Surya (सूर्य) is a Sanskrit (संस्कृत) word that means the Sun.
Synonyms of Surya (सूर्य) in Ancient Indian Literature include: Āditya (आदित्य), Arka (वापस), Bhānu (भानु), Savitru (सवितृ), Pushana (पूषन्), Ravi (रावी), Mārtanda (मार्तंड), Mitra (भागीदारों) and Vivasvāna (व्यर्थजीना).
Surya (सूर्य) also connotes the Solar Deity in Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), particularly in the Saura
- The Saura (सौरा) Tradition found in states such as Rajasthan (राजस्थान), Gujarat (गुजरातराज्यं), Madhya Pradesh (मध्य प्रदेश), Bihar (बिहार), Maharashtra (महाराष्ट्र), Uttar Pradesh (उत्तर प्रदेश), Jharkhand (झारखंड) and Odisha (ओड़िशा).
- Saura (सौरा) is a Religion and denomination of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), originating as a Vedic Tradition (वैदिक / also known as वेदवाद, Vedism or Ancient हिंदू धर्म, Hinduism / The religious ideas and practices among most Indo-Aryan-speaking peoples of Ancient India after about 1500 BCE).
Followers of Saura (सौरा) worship Surya (सूर्य) as the Saguna Brahman (सगुण ब्रह्मन्). Saguna Brahman (सगुण ब्रह्मन्,"The Absolute with qualities") came from the Sanskrit (संस्कृत) word "saguṇa" (सगुण) / "with qualities, gunas" and "Brahman" (ब्रह्मन्) / "the Absolute", close to the concept of immanence, the manifested divine presence.
The worship of Surya (सूर्य) has been mentioned in the Ramayana (रामायणम्) and the Mahabharata (महाभारतम्). The Ramayana (रामायणम्, Rāmāyaṇam) and the Mahabharata (महाभारतम्, Mahābhārata) are the two major Sanskrit (संस्कृत) epics of Ancient India (originated: 8th and 9th Centuries BCE / dated: early Gupta period, c. 4th century CE).
At present the Sauras (सौरा) are a very small movement, much smaller than other larger denominations such as Vaishnavism (वैष्णववाद / विष्णुवाद, Vishnuism / One of the major Hindu denominations that considers विष्णु, Vishnu - one of the Principal Deities of हिंदू धर्म, Hinduism - as the Supreme Lord / Its followers are called वैष्णव, Vaishnavas or वैष्णवाइट्स, Vaishnavites) or Shaivism (शैव संप्रदाय / One of the major traditions within हिंदू धर्म, Hinduism that reveres शिव, Shiva or महादेवा, Mahadeva / "the auspicious One" or "the great God" / one of the Principal Deities of हिंदू धर्म, Hinduism - as the Supreme Being).
There was a rapid decline of the Sauras (सौरा) in the 12th and 13th century CE, due to the Muslim conquests.
Surya (सूर्य) is one of the five Deities considered as equivalent aspects and means to realizing Brahman (ब्रह्मन्) in the Smarta Tradition (स्मार्त).
- In Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), Brahman (ब्रह्मन् or ब्रह्म, Bráhmā) connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the Universe.
- Smarta Tradition (स्मार्त) is a movement in Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म) that developed during its classical period around the beginning of the Common Era (CE). It reflects a Hindu synthesis of four philosophical strands: Mimamsa (मीमांसा), Advaita (अद्वैत वेदान्त), Yoga (योग), and Theism (धर्मवाद). The Smarta Tradition (स्मार्त) rejects theistic sectarianism, and it is notable for the domestic worship of five shrines with five Deities, all treated as equal - Vishnu (विष्णु), Shiva (शिव), Brahma (ब्रह्म), Ganesha (गणेशजी) and Devi (देवी or शक्ति, Shakti).
In Medieval Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), Surya (सूर्य) is also an epithet for the major Hindu Gods: Shiva (शिव), Brahma (ब्रह्म) and Vishnu (विष्णु).
