by Goswami Mitali | 2018 | 68,171 words
This page relates ‘Puranic Surya, the Atmospheric Deity’ of the study on the Vedic influence of Sun-worship in the Puranas, conducted by Goswami Mitali in 2018. The tradition of observing Agnihotra sacrifice and the Sandhya, etc., is frequently observed among the Hindus. Another important innovation of the Sun-worship in the Puranas is the installation of the images of the Sun in the temples.—This section belongs to the series “Vedic Influence on the Sun-Worship in the Puranas”.
The connection of the Sun with the atmosphere is highly appreciated in the Purāṇas. He is eulogized in the Purāṇic texts as the ball of the fire that is placed in the sky. The worship of the Sun-god as the fire-ball can be traced in the Vedas. The Bṛhaddevatā states that the Sun-god divides him into the three forms of the fire and establishes in the three regions. Due to the connection of the Sun-god with the sky, the deity is cited with the epithets, ambarastha, ambarasaṅśrita, etc., in the Purāṇic texts.
He is the very form of the sky:
The luminous aspect of the deity is very prominent. He is mentioned as luminous that can be gazed upon because of the circle of the splendour. The deity is eulogized as the white shining solar orb in the Purāṇas. It is indeed the Vedic continuation of worshipping the deity in the form of the bright orb of the Sun. The Vedic viewers have given importance on this aspect and rightly mentioned him as the rukma, i.e. the golden disc in the sky.
The Sun is the ultimate source of light. The body of the deity consists of the rays of the light.
The bright character of the deity is fully vibrant in the Purāṇic mythology:
He is uttered as paraṃ jyotiḥ, viśvāśrayaṃ jyotiḥ, etc., in the Purāṇas. The worship of the deity as the source of light is indeed the continuation of the Vedic tradition. In the Vedas also the deity is eulogized as the viśvājyotiḥ, jyotiṣāṃ jyotiḥ, etc. Again, he is frequently called śukra in the Vedas, due to his bright appearance; while in the Purāṇas due to the same aspect, he is called prabhākara. With his light, the Sun-god makes everything around him visible.
As he penetrates the earth and the entire atmosphere, he is rightly called as the eye of the entire world:
The idea of worshipping the Sun-god as the eye of the universe originated in the Vedic thought,
The Sun-god is eulogized as the lord of the atmosphere and the chief of the planetary system in the Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa:
devadānavayakṣāṇāṃ grahāṇāṃ jyotiṣāmapi tejasābhyadhikaṃ devam/
He creates the stars, planets and the moon:
Indeed, the stars, planets and the moon take their light from the Sun and thus the deity stands as the creator of them. For this aspect, the deity is called as the jyotiṣkṛt in the Vedas. As the moon borrows his light from the Sun, the Sun is considered as the soul of the moon and called as the somātman in the Purāṇas.
With his rising and the setting the Sun-god creates the day and the night. As he creates the day he is called divākara in the Purāṇas. Indeed, there is no rising and the setting of the Sun. It depends upon on its visibility. When Sūrya becomes visible to the people, it is regarded as the day; when he disappears from the visibility, that is called the night. In the Vedas also Sun-god is depicted as the maker of the day and the night. A class of divine personages, those are of the size of a thumb, called as the Bālakhilya seers are believed to lead him surrounding from the sunrise to the sunset.
The Sun-god is always mentioned with the car that is drawn by the seven steeds. These seven horses are frequently mentioned in the Purāṇas. They represent the seven types of the rays of the Sun. These seven rays are named as Suṣumna, Harikeśa, Viśvakarmā, Viśvaśravā, Saṃyadvasu, Arvāvasu and Svaraka. Again, somewhere these rays are mentioned as the seven metres of the Veda. Indeed, the glorification of the Sun-god with the seven horses in the Purāṇas, is the continuation of the Vedic tradition of worshipping the deity with seven horses, which is already discussed in the second chapter under the subhead Sūrya: The God of Atmosphere. The nomenclature of the rays and the identification of the rays with the seven Vedic meters is indeed the later development in the Puraṇic Sun-cult. Again, the rays of the Sun are eulogized due to their great disease-curing power. The Sun-rays are always considered as the remover of the sickness, diseases, sins, etc., in the Vedic texts. By the rays, Sūrya nourishes the earth, the moon and other stars also.
Footnotes and references:
cf., sūryācandramasordivye maṇḍale bhāsvare khage/jalatejomaye śukle vṛttakumbhanibhe śubhe//
cf., mayukhasahasravapu/ Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa, 107.6
cf., yanmadhyagato bhagavānstapatāmpatistapana ātapena trilokīṃ pratapatyabhāsayatyātmabhāsā
cf., ahorātravyavasthākāraṇaṃ bhagavānraviḥ/ Viṣṇupurāṇa, 2.8.11
Matsyapurāṇa, 97.11, Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa, 104.34
yairyatra dṛśyate bhāsvān sa teṣāmudayaḥ smṛtaḥ/ tirobhāvañca yatraiti tatraivastamanaṃ raveḥ// Viṣ.
cf., saptaturaṅgamāya/ Matsyapurāṇa, 97.16
hayāśca sapta/ Viṣṇupurāṇa, 2.8.7
samajavasaptasaptaye/ Mār. P., 107.2
cf., suṣumno harikeśaśca viśvakarmā tathaiva ca/ viśvaśravāḥ punaścānyaḥ saṃyadvasurataparaḥ/ arvāvasuritikhyātaḥ svarakaḥ saptakīrtitāḥ/ Kūrmapurāṇa, 1.41.3,4
Padmapurāṇa, 1.77.17-29; 78. 44-47
cf., tenāsmadviśvāmanirāmanāhutimapāmīvāmapa duṣvapnyaṃ suva/ Ṛgvedasaṃhitā, 10.37.4
apāmīvā bādhate veti sūryam/ Ibid., 1.35.9;
īvāṃ rogādibādhām apa bādhate samyak nirākaroti/ Sāyaṇācārya, Ibid.
cf., sūryaraśmiḥ suṣumṇo yastarpitastena candramāḥ/ kṛṣṇapakṣe′maraiḥ śaśvat pīyate vai sudhāmayaḥ// Viṣṇupurāṇa, 2.11.22
nakṣatragrahasomānāṃ pratiṣṭhāyonireva ca/ candraṛkṣagrahāḥ sarve vijñeyāḥ sūryasambhavāḥ// Matsyapurāṇa,128.28