Al-Khadir, Alexander and the Fountain of Life

http://khidr.org/gaffar.htm

Alexander was known as God from the West

al-SikandarAlexander the Great (356-323 BC) (Arabic al-Sikandar or Iskandar) was depicted in Greek coinage as ram-headed, (Arabic: Zul-Qarnain ‘Lord of Two Horns’) indicating that he was regarded as a living deity while yet a man.

In worldwide Islamic tradition, the story of the prophet or saint known as Khwaja Khadir (Khizr) occupies a role of special distinction. A popular and familiar figure since early pre-Islamic times, al-Khadir (Arabic: ‘The Green Man’ ) is reputedly the only soul who has gained life immortal from tasting of the Ma’ul Hayat or Fountain of Life once in the distant past, possibly at Kataragama or Khidirgama, ‘the home of al-Khadir’ according to oral traditions that likewise live on to this day.

In spite of the scorn and disbelief evinced by modern-educated Muslims, the great majority of Islamic believers have long accorded the utmost respect toward this mysterious figure whom theologians variously class as a saint, a prophet or even as an angel. Elusive yet omnipresent, al-Khadir has long been said to reveal himself to those who are worthy of his companionship, to whom he transmits the sirr or divine secrets. Even today, face-to-face encounters with Khwaja Khadir are not uncommon among Islamic mystics in Sri Lanka and worldwide.

By assembling a composite picture of al-Khadir as he is portrayed in the Holy Qur’an, in Persian literature and pre-Islamic legendary sources, a possible basis for Kataragama’s long association with the ever-youthful ‘servant of Allah’ emerges. Intriguing patterns come to light that relate al-Khadir to Iskandar or Alexander the Great, who may represent the historical archetype from which evolved into the pan-Indian cult of the war god Skanda.

Popular tradition concerning al-Khadir also finds ample support among learned scholars, the ulema. Some say that Khizr lived at the time of the biblical prophet Abraham and that he still may be seen at sacred places. According to the Isaba, 882, he was given immortality after a conversation with his friend the archangel Rafa’il in order to establish the true worship of God on earth and to maintain it.

According to hadith or canonical account, al-Khadir was seen at the funeral of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (sal) offering condolence to the Prophet’s bereaved companions. Khizr lives on an island (al-Tabari, i, 442) or upon a green carpet in the heart of the sea (al-Bukhari, Tafsir, sura 18, bab 3). He can find water beneath the ground and talks the language of all peoples (al-Suri). Others say that he can make himself invisible at will. Khizr and the biblical prophet Elijah perform haj annually and often appear in the disguise of bedawis. Both are entrusted with the duty of protecting travelers on their journeys. Elsewhere, al-Khadir’s realm is an earthly paradise within the human world where Khadir rules over saints and angels; known as Yuh (also a name of the sun), it is situated in the far North.

According to early Islamic historians, Khizr was the vizier (Arabic: wazir) of Zul-qarnain, ‘The Two-Horned’, who is generally considered to be identical with Alexander the Great of Macedonia (4th cent. BC). Al- Baizawi says, “He was Sikandar ar-Rumi, King of Persia and Greece.” Says al-Qastalani, the commentator on al-Bukhari, “Zul-qarnain was a king named Sikandar, whose wazir or chancellor was Khizr.”

Al-Khadir and companion Zul-Qarnain (al-Sikandar)Al-Khadir (right) and companion Zul-Qarnain (al-Sikandar) marvel at the sight of a salted fish that comes back to life when touched by the Water of Life. “When Alexander sought he did not find what Khizr found unsought” (Sikandar Nāma LXIX.75).

 

Popular tradition concerning al-Khadir also finds ample support among learned scholars, the ulema. Some say that Khizr lived at the time of the biblical prophet Abraham and that he still may be seen at sacred places. According to the Isaba, 882, he was given immortality after a conversation with his friend the archangel Rafa’il in order to establish the true worship of God on earth and to maintain it.

According to hadith or canonical account, al-Khadir was seen at the funeral of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (sal) offering condolence to the Prophet’s bereaved companions. Khizr lives on an island (al-Tabari, i, 442) or upon a green carpet in the heart of the sea (al-Bukhari, Tafsir, sura 18, bab 3). He can find water beneath the ground and talks the language of all peoples (al-Suri). Others say that he can make himself invisible at will. Khizr and the biblical prophet Elijah perform haj annually and often appear in the disguise of bedawis. Both are entrusted with the duty of protecting travelers on their journeys. Elsewhere, al-Khadir’s realm is an earthly paradise within the human world where Khadir rules over saints and angels; known as Yuh (also a name of the sun), it is situated in the far North.

According to early Islamic historians, Khizr was the vizier (Arabic: wazir) of Zul-qarnain, ‘The Two-Horned’, who is generally considered to be identical with Alexander the Great of Macedonia (4th cent. BC). Al- Baizawi says, “He was Sikandar ar-Rumi, King of Persia and Greece.” Says al-Qastalani, the commentator on al-Bukhari, “Zul-qarnain was a king named Sikandar, whose wazir or chancellor was Khizr.”

In Islamic tradition, al-Sikandar or Iskandar is recalled as a saintly leader or prophet whose armies conquered both East and West. Together with Khizr, who is variously portrayed as Alexander’s cook, vizier or general leading the vanguard of his troops, Alexander is represented as having set out to reach the End of the World or the Land of Darkness in search of the Water of Life. “Alexander is guided by Khizr, but when they come to a parting of the ways, each follows a different path, and Khizr alone accomplishes the quest.

“Nizami attributes Iskandar’s failure to his eagerness (deliberately, in planned fashion) whereas in the case of Khizr ‘the Water of Life arrived unsought’.” Khizr the cook, general or vizier did so naturally and in the course of duty, whereas Alexander was following his ‘own’ plan, i.e. with a sense of personal accomplishment or authorship. In this sense, Iskandar failed in the grail quest because he was, as it were, seeking to set himself up as a divinity, a purely hypothetical partner to Allah, Who alone is real. In contrast, Khizr found the Water of Life without even suspecting it.

In the Holy Qur’an, passages concerning al-Khadir and Zul-qarnain occur in the eighteenth Sura called, significantly, Kahlf (Arabic: ‘cave'; cf. Sanskrit Guha ‘cave’, also a name of Skanda), a compendium of mystical secrets revealed in response to three questions about legendary figures put to the Prophet Mohammed (sal) by skeptical Jewish doctors. One concerns the legend of time-traveling sleepers sealed up in a cave.

Al-Khadir crosses the River of Life upon a fishIn western Asia, Moslem symbolic art shows the Saint, Al Khizr, dressed in a green coat being carried on top of the water by a fish which conveys him over the river of life.

 

Khwaja Khadir and the Fountain of Life in the Tradition of Persian and Mughal Art

 Hazarat Khadir, Khidr, Khezr, Hizir

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, “What is Civilisation” and Other Essays, (Cambridge: Golgosova Press, 1989) pp. 157-167.

In India, the Prophet, Saint, or Deity known as Khwaja Khizr (Khadir), Pir Badar, or Raja Kidar, is the object of a still surviving popular cult, common to Muslims and Hindus. His principal shrine is on the Indus near Bakhar, where he is worshipped by devotees of both persuasions; the cult is however hardly less widely diffused in Bihar and Bengal. In the Hindu cult, the Khwaja is worshipped with lights and by feeding Brahmans at a well, and alike in Hindu and Muslim practice, by setting afloat in a pond or river a little boat which bears a lighted lamp. Iconographically Khwaja Khizr is represented as an aged man, having the aspect of a faqir, clothed entirely in green[1] and moving in the waters with a ‘fish’ as his vehicle.

