Tolkien and Hindu Mythology

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avantika 04/May/2006 at 06:55 AM
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I was writing a poem on the Ainulindale, and the whole story seemed to me to be very similar to ancient Hindu mythology. According to this, the universe was created from an original supreme being, known as Parmatma, and each "level" of the universe was created out of a different part of his being. Moreover, each level was created out of a piece of music - the Om sound is one such music - and the destiny and quality of each level was determined by the sound of its creation. This is a very crude description, and there’s much more to it, but I’m no expert and I’m only trying to show similarities.
Does anyone know whether Tolien ever studied or read anything related to Hinduism, and where he got inspiration for the whole idea of Eru and music? Because the universe being created out of music is not a very common idea.
 
<Nessa Edit:  Interesting hypothesis. My compliments!>
avantika 04/May/2006 at 06:55 AM
Defender of Imladris Points: 836 Posts: 181 Joined: 14/Mar/2006
I was writing a poem on the Ainulindale, and the whole story seemed to me to be very similar to ancient Hindu mythology. According to this, the universe was created from an original supreme being, known as Parmatma, and each "level" of the universe was created out of a different part of his being. Moreover, each level was created out of a piece of music - the Om sound is one such music - and the destiny and quality of each level was determined by the sound of its creation. This is a very crude description, and there’s much more to it, but I’m no expert and I’m only trying to show similarities.
Does anyone know whether Tolien ever studied or read anything related to Hinduism, and where he got inspiration for the whole idea of Eru and music? Because the universe being created out of music is not a very common idea.
 
<Nessa Edit:  Interesting hypothesis. My compliments!>
Eorl Boarhelm 04/May/2006 at 08:12 AM
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 I don’t think there is any record Tolkien reading or studying Vedic mythology. So the thing about the creation of the world through music must be a co-incidence. Besides, Tolkein based his myth on Norse, Celtic, and perhaps Greek myth. And in the Ainulindale, the world was created out of music made by each of the Ainur who spun their thought into it, and there were many themes. It did not originate from a single sound. I too, thought the same thing at first, but it would be far fetched to maintain that the Ainulindale is based on Vedic mythology.
Eorl Boarhelm 04/May/2006 at 08:12 AM
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 I don’t think there is any record Tolkien reading or studying Vedic mythology. So the thing about the creation of the world through music must be a co-incidence. Besides, Tolkein based his myth on Norse, Celtic, and perhaps Greek myth. And in the Ainulindale, the world was created out of music made by each of the Ainur who spun their thought into it, and there were many themes. It did not originate from a single sound. I too, thought the same thing at first, but it would be far fetched to maintain that the Ainulindale is based on Vedic mythology.
Aìwëndil the Brown 04/May/2006 at 10:13 AM
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avantika- As you said, a very crude description. The first thing that I would like to point out is that Om is not just a piece of music. It is:

The goal, which all Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which humans desire when they live a life of continence, I will tell you briefly it is Om. The syllable Om is indeed Brahman. This syllable Om is the highest. Whosoever knows this symbol obtains all that he desires. This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahman.
-Katha Upanishad I, ii, 15-17 (Translation taken from Wikipedia) 

You can find a whole Wikipedia article on it here. Ok, I know Wikipedia is not such an accurate source for such stuff, but what they have given is just an English rendering of the Sanskrit Vedic text. But on the whole, the two "creations" seem quite similar. But that’s where the similarities end. Because, for certain, Tolkien never based his mythology on anything Hinduism - related. I am inclined to agree with Eorl that it would be far-fetched to think that it is based on Hindu myth

Aìwëndil the Brown 04/May/2006 at 10:13 AM
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avantika- As you said, a very crude description. The first thing that I would like to point out is that Om is not just a piece of music. It is:

The goal, which all Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which humans desire when they live a life of continence, I will tell you briefly it is Om. The syllable Om is indeed Brahman. This syllable Om is the highest. Whosoever knows this symbol obtains all that he desires. This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahman.
-Katha Upanishad I, ii, 15-17 (Translation taken from Wikipedia) 

You can find a whole Wikipedia article on it here. Ok, I know Wikipedia is not such an accurate source for such stuff, but what they have given is just an English rendering of the Sanskrit Vedic text. But on the whole, the two "creations" seem quite similar. But that’s where the similarities end. Because, for certain, Tolkien never based his mythology on anything Hinduism - related. I am inclined to agree with Eorl that it would be far-fetched to think that it is based on Hindu myth

Aoshi Shinomori 04/May/2006 at 07:40 PM
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Hmmm it might have some similarities but (though it may be argued this isn’t the issue at hand) he was a Christian so i doubt he would base his works off of a HInu mythlogy. Bu that aside, there are hundreds of stories similar to Lord of the Rings in at least one way or another.
Aoshi Shinomori 04/May/2006 at 07:40 PM
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Hmmm it might have some similarities but (though it may be argued this isn’t the issue at hand) he was a Christian so i doubt he would base his works off of a HInu mythlogy. Bu that aside, there are hundreds of stories similar to Lord of the Rings in at least one way or another.
Duiel 05/May/2006 at 08:58 AM
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Aoshi Shinomori, although Tolkien was a Christian, he did base his mythology off of a lot of things. But then again.....all of those which I know of were from places in Europe, and I’m not sure he studied anything that far...eastern. But I don’t have proof of anything, so I can’t say.
Duiel 05/May/2006 at 08:58 AM
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Aoshi Shinomori, although Tolkien was a Christian, he did base his mythology off of a lot of things. But then again.....all of those which I know of were from places in Europe, and I’m not sure he studied anything that far...eastern. But I don’t have proof of anything, so I can’t say.
Eorl Boarhelm 05/May/2006 at 10:22 AM
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 He specialized in European philology, and hence was familiar with Celtic, Norse, Anglo Saxon, and other Germanic legends. Greece was as east and south as his academics went. So it is higly unlikely that he borrowed anything from Vedic, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babyloian myth. But it is interesting to note that he had concieved cities of Men in middle-earth named Babylon, Nineveh, (once an Assyrian capital), Troy, and Rome. 

Eorl Boarhelm 05/May/2006 at 10:22 AM
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 He specialized in European philology, and hence was familiar with Celtic, Norse, Anglo Saxon, and other Germanic legends. Greece was as east and south as his academics went. So it is higly unlikely that he borrowed anything from Vedic, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babyloian myth. But it is interesting to note that he had concieved cities of Men in middle-earth named Babylon, Nineveh, (once an Assyrian capital), Troy, and Rome. 

Carleon 05/May/2006 at 02:59 PM
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If I’m not mistaken, there are originally three Gods in the Hundu pantheon- Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva- Brahma is the creator, true, and could be compared to Iluvatar, but where do you get equivalents for Vishnu the nurturer and Shiva the destroyer? I think we can safely say that Hindu mythology has had no effect on the creation of the Lord of the Rings.
Carleon 05/May/2006 at 02:59 PM
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If I’m not mistaken, there are originally three Gods in the Hundu pantheon- Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva- Brahma is the creator, true, and could be compared to Iluvatar, but where do you get equivalents for Vishnu the nurturer and Shiva the destroyer? I think we can safely say that Hindu mythology has had no effect on the creation of the Lord of the Rings.
Ghostlore 05/May/2006 at 08:06 PM
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Avantika - that is awesome food for thought! Don’t be discouraged by the naysayers, there is some connection there, whether it played a large or tiny role. Tolkien was a brilliant and thoroughly educated man, it is no stretch of the imagination to grasp that he absolutely must of had exposure to the many myriad mythological morsels out there.

To refuse to validate this supposition is to belittle Tolkien’s intellect.

Ghostlore 05/May/2006 at 08:06 PM
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Avantika - that is awesome food for thought! Don’t be discouraged by the naysayers, there is some connection there, whether it played a large or tiny role. Tolkien was a brilliant and thoroughly educated man, it is no stretch of the imagination to grasp that he absolutely must of had exposure to the many myriad mythological morsels out there.

To refuse to validate this supposition is to belittle Tolkien’s intellect.

avantika 06/May/2006 at 08:40 AM
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Thank you all! But Aiwendil, what you said is just an extension of what I said, if you consider carefully. I never claimed that om is just a piece of music - in fact, quite the opposite - it is one of the musics. Actually, what it is supposed to mean (in one of the innumerable interpretations) Om is the word from which one of the highest levels of the universe was created, and it is the essence of that level. Whoever "knows" the word knows that level of existence, and vice versa. So if you want a higher level of existence, you try to "know" that syllable.

Is it not true that the Ainur, who "know" a part of the Theme of Iluvatar know the destiny of the world which is governed by their music?

avantika 06/May/2006 at 08:40 AM
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Thank you all! But Aiwendil, what you said is just an extension of what I said, if you consider carefully. I never claimed that om is just a piece of music - in fact, quite the opposite - it is one of the musics. Actually, what it is supposed to mean (in one of the innumerable interpretations) Om is the word from which one of the highest levels of the universe was created, and it is the essence of that level. Whoever "knows" the word knows that level of existence, and vice versa. So if you want a higher level of existence, you try to "know" that syllable.

Is it not true that the Ainur, who "know" a part of the Theme of Iluvatar know the destiny of the world which is governed by their music?

Ragnelle 06/May/2006 at 10:33 AM
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avantika: While I can’t confrim that Tolkien knew Hinduism well, I would not be suprised if he knew something about it.

That being said, I tend to belive that Tolkien seldom based anything in his stories directly on something else, be it biblical, norse or hindu. But the themes and images he uses still reminds us of images and themes from very different traditions, you compearson with the Hindu myths being an example. I think this is because Tolkien rooted his myths.

Let me try to make myself clear. The Hindu myths I have heard are to me exotic, strange and beautiful. The nature and culture they describe are strange to me as I have grown up very far from India and have never been there. The Norse myths, on the other hand, are not exotic but familiar. The nature and people are familiar, because I am Scandinavian and the myths were made by my forbearers. The feeling is a bit simular to what Sam says in Lothlorien: "they seem to belong here" (FotR, The Mirror of Galadriel).

Hindu myths and Tolkien’s stories do not have the same feel, to me, because Tolkien’s stories have this same rooted feeling, a feeling of belonging, that I don’t get from the Hindu myths. But that is, of course, because I am not Hindu and those myths do not belong to me.

When I, even taking this bias into acount, still will find European sourses more propable when looking for inspirations Tolkien may have used, it is because when he says anything about it in his letters - at least those puplished - they are almost all European. And he writes:

"In any case if you want to write a tale of this sort you must consult your roots" Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien # 163

Ragnelle 06/May/2006 at 10:33 AM
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avantika: While I can’t confrim that Tolkien knew Hinduism well, I would not be suprised if he knew something about it.

That being said, I tend to belive that Tolkien seldom based anything in his stories directly on something else, be it biblical, norse or hindu. But the themes and images he uses still reminds us of images and themes from very different traditions, you compearson with the Hindu myths being an example. I think this is because Tolkien rooted his myths.

Let me try to make myself clear. The Hindu myths I have heard are to me exotic, strange and beautiful. The nature and culture they describe are strange to me as I have grown up very far from India and have never been there. The Norse myths, on the other hand, are not exotic but familiar. The nature and people are familiar, because I am Scandinavian and the myths were made by my forbearers. The feeling is a bit simular to what Sam says in Lothlorien: "they seem to belong here" (FotR, The Mirror of Galadriel).

Hindu myths and Tolkien’s stories do not have the same feel, to me, because Tolkien’s stories have this same rooted feeling, a feeling of belonging, that I don’t get from the Hindu myths. But that is, of course, because I am not Hindu and those myths do not belong to me.

When I, even taking this bias into acount, still will find European sourses more propable when looking for inspirations Tolkien may have used, it is because when he says anything about it in his letters - at least those puplished - they are almost all European. And he writes:

"In any case if you want to write a tale of this sort you must consult your roots" Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien # 163

Aravis 06/May/2006 at 11:02 PM
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Ragnelle, well said. It’s interesting though that such a parallel could be drawn between the two conceptions of a universe, but I get the feeling there must be several cultures which could point out commonalities between their belief systems and some detail or the other of fantasy mythology. Reality is after all even stranger than fiction and while I think we can be fairly sure Tolkien knew something of Hindu myths (he was, after all an exceedingly well-read man), it might be unwarranted to draw any but the most tenuous connection between the two.
Aravis 06/May/2006 at 11:02 PM
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Ragnelle, well said. It’s interesting though that such a parallel could be drawn between the two conceptions of a universe, but I get the feeling there must be several cultures which could point out commonalities between their belief systems and some detail or the other of fantasy mythology. Reality is after all even stranger than fiction and while I think we can be fairly sure Tolkien knew something of Hindu myths (he was, after all an exceedingly well-read man), it might be unwarranted to draw any but the most tenuous connection between the two.
avantika 07/May/2006 at 02:56 AM
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I am not trying to imply that Lord of the Rings was derived from Hindu mythology. It wasn’t. It’s simply this one concept, the creation of the universe from music, from vibrations which were created by the original supreme spiritual being. This concept is absolutely central, vital, to the entire Hindu religion, and Ainulindale is the first time I’ve heard it coming from a non-Hindu source.  As everyone says, while Tolkien might not have studied Hinduism, he could easily have heard of it. I believe there were several societies in England around that time, which specialised in the study of Hinduism.

I’m not insisting. He could well have gotten the idea from somewhere else. But I can’t think of any other place, and if there is I would certainly like to know about it.  

avantika 07/May/2006 at 02:56 AM
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I am not trying to imply that Lord of the Rings was derived from Hindu mythology. It wasn’t. It’s simply this one concept, the creation of the universe from music, from vibrations which were created by the original supreme spiritual being. This concept is absolutely central, vital, to the entire Hindu religion, and Ainulindale is the first time I’ve heard it coming from a non-Hindu source.  As everyone says, while Tolkien might not have studied Hinduism, he could easily have heard of it. I believe there were several societies in England around that time, which specialised in the study of Hinduism.

I’m not insisting. He could well have gotten the idea from somewhere else. But I can’t think of any other place, and if there is I would certainly like to know about it.  

Ragnelle 07/May/2006 at 03:38 PM
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Aravis: Thanks.

avantika: I did not think you insisted, I only thought a bit aloud on the subject. Forgive me if I was geting too far off-topic or if I in any put words into your mouth. That was not my intention.

Now as to other sourses of music as the crative force (if I can use that expression), there are  the Finnish epic Kallevalla where where knowing the right songs and words is what gives power. In the song-contest between Väinämönien and Joukahainen, Väinämönen asks if Joukahaimen knows the original words, those that works and lasts.

Now, this is not exactly the same as in the Ainulindale, but somewhat simular. The one that know the original words, know - and can control - the things they speak of.

There is also, though not readely seen, a consept in the Norse mythology that is interisting in conection to the Music of the Aunir. Before the creation of the world, Ginnungagap - the Gap of Ginnunga - was all that existed, with cold and fire on each side. Now the word "Ginn" deskripes a quivering sound and in this gap of quivering sound the world is made. Not exactly the same as the Hindu consept, but as far as I can see, not too diferent. Those that know more about the Hindu myths than I, please correct me if i have missunderstood.

