Sun in The Religious Life and Lore of India

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Item Code: NAF823
Author: Muralidhar Mohanty
Publisher: Punthi Pustak, Kolkata
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8186791604
Pages: 238 (16 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 340 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

The Sun has been defined as a God and worshipped as an embodiment of natural and supernatural powers. The meaning of the Sun is brilliant, shining that has drawn the notice of mankind for adoration all over the world from very beginning of the human history. It has gained the position of pre-eminence over all the deities of the nature in the ancient times. The Sun constitute an essential feature of the religious and spiritual consciousness of the Indians through the history, such a worship in India has originated as early as neolithic period as in the other countries. From many points of the view and from every age and from every corner of earth, the worship of Sun in ancient India has been continuing from the time immemorials as there is a profound relationship between men and the life giving Sun who has played very prominent role in many vows and ritual thereby it has gained a lot of popularity among all sections ofIndian Society.

The role played by the Sun in the religious life of the people of India through the ages has been embodied in this volume in a lucid manner with reference to the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanisadas and Puranas. The various aspects of the Sun God have been described vividly in thirteen chapters. The book is undoubtedly an unrivalled literary masterpiece and eye opener for the scholars who must feel proud of their ancient culture.


About the Author

Muralidhar Mohanty, the author of this volume was born in a village named Fatepur under the P.S.-Bhandaripokhari in the district of Bhadrak, Orissa in the year 1931. He was serving under the Government of Orissa in Culture Department and retired from Government service in 1989. He has long standing experience about the ancient culture. After retirement he devotes himself in reading and writing. One of his book entitled as 'Origin and Development ofVisnu Cult' has been published during the year 2003 and one book in Oriya is in the press for its publication. The following works are yet to be published.
1. The Vedic Fire
2. Indra in Mythology
3. Radha and Krishna 'Origin and Development of Radha Cult'.



Surya is the most concrete among the Solar deities. His worship is very ancient and most important in India. The beginning of the Sun-worship may be traced back in the pre-vedic times in view of the representation of Sun in various forms on the proto historic seals, potteries, amulet and beads contained with the evidence of Sun- worship. The worship was both animistic and fetishistic. The Sun was treated as an essential benevolent deity who was worshipped on account of his immense role in agriculture and vegitation. He was the source of light energy and fertility.

"The Sun-god with such heary antiquity evoked admiration and reverence of the vedic Indians who considered the god as an Intigral part of nature. The Indo-Aryans after their advent into India continued the heritage of Sun- worship with more vtgur and enthusiasm inherited from the Indo-Iranians and Indo Europeans. The tradition of Sun-worship in pre-vedic India, subsequently got mixed with the vedic complex. It is, therefore, more than probable that the vedic literature furnishes composite picture of the Aryans. and non-Aryans tradition of the Sun-worship".

To write about the Sun-worship, I have to be collected materials from various sources, like veda, Brahmana, upanisada, Puranas, legends and myths, although there are many valuable books in the subject of some reputed scholars. Still then I have ventured to take up such a complecated matter. My intension was only to revive the dying culture presenting the old things in new manner. The educated masses of the present day do not appear to have been laid much importance on the religious matters. Because the tendency of the modern peoples are different.

There was a time. when the peoples were utmost religious scrupled and therefore. they shrinked to do any harm or hars others. In course of time. the circumstances changed due to the enermous increase of population in the country. In the changed circumstances the peoples became despot and degraded. Therefore. some changes took place in social order also. For example. there are as much as temples. so much of the temple priests engaged therein and as many as devotees who visit the temple of god and goddesses regularly carrying flowers. sandal paste. incense. lamp. and offering. There they worships the god or goddesses. what they desire instead of their submission of worship is known only to them.

