Our life is linked to two energies —— that of the sun (surya) and the moon (Chandra). Sun is the God (devta) of knowledge (gyan). Its power (Shakti) is Gayatri, the source of all other shaktis of creation.. Hence, Surya Sadhna is the process by which one experiences the energy of the Sun.
The importance of the sun can be gauged to an extent from the role it plays in the physical creation —– plants use sunlight to make food and, in turn, provide nourishment to all beings on earth, the water cycle, the winds and the ocean currents all are regulated by the heating effect of the sun, the planets are held in their respective orbits because of attraction of the sun, it is the sun that brings the change in day and season.
Surya Sadhna is a highly potent practice. The Vedic Rishis would perform penance for decades together to achieve it. The process has been simplified in the ‘kalyug’. It is the easiest for us in ‘kalyug’, to access these energies, for in present times even small acts of ‘sadhna’ and ‘seva’ bear manifold results.
With every change in ‘yug’, there is a shift in the tilt of the earth’s axis. As a result, there is also change in the various shaktis governing creation. It is the tilt in earth’s axis that causes the apparent movement of the sun from north to south (solistices) crossing the equator twice a year (equinoxes)— Makar Sankranti marks the day when the sun appears to enter the zodiac of ‘makar’ (Capricorn). Traditionally, the day coincided with the northward movement of the sun having reached its southernmost point, the phenomenon known as UTTARAYAN in the Vedic Philosophy.
According to the Vedic tradition, the six months of UTTARAYANA are a single day of the Gods and the six months of DAKSHINAYANA are a single night of the Gods. In Mahabharata, Bheeshma Pitamaha chose to leave his body for the heavenly abode in this day, since it marks the onset of auspicious time.
However, due to the change in ‘yugas’, there has been a shift in date. While Makar Sankranti has moved to January 14 or 15, actual UTTARAYANA occurs on December 21 or 22. We must celebrate Makar Sankranti by offering our prayers to the Sun God as it is an extremely potent day that marks a ‘transition in energy’.