The nature of Khwaja Khizr can be inferred from his iconography as outlined above, and also from the Indian legends. In the ballad of Niwal Dai, which is localized at Safidam[2] in the Panjab, Niwal Dai is the daughter of Vasuki, the chief of the Serpents. The Aryan Pandava Raja Pariksit has encountered Vasuki, and forced him to promise his daughter to him in marriage, though from Vasuki’s point of view this is a disgraceful misalliance. Vasuki is then stricken with leprosy, owing to a curse pronounced by the Priest Siji[3] whose cows have been bitten by the Serpents. Niwal Dai undertakes to obtain for his healing the Water of Life (amrta), from the closed well which she alone can open, but which is in the domains of Raja Pariksit.[4] When she reaches the well, which is covered over by heavy stones, she moves these by her magic power, but the waters sink down out of reach; this is because Khwaja Khizr, their master, will not release them until Niwal Dai, whom none but her own parents Vasuki and his queen Padma have ever yet seen, permits herself to be seen; when Niwal Dai showed herself, then Khwaja Khizr ‘sent the waters up bubbling’. Raja Pariksit, aroused by the sound, gallops to the well, and though Niwal Dai hides in her serpent form, forces her to put on her human aspect, and after a long argument at the well, convinces her that she is bound by the previous betrothal, and in due course marries her.[5]

The scene at the well may also have been the original theme of the composition represented in a number of seventeenth and eighteenth century Mughal paintings, where a prince on horseback is shown at a well, from which a lady has drawn up water.[6] The motif of a dynasty originating in the marriage of a human King with a Nagini is widely diffused in India, and in the last analysis can always be referred back to the rape of Vac, the Apsaras or Virgin of the Waters whose origin is with the powers of darkness and whom the Father-Creator has not ‘seen’ before the transformation of darkness into light, in principle; in this connection it is noteworthy that in the ballad, Niwal Dai has never seen the Sun or Moon, and has been kept hidden in a whirlpool (bhaithri) until she comes forth to uncover the Well at the World’s End, in which are the Waters of Life.[7] That she assumes a human form is her ‘manifestation’. It will be realised, of course, that just as in the European parallels, where a mermaid, or the daughter of a magician, marries a human hero, so in the later Indian folk tales and romances the redactor may not have always fully ‘understood his material’.

Khwaja Khizr appears again in another Indian folk tale of a very archaic type, the Story of Prince Mahbub.[8] The king of Persia has a son by a concubine, who, in the absence of any other child, becomes the heir apparent. Subsequently the true queen becomes pregnant. The first prince fears that he will be displaced, invades the kingdom, slays his father, and usurps the throne. In the meantime the true queen escapes, and is cared for by a farmer; a son is born, who is called Mahbub, and the ‘Darling of the World’. Later he goes alone to court, and becomes the victor in athletic contests, particularly as an archer. The people recognise his likeness to the late king.

 
The Shrine of Khawaja Khizr, near Bukkur fort, 1838
Identified by Jackson as a view of ‘Hajee Ka Tau, an island just above the fort of Bukkur on the Indus’, the sketch would appear to be of the tomb of the river saint Khwaja Khizr, regarded as having been built in 925 A.D. (A.H. 341). According to the legend recorded in the Chachnama, the tomb was built in gratitude by a Delhi merchant Shah Husain who, traveling down the Indus with his pretty daughter on their way to Mecca, was called upon by Dalurai (the Hindu ruler of Alor) to surrender the daughter. In her anxiety to avoid such an impious alliance, the girl prayed to Khwaja Khizr for deliverance and as she and her father sought to escape in a boat, the saint diverted the course of the Indus towards Rohri bringing the harassed father and daughter to safety. Khwaja Khizr, known also as the Jinda or living Pir, is said to be particularly protective of travelers.

On his return home his mother tells him of his birth, and both set out on their travels in order to avoid the usurper’s suspicion. Mother and son reach a desert land, and there in a mosque beside a mountain they meet a faqir who gives them bread and water that are inexhaustible, and two pieces of wood, one of which can serve as a torch, the other possessing this virtue, that within a radius of fourteen cubits from the place where it is held, the deepest sea will become fordable, and no more than a cubit in depth. As mother and son are then wading through the sea knee-deep, they meet with a ruby-bearing current.

