Surya Namaskara is one of the most important asana or pre asanas in Yoga Practice. Worshiping or offering pranams to sun god gives nice feelings and it also has its own deep history, spread all over the world. The Abrahamic faiths labeled the sun worship as Pagan, but the fascination with Sun was a common phenomenon throughout the history of civilizations. We find in all the civilizations that the worship of Sun God was prominent and there was no civilization which did not worship Sun God. Though the process of worship was not the same but all of these diverse civilizations commonly accepted the sun as the ruler, the sacred king, of both upper and lower worlds. In some civilizations the process of Sun worship was detailed and systematic and for some it was done using solar motifs.
In India Many kings have ruled as the descendant of Sun God. The Ramayana and Mahabharata talk about the two major clans and their descendants. Ramayana chronicles the life of Sri Rama who came from Surya vamsa (clan of Sun God) and Mahabharata details the life of Sri Krishna who came from Chandra vamsa (Moon Dynasty).
The worship of Sun God is also mentioned in the history of ancient Egyptian civilization, where Sun god was called, “Re”. It talks with regards to Sun's movement over the heavenly ocean, where Sun starts his journey as young god Kheper, then in the afternoon he is full-grown sun, “Re”, and becomes Atum in the evening.
Before the advent of Christianity, all the rituals of the ancient Mexican and Peruvian systems had important place for Sun. Their rulers were considered as incarnation of Sun God. The Japanese too worshiped goddess “Amaterasu” who was connected to Sun God.
The most famous recent example of solar cult is the Sun dance of the North America which was officially banned in America in early nineteenth century.
In Indian culture, the Sun god or Surya was worshiped in a well-defined and systematic manner and it is important to understand what does Surya stand for and what is its role in our nourishment. “Surya”, means the one who travels, the one who creates and the one who inspires. Surya also means the indwelling lord. Therefore, the followers of yogic path spent three times a day in worshiping the lord who is indwelling person in Sun, such worship is called as Sandhya vandana.
One of the reasons the followers of Sanatana dharma worship Sun God because Sun rays in the morning makes the world active and alert after the apparently inert dark night.
Incidentally Sun God also represents the transcendental knowledge. In Gita Sri Krishna says to Arjuna that originally the knowledge of Gita was taught to Sun God and eventually he taught it to Manu. Hanuman, the great devotee of Sri Rama also received the knowledge from Sun God.
Therefore, It is observed that the intelligent class of people in India never fails to worship Sun God through proper process. It is believed that the Sun is god and getting connected to his energy gives rise to higher levels of intelligence. Certainly some scientific research should be carried out by modern scientists in this regard.
During the Surya Namaskara, the Yogis chant the various names of Surya and every name has its specific meaning which denotes a particular function. Some of the names of Surya and their functions are;
In this way each name of Surya denotes some aspect of his activities during different time of the day. The practicing Yogi begins his day and his asana by offering his respect to that Sun God who reminds him the presence of the supreme. Therefore, in the Gita, it is that said the Sun god is the eye of the Supreme Brhaman. Sun is the witness to all of our activities like an eternal CCTV camera which cannot be tampered by anyone and remains constant active witness.
Let us make our asana be an act of gratitude and devotion to develop healthy body, healthy mind and a grateful heart