Each day of the week has a special significance and is apportioned to one or more Hindu gods or goddesses with folklore surrounding them. Vrats, fasting and observance of religious rituals are dedicated to the a particular god in the Hindu pantheon to appease Him or her. You see, ancient sages used observances such as these to spread the awareness of different gods. They would look into all aspects of life to introduce divinity in some way. Fasting and other rituals pave the path of the divine for the devotees to realize god, which is considered the sole purpose of human existence.
NAVAGRAHAS represents the nine celestial influencers in Vedic Astrology. The seven days are named after the celestial bodies of our solar system - the Sun, Moon and the planets. Apart from these, mention should be made here of Rahu and Ketu, the two nodes of the Moon - the north and the south, the points of intersection of the paths of the Moon and the Sun. Lunar eclipses occur when the Moon and the Sun are at Rahu or Ketu. So, Navagraha comprises of 1.Surya –Sun; 2.Chandra –Moon; 3. Mangala –Mars; 4.Budha –Murcury; 5. Brihaspati –Jupiter; 6. Shukra –Venus; 7. Shani –Saturn; 8.Rahu and 9.Ketu.
Shukra is charming, has a splendors physique, is excellent or great in disposition, has charming eyes, is a poet, is phlegmatic and windy and has curly hair, says the sage Parasara. ‘Shukra’ means white bright or semen. Shukracharya is pulled by eight flaming horses. His consort is Dwarjaswini.
Shukra is rajasik in nature. He is an embodiment of love and a benefic planet and governs refined attributes, romance, beauty, sensuality, passion, comforts, luxuries, jewelry, wealth, art, music and dance. The spring season and bedroom serenity and sex-life is said to be Shukra’s domain.
Shukra is a karaka or indicator of spouse, love and marriage. When Shukra’s sight is strong, it brings wealth, comfort, attraction to the opposite sex in early part of life. It makes its natives tender, gentle and considerate. They are lovers of jewelry, sour taste, white dresses, decorations, perfumes, tasty foods and fine arts.
MYTHOLOGY: In Hindu mythology, Venus is known as Shukra. He is the son of the great seer Bhrigu and Usha. Bhrigu was an astrologer and taught Shukran all the spiritual sciences and scriptures. He becomes the teacher of the asuras due to enmity towards Brahaspati-Jupiter. In his position as preceptor of the antigods, Shukra prays to Lord Shiva to learn the art of brining on to life after they are killed in battle. This mantra of immortality is called Sanjivi Vidya.
Asuras are the demonic aspect of the divine and locked in eternal battle with the Devas. The asuras-Shukra alliance gives the asuras an unfair advantage. So Brihaspati, the guru of the Devas, sends his son Kaca to study under Shukra. Kaca means brightness. There must be a love story somewhere for excitement so you have it! Shukra has a beautiful daughter by the name of Devayani. Her name means ‘way to the Gods’. She is attracted to Kaca and it is mutual. The asuras learn of this and kill him. Devayani goes running to the father and Shukra chants the immortality mantra to revive Kaca. The asuras kill him again and Kaca comes back to life. The asuras were undeterred. This time around they kill him, grind the corpse into fine powder and add to Shukra’s wine. He drinks it. With Devayani grieving again, Shukra chants the mantra only to get a stomach ache. Kaca speaks to the would-be father in law from inside him!
The asuras are happy that Kaca has been done for but it was not to be the case. Sukra reveals the mantra of immortality to Kaca internally.Then Kaca tears out from Shukra’s body. He then repeats the mantra to revive Shukra. This is the reason given for wine prohibition ‘which may cause stomach ache.’ But then on the other side Goddess Kali likes wine offering for Her reasons also but that is another matter!
DEVI BHAGAVATA PURANA: Shukra is said to be the Bhargava rishi of the Atharvan descendent of sage Kavi. He was born on Sraavana Suddha Ashtami when Swati nakshtra is on ascent. He went to study the Vedas under rishi Angirasa but impeded by the guru’s favoritism towards his son Brihaspati. Then Shukra studies under Gautama rishi and performs penance to Lord Shiva for the Sanjivi mantra. He marries Priyavrata’s daughter Urjaswathi. They have four sons, Chanda, Amarka, Tvastr, Dharaatra and daughter Devayani. Brihaspati becomes guru of devas and Sukracharya to the Asuras. In this Purana, Deyanani is rejected by Kaca, Brihaspati’s son and marries Yayati who found the Kuru dynasty. Yayati is a Kuru king and the son of king Nahusha, ancestor of the Pandavas. So, the wine story is missing here!
SUKRAVARAM. Friday or Shukravar is dedicated to Shakti. Mother Goddess Durga and Kali are worshipped with utmost devotion. Shree Shuktam or Durga Chalisa is recited during the prayers. Prayers are individual and regional so sometimes one has Goddess Lakshmi or Santhoshi Mata Arati also. Santhosi Maa is an incarnation of Shakti. Kali Arati is also common.
Shukravar fasting begins at sunrise and ends with sunset and devotees wear white dress and partakes in the evening meal that consists of white-colored food like 'kheer' or 'payasam' a dessert made of milk and rice. In Bengal and elsewhere in India importance is attached to the 'Solah Shukravar Vrats.' This is fasting for consecutive 16 Fridays dedicating it to Santoshi Mata, where a devotee fasts for 16 consecutive Fridays. Sour food is avoiding in this vrat. Goddess Santoshi Mata grants devotees any wish or desire if she is amply satisfied with the purity of their devotion. Lord Shukra provides happiness and material wealth and the period of Shukra in the devotees' astrological chart is considered to be most productive and lucky.
ZODIAC: Venus or Shukra rules Friday and is considered to be effective worship of Shukra. He is the Lord of Tula. Shukra takes one year to complete the zodiac cycle living one month in each Rasi.
SHUKRA MANTRA: "Om Dram Dreem Draum Sah Shukraya Namah" "Om Shum Shukraya Namah"
SHUKRA GAYATRI MANTRA
Om Aswadhwajaaya Vidmahe
Dhanur hastaaya dheemahi
Tanno shukra prachodayaat
NAVAGRAHA SHUKRA MANTRA
"Himkundmrinaalaabham Daityaanam Paramam Gurum
Sarvashastrapravaktaram Bhargavam Pranmaamyaham"
Meaning : I bow down to Shukra who is as white and fair as snow and who is the teacher of daithyas who are the enemies of Gods and who is knowledged of all scriptures.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Navagrahas: Gods, Goddesses, Minor deities and Sages)
By Yogi Ananda Saraswati