Where does the Sun Salute – Surya Namaskar come from?

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Since ancient times, human beings have used symbols to name the supreme guru, and the most used symbol of this kind was Surya, or the great Sun. One of the most beautiful Vedic mantras known as the Gayatri Mantra is addressed to the sister as “the one who enlightens our minds.”

In Yoga sutra (chapter one, verses 24-26), Patanjali speaks of Ishvara as the primordial guru, the teacher of all teachers, as Ishvara. This, of course, is not a man, he represents that high state of consciousness, which transforms us from ordinary individuals into an egotistical state, to a state of transcendence and boundlessness.

From a mythological point of view, the Sun Salute or Surya Namaskar has its origins in the story of the God Monkey or Hanuman, the hero of the Indian Ramayana epic, who was fascinated by Surya from birth. As a child, he saw the Sun high in the sky, and thought it was a bright mango fruit. Using his supernatural powers, he stretched to the sky and grabbedwhen the Sun with his hands that had lengthened beyond measure, stuffed him in his mouth and began to chew him, producing because of this a total darkness, which of course alerted all the gods. The sun was burning his mouth, but the stubborn monkey did not want to let go, so Lord Indra was forced to throw his diamond lightning (varja) into Hanuman’s chin. Only then, he managed to open Hanuman’s mouth, releasing the Sun, and restoring the light to the entire universe. But the lightning (vajra) hurt Hanuman, in fact he broke his chin (inn) from where he gets this nickname, as “the one with the broken chin”. The angry gods temporarily withdrew Hanuman’s powers, but because they were saddened by the accident suffered by him, they gave him the special power of strength, of speed, of change of form, of a prodigious memory, and the qualities of a true devotee of God, all these powers being restored to him in the future when he met and served Lord Ram.

Meanwhile, Hanuman was growing up and needed education. “Why don’t you ask Surya?” he suggested his mother, Anjana. “He leads his carriage into the sky every day, and he sees and knows everything that is going on in the world. He knows the sacred scriptures and flies higher and farther than you can. I’m sure he’s already forgotten the little incident with mango fruit, since you were a kid.”

So Hanuman asked Surya to be his teacher, but Surya refused him. He had forgiven Hanuman for trying to eat him, but he said, “I have a lot to do, and I don’t have time for anything. I have to move all the time, I can’t stop teaching you, and other than that, how can I teach you while I’m traveling?”

“What if I went with you?” Hanuman asked him. “Will you receive me as a disciple then?”

You won’t be able to, Surya retorts, “but either, I agree.”

Hanuman flew and joined Surya on his way onto the celestial vault. Surya, who appreciated perseverance in a disciple, began to expose her teachings as she went through her daily path. Hanuman was always facing his teacher, which meant that he always traveled with his back forward, but shouldn’t that be the case, to respect your teacher?

In a way, this reversal of Hanuman, is at the origin of the sun salute (Surya namaskar). If you think about the movements you make during its execution, you will notice that you are moving from front to back, and you have to return again to the front of the isoprene, to continue with a new series of movements.

Hanuman was such a diligent disciple that in a single week he managed to learn the Vedas in its entirety. Surya was very pleased with his progress and refused Hanuman any payment, telling him, “Seeing a devoted student, as he progresses in teaching, is in itself an act of reward.”

All right,” said Hanuman, “then I can offer you my thanks and namaskar (special resunostinta).

And so the cycle of moves called surya namaskar was born, as a result of the dakshina guru that Hanuman offered to Surya.

Historically, surya namaskar, developed from the morning practice performed at sunrise, to honor Surya, as a source of energy and light for the whole world. In 1920, Raja of Aundh, introduced a series of physical movements of sun salutation in the schools of his little kingdom, in the Mahrashtra region, India, and published a brochure advising everyone, children, and adults to adopt this practice that is extremely beneficial for physical and spiritual health.

Today, most of those who study yoga, learn the sun salute from the first yoga lessons, being considered an extremely beneficial exercise for the entire body.

An entire cycle of sun salutation usually comprises a series of 12 movements, the body moving from front to back and back. In order for the practice to be as inspired as possible, we can imagine that as we execute surya namaskar, in front of us is our master, but not every master, but even Ishvara, the one who guides us and illuminates our life and the universe, just as Surya does for the whole world, and we offer her every move with love and gratitude.



After an article by Zo Newell, https://yogainternational.com

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