(Image courtesy: www.harekrsna.de)
Ratha Saptami - the auspicious day to worship Sun God falls on January 26, 2015.
This is believed to be the day when Sun God incarnated as son of Sage Kashyapa and his wife Adithi (hence his name Aadityaa!). According to puraanaas, it is believed that is on this day of Ratha Saptami that Lord Surya's chariot turns its actual northward movement towards North-east bringing much auspiciousness to all living beings. The chariot is said to have just one wheel (personification of the Wheel of Time!) drawn by 7 horses (indicating 7 days of the week; 7 rays of the Sun that stand for each colour of the spectrum, etc.). Thus this worship is in essence the worship of the Principle of Time that is controlled with perfection by Paramaatman (signified by Sun).
Worshipping Lord Sun on this day is very auspicious. As you might be aware, worship of Sun blesses one with health ("AarOgyam pra daatu Dinakarah" is the verse related to that). Sun God is a "Namaskaara Priyaha" , so offering Surya namaskaar in His Honour reciting His 12 names will be auspicious today.
The 12 names are "Mitra, Ravi, Soorya, Bhaanu, Kagha, Pooshna, Hiranyagarbha, Mariichi, Aaditya, savitaa, Arka, Bhaaskaraa".
Those who are initiated into Surya Ashtaakshari (8-syllable mantra) can recite that 108 times and offer arghya (oblation with pure water).
A special ritual unique to this day...
It is traditional to take bath with 7 Arka leaves (called Erukku in tamil, JillEdu in Telugu, Ekka in Kannada, and Bowstring hemp in English) on the body. The placement is 1 leaf on the head, two on the shoulders (one on each shoulder), two on the knees, and two on the feet, and then pouring water on oneself. You should keep some akshada (raw rice grains mixed with turmeric) on the leaves while placing them on your body and then take the bath.
The mantra to be recited is this:
"Om Yadyadjanma krutham paapam mayaa saptaasu janmasu
ThanmE RhOgancha SOkancha maakari hantu Saptamii"
YEtatjanmakrutham paapam yathaa janmaantaraarjitam
ManO Vaak kaayajam yaccha gnaathaaghnaathancha yath punah"
Iti saptavidham paapam snaanam ME saptha SapthakE
Saptavyaadhi samaayuktham hara maakari Sapthami"(This is basically a prayer that declares how sins accrue to us and follow us over births, and request the Saptami thithi Deity (Sun God and the thithi Nithya Devi who is subtly invoked in this mantra) to absolve us of all the sins, and hence the karmic effects of those like diseases and sorrow in life). Those who are unable to follow the transliteration of this mantra may just pray for removal of sins asking for pardon for all sins committed knowingly/ unknowingly, and hence relief from all troubles in life.
At the end of this ritual bath, we should offer "Arghyam" to Sun God and Saptami DEvi with the following mantra:
"Saptha Sapthi vaha preetha Saptha LOkha pradeepana
Sapthamii sahitO Deva gruhaanaarghyam Diwaakara" (offer pure water three times facing the Sun in the morning saying this mantra).
Those who can - might recite mantras like Surya Sahasranaamam, Surya Atharva seersha upanishad, Aaditya Hrudayam, Suryaashtakam, etc. and get additional benefits.
Charities that can be done on this day
1) Donating to hospitals catering to sick patients.
2) Gupta Kooshmanda daanaa is a powerful dhaana that can be done today (gemstones - especially Ruby, gold, and silver are concealed inside a pumpkin and donated to a vedic Brahmin.....You should not reveal what/ how much is concealed inside the pumpkin to them. That is why it is called Gupta Dhaana! It is difficult to get a good Brahmin to accept this dhaanaa because this is a powerful remedy that involves "transfer of karma from the giver to the receiver"; no amount of money in the world will impel a vedic brahmin to accept this! On the other hand, gifting it to a person who is just a brahmin by birth but without vedic knowledge or ritual purity, is useless; so, if you are suffering from great troubles, request an elderly or mature vedantic brahmin to accept the charity to alleviate your pains...they may consent to this out of piety, and then use that amount for charitable purposes like yagnas, temple renovation, feeding poor, etc.). There are other dhaanas like saaligraama dhaana, vastra dhaana (gifting traditional Panchakaccha dhoti), etc. that can be done today which will be easily accepted by any priest. You can offer these at vedic patashalas near your place or to a respected Pandit who is explaining Puranic truths/ spiritual precepts to a lot of people from an altruistic point of view.
Even if you can't offer the special dhaanas as mentioned above, make it a point to donate at least a small amount of money in charity (may be just a dime to a beggar outside a temple; or purchasing a piece of sweet to a poor child in your neighbourhood). No man is so poor that they can't donate anything, and there is always someone poorer than you! Please remember that....it is not how much you donate but with what attitude you donate that is important in absolving you of your karmic liabilities. Once your karma is reduced even by small amounts, you will be amazed at how things begin to take a positive turn in life.
May our members worship Sun God who is the Manifest Form of Absolute Divine and absolve themselves of all sins and the resultant problems in life.
Astrological and Remedial consultant