The Celestial nymphs of Devendra remained an integral aspect of the various plots he created tactfully to safeguard his insecurities. The Apsaras according to the Vayu Purana were created by Brahma through his mental creative attributes and were also addressed as Manasa Kanyas.
Along with Yaksas, Pisachas, and Gandharvas, these celestial nymphs of Brahma were the most alluring. The Vayu Purana further states that these Apsaras were created from Agni and Arista for the cause of joy and goodwill.
The Kurma Purana mentions the Apsaras as the attendants of the various expansion of Arka – The Sun, as Adityas in various seasons. There are twelve Apsaras who remain with the twelve Adityas, assigned with the task of dancing and spreading happiness. Apsaras along with other associates travel with the twelve Adityas indicating various seasonal changes.
Rishi Parashar, in the Bhagavata Purana, indicates that in a year, between the extreme northern and southern points of the Earth, Surya has to traverse at one hundred and eighty degrees, ascending and descending.
Rishi Parashar explains that Shri Vishnu manifests his influence of time as the Sun-god and travels in each of the twelve months, to regulate planetary motion within the universe. In each month of the year, a different Aditya shines.
Each Month is presided over by an exclusive Divine Aditya, Rishi, Apsara, Gandharva, Yaksa, Naga, and Raksasa, and His chariot is pulled by seven horses. Every new month is presided by a set of new Divine’s.
Rishi Parashar further elaborates and praises the celestial creatures dedicated to the service of the twelve Adityas in each season – The Rishi does the rituals, the Gandharva sings, and the Apsara dances. The Rakshasa is present at the steps of the chariot, the Naga binds the steeds and the Yaksha trims the reins.
A gathering of sixty thousand Brahmans – The Balakhilyas surround the magnificent chariot of Arka and utter hymns from the Vedas in His praise. The set of Divine associates attached to the Ratha of Surya are regarded as the negotiators and cause in the seasonal distribution of cold, heat, and rain.
Throughout the twelve months, the Sun God travels in all directions with his associates, disseminating among the populace of his creation the purity of perception towards existence.
Rishi Parashar in his narration gives an account of each Aditya and the set of associates who accompany Him. The description by Rishi Parashar is described in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, Canto 12, Chapter 11- Shloka 33 to 44.
Rishi Parashar starts his narration by introducing Dhata as the Sun God associated with the month of Madhu and Apsara kṛtasthalī as his celestial nymph.
धाता कृतस्थली हेतिर्वासुकी रथकृन्मुने ।
पुलस्त्यस्तुम्बुरुरिति मधुमासं नयन्त्यमी
dhātā kṛtasthalī hetir
vāsukī rathakṛn mune
pulastyas tumburur iti
madhu-māsaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa- 12.11.33
Meaning: Dhātā as the sun-god, Kṛtasthalī as the Apsarā, Heti as the Rākṣasa, Vāsuki as the Nāga, Rathakṛt as the Yakṣa, Pulastya as the sage, and Tumburu as the Gandharva rule the month of Madhu.
Thereafter, Rishi Parashar introduces the next Aditya- Aryama who has Puñjikasthalī as Apsara.
अर्यमा पुलहोऽथौजा: प्रहेति: पुञ्जिकस्थली ।
नारद: कच्छनीरश्च नयन्त्येते स्म माधवम् ॥
aryamā pulaho ’thaujāḥ
nāradaḥ kacchanīraś ca
nayanty ete sma mādhavam
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa- 12.11.34
Meaning: Aryamā as the Sun God, Pulaha as the sage, Athaujā as the Yakṣa, Praheti as the Rākṣasa, Puñjikasthalī as the Apsarā, Nārada as the Gandharva, and Kacchanīra as the Nāga rule the month of Mādhava.
Rishi Parashar, established the next month as Sukra with the Aditya recognized by the name Mitro/ Mitra who has Menaka as Apsara.
मित्रोऽत्रि: पौरुषेयोऽथ तक्षको मेनका हहा: ।
रथस्वन इति ह्येते शुक्रमासं नयन्त्यमी ॥
mitro ’triḥ pauruṣeyo ’tha
takṣako menakā hahāḥ
rathasvana iti hy ete
śukra-māsaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa- 12.11.35
Meaning: Mitro as the Sun God, Atri as the sage, Pauruṣeya as the Rākṣasa, Takṣaka as the Nāga, Menakā as the Apsarā, Hāhā as the Gandharva, and Rathasvana as the Yakṣa rule the month of Śukra.
The next month is described as Suchi with Varuna as Aditya, who has Rambha as Apsara.
वसिष्ठो वरुणो रम्भा सहजन्यस्तथा हुहू: ।
शुक्रश्चित्रस्वनश्चैव शुचिमासं नयन्त्यमी ॥
vasiṣṭho varuṇo rambhā
sahajanyas tathā huhūḥ
śukraś citrasvanaś caiva
śuci-māsaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.36
Meaning: Vasiṣṭha as the sage, Varuṇa as the Sun God, Rambhā as the Apsarā, Sahajanya as the Rākṣasa, Hūhū as the Gandharva, Śukra as the Nāga, and Citrasvana as the Yakṣa rule the month of Śuci.
The next Aditya is Indra, He rules the month of Nabha in the company of Apsara Pramlocha.
इन्द्रो विश्वावसु: श्रोता एलापत्रस्तथाङ्गिरा: ।
प्रम्लोचा राक्षसो वर्यो नभोमासं नयन्त्यमी ॥
indro viśvāvasuḥ śrotā
pramlocā rākṣaso varyo
nabho-māsaṁ nayanty amī
Meaning: Indra as the Sun God, Viśvāvasu as the Gandharva, Śrotā as the Yakṣa, Elāpatra as the Nāga, Aṅgirā as the sage, Pramlocā as the Apsarā, and Varya as the Rākṣasa rule the month of Nabhas.
Rishi Parashar describes the next manifestation of Aditya as Vivasvān, He rules the month of Nabhasya in the company of Apsara Anumlocā.
विवस्वानुग्रसेनश्च व्याघ्र आसारणो भृगु: ।
अनुम्लोचा शङ्खपालो नभस्याख्यं नयन्त्यमी ॥
vivasvān ugrasenaś ca
vyāghra āsāraṇo bhṛguḥ
nabhasyākhyaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.38
Meaning: Vivasvān as the Sun God, Ugrasena as the Gandharva, Vyāghra as the Rākṣasa, Āsāraṇa as the Yakṣa, Bhṛgu as the sage, Anumlocā as the Apsarā and Śaṅkhapāla as the Nāga rule the month of Nabhasya.
Thereafter follows the month of Tapas, Pusa is the Aditya in the company of Ghṛtācī as the Apsarā.
पूषा धनञ्जयो वात: सुषेण: सुरुचिस्तथा ।
घृताची गौतमश्चेति तपोमासं नयन्त्यमी ॥
pūṣā dhanañjayo vātaḥ
suṣeṇaḥ surucis tathā
ghṛtācī gautamaś ceti
tapo-māsaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.39
Meaning: Pūṣā as the Sun God, Dhanañjaya as the Nāga, Vāta as the Rākṣasa, Suṣeṇa as the Gandharva, Suruci as the Yakṣa, Ghṛtācī as the Apsarā, and Gautama as the sage rule the month of Tapas.
In the company of Apsara Senajit, Prajanya the Aditya rules the month of Tapasya.
ऋतुर्वर्चा भरद्वाज: पर्जन्य: सेनजित्तथा ।
विश्व ऐरावतश्चैव तपस्याख्यं नयन्त्यमी ॥ ४० ॥
ṛtur varcā bharadvājaḥ
parjanyaḥ senajit tathā
viśva airāvataś caiva
tapasyākhyaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.40
Meaning: Ṛtur as the Yakṣa, Varcā as the Rākṣasa, Bharadvāja as the sage, Parjanya as the Sun God, Senajit as the Apsarā, Viśva as the Gandharva and Airāvata as the Nāga rule the month known as Tapasya.
