A very happy Pongal and Shankaranti to all my readers !! I hope you are celebrating with your families and enjoying some tasty chakkarai pongal today. For those unfamiliar with this festival, this ancient celebration marks the new harvest but also uttarayana, the northward movement of the sun. The festival is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. It is appropriate therefore to mark the day with a recitation of Aaditya Hrudayam, the most powerful stotra dedicated to Surya.
Found in the 107th sarga of Yuddha Kanda in Valmiki Ramayana, the stotra is preached to Sri Rama by the sage Agastya. Tired mentally and physically with his war with Ravana and worried about Ravana’s Maya Shakti, Rama is adviced by sage Agastya to recite this ancient stotra three times to gain renewed energy and strength.
Aaditya Hrudayam is in other words ‘aaditasya hrudayam’ or the essence of the Sun God. In a spiritual sense, the essence or the innate qualities of the sun such as self-luminosity (swatejas), all pervading presence (sarvavyapi), witnessing without being involved (sakshi swaroopa) reflect the qualities of Brahman or the ultimate God (Reference: paper by Dileep Bellave , 2004)
Recitation of this beautiful and powerful stotra is said to give devotees strength to face difficulties and it also illuminates the mind. Who can say no to blessings such as these?
The stotra starts with describing the setting – Lord Rama’s state of mind and an introduction by sage Agastya.
सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्यं सर्वपापप्रणाशनम्। चिन्ताशोकप्रशमनम् आयुर्वर्धनमुत्तमम्॥ ५॥
This hymn is supreme and is a guarantee of complete prosperity and is the destroyer of sin, anxiety, anguish and is the bestower of longevity.
Then the qualities of the Sun God are described; these mirror the qualities of Brahman. After this salutations are addressed to the God. The sage says तमोघ्नाय हिमघ्नाय शत्रुघ्नायामितात्मने। Salutations to the transcendental atman that dispels darkness, drives away all fear, and destroys all foes. This in essence is the power of the stotra. The last section describes the phalastuti or ‘fruits of reciting’.
For the lyrics in Sanskrit, transliteration and translation, click here.
Listen below to S.P.Balasubramaniam’s beautiful recital of the stotra.
To learn, it is easier with subtitled recitations on youtube like this.