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The Opet Festival of Ancient Egypt: Has it been derived from the Jagannatha Rathyatra of Puri, India?
By Bibhu Dev Misra (IIT, IIM)

Bibhu Dev Misra

Bibhu Dev Misra is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management and has been working as an Information Technology consultant for more than 12 years, for various organizations across the world. He is also an independent researcher and writer on topics related to ancient civilizations, myths, symbols, religion and spirituality and has travelled to many places of historical, religious and architectural importance. His articles have appeared in various internet websites and magazines. He can be contacted at bibhumisra@gmail.com and via his personal blog: http://bibhudev.blogspot.com

More articles by Bibhu Dev Misra:
A Day and Night of Brahma: The Evidence from Fossil Records, April 2011


An interesting piece of information caught my attention during my journey across the sacred sites of Egypt during early 2010. During the light and sound show in the magnificent temple complex of Karnak, I heard a voice booming over the loudspeakers: “I am Amon-Ra...The waters of the Nile sprout from my sandals.” This immediately reminded me the Vedic Creator God Vishnu. In the typical depiction of Vishnu in Hindu iconography, the sacred river Ganges is always shown emerging from the toe of the Vishnu, while in Egypt, we find a very similar imagery associated with Amun. But who was this Amun? I knew that Amun was the presiding diety of Karnak, and he was worshipped there as the Creator God, along with his wife Mut, and his son Khonsu. The next day, while discussing about the light and sound show with my tour guide, he suddenly gave me another piece of information that I was not aware of, and that took me completely by surprise: “Amun was always depicted in funerary art and temple inscriptions with a ‘blue skin colour’ and having two feathers in his headdress.”

Now, if anyone ever travels to India, and he talks to the people there about a god having a blue skin colour, with a couple of feathers in his headdress, and from whose sandals or toes a ‘sacred river’ emerges, he will get a single answer: Vishnu, or more correctly, his incarnation Krishna, for it is Krishna who was always depicted with two ‘peacock’ feathers in his headdress. This realization has significant implications. Krishna is an exclusively Indian diety, whose demise in 3102 BC signified the start of the present Kali Yuga in the Vedic Yuga system. Amun on the other hand, was not worshipped in Egypt prior to the establishment of the Temple complex at Thebes. He is mentioned in the creation myth of Hermopolis as one of the four pairs of divinities who were present in the Primeval Waters of Nun. As Amun-Amaunet, he represented the ‘hidden’ properties of the Primordial Ocean. However, he was not a part of the Egyptian Ennead, the Divine Company of Gods, who were the primary deities of worship. But suddenly at Karnak, sometime during the Middle Kingdom, Amun usurped the position of Atum, as the head of the state patheon. He became the self-engendered Creator God; an early Twelfth-Dynasty inscription in the jubilee chapel of King Senusret I (c.1965 – c.1920 BC) at Karnak describes Amun as ‘the king of the gods’.[1] Current evidence indicates that the construction of the temple complex at Luxor and Karnak may have started as early as the Middle Kingdom (c.2055 – c.1650 BC), although the buildings visible today date from the reign of Amenhotep III (c.1390 – c.1352 BC), the great temple builder of the Eighteenth Dynasty.[2] What could have trigerred his precipitous rise to the head of the Egyptian pantheon from relative obscurity as a diety of the Primeval Ocean? And how did a whole new patheon of deities, along with associated symbolisms, rites and rituals, with gigantic temple complexes dedicated to them, suddenly spring up in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom?

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References

  1. Lorna Oakes & Lucia Gahlin, Ancient Egypt, London: Hermes House, 2002,2007, p 280 [back to text]
  2. Lorna Oakes & Lucia Gahlin, Ancient Egypt, London: Hermes House, 2002,2007, p 152 [back to text]

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