Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

Page: 101

[166:1] This was owing to the fact that the reigning monarch, King Kansa, sought the life of the infant Saviour, and to accomplish his purpose, he sent messengers 'to kill all the infants in the neighboring places.'"[166:2]

Mr. Higgins says:

"Soon after Crishna's birth he was carried away by night and concealed in a region remote from his natal place, for fear of a tyrant whose destroyer it was foretold he would become; and who had, for that reason, ordered all the male children born at that period to be slain."[166:3]

Sir William Jones says of Crishna:

"He passed a life, according to the Indians, of a most extraordinary and incomprehensible nature. His birth was concealed through fear of the reigning tyrant Kansa, who, at the time of his birth, ordered all new-born males to be slain, yet this wonderful babe was preserved."[166:4]

In the Epic poem Mahabarata, composed more than two thousand years ago, we have the whole story of this incarnate deity, born of a virgin, and miraculously escaping in his infancy from the reigning tyrant of his country, related in its original form.

[Pg 167]

Representations of this flight with the babe at midnight are sculptured on the walls of ancient Hindoo temples.[167:1]

This story is also the subject of an immense sculpture in the cave-temple at Elephanta, where the children are represented as being slain. The date of this sculpture is lost in the most remote antiquity. It represents a person holding a drawn sword, surrounded by slaughtered infant boys. Figures of men and women are also represented who are supposed to be supplicating for their children.[167:2]

Thomas Maurice, speaking of this sculpture, says:

"The event of Crishna's birth, and the attempt to destroy him, took place by night, and therefore the shadowy mantle of darkness, upon which mutilated figures of infants are engraved, darkness (at once congenial with his crime and the season of its perpetration), involves the tyrant's bust; the string of death heads marks the multitude of infants slain by his savage mandate; and every object in the sculpture illustrates the events of that Avatar."[167:3]

Another feature which connects these stories is the following:

Sir Wm. Jones tells us that when Crishna was taken out of reach of the tyrant Kansa who sought to slay him, he was fostered at Mathura by Nanda, the herdsman;[167:4] and Canon Farrar, speaking of the sojourn of the Holy Family in Egypt, says:

"St. Matthew neither tells us where the Holy Family abode in Egypt, nor how long their exile continued; but ancient legends say that they remained two years absent from Palestine, and lived at Mataréëh, a few miles north-east of Cairo."[167:5]

Chemnitius, out of Stipulensis, who had it from Peter Martyr, Bishop of Alexandria, in the third century, says, that the place in Egypt where Jesus was banished, is now called Matarea, about ten miles beyond Cairo, that the inhabitants constantly burn a lamp in remembrance of it, and that there is a garden of trees yielding a balsam, which was planted by Jesus when a boy.[167:6]

Here is evidently one and the same legend.

Salivahana, the virgin-born Saviour, anciently worshiped near Cape Comorin, the southerly part of the Peninsula of India, had the same history. It was attempted to destroy him in infancy by a tyrant who was afterward killed by him. Most of the other circumstances, with slight variations, are the same as those told of Crishna and Jesus.[167:7]

[Pg 168]

Buddha's life was also in danger when an infant. In the southern country of Magadha, there lived a king by the name of Bimbasara, who, being fearful of some enemy arising that might overturn his kingdom, frequently assembled his principal ministers together to hold discussion with them on the subject. On one of these occasions they told him that away to the north there was a respectable tribe of people called the Sâkyas, and that belonging to this race there was a youth newly-born, the first-begotten of his mother, &c. This youth, who was Buddha, they said was liable to overturn him, they therefore advised him to "at once raise an army and destroy the child."[168:1]

In the chronicles of the East Mongols, the same tale is to be found repeated in the following story:

"A certain king of a people called Patsala, had a son whose peculiar appearance led the Brahmins at court to prophesy that he would bring evil upon his father, and to advise his destruction. Various modes of execution having failed, the boy was laid in a copper chest and thrown into the Ganges. Rescued by an old peasant who brought him up as his son, he, in due time, learned the story of his escape, and returned to seize upon the kingdom destined for him from his birth."[168:2]

Hau-ki, the Chinese hero of supernatural origin, was exposed in infancy, as the "Shih-king" says:

"He was placed in a narrow lane, but the sheep and oxen protected him with loving care. He was placed in a wide forest, where he was met with by the wood-cutters. He was placed on the cold ice, and a bird screened and supported him with its wings," &c.[168:3]

Mr. Legge draws a comparison with this to the Roman legend of Romulus.

Horus, according to the Egyptian story, was born in the winter, and brought up secretly in the Isle of Buto, for fear of Typhon, who sought his life. Typhon at first schemed to prevent his birth and then sought to destroy him when born.[168:4]

Within historical times, Cyrus, king of Persia (6th cent. B. C.), is the hero of a similar tale. His grandfather, Astyages, had dreamed certain dreams which were interpreted by the Magi to mean that the offspring of his daughter Mandane would expel him from his kingdom.

Alarmed at the prophecy, he handed the child to his kinsman Harpagos to be slain; but this man having entrusted it to a shepherd to be exposed, the latter contrived to save it by exhibiting to [Pg 169]the emissaries of Harpagos the body of a still-born child of which his own wife had just been delivered. Grown to man's estate Cyrus of course justified the prediction of the Magi by his successful revolt against Astyages and assumption of the monarchy.

Herodotus, the Grecian Historian (B. C. 484), relates that Astyages, in a vision, appeared to see a vine grow up from Mandane's womb, which covered all Asia. Having seen this and communicated it to the interpreters of dreams, he put her under guard, resolving to destroy whatever should be born of her; for the Magian interpreters had signified to him from his vision that the child born of Mandane would reign in his stead. Astyages therefore, guarding against this, as soon as Cyrus was born sought to have him destroyed. The story of his exposure on the mountain, and his subsequent good fortune, is then related.[169:1]

Abraham was also a "dangerous child." At the time of his birth, Nimrod, king of Babylon, was informed by his soothsayers that "a child should be born in Babylonia, who would shortly become a great prince, and that he had reason to fear him." The result of this was that Nimrod then issued orders that "all women with child should be guarded with great care, and all children born of them should be put to death."[169:2]