ANCIENT EGYPT AND INDIA – Cultural relations

31 Aug

ANCIENT EGYPT AND INDIA – Cultural relations

 I am new to this forum I noticed quite a few posts were made on the interesting subject of relations between Ancient Egypt and . Then I said to myself “let me add one more to the heap “.

1. Books

1.1 Peter Von Bohlen (1796 – 1840), a German Indologist, in his two volume monumental work Ancient with special reference to . He thought there was a cultural connection between the two in ancient times. 

1.2 Many others have also written on similar lines (e.g. El Mansouri, Sir   William Jones, Paul William Roberts, and Adolf Eramn et al). 


2.1. Many Anthropologists have observed that the Egyptians as a race (type ‘P’) are more Asiatic than African.

 2.2 As per the legends and lore, the early Egyptians were from PUNT, an Asiatic country to the east of . Going by the description given of its coastline washed by the great seas, its hills and valleys, its vegetation (coconut trees among others), its animals (including long tailed monkeys) the Punt, the scholars surmise, may in fact be the Malabar coast.

 3. Sphinx and Buttocks

There is very a delightful finding about the Sphinx. Joshua T Katz of Princeton  University in his scholarly paper “The riddle of the Sp (h) ij   and her Indic and her Indo-European Background”    has come up with a view that the name Sphinx is related to a Greek noun which in turn is derived from a Sanskrit word Sphij, meaning  “ Buttocks”. Now you know to where it all comes down.

Interestingly, when you type in sphij in Google search, it shoots back “Did you mean Sphinx?”

No, I am not joking. Mr. Katz’s research paper is a very serious work though   a pedantic one. Check this link

4. Emperor Ashoka’s contacts with

4.1 A very authentic record of is, of course, Ashoka’s 13th rock edict (3rd century B.C). Here in, the Emperor refers to his contact with Ptolemy II of (285-246 B. C) in connection with the expansion of Dharma (Buddhism) into Egypt and its neighboring lands.

 4.2 Ashoka ,  in his Second Edict refers to philanthropic works (such as medical help for humans and animals, digging wells, planting trees etc.) taken up by his missionaries in the lands ruled by Theos II of Syria (260 to 240 B. C) and his neighbors , including Egypt.

 4.3. Pliny (78 A, D) mentions that Dionysius was Ptolemy’s ambassador in the court of Ashoka. The Emperor’s rock edict records that Dionysus was one of the recipients of Dharma (Buddhism).

5. Gnostics and Buddhism

5.1 Coming to the present era, Dio Chrysostum (1st century A. D.) and Clement (2nd century A. D) have written that at Alexandria Indian scholars were a common sight.

5.2 Many scholars have has pointed to a number of similarities between Mahayana Buddhism and the Gnosticism of the early Christian centuries that developed in ancient Egypt..The Greek term Gnosis is a derivative of the Sanskrit term Jnana both meaning knowledge.  In both Gnosticism and Buddhism, the emphasis is on Wisdom, compassion and eradication of the opposite of gnosis/consciousness, that is, ignorance the root of evil.

5.3 In the Gospel of Thomas (translated by Peterson Brown), at verse 90, Yeshua says Come unto me, for my yoga is natural and my lordship is gentle—and you shall find repose for yourselves. It is startling to find term “Yoga” in a first century Christian document written in Egypt Perhaps it refers to Sahja Yoga. Check the following link

6. Oxyrhynchus Papyrus

During the early years of the 20th century a number of fragments of papyri –dating from 250 B.C. to 100 A.D- were discovered at Oxyrhynchus (now called el Bahnansa) in Egypt. The excavations yielded enormous collections of papyrus from Greek and Roman periods of Egyptian history. Among the finds was an incomplete manuscript of a Greek mime ( a skit) .For purpose of identification this fragment of papyrus it is called Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 413 .The scene of action of the skit is India and there are a number of Indian characters who speak dialogue in an Indian language. Dr. E. Hultzsch (1857-1927), a noted German Indologist, identified some words of the dialogue as an archaic form of Kannada, one of the four major languages of South India. Recent studies have supported Dr. Hultzsch’s finding. The papyrus is dated first or second century A.D.  This seems to prove that there were cultural and trade contacts between and the Mediterranean region at least as far back as in the early part of the first millennium CE.

7. Quseir

7.1 The excavation of the Quseir (a  Red Sea port in  Egypt)  shipwreck  also point to trade links between Egypt and India in the early Roman Imperial period.  The wreck site revealed Campanian- amphoras (A cylindrical two-handled amphora with oval-section handles and an almond-shaped rim) from Century AD.  Perhaps the ship was outbound for  India and was part of a fleet sent by Augustus to capture a controlling interest in the Indian Ocean trade

7.2 Further, three of inscriptions, one in a Prakrit and two in Old Tamil, found in Qusei also support the likelihood of flourishing trade between . This Suggests South India may have been the origin of the Indian merchants  stationed in Egypt.