Then of course we have the biblical tradition, where the world is created by the word of God.

Now all this in not exactly as in Tolkien, but then, as far as I can see, neither is the Hindu consept. The Ainur do not know what they are doing in their song, and it is the vision of Ea that Iluvatar show them afterwards that make them understand clearer. But the vision has not any reality until Eru says: "Ëa! Let these things Be!"

I think that we in the Ainulindalë can find eccos (I think it was Saranna or Aldoriana that introduced that term) of all these consepts, including the Hindu, even if none fits exatly.

A though struk me as I wrote this: could the Ëa be simular to the Hindu OM (or AUM)? I remeber Baelmyrrdn making a conection in the arcived tread The power of song and chant (<- link). You might find the tread interesting.

And I just like to add that the only traditions I feel that i can speak of with any certainty, is the Norse and Christian, so if I made any mistakes representing the Hindu or Finnish, it was in ignorance.

Ragnelle 07/May/2006 at 03:38 PM
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Aravis: Thanks.

avantika: I did not think you insisted, I only thought a bit aloud on the subject. Forgive me if I was geting too far off-topic or if I in any put words into your mouth. That was not my intention.

Now as to other sourses of music as the crative force (if I can use that expression), there are  the Finnish epic Kallevalla where where knowing the right songs and words is what gives power. In the song-contest between Väinämönien and Joukahainen, Väinämönen asks if Joukahaimen knows the original words, those that works and lasts.

Now, this is not exactly the same as in the Ainulindale, but somewhat simular. The one that know the original words, know - and can control - the things they speak of.

There is also, though not readely seen, a consept in the Norse mythology that is interisting in conection to the Music of the Aunir. Before the creation of the world, Ginnungagap - the Gap of Ginnunga - was all that existed, with cold and fire on each side. Now the word "Ginn" deskripes a quivering sound and in this gap of quivering sound the world is made. Not exactly the same as the Hindu consept, but as far as I can see, not too diferent. Those that know more about the Hindu myths than I, please correct me if i have missunderstood.

Then of course we have the biblical tradition, where the world is created by the word of God.

Now all this in not exactly as in Tolkien, but then, as far as I can see, neither is the Hindu consept. The Ainur do not know what they are doing in their song, and it is the vision of Ea that Iluvatar show them afterwards that make them understand clearer. But the vision has not any reality until Eru says: "Ëa! Let these things Be!"

I think that we in the Ainulindalë can find eccos (I think it was Saranna or Aldoriana that introduced that term) of all these consepts, including the Hindu, even if none fits exatly.

A though struk me as I wrote this: could the Ëa be simular to the Hindu OM (or AUM)? I remeber Baelmyrrdn making a conection in the arcived tread The power of song and chant (<- link). You might find the tread interesting.

And I just like to add that the only traditions I feel that i can speak of with any certainty, is the Norse and Christian, so if I made any mistakes representing the Hindu or Finnish, it was in ignorance.

avantika 08/May/2006 at 07:04 AM
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Ragnelle, that was really interesting! I never thought of that Ea and Om thing before, it does seem similar.

Though somehow, I never thought of the biblical tradition as saying that the world was created by the sound of God’s word - rather that it was created simply because God commanded it to be. There’s a big difference between those two interpretations of "word of God". Perhaps someone who knows more of the Bible can tell me which is right.

That Gap of Ginnunga myth interests me a lot. Can you tell me of some links where I can read more about it? 

avantika 08/May/2006 at 07:04 AM
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Ragnelle, that was really interesting! I never thought of that Ea and Om thing before, it does seem similar.

Though somehow, I never thought of the biblical tradition as saying that the world was created by the sound of God’s word - rather that it was created simply because God commanded it to be. There’s a big difference between those two interpretations of "word of God". Perhaps someone who knows more of the Bible can tell me which is right.

That Gap of Ginnunga myth interests me a lot. Can you tell me of some links where I can read more about it? 

Hamfast 08/May/2006 at 09:04 AM
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All the disussion here seems to have talked about creation and the views of the various mythological traditions. Being an Indian too it struck me when I read the Ainulindale because it was similar to the Hindu myths. In fact Hindu religion gives importance to songs and hymns because of this very belief that the universe was made by God’s music. But all that apart, I would like to give you all another angle to think about. The Valar have been shown as guardians of ME. The Maias are shown as guardian Spirits. Both of these concepts are there in Hinduism. Like Ulmo presided over Water similarly Varuna is the Lord of Water in Hinduism. Again Manwe was the Lord of air as was Vaayu in Hinduism. Yavanna(I think its her) is shown as presiding over everything that grows on earth specifically plants. The Goddess Earth known as Bhudevi or Bhumidevi loosely fits the bill. Similarly Mandos has the key to the halls of the dead as does Yama in Hindu myth. The Maia are guardian spirits. this concept is also there in Hinduism in the form of Gandharvas and Yakshas and Dikpaalaas.

All these are present in Greek, Roman and Egyptian traditions too as they were contemporaries of Hinduism but I am just giving these examples because I am able to draw parallels between Tolkien’s works and my religion. Tolkien was a well-read man and its quite possible that he may have heard of the Hindu deities especially since the British were in India then and there was attention being paid to India in general at that time with the latest excavations of the Indus Valley.

Hamfast 08/May/2006 at 09:04 AM
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All the disussion here seems to have talked about creation and the views of the various mythological traditions. Being an Indian too it struck me when I read the Ainulindale because it was similar to the Hindu myths. In fact Hindu religion gives importance to songs and hymns because of this very belief that the universe was made by God’s music. But all that apart, I would like to give you all another angle to think about. The Valar have been shown as guardians of ME. The Maias are shown as guardian Spirits. Both of these concepts are there in Hinduism. Like Ulmo presided over Water similarly Varuna is the Lord of Water in Hinduism. Again Manwe was the Lord of air as was Vaayu in Hinduism. Yavanna(I think its her) is shown as presiding over everything that grows on earth specifically plants. The Goddess Earth known as Bhudevi or Bhumidevi loosely fits the bill. Similarly Mandos has the key to the halls of the dead as does Yama in Hindu myth. The Maia are guardian spirits. this concept is also there in Hinduism in the form of Gandharvas and Yakshas and Dikpaalaas.

All these are present in Greek, Roman and Egyptian traditions too as they were contemporaries of Hinduism but I am just giving these examples because I am able to draw parallels between Tolkien’s works and my religion. Tolkien was a well-read man and its quite possible that he may have heard of the Hindu deities especially since the British were in India then and there was attention being paid to India in general at that time with the latest excavations of the Indus Valley.

Ragnelle 08/May/2006 at 01:40 PM
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avantika: Glad you found it interesting. I do not know the many pages on the internet that deals with the Norse myths well enough to recomend some more than others, but on this page: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm you will find the story as told in the Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturlason (in an English translation). You will need to scroll down the page a little to find the story, but it might be easier to just read from the begining.

 And here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/ you will find a translation of the Poetic Edda. The first poem, Voluspo, tells of the creation and destruction of the world.

I tend to direct people to primary sources like this, but there are numerous pages that deals with the Norse myths. Some of them are not bad, though some are dreadful. Sadly the best pages  - of what I have seen - are not in English but in one of the Scandinavian languages, which I guess does not help you very much .

As for the biblical tradition, whether it is the command or the sound is not as clear at one would think. God creates by the act of speaking and it is the speaking of the words that make the world to be - much like Iluvatar saying Eä! Let these things Be! and Eä becomes real. The spoken word can not be seperated from the command, and vise versa.

Ernst Cassirer, a German philsopher, deals in his book Language and Myth with the origin of language and conexts it strongly with the origin of myth and religion, basacly saying that they evolved in a sybiosis (short version). In the chapter dealing with Word Magic he writes:

"The original bond between the linguistic and the mythico-religious consciousness is primarly expressed in the fact that all verbal structures appear as also mythical entities, endowed with certain mythical powers, that the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found." (Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic)

I think this is one reason that the Ainulindale seems to resonate several myths and traditions - because there is a strong likeness between othervise different religions and mythologies when it comes to the word or sound. Words are, after all, soundpatterns that are given spesific meaning, therefore I do not see the great difference between a spesific sound (Eä or OM) and words in this context.

Ragnelle 08/May/2006 at 01:40 PM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

avantika: Glad you found it interesting. I do not know the many pages on the internet that deals with the Norse myths well enough to recomend some more than others, but on this page: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm you will find the story as told in the Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturlason (in an English translation). You will need to scroll down the page a little to find the story, but it might be easier to just read from the begining.

 And here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/ you will find a translation of the Poetic Edda. The first poem, Voluspo, tells of the creation and destruction of the world.

I tend to direct people to primary sources like this, but there are numerous pages that deals with the Norse myths. Some of them are not bad, though some are dreadful. Sadly the best pages  - of what I have seen - are not in English but in one of the Scandinavian languages, which I guess does not help you very much .

As for the biblical tradition, whether it is the command or the sound is not as clear at one would think. God creates by the act of speaking and it is the speaking of the words that make the world to be - much like Iluvatar saying Eä! Let these things Be! and Eä becomes real. The spoken word can not be seperated from the command, and vise versa.

Ernst Cassirer, a German philsopher, deals in his book Language and Myth with the origin of language and conexts it strongly with the origin of myth and religion, basacly saying that they evolved in a sybiosis (short version). In the chapter dealing with Word Magic he writes:

"The original bond between the linguistic and the mythico-religious consciousness is primarly expressed in the fact that all verbal structures appear as also mythical entities, endowed with certain mythical powers, that the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found." (Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic)

I think this is one reason that the Ainulindale seems to resonate several myths and traditions - because there is a strong likeness between othervise different religions and mythologies when it comes to the word or sound. Words are, after all, soundpatterns that are given spesific meaning, therefore I do not see the great difference between a spesific sound (Eä or OM) and words in this context.

avantika 09/May/2006 at 08:34 AM
Defender of Imladris Points: 836 Posts: 181 Joined: 14/Mar/2006

That is an important point, Hamfast - I noticed it too. You can draw many parallels. But I didn’t mention it as these deities are common to all ancient religions, and I suppose Tolkien might have got the inspiration from any one of them. Though Mandos does remind me a lot of Yamaraja. One thing I find a pity is that Tolkien never invented a Saraswati.

Thank you, Ragnelle. I’ll take a look at those sites. I always wanted to learn more about Norse mythology (ever since reading Douglas Adams’ Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, which I admit makes fun of the gods, but in a good-natured way) but I never got around to it. Now I will.

avantika 09/May/2006 at 08:34 AM
Defender of Imladris Points: 836 Posts: 181 Joined: 14/Mar/2006

That is an important point, Hamfast - I noticed it too. You can draw many parallels. But I didn’t mention it as these deities are common to all ancient religions, and I suppose Tolkien might have got the inspiration from any one of them. Though Mandos does remind me a lot of Yamaraja. One thing I find a pity is that Tolkien never invented a Saraswati.

Thank you, Ragnelle. I’ll take a look at those sites. I always wanted to learn more about Norse mythology (ever since reading Douglas Adams’ Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, which I admit makes fun of the gods, but in a good-natured way) but I never got around to it. Now I will.

Melyanna Falas 17/May/2006 at 03:23 PM
Guardian of Imladris Points: 4141 Posts: 2688 Joined: 04/Jan/2005
Avantika this one concept, the creation of the universe from music, from vibrations which were created by the original supreme spiritual being. This concept is absolutely central, vital, to the entire Hindu religion, and Ainulindale is the first time I’ve heard it coming from a non-Hindu source.
     May I venture to suggest that the same concept appears in CS Lewis in the creation of Narnia: Aslan singing the land and creatures into being [albeit in a more simplistic version] ? So the idea was probably present in some form with the group of Inklings at Oxford that met to discuss their writings.
Have you ever read The Book of Lost Tales 1 [BOLT 1], Volume One in the History of Middle-earth series. The Valar are portrayed very differently in some instances: Nienna is Fui Nienna, a kind of dark death-goddess, and there are the valar Makar and Measse, perhaps best described as warrior/battle figures. I don’t pretend to understand Hindu mythology or writings, but I had the feeling when I read BOLT 1 that it had a very Eastern flavor and Hindu [at least as I understand it] sprang to mind.
     Halfir might be someone who could speak to this. Or Geordie.
Melyanna Falas 17/May/2006 at 03:23 PM
Guardian of Imladris Points: 4141 Posts: 2688 Joined: 04/Jan/2005
Avantika this one concept, the creation of the universe from music, from vibrations which were created by the original supreme spiritual being. This concept is absolutely central, vital, to the entire Hindu religion, and Ainulindale is the first time I’ve heard it coming from a non-Hindu source.
     May I venture to suggest that the same concept appears in CS Lewis in the creation of Narnia: Aslan singing the land and creatures into being [albeit in a more simplistic version] ? So the idea was probably present in some form with the group of Inklings at Oxford that met to discuss their writings.
Have you ever read The Book of Lost Tales 1 [BOLT 1], Volume One in the History of Middle-earth series. The Valar are portrayed very differently in some instances: Nienna is Fui Nienna, a kind of dark death-goddess, and there are the valar Makar and Measse, perhaps best described as warrior/battle figures. I don’t pretend to understand Hindu mythology or writings, but I had the feeling when I read BOLT 1 that it had a very Eastern flavor and Hindu [at least as I understand it] sprang to mind.
     Halfir might be someone who could speak to this. Or Geordie.
Aìwëndil the Brown 23/May/2006 at 09:24 AM
Scholar of Isengard Points: 915 Posts: 351 Joined: 19/Apr/2006
I read all the posts about Tolkien not having any relation with Hinduism, but I just read the Silmarillion and couldn’t help noticing that Maglor and Bheeshma have such a similar fate. Both took an oath impulsively, which they later repented (though, of course, the oaths were different in nature). Both of them were bound by that oath, and were forced to fight with friends and bear great suffering due to that oath. Both regretted the fact that there was strife amongst their own kin. Both tried, in vain, to prevent certain battles. Both lost their major wars.
Aìwëndil the Brown 23/May/2006 at 09:24 AM
Scholar of Isengard Points: 915 Posts: 351 Joined: 19/Apr/2006
I read all the posts about Tolkien not having any relation with Hinduism, but I just read the Silmarillion and couldn’t help noticing that Maglor and Bheeshma have such a similar fate. Both took an oath impulsively, which they later repented (though, of course, the oaths were different in nature). Both of them were bound by that oath, and were forced to fight with friends and bear great suffering due to that oath. Both regretted the fact that there was strife amongst their own kin. Both tried, in vain, to prevent certain battles. Both lost their major wars.
Lil Sidhe 04/Jul/2006 at 11:50 AM
Winemaker of Lothlorien Points: 1017 Posts: 1861 Joined: 24/Dec/2005
Tolkien was always against the mixing of mythologies. From what ive read about him, he didnt mix any greek, celtic, roman or any mythologies for the lord of the rings book. part of the books were based on WW II, like the bodies in the swamp for instance, but he didnt use parts of mythologies to tell his stories. he was against C S Lewis mixing mythologies to write Narnia.
Lil Sidhe 04/Jul/2006 at 11:50 AM
Winemaker of Lothlorien Points: 1017 Posts: 1861 Joined: 24/Dec/2005
Tolkien was always against the mixing of mythologies. From what ive read about him, he didnt mix any greek, celtic, roman or any mythologies for the lord of the rings book. part of the books were based on WW II, like the bodies in the swamp for instance, but he didnt use parts of mythologies to tell his stories. he was against C S Lewis mixing mythologies to write Narnia.
Samthoniel 04/Jul/2006 at 04:30 PM
Assassin of Mordor Points: 5181 Posts: 9557 Joined: 15/Sep/2002
Being a Hindu myself, this may come out as a bit biased, but since the Vedas were the first books in existence, I have always found a lot of mythology being similar to my own Hindu mythology. Now not to take anything away from any other mythology, but you can find traces and story lines of Hind mythology in a lot of places. So if Tolkien was influenced by Hinduism, then it does not have to be directly. He may have a heard a story, or taken from another Mythology. For Ulmo, Poseidon and Varuna, are all drawn from the same thought, the Lord of the waters, now where Tolkien took this from, how are we to know?
Samthoniel 04/Jul/2006 at 04:30 PM
Assassin of Mordor Points: 5181 Posts: 9557 Joined: 15/Sep/2002
Being a Hindu myself, this may come out as a bit biased, but since the Vedas were the first books in existence, I have always found a lot of mythology being similar to my own Hindu mythology. Now not to take anything away from any other mythology, but you can find traces and story lines of Hind mythology in a lot of places. So if Tolkien was influenced by Hinduism, then it does not have to be directly. He may have a heard a story, or taken from another Mythology. For Ulmo, Poseidon and Varuna, are all drawn from the same thought, the Lord of the waters, now where Tolkien took this from, how are we to know?
halfir 04/Jul/2006 at 05:28 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

