From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda


For thousands of years, people all over the world have believed in the influence of the planets on human life and history. Logically speaking, the creation of the grahas or planets precedes that of the living beings. Hence, some sort of cause and effect relation must subsist between these two. This seems to be the basis for this belief.

The Navagrahas are regarded to be of the greatest astrological significance by the people. They are believed to influence the life of the individual and the course of history. As per the traditional list, the nine planets are:

  1. Ravi or Surya (Sun)
  2. Soma or Candra (moon)
  3. Maṅgala or Kuja or Aṅgāraka (Mars)
  4. Budha (Mercury)
  5. Bṛhaspati or Guru (Jupiter)
  6. Śukra (Venus)
  7. Śani (Saturn)
  8. Rāhu
  9. Ketu

The seven days of the week have derived their names from the first seven planets. Rāhu and Ketu are not planets. They are the ascending and descending nodes of the moon. Budha or Mercury is the fourth in this group of nine planets. According to mythology, he is the son of Candra and Tārā. His consort is Ilā. He was once transformed into a woman when he entered the forbidden forest of the Kumāravana.

Hence he is also considered as a strīgraha, a feminine planet. He is saumya[1] and śubha[2] In the images he is shown either as dark or yellow in complexion. He wears a garland of yellow flowers, with four arms. Each hand carries the following:

  1. Sword
  2. Shield
  3. Mace
  4. Varadamudrā.[3]


  1. Saumya means pacific in nature.
  2. Śubha means auspicious.
  3. Varadamudrā means gesture of bestowal of boons.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore