|Mantra||Aum Adityebhyah Namah|
|Mount||Horses and many others|
The Bhagavata Purana lists a total of twelve Adityas as Sun-gods. In each month of the year a different Aditya is said to shine. Each of these Adityas is a different expression of Lord Vishnu in the form of the Sun-God.
In the Rigveda, the Ādityas are the seven celestial deities, sons of Āditi,
The eighth Āditya (Mārtanda) was rejected by Aditi, thus leaving only seven sons. In the Yajurveda (Taittirīya Samhita), their number is given as eight, and the last one is believed to be Vivasvān. Hymn LXXII of the Rig Veda, Book 10, also confirms that there are nine Adityas, the eighth one being Mārtanda, who is later revived as Vivasvān.
"So with her eight Sons Aditi went forth to meet the earlier age. She brought Mārtanda thitherward to spring to life and die again."
The Ādityas of the Rig Veda are "devas", a distinct class of gods and are different from other groups such as the Maruts, the Rbhus or the Viśve-devāḥ (although Mitra and Varuna are also associated with the latter).
In the Bhagavata Purana, the names of 12 Adityas are given as:
- Parjanya (Savitr?)
- Vishnu (The head of all the Adityas)
In each month of the year, it is a different Aditya who shines as the Sun-God. As Indra, Surya destroys the enemies of the gods. As Dhata, he creates living beings. As Parjanya, he showers down rain. As Tvashta, he lives in the trees and herbs. As Pusha, he makes foodgrains grow. As Aryama, he is in the wind. As Bhaga, he is in the body of all living beings. As Vivasvana, he is in fire and helps to cook food. As Vishnu, he destroys the enemies of the gods. As Amshumana, he is again in the wind. As Varuna, he is in the waters and As Mitra, he is in the moon and in the oceans.
The Adityas have been described in the Rig Veda as bright and pure as streams of water, free from all guile and falsehood, blameless, perfect.
This class of deities has been seen as upholding the movables and immovable Dharma. Adityas are beneficent gods who act as protectors of all beings, who are provident and guard the world of spirits and protect the world.In the form of Mitra-Varuna, the Adityas are true to the eternal Law and act as the exactors of debt.
- Indra (The head of Ādityas)
Vedanta and Puranic Hinduism
The Ādityas in the Vishnu Purana are:
- Vishnu (This Sun-God is the head of all the Adityas)
The Vedas do not identify the Ādityas and there is no classification of the thirty-three gods, except for in the Yajurveda (7.19), which says there are eleven gods in heaven (light space), eleven gods in atmosphere (intermediate space), and eleven gods in earth (observer space). In the Satapatha Brahmana, the number of Ādityas is eight in some passages, and in other texts of the same Brahmana, twelve Adityas are mentioned. The list of 12 Adityas is as follows:
Adityas as Nakshatra Devtas
Adityas are responsible for proper functioning of the universe and in Hindu cosmology they are given lordship over celestial constellations, called Nakshtras in Jyotish. Nakshatras are forces of universal intelligence which are intertwined with the birth-death cycle of life, identity of all created beings, events and day to day consciousness in our lives. Aditays manage the Shakti of the nakshatras. Here are few examples.
- Bhaga has lordship over Purva Phalguni Nakshatra. Bhaga is bestower of fortune. Bhaga in Sanskrit means "a portion" so our portion in life is regulated by this divine celestial being. Many a times this is related to fortunate marriages, or fortune from marriage and partnerships. It is a very worldly nakshatra bestowing divine intelligence with respect to worldly gains in life. Beings born when Purva Phalguni is rising in the east are literal physical manifestation of this energy.
- Aryama, the God of Patronage, is an Aditya who is the lord of Uttar Phalguni nakshtra and as suggested by the name, a person born under the auspices of Aryama finds many lucky opportunities with benefactors in their lives, among many other qualities that are possessed by this divine being.
