Danava (Hinduism)

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This article is about Vedic mythology. For the American heavy metal band, see Danava.
Kuvalayavaswa slayed the Danavas

In Vedic mythology the Danavas were a race descending from Daksha.

The Danavas were the sons of Danu (Dewi Danu in Balinese Hinduism), who in turn was a daughter of Daksha. Danu is connected with the waters of heavens and she is probably associated with the formless, primordial waters that existed prior to the creation. The name is connected with the PIE root *danu, "river" or "any flowing liquid" and is associated with the Danu (Asura). Under the leadership of Bali[1][2] and others the Danavas revolted against the Devatas (Devas).[3] Despite initial successes, the Danava were defeated by the god Vamana who in dwarf form deceived their leader Bali.[4] The Danavas were not universally considered to be evil, individual Danava could be classified as good or bad.

Superhuman capacities of Danavas[edit]

Besides unusual longevity of Danavas they possessed by many "superhuman" capacities. All Indian legends speak they were wise, artful and knew secrets of magic - maya, could take various shape and forms - that to be "people", that to occur "in frightening appearances of enraged elephants, and also lions and tigers"(Mayan, Aztec, Toltec, Indigenous peoples of the Americas)" Rakshasas and to become invisible Nagas( Nāga ). Their descendants possessed by magic art too. The son of the skilful artist and architect Maya Danava, Bala possessed by 96 kinds of mystic forces.The sovereign of daityas Hiranyakashipa thanks to the gift to become invisible to any beings had seized the throne of Indra and had brought a devastation to the ownerships of gods. Using his mystical capacities (siddhis, siddhies), he could destroy all the Universe. The main priest and guru of Daityas Ushanas together with his beloved Dzhanti remained invisible to outside eyes within hundred years.

Danavas used magic in battles. The "Mahabharata" and the "Bhagavata Purana":

"In this battle [Daityas and Danavas] were beaten and, to escape (save themselves) from death, they took advantage of magic and with its help had slayed a great number of the soldiers combating on the party of demigods [Fdityas]. Demigods, without seeing another escape, had again given up themself to the Sovereign Person of God Vishnu which, coming, counteracted against the illusions created by tricks of demons" . "Then in the sky there were the terrible clouds driven by violent winds. Peals of thunder rattled and the shower of heated coals had poured down on land. The gigantic fire organized by daitya Maharadzha Bali, incinerated the troops of demigods. This fire attended by frantic gusts, was as well awful as Samvartaka fire which are originated in the cycle of destruction of the Universe.Everywhere there were swirls and gigantic sea waves, foamed by furious gusts, and in the face of all the deluge has started.When the invisible demons possessing skill of making of look-alike illusive mirages, have transformed the battle field into such fantastic chaos, demigods have become despondent ".

Maya Danavas[edit]

Lineage :

  • Maya is often called Danava which means descendant of Danu, one of Kasyapa‘s 13 wives and a daughter of Dakhsa Prajapati.
  • However, in the Uttarakanda of Ramayana, Maya is also described as Diti’s son (a Daitya and as the king of the Daityas). Diti is a different wife of Kasyapa. Some modern people speak as if Daityas, Danavas, Asuras and Rakshasas are the same, but they are different jathis, though they all fought the Devas at some point or the other. The manavas and brahmanas were and are pro-Devas. So in that sense, they may have lumped all the ‘enemies’ together.
  • Maya is also said to be the son of Vipracitti and Simhika and a brother of Rahu. Simhika is said to be a chaya grahi rakshasi or a rakshasi who catches shadows. She tried to prevent Hanuman from reaching Sri Lanka. This is all the more interesting since Rahu is a chaya graha or a shadow graha. As the author of Surya Siddhantam, Maya described how eclipses were caused.. and it had nothing to do with anyone swallowing the sun.
  • Maya is also said to be the son of Danu and the brother of Rahu.

Descendants :

  • Maya was the (foster) father of Mandodari, the wife of Ravana. Mandodari’s mother’s name was Hema and she was an Apsarasa. So Mandodari was a Danava on her father’s side and an apsarasa on her mother’s side.
  • Maya’s grandson (Mandodari’s son) Meghanada, defeated Indra and was called Indrajit.
  • Maya’s sons Dundhubi and Mayavi were killed by the Vanara, Vali.
  • Maya’s son-in-law Ravana was defeated by Vali.
  • The Vanaras and Rakshasas were often in conflict and it was always the Vanaras who won.

Mayan Origins in Ancient Southern India: Naga-Maya/Danavas[edit]

India: "Under the reign of Viswamitra, first king of the Dynasty of Soma -Vanga, in consequence of a battle which lasted five days, Manu -Vina, heir of the ancient kings, being abandoned by the Brahmans , emigrated with all his companions, passing through Arya , and the countries of Barria, till he came to the shores of Masra [Cairo]." (History of India, by Collouca-Batta). Unquestionably this Manu-Vina and Menes, the first Egyptian King, are identical. Arya, is Eran (Persia ); Barria, is Arabia, and Masra, was the name of Cairo, which to this day is called, Masr, Musr, and Misro. Phœnician history names Maser as one of the ancestors of Hermes ." [8] "Egypt herself had, in those unknown ages when Menes reigned received her laws, her social institutions, her arts and her sciences, from pre-Vedic India." [9] Menes is undoubtedly the Manu of the second subrace (5.2 Ancient Egypt) and there is a close connection to India which persists to this day – as any traveler to both nations will attest. If the Mayans have a ‘perfect identity of the rites, ceremonies, traditions’ of Egypt then it is further proof that their genesis is in India, also known as ‘Bharata’ in ancient times. "There is definitely an important connection between the old Vedic (Vedic period) people and Maya-ancestors. The Mayas are actually referred to in The Mahabharata , one of the main Hindu scriptures, as a tribe having left the Indian subcontinent. There are sources who have revealed those people to be the same as the Nāga, one of the oldest Indian tribes recorded. Those Nagas seem to have been a people, later called Danavas, with a capital Nagapur. They are referred to in another main Hindu-scripture, the Ramayana, as belonging to a Naga-Maya or Cara-Maya tribe, who is said to have transmitted their culture towards Babylonia, Egypt and Greece."

Engineering Achievements[edit]

  • The city of Lankapuri in Sri Lanka was built by Maya, an architect and king of the Danavas. However, Uttarakanda of Ramayana says that Lankapuri was built by Viswakarma.
  • Maya built a palace of illusions called the Maya Sabha at Indraprastha. It was full of ‘magical’ ponds and lakes as well as natural ponds and lakes. When Duryodhana, the cousin of the Pandavas came to visit, he fell in to a real pond, thinking that it was an artificial one. Maya built this palace for the Pandavas, because Arjuna spared his life in the Khandava Dahanam.
  • Maya Danava also built Tripura, three cities of gold, silver and iron. This was later destroyed by Siva. (Bhagavatham Canto 7.) Valmiki called this Tripura Gopuram. There is an astronomical story (significance) overlayed with this story.

Mayasura was the foremost of architects among the Asura and a formidable rival to Vishwakarma, the architect-of-the-gods. He was the father-in-law of Ravan and is credited with marvelous feats of engineering performed not only for the demons but also for Devas and humans. To list a few of these, Maya built the:

  • Three flying cities of Tripura for the sons of Tarkasur,
  • The island city of Lanka for Kuber
  • The Palace-of-illusions for the Pandavs at Indraprastha.

Besides these architectural wonders, he also wrote the astronomical treatise called the 'Surya-siddhant' that forms the basis of Indian astronomy even today! Combining his knowledge of all these principles, he perhaps took the next step and created the flying vehicles or Vimaans. Maya himself, is believed to have possessed a Vimaan measuring twelve cubits in circumference, with four strong wheels.


David Frawley asserts that many ancient European peoples, particularly the Celts and Germans, regarded themselves as children of Danu, with Danu meaning the Mother Goddess, who was also, like Sarasvati in the Rig Veda, a river Goddess. The Celts called themselves Tuatha De Danaan, while the Germans had a similar name. The Greek ethnonym 'Danaan' is similarly related.[5] Ancient European river names like the Danube and various rivers called Don in Russia, Scotland, England and France reflect this common Indo-European name.

In Buddhism[edit]

In Buddhism the Danava are known as the "bow-wielding" Dānaveghasa Asuras.[citation needed]

Historical basis[edit]

Some argue for an historical basis for the Vedic stories, and that the Danavas, and other defeated beings (Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Nagas, et cetera) were non-Aryan tribes, but there is no linguistic, archaeological or other evidence.[6][7] But such historical readings of myth and legend are fraught with difficulties, and often are made selectively in support of pre-existing historical theories. There continues to be controversy over the idea of an Indo-European/Aryan invasion of India in some circles, and rival interpretations of Indian myth are one of the battlegrounds of that debate.[7][8][9]

Some Famous Danavas[edit]

1) Puloman - Father of Indrani or Sachi

2) Viprachitti - Husband of Sinhika

3) Rahu - Son of Danu and brother of Viprachitti

4) Vrishparva - Father of Sharmishtha

5) Maydanav - Son of Danu

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bali was the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, and the grandson of Prahlada.
  2. ^ Rose, Carol (2000) Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, p. 94, ISBN 0-87436-988-6 ;
  3. ^ Monro, W. D. (1911). Stories of Indian Gods & Heroes. London: Harrap (Unwin). p. ?. 
  4. ^ Williams, George Mason (2003). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-57607-106-9. 
  5. ^ Frawley, David (1997). "Vedic Origins of Europeans: The Children of Danu". In Mallory, J. P. and Adams, Douglas Q. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London: Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5. 
  6. ^ Senoupta, Prabodh Chandra (1951) "The Dānavas in the Mahābhārata" Journal of the Asiatic Society Series 3, 17: pp. 177-184, p. 182
  7. ^ a b Frawley, David (2001). Rig Veda and the History of India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-7742-039-5. 
  8. ^ Elst, Koenraad (1999) Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, ISBN 81-86471-77-4 ;
  9. ^ Frawley, David (1991) Gods, Sages and Kings Passage Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, ISBN 1-878423-08-8 ;