was deemed the harbinger of (nairrta) ill fortune (AV 6-19-2;Taittiriya samhita 5-5-18-1;Vajasaneyi samhita 24-38). Owls were offered at the horse sacrifice to the forest trees (Vajasaneyi Samhita 24-23; Maitrayani Samhita 3-14-4)”.
(page 102, Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, A A Macdonell & AB Keith)

Greek Goddess Athena with owl

Narada and owl
Scriptures refer to calls of owls as having the character of songs i.e. one note or or a simple combination of notes repeated at various intervals. Thus the call of the Brown Wood Owl is said to consist of four deep musical syllables, who—hoo—hoo–hoo. There is a story that narrates how sage Narada was advised to learn music from an owl residing near the Manasarovar lake on the Himalayas (Lingapuranam). This shows that the ancient Indians also appreciated the musical calls of the hated bird. (Tamils also had the same belief; see below for more details).

The long eared owl is distinguished by long tufts, usually borne erected and is most probably the ‘sasoluka’ which has served as a model for the face of a particular attendant of Lord Skanda (M.Bh. 9-45-79). One of the Matris of the same deity is said to have a face like that of the sasoluka (ch 30)
(Mayans also had the same description; see above)

rice seal
University seal with owl.

Crow killing owls
A particular species of owl has the habit of killing crows. ‘Kakolukiya’ section of the Panchatantra describes it in detail. They live in the Himalayan region. They are the species of Dusky Horned Owls. Mahabharata describes them as Pravarakarna and long lived (3-199-4). There is also a reference in the Ramayana. When after a break with Ravana, Vibhishana goes to Rama, the latter’s ally Sugriva warns him against the owl like tactic of the enemy (96-17-19).

Again after seeing this owl work havoc among the crows at night, Aswaththamam decided to kill Pandavas while asleep during the night time ( M.Bh 1-2-296) and the epic gives an interesting description of the bird:
Ulukam ghora darsanam
Mahasvanam mahakayam haryaksham bhabrupidangalam
Sudhirgagonanakaram suparnamiva veginam
Suptanjagana subahun vayasan dayasantaka: (M.Bh.10-1-36)

The Skandapurana also relates the above incident and calls the owl the powerful bearded vulture a (31-44/45)
Page 179 of Birds in Sanskrit Literature by K.N Dave.

My Comments:

1.It is interesting to note that the Jews and Hindus believed that owls are messengers of death. Sanskrit literature and Sangam Tamil literature associate owls with death (See Tamil Purananuru verses 240, 261,364)

2.It is equally interesting that owl like face of Lord Skanda’s attendant and one of the Matri’s is like Mayan Death God Hunahau, who has owl like face.

3.It is also interesting God Indra is called Uluka and several Rishis have the name Uluka and Kausika ,another name of owl. It is same in Tamil literature, as many of the Sangam age poets have Andhai (owl) attached to their names. Previously it was thought they were from the towns with the name of owl (Andhai). So we can conclude that both the positive and negative notions existed side by side. Otherwise we cannot have many Rishis with the name Uluka, Kausika and many Tamil names like Kukai Koziyaar, Pisiranthaiyaar, Othal andhaiyaar etc.

4. It is amazing to read that Tamils and their counterparts in the North has the same belief the owls have musical skills.

All these debunk the racist Aryan – Dravidian divisive theories created by foreigners with a motive to stabilise their rule and spread their religion.
We also have various types of demons named after large birds like Uluka (owl), Suparna (Eagle) and Grudhya (RV: 7-104-17)

We can also conclude that Hindus are very good observers of nature. There are lot of references to owls in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Tamil References:
The shriek of the owl in the Nemai tree in the desert tract is like the sound of the smithy (Natrinai 394)
A stanza in Natrinai (verse 83) is an apostrophe to the owl that has its abode in the deep recess of a tree on the bank of the village tank. Its shriek at night is said to be alarming and the lady-companion promises it a fine pleasant dish of meat boiled in ghee and fried flesh of rats if only it kept silent at nights when the hero comes on visit.

