How is it to imagine life without food and water? Our survival would be impossible without these things! How is it to envisage life without good health and prosperity? Life would be difficult without these things. There is one source that every living entity depends upon for these basic necessities of life. It is the source that facilitates the evaporation of salt water from the seas and oceans and then to condense and form fresh water rains, the source that sustains and nourishes life by supporting vegetation in the form of light, energy and water.
This source is worshipped as Sol, Helios, Apollo and Ra in different cultures of the world. He is the deity of the solar energy, the sun god, Suryadev. He bestows good health (aarogya), prosperity (aishwarya) and supports life (praana). Thus, he is known as the aarogya daata, aishwarya daata and praana daata.
He holds an important position on the spiritual path. He is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is thus, addressed as Surya Narayana. In (21st sloka from the 10th chapter), Lord Krishna says, “Of lights, I am the radiant sun.”
What is Ratha Saptami?
In the month of Magh, we often see kids with their innate inquisitiveness question about the Rangoli (images) drawn in the front yard (with rice powder) depicting a chariot and seven horses. This celebration is a part of Ratha Saptami, where Ratha refers to chariot and Saptami stands for the seventh day. It is celebrated on the Saptami of the Shukla Paksha (bright half) of the Magh month. It is also celebrated as Surya Jayanti as it marks the birth of Suryadev to the sage Kashyapa and Aditi. Also, on this day the Sun god moves from South-East to North-East on his chariot driven by the seven white horses.
Once, there was a noble king by name Yashovarma who had no heirs to the kingdom. Upon offering ardent prayers, he was blessed with a son. However, the son always suffered from poor health. Upon the advice of a wise saint, Yashovarma had his son perform the Ratha Saptami puja and as a result, the son was freed from his past sins and was granted good health to rule the kingdom.
Appropriate way to observe Ratha Saptami:
• Ekka leaves (also known as Arka in Sanskrit, Jilledu in Telugu, Erukku in Tamil and Calotropis Gigantea/bowstring hemp in English) are known to be brimming with solar energy. On this day, one should wake up early in the morning before sunrise and place 7 Ekka leaves (1- head, 2-shoulders, 2-knees and 2-feet) over the body and take a bath.
• Take a kalash (metal pitcher) filled with Ganga jal (water from the holy river Ganges) and add akshath (rice grains) and kumkum to the water. Offer this water to Suryadev in the Namaskara Mudra.
• A special puja should be offered to Suryadev with ghee lamp, incense, camphor, vermilion (kumkum) and red-coloured flowers like rose.
• Prepare payasam (rice pudding) and allow it to overflow the pan in which it is being cooked as an offering to Suryadev.
Mantra to chant:
The following mantra can be chanted on Ratha Saptami and also in general to please Lord Surya.
“I chant the glories of the Sun God, whose beauty rivals that of a flower. I bow down to him, the greatly effulgent son of Kashyapa, who is the enemy of darkness and the destroyer of all sins.”
Aditya Gayatri mantra:
The following is the Aditya (Surya) Gayatri mantra suitable for recitation by the people who are initiated by a guru into chanting of the Gayatri mantra:
“Let me meditate on the Sun god. May the maker of the day give me higher intellect. And let the Sun god illuminate my mind.”
It is important to note that any mantra recitation generates immense energy and the same needs to be returned to the universe in the form of tarpan or in the form of blessings to the near and dear. The reciter can give away the energy to the universe through tarpan by reciting “tatsa brahmarpana mastu” at the end of the mantra recitation. One can also distribute the energy through rays by blessing the near and dear. Whenever the energy tarpan is performed to the universe, one receives blessings from the universe.
Significance of Ratha Saptami:
The faithful observance of Ratha Saptami will bestow good health, long life, prosperity, knowledge, success and gives freedom from sins.
Science behind worshipping Lord Surya:
Sunlight is a rich source of Vitamin D, also called as Sunshine Vitamin that is helpful for the growth and development of bones and teeth, absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body, provides resistance against diseases and improves the immune system.
Thus, worshipping Lord Surya not only bestows spiritual benefits but several material and health benefits too.
This year, Ratha Saptami is celebrated on 6th of February. OnlineTemple.com prays to Lord Surya to bless all the devotees with good health, energy, prosperity and a long life.