Surya Deva – Vedic Origin, Physical Birth, Wedding and Progeny

SuryaMarkandeya told the Brahmana Kroushti as folows: As Lord Brahma desired to intiate the task of Creation, he created Daksha from his right thumb and Aditi from his left thumb and their children were Kashyapa and Martanda Deva. The latter is of Brahma Swarupa; the Provider of boons to the entire Universe; is present at ‘Adi-Madhya-Antha’ (the Beginning, Middle and End) of ‘Srishthi- Sthiti and Pralaya’ (Creation-Preservation and Termination); ‘Sarva Bhuta Swarupa’ (The Form of all Beings), ‘Sarvatma’ (The Soul of the Entirety) and ‘Sanatana Paramatma’ (The Most Ancient and Greatest Soul). He has many names like Vispashta, Parama, Vidya, Jyoti, Shaswati, Prakashita, Deepti, Kaivalya, Gyan, Aavirbhava, Praakaamya, Samvita, Bodha, Avitgati, Smriti and Vigyan. Herebefore Creation, when there was utter darkness, an endless Egg was materialised, in the midst of which, Pitamaha Brahma was present atop a lotus stem. As he broke open the Egg in the middle and from his mouth emerged the ‘Maha Shabda’ (The Enormous Sound) ‘AUM’. This Sound was followed by the the Foremost Sound ‘BHU’; then came BHUVAH, followed by SVAHA; the Sum of these Three Echos formed Surya. The Maha Shabda AUM consituted the ‘Sukshma Rupa’ or the Tiniest Form Surya Deva; this was tagged along the ‘Sthula Rupas’ or the Gross Forms viz. MAHAH, JANAH, TAPAH, and SATYA

(Omityasmatswarupatu Sukshma Rupam Raveh Param/
Tatho Mahariti sthulam janam sthulataram tathah,
tathasthapasthtah satyamiti murtaani saptadha/
Sthitaani tasya rupaani bhavanti na bhavanti cha,
Swabhaava bhaavayorbhaavam yato gacchanti samsayam/
Aadyantam tatparam suhkshmam rupam param sthitam,
Omithuktam maya Vipra! Tatpara Brahma tadyupuh/)

Markandeya continued to explain to Brahmana Kroshti that when the Sacred Egg was burst and Brahma emerged, his principal head released Rig Veda; from his eastern head came out Yajur Veda; from the western head came out Sama Veda and from the mouth of the northern head materialized Atharva Veda. Rig Veda was of Rajo Guna, Yajur Veda of Satvika Guna, Sama Veda of Tamasika Guna and Atharva Veda of a blend of Satvika and Tamo Gunas. The splendour of Rig Veda gave a powerful sound ‘AUM’; the first segment was encircled by a second circle of Yajur Veda giving out a reverberation of AUM, the third circle of radiance being of Sama Veda furnished the resonance of AUM again and the final segment too echoed the sound of AUM; thus AUM was the common feature of all the Vedas. The Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas are of the nature of ‘Shanti’ (Peace), ‘Pushti’ (Well being) and ‘Abhicharika’ (Negative) respectively while Atharva Veda is an ‘Antargita’ (enclosed) entity. Since the entire Universe was engulfed in darkness and just emerged clean, it had instantly become lit up on its upper, lower and side ways, following the radiance of Vedas and had thus assumed an identity and definiteness; the initial signs of illumination of ‘Adyagni’(the foremost blaze) came into being then! The threeVedas of Rig, Yajur and Sama attained prominence at the mornings, noons and evenings respectively. Before the ‘Purvahna’ (pre-noon), Rig Veda based ‘Shanti Karmas’ of positive nature are performed; at ‘Madhyahna’ (noon), Yajur based Pushti Karyas (growth oriented tasks) are performed; at ‘Aparahna’ (afternoon) are executed Sama Veda Karyas of Pitras; while at ‘Sayamahna’ or even later only negative or maledictory nature are done based essentially on Atharva Veda. It is stated that Srishti Kaala is of Brahma Swarupa signifying Rig Veda or of Satvika character, Sthiti Kaala is of Vishnu meant for Yajur Veda highlighting Rajasika Guna and Samhaara Kaala is of Rudra Deva based on Sama Veda representing Tamasika Guna; thus Aparahna Kaala is of ‘Asuchi’ (impurity). These timings are hence of Vedatma, Veda Samsthita and Veda Vidyatmika respectively of Purvahna, Madhyahna/ Aparahna and Sayahna.

Since radiance and radiation constitute the essential ingredients of Srishti (Creation), besides of course water, the primary hold of existence of all Beings- Lord Brahma before initiating ‘Srishti’ formally acknowledged the primacy of Surya Deva and eulogised him to say that Sun God was the ‘Atma Swarupa’ or the Soul Form of the Universe as also the ‘Vishva Rupa’ and ‘Vishva Murthi’ (the Form and Profile of the Universe), and the Unique Embodiment of Luminosity and Heat which were the sine-qua-non of Existence. Brahma also said that Surya Deva was the nucleus of Vedas, and the featureless ‘Para Brahma’ Swarupa possessing all powers of Creation, Preservation and Annihilation; that he had the Omnipotence which facilitated the existence of ‘Pancha Bhutas’ or the Five Elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Sky; that he was the Omni-Present Saviour of the Worlds. Having said thus Lord Brahma initiated the process of Creation. As happened at the erstwhile Kalpanta, Brahma created Devas, Asuras, human beings, animals, trees, and the rest of flora and fauna. Kashyapa and Aditi were responsible to produce Devas while the former and Diti created Daityas. Among Kashyapa’s other wives Daan produced Danavas, Vinati gave birth to Garuda and Aruna; Khasa produced Yakshas and Rakshasas; Kadruma gave birth to ‘Nagas’ (reptiles); Muni produced Gandharvas; Krodha produced Kulyaganas; Riskta gave birth to Apsaraas; Ira created Iravata and all other Elephants; Tamna created Shyeni and such other Kanyas; Ukka produced Shyana, khechara ganas including parrots and Pratha produced the rest of the birds.

As Devas on the one hand and Danavas, Rakshasas and Daityas on the other confronted each other, Aditi extolled Surya Deva and prayed for victory to Devas in their battles:

Namastubhyam Paraam Sukshmam Souvarnim vibratey tanum,
Dhaamdhaama vataamesha dhaamnaadhara Sahvata!

(You are the smart archer of golden arrows; the profile of luminosity and the Holder of radiance, my greetings to you!). Aditi eulogised him further to say that he would assume a mercilessly blistering form to absorb water for eight long months and facilitate timely rains as Maha Megha Murti or the Grand Form of Clouds and save the World from famines and droughts; that he saved the World from diseases and untimely deaths by making available ‘Aushadhis’ from Nature; that he was entirely responsible for the lives of human beings by nurturing crops, foodgrains, fruits, vegetables and flowers; that he was enabling Yagna Karyas, Tarpanas, and other holy tasks and satisfy Devas and Pitru ganas; that he was the Omkara Rupa determined to save Dharma (Virtue) and nullify Evil and preserve and promote Peace and Prosperity. Aditi further praised Surya Deva saying:

Twam Brahma Harirajasanjnita stwamindro Vitteshaha pitrupatiratpatih Sameeraha Somognirgaganapatihir maheedharobhihi kim stavya tava sakalaatmarupadhaamnih

(You are Brahma, Vishnu, Maha Deva, Indra, Kubera, Pitru Pati Yama, Ambupati Varuna, Sameera Vayu, Soma, Agni, Gagana, Mahidhara, Samudra, Teja and Sakalatma Rupa! How much could I extol you! Please save my children Devas and vindicate justice and virtue!). As Aditi prayed to Surya Deva, the latter appeared before her and bestowed the boon to her that he would be born to her, destroy the enemies and make Devas happy. So saying, the ‘Soushumna Kiran’ or the Sun Ray called Soushumna of ‘Sahasraamshu’or the Thousand Rayed Surya Deva entered Aditi’s garbha (womb). Devi Aditi performed ‘Chandrayana and such other ‘Vratas’ and drastically reduced her food intake. Her husband Kashyapa Muni was highly annoyed at her heavy penances and questioned: Kim maarayasi garbhaanda miti Nityopa- vasini! (Why are you destroying the conception with your heavy penances?). Aditi replied: Sa cha tam praaha garbhaanda metat pashyati Kopana! Na maaranti vipakshaanaam mrutavey tadbhavishyati (Hey Angry man! This garbhaanda which you see is not being destroyed by me; this shall destroy the enemies!) However, Aditi felt insulted by the remarks of Kashyapa and tried to remove the conception, but Kashyapa Muni revived the same with appropriate ‘Mantras’ and the kind Ravi Deva came out of her abdomen even as a loud ‘Asharira Vani’ or a Celestial Voice was heard addressing Kashyapa Muni to say:

Maaranti the yatah proktametadanda twaya Muney,
tasmaan Muney stutasteyam Maartaandakhyo bhavishyati/
Suryadhi kaaramcha vibhur jagatesha karishyati,
Hamishyatya suraanaamschaayam yagna bhaagaharaanareen

