Varuna

Varuna

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{{Hdeity infobox|
Image =Varunadeva.jpg
| Caption = The God Varuna on his mount makara
Makara (Hindu mythology)
Makara is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal and in hind part as aquatic animal, in the tail part, as a fish tail or also as seal...

, 1675-1700
Made in: India, Rajasthan, Bundi placed in LACMA museum
| Name = Varuna
| Devanagari = वरुण
| Sanskrit_Transliteration = {{IAST|Varuṇa}}
| Pali_Transliteration =
| Tamil_script =
| Script_name =
| Script =
| Affiliation = Aditya, Asura
Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

 but later on as a Deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

,
Guardians of the directions
Guardians of the directions
The Guardians of the Directions are the deities who rule the specific directions of space according to Hinduism and Buddhism—especially...


| God_of = Order ({{IAST
Rta
In the Vedic religion, Ṛta is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial...

), Law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, the Sky
Sky
The sky is the part of the atmosphere or outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object. It is difficult to define precisely for several reasons. During daylight, the sky of Earth has the appearance of a pale blue surface because the air scatters the sunlight. The sky is sometimes...

 and the Ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...


| Abode = Celestial ocean
Celestial ocean
Several mythologies have the notion of a celestial ocean or river, enveloping the world both above the heavenly sphere and below the underworld.See also:*Oceanus*Uranos*Styx*Rasā*Samudra*Varuna*Sea...

 (Rasā
Rasa
- Indian culture :* Rasa , a concept in the Indian performing arts* Rasa , a concept of taste or emotional rapture related to Krishna devotion* Rasā, a mythical river mentioned in the Rigveda...

)
| Mantra = {{IAST|Oṃ Vaṃ Varuṇāya Namaḥ}}
| Weapon = Pasha
Pasha (Hinduism)
Pasha is a Sanskrit word meaning noose. In Hindu mythology it is the weapon of the Vedic deity Varuna. It is also one of the weapons of the Hindu god Ganesha....

 (Lasso) or Varunastra
Varunastra
The Varunastra is the water weapon , incepted by God Varuna, master of the oceans, rivers, and lakes. This weapon is believed to assume any weapon's shape, just like water. This weapon is said to have been obtained by great warriors such as Arjuna, Satyaki, Dhrishtadhuymna, Dronacharya, and many...


| Consort = Varuni
Varuni
Varuni or Varunani is the female consort of Varuna and the goddess was adopted by Varuna when she came out of the ocean, during the churning for amrita. She is a secret form of Vajravarahi and represents the purifying nectar of immortality...


| Mount = Makara
Makara (Hindu mythology)
Makara is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal and in hind part as aquatic animal, in the tail part, as a fish tail or also as seal...


| Planet = Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...


}}
In Vedic religion
Historical Vedic religion
The religion of the Vedic period is a historical predecessor of Hinduism. Its liturgy is reflected in the mantra portion of the four Vedas, which are compiled in Sanskrit. The religious practices centered on a clergy administering rites...

, Varuna (Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

  {{IAST|varuṇa}} {{lang|sa|वरुण}}) is a god of the sky
Sky
The sky is the part of the atmosphere or outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object. It is difficult to define precisely for several reasons. During daylight, the sky of Earth has the appearance of a pale blue surface because the air scatters the sunlight. The sky is sometimes...

, of water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 and of the celestial ocean
Celestial ocean
Several mythologies have the notion of a celestial ocean or river, enveloping the world both above the heavenly sphere and below the underworld.See also:*Oceanus*Uranos*Styx*Rasā*Samudra*Varuna*Sea...

, as well as a god of law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and of the underworld
Underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

. He is the most prominent Asura
Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

 in the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, and lord of the heavens and the earth.

In Hindu mythology
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

, Varuna continued to be considered the god
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

 of all forms of the water element
Ap (water)
Ap is the Vedic Sanskrit term for "water", in Classical Sanskrit occurring only in the plural, , whence Hindi . The term is from PIE hxap "water"....