Urvaśī, the Apsara dances throughout the month of Sahas when Athaṁśu as the Sun God rules the skies.
अथांशु: कश्यपस्तार्क्ष्य ऋतसेनस्तथोर्वशी ।
विद्युच्छत्रुर्महाशङ्ख: सहोमासं नयन्त्यमी ॥
athāṁśuḥ kaśyapas tārkṣya
saho-māsaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.41
Meaning: Athaṁśu as the Sun God, Kaśyapa as the sage, Tārkṣya as the Yakṣa, Ṛtasena as the Gandharva, Urvaśī as the Apsarā, Vidyucchatru as the Rākṣasa, and Mahāśaṅkha as the Nāga rule the month of Sahas.
Next, it is Bhaga as the Aditya along with Pūrvacitti as the Apsarā rule the month of Puṣya.
भग: स्फूर्जोऽरिष्टनेमिरूर्ण आयुश्च पञ्चम: ।
कर्कोटक: पूर्वचित्ति: पुष्यमासं नयन्त्यमी ॥
bhagaḥ sphūrjo ’riṣṭanemir
ūrṇa āyuś ca pañcamaḥ
puṣya-māsaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.42
Meaning: Bhaga as the Sun God, Sphūrja as the Rākṣasa, Ariṣṭanemi as the Gandharva, Ūrṇa as the Yakṣa, Āyur as the sage, Karkoṭaka as the Nāga and Pūrvacitti as the Apsarā rule the month of Puṣya.
Tvaṣṭā the Sun- God is in the companionship of Apsara Tillotamma in the month of Isa.
त्वष्टा ऋचीकतनय: कम्बलश्च तिलोत्तमा ।
ब्रह्मापेतोऽथ शतजिद् धृतराष्ट्र इषम्भरा: ॥
kambalaś ca tilottamā
brahmāpeto ’tha satajid
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.43
Meaning: Tvaṣṭā as the Sun God; Jamadagni, the son of Ṛcīka, as the sage; Kambalāśva as the Nāga; Tilottamā as the Apsarā; Brahmāpeta as the Rākṣasa; Śatajit as the Yakṣa; and Dhṛtarāṣṭra as the Gandharva maintain the month of Iṣa.
Rishi Parashar ends his narration on the twelve Adityas and their associated by introducing the month of Urja, where the Sun God Vishnu is in the company of Apsara Rambha.
विष्णुरश्वतरो रम्भा सूर्यवर्चाश्च सत्यजित् ।
विश्वामित्रो मखापेत ऊर्जमासं नयन्त्यमी ॥
viṣṇur aśvataro rambhā
sūryavarcāś ca satyajit
ūrja-māsaṁ nayanty amī
-Bhāgavata Purāṇa – 12.11.44
Meaning: Viṣṇu as the Sun God, Aśvatara as the Nāga, Rambhā as the Apsarā, Sūryavarcā as the Gandharva, Satyajit as the Yakṣa, Viśvāmitra as the sage, and Makhāpeta as the Rākṣasa rule the month of Ūrja.
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa elaborates Shri Arka as the manifestation of Shri Hari himself. He is the ever nurturing and omnipresent Divine who scatters his rays of opulence. The Sun is Sarva Sakshi Bhutam- A steady bystander to every event on the Earth. The Sun God is visibly seen by the eyes while his associates remain masked in the halo of His rays, celebrating the changes in life.
The Apsaras, resembling the stretched rays of the sun dance and dazzle along with the twelve Adityas. These Apsaras of Arka confirm that they have been visiting the Earth since time bygone and will continue their journey to Infinity, confirming their eternal affection for the Earthly beings.
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