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Lenart Škof:

Rigvedic Hymns to Varuna and the Question of Morality in Old Vedic Religion


The paper looks at Rigvedic hymns dedicated to Varuna and the role of morality in early Vedic texts. Th ough Varuna is but one of numerous gods, he occupies a special position in old Vedic religious beliefs. As the supreme guardian of cosmic order, Varuna has the power over the acts of humans. His role in the development of moral awareness of ancient Indians, depicted in poet’s Vasishtha’s hymns to Varuna, is therefore of considerable interest. Varuna is depicted as a god with the oldest traces of the bhakti religious belief (Dandekar), then as a god from the group of Adityas (Th ieme), and as the asura (Kuiper, Ježić). His royal nature is strongly emphasized as well. Th e paper examines the feelings of sin and guilt which are the result of man’s moral awareness (Bergaigne). Th ese feelings represent man’s need to create a personal relationship with Varuna, and to translate this relationship into hymns. In the hymns dedicated solely to him, Varuna is depicted as a merciful and compassionate god. Of special interest is also the word ‘rdudara’, denoting compassion, which indicates man’s compassionate and ethical orientation toward other people, and at the same time toward a merciful and compassionate god.

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