The Navagraha, or nine planets, are the embodiments, in Hindu religion, of nine planets; the Sun (Surya), the Moon (Chandra), Mars (Mangala), Mercury (Budha), Jupiter (Bṛhaspati), Venus (Shukra), Saturn (Shani), the North Lunar Node (Rahu) and the South Lunar Node (Ketu)
THE SUN (SURYA)
Surya means Sun in Sanskrit and is also the name of the Hindu embodiment of the Sun. Surya, also known as Aditya, is often presented riding a chariot driven by seven horses; these represent the seven rays of a rainbow. He is also found as a deity in the arts and literature within Buddhism and Jainism.
Surya is believed to be a symbolism for the victory over evil by good. The epic Mahabharata opens one of its chapters by calling Surya: ’the eye of the universe, origin of all life, goal of the Samkhyas and Yogis, and symbolism for freedom and spiritual emancipation. Also, in the Mahabharata Surya is shown as father of Karna and of the unmarried princess, Kunti. The day said to be under the influence of Surya is Sunday.
CHANDRA (THE MOON)
Chandra means Moon in Sanskrit and is also the name of the Hindu embodiment of the Moon. Chandra, also known as Indu, is presented as young and beautiful, carrying a club and a lotus, and riding a chariot drawn by an antelope. Chandra is also mentioned as a deity in Buddhism.
Chandra is father to Budha (Mercury) and is married to the twenty-seven daughters of Daksha, after whom the Nakshatras in Hindu astrology are named. Legend has it that as Ganesha was returning home from Kubera’s house, after a feast there, on his mouse, Dinka, a snake crossed their path and frightened by it, Dinka ran away, making an overstuffed Ganesh fall to the ground. At this sight, Chandra laughed at Ganesha. A furious Ganesha placed a curse upon Chandra, forbidding anyone to see Chandra on Ganesha Chaturthi. The time of day said to be under the influence of Chandra is Monday.
Mangala means Mars in Sanskrit and is also the name of the Hindu embodiment of Mars. Mangala, also known as Lohit, is presented riding a ram (male sheep).
The birth of Mangala varies within Hindu culture; in some he is portrayed as son of Goddess Bhumi and Lord Vishnu, in others he is said to be born from a droplet of Lord Shiva’s sweat or blood. In the first millennium CE, Hindu scholars estimated the time it would take for Mangala to complete its orbit. Their answer on average was 686 days, 23hrs, 48mins and 27 secs; the correct orbit time is 686 days, 23hrs, 30mins and 41.4secs, this answer was gained using 20th century technology. Not far off, especially considering the fact that they were so close without any electronic assistance. The day said to be under the influence of Mangala is Tuesday.
Budha, or Budha Graha, means Mercury in Sanskrit and is also the name of the Hindu embodiment of Mercury. Budha, also known as Saumya, is presented riding either a lion or a chariot hauled by eight horses of a deep yellow colour. Budha is also a deity in Puranic mythology.
In some texts, Budha is portrayed as son of Chandra and Tara, in others as son of Rohini and Chandra. One of the earliest mentions of Budha as a celestial body appears in the Vedic text Pancavimsa Brahmana, and it appears in other ancient texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana as well, but not in the context of astrology. Mercury is associated with the Hindu god Vishnu in the Rigveda The day said to be under the influence of Budha is Wednesday.
Bṛhaspati means Jupiter in Sanskrit and is also the name of the Hindu embodiment of Jupiter. Bṛhaspati, also known as Guru, is the ’Teacher of the Gods’ and is usually presented riding an elephant or a chariot drawn by eight white horses.
Bṛhaspati is described in ancient Hindu literature as a sage born from the first great light, the one who drove away darkness and the one who is bright and pure. Bṛhaspati’s wife is Goddess Tara and his children are Bharadvaja, counsellor of the Pandavas, and the sage Kacha. Bṛhaspati appears as a planet in many Sanskrit astronomical texts, such as the Aryabhatiya and the Romaka. These texts present Bṛhaspati as one of the planets and estimate the characteristics of the respective planetary motion. The day said to be under the influence of Bṛhaspati is Thursday.
Shukra means ‘lucid, clear, bright’ in Sanskrit and is also the name of the Hindu embodiment of Venus. Shukra, also known as Asuracharya, is the ancient sage who is said to have counselled Asuras in Vedic mythology.
Shukra is one of the sons of Bhrigu and is married to Goddess Jayanti. His child is called Devyani. In an account in the Mahabharata, it is said that Shukra divided himself into two, one half being the knowledge source for the Devas (gods) and the other half being the knowledge source of the Asuras (demons). The day said to be under the influence of Shukra is Friday.
Shani is a Sanskrit name that refers to the Hindu embodiment of Saturn. Shani is presented riding either a crow or a vulture.
Shani is the son of Surya (the Sun) and Goddess Chhaya. Shani is married to Goddess Manda in some pieces of literature and Goddess Neela in others; their children are Kuligna and Gulikan. Shani is considered as inauspicious and the bringer of bad luck. He is a deity that gets angry very easily and takes thorough revenge for whatever has made him upset. The day said to be under the influence of Shani is Saturday
RAHU (THE NORTH LUNAR NODE)
Rahu is the name for the point when the Moon moves from South to North in its orbit and crosses the Sun’s path. Rahu is presented riding a chariot drawn by eight black horses.
Rahu is the son of Lord Viprachitti and Goddess Sinhika and is married to Goddess Rahi. Rahu’s sibling is the South Lunar Node, Ketu. Legend has it that in the remotest periods of prehistoric time, when the gods and titans, churned the milk Ocean to extract from it the Amrita, the elixir of immortality. Rahu was present at that time and overcome with pride, he tried to catch Mother Lakshmi’s hair which immediately garnered a reaction from Vishnu. He hurled his discus and beheaded Rahu. Rahu is misunderstood to be Neptune due to Sanskrit to English translation, but it is not as the discovery of it is attributed to high resolution telescopes. The time said to be under the influence of Rahu is Rahukala which is considered inauspicious.
KETU (SOUTH LUNAR NODE)
Ketu is the name for the point when the Moon moves from North to South in its orbit and crosses the Sun’s path. Ketu is presented riding an eagle.
Ketu is the son of Lord Viprachitti and Goddess Sinhika and is married to Goddess Keta. Ketu’s sibling is the North Lunar Node, Rahu. In Hindu astrology Ketu represents karmic collections both good and bad, spirituality and supernatural influences. Ketu signifies the spiritual process of the refinement of materialization to spirit and is considered both malefic and benefic, as it causes sorrow and loss, and yet at the same time turns the individual to God. Ketu is misunderstood to be Uranus due to Sanskrit to English translation, but it is not as the discovery of it is attributed to high resolution telescopes.