CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 1
Parallels and Possible Ancestral Connections of the Ancient Druids and Hindus
Renu K. Aldrich
Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids
This paper was presented by the author, Renu K. Aldrich, a bard in the Order of Bards, Ovates &
Druids, http://www.druidry.org, at the Spirituality in Indigenous Cultures and Religious
Traditions Conference in Lanham, Maryland. The conference, which was held Oct. 24-25, 2009,
was sponsored by the International Center for Cultural Studies, http://iccsus.org.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 2
Druidry and Hinduism are seemingly at opposite ends of both the religious and geographical
spectrums. Extraordinary connections between the two cultures belie the split between East and
West. Linguistic, archaeological and genetic evidence support the theory of common ancestry. In
addition, similarities in beliefs, spiritual practices, myths, symbols, laws and customs, traditions,
holidays, and astrology all point to a link between the two spiritual practices and their members.
This compelling data warrants further scientific investigation.
Keywords: Druidry, Hinduism, spirituality, common ancestry, East and West, Proto-Indo
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 3
Parallels and Possible Ancestral Connections of the Ancient Druids and Hindus
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. Brief background of the Vedantic Religions..…………………………………………….4
III. Brief background of the Druids………………………………………………………...…6
IV. Common Ancestry Hypotheses…………………………………………………………...8
b. Spiritual Traditions
ii. Sacred Chant & Meditation………………………………..………...10
iii. Festivals & Holidays…………………………………………………11
iv. Myths & Folklore…………………………………………………….12
c. Symbols ……………………………………………………………………...….14
e. Music & Poetry………………………………………………………………..…17
f. Laws & Customs………………………..………………………………………..18
IX. Figures and Captions………………………………………………………………...…..25
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 4
Parallels and Possible Ancestral Connections of Ancient Druids and Hindus
Many practitioners of modern-day Hinduism and Druidry feel a deep resonance with each
other’s path. Anthropologists, linguists and other scientists have amassed evidence that this is
more than mere spiritual camaraderie. While ancient European and Vedic cultures would seem to
be as opposite as their geography, scholarly theories growing in strength over the past few
decades connect the Hindu Brahmins of the East and the Celtic Druids of the West to a common
Indo-European priesthood. They served the same functions, which include officiating at
ceremonies that sometimes involved sacrifices, teaching philosophy and star-lore, advising
royalty, and conveying an oral tradition through didactic verse.
While scientists theorize that their common Indo-European root split some 5,000 years
ago, it is only recently that they have begun to investigate the parallels between ancient Celtic
society and Vedic culture (Berresford-Ellis, 2000). This paper will examine the most popular of
these common-link theories and analyze the similarities between these two groups.
BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE VEDANTIC RELIGIONS
Hinduism, considered by some to be the oldest religion in the world, is a philosophy of
life without a central belief. It evolved in the Indus River Valley c. 6500 BCE and spread
throughout Northern India in the 1500s BCE as an oral tradition until the writing of the Vedic
scriptures some 600 years later. In addition to a series of texts on yogas and temple-building,
existential questions such as the very meaning of life are addressed in The Upanishads.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 5
The Mahabharata is the longest poem in history, with more than 200,000 lines of Hindu
myths and philosophical discussions (Adams, 2000). Within this poem is the Bhagavad Gita, in
which the God Krisna and his chariot driver Arjuna discuss war, virtue, life, and death on the eve
of a great battle. Another avatar of Vishnu is the focus of the epic Ramayana, which details the
kidnapping and rescue of Ram’s wife, Sita. Their triumphant return to India is the basis for the
important Hindu festival of Diwali, which celebrates good over evil, signals the time of returning
to the inner light within ourselves, and honors the Goddess of Prosperity.
Hinduism is a term that reflects a diverse set of common spiritual practices centered on
the basic beliefs of dharma, karma, reincarnation, and a monotheistic divinity (Hinduism Today,
1994). Dharma is spiritual law based upon natural justice, harmony and compassion. Living by
these guidelines will create good karma, which is the result of action and reaction.
