Surya, also known as Aditya or Phoebus in various cultures, is the Hindu deity associated with the sun. In Hinduism, Surya is revered as the solar deity and is considered one of the Adityas, the celestial beings born of the goddess Aditi. Surya is often depicted riding a chariot drawn by seven horses, representing the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven days of the week.
Key aspects and characteristics of Surya in Hinduism include:
- Symbolism and Iconography:
- Surya is typically depicted with a radiant and golden appearance, symbolizing the life-giving and illuminating nature of the sun.
- He holds a lotus flower, a symbol of purity, in his hands, and his chariot is driven by Aruna, the personification of the dawn.
- Role in Hindu Cosmology:
- Surya is a vital force in Hindu cosmology, providing light and energy to sustain life on Earth.
- The sun is often regarded as a representation of the divine eye, witnessing the actions of all beings.
- Devotional Worship:
- Surya is the presiding deity of the Surya Namaskara, a series of yoga postures and prayers dedicated to the sun, often performed at sunrise.
- Devotees worship Surya for strength, vitality, and overall well-being.
- Associations with Other Deities:
- In some Hindu traditions, Surya is identified as a form of Lord Vishnu, particularly as part of the Dashavatara (ten avatars) concept.
- Surya is also considered the father of Karna, a key figure in the Indian epic, the Mahabharata.
- The festival of Chhath Puja is dedicated to the worship of Surya, particularly by communities in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, and parts of Nepal.
- Makar Sankranti, Pongal, and other regional harvest festivals often include rituals and prayers to Surya.
Surya’s significance extends beyond Hinduism, as similar solar deities are found in various ancient cultures around the world. In Indian art, literature, and philosophy, Surya holds a prominent place, symbolizing the light of knowledge, wisdom, and the life-sustaining energy of the sun.