A 19th century Tanjore school painting of Surya on his chariot
|God of the Sun|
|Consort||Saranyu, Ragyi, Prabha, and Chhaya|
Chariot drawn by seven white horses |
/ by seven-headed horse
Surya (Devanagari: सूर्य Sūrya, "the Supreme Light"; Burmese: သူရိယ, Template:IPA-my; Malay: Suria; Tamil: சூரியன்; Thai: พระอาทิตย์ Suraya or Phra Athit is the chief solar deity in Hinduism, one of the Adityas, son of Kasyapa and one of his wives, Aditi; of Indra; or of Dyaus Pitar (depending by the version). The term Surya also refers to the Sun, in general. Surya has hair and arms of gold. He is said to drive through the heaven in his triumphal chariot harnessed by seven horses or one horse with seven heads, which represent the seven colours of the rainbow or the seven chakras. He presides over Sunday.Surya was said to be the lord of Kalinga desha, born into Kasyapasa gotra in Prabhava, Maghamasa on the seventh day of the full moon on Sunday with Aswani as the birth star (zodiac sign-Leo). Surya is worshipped on this day of Ratha Sapthami with an offering of sweet rice made out of milk, sugar and rice.(Reference-http://acharyaonline.com/surya.htm).
In Hindu religious literature, Surya is notably mentioned as the visible form of God that one can see every day. Furthermore, Shaivites and Vaishnavas often regard Surya as an aspect of Shiva and Vishnu, respectively. For example, the sun is called Surya Narayana by Vaishnavas. In Shaivite theology, Surya is said to be one of eight forms of Shiva, named the Astamurti.
His other names include Vishnu, Vivasvān (Sanskrit root: Vivasvat, विवस्वत्) Ravi (lit. "the Fire Bird"), Aditya (lit. the son of Aditi), Pusha (the best Purifier), Divakar (the maker of the day), Savita (the vivifier), Arka अर्क (the ray), Mitra (friend), Bhanu (light), Bhaskar (maker of Light), and Grahapati (the Lord of Grahas).
Sometimes Surya is depicted with two hands holding a lotus in both; sometimes he has four hands holding a lotus, chakra, a conch, and a mace.
Surya is worshiped in various forms throughout India. One of the most important epithet (form) of 'Surya' is 'Arka'. The "Arka" form is worshiped mostly in North India and Eastern parts of India. The temples dedicated to 'Arka' form of Surya are Konarka Temple in Orissa, Uttararka and Lolarka in Uttar Pradesh, Balarka in Rajasthan. There was an old sun-temple in (Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh) named Balarka Surya Mandir, built by King Tilokchand Arkawanshi in early 10th Century AD. The temple was destroyed in the 14th Century AD during Turkish invasions.
'Mitra' form of Surya
'Surya' is also known as 'Mitra' (meaning friend) for his life nourishing properties. Mitra form of 'Surya' had been worshiped mostly in Gujarat, where a clan of Suryawanshi kings was known as Mitrawanshi kshatriyas, also known by its distorted name Maitrakas (मैत्रक)
Surya namaskara, or the "Sun salutation"
A well-known Hindu mode of worship of the devotional movements of Surya is done at the rising of the Sun, known as Sūrya namaskāra (sun salutation). Ten yogic postures are assumed in successive flowing movements to complete one namaskar. Twelve sacred Hindu mantras uttered and for each mantra one complete namaskar is done. Ancient practice is to do 108 namaskaras a day. It is considered most auspicious by Hindus to do this.
The 12 mantras for surya namaskara:
- ॐ मित्राय नमः aum mitrāya namah
- ॐ रवये नमः aum ravayé namah
- ॐ सूर्याय नमः aum sūryāya namah
- ॐ भानवे नमः aum bhānavé namah
- ॐ खगय नमः aum khagāya namah
- ॐ पुष्णे नमः aum pushné namah
- ॐ हिरण्यगर्भाय नमः aum hiranyagarbhāya namah
- ॐ मारिचाये नमः aum mārichāyé namah
- ॐ आदित्याय नमः aum ādityāya namah
- ॐ सावित्रे नमः aum sāvitré namah
- ॐ अर्काय नमः aum ārkāya namah
- ॐ भास्कराय नमः aum bhāskarāya namah
The mantra frequently recited to praise the Surya comes from the Rig Veda, Book 1 Hymn 35:
- आ कृष्णेन् रजसा वर्तमानो निवेशयन्न अमृतं मर्त्यं च ।
- हिरण्ययेन सविता रथेना देवो याति भुवनानि पश्यन ॥
- Throughout the dusky firmament advancing, laying to rest the immortal and the mortal,
- Borne in his golden chariot he cometh, Savitar, God who looks on every creature.
Another famous Surya mantra for inviting Lord Surya to occupy His place before beginning His worship is:-
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः कलिंगदेशोद्भव, काश्यप गोत्र रक्त वर्ण भो अर्क, इहागच्छ इह तिष्ठ अर्काय नमः|
Religious role and relationships
Vivasvat (Surya) had three queens; Saranyu (also called Saraniya, Saranya, Sanjna, or Sangya), Ragyi, and Prabha. Saranyu was the mother of Vaivasvata Manu or Sraddhadeva Manu (the seventh, i.e. present Manu) and the twins Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yami (associated with the river Yamuna). She also bore him the twins known as the Ashvins, divine horsemen and physicians to the Devas. Saranyu, being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Surya, created a superficial entity from her shadow called Chhaya and instructed her to act as Surya's wife in her absence. Chhaya mothered two sons - Savarni Manu (the eighth, i.e. next Manu) and Shani (the planet Saturn), and two daughters - Tapti (goddess of river Tapti) and Vishti. He also has a son, Revanta, or Raivata, by Ragyi.
