Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Aditya at Wikipedia.

ADITYA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] . In the early Vedic times the Adityas were six, or more frequently seven, celestial deities, of whom Varuna was chief, consequently he was the Aditya. They were sons of Aditi, who had eight sons, but she approached the gods with seven, having cast away the eighth, Marttanda (the sun). In aftertimes the number was increased to twelve, as representing the sun in the twelve months of the year. Aditya is one of the names of the sun.

Dr. Muir quotes the following from Professor Roth: "There (in the highest heaven) dwell and reign those gods who bear in common the name of Adityas. We must, however, if we would discover their earliest character, abandon the conceptions, which in a later age, and even in that of the heroic poems, were entertained regarding these deities. According to this conception they were twelve sun gods, bearing evident reference to the twelve months. But for the most ancient period we must hold fast the primary signification of their name. They are the inviolable, imperishable, eternal beings. Aditi, eternity, or the eternal, is the element, which sustains or is sustained by them. The eternal and inviolable element in which the Adityas dwell, and which forms their essence, is the celestial light. The Adityas, the gods of this light, do not therefore by any means coincide with any of the forms in which light is manifested in the universe. They are neither sun, nor moon, nor stars, nor dawn, but the eternal sustainers of this luminous life, which exists, as it were, behind all these phenomena."

The names of the six Adityas are Mitra, Aryaman, Bhaga, Varuna, Daksha, and Ansa. Daksha is frequently excluded, and Indra, Savitri (the sun), and Dhatri are added. Those of the twelve Adityas are variously given, but many of them are names of the sun.  

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM