Benefits of Worshipping the Sun-god
Uttarayana Parva : An occasion to worship Sun god
Indian culture lays great emphasis on worshipping the five gods. Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and His incarnations, Lord Ganesha, Ma Shakti and Surya (Sun-god). One who renders devotional service to and worships any of these deities and does japa of their names gets all kinds of benefits – material, other-worldly, moral and spiritual.
The 14th January
Uttarayana or the day of Makar Sankranti which comes on 14th of january every year is considered to be of particular significance for worship of Surya. The day when the Sun enters Makar Rashi (one of the Zodiacs), is called Makar Sankranti. Sankranti means Samyak (right) Kranti (revolution). The revolution in the material world involves violence and plundering. Spiritual revolution on the other hand teaches us to see our good in that of others. It says, ‘Live harmoniously; talk affectionately in a sweet comforting tone’ for the real essence of all beings is the same. In a lake or in the sea, a large number of waves are seen on the surface but the real essence in depth is one, water. Similarly the real essence in all beings is one, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.
Why we worship Sun ?
The festival of Uttarayana marks the morning of gods. Applying sesame unguent on the body, bathing with water mixed with sesame seeds, drinking such water, fire sacrifice with sesame seeds as oblation, eating sesame seeds and giving sesame seeds in charity – all these things destroy sin.
The Sun is the symbol of the Self-god. As the Self-god illuminates the mind, the intellect and the body, the Sun illuminates the world. But the Sun too is illuminated by the Atman. Who is the knower of the existence or non-existence of the Sun? It is your real ‘I’, your Real Self. Your real ‘I’ is blazing in the form of the Sun. When you contemplate thus, it is Ahangraha Upasana (there remains only the Divine vision and nothing but that). Upasana is of two kinds – Prateek Upasana and Ahangraha Upasana. The Sun is the symbol of Knowledge and is the source of light, ojas, lustre, power and vitality. Elaborating on the meaning of Surya, the scriptures say: Surya is Su (supreme) + rya (inspiring). Thus Surya means ‘the supreme one that inspires’. ‘O Surya! O Lord! Illuminate my intellect with Knowledge. You are the ancient one, the son of Aditi; and You are here now.’ – This is Prateek Upasana. Scriptures have given a beautiful method of worshipping the Sun-god:
‘Lord! Lead me from untruth to Truth.’
Lord! Save me from attachment to transient sense-enjoyments that are being formed and deformed continually and lead me to the Truth that is eternal, unchangeable and uniform.
‘Lord! Lead me from darkness to Light.’
Lord! Take me from the darkness of ignorance to the Light of Self-knowledge. Save me from ignorance and folly and attract me to Your self-luminous nature, the Consciousness Absolute, the eternal witness to all phenomena. May my ignorance of considering the body as ‘I’ get destroyed! May my ignorance of considering transient objects as ‘my’ get destroyed!
Different poses of Sun God.
Sun God in different scriptures...
VERSE : ‘Lord! Lead me Death to Immortality.’
My Real Being is such that it never dies, never gets destroyed. I am unaware of it. This is because of ignorance. The body is subject to death; the circumstances must always change. We regard them as real and thereby suffer again and again the misery of being hung upside down in the wombs. The miseries of birth, of disease and of death plague us too often.
At times, the Sun is shrouded by clouds. Our Real Self, the Truth, Knowledge, and Bliss too is at times shrouded by the clouds of desire, anger, greed, ego and malice. The external Sun that illuminates the world is a symbol of Atman, the Transcendental Sun that illuminates all things in the universe. Life owes its existence to the Sun. In the morning, as the Sun rises, it animates and gives life energy and joy to all. Similarly, the Supreme Brahman gives life to all gods, men, other beings and to the elements of nature. The Sun gives life to the solar system; the Supreme Being gives life to the entire creation including the Sun, the earth, the water, the fire etc.
It is said in the Rig-Veda:
VERSE : ‘The Sun is the soul of all that moves or doesn’t move.’ (1.115.1)
The Sun is the soul of the trees, plants, birds, animals, men and of the oxygen in the atmosphere. It is because of the Sun that the worldly transactions and activities take place. The Lord names the Sun as one of His glories:
VERSE : ‘Among the (twelve) Adityas (sons of Aditi), I am Vishnu; among the luminaries, the radiant Sun.’
(The Gita: 10.21)
Chhandogya Upanishad has it: VERSE ‘The Sun is Brahman and should be worshipped as such.’
The worship of Surya and of om elevates the sadhaka quickly and gives the desired fruit. One desiring lustre becomes lustrous and those desiring strength, intellectual prowess and fame get respectively strength, intellectual prowess and fame. Whenever you worship the Sun, divert your mind sooner or later to the Sun of your Real Self, to the love of God. Think, ‘The Pure Consciousness that illuminates the Sun enables my eyes to see, my mind to think and my intellect to decide. The Sun of my Atman gives the coolness to the Moon.’ The external Sun is seen rising and setting. But the Sun of our Atman always remains risen. There is no question of its setting. The external Sun disappears at the time of the final cosmic dissolution but even at that time the Sun of our Atman, the Supreme Being remains unaffected. The external Sun cannot destroy the ignorance of the mind and ignorance cannot survive in the face of the Sun of our Atman. Therefore, even Prateek Upasana, if it is done with discrimination, leads to Knowledge, not merely worship.
Sun and Om
Worshipping the Sun by way of offering libation with a copper jug reciting the Surya Gayatri mantra given hereunder is especially beneficial:
'Aum adityay widmahe, sahashrakirnay dhimahi, tanno suryah prachodayat.'
The following mantra too can be recited:
'Aum arkay namah, adityay namah,bhanawe namah.'
One should take mud from the place where the offered water falls and apply Tilak on one’s forehead and should take a draught from the remaining water in the jug reciting the following mantra :
‘I imbibe the water from Lord Surya’s feet that wards off untimely death and destroys all diseases.’
This is very good for protecting health. Thereafter meditate on Lord Surya in the centre of your eyebrows and do japa of Om.
The Upanishads tell us that we should take inspiration from the Sun:
As the Sun rises and illuminates the whole world with His elegant rays, in the same way O Man! Elevate yourself and develop your Self-effulgence. Then, without any kind of prejudice, fill all despondent hearts with the effulgence of hope, enthusiasm and bliss. Om Bliss… OM Sweetness… Om Knowledge… Strength… Courage…
When the Sun God gave Testimony…
‘Among them, those who were performers of meritorious deeds here, they will attain good births indeed in a quick manner… On the other hand, those who were performers of bad deeds here, they will attain bad births indeed in a quick manner.’
(The Chhandogya Upanishad: 5.10.7)
One who engages himself in noble deeds and thoughts gets all good things in life – good company, good ideas and greater longevity. By virtue of his good nature, his mind is good, health is good, he enjoys all good things in life; and imbibing good traits, he attains the higher worlds. On the other hand, one who engaged in evil deeds and evil thoughts follows the dictates of his mind does happen to enjoy only bad things; he likes liquor, meat, garlic, onions, stale and tÍmasic food items. He slowly develops an evil nature. He falls into bad company. His friends and selfish sycophants join hands and land him into all sorts of troubles. Moreover, even after death he is destined to hellish sufferings.
People engaged in virtuous deeds, even if they become kings, their lives are blessed with good company and good nature. There have been many kings on this earth, but Desalji I, the king of Kutch (at present a part of Gujarat State), was blessed with Sun god’s immanence and benevolent grace in his life. It happened like this. A farmer of Kutch had taken a loan of one thousand Kori (currency of Kutch) from a moneylender. It should be equivalent to about one lakh rupees of today. The farmer had duly requited the loan, but had not obtained any receipt from the moneylender, nor did he have any witness who could testify to the fact of the requital.
