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The demigod Varuna (or Praceta) is said to be the predominating deity of the waters, and his capital, which is known as Vibhavari, is within the watery kingdom. In the midst of the ocean of milk, in the valley of Trikuta, Varuna constructed a garden named Rtumat.

Varuna presides over the water, the night, the western sky, and the western portion of the universe. Varuna is omniscient, and since he punishes sins, he is prayed to for forgiveness. He is also the sender of disease and is often associated with Mitra and Indra.

Varuna is the controlling deity for all relishable juices. Therefore the mouth becomes the resting place for the tongue, which tastes all the different juices, of which the controlling deity is Varuna.

Varuna's son, Daksasavarni, is the ninth Manu. By the semen of Varuna, the great mystic Valmiki took birth from an anthill. Bhrgu and Valmiki were specific sons of Varuna, whereas Agastya and Vasistha Rsis were the common sons of Varuna and Mitra, the tenth son of Aditi. Mitra and Varuna chanced to meet Urvasi, the most beautiful prostitute of the heavenly kingdom, and they became lusty. Because they were great saints, they tried to control their lust, but they could not do so, and thus they discharged semen. This semen was kept carefully in an earthen waterpot. The two sons Agastya and Vasistha later appeared from that pot, and they are therefore the common sons of Mitra and Varuna. Mitra begot three sons in the womb of his wife, whose name was Revati. Their names were Utsarga, Arista and Pippala.

Varuna kidnapped Bhadra, the daughter of Soma and wife of Utathya. Varuna also arrested Nanda Maharaja, the foster father of Lord Krsna. Nanda Maharaja went to take his bath in the River Yamuna in the dead of night, mistakenly thinking that the night was already over; thus the demigod Varuna took him to the Varuna planet just to have a look at the Personality of Godhead Lord Krsna, who appeared there to release His father.

When the demigod Varuna saw that Krsna was constructing His city in Dwarka, he sent the gift of a horse, which was all white except for black ears and which could run at the speed of the mind.

For Lord Balarama's visit to Vrindavan, Varuna sent his daughter Varuni in the form of liquid honey oozing from the hollows of the trees. Because of this honey the whole forest became aromatic, and the sweet aroma of the liquid honey, Varuni, captivated Balaramaji.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Excerpted from various sources, including text and Purport of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Painting is from the collection of St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies.