Navagraha Purana – V S Rao
Navagraha Purana – V S Rao
Authors writing mythology choose different sects of mythology, like the avatars of Vishnu or heroines of the Granths and Vedas, for example. How did you choose Navagraha or the Nine Planets as the theme of your book?
Long back I had an offer to write songs on the Navagrahas for an album, but without the in-depth knowledge of the planetary gods, I would be unable to do justice to the songs, hence there began my search for a comprehensive book on the Navagrahas. It was to my utter surprise, that I couldn’t find a single book which elaborately spoke on this topic, except few booklets of STOTRA-SHLOKAS and handbooks on worship of the Navagrahas.
It dawned on me that there is a need for a book which extensively talks on the Navagrahas as it would benefits Lakhs of devotees who revere and worship them. This in turn made me believe that it would be a great service to the devotees as well as the readers.
As an author, I usually prefer to work on unique subjects (books) and therefore decided upon bringing an elaborate account on the Navagrahas; from their origination, their life, parents and their progeny.
Epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and various other scriptures like the eighteen Puranas, acted as my major source of information. I started reading them and this gradually developed into a research, which resulted in the book. As the book contains five elements required for a “Purana”, hence I gave it the name “Navagraha Purana”.
In the chapter ‘The Birth of Rahu’ you have stated how there are many stories or mentions associated with a character, for instance stories associated with their birth or life. When faced with such a situation, how do you make a choice?
While doing research and collecting information from various scriptures like Puranas, epics and Kaavyas (Poetic works) I came across many contrasting versions, for such situations I have aimed at a logical approach and reached to the conclusion, duly keeping in mind the age old, deep rooted beliefs of devotees who strongly believed in the Navagrahas and their influence, positions of the Grahas in the temple and their mode of worship, Homas (the rituals of Agni, the god of fire) and the shlokas of invocation.
Let’s take Rahu and Ketu for example; some scripts say that initially only Rahu was there with no trace of Ketu. These scripts assert that only Rahu, disguised himself as a god, sat in the row of gods to get Amrit and alerted by Surya and Chandra lord Vishnu beheaded him.
There scriptures further say that the severed head of Rahu became Rahu and the body became Ketu.
This version is contrary to the other versions of some other religious texts.
- ‘Vishnu Dharmottara Purana’ says that Rahu were born separately with two different entities; which asserts that Ketu is not a portion of Ketu.
- ‘Skanda Purana’ says that at the time of the churning of the milky ocean and the distribution of the ‘Nectar’, Rahu and Ketu in the guise of gods sat beside each other.
- ‘Ranganatha Ramayanam’, a Telugu version of Ramayana records that the demons Rahu and Ketu disguised as gods sat in the row of gods.
On the merit of the above statements of the valuable and sacred texts it’s proved beyond any doubt, that Rahu and Ketu are two deities and 8th and 9th Grahas. It’s stated that Rahu is the son of sage Kashyapa by his wife Simhika, whereas Ketu is the son of ‘Mrityu-the goddess of death’.
The above conclusion is strongly supported by the number of idols (Nine) of the Grahas, present and worshipped in the temples, surprisingly there isn’t a single temple having eight Grahas- “Ashtha Grahas” debarring Ketu.
Another aspect supporting the existence of Ketu and nine planetary gods are the numerous ‘Stotras’, available in the praise of nine Grahas duly having separate shlokas and incantations for Ketu.
The method of research and careful literary journey to a logical and indisputable conclusion, helped me to make a choice. I meticulously focussed not to contradict our ancestors and sages who wrote the scriptures, sacred and powerful mantras, using mystic syllables and also not to hurt the feeling of the people who revere and worship the Navagrahas and maintaining the harmony between the scriptures and devout people.
The character of Narad is quite interesting; he seems to be quintessential manipulator- be it convincing Chaya to have kids or explaining to Chandra why he ought to marry. As the author of this book, what are your views about the character of Narad?
Our Puranas, epics and poetic works have portrayed the character of Narada in a unique interesting manner. Apparently, Narada is a person who creates differences between the opinion of the people. The behaviour makes people think that Narada is a troublemaker. He intrudes into other’s affairs and creates obstacles. All such activities of Narada appears to be infuriating. But in longer run they seem righteous and aims at universal peace.
I would like to add something here: Reading our religious texts and epics, I became an admirer of Narad and admiration goaded me to write a book on his life! After thorough research, I undertook the task and wrote the book in Telugu language, entitled ‘Narada Maharshi’(translated in English as Sage Narada) and the same has been serialised in a prominent Telugu weekly and won the acclaim of the readers.
This book throughout, inscribes an image of the people being more mature, open and forgiving than people are nowadays. What lessons can be drawn from this book and how, according to you, are the mythological stories relevant today?
Majority of the episodes and occurrences that appear in the Navagraha Purana were of the ages before Kalyuga (Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga). Times have changed, people changed, their attire, languages have changed but their instincts, nature, thought process have not changed. ‘Yugas’(ages) changed..Man remained a man! Man is controlled by the five organs of senses and five organs of actions; like the man in the past Yugas – with a great change!
