Navagraha Temples of Tamil Nadu – Introduction

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The basis of Indian astrology or Jyotisha is the relationship between the movement of nine grahas into different Zodiac signs and its impact on the human beings. Grahas are believed to have cosmic influence on the living beings.

The astrologers claim that grahas influence the Aura (manifestation of one’s hidden energy in the body) and mind of living beings connected to the Earth. Each Graha carries a characteristic energy with them.

This energy of the Graha is getting connected in a unique way to the individual aura of a human being at the time he takes his first breath on earth.

This connection with the energy will remain with him as long as his current body lives.

A person, during his lifetime, undergoes both good and bad experiences due to the changes that take place in this energy of grahas. The planetary positions of these Nine Grahas (on a geocentric orbit) determine the way a person lives, progress and exemplify one’s life to others during his lifetime. So to a devote Hindu, by worshipping each Graha according to one’s horoscope helps in balancing this energy, which leads to a peaceful life.

The Nine grahas are Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Guru or Brihaspathi (Jupiter), Mangala or Ankaarakan (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Sukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Raahu and Kethu.

Hindu religion and Hindu astrology is intertwined. So is the practice of worshipping these grahas. It has been going on for many centuries and is sure to continue many years that to come.

Though the practice is widespread, it is much visible in South India- especially in Tamil Nadu. Almost all temples here, particularly the Saivaite temples, have a Navagraha shrine along with the principal deity.

In Tamil Nadu, there is a cluster of nine Hindu temples known as Navagraha Temples in the Thanjavur-Kumbakonam belt. These temples are tied together for their association with the nine grahas.
But, it should be noted that except SuryanarKoil which is dedicated to the Sun god, all other temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva; the respective Navagraha is only an attendant deity.

All the temples are in erstwhile Chola dynasty which ruled the Kaveri basin until 12th Century AD. They were generally master temple builders and patrons of Hinduism. Almost all Navagraha temples received their gracious patronage.

These temples were built between 7th to 8thCenturies AD by the Cholas. The Suryanar temple seems to be the newest among them. It is built around 1100 AD. This is the only temple dedicated to the graha itself- that is Surya.

Many of the Navagraha temples are important Shiva temples too. For example, Tirunellar, VaitheeswaranKoil, Tiruvankadu and TiruNageswaram are popular on its own for Shiva worship; the Navagraha shrine here only adds to its popularity.

These Navgraha shrines attract large number of devotees when the respective grahas cross the zodiac sign, which usually takes place once in two and half years.

The list of Navagraha temples is shown below.

The List of Navagraha Temples
1. SuryanarKoil : Surya Temple (Sun)
2. Thingalur Temple : Chandra Temple ( Moon)
3. VaitheeswaranKoil : Mangala Temple ( Mars)
4. Thiruvengadu : Budhan Temple ( Mercury)
5. Alangudi : Guru Temple (Jupiter)
6. Kanchanur : Sukhran Temple ( Venus)
7. Thirunallar : Saneeswaran Temple (Saturn)
8. Thirunageswaram : Raahu Temple
9. KeezhaPerumpalam : KethuTemple

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