Aruna or Arun is the charioteer of Surya deva. Everyday Surya deva travels through the sky in a chariot driven by Aruna. Aruna lives in Suryaloka along with Surya deva and many others.
- Father: Kashyapa
- Mother: Vinata
- Brother: Garuda
- Wife: Syeni
- Sons: Sampati, Jatayu, Vali (from feminine form), Sugreeva (from feminine form)
- Wives: Indra (from feminine form), Surya (from feminine form)
Birth and Cursing his Mother
Vinata and Kadru were wives of Kashyapa. Kadru was the mother of a thousand snakes, while Vinata had two eggs that hadn’t hatched for a long time. Out of frustration, Vinata decided to break one of her eggs. Inside, was a half-born baby, Aruna. He cursed his mother that she will become the servant of someone. Upon Vinata’s pleading, Aruna told her that if she waited on the second egg, she would be saved by the child inside it. Aruna then disappeared. The second egg later hatched and Garuda was born.
For the rest of the story, see Garuda
How he became Surya’s charioteer
During the churning of the ocean, when the amrit finally emerged out of the ocean, Vishnu deva came in the form of Mohini, (a beautiful lady) to distribute the amrit to the devas and asuras. She made the asuras and devas sit down in rows. She started dancing gracefully and all the asuras were attracted to her. During her dancing, she was cleverly distributing the amrit to the devas when the asuras were not looking.
An asura named Rahu noticed this and took the form of a deva, sitting in the row of devas between Surya and Chandra. Surya and Chandra, who realized that the deva in between them was no other than other than the asura Rahu, stopped Mohini right when she was pouring a drop into Rahu’s drop. Mohini quickly sliced Rahu in half, but a drop of the amrit had already gone into Rahu’s mouth. The two parts of his body survived. His torso and legs became known as Ketu, and his head as Rahu. Rahu and Ketu joined the Navagrahas.
Rahu and Ketu wanted revenge on Surya and Chandra and they did this by occasionally swallowing one of them. These periods are called eclipses. Eventually Surya or Chandra would wriggle out and the eclipse would be over. As this became more and more frequent, Surya deva got really angry. He multiplied the amount of heat he gave out. This effected the lives on Earth, heaven and other planets and how they would survive. The devas went to Brahma deva for a solution. Brahma deva decided to put a screen in front of Surya deva to lessen the amount of light and heat he gave out. He created a fireproof chariot and called Aruna, who could withstand and lessen the heat and light given by Surya, to drive it.
Brahma deva then called Surya and blessed him. He told Surya to calm down because his immense heat was affecting living beings on Earth and devas in Swarga. Surya slowly calmed down and decided that Aruna would drive his chariot every day with Surya in it, to make the sun rise and set. He also appointed Aruna as the god of the bright sky right before sunrise. From then on, this bright sky before the sunrise became known as Arunodaya.
Once a women named Silavati undertook great penance to save the life of her husband. She requested Surya to not rise till she finished her penance. Because of this Aruna deva got a break. He asked Surya deva if he could go to Swarga for a bit of entertainment. Surya granted him the permission. When he arrived at Swarga, he was told that that currently, no male was allowed to enter the entertainment hall besides Indra deva.
He took the form of an apsara named Aruni and entered. Indra was attracted to Aruni, which resulted in them being married and having a son. Aruni gave this beautiful son to Ahalya, sage Gautama’s wife. He then took his normal male form and resumed his duties as Surya’s charioteer, since Silavati’s penance was over.
When he narrarated this story to Surya deva, Surya deva wished to see Aruna’s feminine form. Aruna agreed to Surya’s wishes. When Aruna turned into his feminine form, Surya deva was attracted and their union resulted in the birth of another beautiful son, which Aruna again gave to Ahalya. Aruna took his normal form and resumed his duties as a charioteer.
Ahalya really loved the two children, but Gautama rishi did not like the fact that he had a son of Surya and Indra living in his abode. He turned both of them into monkeys. When Indra came to know about this he took both of the children to Indraloka (Swarga). There he named his son Vali (Bali) and Surya’s son Sugreeva.
The king of Kishkinda had not had a son for many years. He requested Indra to give him Sugreeva and Vali. Indra happily accepted this. It was these two brothers who were two of the major characters in the Ramayana.
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