, particularly the oceans.

In the Vedas


As chief of the Adityas
Ādityas
In Hinduism, Āditya , meaning "of or related to Aditi", refers to the offsprings of Aditi. Adityas are solar class deities. In later Hinduism, Aditya is used in the singular to mean the sun.-Vedas:...

, Varuna has aspects of a solar deity
Solar deity
A solar deity is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms...

 though, when opposed to Mitra
Mitra (Vedic)
This article is about the Vedic deity Mitra. For other divinities with related names, see the general article Mitra.Mitra is an important divinity of Indic culture, and the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings...

, he is rather associated with the night, and Mitra with the daylight. As the most prominent Asura
Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

, however, he is mostly concerned with moral and societal affairs than being a deification of nature. Together with Mitra–originally 'agreement' (between tribes) personified—being master of {{IAST|ṛtá
Rta
In the Vedic religion, Ṛta is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial...

}}, he is the supreme keeper of order and god of the law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.

Varuna and Mitra are the gods of the societal affairs including the oath
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

, and are often twinned Mitra-Varuna
Mitra-Varuna
Mitra and Varuna are two deities frequently referred to in the ancient Indian scripture of the Rigveda. They are both considered Adityas, or deities connected with the Sun; and they are protectors of the righteous order of rta...

(a dvandva
Dvandva
A dvandva or twin or Siamese compound refers to one or more objects that could be connected in sense by the conjunction 'and', where the objects refer to the parts of an agglomeration described by the compound...

 compound). Varuna is also twinned with Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

 in the Rigveda, as Indra-Varuna (when both cooperate at New Year in re-establishing order ).

As a sky god, Varuna may either correspond to, or rule over, the dark half of the sky—or celestial ocean
Celestial ocean
Several mythologies have the notion of a celestial ocean or river, enveloping the world both above the heavenly sphere and below the underworld.See also:*Oceanus*Uranos*Styx*Rasā*Samudra*Varuna*Sea...

 (Rasā
Rasa
- Indian culture :* Rasa , a concept in the Indian performing arts* Rasa , a concept of taste or emotional rapture related to Krishna devotion* Rasā, a mythical river mentioned in the Rigveda...

)—or represent the 'dark' side of the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 as it travels back from West to East during the night.

The Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

 and Atharvaveda
Atharvaveda
The Atharvaveda is a sacred text of Hinduism and one of the four Vedas, often called the "fourth Veda"....

 portrays Varuna as omniscient, catching liars in his snares. The stars are his thousand-eyed spies, watching every movement of men.

In the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

, chief of the Devas
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

, is about six times more prominent than Varuna, who is mentioned 341 times. This may misrepresent the actual importance of Varuna in early Vedic society due to the focus of the Rigveda on fire and Soma
Soma
Soma , or Haoma , from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sauma-, was a ritual drink of importance among the early Indo-Iranians, and the subsequent Vedic and greater Persian cultures. It is frequently mentioned in the Rigveda, whose Soma Mandala contains 114 hymns, many praising its energizing qualities...

 ritual, Soma being closely associated with Indra; Varuna with his omniscience and omnipotence in the affairs of men has many aspects of a supreme deity. The daily Sandhyavandanam
Sandhyavandanam
Sandhyavandanam is a religious practice performed by Hindu men initiated into the rite by the ceremony of Upanayanam, and instructed in its execution by a Guru . Sandhyavandanam consists of excerpts from the Great Vedas that are to be recited thrice daily...

 ritual of a dvija addresses Varuna in this aspect in its evening routine, asking him to forgive all sins, while Indra receives no mention.

Both Mitra and Varuna are classified as Asura
Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

s in the Rigveda (e.g. RV 5.63.3), although they are also addressed to as Devas
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

 as well (e.g. RV 7.60.12), possibly indicating the beginning of the negative connotations carried by Asura in later times.