In some Ancient texts and arts, Surya (सूर्य) is presented with Indra (इंद्र), Ganesha (गणेशजी) or others.
- Indra (इन्द्र) is a Vedic (वैदिक) Deity in Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), a Guardian Deity in Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म), and the King of the Highest Heaven called Saudharmakalpa (सौधरमकलप) in Jainism (जैन धर्म, Jain Dharma / An Ancient Indian Religion / Its followers are called जैन, Jains - a word derived from the Sanskrit word जिना, "jina", "victor" - and connoting the path of victory in crossing over life's stream of rebirths by destroying the कर्म, Karma through an ethical and spiritual life).
- Ganesha (गणेश / गणपति, Ganapati / विनायका, Vinayaka / or by numerous other names) is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. Ganesha's (गणेश) elephant head makes him easy to identify.
Surya (सूर्य) as a Deity is also found in the arts and literature of Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) and Jainism (जैन धर्म).
Surya's (सूर्य) iconography is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by horses, often seven in number which represent the seven colours of visible light, and seven days in a week.
Surya (सूर्य) is one of the nine heavenly Navagrahas (नवग्रह, 9 Astral Bodies or 9 Realms or 9 planets / 9 Mythical Deities of Hinduism) in the zodiac system of Hindu Astrology (हिंदू ज्योतिष / ज्योतिश्या, Jyotisha or Jyotishya / "light, heavenly body" / The traditional Hindu system of Astrology).
Major festivals and pilgrimages in reverence of Surya (सूर्य) include Makara Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति), Pongal (पोंगल), Ratha Sapthami (रथसप्तमी), Chath Puja (छठ पूजा) and Kumbha Mela (कुंभ पर्व).
- Makara Sankranti (मकर संक्रांति) or Maghi (मगही) is a festival day in the Hindu Calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (सूर्य).
It is observed each year in January. It marks the first day of the Sun's transit into the Makara (मकर, Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the Winter Solstice and the start of longer days.
- Thai Pongal (पोंगल) is a harvest festival dedicated to the Sun God (सूर्य, Surya). It is a four-day festival which according to the Tamil Calendar is usually celebrated from January 14 to January 17.
- Ratha Saptami or Rathasapthami (रथसप्तमी) or Magha Saptami (माघ सप्तमी) is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day (सप्तमी, Saptami) in the bright half (शुक्ल पक्ष, Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu month Maagha (माघ/ it corresponds with January/February in the Gregorian Calendar). It is symbolically represented in the form of the Sun God (सूर्य, Surya) turning his Ratha (रथ / Chariot) drawn by seven horses (representing seven colours) towards the Northern Hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction. It also marks the birth of Surya (सूर्य) and hence celebrated as Surya Jayanti (सूर्य जयंती / the सूर्य, Surya's Birthday). Ratha Saptami (रथसप्तमी) is symbolic of the change of season to Spring and the start of the harvesting season. For most Indian farmers, it is an auspicious beginning of the New Year.
- The Chath Puja (छठ पूजा) is dedicated to the Sun (सूर्य, Surya) and his wife Usha (उषस् / the वैदिक, Vedic Goddess of Dawn in हिंदू धर्म, Hinduism) in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on Earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.
- Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela (कुंभ मेला) is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river.
However, the usage is context specific.
- The Rigveda (ऋग्वेद) is an Ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit Hymns (वैदिक संस्कृत भजन) along with associated commentaries on liturgy, ritual and mystical exegesis. It is one of the four sacred canonical texts (श्रुति, Śruti) of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म) known as the Vedas (वेद).
In some Hymns, the word "Surya" (सूर्य) simply means Sun as an inanimate object, a stone or a gem in the sky (ऋग्वेद, Rigvedic Hymns 5.47, 6.51 and 7.63), while in others it refers to a personified Deity.
The Vedas (वेद) assert Sun (सूर्य, Surya) to be the Creator of the Material Universe (प्रकृति, Prakriti / "nature").
In the layers of Vedic (वैदिक) texts, Surya (सूर्य) is one of the several trinities along with Agni (अग्नि / the Fire God) and either Vayu (वायु) or Indra (इन्द्र), which are presented as an equivalent icon and aspect of the Hindu metaphysical concept called the Brahman (ब्रह्मन्).
- The Vedas (वेद / "Knowledge") are a large body of religious texts originating in Ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit (वैदिक संस्कृत), the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit (संस्कृत) Literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म). Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya (अपौरुषेय), which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless".
- Agni (अग्नि) is a Sanskrit (संस्कृत) word meaning fire, and connotes the Vedic (वैदिक) Fire God of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म). He is also the Guardian Deity of the Southeast direction, and is typically found in southeast corners of Hindu temples. In the Classical Cosmology of the Indian religions, Agni (अग्नि) as fire is one of the five inert impermanent elements (पैन्काभूटा, pañcabhūtá) along with space (ऐकासा, ākāśa), water (एपी, ap), air (वायु, vāyu) and earth (प्राथवी, pṛthvī), the five combining to form the empirically perceived material existence (प्रकृति, Prakriti / "nature").
- Vayu (वायु) is a primary Hindu Deity, the Lord of the Winds, the father of Bhima (भीम) and the spiritual father of Hanuman (हनुमान्).
- In Hindu Mythology, Bhima (भीम) is the second born of the Pandavas (पाण्डव / The five acknowledged sons of पाण्डु, Pandu by his two wives: कुन्ती, Kunti and माद्री, Madri, who was the princess of मद्रा, Madra). The महाभारतम्, Mahābhārata relates many events which portray the might of भीम,Bhima. He is responsible for slaying all hundred Kaurava Brothers (कौरव / The descendants of कुरु, Kuru, a legendary King who is the ancestor of many of the characters of the महाभारतम्, Mahabharata) in the Kurukshetra War (कुरुक्षेत्र युद्ध / 5561 - c. 950 BCE). He was considered to have the physical might of 10,000 elephants.
- Hanuman (हनुमान्) is an ardent devotee of Rama (राम). He is also known as Ramachandra (रामचंद्र), a major Deity of Hinduism. He is the seventh avatar (अवतार / "descent" / the material appearance or incarnation of a Deity on Earth) of the God Vishnu (विष्णु), one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna (कृष्ण) and Gautama Buddha (सिद्धार्थ गौतम). In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Being.
In the Brahmanas layer of Vedic Literature, Surya (सूर्य) appears
with Agni (अग्नि)
in the same hymns.
Surya (सूर्य) is revered for the day, while Agni (अग्नि) for its role during the night.
- The Brahmanas (ब्राह्मणम्, Brāhmaṇam) are a collection of Ancient Indian texts with commentaries on the hymns of the four Vedas (वेद).
The Mahabharata (महाभारतम्, Mahābhārata) epic opens its chapter on Surya (सूर्य) that reverentially calls him as the "Eye of the Universe, Soul of all Existence, Origin of all Life, Goal of the Samkhyas (सांख्य) and Yogis (योगियों), and Symbolism for Freedom and Spiritual Emancipation".
Surya (सूर्य) is celebrated as a Deity in Buddhist artwork, such as the ancient works attributed to Ashoka (अशोक).
He appears in a relief at the Mahabodhi Temple ("Great Awakening Temple") in Bodhgaya, riding in a chariot pulled by four horses, with Usha (उषस्) and Prattyusha (प्रित्वाश) on his sides.
Such artwork suggests that the Surya (सूर्य) as symbolism for the victory of good over evil is a concept adopted in Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) from an earlier Indic Tradition.
- Ashoka (अशोक), sometimes Ashoka the Great, was an Indian Emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE.
Surya or Ravi is the basis of रविवार, Ravivara or Sunday, in the Hindu calendar. The word "Sunday" in the Greco-Roman and other Indo-European Calendars is also dedicated to planet Sun.