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Who is Ansa?

Variations on the name “Ansa” are sometimes used for boys in the Hindu community as a mark of respect to the sun gods.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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In Hindu mythology, Ansa is a member of the Aditya, a group of celestial deities who live in the heavens along with their parents. Variations on the name “Ansa” are sometimes used for boys in the Hindu community as a mark of respect to the sun gods. Variations on the names of his brothers are also utilized as boys' names in India and communities with a large Hindu population.

According to legend, the Aditya are the sons of Aditi and Kashyapa. Older legends specify seven or eight of these gods, and the number was later brought up to 12. Historians have suggested that the number 12 was probably chosen so that each god would be associated with a particular month, creating a link between the Aditya and the cycling of the year and the seasons.

The leader of the Aditya is Varuna, the eldest, followed by Mitra. Ansa's other brothers include Aryaman, Bhaga, Dhatr, and Indra in the oldest vedas about these celestial gods. These stories also describe the existence of an eighth brother, Martanda, who was rejected by his father and later resurrected by their mother and renamed Vivasvana. Martanda is sometimes associated specifically with the sun.

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In newer stories, the number of Aditya is raised to 12 by including the original seven brothers and adding Daksha, Savitri, Ravi, Surya, and Yama. The change in the number of gods reflects the shifting nature of Hinduism, a situation which has been complicated by the generation of numerous texts regarding the Hindu faith, deities, and rituals. Many of these texts conflict with each other or combine to create an imperfect picture for people who like their information plain and to the point, and as a result, Hinduism is a very diverse faith. People can take numerous approaches to the practice of Hinduism and which gods they wish to honor, utilizing the texts they or their sects identify with most.

Not much is known about what the individual Aditya do; Ansa is not associated with any specific action or idea, but is simply one among seven, or eight, or 12 brothers, depending on which story one reads. The Aditya are eternal and unchanging in nature according to most legends, and in most stories, they do not correspond with particular celestial bodies such as stars and planets. Ansa and his brothers simply bear watch from the heavens, along with numerous other gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon.

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