The Navagrahas — Planetary Deities

The Navagrahas — Planetary Deities

The Nine planets (Nava-Grahas) are the “Lords of Karma” and are the mediators of Karma – Action — it’s causes and its effects. Everything in the world is ruled by one or other of the Grahas.

The external Macrocosm is known as Brahmāṇḍa and the internal Microcosm of the individual is known as Piṇḍāṇḍa — both are mutually related to each other:

For example the Sun in the solar system is homologous with the Self (jīva) in the individual. The Moon is homologous with the emotions in the individual etc. etc.


Sūrya Nārāyaṇa is the personification of the Sun which is daily worshipped by all Hindus. The Sun is the direct manifestation of the Absolute or Brahman. The physical Sun shares some characteristics posited of Brahman —the Absolute Reality.

We speak of the Sun rising, setting being hidden by the clouds etc. In fact he neither raises not sets nor is covered by anything. All of these perceptions of the Sun are conditioned by our time and space bound existence upon earth.

Self-luminosity is that which reveals itself and throws light on other objects. The earth and the moon both come from the Sun but neither is self-luminous, it is the Sun that reveals both the earth and the moon —all of this is akin to what we conceive of in Brahman.

The Sun is both the material cause and the efficient cause of his satellites; he originates them and sustains them but himself does not undergo any change. Brahman projects the universe into being, sustains it but is never Itself modified.

The Sun rides a chariot drawn by 7 horses which are the 7 colours of the spectrum. He carries the Śankha and Cakra — conch and wheel, the symbols of creation through sound and order.

He’s often depicted displaying the Varadā and Abhayā mudras as well. Sometimes he is shown just holding two lotuses as symbols of unfoldment.

Sūrya has four wives:—

1. Suvarcala —the Resplendent, illumination or knowledge
2. Chāyā — Shade
3. Jyoti — Light
4. Aiśvarya — Sovereignty

His charioteer is Aruṇa, the red-light of dawn and his companion is Uṣā —the dawn itself.

The gemstone related to the Sun is the ruby - the metal is gold. The Sun rules number 1 in Indian numerology.

Sūrya - Sun bīja mantra:

ॐ ह्रं ह्रां ह्रीं ह्रौं सः सूर्याय नमः

oṁ hraṁ hrāṁ hrīṁ hrauṁ saḥ sūryāya namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Sun:

जपाकुसुमसंकाशं काश्यपेयं महाद्युतिम् तमोऽरिं सर्वपापघ्नं प्रणतोऽस्मि दिवाकरम्

japākusumasaṁkāśaṁ kāśyapeyaṁ mahādyutim
tamo'riṁ sarvapāpaghnaṁ praṇato'smi divākaram

I bow to the Lord Surya (Sun), who is the colour of the china rose (Hibiscus), who is the son of Rishi Kaśyapa, Who is supremely resplendent. Who is the destroyer of darkness and the remover of all sins.

The Moon (Chandra or Soma)

Chandra is said to be the son of Prabhākra (the Sun). He is also identified with the Vedic SOMA. Soma = Amṛta the nectar of immortality which alludes to the nourishing, nurturing and invigorating influence of the Moon on all life forms.

He was married to the 27 daughters of Dakṣa Prajāpati which represent the 27 lunar mansions known as Nakṣattras — his favourite wife being Rohiṇī. He seduced the wife of Brihaspati named Tārā and had by her a son — Budha.

He is described as young, beautiful, fair; two- armed and having in his hands a club and a displaying the Varadā mudra, or holding 2 white lotuses.

He rides in a chariot pulled by ten white horses or sometimes just an antelope. The 10 horses represent the 10 iṅdriyas (organs of action of organs of knowledge) and the 3 wheels of the chariot represent the 3 Guṇas.

The gemstone related to Moon is pearl, and its metal is silver. Moon rules number 2 in Indian numerology.

Chandra - Moon bīja mantra:

ॐ श्रां श्रीं श्रों सः चन्द्राय नमः

oṁ śrāṁ śrīṁ śroṁ saḥ candrāya namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Chandra:

दधिशंखतुषाराभं क्षीरोदार्णवसम्भवम् नमामि शशिनं सोमं शम्भोर्मुकुटभूषणम्

dadhiśaṁkhatuṣārābhaṁ kṣīrodārṇavasambhavam
namāmi śaśinaṁ somaṁ śambhormukuṭabhūṣaṇam

I bow to Lord Soma (Moon) who is white like curds – shell and dew, who is born in the milky ocean, who is the jewel on the crown of Lord Shiva and who is the form of nectar.

Mars (Kuja or Mangala)

Once when Lord Śiva was immersed in deep meditation (samādhi) at his abode, Mount Kailāśa, three drops of perspiration originated from his forehead and fell down on the earth. From those drops manifested a very beautiful infant, who was of reddish complexion and who had four arms.

Lord Śiva handed the child over to the earth goddess, Bhūmi for upbringing and he was thus named Bhauma as he was nurtured and brought up by 'Bhūmi' (earth).

When Bhauma grew up, he went to Kāśī and did a tremendous penance to please lord Śiva who blessed him by granting him the status of a Graha and appointed him to rule 'Mangala loka' (the Abode of Auspiciousness), which was superior even to the 'Śukra loka' (the Abode of the god of Venus — Śukra).

His weapons are the mace (gadā), trident (Śūla) and śakti and he displays the Abhayā mudra. His vehicle is the Ram representing leadership and being head-strong.

Mangala is considered a malefic of the first order. He rules over the signs Mesha (Aries) and Vriśchika (Scorpio), is exalted in Makara (Capricorn) and has his fall in Karka (Cancer).

Mangala represents drive and physical energy, aspiration, self- confidence and ego, strength, anger, impulsiveness, heroism and adventurous nature. As the God of War he is associated with battle, war and soldiers.

The gemstone of Mars is Coral. Mars rules number 9 in Indian numerology.

Mangala - Mars bīja mantra:

ॐ क्रां क्रीं क्रों सः भौमाय नमः

oṁ krāṁ krīṁ kroṁ saḥ bhaumāya namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Mangala:

धरणीगर्भसम्भूतं विद्युत्कान्तिसमप्रभम् कुमारं शक्तिहस्तं तं मंगलं प्रणमाम्यहम्

dharaṇīgarbhasambhūtaṁ vidyutkāntisamaprabham
kumāraṁ śaktihastaṁ taṁ maṁgalaṁ praṇamāmyaham

I bow to Lord Mangala (Mars) , who is the son of mother earth, who is shining like lightning, who bears a spear and who is kumara , full of power and energy.

Mercury (Budha)

Budha is the adulterous son of the Moon by Tārā, wife of Jupiter.

He married Ilā who was the daughter of Manu. Manu was childless and arranged for a yajña to be performed for obtaining a son, but the priest got the mantras wrong and a daughter was born.

Mitra and Varuṇa performed a sex-change and Ilā became a boy who was named Sudyumna. Under a curse of Śiva, Sudyumna again became a woman and married Budha.

Later on she was again transformed by Vishnu into a male and had 3 sons.

Another version of the story has Ilā (Iḍā) as the eldest son of Manu who trespassed upon a grove sacred to Lord Shiva and under a curse was transformed into a woman. Due to his friends supplications Śiva and Pārvatī agreed for him to be male one month and female the next.

Mercury rules the intellect and communication skills. He rides upon a lion and holds a mace (gadā), sword (khaḍga) and a shield (Kheṭaka) and shows the Varadā- mudra or Abhayā-mudra.

The day related to Mercury is Wednesday, while the gemstone related to Mercury is emerald. Mercury rules number 5 in Indian numerology.

Budha – Mercury bīja mantra:

ॐ ब्रां ब्रीं ब्रों सः बुधाय नमः

oṁ brāṁ brīṁ broṁ saḥ budhāya namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Budha:

प्रियंगुकलिकाश्यामं रुपेणाप्रतिमं बुधम् सौम्यं सौम्यगुणोपेतं तं बुधं प्रणमाम्यहम्

priyaṁgukalikāśyāmaṁ rupeṇāpratimaṁ budham
saumyaṁ saumyaguṇopetaṁ taṁ budhaṁ praṇamāmyaham

I bow to Budha (Mercury), who is dark and black, like no other in form and appearance and is very intelligent and wise, being the son of Soma and endowed with sweet and pleasing auspicious qualities.

