Categories: Hindu God and Goddess

Ashvins: Divine Twin Gods

The Ashvins, recognized as the Ashvini Kumaras or Asvinau in Hindu mythology, hold a significant place as twin deities associated with medicine, health, dawn, and sciences. In the Rigveda, they appear as youthful divine twin horsemen, riding a chariot drawn by tireless horses, depicted as guardian deities who aid and safeguard individuals in various circumstances.

Ashvini Kumaras

Etymology and Epithets

Derived from Sanskrit “Aśvín,” linked to the Indo-European term for the horse, H1éḱwos, the Ashvins, though usually referred to in the dual form without specific names, are distinct entities. They’re addressed as ‘grandsons of Dyaús (the sky-god),’ a formula akin to various Indo-European traditions.

Origins and Equivalents

Belonging to the Indo-European divine horse twins, their counterparts include the Lithuanian Ašvieniai, Latvian Dieva Dēli, Greek Castor and Pollux, and possibly English Hengist and Horsa, and Welsh Bran and Manawydan. The Nasatya twins’ earliest mention dates back to a Mitanni treaty around 1350 BCE.

Literature and Legends

In the Rigveda, the Ashvins are extensively mentioned with over 50 hymns dedicated to them. They’re portrayed as compassionate helpers, aiding mortals in dire situations. Instances include rescuing individuals from deserts, oceans, and restoring youth or health. Legends detail their relationship with the goddess Ushas and their marriage to Sūryā.

Post-Vedic Texts

Post-Vedic texts, such as the Mahabharata and Puranas, retell their stories, including the birth of Nakula and Sahadeva, who were considered spiritual sons of the Ashvins. These texts also delve into narratives about Sanjna’s escape from Surya and Chyavana’s rejuvenation through the twins’ intervention.

Associations and Attributes

The Ashvins are closely associated with resurrecting mortals and bringing them back to life. They’re linked to dawn and are invoked during their principal sacrifice, showing a strong connection with Uṣas, the dawn goddess. Symbolically, their chariot, drawn by various creatures, embodies mobility and swiftness, enabling them to fulfill their role of aiding those in need.

Significance and Contributions

Their significance extends to associations with honey offerings, roles in specific rituals, and their involvement in the preparation of chayavanprash, an herbal formulation for Sage Chyavana, revered in local traditions. During the Jalvishuv Sankranti festival in Chattogram, Bangladesh, devoted followers observe a vrat (Ashvini Kumara Vrat) dedicated to the healing twin deities, Ashvini Kumaras, marking the transition from the Bengali month of Ashvin to Kartik.

Conclusion

The Ashvins, divine twin gods, embody a multifaceted presence in Hindu mythology, revered for their healing prowess, association with dawn, and compassionate aid to mortals in distress. Across Vedic and post-Vedic texts, their legends and contributions endure, depicting their enduring significance in the Hindu pantheon.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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