Surya symbolizes the Sun God. Surya is considered as the only visible form of God that can be seen every day. God Surya is regarded as an aspect of Shiva and Vishnu by Shaivites and Vaishnavas respectively. Surya is also known as Surya Narayana. Surya, the Sun God is also acknowledged as one of the eight forms of Lord Shiva (Astamurti). Surya is the lord of excellence and wisdom.
The celestial body, Surya (the sun) is visible in the sky. Still according to the Hindu beliefs, Surya is depicted as a red man with three eyes and four arms, riding in a one wheeled chariot pulled by seven horses.
Lord Krishna, while making a discourse to Arjun, in Vibhuti Yoga describes him as;
आदित्यानामहं विष्णुर्ज्योतिषां रविरंशुमान् ।
मरीचिर्मरुतामस्मि नक्षत्राणामहं शशी ॥
Of the Ādityas I am Viṣṇu, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Marīci, and among the stars I am the moon.
Surya forms the major god of the Navgraha (nine planets).Surya is the God of light as per the Vedic texts. Surya is the literal source of life. According to the scientific fact, the whole universe is based on the process of photosynthesis which takes place due to the presence of Surya (the sun).
A simple namaskaar (folding hands) to the lord makes him happy. Offering water to the God is too considered to receive the mercy. Surya is believed to be a generous deity capable of curing sick people, in India. Surya is usually remembered for the brilliance and light in one’s life.
Vivasvata had three queens; Saranyu , Ragyi, and Prabha. Saranyu was the mother of Vaivasvata Manu or Sraddhadeva Manu (present Manu) and the twins Yama and his sister Yami. She also bore him the twins known as the Ashvins, divine horsemen and physicians to the Devas. Saranyu, being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Surya, created a superficial entity from her shadow called Chhaya and instructed her to act as Surya’s wife in her absence. Chhaya mothered two sons – Savarni Manu (the eighth, i.e. next Manu) and Shani , and two daughters – Tapti and Vishti. He also has a son, Revanta, or Raivata, by Ragyi.
Interestingly, Surya’s two sons Shani and Yama are responsible for the judgment of human life. Shani gives us the results of one’s deeds through one’s life through appropriate punishments and rewards while Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.
In Ramayana, Surya is described as father of the King Sugriva, who helped Rama and Lakshmana in defeating the demon king Ravana. He also trains Hanuman as his guru. The Suryavanshi / Suryavansha dynasty of kings, Rama being one of them, also claims descent from Surya.
In the Mahabharata, Princess Kunti receives instruction for a mantra from the sage Durvasa; by reciting which, she would be able to summon any god and bear a child by him. Incredulous of the power of this mantra, Kunti unwittingly tests it on Surya, but when Surya appears, she gets scared and requests him to go back. However, Surya has an obligation to fulfil the mantra before returning.
Surya miraculously causes Kunti to bear the child immediately whilst retaining her virginity so that she, as an unmarried princess, need not face any embarrassment or be subjected to questions from society. Kunti feels compelled to abandon the child, Karna, who grows up to become one of the central characters in the great battle of Kurukshetra.