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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rahu & Ketu - Their origin and transits

Rahu and Ketu are two imaginary points where the orbit of Moon around earth intersects the orbit of earth around Sun. They have no mass and their positioning in a horoscope is purely a matter of mathematics. Their results on humanity are however so profound that they are given the rank and status of a planet.
As always there is a mythological story attached here.
Eons ago, the gods and demons realized that the ocean had a lot of goodies concealed underwater. Untold wealth and divine creatures were hidden there, but most importantly there was that divine nectar Amrit which had the power to make them immortal and keep them forever young. This was the ultimate prize and the irresistible desire to win it brought these perennial enemies together.
They wanted to stir the ocean and force it to relinquish its treasures. For this purpose they took a mountain called Meru and used it as a churn. A churn requires a rope to work so they used Shesh Nag, - the mythical serpent who forms the cradle of Lord Vishnu - to turn it.
The churning began and soon all sorts of wealth began to emerge. Horses and elephants with extraordinary powers, all sorts of divine gems, trees with magical qualities all made their appearance. The most wanted nectar Amrit however still eluded them. So they tried some more and then the most poisonous venom came out of ocean and it was so powerful that it could destroy the universe by its fumes. Lord Shiva at that time swallowed this poison and saved the world from certain death. He did not allow it to reach his stomach but kept it in his throat, which turned blue. It is because of this that one of the names of Lord Shiva is Neel Kanth, or one with blue throat.
The churning continued and finally the pitcher of Amrit emerged. As soon as that happened, the gods and the demons forgot their new found friendship and made a grab for it. The churning stopped and a battle began. Both sides were equally powerful and would have annihilated each but for wily Lord Vishnu who made his appearance in the form of a woman of most surpassing beauty and allure. So attractive was she, that for a moment everybody forgot about fighting and had only one thought in his mind - have her at any cost.
That most comely woman addressed the motley crowd and pointed out to them the fallacy of their ways. If they kept fighting she said, and the pitcher broke, then that will be the end of it. So she told the gods and the demons to segregate and form a line so she could distribute Amrit equally to everyone. Here was irresistible beauty and brain talking together in tandem so everyone agreed. They formed a long line with the gods occupying the first half and the demons the second. Now the farthest thing from wily Lord Vishnu’s mind was equal distribution of Amrit. It was his plan to give it only to gods. Once that was done the demons couldn’t do anything.
Rahu and Ketu were two demons who were a little quicker on the uptake than the rest of their bunch. They saw through the guile that had been planned against them. So they disguised themselves as gods and quietly slipped into their line. Their ruse worked and they drank their share of Amrit. Sun and Moon who were standing next to them saw through their sham and told Vishnu of what had happened. Vishnu promptly summoned his Sudarshan Chakra (divine weapon) and beheaded both Rahu and Ketu. It worked only partially. It didn’t kill the duo because they had become immortal. Their heads and torsos were separated but they lived, and since that day they became sworn enemies of Sun and Moon. That is why every once in a while Rahu swallows Sun and Moon. But since he has no torso he can’t keep them in his mouth forever, they emerge out of his throat. This is exactly what happens during an eclipse. Sun, Moon and Rahu must come together to cause a solar or a lunar eclipse. After a while the sun or moon emerge again.
This is what is called an allegorical story. So what is the truth? I can make a guess.
Long time ago, their existed two groups of scientists and intellectuals. One group was green and wanted to keep ecology intact. The other group wanted progress at any cost. The ocean refers to the ocean of universal intelligence and churning to research and development. Meru Mountain refers to the height of their intellectual and scientific achievement. Shesh Nag the celestial serpent represents wisdom. Their combined efforts produced better crops, improved breed of horses and elephants. The toxic venom refers to the pollution that all this effort produced. Finally after much research they invented a drug that could keep one youthful for ever.
The origin of this story is lost in antiquity and it has been embellished over the ages but its basic premise is still true. Indian civilization is great at turning events into lore and passing these down through successive ages. For the sake of those who are curious, I must mention that the number of stories is astronomical.
Legend has it that since Rahu and Ketu had tasted Amrit and become immortal, they were included in the group of gods and accommodated thus. They are not true gods but only deemed to be so. In reality too, Rahu and Ketu are not real planets but only a mathematical point in space. They are elevated to the status of a real planet because they are so powerful in influencing humanity. Allegory again!!
In the next Blog; results of Rahu as he transits twelve houses from Moon…
Rajiv Sethi

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