A Nature Deity? The Ṛgvedic Savitṛ Revisited

  • Dominik A. Haas University of Vienna
Keywords: Ancient Cultures, Vedic Religion, Savitṛ, Archaeoastronomy, Milky Way, Zodiacal light, Crepuscular rays

Abstract

The problematic identity of the deity Savitṛ in early Vedic religion has sparked more than a century of discussion. Harry Falk, for instance, argued that this god, whose name literally means the ‘impeller’, can be identified with the Milky Way and associated with the rainy season. According to Falk, this association was also responsible for the employment of a verse addressing Savitṛ (a so-called sāvitrī) in the initiation of the Vedic student, whose studies originally began at the onset of the rainy season. The aims of this paper are (a) to review the various theories about Savitṛ’s manifestations in nature and (b) to explain how different natural phenomena and celestial luminaries could be associated with this god. In discussing the theories proposed so far, I not only consider the Vedic sources but also re-evaluate the archaeoastronomical arguments with reliable software. As it turns out, there is no conclusive evidence that Savitṛ was associated with any single phenomenon or luminary at all, nor can he be connected with the rainy season or water in general. Rather, he was an anthropomorphic deity essentially independent of the various natural phenomena and celestial luminaries he impelled.

Section
Articles
Published
Oct 18, 2020
How to Cite
Haas, D. A. (2020). A Nature Deity? The Ṛgvedic Savitṛ Revisited. Studia Orientalia Electronica, 8(1), 153-174. https://doi.org/10.23993/store.89288