In post-Vedic texts Varuna became the god of ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

s and river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s and keeper of the souls of the drowned. As such, Varuna is also a god of the dead, and can grant immortality
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

. Varun which means wind. He is attended by the nagas. He is also one of the Guardians of the directions
Guardians of the directions
The Guardians of the Directions are the deities who rule the specific directions of space according to Hinduism and Buddhism—especially...

, representing the west.

Later art depicts Varuna as a lunar deity
Lunar deity
In mythology, a lunar deity is a god or goddess associated with or symbolizing the moon. These deities can have a variety of functions and traditions depending upon the culture, but they are often related to or an enemy of the solar deity. Even though they may be related, they are distinct from the...

, as a yellow man wearing golden armor and holding a noose or lasso made from a snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

. He rides the sea creature Makara
Makara (Hindu mythology)
Makara is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal and in hind part as aquatic animal, in the tail part, as a fish tail or also as seal...

.

Varuna and Uranus


Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil was a French comparative philologist best known for his analysis of sovereignty and power in Proto-Indo-European religion and society...

 made a cautious case for the identity of Varuna and the Greek god Uranus
Uranus (mythology)
Uranus , was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, according to Hesiod in his Theogony, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth...

 at the earliest Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 cultural level. Dumézil's identification of mythic elements shared by the two figures, relying on both linguistic interpretation and common attributes, myths, and relationships to other deities, was taken up by Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

 and others. The identification of the name Ouranos with the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Varuna, based in part on a posited PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 root *-ŭer with a sense of "binding"— ancient king god Varuna binds the wicked, ancient king god Uranus binds the Cyclopes— is widely rejected by those who find the most probable etymology is from Proto-Greek *worsanos, from a PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 root *wers- "to moisten, to drip" (referring to the rain). Other theories identify Varuna with the Greek God Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 or Roman Neptune
Neptune
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

 of the seas.

Uranus
Uranus (mythology)
Uranus , was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, according to Hesiod in his Theogony, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth...

 is associated with the night sky as his name literally means "Sky", and Varuna is a god of the sky and the celestial ocean which is the milky way
Milky Way
The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System. This name derives from its appearance as a dim un-resolved "milky" glowing band arching across the night sky...

 or Kshira (क्षीर, milk) sagar. Laksmi is said to have arisen from the ocean of milk and therefore be the daughter of Varuna. Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 is said to have been born from the falling of the testicles of Uranus in the ocean after his castration. Both Laksmi and Aphrodite are associated with the planet Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

. This shared nature of the two deities also leads to their identity being linked together.

In the Ramayana



Faced with the dilemma of how to cross the ocean to Lanka
Lanka
Sri Lanka is the name given in Hindu mythology to the island fortress capital of the legendary king Ravana in the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata...

, where his abducted wife Sita
SITA
SITA is a multinational information technology company specialising in providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry...

 is held captive by the demon king Ravana
Ravana
' is the primary antagonist character of the Hindu legend, the Ramayana; who is the great king of Lanka. In the classic text, he is mainly depicted negatively, kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister...

, Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 (an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

) performs a penance (tapasya) to Varuna, the Lord of Oceans, fasting and meditating in perfect dhyana
Dhyana in Hinduism
According to the Hindu Yoga Sutra, written by Patanjali, dhyana is one of the eight limbs of Yoga, ....

 for three days and three nights. Varuna does not respond, and Rama arises on the fourth morning, enraged by the God's arrogance. With his bow and arrow, he angrily begins attacking the oceans with celestial weapons—burning up the waters and killing its life and creatures. The Vanaras (Monkeys) are dazzled and fearful at witnessing the enraged Rama demolish the oceans, and his brother, Lakshmana
Lakshmana
Lakshmana was the brother and close companion of Rama, and himself a hero in the famous epic Ramayana...

, prays to calm Rama's mind. Just as Rama invokes the brahmastra
Brahmastra
In ancient Sanskrit writings, the Brahmastra was a weapon created by Brahma.-Features:It is sometimes known as the Brahma Astra . As described in a number of the Puranas, it was considered the deadliest weapon...

