“Gráha” is a Sanskrit word used to describe something that holds or seizes something else with its influence. In Jyotish, or Vedic astrology, it’s used to refer to the planets and luminaries – and even sometimes the moons (“upagraha”) in our solar system. Understanding astrology and being able to interpret charts depends heavily on the ability to fully understand the Navagraha (the “nine planets,” which include the two luminaries, five visible planets, and two lunar nodes) as aspects of ourselves, the divine, and forms and energies in the maya, the earthly realm in which we live as organisms. Every trait, characteristic, behavior, and effect of everything we know of the past, present, and future can be described in terms of the Navagraha. They comprise, as such, the most basic language of astrology.
I find it easier to understand the Navagraha better by using their Sanskrit names. When I refer to graha by their Roman names (i.e., Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn) I find that my mind very easily clings to the actual physical bodies in the sky, as we’ve known them since childhood, instead of what their archetypes embody. Shifting the language, using a different vocabulary, and adopting these archetypes as personifications is a fantastic way to teach an old dog new tricks. As social beings we better understand the full picture of an idea when we understand it in terms of something that involves people, flora and fauna, environments, and actions, feelings, and thoughts. Just as learning and understanding history only truly comes from immersing yourself in the story and not from memorizing names, places, and dates, to understand the Navagraha it helps to be able to immerse oneself in the story of the planets.
Stories have been used for thousands of years to pass down knowledge, whether verbally or written, through the generations. In this extremely innovative period in which we live traditional stories and myths are in most cases 1) completely ignored and/or replaced by new, modern stories, 2) used, but transformed and/or distorted, or 3) not incorporated into modern media to avoid cultural misappropriation. In all cases, the true message of the story is lost and, therefore, the knowledge itself is also lost.
“A story dies out whose last hearer dies without having ever told it, like any other species of being lapses when its last member expires without reproducing.” -Dr. Robert E. Svoboda, The Greatness of Saturn
The first step in learning and understanding a story is to become familiar with its characters. In Jyotiṣ (Jyotish), the story begins with the Navagraha.
- Sūrya (Sun)
- Candra/Chandra or Soma (Moon)
- Maṅgala/Mangala (Mars)
- Budha (Mercury)
- Guru or Bṛhaspati/Brihaspati (Jupiter)
- Śūkra/Shukra (Venus)
- Śani/Shani (Saturn)
- Rāhu (north node of the Moon)
- Ketu (south node of the Moon)
- February 2017 Lunar Eclipse in Āśleṣā
- Planetary States of the Canine
- Śani and Self-Compassion
- Budha (Mercury) & the Tattvas of Mental Operation
- The Mala as Bṛhaspati & Tara
- Budha Vakri (Mercury Retrograde) September 2016
- The Resonance of Bija Mantras
- Rasas & the Navagraha
- Śani Fast
- Hanuman & Sūrya-Ketu Yuti