Honoring the Planets Through the Varas

by Kerry Shamblin
originally published in the Summer 2012 issue of The Yoga Connection.

The sequence of weekdays that we follow is an ancient tradition, with each day of the week being associated with one of the seven visible planets. In jyotish, the science of light that we call Vedic astrology, these days are known as varas. Vara means turn, as in, each planet has a turn in the progression of days that make up a week. Getting to know the planets through the varas provides a way to harmonize the energies of the planets, a great tool on the evolutionary path. 

While an astrological reading may help us identify the dominant planetary type in the personality or which planets may be more or less influential during different periods of life, this information remains inert until we start interacting and relating with the planetary energies with intention.

Choices about which actions to take on which days should be weighed with myriad  factors that come into making an astrologically-based decision. The most commonly consulted combination of factors is known in jyotish as panchanga, the five attributes of each day.

The first four attributes of panchanga have to do with the position and phase of the Moon, with the fifth being vara, day of the week. There are general indications for actions that are supported on each day based on the nature of the planetary ruler of the day. It should be noted that the beginning of a day is marked at sunrise, so what we consider “Sunday at 2am” is still Saturday.

Each one of us carries the archetypes of each planet, but they are revealed or hidden, supported or obstructed, expressed or ignored in different combinations and measures for every individual. We are thus all the same and we are each unique. Using the days of the week to create simple rituals for propitiation of the planets can be a fulfilling way to begin a relationship with our universal currency.


The Sun, as the center of our planetary system, represents the Self, the father, the expression of the soul and the central purpose of life. When we honor our individuality and exercise balanced expression of the ego, we build healthy self-esteem and become a light to ourselves and others.

Planet: Sun
Sanskrit Name: Surya सूर्य
Guna: Sattwa
Seed Syllable: Om Sum (also Om Ram)
Mantra: Om Suryaya Namah
Gem: ruby, garnet
Colors: bright clear red, warm colors, golds, oranges

Activities: individual pursuits, connection with father/fatherhood, actions that require courage, leadership, outdoor activities in the Sun, surya namaskar (Sun salutation)


The Moon shows the capacity for receiving and reflecting the light that emanates from the Sun. The Moon is an agent of the divine feminine principle and shows the strength of receptivity and vulnerability. It is sensitive and changeable in nature, connected with consciousness and emotions.

Planet: Moon
Sanskrit Name: Chandra चंद्र
Guna: Sattwa
Seed Syllable: Om Cham (also Om Som)
Mantra: Om Chandraya Namah
Gem: pearl, moonstone
Colors: White, opalescent, pastels

Activities: family and community, connection with mother, motherhood or women, devotional activities, service work, food shopping, intuitive decision making, marriage, nurture others and self 


Mars is the planet of drive and power. Its main concern is acquisition and management of resources that provide life support for the self. Without Mars, it would be difficult to provide ourselves with the basic necessities of life: food, fuel and shelter.

Planet: Mars
Sanskrit Name: Mangala मंगल
Guna: Tamas
Seed Syllable: Om Kum
Mantra: Om Kujaya Namaha
Gem: red coral
Colors: deep red, jet black
Activities: hard work, action that requires aggression, building, design, exercise, training, farming, research


Mercury governs communication and exchange. It is known for quick motion, adaptability, diplomacy and objectivity. Mercury rules the mind's capacity for intellectual thought and analysis. Without Mercury we would not be using our mind's (or body's) ability to apprehend and interpret information. 

Planet: Mercury
Sanskrit Name: Budha बुध
Guna: Rajas
Seed Syllable: Om Bum
Mantra: Om Budhaya Namah
Gem: Emerald, peridot, jade
Colors: greens, earth tones, neutral

Activities: communication, shopping, sales, information technology, media, business, writing, reading, studying, detail work, networking, travel


Jupiter is the planet of expansion and evolution. Jupiter inspires us to reach higher and grow toward the light of truth. Its traits are optimism, abundance, wisdom, joy and fortune. Jupiter is a positive force that propels us toward becoming more than we think we are. 

Planet: Jupiter
Sanskrit Name: Brihaspati बृहस्पति 
Guna: Sattwa
Seed Syllable: Om Brahm
Mantra: Om Brihaspataye Namah
Gem: Yellow sapphire, citrine
Colors: yellow, orange, gold

Activities: connection with spiritual teachers, rituals, spiritual practices, higher education, banking and finance, large purchases, generosity, charitable acts, celebration, marriage, journey


Venus is the planet of love, relationship and beauty. With Venus the focus moves from the self toward the other, and allows us to feel the connection between all beings and the state of oneness that underlies the illusion of separation. Venus connections come in many forms including sensual appreciation of the environment, social interaction and intimacy.

Planet: Venus
Sanskrit Name: Shukra शुक्र
Guna: Rajas
Seed Syllable: Om Shum
Mantra: Om Shukraya Namah
Gem: Diamond, clear zircon, quartz crystal
Colors: Pink, pastels, rainbow, variegated

Activities: devotional chanting, dance, acquisition or creation and appreciation of beautiful things such as art, flowers, clothing and accessories; socializing, pleasure seeking, date night, enjoyment of sweets


Saturn rules contraction, limitation and detachment. It helps us to consolidate our needs and resources and to see through the illusion of worldly existence. We are offered tough lessons by Saturn, who provides obstacles that lead us toward humility, surrender, service and Truth.

Planet: Saturn
Sanskrit Name: Shani शनि
Guna: Tamas
Seed Syllable: Om Sham
Mantra: Om Shanaye Namaha/Om Namah Shivaya/Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
Gem: Blue sapphire, amethyst, lapis lazuli
Colors: dark blue, grays, muted colors

Activities: rest, seclusion, meditation, yoga, work with the earth, limit activity and travel, self-care, spend time in nature