They cross the sea and reach India, where they sell one of the rubies at a great price. It comes into the hands of the king of that country. He finds out its source, and seeks the hero, who has in the meantime built a new and great palace by the seaside. Mahbub undertakes to procure more of the same kind. He sets out alone, lights the torch (this shows that he is about to enter a world of darkness), and aided by the rod traverses the sea till he reaches the ruby current. He follows it up until he finds its source in a whirlpool. He jumps in and falls down the black watery chimney until he touches solid ground and finds the waters flowing out from an iron gateway of a conduit.

Passing through this he finds himself in a wonderful garden, in which is a palace. In this palace he finds a room in which is a freshly severed head, from which drops of blood are falling into a basin, and are carried out as rubies with the current into the conduit and so to the whirlpool and up into the sea. Twelve paris[9] then appear, take down the head, bring forth the trunk, lay the parts together, and taking up burning candles execute a dance round the couch, so swift that Mahbub can see only a circle of light. Then stooping over the bed, they wail ‘How long, O Lord, how long? . . . When will the sun of hope arise on the darkness of our despair? Arise, O King, arise, how long will you remain in this deathlike trance?’[10]

Then from the floor of the palace there rises up the form of the faqir previously mentioned, and now clad in garments of light. The pans bow down to him, and ask ‘Khwaja Khizr, has the hour come?’ The faqir, who is indeed none but the immortal Khwaja Khizr, explains to Mahbub that the corpse is his father’s, who had been murdered by the usurper Kassab; Mahbub’s ancestors have all been magi;[11] all have been buried in the under-water palace, but Mahbub’s father has remained unburied, for none had performed his funeral rites; Mahbub, as son, should now do this- Mahbub accordingly makes prayer to Allah on behalf of his father’s soul.

 Al-Khadir and companion Zul-Qarnain (al-Sikandar)
Al-Khadir (right) and companion Zul-Qarnain (al-Sikandar) marvel at the sight of a salted fish that comes back to life when touched by the Water of Life. “When Alexander sought he did not find what Khizr found unsought” (Sikandar Nāma LXIX.75).

Immediately the head is joined to the body, and the dead king rises up alive.[12] Khizr vanishes, and Mahbub returns to India with his father, who is thus reunited with the widowed queen. When the king of India comes for the rubies, Mahbub pricks his own finger, and the drops of blood falling into a cup of water become the required gems, for as Mahbub now knows, every drop of blood that flows in the veins of the kings of Persia is more precious than rubies. Mahbub marries the princess of India. An expedition to Persia dethrones the usurper Kassab, and his head is taken and hung in the underground palace, but every drop of blood becomes a toad.

The true nature of Khwaja Khizr is already clearly indicated in the two stories summarised above, as well as in the iconography. Khizr is at home in both worlds, the dark and the light, but above all master of the flowing River of Life in the Land of Darkness: he is at once the guardian and genius of vegetation and of the Water of Life, and corresponds to Soma and Gandharva in Vedic mythology, and in many respects to Varuria himself, though it is evident that he cannot, either from the Islamic or from the later Hindu point of view be openly identified with the supreme deity. We shall find these general conclusions amply confirmed by further examinations of the sources of the Islamic legends of al-Khadir.

In the Qur’an (Sura XVM, 59-81) occurs the legend of Musa’s search for the Ma’jma ‘al-Bahrain,[13]which is probably to be understood as a ‘place’ in the far west at the meeting of two oceans; Musa is guided by a ‘servant of God’, whom the commentators identify with al-Khadir, whose abode is said to be upon an island or on a green carpet in the midst of the sea?

