by Goswami Mitali | 2018 | 68,171 words
This page relates ‘Temples and Pilgrimages for Worshipping the Sun-god in the Puranas’ 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 Purāṇic texts contain detailed discussion of installation of the Sun image in the temple. The image of the deity would be installed with the great show off on an auspicious day and at an auspicious place in the centre of the city:
puramadhyaṃ samāśritya kuryādāyatanaṃ raveḥ/
Prior to installation, it should be sprinkled with pure water that is brought from many rivers, from all the parts of the country. The Agnipurāṇa prescribes the installation of the image of the Sun-god with the utterance of sacred mantras devoted to the deity. The Purāṇa glorifies the building of a temple, saying that a person who builds a temple is always blessed. Even if one merely thinks of building a temple, the sins of hundred lives are forgiven.
The bliss of all kinds of sacrifices, pilgrimage, sacred bath, etc., is only obtained by establishing a temple:
The Sāmbapurāṇa gives a detailed discussion of the arrangement of a temple dedicated to the Sun-god.
The temple should be established after proper examination of the ground:
The Sun-god should be consecrated in the garbhagṛha, i.e. the main sanctum of the temple. A door should be there on the eastern part and a bathroom of the Sun-god should be erected there in the southern part. A room should be constructed there for the Agnihotra or Havana in the northern part of the temple.
uduṅmukhaṃ bhavacchaṃbhormātṛṇāṃ ca gṛhottamam/
brahmā paścimataḥ sthāpyo viṣṇuruttaratastathā//
In front of the Sun image, the place of two Mahāśvetās should be made. The two Aśvins should be installed outside at the door of the shrine and they are to be worshipped there. The attendants of the Sun-god should be also placed on the temple. Rājña and Tosā, i.e. the Kārtikeya and the Hari respectively should be consecrated in the second shrine; two Kalmāṣa birds, viz. Pretādhipa and Garuḍa should be consecrated in the third shrine. Jaṇḍaka, who is Citragupta and the Māṭhara, who is Yamarāja should be placed in the southern direction. Besides these, in the western, Prāpnuyān, the ocean and Ūkṣatās, should be placed and in the north Kubera and Soma should be kept and to the north of Kubera and Soma, should be placed Revanta and Vināyaka. Two maṇḍalas should be made on the ground to offer arghya to the Sun-god in the morning and evening hour. The Sāmbapurāṇa mentions about a banner, i.e. dhvaja of the Sun with the representation of vyoma on it. The Bhaviṣyapurāṇa specifies that the metal gold is to be used in the dhvaja. In honour of the Sun-god, the dhvaja is to be erected and they are called as dharmadhvaja on account of the figure dharma on the banner.
The Magas and the Bhojakas are considered as the Sun-worshipping priests associated with the installation and worship of the Sun image. Following the advice of Nārada, Sāmba had brought them to the region from the Śākadvīpa.
The Śākadvīpa is situated far from Jambudvīpa on the other side of salt-ocean and it is said to be surrounded with the sea of milk:
jaṃbudvīpātparaṃyasmācchākadvīp iti smṛtam…//
One day Sāmba, the son of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Jāmbavantī, went to take his bath in the river Candrabhāgā, where he found a glowing image that is brought by the current of the river. The image had been carved by Viśvakarman. Sāmba installed the image on the bank of the river. As because all the Brāhmaṇas did not accept the offering of the gifts of the temple, Sāmba was advised by
tasyādhikāo devānne devatānāñca pūjane/
In the Sāmbapurāṇa, the image of the deity itself advises Sāmba to bring the Maga worshippers from Śākadvīpa to worship him. Thus advised by Nārada and Sūrya, Sāmba went to Śākadvīpa and brought the Magas from there. These Bhojakas are referred to in the Bhaviṣyapurāṇa as the installer and consecrator of the Sun images.
