Angiras, Atharvan & the Anu in the Rigveda / Part I

The Angirasas are among oldest families of Rishis / Seers in the Rig Veda. I cannot read the word Angiras without envisioning these Rigvedic Seers as inter-stellar and inter-dimensional 'engineers', astrophysicists, men and women who were masters of space technology in the galaxies, and simultaneously adepts of advanced metaphysics. I think of the Angirasas as World Guardians.

In the Rig Veda, Agni is sometimes referred to as Angiras. The supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon is AN, or Anu. The first two letters of the Sanskrit word An-gir-as, AN could refer to Anu. While GIR might relate to the Akkadian fire-god, fire as in rocket propulsion. DinGIR in the cuneiform writing meant sky or heaven, and also a god or goddess. The masters of the sky were perceived as deities by the earthbound. Based on my visions, I think of Angiras and his descendents the Angirasas, as a group of higher beings who traverse the realms between gods & men — an inter-stellar & inter-dimensional elite.

"The seven Rishis are identified with the seven stars of the Big Dipper. Their wives are the six stars of the Pleiades (Krittikas), plus one visible double star of the Big Dipper. Originally these seven Rishis, sapta vipra, were identified as Angirasas." [David Frawley]

Already remote mythical persons in the Rigveda

The Angirasas and the Bhrigus families "...represent the pre-Rigvedic past: they go so far back into the past that not only are they eponymous founders of these families (Angiras and Bhrigu respectively), but even certain other ancient Rishis belonging to these families (Brihaspati, Atharvan, Ushana) are already remote mythical persons in the Rigveda; and the names of the two families are already names for mythical and ritual classes: the Angirasas are deified as 'a race of higher beings between Gods and men' ...the Bhrigus and the Atharvans are synonymous with fire-priests in general. ...the names of these two families are also found in the Iranian and Greek texts..." [Shrikant G. Talageri]


The Rigveda & the Iranian Avesta

"To those who are well versed in the ancient Vedic language Mazdaism, the religion of Zend Avesta — [the book of Zarathustra, a Magi, a priest of priests, the great wise man who rose in Persia] — is nothing but the Rigveda on a different key. Although they are different books; and although the Rig Veda is much more complex and elaborate, a comparative study of the two, specially the gods and their rituals, leaves no doubt whatsoever that the peoples of the Zend, and the peoples of the Vedas were, if not the same, at least very closely associated. Both were Aryans in origin, practice and culture. The Mittani records of Bogaz Koi show presence of the Rigvedic gods amongst the people of the Medes and Persia.

"The religion of classical Persia is very complex. The Assyro-Bablonian beliefs appear to have gotten syncretised with the Aryan faith, and the Vedic strains...Their chief rites embraced the cult of Fire." [B. Bhattacharaya, p.177]

The Prosody of the Rigveda & Avesta: Prosody is the study of meter (Sanskrit chandas). The fundamental unit of a poetic composition is a certain meter, or arrangement of syllables.


"What kind of pre-history it was that led to this state of the Vedic meter which in general was marked by its peculiar mixture of a well-determined and an independent sequence of quantities is a problem not quite without a solution...afforded by the study of Avestan [Iranian] literature. No one can compare the Avestan poetry with the Indian [Rigvedic] poetry in its content, in its style of expression, and in its entire coloring, without coming to the conclusion, on account of their agreement in small details which force themselves on us at every step, that both the literatures point not only to a common origin of these two peoples and their religions, but also to a community of Indo-Iranian religious poetry, developed in well established forms.

