Friday, July 1, 2016

WHY NAVAGRAHA ALTARS ARE ABSENT IN VISHNU TEMPLES?



Why Navagraha Altars are absent in Vishnu Temples?

(Compiled by N.R. Srinivasan for a discourse at Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, TN, USA)
(JULY 2016)


Our sages had realized that the manifested Universe called Jagat has sprung out of the Supreme Spirit and that each of the Universe is influenced by the rest of the Universe and vice versa. Through their keen observation of the sky above, empowered by their yogic power, they perceived perfect harmony and order in the movements of the astral bodies. Closely watching the solar system to which the earth belongs, our sages observed that the apparent path covered by the Sun in relation to earth recurred periodically and with rhythmic precision. Based on these observed phenomena, they established units of time such as day, month, year etc., and gained the   knowledge to precisely forecast the timing of the celestial events.    They also felt such events in macrocosm also have an effect on the microcosm, the human body.  Thus they gave mankind a system of time measurement, by which the correct times for observance of religious rites that can be ascertained in accordance with the celestial happenings. This was the origin of Jyotisha Sastra a well-established science which was in conflation with astronomy.  Panchangam was its bye-product.  In recent past this sound scientific knowledge at the hands of ritualistic and greed oriented pundits got exploited moving farther and farther way from astronomy.  Thus there is a clear landmark between Vedic Astrology and Modern Hindu Astrology!  Today it remains mainly belief based, loaded with all kinds of rituals and Shantis (appeasement). In the past few hundred years Navagaraha altars have been established in almost in all Siva and his Parivara temples. Siva temples were the earliest and most popular.   Navagraha worship was inspired by the prevalent Aditya Meditation as Parabrahaman glorified in Vedas and Upanishads.  In the past few hundred years eight altars were created around Sun altar of Vedic culture simulating eight dik-palakas of Saguna Brahman. But unlike dik-palakas who were only subordinate deities to Brahman these eight deities were made independent and looking outwards not inwards towards the center altar of Sun, like Garuda or Hanuman or Vishwaksena, thus not facing Sun Star. Sun associated with five planets in his solar system after which the days are named was reinforced with Moon a satellite, Rahu and Ketu the north and south nodal points of Moon calling them all Grahas which are often promoted as planets or Graha devatas by modern astrologers. Later built Vishnu Temples, realizing this departure from Vedic wisdom avoided building altars for Navagrahas in Vishnu Temples. Upanishads mention   even Adityas (12 in Vedic culture), Stars, Agni and other luminescent bodies shine because Brahman only (Tasya bhaasaa sarvamidam vibhaati) as you hear in Shoedasa Upachaara Pooja (16-steps worship).

Most Ancient temples for Navagrahas based on mythology are found only in Tamil Nadu where Navagraha worship is very popular by Saivites. Saivism became very powerful during Sangam  Period. It would be worth recalling here the mythological anecdote of Navagraha worship graced by Lord Siva which was earlier condemned by Brahma.   Of course Siva was at one time had cut one of the heads of Brahma with Brahmahatya Dosham and also responsible for denial of worship for him in Temples as glorified in Siva Purana. Their relationships were not cordial according to Mythology. Of course their functions are also poles apart—death and birth, the opposites. Here is the citation from Wikipedia:

“The Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu are a cluster of Navagraha Temples dating from the Chola dynasty near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. As per Hindu legend, Sage Kalava was suffering from serious ailments along with leprosy. He prayed to the Navagrahas, the nine planet deities. The planets were pleased by his devotion and offered cure to the sage. Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, was angered as he felt that the planets have no powers to provide boons to humans. He cursed the nine planets to suffer from leprosy and they were sent down to earth in Vellurukku Vanam, the white wild flower jungle - the modern time Suryanar Kovil. The planets prayed to Shiva to relieve them off the curse. Shiva appeared to them and said that the place belonged to them and they would have to grace the devotees worshiping them from the place. Each temple is located in a different village, and is considered an abode of one of the Navagrahas. However, the majority of these temples are dedicated to Shiva. The Surya temple is the only one associated with Grahas.  In fact, it is dedicated entirely to the worship of the Sun-God and the other Navagrahas, the former being the object of worship as the principal deity and the latter as attendant deities. It was built around the 11th or 12th century C.E. The other temples were built earlier, ranging back to 7th-9th century”.

My attention was drawn to an interesting news column that was published by IndiaDivine.Org    from an author who believes strongly in Navagraha worship, about Devipattinam near Rameswaram where Sri Rama is believed to have installed Nine Navagrahha Deities as mere stone pillars on the sea shore.   Such pilgrim centers come up with their own Sthala Puranas   (local myths) in addition to the 18 Puranas believed to have been edited by Vedavyasa coming from different authors. He left many myths and exaggerations untouched in order not to hurt the feelings of the individual authors.  It is believed that Lord Rama prayed to Navagrahas at Devipattinam before embarking on his journey to Lanka. Lord Rama placed nine stones as symbols of the nine planets, Navagrahas, at Devipattanam and therefore the place is also known as Navapashanam or Navabashana. It is a popular place visited by pilgrims on the way to Rameshwaram Dhaam. Since these are simple stone pillars religious archeologists can easily manipulate as to the age of stone pillars and proclaim them as ancient as Ramalinga by carbon studies!

The nine stones placed upright by Lord Rama can be still seen in the water close to the beach near a bathing Ghat of the Thilakeshwar Temple, also known as Navagraha Temple. The nine stones symbolize the nine planets or Navagrahas.  Lord Rama performed the ritual so that the nine planets would shed their auspicious light on him in the battle with Ravana to rescue Sita.

The Thilakeshwar Temple is dedicated to Shiva and Parvathi (Durga). Shiva here is known as Tilakeswarar and the Goddess is known as Soundaryanayaki. The shrine has a beautiful image of an eight-armed Durga with weapons.  As you know Rama is also believed to have worshiped Durga before launching on his rescue mission with the help of monkeys and bears. The deity in the temple is worshiped with tila or sesame seeds. People come from different parts of India and from around the world to Devipattinam to perform Tarpan (water-sesame oblation) for the ancestors.  Devipattinam is around 14 km northeast of Ramanathapuram. I believe Siva here should   be better called Tileswar than Tilakeswar.

Let me first discuss about the myth of these Nine Grahas often focused as Planets in which Rahu Ketu and Moon are included as they seem to have same astrological spell on human beings like other real planets after whom the other five days are named and adding the satellite Moon for Induvasara.  It is worth going through my detailed discourse on Navagrahas which elaborates on all these deities as worshiped in temples by followers of Siva and by Vaishnavites privately at home mesmerized by astrologers. Poor Brahma is out of the picture as he is totally denied   any worship in Temples  though he is found in a niche on the Northern wall of all Siva temples to make us believe that Siva sometimes visits us on normal place leaving his permanent abode of Smashaana (burial and Cremation Grounds). Siva is supposed to visit us during Pradosham Time on specific days in Temples. Here I would like to repeat the comments I received from a very religious Hindu physics professor in USA some time back:

“For all the people of the world (except Indian Astrologers), our Sun never moves like all other stars in our milky way.   Only the planets and satellites move.

The speed of our Earth is as follows:  Its radius is 6.37 million meters.  That means 6.37 times tenth power of six meters.  The circumference of our Earth is 2piR = 2(22/7)6.37(1000000) M.  When we divide this by 24 hours and 1609 m, we get 1036.876 miles per hour.  Because one mile equals 1609 m, we divided by 1609 m in order to get in miles.  THE SPEED OF OUR EARTH IS 1036.876 MILES PER HOUR.  It rotates by itself with this speed and moves on constantly on the elliptical orbit while our Sun is in one of the focal points of the ellipse.  Remember, no circular orbit, but elliptical orbit (egg shaped orbit).  Our Earth is also constantly wobbling from 0 to 23.5 degrees above Equator (middle line of our Earth) for six months and below Equator for six months.  When we sit on the Earth, while Earth is doing all these, we apparently feel as if Our Sun is moving north of Equator or south of Equator.  In reality, Our Sun never moves but our Earth moves.  When we sit near the window of our moving train, we see as if all the trees and mountains are moving.  In reality, they are not moving, but we are moving.  When we do circumambulation, we rotate out body and move around the Praakaaram (enclosed walled space to walk around in temples) at the same time.  Our Earth also does the same thing.

