Surya, the sun god

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The God who gives light to the worlds.

1) Birth.
It is said that the Sun was born to Kasyapa by his wife Aditi. Visnu begot Brahma and Brahma begot Marici. Prajapati Kasyapa was born from Marici.
Several sons were born to Kasyapa by Aditi the daughter of Daksa. They are known by the names Adityas, Vasus, Rudras and so on. Of these, Adityas are twelve in number. (Aditya means the son of Aditi). There is a difference of opinion as to who these twelve Adityas are. According to Agni Purana, Chapter 51, the twelve Adityas are Varuna, Surya, Sahasramsu, Dhata, Tapana, Savita, Gabhasti, Ravi, Parjanya, Tvasta, Mitra and Visnu. (See under Dvadasadityas ).
But in Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 65, Stanza 15, it is stated that the twelve Adityas are Dhata, Aryama, Mitra, Sukra, Varuna, Amsa, Bhaga, Vivasvan, Pusa, Savita, Tvasta and Visnu.
Very often these names are used as synonyms of the Sun. So it is better to assume that there are several Adityas and that it is the sun who gives light and heat to the worlds. #Vivasvan is this sun because it is said that from this Vivasvan the Manu Vaivasvata was born and from this Vaivasvata, Iksvaku, the first king of the Solar dynasty, was born.

2 The chariot of the Sun.
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, in consequence of which days and nights occur. The Purana says that the sun travels in a very big chariot. The chariot of the Sun is nine thousand yojanas long. The wheel is fixed to this. The great wheel of time with three centres, five tyres and six spokes, is fixed on that indestructible year. It has seven horses, which are the seven Vedic metres, called by the names Gayatri, Brhati, Usnik, Jagati, Tristubh, Anustubh and Pankti. Another axle used for the chariot of the Sun is fortyfive thousand five hundred yojanas long. The length of each half of the Yoke is proportionate to the length of the axle. The short axle of the chariot with the small half of the yoke is fixed on Dhruva. The wheel fixed on the other axle rests on the mount Manasottara.
Separate Adityas, hermits Gandharvas, celestial maids, Yaksas, serpents and giants sit, in the chariot of the Sun every month.
In the month of Caitra, which is also called Madhumasa, the seven officers of the month who travel daily in the chariot, are the Aditya Dhata, the celestial maid Kratusthala, the hermit Pulastya, the serpent Vasuki, the Yaksa Rathabhrt, the gaint Heti, and the Gandharva Tumburu.
In the month of Vaisakha also called Madhava, the Aditya Aryaman, the hermit Pulaha, the Yaksa Rathaujas, the celestial maid Punjikasthala, the giant Praheti, the serpent Kacavira and the Gandharva Narada sit in the chariot.
In the month of Jyestha, the Aditya Mitra, the hermit Atri, the serpent Taksaka, giant Pauruseya, the celestial maid Menaka, the Gandharva Haha, and the Yaksa Rathasvana, sit in the chariot.
In the month of Asadha, the Aditya Varuna, the hermit Vasistha, the serpent Naga, the celestial maid Sahajanya, the Gandharva Huhu, the giant Ratha and the Yaksa Citraratha, travel in the chariot.
In the month of Sravana, the Aditya Indra, the Gandharva, Visvavasu, the Yaksa Srotas, the serpent Elaputra, the hermit Arigiras, the celestial maid Pramloca, and the giant Sarpi travel in the chariot.
In the month of Bhadrapada the Aditya Vivasvan, the Gandharva Ugrasena, the hermit Bhrgu, the Yaksa Apurana, the celestial maid Anumloca, the serpent Sahkhapala and the giant Vyaghra sit in the chariot.
In the month of Asvani, the Aditya Pusa, the Gandharva Vasuruci, the giant Vata, the hermit Gautama, the serpent Dhananjaya, the Yaksa Susena and the celestial maid Ghrtaci sit in the chariot.
In the month of Karttika, the Gandharva is another Visvavasu, the hermit Bharadvaja, Aditya Parjanya, the serpent Airavata, the celestial maid, Visvaci, Yaksa Senajit and the giant Apa, sit in the chariot.
In the month of Margasirsa, the Aditya Amsa, the hermit Kasyapa, the Yaksa Tarksya, the serpent Mahapadma, the celestial maid Urvasi, the Candharva Citrasena, and the giant Vidyut travel in the chariot.
In the month of Pausa, the hermit Kratu, the Aditya Bhaga, the Gandharva Urnayu, the giant Sphurja, the serpent Karkotaka, the Yaksa Aristanemi and the celestial maid Purvacitti travel in the chariot.
In the month of Magha, the Aditya Tvasta, the hermit Jamadagni, the serpent Kambala, the celestial maid Tilottama, the giant Brahmopeta, the Yaksa Rtajit and the Gandharva Dhrtarastra sit in the chariot.
In the month of Phalguna the Aditya Visnu, the serpent Asvatara, the celestial maid Rambha, the Gandharva Suvarcas, the Yaksa Satyajit, the hermit Visvamitra, and the giant Yajnopeta travel in the chariot.
These seven persons live in the region of the Sun in their time. The hermits praise the Sun; the Gandharvas sing; the celestial maids dance; the giants walk behind as guards. The serpents prepare the horses to be yoked; the Yaksas hold the bridle and the Balakhilyas stand round the Sun. These groups of seven in each month are responsible for heat, coldness, rain etc. (Visnu Purana, Amsa 2, Chapter 8) .

