SURYA – The Sun in Vedic astrology
by Rodica Purniche
The astronomical, astrological and spiritual conclusions were written in the Vedas, the oldest books in humanity’s library. In ancient times, there was no difference between astronomy and astrology. They were known by the name of “JYOTISH – the study of luminaries”. In time, this name was distorted, divine science was divided into astronomy and astrology and Vedic astrology was named “JYOTISH, The Light of GOD”.
The mission of the Vedas is to lead mankind to Liberation (MOKSHA), deliverance and the ultimate spiritual realization, where mankind is assimilated into the being of GOD. The science of astrology, as part of the spiritual writings that are the Vedas, is spiritual in itself, both its structure and its function. The fundamental concepts of astrology are spiritual through their nature.
THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (RASIS) are subtle variations of energy which come into play from one level of Manifestation to the other. They describe the WAY IN WHICH THE SOUL GROWS from one level of consciousness to another.
THE HOROSCOPE HOUSES (BHAVAS) ARE EVOLUTIONARY and they are destined to point out the evolution of the human being from one stage of life to the other, until it reaches spiritual perfection.
The planets (GRAHAS) occupy positions of maximum sidereal exaltation. THE STATE OF EXALTATION OF A PLANET REPRESENTS ITS MAXIMUM SPIRITUAL CONDITION, which was attained as a consequence of surpassing the test it was subjected to in that place, by the zodiac sign hosting it.
The spiritual nature of astrology is also manifested in the name of every planet, in the way in which planets interact with one another, in the way in which Houses influence one another, in the action of NAKSHATRAS and in the way divisional charts analyze, to the subtlest of nuances, to the last layer, the resonances within which we are born and we attract certain events and human beings during our terrestrial existences.
SURYA – THE SUN
SURYA is not an ordinary god, but a great god – MAHADEVA – who belongs to the 5 deities worshipped by the Hindus: GANESHA, SURYA, SHAKTI, VISHNU and SHIVA. Its cult is spread all across India and in fact, it’s spread all over the globe, because, wherever there was an authentic spiritual civilization, there was an exceptional solar cult, the Sun being perceived both as a direct source of life in the material world as well as a symbol of Absolute Divinity.
It is the center of the Universe, the projection of the Divine Heart of GOD in Manifestation, the supreme Sovereign of the Wheel of zodiac energies. Like him, the king, the president, the prime minister or any other dignitary who actually possesses political power, is the central pivot of the political governing system.
Things happen in a similar manner in a family, in a work environment and in a large spiritual group. The Sun indicates the „soul” of that group, based on the principle of correspondences, its essence, the main factor polarizing the life and warmth around it, the direct target of the energies triggered there. It is the origin, the basis, the support, the center, the responsible and the leader, the guide.
RIG VEDA (8-33) says: „through the help of the Sun, acting like an enormous gem of extraordinary brilliance and moving in a circle and creating all the necessities, Earth is supported in its position from all directions and is subjected to the law of celestial movement”. This is a poetic reference to an obvious astronomical reality, which is the law of gravity, the one keeping celestial bodies fixed around their centers. So the Sun is the soul, the axis and central support of all that exists around it and within its sphere of influence.
Geometrically, the Sun is represented by a circle with a dot in the middle. The dot represents the source/the origin of the primordial energy out of which all forms of manifestations emerge and the circle represents the plane of Manifestation. When there is a center and an outer circle, the relationship between the manifest universe and its primordial cause is postulated. This symbol suggests the whole universal nature of the Sun. Everything that exists in Manifestation is the result of solar radiation and the Sun includes and nurtures every aspect of it.
Out of the 108 names of the Sun, the most important names are:
– TAMISHRAHAN – the destroyer of darkness, the One who dissolves illusion
– LOKA CHAKSHU – the Eye of the World
– BHASKARA – the creator of brilliance, of reflection or desire
– KARMA-SAKSHI – the witness of man’s good deeds
– GRAHA RAJA – the king of planets
– SAHASRA-KIRAN – the bearer of a thousand rays of light
– MARTANDA – the miscarried sun/the sun of a dead embryo
– SURYA – the Sun, or the number 12 derived from the 12 forms/levels of Heaven.