So it is higly unlikely that he borrowed anything from Vedic, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babyloian myth

Tolkien didn’t borrow anything from any myth. He was inspired by a multiplicity of sources and the inspiration that some of them gave him was forged in the crucible of his creative genius into his own masterworks.

The fact that his writings show more- or less- explicit resonances of any other myth or legend is not a comment on his inability to create for himself but a statement about his realization of the commonality of certain images and archetypes that appeared over again and again in earlier myth and legend-and of course acts as a reinfocing mechanism between his own myth and the overarching RL mythos in which it would have to be set to gain any credibilty as a myth. Understandably, as his culture was "northern’, the Northern mythic resonances resound  the strongest.

As to his knowledge of Babylonian and Egyptian  mythology there is clear indication, both from his Letters and his personal library that he was well aware of and fluent in the histories of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia.The restricted ’education’ now offered in what passes for ’educational establishments’ in the Westren World was, thank goodness, one that did not exist to shrivel the mind when Tolkien was at school and university, and he had a natural appetitie for myth of all sorts. For example, in On Fairy Stories he refes to one of the oldest of fairy stories ever written- one from Ancient Egypt.

Gondor has flavors of Egypt with Arnor and Gondor- the ’twin kingdoms’ reflecting the twin kingdoms of Egypt:  cf. Letter # 211.:

’The Numenoreans of Gondor were, proud, peculiar, and archaic, and I think are best pictured in (say) Egyptian terms. In many ways they resembled ’Egyptians’ - the love of, and power to construct, the gigantic and massive. And in their great interest in ancestry and in tombs.......I think the crown of Gondor (the S. Kingdom) was very tall , like that of Egypt, but with wings attached, not set staright back but at an angle. The N. Kingdom had oly a diadem {111.323} Cf. the difference between the N.and S. kingdoms of Egypt.’

And in his thread Boromir the Egyptian

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=21&TopicID=176324&PagePosition=47

 

geordie drew our atention to a sale of Budge’s classic work on Egypt from Tolkien’s library, a work that had clearly been well-used:

 

[TOLKIEN, J.R.R.] BUDGE. Sir. Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis.
The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day or the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead. The Egyptian Hieroglyphic Text Edited from Numerous Papyri.
London, Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner & Co. 1910 PROVENANCE: Ex Libris J.R.R .TOLKIEN. Three Vols. 8vo. Publisher’s Brown Buckram boards with black text and Papyrus motif. TOLKIEN’s INK INSCRIPTION to front free end papers of all three volumes. Small paper label of subsequent owner adhered just below Tolkien’s inscription. The volumes are very well preserved, and fragrant from many years exposure to pipe tobacco smoke. Some minor wear to head and tale of spine and faint yellowing to edges of paper. Vol. VI - VIII of the Books on Egypt and Caldaea series. Second Edition, with the first appearance of Budge’s preface. The Book of the Dead being a remarkable collection of the compositions which the Egyptians inscribed upon their tombs and sarcophagi to ensure the well being of their dead
.
{my bold emphasis}

 

Which was interesting as at the same time,as I wrote in that thread:

 

I am in the process of writing a lengthy esay on Tolkien and the Onomasticon  of Amenemipet which is a speculative composition  linking Tolkien’s concept of the ’Word’ not only to Barfield and ’Poetic Diction’ but to the Ancient Egyptian approach to the ’Word’.

 

So I believe Tolkien had a very intimate understanding of  Ancient Egypt.

And in my thread:

Tolkien and the Cradle of Civilization

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=195582&PagePosition=3&PagePostPosition=1

I observed :

’Mesopotamia-the land between the rivers’- is often referred to as ’the cradle of civilization’. What is not so frequently referred to is the fact that Tolkien too used Mesopotamia as the place in which Man first emerged, in one of his variants on the Drowning of Numenor.  In HOME 9 Sauron Defeated The Drowning of Anadune - (v) The theory of work Sketch 1 Note 2 we learn:

’The Great Central Land, Europe and Asia was first inhabited. Men awoke in Mesopotamia. Their fates as they spread were various. But the Enkeladim{Eldar} withdrew ever west.’

Indeed, in Letter # 297 Tolkien writes:

’Since naturally, as one interested in antiquity and notably in the history of language and ’writing’, I knew and had read a good deal about Mesopotamia....’

So the breadth and depth Tolkien’s knowledge was enormous and many tributaries contributed to that amazing river that was his creative genius.

As to his knowledge of Hindu mythology I know of no explicit evidence. But as to Song and Creation- apart from Ragnelle having pointed to Heron’s excelent thread on the subject- music as the basis for world creation is a cornerstone of creation myths from the earliest times, throughout the world.

And of course eraly sciende amd music were very much interconnected until- as Jamie James in his 1993 popular-level book The Music of the Spheres: Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe,  laments

 Science has drifted so far from its original aims that even to bother with the question of its relationship to music might appear to be an exercise in irrelevancy, like chronicling the connection between military history and confectionary. Yet every scholar of the history of science or of music can attest to the intimate connection between the two. In the classical view it was not really a connection but an identity

However, that link has been re-established and now even the world of  modern science has confirmed the "music of creation’:

"The early Universe is full of sound waves compressing and rarefying matter and light, much like sound waves compress and rarefy air inside a flute or trumpet.For the first time the new data show clearly the harmonics of these waves."

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1304666.stm

 

 

halfir 04/Jul/2006 at 05:28 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

So it is higly unlikely that he borrowed anything from Vedic, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babyloian myth

Tolkien didn’t borrow anything from any myth. He was inspired by a multiplicity of sources and the inspiration that some of them gave him was forged in the crucible of his creative genius into his own masterworks.

