Apam Napat

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Apam Napat is an eminent figure of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. In the Rig Veda, Apām Napāt is the angel of rain, and creator of all things.[1] In Zoroastrianism, Apąm Napāt is a divinity of water. Apām Napāt and Apąm Napāt mean "son of the water" in Sanskrit and Avestan. Napāt ("grandson") is cognate to Latin nepos and English nephew.[note 1]

In Yasht 19 of the Zoroastrian Avesta Apąm Napāt appears as the creator of mankind. However, since in Zoroastrianism Ahura Mazdā is venerated as supreme creator, this function of Apąm Napāt has become reduced. This is one reason Apąm Napāt is no longer widely worshipped, though he is still honoured daily through the Zoroastrian liturgies. The creator-god status is also seen in a hymn in honour of the Vedic Apām Napāt.[1]

Alongside Mithra, Apam Napat maintains order in society, as well as Khvarenah, by which legitimate rule is maintained among the Iranian peoples. In the Pahlavi texts, it is also his duty to distribute water from the sea to all regions.

In the Vedas, Apām Napāt is most likely a title, not a proper name, applied most often to Agni, god of fire, and occasionally to Savitr. In one hymn he is described as emerging from the water, golden, "clothed in lightning", and shining "with bright rays", which has been speculated as a reference to fire, possibly inspired by flaming natural gas seeping out on the surface of water. Based on this idea, attempts have been made to connect the name "Apam Napat" to the word "naphtha", which passed into Greek—and thence English—from an Iranian language. However, there is no recorded evidence of a link between sacred fires of Iranian religion and petroleum or natural gas, and the origin of "naphtha" is likely Akkadian napṭu, "petroleum".[4]

A correspondence has also been posited between Avestic Apąm Napāt and the Vedic Varuna, who is at one point referred to as “Child of the Waters”.[5]


  1. ^ An alternative origin has been suggested for the name, connected with the names of other Indo-European deities including Etruscan Nethuns, Celtic Nechtan and Roman Neptune (see etymology of Neptune).[2][3]


  1. ^ a b Rig Veda 2.35.2 'Son of Waters', tr. by Ralph T.H. Griffith, [1896], at sacred-texts.com
  2. ^ Philibert, Myriam, Les Mythes préceltiques. Monaco: Éditions du Rocher, 1997, pp. 244-247.
  3. ^ Dumézil, Georges, Mythe et Epopée III. Quarto Gallimard, pub. Éditions Gallimard 1995 ISBN 2-07-073656-3, p. 40.
  4. ^ R. J. Forbes (1966). Studies in Ancient Technology. Brill Archive. p. 13. GGKEY:YDBU5XT36QD. 
  5. ^ "APĄM NAPĀT". Encyclopædia Iranica. 

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