The moneylender filed a case in the court of Bhuj, the capital of Kutch, and the judge decreed that the sum of one thousand Kori be paid by the farmer to the moneylender.
King Desalji had just reclined for a siesta when the farmer came wailing to the palace and called out loudly, “My Lord! This poor one, facing the fate of being oppressed and ruined, has approached Your Majesty. Pray protect me!”
On hearing the pathetic cry of the farmer, the king came to the balcony of the palace and asked him what the matter was. The farmer was noble and truthful; his nobility and truthfulness struck the corresponding chords with the king and that made the king listen patiently to him. After listening to the farmer, the king called for the record of the case and studied it carefully. The document disclosed that the farmer had borrowed the money and on the left was written ‘Sun god being the witness’; but there was no mention of the farmer repaying the money to the moneylender.
In those days, there was a system of putting a (*) mark on the particular page of the account book in token of repayment of money. Farmers used to put this mark while repaying the loan. That mark was missing in this case. Nevertheless, the farmer’s claim was weighty. The voice of a truthful man has its own strength. On the other hand, the moneylender too was adamant on his stand that he had not been repaid. His arguments too were solid, “I have not been repaid. Had the farmer repaid, he would have put the relevant mark in the account book. And why should I demand repayment of the money twice?”
Now, it was a big problem for Desalji. On one hand the farmer appeared to be speaking the truth, but on the other, there was no witness or document to prove the repayment being made to the moneylender; and there was no relevant mark in the account book either. The king was in a fix as to how to do justice in the matter. Suddenly, his mind went to the phrase ‘Sun god being the witness’ and he had an intuition.
It was summer and the time was around noon. So the sun was really scorching. The king placed the documents before the blazing Sun and prayed, “O Sun god! It is written in the book that the transaction took place in the presence of Sun god. Now, kindly tell me what the truth is. The giving of loan is recorded in the book, but the repayment is not mentioned. Did the repayment take place in your presence? You alone can help in this matter. O Lord! You are the only witness. Put your seal of judgement as to who is speaking the truth – the farmer or the moneylender. If the farmer has repaid the loan, the mark should have been there. Kindly do something…”
After thus praying to Sun god, the king became silent for a while. Then as he opened his eyes and looked at the documents, he found the mark of repayment inscribed thereon. The king’s eyes sparkled. He was delighted to the core and a broad smile descended on his face.
Then the king moved towards the farmer and said, “You have got written on the document, ‘Sun god being the witness’; so does any god ever give a testimony? What gave you this idea?”
The farmer said, “Your Majesty, gods do give testimony. If I am truthful, Sun god will give testimony.”
The king then spoke sternly to the moneylender, “Now come out with the truth, otherwise…”
“Your Majesty! It is a plain truth that he has not repaid the money. Had he repaid it, he would have put the relevant mark as well.”
Then the king thundered, “Look, the mark is there.”
The moneylender looked at the documents and he too found the mark.
The king harshly admonished him, “Tell me the truth. How did you erase the mark?”
The dishonest moneylender said, trembling with fear, “Your Majesty! The farmer had duly put the mark, but immediately after he left, I sprinkled sugar powder on the wet ink. Ants ate away the sugar and the mark was thereby erased. I have cheated the farmer.”
Hardly had he finished these words when hailing shouts of ‘Desal is the Lord’ rent the atmosphere from all directions. In this way the king of Kutch established an exemplary ideal before the world through his divine verdict.
The Lord says,VERSE
‘That Supreme Brahman is said to be the Light of lights and absolutely beyond the darkness of MÍyÍ.’
(The Gita: 13.17)
If somebody is dishonest and the forged documents are in his favour, even then, if the judge is sÍttvic and pure hearted, the Lord will give him an insight into the truth. I have heard of this happening in the lives of many judges. I have myself experienced that the Lord gives right inspiration. Even if the other person tells a well-fabricated lie, yet when you hear the truthful one, you immediately get an inkling that the other one is hiding something and the truth shines forth.