Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

  • Archives

Virgo – Kanya

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on November 23, 2019

Mercury, who represents the principles of communication, mentality, thinking patterns, rationality and reasoning, and adaptability and variability, is the ruling planet of both Virgo and Gemini and is exalted in Virgo and Aquarius. Mercury rules over Wednesday, alongside Uranus, since Uranus is in the higher octave of Mercury. In Romance languages, the word for Wednesday is often similar to Mercury.

Uranus is the modern ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In classical Greek mythology, Uranus is the personification of the sky. Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the Sun in turn during its orbit; causing both hemispheres to alternate between being bathed in light and lying in total darkness over the course of the orbit.

Astrological interpretations associate Uranus with the principles of ingenuity, new or unconventional ideas, individuality, discoveries, electricity, inventions, democracy, and revolutions. Uranus, among all planets, most governs genius. Uranus governs societies, clubs, and any group based on humanitarian or progressive ideals. Uranus, the planet of sudden and unexpected changes, rules freedom and originality.

Pluto, called “the great renewer”, and is considered to represent the part of a person that destroys in order to renew, through bringing buried, but intense needs and drives to the surface, and expressing them, even at the expense of the existing order, is the modern ruling planet of Scorpio and is exalted in Virgo.

In classical Roman mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld who is extremely wealthy. The alchemical symbol was given to Pluto on its discovery, three centuries after alchemical practices had all but disappeared. The alchemical symbol can therefore be read as spirit over mind, transcending matter. A commonly used keyword for Pluto is “transformation”.

Pluto is associated with power and personal mastery, and the need to cooperate and share with another, if each is not to be destroyed. Pluto governs major business and enormous wealth, mining, surgery and detective work, and any enterprise that involves digging under the surface to bring the truth to light. Pluto is also associated with Tuesday, alongside Mars since Pluto is the higher octave of that planet in astrology.

In old opinion, Ceres, the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, is the ruling planet of Virgo, but the majority opinion of modern astrologers denotes Ceres being the ruler for Taurus. However, Ceres is exalted in Virgo.

The goddess (and metaphorically the planet) is also associated with the reproductive issues of an adult woman, as well as pregnancy and other major transitions in a woman’s life, including the nine months of gestation time, family bonds and relationships.

In an updated revision, Taurus is also ruled by Chiron with that very same centaur having an astrological maverick character being a co-ruler to Virgo, and exalted in Sagittarius. The Moon is the ruling planet of Cancer and is exalted in Taurus. In classical Roman mythology, the Moon was Luna, at times identified with Diana.

Although a mother, Ceres is also the archetype of a virgin goddess. Ceres epitomizes independent women who are often unmarried (since, according to myth, Ceres is an unmarried goddess who chose to become a mother without a husband or partner.) While the moon represents our ideal of “motherhood”, Ceres would represent how our real and natural motherhood should be.

Pisces

In astrology, a celestial body is said to be in detriment, or exile, when it is positioned in the zodiac sign opposite the sign it rules (over which it has domicile). When a celestial body is in detriment it is said to be not comfortable in that sign and to tend to operate with the least strength.

Pisces is detriment to Virgo. Jupiter is the traditional ruling planet of Sagittarius and Pisces and it is exalted in Cancer. Neptune is the modern ruling planet of Pisces and is exalted in Leo. Venus is the traditional ruling planet of Libra and Taurus and is exalted in Pisces.

Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Pisces are the negative mutable water sign of the zodiac. It spans 330° to 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area between February 19 and March 20. In Sidereal astrology, the Sun currently transits the constellation of Pisces from approximately March 12 to April 18.

While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from ecliptic longitude 330° to 0°, this position is now mostly covered by the constellation of Aquarius due to the precession from when the constellation and the sign coincided. Today, the First Point of Aries, or the vernal equinox, is in the Pisces constellation. Nevertheless, the sign of Pisces remain in the 30 degree span of 330°-0°.

There are no prominent stars in the constellation. One star in the constellation, Alpha Piscium, is also known as Alrescha, which comes from the Arabic al-rišā’, meaning “the well rope,” or “the cord.” Ptolemy described Alpha Piscium as the point where the cords joining the two fish are knotted together. The astrological symbol shows the two fishes captured by a string, typically by the mouth or the tails.

The fish are usually portrayed swimming in opposite directions; this represents the duality within the Piscean nature. They are ruled by the planet Neptune. Although they appear as a pair, the name of the sign in all languages originally referred to only one fish with the exception of Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, Dutch, Latvian and Italian.

In classical interpretations, the symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. Divine associations with Pisces include Poseidon/Neptune, Christ, Aphrodite, Eros, Typhon, Vishnu and the Sumerian goddess Inanna.

According to one Greek myth, Pisces represents the fish, sometimes represented by koi fish, into which Aphrodite (also considered Venus) and her son Eros (also considered Cupid) transformed in order to escape the monster Typhon.

Typhon, the “father of all monsters,” had been sent by Gaia to attack the gods, which led Pan to warn the others before himself changing into a goat-fish and jumping into the Euphrates. A similar myth, one in which the fish “Pisces” carry Aphrodite and her son out of danger, is resounded in Manilius’ five volume poetic work Astronomica: “Venus ow’d her safety to their Shape.”

Another myth is that an egg fell into the Euphrates river. It was then rolled to the shore by fish. Doves sat on the egg until it hatched, out from which came Aphrodite. As a sign of gratitude towards the fish, Aphrodite put the fish into the night sky.

Because of these myths, the Pisces constellation was also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” “Venus cum Adone,” “Dione” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother. Purim, a Jewish holiday, falls at the full moon preceding the Passover, which was set by the full moon in Aries, which follows Pisces.

Puruli was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king. The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

The story of the birth of Christ is said to be a result of the spring equinox entering into the Pisces, as the Savior of the World appeared as the Fisher of Men. This parallels the entering into the Age of Pisces.The Church Father Jerome records in a letter dated to the year 395 AD that “Bethlehem… belonging now to us… was overshadowed by a grove of Tammuz, that is to say, Adonis, and in the cave where once the infant Christ cried, the lover of Venus was lamented.”

Sacred sexual intercourse is thought to have been common in the Ancient Near East[2] as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the kings of a Sumerian city-states and the High Priestesses of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility and warfare. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna.

The temple of Eanna, meaning “house of heaven” in Uruk was the greatest of these. The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox[5] (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: EZEN Á.KI.TUM, akiti-šekinku, Á.KI.TI.ŠE.GUR₁₀.KU₅, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

Atargatis was the chief goddess of northern Syria in Classical antiquity. Ctesias also used the name Derketo for her, and the Romans called her Dea Syria, or in one word Deasura. She was also identified with Hera by Lucian in his De Dea Syria.

Primarily she was a goddess of fertility, but, as the baalat (“mistress”) of her city and people, she was also responsible for their protection and well-being. Her consort is usually Hadad. They are the protecting deities of the community. Hadad (Ugaritic), Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Canaanite and ancient Mesopotamian religions.

Adad and Iškur are usually written with the logogram dIM – the same symbol used for the Hurrian god Teshub. Hadad was also called Pidar, Rapiu, Baal-Zephon, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus; the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Amun.

Her chief sanctuary was at Hierapolis, modern Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, Syria. She is sometimes described as a mermaid-goddess, due to identification of her with a fish-bodied goddess at Ascalon. However, there is no evidence that Atargatis was worshipped at Ascalon, and all iconographic evidence shows her as anthropomorphic. As Ataratheh, doves and fish were considered sacred to her: doves as an emblem of the Love-Goddess, and fish as symbolic of the fertility and life of the waters.

Atargatis, wearing a mural crown, is the ancestor the royal house, the founder of social and religious life, the goddess of generation and fertility (hence the prevalence of phallic emblems), and the inventor of useful appliances. Not unnaturally she is identified with the Greek Aphrodite.

By the conjunction of these many functions, despite originating as a sea deity analogous to Amphitrite, she becomes ultimately a great nature-goddess, analogous to Cybele and Rhea: In one aspect she typifies the protection of water in producing life; in another, the universal of other-earth; in a third (influenced, no doubt, by Chaldean astrology), the power of Destiny.

Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center.

Virgo

Virgo (Greek: Parthenos) is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second-largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra) and the largest constellation in the zodiac.

It spans the 150–180th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 23 and September 22, and the Sun transits the constellation of Virgo from approximately September 16 to October 30.

It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica, designated α Virginis (Latinised to Alpha Virginis, abbreviated Alpha Vir, α Vir), the brightest object in the constellation Virgo and one of the 20 brightest stars in the night sky. Spica retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility.

The traditional name Spica derives from Latin spīca virginis “the virgin’s ear of [wheat] grain”. It was also anglicized as Virgin’s Spike. Johann Bayer cited the name Arista. Other traditional names are Azimech from Arabic al-simāk al-ʼaʽzal (‘the unarmed simāk’); Alarph (Arabic for ‘the grape-gatherer’ or ‘gleaner’), and Sumbalet (Sombalet, Sembalet and variants), from Arabic sunbulah (“ear of grain”).

Virgo has multiple different origins depending on which mythology is being studied. Most myths generally view Virgo as a virgin/maiden with heavy association with wheat. In the Babylonian MUL.APIN (c. 10th century BC), part of this constellation was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala and her ear of grain.

In Egyptian mythology, the time when the constellation Virgo was in the sun was the beginning of the wheat harvest, thus connecting Virgo back to the wheat grain. Virgo has the equivalent sign in Indian astrology as the Kanya (which also means “maiden”), and has even been connected with the Virgin Mary.

In Chinese Jiǎo Xiù (meaning ‘Horn’), refers to an asterism consisting of Spica and Virginis. Consequently, the Chinese name for Spica is Jiǎo Xiù yī (‘The First Star of Horn’). In Hindu astronomy, Spica corresponds to the Nakshatra Chitrā.

Corvus

Corvus is a small constellation in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere. Its name means “raven” in Latin. One of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, it depicts a raven, a bird associated with stories about the god Apollo, perched on the back of Hydra the water snake. As with more familiar Classical astronomy, it was placed sitting on the tail of the Serpent (Greek Hydra).

The four brightest stars, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Beta Corvi, form a distinctive quadrilateral in the night sky. With an apparent magnitude of 2.59, Gamma Corvi—also known as Gienah—is the brightest star in the constellation. The neighboring constellations are Crater, Hydra, and Virgo.

The Greek Corvus was borrowed from the mythical Babylonian Raven, MUL.UGA.MUSHEN, which was usually depicted perched on the tail of a serpent, in the Babylonian star catalogues dating from at least 1100 BCE. ). Babylonians associated the constellation with Adad, the god of rain and storm, because its stars would rise before the rainy season, in the fall, in the second millennium.

The Babylonian constellation was sacred to Adad, the god of rain and storm; in the second Millennium it would have risen just before the autumnal rainy season. John H. Rogers observed that Hydra signified Ningishzida, the god of the underworld in the Babylonian compendium MUL.APIN.

He proposed that Corvus and Crater (along with Hydra) were death symbols and marked the gate to the underworld. These two constellations, along with the eagle Aquila and the fish Piscis Austrinus, were introduced to the Greeks around 500 BCE; they marked the winter and summer solstices respectively.

Furthermore, Hydra had been a landmark as it had straddled the celestial equator in antiquity. Corvus and Crater also featured in the iconography of Mithraism, which is thought to have been of middle-eastern origin before spreading into Ancient Greece and Rome.

Corvus is associated with the myth of Apollo and his lover Coronis the Lapith. Coronis had been unfaithful to Apollo; when he learned this information from a pure white crow, he turned its feathers black in a fit of rage.

The constellation Corvus represents the raven (or crow), Apollo’s sacred bird in Greek mythology. According to the myth, the raven originally had white feathers. In one story, Apollo told the bird to watch over Coronis, one of his lovers, who was pregnant at the time.

Coronis gradually lost interest in Apollo and fell in love with a mortal man, Ischys. When the raven reported the affair to Apollo, the god was so enraged that the bird did nothing to stop it that he flung a curse on it, scorching the raven’s feathers. That, the legend goes, is why all ravens are black.

Apollo then sent his sister Artemis to kill Coronis. Before Coronis’ body was burned, the unborn child, Asclepius, was cut out of her womb and given to the centaur Chiron, who raised him. Asclepius grew up to be a famous healer and is represented by the constellation Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer.

Another legend associated with Corvus is that a crow stopped on his way to fetch water for Apollo, to eat figs. Instead of telling the truth to Apollo, he lied and said that a snake, Hydra, kept him from the water, while holding a snake in his talons as proof.

Apollo, realizing this was a lie, flung the crow (Corvus), cup (Crater), and snake (Hydra) into the sky. He further punished the wayward bird by ensuring it would forever be thirsty, both in real life and in the heavens, where the Cup is just out of reach.

Tammuz (Aries) – Inanna (Pisces)

Ninshubur (Virgo) – Geshtinanna (Libra)

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito («She of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; phoros: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer”, as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.

Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious tradition that predated the Olympian pantheon, and which may have its roots in the Mycenaean period c. 1400–1200 BC.

In Greek mythology, Persephone, also called Kore (the maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable, majestic queen of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. She becomes the queen of the underworld through her abduction by and subsequent marriage to Hades, the god of the underworld.

The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis, and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. Alongside her twin brother Utu (who was later known as Shamash in East Semitic languages), the god of the sun and justice, Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice.

She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center.

She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star. Her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal). Much like Iris or Hermes, identified with the Roman god Mercury, in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods.