(Hey Muni! You said that the ‘Anda’ (Egg) would be destroyed (Maarit)! That is why your son would be called Martanda. This ‘Vibhu’ would replace Surya Deva and destroy the ‘Yagna bhaaga haari’ or the thieves of ‘Yagna Phala’ (the fruits of Yagnas), viz. Asuras! On hearing the Celestial Announcement, Devas became extremely delighted but Daanavas realised that their end would arrive soon. As prophesied, Devas headed by Indra challenged Danavas, Daityas and Rakshasaas and Martanda Deva’s blaze and illumination burnt the latter into ashes and Devas regained their lost glory once again.

Prajapati Viswakarma’s daughter Sanjna was married to Vivaswan or Surya Deva. Their elder son was Vaivasvata (the present Manu) followed by Yama and daughter Yami.But Sanjna was unable to withstand the vision of Martanda and hence materialised Chhaya Devi who promised to replace Sanjna as long as Surya Deva would not touch her hairs and would not curse her with a ‘Shaap’ on learning the truth that she was a surrogate! Sanjna shifted to the abode of her father Viswakarma, who in course of time nagged his daughter to get back to her husband; as the father’s pressure became intense, she left her father’s residence too and became a mare to perform ‘Tapas’ in a forest. Chhaya Devi who proxied for Sanjna gave birth to Saavarni who too was destined to become a future Manu and Shaneswara, besides a daughter called Tapati who married a King called Samvaran eventually. Yama was annoyed at her mother’s partial treatment to some children at the cost of others and in the course of a heated argument, he raised his ankle. The angry mother Chhaya said that after all she was the wife of a glorious Deity and certaily deserved respect to her and since he did not do so, the flesh of his ankle would fall off! Dharmatma Yama was taken aback by this curse and in righteous agitation approached Surya Deva in great despair along with his brother Vivasvata. He told the father that indeed he behaved rashly with her mother for which he readily sought her forgiveness and that he would never repeat the mistake again; however, the curse given was unduly disproportionate to his relatively minor act of indiscretion that no mother would award. Even if a son did a mistake, a mother would ignore or chide the son, but in this case the curse given smacked of vengence. Surya Deva too wondered that a person of Yama’s virtue and truthfulness was indeed badly hurt and asked Sanjna about her version. Chhaya Sanjna got afraid when she was confronted and made a clean confession that she was a replacement to the original Sanjna who went to her father’s abode as she was unable to bear the excessive heat and dazzle of Surya Deva. On enquiry, Viswakarma too suggested the Sanjna should return to her husband and thought that she did so. From his Inner Vision, Surya Deva realised that Sanjna got converted as a mare and was performing Tapasya at Shaka Dwipa eversince. Surya Deva felt remorseful of what all happened. He sought Brahma’s approval to reduce the severity of his heat and radiance gradually and Brahma instructed Viswakarma to take actions as follows: Original Surya Deva be kept as a reserve in the Surya Mandala (Solar Orbit) by one-sixteenth; of the rest, one-fifteenth part was utilised to materialise Vishnu Bhagavan’s Sudarshana Chakra, Shiva’s Trishula, Kubera’s Palki (Palanquin), Yama’s ‘Danda’, Kartikeya’s Shakti and various ‘Astras’ of Devas. Thus Surya Deva became less severe and manageable of his vision to Trilokas, which however was harsh enough to destroy enemies. Subsequently, Bhanu Deva assumed the form of a horse and shifted to the Place where Sanjna was performing Tapasya in the form of a mare. Sanjna mistook the horse as a stranger and sought to secure back. The mare and the horse rubbed their noses and Surya’s virility entered through the noses to the mare’s ‘garbha’ (womb); instantly two Ashwani Kumars called ‘Naasatya’ and ‘Dastra’ as the horses gave out similar sounds in their union. Out of the rest of Surya’s semen, another son called Revanta emerged as seated on a horse back carrying bow and arrows and a powerful sword. Both Surya Deva and Sanjna returned to their original forms and abodes. The eldest son Vivaswanta was declared as the Seventh Manu, Yama Dharma Raja was blessed to become ‘Lokapalak’ and also as the Chief of Pitruganas, Yamuna became a holynriver, Aswani Kumars were appointed as Physicians to Devas, Revant became the Chief of Guhyaganas, Saavarni was declared as the eighth Manu, Shaneswara became a popular ‘Graha’ (Planet) and Tapti too became a holy River.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at