Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Hindu roots of yoga: Surya Namaskar

Generally Hindu worship, particularly to these unfamiliar, can appear obscure, stuffed with gods and goddesses of fantastical talents, whose extraordinary deeds take the middle of complicated tales.

The apply of such worship, nonetheless, whereas seemingly advanced on the floor, actually has a lot of its roots in one thing moderately primary — one thing individuals of all backgrounds can connect with on some degree, whether or not they think about themselves Hindu or not.

In keeping with custom, Hinduism’s earliest sages, who lived easy lives on the earth’s mountains and forests, had a deep sense of appreciation for Earth’s pure items, with out which none of us may survive. Full of gratitude, a gratitude that demanded a type of expression, they turned specialists in devotional ceremonies, utilizing numerous bodily and psychological strategies to convey their honest emotions.

Perceiving Divinity’s presence in all of creation, they worshiped all of nature’s features as extra than simply matter. They revered them as private deities. The River Ganga turned generally known as a goddess of the identical title, the Earth as Bhumi, the wind as Vayu, the ocean as Varuna, and fireplace as Agni.

The solar, particularly honored for its position within the sustainment of all life, was worshiped utilizing totally different names, relying on the qualities one wished to understand. Although there have been many, the most typical advanced right into a set of 12 mantric sounds, used as a part of a ritual referred to as Surya Narayana Puja. They’re:

  • Mitra (“good friend of all”)
  • Ravaye (“one who’s praised by all”)
  • Surya (“information of all”)
  • Bhanave (“bestower of magnificence”)
  • Khagaye (“stimulator of the senses”)
  • Pushne (“nourisher of life”)
  • Hiranyagarbhaya (“promoter of virility”)
  • Marichaye (“destroyer of illness”)
  • Aditya (“inspirator of affection”)
  • Savitre (“begetter of life”)
  • Arkaya (“inspirator of awe”)
  • Bhaskara (“effulgent one”)

Carried out at daybreak whereas going through the solar and providing water within the deity’s honor, the apply requires the solar to supply the power, the Aristocracy, and dignity one wants to beat life’s obstacles. Recognizing not solely the religious advantages of the ritual, but in addition the bodily ones, because the early morning rays certainly proved to have a nourishing impact on the physique, the yogis of the time started experimenting with the core ideas of the Surya Narayana Puja, creating a apply that finally got here to be generally known as Surya Namaskar.

Recognized famously as “Solar Salutations,” Surya Namaskar is now probably the most globally acknowledged yoga practices. There are a selection of variations, however the basic sequence flows via a sequence of 12 postures as follows:

  • Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
  • Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Ahead Fold)
  • Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Low Lunge)
  • Chaturanga Dandasana (Plank Pose)
  • Ashtanga Namaskar (Eight-limbed Salute)
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Canine Pose)
  • Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Low Lunge)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Ahead Fold)
  • Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
  • Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Partaking the thoughts, physique, and spirit in a self-discipline that provides one’s whole being in gratitude to the solar, Surya Namaskar, on a elementary degree, is just about connecting us to our pure roots, so we will be taught to stay in concord with the world round us. Surya’s worship, together with a lot of Hinduism’s different gods and goddesses — regardless of centering on tales involving astonishing feats — is thus really moderately straightforward to grasp, particularly with reference to those that expressed honest devotion to him.

To get a greater thought, listed here are a number of fast examples.


Of the numerous situations conveying Surya’s reciprocation with a devotee, The Ramayana, a Hindu epic that tells the story of a noble prince named Rama, particulars a second that stands out as notably notable.

The oldest of his father’s sons, Rama was meant to inherit the throne, however was as an alternative exiled to the forest for 14 years by his jealous step-mother who needed her personal son to change into emperor as an alternative.

In the future whereas Rama was dwelling within the forest together with his spouse, Sita, and his youthful brother Lakshman, each of whom had adopted him into exile, a robust demon named Ravana, overcome by Sita’s magnificence, kidnapped her whereas the brothers have been distracted. Realizing what had occurred, the brothers tracked Sita to Ravana’s kingdom, the place Rama engaged the demon in what became a protracted and arduous battle.

Observing the wrestle from the heavens, a sage named Agastya, who observed Rama’s exhaustion and needed to assist, descended to the prince throughout a break within the battle, and taught him a prayer generally known as Aditya Hridayam, which had the flexibility to invoke the solar’s energy. Following the sage’s directions, Rama, who is claimed to have come from a protracted line of kings descending from Surya himself, swiftly turned towards the solar with a pure affection, and commenced reciting the hymn.

Instantly experiencing a change in his thoughts and physique, which turned infused with Surya’s religious vitality, Rama felt unbelievable power and happiness. His fatigue gone, he thus took up his bow with renewed enthusiasm, and went on to slay Ravana.


In The Mahabharata, Hinduism’s different nice epic, one can discover the narration of one other determine who displayed distinctive devotion to the solar deity, a warrior named Karna, born beneath astounding circumstances to a princess named Kunti.

As described within the textual content, Karna was conceived throughout Kunti’s teenage years, shortly after she was granted a boon by a sage named Durvasa, which enabled her to summon any celestial being she desired to see. Wanting to check the boon, she referred to as upon Surya who, to her amazement, had certainly appeared in entrance of her. To her horror, nonetheless, she additionally discovered the boon required whoever she summoned to provide her a baby. And so Surya left Kunti with a outstanding child boy, who got here into the world donning a pure golden armor and pair of earrings.

Fearful of the possibly dire social penalties that would stumble upon an single teenage mom, she put the child in a basket and despatched him floating down the river, hoping for the very best. Because it occurred, the river carried him to a kingdom referred to as Anga, the place he was found by a pair who lovingly adopted and raised him as their very own.

Unaware of his true origin, Karna grew into considered one of Earth’s mightiest warriors, becoming a member of the ranks of a king named Duryodhana, who mockingly was the enemy of the 5 different sons (collectively generally known as the Pandavas) Kunti had later after she was married. When the battle between the 2 events was on the verge of struggle, Indra, the king of heaven who favored the Pandavas, knew Karna can be particularly arduous for them to defeat, because the celestial armor and earrings he was born with supplied him supernatural safety. Hatching a plan, Indra determined he would disguise himself as a beggar and ask Karna to surrender his armor and earrings in charity. If he approached him proper after the warrior completed his morning solar prayers, certainly he would agree, as Karna had famously promised to grant something requested of him throughout that auspicious time of the day.

Surya, who needed to guard his son after studying of Indra’s intention, spoke to Karna in a dream, and warned him to not fall for the dishonorable trick. From an early age, Karna had exhibited an innate affection for the solar god, diligently worshiping the deity each day. To satisfy him, even in his sleep, was subsequently an enormous honor. However the thought of breaking his vow was one he would merely not think about. It was a promise he made to the world, and he would moderately die than expertise the infamy of going again on his phrase.

Thus giving up his divine items when the time got here, Karna went on to battle the Pandavas in a extra weak state, finally dying in fight. But, to say he was a failure can be a grave offense to his life and story. Believed to have united together with his father after demise, his title turned considered one of legend, revered by all for his love, power, and integrity of character.


Earlier than the battle between The Mahabharata’s two sides became struggle, Duryodhana, hoping to weaken the Pandavas’ highly effective affect, had them exiled from society for 12 years, forcing them to stay within the forest. Extensively beloved as a consequence of their virtuous characters, nonetheless, many ascetics selected to observe them into exile, and supply them religious steerage and nourishment all through their banishment.

Although Yudisthira, who was the oldest of the brothers, was delighted at having the ascetics’ firm and counsel throughout what was a difficult time, he additionally couldn’t assist however really feel anxious. As a rich king in his metropolis, he was all the time in a position to present for his topics. However within the forest he was materially poor, unable to take care of those that would have usually trusted him. How, he subsequently questioned, may he maintain them comfortably fed?

Reflecting on Yudisthira’s anxiousness, a sage named Dhaumya recommended he make an attraction to Surya, by whose efficiency all the Earth’s meals was produced. Therefore heeding the sage’s recommendation, Yudisthira turned in the direction of the solar, and spent the following three days providing quite a few prayers to the deity, abstaining from meals, water, and sleep all of the whereas. Moved by the king’s decided sincerity, on the third day Surya appeared in entrance of the Pandava, and gave to him a big copper plate generally known as the Akshaya Patra, which had the flexibility to supply an inexhaustible provide of meals, thereby fixing Yudisthira’s predicament.

Named after this very plate, at present’s largest NGO faculty meal program is known as the Akshaya Patra Basis. Offering sizzling, nutritious lunches to over 2 million youngsters in 22,000 colleges day-after-day, the service it gives is a tribute to Surya himself, the vitality from whom all of us rely upon, and may accordingly present immense gratitude in the direction of.

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