Navagraha

 

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A huge stone containing nine planetary gods is called as Navagraha slab. The architectural use of Navagraha is according to the medieval convention a kind of prophylactic measure for the safety of the temple and can be seen almost in every temples in Orissa. The Sun temple also has a huge Navagraha slab richly ornamented, placed over the front door of the Mukhasala (Jagamohan), at a height of about 18 feet. This huge stone made up of chlorite had 19'.10'' (6.045 m) length, 4'.9'' (1.45 m) breadth and 3'.9'' (1.43 m) height. Originally it weighted 26.27 tons.

In carving out the images their attributes are not correctly attended to. They are made mostly alike in form, except a few in the group. Most of them are holding rosary and Kamandalu in their hands, wearing high pointed crowns and sitting on lotuses, whereas the descriptions in the Puranas symbolize as follows :-

Surya (Sun) stands on vehicle of seven horses and holds two lotuses in his both hands.

Chandra (Moon) rides in a swan and carries discs of moon in his left and right hands.

Mangala (Mars) being the warlords, holds a Kattara (Cutter) in his right hand and in the left, several human heads, in the act of devouring. His vehicle is a goat.

Budha (Mercury) sits on a lotus and he is to hold in his two hands the bow and arrow.

Vrihaspati (Jupitor) being the high priest of Devatas (god), has a flowing beard and holds a rosary and Kamandalu in his two hands, but he has to be seated either on a frog or on a skull, instead of lotus.

Sukra (Venus) is said to be the priest of the Ashuras (demons). Excepting the blindness of one eye, his iron is more or less correctly shown.

Sani (Saturn) rides on a tortoise and holds a rod in his hand, instead of sitting on a lotus.

Rahu (Ascending god) has only the upper half of the body. Two of his canine teeth are projecting from the upper jaw, to represent him as a monster and a fierce aspect of the sun and the moon. He is found holding the sun in one hand and the moon on the other hand.

Ketu (Descending node) is the last one in the group. His upper part is similar to others, but the lower is formed of the body of a serpent coiling round. He is to hold the noose of the snake of one hand and with the other, a sword.

However the cruel hands of time did not permit the slab to remain in its original position for long. Towards the end of the 19th century the Government of Bengal at the instance of the Bengal Asiatic Society, opening a Tram line upto the sea beach tried to take the Navagrah slab to Calucutta. But no sooner they took it hardly 200 feet ( 60m ) all the sanctioned money was exhausted. Again after some years they tried to take it. To facilitate the removal the slab was longitudinally cut into two pieces. But its heaviness even after cutting and the sandy track all around saved it from being taken away. It was subsequently left at distance of about two furlongs from the temple site, where it was lying for more than sixty years. Very recently the Government of India arranged for its installation in a separated shed, close to the temple compound. Now the bigger part of the Navagraha slab lies in the south-eastern corner outside the compound.

On each and every Sankrati and Saturday many people gather at Konark to worship the Navagraha to offer Bhoga and perform Homa.

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