There is every opportunity for present day man to mould himself drawing inspiration from the mythical characters which are relevant till date.
In Hinduism, Navagrahas are highly revered and considered highly influential in every mortal’s life- what are your views about the same? Also, which is your favourite Navagraha tale?
I believe in the power of the Navagrahas and their influence on beings. We should not consider every Purana and Epic fictitious. Fact is the mother of fiction. The Ramayana records that during the war with Ravana, Sri Rama had to recite Aditya Hridaya to obtain the grace and favourable influence of ‘Surya’ to kill Ravana. In Mahabharata, which is an epic (Itihaas- History) records the episode of Dharmaraja getting the ‘Akshayapaatra’ propitiating ‘Surya’. These incidents prove the influence of the Navagrahas on all kings and they are orbiters of man’s destiny. Surely, my views reflect in my work “Navagraha Purana”.
If I, myself doubted the existence and influence of the Navagrahas on beings, I wouldn’t have written the book all together.
Now my favourite among the Navagraha tales is the Tale of Surya, the king of the Grahas (planet), the reason being, Surya- The Sun God is the giver of food, who physically caters to the survival of all beings by providing heat, without which our existence in questionable and so is Moon’s extant.
Whereas, spiritually speaking, he is the giver of health as the scriptures states: “AAROGYAM BHASKARAAT ICHCHET”- one should request Bhaskara (Surya) to bestow heat, light, rain, food and well-being.
‘The Tale of Surya’, presents some of our traits through the character of Surya, who in spite of loving and marrying Samjna, refuses to lower his heat and splendour for her, who in turns feel discomfort with it, reflecting his haughty nature.
When Samjna, makes Chaaya lead life as his wife impersonating herself (as Samjna), Surya who is omnisciently witnesses it, blinding himself to the reality. Whereas later when Samjna reconciles with him, he voluntarily subdues his heat and lustre, gratifying her- his beloved wife, which truly imparts humanly nature in every sense.
Surya preaches us ‘The Art of giving’, he has been the utmost source of life, providing all amenities to the world despite refusing initially, he sacrifices his light and heat to please his consort, preaching us fundamentals.
On the merit of such accounts, Surya fascinates me the most as it invokes the giving nature within us, teaching us to shed off our ego when required and being the “Supremo”.
Can you also tell our readers about your favourite episode from your book, Navagraha Purana?
Being the author, I have numerous episodes which are close to my heart, but one deeply touches me, and had to be coined as my ‘Pick from the book’.
It is reunion of ‘Budha’ with his mother ‘Tara’, the lawful wife of ‘Brahaspati’. Budha was separated from his mother when he was hardly 10 days old and now after years in his youth, he was able to see, talk, touch and feel the warmth of his mother for the first time in his life. This scene moved me completely inside out surrounding me within the whirlwind of emotions on how selflessly satisfying motherly presence could be.
You have ventured into myriad genres and have done commendable work in them; as an author which genre do you enjoy the most and why?
Yes, I have been fortunate enough as an author to try my hands in number of genres. In Telegu language; just as a mother loves all her children, I do love all the genre and could try my hand in it.
But when the question is posed, which genre I enjoy much, unhesitatingly, I can say ‘the noble’. Unlike, other genre like the short story, the playlet, the play etc. The Noble has a larger frame, it provides a space and opportunity essentially required for portraying and establishing various characters with various mentalities and temperament. In short stories, the writer must introduce the characters, who come across in real life and the reader is aware of it without writer’s explanation, giving the writer limited space.
Whereas, in the Novel, author can have a free hand to show many peculiar characters inside out. On the big canvas on a novel, the author can depict different characters with minute details enabling himself to show the reader, how the society he lives in ease and how it should be thus giving a message on why and how he can change himself and thrive to change the society if needed.
Lastly, is there a sequel to the book? Or anything else that you are currently working on?
No, there won’t be a sequel to “Navagraha Purana”, as if I think of one, it will be nothing short of an account detailing the methodology on worshiping them, the Homas, invocations and calculations of horoscopes, on which innumerable books are available rendering a holistic picture.
As of today, I am working on a piece of ‘Folk Lore’ for a prominent Telegu Weekly, which has been publishing my novels- to be serialised. The story revolves around a prince, who is the only son of a great emperor, who on the command of his father travels across the vast kingdom to pragmatically understand the lifestyle, the source of happiness and hardship of the people. The prince should camouflage himself to take up this journey, earning his daily wage to survival.
During his escapade, he faces many challenges which helps him carve the path of his life enabling him to understand the extremities of life.
Finally, upon his homecoming, he is a person with rich experience and consciousness needed to anoint as ‘The King’; to be the first of his name; becoming an exemplary ruler.
During his practical training period, the prince falls in love with a beautiful daughter of poor parents and he makes her his ‘Queen’.