Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A -Achilles Heel

Mobile musings - the theme for this A to Z
challenge features a blog with a picture
clicked by me on my mobile phone 

A – Achilles heel

As I begin the A to Z challenge, this is exactly the condition that I have developed.  
But I am determined and so here I begin.
However forgive me if I develop Achilles heel midway through the challenge.

Wikipedia the most unofficial yet the most dependable source of information defines 
An Achilles heel as a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength, which can actually or potentially lead to downfall. Achilles heel as a term came about from the Greek mythology  later being referred commonly as a mental condition when one chicken’s out in the last minute.

In Greek mythology, when Achilles was a baby, it was foretold that he would die young. To prevent his death, his mother Thetis took Achilles to the River Styx, which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability, and dipped his body into the water. But as Thetis held Achilles by the heel, his heel was not washed over by the water of the magical river. Achilles grew up to be a man of war who survived many great battles. But one day, a poisonous arrow shot at him was lodged in his heel, killing him shortly after.

Thetis dipping Achilles in river Styx
Sculpture : Thomas Banks
Picture shot on Nokia 520
Location : V&A museum, London   

As I was reading this story framed in front of this wonderfully sculpted work art by  18th century scupltor Thomas Banks, at the Victoria and Albert musuem it rang very similar bells to its equivalent in the Indian mythology .

Mahabharata the Indian Legend has it that Duryodhana, the eldest of Kaurava prince was getting ready for the battle of Kurukshetra. Gandhari  his mother, who had inflicted upon herself to be blindfolded all her life as a penance for her husband Drithrashtra, the blind Kaurava king possessed a boon by virtue of her penance. 

When the tensions were running high before the preparations for the epic Battle at Kurukshetra, Gandhari  decided to exercise her boon and summoned her eldest son Duryodhana to seek  her blessings. She asked him to bathe and enter the room naked so that she could remove her blindfold for him and transfer the mystical power of her eye sight  to fall upon Duryodhana’s body and make him  invincible to any attack by any weapon in the battlefield.
As Duryodhana walks along the river stark naked after bathing, to be received by Gandhari,  he stumbles upon Krishna  who admonishes him for appearing naked in front of his (blindfolded)  mother. Probably out of embarassment,  Duryodhana decides to cover his groin and his thighs with a loin cloth and appears before his mother.  As Gandhari confers her powers upon him, his entire body barring his groin and thighs are blessed with her power of becoming as strong as steel  thus making him in-vulnerable to any attack on the battlefield.
In  the war ensuing afterwards Bhima his nemesis, upon guidance from Krishna  attacks his thighs with a mace, thus killing Duryodhana .

Achilles the invincible was also killed thus when an arrow shot by Paris, guided by Apollo – greek God of music and arts punctures Achilles heel .

Is’nt this a striking resemblance of characters from two mythologies – eastern and western ?  
Paris – The Trojan prince from Greek Mythology – Bhima  one of the Pandava prince 
Apollo – The Greek god of Music and arts – possibly plays Krishna’s role 
Achilles – the invincible with a vulnerable heel  is the equivalent of Duryodhana, blessed by Gandhari’s  mystic power but for his Thighs and groin.

Here are some other striking resemblances of Mythical characters :
Zeus – The father of greek gods  - Equivalent of Brahma  in Hindu Mythology ?
Athena – Greek Goddess of  wisdom  - possible equivalent of Ganesha  in Hindu Mythology?
Apollo – Greek god of music and performing arts – possible equivalent of Saraswati  in Hindu Mythology?
Sphinx – the Half animal half female structure from Greek Mythology  - Equivalent of Kamadenu  in Hindu Mythology?

Could there be a common source from where all these mythologies originated ? 
Could it be possible that various civilizations that retold the stories by word of mouth for generations across centuries actually originated from one source.  As people migrated eastwards and westwards these mythologies transformed to suit the local dialects, ethos, seasons and social conditions bringing in subtle variations to the one original epic ?

1 comment:

  1. I agree that I think there is a common thread in all mythologies. In the Germanic-The Niebelungenlied (Germans love long words) Sigfried killed fafner, the dragon, and bathed in his blood to become invincible but a leaf landed on his back and that one area he was vulnerable. Later, he was killed by an arrow.


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