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: 17Sôma in Sanskrit—the juice of which imparted immortality. This most wonderful tree was guarded by spirits.[12:4]
Still more striking is the Hindoo legend of the "Elysium" or "Paradise," which is as follows:
"In the sacred mountain Meru, which is perpetually clothed in the golden rays of the Sun, and whose lofty summit reaches into heaven, no sinful man can exist. It is guarded by a dreadful dragon. It is adorned with many celestial plants and trees, and is watered by four rivers, which thence separate and flow to the four chief directions."[12:5]
The Hindoos, like the philosophers of the Ionic school (Thales, for instance), held water to be the first existing and all-pervading principle, at the same time allowing the co-operation and influence of an immaterial intelligence in the work of creation.[12:6] A Vedic poet, meditating on the Creation, uses the following expressions:
"Nothing that is was then, even what is not, did not exist then." "There was no space, no life, and lastly there was no time, no difference between day and night, no solar torch by which morning might have been told from evening." "Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled in gloom profound, as ocean without light."[12:7]
The Hindoo legend approaches very nearly to that preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus, it is said that Siva, as the Supreme Being, desired to tempt Brahmá (who had taken human form, and was called Swayambhura—son of the self-existent), and for this object he dropped from heaven a blossom of the sacred fig tree.
Swayambhura, instigated by his wife, Satarupa, endeavors to obtain this blossom, thinking its possession will render him immortal and divine; but when he has succeeded in doing so, he is cursed by Siva, and doomed to misery and degradation.[13:1] The sacred Indian fig is endowed by the Brahmins and the Buddhists with mysterious significance, as the "Tree of Knowledge" or "Intelligence."[13:2]
There is no Hindoo legend of the Creation similar to the Persian and Hebrew accounts, and Ceylon was never believed to have been the Paradise or home of our first parents, although such stories are in circulation.[13:3] The Hindoo religion states—as we have already seen—Mount Meru to be the Paradise, out of which went four rivers.
We have noticed that the "Gardens of Paradise" are said to have been guarded by Dragons, and that, according to the Genesis account, it was Cherubim that protected Eden. This apparent difference in the legends is owing to the fact that we have come in our modern times to speak of Cherub as though it were an other name for an Angel. But the Cherub of the writer of Genesis, the Cherub of Assyria, the Cherub of Babylon, the Cherub of the entire Orient, at the time the Eden story was written, was not at all an Angel, but an animal, and a mythological one at that. The Cherub had, in some cases, the body of a lion, with the head of an other animal, or a man, and the wings of a bird. In Ezekiel they have the body of a man, whose head, besides a human countenance, has also that of a Lion, an Ox and an Eagle. They are provided with four wings, and the whole body is spangled with innumerable eyes. In Assyria and Babylon they appear as winged bulls with human faces, and are placed at the gateways of palaces and temples as guardian genii who watch over the dwelling, as the Cherubim in Genesis watch the "Tree of Life."
Most Jewish writers and Christian Fathers conceived the Cherubim as Angels. Most theologians also considered them as Angels, until Michaelis showed them to be a mythological animal, a poetical creation.[13:4]
We see then, that our Cherub is simply a Dragon.
To continue our inquiry regarding the prevalence of the Eden-myth among nations of antiquity.
The Chinese have their Age of Virtue, when nature furnished abundant food, and man lived peacefully, surrounded by all the beasts. In their sacred books there is a story concerning a mysterious garden, where grew a tree bearing "apples of immortality," guarded by a winged serpent, called a Dragon. They describe a primitive age of the world, when the earth yielded abundance of delicious fruits without cultivation, and the seasons were untroubled by wind and storms. There was no calamity, sickness, or death. Men were then good without effort; for the human heart was in harmony with the peacefulness and beauty of nature.
The "Golden Age" of the past is much dwelt upon by their ancient commentators. One of them says:
"All places were then equally the native county of every man. Flocks wandered in the fields without any guide; birds filled the air with their melodious voices; and the fruits grew of their own accord. Men lived pleasantly with the animals, and all creatures were members of the same family. Ignorant of evil, man lived in simplicity and perfect innocence."
Another commentator says:
"In the first age of perfect purity, all was in harmony, and the passions did not occasion the slightest murmur. Man, united to sovereign reason within, conformed his outward actions to sovereign justice. Far from all duplicity and falsehood, his soul received marvelous felicity from heaven, and the purest delights from earth."
"A delicious garden refreshed with zephyrs, and planted with odoriferous trees, was situated in the middle of a mountain, which was the avenue of heaven. The waters that moistened it flowed from a source called the 'Fountain of Immortality'. He who drinks of it never dies. Thence flowed four rivers. A Golden River, betwixt the South and East, a Red River, between the North and East, the River of the Lamb between the North and West."
The animal Kaiming guards the entrance.
Partly by an undue thirst for knowledge, and partly by increasing sensuality, and the seduction of woman, man fell. Then passion and lust ruled in the human mind, and war with the animals began. In one of the Chinese sacred volumes, called the Chi-King, it is said that:
"All was subject to man at first, but a woman threw us into slavery. The wise husband raised up a bulwark of walls,