Varuna Riding Makara

Photo: Varuna riding Makara.

In Vedic religion, Varuna is a god of the sky, water and the celestial ocean of the night sky or milky way. As a god of darkness opposite the sun god Mitra (Surya), he is a god of law and the Underworld.* His mount is named Makara, who is cognate with the Egyptian crocodile god Sobek. Thus, he was aligned with the asuras or serpent deities in the Rig-Veda. As a water god, he is associated with the Greek god Uranus, sea gods Poseidon and Roman Neptune and Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrian Avesta.

According to Dr. Liny Srinivasan in his book "Desi Words Speak of the Past," Varuna was the "lord of the Western quarter" and equated with the Ugaritic/Canaanite god Yammu who was also called Amurru. The Western land was named Amurru after this deity who is believed to be a variation of Jambu or Jambuo, the Prakit name for Varuna. Thus, Jambu, Amurru and Yammu are all names for the Vedic Varuna.

Scholars suggest a Semetic connection to Varuna. According to A.L. Basham, Varuna and Yahweh are probably one and the same.

"Not only did Varuna punish the sins of the individual but, like the Yahweh of the Old Testament, he visited the sins of his ancestors upon him [original sin], and his ubiquity ensured that there was no escape for the sinner...So humble was the worshipper in Varuna's presence, so conscious of weakness, guilt and shortcomings, that on reading the hymns to Varuna one is inevitably reminded of the penitential psalms of the Old Testament."

In post-Vedic texts Varuna 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. Varun, which means wind, 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.

Thus we find that the name Yahweh or Yahu likely refers to the path of Yammu otherwise identified as the storm god Amurru of the Amorite people of Mesopotamia.** As a descendent of Varuna, Yammu, Yahu or Yahweh is the nighttime brother to sun god Surya and plays the dark lord of the Underworld with the power of resurrection.***

* Mitra became the Persian sun god Mithra, worshipped in Rome in the early days of Christianity. Thus, the Christian god Yahweh competed directly opposite of Mithra in Rome.

** Amurru's wife was Asherah, which was also the wife of Yahu.

*** The land of Amurru comes from Jambudvipa, which is the realm of ordinary human beings. Meaning "island" or "continent," Jambudvipa is usually taken to refer to the Indian continent or island of Sri Lanka where Jambu trees grow and Jambu juice may have once been used to make Soma. According to the Markandeya Purana, Jambudvipa has an elevated region named Meruvarsha with its center being the transcendental Mount Meru. But, its more ancient identity may instead be the Aryan homeland of Armenia and the mountain Arya-rat, making Amurru, Yammu or Yahweh the nighttime god of Mt. Ararat.