Similarly. there are so many religious organisations and number of preceptors are there. So also a good number of adherents attend to the religious instruction imparted by their preceptors. Attentively hears the lecture. How far they are influenced by those religious instructions in best known to them. On the one hand. these know. no bounds of religious feelings and the other hand they do not hesitate to be indulged in various nefarious activities. like. corruption. bribery. deceit, apathy. cheeting. bungling. and at last theft. For the sake of money they do not also hesitate to commit any heinous sin. like killing of a newly married bride in the hope of getting more dowry. In such a gloomy atmosphere. where is the place of virtue. The peoples who are going to the temple. are they all correct and honest? But not all some of them are honest. pious and devoted to the god. Some of them are shelflsh and dishonest who are excessively money minded. They are anxious to earn money by hook or crook or by fair or unfair means. thereby they think to be a great mar overnight. Keeping in view of the situation the concious citizens feel that the old culture gradually is going to be faded away.

In such a critical juncture, being inspired by the encouragement of a reputed scholar Dr.H.C.Das, Ex- Superintendent, Orissa State Museum. I aspired within the much despire took up the work. In the way I have to be faced lot of obstacle and resistance. I have also faced criticism so as to prevent me to be refrained from the task. Surpassing all those troubles, I arn some how able to complete the work. So I hope that the book will be useful for the scholars and interesting to the interested readers.

Lastly, I arn to say that what I have attempted I have done it. I hope that the readers will not regret for which I have not done,. Err is human.

I am highly indebted to Dr.H.C.Das, Ex-Superintendent, Orissa State Museum for the enlightened and encouraging interest he has all along taken in the matter. I express my deep gratitude to Sri B.C. Routray, Stenographer and Sri S. K. Bose, Typist, Orissa State Museum who have typed the manuscript both rough and fair copy. I am very much grateful to Sri M.K. Sarnal, Librarian, Orissa State Museum who has supplied me reference materials, Journals as and when I required. So also I am grateful to Sri S.K. Patnaik, Photographer of Orissa State Museum who has supplied me all the required photographs. At last I arn grateful to Sri P.K. Bhattacharya, for PUNTHI PUSTAK, KOLKATA who has published my book in time. Lastly my thanks is due to my family members specially to my daughter-in-low who has helped me a lot.



This is inconnection with the Sun in the religious life and Lore, of India. The Sun has been defied as a god and worshipped as an embodiment of natural and supernatural powers. The meaning of the Sun is brilliant. shining. that has drawn notice of man kind for adoration all over the world from very beginning of the human history. It has gained the position of pre eminence over all the deities of the nature in the ancient times. "The prominence and glory of the Solar orb. its beauty and splendour. its importance in creation and maintenance of life. its regularity in defusing light and enlightening the whole earth, its primal role in cosmic evaluation and consequent mystery sorrounding, it had secured for the Sun a history of interest and importance equalled by none to which every age and every race has contributed its pages".

The firm faith in the god and worship of the Sun. constitute an essential feature of the religious and spiritual consceousness of the Indians through the history. Such a worship in India has originated as early as the neolithic period as in the other countries. From many point of view. and from every age. and from every cornor of earth. the worship of the sun in the ancient India has been continuing from the time immemorial as there is a profound relationship between men and the life giving sun who has played very prominent role in many vows and ritual of Hindus thereby it has gained a lot of popularity among all sections of Indian society. The Sun-worship has been continuing since pre- historic times even to the present day, due to its universality and popularity among all classes of human society as the Sun in the religious life and lore oj India sun treated as one of the most illuminating deity. It was the general impression that the sun-worship has originated from the vedic period, but the same has been prevailing since ancient times. But the present case has been dealt with from the vedic period.

There are ten hymns in the Rigveda, dedicated to Sun. 'Ten entire hymns of the Rigveda may be said to be devoted to the celebration of Surya specially. It is impossible to say how after the name of the god occurs, it being in many cases doubtful whether only the natural phenomenon is meant or its personification. Since his name designates the orb of the sun, as well, Surya is the most concrete of the solar deities, his connection with the luminary never being lost sight of'".

The Sun, or its deity he is one of the three chief deities in the veda as the great source of light and wormth, but the reference to him are more poetical than precise. Sometimes he is identical with Sabitri and Aditya, sometimes he is distinct. Sometimes he is called as the son of Dyaus, sometimes of Aditi. In other passage, usha the dawn is his wife. In another, he is called the child of the dawns, he moves through the sky in a chariot drawn by seven ruddy horses or mares. Sfirya has several wives, but according to later legends his twin sons, the Aswins who are very young and handsome, and ride in a golden car as pre coursors of suhas, the dawn, were born of a nymph called Asvins, from her having concealed herself in the form of a rnare".

"It is to him, that the Oayatrt, the most sacred text of the veda is addressed at his rising by very devout Brahrnanas. Simple in its phraseology, this short verse is supposed to exert magical powers. It is as follows :

"Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine vivifier,

May he enlighten (or stimulate) our understangis"

As a specimen of the language, employed in some of the later writtings in reference to this verse, read the following few lines from the Skanda Purana.

"Nothing in the vedas is superior to the Gayatri. No invocation is equal to the Gayatri, as no city is equal to Kasi (Benares). The Gayatn is the mother of the vedas and of Brahmanas. By repeating it a men is saved. By the power of Gayatri, the Kshatriya (warrior caste) Visvamitra became Brahmarsi (Brahmana saint) and even obtained such power as to be able to create a new world. What is there indeed that can not be effected by the Gayatri? For the Gayatri is Visnu, Brahman, and Siva and three vedas".

So far as Purana is concerned, in the Ramayana and other puranas, Surya is the son of Kasyapa and Aditi. He is otherwise said to be a son of Dyaus. Usha (the dawn) is called his wife. In other place he is said to be produced by the Dawn. In the Puranas, Surya however sustains quite a different character. "He is described as a dark-redman with three eyes and four arms in two hands are water- lilies, with one he is bestowing a blessing with the other he is encouraging his worshippers. He sits upon a red- lotus, and rays of glory issue from his body. In addition to the daily worship that is offered to him by Brahrnanas In the repetion of the Gayatri, he is worshipped once a year by Hindus of all castes, generally on the first Sunday in the Month of Magha and in seasons of sikness it is no uncommon thing for the low-caste Hindus to emply a Brahmana to repeat verses in his honour in the hope that thus propitiated he will effect their recovery:". This aspect has been dealt with in detail in the chapter 4 comprising 7 sub-chapters.

Another chapter has been dealt with Savitri, Generator, a name used in the vedas. for the Sun. "Savitri is celebrated in eleven whole hymns of the Rigveda, and in parts of others, his name being mentioned about 170 times. Eight or nine of these are in the family books, while all but three of those to Surya are in the first and tenth. Savitri is prominently a golden deity, nearly all his members and his equipment being described by the epithet".

Savitrt. "The holy verse of the veda commonly called Gayatri, a name of Satarupa, the daughter and wife of Brahma who is sometimes regarded as a personification the holy verse. Daughter of the king Asvapati and lover of Satyavana whom she insisted on marrying, although she was warned by a seer that he had only one year to live. When the fatal day arrived. Satyavana went cut to out wood and she followed him. There he fell, dying to the earth and she supported him saw a figure. who told her that he was Yama king of the dead and that he had come for her husband's spirit. Yama carried off the spirit. towards the shades but Savitri followed him. Her devotion pleaded Yama and he offered her any boon except the life of her husband. She extorted three such boons from Yama but still she followed him and he was finally constrained to restore her hushand's life".




  Preface vii
  List of Illustration xv
  Introduction 1-14
Chapter I Surya, the Sun-God 15-26
Chapter II Surya the God of Light. 27-33
Chapter III Surya as Savitr 34-38
Chapter VI Savitr the Golden deity. 39-54
Chapter V Pusana as a Solar Deity. 55-66
Chapter VI Vivasvan, a Solar deity. 67-112
Chapter VII Usha., the Goddess of Dawn 113-122
Chapter VIII Adityas a Group of Solar deity 123-132
Chapter IX Asvinis the twin Gods. 133-154
Chapter X Sun Worship. 155-167
Chapter XI Some aspects of Sun Worship 168-184
Chapter XII Iconographical description of Sun-God. 185-197
Chapter XIII Sun-Cult in Orissa. 198-204
  Index 205-208

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