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Paper of Shashi Tiwari- Vedic and Puranic Features of Sun- God

Paper of Shashi Tiwari- Vedic and Puranic Features of Sun- God

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Vedic and Pura
   ̄   ̄̄   ̄
n
  ̣  ̣̣  ̣
ic features of Sun God: A Comparative Study
[
Vedic Mythological Innovations during Pura
   ̄   ̄̄   ̄
n
  ̣  ̣̣  ̣
ic Phase
]
Shashi Tiwari
Former Professor of Sanskrit, University of Delhi &General Secretary, WAVES India, New Delhi
Long tradition of Hinduism has produced many scared works. The most ancient andauthoritative are the revealed literature, the Vedas ‘
 ́
ruti’.
There are the Sam
  ̇
hita
   ̄
s,Bra
   ̄
hman
  ̣
as, A
   ̄
ran
  ̣
yakas and Upanis
  ̣
ads. In addition to this
 ,
Hinduism has a vast corpus of auxiliary scriptures including the two great epic, the
 Rama
  ̄
 yan
   ̣
a
and the
 Maha
  ̄
bha
  ̄
rata.
Theseepics have had a profound influence on all aspects of Hindu life and culture in India forthousands of years. Then there are eighteen Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as
 ,
rich in myth and symbol of which thebest known is the
 ́
rimad-Bha
  ̄
gavata Pura
  ̄
n
   ̣
a
but traditionally epic and Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as areconsidered as the extension of Vedic texts in their contents and style.In the literary history of India generally phase of epics and Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as is mentioned afterthe description of the Vedic literature. The Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as are those writings which immediatelyfollow the completion of the epic. The meaning of ‘
Pura
  ̄
n
   ̣
a’
suggests it as ‘ancient lore’ andthus older than the epic, belonging to the late Vedic Period. That is why our traditions oftengroup them together for reference and evidence
 – Itiha
  ̄
sa Pura
  ̄
n
   ̣
a
  ̄
bhya
  ̄
m vedamsamupabr 
   ̣   ̣
n
 ̇
hiyeta.
These works contain no real history, yet they reflect history and culturevery plainly. They epitomize religious practices, beliefs, and myths, and represent the adventof various religious cults along with the varied description of social and political changes of that time. The Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as were destined to become the important force in the development of Hindu religion; therefore, their influence can be examined on the different aspects of Indianthought. The modern Hindu sects are to some extent the direct expansion of Pura
   ̄
nic doctrine,because their major principles are of respectable antiquity. Perhaps the most strikingdistinction between Vedic and Puranic is the emphasis laid in the former upon Right (
 R
   ̣
tam
);in the latter upon idols. Since this aspect is primarily related with the Indian mythology, thedistinction between the two can be seen in the features of gods mentioned in both theliteratures. Here, a comparative study is done based on the various aspects of Sun-god inreference to the Vedic and Puranic works to find out the original nature of the deity, and itsdevelopment in the ancient religious life.
1.
 
Sun God in Vedic Texts
 
 
2There has been no time when the importance of the sun has not been realized. Sun isthe creator of day and night, the source of light and heat on earth, and producer of all foodand vegetation. Due to respect and gratitude of human beings towards Him sun-worshipprevailed in almost every ancient culture - Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Iranian,Mexican and Indian. The evidence of worship of sun is also found in the Indus Valleycivilization in form of symbols and designs marked on the seals and potteries. Among them,the symbol of 
Sva
  ̄
stika
and wheel are prominent since they represent the movement of sunand eternity in Indian tradition (Pandey 1971: 4-5).During the early Vedic period, especially in the
 R
   ̣
gveda Sam
 ̇
hita
  ̄
, the sun and itsvarious forms are invoked and worshiped under various names such as Su
   ̄
rya, Savitr
  ̣
, Pu
   ̄
s
  ̣
an,Bhaga, Mitra, Varun
  ̣
a, Vis
  ̣
n
  ̣
u, Aryaman, Vivasvat, Am
  ̇
sa, and A
   ̄
ditya .These names arebasically the epithets which denote his functions, attributes and qualities. In the
 R
   ̣
gveda
, werecognize five solar deities because they are invoked in the hymns or verses; definitely thenumber is extended afterwards in Post-R
  ̣
gvedic texts. Su
   ̄
rya is most prominent among thesolar deities of the
 R
   ̣
gveda
. Su
   ̄
rya
 Deva
represents the visible luminous orb and is directlyconnected with light, heat and movement. He is described as a horse, and a bird in theR
  ̣
gvedic
mantras
. Savitr
  ̣
is second solar god who denotes abstract qualities of Sun such asstimulating, and inspiring. Savitr
  ̣
is chiefly regarded as stimulator who drives man to action.Although Su
   ̄
rya is differentiated explicitly with Savitr
  ̣
,
yet many of the hymns make nodistinction between them. The third solar deity is Vis
  ̣
n
  ̣
u who largely represents movement,wide-stepping and motion of Sun. The fourth solar god, Pu
   ̄
s
  ̣
an is recognized as nourishingpower of Sun who bestows prosperity. The fifth solar deity in the
 R
   ̣
gveda
is Mitra who hasbeen invoked mostly with Varun
  ̣
a and is animator of men, giver of happiness and supporterof gods. Bhaga and other few names of Sun, mentioned in the
 R
   ̣
gveda
and in other VedicSam
  ̇
hita
   ̄
s, are in the same way epithets of Sun-god describing His actions and characteristics,but are not always very clear to which aspect of sun, they signify. The
 R
   ̣
gveda
talks aboutseven A
   ̄
dityas (RV 10.72.9) and adds Ma
   ̄
rtan
  ̣
d
  ̣
a as the eighth A
   ̄
ditya (RV10.72.8). TheS
 ́
atapatha Bra
  ̄
hman
   ̣
a
(11.6.3.8) give account of twelve A
   ̄
dityas on the basis of twelvemonths.The existence of Su
   ̄
rya in the form of many divinities of solar family in the Vedic textsproves Him a great god having various facades.
 Nirukta
describes sun as the greatest andmost powerful god of heaven or
 Div
. Su
   ̄
rya and Savitr
  ̣
maintained their solar nature in theBra
   ̄
hman
  ̣
a and Su
   ̄
tra texts and both are generally invoked in the rituals and sacrifices to grantblessings to the performers. In the
 I 
  ̄
s
 ́
opanis
   ̣
ad 
, Sun is regarded as the symbol of Brahman.
 
