Graha (meaning seizing, laying hold of, holding) is a ‘cosmic influencer’ on the living beings of mother Bhumidevi (Earth). In Hindu astrology, the Navagraha (Sanskrit: नवग्रह, nine seizers or nine influencers) are some of these major influencers.
All the navagraha have relative movement with respect to the background of fixed stars in the zodiac. This includes the planets: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn, the Sun, the Moon, as well as positions in the sky, Rahu (north or ascending lunar node) and Ketu (south or descending lunar node).
According to some, Grahas are the “markers of influence” that point out the karmic influence on the behavior of living beings. They themselves are not causative elements but can be compared to traffic signs.
According to the astrological treatise Prasna Marga, there are many other spiritual entities called grahas or spirits. Most grahas are generally malefic in nature but there are a few that may be good. The book called The Puranic Encyclopedia, under the heading ‘Graha Pinda’, gives a list of such grahas (spirits or spiritual entities, etc.), that are said to afflict children, etc.
Astrologers claim that Grahas influence the auras (energy bodies) and minds of beings connected to the Earth. Each Graha carries a specific energy quality, which is described in an allegorical form through its scriptural and astrological references. The energies of the Grahas are getting connected in a specific way to the individual auras of humans at the time they take their first breath in a given nativity. These energy connections remain with the natives of Earth as long as their current body lives. “The nine planets are transmitters of universal, archetypal energy. The qualities of each planet help to maintain the overall balance of polarities in both the macrocosmic and the microcosmic universe – as above, so below…”
Humans are also capable to tune themselves to the chosen energy of a specific Graha through Samyama with that Graha or its presiding deity. The effects of worship of specific deities are manifested accordingly to the layout of their relative energies in a given nativity of a worshiper in question, in particular depending on the Bhavas occupied by the respective Grahas. “The cosmic energy we always receive contains different energies coming from different celestial bodies.” “When we repeatedly utter a Mantra we are tuning to a particular frequency and this frequency establishes a contact with the cosmic energy and drags it into our body and surroundings.”
The idea of planets, stars and other celestial bodies being the living energy entities influencing the other beings of the Universe has cross-references in many ancient cultures and had become the background of numerous modern fiction works.
Traditional Hindu astrologers castes in India are known to be major experts of Navagraha, many people would approach a Hindu astrologer when they have problems and ask them on how to overcome them by performing certain rituals which involve worship of Navagraha to overcome ill effects.
People of the Kaniyar (Ganaka) caste of south India, particularly in Kerala state and the Graha Bipra, Acharya or Ganak Brahmins in the north eastern states of India have custom of high preference for worshiping planets and sun. They are believed to be the descendants of Sakaldwipiya Brahmins, who were once sun worshipers by nature.