Research Article written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1261; Dated 30th August 2014.
Most beautiful poetry in the Rig Veda comes from the wedding hymns of the Hindus. Seers burst into ecstasy when they sing about Dawn (Ushas) and the Sun. Only a few lines from Surya’s Bride (RV 10-85) are given below. This hymn/poem has got 47 Riks like this:
“Truth is the base that bears the earth; by Surya are the heavens sustained.
By law the Adityas stand secure, and Soma holds his place in heaven” (10-85-1)
Sun worship has been in practice in India from the Vedic days. Surya/Sun plays a great part in Vedic mythology and religion. Surya is praised as a beneficent power in all the four Vedas. Hindu Brahmins worship sun thrice a day facing in the direction of the sun. In the afternoon they see the sun through the finger hole and pray for long life of 100 years. They recite the following beautiful Vedic mantra everyday in the noon:
Pashyema sharadas shatam = may we see for 100 years
Jeevema sharadas shatam = may we live for 100 years
Nandaama sharadas shatam = may we be delighted for 100 years
Modaama sharadas shatam = may we be happy for 100 years
Bhavaama sharadas shatam = may we excel in our work for 100 years
Shrunvaama sharadas shatam= may we hear (good things) for 100 years
Prabravaama sharadas shatam= may we speak (good things) for100 years
Ajeetaasyama sharadas shatam= may we live invincible for 100 years
Jyok cha suuryam drushe=in this way, let us enjoy seeing sun (for 100 years)
In the Rig Veda wonder is expressed that the sun does not fall (RV 4-13-5). There are several references to eclipses in the Rig Veda. Hindus knew the calculations for predicting the eclipses.
Astronomy had advanced to such an extent that the Vedic Rishis said that the moon shines by the borrowed light of the sun (RV 9-71-9;76,4;86,32 and 1-190-3).
Makra Sankaranti (Pongal), in praise of Sun, is celebrated from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Hindus ruled South East Asian countries for over 1000 years and Sankaranti (Sun Festival) is celebrated in those countries as well.
Surya and Science
When white light is passed through a prism we get seven colours VIBGYOR (Violet,Indigo, Blue,Green,Yellow,Orange and Red). We see it in the rainbow after the rains. Hindus called the seven colours as seven horses of the Sun Chariot. Surya is represented in a chariot drawn by seven horses. For the same reason Agni (Fire God) is also described as a god with seven tongues.
Surya’s Charioteer is Aruna or Visvawat.
His city is called Viswavati or Bhasvati.
Surya’s wives are Savarna, Swati, Maha Virya and Sajna
Surya/Sun has got various names in the Hindu scriptures: Following are his important epithets:
Savitri= the nourisher
Viswavat = the brilliantBhaskara = light maker
Dinakara = day maker
Arha pati = lord of the day
Loka Chakshu = Eye of the World
Karma Sakshi = Witness of the deeds (of human beings)
Grha raja = King of the celestial bodis
Gabastiman = possessed of rays
Sahasrakirana = having 1000 rays
Vikarttana = shorn of his beams
Martanda = descended from Mritanda
Surya cut down to size!
There is a very interesting story about sun. Probably it is some scientific phenomena that which the science is yet to discover. His effulgence was so powerful that his wife couldn’t bear it and so retired to forest. The sun approached her in the form of a mare. She gave birth to Asvin twins and Revanta. Surya brought back his wife Sajna to his home and her father, the sage Viswakarma placed the luminary on his lathe and cut away an eighth of his effulgence, trimming him in every part except his feet.
The fragments that were cut off fell blazing to the earth and from them Viswakarma formed:–
The Discus of Vishnu
The Trident of Shiva
Weapon of Kuvera
Lance of Kartikeya and
The Weapons of other Gods.
Following is taken from New Larouse Encyclopaedia of Mythology:-
A passage in the Brahma Purana alludes to Surya’s twelve names, each of which was followed by special epithets as if they referred to twelve different divinities:
The first form of the sun is Indra , lord of the gods and destroyer of their enemies;
The second is Dhata, creator of all things;
The third is Parjanya, who dwells in the clouds and with his rays sends down water on earth;
The fourth is Tvashta, who lives in all corporal forms;
The fifth is Pusan, who provides food for all living things;
The sixth is Aryama who brings sacrifices to fruition;
The seventh derives his name from alms giving and rejoices all beggars by his gifts
The eight is named Vivasvan and causes good digestion;
The ninth is Vishnu who constantly manifests himself to destroy the enemies of the gods;
The tenth is Ansuman who keeps all vital organs in good health;
The eleventh is Varuna who dwells in the heart of the waters and gives life to the universe;
And the twelfth is the Mitra who lives in the orb of the moon for the welfare of the three worlds.
Such are the twelve splendours of the Sun, the Supreme Spirit, who by their means plunges into the universe and irradiates even the secret souls of men.
Bhagavatha Purana gives the names of twelve Adityas as follows: Dhata, Aryama, Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Vivasvan, Tvashta, Vishnu, Amshuman, Bhaga, Pushya, Parjanya.
In the earlier Brahmanas the twelve Adityas are listed as follows:
Amsa, Aryaman, Bhaga, Daksa, Dhatr, Indra, Mitra, Ravi, Savitr, Surya/Arka, Varuna and Yama.
In the Surya Nmaskar, sun is worshipped with the mantras Mitra, Ravi, Surya, Bhanu, Kaga, Pushan,Hiranyagarbha, Marica, Aditya,Savitra, Arka, Bhaskara. All the mantras have Om as prefix and Nama: as suffix:
E.g. Om Mitraya Nama:
In short number 12 is associated with the Sun denoting twelve months. In the Vedic time the month names were different. They are as follows:
Madhu,, Madhava (Vasanta Rtu)
Shukra, Shuchi (Grishma Rtu)
Nabha, Nabhasya (Vrsha Rtu)
Isha,Urja (Sarad Rtu)
Saha, Sahasya ( Hemanta)
Tapa, Tapsya (shisira).
Please read my articles
Origin of Horse Race and Chariot Race — posted on 25th August 2014.
Sun Chariot in Denmark: Hindu Calendar—posted on 29th August 2014.