Jupiter (Guru or Brihaspati)

Bṛhaspati — "lord of prayer or devotion", also known as Deva-guru (guru of the gods), is considered the personification of piety and religion, and the chief 'offerer of prayers and sacrifices to the gods' (purohita), with whom he intercedes on behalf of humankind.

He is the arch-nemesis of Śukrācārya the guru of the Dānavas (anti-gods) He is also the god of wisdom and eloquence, to whom various works are ascribed, such as the Barhaspatya sutras.

Bṛhaspati is the son of Rishi Aṅgiras and has three wives:

His first wife Śubha gave birth to Bhānumatī, Rākā, Arciṣmati, Mahāmati, Māhīṣmatī, Sīnivali, and Haviṣmati, his seven daughters. His second wife Tārā gives birth to seven sons and a daughter. Through his third wife Mamatā, he has two sons, Kacha and Bhāradvāja.

He attained his position as the preceptor of the Devas, by performing penances. Lord Shiva granted him this position, as well as his position as one of the Navagrahas (Nine Planets).

Bṛhaspati is considered to be the greatest benefit of any of the planets: it indicates vastness, growth and expansion in a person’s horoscope and life. Bṛhaspati also represents the balance of past karma, religion, philosophy, knowledge and issues relating to offspring.

He is concerned with education, teaching and the dispensation of knowledge. He displays the Varadā-mudra and carries the water-pot (Kamaṇḍalu) rosary (Akṣamālā) and a stick (daṇḍa).

The gemstone of Jupiter is the yellow sapphire. The Jupiter rules number 3 in Indian numerology.

Bṛhaspati – Jupiter bīja mantra:

ॐ ग्रां ग्रीं ग्रों सः गुरवे नमः

oṁ grāṁ grīṁ groṁ saḥ gurave namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Bṛhaspati:

देवानां च ऋषिणां च गुरुं काञ्चनसन्निभम् बुद्धिभूतं त्रिलोकेशं तं नमामि बृहस्पतिम्

devānāṁ ca ṛṣiṇāṁ ca guruṁ kāñcanasannibham
buddhibhūtaṁ trilokeśaṁ taṁ namāmi bṛhaspatim

I bow to Brihaspati (Jupiter) whos is the teacher of Gods and Sages, who is resplendent and lustrous as burnished gold, who is endowed with a lot of wisdom and the lord of wisdom for the three worlds.

Venus (Śukra)

Śukraclear, pure” or “brightness, clearness”, is the son of Bhrigu, and Guru of the Daityas and Asuras. He is of white complexion, middle-aged and of agreeable countenance.

He is described variously as mounted on a camel, horse or crocodile. He holds a stick, japa-mālā and a lotus and sometimes a bow and arrow.

He studied the Vedas under the rishi Angirasa but he was disturbed by Angirasa’s favouritism for his own son Brihaspati. He then left and went to study under rishi Gautama.

He later performed penance to Lord Shiva and obtained the Sañjīvaṇi mantra (a mantra that revived the dead).

He married Priyavrata’s daughter Ūrjasvatī and they had four sonsCaṇḍa (fierce), Amarka (deathless), Tvaṣṭṛ (designer) Dharātra (support) and a daughter from his marriage to Indra’s daughter Jayantī by the name Devayānī (path of the gods).

Due to the hatred Śukrācārya bore towards Vishnu, for what he perceived as the murder of his mother as she had given shelter to some asura whom Vishnu was hunting, Śukrācārya decided to become the Guru of Asuras.

He helped them achieve victory over the Devas and used his knowledge to revive the dead and wounded among them.

In one story, Lord Vishnu is born as the Brahmin dwarf-sage Vāmana. Vāmana comes to take the three worlds as alms from the asura king Bāli.

Lord Vishnu wanted to deceive the king Bāli, who was the grandson of the great king Prahlāda, in order to help the Devas. The sage Śukrācārya identifies him immediately and warns the King. The King is however a man of his word and offers the gift to Vāmana.

Śukrācārya, annoyed with the pride of the king, shrinks himself with his powers and sits in the spout of the Kamaṇḍalu from which water has to be poured to seal the promise to the deity in disguise.

Lord Vishnu, in disguise of the dwarf, understands immediately, and picks a straw from the ground and directs it up the spout, poking out the left eye of Śukrācārya. Since this day on, the guru of the asuras has been known to be half blind.

Devayānī was the daughter of Śukrācārya, who was rejected by the son of Brihaspati, Kacha. She later marries the legendary Somavanshi king Yayāti.

In times of the Mahābhārata, Śukrācārya is mentioned as one of the mentors of Bhīshma, having taught him political science in his youth.

Its' metal is silver, it's gemstone diamond, the day is Friday and the direction is southeast. Venus rules number 6 in Indian numerology.

Śukra – Venus bīja mantra:

ॐ द्रां द्रीं द्रों सः शुक्राय नमः

oṁ drāṁ drīṁ droṁ saḥ śukrāya namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Śukra:

हिमकुन्दमृणालाभं दैत्यानां परमं गुरुम् सर्वशास्त्रप्रवक्तारं भार्गवं प्रणमाम्यहम्

himakundamṛṇālābhaṁ daityānāṁ paramaṁ gurum
sarvaśāstrapravaktāraṁ bhārgavaṁ praṇamāmyaham

I bow to Śukra (Venus) who is as white and fair complexioned as Jasmine and snow, who is the supreme teacher of the Daiyas who are the enemies of the gods and who knows all the scriptures.

Saturn (Śani or Śanaiścara)

Śani who is also known as Śanaiścara comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ, the one who moves slowly, because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun.

Śani is the son of Sūrya and his wife Chāyā (Shade). He is the elder brother of Yama, the god of death, who is also the Lord of Dharma or justice.

Surya’s two sons Śani and Yama judge and punish all beings for their bad karmas:

Śani supervises the results of our deeds in this life through appropriate joy and sorrow; Yama grants the results of our deeds after death.

It is said that when Śani opened his eyes as a baby for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Śani 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, betrayal, backstabbing and unjust revenge.

He is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and mounted on his vehicle the carrion crow which consumes the rice-balls offered to the dead.

Saturn rules the direction west, Saturday is its day, black is its colour and blue sapphire is the gemstone of Saturn. Saturn rules number 8 in Indian numerology.

Shani – Saturn bīja mantra:

ॐ प्रां प्रीं प्रों सः शनैस्चराय नमः

oṁ prāṁ prīṁ proṁ saḥ śanaiscarāya namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Shani:

नीलांजनसमाभासं रविपुत्रं यमाग्रजम् छायामार्त्तण्डसम्भूतं तं नमामि शनैश्चरम्

nīlāṁjanasamābhāsaṁ raviputraṁ yamāgrajam
chāyāmārttaṇḍasambhūtaṁ taṁ namāmi śanaiścaram

I bow to Śani ( Saturn) , as black as the black collyrium, who is the son of the Sun and the brother of Yama(God of death) and born to Surya through Chāyā, and moves very slowly.

Rāhu (North node of the Moon)

During the Great Churning of the Ocean — Samudra Manthāna, the asura Rāhu drank some of the amṛta (divine nectar). Sun and moon realized it and alerted Mohinī (the female avatāra of Vishnu). Before the nectar could pass his throat, Mohinī cut off his head. The head, however, remained immortal due to the effect of amrita and became Rāhu.

It is believed that this immortal head from time to time swallows the sun, causing eclipses. Then, the sun passes through the opening at the neck, ending the eclipse.

The body of Rāhu also turned into Ketu due to a boon, and it in turn swallows the moon on timely basis to cause a lunar eclipse.

Rāhu is a legendary master of deception who signifies cheaters, pleasure seekers, operators in foreign lands, drug dealers, poison dealers, insincere & immoral acts, etc.

