Symbolism of Wind in Hinduism

Vayu, Wind God

by Jayaram V

Although the Vedas uphold Indra as the lord of the heaven and devote more hymns to the invocation of Agni, the fire god, they also recognize Wind (Vayu) as the pervader of the three regions, source of life breath (prana) and sustainer of life in the body. In the following essay you will find the archetypal meaning, cultural significance and symbolism of whirlpool or votex in Hinduism.

In Hinduism, wind symbolizes soul, divinity, breath, strength, one of the five elements, storms and tempests, messenger, swiftness, auspiciousness, perfume, speed, cleansing and transformative power, a plane of consciousness, a world, the mid-region, direction, sickness, spirit possession, and ritual purity.

The Vedas extol Vayu, the god of wind as the lord of the mid-region, friend of gods like Indra and Varuna, and lover of the Soma juice. He carries good tidings and the blessings of gods to the worshippers in return for the drops of Soma offered by them during sacrificial ceremonies. Vayu is propitiated because the wind conveys the coming of rains and the onset of monsoons, which are considered good omens by farmers for cultivation of their lands and those looking for water. He is offered Soma drops so that he makes the winds pleasant and less destructive.

As the god of purity and strength, he carries away all the impurities and evil presences and keeps the world and beings free from them. By purifying their minds and bodies he also protects them from illness and imparts to them vigor and strength. The Upanishad declares that since he is impervious to evil, he destroyed demons and carried all the gods beyond death and evil influences. Maruts and Rudras, the storm gods who are associated with Indra and Shiva, and Hanuman or Maruthi, are aspects of Vayu only. He is considered the father of Hanuman.

In the Vedic cosmology, the region between the earth and the sky is called the mid-region (antariksha). In the body it is represented by the breath body. According to Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Vayu as the breath in the body is superior to all gods since the body cannot be alive without him.

As the lord of the mid-region, Vayu assists in the union and communication between the gods in heaven and the humans upon earth. Along with Indra the god of lightning, and deities such as the Maruts and Rudras, who are the gods of storms and tempests, he facilitates rains, fertility, and rebirth of souls that are returning from the ancestral heaven.

Moving swiftly on a thousand horses and moving in all directions he keeps a benevolent eye upon the world and keeps it pure. In the body the wind represents breath, life and consciousness. As the lord of the organs he protects the body from impurities, death, and evil influences.

In Hinduism, the wind also symbolizes freedom, modifications of the mind (vrittis), fate, the subtle (breath) body, the invisible and formless Self, illness, and bad spirits. People believe that a person may fall sick or become deluded because of bad wind (evil spirit).

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