Enigmatic Hindu Gods Asvinis who Influenced Western Cultures (Compilatiion for a discourse at Ganesha temple Nashville TN, Feb 2015; N.R.Srinivasan)
Asvinis who are regarded as the divine physicians (devaanaam bhishajaa) are described in Ayurveda as having cured Indra, the mighty Vedic warrior god, when he had fallen ill due to excessive Soma drinking. The sutaraamani ritual puts the Asvins into close relation with Indra. Purushasookta a popular Rigvedic Sookta employed in the daily worship rituals of the Lord contains a reference to Asvinis as “asvinau vyaattam” as wide open mouth of Purusha as dyaavaa prithivyaah of sky and earth. Mahanarayana Upanishad (MNU) in its Vedic mantra pleads to two Asvins decked with lotus garlands for engendering intelligence as Intelligence Deities-- “asvinaavubhaavaadhattaam pushkarasrajau” . MNU also pleads in another mantra “Pratyauhataamasvinaa mrityumasmaddevaanaamagne bhishajaa sacheebhih” –O Agni! May the two divine physicians, the Asvins, chase away from us death by virtue of the powers of religious work!
Asvins are twin deities, always described or praised together. While one mantra in MNU says they represent the earth and the sky, there are other references that say they represent night and day, or the Moon and the Sun. Yet another Puranic reference describes them as kings who acquired extraordinary merit, and were elevated to the status of Gods. They represent semi darkness before dawn. They pervade the world with moisture and light. Described as eternally handsome, they are the youngest of the Vedic Gods. However their chief characteristic is that they are constantly striving to do good to others. They are expert physicians and surgeons and know the arts of healing, rejuvenation and even plastic surgery! Being supplicated, they can grant boons like children, food, wealth, health and protection from enemies. Hence one should never fail to invoke them during Yajnas and Homas (sacrifice)
A puranic story describes their surgery expertise thus: Dadhicihi was the son of Atharva who knew the Madhu Vidya by which any mortal being could be made immortal. Indra was not happy about it. Knowing his plan to kill Dadhichi Aswini surgeons replaced the head of Dadhichi with that of a horse. When Indra beheaded temporary horse head of Dadhchi Asvini Twins once again performed the surgery replacing the real head of Dadhichi with their surgery skill and revived him.
Wikipedia describes Aswins as follows:
“The Ashvins or Ashwini Kumaras in Hindu mythology, are two Vedic gods, divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, sons of Saranya (daughter of Vishwakarma), a goddess of the clouds and wife of Surya in his form as Vivasvant. They symbolize the shining of sunrise and sunset, appearing in the sky before the dawn in a golden chariot, bringing treasures to men and averting misfortune and sickness. They are the doctors of gods and are devas of Ayurvedic medicine. They are represented as humans with head of a horse. In the epic Mahabharata, KingPandu's wife Madri is granted a son by each Ashvin and bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva who, along with the sons of Kunti, are known as the Pandavas.They are also called Nasatya (dual nāsatyau "kind, helpful") in the Rigveda; later, Nasatya is the name of one twin, while the other is called Dasra ("enlightened giving"). By popular etymology, the name nāsatya is often incorrectly analysed as na+asatya "not untrue"="true". Various Indian holy books like Mahabharata, Puranas etc., relate that Ashwini Kumar brothers, the twins, who were Raj Vaidhya (Royal Physicians) to Devas during Vedic times. They first prepared Chyawanprash formulation for Chyawan Rishi at his Ashram on Dhosh Hill near Narnaul, Haryana, India, hence the name Chyawanprash. The Ashvins can be compared with the Dioscuri (the twins Castor and Pollux) of Greek and Roman mythology, and especially to the divine twins Ašvieniai of the ancient Baltic religion".
Vedic People of Lithuania
If you were to travel to Lithuania you might encounter some traditional houses adorned with the motif of two horse heads. You might take this as a simple design but it is in fact a small clue to Lithuania's deep and ancient Vedic past.
Traditionally, the Vedic peoples of Lithuania worshipped the Ašvieniai, the divine horse twins, related to the goddess Ūsinis. They are said to pull the Sun Chariot through the sky. The Lithuanian people continue to adorn their roof tops with the symbol of the divine horse twins in order to receive protection for the household.
In India the complete Vedic tradition has been preserved. There the divine horse twins are known as the Ashvins, the children of the Sun god Surya, who are summoned by the goddess Ushas (morning dawn) and appear as the morning and evening sunlight. They are often known as Nasatya (Kind, Helpful) and Dasra (Enlightened Giving). They are practitioners of Ayurveda as the doctors of the devas (demigods), and it is for this reason that people adorn their roofs with their image - so that the residing family may remain healthy. They are most notable for granting the divine twins of King Pandu - Nakula and Sahadev, who along with Yudhisthira, Bhima, and Arjuna made up the Pandavas of the Mahabharata.
Lithuanian is very archaic and has preserved linguistically a great deal from Sanskrit, the original Mother Language of Europe. Below are a few examples of the linguistic similarities:
Asva(Lithuanian)=Ashva(Sanskrit) meaning 'horse'
Dievas (Lithuanian)=Devas (Sanskrit) meaning 'gods', 'the shining ones';
Dumas (Lithuanian)=Dhumas(Sanskrit) meaning 'smoke'
Sunus (Lithuanian)=Sunus(Sanskrit) meaning 'son'
Vyras(Lithuanian)=Viras(Sanskrit) meaning 'man'
Padas(Lithuanian)=Padas(Sanskrit) meaning 'sole of the foot'
Ugnis(Lithuanian)=Agnis(Sanskrit) meaning 'fire'
Vilkas(Lithuanian)=Vrkas(Sanskrit) meaning 'wolf'
Ratas(Lithuanian)=Rathas(Sanskrit) meaning 'carriage'
Senis(Lithuanian)=Sanas(Sanskrit) meaning 'old'
Dantis(Lithuanian)=Dantas(Sanskrit) meaning 'teeth'
Naktis(Lithuanian)=Naktis(Sanskrit) meaning 'night'
In the Anglo-Saxon tradition also, it is said that two German brothers Hengist ("Stallion") and Horsa ("Horse") led the armies that conquered Britain. Many believe this is a continuation of the original tradition of the Vedic horse twins. Similar to Lithuania, you will find the same tradition of horse-headed gables on roofs throughout Germany in honor of Hengist and Horsa.
So the next time you travel through Europe and see these horse gabled roofs, smile and realize their connection to Europe's ancient Vedic past.
In Mahanarayana Upanishad Asvini devatas are propitiated to impart knowledge. I often wondered how horse is associated with intelligence? Paushkara Samhita explains that the Vedas are personified in human forms with faces of horses (vaaji-vaktras sthitaa vedaah sampoorna naralakshanah). Therefore Vishnu as the presiding deity of Vedic learning must be regarded as a man with horse’s face. It is not out of place to recall here about Hayagriva Avatatar of Vishnu who is worshiped as “Jnyaanaananda mayam devam”--One who is the very embodiment of Knowledge. He seems to have reclaimed Vedas from the demon horse incarnating as Hayagriva. Origins about the worship of Hayagriva has been researched; some of the early evidences dates back to 2,000 BCE, when Indo-Aryans worshiped the horse for its speed, strength, intelligence. Hayagriva is one of the prominent deity in Vaishnava tradition. His blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular subjects. Special worship is conducted on his birth day on the day of the full moon in August (Sraavaṇa-Paurṇima) and also on Mahanavami the ninth day of the Navaratri festival. He is also hailed as "Hayaseersha. Hayaseersha means haya=Horse, Seersha=Head. His temple in Mysore in Parakala Math is quite popular among Srivaishnava worshipers. It is therefore logical to conclude that Asvini Twins being the deities of medical sciences (secular sciences—para vidya)are also deities of Knowledge (Sacred saastras--apara Vidya hence Medhaapurushas) hence seen with horse heads on human body and praised in Medhasookta.
According to Hindu Puranas Ashwini Kumaras are twins Gods born to Sanjna (Lord Surya's wife) and Surya (the sun). 'Ashvini Kumaras mean sons born of a horsewoman. 'Kumara' also indicates eternal early life. At the time of copulation Sanjna (Lord Surya's wife) had imagined shape of a horse. Due to this lunar constellation (nakshatra), is called horse woman. 27 nakshastras of Hindu Astrology begin with Asvini Nakshatra. The "Asvini Nakshatra” has been named after Ashvini Kumaras. Ashvini Kumaras are represented as twins with the head of a horse, and a human body. These twins are associated with healing power and everlasting youth. Ashvini Kumaaraas symbolize swift movement, falcons of Light, Lords of intelligence (Medha) and brilliance.
Signifying commencement or beginning, the constellation featuring Ashwini is symbolic of a horse’s head. Etymologically implying birth from a female horse, the symbolic significance of horse with regard to this Nakshatra or birth star lies in its power, strength, vitality, courage and ability at swift action. With ‘Ketu’ or south lunar phase being its lord, Ashwini Nakshatra reflects the dynamism of its planetary lord ‘Ketu’. Ashwini Nakshatra, which finds its location in the constellation known as ‘Aries,’ is characterized by a couple of shining stars.
