Savitr
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Savitr

Savit? (Sanskrit: stem savit?-, nominative singular savit?) in Vedic mythology is an Aditya i.e. off-spring of the Vedic primeval mother goddess Aditi. His name in Vedic Sanskrit connotes "impeller, rouser, vivifier."

He is sometimes associated with - and at other times distinguished from - Surya, "the Sun". When considered distinct from the Sun proper, he is conceived of as the divine influence or vivifying power of the Sun. The Sun before sunrise is called Savitr, and after sunrise until sunset it is called S?rya.[1] Savitr is celebrated in eleven whole hymns of the Rig Veda and in parts of many others, his name being mentioned about 170 times in aggregate.

Savitr disappeared as an independent deity from the Hindu pantheon after the end of the Vedic period, but in modern Hinduism his name occurs in the well-known Gayatri mantra (taken from book three of the Rigveda; RV 3.62.10), which is therefore also known as the S?vitr?.

Rigvedic deity

Savitr is a deity whose name primarily denotes an agent, in the form of a noun derived from a verbal root with the agent suffix -t? added. The name of Savitr belongs to a class of Vedic theonyms, together with Dhat?, Nestor, Trat? and Tvastr. These names denote that these are agent gods, who create, protect, and produce, respectively.[2]

Appearance

Savitr has golden arms, and is broad-handed or beautiful-handed. He is also pleasant tongued or beautiful-tongued, and is once called iron-jawed. His eyes are golden as well. He is yellow-haired, an attribute shared with Agni and Indra. He dons on a tawny garb. He has a golden chariot with a golden axle, which is omni-form, just as he himself is capable of assuming all forms. His channel is analogized as a resplendent chariot drawn by two radiant steeds or by two or more bronze, white-footed stallions. Mighty splendour ("amati") is preeminently attributed to Savitr, and mighty "golden" splendour to him only. Such splendour he stretches out or diffuses. He illumines the air, heaven and earth, the world, the spaces of the earth, the vault of heaven.

Functions

Like Pushan and Surya, he is lord of that which is mobile and is stationary. Savitr has been attributed to as upholding the movables and immovable, which signifies the maintenance of ?ta. Savitr is a beneficent god who acts as protector of all beings, who are provident and guard the world of spirits. Being an Aditya, Savitr is true to the Eternal Order and act as the score exacter.[3]

His primordial pathways in the air are dustless and sleekly traversed, on them he is besought to fortify his invokers. He is prayed to convey the departed soul to where the righteous dwell. Savitr bestows immortality on the gods as well as length of life on man. He also bestowed immortality on the Rbhus, who by the greatness of their deeds advanced to his dwelling. Like other gods, Savitr is a supporter of the cosmos. Also, he holds the whole world, a role which was also assigned to Vishnu in the Vedas.

Abstract classification

There are two classes of deities in the Rig Veda whose nature is founded on abstraction. The first class consisting of the direct personifications of abstract notions such as desire is rare, occurring only in the very latest hymns of the Rig Veda and due to that growth of speculation which is so plainly traceable in the course of the Vedic age.[]

The second and more numerous class comprises deities whose names primarily either denote an agent, in the form of a noun derived from a root with the suffix "-t?", such as Dhatr, Creator, or designate some attribute, such as Prajapati (Lord of Creatures). This class, judged by the evolution of the mythological creations of the Veda, does not represent direct abstractions, but appears in each case to be derived from an epithet applied to one or more deities and illustrating a particular aspect of activity or character. Such epithets gradually become detached, finally attaining an independent position. Thus Rohita, the Red One (whose female form is Rohin?), originally an epithet of the sun, as a separate deity in the capacity of a Creator.[]

Savitr is never mentioned as having part in the Soma sacrifice, "a fact which is doubtless fair evidence that the Rig Veda did not know him as having a place in the rite, and that he was later brought in, perhaps because of his growing importance, perhaps as an Aditya."[5]