Karma is the cause and effect of the choices we are free to make and the consequences
meted out by the Universe. There is no hell or damnation. Hindus reach for a spiritual summit
through cycles of reincarnation, and karma not only determines the experience of this lifetime,
but also affects the next birth. Hindus cremate the dead to enable the soul’s release for its
Hindus believe in one Divinity, with multiple Gods and Goddesses representing major
and minor aspects of the Supreme Deity. There is a major trinity: Brahma the Creator and his
consort Sarasvati, the Goddess of learning and the creative arts; Vishnu the Preserver and his
consort Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity; and Siva the Destroyer and his consort Parvati, the
benign Mother Goddess who can become the fearless and fearsome Durga or the terrifying
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 6
The three major Hindu denominations are Shaivism, the belief that Siva is the Supreme
Being; Vaishnavism, the worship of Vishnu or one of his avatars, principally Ram or Krisna; and
Shaktism, the primary worship of the Divine Mother. In addition to the wide-ranging Hindu sects
and practices of over a billion people living in the subcontinent of India and throughout the
world (Hunter, 2007), Vedic culture also developed Jainism in 500 BCE and Buddhism in 400
BCE as distinct religious movements for reaching enlightenment.
BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE DRUIDS
The ancient Druids were the teachers, priests, judges, healers and historians of the Celtic
Tribes of Europe. No one truly knows when Druidry began, but the first evidence of the
priesthood comes as the Ice Age retreated around 2000 BCE and the tribes moved westward
towards Britain and Ireland. Great monuments were built at this time, including the mounds of
New Grange and the famous Stonehenge. These Druids possessed knowledge that included
advanced astronomy, engineering and mathematics (Carr-Gomm, 2006).
From the Fourth Century BCE to the Fifth Century AD, the Druids were documented by
Julius Caesar and a few other writers. The Druids gathered in sacred groves, caves, and remote
valleys under three classifications: Bards, who sang parables to entertain and teach, and who
recorded the stories and genealogy of the tribe through oral tradition; Ovates, who were the
healers and seers; and Druids, who were the teachers, philosophers and judges.
The third period of Druid history (from the Sixth to the Sixteenth Century AD) is one of
darkness. After the Romans conquered the Celts, banning Druidry in the process, they left
Western Europe to the burgeoning Christian faith. Christians fought to become the most
powerful force in the West and persecuted the Old Religion until it vanished. But Druidry didn’t
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 7
completely fade into the mists; it transcended. Pagan rituals became Christian ones. Bards
continued to teach; Ovates remained midwives and village healers; and Druids became part of
the intellectual elite of priests, poets and judges. Practices and beliefs of the old religion survived
in memory, folklore, myths, legends and ancient customs. The stories changed names, but the
intrinsic values continued to live on (Carr-Gomm, 2006).
The Romantic Revival of Druidry came in the Seventeenth Century. Archaeologists and
antiquarians unearthed evidence that showed Western European scholars that their ancestors
were not the heathen brutes they had believed. Into the Eighteenth Century, philosophers, artists
and poets used Druidry to fall in love again with the Earth. In this Celtic Twilight period, several
different groups evolved, including the Ancient Druid Order in 1717. In 1964, members of this
group formed the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), now the largest community of
Druids in the world (Greer, 2010).
Rather than a religion, modern Druidry is a philosophy of life that integrates a love of the
earth and the creative arts. It is a philosophy that developed over time, unlike religions
“revealed” by prophets. There are no sacred texts, dogma or central figures, but rather seekers
engaged in self-study at the school of nature. Because of the repression in its history, modern
Druidry does not have the same continuity as some other indigenous cultures. OBOD,
specifically, claims no direct link to the past, but derived its teachings from the oral tradition of
parables and myths in order to address today’s issues and needs (Carr-Gomm, 2006).
Those who self-identify as Druids can be found in all walks of life and belief systems
such as Hinduism and Christianity. In a single grove of Druids, there could be monotheists,
polytheists, animists, pantheists, atheists or agnostics. The Druids of today are largely a cultural
community who share basic principles and who gather to worship nature, to share creative
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 8
expression and to enjoy each other’s company. The life goals of those on the nature-based
spiritual path are to cultivate wisdom, creativity and love.
HYPOTHESES OF COMMON ANCESTRY
Scholars have long puzzled over ancient maps and wondered how Hindus and Druids
might have evolved from a common ancestor. There are at least five origin theories from India to
Africa, but only one has not been summarily rejected.
The most favored, though still contentious, is the Kurgan hypothesis, which suggests a
common origin in the Pontic-Caspian steppe. This comprises the area north of the Black Sea, the
Ukraine and Southern Russia (Figure 1). In addition to the animal husbandry practices of the
Kurgan people from the fifth millennia, linguistic, archaeological, and genetic evidence support
the theory (Volk, 2000).
According to Reconstructionists, the expansion of these nomadic tribes began during the
Copper Age. They had a threefold division of priests, warriors, and peasants or farmers. The
number five was sacred to these people as it is in Druidry. They had hill-forts, which could have
been prototypes for the Celtic castle-hills. Their horse mythology links the Kurgans to both East
and Western cultures; both ancient Indian kings and the tribal kings of Ulster in Ireland
consumed sacrificial horseflesh (Volk, 2000, Wikipedia, 2010).
At the base of the common ancestry theories lie multi-layered, intriguing connections
between the ancient Druids and Hindus as well as their modern-day equivalents. There are
significant parallels in linguistics, spiritual traditions, beliefs, mythology and folklore, symbols,
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 9
astrology, music and poetry, laws and customs. We will explore a wide range of similarities that
lend credence to the hypotheses.
“The very name Druid is composed of two Celtic word roots which have parallels in
Sanskrit. Indeed, the root vid for knowledge, which also emerges in the Sanskrit word Veda,
demonstrates the similarity. The Celtic root dru which means "immersion" also appears in
Sanskrit. So a Druid was one ‘immersed in knowledge.’” (Berresford-Ellis, 2000, p. 1)
The first point of entry for validating a common origin is language. During the 1,000
years of darkness for Druidry, Ireland remained free from the influence of Latin culture because
the Roman legion’s heavy fist did not extend to the area. By the time of Christian persecution in
the Fifth Century, Irish culture had retained clear and startling links to Hindu society
(Berresford-Ellis, 2000). According to Harvard University professor and leading linguistics
expert Calvert Watkins, Old Irish is closer to the language from which all Indo-European
languages developed and can offer a far better comparison with Vedic Sanskrit than can
Classical Greek or Latin (1963).
Renowned Celtic scholar Peter Berresford-Ellis analyzes linguistic similarities between
Sanskrit and Old Irish in Figure 2. He also states that both ancient Irish and Hindus used the
name Budh for the planet Mercury. The root budh in both Celtic languages and Sanskrit means
enlightened, exalted, victorious, and accomplished. Derived from this root are some famous
names: Celtic Queen Boudicca of the First Century AD, Jim Bowie (1796-1836) of the Texas
Alamo, and of course Buddha (Berresford-Ellis, 2000).
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 10
Beliefs. There are numerous common spiritual beliefs between Druidry and Hinduism, leading
the non-profit educational magazine Hinduism Today to conduct an extensive comparison in
Both paths believe that the dead continue to live in alternative realms of the Universe
until reincarnation into a human or animal body. Human souls are indestructible, but the
Universe is created and destroyed in a repeating cycle through fire and water (symbolic of primal
light and sound). They prized truth-telling as a supernatural power and held honor and eloquence
in high esteem. Ancient Druids and Vedic Hindus honored women, who were allowed to own
property and become priestesses (Hinduism Today, 1994).
Fundamentally, Druids and Hindus believe that human beings are connected to nature
and are only a slice of the web of life. Both value karma, which is the law of cause and effect and
reaping what we sow in the field and in life. Restorative justice has been a cornerstone of
Druidry, which believes that the Universe is our ultimate judge and juror. As such, many Druids
adopt the Hindu practice of Ahimsa, which avoids the negative karmic consequences of violence.
The Druid tradition has long honored being in service to others akin to the Hindu path of
Bhakti Yoga. Many Druids continue to strive to be healers, counselors, peacekeepers, mediators,
judges and priests today.
While Druids are known for their ability to manipulate energy and cast spells, the
Hindu’s ancient Atharva Veda scripture contains incantations and spells (Embree, 1972).
Sacred Chant & Meditation. Kirtan is the ancient Hindu devotional practice of chanting the
names of God and mantras in ecstatic call-and-response format. This is done in both temples and
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 11
homes as a pathway to the Divine through the power of words. Chanting Aum (also written as
Om in the West), the most scared Hindu syllable that conveys the essence of the universe, is one
of the many forms of meditation advocated by the religion. In fact, the practice of yoga is
designed to calm the body so that the mind can still for meditation.
Druids chant Awen instead of Aum to connect to the Universe, and meditation is an
integral part of the pathway. They also believe that words can be imbued with power in both
chanting and in spell-casting, which is just another form of prayer.
The Ancient Druids sought meditative ecstasy and used special postures similar to yoga
asanas. Bards in training in Ireland during the quiet period of Druidic history were known to
keep all-night vigils in the darkness with a stone on their stomachs to foster the deep
diaphragmatic breathing found in Pranayama yoga. A key element of yoga is the Kundalini,
which is similar to the Druids’ leaping salmon of wisdom (Hinduism Today, 1994).
Festivals & Holidays. “Ritual was developed as a means of contacting and utilizing the energy
within humans as well as in the natural world.” (Scott Cunningham, 2002, p. 10)
By some estimates, Hinduism has 330 million Gods in its pantheon, and Hindus joke that
every day is a festival for one or the other. Many holidays relate to the cycle of nature such as the
changing of the seasons or the harvest, but some have lost that connection over time. Others
relate to specific deities’ birthdays or accomplishments. While Indians use the modern Gregorian
calendar for everyday life, the dates of festivals are calculated using the Hindu calendar. Each
lunar day of the 15 phases of the moon has specific properties to make it appropriate for specific
observances (Verma, 2005).
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 12
Druids celebrate the seasons through eight festivals per year, including four dictated by
the relationship between Earth and Sun. The summer and winter solstices, the longest and
shortest days of the year, occur when the sun rises and sets at either the most southerly or
northerly points. The spring and autumn equinoxes take place when the lengths of day and night
are in balance (Carr-Gomm, 2006). The other four Druid holidays have evolved from the
traditional harvest festivals of ancient Western Europe.
In addition to chanting, both Hindus and Druids conduct rites suffused by the elements of
earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Fire is a central focus point of the ceremonies, which include
food, flowers and incense. While the Druids use herbs, mead, fruit and cakes, the Hindus use
ghee, spices, fruit, rice and sweets as symbolic gifts to God (Hinduism Today, 1994). After
giving these gifts to the deities, the rites end with the participants consuming the offerings.
There are also startling similarities in some of the actual holidays themselves. The Winter
Solstice marks the new solar year for the Druids and for Hindus (Hinduism Today, 1994). The
Hindu festival of Diwali celebrates the awareness of our inner light as the Druid’s Winter
Solstice or Alban Arthan welcomes the rebirth of the Sun-God as the Celtic Son of Light, the
Mabon. During Pitru Paksha Shradh in September/ October, Hindus honor the ancestors. Druids
celebrate Samhain, the predecessor to Halloween, on October 31st. Samhain is one of the oldest,
most sacred Druid ceremonies on record and is a time to commune with the dead and begin a
transition to the inner world, releasing unwanted aspects of your life and the sorrows in your
Myths & Folklore. Evidence of common folklore from Ireland to India is purported by
Berresford-Ellis as well as Stith Thompson in his book The Folktale, which traces stories from
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 13
Ireland to India. Many surviving Irish and Welsh myths show remarkable resemblances to the
themes, stories and even names in the sagas of the Indian Vedas (Ellis, 2000).
As a historically oral tradition, Druids believe in myth and the power of storytelling to
heal and enlighten as well as entertain. Teachings are transmitted through the creative arts – most
especially via parables and songs full of symbolism and inspiration. Celtic deities had multiple
functions and represented the forces of nature, dispensing ideas on ethics, justice, knowledge,
arts, crafts, medicine, speech, harvests (Hinduism Today, 1994; Ralls, 2008). They were called
deuos or "shining one" (Hinduism Today, 1994).
The stories of Hindu Gods and Goddesses teach Dharma, right from wrong and other
important life lessons. The early Vedic pantheon included deities with overlapping functions
such as natural forces, speech, crafts, arts, harvest, medicine, ethical order and war (Hinduism
Today, 1994; Ralls, 2008). They were invoked as deva or "shining one" (Hinduism Today,
1994). Figure 3 provides a comparison of a few of the Gods.
According to Berresford-Ellis, the parallels among Hindu and Druid Gods and Goddesses
are almost endless (2000).
One common myth correlates the Hindu Goddess Ganga and the Celtic Mother Goddess
Danu (Figures 4-5). Hindu myth says Ganga was a Goddess resting in heaven when Lord Siva
brought her to the earth in the form of water to save and purify the sons of King Sagar and to
rinse away the sins of mankind. According to an early Celtic creation myth, Danu fell from
heaven in the form of rain and her waters created the Danuvius River. From this sprang the
pantheon of gods known as the Tuatha de Danaan, who taught wisdom to humankind and fought
valiantly against invaders. This race was also known as the sidhe. Interestingly enough, the
Sanskrit word siddha means “power”. And in Sanskrit, Danu means “waters of heaven”. There is
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 14
a temple in Bali dedicated to the Goddess of the Lake, Devi Danu. A Hindu Danu is depicted in
the Vedic story "The Churning of the Oceans," a story with parallels in Irish and Welsh
mythology (Berresford-Ellis, 2000).
