Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hercules and Dionysus in India (350 BC) Alexander @ Nysa


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"The myth of Nysa......In 326 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the Indus valley, where he discovered in Gandara a town called Nysa that was dedicated to the god Dionysus. (Probably, this was the Indian god Shiva. The mountain Meru mentioned below was the center of the Indian universe.) The only description of the temple is to be found in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by the Greek author Philostratus (more). The story of the discovery is told by the Greek author Arrian of Nicomedia, whose Anabasis (section 5.1.1-2.2) was translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt......In the country on Alexander's route between the river Cophen and the Indus lay the city of Nysa, supposed to have been founded by Dionysus, at the time of his conquest of India.".....

LORD SHIVA'S STATUE IN RISHIKESH in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India.

Greek historian Megasthenes (c. 350 BC) mentions the devotees of Hercules (Shiva) and Dionysus (Krishna or Indra) in India

"Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BC, mentions Mathura as a great city under the name Μέθορα (Méthora)......Megasthenes (ca. 350 – 290 BC) was a Greek ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indika. He was born in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of the Seleucid dynasty possibly to Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra, India. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain. Scholars place it before 298 BC, the date of Chandragupta's death...At the beginning of his Indika, he refers to the older Indians who know about the prehistoric arrival of Dionysus and Hercules in India, which was a story very popular amongst the Greeks during the Alexandrian period. Particularly important are his comments on the religions of the Indians. He mentions the devotees of Heracles and Dionysus but he does not mention Buddhists, something that gives support to the theory that the latter religion was not widely known before the reign of Ashoka..".....Vassiliades, Demetrios, "Greeks and Buddhism Historical Contacts in the Development of a Universal religion".....The Eastern Buddhist. Kyoto 2005.

Hercules Battling the Nemean Lion.....2nd–1st century B.C.......Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)....The Nemean lion was a vicious monster in Greek mythology that lived at Nemea. It was eventually killed by Heracles.

"King Porus:.....Puru became the patronymic of this branch of the Lunar race. Of this Alexander's historians made Porus. The Suraseni of Methoras (descendants of the Soor Sen of Mathura) were all Purus, the Prasioi of Megasthenes...How invaluable such remnants of ancient race of Harikula! How refreshing to the mind yet to discover, amidst the ruins on the Yamuna, Hecules (Baldeva, god of strength) retaining his club and lion's hide, standing on his pedestal at Baldeo, and yet worshipped by Suraseni! This was name given to a large tract of country round Mathura, or rather round Surpura, the ancient capital founded by Surasena, the grandfather of the Indian brother-deities, Krishna and Baldeva " ....English historian James Tod considered Maharaja Shurasena to be an ancestor of king Porus....other scholars have also linked Porus to the tribe tracing its origin from Yaduvanshi King Shurasena......James Tod, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan

"Long before the arrival of Alexander the Great on India's north-western border, there are references in early Indian literature calling the Greeks Yavanas. Pāṇini, c. 4th century BC., an ancient Sanskrit grammarian, was acquainted with the word yavana in his composition. Katyaanaa explains the term yavanānī as the script of the Yavanas. ..... It is unlikely there would have been first-hand knowledge of Greeks in Gandhara before the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 330s BC, but it is likely that the name was known via the Old Persian word yauna, so that the occurrence of yavanānī taken in isolation allows for as early as 520 BC, i.e. the time of Darius the Great's conquests in India.... the term yavanānī as the script of the Yavanas. He takes the same line as above that the Old Persian term yauna became Sanskrtised to name all Greeks. In fact, this word appears in the Mahabharata.."....

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"Megasthenes (350 – 290 BC) was a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica. ......At the start of the Indica, Megasthenes talks about the older Indians who knew about the prehistoric arrival of Dionysus and Hercules in India. This story was quite popular amongst the Greeks during the Alexandrian period. He describes geographical features of India, such as the Himalayas and the island of Sri Lanka.......Especially important are his comments on the religions of the Indians. He mentions the devotees of Hercules (Shiva) and Dionysus (Krishna or Indra), but he does not write a word on Buddhists, something that gives ground to the theory that Buddhism was not widely spread in India before the reign of Asoka (269 BC to 232 BC).".....

" The fabulous story about Dionysus in India has some evidence. It is written that he entered to India riding on a tiger. It is a historical fact that this time around 6.000-6.500 B.C horses were not yet in use by the humanity . In Greece they always depict Dionysus on a tiger. It is written on Greek Mythology that because he passed the river Tigris on a tiger the river got its name. Tiger in Greek is Tigris. Even though in Greece there were never tigers. Only in central Asia. In Indus valley seals, there is a picture of a centaur, who is half man half tiger. Another element that agrees to the historical fact. In Greece as well as in Middle Eastern civilizations, the illustrations depict Dionysos riding on a Donkey. In Indus seals there exist pictures of donkeys that were in use this time. Dionysos is never depicted on a horse, an element that refers to the chronological period he lived......In ancient Greek philosophy, the centaur symbolizes the domination of the divine part of the human soul, the Logos (Sanskrit. Loc ). symbolized by the human figure, on the lower part of the human soul that includes the inclination to evil, symbolized by the animal. When humanity started using the horses some millenniums later, the centaur changed from tiger to horse. Greek: Kentauros. Sanskrit Gandharva. Whether this Dionysus was Greek or Indian even the ancient Greek writers don't know exactly. In Puranas exists the name Diunysa with the same meaning as in Greek: "Daynight" It means the divine light been born by the primordial night, or in microcosm the enlightenment of human mind.".....Vassiliki .....Comments of Jeyakumar Ramasami....This above given views of Vassiliki needs some explanation and correction. She had given the information that in ancient times Dionysus was depicted as riding the "Tiger" or "Donkey". This tiger riding depiction means that he was representing "Leo Constellation"(August -September) or "Canis Major"(April -May) in ancient calendar scheme. But riding a donkey means "Horse Constellation" (Pegasus)(March -April). Both are distinctly different, it needs to be clarified further." ....

"Apart from Mt. Kailash, other local mountains have also been adopted or pinpointed as the actual Mt Meru. Below are some of the alleged locations.......Nysa........In An account of a Diononysiac presence in Indian art and culture, Sara Peterson, makes a case from accounts by Philostratus, Arrian and other Graeco-Roman sources that Mt. Meros was closeby Nysa, one of the only two places in India where the Greek military leader Dionysos (or according to the historian Arrian, it was Alexander who worshipped at the shrine of Dionysus on Mt Meros at Nysia in India) and Herakles were said to have invaded.".....

"MOUNT NYSA BIRTHPLACE OF DIONYSUS......Mt Nysa was originally identified with Mt Kithairon in Boiotia, the seat of the Dionysian orgies on the Greek mainland. Later writers identified it with various holy mountains sacred to eastern vegetation gods, from Phoenicia to Thrake, Egypt, Arabia and even distant India. Hesychius (C5th A.D. Byzantine lexicon) gives a list of the following locations proposed by ancient authors as the site of Mt Nysa: Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Babylon, Erythraian Sea [the Red Sea], Thrake, Thessaly, Kilikia, India, Libya, Lydia, Makedonia, Naxos, around Pangaios [mythical island south of Arabia], Syria. The ancients thought the god was named for the mountain, but it is possible that the reverse was true.".....

"Pliny the Elder......Most people assign to India the city of Nisa and Mount Merus which his sacred to father Liber [Dionysos], this being the place from which originated the myth of the birth of Liber [Dionysos] from the thigh of Jove [Zeus]."....Pliny the Elder, Natural History - Latin Encyclopedia C1st A.D.

"Philostratus : "[The Indians] who inhabit the district between the Indos and the Hydroates [Hydapses] and the continental region beyond which ends at the river Ganges, declare that Dionysos [perhaps a local Indian wine-god identified with the Greek god] was son of the River Indos, and that the Dionysos of Thebes having become his disciple took to the thyrsos and introduced it in the orgies; that this Dionysos declared that he was the son of Zeus and had lived safe inside his father’s thigh until he was born, and that he found a mountain called Meros or ‘Thigh’ on which Nysa borders, and planted Nysa in honour of Dionysos with the vine of which he had brought the suckers from Thebes."......Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana - Greek Biography C2nd A.D.

NYSIADES Nymphs of the mythical Mount Nysa. They were the nurses of the god Dionysus who became the first of his Bacchantes.

NYSUS (Nysos) The old Silen god of Mount Cithaeron (or Nysa). He was the mentor of Dionysus. When he refused to relinquish the mountain to the god upon his return from his travels, the god and his soldiers dressed up as women, snuck onto the mountain and captured him.

The Kopet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh (Persian: Rivand Kuh‎, Turkmen: Köpetdag), also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range is a mountain range on the frontier between Turkmenistan and Iran, extending about 650 kilometres (400 mi) along the border, east of the Caspian Sea. The highest peak of the range in Turkmenistan is southwest of the capital Ashgabat and stands at 2,940 metres (9,646 ft).

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"Philostratus' Life of Apollonius......Book 2 recounts the adventures of Apollonius and his followers on their journey to India. They pass through the 'Caucasus' (i.e. the Hindu Kush), .....cross the river Cophen, visit the shrine of Dionysus on mount Nysa (2.8), but decline to go and see the Aornus rock which Alexander the Great captured (2.10). ....With the assistance of the satrap of the Indus region, Apollonius and his followers cross the river (2.17-19) and continue their journey to Taxila (2.20). Chapters 23ff contain an account of their three-day stay with the Indian philosopher king Phraotes, who tells Apollonius about the place where the Indian sages live (2.33). Apollonius discusses dream divination with the king (2.35-37) and advises him on a legal dispute (2.39). The travelers leave Taxila for the castle of the Indian sages, visit the scene of the battle between Alexander and Porus (2.42), cross the Hydraotes and the Hyphasis, and pass the point where Alexander was forced to turn back."......

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Tirich Mir......"One of the puzzles of the Indian campaign is the visit to Nysa. Here, the god Dionysus was venerated, one of Alexander's mythological ancestors . It is not known which god was identified with Dionysus. Next to the town was a sacred mountain called Meros ('thigh') by the Greeks; it reminded them of the story that Dionysus was born from Zeus' thigh. In fact, the Indian name was Meru, the holy mountain or 'axis' of the world.....The route to Nysa as described by the Greek historians of Alexander's campaign suggest a southerly location near the river Kunar, but a location more to the north, near modern Chitral, better fits the fact that there was ivy to be found on the spot. Moreover, there is an impressive mountain near Chitral, called Tirich Mir. And although a march to Chitral makes no strategic sense, it is perhaps to be preferred; Alexander's marches to Troy and Siwa made no strategic sense either, but had a lot to do with Alexander's presumed ancestry."....

"Siege of Aornos, (327 bc), conflict in which Alexander the Great seized a nearly impregnable natural stronghold blocking his route to India. Aornos is evidently modern Pīr Sarāi, a steep ridge a few miles west of the Indus and north of the Buner rivers in modern Pakistan. Unable to storm the rock, Alexander seized the hill opposite and threatened the Indians’ encampment with his catapults."....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….August 2014


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