Śukra, the Sanskrit for "brightness, clearness", is the name of the son of Bhṛgu and preceptor of the Daityas and the guru of the Asuras, identified with the planet Venus, one of the Navagrahas. He presides over Friday. 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.
Śukra is etymologically identical with Śukla "light". Śukravār is name of day of friday in most Indian languages, and Śukra Graha is Sanskrit name of the planet Venus in Indian Astrology. As a noun, it is also the name of a Marutavaata, of a son of Vasishtha, of the third Manu, of one of the saptarshi under Manu Bhautya, of a son of Bhava, of a son of Havirdhana. He was the guru of Daityas / Asuras, and so known as Śukrāchārya or Asurāchārya.
Ushanas is the name of a Vedic rishi with the patronymic Kāvya, who was later identified as Ushanas Śukra. He is venerated as a seer in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna tells Arjun that among Kavis he is Ushanas. Ushanas is also the name of the author of a Dharmashastra. His other names are as follows:
- Kalantra Kalaka
He was one of the sons of sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyati and thus the grandson of Lord Brahma. When they were young, Shukra and Brihaspati studied under the same guru, Sage Angirasa, who also happened to be Brihaspati's father. Shukra was known to be more knowledgeable than Brihaspati. Shukracharya became famous for his ability to resurrect people. He acquired this rare science from Lord Shiva, who was known as Conqueror of Death. The Devi-Bhagavata Purana refers to his mother as Kavyamata. The feminic natured Shukra is a Brahminical planet. He was born on Friday in the year Parthiva on Sraavana Suddha Ashtami when Svati Nakshatra is on the ascent. Hence, Friday is known as Shukravaaram in Indian languages like Sanskrit, Telugu, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, and Kannada. He went on to study the Vedas under the rishi Angirasa but he was disturbed by Angirasa's favoritism for his son Brihaspati. He then went to study under rishi Gautama. He later performed penance to Lord Shiva and obtained the Sanjivani mantra. He married Priyavrata's daughter Urjjasvati and they had four sons — Chanda, Amarka, Tvastr, Dharaatra and a daughter from his marriage to Indra's daughter Jayanti by the name Devayani.
During this period Brihaspati became the Guru of the Devas. Due to the hatred Sukracarya bore towards Vishnu for what he perceived as the murder of his mother as she had given shelter to some asura whom Vishnu was hunting, Shukracharya decided to become the Guru of Asuras. He helped them achieve victory over the Devas and used his knowledge to revive the dead and wounded among them.
In one story, Lord Vishnu is born as the Brahmin dwarf-sage Vamana. Vamana comes to take the three worlds as alms from the asura king Bali. Lord Vishnu wanted to deceive the king Bali who was the grandson of the great king Prahlada, in order to help the Devas. The sage Shukracharya identifies him immediately and warns the King. The King is however a man of his word and offers the gift to Vamana. Shukracharya, annoyed with the pride of the king, shrinks himself with his powers and sits in the spout of the Kamandalu, from which water has to be poured to seal the promise to the deity in disguise. Then Vamana pierced his eye with a stick and thus got his gift, to obtain three lokas from Bali.
Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya. She married the legendary Somavanshi king Yayati. Brihaspati's son, Kacha, was sent by the gods to learn the Sanjivani Mantra from Shukracharya himself. Kacha observed the oath of Bramacharya and devotedly served his teacher for a thousand years. Shukracharya was pleased with his conduct and taught him many arcane lores. Eventually, due to circumstances, Shukracharya was forced to impart the science to Kacha to save their lives. Kacha became a great sage and taught that knowledge to the Devas, assuring victory to them.
In the time of the Mahabharata, Shukracharya is mentioned as one of the mentors of Bhishma, having taught him political science in his youth. Guru shukracharya is a demon teacher but very good in nature
- Kacha: The son of Brihaspati, the rival of Shukracharya. Kacha won Shukracharya's trust and ultimately succeeded in learning the art of resurruction from Shukracharya.
- Vrishaparva: King of the Asuras and father of Sharmishtha, the ancestress of the Pandavas and the Kauravas
- Prahlada: Devotee of Vishnu and the most powerful King of the Asuras
- Bali: Grandson of Prahlada, King of Asuras and a devotee of Vishnu
- Danda: The youngest and the most irresponsible son of King Ikshvaku of Ayodhya. Though he was obedient to Shukracharya, he was slain when he violated Shukra's daughter against her will. Hence his former kingdom turned into the Dandaka forests.
- Prithu: The first consecrated King and the first true Kshatriya.
- Bhishma: The son of King Shantanu. He studied all branches of knowledge and statecraft from Shukracharya.
Kavya is someone who is a master in spiritual ceremonies. There were several Kavis in ancient Iranian Plateau, more specifically in the Balkhan Kingdom. Kavi Ushanas was the chief patron of Zarathustra and Mazdayasna. He is also mentioned in the Persian Shahnameh by Ferdowsi. He is known as Kay Kavus of Kayanian dynasty. His persian connect was also explored by Dumezil in his famous book Plight of the Sorcerer. Kavi Ushanas hence is not just important in current and ancient Hindu Mythology but also has an importance in Indo-Iranian history and myth.
In Vedic astrology Shukra is considered a benefic and rules over the signs Taurus and Libra. It is exalted in Pisces, and in its fall in Virgo. The planets Mercury and Saturn are considered friendly to Shukra, the Sun, the Moon and Jupiter are hostile, and the rest are considered neutral. In astrology Shukra represents love, romance and sexuality, artistic talents, the quality of the body and material life, wealth, the opposite sex, pleasure and reproduction, feminine qualities and the fine arts, such as music, dance, painting and sculpture. Those with Shukra strong in their charts are likely to appreciate nature and enjoy harmonious relationship. However, an excessive influence can cause them to indulge too much in the pleasures of life without accomplishing much of real worth. Shukra is the lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Bharani, Purva Phalguni and Purva Ashadha.
Shukra-graha and its significance
Venus is an indicator of spouse, love, marriage, comfort, luxury, beauty, prosperity, happiness, all conveyances, art, dance music, acting, passion and sex. Shukra blesses the people with power to control their sense organs and enables to obtain name and fame. Afflictions to Venus can cause eye diseases, venereal complaints, indigestion, pimples, impotency, loss of appetite and rashes on the skin.
In Vedic astrology, there is a dasha or planetary period known as Shukra Dasha which remains active in a person's horoscope for 20 years. In addition Shukra is an important benefic planet in the horoscope. Shukra is associated with a month in the Hindu calendar called Jyeshtha.
Shukra also has the following associations: His color is white, metal is silver, and gemstone is diamond.
Above the moon by a distance of 200,000 yojanas are celestial objects, and beyond these is Śukra-graha, whose influence is always auspicious for the inhabitants of the entire universe. Some 1,600,000 miles above group of stars is the planet Venus, which moves at almost exactly the same pace as the sun according to swift, slow and moderate movements. Sometimes Venus moves behind the sun, sometimes in front of the sun and sometimes along with it. Venus nullifies the influence of planets that are obstacles to rainfall. Consequently its presence causes rainfall, and it is therefore considered very favorable for all living beings within this universe. This has been accepted by learned scholars. On the upper chin of the śiśumāra is Agasti; on its lower chin, Yamarāja; on its mouth, Mars; on its genitals, Saturn; on the back of its neck, Jupiter; on its chest, the sun; and within the core of its heart, Nārāyaṇa. Within its mind is the moon; on its navel, Venus; and on its breasts, the Aśvinī-kumāras. Within its life air, which is known as prāṇāpāna, is Mercury, on its neck is Rāhu, all over its body are comets, and in its pores are the numerous stars.
Devotion to Shiva
According to some stories, Shukra has been showed to have been bless by Lord Shiva for Shukra's devotion.
In Siva's fiery belly, Sukra worshipped Siva and was discharged.
Visnu stuck a blade of darbha grass into the opening, blinding Sukra in one eye. Thus the gods destroy those who attempt to stop the granting of a gift. Sukra went to Mayilai and worshiped Siva, and Siva restored his sight.
Family and descendants
Shukra's father was Sage Vedasiras, a Bhargava rishi. His mother was Khyati.
Shukra's first wife was Urjaswathi (daughter of the Chakravarti King Priyavrata and Surupa. His other wife was Jayanti, the daughter of Indra.
Shukra had 5 sons in total. One was Rucaka, who had five sons — Purujit, Rukma, Rukmeṣu, Pṛthu and Jyāmagha. The others were Tvasta, Varutri, Sand and Marka.
His daughter was Devyani, who was a wife of Yayati. Devyani had given birth to Yadu and Turvasu.
- Mythology of the Hindus By Charles Coleman p.134
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- He is the descendant of Kavi, AVŚ 4.29.6
- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 37
- It means the Efflugent One.
- It means One who has 16 rays.
- P. 425 Sri Sarwarthachintamani: English Translation, Volume 2
- P. 65 Indian Antiquary, Volume 33 By Swati Publications
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- It means the Book of Kings.
- P. 251 Yatra 2 Yatra
- P. 276 Handbook of Hindu Mythology By George M. Williams
- The Wisdom Teachings of Harish Johari on the Mahabharata edited by Wil Geraets
- P. 329 Tamil Temple Myths: Sacrifice and Divine Marriage in the South Indian Saiva Tradition By David Dean Shulman