Like every other child, Sunday was my favorite day, during my childhood, because it is a holiday for us, we get nice foods and spend quality time with our family. As I grew up, while analyzing my horoscope, I came to know that Leo is my ascendant and the Sun is its lord planet. Then I started analyzing the impact of the Sun on my personality, strengths and my destiny. Even though, as per astrology, it is said that human life is mainly controlled by the placement of the major planets: the Jupiter and the Saturn in its horoscope, but the Sun also defines a destiny in the human life…! Why should not it…? Because Sun is the centre of the solar system, it is the lord of all the planets… Each of the twelve houses present in a horoscope, is signified by the name of any animal or object (Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius), the objects are lifeless and Leo is the king of the animals. The king planet is the lord of king animal…! Wow…I became very happy after knowing that I have some kinglike qualities and if I work hard I can get the fame and power that a king is supposed to possess. The sky deity, who represents the Sun, usually known by its perceived power and strength.
Then I took interest in the Sun, started reading many books to know about it and in this series of articles, I will narrate some of the interesting facts and stories related to the Sun.
Solar deities and the sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms, starting from Neolithic era, Mesopotamian, Incan civilisation, Proto-Indo-European religion, Germanic mythology, by Greek as Helios, Titan and sometimes as Apollo. The Sun is sometimes referred to by its Latin name Sol or by its Greek name Helios,in Chinese mythology as sun goddess Xihe, In Buddhist cosmology, the bodhisattva of the Sun is known as Suryaprabha and also by Arabians in the same of Shams/Shamsun,.
If we see the days of a week, then each day also represent to one planet. The week starts with Sunday for which the Sun is the planet who is the lord of all the planets., the moon for Monday, the Mars for Tuesday, the Mercury for Wednesday, the Jupiter for Thursday, the Venus for Friday and the Saturn for Saturday. Britishers are the first who started Sunday from 1843 as a holiday because In Christianity, God create this world in 6 days and Sunday he took rest. Christian Prays in Church every Sunday. So, to Pray in Church Sunday is holiday in Christianity. The British who were ardent followers of Christianity, wanted to impose the same laws that were prevailing in their country to their colonies too. In fact, in India Sunday was declared as holiday or Off day only in the year 1840 and same was followed in many of the countries. So, Sunday isn’t the funday that we have holiday for, let us take some time to visit the place of worship on Sunday.
In Rigveda, the Sun is described as one of the outward appearances of fire god placed in paradise by other gods. He is the brightest leading light, the glowing ball of light which gets transmitted to humanity. He is portraying as the eye of gods that beholds the actions of all worldly. He travels on a resplendent car driven by seven steeds that he unyokes at sunset. As he comes up in the horizon in the morning, the darkness of the night takes to its heels and the whole world is aroused to activities. As he rolls up darkness like a skin and the stars make good quality their run away like thieves the shines magnificently on the lap of dawn. It is with his light that he sustains the whole creation and energies it. All living being depend on surya who is their lead. He is poetically described as a bird flying through the unlimited spread of the blue firmament.
From the sentence: “He travels on a resplendent car driven by seven steeds that he unyokes at sunset”, I recollected a story behind the famous Sun temple in Konark, Odisha, which is categorized as one of the seven surprises of India.
So, here is the true story:
Every ancient temple or building tells the saga of India’s rich heritage, scientific and architectural marvel and extreme devotion. The Konark Sun Temple located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in the small town of Konark of district Puri, Odisha is an outstanding proof of all this. This temple has been referred to as the Black Pagoda by European sailors, who marked it out as a prominent landmark during their voyages along the eastern coast of India. This name was given to the temple as it was constructed out of black stones.
Based on Brahmin beliefs, this temple was built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and dedicated to Sun God Surya. The beauty of the Sun-rise and the roaring voice of the sea charmed Narasimhadeva since his early life. The river chandrabhaga which is now dead, was once flowing within a mile to the north of the temple site and was joining the sea. On its banks, existed flourishing towns and important trading centres. Trade was carried on with foreign countries as well, by sea routes, as there was no better communication other than the river in those days.
