Aditya, in Hinduism, is the collective name of the ruling principles that constrain the universe to shape its future. These principles are personified as the sons of Aditi. They are gods of the sun, the source of life. Eventually they were increased in number twelve to correspond with the twelve solar months. Initially there were eight sons, one, named Martanda, was born as a lifeless egg but was given the shape and life of the sun by the other Aditya, thus shared in the power of the sun. The eight are identified with the Vasus, the eight spheres of existence. When the number was extended to twelve (i.e. Taittirya Aranyaka 1. 13 and subsequent texts) they were identified with the twelve ruling principles and usually listed, but with occasional variants, as follows: Amsa (the share of the gods), Aryaman (generous, nobility), Bhaga (due inheritance), Daksa (ritual skill), Mitra (constancy in friendship), Pusan (prosperity), Sakra (courage), Savitr (power of words), Tvastar (skill in craft and technique), Varuna (fate), Vishnu (cosmic law), Vivasvat (social law). The attributes of the Aditya were two or more lotuses. In later times, the name Aditya was applied to any god (so fundamental are the twelve principle to the sustenance of the cosmos) through it became the epithet of Surya, the sun. Aditya-sunu, son of the Sun, was the name of Sugriva, the monkey-king of Ramayana and of others.

In Buddhism, Aditya is a name reserved for the Buddha. A.G.H.


Sources:

Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 20
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 3

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