Thursday 28 March 2024

Forgotten Deities of The Vedas

* This article will be updated from time to time to expand the list. So keep revisiting!

(1) Dyauḥ pita

Dyauḥ literally means 'sky'. Adding 'pita' makes it 'The Sky Father'.

ṛgveda 1.89.4:

तन्नो॒ वातो॑ मयो॒भु वा॑तु॒ भेष॒जं तन्मा॒ता पृ॑थि॒वी तत्पि॒ता द्यौः

tanno vāto mayobhu vātu bheṣajaṃ tanmātā pṛthivī tatpitā dyauḥ

This mantra speaks about the protection conferred by Dyauḥ pita and pṛthivī mātā ( Sky father and Mother Earth ).

The Sky father is often paired with Mother Earth and invoked across the Vedas under the term Dyāvāpṛthivī.

ṛgveda 1.160.1

ते हि द्यावापृथिवी विश्वशंभुव ऋतावरी रजसो धारयत्कवी

te hi dyāvāpṛthivī viśvaśaṃbhuva ṛtāvarī rajaso dhārayatkavī

This mantra describes the Sky and Earth who maintain the cosmic order and balance.

In the camaka praśna of Yajur Veda ( taittirīya samhita 4.7 ), Dyauḥ is invoked and sought for blessings. The camakam is a very popular part of the Vedas which is often recited for Lord Shiva today.

पृथि॒वी च॑ म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे॒ऽन्तरि॑क्षं च म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे द्यौश्च॑ म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे॒ दिश॑श्च म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे मू॒र्धा च॑ म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे प्र॒जाप॑तिश्च म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे ॥ ६ ॥

pṛthivī ca ma indraś ca me 'ntarikṣaṃ ca ma indraś ca me dyauś ca ma indraś ca me diśaś ca ma indraś ca me mūrdhā ca ma indraś ca me prajāpatiś ca ma indraś ca me || 

In this mantra, various deities and invoked together with Indra to bless us.

So, though not externally cognized as a deity, Dyauḥ is worshiped inevitably today with the recitation of Vedas.

Video: My student, a 4 year old Shambu recites the Yajur Veda's taittirīya samhita 4.7. At minutes 5:55, you can find the reference for Dyauḥ. We pray for His powers in this mantra.


It is Dyauḥ pita who became Zeus ( or Zeus Pater ) in Greek culture. Zeus also has attributes of Indra. It appears like Zeus Pater could be an amalgamation of Indra and Dyauḥ pita.

When the ancient Vedic tradition spread across the globe, it got adapted to many foreign cultures. 

The same Dyauḥ pita who became Zeus Pater, got adapted to Ju-Piter in the Roman culture.

Image: Jupiter, the sky-father in Roman culture.

So, as a follower of the path of Vedas, let us revere the infinite skies as divine. It is deity to us, not mere 'sky'.

(2) Mitra

Image: Lord Sūrya as Mitra in the British House of Loots ( A.K.A British Museum )

This deity is one of the 12 āditya-s. Mitra is often paired and invoked with Varuṇa in the form of mitra-varuṇa. Being a form of the Sun, Mitra represents brightness and radiance. He represents friendship as well.

Image: the 12 āditya-s

Mitra is invoked in the camaka praśna as well, which is very popularly recited in temples today.

मि॒त्रश्च॑ म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे॒ वरु॑णश्च म॒ इन्द्र॑श्च मे॒

mitraś ca ma indraś ca me varuṇaś ca ma indraś ca me

In this mantra, Mitra is sought together with Indra.

Video: My student Kum. Shravanthi & I recite the ṛgveda 2.1. At minutes 2.13, you can listen to the mantra which invokes Mitra. At minutes 2.21, Mitra is invoked with Varuṇa in the form of mitra-varuṇa

ṛgveda 3.59.4

अ॒यं मि॒त्रो न॑म॒स्य॑: सु॒शेवो॒ राजा॑ सु॒क्ष॒त्रो अ॑जनिष्ट वे॒धाः 

तस्य॑ व॒यं सु॑म॒तौ य॒ज्ञिय॒स्याऽपि॑ भ॒द्रे सौमन॒से स्या॑म ॥ ४ ॥

ayaṃ mitro namasyaḥ suśevo rājā sukṣatro ajaniṣṭa vedhāḥ |

tasya vayaṃ sumatau yajñiyasyā'pi bhadre saumanase syāma 

In this mantra, Mitra is described as the One fit of worship, who confers leadership, protection, auspiciousness and harmony. He ensures cosmic and social order.

