Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The god of the “Sky”/The god of the “Sea”

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 28, 2014

While Caelus and Uranus, both meaning “sky”, are connected with Vasuki, a mythological snake king in Indian Puranas meaning “of divine being”, when it comes to the astrological planets and the deities associated with them, Neptune and Poseidon, both meaning “God of the Sea”, are connected with Varuna, god of rain in Indian mythology; Varuna means “God of the sea.”

Uranus

Uranus (Ancient Greek meaning “sky” or “heaven”) was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father. Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. Elemental Earth, Sky and Styx might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic.

The most probable etymology is from the basic Proto-Greek form worsanos derived from the noun worso-, Sanskrit: varsa “rain”. The relative Proto-Indo-European language root is *ṷers- “to moisten, to drip” (Sanskrit: varsati “to rain”), which is connected with the Greek ουρόω (Latin: “urina”, English: “urine”, compare Sanskrit: var “water,” Avestan var “rain”, Lithuanian & Latvian jura “sea”, Old English wær “sea,” Old Norse ver “sea,” Old Norse ur “drizzling rain”) therefore Ouranos is the “rainmaker” or the “fertilizer”.

Another possible etymology is “the one standing high in order” (Sanskrit: vars-man: height, Lithuanian: virus: upper, highest seat). The identification with the Vedic Varuna, god of the sky and waters, is uncertain. It is also possible that the name is derived from the PIE root *wel “to cover, enclose” (Varuna, Veles) or *wer “to cover, shut”.

Most Greeks considered Uranus to be primordial, and gave him no parentage, believing him to have been born from Chaos, the primal form of the universe. However, in Theogony, Hesiod claims Uranus to be the offspring of Gaia, the earth goddess.

Alcman and Callimachus elaborate that Uranus was fathered by Aether, the god of heavenly light and the upper air. Under the influence of the philosophers, Cicero, in De Natura Deorum (“Concerning the Nature of the Gods”), claims that he was the offspring of the ancient gods Aether and Hemera, Air and Day. According to the Orphic Hymns, Uranus was the son of Nyx, the personification of night.

The Greek creation myth is similar to the Hurrian creation myth. In Hurrian religion Anu is the sky god. His son Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three deities, one of whom, Teshub, later deposed Kumarbis. In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu is the sky god and represented law and order.

It is possible that Uranus was originally an Indo-European god, to be identified with the Vedic Váruṇa, the supreme keeper of order who later became the god of oceans and rivers, as suggested by Georges Dumézil, following hints in Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912).

Another of Dumézil’s theories is that the Iranian supreme God Ahura Mazda is a development of the Indo-Iranian *vouruna-*mitra. Therefore this divinity has also the qualities of Mitra, which is the god of the falling rain.

Uranus is connected with the night sky, and Váruṇa is the god of the sky and the celestial ocean, which is connected with the Milky Way. His daughter Lakshmi is said to have arisen from an ocean of milk, a myth similar to the myth of Aphrodite.

Váruṇa

Georges Dumézil made a cautious case for the identity of Uranus and Vedic Váruṇa, a god of the water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law of the underwater world, at the earliest Indo-European cultural level. Dumézil’s identification of mythic elements shared by the two figures, relying to a great extent on linguistic interpretation, but not positing a common origin, was taken up by Robert Graves and others.

The identification of the name Ouranos with the Hindu Váruṇa, based in part on a posited PIE root *-ŭer with a sense of “binding”—ancient king god Váruṇa 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 *(F)orsanόj (worsanos) from a PIE root *ers “to moisten, to drip” (referring to the rain).  In Hindu mythology, Varuna continued to be considered the god of all forms of the water element, particularly the oceans.

As chief of the Adityas, Varuna has aspects of a solar deity though, when opposed to Mitra (Vedic term for Surya), he is rather associated with the night, and Mitra with the daylight. As the most prominent Deva, 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 ṛtá, he is the supreme keeper of order and god of the law. The word ṛtá, order, is also translated as “season”.

