Namah Suryaya Somaya Mangalaya Budhaya Cha
Guru Shukra Sanibhyascha Rahave Ketave Namah
The Navagrahas are 9 important deities of the Hindu religious tradition. They are Surya, Chandra, Angaraka, Budha, Guru, Sukra, Sani, Rahu and Ketu. The last two, Rahu and Ketu are planet-like entities, unique to the Hindu tradition. Devotees worship the Navagrahas to minimize the malefic effects of the planetary positions as applicable to their birth charts.
Hindu astronomy is based upon the configuration of the nine planets and their collective influence on the world in general and each individual in particular. Depending upon where these planets are located at the time of a person’s birth, Hindus believe that the possibilities and potentialities of his life and energies are determined well in advance. The nine planets are collectively known as Navagrahas. They are found in most Hindu temples either grouped together on a panel or in a separate pavilion. The devotees usually offer their respects to the nine planetary gods before offering prayers to the main deity of the temple. Out of the nine gods the names of seven are actually drawn from names of the planets of the solar system and also correspond to the names of the seven days of the Hindu calendar week. The remaining two gods are actually demons who managed to gain a place in the pantheon through an act of trickery. By the worship of Navagrahas, the planets which are in auspicious situations offer increased fruits of benefits for one’s actions while the planets which occupy less desirous situations tend to remove the evil effects of a person’s karma. The nine planets are:
1. Surya (Sun): He is the Sun God, also called Ravi. In the company of the other planets, he generally stands in the center facing east, while the other planets stand around him in eight different directions, but none facing each other. He rides a chariot that has one wheel and pulled by seven white horses. The seven horses symbolically represent the seven colors of the white light and the seven days of the week.
2. Chandra (Moon): Also knows as Soma, and probably because of his waxing and waning qualities, in the images he is never depicted in full.
3. Mangala (Mars): Also called Angarka, Mangala is a ferocious god with four hands.
4. Budha (Mercury): We generally see him depicted with four hands, riding upon a chariot or a lion.
5. Brihaspathi (Jupiter): Brihaspathi also known as Guru is the teacher of gods and is praised in many hymns of the Rigveda. He is generally shown with two hands, seated in a chariot driven by eight horses.
6. Sukra (Venus): Sukra is the teacher of the demons and the author of Sukraniti. He is generally shown with four hands, riding upon a golden or a silver chariot drawn by eight horses.
7. Sani (Saturn): Sani is a turbulent and troublesome god who makes and breaks fortunes by his influence and position in the planetary system for which he is invariably feared and especially worshipped by those who believe in Hindu astrology.
8. Rahu: His image resembles that of Budha (Mercury) in some respects but both gods differ fundamentallyin their nature and temperament.
9. Ketu: In Sanskrit Ketu (Dhuma ketu) means comet. The scriptures describe him as having the tail of a serpent as his body, a description which very much matches with his connection to the image of a comet.