Today is Thursday – Jupiter’s Day, the Day of Brihaspati.
So therefore … some rather modern art of Brihaspati – also known as ‘Guru’, and yes in astrological terms linked to the Planet Jupiter.
Now in Vedic terms, Brihaspati is an interesting figure. The name, effectively, means the ‘Lord of the Songs of Prayer’. However the ‘Interesting’ element comes from establishing just Who Brihaspati is – both in internal Hindu theological terms, as well as in comparative Indo-European schemas.
The issue arises because Brihaspati – as with several other Vedic theonyms – is not only a theonym … but is also a title.
In the latter context, it sometimes seems to occur to refer to a (mortal, human) priest [although this may in some cases be a case wherein the priest is actually bearing the ‘essence’ of the God as part of the ritual’s ‘mythic resonance’ / Eliadian ‘eternal return’] – in other instances, it seems to refer to Lord Indra.
The matter becomes even further complex when we consider one of the major occurrences in the mythology for Brihaspati – wherein He carries out a Vajra-employing smiting of a demon-dragon that has stolen and hoarded something precious to the Gods.
It would be simple enough to therefore conclude, as some have, that it’s simply another Indra theonym.
Except here’s the thing.
First and foremost – we have direct statement of the seeming equivalency of Brihaspati and Rudra in the Vedas [for example, in the Black Yajurveda’s Taittiriya Aranyaka, I 10 1]
But second – and in some ways more intriguingly – we also have fairly direct resonancy between that aforementioned major deed of Brihaspati in the Vedas … and something Odin does in the Ynglinga Saga.
I’ve looked at this more directly and extensively in my previous “On Odin Brihaspati As Song-Smith – The Sung Seizing Of The Wealth Of Cows”.
The reason why this is salient here is because it is an example of the Indo-European comparative theology acting as ‘test’ for the hypothesis:
We know that Brihaspati and Odin share this deed in common.
We know that Odin is Rudra.
We know that Rudra appears also to be Brihaspati.
Therefore, via triangulation of analysis, we can suggest it quite plausible for Brihaspati to indeed be Rudra as Odin (Rudra) and Brihaspati carry out the same deed.
And we can further extend this typology to probe other Indo-European mythologies to see if the Sky Father carries out like actions elsewhere in the canon.
But more upon that some other time.
This also helps to point out the essential difference between how Indra accomplishes the outcome in question ‘gainst Vritra (for the most part) as compared to how Brihaspati does so ‘gainst Vala (for the most part):
The Power of Prayer ! That most mighty of weapons indeed!
Indra makes use of immense strength and potency and swings a physical weapon (which is metaphysically empowered).
Brihaspati utters a few verses of the High Speech, the Sacred Speech, with the correct intent and understanding – and an immense Orbital Bombardment fit to slew off the side of a mountain begins. The Vajra in question is a Meteor !
Similar ultimate outcome – the Dragon is Slain, the Treasure is Liberated and Restored – however, rather different approaches.
Even if, strictly speaking, Somebody still carries out the relevant metaphysical empowerments and unlockings for Indra’s Vajra (and Soma) , vitally employing Vak Devi (Goddess of Speech) to do so.
In any case, let us quote some fine Brihaspati scripture !
RV II 23:
1 We call Thee, Lord and Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, the Wise among the Wise, the Famousest of all,
The King supreme of Prayers, O Brahmaṇaspati: hear us with help; sit down in place of sacrifice.
2 Bṛhaspati, God immortal! verily the Gods have gained from Thee, the Wise, a share in holy rites.
As with great light the Sun brings forth the rays of Morn, so Thou alone art Father of all sacred prayer.
3 When Thou hast chased away revilers and the gloom, Thou mountest the refulgent car of sacrifice;
The awful car, Bṛhaspati, that quells the foe, slays demons, cleaves the stall of kine, and finds the light.
4 Thou Leadest with good guidance and preservest men; distress o’ertakes not him who offers gifts to Thee.
Him who hates prayer thou punishest, Bṛhaspati, quelling his wrath: herein is Thy great mightiness.
5 No sorrow, no distress from any side, no foes, no creatures double-tongued have overcome the man,—
Thou drivest all seductive fiends away from him whom, careful guard, Thou keepest Brahmaṇaspati.
6 Thou art our keeper, wise, preparer of our paths: we, for Thy service, sing to thee with hymns of praise.
Bṛhaspati, whoever lays a snare for us, him may his evil fate, precipitate, destroy.
Now, I have chosen to quote RV II 23 here because not only does it really do a rather fantastic job of extolling Brihaspati’s salient virtues (and note also the brief allusion to that aforementioned Great Deed of opening the mountain so that the Cow(s) of the Gods may come forth once more from Their imprisonment by the Demon-Dragon) … but in its opening verses it also is phrased in terms of the Sacral Rite of the God as Guest, the God as Honour-Guest at a Feast, in fact.
We have discussed this paradigm at length elsewhere – but you see the logic. The God is Called, Invited, Invoked – and is thence offered a Seat.
Further, it is still a very current Vedic hymnal – for, you see, the opening verse has become a well-known Mantra of Ganesha.
गणानां त्वा गणपतिं हवामहे
कविं कवीनामुपमश्रवस्तमम् ।
ज्येष्ठराजं ब्रह्मणां ब्रह्मणस्पत
आ नः शृण्वन्नूतिभिः सीद सादनम् ॥
Gananam Tva Gana-Patim Havamahe
Kavim Kavinam-Upama-Shravastamam |
Jyestha-Rajam Brahmanam Brahmanaspata
A Nah Shrnvan-Utibhih Sida Sadanam ||
Now, Ganapati is, as many know, a frequently encountered epithet or theonymic title of Ganesha – indeed, both mean significantly similar things: the Lord of the Ganas, Lord of the Hosts, Lord of the Warbands, Tribes, you get the idea.
In terms of the Ganesha mantra in question, it is often these days interpreted that He is acting as the Lord and Leader of the Ganas of Prayers – the various forms via which we offer our piety to the Gods; and as Their Inceptor, as we invoke Ganesha first at the start of our ritualine proceedings.
There are some potential crossover saliencies also between Brihaspati and Ganesha – insofar as Both are ‘positive’ and ‘jovial’ Gods of good nature (and a martial disposition often overlooked to the peril and the detriment of those who would underestimate Them). Indeed, Both are, we may say, significantly interested in ‘Openings’ – whether that involves the standing in custodian vigil over these in the case of Ganesha, or the carving openings into the side of mountains by Brihaspati.
So, while Brihaspati is still very much a current figure in Hindu understanding (as anybody carrying out Graha oriented rites must surely know !) , we also find a case of ‘inheritance’ going on here – as Ganesha is the Son of Shiva, perhaps it is a situation of “Like Father, Like Son”.
There are some subsidiary points we could potentially make around the occasionally imprecise correlation of particular Vedic Gods and the Grahas that are keyed to Them in terms of naming – the energies and effects, the surrounding, subsequent mythologies which encode astrological truths which are more ‘complicated’ upon closer inspection in salient aspect of the Gods Involved
Yet for now, I think, it is enough.
Hail to the Lord of the Songs of Prayer !
The Cleaver of the Mountain-Fortress of the Demon-Dragon,
The Unleasher of Waters, Wielder of the Astral(-Origin) Vajra,
The Recoverer of the Cow – through Uncovering of the Cow’s Pathway Home
Lord Brihaspati !
ॐ जय बृहस्पति देवा