The Venkatachala Mahatmya of the Skanda Purana describes how Venkateshwara (the Vishnu deity in Tirupati, AKA Balaji or Srinivasa) meets Padmavathi for the first time. He saves Padmavathi from an elephant, and when Padmavathi and her friends ask him who he is, he says this (from page 24 of this excerpt):

Those conversant with ancient traditions say that our family is that of the Sun. Our names are innumerable. They sanctify learned men. By colour and name the ascetics say that I am Krishna. My discus instills fear in the minds of the enemies of Suras and those who hate Brahmanas. On hearing the sound of my conch enemies become confounded. Even among immortal beings there is no bow equal to mine.

My question is, why does Vishnu say his "family is that of the Sun"? Vishnu is actually an ancestor of Surya the sun god, not a descendant; Surya is the son of Kashyapa, who is the son of Marichi, who is the son of Brahma, who is the son of Vishnu. So I don't see how it makes sense to call Vishnu a member of the family of the Sun.

There are two possible reasons that I see:

  1. He could be referring to his incarnation (avataram) as Vamana the dwarf, who is one of the sons of Aditi and Kashyap. (Surya the sun god is another one of the sons of Aditi.)

  2. He could be referring to his incarnation as Rama, who was a member of the Solar dynasty.

Can anyone shed light on what Vishnu meant?


Lord Srinivasa uses the word Divakarakula. [Skanda Purana, Vaishnav Khanda, Venkatachalamahamatmaya, 4.47]

Divakarakula means "lineage/clan/dynasty of Surya". The translation provided in the question chooses "family" for kula, but it's more appropriately understood as "lineage", i.e. the Solar Dynasty or the Suryavanshi descendants of Ikshvaku. Lord Srinivasa is alluding to Lord Rama.

Consider that wherever the word kula occurs in scripture. In almost all of those cases, it's used in the sense of "vamsha", the greater clan or lineage, rather than the immediate family. The fruit of the Dinakarakula is Lord Rama. (Raghuveera Gadyam, Ramacharitmanasa)

  • This answer is just pure speculation. The whole point of my question was that I was unsure about whether family of the sun referred to Vamana, Rama, both or something else. So it does no good to say "some claiming Suryavanshi (Lord Vamana and Lord Rama)". I'm trying to find confirmation that that is in fact the reason that they're calling him a Suryavanshi. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 1 '14 at 15:09
  • Well, now that you mentioned it, Lord Vamana would be an Aditya, but not Suryavanshi. The Solar race are descendants of Ikshvaku. – Valarauko Jul 1 '14 at 15:14
  • Well, technically the translation doesn't say even Solar Dynasty, it just says his "family is that of the Sun". He's one of the Adityas, who are considered solar deities, so someone might call the Adityas "the family of the Sun". – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 1 '14 at 15:17
  • I seriously doubt it. Adityas derived their name from Aditi, not the Sun. It's an awkward translation to turn Aditya into the family of the sun. I think the original text is required here. – Valarauko Jul 1 '14 at 15:19
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    I disagree with that purport. The text is sacrosanct, not the translation or the purport. In the latter SB verses I quoted, it specifically distinguishes the Adityas mentioned as Adityas of the solar disc. It makes no sense to say that Lord Vishnu among Aditi's sons is only Vamana, and then later call Mitra, Varuna, Indra, etc as non different from Vishnu as well. The purports from that canto that extensively describe the solar Adityas never mention Aditi. I stand by my assertions. In any case, I have devoted as much time and effort to this matter as I care to. Do as you see fit. – Valarauko Jul 3 '14 at 2:16

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