Texts and history
means Sun in Indic literature. Above: Sunrise in
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.
 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.
The Vedas assert Sun (Surya) to be the creator of the material universe (
 In the layers of
Vedic texts, Surya is one of the several trinities along with
Agni and either
Indra, which are presented as an equivalent icon and aspect of the Hindu metaphysical concept called the
Brahmanas layer of Vedic literature, Surya appears with
Agni (fire god) in the same hymns.
 Surya is revered for the day, while Agni for its role during the night.
 The idea evolves, states Kapila Vatsyayan, where Surya is stated to be Agni as the first principle and the seed of the universe.
 It is in the Brahmanas layer of the Vedas,
 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
Kaushitaki Upanishad and others.
Ramayana, Surya is described as father of the King
Sugriva, who helped
Lakshmana in defeating the demon king
Ravana. He also trains
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.
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
Yogis, and symbolism for freedom and spiritual emancipation.
Karna is the son of Surya and unmarried princess
 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.
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.
 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.
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
Sol deity in the Greek-Roman culture.
 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.