The Linga Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1951 | 265,005 words | ISBN-10: 812080340X | ISBN-13: 9788120803404

This page describes The Sun’s Chariot (suryaratha) which is chapter 55 of the English translation of the Linga Purana, traditionally authored by Vyasa in roughly 11,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with Shaiva pilosophy, the Linga (symbol of Shiva), Cosmology, Yugas, Manvantaras, Creation theories, mythology, Astronomy, Yoga, Geography, Sacred pilgrimage guides (i.e., Tirthas) and Ethics. The Lingapurana is an important text in Shaivism but also contains stories on Vishnu and Brahma.

Chapter 55 - The Sun’s Chariot (sūryaratha)

[Note: The solar car. Cf. Matsya, chapter 125. For the 12 Heptads of the solar system Cf. Matsyapurāṇa (A Study: V.S. Agrawal) pp. 211-212. The solar system with the sun as the central point is conceived as a chariot which moves upto 180 degrees both north and south of the equator (V. 14; also Matsya, 125.57).]

1-2. I shall briefly describe the chariot of the sun [i.e., sauraratha / sūryaratha], moon [i.e., śaśiratha] and other planets as also how the sun traverses drinking up the waters.

The chariot of the sun has been created by Brahmā for a specific purpose. O leading brahmins, it is conceived through the parts of the year.

3. The golden chariot of the sun is the abode of all Devas. It has a single wheel with five spokes and three naves.

4. Its length and breadth is nine thousand yojanas. Twice that length is the distance between the driver’s box and the poleshaft.

5. The horses are stationed on the side where the wheel is. They are unattached[1] but appear to be yoked. There are seven horses. They are evolved out of the vedic passages and metres.[2]

6. The horses are bound to the side of the wheel. The axle is fitted to the poleshaft. The chariot revolves along with the wheel and the horses, and the poleshaft revolves along with the axle.

7. The axle prompted by the poleshaft whirls along with the single wheel. It is the intelligent Dhruva (Pole star) that urges the luminaries by means of the wind and the rays (or by the wind which acts as reins).

8. There are two reins in the chariot. They are united to the extremities of the yoke and the axle. The chariot tied by means of the reins to the yoke and the axle revolves by the grace of Dhruva.

9. As the chariot whirls and moves along the firmament there shall be circles of bright lustre. The extremities of the yoke and the axle are to the right of the chariot.

10. When the horses beyond the wheel[3] are pulled by Dhruva by means of reins, both of them (the yoke and axle) as also the reins follow the poleshaft that whirls.

11-13. The extremity of the yoke and the axle of this chariot which has the steed of wind whirls in all directions like a rope fixed to a nail. In the course of Uttarāyaṇa as the chariot moves about in the maṇḍalas the reins increase in size (i.e. are let loose). In the course of the Dakṣiṇāyana, when the chariot moves about in the maṇḍalas the reins are pulled inwards. In either case, the reins are operated by Dhruva and then the sun seated within, moves about in the maṇḍalas.

14-15. The distance between the two solstices consists of one hundred and eighty degrees. The sun moves about the maṇḍalas externally as the reins are being released by Dhruva. He then encircles the maṇḍalas and moves quickly.

16. Devas and sages perpetually worship lord Bhāskara, who is himself Bhava and Īśvara day and night.

17. That chariot is occupied by Devas, Ādityas sages, Gandharvas, Apsarases as well as serpents, Rākṣasas, and Grāmaṇīs.

18. These reside within the sun for two months in succession and develop and nourish the auspicious sun by means of their splendour.

19. The sages eulogise the sun by means of hymns. The Gandharvas and Apsarases worship him by music and dance.

20. The Grāmaṇīs, Yakṣas and Bhūtas hold the reins. The serpents bear the sun and Yātudhānas (Rākṣasas) follow him.

21. The Vālakhilyas surround the sun from his rise to his setting and accompany him. In this manner these reside in the sun for two months in succession.