Dumuzid, later known by the alternate form Tammuz, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar). Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

In the Sumerian King List, Dumuzid is listed as an antediluvian king of the city of Bad-tibira and also an early king of the city of Uruk. Dumuzid’s sister was Geshtinanna, the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation.

In Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld, Dumuzid fails to mourn Inanna’s death and, when she returns from the Underworld, she allows the galla demons to drag him down to the Underworld as her replacement.

Inanna later regrets this decision and decrees that Dumuzid will spend half the year in the Underworld, but the other half of the year with her, while his sister Geshtinanna stays in the Underworld in his place, thus resulting in the cycle of the seasons.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal (lit. “Lady of the Great Earth”).

In ancient Sumerian mythology, Ereshkigal is the queen of the Underworld. She is the older sister of the goddess, Inanna. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla. In later East Semitic myths, she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal, who over time developed from a war god to a god of the underworld.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

Gemini is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “twins,” and it is associated with the two Dioscuri or heavenly twins Castor and Pollux in Greek mythology. The Aśvins, or Ashwini Kumaras (“horse possessors”; also spelled Ashvins), are twin Vedic gods of medicine in Hindu mythology. Associated with the dawn, they are described as youthful divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, travelling in a chariot drawn by horses that are never weary.

They are an instance of the Proto-Indo-European divine horse twins. Their cognates in other Indo-European mythologies include the Baltic Ašvieniai, the Greek Castor and Polux; and possibly the English Hengist and Horsa, and the Welsh Bran and Manawydan. The first mention of the Nasatya twins is from the Mitanni documents of the second millennium BCE,

In Babylonian astronomy, the twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.

Adad and Shala

The constellation of the Furrow is the precursor of our modern-day Virgo. The Babylonian figure is represented among the stars as the goddess Šala who holds the familiar ear of barley in her hands. As a seasonal symbol she represents the autumn seeding season when farmers use the seed plough to plant seed in the newly prepared fields.

Shala was an ancient Sumerian goddess of grain and the emotion of compassion. The symbols of grain and compassion combine to reflect the importance of agriculture in the mythology of Sumer, and the belief that an abundant harvest was an act of compassion from the deities.

The image of a barley sheaf actually appears in the cuneiform writing system as the sign known as Nidaba; it is occasionally used to write ‘grain’, but is more often used with a divine determinative to signify Nisaba, the ancient goddess of grain. Yet despite Nisaba’s importance in Mesopotamian culture, all available star-lists record the regent of the Furrowas Šala, a little known goddess who originated in the Hurrian pantheon.

Šala was best known as the wife of Adad, the fecund god of the storm, who was the regent of the nearby constellation of the Raven. Her barley stalk and Adad’s lightning bolt are sometimes depicted together on entitlement stones. Their proximity on the star-map and their marriage symbolise the newly seeded fields made fertile by rain and flood.

As Šala and Adad are both Hurrian deities, they are unlikely to have been assimilated into the Mesopotamian pantheon any earlier than the last centuries of the 3rd millennium when the Hurrian peoples first appear on the historical horizon. Their incorporation into Babylonian star-lore can be best understood as an attempt to integrate the Hurrians into the wider Mesopotamian world.

Traditions identify Shala as wife of the fertility god Dagon, or consort of the storm god Hadad’ also called Ishkur. Hadad was also called Pidar, Rapiu, Baal-Zephon, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods. Hadad is usually written with the logogram dIM – the same symbol used for the Hurrian god Teshub.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus; the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Amun.

In ancient depictions, Shala carries a double-headed mace or scimitar embellished with lion heads. Sometimes she is depicted as being borne atop one or two lionesses. From very early times, she is associated with the constellation Virgo and vestiges of symbolism associated with her have persisted in representations of the constellation to current times, such as the ear of grain, even as the deity name changed from culture to culture.

Ninurta and Nintinugga

Ninurta, also known as Ninĝirsu, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war who was first worshipped in early Sumer. His major symbols were a perched bird and a plow.

He was regarded as the son of the chief god Enlil. In Lugal-e, his mother is identified as the goddess Ninmah, whom he renames Ninhursag, but, in Angim dimma, his mother is instead the goddess Ninlil.

In the earliest records, he is a god of agriculture and healing, who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons. In later times, as Mesopotamia grew more militarized, he became a warrior deity, though he retained many of his earlier agricultural attributes. Later, Ninurta became beloved by the Assyrians as a formidable warrior.

The Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (ruled 883–859 BC) built a massive temple for him at Kalhu, which became his most important cult center from then on. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, Ninurta’s statues were torn down and his temples abandoned because he had become too closely associated with the Assyrian regime, which many conquered peoples saw as tyrannical and oppressive.

In a poem sometimes referred to as the “Sumerian Georgica”, written sometime between 1700 and 1500 BC, Ninurta delivers detailed advice on agricultural matters to farmers, including how to plant, tend, and harvest crops, how to prepare fields for planting, and even how to drive birds away from the crops. The poem covers nearly every aspect of farm life throughout the course of the year.

Though the poem starts out seeming as though the advice is being given from a father to his son, at the end, it concludes with the words: “These are the instructions of Ninurta, son of Enlil. O Ninurta, trustworthy farmer of Enlil, your praise is good.” The “father” at the beginning of the poem is thereby revealed to be Ninurta himself.

Under the name Ninurta, his wife is usually the goddess Gula, but, as Ninĝirsu, his wife is the goddess Bau. Gula was the goddess of healing and medicine and she was sometimes alternately said to be the wife of the god Pabilsaĝ or the minor vegetation god Abu. Bau was worshipped “almost exclusively in Lagash” and was sometimes alternately identified as the wife of the god Zababa.

In artistic representations, Ninurta is shown as a warrior, carrying a bow and arrow and clutching Sharur, his magic talking mace. He sometimes has a set of wings, raised upright, ready to attack. In Babylonian art, he is often shown standing on the back of or riding a beast with the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion.

Ninurta remained closely associated with agricultural symbolism as late as the middle of the second millennium BC. On kudurrus from the Kassite Period (c. 1600 — c. 1155 BC), a plough is captioned as a symbol of Ninĝirsu. The plough also appears in Neo-Assyrian art, possibly as a symbol of Ninurta. A perched bird is also used as a symbol of Ninurta during the Neo-Assyrian Period.

One speculative hypothesis holds that the winged disc originally symbolized Ninurta during the ninth century BC, but was later transferred to Aššur and the sun-god Shamash. This idea is based on some early representations in which the god on the winged disc appears to have the tail of a bird. Most scholars have rejected this suggestion as unfounded.

Astronomers of the eighth and seventh centuries BC identified Ninurta (or Pabilsaĝ) with the constellation Sagittarius. Alternatively, others identified him with the star Sirius, which was known in Akkadian as šukūdu, meaning “arrow”.

The constellation of Canis Major, of which Sirius is the most visible star, was known as qaštu, meaning “bow”, after the bow and arrow Ninurta was believed to carry. In Babylonian times, Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn.

Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba though it would seem that the two were originally independent. She is later known as Gula and in medical incantations, Bēlet or Balāti, also as the Azugallatu the “great healer”, the same as her son Damu, a god of vegetation and rebirth in Sumerian mythology.

Damu, in Mesopotamian religion, Sumerian deity, city god of Girsu, east of Ur in the southern orchards region. Damu, son of Enki, was a vegetation god, especially of the vernal flowing of the sap of trees and plants. The cult of Damu influenced and later blended with the similar cult of Tammuz the Shepherd, a Sumerian deity.

His name means “The Child,” and his cult—apparently celebrated primarily by women—centred on the lamentation and search for Damu, who had lain under the bark of his nurse, the cedar tree, and had disappeared. The search finally ended when the god reappeared out of the river.

Damu is a healing deity credited both as asû “healer” and āšipu (“exorcist”) which says as much about the close link between the two professions as about the deity’s capabilities. Accordingly, Damu accompanies his mother Gula/Ninkarrak in incantations but is also credited as a healer in his own right.

Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug. Her epithets are “great healer of the land” and “great healer of the black-headed ones”, a “herb grower”, “the lady who makes the broken up whole again”, and “creates life in the land”, making her a vegetation/fertility goddess endowed with regenerative power. She was the daughter of An and a wife of Ninurta. She had seven daughters, including Hegir-Nuna (Gangir).

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort. She was known as a patron deity of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple.

After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind. The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.

She is, however, also invoked to curse those who trample upon the rights of rulers or those who do wrong with poisonous potions. As in the case of Ninib, the cult of Bau-Gula was prominent in Shirgulla and in Nippur. While generally in close association with her consort, she was also invoked alone, giving her more dominance than most of the goddesses of Babylonia and Assyria.

In the Neo-Babylonian period, she also had an oneiric quality. She had sometimes violent nature as the “queen whose ‘tempest’, like a raging storm, makes heaven tremble, makes earth quake”. She was a source for blasphemous remarks where Gula and her dogs are mentioned in formulae of a curse.

She appears in a prominent position on the designs accompanying the Kudurrus boundary-stone monuments of Babylonia, being represented by a portrait, when other gods and goddesses are merely pictured by their shrines, by sacred animals or by weapons. In neo-Babylonian days her cult continues to occupy a prominent position, and Nebuchadrezzar II speaks of no less than three chapels or shrines within the sacred precincts of E-Zida in the city of Borsippa, besides a temple in her honour at Babylon.

Thor and Sif

The myth of the Slain Heroes is alluded to in many texts, but is never preserved in full. In this myth, Ninurta must fight a variety of opponents. Black and Green describe these opponents as “bizarre minor deities”; they include the six-headed Wild Ram, the Palm Tree King, and the seven-headed serpent.

Some of these foes are inanimate objects, such as the Magillum Boat, which carries the souls of the dead to the Underworld, and the strong copper, which represents a metal that was conceived as precious. This story of successive trials and victories may have been the source for the Greek legend of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Tacitus records a special affinity of the Germanic peoples for Hercules. In chapter 3 of his Germania, Tacitus states: “… they say that Hercules, too, once visited them; and when going into battle, they sang of him first of all heroes. They have also those songs of theirs, by the recital of this barditus as they call it, they rouse their courage, while from the note they augur the result of the approaching conflict. For, as their line shouts, they inspire or feel alarm.”

Some have taken this as Tacitus equating the Germanic Þunraz with Hercules by way of interpretatio romana. In the Roman era Hercules’ Club amulets appear from the 2nd to 3rd century, distributed over the empire (including Roman Britain, c.f. Cool 1986), mostly made of gold, shaped like wooden clubs. A specimen found in Köln-Nippes bears the inscription “DEO HER[culi]”, confirming the association with Hercules.

In the 5th to 7th centuries, during the Migration Period, the amulet is theorized to have rapidly spread from the Elbe Germanic area across Europe. These Germanic “Donar’s Clubs” were made from deer antler, bone or wood, more rarely also from bronze or precious metals.

They are found exclusively in female graves, apparently worn either as a belt pendant, or as an ear pendant. The amulet type is replaced by the Viking Age Thor’s hammer pendants in the course of the Christianization of Scandinavia from the 8th to 9th century.

In Norse mythology, Sif is a goddess associated with earth. Sif is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in the poetry of skalds. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Sif is the wife of the thunder god Thor and is known for her golden hair.

Scholars have proposed that Sif’s hair may represent fields of golden wheat, that she may be associated with fertility, family, wedlock and/or that she is connected to rowan, and that there may be an allusion to her role or possibly her name in the Old English poem Beowulf.

The name Sif is the singular form of the plural Old Norse word sifjar. Sifjar only appears in singular form when referring to the goddess as a proper noun. Sifjar is cognate to the Old English sibb and modern English sib (meaning “affinity, connection, by marriage”) and in other Germanic languages: Gothic (sibja), Old High German sippa, and modern German Sippe.

Sifjar appears not only in ancient poetry and records of law, but also in compounds (byggja sifjar means “to marry”). Using this etymology, scholar John Lindow gives the meanings “in-law-relationship”, scholar Andy Orchard provides “relation”, and scholar Rudolf Simek gives “relation by marriage”.

Grimm connects Eddic references to Sif’s golden hair (gold is referred to as Sifjar haddr; Sif’s hair) with the herb name haddr Sifjar (Polytrichum aureum). Grimm says that “expositors see in this the golden fruits of the Earth burnt up by fire and growing again, they liken Sif to Ceres”, and Grimm says that “with it agrees the fact that Old Slavic.

Siva is a gloss on Ceres dea frumenti” but cites etymological problems between the potential cognate. Grimm says that Thor’s mother was the earth, and not his wife, yet “we do find the simple Sif standing for earth.”

Grimm adds that he is inconclusive regarding Sif and that, “we ought to have fuller details about Sif, and these are wholly wanting in our mythology. Nowhere amongst us is the mystic relation of the seed-corn of Demeter, whose poignant grief for her daughter threatens to bring famine on mankind (Hymn to Cer. 305–306), nor anything like it, recorded.”

Scholar H. R. Ellis Davidson states that Sif may have been an ancient fertility goddess, agreeing with a link between her lustrous hair and fields of golden wheat. Regarding Sif, Thor, and fertility, Davidson says:

“The cult of Thor was linked up with men’s habitation and possessions, and with well-being of the family and community. This included the fruitfulness of the fields, and Thor, although pictured primarily as a storm god in the myths, was also concerned with the fertility and preservation of the seasonal round. In our own times, little stone axes from the distant past have been used as fertility symbols and placed by the farmer in the holes made by the drill to receive the first seed of spring.

