Sūrya (Sun)

Sūrya (Sun)

Sūrya (सूर्य)

The Sun is the source of nearly all energy and life on Earth and elsewhere in our solar system. Its nuclear fusion is the continuous spark which acts as the ultimate force of creation. As Sūrya, the Sun is our soul, the primary source of energy and creativity from which our lives revolve around and develop from.

In some cases, Sūrya is considered malefic in Jyotiṣ (Jyotish), as it dries, overpowers, burns up, intensifies, distracts, and infuriates through its nearly unparalleled energy, but without it there would be no life. Life may spawn as extremophiles closer to the core of our planet, but life as we know it would not exist (and we would not exist to acknowledge that fact) without Sūrya. There would be no core around which the organization of our solar system revolves. No cohesion.

The Eye of the World

The Sun has always had a profound influence on man, and ancient Vedic civilizations are no exception. Riśis (seers) called the Sun, Loka Chakshu (“Eye of the World”). As our collective eye, Sūrya represents our perception. It allows for creativity, preservation, as well as destruction. Acknowledgement and perception of something brings life to it, brings proof of its existence, and establishes this existence in the consciousness of the viewer according to the subjective construct created by the patterns or rules of their perception. Bringing additional attention to it, whether internal (mental) or external (physical), affects and alters the object itself, causing it or its reflection to evolve and embody this morphed perception or expectation. Even thoughts, expectations, and things kept to oneself are believed to affect the condition of something or someone in the materially manifested realm. As the eye, the Sun imbues expectation. Our minds turn what we sense into something real, and once real it becomes subject to the viewer’s hopes, fears, and others’ conditions of being. As the Sun, this eye pervades all of the solar system. Nothing in it is free from the Sun’s influence, whether through it’s light, gravity, or electromagnetic forces.

Science as a Method of Understanding Sūrya

As (probably) the most well-known and present presence in the sky, we’re all well aware of the star which inhabits the center of our solar system. Since our familiarity with the Sun already exists, and especially above all other heavenly bodies beside the Moon, we can use our existing worldly knowledge of the Sun to help in exploring and understanding Sūrya’s many meanings.

The Ego

In Jyotiṣ or any other general means of celestial acknowledgement, Sūrya (the Sun) has such presence that it seems all the world revolves around him. Scientifically, all the bodies in and around our solar system are kept in order through the gravitational pull of the incredible mass and density of the Sun. Similarly, the non-luminary Graha (planets) are kept in harmony with one another through the lead of Sūrya – although to achieve that harmony, there had to have been some bumping and grinding amongst the planets in the solar system’s early stages of life.

It’s important to point out that without those bodies surrounding the Sun and the existence of the matter in the neighborhood of what has become our solar system, our Sun could not have even formed. It is the subsidiary matter, the remains of a previously deceased star which did not coalesce into the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and other solids and gasses which fed the Sun and brought it into existence. The Sun owes it to the little people which came together to make it whole. In addition, just as our own Moon helps to stabilize our own planet, I also feel that the planets and other satellites which orbit the Sun help to stabilize it.

The Soul

Our Sun is a star comprised of bits of previously-lived star(s). Stars are born, lead and give lives, and then they die, only to form again as another star at the center of another solar system. It represents the recycling of our soul’s energy in the universe. The Sun, as Sūrya, represents the entire cycle of creation and the evolution and reincarnation of a soul into new forms. Upon the birth and death of each star comes the sharing of its radiating energy with the bodies which are drawn to it. If the soul is warm and well-tempered, as our Sun is, the Graha will benefit. In a harsh environment, with a harsh soul, the harmony of the system will be appropriately affected. If the Sun as the soul is too dark, small, or weak, conversely, the system of Graha are weakened in spirit and capability.

We can also think of Sūrya as the Sun in terms of its own inner processes in that it has an unimaginably dense central point or core (as referenced by the dot within the circle in the symbol of the Sun), which is the primary, primeval point of energy from which all of the rest of the more outer manifestations of the Sun take shape. Regardless of what occurs in this core, however, it is only what’s on the surface which is visible and affects all that is external to it. In this way, the unseen quality of the core of our soul ultimately affects how our outer expression of ourselves takes place. In other words, the primeval energy of our soul is directly linked to what we manifest through action and creativity.

Power

When it comes down to it, it’s all about explosive expression that occurs as a result of the power within. Although the Sun depends on that which encircles it and contributes to its mass, how this explosive expression, or outer manifestation of the nuclear fusion which occurs within, is not affected by external influences. It’s the potential power of our soul to be expressed in the world around us. Once the power within is activated, it travels to the Sun’s surface, and then onward through radiation, in such a strong manner that only the laws of its own existence dictate how the power is expressed outwardly. While this applies, scientifically, to some extent to most bodies in space with an active core, the Sun is the Graha which even the rest of the planets are seized by. Even Sūrya is Graha to the rest of the visible planets.

Once the light, or radiation, separates from the celestial mass of the Sun it travels through space and can be affected by other masses. For example, when our Moon crosses its path when in alignment with Earth a shadow is cast on our planet, producing an eclipse. The shadow planets, or lunar nodes, are believed in Jyotiṣ to be the only truly formidable forces to Sūrya’s strength – at least for those of us on Earth. These shadow planets, Rahu and Ketu, are discussed elsewhere on this site. Other bodies and masses, and even black holes can also bend the Sun’s (or any other star’s) light. Although Sūrya’s light is originally pure, it can become distorted.

