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Aditya (आदित्यः) in general, refers to the son of Aditi or Devamata (अदितिपुत्त्रः). Surya is also called by the name Aditya. Aditi and Kashyapa Prajapati's twelve children are referred to as Dvadasa Adityas, as a distinct group of deities (द्वादशादित्यगणम्) having specific names. Their role in the cosmos is similar to that of Surya devata with few differences. Dvadasha Adityas are involved in the Sauravyuha or the solar transit in a year where they travel with a specific gana constituting one Rishis, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Apsaras, Serpents, and Rakshasas along with him performing different functions.
Sirdar K.M. Panikar in his preface to the book "Rgveda samhita" writes thus about Adityas :
''Generally we think of Surya (the Sun) when we hear the word Aditya. But there are many different Adityas in Rgveda, chief of them is Varuna. Though Savita, Pusa and Mitra are all synonyms of Surya in Rgveda they are all separate devas. There is no end to the varieties of Adityas and their prominence in the Vedas. Summarising we can say thus. The familiar devas like Indra, Agni, Varuna and Surya are not found in the same form or power as we are taught to believe. Those whom we have lowered down to the posts of the eight sentries of the universe are very prominent devatas in the Vedas. Many Adityas have merged in Surya and winds in the god of Vayu. Rudra has merged in Siva. Who will believe that the all-powerful Deva of the Rgveda and the vain, glorious Indra who lives in fear of men doing penance are one and the same person?"
Birth and Lineage
अदितिः कश्यपाज्जज्ञे आदित्यान् द्वादशैव हि ।। १७१.५५ ।। (Mats. Pura. 171.55)
The twelve sons born to Kasyapa of his wife Aditi are known Adityas (द्वादशादित्यगणम्). Aditi is the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. The names of these twelve sons of Aditi are given variously in different sources.
|Source||Samskrit Names||English Names|
|Shabdakalpadhruma||विवस्वान् १ अर्य्यमा २ पूषा ३ त्वष्टा ४ सविता ५ भगः ६ धाता ७ विधाता ८ वरुणः ९ मित्रः १० शक्रः ११ उरुक्रमः १२ । एते कश्यपात् अदितिभार्य्यायां जाताः ।||Vivasvan, Aryama, Pusha, Tvashta, Savitr, Bhaga, Dhata, Vidhata, Varuna, Mitra, Shakra and Urukrama.|
|Matsya Purana||इन्द्रो विष्णुर्भगस्त्वष्टा वरुणो ह्यर्यमा रविः। पूषा मित्रश्च धनदो धाता पर्जन्य एव च ।। १७१.५६ ।।||Indra, Vishnu, Bhaga, Tvashta, Varuna, Aryama, Ravi, Pusha, Mitra, Dhanada, Dhata, Parjanya.|
|Bhagavata Purana (Skanda 12 11.33-44)||धाता कृतस्थली हेतिर्वासुकी रथकृन्मुने... (Adhyaya 11.33)||Dhata, Aryama, Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Vivasvan, Pusha, Parjanya, Amshu, Bhaga, Tvashtra, Vishnu|
|Mahabharata (Adi Parva. Adhyaya 66. 15-16)||धाता मित्रोऽर्यमा शक्रो वरुणस्त्वंश एव च। भगो विवस्वान्पूषा च सविता दशमस्तथा।। एकादशस्तथा त्वष्टा द्वादशो विष्णुरुच्यते। जघन्यजस्तु सर्वेषामादित्यानां गुणाधिकः।।||Dhata, Mitra, Aryama, Shakra, Varuna, Amsha, Bhaga, Vivasvan, Pusha, Savita, Tvashtra, Vishnu|
द्वादशादित्यकथा॥ Story of Dvadasha Adityas
According to Shabdakalpadhruma, Tvastra's daughter, Samjna, unable to bear the effulgence of her husband, Aditya, requests her father to split him into twelve parts, thus 12 Adityas originated. They arise one each in the twelve months of a year.
- कल्पान्तरे त्वष्टृकन्या संज्ञा आदित्यपत्नी आदित्यस्य तेजः सोढुमसमर्था अतस्तस्याः पितृकृतादित्यद्वादशखण्डा द्वादशादित्याः । तेषां द्वादशमासेष्वेकैकस्योदयः । इति पुराणं ॥
Besides these Aditi had twentyone children including Indra. All of them are called Adityas meaning children of Aditi. From the thirtythree sons of Aditi were born the thirtythree crores of devatas. Of these the eldest is Indra and the youngest, Vamana. (Sloka 36, Chapter 66, Adi Parva, M.B.). (There is corroboration for this in Sloka 14, Sarga 14, Aranya Kanda, Valmlki Ramayana) .