From Varun to Khizr

Professor Brown writes in his book Literature of Iran, that it is a strange thing in the East that ancient beliefs do not perish and they come out in a changed form. Here I will only disagree with Professor Brown that this is a feature of the whole world and not only of the East. I am going to talk about some such beliefs here, that is, in our area.

Who was Varun?

When the Indo-Iranian branch of the Aryans migrated to the west and south, three tribes, the Parthians, the Medes, and the Persians, chose to stay on the Iranian plateau. Whom three regions were called Partha, Media, and Paras. When the rest of the tribes moved to the subcontinent through the passes of Hindu Kush and Bolan. At that time the greatest deity of the Aryas was Varuna, and Varuna means covering, meaning the sky. He was the creator of all, so he was also the father of the gods.

He kept a strict watch over the people and was the maker of the law. Whoever violated his law. He punished them severely and threw them in dark caves with chains. That is why his devotees and priests were very afraid of him and kept silent in front of him. He lived in a big palace in the sky with his priests and roamed in a big boat in the heavenly sea and watched over the people.

Iranians were very impressed by it. That is why he was called Ahura, “Khuda”, and he was respectfully called Mazda, which means wise and wise. Gradually they forgot his real name Varuna and started calling him by name of Ahura Mazda. He was the creator of all the gods, so he was their father. He gradually brought all the gods under his influence and deprived them of their freedom and made them his subordinates.

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In the subcontinent, on the contrary, the Aryans faced warring nations on this land. Because of this, they needed a warrior god instead of a peaceful and law-abiding god and for this, they created Indra, who would help them in battles and kill their enemies, hence Indra. Popularity was great and Varun’s rank was reduced. Gradually, Varuna became the god of the terrestrial sea instead of the heavenly sea.

The merchants of Sindh used to go on sea voyages for trade since ancient times, they needed a god to protect them. That is why the worship of Varuna became very popular among them. They performed many rituals and worships so that their loved ones who are going or have gone on a journey stay safe and return safely. This god changed into Sindhu who is worshipped. Here too, the same linguistic accident that happened in Iran happened here too, and the name of the god Varuna started to be called Adiro Lal and Jhole Lal. Even today, four million Hindus worship the swing. Among them, 3.8 million Hindus live in India.

After the arrival of the Muslims, many local Hindus became Muslims who believed in Adiro Lal or Jhole Lal. As they had become Muslims and therefore they could not worship Adiro Lal Jhole Lal and according to the ancient belief they needed a mentor who would protect them on their journey and in the river. This is the reason why this idea gradually took the form of Khawaja Khizr. which guided travelers according to a belief and was connected to the waters for safety.

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Even today, when the Muslim sailors of the subcontinent go to the river, they pray to Khizr for good health. It is usually five names and the composition varies from place to place it consists of regional Muslim elders, but it definitely mentions Khizr. A place near Hindu Adam in Sindh is Adiro Lal. Where Durga is famous. This Durga has two parts, one Hindu part in which Adiro Lal is worshiped and the other part is the shrine of Khizr Peer. This was certainly the temple of Adiro Lal in ancient times. Later, the Muslims tried to make it a dargah of Khizr Pir, and finally, it was agreed that the two places should be divided.

The place for Muslims is called Khwaja Khizr Peer or Darya Peer Dargah and the part for Hindus is called Adero Lal or Sindhu Darya Temple. There is a dargah of Khwaja Khizr on the river bank at Sukkur as well. It was probably earlier the temple of Adiro Lal and was later converted into a dargah.

The story did not end here. The mention of Jholelal is still left because one of the names of this god is also Jholelal. In Sindh and South Punjab, the buried elders of most of the shrines are called by their devotees Jholelal and most of the shrines have a jhola. Poets call him in their words and singers call him Jholelal in their praises. It is clear from this that they consider him as the avatar or form of Jholelal. As if Varun is still alive, whether in the form of Adaro Lal or Jhole Lal or Khawaja Khizr.

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