In one of the temples of southern India, I happened to observe what otherwise most of us in India have been overlooking all the time. The human headed, lion bodied structure which we commonly find in a lot of Indian temples, especially in the South.
What we overlook here is, this is same as the Sphinx of Egypt . The Egyptians called it Sheshep-ankh, Greeks called it Sphinx, ancient Indian texts call it Purusha Mruga ( Purusha=Human, Mruga=Beast in Sanskrit).
If there is one Sphinx in Egypt, there are thousands of them in India! The ancient/modern Indian temples are full of such structures/carvings. The Purusha Mruga is mentioned in Mahabharata , as well as in the Atharva Veda!
The Sphinx of India is a continuous ancient art/historic tradition which (unlike the ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek Sphinx) exists even today right from the vedic ages.
The Sphinx of Egypt
A Sphinx in an ancient Indian temple
Purusha Mruga on a temple wall
Modern day Sphinx in Indian temples
This again raises an interesting question. What was the relation between the ancient Egyptian and the ancient Indian vedic civilizations? Is Sphinx a mere co-incidence?
Some of the similarities between Egyptian and Vedic/Indian cultures.
- In the vedic culture, the Sun God is meditated upon three times a day (at dawn, noon and dusk) by chanting the Gayatri Mantra.
Even the ancient Egyptians meditated their Sun God, Ammon-Ra three times a day similarly!
- There was a priestly order in Egyptian culture similar to the ancient Indian vedic culture.
- Like most of the vedic priests, the ancient Egyptian Priests were strictly vegetarians, who didnt even eat egg. Only in the later stages did they start eating meat.
- A form of God which was half male and half female existed in ancient Egypt, where Osiris was the Male Human aspect of God and Isis was his female counterpart.
A similar concept exists in the ancient Indian culture in the form of Ardhanareeshwara (Ardha=half, Nari=female, Eshwara=male)
Read these interesting articles for more information about the relations between ancient India and ancient Egypt.