Navagraha Puja in Cosmic Puja
1. Where do the Navagraha mantras in the Cosmic Puja book come from?
The Navagraha mantras came from the Purohit Darpan, which is a traditional brahmanical Sanskrit text.
Number of malas recommended for each planet
2. Is there some special reason for the specific number of malas recited for each planet? Also, why does recitation at the Fire require fewer malas?
These are mathematical formulas that have come from scripture. The standard formula is 100,000 per syllable, but then there are deviations according to special circumstances as per the scripture. The fire is so intense and has the capacity to captivate our attention in such a way so as to exclude other thoughts. Therefore, the fire offerings are generally 10% of the amount of japa.
Listening to Navagraha Mantras
3. Is listening to the Navagraha Mantras on CD (as a meditation) appropriate and can it be a long term practice?
Absolutely, it is a wonderful practice to let Shree Maa chant the mantras with you. Listen to the mantras inside, as she recites aloud. All our love and blessings.
Hand Positions when chanting malas for different planets
4. When chanting the mantras for the nine planets how do the three specific hand positions (mudras) conduct energy differently?
When your hands are up, they are ready to receive. When your hands are down, they are ready to give. At the side position, we are satisfied with the current circumstance.
5. Is it acceptable to use the middle finger in moving a japa mala? Does the middle finger represent anger?
Except in grade school I never knew of anger as being an attribute of the middle finger. The middle finger is the mound of Brihaspati, who is the conveyor of knowledge, and I know of no prohibition to use that finger in counting mantras. As many as there are sadhus, so many are the ways, but this is not an issue in scripture.
6. Are the different hand positions (mudras) used for the japa of the Nine Planets something that could be applied to other mantras, like Gayatri, Kali, Siva, Chandi, etc?
The different mudras conduct different energies. These are specified by scripture for these mantras specifically. Therefore, I would not recommend using this system for other mantras without a reference.
Rahu and Ketu
7. What is the importance of the North and South Nodes of the Moon (Rahu and Ketu)?
When Rahu tried to drink the nectar of immortality served by Mohini, Vishnu severed his head by means of his discus. Rahu became the head and Ketu became the body. They moved in opposite directions, Rahu to the North and Ketu to the South, and became fixed at the two poles. Each has a power of attraction. Together they pull us in opposite directions, thus creating conflict and confusion in the minds of aspiring sadhus.
Even though they were not divine ones, they drank the nectar of immortality and they have the strength of the Gods. So we propitiate them as we do all the divine beings of strength in order to make them beneficent.
8. What days of the week are auspicious/designated for Rahu and Ketu?
Rahu and Ketu can be worshipped on any day.
Earth and Navagrahas
9. Why is the Earth not a part of the Navagrahas?
The Navagraha are the forces which influence the Earth. Therefore, She is a deity in Her own right, distinguished from the others.
Need for separate malas for each planet
10. When doing japa of the mantras for the Nine Planets, do we need a separate mala for each planet?
We place the emphasis on devotion, not on things. It has been my personal experience that when I learned the mantra, all the things I needed magically appeared. Therefore, spend your time doing the practices instead of searching for the “proper” things with which to do the practices. I saw a lot of sadhus wandering in the bazaars, who never had sufficient time to do their practices because they were so busy looking for things.
11. Is there ever a reason to worship Shani (Saturn) directly, especially via a full puja?
Yes, often. Shani not only restricts, he also maintains discipline. Many people who are lacking discipline can pray to Shani for the removal of the obstacles.