The abode of the Immortals, wide vision, and the eye that sees all in the poetic gathas

WELKIN “clouds, heaven, abode of the Gods” is an old English word that brings to mind a quote from Shakespeare’s King John Act 5, Scene 5: “The sun of heaven, methought, was loath to set / But stay’d and made the western welkin blush.”

The word welkin has been used in English since at least the 12th century, and it derives from Proto Indo European *welk, *welg “wet, moist.” The German word wolke “CLOUD” comes from the same root.

This brings to mind the primal Greek God personifying “sky/heaven,” Uranus Ouranós. The sky god Uranus comes from *vorsanós “rain-maker,” and belongs with Vedic varṣá, Avestan varəš “to rain,” deriving from Reconstructed Proto Indo European root *ṷérs “to rain, moisten.”

Middle Iranian várûn Persian bárán “rain” are cognates, and go back to the same ancient Indo European root.

The great scholar George Dumézil has considered Ouranós to be the same as Váruṇa the chief god/asura of the Vedic pantheon. Váruṇa is the god embodying “vault of the sky, celestial oceans and rain water.”

Dumézil’s equation of Ouranós with Váruṇa has since been deemed as incorrect. Váruṇa is currently linked with the root *ver “to speak” (Latin verbum “word.”) Váruṇa is the “master of the sacred word, formulas, and rules/laws of the cosmic order.”

Váruṇa is noted for being “all seeing,” and has been brought into connection with the ancient Lithuanian Vélinas, Latvian Velns, the Gaulish Vellaunos, and Hittite Walis, all the latter supposedly deriving from the root *wel “to see.”

The *wel root also comes in connection with the German prophetess Veleda, where it refers to vatic “seeing.”

The passage in the poetic gathas dealing with the “eye that sees all, knows all” is the first rhymed verse line of Yasna 33.13. The gathic term is vôuruu čašánæ. In the Rig Veda, Váruṇa is called urucákśas-, 1. 25. 5.

Avestan vôuruu comes from the root *ver/*wer (*vérhus) “vast, wide, limitless, all encompassing.” It is believed that the *wel root is unknown to Indo-Iranian.

Vôuruučašánæ is an epithet of Ahûrá Mazdá. For the Mindful lord witnesses everything, watchful, and intent, with his eye’s beam (Yasna 31. 13,) he is not deceived, the ahûrá who sees all’ (Yasna 45. 4.) In the poetic Avestan hymns, the sun is called the eye of Ahûrá Mazdá.

At the same time, in the Avesta, Mithra “friendship with the Immortals,” is said to have ten thousand ears and ten thousand eyes, he is all knowing and cannot be deceived.

In the gathic poetry and the sacred Zoroastrian literature, Godhood is the eternal quest for excellence, and heaven is where there are new horizons, and visionary power.

There is perhaps a Germanic parallel in the Hildebrandslied, where Hiltibrant begins a speech with the words wettu Irmingot obana ab heuene. This corresponds to the position of Odin in the Eddas. Odin has the highest seat among the gods, and from it he surveys all the worlds the sense would be ‘let Irmingot know it from above in heaven. (Irmingot is an epithet of Odin, and is equivalent with Gathic/Avestan Airyaman)


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