Thor’s marriage with Sif of the golden hair, about which we hear little in the myths, seems to be a memory of the ancient symbol of divine marriage between sky god and earth goddess, when he comes to earth in the thunderstorm and the storm brings the rain which makes the fields fertile. In this way Thor, as well as Odin, may be seen to continue the cult of the sky god which was known in the Bronze Age.”

Furrow and Frond

The constellation of Virgo in Hipparchus corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua, also known as Sarpanit, was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.

The origins of Virgo can be traced back to the Babylonian constellation called the Furrow. It would actually be more accurate to regard the modernimage of the Virgin as a combination of two independent Babylonian constellations – the Furrow and the Frond, which occupy the eastern and western sectors of Virgo respectively.

Like the familiar Greek image, the Furrow was portrayed as a goddess bearing an oversize ear of barley. She symbolised the barley fields in early autumn when they are about to be seeded, and as may be expected her star was used in astrology to predict the success or failure of the coming harvest: ‘If the Furrow is dark: the barley will fall short of its predicted yield, a shortage of barley and straw will befall the land’.

The autumnal abundance of the earth is symbolised by the two-fold goddesses of the Frond and the Furrow, which respectively represent the two principle cultivated foodstuffs of Babylonia – dates and barley. Dates are especially valuable as they provide a rich source of nourishment that is easily preserved for future use.

The constellation of the Frond, which depicts, makes its annual appearance in the heavens as the dates start to ripen on the frond. The Frond, which stands immediately behind the Lion, was depicted as the goddess Erua with a branch or frond of the date palm – this attribute has, in fact, been retained in many images of Virgo, where she bears her barley stalk in one hand and a date palm frond in the other.

It is debated that when the ecliptic constellations were formulated into 12 zodiac signs the independent symbolism of the Furrow and Frond were combined into a single unified figure, which now represented two of the mainstays of the Babylonian diet – unleavened barley bread and dates.

It is notable that the Babylonian foods have been retained in her imagery, all the more so, as Greek agriculture was dominated by wheat and olives. The end result of combining these two Babylonian constellations into the figure of Virgo is that she is now one of the largest constellations in the sky. She is positioned rather uncomfortably, lying prone along the ecliptic with her head ungraciously set below Leo’s tail.

When Greek star-lore was transmitted to Arabia Virgo’s constellation image was modified again. Her barley-stalk, a meaningless symbol to the desert- dwelling Arabs, was omitted altogether and she suffered the further indignity of having one arm cut off above the elbow and stuck onto her thigh – such brutality being necessary to squeeze her oversize image onto the star-map.

Akitu

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: EZEN Á.KI.TUM, akiti-šekinku, Á.KI.TI.ŠE.GUR.KU, lit. “the barley-cutting”,[citation needed] akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (Akkadian: DTI.AMAT or DTAM.TUM, Greek: Θαλάττη Thaláttē)[3] is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon. She is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms the heavens and the Earth from her divided body.

Serpanit

In Babylonian religion, Serpanit is a mother goddess and the consort of the chief god, Marduk. Her name means “the shining one”, and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or “creatress of seed”, and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, also known as Ninhursag, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind.

Her marriage with Marduk was celebrated annually at New Year in Babylon. She was worshipped via the rising moon, and was often depicted as being pregnant. She is She may be the same as Gamsu, Ishtar, and/or Bêlit.

Bêlit is a form of the Akkadian language word beltu or beltum (meaning “lady”, “mistress”) as used in noun compounds; it appears in titles of goddesses, such as bêlit-ili “lady of the gods”, an Akkadian title of Ninhursag. The word bêlit appears in Greek form as Beltis, considered to be the name of the wife of the god Bêl.

Belet-Seri (also spelled Beletseri, Belit-Sheri, Belit-Tseri) in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld goddess. The recorder of the dead entering the underworld, she is known as the “Scribe of the Earth”. It is Belet-seri who keeps the records of human activities so she can advise the queen of the dead, Erishkigal, on their final judgement. Married to Amurru, the God of Nomads, she’s known as ‘Queen of the Desert.’

Gestinanna

Beginning in the Old Babylonian Period, Belet-Seri was identified with the goddess Gestinanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. She was viewed as a mother goddess and was closely associated with the interpretation of dreams. Like her brother Dumuzid, she was also a rural deity, associated with the countryside and open fields.

Gestinanna is the sister of Dumuzid, later known by the alternate form Tammuz, an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar), and consort of Ningisida. She is also the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag.

She shelters her brother when he is being pursued by galla demons and mourns his death after the demons drag him to Kur. She eventually agrees to take his place in Kur for half the year, allowing him to return to Heaven to be with Inanna. The Sumerians believed that, while Geshtinanna was in Heaven and Dumuzid in Kur, the earth became dry and barren, thus causing the season of summer.

Ninhursag

Ninḫursaĝ, also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursag’s milk”.

The mother goddess had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). Possibly included among the original mother goddesses was Damgalnuna (great wife of the prince) or Damkina (true wife), the consort of the god Enki.

Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”. According to legend, her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra (“Lady of the Pasture”). Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her.

Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up. Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight deities: Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe, Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).

In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.

The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

Demeter and Persephone

Early Greek astronomy associated the Babylonian constellation with their goddess of wheat and agriculture, Demeter, mother of Persephone, the goddess of the harvest. The Romans associated it with their goddess Ceres, mother of Proserpina. Demeter’s emblem is the poppy, a bright red flower that grows among the barley.

In epic poetry and Hesiod’s Theogony, Demeter is the Corn-Mother, the goddess of cereals who provides grain for bread and blesses its harvesters. This was her main function at Eleusis, and became panhellenic. In Cyprus, “grain-harvesting” was damatrizein. The main theme in the Eleusinian mysteries was the reunion of Persephone with her mother Demeter, when new crops were reunited with the old seed, a form of eternity.

According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, Demeter’s greatest gifts to humankind were agriculture, particularly of cereals, and the Mysteries which give the initiate higher hopes in this life and the afterlife. These two gifts were intimately connected in Demeter’s myths and mystery cults. In Hesiod, prayers to Zeus-Chthonios (chthonic Zeus) and Demeter help the crops grow full and strong.

Another figure who is associated with the constellation Virgo was the spring goddess Persephone, also called Kore (“the maiden”), the daughter of Zeus and Demeter who had married Hades and resided in the Underworld during summer. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina.

Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable, majestic queen of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. She becomes the queen of the underworld through her abduction by and subsequent marriage to Hades, the god of the underworld.

The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis, and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.

In the myth Pluto abducts Persephone to be his wife and the queen of his realm (this is the myth which explains their marriage). Pluto (Ploutōn) was a name for the ruler of the underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the underworld itself.

The name Pluton was conflated with that of Ploutos (Ploutos, “wealth”), a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because Pluto as a chthonic god ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest. Plouton is lord of the dead, but as Persephone’s husband he has serious claims to the powers of fertility.

Both Homer and Hesiod, writing c. 700 BC, described the agricultural hero Iasion as a consort of Demeter. According to Hesiod, they had intercourse in a ploughed furrow. Demeter subsequently gave birth to two sons, Philomelus and Ploutos (Ploutos, lit. “wealth”), the Greek god of wealth.

This union seems to be a reference to a hieros gamos (ritual copulation) to ensure the earth’s fertility. This ritual copulation appears in Minoan Crete, in many Near Eastern agricultural societies, and also in the Anthesteria.

In the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries Ploutos is regarded as the “Divine Child.” Among the Eleusinian figures painted on Greek ceramics, regardless of whether he is depicted as child or youthful ephebe, a Greek term for a male adolescent, or for a social status reserved for that age, in Antiquity, Plutus can be identified as the one bearing the cornucopia, the horn of plenty.

Philomelus was a minor Greek demi-god, patron of Husbandry, Tillage/Ploughing and Agriculture, the son of Demeter and Iasion, and the brother of Plutus. Plutus was very wealthy, but would share none of his riches to his brother.

Out of necessity, Philomenus bought two oxen, invented the wagon or plough, and supported himself by ploughing his fields and cultivating crops. His mother, admiring him for this, put him in the heavens as the constellation Boötes, his wagon or plough being the constellation Ursa Major.

The original cult of Ploutos (or Pluto) in Eleusis was similar with the Minoan cult of the “divine child”, who died in order to be reborn. The child was abandoned by his mother and then it was brought up by the powers of nature. Similar myths appear in the cults of Hyakinthos (Amyklai), Erichthonios (Athens), and later in the cult of Dionysos.

The Greek version of the abduction myth is related to grain – important and rare in the Greek environment – and the return (ascent) of Persephone was celebrated at the autumn sowing. Pluto (Ploutos) represents the wealth of the grain that was stored in underground silos or ceramic jars (pithoi), during summer months. Similar subterranean pithoi were used in ancient times for burials and Pluto is fused with Hades, the King of the realm of the dead.

During summer months, the Greek grain-Maiden (Kore) is lying in the grain of the underground silos in the realm of Hades, and she is fused with Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. At the beginning of the autumn, when the seeds of the old crop are laid on the fields, she ascends and is reunited with her mother Demeter, for at that time the old crop and the new meet each other. For the initiated, this union was the symbol of the eternity of human life that flows from the generations which spring from each other.

Parthenos

Another association is with the myth of Parthenos (meaning virgin in Greek), which explains how the actual constellation Virgo came to be. In the Poeticon Astronomicon by Hyginus (1st century BC), Parthenos is the daughter of Apollo and Chrysothemis, who died a maiden and was placed among the stars as the constellation.

Diodorus Siculus has an alternative account, according to which Parthenos was the daughter of Staphylus and Chrysothemis, sister of Rhoeo and Molpadia (Hemithea). After a suicide attempt she and Hemithea were carried by Apollo to Chersonesus, where she became a local goddess. Strabo also mentions a goddess named Parthenos worshipped throughout Chersonesus.

Astraea

The symbol of the maiden is based on Iustitia or Astraea ( “star-maiden” or “starry night”), a daughter of Astraeus and Eos holding the scales of justice in her hand (that now are separated as the constellation Libra). She is the virgin goddess of justice, innocence, purity and precision. She is closely associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis).

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea was the last immortal to abandon Earth at the end of the Silver Age, when the gods fled to Olympus – hence the sign’s association with Earth. According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astraea on historical iconographic grounds.

Erigone

Another Greek myth from later, Classical times, identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favored by Dionysus and was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated after which Erigone hanged herself in grief; in versions of this myth, Dionysus is said to have placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively.

Kanya

The month of Kanyā, called Purattasi in the Tamil Hindu calendar, is one of the twelve months in the Indian solar calendar. Kanya, the sixth sign of the zodiac, corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Virgo, and overlaps with about the second half of September and about the first half of October in the Gregorian calendar. Kanya marks the start of harvests and festival season across the Indian subcontinent.

The solar month of Kanya overlaps with its lunar month Ashvin, also Ashwin or Ashwan, also known as Aswayuja, in Hindu lunisolar calendars. The Indian solar month names are significant in epigraphical studies of South Asia. For example, Kanya month, along with other solar months, are found inscribed in medieval era Hindu temples.

Kanya is preceded by the solar month of Siṃha, and followed by the solar month of Tulā. In Vedic texts the Simha month is called Nabhas and the Tula month is called Issa, but in these ancient texts they dont have any zodiacal associations. The solar month of Simha overlaps with its lunar month Bhadrapada while the solar month of Tula overlaps with its lunar month Kartik, in Hindu lunisolar calendars.

Simha corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Leo, and overlaps with about the second half of August and about the first half of September while Tulā corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Libra, and overlaps with about the second half of October and about the first half of November in the Gregorian calendar.

Kanya (Virgo) is a feminine, earthy and a common sign. It has a very special significance in the manifestative process. It represents consciousness-in-bondage, but with an understanding that the shackles can be cast away.

It represents that Divine discontent which impels the aspirant onto the path of discipleship where mass is converted into energy and matter is subjugated to Spirit. It contains within itself those finer forces of Nature which express ideals and strive for perfection; it is that energy which suffers for the growth and fruition of a child’s desire. It arouses conscience and suffering for a noble cause.

Kanya produces intense activity in the realm of the intellect and psychic consciousness, where there is no place for personal pleasure and enjoyment. Kanya is indeed very difficult to comprehend, and the way it influences the individual is difficult to describe.

There is little of merriment produced by this sign, but for the attainment of siddhis there is no other sign which can be so helpful. It is the only sign in the zodiac symbolized by a single human figure and its mystic nature is enhanced by the fact that it is a maiden, not a married female adult.

Yavanacharya described Kanya as holding fire in one hand — the significance of this statement becomes clear only when one pursues the symbolism of fire. There is not a thing or a particle in the universe which does not contain some land of latent fire. It holds within itself the power which enables everything to grow.

Just as a mother tenderly guides the growth of her child, even suffering for her child, so it cares for the manifest universe. Moving in the current of manifestative flow, the creative potential moves to provide food and sustenance for its children. This is a sign of great sensitivity. It represents energy concealed in matter.

On the superficial level of existence, Kanya produces suffering, disquiet, and movement of an undesirable nature. But for inner quietude and tranquility, the grace of the World Mother whom this sign represents is essential. The maiden is shown seated in a boat, holding a chaff of grain hi one hand and fire in the other. The maiden is Kanya’s primary symbol; the boat, the fire, and the handful of freshly cut grain are secondary.

