Aditya Hrdayam

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  1 ĀDITYA HRDAYAM   Śrīmad Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa in Yuddhakāṇḍa (Chapter VI: Canto 105) reveals Āditya Hṛ  daya, a powerful prayer to Sun god. Lord Rāma was thinking about the ongoing battle with Rāvaṇ a. As an incarnation, Rāma  known for meticulously upholding dharma śāstra -s, seems visibly upset about large scale killings in the war. He wanted to end the war at the earliest to save the lives of the remaining warriors. At that time, sage Agastya had come along with several gods to meet Rāma. Agastya knew what was going on in Rāma’s mind , and in order to find a solution, he told Rāma to recite a hymn known as Āditya Hṛ  daya Stotram. Why Agastya had chosen to impart Āditya Hṛdaya to Rāma is an intriguing question. Āditya H ṛ  daya comprises of various hymns to propitiate Brahmā, the god of creation and was placed in the heart (h ṛdaya) of sun’s orbit. Since this mantra was placed in the heart of sun, which is also known as Āditya, this hymn is known as Āditya Hṛ  daya Stotram. There are thirty one couplets (all the verses in Rāmāyaṇ a are in couplets only; there are 24,000 verses in all) in this Canto out of which Āditya Hṛ  daya is revealed from verse four till verse 26. Many texts contain additions at the end of the main part comprising of 23 couplets. First three verses of this Canto speak about Agastya’s rendezvous with Rāma and his address to Him. What is the importance of sun and why Agastya had chosen to impart mantras praising the sun? Chāndogya Upaniṣ ad ( answers this question that lingers in our minds. It says, “There is a deity in within the orbit of the sun, who is seen by the yogī  -s. His whole body glitters like gold. He has a bright golden beard and golden hair.” Here, the inexplicable Brahman is conveyed and hence the Upani ṣ ad says that the deity in the sun can be seen only  by the yogī  - s. Yogī means a person who is able to unite his individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. This means that the one who is rid of māyā and able to realize the every illuminating Self is adored as a Yo gī. Agastya says to Rāma to worship the Prakāśa  aspect of Brahman, as His full Grandeur cannot be seen at all. This Prakāśa aspect of Brahman is personified as sun god. Typically speaking, Agastya advises Rāma to worship Brahman to conquer and slay Rāvaṇ a. This aspect is explicitly explained in three verses which say that sun god represents Brahmā, Viṣṇ u, Śiva,   Skanda, Prajāpati, Kubera, Kāla, Yama, Soma, Varu ṇa, Aśvin -s, Marut- s, Manu, Vāyu and Agni. Most of these gods are referred in Vedas. The list is not exhaustive; but surely encompasses almost every aspect of creation, sustenance and death. This goes to prove that the sun god referred here, in fact refers to every illuminating Brahman or the Self. There are verses in Vedas comparing sun to Brahman. K  ṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṁhitā (III.iv.11.6- 8) adores sun and these verses form part of Navagraha Sūkta. These verses go like this: आ सयेन जसा वतमानः नवेशयनम  ृं मय च।   ययेन सवा थेन आ देवो या भ  ुवना वपयन  ्॥    2 ā satyena rajasā vartamā na ḥ   niveśayannamṛ  ta ṁ  martya ṁ  ca | hira ṇyayena savitā rathena ā devo yāti bhuvanā vipaśyan ||  This verse can be interpreted as follows. All Vedic verses have dual conveyances  –   gross and subtle. Gross is connected to rituals and subtle is connected to realization of the Self. “He shines with the illumination of the Self within as well as illumination visible to our  biological eyes. He pervades both earth plane and higher plane where gods and goddesses live. He moves around all these worlds in his gold chari ot.”   Ṛg Veda (I.50.8) also says, “O! Self –  radiant, through your divine spectrum of seven harnessed to your chariot, you guide all men.” Seven mentioned in this verse not only means VIBGYOR (seven colours associated with seven psychic chakras), but also seven upper worlds referred in Brahma G āyatrī   mantra ( saptavyāhṛti sahita gāyatrī mantraḥ ). ॐ भ  ः ॐ भ  ुवः ॐ स  ुवः ॐ मः ॐ जनः ॐ पः ॐ सयं ॐ सव  ुवतेयं भर देवय धीम॥ धयो यो नः चोदया  ्॥ ॐ आपो यो सोऽम  ृं हम भ  भ  ु तवःवोम  ्॥   om bhūḥ  om bhuva ḥ  om suva ḥ  om maha ḥ  om jana ḥ  om tapa ḥ  om satya ṁ  om tatsaviturvare ṇ ya ṁ    bhargo devasya dhīmahi || dhiyo yo naḥ    pracodayāt || om āpo jyoti raso'm ṛ  ta ṁ    brahma bhūrbhuvaḥ svarom || The verse says all the seven worlds are only ॐ . In other words, these seven worlds represent seven higher spiritual planes, where the Light of Brahman prevails. This establishes the fact that Prakāśa of Brahman is omnipresent and this Brahman is described in the form of sun, to enable us to contemplate Brahman in His illuminating form. How the sun can be compared to Brahman? Brahman has three main acts, creation, sustenance and destruction. Sun also creates, sustains and destroys. Sun is the cause for  prāṇ a, light, water, etc which takes care of all the three aspects of Brahman. Therefore, Āditya Hṛ  daya Stotram should not be construed merely as a praise of sun god. The hymn in fact praises the Prakāśa form of Brahman as discussed above. In this short series, we will discuss Āditya Hṛ  daya Stotram. There are two couplets which do not form part of Śrīmad Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇ a are used as dhyāna  verses. जय  ु जय  ु स  य सलोकैकदपं   कणशमपाप लेश ःखय नाशम  ्।  (i) अणकण रयं आदं आदयम     सकल भ  ुवनवयं भाकं ं नमाम॥  (ii)  3  jayatu  jayatu sūryaṁ   saptalokaikadīpaṁ  kira ṇaśamitapāpa kleśa dḥkhasya nāśam | (i)  aru ṇ akira ṇ a gamya ṁ   ādiṁ   ādityamūrtiṁ  sakala bhuvanavandya ṁ    bhāskaraṁ  ta ṁ   namāmi || (ii)   This is a prayer to sun god. “I pray to the sun god who is capable of destroying our sins , pain, anguish, disease and distress”. Word ‘kleśa’ is used in this verse with great diligence. Patañjali in his Yoga S ūtra  (II.3) says: अवया अमा ार वेष अभनवेशा लेशः।   avidyā asmitā rāga dveṣa abhiniveśāh kleśaḥ  | Meaning: Spiritual ignorance is the major pain bearing obstacle which leads to other four afflictions such as ego, attachment, aversion and attachment to the physical body. Māyā  is the cause for avidyā . Unless one is able to shed the influence of māyā , realisation of the Self is not possible. This is the prayer to sun god to remove the effects of māyā . When māyā  is shed, kleśa  discussed above is also removed. K  ṛṣṇ a also spoke about kleśa  in Bhagavad Gītā (XVIII.8).  He says, “Anyone who gives up  prescribed duties as troublesome or out of fear of bodily discomfort ( kleśa ) can never be a true renouncer and he can never reach any elevated spiritual state .”  He says that one should meticulously follow the path of spiritual practices at any cost. The above two dhyāna  verses say the following: Let the sun shine in all the seven worlds (seven worlds were discussed in the introduction to this series). He is capable of destroying kleśa  by his sheer radiance. I pray to him to remove spiritual darkness by imparting knowledge about the Self. The verse says that he is the  beginning of the universe, which subtly conveys that the prayer is offered to Brahman, as Brahman alone exists from the beginning. This is conveyed through ādiṁ  in the verse. Āditya Hṛ dayam ो य  ुपां समे चया थम  ्।   ावणं चागो वा य  ुाय सम  ुपथम  ्॥ १   दैवैच समारय ट  ुमयारो णम  ्॥   उपारयावी ामम  ् अरयो भरवान  ् षः॥ २   ाम ाम माबाो   ुण  ु र  ुहयं सनानम  ्।   येन सवातनन  ् वस समे वजययस॥ ३    4 tato yuddhapariśrāntaṁ   samare cintayā sthitam |   rāvaṇ a ṁ   cāgrato dṛṣṭvā yuddhāya samupasthitam || (1)   daivataiśca samāgamya drṣṭumabhyāgato raṇ am || upāgamyābravīd rāmam agastyo bhagavān riṣ i ḥ  || (2) rāma rāma mahābāho śruṇ u guhya ṁ   sanātanam |   yena sarvānarīn vatsa samare vijayiṣ yasi || (3) Meaning: 1. tata ḥ  - the place where the war takes place; yuddhapariśrāntaṁ  - exhausted due to the war; samare  –   war; cintayā sthitam    –   constantly thinking (about the war); rāvaṇ a ṁ  - Rāvaṇ a; cāgrato dṛṣṭvā    –   having seen in front; yuddhāya samupasthitam    –   well disposed for the battle. 2. daivataiśca samāgamya    –   all gods coming together; dr  ṣṭumabhyāgato  ra ṇ am  –   reached the war zone to enjoy the battle; upāgamyābravīd rāmam    –   on noticing Rāma; agastyo bhagavān ri ṣ i ḥ  - the great sage Agastya. 3. rāma rāma –   O! Rāma! Rāma! mahābāho –   long armed (Lord Vi ṣṇ u is also known as Mahābāhu    because of His long arms); śruṇ u  –   listen; guhya ṁ   sanātanam –   eternal and ancient secret; y ena sarvānarīn –   with which all enemies; vatsa  –   O! Child; samare vijayi ṣ yasi  –   can  be won over in the war. Summary 1 -3: Sage Agastya had come to the battlefield along with other gods and goddesses to witness the  battle between Rāma and Rāvaṇ a. The war  between Rāma and Rāvaṇ a signifies the war  between good and evil thoughts. Rāmāyaṇ a explains how persons with evil thoughts are ultimately annihilated. Though Rāvaṇa was a great worshiper of Śiva, he was not spared for his wicked acts. This also explains that those who are embodiments of evil thoughts would be annihilated in the same birth. Bountiful evil karmas do not wait for the next birth, but manifest in the same birth. What is sown has to be reaped in a short span of time. Good thoughts manifest in the form of spiritual evolution and bad thoughts lead to mental and  physical sufferings. As this is the war between good and bad, all gods and goddess accompanied Sage Agastya to witness the battle of good vs bad. Similarly, when Vi ṣṇ u took the form of N ṛ  si ṁ ha (man-lion) and killed Hira ṇyakaśipu , all gods and goddesses were  present to witness the latter’s annihilation. Agastya called Rāma twice; the first one addressed to Rāma as the warrior, as the king and above all, God. The second one addressed to Rāma o ut of love and affection for Him treating him as a child. In Guru-disciple relationship, even today this attitude exists, though very rarely. The first Rāma in the third verse is connected to mahābāho which means mighty armed. His hands are called mighty because, He has long hands. Vi ṣṇ u sustains the universe
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