Āditya-hrdaya

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Aditya-hrdaya, Aditya-hrdaya, AAditya-hrdaya


Āditya-hrdaya can be literally translated as ‘the heart or the essence of Aditya’.

Hymnal literature in shastra is very vast and deep. Quite a few of these hymns, whether they contain praises of the Lord or expound some philosophical doctrines, are often used for ceremonial chanting, considering them as mantras capable of fulfilling one’s desires. Āditya is other name of Sun. Hence Āditya-hrdaya is the hymn in the praise of Sun god. The Rāmāyana of Vālmīki contains only this one hymn[1]. After the first round of battle with Rāvaṇa, Rāma was rather tired and anxious as to how he could vanquish his formidable enemy. At that time, Agastya the sage of the Vindhya fame, who was had come to witness the battle, came forward to reveal a secret with the help of which Rāma could conquer Rāvaṇa and fulfill the mission of his life. The secret was the Ādityahrdaya hymn. By reciting this hymn he could get enough power to destroy his foe. Being initiated into its mysteries by Agastya, Rāma recited it thrice and became imbued with energy and enthusiasm and achieved victory with ease.

Summary description

  • Verses 1 to 5 of Āditya-hrdaya forms the introduction and also eulogises the hymn.
  • Verses 6 to 21 describe Aditya or the Sun-god, his various names and attributes.
  • Verses 22 to 25 describe his power and give the phalaśruti (the benefits of recitation).
  • Verse 26 gives the viniyoga (the method and purpose of recitation).
  • Verses 27 to 31 complete the narration of the story.

Some epithets that the hymn uses to describe and eulogise Āditya

  • He is so effulgent that even the gods adore him.
  • In fact he is the very personification of all gods including the Trinity.
  • It is he that is manifested as the leaders of the eight quarters.
  • He is the creator and sustainer of the world.
  • It is again he that destroys the world at the end of the cycle of creation.
  • He is manifested in everything that is created.

Details

The proper recitation of the hymn will free a man from all troubles and tribulations and fulfill the wishes of his heart. Every mantra has a

  • ṛṣi[2],
  • chanda[3]
  • devatā[4], who are to be adored at the beginning of a ceremonial recitation.

In the case of this hymn (which is considered as a mantra),

  • Agastya is the ṛṣi
  • Anuṣṭubh is the chanda.
  • As regards the devatā, some state that Brahmā residing in the sun is the deity whereas others consider Rāma the Supreme God, the internal ruler of the Sun, is himself the deity.

The viniyoga or purpose is to obtain supreme knowledge or victory in all walks of life.

Any Sunday on which there is a saṅkrānti[5] is believed to be very holy and suitable for the recitation of this hymn. Repeating it 108 times in a Sun-temple and observing a fast in the night are considered to be highly meritorious.

References

  1. Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddhakānda sarga 105
  2. ṛṣi is the seer to whom it was revealed
  3. chanda is the the poetical meter
  4. devatā is the deity to whom it is addressed
  5. saṅkrānti refers to the movement of the sun from one zodiacal sign to the next
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore