Navagraha or the Nine Planets has great importance in Hinduism and Hindu rituals. Navagrahas are considered to play a major role in deciding the destiny of man. The Navagrahas are Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangal (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Ketu (South Lunar Node). It is believed that these nine planetary deities influence human lives and is responsible for all good or bad times, one faces in life.
Lord Surya – The Sun God
Lord Surya or the Sun God occupies the central place amongst the navagrahas facing the east. Also known as Ravi, Surya is the Lord of ‘Simha Rashi’ or Leo sign in Zodiac. Surya’s vahana is a chariot drawn by seven horses. The seven horses represent the seven colors of the white light and seven days of a week.
Lord Chandra – The Moon God
Chandra is a lunar deity and is also known as Soma. The Moon represents the mind, feminine nature, beauty and happiness. He is believed to ride his chariot across the sky every night, pulled by ten white horses or an antelope. He is also called ‘Nishadipati’ and ‘Kshuparaka’.
Mangala – Planet Mars
Mangala, also called Angaraka, is a ferocious god with four hands. He is considered to be the son of Prithvi or Bhumi. Mars is referred to as a ‘hot planet’ and protector of Dharma. He holds weapons in his two hands while the other two hands are held in abhaya and varada mudras.
Budha – Planet Mercury
Budha is generally represented with four hands, three of his hands holding a sword, a shield and a mace respectively while the fourth one is held in usual varada mudra. He rides a carpet or an eagle or a chariot drawn by lions. Mercury represents one’s intelligence and communication.
Brihaspathi – Planet Jupiter
Brihaspati also known as Brahmanaspati is the guru of Devas and is praised in many hymns of Rig Veda. Brihaspati is described of yellow or golden color and holding a stick, a lotus and his beads. Jupiter symbolizes knowledge, love and spirituality.
Shukra – Planet Venus
Lord Shukra or Planet Venus is the teacher of the demons and the author of Sukraniti. Sukra is of whit complexion, middle aged and is generally shown with four hands riding upon a golden or silver chariot drawn by eight horses.
Shani – Planet Saturn
Lord Shani is regarded as a troublesome god and is capable of breaking fortunes by his influence and position in the planetary system. Lord Sani is generally shown with four hands riding upon a chariot or a buffalo or a vulture.
In Hindu mythology, Lord Rahu is described as the head of a demonic snake that swallows the sun and moon, causing eclipses. Rahu is a shadowy planet and do not have any special day dedicated to him.
In Sanskrit, Kethu (Dhuma Ketu) means comet. It is also a shadowy planet and is depicted as the tail of a demon snake. In the images he is usually shown with a poke marked body, riding upon a vulture and holding a mace.