It is the significator of an irreligious person, an outcast, harsh speech, falsehoods, uncleanliness, abdominal ulcers, bones, and transmigration. Rāhu is instrumental in strengthening one’s power and converting even an enemy into a friend.

In Vedic astrology Rāhu is seen as an asura or demon who does his best to plunge any area of life he controls into chaos, mystery, and cruelty.

He is associated with the world of material manifestation and worldly desire, as well as random, uncontrolled growth without wisdom or understanding.

Rāhu is supposed to be a mighty and naughty child of Māyā, and thus has a lot of dualities attached to its Māyāvi (illusory) nature.

There is no equal to Rāhu when it comes to giving upliftment in name and fame or sudden luck at gambling. The area in which this success is attained usually relates to the significations of the house Rāhu is placed in.

All the electric lights that illuminate our world in the night-time can be said to be associated with Rāhu. Rāhu is known as the “artificial sun,” which is fitting considering the introduction of electric lights, adding to the illusion and glamour of modern times. Rāhu has in a way created its own artificial sun for his favoured time, the night.

Rāhu rides upon a lion and holds a sword (khaḍga), shield (Kheṭaka) a trident (Śūla) and displays the Varadā-mudra.

The gemstone related to Rahu is hessonite. Rahu rules number 4 in Indian numerology.

Rahu bīja mantra:

ॐ भ्रां भ्रीं भ्रों सः राहवे नमः

oṁ bhrāṁ bhrīṁ bhroṁ saḥ rāhave namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Rahu:

अर्धकायं महावीर्यं चन्द्रादित्यविमर्दनम् सिंहिकागर्भसम्भूतं तं राहुं प्रणमाम्यहम्

ardhakāyaṁ mahāvīryaṁ candrādityavimardanam
siṁhikāgarbhasambhūtaṁ taṁ rāhuṁ praṇamāmyaham

I bow to Rahu who has half a body, who is endowed with a lot of powers, who disturbs fiercely the Sun and the Moon and who is the Son of Simhikā.

Ketu (South node of the Moon)

Ketu is the descending lunar node. Vipracitti begot one hundred and one sons, through his wife Simhikā, of whom the eldest is Rāhu and the others are the one hundred Ketus.

Ketu can have a tremendous impact on human lives and in some special circumstances it helps one achieve the zenith of fame. Ketu is often depicted with a gem or star on his head signifying a mystery light.

Ketu represents karmic collections both good and bad, spirituality and supernatural influences. Ketu is associated with the Mīna Avatar (Fish Incarnation) of Vishnu.

Ketu signifies the spiritual process of the refinement of materialization to spirit and is considered both malefic and beneficial, as it causes sorrow and loss, and yet at the same time turns the individual to God. In other words, it causes material loss in order to force a more spiritual outlook in the person.

Ketu is a karaka or indicator of intelligence, wisdom, non-attachment, fantasy, penetrating insight, derangement, and psychic abilities.

Ketu is believed to bring prosperity to the devotee’s family, removes the effects of snakebite and illness arising out of poisons. He grants good health, wealth and cattle to his devotees.

He rides on a vulture and carries the club (daṇḍa) while displaying the Abhayā-mudra.

It is associated with a smoky-grey colour and Ketu's gemstone is cat's-eye. Ketu rules number 7 in Indian numerology.

Ketu bīja mantra:

ॐ स्त्रां स्त्रीं स्त्रों सः केतवे नमः

oṁ strāṁ strīṁ stroṁ saḥ ketave namaḥ

Vedic mantra for Ketu:

पलाशपुष्पसंकाशं तारकाग्रहमस्तकम् रौद्रं रौद्रात्मकं घोरं तं केतुं प्रणमाम्यहम्

palāśapuṣpasaṁkāśaṁ tārakāgrahamastakam
raudraṁ raudrātmakaṁ ghoraṁ taṁ ketuṁ praṇamāmyaham

I bow to Ketu, who is as red as the Palāsa Flower, who has for his head the stars and planets, who is the son of Rudra and who is terrible in form.