Ashwinis – The Twin Divine Physicians – Indian Mythology


The Ashwini twins are the physicians of the Gods. They are said to have sprung from the sea-of-milk in Vaikunta, when it was churned by the Devas and Asuras. Some time after this, they earned the displeasure of Indra, who forbade them from partaking Havis, the sacrificial oblations.
In the Rig Veda, the are prominently featured, and are said to be the sons of Saranyu (the daughter of Tvashta) and Vivasvant. They are also said to be the sons of heaven (Dyaus). Pusan is said to be their son. According to the wedding hymn [R.V.10.85], they are the husbands of Surya, the daughter of the sun. They are fond of honey, and their car is honey-hued and honey-bearing. Their car is sun-like and is golden. It is swifter than thought and was fashioned by the three divine artificers, the Rbhus. It is either drawn by horses or by winged steeds or by buffaloes, or by a Rishabha (ox). They are associated with Usha (dawn), and are said to follow her in their car. Reference is also often made to their great speed.
According to B.P., Samjna, the wife of Surya, was unable to bear his heat. She went to a place called Uttara Kuru and lived there in the form of a mare. Her husband found her there and joined her in the form of a horse. They had two children named Nasatya and Dasra. These two became the Ashwini twins.
Once, the Ashwini’s were filled with desire for Sukanya, the wife of the sage Chyavana. She was very beautiful and much younger than her husband, who was ugly, old and blind. They tried to trick her by offering to restore her husband’s youth. She accepted their offer, but when her husband was turned into a young man, he was turned into a spitting image of the Ashwinis! Three identical men were there before Sukanya, and she had to pick her husband from them. It was a knotty problem all right, but she was able to successfully pick out her husband, distinguishing him by the peaceful expression in his eyes. The two Ashwini’s were very much chagrined. Their ploy had failed.
Although their motives were dishonorable, the sage decided that they should receive a reward for restoring his youth. He taught them a long forgotten incantation from the Vedas, and told them that not even Brihaspati knew these verses. They were able to use this to good effect, getting the right to have portion of Havis, in exchange for their knowledge. This story is told in greater detail here.
They are also the fathers of the Pandava twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, whom they begat on Madri, King Pandu’s wife. Since the Ashwinis are associated with horses, the Pandava twins were excellent horsemen.

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