WHETHER Rahu is a planet or merely a point of tremendous power radiating special influence of a particular kind to the cosmos is not for the astrologers delving in planetary occult powers to decide. Maharishi Parasara postulated twelve planets for twelve zodiacs each enjoying a characteristic significance of its own. This seems plausible on the basis of correspondence. If there are twelve houses, twelves signs, twelve Bhavas, it is logical to assume that there would be twelve planets unless there is any special reason for it not being so. But, in the exoteric astrology, only seven planets are talked of. It is now said that Rahu and Ketu have been subsequent impositions and after the discovery of Herschel, Neptune and Pluto, they are also included in the list to make the total equal to twelve. But, this is merely a modern conjecture. According to Parasari astrology, there are seven visible planets and there are five invisible ones. These invisible planets are given the names of Rahu, Ketu, Dhuma, Parivesha and Indradhanus. All these invisible planets are considered Doshaja, which implies that these planets which are invisible are malefic ones. But, in order to understand the exact nature of these malefics one will have to go beyond the written words to reach at the central core of their being and then to examine the validity of the inferred conclusions for their universal application which have so far been intuitively arrived at. It is only by contemplative study that the hidden meanings of the invisible planets like Rahu and Ketu can be comprehended. Whether these planets are really Doshaja or not could be decided only on an understanding of the real nature and significance of these planets and their influence on Cosmic Ideation.
Implications of attributing the adjective Doshaja or malefic nature to any planet must be carefully examined. Many astrologers are generally very casual in suggesting a planet as a malefic or a benefic, depending on what is the effect of the same. For example, a death inflicting planet is generally considerd malefic or bad, and so is the one which gives disease or penury. In the wider span of soul's life extending over several lives, these small incidents have a valid purpose. In that case, our assuming any planet as good or bad reveals our own comprehension of the general scheme of events for the ego. When we say that a particular planet is death-inflicting, or that it would lead to ill-heath or deprivations of certain kind, these are merely statements of certain tendencies which are likely to occur. When we consider such incidents as good or bad, that is a kind of value judgement. Such value judgements may not always be valid. When a long ailing man breathes his last, it is a redemption from troubje. When some humiliating experience directs the individual God-ward, this kind of insulting event may be considered in reality a boon. So goodness or badness of any planet is indeed only a matter of our understanding of the general scheme of life.
In fact, every planet, good or bad, is trying to unfold some hidden attributes of the individual, so that he could, over a series of lives, realise his divinity and finally become aware of his own Atman—Soul—and then begin co-operating with the divine plan for the world. For this realisation, the individual has to pass through sunshine and shade; sometimes, he has to pass through experiences of joy and sometimes of sorrow; sometimes he has to drink the cup of hemlock and sometimes of the elixir. Much of these experiences are created by our own karma, by our actions of omissions and commissions. But, all these are guided by the main objective of evolving the individual in spirituality. Whatever the circumstances, every event triesiolead the individual a little nearer to his ultimate Perfection, the Archetype, the goal of Divine Bliss which is attained by each individual in his own unique way, through his unique path of joys and sorrows. In that case, the planets ordinarily considered, malefic are not necessarily hostile to the individual but they have a way of arousing the latent divinity in the man; similarly, the objective of a benefic planet is to intensify certain virtues which may be helpful to the person in the long run. Thus, it is the method of operation which makes the planet a malefic or a benefic. While they operate and the person bleeds, the planets are never oblivious of the ultimate goal that they are aiming at; the individual ego might forget the same but the planets do not. So even when Rahu is considered a malefic, we have to understand it in the right sense.
