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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, 10.143.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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