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 as 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
RV 5.83 in the translation of Jamison and Brereton:
1 áchā vada tavásaṃ gīrbhír ābhí stuhí parjányaṃ námasâ vivāsa
kánikradad vṛṣabhó jīrádānū réto dadhāty óṣadhīṣu gárbham
Address the powerful one with these hymns. Praise Parjanya. With reverence seek to entice him here.
The constantly roaring bull of lively drops deposits his semen as embryo in the plants.
2 ví vṛkṣân hanty utá hanti rakṣáso víśvam bibhāya bhúvanam mahâvadhāt
utânāgā īṣate vŕṣṇyāvato yát parjánya stanáyan hánti duṣkŕtaḥ
He smashes apart the trees and also smashes the demons. All creation fears him who has the mighty weapon.
And (even) the blameless one shrinks from the one of bullish powers, when Parjanya, thundering, smashes those who do ill.
3 rathîva káśayâśvāṁ abhikṣipánn āvír dūtân kṛṇute varṣyāaàṁ áha
dūrât siṁhásya stanáthā úd īrate yát parjányaḥ kṛṇuté varṣyàṃ nábhaḥ
Like a charioteer lashing out at his horses with a whip, he reveals his rain-bearing messengers.
From afar the thunderings of the lion rise up, when Parjanya produces his rain-bearing cloud.
4 prá vâtā vânti patáyanti vidyúta úd óṣadhīr jíhate pínvate svàḥ
írā víśvasmai bhúvanāya jāyate yát parjányaḥ pṛthivîṃ rétasâvati
The winds blow forth; the lightning bolts ﬂy. The plants shoot up; the sun swells.
Refreshment arises for all creation, when Parjanya aids the earth with his semen
5 yásya vraté pṛthivî nánnamīti yásya vraté śaphávaj járbhurīti
yásya vratá óṣadhīr viśvárūpāḥ sá naḥ parjanya máhi śárma yacha
At whose commandment the earth bobs up and down, at whose commandment the hoofed (livestock) quivers,
at whose commandment the plants take on all forms—you, Parjanya— extend to us great shelter.
6 divó no vṛṣṭím maruto rarīdhvam prá pinvata vŕṣṇo áśvasya dhârāḥ
arvâṅ eténa stanayitnúnéhy apó niṣiñcánn ásuraḥ pitâ naḥ
Grant us rain from heaven, o Maruts; make the streams of the bullish stallion swell forth.
(Parjanya,) come nearby with this thundering, pouring down the waters as the lord, our father.
7 abhí kranda stanáya gárbham â dhā udanvátā pári dīyā ráthena
dŕtiṃ sú karṣa víṣitaṃ nyàñcaṃ samâ bhavantūdváto nipādâḥ
Roar! Thunder! Set an embryo! Fly around with your water-bearing chariot.
Drag the water-skin unleashed, facing downward. Let uplands and lowlands become alike.
8 mahântaṃ kóśam úd acā ní ṣiñca syándantāṃ kulyâ víṣitāḥ purástāt
ghṛténa dyâvāpṛthivî vy ùndhi suprapāṇám bhavatv aghnyâbhyaḥ
The great bucket—turn it up, pour it down. Let the brooks, unleashed, ﬂow forward.
Inundate Heaven and Earth with ghee. Let there be a good watering hole for the prized cows.
9 yát parjanya kánikradat stanáyan háṁsi duṣkŕtaḥ
prátīdáṃ víśvam modate yát kíṃ ca pṛthivyâm ádhi
When, o Parjanya, constantly roaring, thundering you smash those who do ill,
all of this here, whatever is on the earth, rejoices in response.
10a ávarṣīr varṣám úd u ṣû gṛbhāyâkar dhánvāny átyetavâ u
10c ájījana óṣadhīr bhójanāya kám utá prajâbhyo 'vido manīṣâm
You have rained rain: (now) hold it back. You have made the wastelands able to be traversed.
You have begotten the plants for nourishment, and you have found (this?) inspired thought for the creatures.
He is king of the vassavalāhaka devas who have limited control over the clouds and weather. He has a daughter named Kokanadā.
- MacDonell, Arthur Anthony (1995). Vedic Mythology - Arthur Anthony Macdonell - Google Książki. ISBN 9788120811133.
- Gonda, Jan (1969). Aspects of Early Viṣṇuism - Jan Gonda - Google Książki. ISBN 9788120810877.
- Vedic Mythology - Nagendra Kr Singh - APH Publishing, Jan 1, 1997
- Parjanya Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 1896, Book 7: HYMN CII Parjanya.
- 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)
- Stephanie Jamison (2015). The Rigveda –– Earliest Religious Poetry of India. Oxford University Press. p. 765-766. ISBN 978-0190633394.
- Mahāthero, Punnadhammo. "The Buddhist Cosmos: A Comprehensive Survey of the Early Buddhist Worldview; according to Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda sources" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-03-24. Retrieved 2019-03-24.