Greek Mythology Indian Mythology Navratri

Durga, Artemis and Apollo – A comparison of Indian and Greek mythology

Durga and Artemis

There are many similarities between Indian and Greek mythologies. The stories related to gods in both mythologies are very interesting. Here we are looking at Artemis, the greek goddess, who is very similar to Durga in Indian mythology.

As per Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, childbirth, virginity, wilderness and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.

The birth of Goddess Durga (Indian mythology)

In Indian mythology, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight demon named Mahishasura. Brahma, the Supreme Creator had given Mahishasura (an ambitious demon who had observed penance) the power not to be defeated by a male or any God. Mahishasura, thus using his powers, unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds. He created cosmic disruption and defeated The Gods of Sun, Fire, Earth, Thunder and all other Nature Gods. All the gods pleaded Brahma to do something about this.

Goddess Durga emergence

Shiva, made a request to all Gods to combine their divine energies together.Thus, to save the 3 worlds, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and all of the Gods (Indra, Varuna, Surya, Agni, Yama, Vishwakarma etc.) emitted beams of fierce Divine Energy from their Bodies. The blinding sea of light spread in all directions of the universe like a supernova and reached the Ashram of the priest Katyayan, where all the Energies combined together to create the omnipotent Goddess Durga. The Goddess Durga took the name Katyayani from the priest, in whose ashram she appeared thus.

Birth of Artemis (Greek mythology)

Coming back to Artemis and her twin brother Apollo.

She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and that she was the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis, the goddess of forests and hills, was worshipped throughout ancient Greece.Her best known cults were on the island of Delos (her birthplace); in Attica at Brauron and Mounikhia (near Piraeus); in Sparta. She was often depicted in paintings and statues in a forest setting, carrying a bow and arrows, like Durga, and accompanied by a deer.

Artemis never had any love affairs, but one. That was with the mortal Orion. Artemis was in love with Orion. However, upset that his sister’s time and attentions had been diverted away from him, the God Apollo, her twin, became very jealous. So when Orion was swimming far into the ocean Apollo made a wager with Artemis that she couldn’t hit the floating object on the horizon.

Artemis being the prideful archer she was took the wager gladly and proudly drew her bow and shot the object on the horizon winning the wager. However once she won she realized that the “floating object” was actually her only lover Orion. In her great grief the Goddess Artemis turned Orion into various stars and shot him into the night sky, making him a constellation in the night sky forevermore.


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Shri Krishna and Hercules – indian and greek mythology

A comparison of Shri Krishna and Hercules – Gods from indian and greek mythology

Greek mythology and Indian mythology have some similarities. Earlier we saw that Shri Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu(god) had one weakness, that was in his heel. That was also the case with Achilles, one of the greatest warriors from Greek mythology.

If we follow the events of Hercules life, we come across similarity between him and Shri Krishna.

Birth of Hercules

When Hercules was born, he was not liked by his step-mother goddess Hera, wife of zeus. Hercules was born to Alcmene, who was deceived by Zeus in having believing him as her husband, Amphitryon. We again see a similarity between Greek and Indian mythology as Indra, the king of gods deceived Ahalya in the same way. Later, he was cursed by her husband, sage Gautam.

Hera – wife of Zeus

Hera wanted Hercules to be dead and she sent two serpents to kill him as he lay in his cot. Heracles throttled a single snake in each hand and was found by his nurse playing with their limp bodies as if they were a child’s toys.

Baby Hercules and Snakes

Interesting birth stories in Indian mythology


Shri Krishna and Putna

Above incident is quite similar to the infancy of Krishna when his uncle Kansa sent a number of demons to kill him. The famous incident was with Putna, who came to feed young Krishna, but lost her life.

Krishna and Putna

There is also another story of Hera feeding Hercules. Zeus had tricked Hera into nursing the infant Heracles: discovering who he was, she pulled him from her breast, and a spurt of her milk formed the smear across the sky that can be seen to
this day. This led to the origin of the Milky Way.

Milky way and Hercules

If we look at the above two images, we would realize that how similar Greek and Indian mythologies are. Krishna being a common factor.

(Read : Shri Krishna and Achilles)

Hercules went on to become the great warrior and is known for his many adventures, which took him to the far reaches of the Greco-Roman world. One cycle of these adventures became canonical as the “Twelve Labours. Shri Krishna’s whole life has been filled with adventures, with the greatest of them is the winning the Mahabharata for Pandavas.

Hercules’s twelve labours are listed as below:

Slay the Nemean Lion.
Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.
Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis.
Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
Clean the Augean stables in a single day.
Slay the Stymphalian Birds.
Capture the Cretan Bull.
Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.
Steal the apples of the Hesperides.
Capture and bring back Cerberus.

Shri Krishna’s exploits can be found here.

Greek Mythology Indian Mythology Mahabharat

The achilles heel in Indian and greek mythology

Indian mythology and Greek mythology – Similarities between gods and characters

The achilles heel is a phrase borrowed from greek mythology which denotes an area of weakness. Achilles was a great fighter who was washed with water of river styx to become invincible. His mother, Thetis held him by his heel and dipped him into the river. His heel was not washed by the water of magical river and that area remained vulnerable and ultimately was cause of his death when a poisonous arrow lodged in his heel.

Krishna – hit by a poisonous arrow in his heel (Mahabharat)
Achilles – dying after hit by an arrow

In indian mythology, the great epic mahabharat has a similar story. Duryodhana, the elder son of kauravas, was summoned by his mother Gandhari as she wanted him to become invincible. He was supposed to appear naked before his mother, so that wherever Gandhari gaze fell, his body became invincible. But Shri Krishna has different plans, and he convinced Durodhana to wear a loin cloth as it would not look good for a son to appear naked in front of his mother. Later in Mahabharat war, this weakness around his thighs enabled Bheem/Bhima to kill Duryodhana.

We see that in Mahabharata, that many great warriors have weaknesses exploited which led to their downfall. Drona’s weakness for his son Ashwaththama, Karna weakness from his teacher Parshuram to forget his skills when he needed them most. But in Duryodhana’s case, it was Shri Krishna’s masterstroke which made Duryodhana vulnerable.

We see that how fascinating and similar above stories are, and to take it further, Shri Krishna tenure at earth ended in the same way achilles died, by a poisonous arrow in lodged in his heel, this was due to a curse by Gandhari. Gandhari cursed him after the war of mahabharat that after thirty six years of the war he and his clan will be finished.

Are we seeing copy here, but the bigger question is, who copied whom?

Shri Krishna and Hercules