Navagrahas or the Nine Planets has great importance in Hinduism and Hindu rituals. Navagrahas are considered to play a major role in deciding the destiny of man.
During the Vedic Era, the Sages and the Saints used to calculate the time from the sunrise till sunset by viewing the shadows. During night time they used the stars positions to judge the time of the moment. Unlike these days they never had any clock and measuring instruments, yet they were far more accurate in finding the planetary positions and their movements. What they found is astonishingly accurate to today's developed science and technology.
The Navagrahas are Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangal (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Ketu (South Lunar Node).
It is believed that these nine planetary deities influence human lives and is responsible for all good or bad times, one faces in life.
Positions and patterns
In most of the South Indian temples, Navagrahas are invariably installed in a separate place on the North-East of the sanctum sanctorum.
They are typically placed in a single square with Sun (Surya) in the centre and the other deities surrounding Surya; no two of them are positioned to face each other.
There are generally two kinds of installations of the planets, Agama Prathishta and Vaidika Prathishta.
In Agama Pradishta, Surya occupies the central place, Chandra on Surya’s east, Budha on his south, Brihaspati on his west, Shukra on his north, Mangala on his south-east, Shani on his south-west, Rahu on north-west and Ketu in the north-east. Temples such as Suryanar temple, Tiruvidaimarudur, Tiruvaiyaru and Tirucchirappalli follow this system.
In Vaidika Pradishta, Surya is still in the centre, but Shukra is in the east, Mangala in the south, Shani in the west, Brihaspati in the north, Chandra in the south-east, Rahu in the south-west, Ketu in the north-west and Budha in the north-east.
In few temples like Tirukuvalai and Tiruvarur (both in Tamilnadu), the nine planets stand in a straight line.
At Agasthiyar Temple Chennai Pondy Bazaar a totally different form of position is done with Sun at the elevated centre and the remaining planets in an octagonal structure. This is called Agasthiyar Kattu (the form promoted by Sage Agasthiya).
SURYA - 1 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Lord Surya is the chief of Navagrahas and is the largest of the planetary bodies. His gravitational pull keeps the other planets in balanced harmony. His chariot driven by Anoora (brother of Garuda), the charioteer who has no feet, is pulled by 7 horses (Gaya, Ushnik, Brihat, Anup, Jagati, Pankti and Trishtup), representing the colors of the rainbow (VIBGYOR), 7 days of the week and the 7 chakras in the subtle human body as well.
The symbol of the Surya, is a circle with a dot in the middle. The circle is the manifested existence and the dot is the bindu, or the point of creation.
Invoking Gayatri Mantra or Adityahridayam, recited by the great sage Agastya to Rama on the warfield before the fight with Ravana are known to please Lord Surya.
Lord Surya is also known as Aditya ("first born") and also called Bhutasya Jatah (creator or father of all bhutas, i.e., objects and ingredients from which objects assume form). The Sun represents the male or father principle. Surya's friendship with Jupiter is sattvik (pure, as Jupiter is the teacher of the Sun). With the Moon the relationship is rajasic and with Mars, tamasic.
The Sun gives us vitality and the power of resistance and immunity. It is responsible for our physical makeup - the body's constitution. The Sun gives life force, the power of will, intellect, brilliance, prosperity, success in worldly affairs, wealth, personal conduct, activity, cheerfulness, good fortune, wisdom, ambition, fame, the understanding of the phenomenal world, and the knowledge of medicine.
Surya mantra from Navagraha stotra reads -
Japa Kusuma Samkaasham Kaashya-peyam Mahaa-dyutim Tamorim Sarva-papaghnam Pranatosmin Divakaram
I pray to the Lord Sūrya, the day-maker, destroyer of all sins, the enemy of darkness, of great brilliance, the descendent of Kaashyapa, the one who shines like the japaa flower.
Our Saints and Sages have prescribed Lord Surya's worship through Sūrya Namaskaar, Gayatri Japa, Adityahridayam, Sandhya vandhana.
Lord Surya's temples are at..Konark Temple in Orissa, Uttararka and Lolarka in Uttar Pradesh, Balarka temple in Rajasthan, Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat.Sri Sūryanaar Kovil, near Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu.
The traditional 'Sun festivals' of India: Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Lohri in Punjab during Pousha ( maga) month and Kite-flying in Maharashtra and Gujarat during 'Makar Sankranthi'.
There is a very interesting reason behind the kite-flying. Kite-flying in olden days was generally done in the early hours of the morning, when the sun's rays were bright but not too harsh. Also, during kite-flying, the human body was exposed to the sun for long hours. The early morning sun is considered beneficial for the skin and body. Hindus believed that the bad bacteria on their bodies would be cleared to a large extent. Creating a fun way of sun basking where no one would even realise they were reaping benefits was through kite flying.
Consort: Saranyu & Chhaya
Original Color/Color: Red / Pink, Orange, Saffron
God Associated: Agni
Pratyadi Devata: Rudra
Metal : Copper
Body part: Bone
Cardinal Direction: East
Friendly graha: Chandra, Mangala and Guru
Nuetral graha: Buddha
Enemy graha: Shukra, Shani, Rahu&Ketu
Tone (Svara): Ga
Sun rules Number 1 in Indian Numerology.
CHANDRA - 2 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Lord Chandra is a lunar deity and also known as Soma, meaning Nectar. He rides his chariot pulled by ten white horses or an antelope. He presides over Somavaaram or Monday.
The Hindu scriptures state that Chandra repesents the human mind, the subconscious and is a giver of life force. The moon represents the human mind(manas) and fermentation and influences one's intuitive, imaginative and psychic nature.
Purusha Suktham says "Chandrama Manaso Jatha.."
From the mind was born the moon..
When the Sun and Moon are in the same Sign, it is called Amavashya or New Moon day or the 1st day of the dark fortnight. The lunar days or Tithi changes with every 12 degree difference between the Sun and the Moon. When the Sun and the Moon are in the exact opposite Signs or 180 degrees apart, it is called Poornima or the Full Moon day or the 1st day of the bright fortnight. Moon is Matra karaka or the planet connected with mother.
Chandra is known as the Lord of Medicinal herbs. He gives his healing powers through moon-crystals(chandramukhi mani).
Temple dedicated to Lord Chandra is at Thingalur, 18 kms from Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu
Lord Chandra mantra from Navagraha stotra reads -
Dadhi-shankha Tushaarabham Ksheeror-daarnava sambhavam Namami Shashinam Somam Shambhor-mukuta-bhooshanam
“I offer my obeisance to the Moon god, whose complexion resembles curds, the whiteness of conch shells, and snow. He is the ruling deity of the soma-rasa born from the Ocean of Milk, and he serves as the ornament on top of the head of Lord Shambhu.”
Original Color/Color: Silver / White, Sea Green & Black
God Associated: Varuna
Pratyadi Devata: Gowri
Body part: Blood
Cardinal Direction: North West
Friendly graha: Surya & Buddha
Nuetral graha: Mangala, Guru, Shukra & Shani
Enemy graha: Rahu & Ketu
Number associated: 2
Tone (Svara): Ma
MANGAL - 3 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Lord Mangala is the son of Prithvi or Bhumi (Goddess Earth). He is of Rajas Guna in nature and represents Energetic action, confidence and ego.
He is referred to as 'hot planet' - red or flame coloured, four-armed, carrying a trident and club in two hands and other two are Abhaya and Varada mudras. His Vahana (mount) is a Ram - symbolising determination, action, initiative, and leadership.
He presides over 'Mangala-vaara' or Tuesday. The temples dedicated to Mangala devata in India are Amalner(Maharashtra),
Vaitheeswaran Koil(near Sirkazhi, Tamilnadu),
Mangalanatha (in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh).
He is the owner of the Mesha rashi(Aries) and Vrischika rashi(Scorpio) signs.
The Number Associated to the Mangala is 9.
Lord Mangal (Angaraka) mantra from Navagraha stotra reads -
Dharani-garba-sampootam Vidyut-kaanti Sama-prabham Kumaram Shakti-hastam tam Mangalam Pranamamyaham
(split as Pranamami aham)
I pray to Mars, born of Earth, who shines with the same brilliance as lightning, the young man who carries a spear.
Consort: Shakti devi
Original Color/Color: Red / Brown
God Associated: Brahma
Pratyadi Devata: Murugan
Gemstone: Red Coral
Body part: Bone Marrow
Food: Pigeon pea
Cardinal Direction: South
Nuetral graha: Chandra
Enemy graha: Shani, Buddha, Rahu & Ketu
Tone (Svara): Re
BUDHA - 4 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Budha (Mercury) is the son of Chandra and Taraka. He is the planet of communication, organization, and mental dexterity. He is extremely intelligent and considered as the god of merchandise and protector of merchants. He is of Rajas Guna.
He rides on a Lion (vahan) and is four-armed - carrying a sword, a shield, a mace in the three arms and the fourth with Varada mudra.
Budha presides over 'Budha-vaaram' or Wednesday. The Number Associated to Budha is 5. Temple dedicated to Budha is Swetharanyeswarar Temple in Thiruvenkadu near Sirkazhi, Tamilnadu.
Budha mantra from Navagraha stotra reads -
Priyangu-kalika-shyamam Roopenaa-pratimam-budham| Sowmyam-sowmya Gunopetam tam Budham Pranamamyaham|
I pray to Mercury, dark like the bud of millet, of unequalled beauty, gentle, agreeable and the emblem of intelligence.
