Aśvins

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Aśvins
Gods of Health and Medicine; The Divine Physicians of the Gods
Ashwini Kumaras-L.jpg
Ashwini Kumaras
AffiliationNasatya and Dasra
MountGolden Chariot
Personal information
ConsortJyoti (Goddess of the human body) (wife of Ashivin Nasatya)
Mayandri (Goddess of Magic) (wife of Ashvin Dasra)
ChildrenSatyavir (son of Nasatya and god of recovery), Damraj (son of Dasra and god of leaves), Nakula (son of Nasatya), Sahadeva (son of Dasra)
ParentsSaranyu and Surya

The Aśvins, or Ashwini Kumaras (Vedic Sanskrit: अश्विन्, aśvin, dual aśvinau; "horse possessors"; also spelled Ashvins),[1] 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.[2]

Origin[edit]

The Aśvins are an instance of the Proto-Indo-European divine horse twins.[3][4][2] 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.[3] The first mention of the Nasatya twins is from the Mitanni documents of the second millennium BCE, where they are invoked in a treaty between Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, respectively kings of the Hittites and the Mitanni.[5]

Names[edit]

In the Rigveda, the Aśvins are always referred to in the dual, and do not have individual names,[2] although Vedic texts differentiate between the two Aśvins: "one of you is respected as the victorious lord of Sumakha, and the other as the fortunate son of heaven" (RV 1.181.4). They are called several times divó nápātā, "sons of Dyaús (the sky-god)".[6]

The twin gods are also referred to as Nā́satyā (possibly "saviours"; a derivate of nasatí, "safe return home"), a name that appears 99 times in the Rigveda.[6] The epithet likely derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *nes-, "to return home (safely)", with cognates in Avestan Nā̊ŋhaiθya, the name of a demon in the Zoroastrian religious system, in Greek Nestor and in Gothic nasjan ("save, heal").[1][7]

Role[edit]

The Aśvins are often associated with rescuing mortals and bringing them back to life. Rebha was bound, stabbed, and cast into the waters for nine days and ten nights before being saved by the twins. He was explicitly described as "dead" (mamṛvā́ṃsam) when the twins "raised (him) up" (úd airayatam) to save him (RV 10.39.9). Similarly, Bhujyu was saved after his father or evil companions abandoned him at sea, when the twins “[brought] (him) home from the dead ancestors” (niváhantā pitṛ́bhya ā́, 1.119.4)[1] The Rigveda also describes the Aśvins as "bringing light":[2] they gave "light-bringing help" (svàrvatīrūtī́r, 1.119.8) to Bhujyu, and "raised (Rebha) up to see the sun" (údaírayataṃ svàr dṛśé, 1.112.5).[1]

The Aśvins are invoked at dawn, the time of their principal sacrifice, and have a close connection with the dawn goddess, Uṣas: she is bidden to awaken them (8.9.17), they follow her in their chariot (8.5.2), she is born when they hitch their steeds (10.39.12), and their chariot is once said to arrive before her (1.34.10).[1] They are consequently associated with the "return from darkness": the twins are called “darkness slayers” (tamohánā, 3.39.3), they are invoked with the formula "you who have made light for mankind" (yā́vjyótir jánāya cakráthuḥ, 1.92.17), and their horses and chariot are described as "uncovering the covered darkness" (aporṇuvántas táma ā́ párīvṛtam, 4.45.2).[1]

Birth of Ashwinikumar

In Hindu sacred texts[edit]

Rigveda[edit]

The Aśvins are mentioned 398 times in the Rigveda,[1] with more than 50 hymns specifically dedicated to them:[2] 1.3, 1.22, 1.34, 1.46–47, 1.112, 1.116–120, 1.157–158, 1.180–184, 2.20, 3.58, 4.43–45, 5.73–78, 6.62–63, 7.67–74, 8.5, 8.8–10, 8.22, 8.26, 8.35, 8.57, 8.73, 8.85–87, 10.24, 10.39–41, 10.143.

Your chariot, o Aśvins, swifter than mind, drawn by good horses, comes to the clans.
By which (chariot) you go to the home of the good ritual performer, by that, o men, travel your course to us.
You free Atri, the seer of the five peoples, from narrow straits, from the earth cleft along with his band, o men—confounding the wiles of the merciless Dasyu, driving them out, one after another, o bulls.
O Aśvins—you men, you bulls—by your wondrous powers you draw back together the seer Rebha, who bobbed away in the waters, like a horse hidden by those of evil ways. Your ancient deeds do not grow old.

— 1.117.2–4, in The Rigveda, translated by Stephanie W. Jamison (2014)[8]

Mahabharata[edit]

Indian holy books like the Mahabharata and the Puranas, relate that the Ashwini Kumar twins, who were Raja -Vaidya (royal physicians) to the Devas during Vedic times, first prepared the Chyawanprash formulation for Rishi Chyavana at his Ashram on Dhosi Hill near Narnaul, Haryana, India, hence the name Chyawanprash.[9] In the epic Mahabharata, King Pandu's wife Madri is granted a son by each Ashvin and bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva who, are known as the Pandavas.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Frame, Douglas. "Hippota Nestor — Chapter 3. Vedic". Center for Hellenic Studies. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e West, M. L.; West, Morris (24 May 2007). Indo-European Poetry and Myth. OUP Oxford. p. 187. ISBN 9780199280759.
  3. ^ a b Mallory, J.P; Adams, D.Q. (2006). The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 432. ISBN 978-0-19-929668-2.
  4. ^ Puhvel, Jaan (1987). Comparative Mythology. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 58–61. ISBN 0-8018-3938-6.
  5. ^ KBo 1 1. Gary M. Beckman (1 January 1999). Hittite Diplomatic Texts. Scholars Press. p. 53.. Excerpt http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/ranghaya/suppiluliuma_shattiwaza_treaty.htm
  6. ^ a b Parpola, Asko (2015). The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization. Oxford University Press. pp. 109–110. ISBN 9780190226923.
  7. ^ Ahmadi, Amir (2015). "Two Chthonic Features of the Daēva Cult in Historical Evidence". History of Religions. 54 (3): 348. doi:10.1086/679000. ISSN 0018-2710. JSTOR 10.1086/679000.
  8. ^ Jamison, Stephanie W. (2014). The Rigveda: The Earliest Religious Poetry of India. Oxford University Press. pp. 272–273. ISBN 9780199370184.
  9. ^ Panda, H; Handbook on Ayurvedic Medicines With Formulae, Processes And Their Uses, 2004, p10 ISBN 978-81-86623-63-3

Bibliography[edit]