From this point of view, it becomes clear that a planet is neither a malefic nor a benefic as such. Similarly, no event of life can be considerd good or bad without relating that to any specific goal. When a planet is malefic, it only attempts to dangle the individual between his material thirst and spiritual aspirations so that when there is any material deprivation, then over a series of lives he realises the futility of worldly attainments in satisfying some inner cravings and also the transience of all worldly possessions. Once this realisation dawns on the individual, the limitations of material bondages begin to weaken and he begins to lead a different kind of life. He is said to be on the Path of Holiness—the Nvritti Marg. Then, he bears his karma cheerfully and with fortitude. He moves on perseveringly towards his goal. In this exercise, one has to realise that immersion in materialism and then its deprivation is one set of conditions which must be accompanied by deep and philosophical thinking. Such a deep contemplation over the events and experiences of life necessarily follows the experiences of deprivation or abundance. This, therefore, forms inevitably the second requirement on the path. Experiencing the event followed by chewing the cud are inevitably interconnected. Both these experiences are caused on the subjective plane of existence. The former arises due to frustration caused by Tanha, or the thirst f<?r life and the latter due to contemplation. Frustration and contemplation both are subjective experiences. These two functions have been attributed to Rahu and Ketu. The former gives disappointment in material pursuits which leads to spiritual contemplation. Realisation of this basic principle probably led B. Surya Prakash to state that "as per classical authorities like Parasara, Gargi, Kalyanavarma, etc, it is the inherent nature of Rahu and Ketu to give a downfall in one's position at the concluding portion of their period. Generally during such a time, all the plans and ideas of the native will be of an Utopian nature and setbacks in almost all activities will be the result". This upsetting is in order to arouse the spiritual consciousness, which becomes the primary function of Ketu. Rahu and Ketu are together one whole: one exists only in relation to the other.
Rahu and Ketu are spiritually inclined planets, though their methods of arousing spirituality are diferent from each other. Both these planets are subjective. They deal with subtler principles of life. Both these planets are sure in creating their impact. They do not fail in their objective. It may be a matter of further investigations as to the cause of attributing shadowiness to these planets; probably, because of their operations on the subjective and subtler nature of the human being, these planets have been considered shadowy. Their impact is more on the hidden sides of life than on the outer or the physical side. These planets are considered malefic because they enable the individual to discover that material attainments, worldly status, riches, health, social relationships, as a matter of fact all forms of material prosperity will one day turn to dust and their futility will come to the fore. This is what Rahu does. Its actual influence and the way of arousing these perceptions are different in different individuals depending upon their past and upon their individual nature. That is why any prediction about the influence of Rahu is full of pitfalls.
While individual differences would persist, there are certain general characteristics of the planet. K. V. Sivarama Iyer has quoted a Vedic hymn in praise of Rahu and Prof. R. V. Vaidya has given one from Smriti while writing on Rahu which need careful study in the present context. These hymns might enable us to understand the shadowy nature of Rahu a little better. The Vedic hymn invokes as follows:
"Always ready to bestow on his devotees riches and plenty, friendly and loving, adorned with sandal paste, flowers and an umbrella—all of blue colour, armed with a sword and skin, seated south-faced on a throne and surrounded by all siddhis, may the dark blue Rahu be pleased."
The Smriti gives the following attributes to Rahu:
"Half-bodied, immensely powerful, troublemaker for the Moon and the Sun, born of a lioness, having a huge body like a mountain of lamp black, snake-shaped, terrible mouthed and devourer of the Moon and the Sun."
From these, one deciphers certain important features of Rahu. The ancient scriptures have unanimously upheld Rahu as a powerful planet which is a menace to the Moon and the Sun. He is dark blue in colour and snake-shaped. He is adorned with an umbrella and is surrounded by all Shaktis. These attributes are very special but much of their implications however, would remain veiled unless one attempted to go beyond their obvious meanings. One has to understand their implications by approaching them on the basis of the knowledge of religious and metaphysical literature available.
Firstly, it must be acknowledged that Rahu is half-bodied—Ardhakayam—which recognizes the existence of its counterpart. Ketu is said to have special relationship with Rahu, yet the two have quite distinct characteristics. It is useful to consider Rahu and Ketu always together and conclude on the basis of separate effects of the two but then-effects should be properly co-ordinated before making final assessment of the result. This is also suggested by the allegory that the two planets are head and the body of the same demon.
