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Chariot of the Sun God


Thus the chariot of the sun-god (Surya), worshiped by the words om bhur bhuva svah,travels at a speed of 3,400,800 yojanas [27,206,400 miles] in a muhurta.

Chariot of the Sun God

My dear King, the carriage of the sun-god’s chariot is estimated to be 3,600,000 yojanas [28,800,000 miles] long and one-fourth as wide [900,000 yojanas, or 7,200,000 miles]. The chariot’s horses, which are named after Gayatri and other Vedic meters, are harnessed by Arunadeva to a yoke that is also 900,000 yojanas wide.

The seven horses yoked to the sun-god’s chariot are named Gayatri, Brhati, Usnik, Jagati, Tristup, Anustup and Pankti. These names of various Vedic meters designate the seven horses that carry the sun-god’s chariot.

Surya The Sun-godAlthough Arunadeva sits in front of the sun-god and is engaged in driving the chariot and controlling the horses, he looks backward toward the sun-god.

There are sixty thousand saintly persons named Valikhilyas, each the size of a thumb, who are located in front of the sun-god and who offer him eloquent prayers of glorification.

Similarly, fourteen other saints, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Nagas, Yaksas, Raksasas and demigods, who are divided into groups of two, assume different names every month and continuously perform different ritualistic ceremonies to worship the Supreme Lord as the most powerful demigod Suryadeva, who holds many names.

Worshiping the most powerful demigod Surya, the Gandharvas sing in front of him, the Apsaras dance before the chariot, the Nisacaras follow the chariot, the Pannagas decorate the chariot, the Yaksas guard the chariot, and the saints called the Valikhilyas surround the sun-god and offer prayers. The seven groups of fourteen associates arrange the proper times for regular snow, heat and rain throughout the universe.

My dear King, in his orbit through Bhu-mandala, the sun-god traverses a distance of 95,100,000 yojanas [760,800,000 miles] at the speed of 2,000 yojanas and two krosas [16,004 miles] in a moment.

Surya The Sun-god
Surya The Sun-god
Surya The Sun-god

Sunrise to sunset is the route the Sun takes in his giant golden chariot harnessed to seven horses.


yac-caksur esa savita sakala-grahanam
raja samasta-sura-murtir asesa-tejah
yasyajnaya bhramati sambhrita-kala-chakro
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

Translation: "The sun who is the king of all the planets, full of infinite effulgence, the image of the good soul, is as the eye of this world. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda in pursuance of whose order the sun performs his journey mounting the wheel of time." (Sri Brahma Samhita 5.52)

Purport: "Certain professors of the Vedic religion worship the sun as Brahman. The sun is one of the hierarchy of the five gods. Some people target in heat the source of this world and therefore designate the sun, the only location of heat, as the root cause of this world. Notwithstanding all that may be said to the contrary, the sun is after all only the presiding deity of a sphere of the sum total of all mundane heat and is hence a god exercising delegated authority. The sun performs his specific function of service certainly by the command of Govinda." (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

Surya The Sun-god
Surya The Sun-god
Surya The Sun-god

The movements of the sun

This chapter informs us of the movements of the sun. The sun is not stationary; it is also moving like the other planets. The sun's movements determine the duration of night and day. When the sun travels north of the equator, it moves slowly during the day and very quickly at night, thus increasing the duration of the daytime and decreasing the duration of night. Similarly, when the sun travels south of the equator, the exact opposite is true -- the duration of the day decreases, and the duration of night increases. When the sun enters Karkata-rasi (Cancer) and then travels to Simha-rasi (Leo) and so on through Dhanuh-rasi (Sagittarius), its course is called Daksinayana, the southern way, and when the sun enters Makara-rasi (Capricorn) and thereafter travels through Kumbharasi (Aquarius) and so on through Mithuna-rasi (Gemini), its course is called Uttarayana, the northern way. When the sun is in Mesa-rasi (Aries) and Tula-rasi (Libra), the duration of day and night are equal.

