Today is Saturday and i though i should write an article about Shanidev.
Shani/Sani is one of the Navagraha which are the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology, or Jyotisya. Shani is embodied in the planet Saturn. Shani is the Lord of Saturday; the word Shani also denotes the seventh day or Saturday in most Indian languages.
The word Shani comes Shanaye Kramati Sa: , the one who moves slowly, as Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun. Shani is also known as Shani Bhagavan, Shaneesvara, Saneesvara, Shaneesvaran, Shani Deva.
It is said that when Shani opened his eyes as a baby for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Shani on astrological charts. He is known as the greatest teacher. Shani dev is said to be very harmful to those who follow the path of betrayal, backstabbing and unjust revenge. He is known in Hindu scriptures as the greatest trouble giver as well as the greatest well wisher. He is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and variously mounted on a black crow.
The story of Shani Bhagavan’s life is described in Shri Shani Mahatmyam written several centuries ago. The story of Shani Mahatmyam describes how devotion is required to please him and receive his kripa (blessings). Shri Shani Mahatmyam begins with descriptions of the importance of the other planets and their strengths. These are told by the scholars serving king Vikramaditya’s court from the city of Ujjain.
Shani Bhagavan is described as having a dark complexion, a beautiful face, his caste is teli (Oil vendors), and he prays Kal-bhairav. After listening to the birth story of Shani, Vikramaditya laughed and ridiculed him. Shani heard the remarks of Vikramaditya and placed a curse on him. The story goes on to describe Vikramaditya’s difficulties as a result of offending Shani. He loses his kingdom, he is charged with stealing, his hands and legs are cut-off by a neighbouring king. Eventually, Vikramaditya prays to Shani, who is satisfied with Vikramaditya’s devotion and brings him back to his former glory. The last part of the story describes various experiences faced by various gods, demons and sages, including Brihaspati (the Guru of gods) and Shiva et al. Shani Mahatmyam stresses values such as perseverance in difficult times, complete devotion (bhakti) and faith in the values one believes in, and never to lose confidence in life in spite of difficulties.
According to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, when the navagraha came to look upon Ganesha shortly after his birth, he lost his human head under Shani’s gaze.
Shaniswara and Hanuman
The worship of Lord Hanuman is a panacea for the harsh effects of the ‘unfavourable’ presence of Lord Shani. In the Ramayana, Lord Hanuman is said to have rescued Shani from the clutches of Ravana and in gratitude, Shani promised Hanuman that anyone who prayed to Him (Hanuman), especially on Saturdays, would be rescued from the “malefic” effects of Saturn, or at the very least, the effects would be softened.
Another version of the encounter between Lord Hanuman and Shani Bhagavan is that once Shani climbed on to Hanuman’s shoulder, implying that Shani’s influence was beginning on Lord Hanuman. At this, Hanuman assumed a large size, and Shani was caught painfully between Hanuman’s shoulders and the ceiling of the room they were in. As the pain was unbearable, Lord Shani requested Lord Hanuman to release him, promising in return, that if a person prayed to Lord Hanuman, he (Shani) would moderate or eliminate the malefic effects of his influence on that person; following this, Lord Hanuman released Shani.
Shaniswara and Emperor Dasaratha
Emperor Dasaratha was the only person who called Lord Shaniswara for duel as he was to cross his country bringing drought and poverty. Lord Shaniswara extolled Dasaratha’s virtues and replied to him that “I can’t skip my duties but I’m pleased with your courage. Great sage Rishyasringa can help you. Wherever Rishyasringa lives, that country will have no drought and dryness”. Dasaratha after receiving the blessings from Lord Shaniswara, wisely resolved the difficult situation by making Rishyasringa as his son-in-law. ‘Santha’, known to be daughter of Dasaratha, was married to Rishyasringa so that he is always present in Ayodhya.
Ways to please Shani
According to legend, Shani is a devotee of Lord Shiva. As mentioned in the “Navagraha Pidahara Sthothram” of “Brahmanda Purana”, anybody who chants the following sthothra is relieved from all the ill effects of Shani.
Suryaputhro Deerghadeho Vishaalaakshah Shivapriyah |
Mandachaarah Prasannathmaa peedam harathu me Shanih ||
According to the Vedic astrology, in order to get protection against the bad effects of Saturn’s transit, the following are the possible remedies during the important transits of Saturn – Kanta Sani (When Saturn transits through the eighth house from the natal moon sign), Sade-sati (when Saturn transits through the twelfth, first and second houses from the natal moon sign) –
- Worship Mother Goddess Kali during Dark Moon
- Worship Vishnu in the form of Lord Krishna and keep chanting ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare..’
- Pray to Sree Hanumanji in His Supreme Cosmic Form, which is the Form in which He shook Shani Bhagavan off of His back and the form in which He received divine blessings and instructions from Surya, the Sun God.
A common mantra for drawing the support of Shani Bhagavan is: Om Sham Shanaischaryaye Namah. The following is another mantra for propitiating Shani: Aum praang preeng proung sah Shanaye namah Neelaanjan samaabhaasam raviputram yamaagrajam, Chaayaa-maartandam-sambhootam, Tam namaami Shanaishcharam.
Some devotees chant ‘Om Sham Shanaischaryaye Namah’ 108 times daily. Also, if reading vedic textures are practised then it is suggested to recite Saturn’s shloka from Navagraha Sukta: ‘Om Shanno Devirabhishtaya Aapo Bhavantu Peetaye Shanyorbhisravantumah Shanaishcharaaya Namah.’
According to Vedic astrology, Shani Bhagavan is one of the nine Navagraha or planets. Shani is considered to be the strongest malefic and a stern teacher who represents patience, effort, endeavour, and endurance; and who brings restrictions and misfortunes. However, a favourably placed Shani on the horoscope of a person stands for a strong career, healthy life and everything positive for that person. In fact, a well-placed Shani in one’s horoscope is something every astrology-believing Hindu hopes for, as no other ‘graha’ can bestow what a favourable Shani can. Shani placed “unfavourably”, on the other hand, denotes troubles in all of the above. Shani is much feared by those Hindus who believe in astrology, as the “malefic” effects of his being unfavourably placed can be quite severe. However, it is to be remembered that any pleasure or pain that befalls a person during Shani’s influence is not arbitrary; rather, it is the result of the person’s own karma, now being manifested in the “presence” of Shani. Thus an “unfavourably placed” Shani brings about the harsh results of one’s bad karma, and vice-versa.The diseases which Lord Shani gives are decay,constriction,poor blood supply,atrophy,etc. and at mental level narrow mind,low thinking.These diseases need to be cured by Lord Shani rules and regulations only.
The planet Shani or Saturn revolves around the Sun in about 30 years, which means it passes through all the 12 rashis or moonsigns in 30 years. Thus Shani Bhagavan spends on an average about two and half years in each rashi or moonsign. This movement of Shani through the moonsigns carries great importance in Hindu astrology and horoscope predictions. The effect of Shani starts when it enters the previous rashi/moonsign to one’s own birth rashi and stops when it leaves the rashi/moonsign after one’s birth rashi. The total period of 7.5 years (2.5 years × 3) is called Saadesaati or “Elanata Shani”, and is typically a period of great difficulty. When it occurs for a person foregoing Shani Maha Dasha the malefic effects of the planet are highly pronounced. It is said that Shani can reduce even a king to a pauper during such period.
Shani rules the signs Makara (Capricorn) and Kumbha (Aquarius), is exalted in Tula (Libra) and is debilitated in Mesha (Aries). Mercury, Venus, Rahu, Ketu are considered friendly towards Shani or Saturn, while the Sun, Moon and Mars are enemies. Guru or Jupiter maintains neutral relations with Shani. Shani is the lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Pushya, Anuradha and Uttara Bhadrapada.
Shani Bhagavan has the following associations: his color is black or dark blue, metal is iron and gemstone is Blue Sapphire. His element or tattva is air, direction is west (where the sun sets and darkness begins) and he rules all seasons. The traditional foods for Shani are sesame seeds or black gram, black lentils or udad, his flower is the violet and he is linked to all black animals and all trees that are considered useless and ugly.
Shani rules over masses. Without the planet’s blessings in one’s horoscope, a mass following is difficult to come by. It is said that an exalted Saturn in the ascendant (or Lagna) of one’s horoscope awards one with such leadership position entailing fame from and recognition among masses. More over, such people are said to have high commitment and perseverance for the task at hand. On the other hand, a debilitated Saturn in one’s horoscope makes one’s ‘Karma’ weak and such individual with debilitated Saturn is said to have poor commitment and perseverance towards duties and hence suffers in the process of completing one’s karmic obligations. Hence ‘Moksha’ is difficult to come by without Shaniswara’s blessings in one’s horoscope.
Lord Shaniswara is also known as Needhiman(Judge). He only troubles the person during his dasa for the wrong doings. Even in Shani Dosha, if a person is Righteous & Devoted he is sure to come out of this period without any ill effects.
Lord Shaniswara is more known for his Blessings than his ill effects. No other graha is comparable with Lord Shani in terms of blessings. He showers with his blessings at the end of his dasha.His Adi-Devata is Prajapati and Pratyadi-Devata is Yama. Lord Shani tests the person patience, He tries to correct our immoral acts by creating frustrations, and delays. In the end He makes one conscious enough to understand the mistakes. He removes ignorance from mind by punishment, the benefits that He matures the soul of being and person turns copper to gold from within i.e. he begins to understand the Truths of life, the futility of his actions done out of ignorance. One comes to understand after Lord Shani periods that not much is in control of human beings. It is all Divine acting on human beings through the agents of Gods. Lord Shani is the greatest purifier,everything false will perish and only Truth will shine, that is His message. People born on number 8 are ruled by Lord Shani in numerology. It is a proven fact that number 8,17, 26 born on any month will have hardships in their life. The hardship have a purpose and it is important to identify the purpose in this lifetime. Remedies of appeasing Shani,includes taking responsibility of wrong actions,self-analysis and hard work.Donation of blue cloth on Saturdays and serving poor also helps.
Shani is a Deva and son of Surya (the Hindu Sun God) and his wife Chhaya (Shadow goddess) and hence also known as Chayyaputra. He is the elder brother of Yama, the Hindu God of death, who in some scriptures corresponds to the deliverance of justice. Interestingly, Surya’s two sons Shani and Yama judge. Shani gives us the results of one’s deeds through one’s life through appropriate punishments and rewards; Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death
More about Yama, in my next post…