Eagle in the Rig Veda and Egyptian Civilization (Post No.3672)

Most Imporatnt Vahana of Vishnu Temples

 

Research Article Written by London swaminathan

 

Date: 26 FEBRUARY 2017

 

Time uploaded in London:- 17-21

 

Post No. 3672

 

Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.

 

contact; swami_48@yahoo.com

 

In the Rig Veda and the Egyptian literature Eagle or falcon was mentioned. Rig Veda is the oldest book in the world if we go by the dating of Herman Jacobi and BG Tilak.  Both used the astronomical data in the Veda independently and arrived at the same date, around 4500 BCE.

Picture of Eagle shaped Vedic Fire Altar

 

Hindus and Egyptians identified eagle or falcon with death and immortality. Both identified the bird with divinities and kingship. They praised the eagle or falcon sky-high. The beliefs were same.

 

In ancient Egypt, the falcon was a royal symbol, because the gaze was said to have paralyze birds as such the countenance of the Pharaoh his enemies. It was the manifestation of Sky God Horus, presumably because the bird flew so high.

 

Rig Vedic Reference:

Syena (eagle) is described as a strong bird in the Rig Veda (1-32-14; 1-33-2; 1-118-11; 1-163-1; 1-165-2; 2-42-2; 4-38-5 etc In the other Vedas lot of references are there.

Saghan is mentioned in Tattiriya Brahmana; it may be a vulture or an eagle.

Su-parna means well-winged and is mentioned in RV 1-164-20; 2-42-2; 4-26-4;8-100-8;10-48-3 etc

In the RV 4-26, 4-27 falcon is praised. But the full meaning is not explained in the translation. It may be the seed for later stories of Garuda and Amrita and Garuda and death and immortality.

(I am afraid there is no scholar at present to explain the significace of eagle in the Vedas. For example, there is one hymn addressed to The Falcon (4-27). No proper explanation is found in any book. Probably this is the only hymn addressed to falcon in ancient civilizations)

The Satapata Brahmana (12-2-3-7) praises eagle as Maha Suparna, i.e. Great Eagle

Roman eagle discovered in London Aldgate area.

In Rome

When Roman emperors were cremated ritually, an eagle was released above the funeral pyre to indicate that the soul has gone to dwell among the gods. One old Babylonian text tells us of the ascension of King Etana borne into the heavens by an eagle.

 

In fact, it is a Hindu belief. Hindus read the Garuda (Eagle) Purana during the 13 day mourning period after the death of a near and dear relative. Of the 18 major Puranas (Hindu Mythology), Garuda Purana is the only one that has got a special funeral liturgy called Pretakanda. Garuda (eagle) was the one who brought Amrita according to a Hindu story and so it symbolised immortality. Bird is always associated with the soul in Hindu literature.

 

Tamil Veda Tirukkural

Tamil Veda Tirukkural confirms it with a couplet:

The affinity of the body and the soul is like that of the nest and a bird in it. The soul departs from the body even as the chick deserts the nest – Tirukkural 338.

It is in Sangam Literature as well:

Tamil poet Kalladanar says in Akam 113:

“Oh, my friend! I won’t cry if my soul (life) leaves my body and goes to the place where my lover is working, like the bird that deserts its desolate nest and flies away”- said by a woman to her friend.

 

So, this is a Hindu concept of soul which is seen in many Hindu scriptures including Manu smrti and Bhagavad Gita with different similes.

 

Eagle is associated with Sun God in several cultures. In Palmyra in Syria, the eagle was associated with the Sun God.

Egyptian God Horus from Wikipedia

Garuda Vahana in Egypt

Horus is Sky god in Egypt recorded from 3000 BCE. Horus symbol is falcon, and he is generally depicted either wholly or in human form with a falcon’s head, exactly like Hindu’s Garuda Vahana.

Other divinities similarly portrayed were the Sun God Rue; Mentu, with adouble crown of feathers; Seker the god of the dead (as a mummified hawk); Hariese with the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

 

Horus is a form of the sun god. The alternative name Harakhti translates Horus of the horizon. He is sometimes depicted as a sun disc mounted between falcon’s wings. Kings are identified with Horus.

 

Horus as a baby on her mother Isis’ knee is as an amulet against snakes and other animals. In Hindu scriptures Garda mantra is used against snakes.

In many countries, such as Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, India Garuda emblems are used.

