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Budha is a Sanskrit word that connotes the planet Mercury. Budha, in Puranic mythology, is the son of Chandra or Soma (moon) and Tara (wife of god Brihaspati). His consort is the female form of Hindu androgyne god Ila. The mythology of Budha is not consistent in Hindu texts, and he alternatively is described as the son of goddess Rohini and god Chandra. He is also known as Saumya (Sanskrit: सौम्य, lit. son of Moon), Rauhineya and Tunga.

One of the earliest mentions of Budha as a celestial body appears in the Vedic text Pancavimsa Brahmana, and it appears in other ancient texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana as well, but not in the context of astrology. In the ancient texts, Budha is linked to three steps of the Hindu god Vishnu (a minor Vedic deity, who becomes a major deity in later Hinduism).

Budha is the root of the word 'Budhavara' or Wednesday in the Hindu calendar. The word "Wednesday" in the Greco-Roman and other Indo-European calendars is also dedicated to planet Mercury ("day of Woden or Oden"). Budha is part of the Navagraha in Hindu zodiac system, considered benevolent, associated with an agile mind and memory. The zodiac and naming system of Hindu astrology likely developed in the centuries after the arrival of Greek astrology with Alexander the Great, their zodiac signs being nearly identical. Technical horoscopes and astrology ideas in India came from Greece, states Nicholas Campion, and developed in the early centuries of the 1st millennium CE.

Budha is also the root for name for the week day in many other Indian languages. In modern Hindi, Oriya, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Urdu, Kannada and Gujarati, Wednesday is called Budhavara; Tamil: Budhan kizhamai; Malayalam: Budhanazhcha; Thai: Wan Phut .

Budha's iconography, according to Roshen Dalal, is as a benevolent but a minor male deity with light yellow colored body (or green), draped into yellow clothes, with a chariot made of air and fire, drawn by eight wind horses. He is also represented holding a scimitar, a club and a shield, riding a winged lion in Bhudhan Temple. In other illustrations, he rides a lion and has four arms.

Budha is not etymologically, mythologically or otherwise related to Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, though some careless textual claims to this link have occasionally appeared, according to Patrick Gray.