Āditya is one of the well-known epithets of the sun.
The Ādityas, the sons of Aditi, repre-sent a group of deities. They are six in the Ṛgveda, eight in most of the Brāhmaṇas (except the Śatapatha) and twelve in the later mythological lore. They can be described as the personifications of the laws that rule the universe and the human society. They regulate the relationships of human beings among themselves and with the forces of nature.
Since Āditya is one of the names of the sun, the Ādityas can be considered as imperishable beings, the gods of light, by whom all kinds of luminous life are manifested and sustained in this universe.
The twelve Ādityas are: Mitra (the friend), Varuṇa (one who encompasses and binds), Aryaman (the destroyer of foes), Dakṣa (the skilful), Bhaga (the giver), Aṁśa (the liberal), Tvaṣṭṛ (the shaper), Savitṛ (the vivifier), Pūṣan (the nourisher), Śakra (the mighty), Vivasvat (the resplendent) and Viṣṇu (the pervader).
Sometimes, these twelve are linked with the twelve aspects of the sun spread over the twelve months and hence des-cribed as the twelve spokes of the wheel of time.
See also SŪRYA.