It is the Vedic Mitra who became Mithras in the Roman culture.


Image: The Roman Mithras who represents protection. In fact, the worship of Mitra took form of a religion of its own and it became big in the ancient Roman empire. Roman emperors have built temples for Mitra.

(3) Pūṣa

This deity is one of the 12 āditya-s. He is seen as the One who nourishes and protects.

ṛgveda 6:

पूषणं न्वजाश्वमुप स्तोषाम वाजिनम् | स्वसुर्यो जार उच्यते

Pūṣaṇam nvajāśvamupa stoṣāma vājinam | svasuryo jāra ucyate

This mantra reveals Pūṣa as the nourisher who provides fulfilment.

Kṛṣṇa yajur taittirīya brahmaṇa 2.8.9.7 | ṛgveda 7.41 | Atharva veda 3.16:


This mantra instructs us to invoke Pūṣa amongst other deities during dawn for blessings.


This mantra seeks auspiciousness from
Pūṣa who is said to be all-knowing ( viśva vedāḥ )


(4) āraṇyāni devi

āraṇyāni devi is mentioned in the ṛgveda 10.146.

Video: My student, Kum. Shravanthi reciting the ṛgveda 10.146, which describes 
          
āraṇyāni devi.

She is the primordial śakti in the form of life-sustaining forest energy. She sustains and provides protection to her children, the residers of the forest. She resembles the primitive energy of nature and does not reside in developed villages. 

ṛgveda 10.146.1, the mantra which describes the devi who is elusive, and as a deity who is 'allergic' to cities and civilization.

Personally, the mantra which describes this devi is one of my favourites and I recite it everytime I visit a forest or a space of greenery. The experience is phenomenal.


So, as a follower of the path of Vedas, let us revere mother nature as divine. She is not just a mere 'forest' or 'nature'. She is deity to us!

(5) aryamā


This deity is one of the 12 āditya-s. He is often invoked along with Mitra and Varuṇa in the Veda-s.

śrīmad bhāgavatam 4.18.18:

वत्सेन पितरो ’र्यम्णा

कव्यं क्षीरम् अधुक्षत

आम-पात्रे महा-भागाः

श्रद्धया श्राद्ध-देवताः

vatsena pitaro ’ryamṇā

kavyakṣīram adhukṣata

āma-pātre mahā-bhāgāḥ

śraddhayā śrāddha-devatāḥ

In the above śloka, Aryamā is seen as the deity of the forefathers, who is the lord of the fortunate residents of pitṛ loka.

Video: My student Arthur recites the first chapter of Taittirīya Upaniṣat, Yajur Veda. This chapter opens with an invocation of several deities including Aryama. Check it out at minutes 0:25.

Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa of Śukla Yajurveda:

अथ श्वो भूते | पुरोहितस्य गृहान्परेत्य बार्हस्पत्यं चरुं निर्वपति बृहस्पतिर्वै देवानां पुरोहित एष वा एतस्य पुरोहितो भवति तस्माद्बार्हस्पत्यो भवत्येतद्वा अस्यैकं रत्नं यत्पुरोहितस्तस्मा एवैतेन सूयते तं स्वमनपक्रमिणं कुरुते तस्य शितिपृष्ठो गौर्दक्षिणैषा वा ऊर्ध्वा बृहस्पतेर्दिक्तदेष उपरिष्टादर्यम्णः पन्थास्तस्माचितिपृष्ठो बार्हस्पत्यस्य दक्षिणा

atha śvo bhūte | purohitasya gṛhānparetya bārhaspatyaṃ caruṃ nirvapati bṛhaspatirvai devānāṃ purohita eṣa vā etasya purohito bhavati tasmādbārhaspatyo bhavatyetadvā asyaikaṃ ratnaṃ yatpurohitastasmā evaitena sūyate taṃ svamanapakramiṇaṃ kurute tasya śitipṛṣṭho gaurdakṣiṇaiṣā vā ūrdhvā bṛhaspaterdiktadeṣa upariṣṭādaryamṇaḥ panthāstasmācitipṛṣṭho bārhaspatyasya dakṣiṇā

Here, the term aryamṇaḥ panthā is interpretted as the milky way - the path of aryamā which lies above the path of Bṛhaspati.








2 comments:

  1. Is aranyani devi is known as pachai amman nowadays?

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    1. No, pachai amman is the folk form of MiinakShi / Shyaamala. There are AranyaNi Devi temples in Assam. AranyaNi devi is present everywhere in the form of raw forest energy.

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