“arka mandala madhyastham sūryakōti samaprabham ।
brahmādi sēvya pādābjam naumi brahma ramā sakham” ॥
“I salute to Lord Narayana who resides in the center of sun orb, who is the equivalent the brilliance of of thousands times this sun, whose lotus feet are worshipped by Brahma.”
What is the purpose of observing Ratha Saptami?
The scriptures proclaim that the word “ratha” is symbolic of the mind. The mind is the chariot. Innumerable thoughts arise in the mind. These thoughts are like different horses, which pull the mind in many different directions. To enable the mind to progress toward the divine, the right set of horses should pull it in the right direction. This, indeed, is the spiritual insight and the deeper meaning of Ratha Saptami.
Ratha Saptami festival is celebrated on the seventh day of the bright half of the lunar month, Magha. The Sun’s northernly movement according to Hindu astrological reckoning is called Makara Sankranthi. The seventh day is the time when the Sun starts gaining momentum in the zodiac after the culmination into Capricorn. This Northernly movement, Uttarayana, is “brahma mārga”--the direction towards the Divine. It is said that we should pull the ratha, which is our “mind”, to follow the brahma marga. It is also the wish of paramātma the Supreme.
Lord Narayana is worshipped as Surya. In this form, the sun as Narayana is “ūpasya” -worshipped, “and “ūpāsana dvara”, meaning the Sun's outer orb is the entry point to Narayana at the center.
How to we observe Ratha Saptami?