3) The Vedic figure of the Sun.
Even though, the sun is only one of the seven groups, he is above the others in prominence. The complete power of Visnu is the three Vedas Rig, Yajus and Sama. The power in the form of the three Vedas blazes in the form of the Sun. That power destroys all the sins in the world: Visnu stays inside the sun in the form of Rg, Yajus and Sama for the Sustenance and protection of the world. As said before, the three Vedas are the parasakti, or the feminine supreme power of Visnu. She is the three Vedas themselves. Every month she stays inside that particular Aditya of the month. In the morning the Rgveda praises the Sun. At noon the Yajurveda praises the Sun and in the evening the Samans such as Brhad Rathantara and so on. The three Vedas Rg, Yajus and Saman are portions of Visnu. This power of Visnu stays in Aditya always. It stays not only in the Sun, but also in the three godheads Brahma, Visnu and Siva. At the time of creation Brahma was pervaded by Rig. At the time of sustenance, Visnu is pervaded by Yajus. At the end Rudra will be pervaded by Saman. So the sound of Saman will be unpalatable. Thus this Vaisnavite power which is having the attribute of purity (Sattva) and Vedas, pervades mainly the sun though it remains on the seven groups also. Being the seat of this power, the Sun blazes with his rays and destroys the darkness in all the worlds.
Such a Sun is praised by the hermits. The Gandharvas sing in front of the Sun. The celestial maids dance before him. The giants guard him, the serpents prepare his chariot, the Yaksas hold the bridle and the Balakhilyas stand around him. Visnu who is having the figure of the Sun pervaded by the power of the Vedas, never rises or sets. The seven groups are separate from that Visnu. As the figures of those who approach, are reflected in a mirror fxed on a post, that power of Visnu, without separating itself from that chariot, pervades them who come every month in turn. (Visnu Purana, Amsa 2, Chapter 11 ).

