The Sun occupies the central position in the Solar System. He occupies the central position in the Navagraha System too. Even as he is rising, the demonic forces conjure to attack him and so the ‘Dwijas’ chant the Gayatri mantra and offer ‘Arghya’ (अर्घ्य) by which the demonic forces are contained and the Solar System is cleansed and also even before chanting the Gayatri, coming in the presence of the sun (सू्यउपस्थान)is ordained, therefore there is a connection between Gayatri Upaasana and Surya Upaasana . Based on this, some have documented to the extent that Gayatri Upaasana is Surya Upaasana only.
In this world made of ‘Pancha Bhootas’ viz. Sky , Air,Fire , Water & Earth,the presiding deities that are Vishnu , Surya , Shakti , GaNapathy & Ishwara and for whom the method of worship that is created is called the ‘Panchaayatana Pooja’ . In this, the Personal Deity (इष्टदेवता)is worshipped in the centre and the others are considered as the retinue of deities (परिवािदेवता) and worshipped. Those who worship keeping the Sun at the centre as their personal deity are called the ‘Saura’ (सौि).
A proverb goes that Health must be obtained from the Sun, Opulence from Agni, Knowledge from Ishwara and liberation (मोक्ष)from Vishnu . There are some who aver that Health and Opulence can both be obtained from the sun. The Vedas say that one can obtain sovereignty by worshipping the Sun reciting the eight lettered Mantra of the sun.
As in India, in the ancient Greece and Mexico, the worship of Sun has been prevalent. In many places in the Vedas, there are sentences that expound the greatness of the Sun. In the periods of Ramayana and the Mahabharatha, the Sun had been worshipped predominantly. During the times of Kushan Kanishka the Sun Worship was somewhat prevalent. In the times of the Guptas, the Sun worship had spread and was more prevalent. The poet ‘Bana’ describes that Harsha’s father was a Great devotee of the Sun and never failed to recite the ‘Aditya Hrudaya’ daily. In places such as Mathura, Kashmir, Konark & Ujjain the devotees of Sun were present in abundance. For incurable ailments like paralysis, leprosy, eye diseases etc. Worship of Sun has been considered very important. From the writings of the ‘Mayura Kavi’ in ‘Surya Satakam’ and ‘Bhaskara Raya’s ‘TrichaBhaskaram’ to obtain freedom from ailments, worship of the Sun was pre-eminent is well understood. As per ‘Yoga Shastra’ by meditating upon the Sun one begets knowledge about the entire world. The fact that the Jains & Buddhists who are a part of Hindus were engaged in the worship of Sun could be found through the inscriptions on the Stupas in Gaya and the sculptures in Ellora. Many also perform Surya Namaskara and benefit thereby.
The word ‘Surya’ has been coined in the sense of the one who always traverses across the skies. This term also means ‘Creation’ as well as ‘Theone who spurs everything to action’.The Sun God is a visible deity. He is subtly considered as Parabrahmam only. The Sun is the soul of all that is movable and immovable. The Sun alone Creates, Sustains and Destroys all beings. Bhanuhu (भानु:), Hamsaha (हंस:), Sahasramshu (सहस्राम्शु), Tapanaha (तपन:), Saveetha (सवीता), Ravi (िवव)are all many of the names of Surya. In the Solar System the deity that represents the Sun is ‘Saveeta’. He is consciousness (चित्स्वरूप्)alone. The Vedas requests everyone to worship the Purusha, who is present in the Sun as the ‘Self’ (आत्मा) itself. The chariot of Sun which is of the nature of time (काल)is strange. It keeps on moving, traversing. The only one wheel it runs on is called ‘Samvatsaram’ (संवत्सिम्).The chariot is pulled by seven horses which create the day and night . These seven horses are the seven days of the week. In fact there is only one horse, but it has seven names and hence we refer to them as seven horses. The centre of the wheelrepresents the three periods of Past, Present and Future. This chariot is indestructible. The whole universe is sustained with the help of this Purusha who is ‘Kaala roopa’ (कालरूप). He pervades all the three worlds with his light and hence this ‘Adithya’ is called ‘Purusha’. The knower BrahmaJnaani (ब्रम्हज्ञानी)meditates upon this rising and setting ‘Adithya’ and attains to all auspiciousness. The ‘Surya Sukta’ in the ‘Rig Veda’ expounds the prominence of the Sun in great detail.
Though only six of the names of the Aditya viz. Mitra , Aryama , Bhaga , varuNa , Daksha , Amsa have been mentioned initially, in the ninth Canto of the Rig Veda, there is mention of seven and in the ‘ShatapathaBrahmana’, there are twelve of them. In Mahabharatha (Adi parva 121) twelve Adityas viz. Daata,Aryama , Mitra , Varuna , Amsa , Bhaga , Indra , Vivaswan , Poosha , Twashta , Savita & Vishnu have been described. Starting the first month (Chaitra), these Adityas are to be meditated upon in turn and worshipped. As per the descriptions of the Puranas, Surya was born to the celestial mother Aditi and Rishi Kashyapa and hence is called ‘Aditya’ . The twelve Suns in the twelve months are referred to as ‘Aditya’s only.
Those desirous of worshipping Surya must worship him thrice a day. Worshipping Surya is akin to worshipping Paramatma only. In the Vedic Suktas , Puranas & the Tantra Agamas the method to worship the Sun have been adequately explained. As mentioned in texts such as Prapancha saaram , Sharada Tilakam , Devi Rahasyam the method of worship must be arranged and performed meticulously. Bhaskara Raya’s ‘Tricha Bhaskaram’ is a great method of Sun worship. The Moola Mantra and the Gayatri of Surya must be gotten initiated and in the Surya Yantra, Peeta Shaktis such as Deepta , Sukshma , Jaya , Bhadra , Vibhuti , Vimala , Amogha , Vidyuta & Sarvatomukhee are to be worshipped along with the Avarana devatas and Nithya Pooja must be done. In the Surya Avarana, because the