Imagine a morning without Sun’s radiance, We may curse sun if it is too much, unbearable but we can not deny its life nourishing property. Sun is the source for all forms of life be it plants, animals or microorganism.
In India, like any other old world civilisations, Sun, from the Vedic time, is perceived as a God. Surya, Bhaskara, Ravi, Aditya and Bhanu – these are some of the names the Hindus attribute to the Sun God, the source of all energy and the supreme light. Surya is the chief of navagrahas, the nine Indian classical planets.
There are two major forms of Sun worship in India – the arka form and the mitra form. Arka in Sanskrit means the radiance of Sun and mitra means friend for his life nourishing properties.
Though the worship of Sun God is traced to as far as Vedic Period, the image worship was introduced much later. The idea of image worship of Sun God was introduced by Iranians in India. In the Vedic time, Sun was worshiped in celestial form. With the advent of Magas, a community of Persia, the Sun images were made and Sun temples were built in India. The Vrihatsamhita (a 6th century AD Hindu scripture) says that the images of Sun God should be dully installed by Magas. According to a tradition, Samba, a son of Lord Krishna is regarded as responsible for introducing Sun worship from Persia. Samba, according to an Odisha tradition had got cured from leprosy by worshiping Sun God at Arka Kshetra. This is however historically debatable.
At Konark, there are remains of three massive sculptures of Sun God depicting the morning, afternoon and evening posture of the God. These are built out of chlorite schist stone. In all, the handsome Sun God is shown with 7 horses and attendants.
Before the construction of the Sun Temple, the worship of Sun God was quite popular in Coastal Odisha. There are depiction of Sun God in a number of Bhubaneswar temples, but the best preserved is the one at Vaital Deula. The other significant image of Sun God is noticed at Varahi Temple in Chaurasi, a small village near Konark.
This article was published on the site www.theideaofindia.in and author is Jitu Mishra