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Updated on April 24, 2011



            No cosmic body has such a great influence on human life as the sun. Since time immemorial man had come to realize its profound influence on human life. The onset of seasons, the sustenance of plant, animal and human life made ancient man look upon this cosmic body as a God.


            In fact in Vedic India the most popular hymns were the GAYATRI mantra and ADITYA HRIDAYA mantra. From the time of the Vedic period many started their day with the GAYATRI mantra which is a prayer to Lord Surya the Sun God. Interestingly many still practice this ritual daily without fail. SURYA has other names too, like SAVITRI ‘the nourisher’, BHASKARA ‘the light maker’ DINAKARA the ‘day maker’ and of course ADITYA.  In ancient epic RAMAYANA, Rama traces his lineage from the SUN God. Surprisingly ancient Egyptians too venerated Sun as ‘RA’ the sun God and all Pharos like Lord Rama trace their lineage from him. The Greeks too venerated the SUN as Helios. The worship of Helios was introduced into Greece from Asia and according to the earliest conceptions of the Greeks he was not only the sun-god, but also the personification of life and all life-giving power. Interestingly just as Surya moves through the sky in a chariot drawn by seven ruddy horses or mares, Helios too drives his flame-darting chariot along the accustomed track and this chariot, which is of burnished gold, is drawn by four fire-breathing steeds, behind which the young god stands erect with flashing eyes, his head surrounded with rays and holding in one hand the reins of those fiery coursers.


            All this point to the great importance attached to the sun in various cultures. This is understandable when we see the solar influence on the terrestrial phenomenon. The plants survive owing to a process called photosynthesis by which carbon-di-oxide is converted into carbohydrates by chlorophyll under the influence of sunlight. Without the sun there would be no forests no rainfall and no energy which is locked up in fire, coal or oil. Water the most basic of all our physiological need is due to the existence of rainfall which is facilitated by the sun heating up surface water in the ocean. Wind power too is on account of uneven heating of the different parts of the earth’s surface resulting in the movement of air.


            These are all well known phenomenon but there are some lesser known facts of the sun. Sunspots which are most familiar of all solar phenomenons are actually great funnel shaped vortices in the outer layer of the sun. Within these funnels gases ascend spirally and the gas expands their temperature decreases and this makes the spot seem darker than other unperturbed areas of the sun’s surface. The temperature of sunspots is about 1000 K lower than the typical temperature of the photosphere of the sun. Sunspots tend to occur in groups, and are relatively short-lived, usually lasting less than a day. But some sunspots can live as long as a month or even up to six months. . They are restricted to regions (solar active regions) of 5N −40N and 5S −40S, moving from higher to lower latitudes during a sunspot cycle. At the beginning of a sunspot cycle, sunspots appear near 40N and 40S and move to lower latitude. Their number increase and then decrease during the moving processes, and reach a minimum at about 5N and 5S regions at the end of the sunspot cycle. Sunspots are characterized by strong magnetic fields (up to several thousand tesla), being concentrations of magnetic flux, typically in bipolar clusters or groups and are associated with magnetic storms on the Earth. Sunspots are the most obvious manifestation of solar activity. This solar phenomenon which is said to occur once in twelve years has its impact on the earth. There are slight changes in yearly temperatures, increases in magnetic disturbances and visible changes in aurora borealis.


            Though these are purely physical changes there are some strange socio-political changes claimed to be due to sun spots. Arthur Jevons for example suggested that the cause of trade cycles in economic activity was on account of harvest fluctuations induced by sun spots. George Gamov in his book ‘The Birth and Death of the Sun’ comments:- “registered maxima (of solar prominences) occurred in the years 1778, 1788, 1804, 1816, 1830, 1837, 1848, 1860, 1871m 1883, 1894, 1905, 1917, 1928 and as a matter of fact the American revolution, the French revolution, the Paris commune, both Russian revolutions and also some others fell fairly close to the years of maximum solar activity. There has also been a distinct increase in activity lasting persistently through 1937-1940….”

            Though no close correlations could be established to give it scientific validity the coincidences are without doubt remarkable.  

sculpture of Aditya
sculpture of Aditya
Greek Sun God Helios
Greek Sun God Helios
aurora Borealis in Alaska
aurora Borealis in Alaska


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