More than two centuries ago, in America, a large number of white Christians vindicated the slavery of black Africans and killings of primitive people arguing that the black colour of their skin was just like the 'mark of Cain'. They claim that they were descendants of the first murderer and sinner in Biblical history. Mythological or Fairy-tale stories spread ideas beyond generations. They also sway real life. Nobody was bothered about, "Did Cain slay Abel?"
Christians in Europe were swayed by the idea that Jews also bore the 'mark of Cain'. They had typical features like sharp nose and they circumcised their private parts. They have no nation and always wander in exile like nomads. Hence, a mythological and unreal idea, 'mark of Cain' was used to validate the slavery, killings and subjugation and anti-Semitism. An un-real mythological idea swayed real life, although people know it is a fable. The practice of ‘circumcise ion’ that was started to identify the so-called killer and his clan is adopted by so many sects and faiths.
Cultures accept myths as facts, passed on generations. They are created to manipulate the world view. It is just like, the 'great' of Akbar, the 'mahatma' of Gandhi, 'pandit' or 'chacha' of Nehru, 'mahatma' of Phule, 'Periyar, of Ramasamy, 'Lok Nayak' of Jai Prakash Narayan, 'Jan Nayak' of Karpoori Thakur and 'mother' of Teresa as political and sectarian myths and titles, created to brand particular leader as great or saints, fighter and statesmen, and ultimately made as a historical icon by his community or followers.
The Old Testament of Bibles contains the fables of Cain and Abel. Adam and Eve, the first man and women have two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain is a farmer and Able was a shepherd. As a devotee, both tried to please God by making offerings. But the biased God loved the offerings of Abel and this made Cain angry and envious. Jealous Cain killed Abel by hitting a stone. Cain becomes the first murder, criminal and sinner according to the Bible.
Cain was cast out by his family and hit by God with the 'mark by Cain'. Nobody knows anything about these tales but use them to justify their religious, economic and political agendas. Muslims, Christians and Jews follow these blindly. Large numbers of Christians believe this story blindly because it is in the Bible although it has no historical evidence. Not only this, they consider the 'Evolution' theory as fabrication and believe that the world was formed by God in 'Seven Days' out of nought. This goblin tale of 'Creationism' is taught in many Christian schools but hide that the Bible and Cain and Abel episodes have hundreds of versions.
In Jewish tales, Cain is the son of the Devil who raped Eve surreptitiously. As Cain killed Abel with a stone in the Bible but here he died when the stone house built by his sons falls on him. In other narrations, Cain grows a horn on his head and his grandson mistook him like a wild animal and killed him by hitting a stone.
Muslims also kill Satan by flinging stones during Haj pilgrimage. According to Islamic belief, Qabil (Cain) wanted to marry the gorgeous daughter of Adam, Aqlimia. But Aqlimia was engaged to Habil (Abel). So in envy and lust, Qabil murdered his brother Habil. Habil pleaded his brother for mercy and life and warned that the murder was the foulest sin but the victim was purged of all the sins. But the pleading could not prevent the bloodthirsty mind of Qabil. After the murder, Allah sent a crow to scrape the land, to advise Qabil to bury the corpse of his brother to hide his sin and crime. Allah had seen him, though he was alone when he murdered his brother. Qabil was filled with remorse and shame. This lore started the practice of burial of dead among Muslims. This burial system that was actually beginning to hide a crime is again followed by so many sects and faith.
The Shaitan or the devil, after the murder, went to Eve to tell her that Abel was dead. But Eve did not know the meaning of 'dead' because she has never seen death as the first woman. Shaitan explained her meaning of death. Hibil did not breathe, eat, drink, speak and move. This tale started the practice of fasting among Muslims. Eve mourns and became the first mourner.
Which version is true? The Christian one, or the Jewish one, or Islamic one? Nobody knows.
These tales have their origins in a pre-Abrahamic Mesopotamian fiction. For the love of the goddess Inanna, there was bitter completion between the shepherd Dumuzi and the farmer Enkidu. The complained reached to the chief god Enlil by the god of farmers Emesh and the god of shepherd Enten. The chief god ruled in favour of shepherd Dumuzi.
This bitterness between the herdsman and the farmer tells an ancient hostility because herds of goat, sheep, camels and cattle harm the farmers and farmers block the passage of animals by erecting walls and canals. This can be argued this animosity has roots in the tale of Cain and Abel. Abel symbolizes the first shepherd, the preferential occupation in Abrahamic tale. It seems God is our real shepherd.
It is politicians who use mythological tales exactly because it appeals to the huge majority, even the lowest ordinary citizen. They use tales as life metaphors while dealing with the masses. Metaphors are flowing and appropriate. They understand ideas; our ancestors yearn to share with us to appreciate as they incite thoughts, move imagination. The legend of Cain and Abel is mainly the rivalry between two brothers who became enemies for God's favour just like two warring traders or kingdoms. This can be seen in all parts of the world and business families. The theme of sibling jealousy is a universal myth and truth.
While Abrahamic tale narrates of the murder of Abel by Cain due to jealousy, Hindu tale narrates the clash of Vali and Sugriva over Kishkinda, Ravana and Kubera over Lanka, and Pandavas and Kauravas over Kurukshetra. But Hinduism has unique lore of total surrenders by brothers for each other- Ram, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan or Balram, the farmer, and Krishna, the cowherd, Pandava brothers-willing to give everything to each other. Hindu tales carry deep philosophies while others are only tales.
Reference: This article is based on the writings and radio programmes of eminent scholar and philosopher Shri Devdutt Patnayak.