Kanya is owned by Budha graha, a Sanskrit word that connotes the planet Mercury which is also in its exaltation here. Shukra (Venus) is debilitated in this sign. Hindu scriptures link it with Prithivi (the Earth) or Aditi (Celestial Space).  It symbolizes the Female Power (shakti).

Budha

Budha, in puranic Hindu mythology, is in addition to be a planet also a deity. He is also known as Soumya (lit. “Son of the Moon”), Rauhineya and Tunga. Budha has been linguistically related to Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, though this is controversial.

Budha is part of the Navagraha in Hindu zodiac system, considered benevolent, associated with an agile mind and memory. The zodiac and naming system of Hindu astrology, with Budha as Mercury, likely developed in the centuries after the arrival of Greek astrology with Alexander the Great, their zodiac signs being nearly identical.

Budha is the root of the word ‘Budhavara’ or Wednesday in the Hindu calendar. Budha is also the root for name for the week day in many other Indian languages. The word “Wednesday” in the Greco-Roman and other Indo-European calendars is also dedicated to planet Mercury (“day of Woden or Oden”).

One of the earliest mentions of Budha as a celestial body appears in the Vedic text Pancavimsa Brahmana, a collection of ancient Indian texts with commentaries on the hymns of the four Vedas, and it appears in other ancient texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana (“Brāhmaṇa of one hundred parts”), a prose text describing Vedic rituals, history and mythology associated with the Śukla Yajurveda, as well.

However, he is not mentioned in the context of astrology. In the ancient texts, Budha is linked to three steps of the Hindu god Vishnu, mentioned in the several hymns of the Rigveda that repeat the mighty deed of Vishnu called the Trivikrama, which is one of the lasting mythologies in Hinduism since the Vedic times.

Trivikrama refers to the celebrated three steps or “three strides” of Vishnu. Starting as a small insignificant looking being, Vishnu undertakes a herculean task of establishing his reach and form, then with his first step covers the earth, with second the ether, and the third entire heaven.

Budha appears as a deity in Indian texts, including the Purana, often as the son of the moon god Soma, also known as Chandra (lit. “shining” or “moon”), and Taraka or Tārā, the Hindu goddess of felicity and sanguineness, who is also mentioned as the second consort of Hindu god Brihaspati, the god of the planet Jupiter.

Soma connotes the Moon as well as a medicinal deity in post-Vedic Hindu mythology. In Puranic mythology, Soma is a moon deity, but the name is sometimes also used to refer to Vishnu, Shiva (as Somanatha), Yama and Kubera. In some Indian texts, Soma is the name of an Apsara; alternatively it is the name of any medicinal concoction, or rice-water gruel, or heaven and sky, as well as the name of certain places of pilgrimage.

The Soma Mandala in the Rigveda mentions Soma as a ritual drink as being of importance among the early Indo-Iranians. Soma is synonymous with Chandra, however, in Buddhist sources, Soma and Chandra (Pali: Candimā) appear to be separate entities.

Chandra is a lunar deity and is also one of the nine planets (Navagraha) in Hinduism. Chandra is synonymous to as Soma. Other names include Indu (bright drop), Atrisuta (son of Atri), Sachin (marked by hare), Tārādhipa (lord of stars) and Nishakara (the night maker).

Chandra, who is also known as Soma and Indu, is the basis of Somvaar, which is Hindi, and Induvaasaram, which is Sanskrit, for Monday in the Hindu calendar. He is described as young and beautiful, two-armed and carrying a club and a lotus.

Bṛhaspati appears in the Rigveda (pre-1000 BCE), such as in the dedications to him in the hymn 50 of Book 4; he is described as a sage born from the first great light, the one who drove away darkness, is bright and pure, and carries a special bow whose string is Rta or “cosmic order” (basis of dharma). His knowledge and character is revered, and he is considered Guru (teacher) by all the Devas.

In the Vedic literature and other ancient texts, sage Brihaspati is also called by other names such as Bramanaspati, Purohita, Angirasa (son of Angiras) and Vyasa; he is sometimes identified with god Agni (fire). In the Mahabharata, the son of Brihaspati named Bharadvaja is the counsellor of the Pandavas.

In medieval mythologies, Brihaspati was married to Tara, a goddess who personifies the stars in the sky, was abducted by Chandra. Tara bore a son, Budha. According to the Puranas, Tara sired or mothered a child named Budha through Chandra.

In medieval mythologies particularly those associated with Hindu astrology, Brihaspati has a second meaning and refers to Jupiter. It became the root of the word ‘Brihaspativara’ or Thursday in the Hindu calendar. The word “Thursday” in the Greco-Roman and other Indo-European calendars is also dedicated to planet Jupiter (god of sky and thunder).

Brihaspati as Jupiter is part of the Navagraha in Hindu zodiac system, considered auspicious and benevolent. The zodiac and naming system of Hindu astrology, including Brihaspati as Jupiter, likely developed in the centuries after the arrival of Greek astrology with Alexander the Great, their zodiac signs being nearly identical.

However, the mythology of Budha is not consistent in Hindu Puranas, and he alternatively is described as the son of goddess Rohini, a daughter of the god Soma and Daksha (lit. “able, dexterous, or honest one”), according to Hindu mythology one of the sons of Lord Brahma, who, after creating the ten Manas Putras, created Daksha, Dharma, Kamadeva and Agni from his right thumb, chest, heart and eyebrows respectively.

Dakṣa was a great Brahmin king. Pictures show him as a rotund and obese man with a stocky body, protruding belly, and muscular with the head of an ibex-like creature with spiral horns. One of the daughters of Daksha (often said to be the youngest) was Sati (Dakshayani), who had always wished to marry Shiva. Daksha forbade it, but Sati disobeyed him and did so anyway, finding in Shiva a doting and loving husband.

Daksha Yagna, also called Daksha-Yajna-Nasha (“destruction of Daksha’s sacrifice), was an important turning point in the creation and development of sects in Hinduism. In Hindu mythology, is an important event, which is narrated in various Hindu scriptures. It refers to a yajna (sacrifice) organized by Daksha, where his daughter Sati immolated herself. The wrath of god Shiva, Sati’s husband, thereafter destroyed the sacrifice.

The story forms the basis of the establishment of the Stala Purana (“Origin story of Temples”) of Shakti Peethas, temples of the Hindu Divine Mother. It is also becomes a prelude to the story of Parvati, Sati’s reincarnation, who later marries Shiva. The story replaced goddess Sati by Shree Parvati as Shiva’s consort, and lead to the story of Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya.

In classical Hindu scriptures (Mahabharata, Harivamsa), the creation of the nakshatras, the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology and Indian Astronomy, is attributed to Daksha. They are personified as daughters of Daksha and as wives of Chandra who reluctantly married the 26 other nakshatra’s on Daksha’s request even though he was only interested to marry Rohini, or alternatively the daughters of Kashyapa, a revered Vedic sage of Hinduism and the brother of Daksha.

The starting point for the nakshatras according to Vedas is “Krittika” (it has been argued because the Pleiades may have started the year at the time the Vedas were compiled, presumably at the vernal equinox), but, in more recent compilations, the start of the nakshatras list is the point on the ecliptic directly opposite to the star Spica, designated α Virginis (Latinised to Alpha Virginis, abbreviated Alpha Vir, α Vir), the brightest object in the constellation Virgo, called Chitrā in Sanskrit.

This would be Ashvinī, an asterism that is part of the modern constellation Aries, and these compilations therefore may have been compiled during the centuries when the sun was passing through the area of the constellation Aries at the time of the vernal equinox. This version may have been called Meshādi or the “start of Aries”.

Ashvini is the first nakshatra (lunar mansion) in Hindu astrology having a spread from 0°-0′-0″ to 13°-20′, corresponding to the head of Aries, including the stars β and γ Arietis. The name aśvinī is used by Varahamihira (6th century). The older name of the asterism, found in the Atharvaveda (AVS 19.7; in the dual) and in Panini (4.3.36), was aśvayúj, (“harnessing horses”).

Ashvini is ruled by Ketu, the descending lunar node. In electional astrology, Asvini is classified as a small constellation, meaning that it is believed to be advantageous to begin works of a precise or delicate nature while the moon is in Ashvini. Asvini is ruled by the Ashvins, the heavenly twins who served as physicians to the gods. Personified, Asvini is considered to be the wife of the Asvini Kumaras. Ashvini is represented either by the head of a horse, or by honey and the bee hive.

By his spouse Ila, an androgyne deity in Hindu mythology known for their sex changes – as a man he is known as Sudyumna and as a woman is called Ilā – Budha had a son, king Pururavas, the first king of the Aila dynasty (“descendants of Ilā”), also known as the chandravamsha, the Somavaṃśa or the Lunar dynasty, one of the principal houses of the Kshatriya varna, or warrior–ruling caste.

This legendary Lunar dynasty of Indian kings was said to be descended from moon-related deities (Soma or Chandra). According to the Vedas, Pururavas is a mythological entity associated with Surya (the sun) and Usha (the dawn), and is believed to reside in the middle region of the cosmos.

The Rig Veda (X.95.18) states that Pururavas was a son of Ilā and was a pious king. However, the Mahabharata states that Ila was both his mother and his father. According to the Vishnu Purana, his father was Budha, and he was ancestor of the tribe of Pururavas, from whom descended the Kauravas and Pandavas.

Prithvi 

Prithvi (“the Vast One”) or Prithvi Mata (“Earth mother”) is the Sanskrit name for the earth as well as the name of a devi (goddess) in Hinduism and some branches of Buddhism. She is the primordial goddess of the Rigveda.She is also known as Bhūmi, also known as Bhudevi, Bhūmī-Devī or Padmavati, the Hindu avatar of goddess Prithvi representing Mother Earth.

Prithvi represented the female principle of fertility, and she was frequently praised by Vedic texts in this supportive capacity. She is the source of all vegetation, and thereby responsible for agricultural bounties. In her associations with such gifts, she was commonly symbolized as a cow. Prithu, an incarnation of Viṣṇu, milked her in cow’s form.

The Vedic cult also seems to have commemorated her nurturance in at least one ritual wherein a cake made of newly harvested barley or rice mixed with clarified butter was offered to the Sky father and mother earth. The offering may also have consisted exclusively of clarified butter, as this was considered the sap of the heaven and earth.

Hymns dedicated to Prithvi in the Vedas praise her for her sustaining fecudity as well as her incredible stability. The most significant of these hymns is that found in Atharva-veda 12.1, which emphasizes her nourishing dispensations and also identifies male sky or rain gods such as Indra, Parjanya, Prajapati and Viśvakarma as her protectors and/or consorts.

One of the oldest Aryan dieties, Prithvi shares many common traits with other Indo-European earth goddesses such as the Greek Gaia, in that she is personified as a mother and is closely paired with a fatherly sky god as her consort.

In fact, Prithvi is consort of both Vishnu and Dyaus Pita (“Father Sky”). As Pṛthvī Mātā (“Mother Earth”) Prithvi is complementary to Dyaus Pita. In the Rigveda, Earth and Sky are primarily addressed in the dual as Dyavapṛthivi, probably expressing the idea that earth and sky exist as complementary half-shells.

Rg Veda 6.70 suggests that eventually the two were seperated by the decree of Varuna (from the Sanskrit root vr, meaning “to surround”), a Vedic solar god who, in Hindu mythology, presided over the celestial ocean surrounding the earth. In ancient India, he enjoyed supremacy over the Vedic pantheon as the god of the universal law/moral order (rta), though he was eventually usurped by Indra, the god of storms.

Ancient Hinduism differentiated deities into two classes: asuras and devas. Originally, the asuras were elevated to the rank of sovereign gods and classified as Adityas, or sons of Aditi (“infinity”). Varuna was the most prominent of these gods.

As time progressed, other members of the Vedic pantheon, the subordinate devas such as Indra, Agni and Soma, would eventually eclipse Varuna in importance. The eventual rise of the devas to prominence lead the asuras to be seen as demonic.

Prthivi and Dyaus are considered the creators of the various living creatures, and together they also sired many divine children who became the progenitors of the rest of the Hindu pantheon.

Enumerated among their children is Indra, who eventually overthrew his father to become the supreme sky god. According to legend, when Indra killed Dyaus, Prithvi applauded his deed and then married him. Prthivi was also the mother of Agni, the god of fire. It is said that when Agni was born, Prithvi and Dyaus fled away from the fiery deity in fear.

In Buddhist texts and visual representations, Pṛthvī is described as both protecting Gautama Buddha and as being his witness for his enlightenment. Prithvi appears in Early Buddhism in the Pāli Canon, dispelling the temptation figure Mara by attesting to Gautama Buddha’s worthiness to attain enlightenment.

The Buddha is frequently depicted performing the bhūmisparśa or “earth-touching” mudrā as a symbolic invocation of the goddess. The bhūmisparśa or “earth witness” mudra of Gautama Buddha is one of the most common iconic images of Buddhism. Other names include “Buddha calling the earth to witness”, and “earth-touching”.

It depicts the story from Buddhist legend of the moment when Buddha achieved complete enlightenment, with Buddha sitting in meditation with his left hand, palm upright, in his lap, and his right hand touching the earth.

In the story the Buddha was challenged by the demon Mara, who asked him for a witness to attest his right to achieve it. In reply he touched the ground, asking Pṛthivi, the devi of the earth, that she witness his enlightenment, which she did.

Bhumi

Bhumi is the daughter of Prajapati (Prajāpati-Rajjan or Rajanya; “lord of creation and protector”), a Vedic deity of Hinduism, and the consort of the Hindu boar god Varaha (‘boar’), an Avatar of Vishnu. She is also considered one of the two divine wives of Vishnu himself along with Lakshmi; accordingly, Bhumi and related goddesses representing or personifying the earth often accompany incarnations of Vishnu.

She is known by various names such as Bhuma-Devi, Bhuvati, Bhuvaani, Bhuvaneshwari, Avni, Prithvi, Varahi ,Dharti, Dhaatri, Dharani, Vasudha, Vasundhara, Vaishnavi, Kashyapi, Urvi, Ira, Mahi, Ela, Vasumati, Dhanshika, Hema, and Hiranmaya; all of which refer to her sustaining beneficence as “that which holds everything.”

She is worshipped in patala and is depicted as seated on a platform which rests on the back of four elephants, representing the four directions of the world. She is usually depicted with four arms, respectively holding a pomegranate, a water vessel, a bowl containing healing herbs, and another bowl containing vegetables.

She is also sometimes depicted with two hands, the right hand holding a blue lotus known as Kumuda or Utpala, the night lotus, while the left hand may be in the Abhaya Mudra, the fearlessness or the Lolahasta Mudra, which is an aesthetic pose meant to mimic the tail of a horse.

With Varaha, Bhudevi bore a son by the name of Narakasura, who grew to become a powerful demon king, due in large part to a boon he received from Lord Brahma dictating that he could be killed by no being save for his mother.

With this capacity, Narakasura mistreated the gods and accumulated a harem of women numbering in the tens of thousands. His tyrannical reign lasted many eons, and eventually Vishnu took birth again in order to save the universe at the request of the gods, this time incarnated as Krishna.

Krishna took Satyabhama as his third wife, and she has subsequently been identified as an avatar of Bhudevi. When Satyabhama heard of the Narakasuara’s mistreatment of women, particularly the godly matriarch Aditi, she became enraged.

Krishna not only granted her his permission to fight the demonic despot, but he lent her Garuda as a mount to aid in her imminent battle. Satyabhama journeyed to the capital of Naraksura’s kingdom along with her husband and initiated a battle with the son she had birthed in her previous life.

She proved no match for his martial training, however. With Satyabhama pacified, Narakasura turned his attention to Krishna, wounding him with a surprise attack. Krishna fainted, reinvigorating the fury of Satyabhama.

She assaulted her son with increased ferocity and finally debilitated him with a mortal blow. As Narakasura took his last breaths, he made one final request of his mother: that his death be commemorated annually with a display colourful lights. Thus, this mythological event is celebrated each year during Diwali, the festival of lights.

Bhudevi continues the lineage of the earth goddess which has been a persistent element of Indo-European mythology as well as that of the entire world. Elements of Bhudevi have been present since Vedic times in the figure of Prthvi, and have continued on with other popular female figures such as Sita, Satyabhama, and Lakshmi, all of whom inherit characteristics of the earth goddess.

Aspects of this mytheme have also been associated with venerable Hindu women throughout history. For example, Andal, a tenth century Tamil saint and the only female included among the Alvars, is herself considered to be a manifestation of Bhudevi; accordingly, her hagiographies credit her birth to the soil underneath a Basil plant.

Varaha

Bhūmi is the consort of the boar god Varaha, also known as Yajna-varaha (‘sacrificial boar’), Varaha-deva (‘Divine Boar’), Dharani-Varaha (‘Boar that holds or maintains’), and Adivaraha (‘the first boar’). Varaha was originally described as a form of Brahma, but later on evolved into an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu.

Varaha takes the form of a boar as the embodiment of sacrifice and is commonly associated with the legend of lifting the earth. Varaha is listed as third in the Dashavatara, the ten principal avatars of Vishnu.

In Hindu mythology, when the demon Hiranyaksha tormented the earth (personified as the goddess Bhudevi) and its inhabitants, Bhudevi was sank into the primordial waters. Vishnu took the form of the Varaha, descended into the depths of the oceans to rescue her. Varaha slew the demon and retrieved the Earth from the ocean, lifting Bhudevi on his tusks, thereby restoring her place in the universe.

Varaha may be depicted completely as a boar or in an anthropomorphic form, with a boar’s head and human body. The rescued earth lifted by Varaha is often depicted as a young woman called Bhudevi. The earth may be depicted as a mass of land balanced on his tusk.

In the story of their pairing, Bhudevi takes on the role of the earth in its most literal, elemental form, while Varaha assumes the form of a boar. When mother earth is carried off by asuras and submerged under the vast ocean by the orders of the demon Hiranyaksha, Varaha comes to her aid, diving deep down into the great waters.

At ocean’s bottom he kills Hiranyaksha and steadies Bhudevi on his snout, carrying her above the water once again. He then maps the geography of the earth as it is known today, sculpting mountains and valleys, and dividing it into the continents.

In the Vishnu Purana, Varaha represents yajna (sacrifice), as the eternal upholder of the earth. Thus, states Vishnu Purana, the Varaha is the embodiment of the Supreme Being who brings order amidst chaos in the world by his sacrifice. Varaha symbolizes the resurrection of the earth. Roshen Dalal describes the symbolism of his iconography, in this text as follows:

“His feet represent the Vedas (scriptures). His tusks represent sacrificial stakes. His teeth are offerings. His mouth is the altar, tongue is the sacrificial fire. The hair on his head denotes the sacrificial grass. The eyes represent the day and the night. The head represents the seat of all. The mane represents the hymns of the Vedas. His nostrils are the oblation. His joints represent the various ceremonies. The ears are said to indicate rites (voluntary and obligatory).”

This mythological pairing of Bhudevi and Varaha is consistent with a common motif during the Puranic period which linked earth goddesses and the avatars of Vishnu. Other examples of this trend include Sita, wife of Vishnu’s incarnation Rama, and the divine couple Lakshmi (fittingly a goddess of fertility and plenty) and Vishnu himself.

The general storyline in these legends involves the despair of the incarnation’s earth-personifying consort as a result of her mistreatment by the powers of evil—the earth’s call for help subsequently triggers the descent of the sky god to restore dharma. This is hardly a surprising development, considering the typical associations made in Vedic mythology between earth goddess with the sky god.

A different interpretation of the Varaha iconography is one that describes the role of warrior king, rescuing goddess earth (kingdom) from a demon who kidnaps her, torments her and the inhabitants. It is a symbolism for the battle between right versus wrong, good versus evil, and of someone willing to go to the depths and do what is necessary to rescue the good, the right, the dharma.

He is the protector of the innocent goddess and the weak who have been imprisoned by the demonic forces. The sculpture typically show the symbolic scene of the return of Varaha after he had successfully killed the oppressive demon Hiranyaksha, found and rescued goddess earth (Prithivi, Bhudevi), and the goddess is back safely.

Whether in the zoomorphic form or the anthropomorphic form, the victorious hero Varaha is accompanied by sages and saints of Hinduism, all gods including Shiva and Brahma. This symbolizes that just warriors must protect the weak and the bearers of all forms of knowledge and that the gods approve of and cheer on the rescue.

Prajapati

Bhumi is the daughter of Prajapati. In classical and medieval era literature, Prajapati is equated to the metaphysical concept called Brahman as Prajapati-Brahman (Svayambhu Brahman), or alternatively Brahman is described as one who existed before Prajapati.

Prajapati is a compound of “praja” (creation, procreative powers) and “pati” (lord, master). The term means “lord of creatures”, or “lord of all born beings”. Prajapati is younger than Savitr, and the word was originally an epithet for the sun.

Savitṛ (Sanskrit: stem savitṛ-, nominative singular savitā) in Vedic mythology is an Aditya i.e. off-spring of the Vedic primeval mother goddess Aditi. His name in Vedic Sanskrit connotes “impeller, rouser, vivifier.”

He is sometimes associated with – and at other times distinguished from – Surya, “the Sun”. When considered distinct from the Sun proper, he is conceived of as the divine influence or vivifying power of the Sun.

The Sun before sunrise is called Savitr, and after sunrise until sunset it is called Sūrya. Savitr is celebrated in eleven whole hymns of the Rig Veda and in parts of many others, his name being mentioned about 170 times in aggregate.

Savitr disappeared as an independent deity from the Hindu pantheon after the end of the Vedic period, but in modern Hinduism his name occurs in the well-known Gayatri mantra (taken from book three of the Rigveda; RV 3.62.10), which is therefore also known as the Sāvitrī.

In the later Vedic texts, Prajapati is a distinct Vedic deity, but whose significance diminishes. Later, the term is synonymous with other gods, particularly Brahma or Vishnu or Shiva. Still later, the term evolves to mean any divine, semi-divine or human sages who create something new.

The origins of Prajapati are unclear. He appears late in the Vedic layer of texts, and the hymns that mention him provide different cosmological theories in different chapters. He is missing from the Samhita layer of Vedic literature, conceived in the Brahmana layer, states Jan Gonda.

His profile gradually rises in the Vedas, peaking within the Brahmanas. It has been posited that Prajapati originated as an abstract or semi-abstract deity in the later Vedic milieu as speculations evolved from the archaic to more learned speculations.

A possible connection between Prajapati (and related figures in Indian tradition) and the Prōtogonos (lit. “first-born”) of the Greek Orphic tradition has been proposed. Protogonos is the Orphic equivalent of Vedic Prajapati in several ways: he is the first god born from a cosmic egg, he is the creator of the universe, and in the figure of Dionysus – a direct descendant of Protogonos – worshippers participate in his death and rebirth.

The name of /PRA-JĀ[N]-pati/ (‘progeny-potentate’) is etymologically equivalent to that of the oracular god at Colophon, namely /prōtogonos/. The cosmic egg concept linked to Prajapati and Protogonos is common in many parts of the world, which appears in later Orphic cult in Greece.

In the medieval era texts of Hinduism, Prajapati refers to legendary agents of creation, working as gods or sages, who appear in every cycle of creation-maintenance-destruction (manvantara). Their numbers vary between 7, 10, 16 or 21.

Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, love, prosperity, fortune, luck, royalty, fertility and the embodiment of beauty. She is also known as the consort and active energy of Vishnu (the preserver god in the Hindu Trinity) and is particularly prominent in Sri-Vaishnavism, a devotional school of Hinduism, as well as in the Pancaratra, in which she is worshiped as the supreme creator.

She is also considered as the daughter of Durga in Bengali Hindu culture. In eastern India, Lakshmi is seen as a Devi. Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Parvati are typically conceptualised as distinct in most of India, but in states such as West Bengal and Odisha, they are regionally believed to be forms of Durga.

Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments. In Buddhist sects of Tibet, Nepal and southeast Asia, goddess Vasundhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of Hindu goddess Lakshmi, with minor iconographic differences.

Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-coloured woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness. She typically stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation.

Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life: dharma, kāma, artha and moksha. She is often depicted as part of the trinity (Tridevi) consisting of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati.

Also known as Shri or Thirumagal, because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or gunas, and is the divine strength of Vishnu, Lakshmi is physically depicted as a radiant goddess dressed in exquisite garments and precious jewels. Her expression is consistently calm and loving. She is often depicted seated or standing upon a lotus representing purity and beauty.

Shri, also transliterated as Shree, Sri, or Sree, is an Indian word denoting wealth and prosperity, primarily used as a honorific. Sriman means one who has Sri, i.e., the virtues or presence of beauty (material or non material), or whom Goddess Laxmi has not deserted. Hindus use a popular “yantra”, or mystical diagram, called Shri Yantra, to worship the goddess of wealth.

Lakshmi is also an important deity in Jainism and found in Jain temples. Lakshmi has also been a goddess of abundance and fortune for Buddhists, and was represented on the oldest surviving stupas and cave temples of Buddhism. In Buddhist sects of Tibet, Nepal and Southeast Asia, goddess Vasudhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi with minor iconographic differences.

In Hindu religion, she was born from the churning of the primordial ocean (Samudra manthan) and she chose Vishnu as her eternal consort. When Vishnu descended on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as his respective consort as Sita, Radha and Rukmini, the first and chief consort of Lord Krishna.

Krishna, the prince of Dwaraka, heroically kidnapped Rukmini and eloped with her to prevent an unwanted marriage at her request and saved her from evil Shishupala (described in the Bhagavata Purana). According to traditional accounts she is believed to have been born on Vaishakha 11 (Vaishakh Ekadashi).

In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings. Lakshmi is considered another aspect of the same supreme goddess principle in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.

In some depictions, Lakshmi is present in two forms, Bhudevi and Sridevi, which sit on either side of Vishnu. Bhudevi is her personification of fertility (Mother Earth), while Sridevi is her personification of wealth and knowledge. In pictures or sculptures of the Lakshmi-Narayana variety, Narayana (an epithet of Vishnu) is seated with a dramatically smaller version of the goddess on his left thigh.

There are a number of festivals that place specific focus upon Lakshmi in her relation to Vishnu. Lakshmi and Vishnu are celebrated as the archetypal figures of marital bliss, and Lakshmi is recognized in her role as a devoted wife.

She represents marital fidelity, longevity of the marital partner, fertility of crops, and acquisition or preservation of wealth. Considering the importance of these boons, and her reliable reputation for granting good luck, Lakshmi has established herself as one of the most widely worshiped Hindu deities.

In some circles, Lakshmi has been venerated to the rank of supremacy among the Hindu gods and goddesses. In the Pancaratra, an early school of Hinduism, Lakshmi is paramount in the creation of the universe, since she represents the shakti, or creative energy, of Vishnu. She is considered the sole active participant in creation, while Vishnu himself is relatively lax.