Interestingly, Surya's two sons Shani and Yama are responsible for the judgment of human life. Shani gives us the results of one's deeds through one's life through appropriate punishments and rewards while Yama grants the results of one's deeds after death.
In Ramayana, Surya is described as father of the King Sugriva, who helped Rama and Lakshmana in defeating the demon king Ravana. He also trains Hanuman as his guru. The Suryavanshi / Suryavansha dynasty of kings, Rama being one of them, also claims descent from Surya.
In the Mahabharata, Princess Kunti receives instruction for a mantra from the sage Durvasa; by reciting which, she would be able to summon any god and bear a child by him. Incredulous of the power of this mantra, Kunti unwittingly tests it on Surya, but when Surya appears, she gets scared and requests him to go back. However, Surya has an obligation to fulfil the mantra before returning. Surya magically causes Kunti to bear the child immediately whilst retaining her virginity so that she, as an unmarried princess, need not face any embarrassment or be subjected to questions from society. Kunti feels compelled to abandon the child, Karna, who grows up to become one of the central characters in the great battle of Kurukshetra.
In the Vedas, Surya is frequently referred to as "the eye of Mitra, Varuna, and Agni" (RV 1.115.1, RV 6.51.1, RV 7.63.1, WYV 4.35, WYV 7.42, WYV 13.46, AV 13.2.35). This bears striking similarities to Zoroastrian scriptures, where the Sun is described as "the eye of Ahura Mazda".
In Vedic astrology Surya is considered a mild malefic on account of his hot, dry nature. Surya represents soul, will-power, fame, the eyes, general vitality, courage, kingship, father, highly placed persons and authority. He is exalted in the sign Mesha(Aries) and is in decline in the sign Tula (Libra). The strongest placement for Surya is directly overhead in the 10th house, and on the angles (the 1st, 4th and 7th houses). Surya is lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Krittika, Uttara Phalguni and Uttara Ashadha. Surya has the following associations: the colors - copper or red, the metals - gold or brass, the gemstone - ruby, the direction - east and the season of summer. The food grain associated with him (one of Nava Dhanyas) is wheat.
There are Surya temples all across India. The most famous is the World Heritage Site of the Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa. Besides Konark, there are another two sun temples in Orissa called Biranchi Narayan(Sun) Temple (Biranchi Narayan Temple - http://www.viranchinarayan.org) in Buguda, Ganjam District and Biranchinarayan Temple, Palia, Bhadrak. There are sun temples in Modhera, Gujarat, created by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty, in Arasavalli, Andhra Pradesh, near the famous Galtaji's temple in Jaipur, Rajasthan and in clusters of Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu and Assam. The Sun Temple at Martand in Jammu and Kashmir and Sun Temple of Multan are temples which were destroyed.The only and the famous Surya temple in northern India is Kattarmal surya mandir in Almora District,Uttarakhand created by King kattarmal in 12 century.
There are Various Festivals dedicated to Sun God Surya in India.
Makara Sankaranthi is most Widely celebrated Hindu festival dedicated to the Sun God. It is celebrated as Makara Sankranti throughout India and as Pongal by Tamils all over the world. People thank the Sun God for ensuring a good harvest and dedicate the first grain to him.
Chhath is another Hindu Festival dedicated to Surya. It is believed to started by Karna, the son of Surya, who became a great warrior and fought against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War. Chhath is unique to Bihar, Jharkhand and the some Parts of Uttar Pradesh, Nepal & Mauritius.
Ratha Saptami is a Hindu festival that falls on the Seventh day (Saptami) of the bright half of the Hindu month Maagha. This day is also known as Surya Jayanthi because it celebrates the power of the Sun God who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu in his form as Surya is usually worshiped on this day. Usually, Rathasapthami begins in households with a purification bath by holding a few bilva leaves on one's head while bathing and chanting a verse which is supposed to invoke the benevolence of the Lord in all that one takes up the rest of the year. It also involves doing a puja with the ritual 'Naivedyam', flowers and fruits.
Surya is not mentioned as one of the Adityas in the first book of the epic Mahabarata, but may be regarded as the compound of the twelve solar deities mentioned there, to be understood in connection to the Jyotisha vedic astrology: Dhatri, Mitra, Aryaman, Sakra, Varuna, Amsa, Vaga, Vivaswat, Usha, Savitri, Tvashtri, Vishnu.
In Mahabharata, Surya is referred to as father of Karna, as he begot the latter on Kunti when she was virgin. With his grace and in order that Kunti is not spoken of badly in the world, Kunti could retain virginhood even after delivering a child.
- Jansen, Eva Rudy. The Book of Hindu Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning, p. 65.
- Wilhelm, Ernst. Graha Sutras, Kala Occult Publishers, p.49. ISBN 0-9709636-4-5
- Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. Translation of Mahabharata of Vyasa, Stories and Characters from Mahabharata.
- Wilhelm, Ernst. Graha Sutras, Kala Occult Publishers, p.50. ISBN 0-9709636-4-5
- Wilhelm, Ernst. Graha Sutras, Kala Occult Publishers, p.51. ISBN 0-9709636-4-5
- Padma Purana - Chap Srishtikhand, section 8
- Effectuation of Shani Adoration, pg. 10, at http://books.google.com/books?id=RnzLgxvmOFkC&pg=PA9&dq=shani+karma&cd=2#v=onepage&q=shani%20karma&f=false
- Swami Sivananda, Ratha Saptami
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