The fact that his writings show more- or less- explicit resonances of any other myth or legend is not a comment on his inability to create for himself but a statement about his realization of the commonality of certain images and archetypes that appeared over again and again in earlier myth and legend-and of course acts as a reinfocing mechanism between his own myth and the overarching RL mythos in which it would have to be set to gain any credibilty as a myth. Understandably, as his culture was "northern’, the Northern mythic resonances resound  the strongest.

As to his knowledge of Babylonian and Egyptian  mythology there is clear indication, both from his Letters and his personal library that he was well aware of and fluent in the histories of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia.The restricted ’education’ now offered in what passes for ’educational establishments’ in the Westren World was, thank goodness, one that did not exist to shrivel the mind when Tolkien was at school and university, and he had a natural appetitie for myth of all sorts. For example, in On Fairy Stories he refes to one of the oldest of fairy stories ever written- one from Ancient Egypt.

Gondor has flavors of Egypt with Arnor and Gondor- the ’twin kingdoms’ reflecting the twin kingdoms of Egypt:  cf. Letter # 211.:

’The Numenoreans of Gondor were, proud, peculiar, and archaic, and I think are best pictured in (say) Egyptian terms. In many ways they resembled ’Egyptians’ - the love of, and power to construct, the gigantic and massive. And in their great interest in ancestry and in tombs.......I think the crown of Gondor (the S. Kingdom) was very tall , like that of Egypt, but with wings attached, not set staright back but at an angle. The N. Kingdom had oly a diadem {111.323} Cf. the difference between the N.and S. kingdoms of Egypt.’

And in his thread Boromir the Egyptian

http://www.lotrplaza.com/Archive4/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=21&TopicID=176324&PagePosition=47

 

geordie drew our atention to a sale of Budge’s classic work on Egypt from Tolkien’s library, a work that had clearly been well-used:

 

[TOLKIEN, J.R.R.] BUDGE. Sir. Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis.
The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day or the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead. The Egyptian Hieroglyphic Text Edited from Numerous Papyri.
London, Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner & Co. 1910 PROVENANCE: Ex Libris J.R.R .TOLKIEN. Three Vols. 8vo. Publisher’s Brown Buckram boards with black text and Papyrus motif. TOLKIEN’s INK INSCRIPTION to front free end papers of all three volumes. Small paper label of subsequent owner adhered just below Tolkien’s inscription. The volumes are very well preserved, and fragrant from many years exposure to pipe tobacco smoke. Some minor wear to head and tale of spine and faint yellowing to edges of paper. Vol. VI - VIII of the Books on Egypt and Caldaea series. Second Edition, with the first appearance of Budge’s preface. The Book of the Dead being a remarkable collection of the compositions which the Egyptians inscribed upon their tombs and sarcophagi to ensure the well being of their dead
.
{my bold emphasis}

 

Which was interesting as at the same time,as I wrote in that thread:

 

I am in the process of writing a lengthy esay on Tolkien and the Onomasticon  of Amenemipet which is a speculative composition  linking Tolkien’s concept of the ’Word’ not only to Barfield and ’Poetic Diction’ but to the Ancient Egyptian approach to the ’Word’.

 

So I believe Tolkien had a very intimate understanding of  Ancient Egypt.

And in my thread:

Tolkien and the Cradle of Civilization

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=195582&PagePosition=3&PagePostPosition=1

I observed :

’Mesopotamia-the land between the rivers’- is often referred to as ’the cradle of civilization’. What is not so frequently referred to is the fact that Tolkien too used Mesopotamia as the place in which Man first emerged, in one of his variants on the Drowning of Numenor.  In HOME 9 Sauron Defeated The Drowning of Anadune - (v) The theory of work Sketch 1 Note 2 we learn:

’The Great Central Land, Europe and Asia was first inhabited. Men awoke in Mesopotamia. Their fates as they spread were various. But the Enkeladim{Eldar} withdrew ever west.’

Indeed, in Letter # 297 Tolkien writes:

’Since naturally, as one interested in antiquity and notably in the history of language and ’writing’, I knew and had read a good deal about Mesopotamia....’

So the breadth and depth Tolkien’s knowledge was enormous and many tributaries contributed to that amazing river that was his creative genius.

As to his knowledge of Hindu mythology I know of no explicit evidence. But as to Song and Creation- apart from Ragnelle having pointed to Heron’s excelent thread on the subject- music as the basis for world creation is a cornerstone of creation myths from the earliest times, throughout the world.

And of course eraly sciende amd music were very much interconnected until- as Jamie James in his 1993 popular-level book The Music of the Spheres: Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe,  laments

 Science has drifted so far from its original aims that even to bother with the question of its relationship to music might appear to be an exercise in irrelevancy, like chronicling the connection between military history and confectionary. Yet every scholar of the history of science or of music can attest to the intimate connection between the two. In the classical view it was not really a connection but an identity

However, that link has been re-established and now even the world of  modern science has confirmed the "music of creation’:

"The early Universe is full of sound waves compressing and rarefying matter and light, much like sound waves compress and rarefy air inside a flute or trumpet.For the first time the new data show clearly the harmonics of these waves."

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1304666.stm

 

 

Rohanya 07/Jul/2006 at 09:04 AM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 2902 Posts: 6872 Joined: 28/Jan/2005

I am liking what I hear and read here. Lots of very good discussion. If I may, what I sense.

There would seem to be two great creative depths to the story of The Silmarillion. We seem to have Music plus Word. So that would not be sheer Logos in the usual Western, Biblical sense. No, here JRR is speaking of a new, second layer to Myth on the Grand Scale. Music, to my way of thinking, is a validation of many things. True, while it can be a singular performance, this is not quite the feeling you get with The Silmarillion. That music would appear to be a group event, or at least stimulating our intuitive grasp of social realities, which are always a unity, in the readerly fashion, dwelling in a world, shared.

I used to argue that there are two layers of mind. Well, it would appear not so! The three levels of mind, in human terms, are unconscious, consciousness in the normal sense, and supraconsciousness. The latter, it seems to me, is where Logos and a second integral element of any truth, Nature, come together in manner of essentially social benefit. That is, fundamental books, whether of the JRR sort, whether of the Hindu sort, always have within them, for extremely mysterious reasons, some ability to home in on the structural basics of what is, what always was, and what, I think, might be. They can and will address truths in any and all cultures, just because of....just because of...laugh...I don`t know!

Speaking seriously, there is a deep need to bring some essentially Eastern and Western perspective on Tolkien`s work together, playing in harmony. That could perhaps bring us to the point of transcending the older formats completely, for now we inhabit a global world, in which the old notions, realities, and inbuilt energies of the separate cultural systems, collapse, collapse however in that way supported by something hopeful, nourishing, always of fruitful content.

Hmm. I`ll send this. Best wishes to all!

Rohanya 07/Jul/2006 at 09:04 AM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 2902 Posts: 6872 Joined: 28/Jan/2005

I am liking what I hear and read here. Lots of very good discussion. If I may, what I sense.

There would seem to be two great creative depths to the story of The Silmarillion. We seem to have Music plus Word. So that would not be sheer Logos in the usual Western, Biblical sense. No, here JRR is speaking of a new, second layer to Myth on the Grand Scale. Music, to my way of thinking, is a validation of many things. True, while it can be a singular performance, this is not quite the feeling you get with The Silmarillion. That music would appear to be a group event, or at least stimulating our intuitive grasp of social realities, which are always a unity, in the readerly fashion, dwelling in a world, shared.

