Изображения страниц


This deity was the son of Kasyapa and Aditi, and from his mother is called Aditya. He is pictured of a deep golden complexion, with his head encircled by golden rays of glory. He has sometimes four, and at others two, arms; holding a lotus in one of his hands, and sometimes the chukra or wheel in another; standing or sitting on a lotus pedestal, or seated in his splendid car with one wheel, drawn by a seven-headed horse of an emerald colour, or " the seven coursers green" of the sun.

First o'er blue hills appear,
With many an agate hoof

And pasterns fringed with pearl, seven coursers green;

Nor boasts yon arched roof,

That girds the showVy sphere,

Such heav'n-spun threads of coloured light serene,

As tinge the reins which Arun* guides.

Glowing with immortal grace,

Young Arun, loveliest of Vinatian race;

Though younger hef1 whom MadhavaJ bestrides,

When high on eagle plume he rides.

But, oh! what pencil of a living star

Could paint that gorgeous car,

In which, as in an ark, supremely bright,

The lord of boundless light,

Ascending calm o'er the Empyreum sails,

And with ten thousand beams his awful beauty veils

Sir W. Jones's Hymn to Surya.

In the preface to this work I have imagined the source of all idolatry to have been the sun. Surya is the personification of that luminary, the orb of light and heat; but the omnipotent sun, the creator of all things, the god of the universe, is Brahm; typified among the first idolators by the visible

* Arun and Garuda are the sons of Kasyapa and of Vinata.
t (iaruda, the sacred bird of Vishnu. \ A name of Vishnu.

[graphic][ocr errors]

sun, and by the Hindus by their three principal deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, personifications of his attributes, creation, preservation, and destruction. But Surya, as the type also of the deity, is likewise that of his attributes. Thus, in the east, morning, he is Brahma, creation; at noon, Vishnu, preservation; in the west, evening, Siva, destruction. We shall, therefore, have little occasion for surprise at the great veneration in which this deity is held by all classes of the Hindus. Sir William Jones, in his beautiful hymn to Surya, terms him "the lord of the lotus."

"Lord of the lotus, father, friend, and king,

Surya, thy power I sing.

Thy substance Indra, with his heav'nly bands,

Nor sings, nor understands,

Not even the Vedas three to man explain

Thy mystic orb triform, though Brahma tuned the strain."

The mystic orb triform alludes to the omnipotent and incomprehensible power represented by the triple divinity of the Hindus.

The flower of the lotus is said to expand its leaves on the rising of the sun, and to close them when it sets.

The Aswinikumara, the twins of the Hindu zodiac, are called the children of Surya, from Aswini, a form of Parvati in the shape of a mare, into whose nostrils Surya breathed, and thus impregnated her with sun-beams and gave birth to the Aswini.

Surya is, by some writers, called the regent of the south-west. He presides over Adit-war, or Sunday (from Adit, the first, and War, day.)

Surya has various names. In the Gayatri he is called Savitri, as the symbol of the splendour of the supreme ruler, or the creator of the universe. The most important of these names will be noticed in the third part of this work.

Prabha, or brightness, is the consort, or sacti, of Surya. She is also Chaya, or shade, which form she assumed in consequence of not being able to endure the intensity of the splendour of her lord.

The Saurias derive their name from the radiance of their deity, "soor


bright." He is, in his mortal form, the progenitor of the two great Kettrie tribes, the Suryabans and Chandrabans, the descendants of which are termed the children of the Sun.

Although extensively worshipped by all the sects of the Hindus, no temples appear to be exclusively dedicated to Surya; but his images are set up in those of the other deities. In the temple of Viweswara, at Benares, dedicated to Mahadeo, is a splendid image of him, a model of which is in the fine museum of the East-India Company.

In the account of Hanuman is related an impudent attempt of that monkey god to snatch the beams of the rising sun to swallow for his breakfast, which dreadfully frightened Surya. On another occasion, when Lakshman was wounded in the war of Lanka, his friends were directed to pluck four leaves on a distant mountain, at night, to effect a cure. Hanuman undertook the task, and immediately leaped into the air to accomplish his object; but Ravan, having engaged Surya in his interest, caused him to rise at midnight, which so incensed Hanuman that he arrested the chariot of the sun, and having tucked the god under his arm and seized the mountain in his hand, returned to Rama's camp, where the medicinal herbs were found to have been obtained in good time to effect a cure.

Fig. 1, plate 24, is from a drawing from a compartment in the temple of Rama, at Ramnaghur. The god of day is here seen in his chariot, drawn by his seven-headed courser. His head is encircled by rays of glory; he is two-armed, and holds in his hand the sacred lotus. Before him is his charioteer and harbinger, Arun, the morn.

Fig. 2 is from a fine specimen of ancient Hindu sculpture, rich in floral ornaments, and possessing much grace and expression in the figures. In the centre is Surya standing on a lotus pedestal, and holding in each hand a richly sculptured lotus sceptre. His mughut or cap, ear-rings, dress, and ornaments, are equally rich. Before him stands, also on a pedestal, a handsomely formed female, Prabha or brightness, his consort or sacti. At her feet, and in the front of the pedestal, is the legless Arun, holding " the heaven-spun reins" in one hand, and a whip in the other, guiding the seven coursers of the sun, which are represented on the socle. On each side of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »