Sun - Surya

Yoga of the Planets: Sun - Surya

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Extract from Yoga of the Planets - Sun

ॐ अरुणाय नमः

om aruṇāya namaḥ

1. Salutations to the dawn.

Aruṇa is the dawn, the colour of the dawn and is the charioteer of the Sun. Naturally the hymn to the Sun starts with the remembrance of his first appearance. This also brings the memory of the first light of the awakening of the soul or Atman that the Sun represents. Throughout the names, the inner value of life is constantly alluded to. While the names have much of astrology and the mundane in them, the main focus is the evolution of higher consciousness.

Aruṇa is portrayed as the charioteer of the Sun because the dawn precedes the Sun. The light that appears before the first rays of the Sun and breaks over the horizon is the precursor to the sunlight, but it is also sunlight. The consciousness of the soul, even not yet awakened, is still consciousness and it manifests in our will and is symbolized in the one holding the reins of the chariot. In the awakened state, consciousness is the witness of the activities of the world. What is that witness? This is the ultimate question, or at least a key part of it. If we know the answer, then we know the One that is our very Self.

In the Vedic terminology, the soul is called the Atman, while God is called the Paramātman or, literally, the Supreme Soul. When the individual soul knows its essence to be the Supreme Soul, then it becomes the witness of the active elements of the world such as the intellect, the mind and the senses. Later, it revels in knowing that these are in essence the same being.

The Atman, resting in its awareness of oneness with the Paramātman or Supreme Soul, rides in the chariot that continues to be guided by the infinite intelligence of nature and the threads of destiny. The charioteer always follows the will of his master who rides in the chariot. That master, eternally satisfied, rises again and again without deviation according to the law. Om Aruṇāya Namah, means obeisance or surrender to the charioteer of the light of life and the eternal natural law, knowing which, in its perfection, is the prerequisite for realizing our own true nature.

In Sanskrit, this state is called Nitya Santosh. Nitya is eternal and Santosh means peace, fulfilment and satisfaction. This condition is said to be the natural state of the Jyotishi or Vedic Astrologer. Indeed, it is mentioned in the texts as being a prerequisite for practising the science of Jyotisha. This first name establishes the astrologer in his natural state. As long as we have some fault to find with the flow of nature’s intelligence, we cannot fathom the message of the planets and the stars. Once we know who we truly are, then we have a crystal clear view of that message.

The Vedic texts are full of wonderful stories. They are taught by the sages and there is much to be learnt from them. The style is quite brilliant and entertaining and they bear a resemblance to modern serial dramas, except that the Vedic stories are always uplifting and have a vast scope. Stories of gods, men, animals and the denizens of the upper and lower realms are all intertwined. Each episode is short and leaves us anticipating what happens next. It is hard to stop reading. In the ancient times, certain people called Sutas would travel around and recite these stories. They were highly honoured as everyone appreciated this work.

The great epic, the Mahābhārata, gives the story of Aruṇa, which, very briefly, is as follows. The parents of the divine beings were Mahārishi Kashyapa and his wife Aditī (Sun 6). Aditī had a rival wife called Ditī. When Ditī asked her husband for 1,000 sons, Aditī asked for two that would be more powerful than all of the 1,000. Aditī gave birth to two eggs and then she waited for them to hatch. Ditī's sons were born but Aditī's did not come forth. After 500 years, there was still no sign of the hatching so she secretly cracked one of them to see the progress of the child. Aruṇa emerged from the egg but had only formed down to the waist. He cursed his mother for his incomplete development caused by her impatience. He was appointed to be the charioteer of Sūrya as his lack of a lower half would not hinder this work (Sun 36).

We might conclude from this story that when something extraordinary is to happen, it takes more time to gestate so more patience is required. Ditī's sons were more ordinary and were born more quickly, while Aditī's took much longer. Ditī's sons were all celestial snakes while Aditī's other son was the king of the birds, Garuḍa. Garuḍa became the vehicle for Vishnu who is closely connected to the Sun especially with respect to the sign Pisces (see Sun 17). While birds and snakes are deadly enemies, there is a deep spiritual story here also. The snakes are connected to the nodes of the Moon that cause eclipses. The South node called Ketu is where the consciousness is trapped at the base of the spine. The light has to be guided (Aruṇa) from there to the place of the North Node, Rāhu, at the top of the spine and thence to the crown, which is associated with Pisces, where it soars (Garuḍa).