From Lion Saints to Lion Goddess

By: Nermin Öztürk   Sevde Duzguner  

Comparative religious studies of Western scientists have revealed the plenty of similar constructs in different religions at the last two centuries. Many methods are asserted to evaluate these common elements that have the potential to contribute to the explanation of religion. In this paper we approach similar figures from different religions from phenomenological perspective. These figures are Saint Harakani from Islam and Goddess Durga from Hinduism both of which get on a lion holding a snake as a whip. We also consider other similar figures and assert that Saint Harakani is not just a prophecy story but actually a prototype which is a universal figure with universal meaning. Although some researchers claim that the figure with a lion and a snake had come to Islamic culture from Indian Muslim dervishes this argument cannot explain the existence of the same figure in Ancient Indian Religion and even in the earlier Anatolian Kybele cult around 7000 B.C. In this paper we focus on what this figure means instead of where it stems from. This study is relative since a symbol always has many meanings. This paper compares the meanings of this symbol in Islamic and Hindu tradition. It asserts that Saints in monotheistic religions and Goddess in polytheistic religions have the same functions in different cultures. Religious language is shaped by the culture it takes part in and this language includes many common symbols that goes over to depth of consciousness of human being as Jung and Tillich says.

History, Common Symbols
2019 Special Focus—Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Nermin Öztürk

Professor, History of Religions, Necmettin Erbakan University, Faculty of Theology, Turkey

Sevde Duzguner