Vedic influence on the Sun-worship in the Puranas

by Goswami Mitali | 2018 | 68,171 words

This page relates ‘Depiction of Surya in the Anthropomorphic Form’ 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”.

Part 7 - The Depiction of Sūrya in the Anthropomorphic Form

In the early Purāṇas, Sūrya is depicted in human form also. The legends of Satrājit,[1] Aditi,[2] Yājñavalkya[3] and Rājyavardhana[4] are very significant in this regard. Requested by the worshippers, Sūrya, the nature deity appears before them in human form.

Again, the family of Sūrya is narrated in the Purāṇic texts.[5] The Sun is cited as the son of Aditi in the Purāṇas;Saṃjñā and Chāyā are the two wives of him. The Viṣṇupurāṇa holds Vaivasvata Manu, Yama and Yamī as the offspring of Saṃjñā, and Śanaiścara, Sāvarṇi Manu and Tapatī as the offspring of Chāyā.[6] The Purāṇic legend shows that Saṃjñā, the daughter of Tvaṣṭṛ was married to Sun and gave birth to three children. But after that being unable to bear the lustre of the Sun left the figure in her place and started austerities in a dark forest taking the form of a mare. The Sun-god also went to the forest following her and taking the form of a horse stayed there, and as a result of their union, the Aśvinīkumāras and Revanta were born.[7]

Thus, in the Purāṇas, the Sun-god is eulogized with his anthropomorphic character. In the Vedas, the connection of the deities with the other deities is commonly observed. References are found in the Vedic texts about the family members of the deity. Aditi is worshipped as the mother of the Sun along with the gods.[8] Uṣas, the dawn, is his wife,[9] the Aśvins are the twin sons.[10] Again, Yama, the shower of the path of many is mentioned as the son of Vivasvat, the Sun. In the Nirukta, Yāska mentions an old legend, stating the birth of the Aśvins, according to which Saraṇyu, the daughter of Trāṣtrī bore twins, Yama and Yamī to Vivasvat, the Sun.[11] It shows that the marriage of the Sun-god Vivasvat to Saṃjñā in the Purāṇic period,[12] is indeed the renovation of the Vedic tradition.

Footnotes and references:


cf., āsītsatrājitaḥ sūryo bhaktasya paramaḥ sakhā/ prītastasmai maṇiṃ prādātsūryastuṣṭaḥ


cf., aditerapi pitratvaṃ sametya ravinandana/
eṣa viṣṇuriti khyāta indrasyāvarajo vibhuḥ/ Matsyapurāṇa, 172.5


cf., ityevamādibhistena stūyamānaḥ stavai raviḥ/ vājirūpadharaḥ prāha vriyatāmiti vācchitam// Viṣ.


cf., tataḥ sa maṇḍalādudyannijabimbasamaprabhaḥ/ avatīrya dadau tebhyo durdṛśo darśanaṃ raviḥ//


Bhāgavatapurāṇa, 6.6.40-43; Matsyapurāṇa, 11.34-38; Viṣṇupurāṇa,3.2;


Ibid., 3.2.2,4


Matsyapurāṇa, 52; Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa, 80, 83; Viṣṇupurāṇa,3.2


Nirukta, 4.22


Ibid., 12.7


Ibid., 12.1


Nirukta, 12.10

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