Om Urudvayanirmuktanijasarathaya Namaha, Salutations to the One whose charioteer is cut off at the thighs! The sarathi, charioteer, while disabled, paves the path of the Sun as the path of dharma, right action, right conduct, righteousness.
uru [L=7725] [p= 163] .uru¦ mfn. (-ruḥ-ruḥ-rvvī-ru) 1 Large, great. 2 Much, excessive. (wide, as in part of legs, i.e., thigh)
nija San. constant, continual etc. (in later Sanskrit used as a reflex. possess. pronoun equals sva-,my own, his own, our own etc.)
nij Hin. nija San., Tel., ?Tamil adj. one’s own; personal; special; real; true.
nija innate, inborn, native, indigenous, one’s own, continual, perpetual,
sārathī Hin. sārathi San. m. a charioteer (traditionally a man of mixed caste); a guide and helper, he who holds the reins – epithet of Krishna and Shrī Satya Sāī, the sārathi for everyone everywhere. ‘The body is the chariot and the teacher in the chariot is the Lord.’ ‘The Lord has installed himself in every heart as the charioteer
bhūtavāhanasarathi m. śiva-‘s charioteer, etc., etc.,
vinirmukta mfn. liberated, escaped, free or exempt from (instrumental case or compound)
vinirmukta mfn. discharged, shot off, hurled
Shad-vikara: Six fold process of change, viz., existence, birth, growth, change, decay and death.
The Story of Aruna
Aruna was the son of the great sage Kashyapa and Vinata, a daughter of Daksha. His mother had obtained a boon from her husband that she would have two offspring who surpassed the thousand sons (the serpents) of her sister (and co-wife) Kadru in glory. She gave birth to two eggs, which did not hatch for a long time. In her impatience, she broke open one of them and found Aruna inside it, but he had an undeveloped lower body. He cursed his mother to bondage for her impatience. He then took to the skies and achieved great glory by becoming the charioteer of Surya, the sun.
The story of how he became Surya’s charioteer is mentioned in Mahabharatha. When Surya was swallowed and then regurgitated by Rahu, in revenge for the incident of the nectar, he grew exceedingly angry with the other immortals, for they had suffered him to undergo this indignity. He thought, ‘Since no one came to my aid, what is the use of their existence? Let me destroy all creation with my great heat.’ Then he started multiplying his radiance, and the generated heat threatened to burn the world. The Devas beseeched Lord Brahma to save the world.
Lord Brahma said, “I shall place Aruna, the son of Kashyapa and Vinata in front of Surya. He is of large body and has divine radiance. He will become the charioteer of Surya and shield the world from his anger.” From that day, Aruna precedes Surya in the heavens and is worshipped along with the sun. Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu is his brother.
The Sun follows Dharma
Just as the Sun rises and sets daily, so also there are the shad-bhava-vikaras: Six fold process of change, viz., existence, birth, growth, change, decay and death. There is darkness, dawn, sunrise, apogee, dusk, twilight, sunset, and darkness again. Time is cyclic in nature, the Sun follows its own orbit (and is influenced by the magnetic pull of the largest planet, Jupiter [barycentre]), and our lives are filled with countless cyclic, repeating patterns and rhythms. However, Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun goes before the Sun without direction, instruction nor task-setting: both the Charioteer of the Sun and the Sun itself (Lord Surya) follow the same dharma, the self-same path through the skies and so sets the example to all forms of life: dharma is the foundation, the basis of life.
Disability in all forms
This particular salutation to the Sun gives the name of one who is disabled as one of the divine names of the Sun itself. Just as divinity is resident in all forms as hrudaya vasi (the inner resident) so also, Om Urudvayanirmuktanijasarathaya Namaha hails a disabled as one of the names and forms of Lord Suryanaryana, who resides within every being as the spark of light and life. Disability – of any kind – does not exclude one from the Divine Presence. The atma-shakti, the divine power resides within every being and is expressed in every life as one and other form of the divine. Disabled persons also share in the purusharthas, the four goals of life, and due disability, are frequently closer to THE SOURCE than others who do not sport any disability.
Disability is Dis-Ability. People with disabilities are “able”; in other words, not useless, incompetent, or inadequate, which are longstanding general beliefs about disability. The words ‘ability’ and ‘disability’ share the same root (able and its synonyms and derivatives: open, adequate to, equal to, up to, capable). There is no diminution of the human person or their capacity to partake in the life and works of the devotee; all are part of the kurukshetre that is dharmakshetre, (the field of action, which is the field of right action).
Aruna – the legless charioteer – precedes the Sun on the path of dharma, righteousness
We return to our theme of dharma – righteousness and following of righteousness by the Sun; the charioteer of the Sun, Aruna – who is a disabled person – precedes the Sun and makes straight the way of the Sun – the inner Sun of Lord Surya within each and every heart – as the one who follows dharma, the path of righteousness. So also, all disabled persons are partakers of this path of righteousness and may reach the goal of life: freedom from the cycle of birth, death and birth again.
Hanuman and the Sun
Hanuman was born with supernatural powers, which included a voracious appetite as a child. Being constantly hungry, he was always searching for food. One day when his mother was out, he looked up at the sun, Surya, and mistook it for a ripe, juicy mango. Taking an incredible leap into the sky, Hanuman grabbed the sun and started to eat it. But in that moment, the earth became covered in darkness – which caused all the other deities to become concerned. He was asked to release Surya, but he stubbornly refused. Only after having his jaw broken, was the sun released back into the sky.
As Hanuman grew, his mother decided that he needed an education. His mother approached Surya asking if he would tutor her child. The sun refused, remembering the past transgression, but also saying that it was impossible for him to teach the boy as he was constantly on the move. Hanuman insisted that he would be able to keep up with Surya and so the sun agreed faithfully shared all his wisdom with Hanuman. In gratitude, Hanuman offered to pay Surya his ‘guru dakshina’ which is the customary offering to the teacher. However, Surya refused. So Hanuman decided to honour his guru through the practice of Surya Namaskar – imitating his movements across the sky each and every day.