, considered the most powerful weapon capable of destroying all creation, Varuna arises out of the oceans. He bows to Rama, explaining that he himself was at a loss to answer Rama's question. Begging him not to destroy the oceans with the missile, he suggests that Rama re-direct the weapon at a demonic race that lives in the heart of the ocean. Rama's arrows destroys the demons, and establishes a purer, liberated environment there. Varuna promises that he would keep the oceans still for all of Rama's army to pass, and Nala constructs a bridge (Rama's Bridge
Rama's Bridge
Adam's Bridge , also known as Rama's Bridge or Rama Setu , is a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka...

) across to Lanka. Rama justifies his angry assault on the oceans as he followed the correct process of petitioning and worshipping Varuna, but obtaining the result by force for the greater good.

In Contemporary Hinduism


Worship of Varuna is an integral part of the evening ritual of the Sandhyavandanam
Sandhyavandanam
Sandhyavandanam is a religious practice performed by Hindu men initiated into the rite by the ceremony of Upanayanam, and instructed in its execution by a Guru . Sandhyavandanam consists of excerpts from the Great Vedas that are to be recited thrice daily...

, of a dvija Hindu. However, popular worship is primarily limited to Hindus of Sindhi
Sindhi people
Sindhis are a Sindhi speaking socio-ethnic group of people originating from Sindh, a province Formerly of British India, now in Pakistan. Today Sindhis that live in Pakistan belong to various religious denominations including Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity...

 origin. (See Jhulelal
Jhulelal
Jhulelal , or Dariyalal or Jinda Pir is the Ishta Dev of Sindhi people...

)

In Zoroastrianism


Varuna is not attested in the texts of the Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

. The closest sea deity in Zoroastrian cosmology is Vourukasha
Vourukasha
Vourukasha is the name of a heavenly sea in Zoroastrian mythology. It was created by Ahura Mazda and in its middle stood the Harvisptokhm or the "tree of all seeds".- In mythology :...

; and the nearest homonym is Varena, the four-cornered fourteenth region of the world (Vendidad 1.17) and populated by "fiends" and "savage, non-Aryan natives" (Vd 7.10). In Yasht 15, Haoshyangha begs for a boon that he might smite "two-thirds of the daeva
Daeva
Daeva in Avestan language meaning "a being of shining light", is a term for a particular sort of supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics. Equivalents in Iranian languages include Pashto dêw , Baluchi dêw , Persian dīv , Kurdish dêw...

s of Mazana and of the fiends of Varena". (Yt 15.2.6) An individual who does not follow daena "[the good] religion" is an anya-varena. (Yasna 16.2; Vd 12.21, 15.2)

Too late to be of relevance to a reconstruction of what might have happened to Indo-Iranian *vouruna (if at all such a predecessor figure existed) in Iran is the "Varuna" of the circa 9th century texts of Zoroastrian tradition (the so-called "Pahlavi" texts), and in the early New Persian Shahnameh. In both cases this Varuna is a dim-witted, easily tricked demon of "backwards"-ness, which is the literal Middle Persian meaning of his name.

Assuming that Vedic Varuna is not a purely Indian development (i.e. assuming that he derives from an Indo-Iranian *vouruna), there are several different theories on what might have happened to Indo-Iranian *vouruna in Iran:

Nyberg (Die Religionen des alten Iran, 1938:282ff) sees Varuna represented as the Amesha Spenta
Amesha Spenta
' is an Avestan language term for a class of divine entities in Zoroastrianism, and literally means "Bounteous Immortal" The noun is amesha "immortal", and spenta "furthering, strengthening, bounteous, holy" is an adjective of it...

 Asha Vahishta "Best Righteousness", an opinion—with extensions—that Dumezil (Tarpeia 1947:33-113) and Widengren (Die Religionen Irans, 1965:12-13) also follow. This theory is based on Vedic Varuna's role as the principal protector of rta, which in Iran is represented by asha [vahishta].

