navagraha worshipped as deities

Thu Apr 16 13:37:57 UTC 1998

This is part of my reply to Ms. M. Kropf asked about a week ago.

N. Ganesan

*thank you for providing me with such an ammount of precious information
*on the grahas. As the subject is quite new to me I cannot follow you in
*all teh points mentioned and therefore I write my coments/questions step
*by step:

> *it seems to me interesting to see whether or not shrines for the
> *grahas or at least graha-murtis placed in temples to be worshipped by
> *devotees and daily cared for by priests are a rather southern phenomenon.

*- unfortunately, this book is not at my hand, I will find it - do you
*have the bibliographical details with you?

Please read:
1) C. Sivaramamurti, The art of India, H. N. Abrams, 1977
2) C. Sivaramamurti, Royal conquests and cultural migrations in
South India and Deccan. Calcutta: Indian museum, 1954. 57 p., 14 leaves

Read Richard H. Davis, Lives of Indian images, Princeton univ. press,
1997. Davis talks of Imperial Chola war booties to and from
Kaveri delta.

> I think this is true. C. Sivaramamurti explains this in his magnum opus,
> Art of India. Chola daughters married away to Vengi Prince of Andhra;
> their descendant Chodaganga Deva building Konarak.

*- Konarak as other ancient sUrya temples seem to me quite tricky - their
*roots going back to Vedic sources and a sun cult being compared to
*similar traditions of other cultures. This involves a lot of difficult
*questions: e.g. how far can the ancient exclusive sun cult be paralleled
*with the later navagraha worship/ propitiation? The seven grahas
*depicted are they ritually taken care for from the very beginnings? On
*what purpose, if yes? do we have any textual reference to this question
*concerning Konarak? Can you indicate me further material/ studies?

Sivaramamurti clearly says in many occasions that Cholas start building
the Suriyanar Koyil temple. Their daughters in Andhra and
the Chola Princes' descendant, ChoDagangadeva builds Konark.

I think navagraha worship as deities, namavalis is a southern
tradition extended northwards. At the end of your research, pl. let me know.
The beginnings of planetary worship are there not only in Vedic,
but in classical sangam Tamil as well.

See J. McKim Malville's paper too. I vaguely remember that
the first Surya temple is built by Chola after a major
astronomical event. (I think McKim is unaware of Sivaramamurti's works).

> Seventh century CE saiva saint, Thirugnana Sambandhar
> sings a beautiful decad to Siva seeking help for protection
> when planets are doing harm.

*This hymn seems to be a favorite selection for temple donation - in
*shaivaite temples I saw it several times depicted at the wall somewhere
*close th the navagraha mandapam. Only it always seemed to me rather an
*expression of judging the navagraha rituals executed by woshippers as an
*ill-tempted way of behaviour - as the 11 slokas composed by Sambandhar
*state very clearly that the whole ado about the grahas is completely
*superflue as soon as one discovers the right creed in Shiva ... I could
*not really understand why, following this point of view,  the grahas are
*installed in those rather 'orthodoxe' Shaiva Siddhanta temples at all.

The hymns are only to Siva. The planets' power are far inferior
to Siva, acc. to Tevaram saints. Dr. Jayabarathi has explained
beautifully in his writings.

> Muthusvaami Dikshitar's navagraha kshetra krithis are
> precise and packed, I have heard. Dikshitar knew very well
> all the intricacies of jyothisa and mantra shastras.
> Prof. V. Raghavan, Madras university must have written on
> navagraha krithis, as he was always fond of Dikshitar.
> May be Srini Pichumani or Vidyasankar Sundaresan will know
> more on these master musical pieces. I can ask
> Mrs. Chitra Dharmarajan, a student of D. K. Pattammal.
> Pattammal, a master carnatic musdician, comes in the tradition of
> Muthusvaami Dikshitar and his relatives -
> Annasvami Dikshitar, Balusvami Dikshitar,
> Subbarama Dikshitar, Ambi Shastri,...

I wrote this from memory.
Annasvami is wrong; Chinnasvami is the correct name.
Also, Ambi Dikshitar  - N. Ganesan

*- to tell you straight away I have no idea of the musical tradition as I
*am only referring to texts, source books, ritual manuals, informations
*of priests and personal experiences. Nevertheless I would be thankful to
*get more details as far as they can be understood without a deeper
*knowledge of the specific musical tradition of teh Nyanmars. As far as I
*know those compositions are, without being sung, of key value for the
*ritual practice in many Shaivaite temples mainly in Tamil Nadu.

Diiksitar wrote the krithis in Tamilnadu from the study of books, practices
etc., existing there.

> There is a medieval Sani Bhagavan Tottiram in tamil.
> Reprinted several times by the three Saiva Siddhanta Adheenams
> that is popular. ki. vaa. ja., student of UVS, has written a
> book called navakkirakaGkaL (Alliance Publishers, Royapettah)

*- is that book completely in Tamil? Is there any chance to get that text
*translated into English medium? Could you maybe even help me to trace
*that text? (if it is not too long, I have the possibility to get it
*translated from Tamil even here...)

This is a small medieval book in Tamil available in Roja Muttaiya
Research Library, Madras. It is a rare tamil book collection bought and
being supported partially by Univ. of Chicago. I am sure the three
Saiva Siddhanta adheenam libraries in tanjore district and
some in Madras also have this book (many reprints).
If you get it, send it to me, I can translate it for you.

canipakavan tOttiram
muttamiz viLakka accukkuuTam
kALayutti, aavaNi, 1858, 10 p.
[I will post to Indology a more complete list].

> Tiru Gnana Sambandhar's Tevaram hymn at TirunaLLaaRu temple.
> Sambandhar lived in early Seventh century CE.
> This pleads for Siva's  protection from planetary wrath.

*- here again I find it interesting to see that in a temple which is not
*dedicated to Shiva but to Shani we find a hymn adressing Shiva as the
*real dispeller of grace and as a 'fighter' against bad influences of the
*grahas. Should I understand this as a kind of competition between
*exclusive Shaivaite faith and other streams including the navagrahas in
*their selection of deities (including grahas) being worth worshipping?

This is a temple dedicated to Shiva. NOT to Shani. The stalapuraaNam
links this temple with Shani. Shani's prominence is later.
In Tevaram times, it is mainly a Shiva temple.
S'ani and Nala  story is very secondary then.

> I don't think these are translated yet.
> Got these songs from Univ. of Koeln web.

- do you have the direct link to this source at Koeln?

See the Indology home page at
Go to Institutions, Choose Germany, There click
Institute of Indology and Tamil studies, there Indological resources,
Tamil Text Thesarus ..

OR, Directly at:

> Sanskrit nAmAvalis on planetary will postdate 7th century CE.
> Or, Am I wrong?

- I can't tell you yet; if you should get any more concrete information,
- pl. let me know.

Pl. let me know. Many thanks.

N. Ganesan

My old posting on 27/jun/97 is attached.
You can search for navagraha from the powerful Search utility
provided at the Indology website. I am sure you will get something
useful for your research.
See the Indology home page at

Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 15:15:49 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Navagraha worship

       Navagraha Worship In South India

J. McKim Malville is interested in the evolution of
planet worship in South India. He teaches somewhere in
Colorado. I glanced thru' his paper once.
He says the important Chola temple at Suuriyanaar Koyil,
Thanjavur temple was built in 11th century after a major
astronomical event over India. (eclipse)

J. McKim Malville, Solar astronomy and temple traditions,
Jl. of the Indian anthropological society, March 1988,
vol. 23, no. 1, p. 17-
I am sure he has few more writeups.

Suuriyanaar Koyil used to be an important
Saiva Siddhanta Adheenam. Thiruveezhimizhalai
Sivagrayogin was a preceptor of the math
who wrote extensively in Tamil and Sanskrit.

I recollect C. Sivaramamurti's writings from one his large books.
It goes something like this:
Rajaraja Chola I marries his daughter to Vimaladitya Chalukya I
of Vengi country in Andhra. Due to her, a big Surya
temple came to be erectedin Andhra. Later, a descendent of that
Chola Princess (Kundhavai Naachiyaar) builds Konarak Sun temple
in Kalinga country. Chozha becomes ChoDa in the north.
ChoDaganga Deva is the King's name.

Longtime ago, Deborah Karumuthu Thiagarajan was interested in this field.
Nowadays, she is busy saving Chettinad homes, crafts, artisans.
D. Thiagarajan, The development of Surya imagery in the Tamil
country in the seventh-twelfth centuries AD.
1985, 133 leaves.
Microfiche 288, Van Pelt library, Univ. of Pennsylvania

I am sure Dr. Martin Gantsen knows this book:
Stephen Markel, Origins of the Indian planetary deities,
Lewiston, NY: E. Melen, 1995
(from a PhD at UMich)

I agree with Mr. Jayabarathi that there are many
publications in Tamil. Many are devotional, stalapuranams,
or astrological or uncritical. But a few exceptions
do exist.

There is a medieval "Sani Bhagavan Tottiram" (stotram)
reprinted for atleast 150 years. Good poetry.

K. V. Jagannathan, editor of Kalaimakal
and disciple of U. V. Saminathaiyar, has
a book giving an overview of Navagraha worship
from Tamil and Sanskrit literatures.
Printed by Alliance Publications, Mylapore.

There are many Tamil books, few of them running into 1000s of
poems/viruttams like kiiranuur naTaraajar's caatakaalangaaram
and kumaaracuvaamiiyam by Viiravanallur Kumaracaami Tecikar,
on astrology. The relationships between this genre of astrological
literature in Tamil and Sanskrit has never been explored so far.

N. Ganesan
nas_ng at

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