On Manasottara Mountain are the abodes of four demigods. East of Sumeru Mountain is Devadhani, where King Indra lives, and south of Sumeru is Samyamani, the abode of Yamaraja, the superintendent of death. Similarly, west of Sumeru is Nimlocani, the abode of Varuna, the demigod who controls the water, and north of Sumeru is Vibhavari, where the demigod of the moon lives. Sunrise, noon, sunset and midnight occur in all these places because of the movements of the sun. Diametrically opposite the place where the sunrise takes places and the sun is seen by human eyes, the sun will be setting and passing away from human vision. Similarly, the people residing diametrically opposite the point where it is midday will be experiencing midnight. The sun rises and sets with all the other planets, headed by the moon and other luminaries.

The entire kala-cakra, or wheel of time, is established on the wheel of the sun-god's chariot. This wheel is known as Samvatsara. The seven horses pulling the chariot of the sun are known as Gayatri, Brhati, Usnik, Jagati, Tristup, Anustup and Pankti. They are harnessed by a demigod known as Arunadeva to a yoke 900,000 yojanas wide. Thus the chariot carries Adityadeva, the sun-god. Always staying in front of the sun-god and offering their prayers are sixty thousand sages known as Valikhilyas. There are fourteen Gandharvas, Apsaras and other demigods, who are divided into seven parties and who perform ritualistic activities every month to worship the Supersoul through the sun-god according to different names. Thus the sun-god travels through the universe for a distance of 95,100,000 yojanas (760,800,000 miles) at a speed of 16,004 miles at every moment.

By the influence of its radiation, the sun heats the universe and maintains its proper order. It also gives light to help all living entities see. While passing toward the north, toward the south or through the equator, in accordance with the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is said to move slowly, swiftly or moderately. According to its movements in rising above, going beneath or passing through the equator-and correspondingly coming in touch with various signs of the zodiac, headed by Makara [Capricorn]-days and nights are short, long or equal to one another.

When the sun passes through Meña [Aries] and Tula [Libra], the durations of day and night are equal. When it passes through the five signs headed by Våñabha [Taurus], the duration of the days increases [until Cancer], and then it gradually decreases by half an hour each month, until day and night again become equal [in Libra].

Srimad-Bhagavatam Introduction to Canto 5, Chapter 21-22
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Surya The Sun-god
Surya The Sun-god and his wife Savitri
Surya The Sun-god


The Reality of the Sungod Sûrya

The sun-god, who controls the affairs of the entire universe, especially in regard to heat, light, seasonal changes and so on, is considered an expansion of Narayana. He represents the three Vedas -- Rg, Yajur and Sama -- and therefore he is known as Trayimaya, the form of Lord Narayana.

Sometimes the sun-god is also called Surya-Narayana. The sun-god has expanded himself in twelve divisions, and thus he controls the six seasonal changes and causes winter, summer, rain and so on. Yogis and karmis following the varnasrama institution, who practice hatha or astanga-yoga or who perform agnihotra sacrifices, worship Surya Narayana for their own benefit. The demigod Surya is
always in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana.

Residing in outer space, which is in the middle of the universe, between Bhuloka and Bhuvarloka, the sun rotates through the time circle of the zodiac, represented by twelve rasis, or signs, and assumes different names according to the sign he is in. For the moon, every month is divided into two fortnights. Similarly, according to solar calculations, a month is equal to the time the sun spends in one constellation; two months constitute one season, and there are twelve months in a year. The entire area of the sky is divided into two halves, each representing an ayana, the course traversed by the sun within a period of six months. The sun travels sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly and sometimes at a moderate speed. In this way it travels within the three worlds, consisting of the heavenly planets, the earthly planets and outer space. These orbits are referred to by great learned scholars by the names Samvatsara, Parivatsara, Idavatsara, Anuvatsara and Vatsara.

Surya The Sun-god

FROM THE RIG VEDA: "The unageing wheel rolls out on its rim; the ten yoked horses draw it up the outstretched path. All the words are kept in motion on the eye of the sun, that moves on though shrouded in dark space." "You cross heaven and the vast realm of space, O sun, measuring days by nights, looking upon the generations. Seven bay mares carry you in the chariot, O sun god with hair of flame, gazing from afar." --The Rig Veda: An Anthology, trans. Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (New York: Penguin Books, 1981), pp. 77, 190.

