Megasthenes' Herakles

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Bronze Herakles statuette from Ai Khanoum, Bactria, 2nd century BCE.

Megasthenes' Herakles is the conventional name of reference of an ancient Indian deity. Herakles was originally a classical Greek divinity. However, in the aftermath of Alexander's conflicts in North-Western India, an Indian version of this classical Greek deity was identified by Megasthenes who travelled to India as the ambassador of the Seleucids during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya of the Maurya Dynasty. Upon visiting Mathurai of the Early Pandyan Kingdom, he described the kingdom as being named after Pandaea, Herakles' only daughter.

Megasthenes' Herakles as Krishna[edit]

Many scholars have suggested that the deity identified as Herakles was Krishna. Edwin Francis Bryant adds the following in this regard:

Megasthenes' Herakles as Baladeva[edit]

An ancient depiction of Baladeva, literally meaning, 'god of strength'. He was the elder brother of Krishna. James Tod associated Megasthenes' Herakles with this ancient Indian deity.

James Tod associated Herakles primarily with Baladeva, Krishna's older sibling, but also indicated that Herakles could be associated with both:

Megasthenes' Herakles as Shiva[edit]

According to Quintus Curtius, the Sibae, whom he calls Sobii, occupied the country between the Hydaspes and the Akesines. They may have derived their name from the god Siva.[3]

According to Dr. Schwanbeck and J.W. McCrindle, Megasthenes meant Siva when he mentioned Herakles in his book Indika[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Krishna: a sourcebook, p. 5, Edwin Francis Bryant, Oxford University Press US, 2007
  2. ^ Annals and Antiquities of Rajast'han, Or, The Central and Western Rajpoot States of India, James Tod, pp 36, Published by Higginbotham and co., 1873, Item notes: v. 1, Original from Oxford University
  3. ^ Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian, By Dr. Schwanbeck and J.W. McCrindle (1877), p. 129
  4. ^ Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian, By Dr. Schwanbeck and J.W. McCrindle (1877), pp. 128–129
  5. ^ Apparently Siva is meant, though his many wives and sons are unknown to Hindu mythology. Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian, By Dr. Schwanbeck and J.W. McCrindle (1877), p. 57
  6. ^ Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian, By Dr. Schwanbeck and J.W. McCrindle (1877), pp. 57–58