Updated: Feb 25, 2021
This year the festival is celebrated on Thur18 Feb 2021 Magha Sukla Saptami . Worship is most beneficial at sunrise at your location. Snan Muhurat on Ratha Saptami - 04:48 AM to 06:25 AM Duration - 01 Hour 37 Mins
Sri Maha Ganapataye Namaha
Sri Saraswatyai Namaha
Sripada Vallabha Narasimha Saraswati
Sri Guru Dattatreyaya Namaha
Adideva namastubhyam, Prasida mama bhaskara
Divakara namasatubhyam, Prabhakara namostute
Because we are worshipers of the Sun God, this day is special for us. The Sun God incarnated on this seventh day of the bright fortnight in the lunar month of Magha.
The Matsya Purana states that this is the day the Sun God first gave Darshan to planet earth on his golden chariot drawn by seven horses. This day (Magha Shuddha Saptami), is widely known as Ratha Saptami. The writers of the almanac (panchanga kartas) also call this day Surya Jayanti.
This day as special just as a day of solar eclipse. Charities and noble deeds performed on this day earn the same merit as the charities and noble deeds performed on the day of a solar eclipse. Those who worship the sun on Ratha Saptami day are bestowed with good health.
Sri Krishna’s narration
Noticing the devotion to Sun God in Dharmaraja when the Pandavas were in exile, Sri Krishna narrated the story of Ratha Saptami. Once upon a time, the country of Kambhoja was ruled by a king called Yashovartaka. He was advancing in age, but had no children. After a long time, he had a son. But the king’s happiness did not last long. The boy’s body was filled with diseases. No number of doctors could help. The boy’s health did not get better. The king summoned all the scholars and showed them the boy’s horoscope, asking them the reason for his son’s state and praying to them to suggest a solution. The scholars observed his grief, examined the boy’s horoscope, and said, “O King, your son was very wealthy in his previous birth. But what was the use? He did no charity and no noble deeds. But towards the end of his birth, he viewed the Ratha Saptami ritual. Because of that, he is now born as a king’s son. For his diseases to go away, he must observe the Ratha Saptami ritual. He will become free from all diseases and become completely healthy again. As per the instructions of the scholars, the king of Kambhoja observed the Ratha Saptami ritual and by the grace of Sun God, helped his son get relief from all diseases and made him perfectly healthy. Thus, Sri Krishna narrated the story of the Ratha Saptami ritual.
How to observe Ratha Saptami simply
So, on this day, if one takes a bath with seven Calotropis Gigantea (Arka leaves or seven Jujube (Regi in Telugu) leaves, the sins of seven births will be destroyed.
Janani janma lokanam, saptami sapta saptike,
Sapta vyavritike devi, namaste surya matrke
Praying, “O Saptami with the seven horses, you are the Mother of the worlds. To you, the mother of Sun God, salutations”, one should offer oblations (Arghyam) to sun god. Worshiping Sun God, one must offer water (Tarpanam) to Sun.
One must wake up early and have a full bath including hair wash. You can offer Pongal to Sun God. There is a lot of scientific meaning behind using Calotropis Gigantea, (Arka leaves, Jujube and Hyacinth Beans on this festival. Traditional practices have a lot of relationship with Science. Bhavishyottara Purana has stated the many significances of the Ratha Saptami festival. Sunday too is very dear to the Sun God. If Ratha Saptami falls on a Sunday, it bestows great merit. Such a Sunday is very special. The Skanda Purana states that such a day can ward off untimely death. On this day, it is the duty of every Indian to worship the Sun God.
By Lord Suryanarayana’s Grace, may everyone have good health. We pray to Lord Datta that everyone practice Dharmic activities with enthusiasm and with a good heart.
Sri Guru Datta
Ratha Saptami message – February 3, 2017 – New Zealand
Compiled by: Archana Penukonda
Deep significance of Ratha Saptami
The scriptures proclaim that the word “ratha” is symbolic of the mind. The mind is the chariot. Innumerable thoughts arise in the mind. These thoughts are like different horses, which pull the mind in many different directions. To enable the mind to progress toward the divine, the right set of horses should pull it in the right direction. This, indeed, is the spiritual insight and the deeper meaning of Ratha Saptami.
Ratha Saptami festival is celebrated on the seventh day of the bright half of the lunar month, Magha. The Sun’s northerly movement according to Hindu astrology is called Makara Sankranti. The seventh day is the time when the Sun starts gaining momentum in the zodiac after the culmination into Capricorn. This Northerly movement, Uttarayana, is “brahma mārga”--the direction towards the Divine. It is said that we should pull the ratha, which is our “mind”, to follow the brahma marga. It is also the wish of Paramātma the Supreme.
Lord Narayana is worshipped as Surya. In this form, the sun as Narayana is worshipped, “and “ūpāsana dvara”, meaning the Sun's outer orb is the entry point to Narayana at the center.
Different observances of Ratha Saptami
Early morning snānam with 7 Arka leaves(bath), Worship with Jala, red flowers, and offering of Pongal or sesame cakes, arathi to SuryaNarayana. Experience the divine presence by going to the temple. Witness pulling of a chariot, if there is one.