Other deities are also comparable. The Celtic God Cernunnos, or Horned One, is the God
of fertility, produce, and the underworld. He has long hair and a beard, and sits cross-legged in a
meditative state when not hunting. He wears torcs, or ornate neck-rings. He is associated with a
serpent, which has the horns of a ram. Pashupati is the Horned God of the Indus Valley and the
proto-God of Lord Siva, the long-haired Hindu God who spent time immersed in the forest in the
form of a deer. He often assumes a meditative pose, is garlanded with snakes and is associated
with fertility a la the Siva Lingam. He uses a Bisana, the long horn. As part of the Trimurti, he is
the Destroyer in order for re-creation to occur and wears the ashes of the dead. Both are known
as Lord of the Animals. See Figures 6-9 for a depiction of the Gods.
The contested Gundestrup Cauldron is a silver vessel found in Denmark that has been
dated to the First Century BCE. Is this Cernunnos or Pashupati? The cup has Celtic imagery and
Indian iconography (Figures 10-11).
Symbols. It is worth noting further the similarities in symbols between the two cultures. In
modern times, the resemblance between the Indian flag and the Irish flag are no coincidence.
Both are representative of a truce between cultures and living in peace – Hindus, Muslims and all
other religious communities (Wikipedia, 2010); Roman Catholics and Protestants (Col, 2010).
Ancient symbols illuminate the enormous connections among Druids and Hindus, most
notably the significance of the number three.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 15
Druid teachings include a storehouse of powerful triadic poems. One of the most
important Celtic symbols is the triple spiral, which is found in many types of images including a
triskele or triskelion (Figures 12-15), and offers an array of associations to the sacred three
including the realms of land, sea and sky, or mind, body and soul. The spiral of life represents
the cycle of life, death, and rebirth as well as the Triple Goddess – the Maiden, Mother and
Crone. It also symbolizes the male, female, and child on the path of life. The OBOD symbol has
three outer circles representing the circles of creation, three bars of light representing the Triple
Deity, and a triad of sunrises symbolized by dots (Summer Solstice, the Equinoxes and the
In traditional Buddhist art, triskeles are frequently seen in the center of Dharma wheels,
four-pronged vajras and auspicious symbol mandalas (Figures 16-19).
Hindus perceive threes all throughout creation. In addition to having three letters and
three hidden sounds, the word Aum consists of three curves representing the three states of
consciousness: moving wakeful, inner moving dream, and deep sleep state (Jayaram, 2010). The
Devanagri script depicting Aum (Figures 20-21) even looks like the numeral three. Today, the
synergy between the two cultures is evident on eBay, where several pieces of jewelry combining
the Hindu Aum with Druidic symbols are for sale (Figures 22-24).
The three strands of creation themselves are called gunas: Raja, which means activity,
passion, desire and movement; Sattva, which means truth, goodness, intelligence and
consciousness; Tamas, inertia, darkness and heaviness. The gunas entwine to make everything in
creation including human consciousness (Doran, 2010).
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 16
There are numerous other Hindu triadic associations including the three duties of a
Brahmin (sacrifice, study the Vedas and charity), three paths to self-realization (knowledge, love
and action), and the three lines of ash worn by Saivites on their foreheads (Jayaram, 2010).
As mentioned previously, Hindus also have Trimurti, a Triple Deity – Brahma the
Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer (Figure 25). Siva is known as Tryambaka,
the three-eyed Lord (Gradinarov, 2005). The three eyes have multiple associations, and can
represent triloka, the three worlds, the physical, astral and causal (Subramuniyaswami, 2003),
the three aspects of time: past, present, future (Baba, 2010), or the sun, moon and fire (Pandit,
2010). The third eye signifies spiritual knowledge and power.
