Comparative Theology: Hindu Pantheon and the Greek and Roman Pantheons

Artfully adorned Aphrodite, deathless
child of Zeus and weaver of wiles I beg you please don’t hurt me, don’t overcome my spirit, goddess, with longing,
but come here, if ever at other moments hearing these my words from afar you listened and responded: leaving your father’s house, all, golden, you came then,
hitching up your chariot: lovely sparrows
drew you quickly over the dark earth, whirling on fine beating wings from the heights of heaven, down through the sky
Sappho’s Ode to Aphrodite translated by

In the Great Courses lecture, Hans-Freidrich Mueller, PhD comments on the comparative theology between these two seemingly distant pantheons of the ancient world

Other gods of interest include Varuna, who, like Greek Poseidon and Roman Neptune, was a god of waters, earthquakes, and justice. Surya, god of the sun, may be compared with Greek Helios and Roman Sol; Chandra, god of
the moon, with Greek Selene and Roman Luna. Vedic Vishwakarma was like Greek Hephaistos and Roman Vulcan; the Aswins were like the twins Castor and Pollux (also known as the Dioscuri). Ganesha has been compared to Janus; Balarama with Bacchus; Kartikeya with Ares and Mars; Durga with Hera and Juno; Sarasvati with Athena and Minerva; Sri with Aphrodite and Venus;
and Kama with Eros and Cupid.

I can only imagine a world in which western Paganism was not eradicated by Christianity. This world would probably be somewhat like India, home to a handful of the worlds extant major religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. India’s ancient and medieval tolerance of religion was markedly different from the medieval world of the west. Though there’s little truth in the Wiccan sentiment of continuity between Pre-Christian paganism and modern Wicca, the idea of the “burning times,” is an interesting setting in which Western paganism was almost totally lost. Many times, the only surviving texts to reference, such as Snori’s Poetic Edda, are actually Christian reflections on Paganism that situate the Pagan world in a Christian cosmology. Unfortunately today, India appears to be losing some of that tolerance that it once held. But perhaps many Hindus see this as a method of survival, in the face of the eradication of Paganism by the monotheistic traditions. I would hope a spirit of religious plurality survives, but not at the sake of losing the gods.

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