It is said that Greek explorer Megasthenes took the tale of Lord Krishna from India to Greece, whom he called Heracles. Heracles’ tales then became part of the Greek mythology, with appropriate modifications to fit into Greek environment. Lets figure out.
Such was the aura of Lord Krishna that some westerners carried his stories to their countries and narrated to the locals. These stories were modified to suit their cultures, gods and deities. One of such localization is seen with Greek God Heracles. If we compare Lord Krishna with Heracles then we find many similarities between the two. There are evidences which prove that Heracles is none other than Lord Krishna.
Megasthenes Referred Lord Krishna As Heracles In Indica
There are evidences provided by Greek scholars, who came to India during and after Alexander’s campaign.
Megasthenes (300 BCE) journeyed across India and wrote what he saw and heard in his literary works ‘Indica’. In Indica, It is mentioned, Megasthenes to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, described, “An Indian tribe called Sourasenoi, who especially worshipped Heracles in their land, and this land had two cities, Methora and Kleisobora, and a navigable river, the Jobares.”
The incorrect names may be because the Greek, like other westerners, were not able to pronounce the Sanskrit words or Indian names correctly. Many scholars have suggested that the deity identified as Heracles was Lord Krishna. Edwin Francis Bryant adds the following in this regard:
“The Sourasenoi refers to the Shurasenas – a branch of the Yadav dynasty to which Lord Krishna belonged; Heracles to Hare-Krishna; Mehtora to Mathura – Lord Krishna’s birth place; Kleisobora to Krishnapura – the city of Lord Krishna; and the Jobares to the Yamuna – the famous river in the Lord Krishna story.”
Quintus Curtius Referred Lord Krishna as Heracles
Quintus Curtius, a Roman historian, also mentions that when Alexander the Great confronted Porus (The Greek name for Indian King Puru), Porus’ soldiers were carrying an image of Heracles in their vanguard.
It is to be noted, Porus soldiers were followers of lord Krishna and used to read Bhagavad Gita for motivation before going to any war.
Greek scholar Seleucus Referred Lord Krishna as Heracles
Greek scholar “Seleucus” states that the city Polibrotha (Pataliputra or Patna) was founded by Heracles, 138 generations before the reign of King Sandrocottas (The Greek name for Chandragupta Maurya)
Above information helps us calculating the tentative time period of Lord Krishna. Most scholars have assumed the ruling span of each King in those times to be somewhere around 20-25 years. The 138 generations would then give us almost 3000 years between Heracles and Chandragupta Maurya giving the time of Lord Krishna somewhere close to 3300 BCE.
Similarities In Wonders of Heracles And Lord Krishna
Now, coming into the similarities between the two, Heracles and Lord Krishna did many wonders. The 12 labors of Heracles look reflection of miracles performed by lord Krishna.
Heracles Fighting With Serpentine Hydra and Lord Krishna Defeating Serpent Kaliya
Lord Krishna didn’t kill Kalingarayan (Serpent kaliya), instead he asked him to leave the Yamuna river and go away from Brindavan. Simialrly, Heracles did not kill Serpent hydra, he only placed a huge stone over his head.
Heracles Killing The Stymphalian Birds And Lord Krishna Killing Bakasura – The Bird Demon
Heracles Capturing the Cretan Bull and Lord Krishna Slaying Arishtasura – The Bull Demon
Heracles Rounding Up Horses Of Diomedes and Lord Krishna Battling Against keshi – The Horse Demon
The youthful Lord Krishna slayed the demon Keshi, who appeared in the guise of a horse. This subject probably has its origins in Hellenistic legends, most notably the labors of Heracles in which the Greek hero slays the horses of Diomedes.
Heracles and Narsimha – Lion Act
As per one of the 12 labors of Heracles, Once there was a fierce lion roaming ancient Nemea in Greece. Heracles killed the Nemean lion. After killing him, Heracles skinned the lion and wore the skin like a coat of Armour. This story seems to be similar of Narsimha – The fourth avatar of Vishnu. Narasimha killed demon Hiranyakashyipu. Lord Krishna is eighth Avatar of Vishnu.
Heracles Carrying World And Lord Krishna Carrying Govardhan Mountain
Lord Krishna’s uncle Kansa and Heracles’ step mother Hera
Both were born by a mortal virgin mother and a divine Father. When Heracles was born, his step-mother goddess Hera, wife of zeus did not like him. She wanted Heracles to be dead and she sent two serpents to kill him.
Above incident is quite similar to the infancy of Lord Krishna when his uncle Kansa sent a number of demons to kill him. The famous incident was with Putna, who came to feed young Lord Krishna, but lost her life.
There is also another story of Hera feeding Heracles. 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.
Influence Of Lord Krishna On Greek Kings
We have evidence of Ancient Greek Kings who worshipped lord Krishna. It also points out that slight change in stories of Heracles may be due to language barriers, miscommunication or mistranslation by Indian or Greek scholars. It resulted Lord Krishna turning to Heracles in Greek.
Greek King Agathocles Was A Worshipper Of Lord Krishna
Between 190 and 180 BCE, Agathocles ruled Ai-Khanoum, in the Kunduz area of Afghanistan. He isued several silver, gold and bronze coins, rectangular or square in shape with images of Indian deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Vasudeva, Balarama and Buddha. Inscriptions were written on these coins in Brahmi language, which means “the money belongs to Rajane Agathuklayasa.”
Dating to 180 BC, These square coins with Balrama on one side and Lord Krishna on the another, were digged out from ground recently from Al Khanoun in Afghanistan. This is one of the earliest proof that lord Lord Krishna was worhipped as a major deity and also the proof that indian kingdom extended upto Afghanistan and Iraq.
Greek Ambassador Heliodorus Was a Worshipper Of Lord Krishna
Greek ambassador Heliodors was fond of herakles (Lord Krishna). He created multiple garuda banner dedicated to lord Krishna. This description can be found at the Besnagar (Present day Bhopal) inscription (113 BC) in Madhya pradesh.
The translation of above inscription is provided in the below image.
Latin Writer Ovid States About Heracles And Lord Krishna
The Latin writer Ovid (43 BC – AD 17) writes, Both Greeks and Romans habitually tried to understand the religions of India by trying to fit them as far as possible into Greco-Roman categories. Deities in particular were spoken of, not in Indian but in Greek terms and called by Greek names. Thus Shiva was identified as ‘Dionysos’, and Hare Krishna as ‘Heracles’.