Each name indicates a significant trait of the planet. Their common trait is the association of the Sun with the rays of light. But light in itself refers to the essential nature, the essence or the soul of everything there is. If there is no Light, everything dies. When its radiation, its life giving energy draws back, the Universe enters dissolution.
One of the most interesting and mysterious names is MARTANDA, or the sun of the dead embryo. In the PURANAS, it is said that ADITI, mother of the gods, was pregnant with 8 ADITYAS but she only kept 7 and got rid of the 8th, whom she believed to be dead. Since our Sun was born out of this egg which was presumed dead, it is called MARTANDA. The other ADITYAS became the deities subjected to it.
The early deities who were asked to assume the responsibility of creating the Universe refused to do so, because they had to descend into Manifestation and to give up the eternal kingdom. The refusal of the 7 sons of ADITI of creating the world represents these high forces who did not want to get involved in the process of Material Creation.
The 8th embryo, the one out of which the Son was born disappeared at first „like a dead embryo”. But apparently it seems it contained YAMA (the god of death), VISHNU (the keeper of life), MAYA (the creative illusion, but also the veil of ignorance), and KAMADEVA (the god of love).
Thus, this embryo, with its complex expression of motion of life, could not be considered dead. Since the wheel of Creation turns only when life and death are equally involved in this process, the Universal Mother, ADITI consulted with MARTANDA (the Sun), so that he will take the function of cosmic ideation. By acting in accordance to his mother’s will, SURYA created day and night, as symbols of life and death.
The egg is the symbol of potential life. The Sun, as a creator of life and death, is the Beginning and the End, ALPHA and OMEGA. Its primary function is to exteriorize what it contains. The Sun is thus, ONE in its own eternal nature, SADAIKARUPA, the immutable and unchangeable Self, while in Manifestation, it is called EKANEKA-RUPA, One who becomes Many, the One which multiplies.
In his process of descending in the lower planes of Manifestation, the Sun is granted with different names indicating its level of expression:
– MAHAPURUSHA/PARATMAN – the Spirit/the Supreme Immortal Self Atman
– ATMA/PURVAJA – the living Spirit of Nature
– INDRYATMAN/HRISHIKESHA – the intellectual Soul
– BHUTATMAN – the Soul of life
– KSHETRAJNA – the spiritual Soul embodied within Matter
SURYA is the son of KASHYAPA and ADITI. KASHYAPA married ADITI and 12 of the 60 daughters of DAKSHA. He created, with ADITI, the 12 ADITYAS and with DITI (one of the other wives), the DITYAS or the demons. SURYA, our Son, was the 8th ADITYA, born from ADITI and KASHYAPA.
The Sun married the daughter of the celestial constructor VISHWAKARMA, named TWASHTRI su SANJA, but its radiation was unbearable for the girl. VISHWAKARMA cut the solar radiating energy in several parts out of which he made SHIVA’s trident, VISHNU’s disc, KUBERA’s scepter, INDRA’s lightning, YAMA’s cane and SKANDA’s lance, all of them being invincible weapons. Wanting to visit his parents, TWASHTRI left his shadow, called CHHAYA, to take care of SURYA and he left. The Sun fell madly in love with CHHAYA and, together with her, he made Saturn.
Later, when TWASHTRI returned to her husband, she was terrified of the connection with his own shadow and he left them, walking the world as a mare ever since. Becoming aware of his mistake, the Sun followed her, assuming the form of a horse and making love to her. Thus, they created the two ASHWINIS, the celestial doctors.
The Sun or SURYA is represented in a chariot with a single wheel, with 7 horses harnessed to it, one of them being a mare. In other situations, the chariot is pulled by a single horse with 7 heads. They are named after the 7 colors of the color spectrum: orange (ROCHIKA), violet (MOCHIKA), white (SHUKLA), yellow (PITA), red (RAKTA), green (NILA), blue (INDRANILA).
