When you enter the temple, during the circumambulation, to the North East of the Sanctum Sanctorum lies a Granite pedestal. This square pedestal houses nine granite idols covered in colourful clothes. These nine idols are the Navagrahas or the Nine celestial entities. Our everyday lives, the struggles we face and the fortune that falls upon us is all governed by the position of these elestial bodies at the time of our birth. When we are born, our family enlists the services of a Jyotish, an astrologer who charts the exact position of these stars and planets at the moment of our birth. They have a heavy influence on every action and consequence that we encounter. What or who are these Navagrahas and what do they govern in our lives, is exactly what we are going to see here. According to Hindu scriptures they are Surya – The Sun Chandra – The Moon Mangala – Mars Budhan – Mercury Brihaspati – Jupiter Shukra – Venus Shani – Saturn Rahu – Ascending Lunar node Ketu – Descending Lunar node These 9 celestial bodies are installed in two practises in temples.
Surya still occupies the central position. Shukra is to his east, Mangala in the South, Shani in the west, Brihaspati in the North, Chandra in the South East, Rahu in the South West, Ketu in the North West and Budhan in the North East. Interestingly they are placed facing different directions, but they are never placed facing each other, as it would counteract the two deities influences. Tamil Nadu has nine temples dedicated to the Navagrahas. They are spread around Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district. They are actually dedicated to Shiva, but each temple has one specific Navagraha that is special to it. The Suriyanur temple for Surya, Thinagaloor temple for Chandra, Vaitheeshwaran temple to Mangala, Thiruvenkadu temple to Budhan, Alangudi temple to Brihaspati, Kanjanoor temple to Shukran, Thriunallaru temple to Shani, Thirunageshwaram temple to Rahu and Keezhperumpallam temple to Ketu. These 9 entities have distinct personalities, preferences and impact on our lives. It is proposed to every individual to pray and offer Prasad to the particular deity who governs the doshas in their horoscopes. Each deity has a Mantra or Shloka and preferences that have to be met to appease them. We shall look at them individually to understand their persona and their corresponding day of prayer and their mantras.
The Sun God is as fiery as the Sun itself. He represents life force, Intelligence and prosperity. His central position in the Navagrahas is because of the Sun’s central position in the Solar system. He is depicted as a standing person with lotus flowers in his hands. He rides a chariot drawn by seven horses. The chariot is driven by his charioteer Aruna. He is praised as the Illuminator who dispels darkness and helps the Devas vanquish the Asuras. He is the God of Light and Day and presides over Ravivar (Sunday) of the week. He gives longevity and good health. Surya is appeased by giving Wheat as an offering. He is draped in a bright red cloth, much like the colour of the actual sun that we perceive. He is placed in the centre, but placed in such a way that he faces the cardinal direction of East. His Shloka is Japaa Kusumasankasham Kasyapeyam Maha Dhyuthim Tamognam Sarvapaapghnam Pranatosmi Divakaram
Chandra is the Moon God and has a mild temperament like the moon. There is a legend that associates Chandra with Brihaspati and Budhan. Chandra was in love with Tara, the wife of Brihaspati. He begot a child with her who is Budhan. He is depicted as a white deity who holds a mace in his hand. He rides a chariot with three wheels, driven by three horses. He presides over Somavar i.e Monday of the week. He is the master of all water bodies and has a heavy influence on the mind and emotions. He controls the digestive system, fertility and our mental health. Chandra is appeased by offering Rice as Prasad. He is draped in a clean white cloth, like the colour of the brilliant moon in the night sky. He is placed to the East of the Sun facing South East. His Shloka is Dadhi Shankha tushaa-raabham Khseero Darnava Sambhavam Namaami Shashinam Somam Shambhor Mukuta Bhooshanam
Mangala is the Red God, otherwise called as Lohit. Like the Roman mythological God Mars, Mangala is the Hindu God of War. He represents the planet Mars. He is shown as a red coloured being, with four arms, bearing a trident, mace, spear and a lotus flower. He rides a Ram with curved horns. He is believed to be the son of Bhoomi matha and Vishnu, born when he rescued her from the depths of the ocean, in the Varaha Avatar. In Shaivite legends, he is said to be born from a drop of blood of Lord Shiva, thereby colouring him in a distinct red. Mangala is associated with aggression and courage. He controls our muscles and consequentially our physical strength. He is appeased with offerings of Bengal gram and draped with a dark red cloth. He is associated with Magalwar i.e Tuesday of the Days of the week. His Shloka is Dharanee garbha sambhootam ,Vidyut Kaanti Sama-prabham Kumaram Shakti Hastam ,Tham Mangalaam Pranamamyamaham
Budhan is the son of Chandran and Tara, the wife of Brihaspati. He represents the planet Mercury. He is a benevolent God, who is depicted with Light yellow coloured skin. He wields a scimitar, club and shield, with the fourth hand in Abhaya Mudra. He either rides a chariot made of Wind and fire, drawn by eight horses or a lion. He has a direct impact on learning, analytical and communication skills. On the physiological front, Budhan affects our respiratory system and the skin. He is appeased by offering Green gram and is draped with green cloth. He is associated with Budhwar i.e Wednesday of the week. His Shloka is Priyangukalika Shyaamam , RoopenaaPratimam Budham Soumyam Soumya Guno Petham Tam Budham Pranamamyamham
Unlike the other deities of the Navagrahas, Brihaspati was a sage who rose to the status of God. He was born of the first great light and drove away the darkness. He is bright and pure. He married Tara, who represents all the stars in the sky. Brihaspati is depicted as a being with a Golden body, whose legs are striped with blue. He is framed by a halo of moons and stars. He is shown seated on a lotus as his throne. He wields a bow, the string of which is the Cosmic Order, The Rta. He is associated with wisdom and knowledge and can boost us on the path to success. He is considered A Guru, a teacher because of these qualities. He affects the Liver, pancreas and metabolism. He is appeased by offerings of Channa dal and draped with a Yellow cloth. His Shloka is Deva-naam cha Rishi Naam cha Gurum kaanchana sannibham, Buddhi Bhootam Trilokesham Tam Namaami Brihaspatim
UShukra is the son of Brighu of the Saptarishis. He was a great Guru of the Daityas, otherwise known as the Asuras, and is referred to as Asuracharya or Shukracharya. He is said to possess the knowledge of bringing the dead back to life, which he shared with both the Devas and Asuras. Shukra is sometimes depicted as a female goddess, equivalent to the Roman Goddess of fertility, Venus. With a pink, clear complexion and attractive features she is the very symbol of beauty. Shukra represents Venus, the planet ideally associated with wealth and beauty. He controls our very desires. This is why, in the body, he is associated with the reproductive organs. He is appeased by offering Soya gram as Prasad and is draped in white cloth. Shukra presides over Shukrawar i.e Friday of the days of the week. His Shloka is HimaKundha Mrina-laabham Daitya-naam Paramam Gurum Sarv aShastra Pravaktaaram Bhargavam Pranamaamyamham
Shani stands for austerity and discipline. He is mainly worshipped by people who are ready to lead a spiritual life. There has been a long standing misconception that the planet represents negativity and misfortune. But he is the deity who we need to worship to get past our struggles. He gives us the strength and resilience to face all the struggles in our life. He is also associated with nerve related issues. He is depicted as a handsome, dark skinned God who is always accompanied by a crow. He wields a Bow, an arrow and a sceptre. He is appeased with offerings of Black Mustard seeds and is draped in blue cloth. He presides over Shaniwar i.e. Saturday of the days of the week, and represents the planet Saturn. On this day devotees go to the temple to light lamps filled with mustard oil with wicks made of black cloth. His shloka is Neelanjanasamaabhasam Ravi Putram Yamaagrajam Chaaya Marthanda Sambhootam Tam Namaami Shanaiswaram
hey represent forces of energy and impact the effect of the accumulated Karma from previous births. Rahu and Ketu are both associated with fears and phobias. When the devas and Ausras churned the ocean for Amrit, Lord Vishnu distracted the Asuras in the form of the divine damsel Mohini. But an asura named SvarBhanu managed to disguise himself as a Deva and drank the Amrit. Mohini on realising this, cut off his head with the Sudarshana Chakra. Since he was immortal he would not die and his head came to be known as Rahu and the body as Ketu. Rahu is a Shadow entity and is the King of meteors and causes eclipses. Rahu is draped with a Black cloth and offerings of black gram are made to him. His Shloka is Ardha Kaayam Mahaa Veeryam Chandra- Aditya Vimardanam Simhika Garbha Sambhootam Tam Rahum Pranamaamyaham Ketu is draped with a multi colored cloth and is offered Prasad of horse gram. He is represented with a star or gemstone on his forehead and has the capacity to help a person achieve the zenith of fame and fortune. His Shloka is Palaasha Pushpa Sankaasham Tarakaa Graha Mastakam Roudram Roudraa-tmakam Ghoram Tam Ketum Pranamaamya-ham All these nine celestial bodies come together to weave the intricate patterns that form our lives. It is best to heed the advice of the astrologers and take the necessary precautions to balance the impact. In case there is no particular dosha and need for praying to an individual deity from the Navagrahas, you can circumambulate the Navagrahas chanting this prayer. Nama Suryaya Somaya Mangalaya Budhaya Cha, Guru Shukra Sanibhyascha, Rahava Kethave Nama. We hope you find this information useful and help you in overcoming any difficulties that you may face. If there’s more that can help our readers, we suggest that you share this information with everyone in the comments section, as always.