When we come shortest distance to our Sun, we have summer.  When we go longest distance from our Sun, we have winter.  Between summer and winter, we have autumn.  Between winter and summer, we have spring.

In the early days, people worshipped Sun as God.  They thought that the Earth was the center of the universe, and the Sun was moving around the Earth.  This was called as GEOCENTRIC THEORY by Ptolemy.  GEO means Earth.  Then Galileo proposed HELIOCENTRIC THEORY.  The Sun was the center of the universe while all the planets were moving around the Sun.  He also discovered many things, like the actual value of the gravity of the Earth, telescopes, and conducted many experiments.  He was charged by Catholic Churches that he was corrupting the minds of the people, and put him in prison until his death.  Then Copernicus discovered the ELLIPTICAL THEORY which is true even today.  All the planets are moving on elliptical orbit while the Sun is at one of the focal points of the ellipse.  All these are taught in all the high schools, colleges and universities in India and all the countries of the world. 
Only in India, the   astrologers make the Hindus believe in the center of the universe, the planet Sun, planet Moon, planet Ragu, and planet Kethu, planet Budha, planet Sukra, planet Kuja, planet Guru, and planet Shani are moving around the Earth.   This has been going on for generation after generation, just because the Hindus do jot question  our astrologers or Scriptures:     
 1. “He who fixed firm the earth that staggered, and set at rest the agitated mountains, who measured out the air's wide middle region and gave the heaven support, he men is Indra"
Rig Veda 2: 12: 2.
We all now know today that the earth rotates itself and orbits on the elliptical path with sun at one of the focal points of the ellipse.  The earth is not at all fixed and the sun is not at all going around the earth.
 2.  "In the beginning rose Hiranyagarbha, born only Lord of all created beings.  He fixed and holds up the earth and the heaven".
Rig Veda 10: 121: 1
We all know now today that the earth rotates itself with a speed of 1037 miles per hour and moves on the elliptical path while the sun rests on one of the two focal points of the ellipse.  The earth moves, the sun rests but not the other way.
 3.  "Firm is the sky and firm is the earth and steadfast are all this living world".
Rig Veda 10: 173: 4
4.  "The Bull has supported the sky"
Yajur Veda 4: 30 5
 5.  "God has firmly fixed the earth with pegs around it".
Yajur Veda 5: 16 6
This is wrong.  Where is the proof?  We are sitting on the earth which rotates by itself with a speed of 1037 miles per hour and orbits on the path of the ellipse with sun at one of the two focal points of the ellipse.
6.  "North West of the Heavens".
Yajur Veda 13: 56, 57 7
7.  "The Bull has supported the sky".
Yajur Veda 14: 5 8
Both Rig Veda and Yajur Veda conflict with science today because  the earth rotates by itself with a speed of 1037 miles per hour and orbits on the elliptical path of the ellipse with sun rests on one of the two focal points of the ellipse.
 [A simple translation of Grahas as Catchers who influence our lives) and heavenly bodies or points in solar system would be more appropriate though most authors translate them as Planetary Deities.]”

The concept of Navagrahas is based on fraud, deception and cheating.  The astrologers for thousands of years made fool of Hindus, and still continuing.  As long as the people are fools, crook astrologers will continue to exploit the fools.  The sons and daughters of these astrologers have become doctors and engineers by studying the present day sciences and technologies in colleges and universities.  Just because Rama worshiped Navagrahas, or killed Vali from behind his back, or deserted his pregnant wife, all the Vaishnavas need not follow Rama.  Even Saint Thyagaraja Swamy asked Rama in his song as "Sri Rangaraju Vibeeshananiki Banga Naamamu Itina Reethi........"    Vaishnavas pray only Vishnu and his cosort.  They never pray Shiva or enter Shiva Temple.  They even tell their children as "Yaanai Thuratthinaalum sivan koil ulle pokaathe."  The meaning is "Even if an elephant is chasing you, never enter a Sivan temple for saving your life".  Be prepared to die but never enter a Sivan temple.   In some of the Vaishnava temples, they name Vishwaksena as Thumbikkai Aazhvaar who is often confused with one tusked Ganesha”    [Vaishnavas don’t worship Ganesha as he has an imperfect limb of one tusk and the other broken making it unfit as Archana Murti. A defective or mutilated icon is not worship worthy as per Agamas. Siva Purana glorifies this broken tusk!  There Tumbikkai Azhwar is Vishwaksena with two tusks. Anything other than that is a concoction.]”

“There were no Navagraha  Prathishta (consecration)   in  earlier  days.    This system came into practice probably during the last few hundred years or so.  Only Primary deities were worshipped and not the upa-devatas (subordinate or secondary deities) like   Navagraham, Sastha etc.  Ganesha is an exception based on archeology and Puranic beliefs of Hinduism. Some people  do  two  reverse  circumambulation (typical Saivite tradition) to Navagrahas in order to  please   Rahu  and  Kethu   who  travel  in  the  reverse  direction from  the  Navagrahas. Even  the  above  two  are  not  there  in  the  earlier astrological  treaties. Everything is going the wrong by wrong practices” says a reputed Saivite astrologer and a prominent member of an important astrological association in Bengaluru.

It is also worth going through a modern composition of Venkatesa Suprabhatam where a reference is made to Navagrahas:
Suryendu Bhouma Budha Vaakpati Kaavya souri | Svarbhaanu ketu dvishat parishat pradhaanaah|tvaddaasa daasa charamaavati daasa daasaah | Sri Venkataachalapate! tava Suprabhaatam (Meaning):" Lord of Venkata  Hills ! May this dawn be an auspicious one for You!   The Sun, the son of Sun (Saneeswara  or Saturn ), Moon, Kuja,   Ketu, Budha and other Grahas (life-catchers) of the sky are actually your servants'  ( like his servants Garuda, Vishwaksena, Sudarsana).   They are all here."  Venkateswara is believed to be Subrahmanya by some and Devi by some others.  Probably to please Saivites this Hymn was introduced referring to Navagrahas!) Yet in this temple at no time there was any special sanctum or worship for Navagrahas even when he was worshiped as Subhramanya.   Ramanuja finally established the icon to be that of Vishnu only since Narayana as Parabrahman can also be    Parasakti in his Saguna form and also Brahma, Vishnu and Siva at the same time. You know Lord Venkateswara is occasionally clad in Saris and worshiped with Bilva leaves! Also the above Suprabhata hymn reflects the Upanishadic thought of the Mantra "Tasya bhaasaa sarvmidam Vibhaati" - All the luminaries stated in the hymn shine because of Narayana only showing their subservience to Venkateswara.  I have previously described elaborately Jagannath! The forms of worship in Puri Jagannath Temple as well as Tirupati Venkateswara Temple, baffles all devotees as to what these icons really represent   or symbolize?

Puranas claim that Rama installed and worshiped Sivalinga in Rameswaram and Navagrahas in the nearby town of Devipattinam. It seems according to Puranas Lord Rama is the inspiration/Promoter for Temple Traditions (Rameshavram/ Devipattinam) and Mass Festival Celebrations (Dipavali).  As you all know the whole city of Ayodhya was lit on Dipavali Day to welcome Srirama returning from his exile.  

First of all  Navagrahas can’t  draw support from  astronomy  today as this is a concoction by modern astrologers, may be  based on some Puranas, as I had explained earlier.  Also modern astrology is not truly based astronomy but like Puranas have been-made-to-believe by astrologers. Jyotisha in Vedic culture was true science and existed focused on astronomy. Over thousands of years this has been corrupted, concocted and falsified and has become a myth called modern astrology.  To draw additional support even a Navagrahasookta has been written by some Sanskrit scholar later with no reference to Vedas or Upanishads and a Rishi.     Based on the glorification of Aditya as Vyahriti of Brahman someone may even connect this Sookta to Rigveda. It is strange that Ramakrishna Math has included this Sookta in its Mantra Pushpa but has not given any reference to any Veda or Samhita as other famous Sooktas. [If you are unable to obtain this Sookta with English translation for your own knowledge please contact me].  This Upanishad is sketchy, lacks the depth of Veda sooktas, for example Purushasookta, and leans more towards modern sloka composition. One strong argument as to why we cannot depend on astrology (no relevance to astronomy) is the festival of Makara Sankranti which we are made to believe as Uttarayana Punyakala by astrologers. We all know that Winter Solstice day falls on December 22 and celebrated in many faiths. So is Dakshinayana Punyakala observed as special religious day on a wrong day! No astrologer or Panchangam (almanac) ever tried to correct the situation as it affects the fraudulent business and ritualism focused on Hindu Worship.