The noticeable marking in the feathers under the hawk’s eyes is called Udjat-eye. This is Horus’ all seeing Udjat eye which became a symbol for visual acuity and imperviousness to injury as well as treasured amulet.

 

Assyrian Eagle Genie, 883 BCE (May be Garuda carrying amrita)

 

Christian World

Gothic windows portray the eagle carrying its unfledged young up into the sky to teach them to gaze into the sun. It figures in Norse mythology Odin. In Europe several saints have falcon as their symbol.

In Christian iconography, the eagle appears frequently as a symbol of  john the Evangelist, as an attribute of ascended phrophet Elijah and the resurrected Christ.

 

Quauhtli (eagle) is the 15th of the 20 days of the Aztec calendar. In ancient China it was the symbol of power and strength.

 

In Tamil Nadu, King Karikal Choza constructed an eagle shaped fire altar (Yaha Gunda) to perform a yaga according to Purananuru (verse 224). In Kerala even today eagle shaped fire altars are constructed for Atiratra  fire ceremony.

Eagle Vahana (Mount of God in processions) of Hindu temples

 

Eagle in Mahabharata similes

Bhima and Sikhandin wander about in the battlefield enraged like an eagle (6-78-28).

The Pandavas rush towards Jayadratha’s army as an eagle rushes towards meat (3-253-24)

The Pandavas and Kauravas fight like two  eagles fighting for meat (6-111-42)

I have already given the story of Garuda and Vinata as found in the epic.

 

Conclusion:

All ancient cultures used eagle, hawk and falcon as symbols of power and might.

But there are more similarities between Vedic and Egyptian cultures in attributing divinity to eagles.

Both identified eagle with Sun and Death and Immortality.

 

All other civilizations that used falcon and eagle have dies long ago and gone into museums. But the culture is still alive in Hindu India.

 

There are innumerable towns named after eagle and falcon; there are hundreds of temples where Eagle Vahana is use to carry Lord Vishnu’s idol.

 

Garuda is worshipped by villagers and sight of it is considered an auspicious sign.

Garuda Hymns and Mantra are used as anti-dotes for poison.

Rig Vedic hymns, the oldest in the world are still used!

 

(Please see below my previous articles on this subject)

 

Eagles fed at Tirukkazuku Kundram in Tamil Nadu Temple

 

Books used:

Rig Veda

Sangam Literature

Dictionary of Symbolism by Hans Biedermann

Encyclopaedia of Gods by Michel Jordan

Elements of Poetry in the Mahabharata

 

From my old article:

 

Hindu Eagle Mystery deepens, 16 February 2013

 

1.Why do Hindus worship eagle (suparna=garuda) from Rig Vedic Days till today?

2.Why do Hindus including the greatest Tamil king Karikal Choza built their Yaga Kundas (Fire altars) in eagle shape?

3.How is that two eagles come to Tirukazuku kundram just to eat rice pudding everyday for over 1300 year period?

4.Why do Hindus call Emeralds as Garuda Ratna (eagle gem), which Sindbad story writer copied it from the Hindus?

5.Why a Saivaite saint sang 1300 years ago about an eagle bringing flowers to Shiva every day?

6.Why do Tamil children shout ‘Drop me  a flower please’ when they see Garudas (falcon/eagle) in the sky? Why do Hindus recite a Sanskrit hymn when they see Garuda?

7.Why does Vishnu use Garuda as his Vahana (Mount of God)?

8.Why did Rama cremate an eagle Jatayu in Ramayana? Was it eagle totem people or real eagle? Why Tamils associate this with Vaitheeswarankoil (eagle town)?

  1. Why did Eagle people and Snake people (Garudas and Nagas) fight all over the world? We have the story here in Puranas, but symbols are in Egypt and Maya civilization?
  2. How come eagle brought Soma plant for the Yagas (Fire ceremonies of Hindus)?
  3. Why did a Greek build an eagle pillar with inscription calling himself as a great devotee of Vishnu?

  

Falcon symbols in Egypt

12.Tamil Encyclopedia Abithana Chintamani ( year 1899) attributes sixteen acts to Garudas. Many of them actually belong to people with eagle totem. They were against people with snake totem (Nagas). It is the ancient history of India. One must go deeper in to it to reveal the secrets.

