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Lord of the Wind
Member of the Pancha Bhoota
Vayu deva.JPG
Vayu, on his mount, the gazelle symbolizing swiftness
Other namesAnil, Pavan, Vyān, Vāta, Tanun
MantraOm Vayave namaha
Personal information
SiblingsAgni, Varuna, Indra, Dyaus, Brihaspati, Samudra
ConsortBharati, Svasti
ChildrenMakanaka, Gandhavayu, Mahabhra, Kuvara, Setubandha, Pavana Gopa, Ruchi, Yajavraka, Hanuman (spiritual son)
Bhima (spiritual son)
Madhvacharya (3rd incarnation)

Vayu (Sanskrit pronunciation: [ʋaːjʊ], Sanskrit: वायु, IAST: Vāyu) is a primary Hindu deity, the lord of the winds, the father of Bhima and the spiritual father of Hanuman. He is also known as Anil ("Air, Wind"), Vyān (Air), Vāta ("Airy Element"), Tanun (The Wind), Pavan ("The Purifier"),[1] and sometimes Prāṇa ("The Breath").


The word for air (vāyu) or wind (pavana) is one of the classical elements in Hinduism. The Sanskrit word 'Vāta' literally means "blown", 'Vāyu' "blower", and Prāna "breathing" (viz. the breath of life, cf. the *an- in 'animate'). Hence, the primary referent of the word is the "deity of Life", who is sometimes for clarity referred to as "Mukhya-Vāyu" (the chief Vāyu) or "Mukhya Prāna" (the chief of Life).

Sometimes the word "vāyu," which is more generally used in the sense of the physical air or wind, is used as a synonym for "prāna".[2] Vāta, an additional name for Vāyu, is the root of the Sanskrit and Hindi term for "atmosphere", vātāvaranam.[3]

Pavan is also a fairly common Hindu name. Pavana played an important role in Anjana's begetting Hanuman as her child so Hanuman is also called Pavanaputra "son of Pavana" and Vāyuputra.

In the Mahabharata, Bhima was the son and an incarnation of Vāyu and played a major role in the Kurukshetra War. He utilised his huge power and skill with the mace for supporting Dharma.

Hindu texts and philosophy

Vayu Deva.jpg

In the hymns, Vayu is "described as having 'exceptional beauty' and moving noisily in his shining coach, driven by two or forty-nine or one-thousand white and purple horses. A white banner is his main attribute."[1] Like the other atmospheric deities, he is a "fighter and destroyer", "powerful and heroic."[4]

In the Upanishads, there are numerous statements and illustrations of the greatness of Vāyu. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states that the gods who control bodily functions once engaged in a contest to determine who among them is the greatest. When a deity such as that of vision would leave a man's body, that man would continue to live, albeit as a blind man and having regained the lost faculty once the errant deity returned to his post. One by one the deities all took their turns leaving the body, but the man continued to live on, though successively impaired in various ways. Finally, when Mukhya Prāna started to leave the body, all the other deities started to be inexorably pulled off their posts by force, "just as a powerful horse yanks off pegs in the ground to which he is bound." This caused the other deities to realize that they can function only when empowered by Vayu, and can be overpowered by him easily. In another episode, Vāyu is said to be the only deity not afflicted by demons of sin who were on the attack. The Chandogya Upanishad states that one cannot know Brahman except by knowing Vāyu as the udgitha (the mantric syllable om).[5]

Madhwa Brahmins believe that Mukhya-Vāyu also incarnated as Madhvacharya to teach worthy souls to worship the Supreme God Vishnu.[6]

  • The first Avatar of Vayu is considered to be Hanuman. His exploits are elucidated in Ramayana.
  • The second Avatar of Vayu is Bhima, one of the Pandavas appearing in the epic, Mahabharata.[7]
  • The Third Avatar is traditionally ascribed to Madhvacharya, a 13th Century Indian philosopher.[8]


In East Asian Buddhism, Vāyu is a dharmapāla and often classed as one of the Twelve Devas (Japanese: Jūniten, 十二天) grouped together as directional guardians. He presides over the northwest direction.[9]

In Japan, he is called "Fūten". He is included with the other eleven devas, which include Taishakuten (Śakra/Indra), Katen (Agni), Enmaten (Yama), Rasetsuten (Nirṛti/Rākṣasa), Ishanaten (Īśāna), Bishamonten (Vaiśravaṇa/Kubera), Suiten (Varuṇa) Bonten (Brahmā), Jiten (Pṛthivī), Nitten (Sūrya/Āditya), and Gatten (Candra).[10]

In popular culture

Year Name Channel Country Played by
1997 Jai Hanuman DD Metro India Nimai Bali
2015 Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman Sony Entertainment Television India Manish Bishla
2017 Mahakaali Anth Hi Aarambh Hai Colors India Hitanshu Jinsi
2019 Vighnaharta Ganesh Sony Entertainment Television India Vikas Salgotra

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Eva Rudy Jansen; Tony Langham (1993), The book of Hindu imagery: The Gods and their Symbols, Binkey Kok Publications, ISBN 978-90-74597-07-4,, "God of the wind ... also known as Vata or Pavan ... exceptional beauty ... moves on noisily in his shining coach ... white banner ..." 
  2. Raju, P.T. (1954), "The concept of the spiritual in Indian thought", Philosophy East and West 4 (3): 195–213, doi:10.2307/1397554. 
  3. Vijaya Ghose; Jaya Ramanathan; Renuka N. Khandekar (1992), Tirtha, the treasury of Indian expressions, CMC Limited, ISBN 978-81-900267-0-3,, "... God of the winds ... Another name for Vayu is Vata (hence the present Hindi term for 'atmosphere, 'vatavaran). Also known as Pavana (the purifier), Vayu is lauded in both the ..." 
  4. Sukumari Bhattacharji (1984), Literature in the Vedic age, K.P. Bagchi,, "... The other atmospheric gods are his associates: Vayu-Vatah, Parjanya, the Rudras and the Maruts. All of them are fighters and destroyers, they are powerful and heroic ..." 
  5. Chandogya Upanishad, Adhyaya XVIII, Verse 4;
  6. "Balittha Suktha -Text From Rig Veda". Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. 
  7. "The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva: Section LXVII". 
  8. History of the Dvaita School And it's literature, pg 173
  9. Twelve Heavenly Deities (Devas) Nara National Museum, Japan
  10. "juuniten 十二天". Retrieved 23 January 2019.