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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Varuna (वरुण) is a god of the sky, of water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law and of the underworld in Vedic religion. He is the most prominent Asura in the Rigveda, and lord of the heavens and the earth. It is same as Uranus of Greeks.

As chief of the Adityas, Varuna has aspects of a solar deity though, when opposed to Mitra, he is rather associated to the night, and Mitra to the daylight. As the most prominent Asura, however, he is more concerned with moral and societal affairs than a deification of nature.


Mention by Panini

Varuna (वरुण) is a place name mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi under Sankaladi (संकलादि) (4.2.75) group[1].

Varuna (वरुण) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [2]

Varuna (वरुण), a yaksha (यक्ष) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [3]

Varunani (वरुणानी) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [4]

In Mahabharata

Varuna (वरुण) is mentioned in Mahabharata (I.59.15), (I.65),(I.59.41), (I.65),(I.60.50), (1.66), 3-255-18a, (IX.44.5),(IX.44.20), (XII.122.29-43),(XIV.8.4), (XIV.8),(XIII.4.13), (XIII.4),

Varuna (वारुण) (T) is mentioned in Mahabharata (III.86.10),

Varuni (वारुणि) is mentioned in Mahabharata (I.59.39), (I.65),

Varuni (वारुणी) is mentioned in Mahabharata 3-255-18a.

Karna's conquests: Vana Parva, Mahabharata/Book III Chapter 255 describes Karna's victory march and countries subjugated. Varuni (वारुणी) is mentioned in Mahabharata (3-255-18a).[5].... And, having come to the quarter of Varuna (वारुण) (3-255-18a), he made all the Yavana (यवन) (3-255-18a) and Varbara (वर्बर) (3-255-18a) kings pay tribute.

Jat Gotras from Varuna

In Hindu mythology

In Hindu mythology, Varuna continued to be considered the god of all forms of the water element, particularly the oceans.

The Atharvaveda portrays Varuna as omniscient, catching liars in his snares. The stars are his thousand-eyed spies, watching every movement of men.

In the Rigveda, Indra, chief of the Devas, is about six times more prominent than Varuna, who is mentioned 341 times. This may misrepresent the actual importance of Varuna in early Vedic society due to the focus of the Rigveda on fire and Soma ritual, Soma being closely associated with Indra; Varuna with his omniscience and omnipotence in the affairs of men has many aspects of a supreme deity. The daily Sandhyavandanam ritual of a dvija addresses Varuna in this aspect in its evening routine, asking him to forgive all sins, while Indra receives no mention.

Both Mitra and Varuna are classified as Asuras in the Rigveda (e.g. RV 5.63.3), although they can already be addressed to as Devas as well (e.g. RV 7.60.12), possibly indicating the beginning of the negative connotations carried by Asura in later times.

Varuna later became the god of oceans and rivers and keeper of the souls of the drowned. As such, Varuna is also a god of the dead, and can grant immortality. From the name Varuna comes the name Varun which means wind. He is attended by the Nagas. He is also one of the Guardians of the directions, representing the west.

Later art depicts Varuna as a lunar deity, as a yellow man wearing golden armor and holding a noose or lasso made from a snake. He rides the sea monster Makara.

Varuna and Uranus

Georges Dumézil made a cautious case for the identity of Varuna and the Greek god Uranus at the earliest Indo-European cultural level. Uranus is associated with the night sky as his name literally means "Sky", and Varuna is a god of the sky and the celestial ocean which is the milky way or Kshira (क्षीर, milk) sagar. Laksmi is said to have arisen from the ocean of milk and therefore be the daughter of Varuna. Aphrodite is said to have been born from the falling of the testicles of Uranus in the ocean after his castration. Both Laksmi and Aphrodite are associated with the planet Venus. This shared nature of the two deities also leads to their identity being linked together.

Varuna in the Ramayana

Raja Ravi Varma Painting - 'Rama Conquers Varuna'

Faced with the dilemma of how to cross the ocean to Lanka, where his abducted wife Sita is held captive by the demon king Ravana, Rama (an Avatar of Vishnu) performs a penance (tapasya) to Varuna, the Lord of Oceans, fasting and meditating in perfect dhyana for three days and three nights. Varuna does not respond, and Rama arises on the fourth morning, enraged by the God's arrogance. With his bow and arrow, he angrily begins attacking the oceans with celestial weapons—burning up the waters and killing its life and creatures.

