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 deities who 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 became Adityas.
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 many eyes
(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 disorder.
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