reference to Hindu Gods

Gerard Huet Gerard.Huet at
Mon May 29 14:02:38 UTC 1995

Re "I was given information that every day of the week is linked to a 
particular Hindu God. Does anyone have more information regarding this 
reference? Does any such reference exist?"

Every day of the week is traditionally assigned to a celestial body, i.e. the
sun, the moon, or a planet. I am not sure what is the exact origin of this 
tradition, but I suspect that it is not Indo-european, but originates in 
Babylonian astrology, where the 7-day week comes from.

Now, in Indian tradition, each of these celestial bodies is
assigned to a "regent" god. Those are called in sanskrit "graha",
from the root "grah", which means "to grab", from which derives
the latin "prehendo", the english "grab", the german "greifen", the french
"griffe" and "prehension". "Graha" is thus the action of grabbing, or
possession, or in a figurative sense a magical influence. There are 9 of them
in mythology, collectively known as "navagraha". The navagraha motif is well
known in traditional Hindu architecture - very often it appears as the 
decoration of the lintel of the entrance to the main sanctuary of a temple.
A most beautiful one may be seen for instance in Konarak.

The navagraha comprises the Sun "sUrya", the Moon "candra", 
Mars "a.ngAraka", Mercury "budha", Jupiter "b.rhaspati", 
Venus "'sukra", Saturn "'sani", and two demons responsible for eclipses,
called "rAhu" and "ketu". The latter two are two parts of an "asura" which
tried to fool Visnu into giving them the drink of immortality Soma, and thus
they do not qualify as "gods". The others are either major Vedic Gods,
such as sUrya and b.rhaspati, or minor deities such as 'sukra "The bright",
a son of the bh.rgu.

This explains the connexion between certain vedic deities and the days of
the week in sanskrit, whose term for day is "vAra". vAra is the substantive
form of the root "v.r", meaning to choose; thus a sanskit day is the 
(time of the week/location in the sky) chosen by a "grabber". These are:
sUryavAra - day of sUrya the Sun
somavAra - day of candra the Moon, also known as soma since the moon was
used as the mythic cup of the drink of immortality Soma
ma.ngalavAra - day of ma.ngala regent of Mars
budhavAra - day of budha regent of Mercury (not to be confused with Buddha)
guruvAra - day of the god b.rhaspati regent of Jupiter, also known
as "guru" since he was the teacher and religious leader of the gods
'sukravAra - day of 'sukra
and 'sanivAra - day of 'sani.

This connection is very close to the one we have in various languages:
Sun-day, Mo(o)n-day, Mar(s)-di, Merc(u)re-di, Ven(us)[dre]-di, Satur(n)-day.
Thursday comes I believe from the Nordic Thor, god of the storm among other
things, and thus linkable to Jupiter which gave its name to the french Jeudi.
Now Jupiter may be linked etymologically in an obvious way to Dyaus-pitar,
the old Sky-god of Vedic times, or mythologically to the king-god Indra
master of lightning, but I see no direct connection to b.rhaspati, chaplain
of the gods. It is amusing to remark that "guru", which means first "heavy",
is well-chosen for the heaviest of our planets, but I do not wish to venture
into vedic science.
All of the above is well-known and discussed at length in numerous 
knowledgeable sources, but the above digest should be enough to answer your

Concerning Sadhunathan Nadesan's answer to your query, the fact that monday
is 'siva's day in the north of India may be explained from the fact that the 
Moon is one of the attributes of 'siva (he wears its crescent in his hair). 
I do not know what is his relationship with friday in the south - perhaps 
from the link between bh.rgu and agni?

Gerard Huet


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