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Aztecs: The Hindu Connection?!
This is the third article in the series where I try to see if there was any connection between the Aztec civilization of Mexico and the eastern Vedic Indian civilization. The Aztec civilization are one of the prominent pre-Columbian civilizations to have made a mark in Mesoamerica. Certain scholars who have studied the Aztec history, mythology and culture have indicated possible similarities with Ancient Indian Hinduism.
Aztecs: Who were they
The Aztec civilization is known to have in the post-classical period, in the 14th centurey A.D. It was formed as a triple-alliance between the city-states of Texcoco, Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan, all situated within modern day central Mexico. However, the Aztec people who formed the Aztec empire are known to have migrated to Mesoamerica from Northern Mexico in 6th century A.D. The Aztec empire consisted mainly people who spoke the Nahua language and few other non-Nahua cultures. The empire also included Chiapas and Guatemala, and extended from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans. It reached its peak during the 16th century just before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
The Aztec religion and mythology
The Nahua people who majorly constituted the Aztec culture worshiped Quetzalcoatl or the “feathered serpent” as their chief deity. He was equivalent to Kukulcan in the Mayan civilization. He was related to the gods of the wind, of Venus and of the dawn. He was known to have given the Nahuati people (Nahua speaking people) arts, crafts and knowledge. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood. He was one of the major gods in the Aztec pantheon, along with Teacatlipoca, Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli.
Possible relationship with Vedic India
Certain learned scholars who have done extensive research on both Hindu as well as the Aztec mythology have expressed a possible connection between these two cultures. However, there is no proof available till today to support these claims and they require more research. Following are some connections that can be found in these two cultures.
1. Quetzalcoatl, one of the chief deities in the Aztec culture was known by several names in Mesoamerican civilizations such as Kukulcan in the Mayan culture. Quetzalcoatl is equated to the Indian sage Astika who built the civilization at Tula for estranged Nagas (snake worshipers) who had escaped persecution in their homelands at the hands of king Janmejaya. The leader/king of the nagas was called Takshaka who led the surviving nagas to patala (South America). As a coincidence, Mexico has a place with the name 'Texcoco'.
2. The Olmecs (predecessors of Toltecs, Mayans and Toltecs) had a calendar that starts from 3,113 BC. Interestingly, the great Mahabharata war in the east ended almost during the same time. Also, Janmejaya, the successor of the Pandavas and Kauravas became an emperor in the Indian subcontinent around the same century.
3. Ancient American texts (pre-classical texts) talk about a mighty warrior who came from the east and married one of the Naga princesses. According to Indian texts, Arjuna, the demigod and one of the Pandava princes, was a skilled warrior who went to the far end of the world and married a Naga princess.
4. Both cultures have recorded elaborate ceremonies in order to request their gods for helping in human affairs such as agriculture. Both cultures seem to have similar concepts of gods, nature and their relationship with humans.
5. The creation myth also seem to be very similar in both cultures. Both believed in the cycle of creation. Both cultures believed that it took the gods five attempts to create the earth and mankind, and they finally got it right in the fifth attempt. In fact, there are many similarities between the Indian Rig Veda and the Mexican Popul Vuh. Hymn 121 of Book 10 in Rig Veda is similar to the creation description of Popol Vuh. Both are also similar in describing how the universe was formed and our purpose.
While these look like possible connections, they deserve a deeper research in order to prove or disprove a possible connection between these two civilizations.