Vaishnava Tradition is focused on single God (Eko Devah) worship on Lord Maha Vishnu as Sriman Narayana and worship only Vishnu and the Vishnu's Parivara and accompaniments.  Worship of Garuda,   Lakshmi, Hanuman, Sudarsana and Vishwaksena are very common in Vishnu Temples. Generally there are no separate sanctums for subordinate deities like Garuda, Sudarsana and Hanuman etc. Garuda is often found outside near the flag post.  Of late there are individual temples for Hanuman. This is based on the Puranic faith that Hanuman was born form the same Amrita drop that fell into the hands of Anjana while doing penance, which she consumed, and Hanuman is  considered same Vishnu amsa (portion) like   Rama and his brothers. So he is their cousin! Vaishnavas believe praying only to Lord Narayana or Krishna (Krishnaarpanamastu; Narayaneti samarpayami)   and so do not feel the need to go through various sub-deities. Vaishnavas treat all other deities as limited power Devatas.  No Aazhwar sang in praise of   any Navagraha so there is no place for Navagrahas in Hindu Temples.  Vishnu temples are constructed based on Vaikhanasa and Panchaaratra Agamas.  Navagraha shrine inside a Vishnu temple is not provided in these Agamas. Among 108 Divya Desam Temples only one temple has a separate sanctum for Navagrahas--Sri Koodal Azhagar Perumal Temple, Madurai (probably influenced by local strong Saivism later) is an exception. These 107 temples serve as guide lines for Vaishnava followers. While Rama is believed to have worshiped Siva and Navagrahas together in Rameshwaram, he is found worshiping Aditya (Surya-Narayana) by meditation only in Ramayana with sole focus as described in Ramayana. There is no Navagraha sanctum or worship in Kali (worshiped as Durga) Temple in Kolkata also. It is strange both Saivas and Vaishnavas are believers in Astrology however faulty they may be, based on wrong astronomy exploited by astrologers.   

Kolaru Pathigam composed by Thirujnaana Sambandhar praises Navagrahas and thus Siva temples have Navagraha Sanctums influenmced by Upa-Puranas.  Siva followers attach too much importance to sub-deities than others. They believe Siva is CEO with many sub-ordinates and feels sub-ordinates should be pleased first to approach CEO and get his blessings! Unless you please Ganesha (Prathama Vandita) you can’t please Siva! It goes with Hindu culture to please or bribe the subordinates first to get the favor of the boss!   Rama worshiped Surya as Parabrahman   exclusively. If he had worshiped Siva and Navagrahas together in Rameswaram area why such mention is not made anywhere in Valmiki Ramayana which is so detailed and elaborate? Valmiki was quite   aware of Lord Kartikeya for whom he has devoted a chapter but there is no mention of Ganesha either.  I believe Rama worshiping Durga or Siva in Linga form is later concoction by Saiva puranas.   If at all Rama worshiping Durga or Siva is found in Ramayanas it should be in later versions of Ramayana from different authors. Only Valmiki Ramayana is Adikavya and authentic historic version if Ramayana can be justified as History and not Myth. Even Lanka celebrated in Ramayana is disputed as to be the modern Sri Lanka known for long as Ceylon. Vishnu’s dealing is direct with   His devotees unlike Siva. Even according to Puranas, Vishnu came out of privacy when the sages were stopped at the gate by Jaya and Vijaya to give direct audience to Rishis.

Nobody in my house ever visited a Siva temple nor worshiped Navagrahas.  But they all believed in horoscopes whether right or wrong; that was the main criterion for marriage negotiations. My marriage was also based on one such consideration.  My birth star was Visakha as per my original horoscope which I kept hidden from my   parents.  But after many years I found the horoscope-exchanged by elders showed my star was Swathi.  I do not know whether my father was in league with astrologers to change my birth star to make our horoscopes compatible   or my original horoscope itself was wrong?  Astrologers will do anything for money! Any how I have spent more than 55 years of happy married life thanks to Karma unaffected by manipulated or wrong horoscope! Similarly I found my sister-in law’s birth star was also manipulated to make   my brother’s wedding possible.  I wonder whether horoscopes have any significance in our life and affect us though we often resort to Navagraha Santi?  Navagraha altars are ever busy targeting our Janma Nakshatra and Rasi (Birth star).   The horoscope exchange business for fixing marriages will soon vanish in Hindu American lifestyle. Most of them do not have any horoscopes, I believe, which may disappoint astrologers who want to continue their business in USA! But yet they can make one for the occasion for a price! Any Hindu ritual needs a Sankalpa (religious resolution) in which we are forced to announce our birth star. I wonder how the worship influences the same!  Does that connect to Karma balance sheet?  Sankalpas do help to connect to our lineage and   time elapsed till date from beginning of times, a sort of family historic record. This is an ingenious ancient system to keep track of our past record and family background!

I am not against astrology. The trouble with us is we are not able to distinguish between Scientific Vedic Astrology and highly commercialized Modern Hindu Astrology. For those conservative and orthodox Hindus disturbed by all kinds of Inter-Marriages here is a consoling piece of message from an expert.  One good thing about inter-marriages is it is a powerful marketing strategy for Inter-Faith promotion so badly needed in these days of so many killings happening in the name of religion: “To my knowledge astrological matching boy’s and girl’s   horoscope for holy matrimony was very rare back around 100 years or so! Only the Purohit (Priest) who conducted the marriage used to see the star and the Gotra.  If both parties had doubt they used to go to a temple and place a white flower and a red flower in betel leaves separately. After placing the same before the presiding deity an innocent boy or girl would be asked pick one of the closed leaves.  If they picked white flower they agreed for the marriage. If they picked the leaf with red flower they agreed to cancel that marriage proposal. This was the system prevailing then. I also do not feel astrological matching is a must for marriage.  Manu Smriti says if the parents of the girl do not find a match for the girl before three years after the girl’s  attaining puberty, she has every right to choose her partner. In Hindu marriage Panigrahanam and Kanyaka Daanam are to be performed during the Muhurtam.  Muhurtam time is fixed to overcome all ill effects in the horoscope.  During Mangalya Dhaaranam only a Sanskrit Sloka is chanted and not a sacred Vedic Mantra and therefore this is not the most sacred step as it is made out today. (Once three knots are tied the girl is bound to husband life-time and nothing can save the situation is the blind belief).  In earlier days only a Kantha sootram was tied around the neck of the bridegroom for the   occasion like the holy thread tied to the hand. You may also note that this sloka is also used during Shashthi-abdi-poorti celebrations (60th birthday of husband if wife is alive when the marriage ceremony  is reenacted)   Srimad Bhagavatam predicts Sangara Vargam (people marrying out of caste) would increase and gradually all caste system would fail in Chapter 12 while elaborating on Kaliyuga Lakshana” says our astrology expert. [Here is a justification for love marriage as well as inter-caste marriage too in Hinduism.]

I was quite upset with my orthodox Grand-father who was furious with me for visiting Ganesha temple and circumambulating Navagrahas as a Vaishnava, with his orthodox and sectarian outlook.  After seeing the comments from my religious Saivite friend I am now forced to believe my grand-father was right. We do not have temples for Brahma for he has nothing to do with practicalities of life after having pushed us to this world.  In fact he is the cause for all our struggles for existence as we had nowhere else to go out of acquired Karma! Therefore only the Vishnu aspect of Brahman is meaningful to us as he is the care-taker till we die. Siva-aspect of Brahman does not come to the picture like Brahma-aspect in life-time. In GOD Vaishnavas focus only   on “O” which stands for Operation! Siva is repeatedly praised as Smasaanavaasa or Kailasavasa by his followers.  So his rightful place can’t be temples.   If Brahma can’t have temple there is ample justification why Siva should also be not worshiped in temple traditions? However he is the future planner of life who needs to be kept in good humors and meditated upon. The overemphasized Siva’s and his subordinates’ worship and rituals in temples seem to be exaggerated in the light of the Vedas which insists only on meditation on Brahman. From Vaishnava point of view Rudra in Rudra Prasna refers to Brahman (rutaat traayate iti Rudrah) and Ganapati (ganaanatvaa ganapatigam havaamahe) to Indra who is a Vyahriti of Brahman! It is superfluous to approach many devatas and is essential to focus on One Deva and his practical role in our life as Narayana or Brahman in temple rituals and worship.

As composite Trimurti icon (Brahman in his three functional aspects) both Jagannatha and Venkateswara seem  to be ideal for iconic worship or Murthi Upasana in Hindu American Temples to suit all traditions fulfilling Puranic and Sectarian thirst and desire of many today and at the same time go by the   wisdom of Vedas  (tvam rudrastvam, vishustvam brahmastvam)   inclined towards   spirituality   in the passing phase  before switching over to Vedanta Religion from the most confused and complicated  Hinduism as is practiced today guided by Puranas and astrologers. This approach suits all tradition and present beliefs too for a gradual change over.

In these days we hear of killings, accidental deaths and deaths due to natural calamities more often than before!  So Lord Siva has  no time to hear our prayers in temples staying all the time but too busy, running between  cremation and burial grounds (smashaana) and Kailasa.  We daily sing in our Bhajans --Smashaanavaasa, Kailasavaasa in temples and wants him to redress our routine and trivial  grievances, to fulfill  all our desires from remote places. It is worth recalling here the enlightening article “Why Siva chooses to live in Smashaanas rather than temples?” by Sadguru  Jaggi Vasudeva of ISHA Foundation.


“Why Does Shiva Sit in the Smashana or Cremation Ground?
The moment of death or the possibility of death is the most intense experience in most human beings’ lives. Most of them would have never touched that level of intensity throughout their lives. In their love, in their laughter, in their joy, in their ecstasy, in their misery – nowhere else do they touch that level of intensity – only in death!
Because of that, Shiva went and sat in the cremation ground or kaayaanta, waiting. Kaya means “body,” anta means “ending.” Kayanta means “where the body ends” – not “where life ends.” It is a kayanta, not a jeevanta. All that you picked up on the planet, you have to leave behind. If you have lived in such a way that your body is all you know, then the moment when you have to shed it becomes the most intense moment of your life. If you know something beyond the body, it is not of great significance.
Immortality is a natural state for everybody. Mortality is a mistake that you have made. It is a wrong perception of life. As for the physical body, kayanta, the end of the body, will definitely come. But if instead of being just a kaya, you become a jeeva, if you are not just a living body but a living being, then immortality is a natural state for you. Whether you are mortal or immortal is only a question of perception – no existential change is needed.
That is why enlightenment is referred to as realization, not as an accomplishment or achievement. If you see it, it is there for you. If you do not see it, it is not there for you. It is only a question of perception – no fundamental, existential change.
So, Shiva shifted his residence to kayanta or smashan. Shma refers to shava or corpse, shan refers to shanya or bed. Where the dead bodies lie, that is where he resides, because he realized working with living people is a waste of time. You cannot get them to the pitch of intensity that is needed. You have to do so many tricks to make people a little intense.
Shiva sits at the Smashan, bored with you and your play, bored because the whole drama all over town is absolutely stupid. The only real thing happens at the cremation ground. Maybe at the moment of birth and the moment of death, something is happening. Maternity homes and cremation grounds are the only two sensible places, though maternity is happening a little too much.
Shiva is sitting at a place where life makes utmost sense. But if you are fearful, if you are on survival or self-preservation mode, this will not make sense to you. Only if you are longing to expand and touch the ultimate, it will make sense to you. He is not interested in those who want to survive.
He is referred to as the destroyer not because he wants to destroy you. He is waiting at the cremation ground so that the body is destroyed, because until the body is destroyed, even people around do not realize what death is. You may have seen that when someone dear to them dies, people will fall all over the dead body, hug it, kiss it, try to bring it back to life – many things. But once you set fire to the body, no one ever goes and hugs the flames. Their instinct of self-preservation tells them this is not it.
If we put you in the cold theertha-kund (Holy tank) you cry “Shiva! Shiva!”   The moment there is difficulty Shiva comes to your mind. When life is going the way you want it, you will think of all kinds of people and all kinds of things.  If someone puts a gun to your head and you cry   “Shiva! Shiva!”      he is the wrong guy to call. He is waiting for you at the cremation ground. If someone puts a gun to your head, and you call Shiva to save you – he will not. (Source: isha.sadhguru.org)”
From Vaishnava   spiritual perspective here is how these Nine Grahas are understood-- The sun represents the soul, the heart, the father, authority, heat, power and ambition. The moon is the mind, mother, water, coolness, emotions, memory and common sense. Mars is courage, bravery, sports, competition, maleness, passion, action, war, cuts and burns. Mercury is intelligence, learning, teaching, speech, expression, communication and writing. Jupiter is fortune, expansion, wealth, children, religion, philosophy and wisdom. Venus is marriage, love, romance, luxuries, prosperity, femininity, artistic expression, grace, and beauty. Saturn is slowness, struggle, discipline, dryness, labor, asceticism, accidents, and chronic disease. Rahu is material desire, dullness, ignorance, laziness, sleep and addictions and ancestral karma. Ketu is asceticism, spirituality, psychic ability, ghosts, eccentricity and occultism.   As Over-Lord and Antaryamin these are controlled or delegated by Paramatman only according to our Karma.
T
his Vaishnava perspective is based on the Navagraha Devataapraararthana which is directed to their ishtadevatas for their grace and benefaction and not to the Navagraha sub-devatas. This is   the only sloka that has been included in the Mantrapushpa of Ramakrishna Math:
Sooryah sauryam atha Induh ucchapadaveem sanmangalam Mangalah |
sadbuddhih cha  budho  Guruscha  gurutaam Sukrah sukaham cha Sanih |
Raahur bahurbalam karotu vipulam Ketuh kulasyonnatim |
Nityam preetikara bhavantu bhavataam sarve prasanna grahah ||

Obviously all these benefits can’t be granted except by Paramaatman alone who is present in his role as Vishnu responsible for all our sustenance (O for operation in GOD) during life-span (Sthiti).
Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan   was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his research on ribosomes. While many Hindus consider astrology to be an important Vedic science and schedule life events around the movements of the stars, Ramakrishnan has spoken out against this practice.    In an interview with the Hindustan Times, he said:  "There is no scientific basis for how movement of planets and stars can influence our fate. There is no reason for time of birth to influence events years later. The predictions made are either obvious or shown to be random ... A culture based on superstitions will do worse than one based on scientific knowledge and rational thoughts.”


Before concluding my  discourse I should really appreciate the clever marketing techniques of  Hindu astrologers with the blessings of Saiva Acharyas (Gurus) in making the worship of  lower  Navagraha  deities so essential and  popular  which cannot be shaken even from the beliefs of  highly educated Hindu American crowd.  Navagraha pavilion is always busy particularly on Saturdays even bringing Vaishanavas into their belief and pagan practices like Navadhanya and chosen gems, color, sesame seed oil wicks etc. Some ingenious Sanskrit scholars have even successfully brought out Navagraha Sookta though they could not trace its origin to Vedas like Nakshatra Sookta giving an impression they too have their origin in Vedas.   They are still in search of a Rishi and Veda for it. It is strange that no one came up with a Sookta for Lord Kartikeya so celebrated in Ramayana. His worship got stuck in Tamil Nadu and there is only Thiruppugazh in Tamil glorifying Kartikeya worshiped as Murugan by Tamils!  I generally do not dwell on a Sukta unless I am satisfied it has authenticity by way of an ancient rishi and reference to Vedas.  Sooktas establish their identity with Veda Samhitas. Upanishads are of a much later origin.   Ishtadevata worship is strongly promoted both by Saivism and Vaishnavism by bringing out Upanishads modelled after Ten Cardinal sacred Upanishads belonging to three earlier Vedas—Rig, Yajur and Sama.  Saivism has successfully popularized Ganesha and Skanda Upanishads while Vaishnvas have come out with Narayanopanishat. How can Narayana Upanishad talk about “devakiputram Madhsoodanam” of 5000 years past only while Vedas are older than   Krita Yuga? Generally later Upanishads are ascribed to Atharva Veda. There strong influence by Pursanas can be seen by their over-indulgence in lengthy phalasrutis (benefits from chanting leading even to Moksha) unlike the basic 10 or 12 Upanishads.   An Upanishad has been cleverly inserted into Atharvaveda and is titled Ganesha Atharvaseershopanishat directed to the most popular upa-devata Ganesha equating him  with Brahman.  It has been inspired probably by the Vedic Mantra “Ganaanatvaa Ganapatigam havaamahe”   from Srirudram which priests invariably chant in  Ganesha Temples. Here Ganapati refers to Indra who is the Vyahriti of Brahman. Even though Veda mentions 11 Rudras here Rudra reference is to Brahman as one who removes all our miseries (rutaat traayate iti Rudrah).  Of course there are very many sectarian translations and interpretations used in marketing technique.  Even though Ganesha Devata is of later origin in Temple traditions he is the most popular and followers of Siva are in majority.   Ramakrishna Math devoted to Advaita Philosophy has strongly promoted them by including this Upanishad and directing the Mantra ganaanatvaa to Ganapati in their book on Mantrapushapam! I do not know how they missed to include Skanda Upanishad in Mantrapuhpam? This is because Skanda is rarely known in the North! Hindus often cannot get out of sectarian and regional outlook and prejudices!

“Hinduism is not a bunch of ancient mythological concoctions extraneous to rational thought. It is true that just like any other ancient philosophy Hinduism also presents its thoughts with some mythological coating, rather than resorting to outright deliverance, despite the fact that these thoughts are rational in essence. Those with credulous or antagonistic dispositions take the coatings as the essence and get themselves deceived. Hinduism is not a collection of myths, superstitions, rituals, observances and expiations, as assumed by both the types of people. Hindu scriptures, especially the Principal Upaniṣhads and Bhagavad Gīta, offer a rational philosophy concerning the ultimate cause of existence of the universe and of life therein. Hinduism does not demand blind faith for its acceptance, since it expresses itself through pure rational thinking and coherence. It is also the most ancient rational philosophy of the world and therefore ancestral to all such philosophies ever dawned in history. Hinduism does not consist in visiting temples, prostrating before idols, performing rituals and begging for fulfilment of desires. It consists in visualizing and realizing the unity existing among apparent diversities in the world. A Hindu worth that name should therefore endeavor to practice equality among themselves and also towards other religious identities. The more the Hindus practice discrimination among themselves, the more they alienate their own fellow beings by straying them away to other religious holds. India’s history is the prime testimony to this simple fact” says Dr. Karthikeyan, in his article Ancient Western Philosophy and Hindu wisdom in IndiaDivine.Org.

The obvious choice for Hindus in general and Hindu Americans in particular is to progressively adopt Vedanta Religion— Everlasting,  Universal and Unifying  Spiritual Force  based on wisdom of Vedas—Eko viprah bahudaa vadanti; Om Tad Brahma tad Vaayu,  tad Aatmaa, tat satyam,  tat sarvam tat puror namah.

CONCLUSION
“According  to Max Mueller, Prof Keith  and Macdonell  Sankara was born in 788 AD and died in 820 AD” says Dr.  Radhakrishnan.  Jagadguru Chandrasekharanda Saraswati has revised that to 509-477 BCE. Whatever may be his period, it is clear the worship of Puranic deities Subhramanya and Ganapati was very popular during Sankara’s period as he took the veritable   task of purifying the path of Bhakti by removing the crudities that had crept in by prescribing Panchayatana puja of five of the deities from the six deities identified as Devatas--Siva,   Vishnu,  Ganapati,  Ambika, Skanda and Surya popular during his life time.   He left the option to leave behind any one of the deities among six if anybody did not like or believe in its worship. Otherwise why he would mention five out of six?  Sankara was also founder of Smarta Tradition in which Hari and Hara were considered one and the same. It is strange he was also silent on Brahma as nobody worshiped Brahma during his time.  He went with popular opinion. I believe he was not favorably disposed towards the worship of Puranic deities but at the same time did not want to hurt the belief of people so strongly rooted as to the worship of Mythological deities. This he expressed while standing before Kasi Viswanatha.  I wonder how he failed to refer to Ganesha Atharvaseersopanishat and Skanda Upanishad who are the deities of his Shanmata (Six Tradition).  It is therefore safe to conclude that these were composed much later. In the Dravida version of MNU on which Ranga Ramanuja has commented there is a Gayatri Mantra “Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Vakratundaaya Dheemahi tanno Dantee prachodayat”.  This could be applicable to twin-tusked Vishwaksena who is the leader of elephant headed Ganas referred in Vedic culture. Puranas say Airavata had four tusks! Vedas also mention about horse headed beings which is obvious from the title Vajasaneyee Samhita referring to Hayagrieva. Horse was very popular in Vedic culture.   But in the later Andhra Version “Dantee” which means two tusks has been replaced by “Dantih” to mean single tusk to make it applicable to Ganesha which also included a Gayatri on Shanmukha.    Also in Dravida version we do not find Sivopasana mantras and “the famous Mantra Trayambakam Yajamahe….”showing thereby they are the later introduction in the larger version used by Saivites on which Sayana has commented. Sankara has made a passing reference to Dravida version.   It includes Pancha Brahman mantras and Twarita Rudra Mantras which are applicable both to Rudra and Brahman.  Rudra is the Vedic deity who became Puranic Deva (God) Siva. Similarly Uma Vedic deity became Puranic Parvati whose mother is also Mother Earth.

It is obvious that Hinduism was gradually drifting away from Vedic deities more and more   towards the worship of mythological upa-devatas like Ganesha, Subhramanya, Navagrahas etc. who were popularized by successful marketing of Puranic deities.  Subhramanya and Surya were eulogized in Ramayana but later Ganesha though not referred in Ramayana was made most popular devata pushing Subhramanya to the background. These promoters drew Vedic support from the mantras “ganaanatvam Ganapatigam   havaamahe”,   “Eshah Aadityah” and Sri Rudram and Chamkam (Tvam Rudrastvam) for their religious marketing by wrong interpretation moving away from the original intent. For Navagraha worship astrologers who had mere basic knowledge of astronomy played a major role unlike ancient Astronomer Rishis of Vedic culture.  Otherwise how Sankara could have missed   Navagraha Sukta without any reference while he promoted worship of Surya, the star hailed as Aditya and considered as Vyahriti (emanation of Brahman)? He also did not come across Skanda Upanishad.  These are   therefore later additions after Sankara like Narayanopanishat which talks about Devakeeputro madusudhanah.” Astrologers reduced the status of Surya to that of a  Graha (planet) raised the status of  Moon a satellite  to that  of  planet  and raised the nodal points of   Moon Rahu and Ketu  to planets status adding to the assembly of  planets Mars,  Venus, Jupiter, Mercury and  Saturn. They ignored the Earth Planet on which we live to whom also no temples are built   and her icons are found only in processional assemblies of Vishnu and his avatars but not as Moola Vigraha (Fixed Deity). If there is no Moolavigraha where is the need for Utsava (processional deity) Murti?

From all accounts Navagraha worship as Upa-devatas or low level deities based on myths and beliefs in Temple Traditions is of recent origin and traces its origin to a much later period after the period of three great philosophers Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva. Worship of Surya as Suryanarayana, Vyahriti (Emanation) of Brahman and other luminaries Stars and Moon are as old as Temple Tradition itself.   MNU in its Vaisvadeva mantras only prescribes Sooryaaya swaahaa, Chndramase Swaahaa and Nakshatrebhyas swaahaa. There is no mention of Navagrahas here. Of late there is mushroom growth of installation and worship of lower level deities Upa-devatas in temples in India and wherever they are settling, though Hindus  hate the words myths, beliefs and pagan practices,   like Navagraha, Saibaba, Swami Narayan, Nagdevata, Karumari Amman, Santoshi Maa, Sithala (Small-pox Devi), Bharat Mata,  Azhwar and Nayanmar Pavillions etc., which was solely restricted to Deva (Saguna Brahman), his incarnations and emanations) as glorified by great Acharyas (Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva). Upa-devata worship goes even below Kindergarten level  to Nursery level as explained in my lecture “Vedanta Religion, Everlasting, Universal and Unifying Spirituality” and so not at all suitable too Hindu American Temples. Today pre KG schools are more popular and expensive than KG level schools.