- Savitur, rules over Hasta Nakshatra and is the cheerful Aditya who manages worldly skills and artistry. Handiwork of all kinds, from needlework, pottery making to technical skills industry, slight of hand pick pockets, magicians, and Reiki masters all are blessed by the divine intelligence and benevolence of this Aditya.
- Mitra, rules over Anuradha nakshtra they are the peacekeepers of this world.
- Varuna, rules over Shatbhishak nakshatra the nakshatra of 1000 healers and gives a person intelligence about all sorts of medicine. Varuna as its ruling Aditya is lord keeper of law, hence themes of crime and punishment, law and order fall under his rulership. Varuna in RigVeda is to be feared and not taken lightly.
This makes Vedic Adityas not some conceptual, abstract, or mythological characters in a story book, but part of the visible cosmology and the everyday realities of our daily lives. We manifest their qualities in our lives and as such are part of the divine ourselves.
Ahura-Mazda and Aditya
Avestan Ahura derives from Indo-Iranian Asura, also attested in an Indian context as RigVedic Asura. Avestan Daivas are considered synonymous to Vedic Devtas, or Adityas.
Vedas and Zoroastrian Avesta have a common name Ahura-Mazda, which may refer to some Vedic God (sometimes in Rigveda some demigods or devatas are worshipped as "asura", which in Zoroastrianism is Ahura-Mazda. See also: Vishnu sahasranama (Aditya: 39 aadityah, 563 aadityah - Son of Aditi). Ahura-Mazda is commonly considered a link between Avestan Zoroastrianism and Asuras of Vedic literature, however it must be noted that there is no one specifically called Ahura Mazda in the Vedas.
Additionally as suggested by the phonetic similarity to the Old Norse Gods called æsirs, Indo-Iranian Asura may have an even earlier Indo-European root. Aesirs are the Norse gods whose region became known as Asia, the land of Aesirs.
For evolutionary reasons Asuras and Devtas fought great battles. Adityas, sons of Rishi Kashyap and Aditi always followed the guidance of Trimurti, or the Trinty of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and are responsible for proper functioning of the universe, Asuras challenged their authority at various occasions. Most significantly there are constant battles for the Elixir of Immortality, called Amrit, between the two. This could explain why Avestan Asura-Mazda advised his followers to stay away from Daivas or Vedic Devtas, calling them untrustworthy and unscrupulous shining beings to be avoided at all cost.
Historically there was little difference between Asuras and Devtas during the times of Veda. Many of them were highly regarded, and comparable to necessary forces of nature. In post Vedic era especially in the narratives of Puranas many Asuras became synonymous with trouble makers, who come into conflict with Mahadev Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and Indra wreaking havoc on civilizations. There are some famous Asuras-Devtas conflicts including Samudra Manthan regarding churning of the Ocean. There are some famous Asuras such as Vritra-Asur, Bana-Asur,and Bhasma-Asura who challenge Adityas and specifically Indra, the king of Devtas.
Going by Sanskrit definitions Asura is opposite of Sura. Sura is anything that is in harmony, in tune with laws of nature, called eternal truth or Sanatan Dharam. A-Sura is a being or force of nature which is chaotic, disorderly, and out of tune.
- Karel Werner (2005). A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism. Routledge. p. 17.
- Srimad Bhagavata Purana 12.11.27-49
- Srimad Bhagavata Purana 12.11.45: All these personalities are the opulent expansions of the Supreme God Vishnu, in the form of the sun-god. These deities take away all the sinful reactions of those who remember them each day at dawn and sunset
- Rig Veda - Hymn LXXII - Seven Sons of Aditi and Martanda
- Rig Veda Book 10, Translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith
- Bhagavad Gita 10.21: "adityanam aham vishnur" meaning "Of the Adityas I am Vishnu"
- Rig Veda Book 2, XXVIIth Hymn, Translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith
- Vishnu Purana: Book I: Chapter XV
- Muir, John (1863). Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and Progress of the Religion and Institutions of India. Williams and Norgate. p. 102