The course of the sun through the 12 star signs
S'rîmad Bhâgavatam Canto 5, Chapter 21, Text 1-19

S'ukadeva Gosvâmî said: My dear King, I have thus far described the
diameter of the universe [fifty crores of yojanas, or four billion miles] and its general characteristics, according to the estimations of learned scholars.

As a grain of wheat is divided into two parts and one can estimate the size of the upper part by knowing that of the lower, so, expert geographers instruct, one can understand the measurements of the upper part of the universe by knowing those of the lower part. The sky between the earthly sphere and heavenly sphere is called antariksha, or outer space. It adjoins the top of the sphere of earth and the bottom of that of heaven.

In the midst of that region of outer space [antariksha] is the most opulent sun, the king of all the planets that emanate heat, such as the moon. By the influence of its radiation, the sun heats the universe and maintains its proper order. It also gives light to help all living entities see. While passing toward the north, toward the south or through the equator, in accordance with the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is said to move slowly, swiftly or moderately. According to its movements in rising above, going beneath or passing through the equator--and correspondingly coming in touch with various signs of the zodiac, headed by Makara [Capricorn]--days and nights are short, long or equal to one another.

Then the sun passes through Mesha [Aries] and Tulâ [Libra], the durations of day and night are equal. When it passes through the five signs headed by Vrishabha [Taurus], the duration of the days increases [until Cancer], and then it gradually decreases by half an hour each month, until day and night again become equal [in Libra].

When the sun passes through the five signs beginning with Vris'cika [Scorpio], the duration of the days decreases [until Capricorn], and then gradually it increases month after month, until day and night become equal [in Aries].

Until the sun travels to the south the days grow longer, and until it travels to the north the nights grow longer.

S'ukadeva Gosvâmî continued; My dear King, as stated before, the learned say that the sun travels over all sides of Mânasottara Mountain in a circle whose length is 95.100.000 yojanas [760.800.000 miles]. On Mânasottara Mountain, due east of Mount Sumeru, is a place known as Devadhânî, possessed by King Indra. Similarly, in the south is a place known as Samyamanî, possessed by Yamarâja, in the west is a place known as Nimlocanî, possessed by Varuna, and in the north is a place named Vibhâvarî, possessed by the moon-god. Sunrise, midday, sunset and midnight occur in all those places according to specific times, thus engaging all living entities in their various occupational duties and also making them cease such duties.

The living entities residing on Sumeru Mountain are always very warm, as at midday, because for them the sun is always overhead. Although the sun moves counterclockwise, facing the constellations, with Sumeru Mountain on its left, it also moves clockwise and appears to have the mountain on its right because it is influenced by the dakshinâvarta wind. People living in countries at points diametrically opposite to where the sun is first seen rising will see the sun setting, and if a straight line were drawn from a point where the sun is at midday, the people in countries at the opposite end of the line would be experiencing midnight. Similarly, if people residing where the sun is setting were to go to countries diametrically opposite, they would not see the sun in the same condition.
When the sun travels from Devadhânî, the residence of Indra, to Samyamanî, the residence of Yamarâja, it travels 23.775.000 yojanas [190.200.000 miles] in fifteen ghathikâs [six hours].

From the residence of Yamarâja the sun travels to Nimlocanî, the residence of Varuna, from there to Vibhâvarî, the residence of the moon-god, and from there again to the residence of Indra. In a similar way, the moon, along with the other stars and planets, becomes visible in the celestial sphere and then sets and again becomes invisible.
Thus the chariot of the sun-god, which is trayîmaya, or worshiped by the words om bhûr bhuvah svah, travels through the four residences mentioned above at a speed of 3.400.800 yojanas [27.206.400 miles] in a muhûrta.

The chariot of the sun-god has only one wheel, which is known as Samvatsara. The twelve months are calculated to be its twelve spokes, the six seasons are the sections of its rim, and the three câtur-mâsya periods are its three-sectioned hub. One side of the axle carrying the wheel rests upon the summit of Mount Sumeru, and the other rests upon Mânasottara Mountain. Affixed to the outer end of the axle, the wheel continuously rotates on Mânasottara Mountain like the wheel of an oil-pressing machine.

As in an oil-pressing machine, this first axle is attached to a second axle, which is one-fourth as long [3.937.500 yojanas, or 31.500.000 miles]. The upper end of this second axle is attached to Dhruvaloka by a rope of wind.

My dear King, the carriage of the sun-god's chariot is estimated to be 3.600.000 yojanas [28.800.000 miles] long and one-fourth as wide [900.000 yojanas, or 7.200.000 miles]. The chariot's horses, which are named after Gâyatrî and other Vedic meters, are harnessed by Arunadeva to a yoke that is also 900.000 yojanas wide. This chariot continuously carries the sun-god.

Although Arunadeva sits in front of the sun-god and is engaged in driving the chariot and controlling the horses, he looks backward toward the sun-god.

There are sixty thousand saintly persons named Vâlikhilyas, each the size of a thumb, who are located in front of the sun-god and who offer him eloquent prayers of glorification.
Similarly, fourteen other saints, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Nâgas, Yakshas, Râkshasas and demigods, who are divided into groups of two, assume different names every month and continuously perform different ritualistic ceremonies to worship the Supreme Lord as the most powerful demigod Sûryadeva, who holds many names.

My dear King, in his orbit through Bhû-mandala, the sun-god traverses a distance of 95.100.000 yojanas [760.800.000 miles] at the speed of 2.000 yojanas and two kros'as [16.004 miles] in a moment.

* The Vishnu Purâna states: Worshiping the most powerful demigod Sûrya, the Gandharvas sing in front of him, the Apsaras dance before the chariot, the Nis'âcaras follow the chariot, the Pannagas decorate the chariot, the Yakshas guard the chariot, and the saints called the Vâlikhilyas surround the sun-god and offer prayers. The seven groups of fourteen associates arrange the proper times for regular snow, heat and rain throughout the universe.

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