This story can be traced back to three older sources, the Gilgamesh epic, the Alexander Romances, and the Jewish legend of Elijah and Rabbi Joshua ben Levi.[14] In the Gilgamesh epic the hero sets out in search of his immortal ‘ancestor’ Utnapishtim who dwells at the mouth of the rivers(ina pi narati), like Varuna whose abode is ‘at the rivers’ source’, sindhunam upodaye. Rg Veda, VIII, 41, 2; his object being to be informed with respect to the ‘plant-life’, prototype of the Avestan haoma, Vedic soma,[15] whereby man can be saved from death.

In the Alexander Romances Alexander sets out in search of the Fountain of Life, which is accidentally found, and significantly ‘in the land of darkness’, but cannot be found again. A recension of this legend occurs in the Shah Nama, where Alexander sets out in search of the Fountain of Life, which lies in the Land of Darkness beyond the place of the setting of the Sun in the western waters; Alexander is guided by Khizr, but when they come to a parting of the ways, each follows a different path, and Khizr alone accomplishes the quest. Those of Alexander’s followers who bring back with them stones from the Land of Darkness find on their return that these are precious stones.[16]

 Khidr and Ilyas at the Fountain of Life

Khizr and Ilyas at the Fountain of Life. Amir Khusrau, Khamsah
Ilyas and Khizr sit down by a fountain to eat their repast, consisting of dried fish; the fish falling into the waters, comes to life, and thus the seekers are made aware that they have found the Fountain of Life, from which both drink.

The story is retold at greater length in Nizami’s Iskandar Nāma, LXVIII-LXIX; here Alexander learns from an ancient man (probably Khizr himself in human form) that ‘of every land, the Dark Land is best, in which is a Water, a life-giver’ and that the source of this River of Life is in the North, beneath the Pole Star.[17] On the way to the Dark land, in every arid land the rain falls and grass springs up, ‘Thou wouldst have said: “The trace of Khizr was on that road; that verily, Khizr himself was with the king”.[18]They reach the northern limit of the world, the sun ceases to rise, and the Land of Darkness lies before them.

Alexander makes the prophet Khizr his guide, and Khizr ‘moving with greenness[19]leads the way, and presently discovers the fountain, from which he drinks, becoming immortal. He keeps his eye on the spring, while waiting for Alexander to catch up with him; but it disappears from sight, and Khizr himself vanishes, realising that Alexander will not succeed in his quest. Nizami goes on to relate another version according to the ‘account of the elders of Rum'; here the quest is undertaken by Ilyas[20] and Khizr, who sit down by a fountain to eat their repast, consisting of dried fish; the fish falling into the waters, comes to life, and thus the seekers are made aware that they have found the Fountain of Life, from which both drink.

Nizami then proceeds to the Kur’anic version, and interprets the Fountain as one of Grace, the true Water of Life being the Knowledge of God. A similar interpretation of the ancient material occurs in the New Testament, (John, 4). Nizami attributes Iskandar’s failure to his eagerness, whereas in the case of Khizr ‘the Water of Life arrived unsought’, with reference to the fact that it is revealed indirectly by its effect on the fish, when Khizr has no suspicion that he has already reached it.

The finding of the Fountain by Ilyas and Khizr occurs in Persian art as the subject of miniatures illustrating the Iskandar Nama.[21] One of these, from a late sixteenth century manuscript belonging to Mr A. Sakisian, is reproduced in colour as frontispiece to his La Miniature persane, 1929, and in monochrome by L. Binyon, Persian Painting, 1933, PI. LXIa; here the two prophets are seated by the Well in a verdant landscape, two fish are seen lying on a platter and a third, evidently alive, is in Khizr’s hand; it is clear that he is pointing out to Ilyas the significance of the miracle. Ilyas is robed in blue, Khizr wears a green robe with a brown cloak.

