Importance of Ratha Sapthami
Ratha Sapthami is an auspicious festival celebrated by Hindus and it is dedicated to Lord Suryanarayana. It is during this time that Surya/Sun moves from the southeast to the northeast. We worship Lord Surya for better health and well-being. Ratha Sapthami is symbolic of the change of season to spring and the start of the harvesting season. For most Indian farmers, it is an auspicious beginning of the New harvest Year. This is the day that Surya was born to sage Kashyapa and his wife Adithi.
Ratha Sapthami is represented in the form of the LORD SURYA turning his Ratha (Chariot) drawn by 7 horses, with Aruṇa as the charioteer, towards the northern hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction.The ratha and the 7 horses represent the 7 colours of the rainbow and the 7 days of the week starting with Sunday, the day of Lord Surya. The chariot has 12 wheels, which represent the 12 signs (each of 30 degrees) of the Zodiac (360 degrees) and constituting a full year, named Samvatsara. The Sun’s own house is Leo (Simha) and he moves from one house to the next every month and the total cycle takes 365 days to complete. The Ratha Saptami seeks cosmic spread of energy and light from the Lord Surya.
Lord Surya is important he is the source of life — hence he is placed in the center of Navagrahas (nine planets). Scientists found that all planets orbit the sun, but our sages found this out thousands of years ago and mentioned at several places in the Hindu scriptures. In fact, the characteristics of the sun and the 9 planets have been clearly described in the Vedas, and can be seen in the “navagraha mantra.” This is similar to what the NASA scientists described in their findings. This is a great testimony to state that many aspects of Hindu faith are scientifically important.
Lord Surya is considered as the giver of Aarogyam (Health) and Aishwaryam (Wealth). So worshipping Him in the early morning sunlight will rejuvenate one’s energy, and purify the mind and body. Scientifically, it has also been proven that being exposed to the early morning sun is beneficial.
About this Yagya
This yagya contains Sourasuktam, Arunaprashnam. Praising Lord Sun(Surya) and his manifestations, these chants should be chanted along with postrations of Sun salutations in regular intervals during the yagya of Lord Surya. Lord Surya has 12 forms, and each of those forms represents something different. They are as follows:
12 Forms of Surya
|Mitra – The friend||Marichi – The lord of the dawn|
|Ravi – The bright one||Aditya – The son of Aditi|
|Bhanu – The profound one||Savita – The altruistic one|
|Khaga – One who moves in the sky||Arka – Energy giver|
|Pooshna – Strength giver||Bhaskara – The one who leads to enlightenment|
|Hiranyagarbha – The golden centered||Surya – The source of life|
The worship of Ravi is immemorial, but it is said to have begun ever since the universe came into existence. It is said that in this world moving and non-moving life forms, Bhanu is in all beings. In his light all beings, including the sun itself, perform their functions. He is the eye of the world and the eye of the Devatas. It is his presence that enables our eyes to see the various wondrous sites of the world. He sees everything and is the embodiment of time, pushing all beings towards perfection and thoroughness. In the final chapters of the Shukla and Krishna Yajur Vedas, Aditya is praised and informed about as a manifestation of the supreme being.
First to be made available was the Sourasuktam, a collection of hymns from the Rugveda samhita in praise of Sri Surya Narayana Bhagavan(Lord Surya). This suktam is used for Suryanamaskarams(The Sun Salutations), and can be used for daily Parayana(chanting). The first chapter of the Taitriya Aranyaka from the Krishna Yajur Veda is made up by the the Arunaprashnam(Vedic chant). Aranyakas are the Vedic mantras used as a form of Upasana(meditation) by the Maharshis who lived in forests. Mantras describing the various benefits that accrue from worship of the Sun, prayers to Varuna, Agni, and Chandra, reasons for untimely death and how to avoid it, are all contained within the Arunaprashnam. Gayatri Upasana and Sri Vidya are also included which ultimately leads to Moksha Sadhana or enlightenment. Worshipping Bhaskara with these mantras brings immense benefits to the listener as well as the sponsor. The chanting soothes the mind and even when the mantras are listened to without complete understanding of their meanings, it will still result in positive energy. All the sponsors will be benefited with an abundance of health, wealth, prosperity, and enlightenment. May Lord Sun bless all humanity by showering his blessings on each and every being on this planet.