The Bhaviṣyapurāṇa mentions about some important Sun temples. Vaśistha, the priest of Ikṣvāku dynasty had a Sun-temple that was constructed on the bank of the river Sarayū, where he regularly worshipped the deity. By worshipping the Sun-god there on the month of Kārtika with the utterance of the names of the deity and lighting the light, people achieve everything; the merit of all the sacrifices, glory equal to the Sun-god and even the Sūryaloka. There is another Sun temple, constructed by the son of Priyavrata, the king of Śākadvīpa, in his territory. He had installed a golden image of the deity there. To worship the deity, the Bhojakas had been appointed. Besides these, the other temples of the Sun-god mentioned in the Bhaviṣyapurāṇa are the temples in Prayāga, Puṣkara, Kurukṣetra, Naimiṣa, Pṛthudaka, Kaśāvarta, Candrabhāgā, Soṇa, Gokarṇa, Brahmāvarta, Kuśāvarta, Bilvaka, Nīlaparvata ḥin Nīlagiri), Gaṅgādvāra, Gaṅgāsāgara, Mitravana, Cakratīrtha and Rāmatīrtha. Among all the temples of the Sun-god, the temple of the Sāmbapura is regarded as the first abode of the Sun-god. The other major temples, devoted to the Sun-worship are the temples of Indravana, Muṇḍīra and Kālapriya. 
The Purāṇas also mention about different Sun-temples located in different places. The Garuḍapurāṇa informs about three images of the Sun, established by Sāmba after relieving from his diseases. One of the images, he had established on the Udayācala, another at Kālapriya, to the south of Yamunā, and the third one he established at Mulasthāna, i.e. the present Multan. The Purāṇa also mentions that the devotee obtains greatest advantage, worshipping the rising Sun on the Udayācala, the midday Sun at Kālapriya and the setting Sun at Mulasthāna. It indicates the location of Udayācala in the east region, Kālapriya in the centre and Mulasthāna in the west part.
The Vāyupurāṇa mentions about Vāḍāditya, one of the forms of the Sun-god. The image of the-Vāḍāditya was installed by Vāyu in the city of Vāyupura. The deity is regarded as endowed with great prowess.
He bestows everything to his devotees and fulfils all the desires:
The Brahmapurāṇa mentions that to the south of the Bhāratavarṣa, in one of the shores of the great ocean, there is located the land named Oṇḍra and Utkala. In the Utkala, i.e. the Sūryakṣetra, the image of the Sun-god known as Koṇāditya is installed. The image of the deity is mentioned as auspicious, with the sight of which all sins of man is destroyed. The temple is surrounded with sand and trees. The best time for propitiating the deity is considered as the sunrise. The devotee, worshipping the deity according to the prescribed rites becomes free from the sins that acquired in the seven births.
The Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa refers to many centres of the Sun-worship. According to it, Kāmarūpa is one of the places where the worship of the Sun-god was prevalent from very early period. The old King Rājyavardhana, propitiating the Sun-god here in the region, regained his youth. The Kālikāpurāṇa mentions two important places of Sun-worship. It refers to the holy place called Ravikṣetra that is located on a hill called Tattva to the west of the river Trisrotā. The Ravikṣetra is now identified as the Śrī Sūrya mountain of the district in Goalpara, where the twelve identical figures, i.e. the twelve Ādityas, in the form of Lotus-petal are found arranged around the figure of Kāśyapa. The Citraśaila is another place of Sun-worship in the region where the Sungod is worshipped along with the nine planets. The Citraśaila is presently known as Navagraha hill in Guwahati, Assam.
