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Pushan (Sanskrit: पूषन, Pūṣan) is a Vedic solar deity and one of the Adityas. He is the god of meeting. Pushan was responsible for marriages, journeys, roads, and the feeding of cattle. He was a psychopomp, conducting souls to the other world. He protected travelers from bandits and wild beasts, and protected men from being exploited by other men. He was a supportive guide, a "good" god, leading his adherents towards rich pastures and wealth. He carried a golden lance, a symbol of activity.
Traditionally, the name of the deity is said to be derived from Sanskrit verb, pūṣyati, which means "cause to thrive". So, his name means, "one who causes people to thrive."
Pushan in Vedic literature
Ten hymns in the Rigveda are dedicated to Pūṣan (including one jointly to Soma and Pūṣan and another to Indra and Pūṣan). Some of these hymns appeal to him to guard livestock and find lost livestock. His chariot is pulled by goats. Sometimes he is described as driving the Sun in its course across the sky. He seems to represent the sun as a guardian of flocks and herds. Pushan is also regarded as Kavi, who in turn became an epiphet of a number of gods and further a title signifying "king".
According to a narrative found in the Taittiriya Samhita, Rudra was excluded from a certain sacrifice. He, in anger, pierced the sacrifice with an arrow and Pushan broke his teeth as he attempted to eat a part of the oblation. The later versions of this narrative are found in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. In these versions, Rudra or Shiva was angry because his father-in-law, Daksha, the sacrificer, did not invite him. Shiva, in anger, kicked Pushan and knocked out his teeth as he was eating the oblation. In the Puranic versions, Virabhadra, created by Shiva from a lock of his matted hair knocked down Pushan's teeth.
Pushan in the Puranas
In the Puranas, Pushan is described as one of the twelve Adityas (Aditi's sons). Aditi's other eleven sons as narrated in Purana's are Surya, Aryama, Tvashta, Savita, Bhaga, Dhata, Vidhata, Varuna, Mitra, Indra and Vishnu (in the form of Vamanadeva).
- H. Collitz, "Wodan, Hermes und Pushan," Festskrift tillägnad Hugo Pipping pȧ hans sextioȧrsdag den 5 November 1924 1924, pp 574–587.
- Rigveda I.42, I.138, II.40 (to Soma and Pūṣan), VI.53, VI.54, VI.55, VI.56, VI.57 (to Indra and Pūṣan), VI.58 and X.26. Links direct to the 1896 English translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith on sacred-texts.com, which also hosts a Sanskrit version of each hymn.
- O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger (2000). The Rig Veda: An Anthology. New Delhi: Penguin Books. p. 195. ISBN 0-14-044402-5.
- Dowson, John (1888). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History and Literature (2nd ed.). London: Trübner & Co. pp. 249–50. ISBN 978-0-7661-7589-1.
- Wilkins, W.J. (1900). Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic (2nd ed.). Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co. p. 270.
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