I used to argue that there are two layers of mind. Well, it would appear not so! The three levels of mind, in human terms, are unconscious, consciousness in the normal sense, and supraconsciousness. The latter, it seems to me, is where Logos and a second integral element of any truth, Nature, come together in manner of essentially social benefit. That is, fundamental books, whether of the JRR sort, whether of the Hindu sort, always have within them, for extremely mysterious reasons, some ability to home in on the structural basics of what is, what always was, and what, I think, might be. They can and will address truths in any and all cultures, just because of....just because of...laugh...I don`t know!

Speaking seriously, there is a deep need to bring some essentially Eastern and Western perspective on Tolkien`s work together, playing in harmony. That could perhaps bring us to the point of transcending the older formats completely, for now we inhabit a global world, in which the old notions, realities, and inbuilt energies of the separate cultural systems, collapse, collapse however in that way supported by something hopeful, nourishing, always of fruitful content.

Hmm. I`ll send this. Best wishes to all!

Liona 09/Jul/2006 at 11:38 AM
Archer of Imladris Points: 362 Posts: 33 Joined: 29/Apr/2004

Wow! I really enjoyed reading these posts!

I feel I have a mixed opinion on this subject. First I would like to prefice this by saying that I know nothing about the Hindi religion. Also as a Christian, I may be approaching this subject in a biased manner. With all that said:

First of all I’m glad Melyana Falas mentioned C.S. Lewis. From what I’ve heard Lewis and Tolkien where good friends. Tolkien could have gotten some of his musical inspiration from Lewis. Second, I believe Tolkien was a Christian. In the Bible it mentions God creating the world by the spoken word. In literature, it would make sense to twist that, manipulate it into a song.

Many of you have said that Tolkien didn’t like to mix mythologies, but I would like to put forth another theory. We all admit that Tolkien was very learned. I would like to suggest that through his studies, he became inspired by certain mythologies, and certain histories of different countries. By taking a few ideas from them, he could change them and make tem into his own mythology. This mythology could resemble many different mythologies, yet not be based on any of them.

Just a thought....

Liona 09/Jul/2006 at 11:38 AM
Archer of Imladris Points: 362 Posts: 33 Joined: 29/Apr/2004

Wow! I really enjoyed reading these posts!

I feel I have a mixed opinion on this subject. First I would like to prefice this by saying that I know nothing about the Hindi religion. Also as a Christian, I may be approaching this subject in a biased manner. With all that said:

First of all I’m glad Melyana Falas mentioned C.S. Lewis. From what I’ve heard Lewis and Tolkien where good friends. Tolkien could have gotten some of his musical inspiration from Lewis. Second, I believe Tolkien was a Christian. In the Bible it mentions God creating the world by the spoken word. In literature, it would make sense to twist that, manipulate it into a song.

Many of you have said that Tolkien didn’t like to mix mythologies, but I would like to put forth another theory. We all admit that Tolkien was very learned. I would like to suggest that through his studies, he became inspired by certain mythologies, and certain histories of different countries. By taking a few ideas from them, he could change them and make tem into his own mythology. This mythology could resemble many different mythologies, yet not be based on any of them.

Just a thought....

Arthur Weasley 10/Jul/2006 at 03:48 AM
Banned Points: 4289 Posts: 3987 Joined: 29/Nov/2002
During my college teaching career, I studied ancient Mayan myths and archeological materials.  The Mayan native Americans from Mexico and Guatamala also had a similar creation myth surrounding the idea of a great music.  This all may be coincidence but according to Mayan oral tradition, the very first Mayan tribesmen practiced their rituals by repeating or echoing the music that they overheard while the universe was being created.  Mankind supposedly woke up after the sky and land were formed but could overhear the music and sounds creating water, animals, and grass etc.
Arthur Weasley 10/Jul/2006 at 03:48 AM
Banned Points: 4289 Posts: 3987 Joined: 29/Nov/2002
During my college teaching career, I studied ancient Mayan myths and archeological materials.  The Mayan native Americans from Mexico and Guatamala also had a similar creation myth surrounding the idea of a great music.  This all may be coincidence but according to Mayan oral tradition, the very first Mayan tribesmen practiced their rituals by repeating or echoing the music that they overheard while the universe was being created.  Mankind supposedly woke up after the sky and land were formed but could overhear the music and sounds creating water, animals, and grass etc.
Mr Ash Toast 10/Jul/2006 at 03:32 PM
Savant of Isengard Points: 408 Posts: 14 Joined: 04/Jul/2006

If your description of this mythology is accurate then it rather discredits Tolkien’s genius. Thankfully, to my knowledge, Tolkien was not a student of said mythology, rather a student of the Icelandic mythology, which is of a very different nature. However, at the end of the day these mythologies are all essentially the same. They all speak of a great ’birth’ or ’creation’  involving divine spiritual forces, in the case of Icelandic or Norse mythology involving a great frost giant named Ymir, in the case of the Christian ’mythology’ a creation lasting six days. Tolkien’s work takes a lot from mythology, there is no denying that. A single thread of mythology, I believe would suffice, instead of this specific Hindu mythology thread. I am new here, so I can only assume one exists or has existed in the past. In my opinion this thread is a) a waste of time and space and b) bordering on the ’blasphemous’ (if we’re talking religious I believe this term is quite apt) regarding Tolkien’s work in that it implies pure plagiarism.

Mr Ash Toast 10/Jul/2006 at 03:32 PM
Savant of Isengard Points: 408 Posts: 14 Joined: 04/Jul/2006

If your description of this mythology is accurate then it rather discredits Tolkien’s genius. Thankfully, to my knowledge, Tolkien was not a student of said mythology, rather a student of the Icelandic mythology, which is of a very different nature. However, at the end of the day these mythologies are all essentially the same. They all speak of a great ’birth’ or ’creation’  involving divine spiritual forces, in the case of Icelandic or Norse mythology involving a great frost giant named Ymir, in the case of the Christian ’mythology’ a creation lasting six days. Tolkien’s work takes a lot from mythology, there is no denying that. A single thread of mythology, I believe would suffice, instead of this specific Hindu mythology thread. I am new here, so I can only assume one exists or has existed in the past. In my opinion this thread is a) a waste of time and space and b) bordering on the ’blasphemous’ (if we’re talking religious I believe this term is quite apt) regarding Tolkien’s work in that it implies pure plagiarism.

Rohanya 11/Jul/2006 at 05:12 AM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 2902 Posts: 6872 Joined: 28/Jan/2005
avantika, I could also suggest the following points. Tolkien, it seems clear, wanted passion injected into Myth, into, on a vaster level, the entire way of Western Way, especially in his Britain. True, he loved the very Britishness of it all, yet surely wanted more vibrant living, I would be guessing, in future generations of English.

Or else why feel a Myth, Britannic, necessary at all?

Passion, if vibrant, rich, robust, and at the source, then yes a Musical beginning to the university makes sense. If sheerly a Logos, word approach, then the full impact is not imagined; for you have to get to the end of the first sentence       and then the next     and the next before meaningful patterns, which can obviously be quite passionate, in this deeper, spiritual sense I am speaking of take place, as experience, in the readerly mind.

It seems to me obvious then how he intuitively ended up with a musical beginning. Books are always, as written correctly, perfectly (to the degree possible, meaning from that whole unique self) the invocation and channeling of energies.

Finally, that is why the stories as stories have so much to tell, so much of offer.
Rohanya 11/Jul/2006 at 05:12 AM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 2902 Posts: 6872 Joined: 28/Jan/2005
avantika, I could also suggest the following points. Tolkien, it seems clear, wanted passion injected into Myth, into, on a vaster level, the entire way of Western Way, especially in his Britain. True, he loved the very Britishness of it all, yet surely wanted more vibrant living, I would be guessing, in future generations of English.