The Sun-god is worshipped in the form of Lolārka in the Purāṇas. But the episode of Lolārka is found in variant ways in different Purāṇas. According to the Vāmanapurāṇa, the deity achieved the form lolling between Varuṇa and the river Asī, due to some quarrels with the Asuras. He was restored to his place Lolārka, that in probably the Lolārka Kuṇḍa, near Badaini, in the district of Vārāṇasī. The Sun-god is worshipped there along with the other Brāhmaṇical deities. Again, according to the Skandapurāṇa, due to his eagerness, i.e. lola, the Sun-god acquired the name Lolārka. The temple of Lolārka is located in the southern direction of Kāśī at the confluence of Asi with Gaṅgā. Among all the holy tīrthas of the place, the Lolārka is considered as the first and foremost and other tīrthas are regarded as subsidiaries to it, those watered by its holy water. Due to the greatness of the deity, the inhabitants of
Kāśī achieve and preserve good. The annual pilgrimage to the place on the seventh lunar day in the month of Māgaśīrṣa, or on the sixth day that falls on a sunday makes man free from all types of sin. All the sins committed by man during the whole year are destroyed with the visit of Lolārka on the sixth lunar day that falls on Suday. The holy bath at the confluence of Asi and Gaṅgā, by propitiating the Pitṛs and the deities along with the performance of śrāddha on that place, one becomes free to the indebtedness to the Pitṛs. With the holy dip at the confluence of Gaṅgā and Asi on the seventh day in the bright half of Māgha called Rathasaptamī, one becomes free from the sins incurred in the course of seven births. Again, if anyone takes a visit to Lolārka on every Sunday observing the vows of cleanliness, he becomes free from all the miseries in the world. Along with the miseries, the people get rid of all the skindiseases, e.g. Pāma, Dadru or Vicarcikā, worshipping the Sun-god in the form of Lolārka located in the Vārāṇaśī.
The Sun-god has divided himself into twelve forms in the city of Kāśī to destroy all the sins of his devotees. These twelve forms of the Sun-god are, Lolārka, Uttarārka, Sāmbāditya, Drupadāditya, Mayūkhāditya, Khakholkāditya, Aruṇāditya, Vṛddhāditya, Keśavāditya, Vimalāditya, Gaṅgāditya and Yamāditya. The twelve shrines dedicated to the worship of these forms of the Sun are located in Kāśī.
The Sun-god is worshipped in the form of Uttarārka. The image of the Sungod Uttarārka is installed on the Arkakuṇḍa, in the north side of the Viśveśvara temple in Vārāṇasī. The deity Uttarārka dispels the miseries of the people and flourishes the good people. The Arkakuṇḍa is also known as Bakariā Kuṇḍa. The annual pilgrimage of the lord Uttarārka should be performed on a Sunday in the month of Puṣyā, which bestows all the benefits of Kāśī.
A small shrine of Sāmbāditya is found near Sūryakuṇḍa, near Godaulia. Sāmba, the son of Kṛṣṇa, worshipping the deity at the city of the Viśveśvara, i.e. Vārāṇasī got rid of leprosy. Due to the redemption and purity of the place, all the great sins committed by the people are removed, and all the diseases are cured at Vārāṇasī, if no remedy has been seen for, even by the sages. The deity Sāmbāditya, the dispeller of all ailments, bestows all the riches to his devotees there, making them free from evil and illness. No disease can afflict the devotee: if he takes a holy dip in Sāmbakuṇḍa, early at dawn on a Sunday and worships the deity Sāmbāditya. Widowhood never hits the woman if she worships the Sun-god in the form of Sāmba. The barren woman gives birth to a son, endowed with pure handsome features. In the month of Madhu, i.e. Caitra, on a Sunday, the annual pilgrimage and festivities take place at Vārāṇasī. After taking the holy bath in the Sāmbakuṇḍa, and worshipping the deity with Aśoka flowers according to the injunctions, the devotee becomes free from grief and all the sins he has committed throughout the year.
The temple of the deity Draupadāditya is located under a tree on the west side of the Viśvanātha temple. The Sun-god occupying this form bestows supernatural powers to his devotees. Viśveśara had given a boon to Draupadāditya, satisfied with his penance, that if a man visits Viśveśvara after worshipping the Sun in the form of Draupadāditya, he becomes free from the darkness of his miseries with the rays of the Sun. Due to this boon, the Sun-god dispels forever the sins of the creatures those stationed at Kāśī.
The temple of Mayūkhāditya is located there inside the Maṅgalā Devī temple. The deity had achieved the name Mayūkhāditya as because at the time of his performance of penance only the rays of the deity were seen, not the body. The Sungod called Mayūkhāditya had installed a great liṅga named Gabhastīśvara and Gaurī, named as Mangala. The liṅga gives all siddhis to the devotees. A person taking his holy bath in Pañcanada with the adoration of Gabhastīśvara, becomes rid of all his sins and becomes free from the cycle of rebirth. Propitiating the Sun-god there, people becomes free from sickness. If a person visits Mayūkhāditya on Sunday, no one will incur poverty.
The image of the deity Khakholka is at present in the Kāmeśvara temple in Vārāṇasī. The Sun-god called Khakholkāditya destroys all the ailments. By unethical way, Vinatā, the mother of Garuḍa, was defeated by Kadru. Garuḍa released his mother from the slavery. After that, both Vinatā and Garuḍa had gone to Vārāṇasī to perform severe penance. Garuḍa installed there a liṅga of Śambhu and Vinatā installed the splendid one Khakholka, one of the forms of Āditya. The deity Khakholkāditya appeared in front of Vinatā and blessed her to become free from various sins, providing her the knowledge of Śiva. The deity was also named as Vinatāditya after her name. Khalkholkāditya is believed to have destroyed the various sins of the resident of Kāśī.
The idol of Aruṇāditya is installed in Vārāṇasī to the north of the Mahādeva temple. Vinatā was cursed by her own son Aruṇa, who was born unfledged, due to the excessive eagerness of her under which she broke open the egg prematurely. Inquired by Vinatā, Aruṇa told her the way to get release from the curse. After that, he flew unto the sacred place called Ānandakānana at Vārāṇasī and performed penance there. He propitiated the Sun-god and the deity became known as Aruṇāditya after his name. The people, who worship the deity there in Vārāṇasī will have nothing to fear from anywhere. The worshippers become free from misery, poverty and sins. They become free from all ailments, no evil phenomena will attack them and no fire of grief can burn them.
The image of the Sun-god in the form of Vṛddhāditya is installed towards the south of Viśālākṣī in Vārāṇasī. The image carries all auspicious characteristics and was intended to bestow auspiciousness. The people attained supernatural powers propitiating the Sun-god in Vārāṇasī in the form of Vṛddhāditya. He destroys old age, wretchedness and ailments. A man would attain the desired benefit, by bowing down to Vṛddhāditya at Vārāṇasī on a Sunday.
The crystal liṅga of Lord Maheśvara made by the Sun was placed and worshipped to the north of Ādikeśvara in Vārāṇasī. It is known as Keśavāditya. The Sun-god is known as Keśavāditya, attaining the spiritual knowledge, after associating with Keśava. The deity destroys the darkness of the devotees and bestows them everything according to their desires. By propitiating Keśavāditya, at Vārāṇasī, a man acquires highest wisdom whereby he attains salvation too. People performing the ritualistic offerings of water to one’s predecessors in the holy tīrtha called Pādodaka at the confluence of Gaṅgā and Vārāṇasī and visiting Keśavāditya, become liberated from inherited sins. Again, on the Rathasaptamī day, the seventh day of the bright half of Māgha, that falls on a Sunday, the devotee taking a bath early in the morning in the Pādodakatīrtha in front of Ādikeśvara, observing silence and worshipping Keśavāditya becomes free from the sins incurred in the course of seventh birth.
The seven types of sins are—
- sins, committed in the current birth;
- sins, acquired in the previous birth;
- mental sins;
- verbal sins;
- physical sins;
- known sins and
- unknown sins.
The temple of Vimalāditya, one of the forms of the Sun-god is placed on the beautiful forest of Harikeśvara in Vārāṇasī. As the Kṣatriya Vimala became free from the leprosy worshipping the Sun-god there in Vārāṇasī, people, visiting the deity there, becomes free from the foul disease of leprosy. The deity Vimalāditya is always regarded as the bestower of the boons on devotees and dispels all ailments and sins.
To the south of Viśveśvara in Vārāṇasī, the deity Gaṅgāditya is installed. By seeing Gaṅgāditya a man attains purity. Gaṅgā when arrived with Bhagīratha, leading her, the Sun-god placed himself there in order to eulogise Gaṅgā. The person who propitiates Gaṅgāditya in Vārāṇasī, never attains wretchedness at any place nor falls ill.
The Āditya that was installed by Yama to the west of Yameśa and to the east of Vīreśa is known as Yamāditya. Yamāditya removes the torture that arises from Yama. The devotee, worshipping Yameśa and Yamāditya and taking a holy dip in Yamatīrtha never sees the world of Yama. Taking a bath in Yamatīrta on Tuesday that falls on the fourteenth lunar day and a visit to Yameśvara makes man free from all sins. Again the performer performing libation and offerings of balls of rice in Yamatīrtha on the fourteenth day on a Tuesday with Bharaṇī constellation becomes free from indebtedness to Pitṛs. One becomes free from indebtedness to the Pitṛs by performing śrāddha in Yamatīrtha, adoring Yameśvara and bowing down to Yamāditya.
Yājñavalkya had installed twelve Sun-gods at different places in the Hātakeśvarakṣetra. He had installed a Sun-god called Śaṅkhāditya. The temple of the deity is known as Śaṅkhatīrtha. Śaṅkha had also resorted to a water tank, known as Śaṅkhakuṇḍa, near to the temple and performed his penance there. A person taking his holy bath there at sunrise on the eighth lunar day in the bright half in the month of Vaiśākha that falls on a Sunday, becomes free from all types of leprosy and becomes brilliant like the Sun. The deity fulfils all the desires of his worshippers and destructs their sins. In the Hātakeśvara, the image of the Ratnāditya, one of the forms of the Sungod was installed by the King Ratnākṣa. It destructs all sins of his worshippers. Without using any implement of digging, Viśvāmitra dug up a pit on the ground in Hātakeśvara with his own hands. He meditated and brought the river Jāhnavī from Pātāla there. All the sins of people destruct with the holy ablution into it. Later on King Ratnākṣa being freed from his diseases of leprosy worshipping the Sun-god there, installed the image of the deity. In the bright half of the Māgha that falls on a Sunday bowing down to Divākara there, a man becomes rid of leprous ailments and sins. To the northwestern side of it a water tank was created by Dhanvantari. With the holy bath into it man becomes free from all ailments. The devotee taking a holy bath there and visiting the deity on the Saptamī day in conjunction with a Sunday, shall be relieved of sins and go to the world of the Sun. The image of the Mārtaṇḍa was installed by Viśvāmitra in the Hātakeśvara. The deity destructs all the leprous ailments. On the seventh lunar day in the bright half of the month of Vaiśākha, that falls on a Sunday and constellation Pitradaivatya, the deity was worshipped by his devotee with hundred and eight circumambulations to become free from leprosy. Sāmba, to get rid of his leprosy worshipped the Sun-god called Sāmbāditya after bathing in the auspicious water of Sindhu. He started slowly towards the holy spots beginning with the Puṣkara worshipping lord Puṣkarasvāmin. Sāmba took his holy bath there in the meritorious waters of the kuṇḍa and offered libation to the Pitṛs and Devas. On a Sunday, coinciding with Saptamī, he went to the temple of Kuharasvāmī, and worshipped the deity offering fruits and one hundred and eight circumambulations, repeating the Sūryagāyatrī. The temple of Bakulārka, i.e. the lord of the forest groove, is placed on the west of the idol of Śambhu in the Ravikṣetra. A kuṇḍa occurred there with the hind leg of the horse, i.e. the disguised form of the Sun. Both the temple and the kuṇḍa are located in the Dharmāraṇya, in the northern Kurukṣetra. If a man takes his holy bath in the Ravikuṇḍa, he becomes free from sins, never afflicted with sickness, leprosy, etc. The manes become redeemed if fallen in great hells, with the bath to it. Taking the bath on the seventh lunar day in conjunction with Sunday, or at the time of lunar and solar eclipses, a bath in Ravikuṇḍa makes the people free from the cycle of rebirth. The holy dip in the Ravikuṇḍa, on the day of the transit of the Sun, on Vyatīpāta, on Vaidhṛta, on the full moon day, on the new moon day, or on the fourteenth day of the dark and bright half of a month gives the benefit of ten million sacrifices to the devotees.
