Vedic Planetary Deities
Dennis M. Harness, Ph.D.
Sun: Surya is the Vedic name and main deity associated with the Sun. Surya is the fire of the heavenly sphere that illumines the world. The light form of Shiva is also associated with the Sun. Shiva means the “auspicious” one. Shiva is the yogi in meditation reflected by Surya, who represents the atman, the soul. Surya is the origin of all evolution, the source of all that exists in the universe. According to Parashara, the chief deity associated with the Sun is Agni, the god of fire. Surya is also known as divya-agni, the celestial fire.
Moon: Chandra is the Vedic name for the Moon. Shakti / Parvati are considered the main female deities associated with the Moon. They are the consorts of Shiva. Parvati is said to remember her previous life as Shiva’s wife, Shakti. Parvati translates as, “she who dwells in the mountains”. Such a goddess is an appropriate mate for Shiva, who also likes to dwell in mountainous regions and the fringe of society. Another name and deity associated with the Moon is Soma. Soma is the divine nectar, the sacrificial elixir of the Gods. Soma is pictured as a priestly sage, a powerful god who is a healer of all diseases and a bestower of riches. He is also the father of Mercury (“Out of the Moon, the mind was born”). Parashara states that the main deity of the Moon is Varuna, God of the cosmic waters.
Mercury: Budha is the Vedic name for Mercury reflecting divine intelligence (buddhi). Beyond the mind is intellect (buddhi). According to Parashara, Vishnu is the main male deity associated with Mercury. He is the god of cosmic intelligence, the preserver and pervader of the universe. Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and learning is the female deity reflecting mercurial powers. Saraswati means “the flowing one”. She is the goddess of creative intelligence, a flowing stream of inspiration like the ancient Sarasvati River which she takes her name from. Saraswati is identified with thought and intellect. “May the Goddess Saraswati, with all power, full of power, further us, as the guide of our minds.” Rig Veda Vol. I. 61.
Venus: Shukra is the Vedic name for Venus. Shukra actually means “semen” representing the power of fertility and reproduction. Lakshmi is the main female deity associated with Venus in Hindu mythology. She is often pictured as the devoted wife or consort of Vishnu. She is the earth, the creation, one with all females, abundance, luxury and pleasure that is healing and revitalizing. She is often depicted sitting on a lotus flower, flanked by two elephants, who are showering her with cosmic waters which represent fertilizing rains. Parashara states that Indrani, Lord Indra’s consort, is the presiding deity of Venus.
Mars: Mangal or Kuja are the Vedic names for fiery Mars. The main deity is Subrahmanya or Skanda. He is the adolescent Kumara, the son of Pleiades (Kartikeya), lord of the armies, the spear-holder, the spiritual warrior. According to Parashara, Kartikeya is the chief deity associated with Mars and was Shiva and Parvarti’s second son. In yoga, Skanda is the power of chastity and the virile seed. By making his sublimated seed rise through the central inner channel of the subtle-body (susumna) up to the sixth chakra where it is consumed, that the yogi becomes the complete master of his instincts. He is often depicted riding a peacock and carrying a spear. Rudra, the God of storms, is also mentioned as reflected the Mars archetype of the warrior.
Jupiter: Guru is the Vedic name for the great benefic, Jupiter. The primary deity is Brihaspati, the teacher of the Gods, who is known for his divine intellect and speech. He has reached the stage of bliss that is beyond desire. Brihaspati, the god of asceticism and the lord of speech is considered an incarnation of Brahma, the creator. Ganapati or Ganesha is sometimes identified with the Great-Lord, Brahaspati. Ganapati is also considered as a God of Learning and “remover of obstacles”. He is the lord of categories (gana), the patron of letters and schools. Ganesha’s wives are Success (Siddhi) and Prosperity (Rddhi). Parashara also lists Indra as the presiding deity associated with Jupiter.
Saturn: Shani is the Vedic name for the planet of truth (satya), Saturn. The male deity is the dark side of Shiva, the destroyer. He destroys Kama (desire) through the gaze of his eyes. The female deity associated with Saturn is Kali. She is adorned with a necklace of skulls around her neck, which represents the heads of ignorance that she has removed. Shani and Kali are often dressed in black or dark blue and are associated with spritual discipline and asceticism. Parashara states that Brahma is the chief deity associated with Saturn. Yama is also associated with Saturn as a planetary deity according to Phaladeepika by Mantereswara. 1
North Node of the Moon: Rahu is considered the dragon’s head or north node of the Moon. Rahu is considered an anti-God and a bitter enemy to the Moon (Chandra). It was Soma, the Moon God that detected Rahu disguised as a god receiving the ambrosia of immortality. Rahu’s head was severed by Vishnu, the preserver; but since it had drank of the divine nectar it had everlasting life. As revenge, Rahu tries to devour the Moon when it is full. This is the tale of the eclipses and why they are vulnerable times on the planet. Durga is considered the main female deity associated with Rahu. She is a fierce warrior, battle queen and personal savior of her devotees.
South Node of the Moon: Ketu is the dragon’s tail or south node of the Moon. The deity associated with Ketu is Rudra, the lord of the storms and the causer of tears. Ganesha is sometimes associated with Ketu as the bringer of enlightenment. Ketu is called the moksha karaka planet, the chaya graha (shadow planet) of spiritual liberation. Ketu is also considered a monster that gives birth to comets and meteors. It is also said to have a Mars-like quality, spiritual warrior quality.
1 Kapoor, G.S. Mantreswara’s Phaladeepika. New Delhi, India: Ranjan Publications, 1996.
Copyright 2007 - 2009 D. M. Harness