The two Asvins, who represent the twin senses of knowledge and action, associated with the Purushic and Prakritic character of Ether. Asvins, the twin Horsemen, represent the twin senses of knowledge and action. Heaven and Earth or the two world-halves stand parted from each other but the Asvins, while dividing them into two, are instrumental in bringing them together again.
Acccording to Bhagavata Sanjana the wife of Surya was unable to bear his heat. She went to a place called Uttara Kuru and lived there in the form of a mare. Her husband found her and joined her in the form of a horse. They both had two children named Nasatya and Dasra. These two became Asvini twins.
In Rigveda they are prominently featured and are said to be sons of Saranya (daughter of Tvashta) anInd Vivasvant. They are also said to be sons of heaven (Dyaus); Pusan is said to be their son. According to wedding hymn (RV10.85) they are the husbands of Surya the daughter of the Sun, Aditya. They are fond of honey and their chariot is honey-hued and honey-bearing. Their chariot is sun-like and was fashioned by the three divine artificers, the Rbhus.
Asvini twins, represented by the power of horses are the divine physicians. Later Tantra and Yoga texts gave the concept of two serpents that lie in a dormant coiled state at the bottom of Sushumna nadi along with Mooladhara chakra as Yukrtaa triveni. The two serpents represent Ida (Sun power) and Pingala (Moon power) and are supposed to be responsible for human health which is kept in full power when aroused to keep sound mind and body.
In Vedic religion of Lithuania twin horses were installed at the top of the roof for taking care of good health. In one Greek mythological depiction Hermes is given the staff by Apollo, the Greek God of Healing. Hermes used the stick to separate two fighting snakes, depiction of which then coiled around his staff and remained there in balanced harmony. Another depiction says earlier the medical symbol is the staff of Asclepius, thought it has no wings and only one snake.
The son of Apollo and the human princess Coronus, Asclepius is the Greek demigod of medicine like Asvinis. According to mythology, he was able to restore the health of the sick and bring the dead back to life. The Greeks regarded snakes as sacred (like Hindus who worship snakes for health and protection of children) and used them in healing rituals to honor Asclepius, as snake venom was thought to be remedial and their skin-shedding was viewed as a symbol of rebirth and renewal.
You can thus see the similarity in mythological stories of the East and West where horses and snakes stand for health and strength of the body and mind.
Bermuda Triangle Mystery Revealed in Rig Veda
Although there is a similar demon described in first ever poem, Ramayana, it does not match with the geographical location. Simhika, the gigantic demon had the power to attract anything’s shadow flying over ocean and pull it into the waters.
However, that was on the way to Lanka. Brahmanda Purana (composed more than 5000 years ago) and Rig Veda (written more than 23000 years ago) clearly state that the planet Mars was born out of Earth. That is why he is called as Bhauma (‘son of Bhumi’) or Kuja (Ku = Earth + Ja = Born out of) in Sanskrit.
Asya Vamasya Sukta in Rig Veda states :”When Earth gave birth to Mars, and Mars separated from his mother, her thigh got injured and she became imbalanced (Earth rotated in its axis) and to stop it Godly doctors, Aswini Kumars poured iron into the triangular shaped injury and Earth got fixed in her current position.
That is why Earth’s axis is bent at a particular angle. That triangular shaped injury on our planet which was filled with iron went onto become Bermuda Triangle. Iron stored inside earth for years becomes natural magnet and Bermuda disappearances, fog, high and low temperature water streams colliding are a result of this.
Moon was also born out of churning of milky ocean and when it rocketed out from Earth at latitude of about 23½ a huge bump created by its ejection came in line with Sun. So, Earth has tilted axis at 23½. Modern science could not explain this phenomenon and also the strange coincidence that Earth is titled at 23½ degrees and Bermuda Triangle is also at 23½!
1. Swami Bhaskarananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
2. Swami Vimalananda, Mahanarayan Upanishad, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
3. Ramachndra Rao, S.K., Early Indian Thought, Kalpatharu Research Academy, Bengaluru, India.
4. Srinivasan N.R., Purushasooktam, <nrsrini.blogspot.com> Internet
5. Wikipedia and other internet sources.
6. Ramachndra Rao S.K., Srividyaa-Kosa, Sri Satgutu Publications, Delhi, India.7. IndiaDivine.Org, Bermuda Triangle Mystery solved in Rigveda and Atharva Veda.