According to Vedic astrology, the Navagrahas (nine planets) influence the lives of people on Earth. Hence, Hindus worship them as gods. They include Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala or Kuja (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati/Guru (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu and Ketu. The last two are lunar nodes which are also called shadow planets as they have no existence.
One can see the Navagrahas in all Shiva temples in South India. In North India, one can see their images on the lintels of the doors to protect the temple and those who enter it. Sometimes, they are installed in a separate Mandapa (pavilion). The Grahas are placed in such a way that they do not face each other.
The ancient Vedic scholars studied the stars and other heavenly bodies in the sky and correlated them with events happening down below. Their studies and observations led to the science of Jyotish Shastra, or astrology, which explained how the Navagrahas influence human destiny and lives. Not all the Grahas are planets. Surya (Sun), for instance, is a star, and Chandra (Moon) is the natural satellite of Earth, while Rahu and Ketu are lunar nodes that cause eclipses of the Sun and Moon.
The Sun is the king of the Navagrahas. As per Hindu mythology, he is the son of Sage Kashyapa and Aditi. He is equal to Indra in the celestial hierarchy. He has four arms, two of which hold lotuses. The third arm holds a staff, and the fourth, a chakra. Surya sits on a chariot pulled by 7 horses. The 7 horses signify the 7 colors in white light and also the 7 days of the week. Sunday is Surya's special day. Orange and gold are his colors. His gemstone is ruby. People worship him by offering water to the deity by pouring it from a vessel. Surya signifies qualities like ego, leadership, strength, vitality, and authority. Some famous Sun temples in India are the Konark Sun temple in Odisha and the Suryanar kovil in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu.
Chandra is the Moon god. Hindus follow the Lunar Calendar, so Chandra is an important deity. The son of Sage Atri and Anusuya, he was married to the 27 daughters of Prajapati Daksha, who carry the names of the 27 stars or constellations. Chandra’s favorite was Rohini, and he neglected the others. The angry wives complained about it to their father, Daksha, who cursed his son-in-law, saying that he would lose all his powers and his body would slowly fade away. Chandra prayed to Shiva, who rescued him with a boon by which he would wax for 15 days and then wane for the next 15 days. So, Chandra is not depicted with a full body. His chariot is supposedly pulled by antelopes. Monday is the special day of Chandra. To please him, people offer white or silver-colored articles and wear white clothes. The Moon signifies thinking, stability, feminine nature, happiness, and fertility. Nishadipati and Kshuparaka are other names for Chandra. His gemstone is pearl, and he rules the Cancer sign. Thingalur Kailasanathar temple is a famous temple for Chandra near Thanjavur.
Mangal is the ruler of the red planet Mars. He is often depicted with red skin. Mangal is associated with war, battlefields, and weapons. He carries many weapons, including a sword, a mace, and a spear. Mangal was born when Vishnu, in his Varaha avatar, saved Goddess Bhudevi (the personification of Earth) after the demon, Hiranyaksha, hid the planet in the cosmic ocean. But in some myths, Shiva is his father. A story in the Shiva Purana says that Mangal was born from the surface of the Earth, which had absorbed some drops of Shiva’s sweat. Mangal’s mount is a Ram, and he influences our skills with the hands, handling of equipment, as well as anger and strength. He also controls our muscular system, the circulatory system, nose, forehead, etc. People offer red cloth, wheat, red flowers, copper, and sandalwood to him. Tuesday is his special day. He rules Aries and Scorpio signs. His gemstone is Coral. Pullirukkevelur Vaitheeswaran kovil, near Sirkazhi, Tamil Nadu, is a famous Mars temple.
Budha rules communication and intelligence. He rules the nervous system. His mount is an eagle. He is often shown riding on a carpet or a chariot pulled by lions. He has 4 hands, and in 3 of these, he holds a sword, a shield, and a mace. The 4th hand displays varada mudra. His special day is Wednesday, and green is his favorite color. He rules Gemini and Virgo signs. His gemstone is Emerald. Thiruvengadu Swetaranyeswarar temple near Sirkazhi, Tamil Nadu, is famous as a Budha remedy temple.
Jupiter is the guru of the gods. He signifies love, knowledge, and spirituality. His colors are yellow and golden. He holds a lotus, stick, and beads in his hands. Jupiter rules the kidney, liver, flesh, thighs, fat, and arterial system. Thursday is his special day. Alangudi Apathsahayeshwarar temple near Kumbakonam is a famous Guru remedy temple. He rules Sagittarius and Pisces signs. His gemstone is Sapphire.
Shukra/Venus is the guru of the demons. His complexion is white, and he has 4 hands. He rides a silver or golden chariot drawn by 8 horses. He holds beads, a lotus, a stick, and sometimes a bow and arrow. He stays in a person’s horoscope for 20 years and can bestow wealth, luck, and luxuries. Venus signifies love and passion. Its day is Friday and gemstone, diamond. The planet rules Taurus and Libra. Friday is its special day. Kanjanoor Agnishwarar temple near Kumabkonam, Tamil Nadu, is a famous Shukra temple.
Shani is considered a malefic planet. He has 4 hands and rides a chariot drawn by a vulture or buffalo. He holds a sword, arrows, and 2 daggers. Saturn signifies misery, grief, and old age. Saturday is his special day, and blue sapphire is the gemstone. He rules Capricorn and Aquarius signs. Two famous temples for Shani are Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra and Thirunallar Darbaranyeshwarar temple in Tamil Nadu.
Rahu is depicted as the head of a snake that can swallow the Sun and Moon, thereby causing eclipses. He has no special day. He rides a chariot drawn by 8 black horses. His gemstones are Gomedha or honey-colored Hessonite. Thirunageshwaram Naganathaswamy temple near Kumbakonam is a famous Rahu temple.
Ketu is represented as the tail of a snake. He has a pockmarked body and rides a vulture. He holds a mace in his hand. Ketu represents karma, the supernatural, and spirituality. His gemstone is Cat’s Eye. Ketu Naganathaswamy temple in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, is a famous Ketu remedy temple.
Significance of Navagrahas
When the planets are in unfavorable positions in your horoscope, they can cause many problems or Doshas. For instance, people with Budha Dosha or afflicted Mercury may lack intelligence and reasoning powers, and their education may be affected. Mangal Dosha can cause delays in marriage as well as problems in marital life. In such cases, the native has to perform suitable remedies as per the guidance of an expert astrologer, usually at a temple that is known for such Parihara kriyas or remedial services. It is believed that the planetary positions in our birth chart reveal our karmic legacy. We can understand the karmic legacy we are born with from our horoscope and perform suitable actions to nullify the bad karma. Thus, the Navagrahas have a very significant role to play in our lives. By appeasing them, we can mitigate their bad effects and boost the positive effects in our horoscope.