Vayu, on his mount, the gazelle symbolizing swiftness
|Affiliation||Deva, Guardians of the directions|
|Mantra||Om Vayuve namaha|
Vāyu Deva (Sanskrit: वायु, IAST: Vāyu, Sanskrit pronunciation: [ʋɑːyu]; Malay: Bayu, Thai: พระพาย (Phra Phai)) is a primary Hindu deity, the Lord of the winds, the father of Bhima and the spiritual father of Lord Hanuman. He is also known as Vāta (वात), Pavana (पवन, the Purifier), and sometimes Prāṇa (प्राण, the breath).
As the word for air, (Vāyu) or wind (Pavana) is one of the Panchamahābhuta or five great elements. The Sanskrit word 'Vāta' literally means "blown", 'Vāyu' "blower", and 'Prāna' "breathing" (viz. the breath of life, cf. the *an- in 'animate'). Hence, the primary referent of the word is the "deity of Life", who is sometimes for clarity referred to as "Mukhya-Vāyu" (the chief Vāyu) or "Mukhya Prāna" (the chief of Life).
Sometimes the word "vayu," which is more generally used in the sense of the physical air or wind, is used as a synonym for "prāna". There is however a separate set of five deities of Prāna (vital breath), Mukhya-Prāna being chief among them, so that, in Hindi,தமிழ்(Tamil) and other Indian languages, someone's death is stated as "his lives departed" (uske prān nikal gaye) rather than "his life departed." These five Vāyu deities, Prāna, Apāna, Vyāna, Udāna, and Samāna, control life (and the vital breath, circulatory system), the wind (respiratory system), touch/sensation (nervous system), digestion, and excretion.
Vāta, an additional name for Vāyu, is the root of the Sanskrit and Hindi term for "atmosphere", vātāvaran (वातावरण).
In the Mahabharata, Bheema was the son of Vāyu and played a major role in the Kurukshetra war. He utilised his huge power and skill with the mace for supporting Dharma.
Hindu texts and philosophy
Tattva – Mahābhūta
Wŭ Xíng (五行)
In the hymns, Vayu is "described as having 'exceptional beauty' and moving noisily in his shining coach, driven by two or forty-nine or one-thousand white and purple horses. A white banner is his main attribute." Like the other atmospheric deities, he is a "fighter and destroyer", "powerful and heroic."
In the Upanishads there are numerous statements and illustrations of the greatness of Vāyu. The Brhadaranyaka states that the gods who control bodily functions once engaged in a contest to determine who among them is the greatest. When a deity such as that of vision would leave a man's body, that man would continue to live, albeit as a blind man and having regained the lost faculty once the errant deity returned to his post. One by one the deities all took their turns leaving the body, but the man continued to live on, though successively impaired in various ways. Finally, when Mukhya Prāna started to leave the body, all the other deities started to be inexorably pulled off their posts by force, "just as a powerful horse yanks off pegs in the ground to which he is bound." This caused the other deities to realize that they can function only when empowered by Vayu, and can be overpowered by him easily. In another episode, Vāyu is said to be the only deity not afflicted by demons of sin who were on the attack. The Chandogya states that one cannot know Brahman except by knowing Vāyu as the udgitha (the mantric syllable "om").
- The Book of Hindu Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning By Eva Rudy Jansen p. 68
- Eva Rudy Jansen, Tony Langham (1993), The book of Hindu imagery: The Gods and their Symbols, Binkey Kok Publications, ISBN 90-74597-07-6,
... God of the wind ... also known as Vata or Pavan ... exceptional beauty ... moves on noisily in his shining coach ... white banner ...
- Raju, P.T. (1954), "The concept of the spiritual in Indian thought", Philosophy East and West 4 (3): 195–213, doi:10.2307/1397554, JSTOR 1397554.
- Vijaya Ghose, Jaya Ramanathan, Renuka N. Khandekar (1992), Tirtha, the treasury of Indian expressions, CMC Limited, ISBN 978-81-900267-0-3,
... God of the winds ... Another name for Vayu is Vata (hence the present Hindi term for 'atmosphere, 'vatavaran). Also known as Pavana (the purifier), Vayu is lauded in both the ...
- Sukumari Bhattacharji (1984), Literature in the Vedic age, K.P. Bagchi,
... The other atmospheric gods are his associates: Vayu-Vatah, Parjanya, the Rudras and the Maruts. All of them are fighters and destroyers, they are powerful and heroic ...