With this in mind, Lakshmi has come to embody the Pancharatra conception of the divine creator and ultimately the supreme divine principle. As such, she dominates the Pancaratra conception of the Absolute, and is the focus of their worship. In the Lakshmi-tantra, a popular Pancharatra devotional text, it is solely she, and not Vishnu, who bestows grace upon devotees.

Lakshmi’s traditionally accepted vehicle is the owl, a bird that sleeps through the day and prowls during the night. Lakshmi is also commonly pictured in the presence of one or more elephants, a symbol of royal authority. Sometimes, these elephants shower Lakshmi with water, which may serve to suggest the fertilizing power of rain.

It is also as common to see Lakshmi depicted beside Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. This is not surprising as Ganesha is comparable to Lakshmi in his ability to remove obstacles, bestow blessings of material wealth, and provide worshipers with good luck. Further, this association is consistent with Lakshmi’s prevalent connection to elephants.

Hindus worship Lakshmi most feverishly during Diwali, the festival of lights. Diwali is a time in which people pray for material prosperity. Many Hindus, particularly businessmen, can be seen worshiping their account books.

Meanwhile, farmers may offer sacrifices of goats and sheep in hopes of a bountiful harvest. They also sometimes pay visits to dunghills collected for the purpose of fertilizing future crops, where they genuflect before it in the hopes of ensuring abundant crops in the future.

Over the course of Diwali, clay images of the goddess along with those of Ganesha are worshiped throughout Northern India, in hopes of inheriting some of the good luck meted out by each deity. People also put small candles outside their homes in the hope that Lakshmi will stop by to bless them.

Additionally, Some Hindus believe that ghosts walk the earth at this time of the year and Bali emerges from the underworld so he can rule for a span of three days. During the festival Lakshmi is invoked so as to mitigate the effects of the demon king’s rule.

By lighting lamps and creating a cacophonous clatter of pots and pans, Hindus believe that they are assisting Lakshmi as she banishes another demon, her older sister Alakshmi, associate with misfortune.

There are a number of festivals that place specific focus upon Lakshmi in her relation to Vishnu. Lakshmi and Vishnu are celebrated as the archetypal figures of marital bliss, and Lakshmi is recognized in her role as a devoted wife.

During another festival involving the divine couple, Vishnu is said to leave his home in order to take on another consort for a brief period of time. In response, Lakshmi plays the role of a jealous wife, breaking Vishnu’s vehicle and temporarily locking him out of their home.

Lakshmi is worshiped during the Kaumudi-purnima festival where women venerate her on a mound of new grain, recounting a story of Lakshmi’s disappearance resulting in the subsequent deterioration of crops.

With her return comes the return of abundance, and so the women who carry out these rituals acknowledge Lakshmi’s ability to renew vigor in the crops. Likewise, Lakshmi is praised for this fecund ability during the Durga-Puja festival.

Apart from these festivals, Lakshmi is also a consistent focal point of vratas, religious vows made regularly by devotees asking for the blessing of the goddess while promising to undertake some act of devotion to her in return.

The boons requested or Lakshmi most commonly are marital fidelity, longevity of the marital partner, fertility of crops, and acquisition or preservation of wealth. Considering the importance of these boons, and her reliable reputation for granting good luck, Lakshmi has established herself as one of the most widely worshiped Hindu deities.

The Goddess, Kishijoten (lit. “Auspicious Heavens”), of Japan corresponds to Lakshmi. Kishijoten is the goddess of fortune and prosperity. Kishijoten is considered the sister of the deity Bishamon, also known as Tamon or Bishamon-ten; Bishamon protects human life, fights evil, and brings good fortune.

In ancient and medieval Japan, Kishijoten was the goddess worshiped for luck and prosperity, particularly on behalf of children. Kishijoten was also the guardian goddess of Geishas. While Bishamon and Kishijoten are found in ancient Chinese and Japanese Buddhist literature, their roots have been traced to deities in Hinduism.

Sita

Sita, the wife of the titular character Rama of the Ramayana (400 B.C.E.-400 AD), is the central female character and one of the central figures in the Hindu epic, Ramayana and its other versions. Sita is known for her dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity.

Hindu tradition reveres Sita. She is described as the daughter of the earth goddess, Bhūmi, the Hindu avatar of goddess Prithvi representing Mother Earth, and the adopted daughter of King Janaka of Videha and his wife, Queen Sunaina. She has a younger sister, Urmila, and the female cousins Mandavi and Shrutakirti.

She has been portrayed as an ideal daughter, an ideal wife and an ideal mother in various texts, stories, illustrations, movies, and modern media. Sita is the ideal of a woman in India and worshiped as God incarnate. Sita is typical of India – the idealized India. Sita was a true Indian by nature, one who never returned injury.

The actions, reactions, and instincts manifested by Sita at every juncture in a long and arduous life are deemed exemplary. Her story has been portrayed in the book Sitayanam. The values that she enshrined and adhered to at every point in the course of a demanding life are the values of womanly virtue held sacred by countless generations of Indians.

Sita is often worshipped with Rama or Ram, also known as Ramachandra, a major deity of Hinduism, as his consort. Rama is considered the type of the Absolute and Sita that of Power. The occasion of her marriage to Rama is celebrated as Vivaha Panchami. Rama is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna and Gautama Buddha. In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Being.

According to Ramayana, Sita was discovered in a furrow when Janaka was ploughing as a part of a yagna and adopted her.  Since Janaka was a king, it is likely that ploughing was part of a royal ritual to ensure fertility of the land.

The word Sīta was a poetic term, its imagery redolent of fecundity and the many blessings coming from settled agriculture. Sita is considered to be a child of Mother Earth, produced by union between the king and the land. Sita is a personification of Earth’s fertility, abundance, and well-being.

A female deity of agricultural fertility by the name Sita, derived from the Sanskrit word sīta, furrow, was known before Valmiki’s Ramayana, but was overshadowed by better-known goddesses associated with fertility.

The Sita of the Ramayana may have been named after a more ancient Vedic goddess Sita, who is mentioned once in the Rigveda as an earth goddess who blesses the land with good crops. In the Vedic period, she was one of the goddesses associated with fertility.

She is closely associated (if not identified) with Bhudevi. Sita’s name itself derives from the Sanskrit word sītā, or “the line made by the plow,” an obvious reference to her miraculous origin from a field in the Balakanda the first book of the epic. Hence, Sita is born not from the womb of a woman but rather from the womb of the earth itself, and for that reason she has been regarded as a daughter of Bhudevi.

Throughout the story, however, she becomes something of an earth goddess herself and therefore a representation of Bhudevi in her own right; after all, she is also identified in the Balakanda as an incarnation of Sri-Lakshmi, who herself has been related to the bounty of the earth and Bhudevi.

Sita, in the tradition of Bhudevi, continues this mytheme of the fertile, feminine earth, which is fructified by the masculine sky incarnate in the person of Rama. Considering that the Balakanda, along with its pointed divinization of its main characters, is widely agreed to be a later addition to the Ramayana, this suggests that these characteristics of the earth goddess were intentionally foisted upon Sita rather than aspects of her original character.

Sita, in her youth, chooses Rama, the prince of Ayodhya as her husband in a swayamvara — bride choosing the best from a crowd of suitors after a contest, where Rama proves his heroism and valor and martial power and “defeats” the other seekers for Seeta’s hand in marriage.

After the swayamvara, she accompanies her husband to his kingdom, but later chooses to accompany her husband, along with her brother-in-law Lakshmana, in his exile. While in exile, the trio settles in the Dandaka forest from where she is abducted by Ravana, the Rakshasa king of Lanka. She is imprisoned in Ashoka Vatika in Lanka until she is rescued by Rama, who slays her captor.

After the war, in some versions of the epic, Rama asks Sita to undergo Agni Pariksha (an ordeal of fire) by which she proves her purity before she is accepted by Rama, which for the first time makes his brother Lakshmana get angry at him.

In some versions of the epic, the fire-god Agni creates Maya Sita, who takes Sita’s place and is abducted by Ravana and suffers his captivity, while the real Sita hides in the fire. During the Agni Pariksha, Maya Sita and the real Sita exchange places again. While some texts say that Maya Sita is destroyed in the flames of Agni Pariksha, others narrate how she is blessed and reborn as the epic heroine Draupadi or the goddess Padmavati.

Some scriptures also mention her previous birth being Vedavati, a woman Ravana tries to molest. After proving her purity, Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya, where they are crowned as king and queen. After a few months, Sita becomes pregnant, to which a washerman makes insensitive comments on Sita to his wife, which Rama in disguise hears. Rama then sends Sita away on exile.

Lakshmana is the one who leaves Sita in the forests near sage Valmiki’s ashram. Years later, Sita returns to the womb of her mother, the Earth, for release from a cruel world as a testimony of her purity after she reunites her two sons Kusha and Lava with their father Rama.

In the Uttara-Kanda, the final book of (and another later addition to) Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama banishes Sita to the forest due to unsubstantiated public suspicions that she compromised her chastity under captivity of the demon-king Ravana.

Rama insists upon having Sita go through with the exile in spite of the fact that she has already survived the Agni pariksha – the harrowing task of walking through fire – in order to prove her chastity to him.

Later on Rama realizes the error of his ways and eventually seeks out Sita in the forest, begging for her return to Ayodhya. At this point Sita requests that Bhudevi take her back, and she is promptly swallowed into a cleft in the soil, never to be seen again.

Not only does this deus ex machina provide Sita with some measure of justice in the face of the intense suffering she has experienced, but it also reaffirms her inextricable connection with the earth mother.

Radha

The Goddess Radha, also called Radhika, Radharani, Radhe, Shyama, and Priya, was born on the eighth day of this month. The Sanskrit term Rādhā means “prosperity, success”. It is a common word and name found in various contexts in the ancient and medieval texts of India.

Radha is a goddess popular in Hinduism, especially in the Vaishnavism tradition. Radha is worshipped in some regions of India, particularly by Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Vaishnavas in West Bengal, Bangladesh Manipur, and Odisha. Elsewhere, she is revered in the Nimbarka Sampradaya and movements linked to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

She was born in Rawal and then moved to Barsana. She is said to be the head of the milkmaids as Pradhan Gopika (chief amongst all gopis) (also called the gopis or Braj Gopikas) who resided in Braj Dham. She is also called Vrindavaneshwari (Queen of the Sri Vrindavan Dham). She appeared as queen of milkmaids and queen of Vrindavan-Barsana.

Radha is an important goddess in the Vaishnavism traditions of Hinduism. Her traits, manifestations, descriptions, and roles vary by region. Since the earliest times, she has been associated with the cowherd Krishna, who is the speaker of the Bhagavad Gita. She is Shri Krishna’s first chief and eternal consort.

She is the personification of pure devotional service unto Sri Krishna (Bhakti Devi). She is thought of as the supreme Goddess in her own right and celebrated on the festive day of Radhastami. She and her consort Krishna are collectively known as Radha Krishna, the combined form of feminine as well as the masculine realities of God. Lord Krishna enacts leelas with Her.

She taught selfless love and surrender to Bhagavan Shri Krishna. She is the supreme goddess in Vaishnavism. Rasik sants have mentioned her as a descension of the Supreme Goddess, Source of the Infinite Lakshmi and the original form of Yogamaya and hladini Shakti (Power of Divine Love) which is main power of the Godhead Shree Krishna.

Shrimati Radharani is considered by some as a metaphor for the human spirit (aatma), her love and longing for Prabhu Shree Krishna is theologically viewed as symbolic of the human quest for spiritual growth and union with the divine. She has inspired numerous literary works, and her Rasa lila dance with Krishna has inspired many types of performance arts. She is said to be incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and Krishna is her husband Lord Vishnu’s incarnation as per some texts.

Rukmini

Rukmini (or Rukmani) is the first and chief consort of Lord Krishna, worshipped as the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu and also as the supreme God in his own right, the prince of Dwaraka. Krishna heroically kidnapped her and eloped with her to prevent an unwanted marriage at her request and saved her from evil Shishupala (described in the Bhagavata Purana).

According to traditional accounts, princess Rukmini is believed to have been born on Vaishakha 11 (Vaishakh Ekadashi). Rukmini was the daughter of Bhishmaka, the king of Vidarbha. Bhismaka was the vassal of King Jarasandha of Magadha.

She fell in love with and longed for Krishna, whose virtue, character, charm and greatness she had heard much of. Although born of an earthly king, her position as an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi is described throughout Puranic literature.

Diwali

Diwali, Divali, or Deepawali is the Hindu festival of lights, typically lasting five days and celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. The festival is widely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, but regional traditions connect it to Sita and Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, Durga, Kali, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman.

The religious significance of Diwali varies regionally within India. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists, although for each faith it marks different historical events and stories, but nonetheless the festival represents the same symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.

Mythical tales shared on Diwali vary widely depending on region and even within Hindu tradition, yet all share a common focus on righteousness, self-inquiry and the importance of knowledge, which is the path to overcoming the “darkness of ignorance”. The telling of these myths are a reminder of the Hindu belief that good ultimately triumphs over evil.

The festival is associated with a diversity of deities, traditions, and symbolism. These variations, states Constance Jones, may reflect diverse local autumn harvest festivals that fused into one pan-Hindu festival with a shared spiritual significance and ritual grammar while retaining local traditions.

One tradition links the festival to legends in the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Diwali is the day Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman reached Ayodhya after a period in exile and Rama’s army of good defeated demon king Ravana’s army of evil.

