Surya is the Hindu God of the Sun. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, chances are you’ve practiced the popular vinyasa called Sun Salutation, traditionally known as Surya Namaskar, an enjoyable series of forward and backward bends ideally done in front of the rising sun. While these flowing postures are perfect for warming the body up for hatha yoga, Surya Namaskar is an extremely powerful yogic practice in itself. But we’ll get to that later. Surya is Sanskrit for Supreme Light and refers not only to the sun’s presiding deity but also to the sun in general. Surya, whose full emanation is too bright to bear, is often depicted riding a chariot pulled by seven horses that represent the seven chakras, or energy centers, that each of us have in our astral bodies. His charioteer is Aruna, the God of Dawn. In India, there are many temples dedicated to Surya, who is worshiped at dawn by many Hindus. Though Surya was once worshiped at the same high level of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Goddess Shakti and Lord Ganesha, he is now worshiped by only a small group. In the Hindu Purana texts, the weapons of the gods are described as coming from pieces trimmed by Surya, whose power is believed to be able to dispel darkness, cure diseases, and heat and illuminate the world. The source of the world’s light and warmth, Surya is also seen as controlling the seasons and having the power to either give or withhold abundant crops.
Salutations To The Sun: Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar is much more than an enjoyable flowing series that warms up the muscles at the beginning of a yoga class. For yogis, it is an important part of daily spiritual practice. In the scriptures, the sun is also called Aditya, meaning the son of Aditi, and the sacred texts describe its 12 different aspects in accordance to the zodiac signs. From these, there are the same number of mantras that are chanted with each posture:
1. oṁ mitrāya namaḥ - oṁ salutations to the friend of all.
2. oṁ ravaye namaḥ - oṁ salutations to the one who causes noise.
3. oṁ sūryāya namaḥ - oṁ salutations to one who sets in motion.
4. oṁ bhāvane namaḥ - oṁ salutations to the luminous one.
5. oṁ khagāya namaḥ - oṁ salutations to the one who moves in the sky.
6. oṁ pūṣṇe namaḥ - oṁ salutations to the one who nourishes.
7. oṁ hiraṇyagarbhāya namaḥ- oṁ salutations to Hiraṇyagarbha, who was born from a golden egg.
8. oṁ mārīcaye namaḥ - oṁ salutations to the one bears rays of light.
9. oṁ ādityāya namaḥ - oṁ salutations to the son of Aditi.
10. oṁ savitre namaḥ- oṁ salutations to the one who awakens.
11. oṁ arkāya namaḥ- oṁ salutations to the radiant one.
12. oṁ bhāskarāya namaḥ- oṁ salutations to the illuminator. Want to read more about the spiritual side of the ancient yogic practice of hatha yoga? Just click here and enjoy every moment.