Parjanya (Sanskrit: पर्जन्य parjánya) according to the Vedas is a deity of rain, thunder, lightning, and the one who fertilizes the earth. The Atharvanic poet claims Parjanya and Prithvi father and mother of all beings. His other wives are Bhūmi and the sacred cow Vasa. It is assumed Parjanya is the udder and lightning is the teats of the rain-cow, accordingly rain represents her milk. Also he is sometimes considered as a rain-bull controlled by the superior Indra. The thunder is his roar. He is the father of arrow or reed which grows rapidly in rainy season. He is also considered as a protector of poets and an enemy of flesh-eating fire.
According to his 1965 Sanskrit–English Dictionary Vaman Shivram Apte gives the following meanings:
- Rain-cloud, thunder cloud, a cloud in general
- Rain (as referred in the Shloka from Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3 Verse 14)
- The god (deva) of rain i.e. Indra
Two hymns of the Rigveda, 5.83 and 7.101, are dedicated to Parjanya. In Vedic Sanskrit Parjanya means "rain" or "raincloud". Prayers dedicated to Parjanya, to invoke the blessings of rains are mentioned in the Atharvaveda. Parjanya was also one of the Saptarishi (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the fifth Manvantara. He is one of the 12 Adityas and according to the Vishnu Purana, the guardian of the month of Kartik, a Gandharva and a Rishi in the Harivamsa.
In relation to other deities
Rig Veda hymns to Parjanya
1a áchā vada tavásaṃ gīrbhír ābhí stuhí parjányaṃ námasâ vivāsa
1c kánikradad vṛṣabhó jīrádānū réto dadhāty óṣadhīṣu gárbham
Sing with these songs thy welcome to the Mighty, with adoration praise and call Parjanya.
The Bull, loud roaring, swift to send his lays in the plants the seed for germination.
2a ví vṛkṣân hanty utá hanti rakṣáso víśvam bibhāya bhúvanam mahâvadhāt
2c utânāgā īṣate vŕṣṇyāvato yát parjánya stanáyan hánti duṣkŕtaḥ
He smites the trees apart, he slays the demons: all life fears him who wields the mighty weapon.
From him exceeding strong flees e'en the guiltless, when thundering Parjanya smites the wicked.
3a rathîva káśayâśvāṁ abhikṣipánn āvír dūtân kṛṇute varṣyāaàṁ áha
3c dūrât siṁhásya stanáthā úd īrate yát parjányaḥ kṛṇuté varṣyàṃ nábhaḥ
Like a cart-driver whipping on his horses, he makes the messengers of rain spring forward.
Far off resounds the roaring of the lion, what time Parjanya fills the sky with rain-cloud.
4a prá vâtā vânti patáyanti vidyúta úd óṣadhīr jíhate pínvate svàḥ
4c írā víśvasmai bhúvanāya jāyate yát parjányaḥ pṛthivîṃ rétasâvati
Forth burst the winds, down come the lightning-flashes: the plants shoot up, the realm of light is streaming.
Food springs abundant for all living creatures, what time Parjanya quickens earth with moisture.
5a yásya vraté pṛthivî nánnamīti yásya vraté śaphávaj járbhurīti
5c yásya vratá óṣadhīr viśvárūpāḥ sá naḥ parjanya máhi śárma yacha
Thou at whose bidding earth bows low before thee, at whose command hoofed cattle fly in terror,
At whose behest the plants assume all colours, even thou Parjanya, yield us great protection.
6a divó no vṛṣṭím maruto rarīdhvam prá pinvata vŕṣṇo áśvasya dhârāḥ
6c arvâṅ eténa stanayitnúnéhy apó niṣiñcánn ásuraḥ pitâ naḥ
Send down for us the rain of heaven, ye Maruts, and let the Stallion's flood descend in torrents.
Come hither with this thunder while thou pourest the waters down, our heavenly Lord and Father.
7a abhí kranda stanáya gárbham â dhā udanvátā pári dīyā ráthena
7c dŕtiṃ sú karṣa víṣitaṃ nyàñcaṃ samâ bhavantūdváto nipādâḥ
Thunder and roar: the germ of life deposit. Fly round us on thy chariot waterladen.
