The Atharva Veda Book 15 mentions about Vratya who created this universe and roused Prajapati/Brahma to action. So, is the Vratya described Lord Shiva as 15:1 says he becomes Mahadev Or is it a Supreme being similar to Purusha or Viraj?

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    In general, by Vratya is meant a wandering monk in AV.
    – Rickross
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 16:58
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    @Rickross can Lord shiva be considered that wandering monk cause AV 15:1 also that he was red and blue in colour he hold the Bow of Indra and the word mahadev is used.So this description can be used to describe Lord shiva. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 17:18
  • I am talking generally here not about any particular mantra. I'll check the particular mantras.
    – Rickross
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 17:28
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    Very Excellent question. By looking at the verses we can say that both the cases are possible. We can see words like Nila-Lohita etc. which are of lord Shiva . And some places we can say that its Virat Purusha. Will try to give answer.. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 6:24

2 Answers 2


So is the Vratya describe is Lord shiva as 15:1 says he become Mahadeva Or is it a Supreme being similiar to Purusha or Viraj?

If we look at Atharva Veda Kanda 15 – Adhayatma Prakaran Sukta. We can see that the Devata of that Sukta is Vratya. . Here its said that after becoming leader of group of Vratyas he advised Prajapati. This Vratya became Lord of the gods , Ishana , Ishwara . He is singularly became the leader of Vratyas. group .The back is of red color and outer central stomach is of blue color.

Here are the verses from Atharva Veda -

व्रात्य आसीदीयमान एव स प्रजापतिं समैरयत ||1||

Vratya AsiDiYaMaaNa Eva Sa PrajaPatim SamaiRayat

After acquiring Vratya form , Group leader Vratya advised the best superior knowledge to Praja Palak Brahma.

तमेकभवत् तल्ललाममभवत् तन्महदभवत् तज्ज्येजष्ठम्भवत् तद् |
ब्रह्माभवत् तत् तपोsभवत् तत् सत्यमभवत् तेन प्राजायत ||3||

TamekaBhavat TallaLaMaMaBhavt TanMaHyadBhavt TajjYaiJaShthaBhavat Tad BrahmaBhavat Tat TapoBhavat Tat SatyaBhavat Tena PrajaYat

Whom , the Prajapati became turned great , amazing ,broad (jeshtha) ,Brahma (creator) ,became powerful and truthful. From that only one this (Vratya) came into existence.

सोsवर्धत स महाभवत् स महादेवोsभवत् ||4||

So Vardhata Sa MahaBhavata sa MahaDevoBhavat

The which whome is Prajapati (Vratya or Rudra –Shiva) added /created progeny (praja) and by this growth he became very great (Maha) –became Mahadeva.

स देवानामीशां पर्येत् स ईशानोsभवत् ||5||

Sa DevaNaMiShaam Paryet sa IshanoBhavat He Who became revered; as Ishwara or Ishana

नीलमस्योदरं लोहितं पृष्ठम् ।|7||

NilaMasyoUdaram Lohitam Prushtham

His back is of red color and outer central portion of stomach is of blue color.

We can see here in this sukta the names like Nila-Lohita which are also stated in Puranas which are of Lord Shiva Or Mahadeva Or Rudra.

Here Linga Purana 2.19 uses name Nila-Lohita for Lord Rudra.

नीलश्च लोहितश्चैव प्रधानपुरुषान्वयात् । स्कंदस्ते यतः शुक्ल तथा शुक्लमपैति च ।।

He is of both Blue and Red colour since both Pradhana and Purusha merge in him. Since the semen flows from him, he is known as Shukla.

This is the puranic verse from Shreemad Bhagvat Purana which is same as verse 4 and 7 - of Atharva veda kanda 15.

इत्यादिष्ट: स गुरुणा भगवान्नीललोहित: |
सत्वकृतिस्वभावेन् ससर्जात्मसमा: प्रजा: ||15||

ity ādiṣṭaḥ sva-guruṇā bhagavān nīla-lohitaḥ
sattvākṛti-svabhāvena sasarjātma-samāḥ prajāḥ

The most powerful Rudra, whose bodily color was blue mixed with red, created many offspring exactly resembling him in features, strength and furious nature.

Here Rudra Or Shiva is said to be of Blue-Red color , this verse is clearly of Rudra Or Shiva.

Conclusion – So from carefully looking at the adjacent verse Of Athrva-Veda and the veres from puranas ,we can say that here most probably the deity Vratya from Atharva veda is Lord Shiva Or Rudra Or Maha Deva. We can clearly see the resemblance of the terms used in both vedas and Puranas. Here Vratya is also depicted a supreme Ishwara. But he is not stated as Supreme being similiar to Purusha or Viraj ,at least in this sukta of Atharvaveda.


There are 18 Paryayas (sub-chapters) in the 15th chapter of AtharvaVeda. All the paryayas describe the activity of Vratya. So, in general consideration the Devata of whole chapter is Vratya.