As per another popular tradition, in the Dwapara Yuga Period, Vishnu as incarnation of Krishna killed the Demon Narakasura, who was evil king of Pragjyotishapura, near present-day Assam and released 16000 girls captivated by Narakasura.

Diwali was celebrated as a significance of triumph of good over evil after Krishna’s Victory over Narakasura. The day before Diwali is remembered as Naraka Chaturdasi, the day on which Narakasura was killed by Krishna.

Many Hindus associate the festival with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and wife of Vishnu. Along with Lakshmi, who is representative of Vaishnavism, Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Parvati and Shiva of Shaivism tradition, is remembered as one who symbolises ethical beginnings and the remover of obstacles.

According to Pintchman, the start of the 5-day Diwali festival is stated in some popular contemporary sources as the day Goddess Lakshmi was born from Samudra manthan, the churning of the cosmic ocean of milk by the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (demons) – a Vedic legend that is also found in several Puranas such as the Padma Purana, while the night of Diwali is when Lakshmi chose and wed Vishnu.

Hindus of eastern India associate the festival with the goddess Durga, or her fierce avatar Kali (Shaktism), who symbolises the victory of good over evil. Hindus from the Braj region in northern India, parts of Assam, as well as southern Tamil and Telugu communities view Diwali as the day the god Krishna overcame and destroyed the evil demon king Narakasura, in yet another symbolic victory of knowledge and good over ignorance and evil.

Trade and merchant families and others also offer prayers to Saraswati, who embodies music, literature and learning and Kubera, who symbolises book-keeping, treasury and wealth management. In western states such as Gujarat, and certain northern Hindu communities of India, the festival of Diwali signifies the start of a new year.

In the lead-up to Diwali, celebrants will prepare by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes and workplaces. During the climax, revellers adorn themselves in their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas (oil lamps or candles), offer puja (worship) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared.

Dhanteras (from Dhan meaning “wealth” and teras meaning “thirteenth”) marks the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha (“Dark Fortnight”) in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar month of Kartik and is the first day that marks the festival of Diwali in India.

Dhanteras is a symbol of annual renewal, cleansing and an auspicious beginning for the next year. The term “Dhan” for this day also alludes to the Ayurvedic icon Dhanvantari, the god of health and healing, who is believed to have emerged from the “churning of cosmic ocean” on the same day as Lakshmi.

Dhanvantari, the god of health, who is also worshipped on the occasion of Dhanteras, is considered the God of Ayurveda who imparted the wisdom of Ayurveda for the betterment of mankind, and to help rid it of the suffering of disease.

On this day, many Hindus clean their homes and business premises. The day also marks a major shopping day to purchase new utensils, home equipment, jewellery, firecrackers, and other items.

Vasubaras marks the beginning of the celebration of Diwali festival. On Vasubaras, the Cow and her calf are worshipped. The Cow holds a very sacred place in the Vedic Mythology. Referred to as “Gau Mata”, she is worshipped and nurtured with the utmost respect. “Gau Mata” and her Prasad “Pancha Gavya”, or “Panchamrut”, are frequently used in all Hindu celebrations. Vasubaras is followed by Dhanteras.

They install diyas, small earthen oil-filled lamps that they light up for the next five days, near Lakshmi and Ganesha iconography. On the evening of Dhanteras, families offer prayers (puja) to Lakshmi and Ganesha, and lay offerings of puffed rice, candy toys, rice cakes and batashas (hollow sugar cakes).

Women and children decorate doorways within homes and offices with rangoli, colourful designs made from rice flour, flower petals and coloured sand, while the boys and men decorate the roofs and walls of family homes, markets, and temples.

On the night of Dhanteras, diyas (lamps) are ritually kept burning all through the nights in honor of Lakshmi and Dhanvantari. On this night, the lights are set out every night both in the sky lamps and as offerings at the base of a Tulsi plant and also in the form of diyas, which are placed in front of the doorways of homes.

This light is an offering to Yama, the Host of Death, to avert untimely death during the time of the Diwali festival. This day is a celebration aimed at increasing wealth and prosperity. Dhanteras engages themes of cleansing, renewal, and the securing of auspiciousness in the form of Lakshmi.

Aditi

Aditi (“limitless” or “boundless”) is a Vedic goddess in Hinduism, the personification of the infinite. She is the goddess of the sky, consciousness, the past, the future and fertility. She is the mother of the celestial deities, the Adityas, and is referred to as the mother of many gods including Vishnu and Agni.

The name is mentioned in Vedas as the mother of Surya (Sun) and other celestial bodies or gods, Âdityas (“sons of Aditi”). The first mention of Aditi is found in Rigveda, which is estimated to have been composed roughly during 1700-1100 BC.

In the Rigveda, Aditi is one of the most important figures of all. As a mothering presence, Aditi is often asked to guard the one who petitions her (Mandala 1.106.7; Mandala 8.18.6) or to provide him or her with wealth, safety, and abundance (Mandala 10.100; 1.94.15).

Aditi is usually mentioned in the Rigveda along with other gods and goddesses. There is no one hymn addressed exclusively to her, unlike other Vedic gods. She is perhaps not related to a particular natural phenomenon like other gods. Compared to Ushas and Prithvi, Aditi can be defined as the cosmic creator.

Aditi means Freedom. The name Aditi includes the root “da” (to bind or fetter) and suggests another attribute of her character. As A-diti, she is an unbound, free soul and it is evident in the hymns to her that she is often called to free the petitioner from different hindrances, especially sin and sickness (Mandala 2.27.14).

In one hymn, she is asked to free a petitioner who has been tied up like a thief (Mandala 8.67.14). As one who unbinds, her role is similar to her son Varuna’s as guardian of Rta, cosmic moral order. She is called the supporter of creatures (Mandala 1.136). It also means ‘one of its kind’ or ‘unique.’

Aditi challenges the modern idea that the Vedic peoples were patriarchal. Aditi was attributed the status of first deity by the Vedic culture, although she is not the only one attributed this status in the Vedas. She is addressed, in the Rigveda as “Mighty”.

Most prehistoric civilizations venerated a dual principle, Sky Father and Earth Mother, which appears to be borrowed from the concept of Prithvi and Dyaus Pita. Aditi was regarded as both the sky goddess, and earth goddess, which is very rare for a prehistoric civilization.

Like many other Hindu gods and goddesses, Aditi has a savari (a mount). Aditi flies across the boundless sky on a phoenix. The phoenix symbolizes strength and honour. Her weapons include the famous Trishula and a sword.

As celestial mother of every existing form and being, the synthesis of all things, she is associated with space (akasa) and with mystic speech (Vāc). She may be seen as a feminized form of Brahma and associated with the primal substance (mulaprakriti) in Vedanta. She is mentioned nearly 80 times in the Rigveda.

Aditi is a daughter of Daksha and Panchajani, the mother of kings (Mandala 2.27) and the mother of many gods and goddesses (Mandala 1.113.19). The verse “Daksha sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Daksha” is seen by Theosophists as a reference to “the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine Essence” and divine wisdom.

In the Vedas, Aditi is Devamata (mother of the celestial gods) as from and in her cosmic matrix all the heavenly bodies were born. She is preeminently the mother of 12 Âdityas, whose names include Vivasvān, Aryamā, Pūṣā, Tvaṣṭā, Savitar, Bhaga, Dhātā, Varuṇa, Mitra, Śakra, and Vishnu (Lord Vishnu was born in his Vamana avatar to her).

The Puranas, such as the Shiva Purana and the Bhagavata Purana, suggest that Aditi is wife of Rishi Kashyapa (“turtle”), the most ancient rishi or revered Vedic sage listed in the colophon verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Together they gave birth to the Adityas such as Indra, Surya, a Sanskrit word that means the Sun, and Vamana. Aditi with sage Kashyapa had 33 sons, out of which twelve are called Âdityas including Surya, eleven are called Rudras and eight are called Vasus.

She is also the mother of the Vamana (lit. “dwarf”), the fifth avatar of Hindu god Vishnu. Accordingly, Lord Vishnu was born in his Vamana avatar as the son of Aditi in the month of Shravana (fifth month of the Hindu Calendar, also called Avani) under the star Shravana. Many auspicious signs appeared in the heavens, foretelling the good fortune of this child.

Aditi is said to be the mother of the great god Indra, who is a Vedic deity in Hinduism, a guardian deity in Buddhism, and the king of the highest heaven called Saudharmakalpa in Jainism. In the Vedas, Indra is the king of Svarga (Heaven) and the Devas. He is the god of the heavens, lightning, thunder, storms, rains, river flows, and war. Indra is the most referred to deity in the Rigveda.

Indra, as the Vedic Dyáuṣ Pitṛ́, is the central element of the Pancha Bhoota. His mythologies and powers are similar, though not identical, to other Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perun, Perkūnas, Taranis, Zeus, and Thor, that are hypothesized to be variants of the Proto-Indo-European Sky fathers (Dyēus Phter).

He is celebrated for his powers, and the one who kills the great symbolic evil (malevolent type of Asura) named Vritra who obstructs human prosperity and happiness. Indra destroys Vritra and his “deceiving forces”, and thereby brings rains and the sunshine as the friend of mankind.

His importance diminishes in the post-Vedic Indian literature where he is depicted as a powerful hero but one who is getting in trouble with his drunken, hedonistic and adulterous ways, and the god who disturbs Hindu monks as they meditate because he fears self-realized human beings may become more powerful than him.

Indra’s iconography shows him wielding a lightning thunderbolt known as Vajra, riding on a white elephant known as Airavata. In Buddhist iconography the elephant sometimes features three heads, while Jaina icons sometimes show the elephant with five heads. Sometimes a single elephant is shown with four symbolic tusks. Indra’s heavenly home is on or near Mount Meru (also called Sumeru).

Kashyapa is mentioned in numerous Hindu texts such as the Puranas and the Hindu Epics. These stories are widely inconsistent, and many are considered allegorical. For example, in the Ramayana, he is married to the eight daughters of Daksha, while in the Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana he is described as married to thirteen daughters.

Bhadra

In Vedic texts, the Kanya month is called Nabhasya, but in these ancient texts it has no zodiacal associations. In Vedic Jyotisha or Jyotishya (from Sanskrit jyotiṣa, from jyóti- “light, heavenly body”), the traditional Hindu system of astrology, also known as Hindu astrology, and more recently Vedic astrology, Bhadra begins with the Sun’s entry into Virgo, and is usually the sixth month of the year.

Bhadro is the fifth month in the Bengali calendar. It is named after the star Purbobhadropod. Bhadro marks the beginning of Autumn. According to the modified calendar developed by the Bangla Academy, the month of Bhadro has 31 days. Bhadro spans from mid August to mid September in the Gregorian Calendar.

In India’s national civil calendar (Shaka calendar), Bhadra is the sixth month of the year, beginning on 23 August and ending on 22 September. Bhadra, also Bhadrapada, Bhaado or Bhadraba, is a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds to August/September in the Gregorian calendar. In lunar religious calendars, Bhadra begins on the new moon in August/September and is the sixth month of the year.

The festival of Ganesha Chaturthi, celebrating the birthday of Ganesha, is observed from the 4-10 Bhadrapada in the bright fortnight and is the main holiday of the year in Maharashtra. Per Shaka calendar, the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada is reserved for the veneration of the dead. This period is known as Pitru Paksha.

According to the Vaishnava, Hrishikesh, another name of Hindu God Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism, governs this month. The Goddess Radha was born on the eighth day of the month of Bhadrapada.

Puruttasi

Purattasi Sani or Tirumala Shanivara is a Hindu festival celebrated in some parts of South India including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Hindu deity, Venkateswara, is worshiped during this festival. It is celebrated during the Tamil month of Purattasi, which generally falls in the months of September and October of the Gregorian calendar.

Puratasi Masam is of great importance as it is believed that Lord Venkateswara, also known as Śrīnivāsa, Bālājī, Vēṅkaṭa, Venkata Ramana, Vēṅkaṭāchalapati, Tirupati Timmappa and Govindha, a form of the Hindu god Vishnu, appeared on the earth in this month.

Lord Vishnu devotees consider this as the ideal month for thanking Lord Vishnu for preserving the Universe at the end of Kali Yuga. All the Saturdays of this month are treated as holy days and Devotees gather in large number at Lord Vishnu temples and special prayers are offered.

Particularly the Odd Saturdays first, third, fifth are of more importance. Tirumala Annual Navarathri Brahmotsavam were also observed during this month where Tirumala will be flooded with lakhs of devotees. Some people will take only vegetarian food during this month.

Vaishnavas, one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Vishnu as the Supreme Being, and some Shivites, who reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being, fast during the whole month of “Purattasi” in Tamil Nadu and visit Vaishnav temples on Saturday.

Ganesha Chaturthi

Ganesha, also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka, or by numerous other names, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains and Buddhists.

Ganesha likely emerged as a deity as early as the 2nd century CE, but most certainly by the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors.

Hindu mythology identifies him as the restored son of Parvati and Shiva of the Shaivism tradition, but he is a pan-Hindu god found in its various traditions. In the Ganapatya tradition of Hinduism, Ganesha is the supreme deity.

The principal texts on Ganesha include the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Brahma Purana and Brahmanda Purana are other two Puranic genre encyclopaedic texts that deal with Ganesha.

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. He is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom.

As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rites and ceremonies. He is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits.

Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating the birthday of Ganesha, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi (Vināyaka Chaturthī), is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of Ganesha to earth from ‘Kailash Parvat’ with his mother goddess Parvati/Gauri. The festival is observed from the 4-10 Bhadrapada in the bright fortnight.

