India, the land of an infinite number of gods has people worshiping each of them. That might be hard to fathom and with the current globalization of every culture, it might also seem like a brag, but this is who we are. Or going by the current scenario, this is how we were. While there is a debate on almost every aspect of the ancient past of Indian civilization, one thing is clear that we were great storytellers. Call it history or mythology, our epics have stood the test of time and they will be continuing to do so till the eternity. There have been many retelling of these epics in various text and video formats but mostly they were about the epics only. What about taking their concepts rather than the story? Seems interesting, right? There have been that too but one anime(and not cartoon) has topped them all(at least for me). Such a long epic(s) needs longer than a 2-hour movie or a multi-season show to allow the creator to actually explore the depth of the learning of these epics and include them in the character or the story with proper care rather than rushing off with it. Now, it’s not official or anything because Hinduism & Buddhism are very similar and Buddhism is practiced in Japan so the inspirations can be from either of the two. I have taken Hinduism into consideration. No claims though!
Naruto(and Shippūden too) humanized or shinobinized many things and characters. Lets quickly dive into that:
This is one of the first things that any viewer/reader notices and links it something greater rather than just a show/manga. If you are into meditation and stuff, you know the importance of chakra points.
Haku & Karna
The self-sacrificing friend of the master assassin - Zabuza of the Hidden Mist Village. His character feels very similar to Karna of Mahabharata. A special kid, thrown into the nothingness of the world. While some get happy with what they get, some keep searching their purpose until they find something worth their abilities. A curse of being special I guess. We find both lost and then find a friend. They owe everything to this friend, even their lives. Consequently, both lose their life for that friend with no personal interest in the fight. Haku was a much less important character in Naruto as Karna was to Mahabharata but still, he had an impact.
Very highly deemed, Itachi also has a similar storyline. His life was also full of soul-crushing sacrifices with nothing to gain at the end other than getting killed by his own brother. No, I am not opening up on Itachi now. It's too much to bear.
Hindu Gods are synonymous with the animals they rode upon aka vahans. They weren’t just animals or pets as we have today. Their form may have been different or animal-like but they were the friends of the gods who accompanied them everywhere. With time, they became vahans. Naruto had a similar approach. A shinobi could summon a beast. These beasts had their own parallel worlds where they lived and would come to the shinobi world to help the summoner. This has to be a blood contract. While everyone could summon only a specific specie, Sasuke could summon two and Pain even more.
Jiraya & Drona
If you have watched Naruto then you would sit back and pause for a moment, every time this name comes up. Although the series was based on Naruto, yet some other characters also remained with us after the series ended. Jiraya tops the list for multiple reasons. You know the major one. Keeping Jiraya’s personal interests aside, a similarity can be drawn with Mahabahrat’s Dronacharya. The teacher to the protagonist(s) and then getting killed by one of his former students is what links him to Archarya Drona.
Thousand-Armed Murder Technique
Chiriku and then Asuma uses this technique and the visual representation of the Jutsu is a lot similar to the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi sitting on a lotus.
That name has an effect befitting to it. A lot happens in the Pain Arc that is best left untouched for the betterment of everyone's psyche. The character has been developed with a lot of effort and is worth the "pain". However, do you remember the name of 6 paths of pain? They were
(1) - Deva Path
(2) - Asura Path
(3) - Human Path
(4) - Animal Path
(5) - Preta Path
(6) - Naraka Path
If you remember, each character who was named functioned accordingly. Not only this, but the concept is also similar to the avatars that Lord Vishnu took from time to time.
Susano & Karna's Armour
Susano, the ultimate defense of the Uchiha clan is a lot similar to the invincible armor(Kavach & Kundal) of Mahabharata's Karna.
Amaterasu & Madara’s 3rd Eye
Talking of the Uchiha’s missing Madra would be a crime at the least! Amaterasu; the flame that burns everything and Madara’s 3rd eye is very similar to Lord Shiva’s 3rd eye and the flame that erupts from it. The flame from lord Shiva's 3rd eye also reduces everything to ashes.
The eight gates of chakra flow that enables a shinobi to surpass his/her physical limits at the cost of damaging their own body. With every gate, the power increases and if a user opens the final gate; the gate of death, the user dies after the rush vanishes. The concept draws a similarity with Chakravyuh of Mahabharata. It also had eight gates and death was the ultimate result. Both aren’t exactly similar but there are some similarities if one looks closely.
Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki and Bhishma
We see Bhismapitamah admitting how he feels responsible for the war. He was all-powerful but couldn’t stop the war that he could clearly see building up. Similarly, Hagomoro could have stopped or never instigated the fight between his two sons being all-righteous and inconsiderate of his son’s feelings.
Indra & Ashura
You can miss everything of the above but still, these two names will force you to link them to the Hindu Mythology. The two sons of Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki who became rivals even in their reincarnations. The characteristics were, however, reversed. Indra, the king of gods in Hindu mythology is the one that turns to the dark side because of his unparalleled visual prowess. Asura, the noble one in the anime(and power-hungry beings in Hindu Mythology) gets everything that Indra wanted. Hence, the rivalry continues with Madara and Hashirama and ends with Sasuke & Naruto making peace after their ultimate duel.
Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto openly says that he was very much inspired by Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball series and even created the protagonist, Naruto in the lines of Dragon Ball's protagonist; Goku. There’s even a tailed-beast named Son Goku in Naruto inspired by the Monkey King in the ancient legends from which Ape-turning Saiyan: Goku of Dragon Ball was also inspired.
As s fan, it feels immense pleasure to connect all these ancient dots to modern stories irrespective of the fact, they are inspired or not. Namaste.
All images are from Google