Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rahu and Ketu – some perspectives from texts.

Since transition of Rahu and Ketu is going to happen now,

I thought I can give some inputs about them

from scriptures and PuranaanUru (too)

which contain some important scientific facts.

Rahu and Ketu came into existence(!)

during the times of the churning of the ocean.

Rahu and Ketu are the two nodes

or points of intersection of the orbit of the moon with that of the earth’s orbit.

This point of intersection keeps wobbling backwards

and covers 30 degrees in 1 and a half years.

When we say that Rahu and Ketu are the nodes of the moon’s orbit

cutting the earth’s orbit,

we can also visualize a state when the orbits do not intersect each other.

This can happen if the earth is upright and not inclined as it is now.

This also means that seasons can not happen

and there can be no change in day and night duration.

In short, evolution of life can not proceed nor come to the stage as it is now.

So this (Rahu-Ketu) is to do with the inclination of the earth on its axis.

From the story of Rahu and Ketu,

we come to know that earth was not inclined as it is now.

There was a time when Rahu and Ketu did not exist.

They came into existence only during the churning of the ocean,

more precisely when the nectar got from the churning of the ocean was eaten.

According to legend, (retold in many puranas)

(and let me not repeat the details in the assumption

that that readers would have known them),

the demon by name Swarbhanu stealthily got into the midst of gods

and had a share of nectar which was capable of making the eater immortal.

This was found out by the sun and the moon who brought it to the notice of Vishnu.

Vishnu cut the head of the demon as an act of reprimand,

which however resulted in the head becoming Rahu

(the head with the body of the snake)

and the body becoming Ketu

(the body with the snake’s head).

This is how the birth of Rahu and Ketu is explained in scriptures.

We can deduce the following allusions from this episode.

(1) Before this incident happened, the earth was not inclined in its axis.

There was no change in day and night and no seasons etc.

(2) The churning of the ocean that happened with the Meru as the axis

and vasuki (snake) as the rope for churning

resulted in the birth of a number of things both good and bad.

From Surrya siddhantha we know that the Meru is that part of land stretching

from the equator to the north pole.

The Peak of Meru is at the North pole

which keeps pointing to the Indra loka, the saptha rishi mandala

which is the basis of all

that is connected with man and his life

(we saw the explanation in the previous post).

The sun always rotates around this peak, so says the scriptures.

From all these, what is indicated is that the earth was once

shaking and wobbling and churning on its axis vigorously.

The Meru was on the central axis

which was not yet stabilized then.

Usually the mantle is signified as snakes in scriptures

(refer my previous posts in this series).

There are many references to snakes compressed in Patala

and in Ramayana Mainaka mountain says

that it is sitting on a vent on the Patala below which the snakes are trapped.

The snakes are the lava or mantle or the boiling earth

which were erupting in the formative period of earth’s formation.

When such churning was happening,

the poisonous and harmful elements surfaced

so also the riches in the form of molten minerals.

The riches is personified as Sridevi, the after- born of Bhoodevi.

The earth (bhoodevi) contains all riches in her womb

is the message conveyed in the many texts.

(3) From this another deduction is made that the churning happened

with the south pole as its axis!

Everything sprang from the south –

that is why daksha prajapathi is said to be in the South!

Many combinations seemed to have erupted –

like the way the scientists of today are doing by

combining humans and animals in embryo.

A number of combinations seemed to have been formed

and the demons formed were huge in size and horrible looking.

Even today gigantic creatures with unusual shapes

are spotted in the Antarctic ocean!

(4) After a period of wobbling and struggling,

the earth finally reached its position of equilibrium at its current inclination.

The cutting of the demon into two as Rahu and Ketu means

the earth’s newer position of equilibrium was obtained

by cutting at two places

from its original position where the moon’s orbit was also situated.

This means the Rahu and ketu were formed as a result of that churning,

as the two nodes!

That these two points are about motion in equilibrium

is substantiated by the astrological significance attached to it.

Both are about some movement in astrology too.

Rahu which is the ascending node and which stands for material progress

is about forward or backward movement in material affairs

and also about travels, transport, travel to distant lands etc.

Ketu which is the descending node and which stands for spiritual progress

is also about travel – to pilgrim centers and for travel for spiritual sublimation.

Rahu and Ketu have an importance in pithru-kaaryam,

in that the eclipses are best times for pithru kaaryam.

This again signifies movement of ancestors

to earthen realms to receive oblations.

With Rahu signifying Pitamaha (ancestors in the father’s side)

and Ketu signifying Mata maha (ancestors in the mother’s side),

it is only natural their grahNam (grah means to catch or hold)

with the sun or the moon paves the way for fulfilling obligations to ancestors.

Rahu – Ketu in PuranaanUru.

It will be interesting to know

that an allusion to eclipse is mentioned in a verse in PuranaanUru.

Verse 174 of PuranaanUru starts

with the story of asuras (demons) once hiding the Sun,

thereby bringing darkness to the world.

Krishna (Anjana voruvan) retrieved the sun from them

and made him glow as usual.

“anangudai avuNar gaNam kondu voLLitthena –ch-

chEn viLangu sirappin gyaayiru

kaaNaadu iruL kaN keduttha

parithi gyaalatthu idumbai koL paruvaraleera-k-kadum thiral


andu nirutthaangu”

Dr U.Ve Swaminatha Iyer says

this is about the fight between the demons and gods (asuras and devas)

in which the demons hid the sun

and Thirumaal (Vishnu) got the sun back in position.

But there is no such story reported in any purana.

The olden explanation (vurai) that exists for this verse

clearly mentions the name of Krishna

as the one who retrieved the sun from the demons.

“anjanam pOlum niratthai vudaiya thirumEni vudaiya

KANNAN anda gyaattria-k-kondu vandu..”

(Kannan who has a body dark in color got the sun back).

This gives rise to two interpretations.

The asura in this verse refers to the Rahu or ketu

which hides the sun during eclipse.

Since Krishna’s name is specifically mentioned,

this must be about the incident in Kurukshethra war!

On the day of slaying of Jayathratha,

the sun disappeared for sometime making the kauravas think that the day had ended .

Since Arjuna vowed to kill Jayathratha before night fall on that day,

the Kauravas felt victorious.

But sun appeared later and Arjuna fulfilled his vow.

The temporary disappearance of the sun ( due to eclipse)

might have been expressed in the above verse in PuranaanUru.

Krishna brought back the sun (meaning that the eclipse was over)

and removed the darkness.

This particular episode is quoted in PuranaanUru in the context of a war-field,

making it apt to relate it to the eclipse during the Kurukshethra war.

The King Malayamaan Chola vEnaadhi ThirukkiLLi

was praised by the poet,

MaarOkkatthu Nappsalaiyaar

that he is like Krishna who got back the sun from the demons who hid him.

The king also is one who will get back what the enemies take away.

Rahu-Ketu in Mahabharatha.

There are a number of places in the Ithihasas

wherein the comparisons are made with Rahu or Ketu

in the process of catching or leaving the sun or the moon.

But a particular place in Mahabharatha is of immense importance

with reference to Rahu- Ketu.

Just prior to the onset of war, a terrible thing is reported to have happened.

Usually, the No-moon day which comes on the 15 or 16th day,

came just after the 12th day.

Sage Vyasa expresses his anguish at this and also describes in detail

the happenings on earth and the changes noted in the sky.

(Bheeshma parvam chapters 2&3).

These chapters must be researched by scientists

because what is explained looks likes the after-effects of a sudden shake

in the earth’s movement.

The earth was not quiet, animals were greatly disturbed.

Earth quakes were continuously reported.

Air was unusual.

The sun and the moon looked strange.

The nearer planets such as mercury and Venus shifted backwards,


Rahu and Ketu shifted forward.

Usually rahu and Ketu have backward motion, i.e.,

they seem to shift backwardly.

But they had moved forward which is impossible unless

the earth’s axis underwent a change.

Another information that Vyasa gives is that

the star Arundhathi, the close companion of Vasishata in the Saptha rishi mandala

which is always seen to be behind Vasishta, had moved forward!!

These two stars, vasishta and Arundhath

i which are seen by the newly weds

in the Hindu marriages

are known for their non-separation.

Even after 10,000 years, they look beside each other as seen from the earth

though they are in different locations.

Such a pair can not change places overnight.

But the Arudhanthi what we see to day was not the same

that was before that 13th day amavasya

that occurred before the Mahabharatha war.

This means some terrible wobble must have been experienced.

Some researchers tend to dismiss this account by Vyasa by

pointing out the discrepancies in the position of Saturn as mentioned by Vyasa.

But a person having knowledge of astrology will know what these are about.

Vyasa maintains that the long distant planets

like Jupiter, Mars and Saturn did not show any change in their position.

But he makes a mention of different locations for Saturn.

These are about the 3 different aspects or influences that Saturn has,

namely on the 3rd, 7th and 1oth house from the place where it is located.

Some others dismiss this narration on the basis that

some planets which are not in existence are mentioned.

These are known as Upagrahas in astrology.

Each planet has an upagraha.

They are not planetary bodies,

but certain location in the sky with respect to the respective planet

which are signifactors of certain traits and happenings.

By calculating their location,

a more precise account of the changed position of planets can be known.

The vast body of knowledge from sanatana Dharma can not be dismissed as crap.

There is so much hidden knowledge in it.

One such knowledge is about Rahu and Ketu and the hidden clues

on possible change in earth’s motion.

It is also to be noted that of the different dasa-bhukhthi systems in vogue,

(dasa- bhukhthi are time maps based on which the events in a person’s life is predicted)

Vimshottahari dasa system includes Rahu and Ketu

totaling upto 120 years as life span of man.

Recall the time scale mentioned in the previous post

of 120 becoming the basis for the full revolution of the sun around the zodiac,

making it a yuga cycle on Dharma basis for a duration of 28,800 years.

Sage Parashara who has given a magnum opus on astrology had stated

that the dasa system applicable for Kali yuga is Vimshottahri dasa.

The Rahu -Ketu of this system came into vogue

after they reached their new positions

on that 13th day amavasya before the war in Kurukshethra.

Their position and significance are such that

when one of them is in a favorable position, the other can not be so.

When a person gets the drubbing in material life due to one of these two,

the other comes into help into growing spiritual from that drubbing.

The ultimate aim is to learn lessons

that materialism alone will not help

and materialism sans spiritualism is a waste.

This immortal lesson is given by these immortal asuras!


Srini.Vasan said...

Nice post!

Can you please explain what is rahu kalam? Why does it change every day based on sun rise?

jayasree said...

Thanks Srinivasan.

This is a vast topic for which i need a few posts to give the basics on how planetary influences happen. However I will try to give a crisp response here.

The basis of all this is 7 day duration. The 7 days of the week have not been given their names just like that. Each day experiences a specific influence by means of cosmic or some force hitherto known to science. Each such force is indicated by a planet in whose name the day is known.

As such, sunday has the influence of Sun, monday of moon and so on.
Each day starts with the influence of the day's planet.

The motion of the earth and the moon is such that the rays or forces of influence emitted by the ascending node (rahu) interferes with the forces or rays of the planet of a particular day.

The period of this interference is marked as Rahu kaalam (Rahu's time) which is said to afflict and affect the function of the forces of the planet.

This period varies for the 7 days depending on the planet of the day.

But on no one day do we come across Rahu kaalam in the first part of the day, namely between 6 to 7-30 AM.
It is because any mitigation can be said to take place, only if there is something already present in some intensity.
The ruling planet of the day gathers intensity in the morning after sunrise, when the ruling planet also rules the first hora (hour). The mitigation by Rahu can happen only after the planet has come to acquire some intensity.

One can find the mention of this interference by Rahu in Gowri Panchanga too, by mention of Visha kala.

The entire concept is based on the fact that anything in nature has two sides, a positive and a negative. There is Amritha kala and Visha kala for any wave or force or ray.Astrology is about the interrelation, interaction and interference of these rays that are existent in nature.

During Rahu kaalam, the planet of the day loses its positive force. The attributes which the planet of the day is said to promote are made null and void for that period of Rahu kaalam. Only those attributes promoted by Rahu can be exploited then. That is why, propitiation of devathas of Rahu is done in Rahu kaalam.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the post. For most of schooled in the western education system outside and a very conservative vedic system at home, such inter-elationships betweent he two resolve a lot of conflicts.

I have a quick question: What kind of implications with respect to the different rasis do you see for this transition.

Astrology books like the ones written by B.V.Raman do not say much about Rahu and Ketu. They tend to treat these as "shadow planets" that tend to follow some simplistic rules like:
1. Shanisya Rahu, Kujasya Ketu and
2. Rahu and Ketu tend to take on the same results as the planets accompanying them.

