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Teacher of the Gods, Jupiter
Affiliation Deva (Graha)
Abode Devloka
Planet Jupiter
Mantra Om Brihaspataye Namaha
Day Thursday
Color Yellow
Number Three (3)
Mount Elephant / chariot drawn by eight white horses
Consort Tara

Bṛhaspati (Sanskrit: बृहस्पति, often written as Brihaspati) is an Indian name, and refers to different mythical figures depending on the age of the text.[1] In ancient Hindu literature Brihaspati is a Vedic era sage who counsels the gods,[2][3] while in some medieval texts the word refers to the largest planet Jupiter.[4]


Watercolour painting on paper of Bṛhaspati, a Vedic deity holding a lotus flower

Bṛhaspati appears in the Rigveda (pre-1000 BCE), such as in the dedications to him in the hymn 50 of Book 4;[5] 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).[4][6] His knowledge and character is revered, and he is considered Guru (teacher) by all the Devas.[1] In the Vedic literature and other ancient texts, sage Brihaspati is also called by other names such as Bramanaspati, Purohita, Angirasa (son of Angiras) and Vyasa;[2] he is sometimes identified with god Agni (fire).[4] His wife is Tara (or goddess who personifies the stars in the sky).[2] In the Mahabharata, the son of Brihaspati named Bharadvaja is the counsellor of the Pandavas.[2]

The reverence for sage Brihaspati endured through the medieval period, and one of the many Dharmasastras was named after him.[7][8][9] 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.[10] Jolly and Aiyangar have gathered some 2,400 verses of the lost Bṛhaspatismṛti text in this manner.[10] Brihaspati Smriti was likely a larger and more comprehensive text than Manusmriti,[10] and the available evidence suggests that the discussion of the judicial process and jurisprudence in Brihaspati Smriti was oft cited.[11][12]

Brhaspati sutras

Brhaspati sutras, also called the Barhaspatya sutras, is an ancient Sanskrit text named after a Vedic era sage Brhaspati, known for its theories of materialism and anti-theism.[13][14] Its tenets are at the foundation of the Charvaka school of non-orthodox Hindu philosophy.[15][16] The Brihaspati Sutras manuscript has been lost to history or yet to be found.[17][15] However, the text is quoted in other Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina texts, and this secondary literature has been the source for reconstructing the Brhaspati sutras partially.[17][18]

Some scholars suggest that Brhaspati sutras are named after Brhaspati in the Vedas, but other scholars dispute this theory because the text rejects the Vedas.[19]


Brhaspati as a planet appears in various Hindu astronomical texts in Sanskrit, such as the 5th century Aryabhatiya by Aryabhata, the 6th century Romaka by Latadeva and Panca Siddhantika by Varahamihira, the 7th century Khandakhadyaka by Brahmagupta and the 8th century Sisyadhivrddida by Lalla.[20] These texts present Brhaspati as one of the planets and estimate the characteristics of the respective planetary motion.[20] 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.[20]

The manuscripts of these texts exist in slightly different versions, present Brhaspati's motion in the skies, but vary in their data, suggesting that the text were open and revised over their lives.[21] The texts slightly disagree in their data, in their measurements of Brhaspati's revolutions, apogee, epicycles, nodal longitudes, orbital inclination, and other parameters.[22][23] For example, both Khandakhadyaka and Surya Siddhanta of Varaha state that Brhaspati completes 364,220 revolutions every 4,320,000 earth years, an Epicycle of Apsis as 32 degrees, and had an apogee (aphelia) of 160 degrees in 499 CE; while another manuscript of Surya Siddhanta accepts the revolutions to be 364,220, but revises the apogee to 171 degrees and 16 seconds and the Epicycle slightly.[24]

The 1st millennium CE Hindu scholars had estimated the time it took for sidereal revolutions of each planet including Brhaspati, from their astronomical studies, with slightly different results:[25]

Sanskrit texts: How many days Brhaspati (Jupiter) takes to complete an orbit:
Source Estimated time per sidereal revolution[25]
Surya Siddhanta 4,332 days, 7 hours, 41 minutes, 44.4 seconds
Siddhanta Shiromani 4,332 days, 5 hours, 45 minutes, 43.7 seconds
Ptolemy 4,332 days, 18 hours, 9 minutes, 10.5 seconds
20th century calculations 4,332 days, 14 hours, 2 minutes, 8.6 seconds


In medieval mythologies particularly those associated with Hindu astrology, Brihaspati has a second meaning and refers to Jupiter.[4][1] It became the root of the word 'Brihaspativara' or Thursday in the Hindu calendar.[4] 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, including Brihaspati as Jupiter, likely developed in the centuries after the arrival of Greek astrology with Alexander the Great,[26][27][28] their zodiac signs being nearly identical.[29][30]


The icon of Brihaspati makes his body golden, with his legs striped blue and his head covered with a halo of moon and stars.[2] 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.[2] Elsewhere, his icon carries a stick, a lotus and beads.[31][full citation needed] Brihaspati was married to Tara. In medieval mythologies, Tara was abducted by Chandra. Tara bore a son, Budha (planet Mercury).[32]

See also


  1. ^ a b c James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Walter Slaje (2008). Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 157 with footnotes. ISBN 978-3-447-05645-8.
  4. ^ a b c d e Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  5. ^ ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं ४.५०, Wikisource (Sanskrit text of Rigveda)
  6. ^ Hervey De Witt Griswold (1971). The Religion of the Ṛigveda. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 168–170. ISBN 978-81-208-0745-7.
  7. ^ Robert Lingat 1973, p. 277.
  8. ^ Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984, pp. 22.
  9. ^ Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1985). The Positive Background of Hindu Sociology. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 192–194. ISBN 978-81-208-2664-9.
  10. ^ a b c Robert Lingat 1973, p. 104.
  11. ^ Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 188.
  12. ^ Robert Lingat 1973, pp. 14, 109–110, 180–189.
  13. ^ Bhattacharya 2002.
  14. ^ YaleUniversity (24 October 2014), Dwight H. Terry Lecture: "How Widespread Was Skepticism In Ancient India?", retrieved 4 October 2016
  15. ^ a b John M. Koller (1977), Skepticism in Early Indian Thought, Philosophy East and West, 27(2): 155–164
  16. ^ CV Vaidya (2001). Epic India, Or, India as Described in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Asian Educational Services. p. 503. ISBN 978-81-206-1564-9. Quote: These atheistical doctrines existed from the earliest times as their traces are visible even in the Rigveda in some hymns of which Prof Max Muller pointed out the curious traces of an incipient scepticism. (...) Two things are therefore clear that the Brihaspatya tenets also called Charvaka tenets are of a very old standing..."
  17. ^ a b Radhakrishnan 1957, pp. 227–249.
  18. ^ Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 21–44, 65–74.
  19. ^ Jeaneane Fowler (2015). A. C. Grayling (ed.). The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 114 with footnote 17. ISBN 978-1-119-97717-9.
  20. ^ a b c Ebenezer Burgess (1989). P Ganguly, P Sengupta (ed.). Sûrya-Siddhânta: A Text-book of Hindu Astronomy. Motilal Banarsidass (Reprint), Original: Yale University Press, American Oriental Society. pp. vii–xi. ISBN 978-81-208-0612-2.
  21. ^ Lionel D. Barnett (1994). Antiquities of India: An Account of the History and Culture of Ancient Hindustan. Asian Educational Services. pp. 190–192. ISBN 978-81-206-0530-5.
  22. ^ Ebenezer Burgess (1989). P Ganguly, P Sengupta (ed.). Sûrya-Siddhânta: A Text-book of Hindu Astronomy. Motilal Banarsidass (Reprint), Original: Yale University Press, American Oriental Society. pp. ix–xi, xxix. ISBN 978-81-208-0612-2.
  23. ^ J Fleet (1911). "Arbhatiya". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 794–799.
  24. ^ Ebenezer Burgess (1989). P Ganguly, P Sengupta (ed.). Sûrya-Siddhânta: A Text-book of Hindu Astronomy. Motilal Banarsidass (Reprint), Original: Yale University Press, American Oriental Society. pp. ix–x. ISBN 978-81-208-0612-2.
  25. ^ a b Ebenezer Burgess (1989). P Ganguly, P Sengupta (ed.). Sûrya-Siddhânta: A Text-book of Hindu Astronomy. Motilal Banarsidass (Reprint), Original: Yale University Press, American Oriental Society. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-81-208-0612-2.
  26. ^ Yukio Ohashi 1999, pp. 719–721.
  27. ^ Pingree 1973, pp. 2–3.
  28. ^ Erik Gregersen (2011). The Britannica Guide to the History of Mathematics. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-61530-127-0.
  29. ^ James Lochtefeld (2002), "Jyotisha" in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 0-8239-2287-1, pages 326–327
  30. ^ Nicholas Campion (2012). Astrology and Cosmology in the World's Religions. New York University Press. pp. 110–111. ISBN 978-0-8147-0842-2.
  31. ^ Coleman, Charles. Mythology of the Hindus, p. 133
  32. ^ George Mason Williams (2003). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. ABC-CLIO. p. 91. ISBN 978-1576071069. Retrieved 17 July 2015.


  • Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna (2011). Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata (Cultural, Historical and Textual Studies of Religions. Anthem. ISBN 978-0857284334.
  • Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna (2002). "Cārvāka Fragments: A New Collection". Journal of Indian Philosophy. 30 (6): 597–640.
  • Pingree, David (1973). "The Mesopotamian Origin of Early Indian Mathematical Astronomy". Journal for the History of Astronomy. 4 (1): 1–12. Bibcode:1973JHA.....4....1P. doi:10.1177/002182867300400102.
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  • Yukio Ohashi (1999). Johannes Andersen (ed.). Highlights of Astronomy, Volume 11B. Springer Science. ISBN 978-0-7923-5556-4.
  • Bali, Saraswati (1978). Bṛhaspati in the Vedas and the Purāṇas. Delhi: Nag Publishers.
  • Parpola, Asko (3 July 2015). The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization. Oxford University Press. pp. 111–114. ISBN 978-0-19-022693-0.
  • Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli and Moore, Charles (1957). A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-01958-1.
  • Klostermaier, Klaus (1 October 2014). A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Oneworld Publications. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-78074-672-2.
  • Mandagadde Rama Jois (1984). Legal and Constitutional History of India: Ancient legal, judicial, and constitutional system. Universal Law Publishing. ISBN 978-81-7534-206-4.
  • Robert Lingat (1973). The Classical Law of India. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-01898-3.
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  • Patrick Olivelle (2006). Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-977507-1.

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