In a remote area of Iraqi Kurdistan, the ancient lost city of Natounia, which was named after the founder of the Adiabene royal dynasty, is presumed to have been found recently. The region belonged to the Parthian empire over 2,000 years ago. Lost to antiquity, a sanctuary-style complex that received heavy rains to produce a waterfall was a monumental stone structure. In addition, there was a staircase carved into the bedrock.
Based on historical background, researchers believe the waters were the site in which Anahita, a Zoroastrian Iranian goddess, was worshipped as a divinity of “the Waters.”
A principal character of the novel is Nona, who is an art historian by training and who was very interested in waters, having come from an island. One of the settings of the novel, Nona is lecturing at a South Beach museum about numerous goddesses whose attribute was water. Thus, a sharing here of the goddess known as Anahita during the times of antiquity.
Like modern humans, the ancients appreciated the life-giving force of water. Their understanding of the life-saving graces bestowed to them, was limited to understanding how Mother Nature was represented symbolically, at least, for its many resources, especially water to refresh them and their livestock as well as to grow the fields of grains.
The full title of Anahita is Aredevi Sura Anahita, which attributes the virtues of moisture, mightiness, and purity to this Indo-Iranian Mother Goddess. In India, she conflates as the goddess Sarasvati while, in the Near East, she is Ishtar. At any rate, she is known as the mystical river that emerges from Mount Meru into the great sea and as the source of all the waters (anything that is in effect moist). As an example, the following hymnal excerpt to her states, Anahita “who makes the seed of all males pure, who makes the womb of all female pure for bringing forth” (The Zend Avesta, Part II). Her presence in human consciousness can be traced back to as early as 5500 BCE when religious beliefs started to be expressed in stone and bronze in the Indus Valley Civilization.
Parvati, known to be riding tigers or lions and the consort of Shiva, is more likely to be Anahita than Saraswati, but, in truth, they all lumped together into different aspects of one consciousness.
In one of the hymns, Ashura Mazda, the Zoroastrian creator God, pays homage to her and asks her for her help. What is interesting here is that he offers her homa. Historical reference to homa goes back to Indus Valley Civilization, placing Anahita to this area where the ancient river Sarasvati flowed. Moreover, Anahita was invoked even before the founder of the Zoroastrian (Aryan) faith, who was the son of Pourushaspa—the holy Zarathustra.
The lion and horse were two of the chief animals she was associated with and thus was conferred to her, too, the title of Goddess of Sovereignty. She was also known as the Water-Warrior Goddess.
On page 279 of DAUGHTERS OF THE DANCE, Nona addresses her undergraduate students, saying, “We all know about Ganga of India having the power to cleanse away bad karma. The Ganges River is named after her….” She may have also been Ganga, the personification of the river Ganges, because the Sarasvati River could have well been dried up during the Rigveda account. Though the Sarasvati River was once a physical river, it was in Vedic times the heavenly river Milky Way was seen as “a road to immortality and heavenly after-life.” The Ganges River also flowed from the same source as the Sarasvati and then became the holiest of the rivers during Vedic times. All waters, after all, belong to Anahita, whatever her name change was at any given time.