Tag Archives: Sanskrit

Evolution of the word Graha ग्रह

The word graha more literally means “grasp.” Various forms of the word graha are used in Sanskrit very similarly with how we use the word “grasp” in English. For example:

अथः श्रीकृष्णनामादि नभवेत्ग्रह्यम् इन्द्रियै (athaḥ śrī kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grahyam indriyai) {“Description of Krishna by names and words is not within the grasp of the senses.”}

As is common in any language, things with certain qualities are often referred to by naming that quality. So a class of monster gained the name Graha - evil spirits who possessed human beings. Because these spirits took hold of (“grasped”) the human being, they were named “the seizers” – Graha. Even our word for an epileptic episode comes from the idea that Graha (“Seizers”)  cause such things (“Seizures”).

Rahu was originally a demonic being, much more powerful than a Graha. But when he became a “semi-planet” he caused Eclipses. In an eclipse Rahu “seizes” the sun and moon, therefore, Rahu, specifically began to be called a “Graha.”

As time wore on the word Graha became applied to all the planets.

Thus today the term graha can even be used to indicate the number nine! (Since there are nine planets)

- Vic DiCara (www.vicdicara.com)

Rahu and Ketu- the waxing and waning moon

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What does “Gaja Kesari” mean?

Gaja Lakshmi
Gaja Lakshmi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gaja can mean the following:

1. Elephant (of which there are 8 types recognized in Sanskrit)
2. Hence, the number 8
3. A measure of length (a sum of 8 units)
4. A musical measurement
5. A foundation of earth upon which a house is built

Essentially it means “elephant” the other meanings are derived from that essential meaning.

Kesari can mean (assuming that the spelling is keza in Harvard-Kyoto Sanskrit transliteration):

1. Hair
2. Tail
3. Mane
4. Perfume

Essentially it means “hair.” A lion has a mane, so it can be referred to as a kezari.

If the spelling is not kezari but kesari, the meanings are:

1. Same meanings of Hair / Mane / Etc.
2. Saffron
3. Sulfates
4. Filaments of plants
5. Gold

Essentially it means Saffron – which has a color similar to sulfates and gold, and is produced from the pollen in plant filaments.

Now, this yoga – Gaja-Kesari – is formed by Jupiter. Jupiter’s color is saffron. Therefore the main meaning of the term Gaja-Kesari in astrology is:

- A mound of saffron.

Saffron is a color of religious significance – so the “mound of saffron” suggests the traits of Jupiter become ample: morality, philosophy, charity, learning, etc.

Other possible meanings, “golden elephant,” “heap of gold”, are also useful as images to evoke the prosperity caused by the Gaja Keshari yoga.

Others, “Elephant-lion” or “hairy elephant” are not very useful! :)

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