The Sun
God of Light and Day, wisdom
Shri Surya Bhagvan bazaar art, c.1940's.jpg
Shri Surya Bhagvan, bazaar art, c.1940's
Affiliation Graha, Deva, Navagraha
Abode Sun
Day Sunday
Mount Chariot drawn by seven white horses
Charioteer: Aruna [1]
Personal Information
Consort Saranyu (Sanjana), Chhaya, Sanghya and Prabha [2]
Children Shani, Yama, Yami ( Yamuna), and Manu, The Ashvins, karna, Sugriva, bhadra
Greek equivalent Helios

Surya ( ə/ [3], Sanskrit: सूर्य, IAST: ‘'Sūrya’') means the Sun in Nepal and India. [2] Synonyms of Surya in ancient Indian literature include Aditya, Arka, Bhanu, Savitr, Pushan, Ravi, Martanda, Mitra and Vivasvan. [4] [5] [6]

Surya also connotes the solar deity in Hinduism, [7] particularly in the Saura tradition found in states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha. He is one of the five deities considered as equivalent aspects and means to realizing Brahman in the Smarta Tradition. [8] His iconography is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by horses, often seven in number [1] which represent the seven colour rays of the rainbow. [2] [9] In medieval Hinduism, Surya is also an epithet for the major Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. [7] [10] In some ancient texts and arts, Surya is presented syncretically with Indra, Ganesha or others. [4] [9] Surya as a deity is also found in the arts and literature of Buddhism and Jainism. [11] [12]

Surya is one of the nine heavenly houses ( Navagraha) in the zodiac system of Hindu astrology. Surya or Ravi is the basis of Ravivara, or Sunday, in the Hindu calendar. [13] Major festivals and pilgrimages in reverence of Surya include Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Ratha Sapthami and Kumbh Mela. [14] [15] [16]

Texts and history


Surya means Sun in Indic literature. Above: Sunrise in Uttarakhand, India

The oldest surviving Vedic hymns, such as the hymn 1.115 of the Rigveda, mention Sūrya with particular reverence for the "rising sun” and its symbolism as dispeller of darkness, one who empowers knowledge, the good and all life. [2] [17] However, the usage is context specific. In some hymns, the word Surya simply means sun as an inanimate object, a stone or a gem in the sky (Rigvedic hymns 5.47, 6.51 and 7.63); while in others it refers to a personified deity. [2] [18]

Surya sculpture

The Vedas assert Sun (Surya) to be the creator of the material universe ( Prakriti). [19] In the layers of Vedic texts, Surya is one of the several trinities along with Agni and either Vayu or Indra, which are presented as an equivalent icon and aspect of the Hindu metaphysical concept called the Brahman. [20]

In the Brahmanas layer of Vedic literature, Surya appears with Agni (fire god) in the same hymns. [21] Surya is revered for the day, while Agni for its role during the night. [21] The idea evolves, states Kapila Vatsyayan, where Surya is stated to be Agni as the first principle and the seed of the universe. [22] It is in the Brahmanas layer of the Vedas, [23] [24] and the Upanishads that Surya is explicitly linked to the power of sight, to visual perception and knowledge. He is then interiorized to be the eye as ancient Hindu sages suggested abandonment of external rituals to gods in favor of internal reflections and meditation of gods within, in one's journey to realize the Atman (soul, self) within, in texts such as the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad, Kaushitaki Upanishad and others. [25] [26] [27]


In the Ramayana, Surya is described as father of the King Sugriva, who helped Rama and Lakshmana in defeating the demon king Ravana. He also trains Hanuman. The Suryavanshi dynasty of kings, Rama being one of them, also claims descent from Surya. Eastern kingdom of mahabharta and ramayana are called to be of Surya's potential.[ citation needed]

The Mahabharata epic opens its chapter on Surya that reverentially calls him as the "eye of the universe, soul of all existence, origin of all life, goal of the Samkhyas and Yogis, and symbolism for freedom and spiritual emancipation. [2]

In the Mahabharata, Karna is the son of Surya and unmarried princess Kunti. [2] The epic describes Kunti's trauma as an unmarried mother, then abandonment of Karna, followed by her lifelong grief. Baby Karna is found, adopted and grows up to become one of the central characters in the great battle of Kurukshetra where he fights his half brothers. [28]


Left: Surya on a quadriga, Bodh Gaya relief. Right: Classical example of Phoebus Apollo on quadriga.

Surya is celebrated as a deity in Buddhist artwork, such as the ancient works attributed to Ashoka. For example, Surya appears in Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, riding in a chariot pulled by four horses. [11] Such artwork suggests that the Surya as symbolism for the victory of good over evil is a concept that may have developed independently in ancient Indian subcontinent in parallel to ideas that may have been exchanged between India and Persia. [11]

Greek and Persian influences

Sun is a common deity in ancient and medieval cultures found in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The features and mythologies of Surya share resemblances with Hvare-khshaeta of pre-Islam Persia, and the Helios- Sol deity in the Greek-Roman culture. [17] [29] [30] The influences of Greece and Kushan Empire mythologies and iconography are traceable in artwork of Surya in India dated from 4th century BCE through 1st millennium CE. [31]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Surya
العربية: سوريا (إله)
беларуская: Сур'я
bosanski: Surja
català: Súrya
Deutsch: Surya
español: Suria (dios)
français: Sūrya
galego: Suria (deus)
ગુજરાતી: સૂર્ય (દેવ)
한국어: 수리야
Bahasa Indonesia: Surya (dewa)
italiano: Sūrya
Basa Jawa: Bathara Surya
ქართული: სურია
latviešu: Sūrja
lietuvių: Sūrja
magyar: Szúrja
മലയാളം: സൂര്യദേവൻ
მარგალური: სურია
Nederlands: Surya
日本語: スーリヤ
norsk: Surya
norsk nynorsk: Surya
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਸੂਰਜ (ਦੇਵਤਾ)
پنجابی: سوریا
polski: Surja
português: Surya
русский: Сурья
Simple English: Surya
slovenčina: Súrja
slovenščina: Surja
suomi: Surya
svenska: Surya
Türkçe: Surya
українська: Сур'я
اردو: سوریا
中文: 蘇利耶