In Hinduism, Sun is called the soul of the universe. We cannot imagine even a single day without the Sun.
In a society replete with customs and beliefs, is this just faith-based or was there a more scientific meaning behind the ritual ?
Sun worship commenced with the rising of the sun when the ancestors would offer water in a “lota”, a rounded copper utensil with a wide edge. The pouring water would create a flowing film, creating the seven colours of the spectrum through refraction by which the sun would be gazed at indirectly. Hindus believe this is helpful to the eyes, vitalizes the body and purifies the mind.
The body is made up of five elements: earth (prithvi), water (jal), fire (energy), air (vayu) and ether (aakash). It is believed proper balance of these five elements helps keep the body healthy, the sun being one of them. The solar rays consists of seven colours of the spectrum which are equally vital to the seven chakras of the body.
Rigveda states the Sun is an energy source for all living beings. The Gayatri Mantra is chanted to Surya Devta to remove ignorance and strengthen the mind. The Sun is the symbol of the Self-god. As the Self-god illuminates the mind, the intellect and the body, the Sun illuminates the world.
Vedas also state that water offered to Sun in the evening converts the drops of water to stones that cause death to the demons. For humans, demons are like all sicknesses like typhoid TB, pneumonia etc. When a devotee takes water in his hands while standing in front of or facing the sun and drops water on the ground the rising direct Sunʼs rays fall from the head to feet of the devotee in a uniform flow. This way water heated by Sunʼs rays and its colors penetrates every part of the body.
Science has now validated the importance of solar rays on the human body. Many people living in cold climatic countries suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) during winter, some even going for solar therapies to alleviate moodiness and depression. Solar therapy, mainly from an alternative source, is also used to treat palliation of disease, usually from dermatological disorders. It also improves blood circulation, balances metabolism and restores function of many body systems.
Exposure to sunlight also promotes the development of the pineal gland hormone – melatonin, the amount of which is influenced by the aging process.
It seems then there that is far more to Sun worship than meets the eyes.