Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Varuna at Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Mythica.

VARUNA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'The universal encompasser, the all-embracer.'

One of the oldest of the Vedic deities, a personification of the all-investing sky, the maker and upholder of heaven and earth. As such he is king of the universe, king of gods and men, possessor of illimitable knowledge, the supreme deity to whom especial honour is due.

He is often associated with Mitra, he being the ruler of the night and Mitra of the day; but his name frequently occurs alone, that of Mitra only seldom.

In later times he was chief among the lower celestial deities called Adityas, and later still he became a sort of Neptune, a god of the seas and rivers, who rides upon the Makara. This character he still retains.

His sign is a fish. He is regent of the west quarter and of one of the Nakshatras or lunar mansions.

According to the Mahabharata he was son of Kardama and father of Pushkara. The Mahabharata relates that he carried off Bhadra, the wife of Utathya (q.v.), a Brahman, but Utathya obliged him to submit and restore her. He was in a way the father of the sage Vasishtha (q.v.).

In the Vedas, Varuna is not specially connected with water, but there are passages in which he is associated with the element of water both in the atmosphere and on the earth, in such a way as may account for the character and functions ascribed to him in the later mythology.

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM