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Varun Dev

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Varun Dev

Varun Dev is the Devtaa of all kinds of waters and rivers and oceans. Varun is the keeper of the celestial waters also, those which flow from the openings in the sky in the form of rain. He was worshiped with veneration and a healthy amount of fear, for as an Asur Varun did have his sinister aspects and was known to punish mortals who did not keep their word. He was the cosmic hangman and his usual method of punishment was to capture the offender with his noose. He was also a Lord of the dead, a position he shared with Yam, and could confer immortality if he so chose.

His name means "he who covers", and this probably refers to the sky. Varun is the keeper of the cosmic order, a force called Rit. It is Rit which keeps everything working as it should, and Varun's role as the one who governs Rit makes him very important indeed. He is very closely linked to the god Mitra (friendship being personified) and the master of Rit, is the Chief keeper of order and god of the law. Varun and Mitra are the gods of societal affairs, including the oath. Normally Mitra and Varun are together as Mtraavarun. Varun is also associated with Indra in the Rig Ved, as Indra-Varun, when both cooperate on New Year to re-establish the order.

Varun being Chief of Aaditya - there are 12 Aaditya (sons of Aditi), but he is considered to be an Asur, when those beings were still god-like and had not yet degenerated into demons. He is also associated with the Moon and Som, in Som's incarnation as the drink of the gods. Varun is seen as a white man in golden armor riding a Makar (crocodile), holding a noose or lasso made from a snake.

Mahaabhaarat, G-0-Prolog/14 says that Varun was married to Shukraachaary's daughrer Devee and had one son and Daughter - Bal and Suraa (or Vaarunee, or liquor). In fact she was the one who went to entertain Balaraam Jee when he went to Gokul.

Varun's Children
Varun and Parnasaa River had a son - Shrutaayu who was a king.  Once Shrutaayu's mother requested Varun that her son should be unslayable on Earth. Varun said - "I give him a Var which is very beneficial for him - that is this celestial Gadaa (mace) by which he will not be killed by anybody on Earth. No man can have immortality. Whoever has taken birth must die, that is why you don't worry." Varun gave him then an Abhimantrit Gadaa. Thus he became invincible on Earth. But Varun warned him - "Don't hurl it at anybody who is not engaged in fight. If it is hurled at such a person, it will come back to you and hit you yourself." So it showed that when the hour of his death would be there, he would do that. Shrutaayu got killed on the 14th day of Mahaabhaarat war when Arjun was going to kill Jayadrath.

Varun in Ved
Although Varun has only a dozen hymns devoted to him in Rig Ved, but he seems to be a very important Vaidik Devtaa. In pre-Vaidk times he was Supreme Lord of the cosmos - the keeper of Divine order the bringer of rain, the enforcer of contracts etc etc. He is called omnipotent and omniscient; he is responsible for the Sun to move in the sky, for day and night to stay separate, and for the Earth to keep its form; he watches the flight of every bird, is present at every gathering, and knows every thought.

In Vaidik times, the worship of Varun fell off as he was supplanted by Indra as king of the gods. One possible reason for this may go back to Indra's most famous exploit. When Vritraasur stole all the waters of the universe, the waters which Varun was in charge of, it was Indra who had to fight the demons and get those wafers back. It may have been because of this that Indra was able to supplant the overlordship of Varun and become Lord of the gods himself. Varun then became god of the oceans and rivers; still important, but with hardly the grandeur he once had. The souls of those who drowned went to him, and he was attended by the Naag. Varun's importance faded away with the ascendancy of Shiv and Vishnu. As the Chief of His lofty position may have lived on, however, for he may be the same as the Zoroastrian supreme god Ahura Mazda.

Varun in Maanas and Raamaayan
Varun Dev's worship is mentioned in Tulasee's Maanas, 5/9 also, of course not as Varun Dev, but as Samudra Dev. When Raam wants to cross the sea to go to Lankaa to recover Seetaa, he invokes Samudra Dev to give Him way to go to Lankaa. He does not appear at first but when Raam gets ready to shoot His arrow, he appears and tell Him the way to cross the sea.

In Vaalmeeki Raamaayan, 6/9, also, Raam worships Samudra, not Varun, but in real it is varun Dev as all waters' Devtaa is Varun Dev.

Varun in Mahaabhaarat
When Parashuraam Jee had emptied Prithvi from Kshatriya 21 times after his father's killing, he did yagya to cleanse himself and donated the whole pruthvi to Kashyap Jee and Braahman. Then he wanted to settle down somewhere to perform his austerities. Now ehere to settle down? He had already donated the Prithvi. if he settles down on any part of prithvi, it means taking back something which ha had already donated, and this is not good. So he threw his axe into the sea and asked the King of the Sea (Varun Dev) to give him the land up to where his axe fell in the sea water. Varun Dev did so and Parshuraam built his Aashram there. This stretch of land came to be known as Parashuraam Srishti. It is believed that on this land there will never be drought or disease ever.

Varun and Raavan
When Raavan went tout for world victory tour, he won Varun also without any problem.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 06/15/13