22-23. O leading brahmins, the following twelve months constitute the human year:—Madhu (Caitra), Mādhava (Vaiśākha), Śukra (Jyeṣṭha), Śuci (Āṣāḍha), Nabhas (Śrāvaṇa), Nabhasya (Bhādrapada), Iṣa (Āśvina) Ūrja (Kārttika), Sahas (Mārgaśīrṣa) Sahasya (Pauṣa), Tapas (Māgha) and Tapasya (Phālguna).

24. The (six) Ṛtus (seasons) are Vāsantika (Spring), Graiṣma, (summer) Vārṣika (rainy season) Śarad (autumn), Hima (early Winter) and Śiśira (late Winter)


The seven groups accompany and abide in the sun, as follows:—

1. Devas are twelve in number. They nourish the sun by means of lustre. They are:—Dhātṛ, Aryaman, Mitra, Varuṇa, Indra, Vivasvān, Pūṣan, Parjanya, Aṃśu, Bhaga, Tvaṣṭṛ and Viṣṇu.

2. The sages are twelve in number. They eulogise the sun by means of hymns. They are:—Pulastya, Pulaha, Atri, Vasiṣṭha, Aṅgiras, Bhṛgu, Bharadvāja, Gautama, Kaśyapa. Kratu, Jamadagni and Visvāmitra.

3. The serpents are twelve in number. They bear the great lord Sun. They are:—Vāsuki, Kaṅkaṇīkara, Takṣaka, Nāga, Elāpatra, Śaṅkhapāla, Airāvata (Irāvān), Dhanañjaya, Mahāpadma, Karkoṭaka, Kambala and Aśvatara.

4. The twelve excellent Gandharvas worship the sun that takes in water by means of Songs. They are:—Tumburu, Nārada, Hāhā, Hūhū, Viśvāvasu, Ugrasena, Surugi, Parāvasu, Citrasena, Ūrṇāyu, Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Sūryavarcas.

5. The twelve Apsarases worship the sun by their charming Tāṇḍava dance. They are:—Kṛtasthalā of splendid face, the divine lady Puñjikasthalī of splendid hips, Menakā, Sahajanyā, Pramlocā of sweet smiles, Anumlocā, Ghṛtācī, Viśvācī, Urvaśī also known as Pūrvacitti, the gentle lady Tilottamā and Rambhā of lotus-like face.

6. The twelve Grāmaṇīs hold the reins. They are:—Rathakṛt, Rathaujas, Rathacitra, Subāhu, Rathasvana, Varuṇa, Suṣeṇa, Senajit, Tārkṣya, Ariṣṭanemi, Kṣatajit and Satyajit.

7. Then there are twelve Yātudhānas. Wielding their weapons they accompany the sun. They are:—Rakṣoheti, Praheti, Pauruṣeya, Badha, Sarpa, Vyāghra, Apa, Vāta, Vidyut, Divākara, Brahmopeta the leading Rākṣasa and Yajñopeta.

These seven groups of twelve members in each are proud of their position.

Two from each, of these seven groups occupy the sun for two months. The details are given below:


During the Months of Caitra-Vaiśākha

1. Twelve Devas — Dhātṛ and Aryaman
2. Twelve Sages — Pulastya and Pulaha
3. Twelve Serpents — Vāsuki and Kaṅkaṇīkara
4. Twelve Gandharvas — Tumburu and Nārada
5. Twelve Apsarases — Kṛtasthalā and Puñjikasthalā
6. Twelve Grāmaṇīs — Rathakṛt and Rathaujas
7. Twelve Yātudhānas — Rakṣoheti and Praheti


During the Months of Jyeṣṭha and Āṣāḍha

1. Devas — Mitra and Varuṇa
2. Sages — Atri and Vasiṣṭha
3. Serpents — Takṣaka and Nāga
4. Gandharvas — Hāhā and Hūhū
5. Apsarases — Menakā and Sahajanyā
6. Grāmaṇīs — Subāhu and Rathacitra
7. Yātudhānas — Pauruṣeya and Badha


