AkR^iShNena rajasA vartamAno niveshayannamR^itaM
martyaM ca |
hiraNyayena savitA rathenAdevo yAti bhuvanAni pashyan || (RigVeda 1.35.2)
"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." In Hinduism, Surya is one of the chief solar deities, one of the Adityas, son of Kashyapa and one of his wives Aditi, of Indra, or of Dyaus Pitar. He has hair and arms of gold. Surya drives through the heaven in his triumphal chariot harnessed by seven horses or one horse with seven heads, representing the seven chakras. He presides over "Ravi-war" or Sunday. Surya is associated mainly to colour red, mainly, and with the red variety of the flower hibiscus/china rose ("javaa"). In the Rigveda, the god of the sun was one of the three chief deities: the others were Indra and Agni. The most distinct of several Hindu sun gods, Surya, is described as short, with a burnished copper body, riding through the sky in a chariot drawn by seven ruddy horses and driven by Aruna, dawn, his wife or mother. Surya is credited with several parents, one of whom is Brahma, while his own progeny includes Yama, the king of the dead (or God of death), and Yamuna, the present River Yamuna. These two, brother and sister, are by some looked upon as the first human beings, just as Yama was the first man to die and journey to the other realm. When Surya's wife Sangnya, overpowered by his radiance, fled as a mare to the shade of a forest and studied meditation, the sun god came to her as a stallion. Later her father, Vishvakarma (God of engineering, architecture and aesthetics), reduced Surya's brilliant rays by cutting away one-eighth of his substance, the fiery trimmings falling to earth among other things as the chakra (disc) of Vishnu and the trishula (trident) of Shiva. Worship of Surya can be found in Bihar and Tamilnadu, where his benevolence is invoked for the healing of the sick.
In Hindu religious literature, Surya is notably mentioned as the visible form of God that one can see every day. Furthermore, Vaishnavas and Shaivites often regard Surya as an aspect of Vishnu and Shiva, 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 Ashtamurti.
Sometimes called Savitar or Savitr, which means “he who nourishes,” Surya, the Vedic god of the Sun, is one of the Adityas or main gods of the Vedas. He rules over the phenomenon of life and, as the Sun, is the great illuminator and source of life. Many of his qualities and aspects were later identified with God Vishnu (which can be understood by his form, often representing Lord Vishnu). Sometimes, the praatah-surya (rising sun) is identified with Lord Brahma (the creator), the maddhaanya-surya (the mid-day sun) is identified with Lord Vishnu (the preserver), and the saanddhya-surya (setting sun) is identified with Lord Shiva (the destructor) [although, sometimes, Shiva and Vishnu change their positions, according to the different other Hindu philosophies, with the "mid-day sun" and the "setting sun", depending upon the texts]. Surya is also said to represent (or symbolically represent) the eyes of Lord Vishnu, or the Supreme Soul.
His other names include Vivasvat (also Visvakarma or Vivasvan), 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 (the ray), Mitra (friend), Bhanu (light), Bhaskar (maker of Light) and Grahapati (the Lord of Grahas).
Sometimes Surya has two hands with a lotus in each of them; sometimes four with a lotus, chakra, a conch and the fourth hand makes the gesture of protection.
A well-known Hindu mode of worship of the devotional movements of Surya is done at the rising of the Sun, known as Surya namaskara (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.
One of the most popular mantras of the Hindus and Hinduism, the Gayatri Mantra, is also associated with Surya. Another hymn associated with Surya is the Aditya Hridayam, recited by the great sage Agastya to Rama on the warfield before the fight with Ravana, in the Ramayana. It reads:
Om bhurbhuvaswa tatsaviturvarenyam bhargodevasya dheemahi dheeyo yo nah prachodayat Om
One of the most common and popular Mantras for salutations to the Lord Surya is:
Om Javaakusumasangkaasham Kaashyepeyam Mahaadyutim |
Dhwantaarim Sarvapaapaghnam pranatohasmi Divaakaram ||
I salute Divaakara who shines like the hibiscus blossom, is descendent of sage Kaashyapa, of great splendour, and the destroyer of all sins.
Lord Surya's Religious Role
and Mythic Relationships
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 Ashtamurti.
Vivasvat (Surya) had three queens - Saranya (or, Sangnya), Ragyi and Prabha. Ragyi had a son named Revanta or Raivata while Sangya was the mother of Vaivasvata Manu or Sraddhadeva Manu (the seventh i.e. present Manu, ruling the present age), the twins Yama Dev (the Lord of Death) & his sister Yami ( associated with the river Yamuna). Surya is the father of the twins known as the Ashwinikumara, divine horsemen and physicians to the Devas, from Sanranya.
Once, Sangya 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 Shanaishchara or Shani (the planet Saturn), while the names of her daughters were Tapti (goddess of river Tapti) and Vishti.
In Ramayana, he is described as father the Monkey King Sugriva, who helped Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana defeat the demon king Ravana. He also trains Hanuman as his guru. The Suryavanshi dynasty of kings, Rama being one of them, also claims descent from him.
In Hinduism, the sun and the sun god, though once ranking with the major Hindu deities, is now primarily worshiped only as one of the five important deities of the Smarta sect and as the supreme deity by the small Savra sect. Nevertheless, he is still invoked by all orthodox Hindus in daily prayer, and his temples are found throughout India. He is the father of Manu, Yama, and several other gods. The Puranas record that the weapons of the gods were forged from pieces trimmed from Surya.
In the Mahabharata, princess Kunti receives instruction for a mantra from sage Durvasa by which reciting she is able to summon any god and can be booned by a child from him. Unable to believe the power of this mantra she tries to summon Surya. When Surya appears, she is overawed and requests him to go back, but Surya is compelled to fulfil the mantra before returning. Surya magically causes Kunti to bear a child immediately so that she, an unmarried princess, would not be subject to questions from the king or his court. Kunti discards this child, Karna, who grows up to become one of the central characters in the great battle of Kurukshetra.
Lord Surya In Astrology
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 his fall 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 Asharha. Surya has the following associations: the colours copper or red, the metals gold or brass, the gemstone ruby, the direction east and the season of summer.
Temples of Lord Surya
Stone Idol of Lord Surya (Konark)
Stone Idol of Lord Surya (Konark)
One of the many giant wheels at Konark Temple
There are Surya temples across the Indian sub-continent. The most famous one is World Heritage Site of the Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa. Besides Konark, there is also another sun temple in Orissa called Biranchi khetra (Biranchi Narayan Temple) in Buguda, Ganjam District. There is a sun temple in Modhera,Gujarat, created by king Bhimdev of Solanki dynasty and Arasavalli, Andhra Pradesh. There are temples of Surya in cluster of Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu and Assam.