Varuna and Mitra are the gods of the societal affairs including the oath, and are often twinned Mitra-Varuna (a dvandva compound). Varuna is also twinned with Indra in the Rigveda, as Indra-Varuna (when both cooperate at New Year in re-establishing order).

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

In post-Vedic texts Varuna became the god of oceans and rivers and keeper of the souls of the drowned. As such, Varuna is also a god of the dead, and can grant immortality. He is attended by the nagas. He is also one of the Guardians of the directions, representing the west.

Later art depicts Varuna as a lunar deity, as a yellow man wearing golden armor and holding a noose or lasso made from a snake. He rides the sea creature Makara.

Vasuki

Vasuki (“of divine being”), a mythological snake king in Indian Puranas, is a naga, one of the King serpents of Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Vasuki is a great king of the nagas and has a gem (Nagamani) on his head. Manasa, another naga, is his sister.Vasuki is Shiva’s (The destroyer) Snake.

Vasuki is known in Chinese and Japanese mythology as being one of the “eight Great Naga Kings” (Hachi Ryuu-ou), amongst Nanda (Nagaraja), Upananda, Sagara (Shakara), Takshaka, Balavan, Anavatapta and Utpala. Vasuki’s Naga priest is Tatig Naga.

Nāga is the Sanskrit and Pāli word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake – specifically the king cobra, found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. A female Nāga is a nāgī or nāgiṇī.

Nagaraja “King of the nāga” is a figure commonly appearing in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Hindu texts refer to three main deities by this title, Shesha, Takshaka, and Vasuki, the children of the rishi Kashyapa and of Kadru, who are the parents of all nāgas.

Shesha, also sometimes known as Ananta, is the eldest brother, was a devotee of Vishnu, and represents the friendly aspect of snakes, as they save food from rodents. Vishnu is always on continuous meditation (Yoganidra) with Ananta forming a bed for him, and this posture is called Ananta-Sayana.

Vasuki, the younger one, was a devotee of Shiva. Shiva always wears Vasuki is famous for coiling around the neck of Shiva. Shiva blessed Vasuki and wore him as an ornament. Vasuki is also mentioned and used as a tightening rope.

Takshaka represents the dangerous aspect of snakes, as they are feared by all due to their venom.

The most famous legend in Hinduism in which Vasuki took part was the incident of Samudra manthan, the churning of the ocean of milk. In this legend, Vasuki allowed the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons) to bind him to Mount Mandara and use him as their churning rope to extract the ambrosia of immortality from the ocean of milk.

In Buddhist mythology, Vasuki and the other Naga Kings appear in the audience for many of the Buddha’s sermons. The duties of the naga kings included leading the nagas in protecting and worshiping the Buddha, as well as in protecting other enlightened beings.

A Dragon King is a deity in Chinese mythology commonly regarded as the divine ruler of an ocean. They have the ability to shapeshift into human form and lives in an underwater crystal palace. They have their own royal court and command an army comprising various marine creatures.

Apart from presiding over aquatic life, a Dragon King can also manipulate the weather and bring rainfall. Dragon Kings are a recurring feature in classical Chinese literature. Detailed descriptions are given of the grandeur of their palaces.

They are believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas. They can show themselves as water spouts (tornado or twister over water). In this capacity as the rulers of water and weather, the dragon is more anthropomorphic in form, often depicted as a humanoid, dressed in a king’s costume, but with a dragon head wearing a king’s headdress.

There are four major Dragon Kings, each ruling one of the Four Seas corresponding to one of the four cardinal directions: the East Sea (corresponding to the East China Sea), the South Sea (corresponding to the South China Sea), the West Sea (sometimes seen as the Qinghai Lake and beyond), and the North Sea (sometimes seen as Lake Baikal). They appear in the classical novels Fengshen Bang and Journey to the West.

Because of this association, they are seen as “in charge” of water-related weather phenomenon. In premodern times, many Chinese villages (especially those close to rivers and seas) had temples dedicated to their local “dragon king”.

In times of drought or flooding, it was customary for the local gentry and government officials to lead the community in offering sacrifices and conducting other religious rites to appease the dragon, either to ask for rain or a cessation thereof.

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