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Sun Worship In Hinduism

Sun worship is an indispensable part of Hinduism as Sun (Surya) is the visible god or pratyaksha Brahman in Hindu religion. Hindus have been worshippers of the Sun God from time immemorial. They perform their morning ritual after praying to the Sun God. It is their belief that the well being and strength that they get from worshipping Him contribute to their prosperity. Every created form on this earth owes its origin to the Sun God. Therefore, it has been justly said, 'Surya Atma Jagatascha', which means Sun is the soul of the entire world. 

No wonder, the Sun is worshipped as the creator of the entire universe, the overseer of all their activities. It is believed that one can overcome all obstacles and problems by worshipping the Sun. One can even hope to be cured of incurable diseases of the eye, heart and nerves, leprosy and asthma by worshipping the Sun God. This is what is stated in the scriptures and is commonly believed. Hence the saying, 'Arogyam Bhaskarat Ichhet', which means that man’s recovery from illness is entirely the will of the Sun God. It is stated in the Mahabharata that Samba, the son of Krishna, got cured of leprosy by worshipping the Sun God.

Of the three principal Gods of the Vedas, the Sun God is one. In the Rig Veda there is mention of the seven horses who pull the chariot of the Sun God. The Chandogya Upanishad mentions the fearsome cry that followed the advent of Sun at the primal phase of the Universe. That cry is the root of all life and all pleasure. In the Ramayana it has been stated that Rama was able to defeat Ravana by learning the hymn Aditya Hrudayam from Rishi Agastya, which pleased the Sun God.

Surya is the son of Rishi Kashyap and his wife Aditi. The name Aditya by which he is known, derives from the name of his mother. He is also known as Ravi, the name of the first day of the Hindu week and his rotation period around the orbit is one year. According to the Hindu astrology, of the nine planets the Sun is the most significant. The day of Makar Sankranti is observed as a special day to worship the Sun God because from this day the Sun begins its journey from the tropic of Capricorn to the tropic of Cancer, otherwise known as Uttarayan.

The Sun God has various names such as Bhaskar, Bhanu, Sabitru etc. Aditya Purana is a an important Purana named after the Sun God. The Sun temple at Konark in Odisha, the Dakshinark temple of Gaya in Bihar, the Suryanar Kovil in Tamilnadu, the Suryanarayan temple at  Arasavalli in Andhra Pradesh are a few ancient monuments in India dedicated to the Sun God.

In later years the worship of the Sun God ceased to exist as an independent stream
and assimilated into Vaishnavism. But it continues to play a significant role in the people’s daily conduct of religious rites. Offering of ablution in form of water to the Sun is also a form of Namaskar – Surya Namaskar. The daily ritual of worship of the Sun God is an indispensable part of practicing Hindu.

Source - Odisha Review - Dec 2021 - article titled 'The Tradition of Sun worship and Arka Kshetra Konark in the Sarala Mahabharata by Dr. Biraj Mohan Das'.