Sūrya Cult in Ancient Kurukshetra: An Archaeological Perspective
Sun-worship is one of the most ancient religious traditions which is still practiced by people across India. Ancient literature and archaeological evidence both indicate the strong influence of the Sūrya or sun god throughout Indian subcontinent. Kurukshetra, an ancient site in the state of Haryana, situated in northern part of India, is believed to be the place where great war of Mahābhārata was fought and where Śri Kṛṣṇa gave his sermon in form of Bhāgvadagītā. The site has revealed many archaeological objects in the forms of terracottas, stone sculptures and inscription which shed light on the existence of five cults of the Brahmanical faith i.e., Śaivism, Vaiṣṇavism, Śakta, Gaṇapatya and Saura besides Buddhism and Jainism as well. However, the nature of the site changed with the popularity of Kṛṣṇa cult which overshadowed the other religious traditions. The intention of writing this paper is to examine the existence and influence of cult of Sūrya in religious landscape of Kurukshetra from an archaeological perspective. It will largely be based on the anthropological study of tirthas or pilgrimage sites of Sun-God which have existed since ancient times and stone sculptures recovered from the district so far.