[Advaita-l] Sun Worship

Satish Arigela satisharigela at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 8 23:08:05 CST 2011

This is copy paste of an article by someone I know closely.


In bR^ihatsamhita 60.19 varAhamihira states that sUrya should be worshipped by 
installing idols of his and they should be worshipped by specialized priests 
called magAchAryas. This is corroborated by the bhavishya purANa chapter 139 
that narrates the following tale (a critical reconstruction of it):
kR^ishNa, the hero of the yadus married jAMbavati, the daughter of the bear-king 
jAmbavAn. Their son was the valiant sAmba. He went to the banks of the river 
chandrabhAga and constructed temple in the honor of sUrya. No local brAhmaNa 
knew of the mysteries of his worship and hence could not take up priesthood at 
the temple. So sAMba sought help of gauramukha, the adviser of the yadu chief, 
ugrasena. gauramukha asked him to go to shakadvipa and obtain a special class of 
priests called magAchAryas to worship sUrya. saMba said:" pray, tell me Oh 
brAhmaNa what are the antecedents of these worshippers of the sun. gauramukha 
narrated: "The first of the brahmins amidst the shakhas was called sujihva. He 
founded a gotra termed the mihira gotra. He had a daughter of the name 
nikShubhA. sUrya was enamoured by her and impregnated her. Thus she gave birth 
to jarashabda who was the founding father of all the magachAryas. They are 
distinguished by the sacred girdle called the avyanga that they wear around 
their waist". saMba there upon called on kR^ishNa to send him garuDa and flying 
on his back he landed in shaka dvIpa. He collected the magAchAryas, brought them 
back to bhArata and installed them as priests of his sUrya temple.
The Idol of sUrya should be constructed thusly: He should have a human form with 
a solar corona placed behind him. He should be on a chariot with the horses 
standing for the seven solar rays. He should hold a discus and trident in two 
arms, and lotuses in the other two. His feet should be covered by boots upto the 
knees. His waist should bear the avyanga.
This temple on the chandrabhaga was situated in what is now the terrorist state 
of Pakistan and was demolished by Awrangzeb (may piss be upon him) in the 1600s. 
Earlier it was descrated by Mohd. bin Qasim and the al-Qaramitah. The 
descriptions of the original idol mention that it had knee-height boots made 
from Spanish leather and two rubies for the eyes.
There is considerable epigraphic evidence for the prevalance of the saura sect 
in India and definitely the cult was very popular at the time shankara 
bhagavatpAda formalized the six sects of sectarian Hinduism [shaiva, shakta, 
vaiShNava, gANapatya, kaumAra, saura] in the 700s of CE. The earliest pieces of 
evidence clearly support the Iranian connection. The coins of the kushaNas have 
an image of sUrya with the inscription miiro. The GovindpUr inscription from the 
1130s speaks of the magas as being brought to the land by sAmba and 6 great 
poets who were magAcharyas are mentioned. Mihira Kula, the Hephalite Hun ruler 
sponsored the construction of another sUrya temple in Gwalior. This suggests 
that the Iranian influences on the saura sect were continous and over a long 
period of time. In Rajasthan and Northern Gujarat there were a number of sUrya 
temples including the well known one at moDherA. These contain idols of suryA 
with the boots up to the knees clearly implying the Iranian connection. Most of 
these temples were destroyed in the fine vandalistic traditions of the zealots 
of Allah. Priests with the sirname maga are seen around the sun-temple in Osian 
in Rajasthan suggesting that it was probably a famous center of the saura-s of 
Iranian origin. So it is clear that original home of the magas was indeed in the 
west and following the devastations of the al-Qaramitah and the Ghaznavids their 
remnants fled to the east and are now found there. Today the remnants of the 
magachAryas are the shakadvipI brAhmaNas who are still present in Uttar Pradesh. 
While they are not accorded the same status as the Arya brAhmaNas, they still 
observe basic brahminical rites, such upanayanaM and shaucha rules.
Analysis of the names of the queens of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir shows that 
there were Iranians amidst them. They seem to have reinforced the saura cult in 
kAshmIr as evidenced by the mArtANDa temple in kashmir and a kashmirian idol of 
lalitAditya’s time with the classic Iranian dress.
However, it should be noted that the Sun cult also existed in Southern India. In 
Thanjavur there is the Suryanar temple with absolutely no Iranian influence in 
the iconography. This suggests that while the saura-mata itself spread widely 
across India, the maga priests and their distinctive iconography did not 
physically move into the more interior regions. I have heard that the sUrya 
temple in a hill temple complex built in Pune by the Peshwas was also 
consecrated by maga priests as late as 1750AD however, it is iconographically 
intermediate between the northern and southern forms. Finally, the sauras also 
tried to provide a "vedic tinge" for the sect via the composition of the 
sUryopaniShat and the appropriation of the savitA gAyatrI.
The visible imprints of the saura mata that persist today are: 1) The highly 
popular Aditya hR^idayaM, which is attributed to agastya and has been inserted 
into the yuddha kANDa of the rAmAyaNa. This hymn appears to be an early 
composition of the saura school. 2) The second well-known saura contribution is 
the sUrya namaskAra vidhi which is a yogic/tantric practice prescribe by saura 
We had earlier compiled incomplete accounts of both the saura mata and its 
offshoots like the worship of revanta. We initially wanted to work on the final 
part of the incomplete revanta essay dealing with the specific point of the 
evolution of shAstA from revanta and the relationship between their tantric 
prayogas. Then we realized we never put together the additional material from 
the various purANas on the core saura mata that we originally intended. Since a 
few interlocutors had brought up saura issues and the original essay was too old 
we decided to put this part separately. This as such is common knowledge amongst 
Hindus educated in purANa-s.
Why did sAMba build sUrya temples?
This tale is a bit scandalous and often kept away from narratives (As a child I 
recall elders scrupulously avoiding this). As per the varAha purANa (VhP 117 ) 
and bhaviShya purANa (bhvP 1.129) sAmba was said to be a paragon of good looks 
and attracted women. nArada, arrived at devakI-putra’s abode and mentioned that 
some of his many wives were flirting with his son sAMba. After an enquiry 
kR^iShNa laid a spell on sAMba that he get a dreadful skin disease as a result 
of which the women would lose interest in him. sAmba invoked sUrya, who cured 
him of the disease, and told him that he would find an idol of sUrya for his 
worship. sAMba found this idol that was apparently crafted by vishvakarman from 
the kalpataru while he was having a bath in chandrabhAga. sAMba installed it in 
the forest of mitra at mUlasthAna. These purANas also mention two other places 
where sAMba installed saura temples. One of these is said to be kAlapriya on the 
south bank of the yamuna and the other is said to be sutira or muNDIra. The 
location of sutira as per tradition is in the eastern coast and is the same as 
the site where now the koNArka temple stands (in utkala). The site of muNDIra is 
generally believed to be the great Modhera temple in lATa-pradesha. Both muNDIra 
and mUlasthAna were ravaged by the Mohammedan vandals on multiple occassions, 
but the former survives to date. There is a stand-alone purANa by the name sAMba 
purANa that exists in manuscript and corroborates the tales given the 

From: Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Tue, March 8, 2011 4:21:49 PM
Subject: [Advaita-l] Sun Worship

Namaste Sri Sriram

Arogyam Bhaskaradicchet.

Some Westerners opinion is Sun Worship in India is from a foreign
source. But this cannot be correct. Because we have Aruna Prashna and
Surya Mantras in Vedas itself. Kindly explain your view.


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