One description is of a night bright with the moon light and full of disturbances with the barking of dogs and the hooting of owls (Aka.122)

owl (1)coin
Greek Coin with owl

Owl’s Music
The owl’s harsh hooting is heard like the tune of the instrument called Makuli and seems to have some signification (Aka.351)
(Compare it with Narada learning music from owl :Linga Purana)
Jeevaka Chintamani, one of the Five Tamil Epics, says that the owl emitted sweet music like a lyre. It is in Nachinarkiniyar commentary on the epic.

In a rare reference in the epic, owl is praised as giving a positive message about the hero. But in other places the negative image is projected like other epic Manimegalai where the owl is described as the messenger of death. The oldest section of Sangam Tamil literature associated the bird with death and crematorium (See Purananuru verses 240, 261,364).

Kukai koziyar says that the shrill cry of the owl breaks the eerie silence of the graveyard (Pura.364)
The owl with nocturnal habits living in the burning grounds and other wastelands is said to make the sound ‘’cuttukkuvi ‘’and is imagined to call the dead (Pura. 240)

Owls hoot and keep time to peacock’s dance, says a poet (Aink.291)
Bilo Irudayanath, who has done research with the tribal peoples, says that if an owl sits on top of the hut, they will dismantle the old thatched roof and do a new roof.

barn owl
Barn Owl.

Owl has several names in Tamil such as Aandhai,Aandalai, Kuukai, Kuraal, Kutinjai. But some names in Tamil Nigandu/Dictionary have the Sanskrit names Kinnara, Kinnari, Kausika, irudi (Rishi),Uluka and Pingalai. The words Kinnara, Kinnari are linked with musical skills.

Owl who saved Genghis Khan
The arms of the Tartar rulers contain a black night owl in a golden shield, because the first of them, Genghis Khan was saved his life with the help of such a bird. They believed that the barn owl saved his life. When his horse was shot in one of the battles he ran for his life and hid under a bush. His enemies were looking for him. At that time a white owl came and sat on the tree under which he was hiding. They did not even come near that tree thinking that he would definitely not be there. His enemies thought the owl would not have sat there if any man had been hiding under the tree. So owl earned a permanent place in their emblems!
owl-uluka and Lakshmi
Goddess Lakshmi with Uluka

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Pictures of Goddess Meenakshi, Kamakshi and Andal


“ I suppose he (the crow) has no enemies among men. The whites and Mohammedans never seemed to molest him; and the Hindoos, because of their religion, never take the life of any creature, but spare even the snakes and tigers and fleas and rats”

–Mark Twain writing on Indian Crows

Hindus are great lovers of animals. They show kindness and respect to birds and animals. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of towns are named after birds and animals in the whole of India. From ant, snake to elephant, every animal is honoured. Each town has a long story about them, mostly connected to Gods. Birds and Gods are close. We have several Hindu gods carrying a bird in their hands. Why? What is the significance?

Meenakshi, Goddess of Madurai, carries a parrot on her right shoulder, so do Andal of Srivilliputur near Madurai  and Kamakshi of Kanheepuram (Tamil Nadu,India). Lord Muruga/Skanda  has  a cock in his hand or flag with cock.

Meenakshi Navaratna Mala, a Sanskrit hymn praises her in the very first verse as the carrier of a parrot. Such is the importance of parrot in her life:

“Meenakshim ,Madhureswareem, Sukhatharam Sri Pandya Baalaam Bhaje” =Salutations to Goddess Meenakshi, goddess of Madurai, who has a parrot in her hand, who is the daughter of Pandya king.

Madurai Meenakshi has got a parrot made of pearls. ( Please read about her amazing jewellery collection in my THE WONDER THAT IS MADURAI MEENAKSHI TEMPLE ).

Picture of Parrot made with leaves in Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu


When we were children we used to go to Meenakshi temple very often. There was a big cage near the sanctum sanctorum of goddess Meenakshi where 20 to 30 parrots were kept. If we call Rama  they will repeat RAMA. If we call  Meenakshi, they will echo MEENAKSHI. I have already explained in three or four posts the relationship of Brahmins and parrots. The parrots simply repeated the VEDAS, says the Indian literature.

