The Sun

The Sun

The Sun’s champion began the competition, for the Sun is
the brightest of the planets. This pundits leonine mane framed a
broad, confident face which shone like Sol himself. Dignity, power,
and authority flowed from his steady burning eyes to complement his
regal bearing as his authoritarian, modestly-arrogant voice boomed
out into the hall: “The Sun is superior among all the planets, and he
becomes pleased with whoever reveres him consistently. Among the
planets he is God incarnate in solar form. Those who regularly and
devotedly remember the Sun lose all their worries, disease, and
poverty, for unwavering worship of the Sun destroys all obstructions
and fulfills all cherished desires.

“The Sun has sparse, curly hair, an incisive mind, a
prominent appearance, a majestic voice, and is not very tall. His eyes
are honey-colored and as bright as wine, and his bones are sturdy. He
has a Pitta constitution. He is courageous and steady; his complexion
is coppery reddish or golden, and his feet are inconspicuous. He wears
red flowers and saffron-colored clothes, and carries a red lotus in his
hand. His metal is gold or copper, and his gem ruby. In the body he
rules the bones.

“Everything originates from the Sun, for he is the soul of all.
He is the king of the sky, the ruler of all that falls between the earth
and the celestial regions. Lord of the east, the Sun rules both Sunday
and the constellation Leo. He is the Cause of the Day, the Terrific
Fiery-Rayed One, the Significator of World Bliss. He is called the
Shiner, the Enlivener, the Generator, the Life-Giver, the Light-Maker,
the Day-Causer, and He Whose Rays Are Piercingly Hot. The
Haritas, the Sun’s green horses, are the seven solar rays, which are the
seven Vedic meters: Gayatri, Trishtup, Anushtup, Jagati, Pankti,
Brihari, and Ushnik. There is no reckoning of time without the Sun,
and without time there can be no poetic meters, no seasons, no
rhythm in the world.

“The year is the wheel of the Sun’s chariot. That wheel has
twelve spokes, which are the twelve months. Each month, your
majesty, has its own Deva, Apsaras, Rakshasa, Serpent, Yaksha, Rishi,
and Gandharva. As an example, during the month ofJyestha (May-
June) the Deva is Mitra, the Apsaras Menaka, the Rakshasa
Paurusheya, the Serpent Takshaka, the Yaksha Rathasvana, the Rishi
Atri, and the Gandharva is Haha. The Deva, Rishi, Gandharva and
Apsaras all belong to the heavenly regions, while the Rakshasa,
Serpent and Yaksha all exist on lower levels.

“Each deva is a divine being who occupies the Sun’s mansion
during that month and presides over the Sun then. These devas
increase the Sun’s superb splendor by means of their own splendor.

The rishis (seers) compose hymns with which to eulogize the Sun.
The gandharvas (celestial musicians) and apsarases (celestial dancing
damsels) serve the solar deity by means of song and dance, while the
yakshas (demigods) and their attendants worship his rays. The
serpents carry the Sun, and the rakshasas (protectors) follow him.
From sunrise to sunset the Valakhilyas, the sixty thousand thumb-
sized rishis, surround the Sun and lead him on. Contact with these
rishis, gandharvas, apsarases, and the like modifies the Sun’s brilliance
each month according to their own power, penance, and virtues, so
each month has its own qualities which cause the Sun, though one, to
have twelve different forms, names, characteristics, and personalities.

“The twelve solar devas are the Twelve Adityas, the sons of
Aditi. The Supreme Lord begat Brahma, the Creator, who begat the
Rishi Marichi, who begat the Rishi Kashyapa. Kashyapa had thirteen
wives, of whom one was Aditi, who was one of the sixty daughters of
the Patriarch Daksha. The Twelve Adityas are Vivasvan, Aryama,
Pushan, Tvashtri, Savitri, Bhaga, Dhata, Vidhata, Varuna, Mitra,
Shakra, and Urukrama.

“Vivasvan (‘the Shining One’) had by his-wife Samjna three
children: a Progenitor (manu) called Vaivasvata, and the twins Yama
and Yami. By Chaya this Vivasvan had three more offspring: the
planet Saturn, the Progenitor Savarni, and the goddess Tapari. After
Samjna took the form of a mare on Earth, she also bore the Sun the
Ashvin twins, those gods who are never untrue. Vaivasvata, who acted
as the Progenitor of the Seventh Epoch (manvantara) of this Day of
the Creator [kalpa), the Epoch in which we live, had ten sons.
Ikshvaku, the oldest of those ten sons, emerged from Vaivasvatas nose
when he sneezed; it was Ikshvaku who founded the solar race of
human kings. Lord Ramachandra, the seventh incarnation of Lord
Vishnu, who was born- on Earth to save the universe after the demon
Ravana had usurped it, was a descendant of Ikshvaku. This solar
dynasty ended with Brihadbala, who died in the war of the

“How is it that Vivasvan first sired children from one wife,
then from a second, and finally from the first again?” his majesty King
Vikramaditya asked good-naturedly. “Tell us the whole story.”