"...the inter-connection of the meters in the Avesta with the most fundamental forms of the Vedic prosody were recognized and were given due prominence: repetition of the octo-syllabic line, three-, four-, or five-times to form stanzas in the Avesta are exactly like the Gayatri, the Anustubh, and the Pankti [meters] of the Veda; and  the four-lined stanza of the eleven-syllabled lines with the caesura after the fourth syllable corresponds to the Tristubh [meter]." [Hermann Oldenberg]



Angirasas came from west of the Indus & parts of Iran

Rig Veda X.67.2 /in two translations:

Angirasas speak the truth [Rita] and think the straightness. They are the sons of heaven, heroes of the mighty lord. They are able to hold the seat of illumined knowledge, and to mentalise the supreme abode of the Yajńa. [R.L. Kashyap]

Speaking Truth [Rita], thinking uprightly have the sons of the Heavens, the men of Asura [Asurasya virah in Sanskrit], the Angirasas, the seers making their traces on the path devised the first form of sacrifice. [Malati J. Shendge]

Notice that Kashyap does not translate the word Asurasya as Asura, but calls them the 'heroes of the mighty lord' and thereby avoiding the issue of one of the primary Rishis of the Rig Veda being called an Asura. I'm sure Kashyap has further explanations. However Shendge states that this verse clearly calls the Angirasas the men of Asura, the Aryan enemy.

"The Angiras, the heroes of Asura, are also said to have come from the DIV, literally shining spaces, the region west of the Indus including the northwest frontier region of the Indian sub-continent, Baluchistan, Afghanistan and parts of Iran in RV III.53.7." [Malati J. Shendge]

"The Angirasas are the dominant protagonist priests of the Rig Veda...but it is the Bhrigus, and not the Angirasas, who are the real initiators of the two main ritual systems which dominate the Rigveda: the fire ritual and the Soma ritual." [Shrikant G. Talageri]

The above quotations of scholars provide an understanding of the blending of many groups of diverse people that are described in the Rig Veda due to extensive migrations. These geographical areas were not separate and not only were groups migrating for various reasons, but trade was also going on between them.

"Geographically, the subcontinent [India] has been divided into three major regions...The northern mountains have been described in the past as a barrier to communication that isolates northern India from Asia. But in effect they were rarely barriers and the north-west of the subcontinent was in continuous communication with peoples and places in western and central Asia. It was almost as if such communication focused on the passes in the north-western mountains and intensified cross-cultural activities." [Romila Thapar]



The Anus in the Punjab

"The Rig Veda and the Avesta are united in testifying to the fact that the Punjab (Saptasindhu...) was not a homeland of the Vedic Aryans, but was a homeland of the Iranians. The Puranas as well as the Rig Veda testify to the fact that the Punjab was a homeland of the Anus [Anu in Sanskrit = a non-Aryan man]. ...the spread of the Anus from the east and their occupation of the whole of the Punjab."  [Shrikant G. Talageri]

From the jatland website:

"Sharmistha was the daughter of the great Daitya King Vrishparva. She was also a friend of Devayani. She was given as dowry to Yayati of the Lunar dynasty, when he married Devayani, the daughter of Sage Shukracharya, the guru of all Asuras. But then Yayati fell in love with Sharmistha because of her beauty and character and had three sons Druhyu, Anu and Puru from her.

"In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu (also AN) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. He was called Anu by the Akkadians, rulers of Mesopotamia after the conquest of Sumer in 2334 BCE by King Sargon of Akkad. By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Bel and Ea, Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods. Anu is so prominently associated with the city of Uruk, Biblical Erech in southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to have been the original seat of the Anu cult. If this be correct, then the goddess Inanna (or Ishtar) of Uruk may at one time have been his consort. Probably Uruk was the country of Aulakh Jats."