God Associated: Laxmi
Pratyadi Devata: Vishnu
Body part: Skin
Food: Green gram
Cardinal Direction: North
Enemy graha: Chandra
Tone (Svara): Sa
BRIHASPATI (GURU) - 5 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Brihaspati is the Guru of Devas, the chief offerer of prayers and sacrifices, represented as the Purohita of the gods. He is the Lord of planet Jupiter. He is of Sattva Guna and represents knowledge, longevity, career and teaching.
Lord Krishna says in Bhagavat Gita Ch 10 Ver 24
purodhasāṁ cha mukhyaṁ māṁ viddhi pārtha bṛihaspatim..senānīnām ahaṁ skandaḥ sarasām asmi sāgaraḥ
O Arjun, amongst priests I am Brihaspati; amongst warrior chiefs I am Kartikeya; and amongst reservoirs of water know me to be the ocean.
Lord Guru rides on an elephant vahan (vehicle). The Number associated to him is 3. Temple dedicated to Guru is at Alangudi, Near Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu.
Guru mantra from Navagraha stotra reads -
Devanam cha Rishinaam cha Gurum Kanchana Sannibham..Budhi-bhootam Trilokesham tam Namami Brihaspatim
I pray to Jupiter, the teacher of gods and rishis, intellect incarnate, lord of the three worlds.
God Associated: Indra
Pratyadi Devata: Brahma
Gemstone: Yellow Sapphire
Food: Chick pea
Cardinal Direction: North East
Friendly graha: Surya, Chandra, Ketu & Mangala
Nuetral graha: Saturn, Shukra ,& Rahu
Enemy graha: Budha
Tone (Svara): Dha
SHUKRA - 6 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Shukra, the guru of the Asuras, is the son of Bhrigu and Ushana (daughter of Hiranyakashipu). He is identified with the planet Venus and presides over 'Shukra-vaara' or Friday. He is Rajas in nature and represents wealth, pleasure and reproduction.
He went to the hermitage of Sage Angirasa to learn the scriptures and later became disciple of the Sage Gautama. Though he had forsaken Asuras occasionally, when their deeds have angered him, for the most part, he has helped them avoid destruction at the hands of the Devas.
Shukra's students includes
1. Kacha: the son of Brihaspati.
2. Vrishaparva: King of the Asuras and father of Sharmishtha, the ancestress of the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
3. Hiranyakashipu: Invincible King of Asuras and father of Prahlada.
4. Prahlada: Devotee of Vishnu.
5. Marutta: Chakravartin Samrat and Suryavanshi King of Vaishali.
6. Indrajit: Son of Ravana.
7. Bali: Grandson of Prahlada, devotee of Vishnu.
8. Danda: The youngest and the most irresponsible son of King Ikshvaku of Ayodhya.
9. Prithu: The first consecrated King and the first true Kshatriya.
10. Bhishma: The son of King Shantanu and numerous Asura Kings.
In Astrology, there is a dasha or planetary period known as Shukra Dasha which remains active in a person's horoscope for 20 years, giving more wealth, fortune and luxury to one's living.
Temple dedicated to Shukra is in Kanjanur, 18 kilometres north-east of Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu. He rides on a horse vahana (vehicle). The Number Associated to the Shukra is 6.
Shukra mantra in Navagraha stotra reads -
Hima-kunta-mrinaa-laabham Daityaanam-paramam Gurum..Sarva-shastra Pravaktaaram Bhargavam Pranamamyaham
I pray to Venus, the utimate preceptor of demons, promulgator of all learning, he who shines like the fiber of snow-white jasmine.
Consort: Sukirthi & Urjaswathi
God Associated: Indrani
Pratyadi Devata: Indra
Body part: Semen
Food: White lima beans
Cardinal Direction: South East
Friendly graha: Budha, Shani, Rahu & Ketu
Nuetral graha: Mangala & |Guru
Enemy graha: Surya & Chandra
Tone (Svara): Ni
SHANI - 7 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Shani is the son of Lord Surya and Chhaya (shadow), hence also known as Chayyaputra. He is the elder brother of Yama. Shani gives the results of one's deeds through appropriate punishments and rewards in one's life; Yama grants the results of one's deeds after death.
The word "Shani" comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ, the one who moves slowly, because Shani(Saturn) takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun.
It is said that when Shani opened his eyes as a new born for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Shani on astrological charts. He is known as the greatest teacher and well wisher for the righteous as well the greatest punisher for those who follow the path of evil. He is dark in colour, clothed in black, rides on a crow vāhana (vehicle).
Shani dev, along with the goddess Jyestha, the god Yama, and the goddess Nirrti, are associated with the crow in Hindu mythology. Throughout Hindu mythology crows represent harmful and inauspicious characteristics, both of which Shani possesses.
Some of the temples which are dedicated to Lord Shani is..
Thirunallar Shree Shaneeshwaran Koil, Karaikal, Pondicherry
Shani Shingnapur temple, Maharashtra
Shaneeshwara Bhagavan temple, Kuchanoor, Theni Dist. Tamilnadu
Shri Shani Kshetra, Bannanje, Udupi, Karnataka has the world's first 23 feet tall Lord Shani.
Shani mantra in Navagraha stotra reads -
Neelanjana Samaabhasam Ravi-putram Yama-agrajam..Chchaya-martaanda Sambhootam tam Namami Shanaiswaram
I pray to Saturn, the slow moving, born of Shade and Sun, the elder brother of Yama, the offspring of Sun, he who has the appearance of black collyrium.
Consort: Nila Devi(Jyestha devi)
God Associated: Brahma
Pratyadi Devata: Yama
Gemstone: Blue Sapphire
Season: All Seasons
Cardinal Direction: West
Friendly graha: Shukra, Budha, Rahu & Ketu
Nuetral graha: Guru
Enemy graha: Surya, Chandra & Mangala
Tone (Svara): Pa
RAHU - 8 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Rahu is the severed head of an asura called Svarbhānu, son of Simhikaa (daughter of Demon king Hiranyakashipu).
Svarbhanu, lost his head since he stealthily sat with the Devas in disguise to take the Amrit (nectar) derived from churning of Samudra Mandhan. While distributing the Amrit, Mohini (Lord Vishnu) noticed the asura's evil act and threw the discus and cut his head off. Later, Rahu gets the snake's body.
The other name of Rahu is Bhayanaka. The time of the day considered to be under the influence of Rahu is called Rahu kala and is considered inauspicious.
Rahu is the North Node of the Moon and responsible for Eclipses. As the Moon pertains to the mind, Rahu commands the direction of the mind’s outward projection. This symbolically signifies the occult power wielded by Rahu. He is associated with the rising of kundalini energy as well as the fall into material delusion. His control is intangible and his influence is illusive.
With proper direction, Rahu bestows great power and insight into spiritual and material matters. He represents the mind’s insatiable curiosity and relentless pursuit to gain experience. Temple dedicated to Rahu is in Thirunageswaram, on the outskirts of Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu.
Rahu mantra in Navagraha stotra reads -
Artha-kaayam Mahaa-veeryam Chandra-aditya Vimardanam.. Simhika-garbha Sambootam tam Rahum Pranamamyaham
I pray to Rahu, having half a body, of great bravery, the eclipser of the Moon and the Sun, born of Simhikaa.
Consort: Nagavalli & Nagakanni
God Associated: Nirriti
Pratyadi Devata: Durga
Cardinal Direction: South West
Friendly graha: Shukra, Budha, Shani & Ketu
Nuetral graha: Guru
Enemy graha: Surya, Chandra & Mangala
KETU - 9 of 9 NAVAGRAHAS
Ketu is the severed torso of an asura called Svarbhānu, son of Simhikaa (daughter of Demon king Hiranyakashipu).
Svarbhanu, lost his head since he stealthily sat with the Devas in disguise to take the Amrit (nectar) derived from churning of Samudra Mandhan. While distributing the Amrit, Mohini (Lord Vishnu) noticed the asura's evil act and threw the discus and cut his head out. Later, Ketu gets the snake's head.
Ketu is the introspective function of the mind that scrutinizes the inflowing stimulus. Ketu, like Rahu is also related to spiritual attainment, but works inwardly whereas Rahu works outwardly.
Ketu is oriented towards renunciation and self-inquiry in order to perfect the inner realm. He represents attainments and mastery accumulated over past lifetimes.
He is considered as a Moksha Karaka (liberator from the cycle of birth and death).
Temple dedicated to Ketu is in Keezhaperumpallam, near Mayiladuthurai, Tamilnadu.
Ketu mantra in Navagraha stotra reads -
Palaasha-pushpa-samkasham Taaraka-graha-mastakam...Raudram-raudratmakam Ghoram tam Ketum Pranamamyaham
I pray to Ketu, who has the appearance of Palaasha flower, the head of stars and planets, fierce and terrifying.
God Associated: Ganesha
Pratyadi Devata: Chitragupta
Gemstone: Cat's Eye
Body part: Skin
Food: Horse gram
Cardinal Direction: Center East
Friendly graha: Shukra, Budha, Shani & Rahu
Nuetral graha: Guru
Enemy graha: Surya, Chandra & Mangala
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