Legends as well as wisdom of Vedas do not promote Navagraha worship. Even legends say Navagrahas are only upa-devatas subservient to Suryadevata celebrated in Vedas as Aditya to whom Navagraha worship is directed.  In Vedic culture Supreme Being (DEVA) takes care of the universes with his 33 subordinates (DEVATAS). These devatas are assigned to three regions of the Earth (Prithvi), the heavens (Dyaus) and the intermediary space (Antariksha). What started as 33 Gods today continues beyond 330 Million so called gods some of whom have firmly established and worshiped in Temple Traditions by the freedom granted in Bhagavad Gita ignoring the fact which repeatedly emphasizes that those who worship Paramatman only are ultimately liberated! Hindu Americans have not lagged behind and have added many saints from other faiths that have branched out of Sanatana Dharma to show their Broad-mindedness and democratic approach (probably to please their inter-marriages) in Hindu worship forgetting the fact that there is only One Democratic God (Tadekam) in Vedanta Religion.  I do not know how Saints turned into gods that includes even Buddha just as Jesus has become God in Christianity!  There is even a book describing how Jesus became God! Aditya is the imperishable eternal being, the God of Light, by whom all manner of luminous life is manifested and sustained in this Universe and hence Vyahriti (emanation) of Brahman. Navagraha worship’s entry is of recent origin as confirmed by some of the ancient temples seen in Tamil Nadu where psychology of astrology plays major role and Navagraha Worship follows. Navagrahas have been most popularized in Temples of Saiva Traditions and successfully marketed. It is sad in this race Bhudevi, planet Mother Earth, is forgotten like Brahma. She is Universal   Mother celebrated in Vedas and deserves equal veneration and worship like other Devatas. She is    avoided as primary icon (Moola Vigraha) and seen as Bhoodevi icon in processional Vishnu assembly along with Sridevi. Probably she is shy to be carved out of stone which constitutes her body as glorified in a popular sloka (sthanamardhinee). The Nine Planets are invariably found in every Saiva temple in South India. In many North Indian temples Navagrahas are confined to the lintels of doors only, to protect the temple and all those who enter, successfully influenced and  marketed by the Southern Tradition. This has even entered multi-traditional Hindu American Temples since followers of Siva are in majority. Vaishnavas are traditionally conservative and orthodox in outlook and are contented to live in their homeland but few enterprising like me do migrate and console to the situation going round Navagrahas following majority during temple visits.  These upa-devatas cannot be called planets for reasons explained and are only upa-devatas of later creation by astrologers in league with Saiva Acharyas (Gurus or Monks) who have successfully exploited the religious sentiments of Saivas who run to temples with their  horoscopes for all troubles. They also fill the temple coffer which is badly needed for the all fun and frolic that goes on in temples with rare spiritual focus by the serious minded. Vaishnavas follow Pancharatra Theology and Vishishtadvaita Philosphy of later Guru Ramanuja where there is no scope for Navagraha Devatas or need for  Navagraha Sukta.

REFERENCES:
1. Swami Devrupananda, Mantra Pushpam, Ramkrishna Math, Khar Mumbai, India
 2. Swmi Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
3. Swami Harshanada, Hindu Pilgrimage, Ramakrishna Math, Bengaluru, India.
4. Swami Virewarananda, Bhagavad Gita, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India
5. Wikipedia and other internet sources.
6. Ishasadguru.org,  Why Shiva sits  in Smashana, Cremation Ground?
7. IndiaDivine.Org., Where Rama worshiped Navagrahas.

APPENDIX

Mythical Story of Sun and Moon Eclipse from Hindu Scriptures 

Surya Grahana, solar eclipse, is widely mentioned in the Holy Scriptures of Hinduism. There is also an interesting myth regarding the occurrence of Surya Grahan. It happened during the Samdura Mathana (churning of ocean) episode in the Puranas. Rahu (Demon) and Mohini, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, are the main characters in the incident.

The Amrit (elixir) that was obtained from churning the ocean was cunningly stolen by Ausras (Demons). Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini, a beautiful damsel, to win back the Amrit. She achieved her mission by enamoring the Asuras, they fell for her beauty and handed over the Amrit to her.
Mohini returned to the Devas and started distributing it. Devas sat in a line and mohini gave a portion to each one of them. Rahu, an Asura, who found out that they were tricked took the form a Deva and sat in the line between Chandra (Moon God) and Surya (Sun God).
When Mohini approached Rahu, Chandra and Surya realized that Rahu was not one among them and soon identified him as an Asura. Mohini soon severed the head of Rahu which flew into the sky. Rahu’s, depicted in the form of a Snake head occasionally, continued to live and decided to avenge Surya and Chandra.
Thus periodically Rahu engages in a war with Surya and Chandra. The Chandra Grahan (Lunar eclipse) and Surya Grahan (Solar eclipse) takes place when Rahu gobbles up Moon and Sun respectively. Surya and Chandra then fights to free themselves.
[I wonder how this split person Rakshasa was raised to the status of Planets by Religious Pundits and also to the level of Sun and Moon beats anybody’s imagination? Yet we are offended when our Puranas are called Myths?]



Shaktis of the Nakshatras    

This is a key article by David Frawley on the Shakti or power of the 27 Nakshatras of the month   (Aswini to Rohini) and their presiding deities based on Vedic Astrology. Please note he does not talk about Rahu or Ketu here though speaks of three kinds of Serpent Devatas ruling over Aslesha, Poorvaabhadra and Uttraabhaadra.  Among the Navagrahas only mention is made of Sun, Moon and Brihaspati (Guru)   as presiding deities. There is no mention of rest of the Grahas Kuja, Sani, Rahu and Ketu about which modern astrology makes us so  much scared as affecting our lives.It is also heartening to note Vedic Astrology gives importance to planet Earth as Aditi  glorified in Veda mantras as the ruling deity of Punarvasu Nakshatra. This again shows how modern astrology has moved away from  Vedic astrology which was a well developed science as Jyotisha saastra.  

Every Hindu knows about the star Sun, the planet Earth and its satellite Moon  mentioned as presiding deities of particular Nakshatra of the month and invoked in many rituals.   Jupiter is the largest planetary atmosphere celebrated   in Hinduism besides Roman and Greek. In Vedic astrology he is Brihaspati, the religious teacher of Gods and often called Guru which may mean heavy also. indu mythology besides romanaBrihaspati as a planet appears in various Hindu astronomical texts in Sanskrit, such as the 5th century Aryabhatiya by Aryabhatta, the 6th century Romaka by Latadeva and Panca Siddhantika by Varahamihira, the 7th century Khandakhadyaka by Brahmagupta and the 8th century Sisyadhivrddida by Lalla  These texts present Brihaspati as one of the planets and estimate the characteristics of the respective planetary motion.  Other texts such as Surya Siddhanta dated to have been complete sometime between the 5th century and 10th century present their chapters on various planets with deity mythologies.[Hindu astrologers   include five major systems of measuring the duration of time of a year among which Brihaspatyam is one.  In this measurement a year represents the duration of time taken by Jupiter (Guru or Brihaspati) to transit zodiac sign. On an average this takes 361 days.H

Each Nakshatra has its particular power or Shakti. These are also the powers of the Devatas or the deities ruling the Nakshatras. Each of these Shaktis has its effect above and its effect below, and the final result of these three factors. The imagery is of common factors of plants, healing, worship, marriage and death.

This is a teaching that derives from an ancient Vedic text called Taittiriya Brahmana I.5.1 and from the commentary of Bhattabhaskara Mishra. The first paragraph relates to the textual reference. The second paragraph consists of my own comments based upon it.
Ashwini
Ashwini is govern by the Ashwins, the twin horsemen. It has the power to quickly reach things (shidhra vyapani shakti). Its basis above are the creatures to be healed. Its basis below is the healing therapies. From these three the entire world becomes free of disease.
Ashwini Nakshatra brings about quick aid and energization. The healing power of Ashwini is evident from these comments, particularly their ability to bring about fast, radical or miraculous cures as well as rejuvenation. The Ashwins are forces of Prana or the life-force, which is quick in its action to stimulate, help, and initiate a new level of activity.
Bharani
Bharani is ruled by Yama, the God of Death. It has the power to take things away (apabharani shakti). Its basis above is the removal of life from the body. Its basis below is the carrying of the soul to the realm of the ancestors. By the combination of these three factors creatures move on to the next world.
Bharani Nakshatra takes away that which has reached its term of life to a new condition. It shows the movement of the soul away from the body. Yama guides the soul to the astral plane, where it can experience the result of its karma from the present life and prepare for the life to come. Yama is a figure of discipline and sacrifice.
Krittika
Krittika is ruled by Agni, the God of Fire. It has the power to burn (dahana shakti). Its basis above is heat and below is light. The result of these three is burning or purification.
Krittika Nakshatra burns up negativity, purifies what is mixed, and cooks or prepares that which is not yet ripe. Agni is mainly the God of the sacred fire, so purification is perhaps the dominant action, not destruction, though purification does involve the destruction of impurity. Agni is also the fire that cooks our food and so there is a nourishing side to its effects as well. This fire has a childlike nature.
Rohini
Rohini is ruled by Prajapati, the Creator. Its power is growth (rohana shakti). Its basis above is the plants and below is the waters. The result of these three is creation.
Rohini Nakshatra allows for growth and creation on all levels, bestowing great fertility. However it also evokes some degree of jealousy because others may resent that a person gains such abundance. More over it can increase desire. But these are only side effects to its great prosperity. Prajapati is the creator who can bestow everything so we should be careful what we want.
Mrigashirsha
Mrigashirsha is ruled by Soma, the God of the Moon or the immortal nectar. Its power is giving fulfillment (prinana shakti). Its basis above is extension. Its basis below weaving (producing clothing). These three together make the world enjoyable.
Mrigashirsha Nakshatra fills or covers with joy. It is like a beautiful cloth to make our life more attractive. Soma is a great enjoyment that is won, conquered, bought or stolen, so its procurement does not always come easily. However what does not require effort to gain is not always enjoyed either.
Ardra
Ardra is ruled by Rudra, the fierce form of Lord Shiva who represents thunder. Its power is effort (yatna shakti), particularly for making gains in life. Its basis above is hunting or searching. Its basis below is reaching the goal. These three bring about achievement.
Ardra Nakshatra arouses us to greater effort in life. This struggle can bring great rewards but not without persistence and a degree of luck. Rudra is the hunter and the wielder of the bow. The idea here also suggests placing of the arrow and hitting the target. For this one must have a good aim, as well as strength to shoot. Rudra is also the lord of wild animals.
Punarvasu
Punarvasu is ruled by Aditi, the Great Mother Goddess. Its power is the ability to gain wealth or substance (vasutva prapana shakti). Its basis above is the wind or air. Its basis below is wetness or rain. These three bring about the revitalization of the plants.
Punarvasu Nakshatra brings about the return of energy and vitality, like the return of the monsoon rains after the dry season. It causes our creative growths and inspirations to be renewed. Aditi is the Earth Goddess who grants all abundance and gives birth to all the Gods.
Pushya
Pushya is ruled by Brihaspati, the God of Divine wisdom. Its power is the ability to create spiritual energy (brahmavarchasa shakti). Its basis above is sacrificial worship. Its basis below is the worshipper. These three result in the creation of spiritual energy.
Pushya Nakshatra increases our good karma and good efforts. The value of this Nakshatra for religious and spiritual practices is emphasized. Brihaspati is the lord of speech, particularly prayer, and of all forms of worship, including meditation, so these indications are all in harmony with his functions.
Aslesha
Aslesha is ruled by the serpent God. It has the power to inflict with poison (visasleshana shakti). Its basis above is the approach of the serpent. Its basis below is trembling and agitation. These three together bring about destruction of the victim.
Aslesha Nakshatra paralyzes the enemy. This can be helpful if we have enemies but it can serve to give a person an inimical temperament as well. It all depends upon how the energy of this Nakshatra is used. Serpents also give wisdom, but a practical wisdom through which one can overcome enemies and obstacles.
Magha
Magha is ruled by the Ancestors. It gives the power of to leave the body (tyage kshepani shakti). Its basis above is mourning. Its basis below is leaving the body. These three together bring about death.
Magha Nakshatra causes a change of state or condition, a kind of death. Usually it shows that we are coming to the end of a cycle. Its condition is prior to that of Bharani which indicates the movement of the soul away from the body. Of course there are higher meanings of this Nakshatra relative to Ancestors including ancestral pride and power.
Purva Phalguni
Purva Phalguni in the Vedic order is ruled by Aryaman, the God of contracts and unions. It gives the power of procreation (prajanana shakti). Its basis above is the wife or female partner. Its basis below is the male or masculine partner. These three together bring about the creation of the fetus.
Purva Phalguni brings about union and procreation on all levels. Yet this follows some official agreement or marriage and is part of the creation of a new family or social order. Aryaman governs such productive alliances and also arranges the marriage festival.
Uttara Phalguni
Uttara Phalguni in the Vedic order is ruled by Bhaga, the God of happiness. Its power the giving of accumulation or prosperity (chayani shakti) through marriage or union. Its basis above is the wealth gained from ones own family. Its basis below is the wealth gained from ones partner and her family. These three together bring about the accumulation of wealth.
Uttara Phalguni brings the prosperity that results through union. It indicates both the need for union and for organizing the resources gained through it. Bhaga is also a God of wealth who brings about the right apportionment of resources. While the previous Nakshatra shows marriage this shows the setting up of the household for the newly married couple.
Hasta
Hasta is ruled by Savitar, the creative form of the Sun God. Its power is the ability to gain what we are seeking and place it in our own hands (hasta sthapaniya agama shakti). Its basis above is the seeking of gain. Its basis below is the process of gaining. These three together place what one wishes to gain in ones own hand.
Hasta gives the ability to achieve our goals in a complete and immediate manner. Such goals are usually creative in nature. Savitar is the creative will that builds up the universe with all of its beauty. His productions are most wonderful.
Chitra
Chitra is ruled by Twashtar, the Cosmic craftsman. Its power is ability to accumulate merit in life (punya cayani shakti). Its basis above is the law. Its basis below is the truth. Through these three the worker is able to gain honor in his work.
Chitra allows us to gain the fruit of our good karma that comes through righteousness. It has a highly spiritual energy and effect. Twashtar creates enduring forms, like a blacksmith, and also produces variety and abundance.
Swati
Swati is ruled by Vayu, the God of the Wind. It gives the power to scatter like the wind (pradhvamsa shakti). Its basis above is moving in various directions. Its basis below is change of form. The result of these three is transformation.
Swati Nakshatra causes things to move and scatter. This can be destructive unless we learn how to use it to remove negativity. All these indications are basically those of the Wind, which has both healing and destructive powers.
Vishakha
Vishakha is ruled by Indra and Agni, who represent the powers of heat and lightning in the Atmosphere. It gives the power to achieve many and various fruits in life (vyapana shakti). Its basis above is plowing or cultivation. Its basis below is the harvest. These three gives us the fruit of the harvest.
Vishakha provides the effort to achieve our goals abundantly through time, like a farmer plowing his field. It does not give immediate results but perhaps greater long term gains. Indra and Agni here are agriculture Gods showing the ripening effect of heat, rain and seasonal changes.
Anuradha
Anuradha is ruled by Mitra, the Divine Friend. It gives the power of worship (radhana shakti). Its basis above is ascension. Its basis below is descension. From these three honor and abundance is gained.
Anuradha Nakshatra gives balance in relationship, both honoring others and seeking ourselves to be honorable, through which we acquire fame and recognition. Mitra indicates compassion, devotion and right relationship.
Jyeshta
Jyeshta is ruled by Indra, the ruler of the Gods. It has the power to rise or conquer, and gain courage in battle (arohana shakti). Its basis above is attack and its basis below is defense. The result of these three is that one becomes a hero.
Jyeshta allows us to reach the summit of our personal powers but it requires great courage and effort. It shows karmic battles that require our complete energization in order to overcome. Indra is the king of the Gods who must eventually alone and single handed defeat the dragon, the most fearful of serpents. Though his position looks hopeless, he wins by courage and cunning, not by strength of arms.
Mula
Mula is ruled by Nirriti, the Goddess of destruction. It has the power to ruin or destroy. Its basis above is breaking things apart (barhana shakti). Its basis below is crushing things. Through these three one gains the power to destroy destruction.
In bringing afflictions Mula Nakshatra allows us to destroy their root, as long as they don’t overcome us. It shows the necessary destruction to proceed a new creation. Nirriti is Alakshmi or the denial of Lakshmi (abundance and prosperity). She is Kali or the negative effect of time that we must protect ourselves from or use to our advantage.
Purvashadha
Purvashadha is ruled by the Waters (Apas). Its power is that of invigoration (varchograhana shakti). Its basis above is strength. Its basis below is connection. Through these three one gains lustre.
Purvashadha brings about purification and regeneration, like the energy gained through taking a bath in water. It provides us additional energy for our efforts. These effects flow from the Waters, which in this instance are heavenly in nature and can provide inner purification.
Uttarashadha
Uttarashadha is ruled by the Universal Gods (Vishwe Deva). Its power is grant an unchallengeable victory (apradhrisya shakti). Its basis above is the strength to win. Its basis below is the goal that one can win. From these three one becomes the unchallenged winner.
Uttarashadha brings us to the summit of our power, support and recognition, not so much through our personal efforts (which is more the case in Jyeshta) but with the appropriate alliances and support of all the Gods. Our victory depends upon a righteous cause that is beneficial to all, which we are helping in. Here we fight more as the leader of an army.
Shravana
Shravana is ruled by Vishnu, the pervador. Its power is that of connection (samhanana shakti). Its basis above is seeking. Its basis below are the paths. The result of these three is the connection of all things together.
Shravana enables us to link people together by connecting them to their appropriate paths in life. This requires receptivity and listening, and results in understanding and aspiration. Vishnu with his three strides links together the three worlds of Earth, Atmosphere and Heaven, connecting all creatures with the Gods.
Dhanishta
Dhanishta is ruled by the Vasus, the Gods of abundance. Its power is to give abundance and fame (khyapayitri shakti). Its basis above is birth. Its basis below is prosperity. These three give the power to bring people together.
Dhanishta allows us to bring the resources of people together. In this way it builds upon the connections of Shravana and makes them more practical. The Vasus are the deities of the Earth that give abundance on the earthly plane. They are manifestations of Agni or the sacred fire and show the gifts that it can dispense.
Shatabhishak
Shatabhishak is ruled by Varuna, the God of the cosmic waters. It has the power of healing (bheshaja shakti). Its basis above is extension or pervasion over all. Its basis below is the support of all. These three make the world free of calamity.
Shatabhishak counters difficult karmas through Divine grace and repentance. These include not only diseases but difficulties of all kind, including sin. While Ashwini gives more immediate cures, Shatabhishak brings about a healing crisis leading to revitalization. Varuna is a God of sin, debts, injury and disease, who cannot only bring these calamities upon us but can remove them from us, if we propitiate him sincerely.
Purva Bhadra
Purva Bhadra is ruled by Aja Ekapad, the one-footed serpent. It gives the fire to raise a spiritual person up in life (yajamana udyamana shakti). What is good for all people is its basis above. What is good for the Gods is its basis below. These three cause the entire world to be supported.
Purva Bhadra grants a universal view through internal purification. This raises up our spiritual aspiration in life and takes us out of the domain of selfish behavior. Aja Ekapad is the cosmic or celestial form of Agni or the sacred fire. It raises up our spiritual aspiration in life.
Uttara Bhadra
Uttara Bhadra is ruled by Ahir Budhnya, the serpent of the depths of the Atmosphere. Its power is the bringing of the rain (varshodyamana shakti). Its basis above is the raining clouds. Its basis below growing of the plants. From these three factors the three worlds gain their stability.
Uttara Bhadra grants growth and prosperity in a broad way, benefiting the entire world. This makes it very auspicious. Ahir Budhnya is the benefic serpent who brings the rain, connecting us with the creative powers at the foundations of the world.
Revati
Revati is governed by Pushan, the nourishing form of the Sun God. It has the power of nourishment symbolized by milk (kshiradyapani shakti). Its basis above is the cows. Its basis below are the calves. These three bring about the nourishment of the entire world.
Revati creates abundance through providing proper nourishment. It helps all people in their efforts. Pushan is the lord of cattle and the lord of the paths. He leads, protects and gathers the herd in their movement, particularly to new pastures. In this way he also protects the soul in its journey to the next world.