Or else why feel a Myth, Britannic, necessary at all?

Passion, if vibrant, rich, robust, and at the source, then yes a Musical beginning to the university makes sense. If sheerly a Logos, word approach, then the full impact is not imagined; for you have to get to the end of the first sentence       and then the next     and the next before meaningful patterns, which can obviously be quite passionate, in this deeper, spiritual sense I am speaking of take place, as experience, in the readerly mind.

It seems to me obvious then how he intuitively ended up with a musical beginning. Books are always, as written correctly, perfectly (to the degree possible, meaning from that whole unique self) the invocation and channeling of energies.

Finally, that is why the stories as stories have so much to tell, so much of offer.
Eladar 29/Nov/2006 at 07:09 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

BB,

I believe this thread should be illegal according to your statement:

IF the discussion means that one must draw upon one particular faith system in order to further that discussion - it is not allowed.

Eladar 29/Nov/2006 at 07:09 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

BB,

I believe this thread should be illegal according to your statement:

IF the discussion means that one must draw upon one particular faith system in order to further that discussion - it is not allowed.

Bearamir 29/Nov/2006 at 06:39 PM
Emeritus Points: 16276 Posts: 16742 Joined: 21/Sep/2008

Eladar:  Over the years, there have been several threads in the forum to discuss various aspects of Tolkien’s world, and the myths and mythos which may (or may not have contributed) to it.  Under the ageis of this kind of "comparative perspective" discussion, religious themes have been allowed. 

Therefore, unless this discussion degenerates into an argument of "whose religion is better than whose" (or my colleagues deem otherwise) this venerable (and excellent discussion) will stay right where it is.

Bearamir 29/Nov/2006 at 06:39 PM
Emeritus Points: 16276 Posts: 16742 Joined: 21/Sep/2008

Eladar:  Over the years, there have been several threads in the forum to discuss various aspects of Tolkien’s world, and the myths and mythos which may (or may not have contributed) to it.  Under the ageis of this kind of "comparative perspective" discussion, religious themes have been allowed. 

Therefore, unless this discussion degenerates into an argument of "whose religion is better than whose" (or my colleagues deem otherwise) this venerable (and excellent discussion) will stay right where it is.

halfir 30/Nov/2006 at 04:13 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

IF the discussion means that one must draw upon one particular faith system in order to further that discussion - it is not allowed.

Clearly Eladar has paid scant attention to this thread, as although its genesis was vested in Hinduism,Ragnelle’s posts, my own, and those of others take it into a much wider context - and nowhere- thank goodness- is there a ’my religion is better than yours’ childishness.

Bear: X(

halfir 30/Nov/2006 at 04:13 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

IF the discussion means that one must draw upon one particular faith system in order to further that discussion - it is not allowed.

Clearly Eladar has paid scant attention to this thread, as although its genesis was vested in Hinduism,Ragnelle’s posts, my own, and those of others take it into a much wider context - and nowhere- thank goodness- is there a ’my religion is better than yours’ childishness.

Bear: X(

Celebind Eryniel 09/Dec/2006 at 10:51 AM
Butler of Mirkwood Points: 1702 Posts: 1107 Joined: 18/Mar/2006
Quote: Originally posted by Ragnelle on Sunday, May 07, 2006

Now as to other sourses of music as the crative force (if I can use that expression), there are  the Finnish epic Kallevalla where where knowing the right songs and words is what gives power.

I seem to recall having picked up the knowledge somewhere (can’t remember where, unfortunately) that Tolkien was familiar with the Kallevalla.  And wasn’t Quenya partially based on the Finnish language?
That said, I’m not surprised that some aspects of Tolkien’s "creation story" might parallel those of world mythologies.  Tolkien knew a lot about epic tales such as Beowulf, which might be said to be mythological.  And when I was a kid, one of my favorite hobbies was learning about different mythologies (right up there with my hobby of collecting stuffed toy animals  ).  I was particularly good at noticing similarities between different mythologies.  To cite another example of the ’song as creation’ theme, the Egyptian god Thoth sang in order to awake the other gods from their slumber inside a cosmic egg.  When they awoke and broke out of the egg, they all proceeded to create the world.  (Let me know if I got anything wrong; it’s been quite a while since I last brushed up on my Egyptian myths).
Hope this helps.

Araneg 11/Dec/2006 at 05:23 AM
Garment-crafter of Lothlorien Points: 437 Posts: 11 Joined: 11/Dec/2006
 I think in no way was he trying to weave hindu thoughts and ideas through his writing. If you recall under the Hindu religion they believe that  brahman divides into vishnu (also known as narayana) and into shiva (also known as siva). Although vishnu and shiva are two god’s they are only facets of brahman and have no identity outside of brahman. In other words they are brahman with a mask on. I do not see the same ideas in his writing that Illuvatar made the ainur some of which became valar. Because the ainur were seperate beings from Illuvatar and hed free reign to create however they pleased. If anything I would compare his ideas to a mix between Christian and early celtic ideas. If you recall in Christianity God makes angels of greater and lesser power then satan rebells and the angels are given a choice of whom to follow. And in some early celtic traditions it was the servents of the god’s that helped fashion the world together. So no I see no similarity between hinduism and the writings.
Aure 11/Dec/2006 at 06:34 PM
Chieftain of Mordor Points: 8595 Posts: 6394 Joined: 20/Oct/2003
Though I eternally laugh at the notion that there is no allegory in Tolkeins works as has been maintained, I suspect in this instance that the similarities between his writings and aspects of Vedic mythology are not his taking directly from them, however subconsciously, but that the mythos of several cultures simply contain very similar themes, the one of power in music being one of the more common. It is perfectly reasonable to include a concept that appears in so many different places, after all.

Even in more modern writings, the first that come to my mind are by Mercedes Lackey, there are people who work magic of a sort with song and most spells in fantasy writing are generally held to have a verbal component. Even games such as D&D hold that silencing a sorceror generally negates most if not all of their power. So, why not music?
Wilibald Bumble 16/Dec/2006 at 05:50 PM
New Soul Points: 647 Posts: 197 Joined: 03/Dec/2006

It is very interesting what you have speculated. On my own research, I do base that Tolkien did use some Vedic mythology in his writings. Yes, you are right because where Tolkien thought that the world was started by music is very strange. It isn’t in Norse or Scandanavian mythology as far as I know. The word Om in Hindu culture certainly as to do with the spiritual basis Tolkien would have wanted it to imply. Very interesting idea, you have there! I had never thought it like that. Although I do not have much evidence on this topic(Trying my hardest to find some) I do believe Tolkien took bit by bit out of every major religion, although his idea of a monotheistic god, Eru Illuvatar, was certainly Christian-based.

But think about the Ainur. Manwe and Varda and all the other lords that live on the continent of Aman. They have both created(helped by Eru) many beings such as the Eagles(by Manwe), and Ulmo who tried to create Dwarves but couldn’t as he did not have the Flame Imperishable. Then, if you are familiar, Ulmo begged to Eru to give Life to the Dwarves and lo! out of generosity and pity Eru gave the Dwarves life. These many examples potray that Tolkien might have some polytheistic ideas in his story. Although the Ainur worship Eru, the supreme god of the Ea or the universe, Tolkien might have also given some power to create life and change the Arda to the Ainur. Hinduism is a polythesitic religion! Hence, I do believe Tolkien had created some Vedic mythology and plugged it into his writings’.