About Shri Surya Bhagwan:
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.” (RigVeda 1.35.2)
From the character ascribed to Savitri in some hymns, it seems more natural to regard him as the sun shining in his strength, and Surya as the sun when rising and setting. Savitri is golden-eyed, golden-handed, golden- tongued. He rides in a chariot drawn by radiant, white-footed steeds. He illuminates the earth; his golden arms stretched out to bless, infusing energy into all creatures, reach to the utmost ends of heaven. He is leader and king in heaven; the other gods follow him, and he it is who gives them immortality. He is prayed to for deliverance from sin, and to conduct the souls of the departed to the abode of the righteous.
In the Puranic Age, Surya sustains quite a different character. He is there called the son of Kasyapa and Aditi. He is described as a dark-red man, with three eyes and four arms: in two hands are water-lilies; with one he is bestowing a blessing, with the other he is encouraging his worshippers. He sits upon a red lotus, and rays of glory issue from his body. In addition to the daily worship that is offered him by Brahmans in the repetition of the Gayatri, he is worshipped once a year by the Hindus of all castes, generally on the first Sunday in the month of Magh; and in seasons of sickness it is no uncommon thing for the low-caste Hindus to employ a Brahman to repeat verses in his honour, in the hope that thus propitiated he will effect their recovery.
In the “Vishnu Purana” we find the following account of Surya. He married Sangna, the daughter of Visvakarma; who, after bearing him three children, was so oppressed with his brightness and glory that she was compelled to leave him. Before her departure, she arranged with Chhaya (Shadow) to take her place. For years Surya did not notice the change of wife. But one day, in a fit of anger, Chhaya pronounced a curse upon Yama (Death), a child of Sangna’s, which immediately took effect. As Surya knew that no mother’s curse could destroy her offspring, he looked into the matter and discovered that his wife had forsaken him, leaving this other woman in her place. Through the power of meditation, Surya found Sangna in a forest in the form of a mare; and, in order that he might again enjoy her society, he changed himself into a horse. After a few years, growing tired of this arrangement, they returned in proper form to their own dwelling. But in order that his presence might be bearable to his wife, his father-in-law Visvakarma, who was the architect of the gods, ground the Sun upon a stone, and by this means reduced his brightness by one-eighth. The part thus ground from Surya was not wasted. From it were produced the wonder-working discus of Vishnu, the trident of Siva, the lance of Kartikeya (the god of war), and the weapons of Kuvera (the god of riches).
The “Bhavishya Purana” says, “Because there is none greater than he (i.e. Surya), nor has been, nor will be, therefore he is celebrated as the supreme soul in all the Vedas.” Again, “That which is the sun, and thus called light or effulgent power, is adorable, and must be worshipped by those who dread successive births and deaths, and who eagerly desire beatitude.” In the “Brahma Purana” is a passage in which the sun is alluded to under twelve names, with epithets peculiar to each, as though they were twelve distinct sun-deities:—
“The first form of the sun is Indra, the lord of the gods, and the destroyer of their enemies; the second, Dhata, the creator of all things; the third, Parjanya, residing in the clouds, and showering rain on the earth from its beams; the fourth, Twasta, who dwells in all corporeal forms; the fifth, Pushan, who gives nutriment to all beings; the sixth, Aryama, who brings sacrifices to a successful conclusion; the seventh derives his name from alms giving, and delights mendicants with gifts; the eighth is called Vivasvan, who ensures digestion; the ninth, Vishnu, who constantly manifests himself for the destruction of the enemies of the gods; the tenth, Ansuman, who preserves the vital organs in a sound state; the eleventh, Varuna, who, residing in the waters, vivifies the universe; and the twelfth, Mitra, who dwells in the orb of the moon, for the benefit of the three worlds. These are the twelve splendours of the sun, the supreme spirit, who through them pervades the universe, and irradiates the inmost souls of men.”
Surya is said to have Aruna (Rosy), the Dawn, the son of Kasyapa and Kadru, as his charioteer.
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.
n 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.