Intimate connection between the Indian & Iranian

Prosody in the Rig Veda: "...there cannot be any doubt as to the fundamental fact of the intimate connection between the Indian and Iranian art of versification [poetry]. And thus, the Vedic prosody [meter], which has offered the basis for all later Indian prosody, points to distant periods of the past which escapes our direct knowledge, periods which the forgotten generations of the Indian, and then still further back, of the Indo-Iranian Rishis sang in those same most ancient meters of eight-syllabled and eleven-syllabled lines of divine majesty of the Asuras and of the pressings of Soma..." [Hermann Oldenberg]

"The passes in the north-west mountains, although arid, were less snow-bound...and frequently used...Bolan, Gomal and Khyber passes. The fertile Swat Valley formed another route, as did the Hunza and upper Indus Valley. ...Pastoralists arriving from and returning to Afghanistan, or even central Asia, traveled regularly through the passes and the valleys.  ...[they are] corridors of communication. Contact with what are now referred to as central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan goes back to the third millennium B.C. the period of the Indus cities, and the passes are likely to have been used by people in even earlier times." [Romila Thapar]


"The name Anu or Ânava for the Iranians appears to have survived even in later times: the country and the people in the very heart of Avesta land, to the immediate north of Hâműn-i Hilmand, were known as late as Greek times as the Anauon or Anauoi. The names of Anu tribes in the Rigveda and the Puranas can be clearly identified with the names of the most prominent tribes among latter-day Iranians."   [Shrikant G. Talageri]

"...in the Rig Veda the particular or exclusive priests of the Bharata (the Vedic Aryans) are the Angirasas. ... The Bhrigus are clearly not the priests of the Bharatas, and equally clearly they are associated with a particular other tribe: the Anus. ...the names Anu and Bhrigu are used interchangeably [in various verses]." [Shrikant G. Talageri]


"All the seer [Rishis] families of the Rig Veda can be called Angirasas. ...Angiras is the primordial Rishi per se who arises from Agni... Out of this one family derives the four main Seer families in the Rig Veda — the Angirasas, Bhrigus, Kashyapas, and Atharvans. The other Vedic families are offshoots... The Angirasas are connected to the Sarasvati region of the north..." [David Frawley]

The Angirasas were the companions of Manu, the Sanskrit Noah [David Frawley]. They were said to have accompanied Manu in his ‘boat’ or ship. Of course! They were there to guide him to a safe destination, to provide him with the means to survive, and they saved whatever DNA codes of Earth's creatures in the form they deemed useful – perhaps as holograms of the spirit body in the astral for all we know.

Noah/Manu was fleeing the massive flooding [around 11,000 BC] that takes place after an Ice Age. Thus the Sanskrit Noah brings up the fact of recurring Ice Ages and periodic Dissolutions that are inherent on our planet Earth. And which make it an ideal 'seed' bank. According to Inanna, the Akkadian Noah, Utanapishtim, was one the ‘offspring’ of Enki, the brother of Enlil who was Inanna’s grandfather.

The flood story occurs in "the Sumerian legend of King Ziusudra and the Akkadian legend of Utanapistim, and in the Bible as Noah. Avesta has its own version of the legend associated with Yima Vivanhvat. ...In the Akkadian tradition, the sage Atrhasis repeatedly tried to save mankind from destruction at the hands of the gods who were angered by the clamour of mankind. ...the similarity of motif brings the Sumerian, Akkadian, Avesta and Vedic legends close in a shared ancient tradition, spread over a wide region." [Malati J. Shendge]



Atharvan & Angiras in Mundaka Upanishad

The Angirasas are the sons of Heaven (Divasputras), who were the original light-gods, the human fathers thought to possess luminous bodies, the apotheosis of the rays of light. The Sanskrit word Angiras is derived from ANGA, the root of which is √ańj meaning to shine. Angiras is seen as the first of Rishis in the Rig Veda's mantras. The plural form of his name, Angirasas, denotes his direct descendents or the members of the school of thought founded by him. Considered by scholars as a great poet of ancient times, the Rig Veda does not contain any of his actual writings. There are no compositions of the poet Angiras in the Rig Veda — only those of his descendents. However "a great number of poets with the patronymic Angirasas have contributed to the bulk of the Rig Veda." [Thaneswar Sarmah]

The Ancient Rishis in the Mundaka Upanishad

The Mundaka Upanishad is considered one of the oldest and most respected of all the Upanishads. The first two verses of the Mundaka mention how Brahmavidyâ the science of Wisdom-Knowledge was transmitted:


Brahmâ, the creator of all and the sustainer of the world, emerged as the first of gods. He taught the science of Brahman (brahmavidyâ), the basis of all sciences, to Atharvân, his eldest son.


What Brahmâ imparted to Atharvân, Even that science of Brahman Atharvân taught to Angira in olden days; he in turn taught it to Satyavaha of the Bharadvâja clan; and Bharadvâja (Satyavaha) imparted this hierarchical wisdom to Angiras. [translation by Muni Narayana Prasad]

Even though the Atharva Veda is considered the fourth Veda, the Mundaka Upanishad says in the above verse that Atharvan came before and taught Angiras.



Rig Veda VI.15.17 /translated by R.L. Kashyap

The arrangers of works churn out this Agni like Atharvan of old. In his zigzag walk, they led him who is free from ignorance [amura = sharp sighted, wise, intelligent, not ignorant], from the dusky nights.


O Agni, Atharvan churned you out from the Lotus [pushkarat], from the head of every chanting sage.

What a wonderful mystical image this verse is! Atharvan is churning our Fire from the Lotus-like chakra in the head of every chanting sage.


The Sanskrit word Atharvan comes from an obsolete word ATHAR meaning fire. The Rishi Atharvan is said to have been the first to institute the worship of fire and offer Soma. Atharvan is identical with Angiras as the father of Agni [fire]. Shyam Ghosh gives the etymology of the Sanskrit word Agni as AGNIT = flickering; √ag = to move tortuously, curling, zigzagging; the continuous expansion [brahmâ] of energy is tamed as it descends on earth.

"In Avesta, ATAR (for athar) means fire which is the same as the Vedic term Athar, which also occurs in athar-yu, flaming. The fact that the Atharva Veda or Atharvangirasau was the last to be allowed the status of a Veda [four] may point to non-Aryan origin of the material contained in it, which will also explain the observation of archaic material, older than the Rig Veda, in it." [Malati J. Shendge]


Angiras, Bhrigu, and Atharvân

The three major Rishis considered the most important over all others are Angiras, Bhrigu, and Atharvân — and their descendents. What is intriguing in the Mundaka Upanishad verse is the fact that Brahma first taught the science to Atharvân, who then taught it to Angiras. The idea that Atharvân, who is the primary source of the Artharva Veda, preceeds Angirâ and the subsequent Angirases is puzzling.

In 'Shaivism & the Phallic World', B. Bhattacharya says that the Atharva Veda, the so-called fourth Veda, may in fact be older than the Rigveda: "It may be said that the Atharva Veda represents a current of Indian culture that runs parallel to the current represented by the other Vedas; and that it is the earlier stage of that current." Bhattacharya says the Atharva Veda ultimately blossomed into the Agamas of the Shiva literature and Tantra, the mystic literature. The fact that the Atharva Veda is more oriented to ritual, astrology, and magic spells that heal, protect and even curse implies an earlier connection with ancient Sumer and Babylonia, both of which were known for their practices of occult ritual.

B. Bhattacharya: "The Atharvans could have been the Magi of the Bible, because the area over which Atharvan had his sway was the Asura-land, probably Sumeria and Babylonia where the Assyrian culture had made its mark. That the Atharvan astrological rites were practiced in, and still much in favor with these parts, is no longer doubted. From Egypt to Iran spells and magic still form a large part of spiritual belief."


