Aztecs mentioned in the Mahabharata?

© Jen Wilton
© Jen Wilton

The Aztec people are part of the Nahuatl-speaking groups in central Mexico and a large portion of their mythology is similar to that of the other Mesoamerican cultures. What’s interesting is that the Aztecs are mentioned in the ancient Indian epic, Mahabharata, in which they are called Sarpas and they are rescued from a terrible fate by the sage Astika.

The story begins as follows: The Indian epic hero, Bali granted his land to a man known as Vaman and after that traveled to South America, founding a village there. His followers settled in the village as well and with the population growth new cities were built such as Sutala, Atala, and Talatala. Those who live in these colonies are deemed “Talatalak”, from which comes the name “Toltec”. Those people are still living in Mexico and South America to this day.

The three cities were ruled by Bali, who was called “Tribhuwanak” meaning – builder of three cities. The similarity with Tiahuanaco of South America is fairly obvious. The new colonies were 7 in total and that is why they were called “Navatala”. Its altered form, Nahuatl is still preserved today in South America.

In the Mahabharata, a large part of the Sarpa (snake) race was massacred in India during the rule of the Janamejaya, around 3100 BC. This mass murder was revenge for the death of Parikshit (Janamejaya’s father) who was killed by a Sarpa by the name of Takshaka.

The Sarpa people were rescued by a sage called Astika. After they settled in South America, they felt as if Astika was the father of their race and began calling themselves “Aztecs” (“from Astika”).

According to Aztec mythology the people were guided by the God Huitzilopochtli which means “hummingbird from the South”. On the island of Lake Texcoco, the people saw an eagle holding a rattle snake in his claws.

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This view fulfilled a prophecy which stated that the Sarpa people must build their new home in this precise location. The Aztecs went on the build Tenochtitlan which became a religious, cultural and administrative center for the entire future empire.

The Nahuas people of South America worshiped snakes. The name “Nahuas” appears to be a simplified form of Nahusha – king of India from the Kuru dynasty. “Nahusha was cursed to turn into a snake. He lived his life on Earth as a snake until Pandavas came and released him from his current state”. This is not meant literally as a snake, but rather an unmovable state, most likely caused by the lack of limbs. Nakusha’s successors or followers probably arrived in South America and spread the worship of snakes as deities.