  1. Why do women fast on Garuda Panchami day every year?
  2. Why is Garuda Purana is associated with the departed souls? It is read in the 13 day mourning period.
  3. Indus People painted eagle in (funeral ??)  potteries, Why? Has it anything to do with Hindus reading Garuda Purana after the funeral?
  4. Why is it that Amrita (ambrosia) is linked with Garuda/suparna?
  5. In the Assyrian bas-relief in Khorsabad (885 BC) Eagle headed  winged genie is carrying a vessel of lustral water and a pine cone sprinkler. It is one of the benevolent genies that protected men from diseases and evil forces. Is it Garuda with Amrita? (see the images)
  6. Why does Jaiminiya Brahmana (Vedic literature) say that eagle separates water from milk like Krauncha (swan) bird?
  7. Why does Romulus saw an eagle on the Aventine Hill and considered it as a good omen like Hindus and keep it in front of his army? Orthodox Hindus wait for Garuda Darsanam every day.

20.Why do newspapers report sighting of Garuda as a good omen during Kumbhabishekam or any religious event?

  1. Why does Krishna say that he is garuda/eagle among birds in Bhagavad Gita (10-30)(vainatheyascha pakshinam)? Western cultures also consider eagle as ‘King of Brids’.

If I write answers to all these questions it would become a big book. I am going to answer a few of these questions in this article.

(Please read the full article for more information)

…………………………..

I have already written about Vahanas, eagle shaped fire altars of Karikal Choza, Eagle Vs  Naga clans enmity in Mayan civilization, Double headed Eagle, Garuda Sthamaba of Greek Ambassador etc. Please see the titles of the articles given below:-

Double Headed Eagle: Sumerian-Indian Connection, posted on 18 December 2011

Picture of Double Headed Eagle in Turkey (Ganda Beranada Bird of Hindu literature)

 

Eagle/Garuda in India, Rome and Sri Lanka

25 September 2014

Karikal Choza and Eagle shaped Fire Altar

14 January 2012

A Hindu Story in Sumerian Civilization

11 May 2014

Eagle shaped fire altar at Vedic ceremony

–Subham–

Eagle/Garuda in India, Rome and Sri Lanka

eagle

It was discovered near the Aldgate Tube station in London.

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1310; Dated 25th September 2014.

I wrote three articles about Eagle/ falcon (Garuda in Sanskrit) sometime ago:

“Hindu Eagle Mystery Deepens” — posted on 16th Feb. 2013
Gods and Birds, posted on 3rd Feb. 2013
“Double Headed Eagle: Sumerian –Indian connection”– posted on18 December 2011.

Now there are more interesting things about the eagle in History. Last year the same time, a remarkable discovery was made in London. A Roman eagle with a snake in its mouth was dug out very near the Tower of London. The amazing thing about the sand stone sculpture is that it is intact as if it was made yesterday. Actually it was made 1900 years ago and buried with a wealthy Roman general or businessman of Londinium (London’s original name). From 1st century to fourth century of Common Era, Britain was under the rule of Romans.

pg-28-eagle-2-mola

Let us look at the interesting things about this remarkable find:
I have already written that the fight between the Snake People and the Eagle people is depicted all over the world from Egyptian to Mayan civilizations. Actually this Garuda- Naga fight has started in Mahabharata times. Flags and emblems of many countries have this Garuda/Naga logo.
This Garuda emblem is mentioned in the Sri Lankan chronicle Mahavamsam as well.

In Sri Lankan Mahavamsam (chapter 19), when Sangamitra, daughter of Emperor Asoka, was travelling in a ship with the Pipal tree (Ficus religiosa), the Nagas (people with snake totem) objected to it. Then Sangamitra ‘assumed’ the form of Garuda and threatened the Nagas. Immediately they made peace with her and accompanied the ship up to the Naga Country (northern part of Sri Lanka). Here we can read between the lines. When Nagas objected, she showed the Garuda devouring Naga emblem to threaten them. The message given by her was “I will take severe action against the Nagas like in the olden days”.

Zeus (Jupiter) on eagle
Zeus riding on an eagle
raviLord-Garuda

Ravi Varma picture of Vishnu riding eagle

((What happened in the olden days is explained in detail in the Mahabharata. The clash started when Arjuna and Krishna started burning Naga forest called Khandava Vana (Gond wana Land) and then the enmity continued until a Naga hid himself in a fruit basket and killed Pariksheet. Then Janamaejaya started killing all the Nagas (Sarpa Yaga) and at last Saint Astika made a peace treaty between them. Even today Brahmins recite this story in a mantra every day in the Sandhya Vandhanam))

In Greece Zeus is shown riding an eagle like Vishnu. In Egypt also Naga/eagle logo is shown in some of the seals.

Etana
Etana in Babylonia riding on eagle on his way to heaven to get medicinal herb(Soma !)

Roman and Hindu similarities
Rome has eagle as its emblem. But why did they bury a big statue 65 cms tall in a London mausoleum (grave). ‘Daily Mail’ of London explained it in a box item along with the news:–

a) The eagle signifies ‘good’ in Roman art.
b) It is also the symbol of Jupiter, the most popular Roman god at that time.
c) The fact that eagle is eating a snake shows that it has triumphed over death or evil.
d) In Roman art eagles are often shown carrying the souls of Roman emperors to the gods making the mortals divine. This is the reason for placing it in a mausoleum, said Michael Marshall, Roman Finds expert.

hebe-and-ganymede-by-bertel-
Ganymede taken to heaven by eagle (Zeus)

All these points correspond with Hindu mythology. Hindus recite Garuda Purana (Eagle Myth) on the last day of mourning period. They have the same belief of Garuda’s role in the transit of soul. Sumerians also believed that Etana was taken to heaven by an eagle. Greeks also believed that Zeus was riding an eagle like Hindu God Vishnu. Like Sangamitra (In Mahavamsa) threatened the Nagas with eagle emblem, we have similar stories in the Vedas. Ahi, the snake demon was killed by Indra who is comparable to Jupiter of Romans and Zeus of Greeks (I have explained this in detail in my previous articles on Indra).
In short, last year’s London find explains the belief that existed 2000 years ago throughout the world.
siam garuda

Thailand airmail stamp of Garuda; Indonesian airlines is also Garuda Airlines!

Karikal Choza and Eagle shaped Fire Altar

–S Swaminathan

Fire altar, Kerala, April 2004

Ancient Tamil kings followed Vedic customs in their daily life. They respected the Vedas and performed Yagnas/fire ceremonies like the Rajasuya and the Aswamedha. The oldest Tamil book available today is Tolkappiyam, a grammatical treatise. The book says that the Vedic Gods Indra, Varuna, Vishnu were worshipped along with Durga and Skanda. Vedic deities were the gods assigned to three of the four Tamil land divisions. For Marutham-Indra, Neithal-Varuna and Mullai- Vishnu. Skanda and Durga were the deities for Kurinji and Palai respectively.

Mudukudumi Peruvazuthi, one of the earliest Pandya kings had the epithet of “The King Who Performed Several Yagas”. In fact that was his greatest achievement. He probably even performed the Aswamedha Yagna. His country was full of Yupa posts. (Purananuru verses 6, 9, 16 ).They treated Vedic culture as their own culture. The Pandya king was praised for holding his head high except in two situations: one is in the temple and second, before Brahmins. He would bow to only these two in the whole world! Another Pandya king of Madurai was praised for awaking to the Vedic chants of the Brahmins where as other kings wake up to the cry of fowl. (Mankudi Maruthn in Madurai Kanchi). Another king Nalliakodan says that his palace doors were always open to Brahmins (Ref. Sirupan Atruppadai).

Kalidasa, one of the world’s greatest playwrights and the most celebrated Indian poet for his 1000+ beautiful similes mentioned the Pandya king and Agastya in consecutive slokas in his Raguvamsa, which indicates a close relationship that ran for thousands of years. The commentators mention Avabruda Snanam which is done during the Aswamedha Yagna.

The grand old lady of Tamil Sangam period poetess Avvaiyar praised the unity of the three great kings Chera, Choza and Pandyas on the occasion of Rajasuya Yagnam of Perunar Killi (Puram verse 367)

Why did he walk SEVEN STEPS?

The most interesting reference is about the greatest of the ancient Cholas Karikalan by Mudathama Kanniyar. Karikal Peruvalathan is dated 1st century BC. (Please read my article Why British Judges follow Karikalan?).  There are two interesting references to show that Karikalan followed the Vedic customs. He was praised as the one who walks with his guest SEVEN STEPS before seeing them off (Line 166 ,Porunar Atrupadai). Rig Veda says that a friend must be seen off after walking seven steps. Walking Seven Steps (Saptapadi) is an important ceremony in Hindu marriages as well. If both any two friends or a couple walk the seven steps together, their bond last for a lifetime.

