Colors of the Planets – Not So Simple

What this survey of BPHS (Bṛhat Parāśara Hora Śāstra) will reveal clearly is that the popularly touted simple color-planet paradigm is not supported in this Sanskrit text. Rather what we see is that a few colors are associated with each planet.


In the 16th and 17th ślokas of the BPHS chapter titled “Nature and Form of the Grahas,” the author states the “colors” associated with each planet:

  • Darkened/browned red (rakta-śyāma) from the Day-Maker (sun)
  • Fairness (gaura) from the Night-Maker (moon)
  • Red (rakta) from Mars – Mars is also “nāty uccāṅga” (not very tall)
  • Darkened/browned grassy (dūrvā Śyāma) from Mercury
  • Fairness (gaura) from Jupiter
  • Brown / dark-brown (śyāvas) from Venus
  • Black bodied (kṛṣṇa-deha) from Saturn

The use of the bodily terminology makes it clear that the author is describing the complexions of the planets – and thus their effect on the complexions of natives.

Eyes / Glance

The same chapter gives more information about colors when describing the “glance” or “eyes” of the planets.

  • Sun: “Honey-saffron glance” (madhu piṅgala dṛk) [23]
  • Moon: “Bright glance” (śubha dṛk) [24]
  • Mars: “Red glance” (rakta ikṣaṇa) [25]
  • Mercury: His glance is not described, at least not in an obvious way
  • Jupiter: “Saffron haired and glance” (piṅgala mūrdhaja ikṣana) [27]
  • Venus: “Beautiful glance” (sulocana) [28]
  • Saturn: “Saffron glance” (piṅgala dṛśta) [29]
  • Rahu / Ketu: “Smokey” (dhūmra) [30] – it also specifies here that the complexion is dark (nīla).

“Saffron” (piṇgala) is not pinkish, it is a brownish yellow/orange.


The same chapter has other information about color when describing the clothing worn by the planets [in ślokas 42-44].

  • Jupiter: Yellow (pita-ambara)
  • Venus: like Jupiter
  • Sun: Red linen (rakta)
  • Moon: White / light / pale / bright linen (sita)
  • Mercury: Black / dark linen (kṛṣṇa)
  • Mars: Red cloth (rakta)
  • Saturn: Multicolored / resplendent (citra)