The sages requested Lomaharshana. ―Please tell us the history of the solar line.‖
Aditi and the sage Kashyapa had borne the sun-god, Vivasvana or Surya, as a son. Surya had three wives, Samjna, Rajni and Prabha. Rajna had a son named Revata and Prabha had a son named Prabhata (morning). Surya and Samjna had two sons and a daughter. The eldest son was Vaivasvata Manu. And the remaining two offspring were twins named Yama and Yamuna.
The sun‘s radiance was however too much for Samjna to bear. After a while, she could not bear it any longer. She therefore created a woman out of her own body. The woman looked exactly like Samjna and was named Chhaya (shadow). There was no way of telling the two apart.
―Stay here and pretend to be me,‖ said Samjna. ―Look after my husband and my children. No
one will know the truth unless you tell them. As for me, I am going away.‖
Surya did not realize that Samjna had left. He took Chhaya to be his wife, and Surya and Chhaya had two sons and two daughters. The sons were Savarni Manu and Shani (Saturn) and the daughters were Tapati and Vishti.
Chhaya was clearly fonder of her own children and neglected Samjna‘s. This did not bother Vaivasvata Manu too much. He was the eldest and more collected and balanced. But Yama resented this favouritism of Chhaya‘s. In a fit of petulance, he raised his foot to kick Chhaya. Chhaya cursed Yama. ―I curse you that your foot may be devoured by worms,‖ she said. ―May it be infected with pus and blood.‖
This alarmed Yama and he rushed to his father. ―My mother has cursed me,‖ he told Surya. ―I am only a child. Even if I did commit a sin, does a mother ever curse her children? I have serious misgivings that she is not our mother at all.‖
When Surya taxed Chhaya with this, she came out with the truth and Surya learnt that Samjna had left. Samjna‘s father was Vishvakarma, the architect of the gods. Surya went to his father-in- law to find out if he knew anything of Chhaya‘s whereabouts.
―Indeed, I do,‖ replied Vishvakarma. ―When Samjna left your house, she came to me in the form of a mare. But I refused to let her live in my house, since she had left her husband‘s house without seeking his permission. She is living at the moment in the desert. But Samjna did what she did because she could not bear to stand your energy and radiance. If you permit, I shall shave off some of the excess energy, so that people can look at you.‖
Vishvakarma shaved off some of the sun‘s energy. With the excess energy were constructed many of the weapons of the gods such as Vishnu‘s chakra (a bladed-discus), Shiva‘s trident (trishula) and Indra‘s vajra. This made the sun‘s visage much more pleasant and bearable. The only parts of Surya‘s body that were not thus modified were the feet. No one can bear to look at Surya‘s feet and it is forbidden to visualise the sun-god‘s feet when one is praying to him. A person who does not follow this injuction is a sinner and is made to suffer from leprosy.
Surya now went to look for Samjna and found her in the form of a mare. He too adopted the form of a horse and joined her. As horses, they had two sons. Since ashva means horse, the sons were known as the Ashvinis. They became the physicians of the gods and were also known as Nasatya and Dasra. After the Ashvinis were born, Surya and Samjna gave up their forms of horses and returned to their usual forms.
What do you think happened to Savarni Manu? He went away to perform tapasya (meditation) on Mount Sumeru. He is destined to be one of the future Manus. Shani became a planet and Yamuna a river. As for Tapati, she too became a river (Tapai).
Yama had been cursed by Chhaya that his feet would rot and be infected with worms. To mitigate the effects of the curse, Surya gave Yama a bird which ate up all the worms. Thereafter, Yama went to a tirtha named Gokarna and started to pray to Shiva. For thousands of years he prayed and eventually managed to please Shiva. Shiva granted Yama the boon that he would be the god of death. He would mete out punishments to sinners in accordance with the sins (papa) that they had committed. He would also keep account of the store of merit (punya) that righteous people accumulated.
Vaivasvata Manu ruled as Manu. He had ten sons. The eldest was named Ila. The other sons were named Ikshvaku, Kushanabha, Arishta, Dhrishta, Narishyanata, Karusha, Sharyati, Prishadhra and Nabhaga. The solar line owes its origin to Ikshavaku. In this line was born king Bhagiratha, who brought the sacred river Ganga down from heaven. Further down the line was Dasharatha and Dasharatha‘s son was Rama. You know about Rama from the Ramayana.