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Commentary with Namavali : by N.Balasubramanian bbalu at satyam.net.in
Aditya Hridayam is a popular hymn. It appears in the Yuddhakandam in Valmiki's Ramayana. It is a prayer to Aditya. One meaning of `Aditya` is the sun. But, in this hymn `Aditya` is to be taken to signify the Supreme Being. `Hridayam` is known to mean the heart; but it also means secret. The prayer holds in itself the secret teachings of the upanishads about the Supreme Being. The various names of the Lord mentioned in the hymn are of great significance and so justify the name `hridayam`. Given below are the 138 names of the Lord nAmAvaliH culled from the hymn. They come handy for those who want to do prostrations to the Lord while uttering each name and those who want to do puja to the Lord. Those who want to do puja may invoke the Lord in a design (rangoli) or a picture or in a pot of water and perform archana after reciting each name. They are also suitable for reciting by those who, for some reason are not able to do any of the above or recite the hymn in full.
(The following abbreviations are used in the comments given below. VS - Vishnu Sahasranamam with the commentary of Shri Sankaracharya. LS - Lalitha Sahasranamam)
The Aditya Hridayam, as we all know, was taught by the sage Agastya to Shri Rama in the battle field. The battle with Ravana was fierce and long-drawn. Rama was tired and concerned at the fact that the end was not in sight. At that time the sage appeared on the scene and taught Aditya Hridayam. He advised Shri Rama to worship Surya and repeat the verses three times. He said that by doing so the Lord will be pleased wirth his devotion and ensure victory in the battle
pUjayasvainamekAgro devadevaM jagatpatim | etat triguNitaM japtvA
yuddheShu vijayiShyasi |
Before proceeding further, some questions may arise in the minds of the reader who has some familiarity with this hymn.
1 - Who is Aditya? Is He the same as the sun we see rising and setting daily or some one different?
2 - Why does the sage ask Shri Rama to recite the prayer three times?
3 - And lastly, we know that Shri Rama was an avatar or incarnation of the Supreme Being. This being so, why should He be asked to pray to some one?
The answer to these questions require some explanation. They are given below.
THE LORD'S MANIFESTATIONS.
The upanishads say that the Supreme Being or the Lord (will be called as He here) is without any attributes including form.. But He manifests Himself in three forms for the benefit of His devotees.
1 - In the gross form sthUla rUpeNa .
The eyes cannot see Him, because He is the power behind the eyes. So, the kindly Lord makes Himself visible in the form of Aditya or the sun. Shri Rudram (7th and 8th Rik) says this.
asau yastAmro aruNa uta babhruH suma~NgalaH |
asau yo.avasarpati nIlagrIvo vilohitaH|