Healing & Vitality

Solar radiation offers curative energy, spiritual healing, and the ability to evolve, as it is the Sun’s radiation which allows for genetic mutation and evolution.

The Monarch

Using the metaphor of the Sun being king and the other visible planets of the Navagraha holding positions in the King’s court, how could a King remain conscious and in touch with and nurture his people, learn, communicate, build and expand, express his will, remain humble, and keep his ego in check without his advisers? A completely autocratic government would be one in which absolutely no one else can make a contribution to the actions or decisions made which affect its people, hence the importance of all Graha (planets) to the human collective, individuals, and the stability, balance, and harmony of the solar system itself. The Navagraha act as advisers to the king, Sūrya, and turn a potential autocracy into more of an oligarchy. They give us free will, the ability to consider new ideas and perspectives, to create and act according to laws other than the Sun’s. Without the presence of our Moon and the visible planets of our solar system we would live in a completely autocratic monarchy and would be governed by only a single entity: that of the intense force and will of our own existence or ego.

Mythology

The Sun is one of the most primitive entities of both worship and personification into a form which became the subject of countless tales and mythos. These original accounts contain sacred wisdom, as we have given life and existence to them through thousands of years of attention. These stories form the basis of the Sun’s essential features and the Sun’s symbolisms have become key to understanding the meaning of not only Sūrya and it’s energy, but through self-similarity and able understanding of the nature of celestial radiation the comprehension of all cosmic energy.

Lineage

Sūrya is said to be the son of Kashyapa and Aditi. Kashyapa is, basically, a classification of creative energies. Kashyapa is expressed in the Vedas as Prajapati (or the Creator), who was the father to many devata, asuras, men, mammals, birds, and reptiles. In the Mahabharata, as well as other texts, Kashyapa married Aditi and twelve daughters of Daksha. Aditi and Kashyapa bore twelve children, the Twelve Ādityas. Sūrya was the eighth Aditya. With Diti (“splitting” or “division”), Kashyapa fathered the Daityas (demons). Therefore, Sūrya had many siblings: eleven Adityas and a number of Daityas.1

The Twelve Ādityas

In addition, Sūrya himself can be expressed as each of the twelve Ādityas. Sūrya emits its light differently throughout the year, one expression per month, as reflected by the Ādityas. As Dhata, Sūrya creates living beings. As Aryama, he is in the wind. As Mitra, Sūrya is in the moon and in the oceans. As Varuna, he is in the waters. As Indra, Sūrya destroys the enemies of the gods. As Vivasvan, he is in fire and helps to cook food. As Tvashta, Sūrya lives in the trees and herbs. As Vishnu, he destroys the enemies of the gods. As Anshuman, Sūrya is again in the wind. As Bhaga, he is in the body of all living beings. As Pusha, Sūrya makes food grains grow. As Parjanya, he showers down rain. [Associations with the twelve rasis?]

The Six Levels of Sūrya

As the power and energy of Sūrya descends to the earthly realm as an aspect of life it takes on six names, each representing a different level of his expression.2

Name Description
The Mahapurusha or Paramatan The Supreme Spirit
Atman or Purvaja The living spirit of nature
Indriyatman or Hrishikesha The intellectual soul
Bhutatman The life soul
Kshetrajna The embodied soul or spirit in matter
Bhrantdarshanata False perception, the material universe

In the Sky

Sūrya as Lord of Constellations

Sūrya is lord of the rāśi (sign) of Simha (Leo). All visible graha (planets) rule two rāśis, but the luminaries (Sūrya and Chandra) only rule one apiece. I often consider these two graha a single entity, as if they are a pair which operate as one, and as a pair, then, they rule two rāśis of the zodiac as the other graha do.

Sūrya is lord of the Nakṣatras of Kṛttikā, Uttara Phalgunī, and Uttara Ashadha.

Sūrya in the Rāśis

Sūrya behaves, or acts, differently under the influence of each of the twelve rāśis.

Sūrya Yuti (Conjunction) & Combustion

Sūrya, as the brightest of the Navagraha, has the greatest influence among the planets. although it is rarely affected by the apparent nearness of other graha, it is most affected by the shadow planets Rahu and Ketu. It most commonly boosts the qualities of other graha sharing the sign in which it resides, but if one of the non-luminary, non-shadow planets is close enough to Sūrya that graha becomes combust – a condition in which the qualities of that planet are glared out by the intense light of Sūrya. The kārakas (significators) of subjected graha literally undergo combustion, seriously affecting the native.

Eclipses

Sūrya can’t be stopped, only hidden by our own cyclical movement or by the occasional overpowering by the deep, dark trench of the inner self during a solar eclipse. When Ketu joins Sūrya, no light can shine. Ketu is the material void where no Maya exists, therefore no star or other radiation can shine in the material realm. When Ketu joins Sūrya our inner or past self and spirituality becomes illuminated.


  1. Bepin Behari. Myths & Symbols of Vedic Astrology. p. 43. 

  2. Bepin Behari. Myths & Symbols of Vedic Astrology. p. 42.