Do you follow any specific rules for predictions based on Rahu and Ketu?

jayasree said...

Thank you Ramesh.

You wrote :-I have a quick question: What kind of implications with respect to the different rasis do you see for this transition.

I would rather not reply this as it is not my intention to give predictions, but instead concentrate on the rationalism or tenability of the many concepts of Hinduism.

Any way the predictions can be had from many sources - one good source is in which you can get the predictions of Sri AMR in Kumudam Jothidam.

I have the following to say on the issues you have raised.

Information on Rahu and Ketu are found in Jaimini's astrology.
But many olden texts and rules of astrology do not consider these two.

Many dasa computations for calculating longevity do not assign any role for these chaaya grahas.
But in the context of Vimshottari dasa (this means 20 over and above 100), Rahu and Ketu play an important role in that they alone control 25 years in a person's life. Sage Parasara's opinion is that this dasa system is applicable in Kali yuga. This is basis for my analysis on these planets.

In my opinion, Ra & Ke assumed importance in predictive astrology due to a change in earth's axis that happened before the onset of Mahabharatha war. We even hear of an archeological report that a massive meteor could have hit somewhere near Austria about 5000 years ago, probably triggering a rise in ocean level. The description in MB might also be due to the effects of this meteor hit. The earth also might have felt a shake due to this and the nodes (Ra&Ke)could have shifted to present alignment.

Since this period coincides with the onset of Kaliyuga,Parasara could have given his seal of approval for Vimshottari system for Kaliyuga.In Kaliyuga, no one is spared. However great he may be, one can not escape some misfortune at sometime or in someway. The Chaya grahas make this happen.

There are systems which do not consider these two. The basis for this is that one must roughly decide the longevity of the person from horsocopic indications and arrive at a probable age. Based on this the dasa system is selected for the individual.Vimshottari is not always used by some astrologers.

But in my opinion and experinece,Ra&Ke do play a role.Their position in the birth chart is the basis of how they will influence one's life. In that context the rule is "shanivad rahu, kujavad ketu".

I advice you not to completely rely on general predictions. The predictions must depend on their position in horoscope. Not only that if the other planets in the horoscope are found in the stars lorded by these two, then also Ra&ke influence the person.

The general rule is that they are good at 3,6 and 11 in gochara. But their effect there can be nullified by gochara vedha, if some planets are there 12,9 and 5 respectively for these positions.
The reverse happens when Ra & Ke are at 12,9 and 5. Planets at 3,6 and 11 will diminish their ill-effects in that case.

So predictions can not be tailor-made for any one.
BV Raman might have chosen to downplay the effect of these two, as how most astrological community have chosen to discard Mandhi. These planets stand for nothing for troubles.

Why terrorise the already troubled seekers of astrological advise?
The astrologer would rather like to play the role of a psychic healer than a truth sayer.That is the instruction given to him by sages too who have devised this system.

Astrology said...

This is really a vast topic, i was searching for these kind of blog because i have little knowledge about these.

narayana said...

Namaskara Smt. Jayasree,

I have been studying a lot about Rahu and Ketu off late and wanted to clarify some concepts:

I have read that Rahu is generally good in 3/6/11 houses. If we consider the upcoming Rahu transit with Rahu in Kanya and Ketu in Meena, these would be transits in Swakshetra as per Parashara. 1. Although Rahu is considered good in 3rd house, I am of the understanding that Ketu would be bad in 9th house. Is this correct?
2. A native with such Rahu-Ketu axis might be a rebel against his religion and may have trouble with father. Is this correct?
3. However, in the upcoming transit for a 3/9 Rahu-Ketu axis, Ketu will be in Meena, which is a swakshetra for Ketu. Does that mean, a Karkataka Lagna native with Ketu in 9th house will be a follower of dharma and have good relationships with father and Guru?
4. Furthermore, what additional benefits would accrue to a Karkataka lagna native with Rahu Ketu in 3/9 and Jupiter, Mercury in exalted positions? In this case Jupiter, Mercury and Rahu will be aspecting the 9th house. I am curious about this in view of the upcoming transits in Aug/September of this year. Will such natives be ideal moksha materials? How will their relationship with father and Guru be?

Thank you very much.

K V Narayana Achar

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