In our culture it is often found that the forces of nature themselves as deities are worshipped like the wind, the water, the earth, the fire and so on. One among these deities is Surya, the presiding deity of our Sun, also known as Aditya (due to his being the son of Aditi), who is worshipped as the sustainer of life on earth.
Our culture has given prime importance to worship of the Sun through the practice of Sandhyavandana, the ritual to be performed by all Dvijas (wearers of the sacred thread, lit. twice-born) everyday during sunrise, noon and sunset, where our prayers are offered to the Lord Surya through the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra, the sacred hymn to the (brilliance of the) Sun God, revealed in the Rig Veda (Rig Veda 3.62.10).
Another important hymn to the Sun-God is the Aditya Hrudayam, the subject of this article. This is a Stotram, or a sacred hymn, dedicated to Lord Aditya.
During the final between Rama and Ravana in Ramayana. Rama has used all kinds of weapons and missiles against Ravana, but in vain. The overlord of the Rakshasas seems invincible. Rama, currently a normal human being (and not the all-powerful Lord Vishnu), is tormented by fatigue, both mentally and physically. He glances at his enemy, who is ready for battle, and worry crosses his brow.
It is in this gripping scenario that the whole of our hymn is recited.
At this juncture, as the gods look on from the sky, the sage Agastya appears in front of Rama and, with the aim of rejuvenating Rama and hastening the outcome of the battle, teaches this prayer to Lord Surya, and disappears soon afterward. Rama receives the prayer from Agastya, and becomes energized upon reciting it. He lifts his bow and prepares for the final confrontation.
Thus, the poet of the Ramayana, with his impeccable style, ends the chapter where the Aditya Hridayam is contained, to proceed afresh with the deciding battle of the tale.
The Stotram and its structure
The Aditya Hrudayam is so named because, according to the great commentator of the Ramayana, Sri Govindaraja, it is ‘The Prayer that pleases the Heart of Lord Aditya’ – Aditya Manah-Prasadakam Ityarthah.
As mentioned earlier, this is a work of 31 slokas, out of which the first 30 are set in the popular 32-syllabled meter, the Anushtup Chandas. The text has a unique flow, with a distinctive structure, where the slokas are structured as follows:
What makes this structure unique is the presence of the glories of the deity and the Phalasruti both before as well as after the core portion of the text – a characteristic that is seldom seen in any other hymn.
Benefits of recitation
As pointed out earlier, the Aditya Hrudayam lists out its benefits twice – once before and once after the prayer. Agastya enlightens Rama of the benefits of the Stotram at the outset, by saying, “This Aditya Hrudayam has the potency to vanquish all enemies, bestow victory and bless its chanter with unending auspiciousness, sound health (implying curing of diseases) and eradication of all miseries and sins.” – Shloks 4-5.
After reciting the Hrudayam, Agastya promises Rama, “During times of danger, in places of fear or uncertainty, whoever recites this hymn shall not fall into misery. Upon chanting this hymn thrice unto Lord Aditya with complete devotion, you shall attain victory. You shall defeat Ravana the very next instant, Oh Rama!” – Verses 25-27.
This implies the efficacy of chanting of this hymn and the confidence it instills in the mind of the devotee, something which manifests almost instantaneously in Rama.
The great sage of Kanchi, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (1894-1994), the 68th Pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, prescribed Aditya Hridayam as a text with great Mantra Shakti. Regular recitation of it is sure to grant sound health, longevity, dispelling of miseries and peace of mind, as indicated by Rishi Agastya in the Phalashruti.
