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Rahu

  • According to Hindu tradition, Rahu is the detached head of an asura which eats the sun producing eclipses. In art, he is shown as a snake without body riding a carriage drawn by 8 black horses. In Vedic astrology, Rahu is among the nine planets and is coupled with Ketu. The time under the impact of Rahu is known as Rahu kala and is considered unfavourable. In Vedic space science, Rahu is considered as a rascal planet. Bhayanaka is the other name of Rahu.
  • So far as astronomy is concerned, Rahu and Ketu indicate the points of meeting of the tracks of the Sun and the Moon when they travel on the astronomical sphere. For that reason, Rahu and Ketu are correspondingly called the north and the south lunar knots. The truth that eclipses take place when the Sun as well as the Moon are at one of those points brings about to the belief of the eating of the Sun and the Moon by the devil snake.

Mythology

Hinduism

  • As per legend, during the Samudra manthan, the asura Svarbhanu drank a bit of the amrita. The Moon and the Sun noticed it and notified Mohini. Mohini chopped off Svarbhanu's head before the amrita enter pass his throat. However the head remained immortal because of the effect of amrita and turned into Rahu.
  • It’s believed that eclipses occur when this immortal eats the Sun. After that the sun goes through the opening at the neck, completing the eclipse. The body also became Ketu because of a boon, and consequently it eats the Moon to create a lunar eclipse.
  • In Vedic texts, different names are designated to Rahu including: ultimate knowledge, bestower of wealth and prosperity, the immortal, the peace breaker, the one who makes the Moon lustreless, the one who frightens the Sun, lord of illusions, bitter enemy of the luminaries, the tormentor, ever-angry, the minister of the demons, the advisor of the demons, and the chief.
  • Rahu was considered as avatar of Shakti in terrible form in ancient Tamil astrological scripts.

Hanuman and Rahu

  • In his childhood, Hanuman flew towards the Sun, because it seemed to be a big fruit. Rahu was to eat the Sun because the day was solar eclipse day. Rahu saw Hanuman and assumed that Hanuman was trying to eat the Sun. Hanuman caught Rahu.
  • It’s believed that harmful effects of Rahu will be reduced when one worships Hanuman. Lord Hanuman is appeased the most by worship of Lord Rama.

Buddhism

  • In a couple of sacred books from the Samyutta Nikaya of the Pali Canon, Rahu is referred unambiguously. In the Suriya Sutta and the Candima Sutta, Rahu attacks the Sun deity Surya and the Moon deity Chandra before being forced to set them free by their reading of a short verse conveying their respect for the Buddha. The verses recited by the 2 cosmic gods and the Buddha have since been included into Buddhist worship as defensive verses recited by monks as prayers of safety.
  • In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Rahu is shown with 9 heads and a thousand eyes throughout his dark-colored body. He holds a bow and arrow in his four arms and often a victory banner and lasso. He is furious in look, blazing with fire, and his lower body has the shape of a snake.