Aja

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Aja literally means

  1. Never born, eternal, one of the qualities attributed to the soul
  2. Driver mover, instigator, a goat or a ram,
  3. A solar dynasty king who was the father of Daśaratha[1]; a son of the Manu Uttama<Vishnu Purana</ref> one of the eleven Maruts [2](Bg. Pur.); the goat who is the vehicle of Agni [3]; the zodiac sign of Aries, which is represented by a ram; another name for Brahmā, Vişņu, Śiva, Indra, Kāma, Sūrya and Agni. (fem: ajā).
  4. In astronomy ‘aja’ indicates the sign Aries.

Etymologically the word means 'that which is unborn or uncreated'. Hence it is applied to all the three deities of the Trinity viz., Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. It is also applied to the ātman or the self since according to the scriptures, it is uncreated.

In Vedic liturgical works, the word denotes the he-goat, considered sacred to Puṣan (an aspect of Sun) and associated with the sacrificial horse in the Aśvamedha which is believed to lead the horse to the next world. The skin of a sacrificed goat was used in the Vedic funerary rites for laying the dead body.

The Svetāśvatara Upanisad[4] compares prakṛti or nature to ajā (she-goat) of three hues (red, white and black, an obvious reference to the three guṇas of sattva, rajas and tamas) and the jīvātman to aja (he-goat) and depicts him as the enjoyer of prakṛti.


References

  1. Mahabharata
  2. Bhagawat Purana
  3. Agni Purana
  4. Svetāśvatara Upanisad 4.5
  • Aja by Jit Majumdar
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore