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Teacher of the Gods
Devanagari बृहस्पति
Affiliation Ancient: Guru of the Devas;
Medieval: Planet Jupiter (Graha)
Consort Tara
Mount Elephant / chariot drawn by eight white horses

Bṛhaspati (Sanskrit: बृहस्पति, often written as Brihaspati) refers to different deities depending on the age of the text. In ancient literature Brihaspati is a Vedic era sage deity who counsels the gods,[1] while in some medieval texts the word refers to the largest planet Jupiter.[2]


Bṛhaspati appears in the Rigveda (pre-1000 BCE), such as in the dedications to him in the hymn 50 of Book 4;[3] he is described as a sage born from the first great light, the one who drove away darkness, is bright and pure, and carries a special bow whose string is Rta or "cosmic order" (basis of dharma).[2][4] His knowledge and character is revered, and he is considered Guru (teacher) by all the Devas.[5] In the Vedic literature and other ancient texts, sage Brihaspati is also called by other names such as Brahmanaspati, Purohita, Angirasa (son of Angiras) and Vyasa;[1] he is sometimes identified with god Agni (fire).[2] His wife is Tara (or goddess who personifies the stars in the sky).[1] In the Mahabharata, the son of Brihaspati named Bharadvaja is the counsellor of the Pandavas.[1]

The reverence for sage Brihaspati endured through the medieval period, and one of the many Dharmasastras was named after him.[6][7][8] While the manuscripts of Brihaspati Smriti (Bṛhaspatismṛti) have not survived into the modern era, its verses were cited in other Indian texts. Scholars have made an effort to extract these cited verses, thus creating a modern reconstruction of Bṛhaspatismriti.[9] Jolly and Aiyangar have gathered some 2,400 verses of the lost Bṛhaspatismṛti text in this manner.[9] Brihaspati Smriti was likely a larger and more comprehensive text than Manusmriti,[9] and the available evidence suggests that the discussion of the judicial process and jurisprudence in Brihaspati Smriti was oft cited.[10][11]

Planet, zodiac[edit]

In medieval mythologies particularly those associated with Hindu astrology, Brihaspati has a second meaning and refers to planet Jupiter.[2][5] It became the root of the word 'Brihaspativara' or Thursday in the Hindu calendar.[2] Brihaspati as Jupiter is part of the Navagraha in Hindu zodiac system, considered auspicious and benevolent. The word "Thursday" in the Greco-Roman and other Indo-European calendars is also dedicated to planet Jupiter (god of sky and thunder). The zodiac and naming system of Hindu astrology likely developed in the centuries after the arrival of Greek astrology with Alexander the Great,[12][13][14] their zodiac signs being nearly identical.[15] Technical horoscopes and astrology ideas in India came from Greece, states Nicholas Campion, and developed in the early centuries of the 1st millennium CE.[16]


The icon of Brihaspati makes his body golden, with his legs striped blue and his head covered with a halo of moon and stars.[1] He holds different items depending on the region. In Sri Lanka, he holds phallus in two hands, while in other parts of South Asia he holds a container containing soma, sometimes with a tamed tiger.[1] Elsewhere, his icon carries a stick, a lotus and beads.[17][full citation needed] Brihaspati was married to Tara, in medieval mythologies, who was later abducted by Chandra. Tara bore a son, Budha (planet Mercury).[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Charles Russell Coulter; Patricia Turner (2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-135-96390-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6. 
  3. ^ ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं ४.५०, Wikisource (Sanskrit text of Rigveda)
  4. ^ Hervey De Witt Griswold (1971). The Religion of the Ṛigveda. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 168–170. ISBN 978-81-208-0745-7. 
  5. ^ a b James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8. 
  6. ^ Robert Lingat 1973, p. 277.
  7. ^ Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984, pp. 22.
  8. ^ Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1985). The Positive Background of Hindu Sociology. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 192–194. ISBN 978-81-208-2664-9. 
  9. ^ a b c Robert Lingat 1973, p. 104.
  10. ^ Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 188.
  11. ^ Robert Lingat 1973, pp. 14, 109–110, 180–189.
  12. ^ Yukio Ohashi 1999, pp. 719–721.
  13. ^ Pingree 1973, pp. 2–3.
  14. ^ Erik Gregersen (2011). The Britannica Guide to the History of Mathematics. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-61530-127-0. 
  15. ^ James Lochtefeld (2002), "Jyotisha" in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 0-8239-2287-1, pages 326–327
  16. ^ Nicholas Campion (2012). Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions. New York University Press. pp. 110–111. ISBN 978-0-8147-0842-2. 
  17. ^ Coleman, Charles. Mythology of the Hindus, p. 133
  18. ^ George Mason Williams (2003). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. ABC-CLIO. p. 91. ISBN 1576071065. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 

Further reading[edit]