Narasimhadeva had preferred the place for his proposed temple, for not only enabling him to bring his building materials from different places by the said river, but the sanctity of the was also considered by him. But, according to Hindu mythology, the Konark Sun Temple was constructed by Samba, one of Krishna’s sons. In one version of the tale, Samba had been cursed by Krishna because he entered the bathing chamber of his father’s wives. As a result of this, Samba suffered from leprosy. He was advised by a sage to undergo severe penance for 12 years at Mitravana, near the confluence of the Chandrabhaga River with the sea at Konark. This was pleasing to Surya, the Sun God, who is also believed to be the healer of all skin diseases, and Samba was cured of his leprosy by this deity. Krishna’s son showed his gratefulness to Surya by promising to build a temple in his honor. The following day, whilst Samba was bathing in the river, he found an image of Surya, which he took, and installed at the temple he built. The Konark Sun Temple has also been added to the UNSECO World Heritage List.
Like most of the ancient words, origin of Konark is also Sanskrit and it has been derived from kona (meaning angle) and arka(meaning sun). In terms of scientific and architectural development, ancient India was much ahead of today’s time. First of all, it is the flawless proportions and impressive dimension of the Konark temple and then is the complete structure of the temple that proves this. The entire temple is in the form of the chariot of Surya that is drawn by seven horses.
The main attraction of the temple is its twelve pairs of wheels located at the base of the temple. These wheels are not ordinary wheels but tell time as well – the spokes of the wheels create a sundial. One can calculate the precise time of the day by just looking at the shadow cast by these spokes. Isn’t it great? The wheels are also elegantly adorned.
Another unique feature of this temple is the presence of an iron plate in between every two stones. Massive iron beams have also been used to construct the higher floors of the temple. A 52-ton magnet was used to create the peak of the main temple. It is said that the entire structure has tolerated the harsh conditions especially of the sea because of this magnet. Previously, the unique arrangement of the main magnet along with the other magnets caused the main idol of the temple to float in air.
The temple was so oriented on the shore that the first rays of the rising sun directly fall on the main entry. These sun rays would cross the Nata Mandir and get reflected from the diamond just at the center of the idol. The diamond was positioned in the middle of this idol in the main sanctum. During the colonial period, these magnets were removed by the Britishers to get the magnetic stone.
Moreover, the temple presents a way to teach mortality. The Konark Sun temple has two huge lions on either side of the entrance. Each lion is shown crushing an elephant. Beneath each elephant lies the human body. Lion represents pride and elephant represents money. By looking at them it becomes clear that how both these flaws can crush a human being.
Ancient people loved to adorn their buildings with sculptures and carvings. Every single piece of the Konark Sun Temple is covered with sculpture consisting of deities, dancers, scenes of life at court, etc. To separate these figures are the beautiful carvings of birds and animals along with mythological creatures. Scroll work and neatly carved of human as well animal figures gives the Konark temple a distinctive appeal.
Many theories explain the fall of the temple in their own way. As per one theory, part of the Konark temple collapsed because of its incomplete structure. The Konark Sum Temple was not completed because of the early death of the king Langula Narasimha Dev who initiated the construction of the temple.
Next is the theory of lodestone (piece of the mineral magnetite that is naturally magnetized) located at the top of the temple. The lodestone’s placement caused a huge damage to the temple as many vessels passing through the Konark Sea were attracted towards it. Also, this magnet used to disturb the compass of almost all the ships in the sea. So, to remove the cause of the trouble, Portuguese voyagers stole the lodestone. The displacement of the lodestone led to total imbalance and so the Konark temple fell down. But there is no historical record either of this event or presence of such a great lodestone at Konark.
As per another very popular theory, the temple was destroyed by Kalapahad (Kalapahad was the title given to a Muslim governor Sultan Sulaiman Karrani of Bengal) who invaded Orissa in 1508. He had also destroyed many other Hindu temples in Orissa along with the Konark Sun Temple. In 1568, Muslims started ruling Orissa and destroyed many Hindu temples.