by Mantra & shlokas on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 12:19pm
Aadi Deva namasthubhyam Praseeda mama Bhaskara
Diwakara namasthubhyam Prabhakara namosthuthe!!
Ratha Sapthami is a highly auspicious festival dedicated to Sun God. In Hindu religion it is observed as a festival across the country falling on the seventh day of Magha Masa sukla paksha. Generally it occurs during the months of January-February. This day is also known as Surya Jayanthi, the day on which Sun is supposed to have taken birth to Aditi and sage Kasyapa. Sun centric events falls continuously during Pushya and Magha Masam including Dhanurmasam, starting with Vaikunta Ekadasi and ending with Ratha Sapthami. Worshipping Sun God during this period is very sacred and celestial.
Significance of Ratha Sapthami
Ratha means chariot. Sapthami is a thithi in a lunar month falling on the 7th day of both sukla and Krishna paksha. At the time of division of constellations each day or thithi is attributed to one deity/God. In the process Sapthami thithi was allotted to Sun God and hence it is his favourite day.
On this day of Ratha Sapthami, Northern movement of the Sun God is supposed to take definite effect after he commenced his journey towards Northern hemisphere entering Makara Raasi on Makara Sankramana Day. Traditionally it is regarded as the day on which the chariot of the Sun God is diverted towards the north by his charioteer called Aruna. On this day it is believed that Sun God ride on his chariot drawn by seven horses and move toward north east direction bringing the entry of spring season.
It is also believed and said that the chariot of Sun has only one wheel that represents kalachakra and the seven horses represent seven colours of light (VIBGYOR). It is also believed that the seven horses represent seven days in the week starting from Sunday the day dedicated to Sun God. The entire kala-chakra, or wheel of time, is established on the wheel of the sun-god's chariot. This wheel is known as Samvatsara. He is the lord of Leo in the Zodiac. He stays one month in each Raasi and takes 365 days or 12 months to complete a round of 12 Rasis. Following sloka from Suryaastakam describes the above.
Sapthaaswaratha maroodam prachandam kasyapathmajam
Swethapadmadharam devam tham suryam pranamamyaham
Bandhooka pushpasankasam harakundala bhushitham
Ekachakradharam devam tham suryam pranamamyaham
On this day worshipping Sun is very sacred, celestial and highly beneficial. He is the God, a living God, Aadi dhaivam, Sanatana, whom everyone can see, perceive and pray. Though he is visible, he also has been presented in a variety of forms. He is the divine light, life-giver and time-giver. The Vedas adore him as a witness of all actions (Karma Sakshi). He is said to be Trimurthi swaroopa.
Brahmaswaroopo udaye madhyahnethu Maheswaraha
Asthakale swayam VishnuH Trayimoorthi Diwakaraha
Lord Vishnu in his form as Surya Narayana is worshipped on this day.
VihaayasagatirjyotiH suruchirhutabhug vibhuh
Ravirvilochanah suryah savitaa ravilochanah
Above sloka from Sri Vishnu Sashasra Nama (sloka 94) describe Lord SrimanNarayana as the Sun God. Purusha Sooktha also describes Sun as born from the eyes of Lord SrimanNarayana (Chaksho! Suryo Ajayatha) and is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu. Sun God is called by several other names. Popularly as Surya, Aaditya, Mitra, Ravi, Savita, Arka, Bhaskara, Marichi, Diwakara, Bhanu, Vivasvatha.
Sun is said to be the seventh Manuvu in whose name the present Manvanthara is being called as Vaivaswatha Manvanthara the period in which we are living now. Lot of importance and significance is given to Sun worship during this Manvanthara. Irrespective of the caste and creed all walks of people worship him as Pratyaksha Dhaivam.
Mythological scripts say that Sun God was worshipped by Lord Sri Rama before going to kill Ravana. Yuddhistira got the Akshaya bowl after worshipping Sun. Kunti Devi mother of Pandavas worshipped Lord Sun before giving birth to Karna.
Sathrajith was blessed with syamanthaka Mani after worshipping Sun God. Sambha son of Lord Sri Krishna and Jambavathi got rid of his Leprosy after worshipping Sun. It is said that Sun was the guru to Lord Hanuman who has learnt Nava vyakarana from Sun. Bhishma Pitamaha of Mahabharatha fame waited for this day and had his last breath on the day after Ratha Sapthami called Bheeshmaastami.
Traditions & Beliefs on this Day
Bath with Arka Leaves: It is an age old custom and tradition that people on this day take special bath with seven Arka leaves by keeping one on the head, two on the shoulders, two on the knees and two on the feet. Arka is commonly called as Jilledu in Telugu, Ekka in Kannada, Erukku in Tamil, and Calotrope (bowstring hemp) in English. During the bath following sloka is chanted.
Yadhyajanma kritham papam maya sapthasu janmasu
Thanme rogancha sokancha makari hanthu sapthami!!
Yetatjanmakritham papam yachha janmanthararjitham
Mano vakkayajam yachha gnathagnathancha yathpunaha
Ithi sapthavidham papam snaname saptha sapthake
Sapthavyadhi samayuktham hara makari sapthami
Arghyam is given to Sun God on this day with the following sloka
Saptha sapthi vaha preetha sapthaloka pradeepana
Sapthami sahito deva gruhanargyam Diwakara
Some people even take bath in sacred rivers. It is believed that a bath on this day by using Arka leaves one will get rid of his/her sins coming from previous seven births.
Those who do not have parents should also give Thila Tarpana to their fore fathers (Dwadasa Pitru) on this day.
Hindu religion considers Sun as an important God to be worshipped. Several Vedic verses on Sun are incorporated into the Nitya Vidhi (mandatory daily routine) like sandhya vandana, surya namaskara, Gayathri japa, surya arghya.
Sun is called as Namaskara Priya. He blesses the devotees who offer him a simple namaskara with all sincerity and devotion. That is how the Surya Namaskara a yogic prakriya related to Sun has become very popular.
Sun worship is prevailing and being followed since time immemorial. Some of the useful prayers related to Sun are Suryaastakam, Aaditya Hridayam, Gayathri, Surya Sahasranama etc. Generally Sun worship will be very effective if it is done within one hour from Sun rise. Worship of this devatha on Sunday is supposed to bring in manifold benefits to the worshippers
Phala sruthi of Sun related sthothras says that Sun worship is Navagraha peeda pariharam, bestows progeny for the childless, helps in coming out of poverty, cures illness and gets rid of health problems haunting for the past seven births. Like Lord SriMann Narayana is the giver of Moksha, Sun God is said to be giver of Health. (Arogyam Bhaskaraddhicheth).
On this day people prepare kheer with beaten rice or avalakki (Tandulam) and offer as nivedana to Sun God.
In South India it is a tradition people draw with rangoli (colours) on the ground in front of their houses a picture of chariot and seven horses a symbolic reference to Ratha Sapthami and cow dung is burnt in centre of it. On the fire obtained they boil milk and offer it to Sun God. The ritual may vary from region to region.
Some people also observe fasting on this day and or observe mouna vratham.
Charity on this day will yield manifold benefits. Usually Kushmanda Dana (pumpkin) is said to be very sacred on this occasion. Since it happens in Magha Masa as per the Masa Dharma Thila Dana, Thila Paathra Dana, Salagrama Dana, Vasthra Dana, Blankets, Umbrella, Amalakki, (Amla) are all very sacred on this day.
Significance of Arka Leaf & Ratha Sapthami
In Hindu religion since Vedic days certain plants are associated with certain deities in performing rituals. Like Thulasi with Lord Maha Vishnu, Bilva with Lord Shiva, Durva (Garike) with Lord Maha Ganapathi. Similarly Arka plant leaf is associated with Sun God and since Ratha Sapthami is a Sun Centric festival its usage on this day has gained significance.
Arka is a Sanskrit word. Arka means a ray, a flash of lightning. It is believed that Sun God’s chariot is in perfect square shape and his shoulders are also in square shape (four angles). Configuration of arka dala also appears in perfect angle with one pair of leaves exactly opposite to the other and it is believed that Arka leaves represent the shoulders and chariot of Sun God
The name Arka is also related to Konark a place dedicated to Sun God in Orissa state. It is called as Arka Kshetra. There is a world famous Sun temple at Konark that attracts tourists from all over the world. Konark is a confluence of two words Kona and Arka = Konarka. Kona mean angle and Arka means Sun God. Konark means corner of the Sun dedicated to Sun God.
Arka plant has very good medicinal value in Ayurvedic system of medicine. It is said that Arka is used in curing skin diseases, leprosy, tumors, joint pains, wounds etc., It is called as a healing herb like Sun God as a healer.Arka leaf is also used in the worship of Lord Maha Ganapathi (Arka Maha Ganapathi), and Lord Hanuman. The stem of the Arka tree is also used as a samidha while performing Homa/yagna.
Celebrations at Temples
Special celebrations are held in Sun temples on this occasion at Konark (Orissa), Arasavelli (Srikakulam dt.Andhra Pradesh). This festival is also celebrated in all Vaishnavite temples especially at Tirumala and Sri Rangam. Suryanar Koil near Kumbhakonam is also very popular and dedicated to Sun God. In Tiruchanoor (Tirupathi) in the temple complex of Goddess Padmavathi there is a Sun temple. In Tirumala Hills Lord Venkateswara along with his consorts (utsava murthy) is taken out in procession seven times on this day starting from dawn as a part of the Ratha Sapthami celebrations.
To write about Sun God one attempt is not adequate. Please look forward for my future posts for astrological and other significances related to Sun
! Aadityam JagadeesaMachyuthaMajam
May! Sun God - Sri Surya Narayana bestow on all
good health, peace and prosperity