Legends of Lord Surya
Lord Surya first appears in literature in the ‘Rig Veda’. According to some myths, Lord Surya is the son of sage Kasyapa and Aditi. The Vedas state Surya to be the creator of the material universe. He is regarded as the absolute idol by ‘Saura’ sect and ‘Smartas’ worship him as one of the five principal forms of God. He is often identified with ‘Aditya’, ‘Savitr’ and ‘Pusan’, is another important Vedic deity.
In the ‘Mahabharata’, Karna was the son of Surya and unmarried princess Kunti. He is also celebrated as a God in Buddhist artwork, for example the ancient works attributed to Ashoka. Surya had three wives, namely, Sharanya, Ragyi and Prabha. Surya had three children with Sanjna (Conscience), the daughter of Viswakarma. These were Vaivasvata (one of the 14 original men), Yama (God of the death), and Yami (Goddess of the Yamuna river). Sadly, Sanjna became so tired of Surya’s light that she gave him a handmaid one day, Chaya (Shade), and left him to live a life of reflection in the forests. The resulting children were Revanta (chief of the Guhyakas) and two twin sons, the youthful Ashvins. The other children of Surya are the monkey chief Sugriva, Ushas and Shani, the representation of the planet Saturn. In the Ramayana, Lord Surya is explained as the father of the King Sugriva, who helped Rama and Lakshmana in defeating Ravana. He also trained Lord Hanuman.
Iconography of Lord Surya
The iconography of Lord Surya in Hinduism differs with its texts. He is normally revealed as a glorious person holding lotus in both his hands, riding a chariot pulled by seven horses. The Hindu Text ‘Vishnudharmottara’ states, Surya has four hands, with flowers in two hands, a staff in third, and in fourth hand he is holding writing tools. The iconography of Surya has also varied over time. In some Buddhist artwork, his chariot is shown as being pulled by four horses. In Indian literature, Lord Surya is referred to by various names, like Aditya, Mitra, Pushan, Arka, Tapan, Ravi etc.
Lord Surya in Astrology
In Vedic astrology, Lord Surya symbolizes soul, determination, reputation, general verve, bravery, kingship and power. He is acclaimed in the sign Mesha, is in mulatrikona in the sign Simha and is in debilitation in the sign Tula. Surya is the lord of three nakshatras namely ‘Krittika’, ‘Uttara Phalguni’ and ‘Uttara Ashadha’. Lord Surya has the gemstone - ruby, his direction is east and the season is summer. The food grain associated with him is wheat.
Worship of Lord Surya
Lord Surya was restored in significance by deities like Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. He is celebrated in the harvest festival of ‘Pongal’ in southern India and by Tamils. Smarta followers also believe him as one of their most imperative Gods. Devotees of Lord Surya are known as ‘Sauryas’. Lord Surya emerges in the important ‘Gayatri’ mantra which is recited from the Vedas as an opening to its study. In Buddhism, Lord Surya is considered to reside in and protect all the shrines.
Festivals of Lord Surya
Following are the festivals dedicated to Lord Surya in India:
Pongal: It is the most extensively celebrated Hindu festival dedicated to the Surya. It is celebrated as ‘Makar Sankranti’ in many parts of India. People worship the Sun God for ensuring a good harvest and give the first grain to him.
Chhath: It is another Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Surya. It is believed to start by Karna who became a great warrior and fought against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War. It is celebrated widely in Bihar, Jharkhand, and some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal.
Samba Dashami: It is celebrated in the eastern coastal state of Odisha in the honour of Samba, the son of Krishna who was cured of leprosy by praying to Lord Surya.
Aytar Puja: It is celebrated in Goa on Sundays of the Hindu lunar month of ‘Shravana’. Known as ‘Aditya Vrata’ in Sanskrit, this ceremony is known as ‘Aditya Ranubai’ in Maharashtra.
Ratha Saptami: It is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day (Saptami) of the bright half of the Hindu month ‘Magha’. This day is also known as ‘Surya Jayanti’ because it celebrates the supremacy of Lord Surya.
Temples of Lord Surya
Surya temples are found in many parts of India. Following are the temples of Lord Surya:
Lord Surya is also a description for the major Hindu Gods Shiva and Vishnu.