The wheel is the visible shape of the year. It has 5 spokes (the 5 Elements) and the chariot has three layers, representing the triple nature of the human being: physical, emotional and mental. But they also indicate the three primary attributes of Nature: RAJAS (activity), TAMAS (inertia) and SATTVA (harmony). The wheel has 8 layers, symbolizing the 8 VASUS or gods of light guiding the evolution of the Universe. The great NAGA or sacred snake (NAGA-DEVA, the symbol of wisdom) encircles the wheel.
SURYA, the most important name for the Sun, comes from the root of the words „SUR”, „SWAR” and „SURA”. „SUR” means Sun, god, sage and, numerically, it represents the number 33. „SWAR” represents the galaxy or the Milky Way and it means sound, voice, musical note, scale, tone, accord and, numerically, it indicates the number 7. „SURA” is associated with courage, value and authority.
The Sun is the visible embodiment of the subjective invisible Absolute, the Will of that which is Not Manifested. The creation and dissolution of the Universe come from its inspiration and expiration. The force of life, energizing the Manifestation, is personified in the form of AGNI, god of Fire. No matter which one of them we consider to be the basic source of energy – SURYA or AGNI – both are described as acting in the rhythm of cosmic emanation. The Sun moves in a chariot pulled by 7 horses, while AGNI rises into 7 flames.
MUNDAKA UPANISHAD calls these seven flames: KALI (black), KARALI (rusty, „fiery”), MANOJAVA (speed of mind/rushing mind/fast mind), SULOHITA (deep red/intense), SUDHUMRAVARNA (the color of smoke), SPHULINGINI (the spark), VISVARUCHI (bright white). Emphasizing the sevenfold emanation, it shows additionally that „from Him, from His head, the 7 senses are born, which are the 7 flames or the 7 forces of knowledge, the 7 objects, the 7 knowledges, acting in the entire Manifestation through these sevenfold channels”. Each of these 7 channels is classified and characterized distinctively. They allow great yogis to practice meditation and to respect the assumed austerities in accordance with the vibrations of their specific ray.
Thus, the Sun is the basis of origin, of the maintenance and dissolution of manifestation. It is unity within the trinity. It is the oldest, it is the primordial cause of Manifestation, the deity nurturing it and in which it dissolves in the end.
The Sun is considered to be the soul of the cosmic man, PURUSHA, whose body is made out of the 12 fully awakened zodiac energies.
Analogically, the Sun manifests 12 energetic quanta specific to it, which are also symbolizing the 12 petals of ANAHATA CHAKRA, mentioned in the MAHANIRVANA TANTRA:
– TAPINI – The one containing heat
– TAAPINI – The one emanating heat
– DHUUMRAA – The smoky one
– MARICHI – The one producing rays
– JVAALINI – The one that is burning
– RUCHI – The one that is shining
– SUDHUMRA – The crimson one
– BHOGADA – The one giving joy
– VISHVA – The universal one
– BODHINI – The one that makes itself known
– DHARINI – The one gathering waters
– KSANIA – The one that is manifesting consciousness.
The Sun is the „heart” and the soul of the planetary system and the planets – the body of this system. RIG VEDA says (8-35): „connected to all the three worlds – the terrestrial world, the celestial bodies and the cosmic space – and illuminating all of the eight terrestrial cardinal directions with the seven seas, the brilliant Sun, with its golden rays, inspires and keeps with itself the priceless jewels for the one who is in a charitable disposition.”
The gems („the jewels of the Sun”) are for „the one who has/is in a charitable disposition”, in other words, for the one who is resonating with the Sun, whose nature is entirely SATTVA, the sun being a humanitarian and a philanthropist. He will transfer its qualities to the one who is like him, the one who will „resonate” with him, according to the degree in which the Sun can be found in that person’s natal chart.
