Vayu

Vayu

Overview
Vāyu is a primary Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 deity, the Lord of the winds, the father of Bhima
Bhima
In the Mahābhārata, Bhima is one of the central characters of Mahabharata and the second of the Pandava brothers...

 and the spiritual father of Lord Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

. He is also known as Vāta (वात), Pavana (पवन, the Purifier), and sometimes Prāṇa (प्राण, the breath).

As the word for air
Air (classical element)
Air is often seen as a universal power or pure substance. Its supposed fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire and spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare.-Greek and Roman tradition:...

, (Vāyu) or wind (Pavana) is one of the Panchamahābhuta or five great elements. The 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...

 word 'Vāta' literally means "blown", 'Vāyu' "blower", and 'Prāna' "breathing" (viz.
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Vāyu is a primary Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 deity, the Lord of the winds, the father of Bhima
Bhima
In the Mahābhārata, Bhima is one of the central characters of Mahabharata and the second of the Pandava brothers...

 and the spiritual father of Lord Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

. He is also known as Vāta (वात), Pavana (पवन, the Purifier), and sometimes Prāṇa (प्राण, the breath).

Connotations of Vayu


As the word for air
Air (classical element)
Air is often seen as a universal power or pure substance. Its supposed fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire and spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare.-Greek and Roman tradition:...

, (Vāyu) or wind (Pavana) is one of the Panchamahābhuta or five great elements. The 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...

 word 'Vāta' literally means "blown", 'Vāyu' "blower", and 'Prāna' "breathing" (viz. the breath of life, cf. the *an- in 'animate'). Hence, the primary referent of the word is the "deity of Life", who is sometimes for clarity referred to as "Mukhya-Vāyu" (the chief Vāyu) or "Mukhya Prāna" (the chief of Life).

Sometimes the word "vayu," which is more generally used in the sense of the physical air or wind, is used as a synonym for "prāna". There is however a separate set of five deities of Prāna (vital breath), Mukhya-Prāna being chief among them, so that, in Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

,தமிழ்(Tamil) and other India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n languages, someone's death is stated as "his lives departed" (uske prān nikal gaye) rather than "his life departed." These five Vāyu deities, Prāna
Prana
Prana is the Sanskrit word for "vital life" .It is one of the five organs of vitality or sensation, viz. prana "breath", vac "speech", chakshus "sight", shrotra "hearing", and manas "thought" Prana is the Sanskrit word for "vital life" (from the root "to fill", cognate to Latin plenus...

, Apāna, Vyāna, Udāna, and Samāna, control life (and the vital breath), the wind, touch/sensation, digestion, and excretion.

Vāta, an additional name for Vāyu, is the root of the Sanskrit and Hindi term for "atmosphere", vātāvaran (वातावरण).

Pavan is also a fairly common 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...

 name. Pavan had played an important role in Anjana
Anjana
' was the mother of Hanuman and Maruti Anjana and Kesari named him after their first son Hanuman he is said to be born when Hanuman was 16 years old and it is said hey has taken an avatar on earth and believed to be still alive . one of the heroes of the Indian epic, the Ramayana...

's begetting Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

 as her child. Hence Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

 is also called Pavan-Putra (son of Pavana) and Vāyu-Putra.

In the Mahabharata, Bheema was the son of Vāyu and played a major role in the Kurukshetra war. He utilised his huge power and skill with the mace for supporting Dharma.

In Hindu texts and philosophy



In the hymns, Vayu is "described as having 'exceptional beauty' and moving noisily in his shining coach, driven by two or forty-nine or one-thousand white and purple horses. A white banner is his main attribute." Like the other atmospheric deities, he is a "fighter and destroyer", "powerful and heroic."

In the Upanishad
Upanishad
The Upanishads are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main or old Upanishads...

s there are numerous statements and illustrations of the greatness of Vāyu. The Brhadaranyaka states that the gods who control bodily functions once engaged in a contest to determine who among them is the greatest. When a deity such as that of vision would leave a man's body, that man would continue to live, albeit as a blind man and having regained the lost faculty once the errant deity returned to his post. One by one the deities all took their turns leaving the body, but the man continued to live on, though successively impaired in various ways. Finally, when Mukhya Prāna started to leave the body, all the other deities started to be inexorably pulled off their posts by force, "just as a powerful horse yanks off pegs in the ground to which he is bound." This caused the other deities to realize that they can function only when empowered by Vayu, and can be overpowered by him easily. In another episode, Vāyu is said to be the only deity not afflicted by demons of sin who were on the attack. The Chandogya states that one cannot know Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 except by knowing Vāyu as the udgitha
Udgitha
Udgitha may be*the "chanting" in Vedic ritual, the office of the Udgatr priest*a division of the Samaveda*a name of the mystical syllable Aum*a name of a medieval Hindu scholar, see Udgithacarya...

 (the mantric syllable "om
Om
Om is a sacred syllable of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.OM and similar may also refer to:-Music:* Om , a stoner metal band* Om , a 1965 album* OM , a 2006 album* Om...

").

Followers of Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 philosophy hold that Mukhya-Vāyu incarnated as Madhvacharya
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

 to teach worthy souls to worship the Supreme God 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....

 and to correct the errors of the Advaita philosophy.