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The Ashvins (Sanskrit: अश्विन aśvin-, dual aśvinau) are divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, sons of Saranya(daughter of vishwakarma), a goddess
of the clouds and wife of Surya
in his form as Vivasvat. They are Vedic gods
symbolising the shining of sunrise and sunset, appearing in the sky
before the dawn in a golden chariot, bringing treasures to men and
averting misfortune and sickness. They can be compared with the Dioscuri
(the twins Castor and
Pollux) of Greek and Roman mythology and especially to the
divine twins Ašvieniai of the ancient Baltic religion.
They are the doctors of gods and are devas of Ayurvedic medicine. They
are called Nasatya (dual nāsatyau "kind, helpful" in the
Rigveda; later, Nasatya is the name of one twin, while the other is
called Dasra ("enlightened giving"). By popular
etymology, the name nāsatya was analysed as
na+asatya "not untrue"="true".
In the epic Mahabharata, King Pandu's wife Madri is granted a son by each
Ashvin God and bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva who, along with the sons of Kunti,
are known as the Pandavas.
To each one of them is assigned the number 7 and to the pair the number 14.
Ashvini is the name of an
asterism in Indian astronomy,
later identified with the mother of the Ashvins. This asterism
forms the first of the 27 asterisms that form the zodiac in Indian
astronomy. This star is identified as Hamal, the brightest star in
the constellation of Aries (Alpha Arietis)
The Ashvins are mentioned 376 times in the Rigveda, with 57 hymns specifically dedicated
to them: 1.3, 1.22, 1.34, 1.46-47, 1.112, 1.116-120 (c.f. Vishpala), 1.157-158,
1.180-184, 2.20, 3.58, 4.43-45, 5.73-78, 6.62-63, 7.67-74 8.5,
8.8-10, 8.22, 8.26, 8.35, 8.57, 8.73, 8.85-87 10.24, 10.39-41,