Wikipedia says Vesta is the goddess of the Hearth, Home and Family in ancient Roman religion. Vesta’s presence came to be symbolized by the fire that burned at her hearth and temples. Her closest Greek equivalent is Hestia.

In his book, Contributions to the Science of Mythology, Max Mueller wrote,” ..much is gained if we can find in the Vedic poetry words and ideas that throw light on the names of the Greek (and Roman) deities”. He adds, “There is no Goddess Vesta or Hestia in Vedic literature, but the Sanskrit root ‘vas’ (वस्) is recognized by everybody though on phoenetic grounds alone it is impossible to determine whether it was derived from the root ‘vas’ (वस्) to shine, or root vas’ (वस्) to dwell.”

Though there is no Goddess of ‘Home and Hearth’, in the Vedic context, one may want to look at another close phonetic Sanskrit root word, ‘bhas’ (भास्), which means ‘to speak’, ‘shine’, ‘lustre’, ‘splendour’ and ‘ray of light’, that may show how there might be a Vedic link to the name Vesta.

In that context, one may want to look at the Vedic Goddess Sarasvati, the Goddess of Eloquence and Wisdom. Like ‘bhas’ (भास्), saras (सरस्) also means speech. Since both ‘bhas’ and ‘saras’ mean speech, Roman Vesta may have evolved from ‘bhas’ as did Vedic Sarasvati from ‘saras’.

Therefore, though Goddess Vesta is recognized today as the Goddess of Home & Hearth due to its closeness to the Sanskrit ‘vas’, but it may really have been the Sanskrit ‘bhas’ meaning speech or brightness (of thought), from where the name Vesta was derived. That would connect the Roman Vesta to the Vedic Sarasvati. But then Vesta would originally have had to be the Goddess of Speech & Wisdom!

Suggested Links:

‘Contributions to the Science of Mythology” Max-Muller


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