A Hymn to Lord Surya

In Honor of Makara Sankranti

This excerpt from sage Valmiki’s Ramayana, an ancient epic poem written in the Sanskrit language, extols Lord Surya—also known as Ravi or Aditya—the god of the sun, as the vivifying force behind creation.

The verses appear in a climactic episode of the epic’s sixth book, Yuddha Kandha, “The Battle Book.” Lord Rama, the embodiment of dharma, is about to launch his fight against the demon king Ravana, who represents ignorance. Seeing this, the sage Agastya approaches the hero with words of encouragement in the form of a prayer to Lord Surya: the Adityahridayam.

As soon as Lord Rama invokes Surya Devata, the Divine in the form of the sun, he finally finds within himself the strength and confidence to defeat Ravana. Lord Rama’s victory signals the definitive triumph of inner knowledge over ignorance.

These verses from the Adityahridayam remind us that each new beginning is a propitious time to honor Surya Devata. The sun is a symbol of the light of Consciousness, which has inexhaustible nourishing power and is both an abiding and an ever-new source of wisdom.