In another, and unpublished version of the seventeenth century, belonging to the Freer Gallery the arrangement is similar, but only one fish is seen on the platter. A third example, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and or late fifteenth century date, is reproduced in Ars Asiatica, XIII. PI. VII, no. 15; Ilyas and al-Khadir are seen in the foreground beside the stream, in darkness; Alexander and his followers above, as in the Freer Gallery example, where the arrangement of the darks and lights is reversed. The Freer Gallery example seems to be the more correct in this respect, inasmuch as the whole quest takes place within the Land of Darkness, but the immediate vicinity of the Fountain of Life is understood to be lighted up by the sheen of its flowing waters. The Finders of the Well are both nimbate.

In the Syrian Lay of Alexander, and in the Qur’anic version, the fish swims away, and in the latter is said to reach the sea. A connection with the story of Manu and the ‘fish’ may be predicated in the Manu myth (Satapatha Bramana, I.8.i); the ‘fish’ (jhasa) is from the beginning alive, but very small, and precariously situated, for it comes into Manu’s hands when he is washing, and asks him to rear it. Manu provides it with water, and after it has grown great, releases it in the sea; and when the Flood comes, it guides the Ark through the Waters by means of a rope attached to its horn.

A noteworthy variant of the Manu legend, with a closer parallel to the Alexander and Qur’anic versions with respect to the dessication of the ‘fish’ occurs in Jaimimya Brahmana, in. 193, and Pancavimsa Brahmana, xiv. 5. 15; here Sarkara, the ‘sisumara’, refuses to praise Indra, Parjanya therefore strands him on dry land and dries him up with the north wind (the cause of the desiccation of the fish is thus indicated). Sarkara then finds a song of praise for Indra, Parjanya restores him to the ocean (as does Khizr, though unintentionally, in the Qur’anic version), and by the same laud Sarkara attains heaven, becoming a constellation. There can be no doubt that the constellation Capricornus, Skr. makara, makarasi, is intended. Makara, jhasa, and sisumara are thus synonymous;[22] and this Indian Leviathan clearly corresponds to the kar-fish, ‘greatest of the creatures of Ahuramazda’, who swims in Vourukasha, guarding the Haoma tree of life in the primordial sea (Bundahis, XVIII; Yasna, XLII. 4, etc.); and to the Sumerian goat-fish, the symbol and sometimes the vehicle of Ea, god of the waters (Langdon, Semitic Mythology, pp.105-6). That in the late Indian iconography Khizr’s vehicle is an unmistakable fish, and not the crocodilian makara, need not surprise us, for other instances of the alternative use of makara and ‘fish’ could be cited from Indian iconographic sources; in some early representations, for example, the river-goddess Ganga is shown supported by a maker, but in the later paintings by a fish.

In the Pseudo-Callisthenes (C) version of the Alexander legend, Alexander is accompanied by his cook, Andreas. After a long journey in the Land of Darkness, they come to a place gushing with waters, and sit down to eat; Andreas wets the dried fish, and seeing that it comes to life, drinks of the water, but does not inform Alexander. Subsequently Andreas seduces Alexander’s daughter Kale, and gives her a drink of the Water of Life (of which he had brought away a portion); she having thus become an immortal goddess is called Nereis, and the cook is flung into the sea, becoming a god; both are thus denizens of the other world. There can be no doubt that Andreas here is the Idris of Qur’an, Sura xix, 57ff. and Sura xxi, 85, whom Islamic tradition identifies with Enoch, Ilyas, and al-Khadir. From the account of Idris in Ibn al-Qifti’s Tarikh al-Hukama’a (c. 1200) it appears that he plays the part of a solar hero, and is immortal.

Khwaja Khadir Khwaja Khadir
In western Asia, Moslem or Hindu symbolic art shows the Saint, Al Khizr, dressed in a green coat being carried on top of the water by a fish which conveys him over the river of life.

Al-Khadir also presents some point of resemblance with Saint George, and it is in this connection and as patron of travellers that we meet with a figure which is probably that of al-Khadir in carved relief over the gateway of a caravanserai on the road between Sinjar and Mosul, of the XI nth century; the figure is nimbate, and is thrusting a lance into the mouth of a scaly dragon.[23]

The figure of a man seated on a fish occurs apparently as a Hindu work built into the bastion of the fort at Raichur, in the Deccan; it is stated to have a ‘crown of river-serpent hoods’, and has therefore been called a ‘naga king’, but these hoods are not clearly recognisable in the published reproduction.[24]Mediaeval Indian art affords numerous examples of Varuna seated on amakara.