But if we look in the 5th paryaya of 15th chapter, the Devata there is mentioned as Lord Rudra: enter image description here So, it is clear that Vratya described in AtharvaVeda is Lord Shiva himself. The reason why Devata of other paryaya is written Vratya and why Devata of 5th paryaya is written Rudra is because 5th parayaya is strongly associated with Ashta-Murti form of Shiva. Although the 5th chapter describes the activity of Vratya but it is in relation with Ashta-Murti form of Shiva.

Bhava the Archer, a deliverer, delivers him from the intermediate space of the eastern region..... Sarva the Archer his deliverer from the intermediate space of the southern region......  Pasupati the Archer his deliverer from the intermediate space of the western region...... They made Rudra the Archer his deliverer from the intermediate space of the region of the nadir...... Mahādeva his deliverer from the intermediate space of the region of the zenith..... Ishana the Archer,  a deliverer, delivers him from all the intermediate regions. (AtharvaVeda 15.5)

Also in the 1st paraya or Birth of the Vratya section, the Devata of 5th Mantra which states 'Vratya became Ishana.', is Rudra. enter image description here

स देवानामीशां पर्यैत्स ईशानोऽभवत् ।। 5
 He gained the lordship of the Gods. He became Ishana.

Also without looking the Devata also, by the description of birth given in 1st Paryaya, it is clearly known it is Lord Shiva who is described there:

व्रात्य आसीदीयमान एव स प्रजापतिं समैरयत् ।।
स प्रजापति: सुवर्णमात्मन्नपश्यत्तत्प्राजनयत् ।।
तदेकमभवत्तल्ललाममभवत्तन्महदभवत्तज्जेष्ठमभवत्तद्ब्रह्माभवत्तत्तपोऽभवत्तत्सत्यमभवत्तेन प्राजायत ।।
सोऽवर्धत स महानभवत्स महादेवोऽभवत् ।।
स देवानामीशां पर्यैत्स ईशानोऽभवत् ।।
स एकव्रात्योऽभवत्स धनुरादत्त तदेवेन्द्रधनुः ।।
नीलमस्योदरं लोहितं पृष्ठम् ।।
नीलेनैवाप्रियं भ्रातृव्यं प्रोर्णोति लोहितेन द्विषन्तं विध्यतीति  ब्रह्मवादिनो वदन्ति ।।  [Atharva Veda 15:1]

There was Vratya . He roused Prajapati to action. Prajapati beheld gold in himself and engendered it. That became unique, that became distinguished, that became great, that became excellent, that became Brahman, that became Tapas, that became Truth: through that he (Vratya) was born. He grew, he became great, he became Mahadeva. He gained the lordship of the Gods. He became Ishana. He became Eka Vratya. He held a bow, even that Bow of Indra. His belly is dark-blue, his back is red (Nila Lohitam). With dark-blue he envelops a detested rival, with red he pierces the man who hates him: so the knowers of Brahman say.

NilaLohita term in Vedas is used to denote Lord Shiva as I discuss here. Also the names Mahadeva and Ishana are used to denote Lord Shiva as I discuss here.

So, Vratya described in 15th chapter of AtharvaVeda is Lord Shiva.

  • I have my own doubts. If Vraatya is Bhagwan Shiv then from puranic accounts where does it say He has a mistress(lover) who is Usha and Ira ? From this link - sacred-texts.com/hin/av/av15002.htm keyword here is Leman which means mistress. So there is no relation between Rudra of the puranas who is eka patni vrata and this person.
    – user8771
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 8:28
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    @gansub It is just a symbolic representation not literal.usha repersents dawn which is consort of surya. So in Shri rudram it is stated that surya(sun)is Rudra s form.Rudra is also stated as Sun in Rigveda symbolically so Dawn represents her consort and so is case with Ira. Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 12:51
  • @KarmanyaNanda How do you know it is symbolic and not literal ? First of all I do not think Vraatya is Rudra. Vraatya could be Sri Krishna and Usha could be Radha Raani. Why not this train of thought ?
    – user8771
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 13:01
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    @gansub first of all Lord krishna is nowhere mentioned in vedas and Radha raani?she ist mentioned even in mahabharata,she is mentioned in brahma vavarta puran which is filled with interpolations and if they wanted to mention krishna and radha why didt they mention it directly anywhere?see krishna is not mentioned in vedas because he was born thousand years later then the composition of vedas and vedas dont predict future and I dont have this train of thought beacuse diety of hymn 5 is Rudra which is shiva only.Kindly see above answer and see Rickross s answer too. Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 13:06
  • @KarmanyaNanda I have read the original sanskrit text in the Atharva Veda and the word is Pumschali and Usha is described as pumschali - spokensanskrit.org/…. So that is NOT a consort. Nobody would describe a wife as a pumschali. So Vraatya is a mixed deity like Ayappa or Venkateshara or Sri Krishna
    – user8771
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 13:12

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