Cairo (Egypt): A team of archaeologists has discovered the ruins of an ancient temple in Abusir region near (Cairo) in Egypt which they claim to be one of the ancient four Sun Temples of Egypt. The Polish and Italian excavators state that this temple was probably built by the King Nyuserre of the fifth dynasty that ruled from 2465BC to 2323 BC. Numerous artifacts were also unearthed which included containers, glasses and ceramic potterythat were used for drinking beverages.
The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, on July 31, announced the discovery on Instagram.
“The joint Italian-Polish archaeological mission, working at the temple of King Niuserre in Abu Ghorab, north of Abu Sir, discovered the remains of a mud-brick building below the temple. The discovery hints that the remains might belong to one of the lost four solar temples from the Fifth Dynasty, known only in historical sources but yet to have been found thus far,” it said.
According to the ministry, the pharaoh – the sixth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period – demolished part of the structure to build his temple. The team discovered several pots and beer glasses that will aid their research.
The Ancient Egyptians worshipped “Ra”, an important solar deity of the Egyptian Mythology. The Sun was a source of light and energy for them. Most importantly, he was the patron deity of the Egyptian Kings (Pharaohs). He was often depicted as a hawk headed figure. The first sun temple was discovered in the 19th Century. King Nyuserre also built six pyramids in addition to the Sun Temple. Goddesses such as Sekhmet, Wadjet, Menhit, Hathour and Isis were adored in ancient Egyptian Religion.The Pharaoh was called as son of “Ra”.
With the rise of the Twelfth ruling dynasty, Ra was combined with another deity called Amon and was worshipped as Amon-Ra. In Egypt, sun worship reached its zenith during the reign of Amenhotep IV. In fact, the rulers of 5th Dynasty of Egypt: Shepsekare, Nyuserre and Uskeraf were ardent devotees of the Sun god “Ra” and the whole dynasty is credited for popularising sun worship in Ancient Egypt.
Sun (Ravi, Surya, Aditya, Martand, etc. in Sanskrit language) Worship was practised in India as well. The oldest and the most prominent Sun Temple in India is in Konark, Odisha. Another ancient temple was located in Multan (now a part of Pakistan). Hinduism in particular has a detailed and dedicated procedure for worshipping the Sun. Hindus even today offer water to the Sun (called Arghya). Numerous Vedic Hymns such as “Aditya-Hridhay Stotra” is found in Valmiki Ramayana. In Indian Astrology, Sun is considered as the king of all the nine planets and even certain constellations called Nakshatras were under his lordship.
‘Suryopasana’ in Hindu Dharma
Prior to the later Vedic Period, before Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism came into being, the early Indians worshipped the sun god by the name of Pushan. Pushan later came to be known as “Surya”. There is a sect in India which is focused on sun centred worship. It goes by the name of “Saura”. The people of this sect consider Surya to be ultimate reality (Param Brahma)
In Eastern India, particularly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh along with Jharkhand, a festival known as “Chhat-Puja” is observed by the inhabitants and even by the Indian Diaspora in various other countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Maldives and Indonesia. Another Indian religious practise prevalent in Ancient India and till date that involves worship of sun. It is called as “Sandhyavandanam”. Surya Namaskar (or Sun Salutation) is a prominent yogic exercise that is practised in Akharas (Gymnasiums). Orthodox Hindus start their day and work routine by paying homage to Surya.
In medieval India, The Kacchwaha clan of Rajputs (rulers of Jaipur) especially Jai Singh II established sundials and observatories which are now know known as “Jantar Mantar”. He also built them in various cities such as New Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura.
Rajput Kings and their clans often drew their lineage from Surya, the sun god, and were called “Suryavanshis”. The Hindu Deity Rama is also a Suryavanshi king. Indian Rulers especially the Rajputs were known for worship of the Sun. They also used the Sun as an emblem on their Flag (Dhwaj) and also on their armour/ shields. Some sects of Hinduism often equate Surya with Narayana. They use the term “Suryanarayana” to denote the sun.