“Samjna,” the pundit began, “the wife of Vivasvan, was the
daughter of Tvashtri, the celestial architect who is also known as
Vishvakarman (‘Master Builder of the Cosmos’). Samjna (‘mutual
understanding, agreement’) lived with her dazzling husband for many
years, during which time she gave birth to the first three of her
children: Vaivasvata, Yama and Yami. When her mate’s intense hear
became unbearable for her she created a substitute wife, in her exact
form, by awakening her own shadow (chaya). She then proceeded to
her fathers house, where she complained to Tvashtri that life with the
Sun was impossible due to his scorching rays. When Tvashtri
dutifully advised told her to return to her husband she chose instead
to become a mare on Earth, and in that equine form began to
perform severe penance, subsisting on dry grass alone, that she might
come to withstand her husband’s effulgence.

“In the meanwhile Chaya, who was Samjna’s shadow
brought to life, bore Vivasvan three children: first Savarni, then
Saturn, then Tapati. Though born from a shadow, these children were
by no means ephemeral; Savarni is scheduled to become the
Progenitor of the Eighth Epoch of this Day of the Creator, Tapati has
become a river on Earth, and we shall soon hear of the greatness of
the planet Saturn.

“Chaya loved her children more than she loved Samjna’s
children, which made Yama angry. One day, fed up with her
partiality, he raised his legs as if to kick her. Even though he did not
follow through on his kick, Chaya lost her temper, and cursed the boy
that his legs would fall from his body.

“In terror Yama ran to his father, crying, ‘Save me! Save me!’
When the boy told the Sun of Chaya’s curse the Sun hurriedly
modified it by saying that worms would eat some of the flesh from
Yama’s feet, and that these worms would then fall to the earth, thereby
fulfilling the curse. After thus saving his son’s legs, and consoling Yama
tenderly, Vivasvan began to suspect that the woman he had been living
with was not his wife Samjna. Which mother, after all, would curse her
own child? He therefore summoned Chaya, and demanded of her
sternly, ‘How is it that you do not look on all your children equally?’
When he got no satisfactory response the Sun waxed wroth, and
prepared to curse his wife’s shadow. His fiery anger so frightened the
shade that she told him everything, and he divorced her on the spot.

“Enraged, Vivasvan went to Tvashtri, who pacified him,.
explained Samjna’s plight, and suggested a way out of the predicament.
When that glorious orb agreed to the plan, Tvashtri strapped the Sun
to his milling machine and ground away part of his intensity. From the
portion of the Sun’s splendor thatTvashtri removed that smith forged
the discus of Vishnu the Preserver, the trident of Shiva the Destroyer,
the aerial car used by Kiibera, the god of wealth, and the spear wielded
by Karttikeya, the generalissimo of the gods.

“Now attenuated, Vivasvan went looking for Samjna. When
he found her on Earth in mare’s form he took the form of a stallion, and approached her amorously. She turned away from this strange
beast, trying to avoid him, since she did not recognize him. But his
desire for her was great, and he pursued her, caught her, and
discharged his semen into her mouth. She, fearing he was not her
husband, evicted that sperm through her nose, and from that potent
seed up sprang the Ashvin twins, whom the Vedas hail as the Never-

“It is Samjna’s son Yama who takes away the souls of those
whose life span is at an end; he is the guardian of the southern
direction. Because Yama once became a crow from fear of the demon-
king Ravana, all crows are revered as servants of Yama. Nachiketas and
Markandeya gained victory over death and became immortal by
propitiating Yama. By her devotion Savitri forced Yama to bring her
husband Satyavan back from the dead. I bow to this Yama, the lord of
death,” concluded the pundit nervously, hoping thereby to keep The
ominous death god from his own life for as long as possible.

“I believe,” said the king sagaciously, “that Kama was also a
son of the Sun?”

“Yes, your majesty,” replied the Sun’s specialist, appreciatively.
“The great warrior Kama (‘ear’), who was the offspring of Lord Sun
and the human maiden Kunri, was born wearing a pair of earrings and
a bright breastplate. These, which were part of the flesh of his body,
made him impervious to all weapons. When Lord Indra, the king of
the gods, was worried that Kama might kill his own son Arjuna during
the great war of the Mahabharata, Indra appeared before Kama and
begged these divine ornaments from him. Kama ripped them from his
body and gave them away, ignoring the pain, and heedless of the fact
that now he had lost his invulnerability. Because of this unparalleled
unselfishness Kama was hailed by Indra as a god among gift-givers.

“Like his son Kama, Lord Sun is himself a great giver. Once,
when Arjuna and his brothers had been exiled to the forest, they had
only deerskins and bark cloth to wear, and even lacked pots for their
drinking water. Then Yuddhisthira, the eldest of the brothers, followed
the instruction of his priest, and performed disciplined worship of the
Sun. Through his devotions he obtained the Akshayapatra (the ‘never-
empty pot,’ or Cornucopia), which fulfilled all his heart’s desires;
whatever he asked for, the pot would provide him.

“When he was a student Hanuman, the monkey-god who
helped Lord Ramachandra in His fight against Ravana (‘the Howler’),
wanted to learn the Vedas and their subsidiary lores. Hanuman first
approached Jupiter, the guru of the gods, who was not prepared to
teach a monkey who jumped continually from spot to spot.
Disappointed, Hanuman went to the Sun, who asked him, ‘I am ever-
moving; how shall I teach you?’ Hanuman replied, ‘I will also move
ceaselessly, just in front of you.’ And so he was able to learn, thanks to
the magnanimity of the Sun.

“It is also thanks to Lord Sun that the Rishi Yajnavalkya
obtained the White Yajur Veda. When the great Rishi Veda Vyasa,
who divided the Veda into four portions, assigned various students to
each part, the Yajus, a text mainly in prose, was imparted to
Vaishampayana, who was Yajnavalkya’s guru. On one occasion
Vaishampayana, who had been annoyed by certain of Yajnavalkya’s
conceited words, said to his disciple, ‘I’ve had enough of you, you
guru-belittler. Begone! But before you leave, leave behind whatever
you have learned from me.’

“Yajnavalkya then compliantly vomited up all the Yajus Mantras that he had learned and departed. Seeing these Yajus Mantras
lying scattered on the ground, the other disciples hastily assumed the
form of partridges and greedily ate them up. This unusual feast caused
this fetching rescension of the Yajus Mantras to become known as the
Taittiriya (‘descended from a partridge’) branch of the Yajur Veda.

“Yajnavalkya now sought to discover Vedic hymns unknown
even to his guru, so he worshipped the Sun in the form of Surya
Narayana (‘the Sun as Supreme Lord’) and prayed for inspiration.
After being propitiated the Lord Surya Narayana appeared to
Yajnavalkya in the form of a horse (vaji) and imparted to him Yajus
Mantras which were unknown to anyone else. Yajnavalkya then
divided that limitless mass of hymns into fifteen rescensions known as
Vajasanis (‘derived from the horses mane, obtained from the speedy
one’), which form the Vajasaneya branch of the Yajur Veda.

“Affliction to the Sun in the horoscope can lead to many
sorts of maladies, your majesty,” the Suns pundit continued,
“especially skin ailments like white leprosy’ (vitiligo), while worship
of Lord Sun helps to cure all diseases, and makes the skin shine with
the brilliance of the Sun. One day the cantankerous Rishi Burvasas
visited Shri Krishna at his capital city of Dwaraka. Lord Krishna
welcomed him and showed him every sign of hospitality, but
Krishna’s son Samba mocked that hot-tempered rishi. Durvasas
controlled himself at first, so that he could remain in Krishna’s good
books, but the second time that Samba teased him Durvasas cursed
the boy to suffer from vitiligo. On hearing of the curse Shri Krishna
hurried to beg pardon of the testy sage for His sons offense, and asked
for a means of lifting the hex. Durvasas replied, ‘Have the boy follow
the Sunday vow and worship the Sun.’ Samba did so, and after he was
cured he built a beautiful temple to the Sun in gratitude.

“It is therefore meet to perform the regular, disciplined
worship of the omnipotent Lord Surya Narayana. By doing the
Gayatri the Brahmanas obtain clear discrimination, and by doing Sun
Salutations yogis gain health, strength, and awareness. Those who
regularly repeat the sacred Adirya Hridaya hymn conquer all their foes
as surely as Lord Ramachandra slew Ravana in battle. Lord Sun’s light
and eminence are so great that whoever meditates on Surya Narayana
as the soul and the presiding deity of sight of all beings, the one who
washes away sins, loses both blindness and ignorance. This is that Sun
god to whom I prostrate on arising each morning.”

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