Kuiper (IIJ I, 1957) proposes that none less than Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

 is a development from an earlier dvandva *vouruna-mitra. The basis of Kuiper's proposal is that the equivalent of Avestan mazda "wisdom" is Vedic medhira, described in Rigveda 8.6.10 as the "(revealed) insight into the cosmic order" that Varuna grants his devotees. In Kuiper's view, Ahura Mazda is then a compound divinity in which the propitious characteristics of *mitra negate the unfavorable qualities of *vouruna.

Zimmer (Münchner Studien 1984:187-215) observed that Varuna has the byname (cult epithet) bhaga
Bhaga
Sanskrit is a term for "lord, patron", but also for "wealth, prosperity". The cognate term in Avestan and Old Persian is , of uncertain meaning but used in a sense in which "lord, patron" might also apply. A Slavic cognate is "god"...

, an adjective that also appears in the Avesta (as baga). It may then be that the Avestan adjective is likewise a cult epithet, the proper name having been forgotten—a not uncommon occurrence. This may be seen to be reflected in Artaxerxes III's invocation of ahuramazda ura mithra baga "Ahura Mazda, Mithra, and the Baga" (Boyce, Acta Iranica 21, 1981:59-73).

Another epithet of Vedic Varuna is asura, and there may be a remnant of Varuna in those Gathic passages
Gathas
The Gathas are 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathusthra himself. They are the most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith.-Structure and organization:...

 (generally presumed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself) refers to the ahuras (plural) without (aside from Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

) explicitly naming them. While Ahura Mazda is uniformly "the mightiest Ahura" (e.g. Yasna 33.11), in the only two occurrences of the term where the word does not refer to Ahura Mazda, the poet uses the expression mazdasca ahurano (Yasna 30.9, 31.4). This phrase, generally understood to mean "the Wise [Mazda] One and the (other) Ahuras", is in "common opinion" (so Boyce 1984:159) recognized as being archaic and in which the other Ahuras are *mitra and *varouna. Boyce (Mithra the King and Varuna the Master, 2001) sees this supported by the younger Avestan dvandvah expression mithra ahura berezanta "Mithra and the High Lord", the latter being unambiguously Ahura Berezainti, "High Lord" Apam Napat
Burz
Burz is the middle Persian name for the Indo-Iranian divinity of waters. Burz is also known as Ahura Berezant in the texts of the Avesta, and also as Apam Napat in Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit...

, the third member of the Ahuric triad (Gray, Foundations, 1929:15), and with whose Indian equivalent (also Apam Napat
Apam Napat
Apam Napat is an eminent figure of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. In Hinduism, Apām Napāt is the god of fresh water, such as in rivers and lakes...

) Vedic Varuna is closely associated.

See also

  • Rigvedic deities
    Rigvedic deities
    There are 1028 hymns in the Rigveda, most of them dedicated to specific deities.Indra, a heroic god, slayer of Vrtra and destroyer of the Vala, liberator of the cows and the rivers; Agni the sacrificial fire and messenger of the gods; and Soma the ritual drink dedicated to Indra are the most...

  • Mitra (Vedic)
    Mitra (Vedic)
    This article is about the Vedic deity Mitra. For other divinities with related names, see the general article Mitra.Mitra is an important divinity of Indic culture, and the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings...

  • Adityas
    Ādityas
    In Hinduism, Āditya , meaning "of or related to Aditi", refers to the offsprings of Aditi. Adityas are solar class deities. In later Hinduism, Aditya is used in the singular to mean the sun.-Vedas:...

  • Guardians of the directions
    Guardians of the directions
    The Guardians of the Directions are the deities who rule the specific directions of space according to Hinduism and Buddhism—especially...

  • The king and the god
    The king and the god
    The king and the god is the title of a short dialogue composed in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language. It is loosely based on the "king Harishcandra" episode of Aitareya Brahmana . S. K. Sen asked a number of Indo-Europeanists The king and the god is the title of a short dialogue...



{{Hindu Culture and Epics}}