3The Vedic conception of Su
   ̄
rya
 Deva
with several dimensions has influenced the culture,mythology, ritual, and philosophy of Post-Vedic times immensely.
2.
 
Sun-god and Sun-worship in Puranic texts
We find a number of deities of Vedic Sam
  ̇
hita
   ̄
s referred to in the prominent Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as.Position of these deities is not always found the same during the Vedic, Epic and Puranicstages. A deeper study establishes that features and characteristics of these deities arechanging a lot from Vedic age up to the Puranic age. In Puranic period of Indian mythology,status of some Vedic deities enhanced; as they grew up to be more powerful; for instanceRudra became S
  ́
iva. Position of some Vedic deities decreased, or they became unimportantas Indra. Likewise nature of some deities changed a lot within ancient religion; as Vis
  ̣
n
  ̣
u, asolar deity of R
  ̣
gveda, became an important god in Puranic phase. Indisputably, there is onegreat god ‘Surya’ of the Vedic lore who remained on the key position constantly from theVedas up to the Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as. However, His features are altered, developed, and glorified to agreat extent by the authors of Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as due to their broad approach towards the symbolism of Vedic concepts. Unique style and main subject matter of Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as are other reasons for themodification of original views.Puranic literature is very wide in contents. They were written between second-thirdcentury AD to thirteen-fourteen century AD according to the most of the scholars. SomePura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as are of early times such as
Vis
   ̣
n
   ̣
u, Va
  ̄
 yu,
 
 Brahma
  ̄
n
   ̣
   ̣
a
, and
 Ma
  ̄
rkan
   ̣
   ̣
eya
, while some as
 Bhavis
   ̣
 ya, Skanda, Sa
  ̄
mba
etc. are of later period. As a result, impact of Vedic culture with itsmodification would not be seen identical in the developing religious traditions of the Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as.There were five major cults prominent in the age of Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as for the worship of Vis
  ̣
n
  ̣
u, S
  ́
iva,S
  ́
akti, Su
   ̄
rya, and Gan
  ̣
es
  ́
a. Some independent Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as were written on these deities whichconfirms the formation of certain cults in Puranic phase.In the early Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as, we can see the Vedic and
 ́
rota
traditions of sun-worship withslight changes. Here Su
   ̄
rya god represents the physical form of Sun. Importance of sunamongst other planets; his chariot, movement, and relation with seasons and time aredescribed in the
Vis
   ̣
n
   ̣
u Pura
  ̄
n
   ̣
a
. Through the story of Ra
   ̄
 jyavardhana, physical form of sun isevidently elaborated in the
 Ma
  ̄
rkan
   ̣
   ̣
eya Pura
  ̄
n
   ̣
a
. Assimilation of twelve A
   ̄
dityas with twelvemonths is a thought of Vedic origin which is depicted in these Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as. The methods of Sun-worship mentioned in Smr
  ̣
tis such as, enchanting (
 japa
), offering water (
arghya
), andevening prayer (
Sandhyopa
  ̄
sana
  ̄
)
are found in the early Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as. Besides,
Vrata, Ti
  ̄
rtha
and
 Bhakti
(devotion) to Sun-god are rarely mentioned here, in comparison to later Pura
   ̄
n
  ̣
as.

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