Updated: May 28, 2020
In Hindu philosophy different Gods and Goddesses are assigned different universal responsibilities. The different elements of nature like wind, fire, earth, water, sky, etc. are governed by different deities. These deities held Supreme authority during the Vedic era. However later on most of them lost their importance to other Gods like Vishnu and Shiva and became minor gods. Varuna was one among such Vedic gods. He was the son of sage Kashyap and Aditi and was one among the 12 Adityas born from them. He was considered as the Supreme God of Cosmos who controlled various aspects of the Universe like the sky, water, oceans, rains, etc. He was also known to punish people for their misdeeds. He had an all-pervading eye that would watch over each activity in the Universe. Some ancient pictures depict him as a God with 1000 eyes. He is shown riding a crocodile. However he was also known to have a benevolent side where he is shown forgiving people for their misdeeds as well.
People who repented committing sins and were guilty of their acts were forgiven by Varuna. He was also known to be the king of gods who watched over us from his heavenly abode.
However in the later Hindu scriptures he lost much of his importance to Indra and Indra took the central role. After the Vedic era most of the Vedic Gods became minor gods with Brahma Vishnu and Shiva becoming the main gods. Varun was then associated with oceans and was known to be the Lord of all water bodies only. He was still considered to be the protector of Truth and Righteousness. He was also closely associated With another Vedic god called Mitra. Mitra was the god of oath and treaties and helped to establish order in this world. They both have been invoked together in a lot of Vedic hymns.
Varuna has also been mentioned in the epic tale of Ramayana. This was when Rama along with Lakshmana and the Vanar Sena was on the mission to rescue Sita from Lanka. They had to cross the Indian Ocean and reach the island of Lanka. However the ocean was immensely deep and the distance to cover was humongous. This is when Lord Rama decided to meditate upon Lord Varuna and seek a solution from him. He kept meditating for three days non- stop trying to connect With Lord Varuna. However Lord Varuna did not respond. This enraged Rama and he was now furious on Varuna for ignoring his plea. He told Lakshamana that even Gods listened to violence and ignored peaceful prayers. Rama decided to attack the ocean with his bow and arrow. This would have dried the entire ocean and they would be able to reach Lanka without any troubles. This is when Varuna appeared before Rama, seeking forgiveness. He said that he was unable to find a solution for their plight and that is why he was unable to appear. He then instructed them to build a bridge with stones. He promised that he would not let anyone in the army drown.
Varuna was married to Goddess Varuni. Though there aren’t many temples dedicated to Lord Varuna, there is a 1000-year-old Varuna temple located in Pakistan. Even today many sailors and fishermen worship him before starting their journey in the sea.
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