Regarding the medical aspects corresponding to SURYA, RIG VEDA says (11-51): „Oh, Sun, our blessed who reaches to the Sky, banish the illness of my heart which endangers my life!” Thus, in astrology, the Sun and the Sign that it governs represent the 5th organ in the human body, which is the heart. The affectations of the Sun and the sign of Leo, as well as the astrological condition they have, will inevitably lead to heart affections.
The Sun is not just visible for the eye (body), but also for the mind, where it stands for education, teaching, the Light of knowledge.
From a spiritual perspective, the Sun in a natal chart indicates the soul and even more, the SELF. RIG VEDA also says (13-51): „Rise, Sun, and cast your power on my enemy, for I am not allowed to kill my enemy!” The text refers to the COURAGE of the Sun, who can kill and defeat enemies. Astrologically speaking, when the Sun is strongly aspected in the natal chart (in the UPACHAYA Houses), man’s enemies are banished, wherever the House of enemies is in that natal chart.
Here’s a famous text from the RIG VEDA (1-15): „The Sun is the all-seeing eye of celestial bodies, of the air, of heat, of water. It is present (through his influence) in the Sky, on Earth and in cosmic Space (in the space between them). When it is at its zenith (in full brilliance), it cannot be seen. It is the Self, all that moves or feels, all that is inert.”
In other words, SURYA is the Self or the soul/ATMA of everything.
In the natal chart, the Sun also indicates the total amount of divine energy flowing through the various levels of the being and the quality of its manifestation. The native’s life and the direction in which his inner urges will lead him depends on the harmonious relationship between the AS and the Sun.
SURYA is or represents:
– ATMA – the soul of KALA PURUSHA, continuous source of vitality and power of all that exists.
– THE KING – political power.
– LIGHT and, metaphorically, the light of knowledge.
– As the beginning of adulthood, the Sun indicates the age of 50.
– It symbolizes COPPER or red gold.
– It represents RUBY, the most precious gem and the symbol of the king of planets.
– It represents the KSHATRYA caste, together with the planet Mars.
– As a MAN – the Sun, Jupiter and Mars are the „masculine” planets.
They influence, by association or aspect, the factors of conception.
– THE PRINCIPLE OF RESOLUTENESS – The Sun governs Leo, a FIXED zodiac Sign.
– Ancient writings say that the Sun must be considered in relation with the FATHER, the SELF, with bravery and with solar, elevated masculinity, with the power of health and wealth.
– The Sun represents, according to the AYURVEDA system, PITTA DOSHA; it is characterized by little body hair, being a Fire planet and its nature is predominantly SATTVA.
– The Sun is exalted in the state of MOKSHA (The maximum sidereal exaltation is calculated by subtracting 24 degrees from the tropical zodiac, when the Sun is at 4º in the sign of Taurus in the tropical zodiac (Western) it is actually at 10º in the sign of Aries in the sidereal zodiac (Vedic)).
In Vedic astrology, the Sun reaches its maximum sidereal exaltation when located at 10º in the sign of Aries, a degree belonging to the ASHWINI asterism (NAKSHATRA). This asterism occupies the sector between 1º and 13º20’ in Aries and it is governed by KETU (The South Node of the Moon), the significator of the state of MOKSHA. The sign of Aries is governed by Mars, the one indicating „sinful” circumstances. When the Sun is in the state of MOKSHA, it is not affected by the sinful and tempting atmosphere of the reprobate Mars.
It is here in its maximum sidereal exaltation condition, in other words, in his maximum spiritual condition, mirroring the pure, divine and absolute nature of the SUPREME SELF ATMAN with whom it identifies. Here, the Sun is tested by the „sinful” Mars (the one who „challenges” us to purify and exorcize the evil within us). Practically, SURYA must choose between manifesting egotistically, with vanity and letting itself be flooded with the Divinity it represents in this plane of Manifestation, in order to infuse us with the state of complete, plenary spirituality, which will lead us to the ultimate spiritual realization.
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