God of planet Venus and teacher of demons
|Affiliation||Ancient: Guru of Asuras, Daityas;
Medieval: planet Venus, Graha
|Mantra||Om Shukraya Namah|
|Mount||Crocodile / chariot pulled
by seven dark horses
Shukra (Sanskrit: शुक्र, IAST: Śukra) is a Sanskrit word that means "lucid, clear, bright". It also has other meanings, such as the name of an ancient sage who counseled Asuras in Vedic mythology. In medieval mythology and Hindu astrology, the term refers to the planet Venus, one of the Navagrahas.
In one ideology, Shukra is the name of a son of Bhrigu, of the third Manu, one of the saptarshi. He was the guru of Daityas / Asuras, and is also referred to as Shukracharya or Asuracharya in various Hindu texts. In another ideology, found in the Mahabharata, Shukra divided himself into two, one half becoming the knowledge source for the Devas (gods) and the other half being the knowledge source of the Asuras (demons). Shukra in the Puranic ideology is famed as one with the knowledge that raises the dead back to life, something that helps the violent evil return back to life even after the gods and the forces of good destroy them; this knowledge is sought by the gods and is ultimately gained by them.
Shukra as a planet appears in various Hindu astronomical texts in Sanskrit, such as the 5th century Aryabhatiya by Aryabhatta, the 6th century Romaka by Latadeva and Panca Siddhantika by Varahamihira, the 7th century Khandakhadyaka by Brahmagupta and the 8th century Sisyadhivrddida by Lalla. These texts present Shukra as one of the planets and estimate the characteristics of the respective planetary motion. Other texts such as Surya Siddhanta dated to have been complete sometime between the 5th century and 10th century present their chapters on various planets with deity mythologies.
The manuscripts of these texts exist in slightly different versions, present Shukra's motion in the skies, but vary in their data, suggesting that the text were open and revised over their lives.
The 1st millennium CE Hindu scholars had estimated the time it took for sideral revolutions of each planet including Shukra, from their astronomical studies, with slightly different results:
|Source||Estimated time per sidereal revolution|
|Surya Siddhanta||224 days, 16 hours, 45 minutes, 56.2 seconds|
|Siddhanta Shiromani||224 days, 16 hours, 45 minutes, 1.9 seconds|
|Ptolemy||224 days, 16 hours, 51 minutes, 56.8 seconds|
|20th century calculations||224 days, 16 hours, 49 minutes, 8.0 seconds|
Calendar and zodiac
The weekday Shukravara in Hindu calendar, or Friday, has roots in Shukra (Venus). ShukraVar is found in most Indian languages, and Shukara Graha is driven by the planet Venus in Hindu astrology. The word "Friday" in the Greco-Roman and other Indo-European calendars is also based on planet Venus. The zodiac and naming system of Hindu astrology likely developed in the centuries after the arrival of Greek astrology with Alexander the Great, their zodiac signs being nearly identical.
In Buddhist and Hindu astrology, Shukra (Venus) is a part of the medieval astrological explanations offered for various ailments.
In his iconography, he is of white complexion, middle-aged and of agreeable countenance. he is described variously as mounted on a camel, horse or crocodile. he holds a stick, beads and a lotus and sometimes a bow and arrow.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shukra.|
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- Yukio Ohashi (1999). Johannes Andersen, ed. Highlights of Astronomy, Volume 11B. Springer Science. ISBN 978-0-7923-5556-4.
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