The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC.The priestess at the temple was known as 'pythia'. In 362 CE the Oracle stated that the god would no longer speak there, although some think that the pythia (priestess) was bribed by Christians to do so. Emperor Theodosius officially closed the temple in 393 CE.
Greek sources say that the name 'Pytho' is derived from the Greek verb 'pythein', meaning 'to rot' and link it to the myth that the decomposed body of the monstrous serpent 'Python', who was slain by Apollo at this site, gave the place its name. But this description of the name 'Pytho' does the sacred site no justice. Some sources equate the names 'pytho' and 'delphi' with the Vedic 'yoni'.
The Sanskrit de-code of the name 'Pytho' sheds far more light on what the site was and its function. Within the context of its Sanskrit meaning 'Pytho' was a site of learning where the highest knowledge that existed in the world was delivered as oracles in the verse form.
'Pytho' gets its name from the Sanskrit 'peeth' (पीठ), meaning 'seat of learning'. A link with India and Sanskrit may appear as a wanton stretch of imagination but when one finds names such as 'Dassereti', 'Parthini', 'Parthos', 'Pindus', 'Rhamnous', 'Sitia' and 'Gitanae' on the map of ancient Greece, it makes one wonder.
|The ancient name of Delphi was 'Pytho'|
which originates from the Sanskrit 'peeth' (पीठ)
meaning 'seat of learning'.
Centres of learning in Vedic India were known as 'peeth'. The most famous 'peeth' in India was the Sharda Peeth located in Kashmir. The earliest temple on this site belonged to an era when Kashmir was still known as 'Sharda-desh'. Sharda is another name of the Vedic 'goddess of learning 'Saraswati'. As the name reveals, Sharda Peeth was a celebrated centre of learning where the Sanskrit scholars and Kashmiri pandits imparted the Vedic knowledge to students and devotees.
His name indicates that Pythagoras, the Greek scholar, therefore was probably just a 'guru' at one of the 'pytho' or 'peeth' in Greece. The 'Pytho' of Greece shared some of the features with the Sharda Peeth of Kashmir. One of the most striking one is that both are located on water springs that emanated volcanic gases and vapours, though at a slow controlled pace. In Kashmir the gases were simply used for energy and cooking purposes by the residing scholars and devotees. In Greece at Pythos, the intoxicating effect that the slow inhalation of these gases induced, took on a supernatural interpretation - the 'pythia' or the priestess would often be in a trance like state when she addressed the attendees at the Oracles which the local population believed had a super-natural cause. But the truth is different.Click here to watch a clip by National Geographic on the effect of the vapours and the gases at Pythos (Delphi) and its interpretation in ancient times.
Old Greek sources record that the oracle verse recitation by the 'pythia often sounded as gibberish to most and later was converted to a prose form. Others say that the recitations of the 'pythia' were perfectly intelligible. It may well have been that the early chants or recitations were Vedic at a time when they were still understood and with time as persecution of paganism began and the meaning of the original chants began to fade from memory, the verses were simplifies and given a prose form.
|The ruins of the Sharda Peeth on the|
River Kishenganga in Kashmir.
The 'Peeth' was a famous centre of learning
in ancient India.
|The Sharda 'Peeth' in Kashmir, like the 'Pytho'|
in Greece was located on a spring emanating
gases and vapour.
The temple at Pythos was also the site of the 'Omphalos' that the Greek's believed denoted the 'navel of the world'.
|The 'Om-Phalos' of Pythos bears a close |
resemblance to the 'Shiva lingas' of India.
The name 'Om-Phalos' is reminder of
Om-kaar, another name of Lord Shiva
A copy of the ancient 'Omphalos' which was once placed inside the Temple of Apollo at Pythos in Greece is now displayed at the Museum of Delphi.
|The Om-Phalos of Temple of Apollo.|
Now displayed at the Delphi Museum
1. Bibliotheca Classica by J. Lempriere
2 The Delphi Sanctuary
3. Sharda Peeth, Kashmir