"The sun-god, who is Narayana, or Visnu, the soul of all the worlds, is situated in outer space between the upper and lower portions of the universe. Passing through twelve months on the wheel of time, the sun comes in touch with twelve different signs of the zodiac and assumes twelve different names according to those signs. The aggregate of those twelve months is called a samvatsara, or an entire year. According to lunar calculations, two fortnights -- one of the waxing moon and the other of the waning -- form one month. That same period is one day and night for the planet Pitrloka. According to stellar calculations, a month equals two and one quarter constellations. When the sun travels for two months, a season passes, and therefore the seasonal changes are considered parts of the body of the year." (SB 5.22.5)

Surya The Sun-god The Sun and the Planets

 

The movement of the sun is confirmed in the Brahma-samhita. The sun orbits around Mount Sumeru, for six months on the northern side and for six months on the southern. This adds up to the duration of a day and night of the demigods in the upper planetary systems. SB 5.20.31

The sun is situated [vertically] in the middle of the universe, in the area between Bhurloka and Bhuvarloka, which is called antariksha, outer space. The distance between the sun and the circumference of the universe is twenty-five koti yojanas [two billion miles].

O King, the sun-god and the sun planet divide all the directions of the universe. It is only because of the presence of the sun that we can understand what the sky, the higher planets, this world and the lower planets are. It is also only because of the sun that we can understand which places are for material enjoyment, which are for liberation, which are hellish and subterranean.

All living entities, including demigods, human beings, animals, birds, insects, reptiles, creepers and trees, depend upon the heat and light given by the sun-god from the sun planet. Furthermore, it is because of the sun's presence that all living entities can see, and therefore he is called drig-isvara, the Personality of Godhead presiding over sight.

 

The course of the sun through the 12 star signs
S'rÓmad Bh‚gavatam Canto 5, Chapter 21, Text 1-19

Surya The Sun-godS'ukadeva Gosvâmî said: My dear King, I have thus far described the diameter of the universe [fifty crores of yojanas, or four billion miles] and its general characteristics, according to the estimations of learned scholars.

As a grain of wheat is divided into two parts and one can estimate the size of the upper part by knowing that of the lower, so, expert geographers instruct, one can understand the measurements of the upper part of the universe by knowing those of the lower part. The sky between the earthly sphere and heavenly sphere is called antariksha, or outer space. It adjoins the top of the sphere of earth and the bottom of that of heaven.

In the midst of that region of outer space [antariksha] is the most opulent sun, the king of all the planets that emanate heat, such as the moon. By the influence of its radiation, the sun heats the universe and maintains its proper order. It also gives light to help all living entities see. While passing toward the north, toward the south or through the equator, in accordance with the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is said to move slowly, swiftly or moderately. According to its movements in rising above, going beneath or passing through the equator--and correspondingly coming in touch with various signs of the zodiac, headed by Makara [Capricorn]--days and nights are short, long or equal to one another.

Then the sun passes through Mesha [Aries] and Tulâ [Libra], the durations of day and night are equal. When it passes through the five signs headed by Vrishabha [Taurus], the duration of the days increases [until Cancer], and then it gradually decreases by half an hour each month, until day and night again become equal [in Libra].

When the sun passes through the five signs beginning with Vris'cika [Scorpio], the duration of the days decreases [until Capricorn], and then gradually it increases month after month, until day and night become equal [in Aries].

Until the sun travels to the south the days grow longer, and until it travels to the north the nights grow longer.