Now we know the reason. All good things we say are repeated. Hindu devotees believed that our requests and prayers are also repeated to Goddess even after we leave the temple. Birds’ link to omens has been already explained in my post “Can Birds Predict Your Future?” Tamils, Etruscans and other Hindus strongly believed in such omens.

In Srivilliputtur, a parrot is made every day with leaves and kept In the left hand of goddess Andal. At the end of the day, It is given to devotees who believed it would bring good luck to them.

‘ Kili viDu Thuthu’  is a genre in Tamil. The meaning is sending parrot as a messenger to a loveror beloved. Andal is said to have sent the parrot to Lord Vishnu to give the message of her love. More over wherever parrot is there it is velieved Sukhabrahmam is repeating the mythologies.

In the story of Skanda/Kartikeya the cock was a subdued demon. It symbolises that our demonic thoughts would be subdued ‘in the hands of God. Hindu goddess Lakshmi and Sarawati have owl and swan as their respective vehicles (vahanas). Crow is the vahana of planet Saturn and Garuda/eagle of God Vishnu (Please read my articles on Vahans for more details).


Picture of Greek Goddess Artemis with birds and Hindu Swastika symbol, 700 BC

Parrot Upanishad= Taitriya Upanishad.

Upanishads are the highest philosophical treatise in Hinduism. One of the 18 main Upanishads is Taitriya Upanishad. Thiththi and Thaththai are words for parrot in Sanskrit and Tamil. The story of Taitriya Upanishad is interesting. Yagnavalkya’s teacher was offended and asked him to return the Veda. He “vomited it and the parrots ate it”. Even a child can understand the symbolic story. When Yagnavalkya’s Guru asked him not to repeat it, he gave it to his disciples (What he threw out was taken/eaten by others).

Once again this story proves the significance of parrots in Vedas and Gods hands/shoulders. The message is, repetition of good things, is essential. Taitriya Upanishad is a beautiful Upanishad with instructions for students, saints as well as laymen. Be a parrot and repeat God’s names or good principles!

Picture of Greek Goddess Athena with an owl

Vyasa’s Son ‘Parrot Saint’ = Sukha Brahmam

Vyasa’s son Sukha Brahmam was the one who recited all the Puranas (Hindu Mythologies). Hindu mythologies are voluminous running to millions of lines. This monumental work was done by Sukha (literally parrot). Needless to explain the symbolism behind it. Sukha’s dad Vyasa did another great task of compiling and dividing Vedas into four sections and entrusting them to four of his disciples. Nowhere in the world we see such immense task carried out by any human being. Till this day no one on earth has beaten Vyasa or his parrot son in compiling lost works. Humanly impossible task was done by both. When we talk about Vyasa and Sukha we can use only superlatives!

Sumerian and Greece

Gods in Sumerian culture also carried birds. Greek Goddess Athena carried an owl in her hand. Owl is considered a bird of wisdom. The Greek word for owl is Glaukos. It is derived from Sanskrit word Uluka=owl. In India also owl was considerd wise and Uluka, Kausika were used by Rishis. In Sumerian culturecertain gods and goddesses carried birds. There are lots of other stories about owls as well.

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Picture of Hindu Saint Ganapathi Sachidananda with a live parrot


Earlier related posts:

1. Animal Einsteins (Part 1 and Part 2) 2. Can parrots recite Vedas? 3. Why do animals worship Gods? 4. Mysterious Messengers for Ajanta, Angkor Wat and Sringeri 5. Elephant Miracles 6). 45 Words for Elephant 7. Can Birds Predict your Future? 8. Two Little Animals That Inspired Indians 9. Three Wise Monkeys from India 10. Mysterious Tamil Bird Man 11.Vedic Dog and Church Dog 11. Deer Chariot:  Rig Veda to Santa Claus 12. Mysterious Fish Gods around the World 13.  Serpent  (Snake) Queen: Indus Valley to Sabarimalai 14.Who Rides What Vahanas (Animal or Bird)? 15. Vahanas in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature 16. Vahanas on coins and in sculptures

Pictures of Greek and Sumerian Gods