Sacred Landscape and Water Mythology in Early Ireland and Ancient India

Séamus Mac Mathúna

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This paper investigates the manner in which sacred landscapes in early Ireland and ancient India were employed to effect the acceptance of new beliefs and the foundation of new kingdoms. Attention is drawn to traditions relating to the marking out and possession of these landscapes, including legends concerning the introduction of Christinaity to Ireland and Buddhism to India, with particular emphasis on Ireland, and the subjugation of chthonic forces, such as dragons and serpents. The examination of the legends and myths, may of which involve goddesses of fertility, leads to the identification of a number of linkages clustering around the concepts of water mythology and sacred kingship (cows, milk, horse sacrifice, wisdom, justice, poetic inspiration). The linkages are sufficiently pervasive to confirm that in both traditions there existed the belief in a watery underworld peopled by supernatural beings endowed with generative and fertile powers whose activities included, amongst other things, functioning as guardians of sacred kingship. They were called nagas and yakshas in India, and áes síde or Túatha Dé Danann in Ireland. The evidence also suggests that many of the qualities of Lord Varuna, the universal monarch and king of the nagas, are shared in the early Irish tradition not only by the god Lug but also by the sea god Manannán Mac Lir.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages3-53
    JournalJournal of Indo-European Studies Monograph Series: Sacred Topology in Early Ireland and Ancient India: Religious Paradigm Shift.
    Volume57
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2010

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    Ireland
    Water
    Ancient India
    Mythology
    Linkage
    Deity
    Legend
    India
    Kingship
    Supernatural
    Possession
    Fertility
    Monarch
    Buddhism
    Serpent
    Guardian
    Milk
    Dragon
    Underworld
    Goddess

    Cite this

    Mac Mathúna, Séamus. / Sacred Landscape and Water Mythology in Early Ireland and Ancient India. 2010 ; Vol. 57. pp. 3-53.
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    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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