रश्मिमन्तं समुद्यन्तं देवासुर नमस्कृतम्।
पूजयस्व विवस्वन्तं भास्करं भुवनेश्वरम्॥ (६)

raśmimantaṁ samudyantaṁ devāsura namaskṛtam |
pūjayasva vivasvantaṁ bhāskaraṁ bhuvaneśvaram || (6)


raśmi – rays of light; mantaṁ - reflecting (reflecting the rays of Light); samudyantaṁ - gloriously rising destroying all the boundaries and limitations; deva asura namaskṛtam – worshiped and adored both by gods and demons (asura also means incorporeal); pūjayasva – worshiped with earnestness; vivasvantaṁ - the Brilliant one (diffusing Light); bhāskaraṁ - illuminating, shining, glittering, bright; bhuvaneśvaram – lord of three worlds (bhuvana - three worlds; īśvara also means Supreme Brahman or the Self).


This verse can be interpreted both from gross and subtle angles.

Gross interpretation:

This verse says that the sun rises everyday to illuminate the three worlds. Sun god is adored by all gods and all demons alike. He is the lord of the worlds. The verse also praises the rays of the sun.

Subtle interpretation:

The verse says that sun reflects the rays of Light. But does not say sun is the cause of the Light; it only reflects the light. This leads to the conclusion that there is something else that is the source of original Light. What is this original Light? This is explained in various Upaniṣad-s.

A number of Upaniṣad-s talk about this Light.

Bṛhadāraṇayaka Upaniṣad (IV.iv.6) says “upon that immortal Light of all lights the gods meditate as longevity.” This means that gods meditate on this Supreme Light for their immortality.

Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.ii.15) explains this further. “In the presence of Brahman, the sun does not shine, nor do the moon and stars, nor does lightning, let alone this fire. When Brahman shines, everything follows. By Its light, all these are lighted.” This is the famous dīpa ārādhana mantra:

na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṃ
nemā vidyuto bhānti kutoyamagniḥ
tameva bhāntamanubhāti sarvaṃ
tasya bhāsā sarvamidaṃ vibhāti |

न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं
नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोयमग्निः।
तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं
तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति॥

Chāndogya Upaniṣad (VIII.iii.4) says, param joytiḥ upasampadyate which means attaining the highest light. The Upaniṣad says “Then, this person, who is the embodiment of happiness, emerging from the body and attaining the highest light, assumes his real nature. This is the Self.”

If we go with the interpretations of the above Upaniṣad-s, it is clear that the sun draws its light from Brahman, who alone is Self-illuminating. He is also known as Prakāśa, the Light by which everything else is illuminated. This argument is supported by two other words of the verse vivasvantaṁ and bhāskaraṁ. Vivasvat means both Prakāśa and Vimarśa. It is not only the original source of Light, but also diffuses the Light. It can be recalled that Śiva is the original source of Light or Prakāśa. Śakti diffuses the Light of Śiva and hence She is known as Vimarśa. But according to this verse, both Prakāśa and Vimarśa are subtly conveyed and their unified form is known as Paramaśiva. In Paramaśiva both Light and reflection of Light are inherent. Therefore, this verse subtly reveals Brahman, who is often explained as Paramaśiva. It is not only Śiva, but also Śakti. Their unified form is known as Paramaśiva.

Further, gods and demons are not going to worship sun, as sun is considered only as a planet. It is said in Rāmāyaṇa that Rāvaṇa apprehended all the nine planets which includes the sun and kept them under his custody. Hence it is obvious that what is referred here is not the sun god, but Brahman. Only Brahman is worshiped by both gods and demons alike. This is followed by another word pūjayasva, which means worshiping with earnestness. It is not just worship, but it is worship with earnestness. It says that unless Brahman is earnestly worshiped (contemplated), the darkness of māyā cannot be removed. If He is worshiped with earnestness, He removes the darkness of māyā by His Light. This means through earnest meditation, Light (the Self or Brahman) can be realized within, which will remove the darkness and boundaries of māyā.

The other word that is very important in this verse is bhāskaraṁ, which refers to the Self-illuminating aspect of Brahman. Bhāskara not only refers to the sun, but also means ‘making of Light’, obviously referring to Brahman. This is explained in Yajur Veda (Taittrīya Saṁhitā) III.iv.11.17 which says,

प्र स मित्र मर्तो अस्तु प्रयस्वान् यस्त आदित्य शिक्षति व्रतेन।
न हन्यते न जीयते त्वोतः नैनमहो अश्नोति अनितो न दूरात्॥

pra sa mitra marto astu prayasvān yasta āditya śikṣati vratena |
na hanyate na jīyate tvotaḥ nainamaho aśnoti anito na dūrāt ||

The above Veda couplet says, “O! Mitra, may the mortal have the pleasant and abundant offering who Āditya seeks to follow your law. Aided by you, he is not slain or oppressed. Sin or any other afflictions does not come to him, either from near or from afar.” The above verse forms part of sandhyāvandana mantras-s. Seeks to follow your law refers to law of Brahman (Law of Karma also known as Law of the Lord). Aid by you means having obtained His Grace, in the form of appearance of Light within or realisation of the Self within (Ātman). The next part of the verse says that if He is realized, he will not face oppression, accrue further sin, will not be affected by anything either near or far away. Accrual of sins cease only if the Self within is realized. In other words, unless one surrenders to Brahman, accrual of sins cannot be stopped. This truth revealed in all Upaniṣad-s. This devotee transforms into a Yogī.

Destroying boundaries and limitations on the grosser side mean dawn. On the subtler side, it talks about māyā, which always limits spiritual knowledge. It is only due to māyā, we feel that our body, which is bound both by organs of perception and action coupled with antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intellect, consciousness and ego). Destroying conveys the destruction of māyā, which is always compared to darkness and illusion. When māyā is destroyed, sense organs antaḥkaraṇa are subjugated.

Verse six above also says bhuvaneśvaram. Bhuvana means three words referred in Gāyatrī mantra - bhūḥ bhuvaḥ and suvaḥ. If we go by grosser interpretation, it means that the sun pervades all the three worlds. But in reality, sun does not shine in all the three worlds. Three loka-s or worlds mean the three stages of consciousness. Bhūr means the lower level of consciousness and lower planes. Bhuvar means the ordinary or normal level of consciousness that is associated with our day to day activities. Svar means higher level of consciousness. Thus, the three vyāhṛti-s in fact mean the modifications in the level of consciousness. Three loka-s are also commonly enumerated, viz. heaven, earth, and the atmosphere or lower regions. Bhūr-loka, the earth; Bhuvar-loka the space between the earth and sun inhabited by sages and saints; Svar-loka, Indra's Heaven above the sun or between it and the polar star. But sun is restricted only our galaxy known as Milky Way. Sun of our solar system does not shine in two other worlds described in Gāyatrī mantra. Bhuvana in the verse is followed by Iśvara, the Supreme Lord or Brahman. Sun is not called Iśvara.

Therefore, it is obvious that the verse refers only to Brahman. Agastya advices Rāma to remember His original Brahman form. If Brahman is nirguṇa, Rāma is an incarnation or saguṇa form of Brahman. Brahman incarnated in the form of Rāma to uphold dharma and destroy adharma in order to maintain the balance between the two.

The verse subtly conveys that we should meditate on the Self-effulgent Brahman to go past māyā and realize Him to stop accumulation of further sins. Unless all our karmas are exhausted, we are bound to undergo the pains of transmigration.

More articles:

Aditya Hrudayam - Part 2

Aditya Hrudayam - Part 4