Question: What is the position of the Sun god, who is often addressed as Surya Narayana?
There is a particular category of devas known as the ‘adityas’, of which there are twelve. One of these adityas becomes the sun god for a particular period of time, and then another one will take the post after him. It is just like the position of Yama. At a particular time one person will be acting as Yamaraja, and then another person will take over that function. They are all jivas; they are not vishnu-tattva; they are not Lord Narayana, but when an aditya becomes the sun god he is empowered by Lord Narayana. This is why he is known as Surya Narayana. It is similar to the case of Vyasa Muni, who is an empowered jiva. The difference between the Vyasa category of empowerment and the Surya category of empowerment is that Vyasa does not perform administration, whereas the sun god is the administrator of the universe. By the diffusion of Surya’s energies of heat and light he manages the entire universe. Everything that functions and moves within the universe is empowered by his heat and light.
Surya is a very unique living entity in that the paramatma (Supersoul) present in his heart is a different form of the Lord than the general paramatma present in the hearts of all living entities. His paramatma is described as a two-handed effulgent personality possessing a golden mustache.
Surya is also the original teacher of the Vedas. Thus he has two functions, one in administration and one in education. He is already situated beyond liberation, and that’s why he does not have a four-handed paramatma within his heart. The four-handed paramatma leaves the living entity when the jiva is situated constitutionally. That is the point of liberation: muktir hitvanyatha rupam sva-rupena vyavasthitih.
Question: How can there only be one sun in the universe?
Every object in creation has light in it due to the presence of the fire element of the pancha-bhutas. If there is fire there is also light. Thus every object emits light to some degree. An object that does not emit light cannot be seen. The moon and other heavenly bodies also emit light by borrowing from the sun. All the planets and stars are effulgent, but they aren’t as effulgent as the sun, and their rays of light are not administrative rays, they are only influencing rays. The vedic conception does not accept many suns within one universe. There are innumerable universes, each universe possessing fourteen planetary systems which are illuminated by one sun.
There are other fiery heavenly bodies, just as the sun is primarily a firey planet. Some move in circular orbits and others move back and forth like the Dhumaketu. Though there are many fiery planets, their fire does not function as the stimulator of every other object within the universe. It is something like the traffic department’s police vehicle and the vehicles of other’s driving in the street. The police drive on the roads to make sure that the traffic is alright, the roads are safe, etc. The other cars are only traveling for their own function; they are not doing anything for the road. Like this, the sun’s functioning is administrating the universe. The sun’s fire provides the energy for every object to move and expand. In addition to this the sun’s control goes all the way down to the working of the elements, their movements and interaction. This is why there is a conception of the sun being the controller of everything, God. Other firey planets have fire and are hot, but they are not controlling the elements nor administrating the universal diffusion of energy for action. Thus they are not considered as ‘suns’.
The Bhagavatam states:
yan-madhya-gato bhagavams tapatam patis tapana
atapena tri-lokim pratapaty avabhashayaty atma-bhasha
“In the midst of that region of outer space is the most opulent sun, the king of all the heavenly bodies that emanate heat. By the influence of its radiation, the sun heats the universe, maintains its proper order and gives light to help all living entities see.”
The words tapatam patih indicate that the sun is the supreme among those heavenly bodies that produce heat. Thus it is accepted in the Vedic texts that there are other firey planets, but they cannot compare to the Sun for the above mentioned reasons.
Question: What is the Aditya Hridayam?
The Aditya Hridayam is a prayer to the sun god for getting victory in the war. It is also chanted for getting rid of sickness and becoming free from loans.
Question: What is the Surya Purana?
The Surya Purana is a late compilation taking verses from other more ancient puranas. Any text that speaks about the sun in the Puranas has been taken and joined to make this Surya Purana. In India this text is usually prominent where ever there is a sun temple. For example there is a Suryanar Koil in Tamil Nadu, and in Orissa there is the Konarak temple. In such places the Surya Purana is prominent. The most authorized texts concerning the sun are the Tejo-bindu Upanishad and the Surya Upanishad.
Question: Why does Krishna say, “Among stars I am the moon.” The moon is certainly not a star.
Krishna states, “nakshatranam aham sashi”. A common translation for nakshatra is “star”, which is fine in a general sense. But we should not take the technical scientific definition of “star” and think that nakshatra refers to it. In the Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary, “star” is defined as:
“Any of the small points of light, including planets and meteors, that are seen in the sky at night.”
This is the meaning that we should keep in mind when Lord Krishna says, “Among stars I am the moon.” In the night sky, nothing is brighter and more effulgent than the moon. Thus that aspect of supremacy represents Lord Krishna.
Question: In chapter fifteen of the Gita Sri Krishna says “I am the moon which nourishes all the vegetables”. This seems to be opposite to scientific evidence.
The light of the moon does have impact on vegetation, but this is not a science that has been researched sufficiently by western scientists. In Ayurveda certain plants must be grown and picked by moon light for them to be effective in curing disease. This can be tested scientifically. The modern Ayurvedic producers do not follow this method, and as a result their medicines are hardly 100th as effective as the medicines produced by the traditional method. The tradditional method also requires certain bija-mantras to be chanted into the medicine for several lakhs of counts, and finally there must be worship of Dhanvantari (the incarnation of Vishnu who established Ayurveda). All of these procedures create a subtle effect on the medicine which can be visibly see by the effect and even by taste. It is unfortunate that hardly any Ayurvedic doctors follow these scriptural rules when producing medicine, and as a result the Ayurvedic science is almost lost.