Rahu is dark blue in colour. In Hindu mythology, almost all the incarnations or avatars of beneficent divine powers from Lord Mahadeva to Rama have been attributed dark blue. The demons are given black colour. The blue colour is a representation of universality—Akasa—which is the subtle, supersensuous, spiritual essence which pervades all space. In many occult sacrificial mysteries, Akasa is the all-directing and omnipotent Deva. Akasa is also known as occult electricity, one aspect of the Kundalini. Immense power used for benevolent purpose is the keynote of all gods. On this analogy it can be assumed that the influence of Rahu would ultimately be good for the individual. As Lord Shiva destroys in order to create new forms, and Lord Krishna kills the demons and destroys asuric potentialities of the world, and Rama kills the great asura Ravana, similarly, the dark blue coloured Rahu destroys all the material proclivities of human individuals.
Rahu is snake-shaped. The symbol of serpent is basic in Indian occult literature. On the basis of this symbolism, even the great importance of Kala-Sarpa Yoga in astrology can be better comprehended. Serpent is not intended to harm or injure any person without any purpose. Only as a divine agent, it bites and terminates a particular life-cycle of an individual. In order to go deeper in this symbolism, we should recall that Rahu is described not as a short and venomous cobra, but as a long black serpent known as Naga. Incidently, it may be mentioned that the Lord Buddha was considered descendant of the Naga dyanasty of rulers implying thereby that there was also a wisdom-dynasty which ruled by radiating enlightenment. In fact, in esotericism, Naga means the wise-man or the Adept. Naga is the name in the Indian pantheon of the Dragon Spirit which inhabits in Patala Loka. He is ever a wise man endowed with extraordinary magic power and is regarded by the celestials as the tutelary spirit or god of the five regions—the four points of the compass and the centre. The primary function of Rahu is to arouse spiritual enlightenment by making the individual aware of his immeasurable latent faculties. Till that understanding dawns, the individual is troubled under the influence of this planet.
Under certain conditions these Nagas are said to represent Eternity of Wisdom or eternity itself. Esoterically, the process of cosmogenesis is suggested by the polarisation and differentiation of the union of positive and negative aspects of creation. There is no reason why Rahu-Ketu taken together should not be treated as the Eternity. This makes Rahu-Ketu highly occult planets representing the universal, divine, creative and ever active life-force. When the serpent is having its tail in its mouth, it is an indication of materialisation of the divine Principle. Astrologically, it is an indication of the great significance attached to Kala-Sarpa Yaga. After all, this yoga has reference to encirclement of all planets by Rahu and Ketu. When these two planets hem all the planets within their semi-circle, persons with this combination are said to be unfortunate because the influence of these planets under this condition would immerse the individual under deeper layers of materialism. In spite of their having various other fortunate combinations for expressing their noble aspects of life, the individuals, under Kala-Sarpa Yoga will not be able to transcend the bondage of worldliness. That is one of the reasons for considering this yoga as an unfortunate one.
The kind of serpent—Naga—represented by Rahu is considered very malignant because the influence of Rahu is very malignant. Whenever any individual suffers from the influence of Rahu, it becomes very difficult to escape its result. Diseases under the influence of Rahu are ordinarily those which cannot be easily diagnosed. Such maladies do not easily react to medicines.
Rahu is a menace to the Moon and the Sun. This attribute has been widely upheld to be true. Even astronomically, eclipses occur under certain relationship with Rahu-Ketu. Even in the Vedic literature, the sages considered this phenomenon to occur when Swarbhanu, who was none else than Rahu, devoured the luminary. According to Aitreya Brahaman, on each Amavasya day, the Moon entered the Sun and this producd the phenomenon of the solar eclipse, which occurred only on that day when the demon Swarbhanu devoured the Sun and the Moon, then the Moon took a rebirth after emerging from the Sun's body. Even today, these Nodes are intimately connected with weakening of the strength of these planets.
