By Swami Harshananda
Aditya, Adityas literally means ‘son/sons of Aditi’.
Aditya is one of the well-known epithets of the sun.
The Adityas, the sons of Aditi, represent a group of deities. They are six in the Rgveda, eight in most of the Brāhmaṇas (except the Śatapatha) and twelve in the later lore. They can be described as the personifications of the laws that rule the universe and the human society. They regulate the relationships of human beings among themselves and with the forces of nature.
Since Aditya is one of the names of the sun, the Adityas can be considered as imperishable beings, the gods of light, by whom all kinds of luminous life are manifested and sustained in this universe.
The twelve Adityas are as follows :
- Mitra - the friend
- Varuṇa - one who encompasses and binds
- Aryaman - the destroyer of foes
- Dakṣa - the skilful
- Bhaga - the giver
- Aiiiśa - the liberal
- Tvaṣṭṛ - the shaper
- Savitṛ - the vivifier
- Puṣan - the nourisher
- Sakra - the mighty
- Vivasvat - the resplendent
- Viṣṇu - the pervader
Sometimes, these twelve are linked with the twelve aspects of the sun spread over the twelve months and hence described as the twelve spokes of the wheel of time.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore