Saturday, December 24, 2011

Usha/Ushas



Copyright Lisa Hunt. Website.
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Ushas (उषः; uṣás-), Sanskrit for "dawn", is a Vedic deity. She is the chief goddess (sometimes imagined as several goddesses, Dawns) exalted in the Rig Veda. She is portrayed as a beautifully adorned, sexually attractive young woman riding in a chariot. She is the daughter of Dyaus "Heaven", divó duhitâ (e.g. RV 6.64.5).
Twenty out of 1028 hymns in the Rig Veda are dedicated to Dawn: Book 7 has seven hymns, books 4–6 have two hymns each, and the younger books 1 and 10 have six and one respectively.
E. g. RV 6.64.1-2 (trans. Griffith):
1. The radiant Dawns have risen up for glory, in their white splendour like the waves of waters. She maketh paths all easy, fair to travel, and, rich, hath shown herself benign and friendly. 2. We see that thou art good: far shines thy lustre; thy beams, thy splendours have flown up to heaven. Decking thyself, thou makest bare thy bosom, shining in majesty, thou Goddess Morning. The name is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is uṣásas. It is from PIE *h₂ausos-, cognate to Greek *Ηως and Latin Aurora.
From: Ushas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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If you catch the light just before the sun appears, early in the morning, be sure to greet her. Her name is Ushas. The Goddess of Dawn.

The night is dark and deep when Ushas rises and her mother, the sky, begins to adorn her. She uses hope to cloth her, life to anoint her with and light for her ornaments. Her sister, the night, lends her the magic while retaining the mystery. Ushas has the magic of looking at everybody at the same time.

It is then that the sun catches sight of her. Resplendent is golden hue, the sun falls in love with this young maiden born anew everyday, keeper of time and youth. As Ushas appears above the sky, riding a hundred chariots, the sun, madly in love with this beautiful maiden, chases her. She spreads her love and his light across the sky bringing a new day for mankind smiling to herself for she knows well that the sun is racing her. The romance of the day makes the birds chatter, the streams gurgle, the lotus blossom and the bee gets more intoxicated with the nectar he sucks in.

She dances and sings and spreads cheer all around. Darkness runs away and bad dreams die at the opening of the day. Evil spirits rush to hide for all is visible now.

And suddenly the sun catches up with her and holds her in embrace as the day is all light and sunlight to finally surrender once again to the night.

Ushas is a Rig Vedic deity who is the most beautiful maiden personifying the charm of dawn. Since she precedes light, she is also called the Mother Goddess. In the Rig Veda the description of the break of dawn, of the emergence of Ushas, is perhaps the most beautiful passage. She is described as the one who untiringly rises every morning as though born anew to bring life to mankind, to satisfy all their longings and give new strength to every spirit.

The changing colours at dawn are likened to the different robes of a dancing girl while the golden tipped clouds that appear just before sunrise are like bridal jewellery. Ushas is portrayed as a shy maiden, conscious of her beauty but modest and entering society under the protection of her mother. Even mythology is fascinated by the chauvinist model and over thousands of years the readers of the Vedas have drawn great pleasure in imagining the shy maiden being followed by the macho sun and finally her surrender. The story of this romance which all of us see everyday, but often fail to heave that deep sigh of longing, caught as we were in the nitty gritty affairs of the sunlit day, brings gifts for all mankind; wealth for those who seek it, education for those others, contentment to some and salvation to yet others.
From: Ushas, Mother Goddess, Goddess of Dawn
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In the Rig Veda the goddess Usha is consistently associated with and often identified with the dawn. She reveals herself in the daily coming of light to the world. She has been described in the Rig Veda as a young maiden drawn by one hundred horses. She brings forth light and is followed by the sun who urges her onwards. She is praised for driving away, or is petitioned to drive away, the oppressive darkness. She is asked to chase away evil demons. As the dawn she is said to rouse all life, to set all things in motion and to send people off to do their duties. She sends the curled-up sleepers on their way to offer their sacrifices and thus render service to the other gods.

Usha gives strength and fame. She is that which impels life and is associated with the breath and life of all living creatures. She is associated with, or moves with cosmic, social and moral order. As the regularly recurring dawn she reveals and participates in cosmic order and is the foe of chaotic forces that threaten the world. Usha is generally held as an auspicious goddess associated with light and wealth, and is often likened to a cow.

In the Rig Veda she is also called 'the mother of cows' and like a cow that yields its udder for the benefit of people, so Usha bares her breasts to bring light for the benefit of human kind. Although she is usually described as a young and beautiful maiden, she is also called 'the mother of the gods and the ashwins'. Considered as mother by her petitioners she tends to all things like a good matron and goddess of the earth. She is said to be 'the eye of the gods' and is referred to as 'she who sees all', but is rarely invoked to forgive human transgressions. It is more typical to invoke her in times of need to drive away or punish one's enemies.

Usha is known as the goddess, reality or presence that bears away youth. She is described as 'a skilled huntress who wastes away the lives of people'. In accordance with the ways of Rita she wakes all living things but does not disturb the person who sleeps in death. As the recurring dawn, Usha is not only celebrated for bringing light from darkness, she is also petitioned to grant long life, as she is a constant reminder of peoples' limited time on earth. She is the mistress or marker of time.

The ancient Vedic tradition has viewed Usha as the harbinger of light, awareness, activity. People divided time into the form of day and night. At night all creation rests and in the day the whole of creation is active. The transformation which takes place from night to day is known to be the attribute of Usha, the awareness that stirs up the activity of creation, the light that gives sight to the eyes, that gives power to the senses, that gives power to the mind and intellect, Usha has been regarded as the light, or the dawn of human consciousness.
From: Vedic Gods & Goddesses
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HYMN LIL Dawn.
1. THIS Lady, giver of delight, after her Sister shining forth, Daughter of Heaven, hath shown herself.-
2 Unfailing, Mother of the Kine, in colour like a bright red mare,
The Dawn became the Asvins' Friend.
3 Yea, and thou art the Asvins' Friend, the Mother of the Kine art thou:
O Dawn thou rulest over wealth.
4 Thinking of thee, O joyous One, as her who driveth hate away,
We woke to meet thee with our lauds.
5 Our eyes behold thy blessed rays like troops of cattle loosed to feed.
Dawn hath filled full the wide expanse.
6 When thou hast filled it, Fulgent One! thou layest bare the gloom with light.
After thy nature aid us, Dawn.
7 Thou overspreadest heaven with rays, the dear wide region of mid-air.
With thy bright shining lustre, Dawn

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