Thine opened water-skin draw with thee downward, and let the hollows and the heights be level.
8a mahântaṃ kóśam úd acā ní ṣiñca syándantāṃ kulyâ víṣitāḥ purástāt
8c ghṛténa dyâvāpṛthivî vy ùndhi suprapāṇám bhavatv aghnyâbhyaḥ
Lift up the mighty vessel, pour down water, and let the liberated streams rush forward.
Saturate both the earth and heaven with fatness, and for the cows let there be drink abundant.
9a yát parjanya kánikradat stanáyan háṁsi duṣkŕtaḥ
9c prátīdáṃ víśvam modate yát kíṃ ca pṛthivyâm ádhi
When thou, with thunder and with roar, Parjanya, smitest sinners down,
This universe exults thereat, yea, all that is upon the earth.
10a ávarṣīr varṣám úd u ṣû gṛbhāyâkar dhánvāny átyetavâ u
10c ájījana óṣadhīr bhójanāya kám utá prajâbhyo 'vido manīṣâm
Thou hast poured down the rain-flood now withhold it. Thou hast made desert places fit for travel.
Thou hast made herbs to grow for our enjoyment: yea, thou hast won thee praise from living creatures.
He is king of the vassavalāhaka devas who have limited control over the clouds and weather. He has a daughter named Kokanadā.
- Parjanya Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 1896, Book 7: HYMN CII Parjanya.
- "Vedic Mythology - Arthur Anthony Macdonell - Google Książki".
- "Aspects of Early Viṣṇuism - Jan Gonda - Google Książki".
- Vedic Mythology - Nagendra Kr Singh - APH Publishing, Jan 1, 1997
- Prayer.. Atharvaveda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 1895, Book 4: Hymn 15, A charm to hasten the coming of the rains.
- Fifth interval of Manu Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840, Book III: Chapter I. p. 262-263, In the fifth interval the Manu was Raivata: the Indra was Vibhu: the classes of gods, consisting of fourteen each, were the Amitábhas, Abhútarajasas, Vaikunthas, and Sumedhasas: the seven Rishis were Hirańyaromá, Vedasrí, Urddhabáhu, Vedabáhu, Sudháman, Parjanya, and Mahámuni.
- Parashara...In the month of Kártik they are Parjanya, Bharadwája, (another) Viswávasu, Viswáchí, Senajit, Airávata, and Chápa Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, Book II: Chapter X. p. 233, Names of the twelve Ádityas. Names of the Rishis, Gandharbhas, Apsarasas, Yakshas, Uragas, and Rákshasas, who attend the chariot of the sun in each month of the year. Their respective functions...
- Parjanya means "the rain" or "the thunderer.. Songs of the Russian People, by W. R. S. Ralston, 1872, Chapter II: Section I.--The Old Gods. p. 87. The description of Parjanya is in all respects applicable to the deity worshipped by the different branches of the Slavo-Lettic family under various names, such as the Lithuanian Perkunas, Lettish Pērkons, the Old Prussian Perkunos, the Polish Piorun, the Bohemian Peraun, and the Russian Perun. There is resemblance also to the Finnic Mordvin / Erza thunder god Pur’ginepaz. According to a Lithuanian legend, known also to other Indo-European nations, the Thunder-God created the universe by the action of warmth—Perkunas wis iszperieje. The verb perieti (present form periu) means to produce by means of warmth, to hatch, to bear, being akin to the Latin pario, and the Russian parit' . In Lithuania Perkunas, as the God of Thunder, was worshipped with great reverence. His statue is said to have held in its hand "a precious stone like fire," shaped "in the image of the lightning," and before it constantly burnt an oak-wood fire. If the fire by any chance went out, it was rekindled by means of sparks struck from the stone. The Mordvin /Erza tradition has " Sparks fly from the cartwheels and the hooves of fiery-red horses of Pur’ginepaz, when he drives across the sky " (Yurtov, A. 1883. Obraztsy mordovskoi narodnoi slovesnosti. 2nd ed. Kazan. :129)
- Parjanya Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 1896, Book 5, Hymn LXXXIII. Parjanya.
- Mahāthero, Punnadhammo. "The Buddhist Cosmos: A Comprehensive Survey of the Early Buddhist Worldview; according to Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda sources" (PDF).