What is (Not) a Planet? – Grahas vs Lokas

Most of you were by accident brought up in a world looking at a Solar system of Nine planets. At the same time, the Hindu culture celebrated Navagraha as entities governing some aspects of our lives.

So, this numerical happenstance tends to color the association of Grahas to Planets.


Grahas are not planets. If an astrologer or a pandit says that to you, WRONG NUMBER HAI!! RUN DON’T WALK AWAY from that person.

Easiest way to check a Pandit or Baba is fake is ask them if Shukra is Venus?

So let us examine these.

First, a minor correction from my favorite astronomer Mike Brown, yes you did kill Pluto as a planet, we have Eight planets. That is completely the mistake of Mike Brown.

If he had just hurried his planeticide, many millions of Indian school children would have grown up without associating GRAHA (ग्रह) with PLANETS.

So what is the GRAHA (ग्रह) and What is Hindi for Planet?

So let us bid adieu to the most famous planet killer since Grand Moff Tarkin caused Princess Leia to forward her mail, let us examine the Grahas and Planets.


Planet comes from Greek word which means Wanderer. Ancient astronomers identified these pin points of moving (very slowly) light and decided they are not Stars but more like character actors in the script, so they can be sometimes sister, mother, brother, henchman or for comedy appeal, basically had no set place in the theater of sky.

These were not stars and hence were given the name Planet. The operative word is Wanderer implying movement.

So, these lights move aka wander so are called Planet or Wanderer.

The Indian word for HOME is Graha. The place which does not MOVE!!!!

  • The word Graha means Crocodile.
  • It means Tenacity.
  • It means perceiving.
  • It means holding.
  • It means LOOT.
  • It means Seizing.

PAKAR PAKAR ZOR SE PAKAR DE BARABAR BHayya Pakara gaya hai CHOR Bhage na Bhayya.

That is why it means a FIXED ZODIAC.


PLANET Movement
GRAHA Fixed Zodiac, Something that is stopped and is permanent in a place!!!


Second, Planets are in real world and are in astronomy. The Graha are in imaginary realm and are in Astrology.

Astronomy is NOT Astrology.

If you feel opposite to that, those who educated you are to blame.

Ancient Indians were aware that Sun was center of universe. The night sky was thought to consist of two very similar components: fixed stars, which remained motionless in relation to each other, and “wandering stars”, which moved relative to the fixed stars over the course of the year.

Thus, ancient astronomers without telescopes can see seven bodies including Sun and Moon. That is why we have seven days in a week.

Also, unlike India who did not associate Pancha Mahabhuta to these five, Chinese did associate the five planets with five elements Fire, Earth, Water, Wood (or Air or Sound), Metal (or Ether or Sky).

They gave preference to Jupiter and its 12 year cycle, called Sui in Chinese and Brihaspat in Indian system. Chinese also had a 10 year heavenly cycle and 12 year earthy beast cycle and they combine in a 60 year cycle which is same as Indian 60 year cycle. More you go around the world. More you will find yourself.

वही दुनिया, वही गलियाँ और कूचे, वही ग़रीब और वही अमीर 
कुछ भी तो बदला नहीं है यहाँ, सिवाय आदमी का ज़मीर 
–Arun Mehta

Second thing the WRONG NUMBER Babas (WNBs) don’t tell you. We do not have just Navagraha including Rahu and Ketu. We have more grahas!! There are Saptarishi grahas and Dhruva as well as Raudra Grahas.

Indian Astrology have lot more than just nine grahas. At some point, a wrong number baba forgot these ones or could just count upto the fingers in his hand, having probably lost the middle finger when some PK broke it off.

The Lokas

The Astronomical equivalent of Planet is the Loka for the language.

We have the seven lokas on ascending planes: Bhu, Bhuvar, Svar, Mahas, Janas, Tapas and Satya in Vyahrti cycle and Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala and Patala in Bilva-svarga cycle.
(or Rasatala, Sutala, Vitala, Gabhastala, Mahatala, Sritala and Patala.)

Seven upper Lokas including Bhu or earth or Seven heavens is a part of religious cosmology found in many major religions such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Catholicism and in some minor religions such as Hermeticism and Gnosticism. The Throne of God or Sata or Satya Loka is said to be above the seventh heaven in some Abrahamic religions.

जब किसी से कोई गिला रखना 
सामने अपने आईना रखना 
–Nida Fazli

Now the ancient World saw Seven moving things in sky and thus Seven Upper or Seven Other Worlds may be influenced by the Seven “classical planets” we see in the sky including Sun and Moon.