A brief reference may be made to European parallels similarly derivative in the last analysis from Sumerian sources. Khadir corresponds to the Greek sea-god Glaukos (Friedlander, loc. cit. pp. 108 ff., 242, 253, etc., Barnett, loc. cit. p.715). Khadir belongs to the Wandering Jew type. Parallels between Glaukos and Vedic Gand-harva are noteworthy; the Avesran designation of Gandarva aszairipasna ‘green-heeled’ tends to a connection of Gandharva with Khadir. Gandharva, as suggested by Dr. Barnett, may correspond to Kandarpa, i.e. Kamadeva, and in this connection it may be observed that the erotic motif common to Glaukos and Gandharva-Kamadeva appears in connection with Khizr in the Niwal Dai ballad, where Khizr will not release the waters unless he has sight of Niwal Dai; as might be looked for if we think of him as the Gandharva, and of her as theapsaras or Maiden (yosa) of the Waters, or equally if we correlate Khizr with Varuna, cf. Rg Veda, VII. 33. 10-11 where Mitra-Varuna are seduced by the sight of Urvasi, as is emphasized in the Sarvanukramani, 1.166 urvasim apsarasam drstva . . . reto apatat, and Sayana, retas caskanda evidently following Nirukta, v. 13.

The same situation is implied in Rg Veda, VII. 87. 6 with respect to Varuna alone who descends as a white drop (drapsa)and is called a ‘traverser of space’ (rajasah vimanah) and ‘ruler of the deep’ (gambhira-sansah), epithets that might well be applied to Khizr. It remains to be observed that in Christian iconography the figure of the river-god Jordan,[25]commonly found in representations of the Baptism of Jesus, bears a certain likeness to the conception of Glaukos and Khizr. In some cases the Baptism was thought of as taking place at the junction of two rivers, Jor and Danus. Sometimes there is found a masculine river-god, and a feminine figure representing the sea; both riding on dolphins, like the numerous types of Indian dwarf Yaksas riding on makaras.

All these types in the last analysis may be referred back to prototypes of which our earliest knowledge is Sumerian, in the concept or Ea, son and image of Enki, whose essential name Enki means ‘Lord of the Watery Deep’. Ea was the ruler of the streams that rose in the Underworld, and flowed thence to fertilize the land; precious stones are likewise his. In iconography, Ea has the goat-fish, and holds in his hands the flowing-vase, the source of the ‘bread and water of immortal life’. Ea has seven sons, of whom Marduk inherits his wisdom and slew the dragon Tiamat. Another son was Dumuziabzu, the ‘Faithful Son of the Fresh Waters’, the Shepherd, the Semitic form of whose name is Tammuz, well known as the ‘Dying God’ of vegetation; comparable in many respects with Soma, and as ‘Lord of the Realm of the Dead’ with Yama.

The further Sumerian parallels are too many and too close to admit of adequate discussion here.[26] It suffices to have demonstrated the wide diffusion and ancient origin of the figure of Khwaja Khizr as it occurs in Persian and Indian iconography. In connection with Mughal art may be cited the remark of H. Goetz, who in discussing the sources of Mughal art speaks of a ‘teils absolute Identitaet teils engste Verwandschaft mit solchen der grossen altorientalischen Kulturen, und zwar zu gut Teilen schon der klassischen sumerischen Zeit’.[27] That the figure of Khizr comes into independent prominence precisely in Mughal art of the eighteenth century—all the Indian examples that I have seen are in the ‘Lucknow style’— when considered in connection with the adoption of the fish as royal emblem by the rulers of Oudh, seems to show that some revival of the cult took place at this time and in this area.

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