This leads us to a greater revelation of the occult mystery connected with Rahu. As is universally accepted, the Sun, the Moon and the Ascendant are highly important for any individual. Rahu, and for that matter, even Ketu, is considered in a special way so far as their relationship with these three are considered. The fact of the matter is that the eternal life current of an individual which, in reality, is an aspect of the True Man or the Atman, can be understood only by studying the nature and characteristics of these three in all their details. When they are afflicted by Rahu, it does not result in merely another planetary conjunction with their special rules of interpretation. What this afflictatior. portends is a Karmic fault. What it does is to lead to Karmic retribution so that the individual understands and appreciates the value of certain actions aroused by frustration. When the individual chafes under physical and psychological limitations, he would be in the right frame of mind (the influence of Ketu which always goes with), to begin evaluating special blessings of God and utilising them in the best possible manner. The Sun is the Atman, the Soul, whereas the Moon is the psyche, the astral vehicle through which the human consciousness flows to Atman. When the Moon is afflicted by Rahu, the individual fails to establish any rapport with the highest nature of his being, his Inner Ruler Immortal. Consequently, suicidal temperament, ambivalence, easy prey to emotional storms, strong likes and dislikes become the primary characteristics of the individual. No stabilising force exists for such persons. Similarly, when the Sun is afflicted, that can be considered a serious catastrophe of the first order. Grace, royalty, balance, inner glow, creative genius, executive ability and such other attributes flow from the Sun. This happens because the experiences and abilities acquired in past lives are stored in the Sun. Under favourable conditions, these powers are put at the disposal of the individual for his use. This is his bank balance, put in his current account from which he can make withdrawals whenever he desires. When the Sun is afflicted by Rahu, the individual gets his past valuable bank balnaces blocked. He is starved of his legitimate rights. As a result of this blockade, the divine censor fails to operate. The individual, therefore, bereft of divine influence becomes materialistic, devoid of ideals and considerations for others. He begins enjoying his lower nature. Life-divine is of no attraction to him.
On a solar eclipse day, the affliction is complete. The psyche of the individual is merged in the Source, and there is complete separation between the individual's physical life and his spiritual counterpart. As such, he begins the life from the very initial ladder of evolution. That might explain a new birth of the Moon, implying thereby, a very rudimentary primitive life and unrefined emotional and psychological nature of the individual. That is why birth at the time of solar eclipse is not considered auspicious.
Rahu is adorned with an umbrella and is surrounded by all shaktis. Both these are indicators of mighty status enjoyed by the planet in the occult heirarchy. Rahu is Powerful. There are six kinds of skaktis which are very important for the evolution of the individual. These shaktis are (1) Parashakti, the supreme power represented by light and heat, (2) Jnanashakti, the power of real wisdom and knowledge, (3) Ichchashakti, the power of the will, the will power, (4) Kriyashakti, the mysterious creative potential of thought force, (5) Kundalini Shakti, the universal life principle, and (6) Matrakashakti, the force of letters, speech and music.
Many black magicians who endeavour to acquire siddhis over the various forces of nature have to establish special rapport with this planetary influence. As a matter of fact, Rahu is that creative energy which has to take assistance from all these forces in order to carry out the task of Cosmic Ideation. The central subjective idea in the Divine Bosom can be made objective only with the help of various kind of powerful media. Rahu having been assigned this task, it is natural to expect that the various occult powers must be connected with it. This function is well suggested by the association of Rahu with Naga-Serpents which are put around Lord Shiva who has Shakti as his consort. If Rahu has to carry out the Will of the Great Lord Mahadeva, its association with the different kinds of Shaktis becomes imperative.
An obvious conclusion from this is that Rahu will certainly do to the individual whatever it is destined to do. Only by understanding, knowledge and co-operation, the adverse consequences of Rahu can be mitigated. If the best epithet for Rahu is "Earthly Dissatisfaction", the best way to confront this situation is to meet it directly and to accept its supremacy if the consequences cannot be avoided. Rahu knows the mysteries of Akasa, earth, water and fire. So why not co-operate with it and learn all the mysteries of life it has to teach?
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