During Śrāvaṇa and Bhādrapada

1. Devas — Indra and Vivasvān
2. Sages — Aṅgiras and Bhṛgu
3. Serpents — Elāpatra and Śaṅkhapāla
4. Gandharvas — Viśvāvasu and Ugrasena
5. Apsarases — Pramlocā and Anumlocā.
6. Grāmaṇīs — Rathasvana and Varuṇa
7. Yātudhānas — Sarpa and Vyāghra


During Āśvina and Kārttika

1. Devas — Pūṣā and Parjanya
2. Sages — Bhāradvāja and Gautama
3. Serpents — Irāvān and Dhanañjaya
4. Gandharvas — Suruci and Parāvasu
5. Apsarases — Ghṛtācī and Viśvācī
6. Grāmaṇīs — Suṣeṇa and Senajit
7. Yātudhānas — Āpa and Vāta


During Mārgaśīrṣa and Pauṣa

1. Devas — Aṃśu and Bhaga
2. Sages — Kaśyapa and Kratu
3. Serpents — Mahāpadma and Karkoṭaka
4. Gandharvas — Citrasena and Urṇāyu
5. Apsarases — Urvaśī and Pūrvacitti
6. Grāmaṇīs — Tārkṣya and Ariṣṭanemi
7. Yātudhānas — Vidyut and Divākara.


During Māgha and Phālguna

1. Devas — Tvaṣṭṛ and Viṣṇu
2. Sages — Jamadagni and Viśvāmitra
3. Serpents — Kambala and Aśvatara
4. Gandharvas — Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Sūryavarcas
5. Apsarases — Tilottamā and Rambhā
6. Grāmaṇīs — Rathajit and Satyajit
7. Yātudhānas — Brahmopeta and Yajñopeta

66. These deities occupy the sun for two months (in different groups as mentioned above). These twelve Heptads are the governing forces during the twelve months of the solar year.

67-69. The deities nourish and develop the sun by their splendour. The sages eulogise the sun by the hymns of the Vedas. The Gandharvas and the Apsarases worship him by their music and dance. The Grāmaṇīs, Yakṣas and Bhūtas hold the reins; the serpents bear the sun, and Yātudhānas follow him; Vālakhilyas lead the sun to his setting place after surrounding him at the time of his rise.

70-71. The sun is nourished by the splendour of all these. The sun blazes in accordance with their splendour, penance, yogic power, Mantras, Dharmas and strength. These stay in the sun in groups, for two months each.

72-73. The sages, Devas, Gandharvas, Serpents, groups of Apsarases, Grāmaṇīs, Yakṣas, and Yātudhānas mainly—these blaze, shower rain, illuminate, blow, create and remove the evil activities of living beings. They are glorified as such.

74. They destroy the merits of the wicked and the sins of good persons in certain cases.

75. They are seated in an aerial chariot that is divine, that has the speed of the wind and that can go wherever it wills. These move ahead along with the sun throughout the day.

76. They shower rain. They blaze, they delight. O Sages, they protect all the living beings and firmament from destruction.

77. They take pride and identify themselves with their positions in all the manvantaras of the past, present and future.

78. These seven groups live in the sun in groups of fourteen in all the fourteen, manvantaras.

79. O leading sages, the activities of the intelligent lord of Devas have been recounted, some in. brief and some in detail, in accordance with what I have heard and how they had happened.

80. These seven groups of twelve deities in each are those who take pride in their positions and identify themselves with them. They reside in the sun for two months in the above order.

81. Thus the sun, the harbinger of the day moves ahead quickly in a single-wheeled chariot[4] drawn by seven green imperishable horses.

82. He whirls day and night in his chariot which has a single wheel. He traverses in heaven over the seven continents and oceans with the help of seven groups.

Footnotes and references:


asaṅga [asaṅgaiḥ]=antarikṣaga [antarikṣagaiḥ] Śivatoṣiṇī. those that move in the void.


The seven horses of the solar car are the seven metres, viz., gāyatrī, uṣṇik, anuṣṭup, bṛhatī, paṅkti, triṣṭup and jagatī.


Vicakrāśve [vicakrāśve]—when the horses, wheel and Aruṇa the driver (are secured by Dhruva).


ekacakra—The single wheel of the solar chariot is represented by the year (saṃvatsara).

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