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In the Rig Veda, Surya, the god of the sun, was one of the three major deities along with Indra, and Agni. Being the most distinct of the Hindu sun gods, Surya is described as short, with a burnished copper body, ridding through the sky in a chariot drawn by seven ruddy horses and driven by Aruna, dawn, his wife or mother. He is credited with several parents, one of who is Brahma, while his own progeny includes Yama, the king of the dead, and Yamuna, the present River Jumna. These two, brother and sister, are thought by some to be the first human beings, just as Yama was the first man to die and journey to the other realm. When Surya's wife Sanjna, overpowered by his radiance, fled as a mare to the shade of a forest and studied meditation, the sun god came to her as a stallion. Later her father, Visvakarma, reduced Surya's brilliant rays by cutting away one-eighth of his substance, the fiery trimmings falling to the earth among other things as the disc of Vishnu and the trident of Shiva. Worship of Surya can be found in the Bihar and Tamilmad, where his benevolence is invoked for healing the ill. A.G.H.
Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology,
New York, G. P. Putman's Sons, 1980, p. 82