This is the meaning of the Sanskrit Saptapadi mantra in marriage:

“Now let us make a vow together. We shall share love, share the same food, share our strengths, share the same tastes. We shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vows together. I shall be the Samaveda, you the Rigveda, I shall be the Upper World, you the Earth; I shall be the Sukhilam, you the Holder – together we shall live and beget children, and other riches; come thou, O sweet-worded girl

We have taken the Seven Steps. You have become mine forever. Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours. Hereafter, I cannot live without you. Do not live without me. Let us share the joys. We are word and meaning, united. You are thought and I am sound. May the night be honey-sweet for us. May the morning be honey-sweet for us. May the earth be honey-sweet for us. May the heavens be honey-sweet for us. May the plants be honey-sweet for us. May the sun be all honey for us. May the cows yield us honey-sweet milk. As the heavens are stable, as the earth is stable, as the mountains are stable, as the whole universe is stable, so may our union be permanently settled.

Eagle Shaped Altar

The second reference is that Karikalan did a Yagna with an EAGLE-SHAPED FIRE ALTAR (Yaga Kunda). Poet Karunkuzalahanar praised Karikalan for setting up eagle shaped fire altar and a Yupa post in Puram verse 224. When he did this he consulted the Brahmins in his court and all his wives were with him during the Yagna, the poet added.

For important fire ceremonies such as the Soma Yaga, the Athirathra and the Aswamedha the fire altar is set up with 10,008 bricks or 1,008 bricks (Please read my article Hindu’s Magic Numbers). Each brick is cleaned ritually and mantras are chanted while the eagle shape fire pit is constructed. The altar is sprinkled with gold chips. If it is an Aswamedha Yagna the altar that is constructed is three times bigger.

In the Valmiki Ramayana we get more details about the Aswamedha performed by King Dasaratha. Gupta Kings issued gold coins after they performed the Aswamedha. Pandya coins were excavated featuring a horse on its side. This proves that they performed the Aswamedha. All credit for this goes to Mudukudumi Peruvazuthi.

The Eagle is the King of Birds. Lord Krishna says in Vibhuti Yoga of Bhagavad Gita that among the birds, he was the eagle. Garuda/eagle was his vehicle as well. The Eagle is used as an emblem throughout Western countries, including the USA. It is Thailand’s national emblem. Though Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, it has named its national airlines after Vishnu’s vehicle Garuda.

The symbol of the national airline of Indonesia

Mankudi Kizar in Puram 29 praised Thalaialangkanathu Neduncheziyan for performing a fire ceremony .Dr R Nagaswamy, famous historian and archaeologist has given a long list of all the Yagas done by the Tamil kings and the Pallava kings in his book (Yavarum Kelir page 78 to 82). Almost all the Chera kings listed in Pathitru Pathu performed several yagnas. It gives a lot of detail, such as the fasting done by the kings before the ceremonies. Cheran Chenguttuvan even released all the prisoners in his jails to mark this occasion.

Velirs claim that they were born in Fire pits. They belonged to the Agni clan. Several clans in Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan also claimed themselves as fire-born. One famous Maya King’s name was Fire-Born.

Pallavas were powerful and they performed the famous Aswamedha (Horse Sacrifice) to establish their political superiority. If we look at the epigraphs and copper plates of that time, they give a long list of the Yagas they performed and the donations they gave on such occasions. Rajathi Rajan I performed an Aswamedha according to his epigraphs. Foreign scholars, with their mischievous propaganda of Aryan Dravidian divide distorted Indian history beyond recognition. They made us believe that there were two different cultures existing in India during ancient times. Anyone who studies our ancient literature without the Aryan Dravidian prejudice will find one culture and unity of thought throughout its 5,000 year history from the northernmost Himalayas to the southernmost oceans. The minute our scholars realise this truth, they will find the key to the Indus script as well.

Finally, a twelve day Athirathram Yagna was recently performed in Kerala (April 2011) in Panjal near Thrissur. The eagle-shaped fire altar was set up with 1,110 specially designed bricks. Frits-Staal, Indologist and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkley attended the ceremony with a group of scholars and scientists to study the effects on the environment and biosphere.

***********************