India’s March to Mars

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission entered Mars Orbit on 24th September in the year 2014.


Planet Mars is known as Mangala in Samskrt and Indian languages. Hence, the name Mangalyan for this mission, Ayana meaning “travel to”.

In Indian thought, Mars is referred to as Mangal, meaning “auspicious”.

Mars lies beyond earth from the sun at the center of the Solar System.


Among the weekdays, Tuesday is referred to as Mangalvar in Samskrt, after the planet Mars. It is significant to note that the Mangalayan Mission was launched on Mangalvar, a Tuesday.

March Mars Connect

The month of March is connected with Mars and derives its name from the planet. The name March comes from the Latin word “Martius”, the first month of the Roman calendar. It was named after Mars.

The month Maritus was the beginning of the season for farming in Rome.  For, the sun on its northward journey brought warmth for agriculture to happen in Europe, after the harsh winter. It was the month of the festival in honour of Mars, the God of agriculture.

Mars – The Greek God of War

In Greek astronomy, Mars is referred to as “the planet of war”, “the God of war”, because of its red nature.

Greek God of War
Greek God of Wars

Roman God of Agriculture

In the Roman civilization, Mars was looked upon as a God of Agriculture. This has been brought forth in legends, paintings and coins.

Mars, The Roman God of agriculture

Other Names of Mars

The Iron Link

Planet Mangala is also referred to as Lohitang in Samskrt, meaning “that which is rich in iron deposits”, loha.

Blood in Ayurveda is also described as lohini, meaning “that which is rich in iron”.

Mars rich in iron deposits

In Greek legends too, blood is called “Haima” from which comes the word “Haemoglobin” which denotes the iron content in blood. Haem / Heme is the form of iron found in animal sources.

We thus see an intrinsic connect between Lohitang, Mars and Lohini, iron and blood, a connect that has been brought out in various legends and the practice of venerating Mars as the divinity for surgeries, wars and other such professions involving use of iron / steel equipment.

Mars is also known as Angaraka, meaning “that which is red in colour”.

Mars – The Red Planet

Son of Earth

In some context, it is referred to as Bhumi Putra, meaning “Son of Bhumi”. For this, there is a legend on how Mars took form from Earth and was nurtured and brought up by Bhumi, Mother Earth.

These terms are available in astronomical texts of the land.

The other Names of Mars



BhaumaMade of earth
AngarakaHeated Charcoal
DharaNisutaDhara =  dry

Nisuta = Laid out, thrown into, DharaNisuta = dried up surface

Earth born
Dhara = Dry, Putra = Son
LohitāngaRed powdered, Iron Dust
Curved, hostile

A Dry Planet

There are speculations and postulates in the scientific community that there was water once upon a time on Mars but that it has dried up. This tallies with the ancient Indian names for Mars which mean dried up surface.

Mars and Antares

The star Antares in the Scorpio constellation gets its name because it was called Anti Mars, the rival to Mars as from the earth, it visually looked similar to Mars in brightness and colour for ancient European astronomers. Whereas in Indian astronomy, Antares is called as Jyeshtha, the big brother, for, it is the largest star in our Milky Way Galaxy.

Antares in Scorpio Constellation by the side of Mars as it was transiting through Scorpio

Comparison – Similarity

Mangala in Music

Muthuswamy Dikshitar was one among the trinity of Carnatic musicians who formed the basis of the music system of this land.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar
Trinity of Carnatic Music

He lived about 200 years ago. Among his compositions, is the famous, “Navagraha Keerthana”. In this, he speaks of various qualities, characteristics, gunas of Mars. The lyrics are not from an astrological perspective, but are to be viewed from the perspective of the qualities that this planet exhibits.

Imagery of Mars

Vahana, Vehicle

The Vahana, vehicle of Mangala is Ram, the male goat. It is interesting to note that a similar Ram is shown for Aries, the first zodiac constellation. There is an Indian astronomical connect between Aries & Mars.

Vahana of Mangala, Mars – A Ram
Ram, a Zodiac symbol of Aries

 Ram, a Zodiac symbol of Aries

Shula and Trishula, Difference

The implement of Mangala is a Shula. Shula is something akin to a spear. When the same Shula has 3 pointed heads, it is called Trishula, the weapon of Shiva. In the case of Mangala, it is Shula, a spear.

Trishula and Shula


 Mangala’s Consort

In Indian legends when one is expressed as a consort, it is certainly not for a limited understanding of a wife, spouse. The term has certain qualities, characteristics that the notion of consort brings in.

In this case of Mangala, the consort is Jwalini, jwala meaning “fire”, and here as Jwalini, a female form of fire is brought forth.

Mangala with his consort Jwalini

“What this could mean astronomically is the case of Mars?” is something for us to dwell more into in our study of the scientific aspects that Mangala and Jwalini stand for.


India launched Mangalyan to probe Mars physically.

As the world is preparing to march to Mars, we have the advantage of our ancients’ thoughts to probe into and leap frog into a deeper understanding of Mars and the skies.

India's March to Mars 1.jpg
India’s Mars Mission Mangalyaan  

Mangalyaan – Interesting Facts

India is the first country in the world to have succeeded on its first attempt. It took only 3 years to build the orbiter and send it on its mission.

10 times less than NASA

NASA spent Rs. 4500 crores, ISRO did it in just Rs. 450 crores.

Faster than NASA

When NASA took 5 years to reach Mars, ISRO took only 18 months to reach the Red Planet.

Trip to Mars costs less than our auto richshaw

Total travelling distance to Mars is 68 crore kilometers and the total cost is 454 crore rupees. That makes it Rs. 6.67, cost per km which is less than the average auto rickshaw charge per km in India.

Contribution of every Indian: 4 Rs

In real terms, this value, when distributed over the Indian population of 1.2 billion people, every Indian has contributed Rs.4 per towards this Mangalyaan mission.

Cheaper than bridge

The Mangalyaan mission cost India $73 million (~Rs.450 crores) which is even cheaper than an eight lane bridge in Mumbai which cost $340 million. Convert to Rupees!

Lighter than SUV sports utility

The Mangalyaan orbiter weighs 1,350-kg, which is even less than the weight of an SUV Sports Utility Vehicle.

Hearty congratulations to our ISRO Scientists for this great achievement!!

India's March to Mars 2
ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan with the model of Mangalyaan at Tirupati Temple
India's March to Mars 3.jpg
ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan after placing Mangalyaan model at the feet of Lord Balaji at Tirumala, Tirupathi – Faith in Divine, Relying on Science

10 thoughts on “India’s March to Mars

  1. A lot of useful information is given here. But while Shyama Sastry was a great composer, he did not compose the Navagraha Kritis. The Navagraha kritis were composed by Muthuswamy Dikshitar who is also one of the Carnatic musicTrinitis.

  2. I really enjoy the this blog.But why the blog is available only in English language.Is this knowledge only for English known people.If available in major Spoken language then should be great.

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