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Lost In Translation: Rahu-Ketu Story- Spiritual Basis

This article is the continuation of my discussion on the same topic.

For an explanation about the astronomical basis of Rahu-Ketu story, please refer to my previous article by clicking here. Before we can jump ahead and start discussing the spiritual basis of this story, we need some basic idea about a few terms and what do they mean in Jyothisha.

Background: GRAHA Vs. PLANET and KARMA Vs. FATE

We’ve discussed that Rahu and Ketu are the ‘Chhaya Grahas”. What is a GRAHA?

GRA in Sanskrit means – to grab, to hold on to. English words like “grab, gravity, grasp” etc. come from this root word “GRA”.  So GRAHA is something that grabs you or holds on to you or keeps you in its grip. Now, do you see why PLANET, the celestial body is not the same as Sanskrit (ग्रह) GRAHA? Planet is a subset of graha. Graha refers to anything that grabs or holds onto, in other words, exerts a physical influence on the other body. Hence Sun is also a graha in Jyothisha. Every planet is a graha, but not every graha is a planet.

I’ve mentioned in my previous article that Jyothisha’s spiritual side is based on “Karma Siddhantha” or “Karma philosophy”. So from the spiritual side what is that that holds onto you? What is that that grabs you?  

It’s your Karma that holds onto you. It’s the result of your own karma (your past actions) that you are under the influence of. (Isn’t it the case in general?).

Today, many people have some understanding of karma and most of us do realize and accept that we have to pay our karmic debt. The English saying “What goes around, comes around” can be explained in the context of Karma. So in the context of Jyothisha, when people say that you’re under the influence of Shani graha, they mean to say,  you’re under the influence of your past karma, that’s represented by ‘Shani”. (I’ll cover the reasons behind the names of these grahas in later articles).

So Saturn, the celestial body in the solar system with beautiful rings around it and ‘Shani Graha” are not one and the same in the spiritual context of Jyothisha. However, the planet Saturn and the graha Shani are the same from the astronomical perspective in Jyothisha. Jyothisha has got the solid foundation in astronomy known as Ganita, which I’ll explain in a later article. Till then, do not jump to any conclusion that the physical celestial body called Saturn, the planet in the solar system is directly influencing events in your personal life. (But it does indicate certain karma indirectly).

So if anyone asks you, “Are the events in your daily life influenced by the PLANETS? “The answer is “NO, the planets, the physical celestial bodies, do not cause specific events in our lives”. But, if the question is “Is your life story indicated by GRAHAS?” the answer is “Yes, but I have control over to what extent the grahas can influence me at least sometimes, if not in every situation, as I am aware that graha means ‘something that holds onto me’ and that is my karma in this context”.

Side note: Please note that ‘Karma” and “Fate” are not one and the same. Hence it’s possible to do something about the results of Karma. I’ll cover this Karma in more detail in the context of Jyothisha in later articles. I’ll also answer questions like “Should we simply escape by saying that people are living in poverty due to their past Karma?” etc. The simple answer is “No”. People do not have to live in slums to pay their karmic debt and if anyone is giving that kind of explanation, do not buy into it. I’ll explain later. Till then do not jump to conclusions about Karma Philosophy vis-a-vis the problems that the world is facing today at different levels or do not allow anyone to use that as an excuse to keep people in poverty.

But in case, you want to get a primer on karma by itself independent of Jyothisha, then read an article that I wrote a while ago called ‘Beyond the Veil” by clicking here.

Interesting tidbit:

-Have you heard of a proverb in Telugu?

“Jaamaathaa dhashama graha” (జామాతా దశమ గ్రహ?) ?

Literally translates to: “Son-in-law is the 10th graha”.

Do you think they’re referring to Jamaathaa, i.e. the son-in-law as another planet in our solar system? or are they referring to the karma of a family that comes in the form of a son-in-law?

– Also, have you heard of this saying in Telugu?

“Raameshwaram vellina shaneshwaram vadaladu” (రామేశ్వరం వెళ్ళినా శనేశ్వరం వదలదు)

Literally translates to ‘although I am traveling to a place in South India called “Rameshwaram”, “Shani” comes with me”.  

Do you think that by ‘Shani”, do they mean that Saturn, the planet is physically traveling with you? or, do they mean that there is no escaping from your karma especially that’s called “Shani” or from people who behave like Shani in your life, even if you go to  faraway places?

Back to Rahu-Ketu story

Remember? Rahu is the head of the serpent and Ketu is its tail. We’ve also discussed that they’re called “Chhaya” “grahas”. We know what is a graha by now. But what does “Chhaya” (छाया) mean?

“Chhaya” (छाया) in Sanskrit means ‘Shadow’.

How’re shadows formed? When there is an obstruction to the light, shadows are formed. How’re eclipses formed? When the sunlight falling onto the earth is obstructed by the moon, a solar eclipse is formed, i.e. moon’s shadow falls on earth during that time. Similarly when the moonlight is obstructed by the earth, then lunar eclipse is formed because earth’s shadow falls on the moon and dark side of the moon is revealed to earth. Refer to the image below. See Sun as the source of light and imagine how a shadow falls on earth during the eclipse just like the way how a shadow falls on a wall.

Solar and Lunar Eclipse

Recall from the previous article, astronomically speaking, the locations in the sky where eclipses are formed are called ‘Rahu and Ketu’. Putting this information and the Sanskrit terms, Graha and Chaya together, we can conclude that on the spiritual side, Rahu and Ketu represent that type of karma that casts a shadow by obstructing the light.

Also recall from mythology that Rahu and Ketu are two parts of the same body, the serpent, Rahu is the head while Ketu is the tail. Now put all this information together and make a guess about the kind of the effects that can be felt when you come under the influence of these grahas, i.e. your past actions that come back to you as the result of your karma.

Here’re some hints. I encourage the reader to think through and list a few more for yourself as to what else you think you can expect under the influence of this type of karma?

  1. Rahu is the head, but there is no corresponding body. What can that symbolize? It’s the ambition, that insatiable ambition to achieve. Because there is head and no heart or no stomach to digest. So you keep on desiring the materialistic successes because no amount of success is enough during that time, as whatever you put in your mouth, it comes out and you still feel the hunger. You cannot even pause to appreciate your own success. You have that constant hunger, that keeps you chasing things. Whether you turn this kind of influence into a good thing or bad thing for you and for the society around you is in your hands.

  2. Ketu is the body, but no head. There is the heart, but no head. So opposite of Rahu. It’s detachment. “Alright, I’ve achieved already. I don’t need to do anything more in this domain” type of feeling.

  3. Rahu and Ketu obstruct light. So this is the kind of the karma that doesn’t allow us to see the truth. It casts a shadow, an illusion. Have you seen some people, when under the influence of success, they come under the illusion that they’re invincible? Also have you ever experienced situations where for quite some time, people come under the influence of an illusion till the truth is revealed? (Notice the illusion that a big group of people comes under during stock market bubbles).  Eclipses do not last forever, fortunately.

We can go on. But that’s the idea behind graha, the karma, that you’re under the influence of. What do you do with that information is your free will. Jyothisha has a methodology to systematically analyze few clues and it, in turn, gives us a few hints about what kind of karma that we’re under the influence of at a given point in time and more importantly what you can do about. This is the reason for studying Jyothisha. It’s not enough to understand the influence of karma in your life, it’s crucial to know and take remedial measures and prepare for the same, where Jyothisha excels in. This principle is described in detail in the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali (verse 2.16), which says Heyam Duhkham Anagatam, which literally means “avert the danger before it arises”. It’s like the lawyer telling you something like, ‘Look, you are about to get this sudden inheritance from your grandparents. Here’re your options” or “Look, do you remember the red light that you jumped 6 months ago, guess what? that penalty is due now, here’s what you can do about that now”. 

So, what is Jyothisha and how does that work? Who is the lawyer, who is the judge and who is the plaintiff in the saga of our lives? Stay tuned for the future articles.

Side note: It’s not my intention to turn these articles into yet another book about how to read and interpret your horoscopes. There are many books and courses by experts in that field. My intention is to only introduce some basic concepts of Vedic Sciences as applied to the 3 practical subjects: Jyothisha, Ayurveda, and Yoga. So I am going to limit my explanation to the concepts. I am not going to discuss specific questions like “What does Sun in Aries mean?”

By the way: Rahu-Ketu is the most complex subject in both mythology and Jyothisha. So it’s not that easy to analyze the influence of certain karmas especially those that fall under this Rahu-Ketu category. Nevertheless, that story is very interesting to use as a basis to explain certain fundamental concepts.

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