Siva is third in the trinity, is often represented as a triangle to mean Absolute Reality, and
has three braids of hair that represent the integration of the physical, mental and spiritual
energies. He carries a trident (Figure 26) that some say represents God’s three fundamental
shaktis or powers: icchha (desire, will, love), kriya (action) and jnana (wisdom)
(Subramuniyaswami, 2003). He is often depicted with a snake wrapped around his neck three
The confluence of three rivers, the revered Ganges, the Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers in
Allahabad, is a sacred site where the famous Khumb Mela occurs. Temples line the area, and
worshippers bathe in the water to purify themselves of sin.
Astrology. Leading scholar Peter Berresford-Ellis cites numerous references linking Celtic and
Vedic cosmology in addition to their use of the same word for the planet Mercury. Celtic
astrologers used a system of 27 lunar mansions similar to the nakshatras in Vedic Sanskrit. Both
the Hindu God Soma and King Ailill of Connacht, Ireland, had a circular palace constructed with
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 17
27 windows to gaze upon the 27 star alignments (Berresford-Ellis, 2000). A First Century BCE
Celtic calendar (the Coligny Calendar), discovered in 1897 had parallels to Vedic calendrical
computations (Berresford-Ellis, 2000; Hinduism Today, 1994).
Both cultures conceived of cosmic creation as a sacrifice of a primal person or being, and
they recognized four interrelated worlds of existence. The Celts perceived the netherworld; the
earth realm; heavenly realm of dead and demi-gods; and a white realm of supreme Deities and
energy source of stars. Vedic cosmology cites the physical world; the astral world of dead and
demi-gods; the causal universe of Deities, Supreme Being and primal energy; and the
netherworld. These planes divide into smaller existences occupied by those of similar character
and where time moves slower (Hinduism Today, 1994).
The Vedas say that the heavens were divided into seventeen regions. In Irish mythology,
the Druids advise Maelduin to take only seventeen men with him on his famous voyage and in
the Book of Invasions1, Mil arrived in Ireland in the seventeenth of the moon. The age of consent
in early Ireland was seventeen (Ralls, 2008).
Music & Poetry. Historian Bryan McMahon plays a game with every Indian guest he meets at
his hotel in County Kerry, Ireland. He hums Irish folk music and asks the traveler to complete
the tune. Almost every time, Indian guests sing like they already knew the song, indicating to
him that Indians and Irishmen have a common past (Hinduism Today, 1994; Ralls, 2008).
Just as a slow ballad on the Celtic harp is reminiscent of an Indian raga played on a sitar,
the ancient Celtic music form of marbhnai, also called “death song” or keening, has been
compared with the raga style because both are improvised around three or four notes (Ralls,
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 18
Both cultures valued music, sound and vibration for its spiritual benefits and because it
pleased the Gods. Irish music critic Fanny Feehan noted in a paper that when she played a
Claddagh recording of Barr an tSleibhe for an Indian Professor of Music, her counterpart was
transfixed by the eerie musical resemblance to an Indian raga about a young girl being lured
toward a mountain (1982).
Taking the arts further, we reach the common ground of poetry. Poetic verse was a
revered force in both worlds. Both the Druid and Vedic Bards trained for 12 years and orated
epics conveying spiritual knowledge. The poetic meter was a fixed syllable line, free form, with
a three-part cadence at the end (Hinduism Today, 1994; Ralls, 2008, Hinduism Today, 1994).
Both ancient societies had a class of poets who chanted in praise of their kings and warriors.
Among the Druids, the Bards are the shaman poets who teach through verse using the magic of
sound in words, music and song. Praise poems were called narasamsi in Sanskrit and fursundud
in old Irish (Ellis, 2000).
Amairgen, the warrior-poet son of the Celtic Iberian chief Golamh and the first Druid to
set foot in Ireland, wrote a poem in the Book of Invasions1 with a philosophic outlook that
parallels a declaration by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (Figure 27) (Berresford-Ellis, 2000).
Berresford-Ellis contends that the Amairgen poem is similar in style and content to the more
ancient Sri Rudra chant of the Yajur Veda (2000).
Laws, Customs & Training. Theories of a common origin for Druids and Hindus are further
buttressed by the similarities in societal structure.
Celtic society was divided into a hierarchy: priests, warriors and producers (including
merchants). Upward progression through classes was possible. The Druids memorized the
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 19
history and knowledge of the Celts and passed it on orally, forbidding written transmission. They
were divided into several classes: seers, judges, royal advisors, hymn chanters, poet bards, and
sacrificers. They were also astronomers, healers and magicians (Hinduism Today, 1994; Carr-
Vedic society divided into castes: priests, warriors, merchants, workers. Upward mobility
was sanctioned in Vedas, but later frozen in societal law books. The Brahmins, priests of the
Vedic community, also memorized the scriptural and societal law knowledge of the Hindus,
passing it on only verbally. Brahmins had several classes including seers, royal advisors, and
medical and cosmology specialists (Hinduism Today, 1994).
