by Jayaram V
Aditya means he whose mother is Aditi.
The Adityas are children of Aditi, mother of
gods and Kashyapa Prajapathi, the grandfather of all creation.
Adityas are solar
reside in the heavenly regions and personify various
natural phenomena. There is an inconsistency about thier number.
Originally they were described to be six or seven in number in the
Rigvedic hymns, of whom Varuna, Mitra,
Savitr and Pusan were the most prominent. Later the number increased
to 8 and Aditi was described as the wife of one of them, besides
being mother of all Adityas. Subsequently the number increased to 12.
In some veduc hymns Indra and Agni are also described as children of
Aditi. By the time of the Puranas Aditi became the mother of all
divinities numbering some 330 millions. So practically all the gods
The Adityas represent light of whom Surya, the sun god is the most
prominent. Their names are also used as the epithets of Surya,
suggesting their connection with one another and their nature as light
beings. "Bright and pure as streams of water, free from all guile and
falsehood, blameless, perfect," these are gods of light, with
(rays) corresponding to the 12 months of the year and
described as the 12 spokes of the wheel of time. The Adityas are
upholders of Laws. " Upholding that which moves and that which
moves not, Adityas, Gods, protectors of all beings, provident,
guarding well the world of spirits, true to eternal Law, the
debt-exactors," they illuminate the world, drive away darkness,
nourish the beings, regulate relationships and personify the laws of
the universe and mankind. "Golden and splendid, pure like
streams of water, they hold aloft the three bright heavenly regions.
Ne'er do they slumber, never close their eyelids, faithful, far-ruling
for the righteous mortal." Lord Vishnu was originally a solar
deity and later elevated to the status of a trinity God as preserver
of the world, who incarnates upon earth from time to time to rescue
the world and the dharma from the oppression of evil and social
There is no unanimity about who the Adityas are. According
to one listing the 12 Adityas are Mitra, Varuna, Aryaman,
Daksha, Bhaga, Amsa, Tvastr, Savitur, Pusan,
Sakra, Vivasvat and Visnu. In another listing we
find Dhatri, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, Surya, Bhaga, Vivasvat, Pushan,
Savitur, Tvashtir and Vishnu mentioned as Adityas. Ancient Persians
who practced Zoroastrianism had their own list of seven Adityas. We have given a general description
of some of the Adityas already elsewhere on this site.
Suggested Further Reading