Navaratna (Sanskrit: नवरत्न) is a Sanskrit compound word meaning "nine gems". Jewelry created in this style has important cultural significance in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, among other religions.
The ancient origin of the 9 Gems—called Navaratna in Sanskrit, Hindi, Kannada, Burmese, Indonesian, and Nepali, Navarathinam in Tamil, Navarathnalu in Telugu, Navarathnam in Malayalam, Navaratna in Singhalese, and Nawarat or Noppharat in Thai—has proved impossible to trace. Yet such importance is given to this combination of nine gems that they are recognized as sacred and royal in almost all the countries of Asia, including, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, regardless of religious and cultural differences.
Recognition in Thailand
In Thailand, the Navaratna is officially recognized as a national and royal symbol of the king. A high award given by the king is called "Noppharat Ratchawaraphon" (the Ancient Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems).
The decoration consists of a single class (Knight). The insignia is:
- Pendant of the Nine Gems, on a yellow sash with red, blue and green trims, worn over the right shoulder to the left hip (for men). For women, the Pendant of the Nine Gems is attached onto a silk ribbon, worn on the front left shoulder.
- Star of the Nine Gems, to wear on the left chest
- Gold Ring of the Nine Gems, for men, to wear on the right ring finger.
Gems and planets
Late Thai astrologer Horacharn Thep Sarikabutr has given the meaning of these nine gems in his Parichad-Jataka (chapter 2, verse 21, page 35–36) translated as follows:
"Top quality and flawless ruby is the gem for the Sun, natural pearl for the Moon, red coral for Mars, emerald for Mercury yellow sapphire for Jupiter, diamond for Venus, blue sapphire for Saturn, hessonite for Rahu (ascending lunar node), and cat's eye for Ketu (descending lunar node)."
This quote attributed to the Sanskrit "Brihat Jatak" is also quoted in the "Mani-mala" page 575, verse 79 by S.M. Tagore (1879), and also in the ancient "Jataka Parijata," chap. 2, sloka 21 compiled by Sri Vaidyanatha Dikshitar,
माणिक्यं तरणेः सुजात्यममलं मुक्ताफलं शीतगोः
माहेयस्य च विद्रुमं मरकतं सौम्यस्य गारुत्मतमनीलं निर्मलमन्ययोश्च गदिते गोमेदवैदूर्यके
देवेज्यस्य च पुष्पराजमसुराचार्यस्य वज्रं शनेः
and reads in Sanskrit transliterated as follows:
maaNikyaM taraNeH sujaatyamamalaM muktaaphalaM shiitagoH
maaheyasya cha vidrumaM marakataM saumyasya gaarutmatamaniilaM nirmalamanyayoshcha gadite gomedavaiduuryake
devejyasya cha puShparaajamasuraachaaryasya vajraM shaneH
- Ruby for Surya (Sun),
- Pearl for Chandra (Moon),
- Red Coral for Mangala (Mars),
- Emerald for Budha (Mercury),
- Yellow sapphire for Bṛhaspati (Jupiter),
- Diamond for Shukra (Venus),
- Blue sapphire for Shani (Saturn),
- Hessonite for Rahu (the ascending node of the Moon)
- Cat's Eye for Ketu (the descending node of the Moon),
...these gems must be high-born and flawless.
The traditional setting and arrangement of these nine gems is shown in the illustration. A ruby (representing the Sun) is always in the center, surrounded (clockwise from the top) by a diamond, a natural pearl, red coral, hessonite, a blue sapphire, cat's eye, a yellow sapphire, and an emerald. This is the same placement as the Nava-graha Yantra.
Traditionally, no gem other than a ruby or a red spinel is set in the center of a nine gems arrangement. To do so is believed to go against the flow of nature. Because the Sun is the center of the solar system, its gem is positioned in the heart of a Navaratna Talisman.
In the above sloka the words sujatyam-amalam (sujati=high born, and amala=completely pure or flawless) are significant. According to Asian belief systems, only clean, top-quality gems are considered to be auspicious.
"Pure, flawless gems have auspicious powers which can protect one from demons, snakes, poisons, diseases, sinful reactions, and other dangers, while flawed stones have the opposite effect."
And from the ancient "Agni Purana," chap. 246, slokas 7 and 8:
"A gem free from all impurities and radiating its characteristic internal luster should be looked upon as an escort of good luck; a gem which is cracked, fissured, devoid of luster, or appearing rough or sandy, should not be used at all."
Gems in sidereal astrology
According to Hindu astrology, life on earth is influenced by the navagrahas, or nine influencers. The placement of the navagrahas in one's horoscope supposedly have an influence throughout an individual's life. Wearing the nine gems is said to provide an astrological balance and benefit to the wearer. Hindu astrology also says that these gems potentially may have both positive or negative influences on human life, and that astrological gems should be worn only after consulting a Vedic astrologer, who is also conversant with gems. Based on an individual's sidereal horoscope, either a single gem or a combination of compatible gems is advised to be worn to harness beneficial planets or counteract harmful planets. The supposed "astrological" or "piezoelectric" benefit of wearing or donating gems has not been scientifically quantified.
Myths and opinions
Unprovable opinions, e.g. gems must be a certain number carat weight; must touch the skin; small gems don't work; gems should be selected for harmful planets; for favorable planets; very flawed gems are acceptable; a cultured pearl is a real pearl; heat-enhanced gems have no powers; donating gems is beneficial; gems must be set in certain impractical metals otherwise they're "powerless" etc., cannot yet be presented as facts. In no valid scripture or acceptable provable science are these facts. But, it is correct to say that "Planetary Gem Advisers" are of these varied opinions even though this is not supported by any valid scripture or acceptable provable science. Gems are believed to act metaphysically or astrologically, but proving that gems have such specific and measurable "powers" would be the first step toward scientific acceptance...
- Richard Brown (2007). Mangala Navaratna (page 1). Hrisikesh Ltd. ISBN 974-07-1853-1.
- "Reference Thai Government". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "How to wear navaratna". Retrieved 2010-05-17.
- Richard Brown (2007). Mangala Navaratna. Hrisikesh Ltd. pp. 1–2. ISBN 974-07-1853-1.
- Richard S. Brown (1995). Ancient Astrological Gemstones & Talismans. AGT Ltd. p. 47. ISBN 974-89022-4-2.
- Richard Brown (2007). Mangala Navaratna. Hrisikesh Ltd. p. 2. ISBN 974-07-1853-1.
- Bangkok Gems & Jewellery Magazine (1993). A New Addition to the Crown Jewels of Thailand. BGJ Bangkok.
- Richard S. Brown (2008). Ancient Astrological Gemstones & Talismans (2nd ed.). Hrisikesh Ltd. pp. 33, 51. ISBN 978-974-8102-29-0.
- Harish Johari (1982). The Healing Power of Gemstones. Destiny Books. p. 35. ISBN 0-89281-215-X.
- Howard Beckman (2000). Vibrational Healing With Gems. Balaji Publisher. ISBN 81-212-0704-5.