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Origins of the 108 Names of the Sun
From The Mahabharata Vana Parva
Section 3 Paragraph 3
These are the most auspicious 108 names of the praiseworthy and great-spirited Sun that were recited by the great-spirited Sakra. Narada acquired them from Sakra and Dhaumya obtained them afterwards. Yudhisthira obtained them from Dhaumya and he acquired all that he desired.
The Sun, which is a representation of the Supreme, is known by 108 names. These are the hundred and eight names of Surya of immeasurable energy, as told by the self-created Brahma. These names where disclosed by Brahma, the self-created, to the illustrious Indra, and from Indra to Narada, and from Narada to Dhaumya, and from Dhaumya to the Pandavas.
I bow down to you, O Surya, blazing like gold or fire, who is adored by the devas and the Pitris and the Yakshas, and who is adored by Asuras, Nisacharas, and Siddhas.
In 1979, I was studying for a degree in History and Comparative Religion at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. That year, I also studied Sanskrit at the University’s East West center under a world-renowned pundit and professor named Ramanath Sharma, who was so brilliant that in his youth he had memorised all 4,000 rules of the ultimate Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi of Panini.
One day I shared with him my sense of loneliness and isolation at being a western Caucasian and a convert to the Vedic culture of Bharat (India). I had been a Jyotishi since 1973 and was struggling to live and to stay steady in my studies. His reply was to teach me a mantra from the Mahabharat, that was given to the great Maharaja Yudhisthira on the eve of the Pandavas thirteen-year exile to the forest.
Over the years since then, I have chanted this mantra every day, and have been wonderfully awakened, empowered and protected by its grace. In that same spirit of empowerment, I am now passing the 108 names of Surya onto my community of fellow Jyotishis, to thereby strengthen them as they continue to share the light of Vedic vidya throughout the world. This ancient mantra was originally given to Indra the chief among the Devas by Brahma the creator of all. Indra then gave it to the mystic sage Narada, who then initiated the great Yogi Dhaumya and he taught it to Maharaja Yudhisthira 5,000 years ago.
Eventually, it was given to my Sanskrit guru Ramanath Sharma, who so generously passed it on to me as a catalyst to the great global renaissance of Vedic wisdom and now, with this small booklet, I Kavindra Rishi, pass the Lamp of Surya onto you.
May you shine bright and may you always serve the well-being of all under its protection.