Navagraha means the 9 planets. These are not the nine planets in the solar system; here we are talking about the 9 planets as described in the Hindu mythology. Hindu mythology worships nature and universe as gods. According to the Vedas which were written long before Science and Technology were invented, the location of nine planets during the birth time rule a person’s life. These nine planets are known as the Navagrahas. Hindus worship these navagrahas for prosperity and to recover from the bad bouts of misfortune which they believe can be revived with the help of their janma grahas.
According to the Hindu Mythology, here are the Navagrahas and what they represent:
Surya or Ravi denotes the Sun God. He is the center of the Navagrahas. The rest of the 8 grahas or planets are placed around the Sun facing away from the sun and each other. They are facing 8 different directions. The Sun rides a one-wheel chariot pulled by 7 horses that denote the 7 colors or 7 days of the week.
Chandra is the moon. His upper body is only depicted with a lotus each held in his hands.
Mangal is Mars or Kuja, a vicious god with 4 hands. He holds a Trishul, Gadha, Shula, and Lotus each in his hands. His vehicle is Ram.
Budha is Mercury. He rides on a chariot made of wind and fire pulled by 8 wind-horses. Alternatively, Budha is also picturized as riding a lion. Budha is a generous male God.
Brihaspati or Guru is Jupiter. He is the teacher of Gods and mentioned in Rigveda. Brihaspathi has two hands and rides a chariot with 8 horses, each representing a branch of Knowledge.
Sukra is Venus, the teacher of Demons. Venus is considered to bring in good luck according to Hindu mythology. She has 4 hands, each holding a staff, pot of gold, a string of beads and one in Varada mudra.
Photo by Hari Prasad Nadig
Sani or Saturn is a taxing God. When Sani is looking upon someone, it means the person is in big trouble. Depending upon Sani’s planetary position, a person may find himself/herself in good or bad fortune.
Rahu & Ketu
Photo by Internet Archive Book Images
Rahu & Ketu were demons who managed to get into the Navagraha representation because through deception. They represent the Neptune and Pluto planets. Rahu and Ketu were comets who were given position in the Navagrahas as their planetary position can also influence the fortune of the person.
Hindus believe that worshiping the right graha according to one’s astrology will help in alleviating the troubles and bringing in prosperity in life. Navagraha idols are present in most of the Temples in Tamil Nadu and some in Kerala also. Apart from these, you can find them in the Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. Tamil Nadu probably has the most number of Temples exclusively dedicated to the Navagrahas. Special pujas are done to please these planetary gods by the Hindus to enjoy a trouble-free life. The first seven of these Navagrahas also relate to the weekdays with Surya or Ravi being Sunday and Sani being Saturday. These seven are the Gods or Devas while Rahu and Ketu are Demons or Asuras.
Of these Navagrahas, Sukra is the only Female representation. Sani and Ketu are neutral and the rest are all Male representations. According to Vedic Astrology, each Graha or planet represents a Hindu God and corresponds to one of the 5 elements of Life. There is a metal, gemstone, weekday, season, taste, food, direction, body part and even swara (sound) each associated with each graha. The Navagrahas in the Hindu Mythology may not totally represent the nine planets in our solar system, but they represent the cosmic representations of God present in every element of life.