Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Arda Vs. Aryavartha

Arda Vs. Aryavartha

The juxtaposition of Indian Mythology with Tolkien's Mythology produces some very interesting parallels. However, I strongly suggest that they remain only those-- parallels, and I urge the readers against riding the current band-wagon of "everything is Indian".

It is interesting that Tolkien's literature doesnt have the words "God" or "Divine". His world (called the Arda, of which "Middle-Earth" forms a part) is a quite natural , matter-of-fact one where "magic", or "divine intervention" as Jules puts it in "Pulp Fiction", are as present as they are absent. The people depend on their own selves for protection and expect no miracle from any deity. But then there are Miracles and unexplained incidents. As for Elves, that which Samwise calls magic, is what they call skill-- the same skill that wrought the Silmarils, rings of power and the cloaks of the Fellowship.

Tolkein, as is said by himself, wanted to create a mythology for England because it had none of its own. The central theme of Ainulindale and Valaquenta, the first two chapters of Silmarillion is the concept of One God, Angels, and a fallen Angel who turns people away from Good-- the premises of Christianity. But along the way, because of the robustness of the starting idea and the fecund imagination of Tolkien, the mythology departed from its starting point and took on a unique form of itself. It is a kown fact that Tolkien, a professor of Old English and a Historian, included also the elements of the Nordic mythology into his world-- the Elven language of Quenya is supposed to be derived from Finnish. Yet, the ancient pre-abrahamic nature-worshipping mythologies of the world are so connected that we can already see parallels emerging thereof between the two aforementioned in the title.

It is worthwhile to note that the powers of the world, collectively called the Valar (plural of Vala), are much more than just Angels of the Abrahamic religions--
Manwe, the King of Valar, is the lord of winds,
Varda (who in middle-earth is called Elbereth), Manwe's consort is the giver of light-- she made the stars and the ancient lamps that shone in Arda,
Aule is lord of all the Arda's crust-- Mountains, plains, etc,
Yavanna, Aule's consort holds dominion on all things that green and growing,
Ulmo is the lord of waters, and so on...
In a single sentence, they are powers of nature, the equivalent of the 33 deities of Rig Veda suggesting a polytheistic nature resembling those of Greeco-Roman or Nordic Mythos.

Yet, there is a deeper similarity than this: Silmarillion begins (I think) with:
"In the beginning there was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Illuvatar". Illuvatar is of course the name for "God" in Tolkien's Myth and then the story continues saying that He created the Ainur, of who, the Valar are the more powerful ones. This should immediately lead us to the concept of "Henotheism"-- the Vedic religion, and the Indian religion right now, demanded a seperate kind of term to describe them-- They are polytheistic on the outer side, but the concept of "One" forms the underlying matrix for all theories that emanate out of them. Also, note that the conept of "One" is absent from Greeco-Roman and Nordic Mythologies.

Secondly, Ainulindale-- "The Music of the Ainur" is said to have made the world. The One gave them a theme to sing and when they sang it, the world materialised out of their song. This, as Indians, we can relate to the concept of "aadi naada"-- the eternal anaahata (meaning that which doesnt make a "sound") rhythm that existed before eternity.

And lastly, if you look at the map of Arda in the First Age (which resembles a real-world map), you will find that the land of Hildorien, where Men woke up first i.e., created, lies exactly where India is. Well, well...Ahem! No comments.

well, actually 2 final comments:

1) Alas that people talk of "the others" in the same breath as Tolkien!
2) Since I am not a scholar, I dont have to bother about copyrights (or copylefts) of this very important article.


Sketchy Self said...

kedar, see
great site!

Gandaragolaka said...

I know of this one... but totally went out of my mind in recent months... great site!

In fact, I had got so much inspired that I even brought books of Nordic Myth and read some of the stories such as Nibelungenlied, Beowulf, Volsunga saga, and Heimskringla which were available in Miss. St. library.

I also found an old copy of Kalevala there, but unfortunately, it was in the form of a long long poem written in Finnish!

By the way, the movie 13th warrior has a man named "beowulf" I think...

Ragz said...

I couldnt agree more about the parallels, but I kind of thought that every major literature has parallels, be it the Trojan war, or ramayana, or mahabharata or the Tolkein mythology. But good one kedar, kind of set my mind rolling over this for long

Gandaragolaka said...

actually you put your finger on a relevant point... all of the works you have mentioned are non-abrahamic myths... and most of these have interesting parallels.

Ragz said...

whats up boss? no posts!!!!!

Gandaragolaka said...

good question...

a trip to india (hyderabad) made me wonder if there is more to life than blogs...