–Neela – Kali

John .H. Speke (1827 – 1864) an officer in the British Indian Army , who discovered the source of the Nile , in 1844 , attributed his success , among other things , to the guidance he received from an Indian. The advise given was to look for the Neela (meaning Blue in Sanskrit, hence the  Nile) flowqing between the peaks of Chandragiri  (Mountains of the Moon) below the country of Amara. To his wonder, what Speke discovered fitted with the location indicated by the Indian.

9. What Next?

9.1 Both the old countries have been through thick and thin of things over the ages .It is not surprising if they interacted over a number of issues.

9.2 However, there have been no serious studies, in the recent past, on the subject of cultural relations between ancient Egypt and India. In case such studies are taken up, recently, can some one please enlighten me?


Posted by on August 31, 2012 in History


Tags: ,

8 responses to “ANCIENT EGYPT AND INDIA – Cultural relations

  1. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    very informative and scholarly. it is possible that some englishmen knew of this by 1916, the earliest known date for the following:

    the carnal desires of the camel

    are far greater than you think

    at the height of his seasonal passion

    he often tries and buggers the sphinx

    but the rear of the sphinx

    is filled with the sands of the file

    that explains my friend

    the eternal gloom of the camel and

    the inscrutable smile of the sphinx


  2. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 6:40 pm


    that was a great painstakingly gathered information complete with authentic references and links. i am not surprised by the connection between ancient india and the egyptians. having stayed in the middle east for many years i have always perceived much similarities between them and us in things like family values, running of family affairs, the mothers’ roles in the lives of their children, the love for music, films, and even the propensity for corruption and the ubiquitous lie.

    a good blog i thought that deserved more hits and comments.

    khwaja massoud

  3. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm


    very informative article.

    the ancient temples of egypt had many similarities with indian temples…we read that the figurines of their gods were taken in a procession around the temples…

    they too believed in afterlife but went to extremes to preserve their dead. that part isnt similar to our culture, but they worshipped sun god and their kings were believed to have descended from the sun…

    interesting post.
    keep posting


    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 6:44 pm


      please refer “the history of world architecture” by banister fletcher.we studied egyptian architectural history a little , in the first year..i am sure books on ancient egyptian religion would offer much more info…


  4. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    hi mr. rao,
    there’s an interesting book you might want to read called, “return of the aryans” by bhagwan s gidwani. it was published last year and should be available in most bookstores in bangalore. his earlier book that got a lot of acclaim was “the sword of tipu sultan”.

    his hypothesis that he converts into a story form is that the aryans didn’t invade the sub-continent at all. explorers from the bank of the sindhu river set out from here, settled at various places and some returned. it is well researched and makes for an enjoyable read. it turns on their head, theories of the aryan invasion thrust upon us since childhood. check it out.



  5. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    sreenivasa rao:
    interesting blog. this association between sphinx and sanskrit and buttocks . the poem by asho5 also. funny alright . i tried to go to yur reference but was not able to do so . will keep trying. however, sphinx is kind of old. sophocles in 5/6th century mentions it in his oedipus . oedipus legend itself must be older the greek-sanskrit association is much later isn’t it ? unless there was a mother word somewhere !


    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      please try this link.

      or paste it in the address bar.

      i am amused the sphij is receiving ss much attention.katz’s paper is a serious work. see this abstract abstract:

      the name of the sphinx, the greek female monster who had fun killing passers-by who could
      not answer her riddle, has long been an etymological conundrum. on the basis of literary, linguistic, and
      anthropological evidence from, above all, greece and india, this paper comes to a novel understanding of
      the sphinx’ origin, concluding that her oldest moniker, (s)f8k-, is related to a newly uncovered greek
      noun f€ki° ‘buttocks’ and to a sanskrit word for the same body part, sphij-, a hitherto misunderstood
      form of which appears, in turn, in a riddle in the oldest indic text, the rigveda. this derivation situates
      the greek creature squarely in the cross-culturally typically aggressive and sexually charged genre of

      © joshua t. katz.

      by the way did you see my reply about the mahayana .

      i am wondering whether i should post it as a new blog. let me see if some react to it.


  6. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    you should also check out “in search of the cradle of civilization” by george feuerstein,subhash kak,david frawley. david frawley is also known by the name pundit vamana shastri. this is a very enlightening read; the book draws references to indic kingdoms in the middle east like the mittanis and hittites.

    Anniyan Anniyan


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