4) The direction of the sun.
The Sun starts from the east and goes to the western ocean. The directions east and west originate from this rising and setting. As a matter of fact when the sun rises in the east it is bright in places behind it. But it does not shine in the palace of Brahma on the top of Meru. The rays of the sun which enter the palace are driven back by the radiance of the palace. The Mountain Meru is north to all islands and countries. So on one side of that mount it is always day and on the other side it is always night. When the Sun sets his light enters fire. So at night the light of fire goes far. In the same way, at day time, the light of fire enters the sun. So the sun shines more. Thus because the light of the sun and fire enter each other the day and the night wax when the sun shines on the southern aild northern hemi-spheres. The dark nights and bright days enter water gradually. The water seems a little red, in day time because darkness has entered it in the night. After sunset the water seems a little white because the day has entered the water.
Thus when the sun passes through the middle of the island Puskara, the change of the Sun to one thirtieth portion of the earth is called `Mauhurtikagati’ (covering the distance in a muhurta-48 minutes).
The sun, like a fly sitting on the circumference of the wheel of a potter travels-round the earth inclining a portion of a thirtieth of the earth, and making day and night. In the beginning of the transit to the Tropic of Cancer, the sun passes into the zodiac of Makara, and then to Kumbha and Mina. Alter having completed the three zodiacs, the sun makes the day and night equal and enters Visuva. At the end of travelling in the, Northern hemi-sphere the sun enters the zodiac of Karkataka and transit to the south begins.
(Visnu Purana, Am9a 2, Chapter 8).

5) The Sun in the clutches of the giants.
The Sun is being attacked daily by a kind of giants called the Mandehas.

6) The Sun married Samjna, the daughter of Visvakarma. Three children Manu, Yama and Yami were born to him by Samjna. By Chaya, the maid of Samjna, three children, Sanaiscara, Manu and Tapati were born to the Sun. Asvinikumaras and Revanta were born by Samjna to the sun who took the form of a horse.
(See under Samjna and Chaya).
On several occasions other sons such as Sugriva, Kalindi Karna and so on were born to the Sun. (For details see under those entries).

7) The rising delayed. A story stating that the rising of the sun was delayed because of the curse of Silavati, is stated in Mahabharata.
(See under Silavati).

8) The Sun and the Syamantaka. Once the King Satrajit did penance and got the jewel Syamantaka from the Sun.
(For detailed story see under Prasena).

9) The Sun and Rahu. Once the Sun and the moon pointed out Rahu who had come to partake of the Amrta (Ambrosia) in stealth and Mahavisnu cut off his head. (For detailed story see under Amrta, Para 4).

10) The Sun the teacher of Hanuman. The Sun is the teacher of Hanuman. (See under Hanuman).

11) The Sun and Ravana. Once Ravana happened to reach the Solar region, while he was conducting regional conquest. That night he rested on Meru, and then got into his plane Puspaka, ready for fight in the morning. Seeing the Sun rising up, Ravana called his minister Prahasta and said to him. “Minister, go and convey my words to the Sun. Ravana has come to fight. Either get down and fight or admit defeat.’ Prahasta walked towards the sun and told the words of the King to the two gate-keepers Pingala and Dandi. The Sun was informed of this by Dandi. The Sun told Dandi thus: “Dandi, I don’t mind whether I defeat or I am defeated by Ravana. The thing is, that I have no t:me.” Dandi informed Ravana of this. Ravana went away shouting that he had defeated the Sun.

12) Fight with Siva. See under Siva Para 7, Sub para 7.

13) The Sun lost his lustre. See under Sukesa.

14) Artificial Sun. See under Brahma, para 13. 15) The Sun and Karna. See under Karna.

16) The hermit Atri and the Sun. See under Atri, para 4. 17) The names of the Sun. Once the hermit Dhaumya repeated to Dharmaputra the one hundred and eight names of the Sun. Those names are given in Mahabharata, Vana Parva, Chapter 3.

13) Other details.

(i) Once Pancali worshipped the Sun. The Sun created an unseen giant for her protection. (M.B. Virata Parva, Chapter 15, Verse 19) .

(ii) Pancali did penance before the Sun and procured the Aksayapatra (the pot that never became empty). (See under Aksayapatra)

(iii) The Sun destroys the ungrateful asuras (demons). (M.B. Udyoga Parva, Chapter 108, Verse 16) .

