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Surya deva in his chariot with the Sun behind him

Surya: The Sun God

Surya is the Sun god and the chief Navagraha. He is also called Ravi or Vivasvata. He is also the god of Sunday. Every day he rides on his 7 horses-drawn chariot and takes the sun on its journey. He is very wise and knowledgeable and many disciples come to him for knowledge. He lives in Suryaloka, which is the Sun.

Family

  • Father: Kashyapa
  • Mother: Aditi
  • Wives: Sanjana (Saranyu), Chhaya, Aruni
  • Sons: Vaivasvata Manu, Yama, Savarni Manu, Revanta, Shani, Ashwini Kumaras, Sugreeva
  • Daughters: Tapti, Yami (Yamuna), Vishti
  • Brothers: Indra, Amsa, Aryaman, Bhaga, Pusan, Dhatri, Mitra, Varuna, Tvastra, Parjanya, Vishnu (as Vamana)
  • He is also the godly father of Karna

Chhaya- The Shadow Wife

Sanjana was the wife of Surya. They had a son named Satyavrata, who is Vaivasvata Manu. Sanjana could not bear the heat that Surya emitted. Her complexion became dark and she no longer liked her husband. She decided to create a clone called Chhaya and secretly leave to go to Vishwakarma, her father’s house. She instructed Chhaya to dutifully act as Surya’s wife. Sanjana then left for her father’s house. Surya didn’t notice the difference. During this time, Chhaya had two sons and two daughters. The daughters’ names were Tapti and Vishti and the sons’ names were Savarni Manu and Shani. When Vishwakarma heard about the birth of these children births, he asked for the truth from Sanjana, who tells him about the clone. Vishwakarma ordered her to return to Suryaloka.

At Suryaloka, Sanjana got mad at Chhaya and destroyed her. Surya again did not notice the exchange of his wives. Sanjana then gave birth to two children- Yama and Yami. As they grew older Surya gave them jobs. Yama is the god of death and dharma and Yami becomes the goddess of the river Yamuna. Sanjana poisoned Surya’s mind about Shani’s capabilities so he was not given a job.

Shani became extremely angry and feels insulted. He kicked Sanjana who in return cursed Shani to lose the leg he kicked her with. Surya who watches this was unable to understand the curse. He asked Sanjana for the truth. She told him and Shani the entire story of Chhaya. Surya was enraged and immediately installed Shani’s leg back and appointed him the god of the planet Saturn.

Sanjana once again left Suryaloka. Since she couldn’t go to her father’s house she hid in a Himalayan forest in the disguise of a mare. After some time, Surya started to miss his wife. He went to Vishwakarma for her whereabouts, who said he does not know. Vishwakarma requested Surya to reduce the glare of his rays. Surya said he cannot, so Vishwakarma with his skill reduced the glare.

Surya, after looking for a long time found Sanjana. He took the form of a male stallion and approached her. Sanjana recognized him and they mated, producing the Ashwini Kumaras. The youngest son Revanta was also born. The Ashwini Kumaras were given the responsibility of healing. They studied lots about Ayurveda and become the physicians of the gods.

Pride Humbled

This story is told in the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana, Krishna-Janma Khanda, Chapter 48

The three brothers Mali, Sumali, and Malyavana were the rulers of Lanka. They were extremely powerful and could even light up the world after sundown. This angered Surya deva, who took his spear and started attacking them. These demons were the devotees of Lord Shiva, so when Surya attacked them, Shiva came to save them. Surya, seeing Shiva approaching, fleed to the abode of Brahma. Shiva pursued him, furious and ready to kill Surya. When Shiva arrived at Brahmaloka, Brahma praised him and requested him to spare Surya. Shiva was appeased; he blessed Surya and returned home. This incident humbled the pride of Surya deva.

Mount

His mount is a chariot drawn by 7 horses. These 7 horses each represent a day of the week. His charioteer is Aruna deva. Every day the chariot takes the sun through its journey.

Weapons

One of the major weapons of Surya deva is the Suryastra, which can light up anything and turn the night into day and darkness into brightness. He has given this weapon to many warriors before, such as Karna.

Disciples

One of the disciples of Surya deva is Hanuman.  Even though Surya deva only teaches disciples for seven days, they all learn a lot in that short amount of time.

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