Saranyu: the Runaway Horse Goddess: Part I

What can an ancient Hindu horse goddess who was the mother of the human race teach modern women today? In the Rig Veda, composed more than 3,000 years ago, is a potent story of a runaway wife and the rebirth that resulted. This two-part article tells the story:


Saranyu was given in marriage to Surya, the solar god, who daily rode through the sky in a chariot drawn by seven red mares. She was young, beautiful, and fertile, and her name meant, “flowing.” Saranyu gave birth to a set of twins and, according to the Rig Veda, Saranyu was overcome by her husband’s “heat.”  Perhaps this means that Saranyu did not share the same sexual attraction that her husband exhibited. More likely, it was Surya’s solar consciousness that was too much for her to bear. Being with her powerful husband was like having the sun constantly bearing down; powerful, oppressive, drying up the very life forces that need wetness, darkness, and shade.

Two Selves

Saranyu did the only thing she knew to do—she turned herself into a horse and ran away. First, though, she split into two beings by creating an exact double that stayed behind. The imposter, known as “shade” or “shadow,” took care of the children and shared her husband’s bed. As Saranyu breathed in the moist air of freedom and grazed in the deep grasses, her other self continued on in the old life.

I remember the feeling of that very split when my children were very young and I was still married. There was my “real” passionate life that I hungered for, and my life subsumed in the needs of my children, work, and husband. Time spent with women, making art, or just being alone in the quiet hours before my family awoke were drops that filled an aching well of need. I felt unseen.

Waking up the Husband

Although it may seem curious, many women will resonate with the next part of the tale: Saranyu’s husband never noticed that his real wife had left. Surya was so busy getting the sun going every day, that as long as his meals were provided, children tended and sexual needs met, he was satisfied. He even had more children with his shadow wife.

Stay Tuned for Part II:

  • Does Saranyu reunite with her husband?
  • How does the human race get born?
  • What can an ancient horse goddess myth tell us today?

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