Snānam“ārunōdaya vēla thasyā snānam maha phalam” - Vishnu smriti
The month of Magha is precious for early morning bath, invoking Ganga in your shower/bath, using the leaves , one on the head, two on shoulders, on the knees and on the feet. These may be tied so as not to fall off. When taking bath in the flowing waters, it is advised to do so in the early morning hours, before anyone else starts using the stream. It is a practice to use sesame oil and light a lamp made in clay. While keeping a container on top with the “arka” leaf on the head offer jala and prayers of thanks and for the well-being of the world. While offering the jala facing the sun, a deeya made of wheat can be lit, placed in a tareeya and carefully held on the head.
The light of the lamp represents the divine who is splendrous and has the brilliance of thousands of suns. The head - śiras also called sahasrār – is the culmination point, which connect with the supreme. The lamp is like śatāri– the lord’s feet which bless us. Keeping this lamp on the head connects us with the divine. It is said that arka leaf has the effect of expanding the nerve centers, enabling us to perceive and receive divine blessings.
“yada janma krutam pāpam mayā janmasu janmasu।
tanmēy rōgam ca śōkam ca mākarihantu saptami।|”
“yētatjjanmakrutam pāpam yacca janmāntarārjitam।
manōvākkāyajam yacca jnātājnātēy ca yē punah॥”
“iti sapta vidham pāpam snānmēy sapta saptikēy।
sapta vyādhi samāyuktam hara mākari saptami॥”
“May the entirety of my sins accumulated in my present and previous births, on account of conscious and unconscious acts or those perpetrated by my vocal or mental roots, be dissolved on this makara saptami and may this sacred snānam with my earnest and heartfelt supplications and obeisance to you, Surya Dēva, in the form of seven kinds of sins and seven types of diseases be destroyed forever!”
Arghya mantram“sapta satpēvāhaprīta, saptalōka pradipan |
saptami sahitō dēva! grihānarghyam divākara ||”
“May you, Divākara!, who is fond of the number seven, riding on the chariot drawn by seven horses with seven names, bestow splendor to seven worlds, O Dēva! May I have the privilege of offering ‘arghya’ on this saptami tithi – seventh day - to mark my reverence!”
What is offered for worship?
Sesame seeds have the ability to absorb and emit high amounts of “sattva” – virtuous frequencies. This seed is a favorite of sun and therefore sweet made out of sesame seeds are offered as naivedyam. In addition, the lamp is lit using sesame seed oil. The food grain associated with sun god is the wholesome wheat. This pudding is prepared using wheat or pounded rice – avalakki. Pranayamas and Surya Pranam are also offered facing the Sun.
“The sun - Surya- is the visible presence, the vision of the divine, lord of excellence and wisdom, and the cosmic symbol of the Supreme. He is the Divine Light and Presence that fills all the worlds” – RgVeda. As we know, physically there is no other usual brilliance equivalent to Sun. He is also the source of inner enlightenment as the famous Gāyatri mantra suggests. He is the renewal of life on earth.
The Ratha Sapthami worship procedure is designed to imbue us with jnaana (knowledge of the Divine) and launch us towards the divine.
Surya ḍhyāna ṃantram
“japā kusuma-sankāṣam kāṣyapēyam mahā-dyutim |
tamōgnam sarva-pāpaghnam pranatōṣmi divākaram ||”
“Let us chant the glories of the Sun god, whose beauty rivals that of a flower. I bow to him, the greatly effulgent son of Kaśyapa, who is the enemy of darkness and destroyer of all sins”.
Chant Aditya Hridayam
A common hymn that is used to worship the sun is the āditya hridhayam (In the Rāṃayana, Yuddha kānda, Sage Agastya advises SriRama to recite āditya hridhayam, when he needed strength before the battle). Additionally, there are the twelve names of āditya that correspond to the twelve months and twelve zodiac signs that he is seen as passing through. Chanting these verses is supposed to invoke the benevolence of the Lord in all actions one does for the rest of the year.
The Sun God is also acknowledged as one of the eight forms of Lord Narāyana (astamurti). In the first Chapter, āranyaka (aruna praśnam) of the Yajurvēda the following seven suns are mentioned: ārōga, brāja, pathara, patanga, svarṇara, jyōtisīmān, vibhāsa. These seven suns are the emergent phenomenon of Kaṣyapa, who is the eighth sun and never seen. 'kaṣyapō'śṭamah; sa mahā-mērum na jahāti ' - He never leaves the Mahaa-meru mountain and is invisible. The sun is imagined to be travelling in a chariot drawn by seven horses. The number seven is significant with both the Sun in the form of seven horses/ his chariot and the above seven Suns.
Hidden meaning of these seven horses
The horses represent the five subtle pranas of the sense organs of the face, plus the mind and the intellect. The seven points of entry to the body are -- the two eyes, the two ears, the two nostrils and the mouth -- these holes. These allow the seven adhyātma-prānās to nourish the soul. This pertains to the celestial plane. The other five fundamental elements -- earth, water, fire, air and space -- together with the two principles called mahat and ahamkāra, are the seven-adhibhautika prānās, which constitute the vital airs belonging to the physical plane.
The seven Chandas or metre used in composition of hymns, including Vedas, as Gayatri, Brhati, Usnika, Jagati, Tristup, Anustup and Pankti.
The seven days of a week starting with Sunday, the day of Sun god Surya.
According to Mahabharata, Bhishma attained Liberation the day after Ratha Saptami, which is observed as Bhishma Ashtami. The six-month period during which the sun travels northwards (Uttarayana) is highly favorable for life renewal and sustenance.