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Lord Varuna is revered in Hinduism as the God of water and his sway extends to the underwater world. The Hindu Goddess Varuni is his consort and a Makara serves as his mount. According to the Puranas, he is the son of sage Kashyapa and one of the twelve Gods considered as Adityas, owing to their origin from the Mother of Gods, Aditi. Varuna possesses the lordship of the waters and was entrusted with the task of overseeing the clouds and rains. He is thus known as the king of waters and controls the Oceans, Seas, Rivers, and all other water bodies. During the Mahabharata period, the great Pandava, Arjuna was hailed as the son of Lord Varuna. It is also widely believed that praying to him protects us from thunder and lighting.
Lord Varuna played a prominent role in the Hindu epic Ramayana, when Lord Rama surveyed the waters in a bid to cross over to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita who was kidnapped by the demon king Ravana and held captive on the island. Lord Rama performed penance for three days and three nights to Varuna, the Lord of the oceans. When Rama received no response from Varuna, he was enraged and went about destroying the oceans and the creatures residing within. Varuna was mortified and arose from the depths of the waters to plead with Rama and expressed his helplessness at the situation. He pleaded with Rama to destroy the demonic race residing within the ocean. Rama did so and cleansed the waters of the impurities thereby establishing a cleaner environment. This greatly pleased Varuna and he pledged to keep the waters still for Rama’s army to pass.
Lord Varuna is considered one among the oldest Vedic deities and his presence pervades the entire world. Since he is associated with the clouds, rains, water, rivers and oceans, he is regarded as the sustainer of life by providing rain and crops. Several temples dedicated to him exist on the Indian sub-continent and he is depicted riding on a crocodile or riding a chariot drawn by seven swans, holding a lotus, noose, conch, and a vessel of gems. He is also shown with an umbrella over his head and sometimes associated as a God carrying a serpent.
Lord Varuna is also revered in his role as a God of Law & Underworld and said to possess the attributes of a Solar deity. He is also closely associated with the night and the moon planet. Varuna is held in high regard in Vedic texts which venerate him as the omnipotent force of the Universe and also associate him with the Lord of the Heavens, Indra. His worship is crucial in the Sandhyavandanam ritual and it is said he is endowed with the power to grant immortality. Also regarded as the guardian of the western direction, Lord Varuna is one of the important Gods in the Hindu pantheon. Varuna is also revered in several religions across the world, including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Shintosim.
Varuna is also closely associated with the festival of Rakhi in some parts of western India; and on Raksha Bandhan day, devotees offer coconuts to the deity as a mark of respect. Chanting the Varuna Mantra is also said propitiate the Lord and bring forth plentiful rains.