I’ve just been reading a book called The Legends of Cracow, which gives me an excuse to use a few more of the photos from my recent visit there. Of the ten legends described in the book, the first and best known is that of the Wawel dragon, Smok. I’ve already mentioned this legend once, back in a post about Dragons and Dinosaurs. The story is associated with the founding of the city of Kraków by the legendary King Krakus, who is said to have built the royal castle on Wawel Hill in the 8th century. The dragon, before it was slain by a clever peasant, was supposed to have lived in a cave under the hill. There really is a cave there, which is now a tourist attraction – as is the 6-metre high fire-breathing bronze dragon that was installed in the 20th century.
The legends of King Krakus and the Wawel dragon first appeared in print towards the end of the 12th century. That was around the same time the legends of King Arthur and the Holy Grail were first written down. So as legends go, they are pretty old and venerable. Of course, all legends purport to be “ancient”, but some of them may have popped into existence in much more recent times.
I suspect that’s the case with the tenth and last legend in the book, concerning the Kraków Chakram – the sacred stone of the Hindus. To quote directly from the book: “According to Hindu mythology and contemporary Hindu initiates, centuries ago the God Shiva cast onto the earth seven stones concentrating cosmic and earthly energy... they say that one of the chakrams was cast onto the Wawel Hill and is located beneath the Royal Castle. The others fell in Delhi, Jerusalem, Mecca, Delphi, Rome and Velehrad.”
I have to confess this sounds like New Age syncretism to me. It’s true that Shiva has been worshipped in India for centuries, and it’s possible there’s an ancient legend about him casting seven mystical stones onto the Earth. But Hinduism is an inward-looking religion, and while its ancient sages might have known of sites like Jerusalem, Mecca, Delphi and Rome it seems doubtful they would have heard of Kraków or Velehrad (I had to look that one up – it’s a small village in the Czech Republic about 300 kilometres from Kraków).
Another reason I’m sceptical about this particular legend is that a Google search for “Shiva chakra stone” doesn’t turn up much of relevance in the way of Hindu primary sources. Most of the search results relate to the Shivalingam – a phallic-shaped stone that is one of the primary symbols of Shiva. And speaking of phallic-shaped stones... that gives me an excuse for one more photograph from my trip to Poland.
A Polish Pact with the Devil). As far as I know, however, there are no legends connecting it with the Hindu God Shiva!