Solar aspects

According to Yaska, Sanskrit scholar of the 5th century BCE, who made various attempts to interpret difficult Vedic mythologies in his work Nirukta (Etymology) (12, 12), the time of Savitr's appearance is when darkness has been removed. Sayanacharya (on Rig Veda) remarks that before his rising the sun is called Savitr, but from his rising to his setting, Surya. But Savitr is also sometimes spoken of as "sending to sleep", and must therefore be connected with evening as well as morning. He is, indeed, extolled as the setting sun in one hymn (2, 38); and there are indications that most of the hymns addressed to him are meant for either a morning or an evening sacrifice. He brings all two-footed and four-footed beings to rest and awakens them. He unyokes his steeds, brings the wanderer to rest; at his command night comes; the weaver rolls up her web and the skilful man lays down his unfinished work. Later the west was wont to be assigned to him, as the east to Agni, and the south to Soma.

The epithet "s?rya-ra?mi" is used in the Rig Veda only once, and it is applied to Savitr:

Like Surya, Savitr is implored to remove evil nightmares and to render men sinless. Savitr drives away sorcerers and antagonism. He observes fixed laws. The waters and the wind are subject to his ordinance. He leads the waters and by his propulsion they flow broadly. The other gods follow his lead. No being, not even Indra, Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, can resist his will and independent dominion. His praises are celebrated by the Vasus, Aditi, Varuna, Mitra and Aryaman. He is lord of all things worthy, and bestows blessings pervading heaven, air, earth.

In several passages of the Rig Veda, Savitr and Surya appear simultaneously. It may even appear based on A.B. Keith's opinion that the terms Savitar and Surya are used interchangeably in certain hymns of the Rig Veda. However it is worth noting that several other deities are directly associated with the epithet of Savitar in the Family Books. They include Indra who is paired alongside Savitar,[7] and Tvastr who is compounded with Savitar.[8] Furthermore, Savitar is unambiguously identified with Bhaga.[9] Savitar is also unambiguously called Pusan and Mitra.[10] While Savitar certainly has directly been charged with using Surya's rays, Savitar has a much more direct congruence with other deities. The Vedic poet observes:

In another hymn Surya is spoken of in terms Prasavit? (Vivifier)[], an adjective usually applied to Savitr, and in the third verse[] Savitr is apparently mentioned as the same god as Surya. In other hymns also, it is hardly possible to separate the two deities.[] In certain passages, Savitr combines with the rays of the sun or shines with the rays of the sun.

Savitr has a major role in creation. The relevant hymn mentions that: "Indra measured six broad spaces, from which no existing thing is excluded: He it is who made the wide expanse of earth and the lofty dome of the sky, even he." Savitr assisted Indra in shaping the universe.[11]

Other names and epithets

Apam napat (Born of the Waters)
Savitr is at least once.[13] called "apam napat" (Child of Waters), an epithet applied to Agni and Soma as well.
God of the Middle Region
Commentator Yaska commenting on the verse where Savitr is attributed with causing rain, regards Savitr as belonging to the mesial region (or atmosphere) for possessing this ability, adding that the Adityas, who are in heaven, are also called Savitr. It is probably owing to this epithet and because Savitr's paths are said to be in the atmosphere, that this deity occurs among the gods of the mesial expanse among those of outer space in the Naighantuka.
Prajapati
Savitr is once depicted as the Prajapati of the world. In the Satapatha Brahmana (v. 12, 3, 5), Savitr has been identified with Prajapati and in the Taittiriya Brahmana (v. 1, 6, 4), it has been stated that Prajapati becoming Savitr created living beings.
Damunas (Domestic)
In the Rig Veda, Savitr has been twice spoken of as domestic ("damunas"), an epithet otherwise almost entirely limited to Agni.
Asura
Like many other gods, Savitr is mentioned as 'asura' in many hymns of the Rig Veda.
Pusan
Savitr alone is the lord of vivifying power and on account of his movements (yamabhih), he becomes Pusan. In two consecutive verses, Pusan and Savitr are described as connected. In the first the favour of Pusan who sees all beings is invoked, and in the second, Savitr is besought to stimulate the thoughts of worshipers who desire to think of the excellent brilliance of the Deva. The latter verse is the celebrated Savitri, now termed as the Gayatri mantra, with which Savitr was in later times invoked at the beginning of Vedic study.
Mitra
Savitr is also said to become Mitra by reason of his laws.
Bhaga
Savitr seems sometimes to be identified with Bhaga also, unless the latter word is here only an epithet of Savitr. The name of Bhaga, the good god bestowing benefits is indeed often added to that of Savitr so as to form the single expression Savitr Bhaga or Bhaga Savitr, with the term Bhaga simply acting as a qualitative and attributive adjective.

