- How to chant Aditya Hrudayam?
- How does it help in life?
- What is the story behind this?
The Aditya Hridayam, meaning heart of Surya, is a hymn to Surya the sun god that the sage Agastya told Rama on the battlefield of Lanka right before his battle with Ravana, as described in the Yuddha Kanda of the Ramayana. Here is what Agastya tells Rama:
O Rama, the mighty armed! Hear the following eternal secret, by which you can conquer all the enemies in battle, my child! This holy hymn dedicated to the Sun deity will result in destroying all enemies and bring you victory and never ending supreme bliss.
He then praises Surya effusively, after which he gives the actual hymn:
namaḥ pūrvāya giraye paścimāyādraye namaḥ |
jyotirgaṇānāṃ pataye dinādhipataye namaḥ ||
jayāya jayabhadrāya haryāśvāya namo namaḥ |
namo namaḥ sahasrāṃśo ādityāya namo namaḥ ||
nama ugrāya vīrāya sāraṅgāya namo namaḥ |
namaḥ padmaprabodhāya pracaṇḍāya namo.astu te ||
brahmeśānācyuteśāya sūryāyādityavarcase |
bhāsvate sarvabhakṣāya raudrāya vapuṣe namaḥ ||
tamoghnāya himagnāya śatrughnāyāmitātmane |
kṛtaghnaghnāya devāya jyotiṣāṃ pataye namaḥ ||
Hail to you in the form of eastern mountain and hail to the western mountain. Hail to the lord of host of luminaries and hail to the lord of the day. Hail to you, the giver of victory, hail to you, the joy born of victory! Hail to you, the god with green horses, hail to you, having thousands of rays! Hail, hail to you the son of Aditi! Hail to you, the fierce one, hail to you the valiant one! Hail to you, the one with variegated colours! Hail to you, the awakener of the louts, hail to you, the furious one! Hail to you, the ruler of Brahma, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu the infallible, the sun-god, the light indwelling the solar orb, the resplendent one, the devourer of all, appearing in form of Rudra. Hail to you, the dispeller of darkness, the destroyer of cold, the exterminator of foes, the one whose extent in immeasurable, the destroyer of the ungrateful, the god, who is the ruler of all lights.
And here is the benefit he describes to Rama:
O Rama! No individual glorifying this sun-god, in distresses in difficulties; in the woods or in times of peril, comes to grief. Worship this sun-god, the lord of the universe and the god of all gods with undivided attention. Muttering this praise three times, you will come out victorious in battles. You will be able to kill Ravana at this very moment, O mighty armed one!
Agastya then left the battlefield, and Rama followed his instructions, sipping water three times and then saying the Aditya Hridayam three times, and as a result Surya himself (who was Rama'a ancestor after all) urged Rama on. And needless to say, Rama did indeed win his battle against Ravana.
By the way, I should mention that it's customary to recite the whole chapter, not just the actual hymn I quoted above.
- How to chant?
Take a bath early in the morning, face the Sun God and chant it. Make sure you do the namaskara mudra because Surya Deva is the lover of , and, easily appeased by namaskaram.
- How it helps in life?
Every word/phrase in the stotra tells us the greatness of both the Sun God and the benefits of worshipping him. But, in the introduction Sage Agastya says:-
"sarvanarin vatsa samare vijayishyasi ||"
It bestows victory in battle
"sarva shatru-vinashanam |"
It destroys all enemies (it has been extrapolated that it destroys all internal and external enemies as Surya is also the giver of knowledge)
It produces triumph
"akshayyam paramam shivam"
It grants everlasting (never deteriorating) supreme auspiciousness
"sarvamangala-mangalyam" "sarva papa pranashanam"
It imparts auspiciousness to all that is auspicious. It destroys all sin.
It alleviates worry and sorrow
Note: the prefix "pra" is used to indicate comparative/superlative effect and , when used, means that the job is done in a particularly glorious and most effective fashion.
This hymn that is of the highest order increases longevity ( life-span)
The stotram begins after this with "raSmimantam". However, it is better to chant the preceding verses as well.
In the concluding part, sage Agastya teaches Rama the specific phala sruti (i.e. list of benefits) and this has been explained by Keshav
In general, the Sun God is the visible parabrahma, pratyaksha nArAyaNa. Sun worship bestows health, wealth, knowledge as well as liberation. In particular, Sun is worshiped for good health and the Aditya Hrdayam is the easy means to achieving all these goals.
- What is the story behind this?
Already answered by Keshav. To add, Rama felt slightly tired after fighting of the last and most dangerous of Ravana's battalions, his mUla sainya. Sage Agastya appeared before him and granted him the Aditya Hrdaya. Upon receiving the initiation, Rama performed "Acamana" , chanted the hymn and killed Ravana.
It cannot be considered an interpolation simply because Rama was taught the Bala Atibala mantras by Viswamitra earlier. This is a Mantra for defeating enemies. That is for eradicating hunger, thirst. See the subtle difference.