Bhuvar or Vayu Loka is between Bhu and Surya. Svaraga is just beyond that. Mahas is the World of Pitras and Janas where Anugraha beings live including Svyambhavu Manu is still Manu there and all the chiranjeevis et all live there. Tapa Loka is where Ribhus dwell and beyond them is Upper most Brahma Loka.

There is mention in Mahabharata of Dyuloka or द्युलोक as well above the Akash. It is also a planet like Earth.

Atala and others lokas are in the “lower” cycle are not hells or underground dimensions. They are also Lokas.

Patala is Nagaloka ruled by Vasuki.

Narada describes Patala as more beautiful than Svarga (heaven). Patala is described as filled with splendid jewels, beautiful groves and lakes and lovely demon maidens. Sweet fragrance is in the air and is fused with sweet music. The soil here is white, black, purple, sandy, yellow, stony and also of gold.

Narada would be easily hired by many tourist organizations to write their brochures. Narayana, Narayana, Nara Aaiye!!

These regions are described as being more opulent than the upper regions of the universe, which include heaven. The life here is of pleasure, wealth and luxury, with no distress. The demon architect Maya has constructed palaces, temples, houses, yards and hotels for foreigners, with jewels.

There are several names for the Lower Lokas because they are literally not on top of each other but imagine them as seven parallel lokas or planets though at different distances.

  • Rasatala ruled by Namuchi. 
  • Sutala ruled by Hayagriva and Takshaka as his assistant Naga.
  • Vitala is ruled by Prahalada and Hemaka as the Naga.
  • Gabhastala is ruled by Kalanemi and Vainetya naga.
  • Mahatala is ruled by Hiranyaksha and Kirmira. (Others have it as Andhaka, the son of Hiranyaksha)
  • Sritala is ruled by Puloman and Vasuki (who is also the ruler of Patala)
  • Patala ruled by Bali. (Sutala is the place where Bali rules in most later legends.) Bali is the Next Indra so ruling Patala is like Deputy-Indra ship. Vishnu is also present in Avatar in Patala.

Srimadabhagvata has the following set of rulers:

  • Atala is ruled by Bala, son of Maya
  • Vitala is ruled by Siva as Hatakeshwara and his wife Bhavani and their progeny who works to increase Brahma’s work.
  • Sutala is ruled by Bali, son of Prahalada with Vamana and his mighty club as the Guard of Sutala
  • Talatala is ruled by Maya himself and there Vishnu resides as Kaal or Time.
  • Mahatala is ruled by four Krodhavasa Nagas Kuhaka, Takshaka, Kalya and Sushena
  • Patala ruled by Vasuki. SHankha, Kulika, Mahâs’ankha, S’veta, Dhanañjaya, Dhritarâshthra, S’ankhacûda, Kambala, As’vatara, Devadatta and so on.
  • Rasatala is ruled by Panis (Nivatakavacha, Kaleyas, Hiranyuapuravasis). They are in fear of Goddess Sarama.

Arjuna attacked and destroyed all these demons mentioned in Rasatala. The connection of Sarama is interesting. The Mahabharata legend is that Arjuna kills all these demons. Then another story in Mahabharata is that brothers of Janamejaya drive out the sons of Sarama (who inherited Rasatala after Arjuna destroyed the Asuras!).

Janamejaya was cursed to have an illness by Sarama for this and that illness was rectified by performing three Asvamedha Yajnas which again involves conquest. Obviously, the legends are simplification and naturization of an ongoing conflict for control of territory and land between the Sarameyas and Arjunayanas.

Further complication is that Sarameyas are followers of Yama Dharma (elder brother to Arjuna) and could that illness of Janamejaya be a punishment to Janamejaya for forgetting the fratricidal conflict of Mahabharata and therefore, the narration of Mahabharata was arranged for him in Sarpa-Satra to remind him that cousins fighting is never always a good thing. .

Sarama and the legend of Indra fighting Panis are in the Rigveda as well. Sarama’s sons Syama and Sabala are canine attendants on Yama Dharma and Syama is the personification of one of Chaturupaya (of Sama, others Chaturupaya are Dama, Danda, Bheda). Their sons are called Sarameyas.

In next article we will discuss the Ancient Aliens!!

by Pranshu B. Saxena


Post Author: Mahabharata World

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