In Hinduism, Āditya (Sanskrit: आदित्य) are solar class deities, offsprings of Aditi.
Āditya means "of or related to Aditi". In present day usage in Sanskrit, the term Aditya has been made singular in contrast to Vedic Adityas, and are being used synonymously with Surya, the Sun.
The Adityas have been described in the Rig Veda as bright and pure as streams of water, free from all guile and falsehood, blameless, perfect.
These class of deities have been attributed to as upholding the movables and immovable Dharma. Adityas are beneficent Gods who act as protectors of all beings, who are provident and guard the world of spirits. In form of Mitra-Varuna, the Adityas are true to the eternal Law and act as the debt exactors.
There is differences regarding the number of Adityas as per various non-vedic texts.
The eighth Āditya (Mārtanda) was rejected by Aditi, leaving seven sons. In the Yajurveda (Taittirīya Samhita), their number is given as eight, and the last one is believed to be Vivasvāna. Hymn LXXII of Rig Veda, Book 10, also confirms that there are eight Adityas, the eight one being Mārtanda, who is later revived back as Vivasvāna.
The Vedas do not identify the Ādityas and there is no classification of the thirty-three gods, except for in the Yajurveda (7.19), which says there are eleven gods in heaven (light space), eleven gods in atmosphere (intermediate space), and eleven gods in earth (observer space). In the Satapatha Brahmana, the number of Ādityas is eight in some passages, and in other texts of the same Brahmana, twelve Adityas are mentioned. The list of 12 Adityas is as follows:
- Surya or Arka
- Dhatri or Dakṣa
In the later Puranic texts, all Hindu deities were referred to as Adityas. Hence, the number of Adityas increased to 33,000,000.