The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stages). Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as, prayers and brata (fasting). Offerings and prasadam from the daily prayers, that are distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka as it is believed to be a favorite of Lord Ganesh.

The festival ends on the tenth day after start, when the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea. Thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva.

The festival celebrates Lord Ganesha as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India. In Goa, Ganesh Chaturthi is known as Chavath in Konkani and Parab or Parva (“auspicious celebration”); it begins on the third day of the lunar month of Bhadrapada. On this day Parvati and Shiva are worshiped by women, who fast.

Pitru Paksha

Per Shaka calendar, the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada is reserved for the veneration of the dead. This period is known as Pitru Paksha, also spelt as Pitri paksha, Pitr Paksha (literally “fortnight of the ancestors”).

Pitru Paksha is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestor (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitru Pakshya, Pitri Pokkho, Sola Shraddha (“sixteen shraddhas”), Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya Paksha and Apara paksha.

Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or Tarpan. In southern and western India, it falls in the 2nd paksha (fortnight) Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September) and follows the fortnight immediately after Ganesh Utsav.

It begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as Sarvapitri amavasya, Pitru Amavasya, Peddala Amavasya, Mahalaya amavasya or simply Mahalaya. Most years, the autumnal equinox falls within this period, i.e. the Sun transitions from the northern to the southern hemisphere during this period.

In North India and Nepal, and cultures following the purnimanta calendar or the solar calendar, this period may correspond to the waning fortnight of the luni-solar month Ashvin, instead of Bhadrapada. At the end of Pitru Paksha Devi Paksha begins.

According to Hinduism, the souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor reside in Pitru–loka, a realm between heaven and earth. This realm is governed by Yama, the god of death, who takes the soul of a dying man from earth to Pitru–loka.

When a person of the next generation dies, the first generation shifts to heaven and unites with God, so Shraddha offerings are not given. Thus, only the three generations in Pitru–loka are given Shraddha rites, in which Yama plays a significant role.

According to the sacred Hindu epics, at the beginning of Pitru Paksha, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Virgo (Kanya). Coinciding with this moment, it is believed that the spirits leave Pitru–loka and reside in their descendants’ homes for a month until the sun enters the next zodiac – Scorpio (Vrischika) – and there is a full moon. Hindus are expected to propitiate the ancestors in the first half, during the dark fortnight.

When the legendary donor Karna died in the epic Mahabharata war, his soul transcended to heaven, where he was offered gold and jewels as food. However, Karna needed real food to eat and asked Indra, the lord of heaven, the reason for serving gold as food.

Indra told Karna that he had donated gold all his life, but had never donated food to his ancestors in Shraddha. Karna said that since he was unaware of his ancestors, he never donated anything in their memory.

To make amends, Karna was permitted to return to earth for a 15–day period, so that he could perform Shraddha and donate food and water in their memory. This period is now known as Pitru Paksha. In some legends, Yama replaces Indra.

Ashvin

Ashvin is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Vikram Samvat, which is the official solar calendar of modern-day Nepal and India, and the sixth month in the solar Bengali calendar and seventh in the lunar Indian national calendar of the Deccan Plateau.

It falls in the season of Shôrot, (Hindi Sharad) or Autumn. In Vedic Jyotish, Ashwin begins with the Sun’s enter in Virgo. It overlaps September and October of the Gregorian calendar and is the month preceding Diwali or Tihar the festival of lights. In lunar religious calendars, Ashwin begins on the new moon after the autumn equinox. Ashwin is known as aipasi in Tamil and begins when the sun enters Libra in October.

Ashvini is the first star that appears in the evening sky. In the Indian astrology it is the head of Aries, or the first of the 27 Nakshatra. Ashvin also stands for the divine twins, the Ashvins, the gods of vision, Ayurvedic medicine, the glow of sunrise and sunset, and averting misfortune and sickness in Hindu mythology. Asawin is the Thai variant of Ashvin and stands for the warrior. The term is often translated into English as “knight”.

Kartika

The Hindu Lunisolar month Karthikai, Kartika, Karthika or Kartik or Kartika maasam is a month in Hindu calendar that typically overlaps with mid-October and mid-November of the Gregorian calendar. The name of the month is derived from the name of the star Krittika, sometimes known as Kārtikā.  It marks the start of the dry season.

In the reformed Indian national civil calendar it is the eighth month of the year. It corresponds with the months of October/November in the Gregorian Calendar. It is the seventh month of the Bengali Calendar and in the Bikram Sambat calendar of Nepal, which is also that country’s official calendar. It begins in mid-October of the Gregorian calendar.

It is the eighth month of the Tamil calendar used by Tamils across the world. It corresponds to November/December in the Gregorian calendar. It begins when the sun enters the sign of Scorpio. Many festivals, such as Karthikai Deepam, are celebrated in this month.

Vishnu

Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, and is notable for adopting various incarnations (avatars such as Rama and Krishna) to preserve and protect dharmic principles whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces.

He is seen as the “preserver” in the Hindu triad (Trimurti), the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Shiva. In the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism Vishnu is also one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja.

In Vaishnavism, also called Vishnuism, one of the major Hindu denominations along with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism, Vishnu is revered as the supreme being, identical to the metaphysical concept of Brahman (Atman, the self, or unchanging ultimate reality).

Vaishnavism is notable for its avatar doctrine, wherein Vishnu is revered in one of many distinct incarnations or avatars to preserve and protect dharmic principles whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces. Rama, Krishna, Narayana, Kalki, Hari, Vithoba, Kesava, Madhava, Govinda, Srinathji and Jagannath are among the popular names used for the same supreme being.

The tradition has traceable roots to the 1st millennium BCE, as Bhagavatism, also called Krishnaism. Later developments led by Ramananda created a Rama-oriented movement, now the largest monastic group in Asia. The Vaishnava tradition has many sampradayas (denominations, sub-schools) ranging from the medieval era Dvaita school of Madhvacharya to Vishishtadvaita school of Ramanuja.

The tradition is known for the loving devotion to an avatar of Vishnu (often Krishna), and it has been key to the spread of the Bhakti movement in South Asia in the 2nd millennium CE. Key texts in Vaishnavism include the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Pancaratra (Agama) texts and the Bhagavata Purana.

Shiva

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) also known as Mahadeva (lit. the great god) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.

The “The Destroyer” in the Hindu triad (Trimurti), Shiva is revered as the supreme being in Shaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe.  It considers both the Vedas and the Agama texts as important sources of theology.

In the Shaktism tradition (Sanskrit: Śāktaḥ, lit., “doctrine of energy, power, the eternal Goddess”), a major tradition of Hinduism, wherein the metaphysical reality is considered metaphorically feminine and Adi Parashakti is supreme, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma.

Shaktism is a major tradition of Hinduism, wherein the metaphysical reality is considered metaphorically feminine and Adi Parashakti is supreme. It includes a variety of Goddesses, all considered aspects of the same supreme Goddess. Shaktism has different sub-traditions, ranging from those focused on gracious Gauri to fierce Kali, and some Shakti sub-traditions associate their Goddess with Shiva or Brahma or Vishnu.

Shaktism’s ideas have influenced Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions, with the Goddess considered the Shakti of Vishnu and Shiva respectively, and revered prominently in numerous Hindu temples and festivals. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Lakshmi the equal complementary partner of Vishnu and Parvati (Sati) the equal complementary partner of Shiva.

Ishvara is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, depending on the context, Ishvara can mean supreme soul, ruler, lord, king, queen or husband. In medieval era Hindu texts, depending on the school of Hinduism, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self.

In Shaivism, Ishvara is synonymous with “Shiva”, sometimes as Maheshvara or Parameshvara meaning the “Supreme lord”, or as an Ishta-deva (personal god). Similarly for Vaishnavists it is synonymous with Vishnu. In traditional Bhakti movements, Ishvara is one or more deities of an individual’s preference from Hinduism’s polytheistic canon of deities. In Yoga school of Hinduism, it is any “personal deity” or “spiritual inspiration”.

There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.

The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of Lingam.

Shaivism theology ranges from Shiva being the creator, preserver, and destroyer to being the same as the Atman (self, soul) within oneself and every living being. According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Ishvar or Supreme being is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe.

The Shaiva have many sub-traditions ranging from devotional dualistic theism such as Shaiva Siddhanta to yoga-oriented monistic non-theism such as Kashmiri Shaivism. It is closely related to Shaktism, and some Shaiva worship in Shiva and Shakti temples. It is the Hindu tradition that most accepts ascetic life and emphasizes yoga, and like other Hindu traditions encourages an individual to discover and be one with Shiva within.

Shaivism has ancient roots, traceable in the Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE, but this is in the form of the Vedic deity Rudra. The ancient text Shvetashvatara Upanishad dated to late 1st millennium BCE mentions terms such as Rudra, Shiva and Maheshwaram, but its interpretation as a theistic or monistic text of Shaivism is disputed.

In the early centuries of the common era is the first clear evidence of Pāśupata Shaivism. Both devotional and monistic Shaivism became popular in the 1st millennium CE, rapidly becoming the dominant religious tradition of many Hindu kingdoms. It arrived in Southeast Asia shortly thereafter, leading to the construction of thousands of Shaiva temples on the islands of Indonesia as well as Cambodia and Vietnam, co-evolving with Buddhism in these regions.

Krishna

Krishna is a major deity in Hinduism. He is worshipped as the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu and also as the supreme God in his own right. He is the god of compassion, tenderness, and love in Hinduism, and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities.

Krishna’s birthday is celebrated every year by Hindus on Krishna Janmashtami according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar, which falls in late August or early September of the Gregorian calendar. Krishna is usually depicted with a flute in his hand.

The anecdotes and narratives of Krishna’s life are generally titled as Krishna Leela. He is a central character in the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana and the Bhagavad Gita, and is mentioned in many Hindu philosophical, theological, and mythological texts.

They portray him in various perspectives: a god-child, a prankster, a model lover, a divine hero, and as the universal supreme being. His iconography reflects these legends, and shows him in different stages of his life, such as an infant eating butter, a young boy playing a flute, a young boy with Radha or surrounded by women devotees, or a friendly charioteer giving counsel to Arjuna.

The Ficus religiosa tree is considered sacred by the followers of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “I am the Peepul tree among the trees, Narada among the sages, Chitraaratha among the Gandharvas, And sage Kapila among the Siddhas.”

Ficus religiosa

Ficus religiosa or sacred fig is a species of fig native to the Indian subcontinent and Indochina that belongs to Moraceae, the fig or mulberry family. It is also known as the bodhi tree, pippala tree, peepul tree, peepal tree or ashwattha tree (in India and Nepal).

Ficus religiosa is a large dry season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30 metres (98 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 3 metres (9.8 ft). The leaves are cordate in shape with a distinctive extended drip tip; they look like representing the female genitale, the vagina, also known as the vulva, or a leaf from the tree of life.

The leaves are 10–17 centimetres (3.9–6.7 in) long and 8–12 centimetres (3.1–4.7 in) broad, with a 6–10 centimetres (2.4–3.9 in) petiole. The fruits are small figs 1–1.5 centimetres (0.39–0.59 in) in diameter, green ripening to purple.

F. religiosa is a tree having a very long lifespan, with an average life ranging between 900–1,500 years. At some of its native habitats, it has been reportedly found living for over 3,000 years. Some trees have been reported to be more than 2,000 years old, like the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a peepal tree in the ancient city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka which is estimated to be more than 2,250 years old and is regarded as the “Oldest historical tree in the world with religious importance”.

The sacred fig is considered to have a religious significance in three major religions that originated on the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Hindu and Jain ascetics consider the tree to be sacred and often meditate under them and this is the tree under which Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.

Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment (bodhi) while meditating underneath a Ficus religiosa. The site is in present-day Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India. The original tree was destroyed, and has been replaced several times. A branch of the original tree was rooted in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka in 288 BCE and is known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi; it is the oldest living human-planted flowering plant (angiosperm) in the world.

In Theravada Buddhist Southeast Asia, the tree’s massive trunk is often the site of Buddhist or animist shrines. Not all Ficus religiosa can be called a Bodhi Tree. A Bodhi Tree must be able to trace its parent to another Bodhi Tree and the line goes on until the first Bodhi Tree under which Gautama is said to have gained enlightenment.

Sadhus (Hindu ascetics) still meditate beneath sacred fig trees, and Hindus do pradakshina (circumambulation, or meditative pacing) around the sacred fig tree as a mark of worship. Usually seven pradakshinas are done around the tree in the morning time chanting “vriksha rajaya namah”, meaning “salutation to the king of trees.”

It claimed that the 27 stars (constellations) constituting 12 houses (rasis) and 9 planets are specifically represented precisely by 27 trees—one for each star. The Bodhi Tree is said to represent Pushya (Western star name γ, δ and θ Cancri in the Cancer constellation).

Plaksa is a possible Sanskrit term for Ficus religiosa. However, according to Macdonell and Keith (1912), it denotes the wavy-leaved fig tree (Ficus infectoria) instead. In Hindu texts, the Plaksa tree is associated with the source of the Sarasvati River.

The Skanda Purana states that the Sarasvati originates from the water pot of Brahma flows from Plaksa on the Himalayas. According to Vamana Purana 32.1-4, the Sarasvati was rising from the Plaksa tree (Pipal tree). Plaksa Pra-sravana denotes the place where the Sarasvati appears. In the Rigveda Sutras, Plaksa Pra-sravana refers to the source of the Sarasvati.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: