Vedic influence on the Sun-worship in the Puranas

by Goswami Mitali | 2018 | 68,171 words

This page relates ‘Surya, the Time’ 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”.

Sūrya is mentioned as the soul of the time in the Purāṇas, i.e. kālātman.[1] As soon as the Sun rises and becomes visible to all, it is called the day and as it sets, night befalls.

In the Matsyapurāṇa, a beautiful narration of it is found:

udite tu punaḥ sūrye ūṣmāgnestu samāviśat/
pādena tejasaścāgnestasmāt santapate divā//
ca tathauṣṇyaṃ ca sauryāgneye tu tejasī/
parasparānupraveśādāpyāyete divāniśam//

Sūrya is eulogized as the cause of the day and night who possesses the celestial fire in his body. With his rising, a fourth of the heat of that fire enters into the earth; and as a result of that, heat is also created in the day time along with the lustre. Again, at sunset, the day enters into the water and brightness and shine are observed in the water during the night.[3] Thus, Sūrya stands as the divider of the day and night and determines the time. The Sun as the creator of the day and night is frequently mentioned in the Vedas,[4] and from such idea of the Vedas, has developed the idea of worshipping the Sun-god as the creator of the day and night in the Purāṇas.

Again, in the Purāṇas, the Sun-god is observed as the creator of the direction:

udayāstamābhyāṃ ca smṛte pūrvāpare tu vai/[5]

The direction, in which the Sun rises, is called the east and the part opposite to it, where he sets, is called the west. Besides this, muhūrta, ayana, saṃkrānti, etc., are the divisions of time, created by the Sun with its movement.[6] All these ideas of worshipping the deity as the creator of muhūrta, ayana, etc., originated in the Vedas which is already dealt with in detail in the second chapter under the subhead ‘Sūrya, The Time’.

The Sun is eulogized as the creator of the seasons in the Purāṇas. Frequently in the Vedas, he is called as the creator of it. The Vājasaneyisaṃhitā refers the name of the six seasons along with its different characters, e.g. cold, heat, etc.[7]

Following the same, the Sun-god is worshipped in the Purāṇas, for his different nature of creating excessive cold or heat, etc.:

yacca rūpaṃ tavātītaṃ himotsargādiśītalam/[8]

Again, the twelve months of the year are identified with the twelve Ādityas in the Purāṇas.[9] The identification of the Ādityas with the twelve months is indeed the continuation of the Vedic tradition of worshipping the deity connecting with the twelve months of the year.[10] The various parts of the Sun along with his chariot are regarded as the various parts of the year.[11] For example, the day is regarded as the naves of the wheel of the chariot of the Sun-god; the years and six seasons are regarded as the spokes of the wheel and its peripheries respectively.

Footnotes and references:


Matsyapurāṇa, 97.11


Ibid., 128.11,12


cf., tasmāt tāmrā bhavantyāpo divārātripraveśanāt/ astaṃ gate punaḥ sūrye aho vai praviśatyapaḥ// Ibid., 128.14


Ṛgvedasaṃhitā, 1.50.7; 5.47.5; 6.58.1; Taittirīyasaṃhitā,, Atharvavedasaṃhitā, 11.6.21


Matsyapurāṇa, 124.36


Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa, 2.24.60; 2.24.113-116;Bhāgavatapurāṇa, 5.22.5-9; Viṣṇupurāṇa,2.8.64-67


Vājasaneyisaṃhitā, 2.32


Varāhapurāṇa, 20.4,5; Skandapurāṇa,7.101.60,61


Śatapathabrāhmaṇa,; Pañcaviṃśabrāhmaṇa, 10.1.10 S


Matsyapurāṇa, 125.43,44

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