Besides the temples, there are some centres of pilgrimage mentioned in the Vaiṣṇavakhaṇḍa of the Skandapurāṇa. The Dvādaśāditya is one of them, situated near Somakuṇḍa. The holy bath that is taken there on Sunday, Saptamī and Saṃkrānti is regarded as very auspicious, and people visited the place seeking blessings of the Sungod. There is a tīrtha called Arkatīrtha, situated to the west to Markaṭatīrtha, on the bank of the river Narmadā in Tripuri. King Gandharvarāja is said to have been cured of his leprosy by worshipping the Sun-god. The tīrtha is also known as Bhāskaratīrtha.
Besides this, there is another tīrtha known as Sūryākṣatīrtha. The temple of the Ādityeśvara is situated to the north of the river Narmadā. It is considered as the great pilgrimage of Hindu, that is praised as better than even Kurukṣetra, Prayāga, Naimiṣa, Puṣkara, Kāśī and Kedāra. At the time of solar eclipse, people coming from different parts take their holy bath there and make different gifts. It is also known as Arkatīrtha and Sūryatīrtha.
The Candrādityatīrtha is another centre of pilgrimage, which was installed by two Rākṣasas, the Caṇḍa and the Muṇḍa on the bank of the river Narmadā. In the Avantīkhaṇḍa under the Revākhaṇḍa, a temple is mentioned, dedicated to the Sun-god Narāditya or Naradīpa which was built in Ujjayinī. The temple was known for its glory. The Narāditya temple is at present near the Kālabhairava temple in Ujjayinī. There is a tīrtha of Dvādaśārka which is situated on the south bank of the river Kṣiprā. The Sun-god was believed to be taken the human form in Prabhāsakṣetra and therefore it is also regarded as the place of pilgrimage. The place Prabhāsakṣetra is at Saurāṣṭra and also known as the Arkasthala. There is a Sūryakṣetra at the confluence of the rivers Brāhmī, Hiraṇya and the sea. Besides these, the shrines of the Sun-gods, Gopāditya, Sagarāditya, Nagarāditya, Nandāditya, etc., were installed on the bank of the river Māheśvarī in the Prabhāsakṣvetra by the Gopīs of Kṛṣṇa, Sagara, Janaka and Nanda respectively. Viśvāmitra installed the temple of the Sun-god Bālāditya by name at the distance of four krośas from Agastyāśrama and it became the centre of pilgrimage. Besides these, the Prabhāsakṣetra refers to the shrine of the Sun-god Balukasvāmī, Uttarārka, Kṣemāditya, Durgāditya, etc. The image of the Sun-god, called Citrāditya was installed by Citra, one of the sons of Mitra. The strotra devoted to the deity contains the names of all the important images of the Sungod, placed on different parts of India. All total sixty-three images of the Sun-god are mentioned along with its places in the specified strotra found in the Prabhāsakhaṇḍa of the Skandapurāṇa.
Thus, the Purāṇas glorify the building of a temple. They contain huge information relating to the different Sun-temples located in different parts of India. The Purāṇic texts narrate some legendary episodes connected with the origin of such temples. The Sun-god was worshipped under different names in the temples, appearing before his devotees, occupying different forms. Besides the temples, there were some centres of pilgrimage mentioned in the Purāṇic texts. With a view to getting relief from different diseases or sins or to fulfil different desires, the devotees went to the pilgrimage and took their sacred baths on different months and different constellations. His worship as the remover of diseases and reliever of sins is very much prominent in the Vedas, and it has a direct impact on the Sun-worship in the pilgrimage and temples in Purāṇas.
Thus, the Purāṇic literature stands as the great source of ancient Indian history containing information in it, relating to the religion, culture, geography, etc., of ancient India. From the study, is becomes clear that the Sun-worship in the Purāṇic period which is developed into the sectarianism is indeed fully influenced by the Vedic mode of worship of the Sun.
Footnotes and references:
cf., arghāya maṇḍale dve vai kārye savyāpasavyayoḥ/ dadyādudayavelāyāmardhaṃ sūryāya dakṣiṇe// Ibid., 29.22
cf., ravervyoma smṛtaṃ dhvaje/ Ibid., 33.8
Bhavi P., 1.117, 135,140, 144, 145, 146, 147
Ibid., 1.72. 4-7
Ibid., 6.213. 108