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ECOLOGICAL TRADITIONS OF ANDHRA PRADESH KEYNOTE

ADDRESS The summer, this year, was hotter than ever before, with temperatures going up to all time highs and people dying of heat and thirst. The Sun came in for much criticism. Yet we forget that the sun is the giver of life of earth, the reason why our planet is different from others in the solar system. All ancient cultures - including India - worshipped the sun. The Vedic people worshipped Surya, the sun, as Savitr, Pushan, Bhaga, Vivasvat, Mitra, Aryaman and Vishnu. The Rig Veda describes Surya as divya suparna garutmaan (beautiful-winged celestial bird Garutmaan)(R. V. VII, 77,3), or as a brilliant white steed brought by Ushas. The sun has played an important role in human history, from religion to art, agriculture, science and astronomy. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian, Greek, Sumerian and Mayan worshipped the sun. The sun dance was an important ritual for the North Americans. The Anasazi and Mayan people believed that the sun was the source of life and death. Sun worship was prevalent in Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Roman religion, Buddhism, and among the Druids of England, the Aztecs of Mexico, the Incas of Peru, and many Native Americans. Ancient Egyptians honored Ra-Atum-Khepri, the manifestation of God in the sun. According to the Egyptians, Ra was considered to be the Father of the Gods. They held that Ra created the first divine couple. Human life, too, came from the tears of Ra. Light was a symbol of life, and this was made especially clear through Ra. The Sun God was also called as Ra-Harakhte, or Horus of the Horizon. Horus (Heru) personified the rising sun and was always depicted as a falcon. Later, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti promoted the cult of the one god, Aten, the sun disc. Aten, often called the Supreme God, holds a solar disk in his hands, suggesting that his strength comes from the light of the sun. Sumerians honored the sun god Utu among their pantheon as early as 3000 BC. The sun and other planetary bodies were often associated with anthropomorphic gods in general. The Akkadians extended the Sumerian notion of a sun god to form a cult devoted to sun worship. The sun god Shamash was unrivaled in Akkadian culture and became the subject of temples, hymns, stories, and art. Sun worship was prevalent during the Indus valley culture. Symbols of the sun such as the svastika, wheel, circle with radiating rays, etc. are commonly found on pottery from Harappa and Mohenjedaro. The Greeks had two sun gods, Apollo and Helios. The Zoroastrians worship the solar deity Ahura Mazda, who is symbolized by the worship of fire. The Zoroastrians are known as fire worshippers. A constant fire burns in all Zoroastrian fire temples, for it represents the sun, which purifies everything including the souls of people. Fire is a substitute for the sun on earth