The Navaratna or the necklace of nine gems is an exquisite piece of jewelry. A combination of nine auspicious stones strung together ensures the well being of the wearer.

The Nine jewels can cure every Ailment

The Navaratna consists of the vajra or diamond, manika or ruby, marakata or emerald, vidruma or coral, mukta or pearl, Nila or sapphire, gomedaka or garnet, pusyaraga or topaz and vaidurya or cat's eye. This combination of gems is considered highly auspicious for the wearer and also acts as protection against danger and disease.

According to astrology, the planets watch over each gem to give it their potency. Saturn is the planet for the sapphire, Rahu for garnet, Ketu for cat's eye, Sukra, for the diamond, the Sun for ruby, the Moon for pearl, Guru for topaz, Budha for emerald and Angaraha for coral.

Nine, the magical number

It is extremely fascinating that only nine jewels are selected for the ornament. Nine has always been a magical number. In classical dance, worship in the nine directions is called Navasandhi. There are nine rasas and nine

tandavas (dances) of Shiva. The basic movement, the karanas are hundred and eight, (the digits when added together make nine) and one of the finest varnams in Bharatanatyam is composed in nine ragas.

In religious texts, the Bhagvad Gita has eighteen chapters, again digits add up to a total of nine, as in the rudraksha mala, which has hundred and eight beads. Satyabhama, the beloved of Krishna as related in the Bhagavatam (a religious text), decorated her bed with nine gems-Navaratna Vinmrittam. The Goddess is worshiped for nine nights during the Navaratri festival.

Even in the English language, an incident that creates excitement is a nine days wonder! A formally attired person is 'dressed up to the nines' and there are probably many more meanings to the number nine in other cultures.

Healing properties

Each gem in the mala was given certain attributes of healing properties, according to ancient lore, and the practice is still in vogue today.

The ruby protects against poisonous substances and banishes any evil spirits that hover around. It also gives energy to the wearer and changes color if the wearer is in bad health.

The emerald is an antidote for all stomach complaints, stings and bites; it is soothing to eyes when mixed with saffron, and a protection against poisonous insects or reptiles. It was used in ancient times by mariners to prevent storms. Emeralds are said to pale if the wearer is faced with deception. As it is the stone of the Goddess of Love, it helps lovers in their problems.

The coral is extremely popular as it is a stone that is said to cure diseases, help the memory and act as a powerful protection against the evil. That is perhaps why it is often used in rosaries and made into chains for little children.

Pearls give strength to the heart and are often used in Ayurvedic medicine. In India, pearls have always been a favorite ornament in royal courts.

Blue has always been the color of enlightenment and in Buddhism, the wearing of sapphire was said to increase devotion. In the West, bishops and cardinals also wore sapphires in ancient times. In spite of being held in sacred esteem, sapphires can also bring bad luck if worn by a person who does not have it as a birthstone.

The garnet is found in many colors though the best known is deep red, almost resembling a ruby. Garnets are often used to imitate precious stones, but have not been recorded as having any special properties of protection.

On the other hand, the topaz is used for occult practices. It is used in the Middle East, for averting the evil, and is said to bring wealth and long life to the wearer. The topaz can be golden yellow in color and sometimes colorless.

The cat's eye is usually brownish yellow. There is often a light line, which shines through, giving the idea of an eye from which it derives its name.

Many of these jewels are worn set in rings, mounted so that they touch the skin. The stone and its weight are decided according to the individual's astrological chart.

The nine jewels of the necklace are a combination of the different gems and perhaps were originally threaded together to ensure general well being. There is no doubt that the variety of color looks beautiful and it would be interesting if more research were done in the meaningfulness of the Navaratna, the nine jewels.

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