namassavitre jagadeka chakśhuse
jagatprasūti sthiti nāśahetave
trayīmayāya triguṇātma dhāriṇe
viriñchi nārāyaṇa śaṅkarātmane
tato yuddha pariśrāntaṃ samare chintayā sthitam |
rāvaṇaṃ chāgrato dṛśhṭvā yuddhāya samupasthitam ‖ 1 ‖
daivataiścha samāgamya draśhṭumabhyāgato raṇam |
upagamyā bravīdrāmam agastyo bhagavān ṛśhiḥ ‖ 2 ‖
rāma rāma mahābāho śṛṇu guhyaṃ sanātanam |
yena sarvānarīn vatsa samare vijayiśhyasi ‖ 3 ‖
āditya hṛdayaṃ puṇyaṃ sarvaśatru vināśanam |
jayāvahaṃ japennityaṃ akśhayyaṃ paramaṃ śivam ‖ 4 ‖
sarvamaṅgaḻa māṅgaḻyaṃ sarva pāpa praṇāśanam |
chintāśoka praśamanaṃ āyurvardhana muttamam ‖ 5 ‖
raśmimantaṃ samudyantaṃ devāsura namaskṛtam |
pūjayasva vivasvantaṃ bhāskaraṃ bhuvaneśvaram ‖ 6 ‖
sarvadevātmako hyeśha tejasvī raśmibhāvanaḥ |
eśha devāsura gaṇān lokān pāti gabhastibhiḥ ‖ 7 ‖
eśha brahmā cha viśhṇuścha śivaḥ skandaḥ prajāpatiḥ |
mahendro dhanadaḥ kālo yamaḥ somo hyapāṃ patiḥ ‖ 8 ‖
pitaro vasavaḥ sādhyā hyaśvinau maruto manuḥ |
vāyurvahniḥ prajāprāṇaḥ ṛtukartā prabhākaraḥ ‖ 9 ‖
ādityaḥ savitā sūryaḥ khagaḥ pūśhā gabhastimān |
suvarṇasadṛśo bhānuḥ hiraṇyaretā divākaraḥ ‖ 10 ‖
haridaśvaḥ sahasrārchiḥ saptasapti-rmarīchimān |
timironmathanaḥ śambhuḥ tvaśhṭā mārtāṇḍakoṃ’śumān ‖ 11 ‖
hiraṇyagarbhaḥ śiśiraḥ tapano bhāskaro raviḥ |
agnigarbhoaditeḥ putraḥ śaṅkhaḥ śiśiranāśanaḥ ‖ 12 ‖
vyomanātha stamobhedī ṛgyajuḥsāma-pāragaḥ |
ghanāvṛśhṭi rapāṃ mitro vindhyavīthī plavaṅgamaḥ ‖ 13 ‖
ātapī maṇḍalī mṛtyuḥ piṅgaḻaḥ sarvatāpanaḥ |
kavirviśvo mahātejā raktaḥ sarvabhavodbhavaḥ ‖ 14 ‖
nakśhatra graha tārāṇām adhipo viśvabhāvanaḥ |
tejasāmapi tejasvī dvādaśātman-namoastu te ‖ 15 ‖
namaḥ pūrvāya giraye paśchimāyādraye namaḥ |
jyotirgaṇānāṃ pataye dinādhipataye namaḥ ‖ 16 ‖
jayāya jayabhadrāya haryaśvāya namo namaḥ |
namo namaḥ sahasrāṃśo ādityāya namo namaḥ ‖ 17 ‖
nama ugrāya vīrāya sāraṅgāya namo namaḥ |
namaḥ padmaprabodhāya mārtāṇḍāya namo namaḥ ‖ 18 ‖
brahmeśānāchyuteśāya sūryāyāditya-varchase |
bhāsvate sarvabhakśhāya raudrāya vapuśhe namaḥ ‖ 19 ‖
tamoghnāya himaghnāya śatrughnāyā mitātmane |
kṛtaghnaghnāya devāya jyotiśhāṃ pataye namaḥ ‖ 20 ‖
tapta chāmīkarābhāya vahnaye viśvakarmaṇe |
namastamoabhi nighnāya ruchaye lokasākśhiṇe ‖ 21 ‖
nāśayatyeśha vai bhūtaṃ tadeva sṛjati prabhuḥ |
pāyatyeśha tapatyeśha varśhatyeśha gabhastibhiḥ ‖ 22 ‖
eśha supteśhu jāgarti bhūteśhu pariniśhṭhitaḥ |
eśha evāgnihotraṃ cha phalaṃ chaivāgni hotriṇām ‖ 23 ‖
vedāścha kratavaśchaiva kratūnāṃ phalameva cha |
yāni kṛtyāni lokeśhu sarva eśha raviḥ prabhuḥ ‖ 24 ‖
ena māpatsu kṛchChreśhu kāntāreśhu bhayeśhu cha |
kīrtayan puruśhaḥ kaśchin-nāvaśīdati rāghava ‖ 25 ‖
pūjayasvaina mekāgro devadevaṃ jagatpatim |
etat triguṇitaṃ japtvā yuddheśhu vijayiśhyasi ‖ 26 ‖
asmin kśhaṇe mahābāho rāvaṇaṃ tvaṃ vadhiśhyasi |
evamuktvā tadāgastyo jagāma cha yathāgatam ‖ 27 ‖
etachChrutvā mahātejāḥ naśhṭaśokoabhavat-tadā |
dhārayāmāsa suprīto rāghavaḥ prayatātmavān ‖ 28 ‖
ādityaṃ prekśhya japtvā tu paraṃ harśhamavāptavān |
trirāchamya śuchirbhūtvā dhanurādāya vīryavān ‖ 29 ‖
rāvaṇaṃ prekśhya hṛśhṭātmā yuddhāya samupāgamat |
sarvayatnena mahatā vadhe tasya dhṛtoabhavat ‖ 30 ‖
adha raviravadan-nirīkśhya rāmaṃ muditamanāḥ paramaṃ prahṛśhyamāṇaḥ |
niśicharapati saṅkśhayaṃ viditvā suragaṇa madhyagato vachastvareti ‖ 31 ‖
ityārśhe śrīmadrāmāyaṇe vālmikīye ādikāvye yuddakāṇḍe saptottara śatatamaḥ sargaḥ