S'ukadeva Gosvâmî continued; My dear King, as stated before, the learned say that the sun travels over all sides of Mânasottara Mountain in a circle whose length is 95.100.000 yojanas [760.800.000 miles]. On Mânasottara Mountain, due east of Mount Sumeru, is a place known as Devadhânî, possessed by King Indra. Similarly, in the south is a place known as Samyamanî, possessed by Yamarâja, in the west is a place known as Nimlocanî, possessed by Varuna, and in the north is a place named Vibhâvarî, possessed by the moon-god. Sunrise, midday, sunset and midnight occur in all those places according to specific times, thus engaging all living entities in their various occupational duties and also making them cease such duties.

The living entities residing on Sumeru Mountain are always very warm, as at midday, because for them the sun is always overhead. Although the sun moves counterclockwise, facing the constellations, with Sumeru Mountain on its left, it also moves clockwise and appears to have the mountain on its right because it is influenced by the dakshinâvarta wind. People living in countries at points diametrically opposite to where the sun is first seen rising will see the sun setting, and if a straight line were drawn from a point where the sun is at midday, the people in countries at the opposite end of the line would be experiencing midnight. Similarly, if people residing where the sun is setting were to go to countries diametrically opposite, they would not see the sun in the same condition.

When the sun travels from Devadhânî, the residence of Indra, to Samyamanî, the residence of Yamarâja, it travels 23.775.000 yojanas [190.200.000 miles] in fifteen ghathikâs [six hours].

From the residence of Yamarâja the sun travels to Nimlocanî, the residence of Varuna, from there to Vibhâvarî, the residence of the moon-god, and from there again to the residence of Indra. In a similar way, the moon, along with the other stars and planets, becomes visible in the celestial sphere and then sets and again becomes invisible.

Thus the chariot of the sun-god, which is trayîmaya, or worshiped by the words om bhûr bhuvah svah, travels through the four residences mentioned above at a speed of 3.400.800 yojanas [27.206.400 miles] in a muhûrta.

The chariot of the sun-god has only one wheel, which is known as Samvatsara. The twelve months are calculated to be its twelve spokes, the six seasons are the sections of its rim, and the three câtur-mâsya periods are its three-sectioned hub. One side of the axle carrying the wheel rests upon the summit of Mount Sumeru, and the other rests upon Mânasottara Mountain. Affixed to the outer end of the axle, the wheel continuously rotates on Mânasottara Mountain like the wheel of an oil-pressing machine.

As in an oil-pressing machine, this first axle is attached to a second axle, which is one-fourth as long [3.937.500 yojanas, or 31.500.000 miles]. The upper end of this second axle is attached to Dhruvaloka by a rope of wind.

My dear King, the carriage of the sun-god's chariot is estimated to be 3.600.000 yojanas [28.800.000 miles] long and one-fourth as wide [900.000 yojanas, or 7.200.000 miles]. The chariot's horses, which are named after Gâyatrî and other Vedic meters, are harnessed by Arunadeva to a yoke that is also 900.000 yojanas wide. This chariot continuously carries the sun-god.

Although Arunadeva sits in front of the sun-god and is engaged in driving the chariot and controlling the horses, he looks backward toward the sun-god.

There are sixty thousand saintly persons named Vâlikhilyas, each the size of a thumb, who are located in front of the sun-god and who offer him eloquent prayers of glorification.

Similarly, fourteen other saints, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Nâgas, Yakshas, Râkshasas and demigods, who are divided into groups of two, assume different names every month and continuously perform different ritualistic ceremonies to worship the Supreme Lord as the most powerful demigod Sûryadeva, who holds many names.

My dear King, in his orbit through Bhû-mandala, the sun-god traverses a distance of 95.100.000 yojanas [760.800.000 miles] at the speed of 2.000 yojanas and two kros'as [16.004 miles] in a moment.

* The Vishnu Purâna states: Worshiping the most powerful demigod Sûrya, the Gandharvas sing in front of him, the Apsaras dance before the chariot, the Nis'âcaras follow the chariot, the Pannagas decorate the chariot, the Yakshas guard the chariot, and the saints called the Vâlikhilyas surround the sun-god and offer prayers. The seven groups of fourteen associates arrange the proper times for regular snow, heat and rain throughout the universe.

Please also see:

- The 12 Names of Surya -
Surya Namaskara, the great exercise