Savitr in the Brahmanas

The Vedas do not specifically identify the ?dityas as there is no classification of the thirty-three gods, except for in the Yajurveda (7.19), which says that there are eleven gods in heaven (light space), eleven gods in the atmosphere (intermediate space), and eleven gods on earth (observer space). In some passages of the Satapatha Brahmana, the number of ?dityas is eight, and in other passages twelve ?dityas are mentioned.

Savitr disappears in post-Vedic literature and is absent from the corpus of Pauranic Hinduism.[14][15]

Hindu revivalism

Some modern Hindu spiritual thinkers assign symbolism to the Vedic deities like Savitr. The Vedic deities are not only forces of nature, but also forces that exist within the human intellect and psyche, and help the individual in spiritual progress.[16]

According to Sri Aurobindo, the Vedic depictions are deeper than mere imagery. The gods, goddesses and the evil forces mentioned in the Vedas represent various cosmic powers. They play a significant role in the drama of creation, preservation, and destruction in the inner world of a human being.[16]

Once the senses are controlled and the mind is stabilized through slaying of all the dark powers, comes the awakening, the goddess Ushas, who brings along with her Ashvins into the world of inner consciousness. After Ushas appears Aditi, the Primal Sun, the God of Light: First as Savitr, who represents the divine grace essential for all spiritual success, and then as Mitra, who as the divine love is considered as a friend of the illumined mind (Indra) and his associates (the other gods). The Sun is of Truth, after which appear Rta (Truth in Action) and Rtachit (Truth consciousness).[16]

Popular culture

In DC Comics' The Flash comics and The CW's The Flash TV series, the speedster Savitar is an enemy of the Flash who named himself after the Hindu god.

In a fiction by author Ryan Sequeira, called "EvOLv", where Savitr has been named as one of the Supreme Gods - parallel with Shiva - The God Savitr is referred to as the source of light in the multiverse.

References

  1. ^ Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary (1899), p. 1190.
  2. ^ MacDonell, A.A. (1881). Vedic Mythology. Williams and Norgate. They are known as 'Fivers' in Islam. The five first Imams or Teachers.
  3. ^ "?dityas". Rig-Veda. Translated by Griffith, Ralph T.H. Book 2: Hymn XXVII.
  4. ^ Keith, A. Berriedale. The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads. 1. p. 204.[full ]
  5. ^ Keith, Arthur Berriedale. The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads. 2.[full ]
  6. ^ Keith, Arthur Berriedale. The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads. 1. p. 65.[full ]
  7. ^ Rig Veda: Mandala 2, Hymn XXX, line 1
  8. ^ Rig Veda: Mandala 3, Hymn LV, line 19
  9. ^ Rig Veda: Mandala 5, Hymn LXXXII, line 3
  10. ^ Rig Veda: Mandala 5, Hymn LXXXI, last lines
  11. ^ Mackenzie, Donald A. Indian myth and Legend.
  12. ^ MacDonnel, A. A. Vedic Mythology. p. 13.[full ]
  13. ^ "Vi?vedevas". Rig Veda. Translated by Griffith, Ralph T.H. Book 6: Hymn L.
  14. ^ Wilson, H. H. (2006). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition. Read Books Publications.
  15. ^ Muir, John (1863). Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and Progress of the Religion and Institutions of India. Williams and Norgate.
  16. ^ a b c Aurobindo, Sri. The Secret of the Vedas.[full ]

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Savitr
 



 



 
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