In life stages defined by both, enlightenment is sought after one has reached old age and
the ideal was to live 100 years. The ancient cultures both recognized eight forms of marriage
from arranged to love to abduction, and the groom conveyed a gift or money for his bride. The
family unit comprised four generations from a great-grandfather (Hinduism Today, 1994).
There is an interesting parallel in debt law. A man owed money in Celtic society could
fast at the door of the debtor, who had to join the fast until he paid or they entered into
arbitration. In Hindu law, a creditor could fast at the door of the past due debtor, who then had to
protect the health of the creditor by paying the debt (Hinduism Today, 1994).
In other practices, Druids utilized breathing, posture and meditation techniques that
resemble hatha yoga.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 20
This paper has presented the theories behind a common ancestry and compelling
evidence in the similarities between the Ancient Hindus and Druids. Upon examination, there is
a rich body of evidence to suggest that the societies did indeed split from a single Indo-European
The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids is conducting a research program on the subject
and plans to bring scholars together in Rishikesh, India in 2012. As a result of these endeavors, it
is hoped that much more scholarly and scientific work will be done to prove the theory.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 21
Druid. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 24, 2010 from Encyclopædia
Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/172029/Druid
Celtic religion. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 24, 2010 from
Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
Ralls, K, (2008). Druids. In Ancient Quest. Retrieved April 2, 2010 from the author’s web site:
Carr-Gomm, Philip (2009). The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Druidism and the Ancient
Religions of India. Retrieved April 24, 2010 from the OBOD web site:
Das, Subhamoy (2010). In About.com. Theories About the Origin of Hinduism: The Basics
of Hinduism. Retrieved April 24, 2010 from the author’s blog on About.com:
Embree, Ainslee T. (1972). The Hindu Tradition. Random House.
Editors of Hinduism Today Magazine. (2007) What is Hinduism? Himalayan Academy.
Das, Subhamoy (2010). In About.com. What Is Dharma? About the Path of Righteousness.
Retrieved April 24, 2010 from the author’s blog on About.com:
Shaivism (2010). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 24, 2010 from Wikipedia Online:
Greer, John Michael (2010). ADF and OBOD. Retrieved April 24, 2010 from Ár nDraíocht Féin:
A Druid Fellowship, Inc.’s web site: http://www.adf.org/about/basics/adf-and-obod.html.
Carr-Gomm, Philip (2006). What Do Druids Believe? Granta.
Volk, Sylvia (2000). Kurgan Culture. Retrieved April 2, 2010 from the author’s web site:
Kurgan Hypothesis (2010). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 25, 2010 from:
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 22
Col, Jeananda (2010). The Republic of Ireland’s Flag. In Enchanted Learning’s web site.
Retrieved April 27, 2010 from: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/europe/ireland/flag.shtml
Flag of India. (2010). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 27, 2010 from:
Gradinarov, Plamen (2005). Tryambakam. In Indopedia. Retrieved April 27, 2010 from:
Doran, William (2010). Transcending the Three Gunas – The Primary Forces of Creation. In
author’s web site. Retrieved April 27, 2010 from:
V, Jayaram (2010). Symbolic Significance of Numbers in Hinduism. In Hinduwebsite.com.
Retrieved April 27, 2010 from: http://www.hinduwebsite.com/numbers.asp.
Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya (2003). Dancing with Siva. Himalayan Academy.
Baba, Bhagavan (2010). Who is Lord Siva? Retrieved April 27, 2010 from author’s web site:
Pandit, Bansi (2010). Web site of the Kashmiri Overseas Association USA, Inc. Retrieved April
27, 2010 from: http://www.koausa.org/Gods/God9.html
Berresford-Ellis, Peter (2000). Our Druid Cousins: Meet the Brahmins of ancient Europe, the
high caste of Celtic society. Hinduism Today. Retrieved online 10/14/2009:
Watkins, Calvert (1963). Indo-European Metrics and Archaic Irish Verse. Celtica (Dublin
Institute for Advanced Studies).
Editors of Hinduism Today Magazine. (1994, May). The Celts: Common Ground of European
Celts & Indian Vedic Hindus. Hinduism Today Magazine.
Gallaher, Cynthia (2001, March). The Celts. Irish American Post. Vol. 1 Issue 10. Retrieved
online October 25, 2009 from:
Hunter, Preston (2007). Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents. In
Adherents.com. Retrieved April 26, 2010 from:
Verma, Manish (2005). Fasts and Festivals of India. Diamond Pocket Books.
Berresford-Ellis, Peter (1996). In Réalta vol 3 no.3. Early Irish Astrology: An Historical
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 23
Feehan, Fanny (1982). Suggested Links Between Eastern and Celtic Music. The Celtic
Consciousness. George Braziller.
Jones, Mary (2010). Lebor Gabala Erenn. Retrieved April 27, 2010 from the author’s web site
Cunningham, Scott (2002). The Truth About Witchcraft Today. Llewellyn Publications
Berresford-Ellis, Peter (2002). Celtic Myths & Legends. Running Press
Thompson, Stith (2007). The Folktale. Kessinger Publishing, LLC
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 24
1. Lebor Gabala Erenn, known as The Book of Invasions, is the earliest known history
written by the Irish. It recounts the successive invasions of Ireland by different tribes
from the creation of the world to the coming of the Iberian Celts (Jones, 2010).
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 25
FIGURES & CAPTIONS
Figure 1. The Kurgan Hypothesis: Scheme of Indo-European migrations from ca. 4000 to 1000
BCE. The purple area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog
culture). The red area corresponds to the area which may have been settled by Indo-Europeanspeaking
peoples up to ca. 2500 BC; the orange area to 1000 BC (Wikipedia, 2010).
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 26
Old Irish Sanskrit
Figure 2. Comparison of Old Irish and Sanskrit words (Ellis, 2000).
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 27
The God of thunder was Taranus, who carried
The God of rain and thunder was Indra, who
God of fire is Aedh (pronounced uh-ee).
Vedic God of fire is Agni.
The sun Deity is Sulios
The solar Being is Surya.
The Celtic word for invocation is gutuater.
The Sanskrit term for invocation is hotar.
Figure 3. A comparison of Celtic and Vedic Gods (Hinduism Today, 1994).
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Figures 4-5. The Hindu Goddess Ganga emanating from Lord Siva, and the Celtic Mother
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 29
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Figures 6-9. Depictions of the Hindu God Siva and the Celtic God Cernunnos.
Figures 10-11. The Gundestrup Cauldron.
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Celtic Triple Spirals
Figure 12. Entrance stone at Newgrange built
between c. 5500 and 3200 BCE
Figure 13. Example of a Triskele
Figure 14. Example of a Triquetra
Figure 15. Example of a Triskelion
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 32
Figure 16. Indian Buddhist Dharma wheel
Figure 17. English Buddhist Dharma wheel
Figure 18. Japanese Buddhist Dharma wheel
Figure 19. Tibetan four-pointed vajra
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Figures 20-21. The sacred Hindu Aum symbol.
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Figures 22-24. Jewelry for sale on eBay, melding Hindu and Druid symbols.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 35
Figure 25. The Trimurti, the Hindu trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva.
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Figure 26. Lord Siva with his Trident.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ANCIENT DRUIDS AND HINDUS 37
I am the wind on the sea
I am the wave of the sea
I am the bull of seven battles
I am the eagle on the rock
I am a flash from the sun
I am the most beautiful of plants
I am a strong wild boar
I am a salmon in the water
I am a lake in the plain
I am the word of knowledge
I am the head of the spear in battle
I am the God that puts fire in the head
Who spreads light in the gathering on the hills?
Who can tell the ages of the moon?
Who can tell the place where the sun rests?
I am the taste in the waters, O Son of Kunti.
I am the syllable Aum in all the Vedas.
I am the sound in ether and manhood in men.
I am the pure fragrance in earth and brightness
I am the life in all existences and the austerity
Know Me, O Partha, to be the eternal seed of
I am the intelligence of the intelligent.
I am the splendour of the splendid.
I am the strength of the strong, devoid of desire
In beings I am the desire which is not contrary
to dharma, O Lord of the Bharatas.
And whatever states of being there may be, be
they harmonious, passionate, slothful--
know they are all from Me alone.
I am not in them, they are in Me.
Figure 27. Similar Druid and Vedic poems.