In the translation of the Atharva Veda by Devi Chand, we learn that its oldest name was Atharvângirsah, the combination of the Atharvans and the Angirasas. "The two words denote two different species of magic formula: artharvan is 'holy magic bringing happiness' and angiras is 'hostile or black magic.'  The former includes among others formula for the healing of diseases, while the latter includes curses against enemies, rivals, malicious magicians, etc. These two kinds of magic formulas then form the chief contents of the Atharva Veda..." [M.C. Joshi's introduction]


In his book "Ancient Mesopotamian Literature" the polymath Krishna Chaitanya/K.K. Nair says this about Sumerian and Babylonia magic: "...popular imagination also created a host of evil spirits who were responsible for various diseases and who were exorcised by spells and purification ceremonies. The chill dread of the eerie, weird, unseen is vividly evoked by the references to these spirits."

K.K. Nair quotes from the cuneiform tablets:

In a section of the deep they were nurtured; neither male nor female are they, destructive whirlwinds are they...

He stands at the side of a man, without anyone seeing him, he sits at the side of a man, without anyone seeing his form.

K.K. Nair: "The incantations used in purification ceremonies have that magical quality where the words, apart from what they mean, seem to have some intrinsic power as spells." Surely all great poets have this gift of imbuing words with power — and the composers of the Rigveda were brilliant 'Seer' poets who wrote in meters.

Examples from Atharva Veda:


This parna jewel (ampoule or capsule), full of power has come to me, ruining my rivals with its power. Vigour of the bounties of Nature, and essence of the medicinal plants, may this fill me with lustre constantly (Parna-manih is a medicinal tablet prepared with the extract of the parna leaf, to be used by patients.)


O epidemic (of fear), Apvâ confounding the minds of our enemies, seize their bodies and go away. Visit them again. Burn their hearts with sorrows. Pierce our enemies with gripping darkness. [Also found in Rigveda X.103.12]


Upheld by God's power [the Skamba: a pillar] these two, the heaven and the earth, stand fast. All this world of life, whatever breathes or shuts an eye, rests in God [verily is the Skamba itself, that which upholds].


Three kinds of men [rajas, tamas & sattva] are subject to transmigration [have moved across our sight], but the emancipated ones attain God [now enter the cosmic glows]. God, is All-pervading [stands within the worlds], most refulgent like the Sun.


One is the wheel, the naves are three, the fellies [felloe = the outer rim of a wheel supported by spokes] are twelve. What man has understood it? Three hundred and sixty spokes have been fixed therein, firmly set, immoveable, as well as moveable. [To my mind here is a description of the 360 degree birth-chart map in Chaldean astrology.]


The control of the transcendental world

The early English scholars who read the Atharva Veda were conditioned by Christian and European beliefs, thus were unable to view it with any objectivity. These magic formulas would be familiar to anyone who has studied Shamanism or "magic rituals which spread over the whole earth, [and] ever recur with the most surprising similarity in the most varying peoples of all countries. ...Above all, the principle aim of the Atharva Veda is to appease (the demons), to bless (friends), and to curse... At their origin, magic and cult both have the identical aim — the control of the transcendental world." [M.C. Joshi]

Atharva Veda "is also connected with subsequent development of Tantric system." Again we find the statement by yet another Indian scholar that the Atharva Veda is the source of Tantra. Also it appears that only two of the nine branches of the Atharva Veda have survived. In support of its varied content the author says that the Atharva Veda also "contains remarkable references to various aspects of spiritual and temporal importance like Brâhmavidyâ (the science), Prithivi or Mother earth, kingship, marriage, treatment of ailments, poetics, etc." [M.C. Joshi]


Scholars today have dismissed the idea that ancient India was invaded: "...it may be stated that the people connected with the Atharva Veda were broadly of the same group that composed the other Vedas and were not invaders at all." The Aryan invasion theory came from the west; some say to justify their own invasion — meaning the East India Company that dominated India for some 200 years. Instead we find waves of migrations and local wars. Surely this is reasonable logic as all human beings in groups inevitably disagree and conflict. "...Aryan or the people associated with the Vedic cultures had much diversity amongst themselves." [M.C. Joshi introduction to the Atharva Veda translated by Devi Chand]


Part II continues with Sources - Click HERE