The Nine Navagrahas or Nine Planets In Vedic Astrology
November 1, 2014
By Tracy Atkinson
In Vedic astrology there are nine planets that are placed within the twelve houses of our Vedic birth chart to create our own personal karma. The Vedic birth chart is a a map or blueprint of the karma or actions that we are likely to take in this lifetime as well as situations that will arise both positive and negative based on the culmination of karma or actions from past lives.
The nine planets were given a special Sanskrit name by the ancient sages of India that encompass the profound meaning of what they represent: the word graha or “the one who seizes”. For as our karma unfolds through time and we experience the influence of the navagrahas or nine planets, we feel as if we are being seized by a certain energy. The energy of the specific planetary period that is unfolding at any given time begins to first realize itself in our mind through thoughts. We begin to have specific thoughts that are related to that planet and the karma that it promises whether it be filled with blessings and abundance or obstacles and loss. These thoughts become more frequent and repetitious and eventually we find ourselves taking action or manifesting karma based on our thinking.
A good way to understand the nature of the nine planets is through the illustration of the planetary cabinet. The Sun and Moon are the first planets in the cabinet. The Sun is Shiva. He is the king and total masculine energy. He rules over the sign Leo, a fire sign. He is all about taking the responsible action of a leader. He is steadfast and dependable. In this way, he represents all leaders, the father, our creative self-expression, individuality, our power and most importantly he is the Atman or our soul.
The Moon is Shakti. She is the queen and represents total feminine energy. She sits next to the king and rules over the sign of cancer, a water sign. She is our psychology, our emotional or feeling mind. She is the part of that is vulnerable and open and shows our capacity to receive and connect with others.
Next in the cabinet is Mercury, the prince and minister. Since the prince is always close to the king and queen, he is given a seat on either side of them. Thus, he rules over Virgo which comes after the sign Leo and Gemini which comes before the sign of Cancer. Mercury represent our intelligence, communication abilities, skills, sense of humor and discrimination.
Following Mercury comes Venus the women of the court. She is given the next sign after Virgo which is Libra and the sign before Gemini which is Taurus. She is the teacher of the asuras or demons thus she is an expert on navigating the world of the senses. In this vein she represents romantic and sexual love, beauty, the arts, fine food and music. She signifies what brings us joy, fun, happiness and pleasure.
The military general Mars follows Venus. He takes orders form the king. He fights to protect the realm. He rules Aries, the rapid moving fire sign before Taurus. He also rules the sign of Scorpio which follows the sign of Libra. He is the part of us that fights to protect and uphold our principles. He does not negotiate or compromise. He is our energy, will, courage, ambition and motivation.
We now move on to Jupiter or Guru meaning teacher in Sanskrit. He is the teacher to the gods and the priest to the king. He advises the Sun king and the general Mars on how best to uphold dharma or truth. Jupiter rules over the signs Sagittarius and Pisces. He is signifies the part of us that is looking for something more than the mundane, the part of us that is moving toward the divine. He is wise, optimistic, philosophical, spiritual, abundant and generous.
At last in the cabinet is Saturn, the slow mover. In the planetary cabinet he represents ordinary hard working people and servants. He is the planet furthest from the Sun, just as the workers of the kingdom are the farthest form the king. This opposition is shown through Saturn’s signs Capricorn and Aquarius sitting furthest from the Sun’s ruling sign of Leo. In our lives, Saturn represents hard work, obstacles, separations, austerity, discipline, renunciation, solitude, practicality and reality. He can be the part of us that is fearful and doubtful or the part of us that is deeply spiritual, honest and humble.
If you have been counting, you have probably realized that the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn add up to seven planets and earlier I mentioned that there are nine planets in Vedic astrology. The last two remaining planets or grahas are Rahu and Ketu, the north and south nodes of the Moon. The nodes are the two points where the Moon’s path intersects the ecliptic, and therefore where solar and lunar eclipses occur.
Rahu and Ketu were given planetary status by the rishis but they were not given a sign to rule of their own. Rahu co-rules Aquarius with Saturn and Ketu co-rules Scorpio with Mars. They are outsiders and therefore represent foreigners and outcasts of all kinds. They are deeply mysterious and enigmatic and there is a lot that can be said about them and how they function in the chart. I will save that for another time....