(iv) There is a story connecting the Sun and the South. In days of old the Sun performed a sacrifice ‘according to the Vedas, and to Kasyapa who was the ministerial priest, he gave the South as daksina (offering). So the south got the name Daksina. (M.B. Udyoga Parva, Chapter 109, Verse 1).

(v) The west is the place where the Sun pours his rays after the end of the day. (M.B. Udyoga Parva, Chapter 110, Verse 2) .

(vi) When Karna and Arjuna confronted each. other in the battle of Bharata, the Sun boasted to Indra that Karna would come out victorious. (M.B. Karna Parva, Chapter 87, Stanza 57).

(vii) The Sun gave Subrahmanya two attendants named Subhraja and Bhasvara. (Salya Parva, Chapter 45, Verse 31)

(viii) Once Siva anointed the Sun as the King of all tie planets. (M.B. Santi Parva, Chapter 112, Stanza

(ix) The Sun once gave Yajnavalkya the boon that he would get knowledge of the Vedas. (M.B. Santi Parva, Chapter 318, Verse 6).

(x) The story of one who had attained the region of the Sun by ‘Unchavrtti’ (Living on the grains fallen on the field) is given in Mahabharata, Santi Parva, a few Chapters from 353, as follows :
There was a Brahmin in a place called Mahapadma on the banks of the Ganges. He wandered here and there for knowledge ofVedas. Once a hermit met him and directed him towards a Naga named Padmanabha. Padmanabha is the serpent which supports the chariot of the Sun. The Brahmin-hermit started in search of Padmanabha. At last he found out his house. But there was the wife of Padmanabha only. She said that her husband would return within a few days. Accordingly he remained on the banks of the Ganges without any food. Padmanabha returned and both of them met together. The hermit asked the naga what he should do in order to get merged in God. The Naga replied that he could become one with God by Unchavrtti. The Naga continued. “The Sun is a god who had invoked into himself a saint who had lived only by the fallen grains in the field. The activities of that Sun are wonderful. The hermits and saints attach themselves to the rays of the Sun as birds attach themselves to the branches of trees. The great storms arising from the Sun spread wide in the sky. I saw once a person sitting inside that Sun who was a wonder of wonders. When that person as shining as the Sun came to him in the noon the Sun embraced him and seated him inside him. I asked him who he was. The Sun replied that he was a person who had attained heaven by Unchavrtti.” Hearing the advice given by the Naga, the Brahmana engaged in Unchavrtti and attained heaven.

(xi) The Sun gave Subrahmanya shining beauty. (M.B. Anugasana Parva, Chapter 86, Verse 23).

(xii) The Sun gave the hermit Jamadagni an umbrella and slippers. (See under Cherippu).

(xiii) In olden days when a war between the Devas and the Asuras was drawing near, Rahu wounded the Sun and the moon. Along with that the universe fell in darkness, and the asuras began to destroy the Devas. At this time according to the prayer of the gods the hermit Atri assumed the figure of the Moon and made the Sun as shining as of old. (M.B. Anusasana Parva, Chapter 156, Stanza 2).

(xiv) The Synonyms of Sun according to the Amarakosa are given below :—
Sura, Surya, Aryama, Aditya, Dvadasatma, Divakara, Bhaskara, Ahaskara, Bradhna, Prabhakara, Vibhakara, Bhasvan, Vivasvan, Saptasva, Haridasva, Usnarasmi, Vikartana, Arka, Martanda, Mihira, Aruna, Pusa, Dyumani, Tarani, Mitra, Citrabhanu, Virocana, Visva- vasu, Grahapati, Tvisampati, Aharpati, Bhanu, Hamsa, Sahasramsu, Savita, Tapana, Ravi, Padmaksa, Tejasamrasi, Chayanatha, Tamisraha, Karmasaksi, Jagac-caksusa, Lokabandhu, Trayitanu, Pradyotana, Dinamani, Khadyota, Lokabandhava, Ina, Bharga, Dhamanidhi, Amsumali and Abjinipati.



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