In Contemporary Hinduism: Worship of Varuna is an integral part of the evening ritual of the Sandhyavandanam, of a dvija Hindu. However, popular worship is primarily limited to Hindus of Sindhi origin. (See Jhulelal)

In Zoroastrianism

Varuna is not attested in the texts of the Avesta or in the Zoroastrian Pahlavi literature. The nearest homonym is Varena, the four-cornered fourteenth region of the world (Vendidad 1.17) and populated by "fiends" and "savage, non-Aryan natives" (Vd 7.10). In Yasht 15, Haoshyangha begs for a boon that he might smite "two-thirds of the daevas of Mazana and of the fiends of Varena". (Yt 15.2.6) An individual who does not follow daena "[the good] religion" is an anya-varena. (Yasna 16.2; Vd 12.21, 15.2)

In Mahabharata

Varuna (वरुण) is mentioned in Mahabharata in following verse:

  • Varuna (वरुण) (I.59.15), (I.59.41), (I.65),(I.60.50), (1.66),(IX.44.5),(IX.44.20),(XIV.8.4), (XIV.8),(XIII.4.13), (XIII.4),
  • Varuna (वारुण) (T) (III.86.10),
  • Varuni (वारुणि) (I.59.39), (I.65),

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Book I Chapter 59 gives genealogy of Danavas, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Yakshas, Rakshasas. Varuna (वरुण) is mentioned in verse (I.59.15).[7]...From Aditi have sprung the twelve Adityas. They are Dhatri, Mitra, Aryaman, Sakra, Varuna, Ansa, Bhaga, Vivaswat, Usha, Savitri, Tvashtri, and Vishnu.

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Book I Chapter 59 gives genealogy of Danavas, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Yakshas, Rakshasas. Varuna (वरुण) is mentioned in verse (I.59.41). [8]...Muni's sons - Bhimasena, Ugrasena, Suparna, Varuna, Gopati, and Dhritarashtra, and Suryavarchas the seventh,...

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Book I Chapter 60 gives genealogy of all the principal creatures. Varuna (वरुण) is mentioned in verse (I.60.51).[9]...And the daughter born of Sukra, named Divi, became the eldest wife of Varuna. Of her were born a son named Vala and a daughter named Sura (wine), to the joy of the gods.


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[10] ने लेख किया है ...कशेरु (AS, p.152) 'इंद्रद्वीपं कशेरुं च ताम्रद्वीपं गभस्तिमत् गांधर्ववारुणं द्वीपं सौम्याक्षमिति च प्रभु': महाभारत सभापर्वा 38, दक्षिणात्य पाठ . अर्थात शक्तिशाली सहस्रबाहु ने इंद्रद्वीप, कशेरु, ताम्रद्वीप, गभस्तिमत्, गंधर्व, वारुण और सौम्याक्ष द्वीप को जीत लिया था. प्रसंग से यह इंडोनेशिया का कोई द्वीप जान पड़ता है. क्योंकि इंद्रद्वीप = सुमात्रा का एक भाग, ताम्रद्वीप = लंका, वारुण = बोर्नियो


  1. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.507
  2. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.356
  3. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.187, 364
  4. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.357
  5. वारुणीं दिशमागम्य यावनान्वर्बरांस्तथा (3-255-18a)
  6. Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihas (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998 p. 268
  7. धाता मित्रॊ ऽरयमा शक्रॊ वरुणश चांश एव च, भगॊ विवस्वान पूषा च सविता दशमस तथा (I.59.15)
  8. भीमसेनॊग्र सेनौ च सुपर्णॊ वरुणस तथा, गॊपतिर धृतराष्ट्रश च सूर्यवर्चाश च सप्तमः (I.59.41)
  9. वरुणस्य भार्या जयेष्ठा तु शुक्राद देवी वयजायत, तस्याः पुत्रं बलं विद्धि सुरां च सुरनन्दिनीम (I.60.51)
  10. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.152

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