WHY RUSH TO ASTROLOGERS & NAVAGRAHA ALTARS TO CHANGE OUR DESTINY?
(Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, ISHA Foundation)
Nowadays, for anything that people want to do, they want to look at the planets and stars. If you want to step out of your house, the planets should align themselves properly. People are looking at the right time, the wrong time, rahukalam, gunakalam and whatever else. If they want to get married, they go and ask a third person (astrologer) “Can I live happily with my wife?” Whoever it is that you marry, why can’t you live well with her or him? Or if they show some new kind of madness that you did not expect, why don’t you leave them?
Should inanimate things decide the course of your destiny or should human nature decide the destiny of inanimate things (for planets are inanimate objects)?
If your intelligence is functioning, nobody can predict what you will do tomorrow and how you will live your life. Can you predict what an intelligent man will do tomorrow? No, because he may do something that has never happened on the planet. All your predictions are about things that have happened. He may do something that you have never even imagined. If any human being’s life can be written before he lives it,  that is for sure a “horror-scope.”
A horoscope is all about how the planets are influencing your life. Planets are inanimate things. Should inanimate things decide the course of your destiny or should human nature decide the destiny of inanimate things? It is human nature that should decide. If planets are deciding the course of your destiny, it means your human nature is not even functioning to the level of inanimate objects. Dogs and cats will not allow planets to influence their life. They live the way they want to live. But human lives are unfortunately influenced by inanimate objects.
So is there nothing to it? There is something to it, but as usual human beings exaggerate things. On a full moon day and new moon day, if a person has any kind of psychological ailment, he becomes a little more imbalanced on those days. But do we all go crazy on full moon and new moon days? No, because compared to that man, you are a little more stable and established in your mind. That person cannot control it; just the position of the moon is driving him crazy. It is happening in everyone, but not to such a point that it will decide the way you are because you are more stable compared to that person.
If you are truly stable within, let every planet go wherever it wants to go, you will go where you want to go.
Similarly, if you are truly stable within, let every planet go wherever it wants to go, you will go where you want to go. Otherwise, every little change will influence you. If you are in a certain state of susceptibility, these things will work to some extent in your life. But if you are well established within yourself, no planet is going to decide the course of your life. Human nature should decide the course of your life. The source of creation which is functioning within you, if that cannot decide the course of your destiny, but planets – inanimate objects – can decide the course of your destiny, something is wrong. If you are a little more centered within yourself, all these things will not influence you. You will go where you want to go.
When anyone says “I am on the spiritual path,” what it means is, “It does not matter where the planets are, it does not matter what karma I have, I am going the way I want to go. I am going to go towards liberation.” That is what spirituality means – taking destiny into your hands.
You can either empower yourself so that you decide the course of your destiny, or you can let the planets and a million other things decide the course of your destiny. Unfortunately, people are looking too much at other planets. It is time you get a little interested in the earth and do something about it. I hope people will pay a little more attention to this planet. That is what is needed right now. (Puranas, Religious Pundits and astrologers are indifferent to Earth Planet as the same is not included in Navagrahas but brought in Rahu and Ketu raised to the level of Planets!)




 [This discourse material is a compilation from the reference cited as well as information received from other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other  discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further.  These  lectures are  posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done. ]