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swami satyananda saraswati
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

I recently heard a famous Swami whom I respect, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, give a response to a question by someone asking about how to put our planets at peace (graha shanti), particularly Saturn, so Saturn doesn't cause us any problems. His response was very similar to what I've heard my Jyotish guru,K.N. Rao, say. Here's the transcription:

Swamiji, what is the attitude that one should have when facing adversity? In India the priests and everyone is suggesting pujas (worship) to Shani (Saturn) to make things normal again. What do you think?

I think that we should make puja (worship) everyday, and not just for Shani but for everybody, everyone that's Divine, and all the Divine influences in our lives. Now what happens in India, generally priests know that householder people are so busy with their worldly tasks that they're not making puja, and their neglect of the pujas is what is causing them confusion.

So most of the priests in India who suggest that you worship Shani are really saying, "Get on a spiritual path." For anyone who's really on a spiritual path, you have no need of a priest who says to do a puja for Shani. You're doing puja everyday yourself. What need have you of a pujari who says, "It's Shani dosha (affliction) that's causing your problem"?

It's not just Shani. Shani has many benevolent effects in our astrological ecology. Shani is the lord of discipline. Shani is a very great benefactor to anyone who creates a discipline. He is the strength of that discipline, and the focus of that discipline, and the commitment to that discipline. And now we are seeking freedom through action - not freedom from action. The moksha that we are seeking is freedom in action, not being inactive. The verses in the Bhagavad Gita say, "No one can be free from action. Even I who am the Lord of the three worlds, I must continue to act." Therefore, do your action with the spirit of the rishis (sages). Do your action as the servant of Ram, do your action as an instrument in the hands of God.

So I appreciate the priests of India who recommend that we do Shani puja or the like, because they're really saying, "Do something spiritual." But I appreciate even more those great sadhus who are doing it themselves, not because some priests in India told them to, but because they are really in love with God. And they are following this path just as an inspiration so that they lead a pure life, and they lead a focused life, and a disciplined life which brings them to their ultimate objectives.

Graha shanti (planetary peace) is to put to all your planets in harmony. Now look, the Sun is the light of wisdom, the Moon is the warmth of devotion, Mars has strength and fortitude and focus, Mercury is the communicator, Jupiter is the great guru and teacher, Venus fills us with love and pure attachment, Saturn will take us to discipline, Rahu and Ketu polarize obstacles and help us to reconcile the opposites. Look at the beneficent aspect of the planets and then they'll all be in shanti. That's the puja.

Watch a video of Swamiji