The Mayas are the indigenous people of Mesoamerica, and the ancient civilization they built has left the world stunned. From the Temple of Kukulcan in Chichen Itza to the Temple of the Cross in Palenque and their Mayan religion, they have left their prints in the sands of time.
Many striking similarities between Hinduism and the Mayan religion were found upon extensive research. These notable similarities even appealed to a former ambassador of the United States of America to write a volume named ‘The Ayar-Incas’ in the 1940s, wherein he described the Mayan civilization as ‘unquestionably Hindu’.
With more than 1.25 billion adherents, Hinduism is the third largest religion on the planet.
Here are the similarities between the two historic faiths
The Cycle of Existence
In both religions, death is not the end of life but just another phase in a continuous cycle of birth and death. Life is seen as a cyclical phenomenon, as opposed to the usual belief of linearity in the world. This belief is quite the link between ancient Hindus and early indigenous people of the Americas.
Several faiths belonging to the Western part of the globe, view death as the end of one’s existence but Hindus and ancient Mayas do not. They see death as another stage of reality and a kind of portal to another plane of the Universe. This similarity in the beliefs of religions of two mesmerising civilisations is fascinating, to say the least.
The God of Death
For the Mayans and the Hindus, the Gods of Death are very similar. For the Hindus, Yama is the divinity of death while the Mayans called theirs Yum Cimil, but it does not stop there. In Indian and Mayan history, Yama and Yum Cimil are not considered devils and are truly revered as well as intricately sculpted on towering temple walls.
Half-Man, Half-Animal Divinities
Both religions have several divinities that are part human and part animal in physical appearance. A Hindu example of a God like this would be Lord Narasimha, who is half-human and half-lion. Similar half-man and half-lion sculptures have been found in ancient Mayan temples too. Lord Yali is another Hindu example of a divine amalgamated creation, that features in various temples of India as well as early temples of the Americas.
On the neck of the Hindu Lord Shiva is a serpent which has a holy significance. Even among the Mayans, the serpent is taken seriously – it is seen as an embodiment of the mind and one of the prominent forces of the Universe.
From offering sacrifices in temples to chants to cultural dances, there are several shared characteristics in Hinduism and ancient Mayan religion. Food offerings also dominate both the faiths.
The Concept of Trinity
The concept of trinity is one that is seen in both Hinduism and the Mayan religion.
The Mayans believed that there were three Universes made up of the Serpent (mind), Jaguar (material), and the Bird (spirit). Hindus also believe in the concept of 3 worlds that constitute the Universe which are controlled by a holy trinity of Gods known as the Trimurti. The Trimurti consists of Lord Vishnu (the Preserver – soul), Shiva (the Destroyer – body), and Brahma (the Creator – mind). Essentially, both religions lay an emphasis on the need for synchrony between mind, body and soul to lead a wholesome life.
Both religions are polytheistic, meaning they venerate many gods and goddesses. Both religions also include the worship of rocks, rivers, trees, and animals, which are seen as sacred and holy due to their manifestation of nature.
Hanuman and Echchtl
Across India, Lord Hanuman is one of the most popular Gods known for his strength, courage, intelligence and loyalty. Hanuman means someone with a long jaw and is also known as the Vayu Putra, meaning the son of the God of wind.
In the Aztec legends, Hanuman’s story is almost the same as Echchtl, a divinity that also has an elongated jaw like a monkey and is known as the son of the wind. It is believed that it is his breath that moves the sun. In Hindu tales of Lord Hanuman, he is seen flying in the sun’s direction to consume it.
Temples and Idols
Fascinating temples with countless idols dominate Hinduism and the Mayan religion.
In India, for example, these are some of the well-known temples full of science, rich idols and breathtaking sculptures of divinities:
- Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala
- Tirupati Balaji Temple, Andhra Pradesh
- Shirdi Sai Baba Shrine, Maharashtra
- Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu, and Kashmir
- Siddhivinayak Temple, Maharashtra
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Uttar Pradesh
- Somnath Temple, Gujarat
- Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
- Jagannath Temple, Odisha
The ancient Mayans also believed in the creation of magnificent as well as scientifically constructed temples and some of these are:
- El Castillo, Chichen Itza
- Temple-Pyramid IV, Tikal
- Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal
- Palenque Temples
- Calakmul Temples
- High Temple of Lamanai
The architecture of these temples is very similar as virtually all of them are built using a pyramidal design and taper towards the top. This is quite visible and is one of the first things that anyone will notice upon looking at photographs or visiting the temples in reality.
Astrology, Telepathy, and Knowledge
Astrology, telepathy, and all kinds of ancient knowledge dominated Hinduism as well as the Mayan religion. These faiths focused intensely on the celestial bodies and the way they influenced our lives on this planet. That explains why both religions have their zodiac signs and the concept of horoscope – they weaved many events around the stars, moon, meteors, sun, and other bodies in the heavens. Telepathy and other concepts involving the intricate power of the mind is another prominent feature common to the two religions.
Kundalini and Kultunlilni
In the Mayan language, kultunlilni means’ divine power’ while the Sanskrit word kundalini means ‘life energy and consciousness power’ – the similarity in wordplay requires no explanation.
Ayurvedic and Mayan Medicine
In Hinduism and the Mayan religion, there are ancient sciences of medicine and life. These sciences extensively discuss diseases, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and cure. Both sciences in Hinduism and Mayan medicine depend a lot on herbal mixtures, which are mainly extracted from different plants. The medicines’ administration is primarily done by priests in both Indian Ayurveda and traditional Mayan medicine.
Pacifist and Vegetarian Culture
Another dominant similarity between the two religions is that they are both inherently torch-bearers of peace and vegetarianism is extensively promoted. Vegetarianism was believed to provide the exact nutrients to a human body that are required for the most healthy form of existence without causing harm to faunal ecology. History shows that it is even this pacifist nature of the religions that allowed British and Spanish colonialists to successfully invade the Indian subcontinent and the Mesoamericas, respectively. It was easy for invaders because Hinduism and the Mayan religion believed in peaceful living and shunned warfare.
The Indian subcontinent and the Mesoamericas are separated by thousands of kilometres and yet there is a lot of common ground between Hinduism and the ancient Mayan religion. Scholars, researchers, and historians have opined that ancient Indians migrated to the Mesoamericas and led the development of the area that we know as the Mayan civilization today. Considering these remarkable and incredible similarities in both religions, that may not even be far from the truth.