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What are Rahu and Ketu? The story and significance of Rahu and Ketu!

 

According to Hindu religion, Rahu and Ketu both play a vital role in shaping one’s life as both have tremendous powers to bring either fortune or hardship in case they secure a place in one’s kundali (horoscope). We see many people who are severely suffering from Rahu or Ketu dasha. But do you know what are Rahu and Ketu? Do you know how Rahu and Ketu came into existence? Do you know how Rahu and Ketu affect your life? Let’s try to find out!
 
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Rahu and Ketu


The Curse of Rishi Durvasa:  

Long ago the king of Demi gods or Devataas, Indra rides on his elephant. When the famous sage known as Rishi Durvasa sees Indra riding on his elephant, he goes to meet Indra and offers him a garland. Indra accepts the garland from Rishi Durvasa and places the garland on the trunk of his elephant. The Indra’s elephant displeases by the fragrance of the garland and throws the garland on the ground.  Seeing the elephant disrespecting his offering, the annoyed sage Durvasa curses Indra and all the Devataas to lose their divine powers or Divya Shakties.


Attack by Asuras:

When Asuras or Demons learn that Devataas have lost all their divine powers, they immediately attack the Swarga or heavens and capture the entire universe. The defeated and disoriented Devataas approach Lord Bramha, the creator of Universe, for help. Lord Brahma suggests the Devataas to approach Lord Vishnu, the preserver God who maintains order and regularity of the universe. After hearing the plea from Devataas, Lord Vishnu comes up with a plan and instructs Devataas to approach the Asuras (also known as Daanavas) and request them to join hands to carry out the Sagar Manthana or the churning of the ocean to obtain Amrita which is nectar of immortality.  
 
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Sagar Manthan

Sagar Manthana:

As Devataas approach the Asuras and tell them that they are incapable of churning the ocean alone and request their cooperation in Sagar Manthana, Asuras agree for the task due to the grid of Amrita. They start churning the ocean using Mount Mandara as a rod and also use the serpent Vasuki as a rope. Lord Vishnu incarnates as a tortoise to carry the mountain on his back. This avatar (incarnation)of Lord Vishnu  is also listed as one of his ten incarnations.
 

The Neelkantha Lord Shiva:

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Lord Shiva consuming the venom
As both Devataas and Asuras begin the churning of the ocean where all Gods stand on one side while Demons on other side, the churning reaches the pick and several things emerge from the ocean as a result of churning. First the poisonous foam or the froth (often referred as Vish or Halahala) appears due to rigorous churning of the ocean. The venom threatens to destroy the entire universe and as everyone gets frightened and no one comes forward to rescue, Lord Shiva takes the poison and keeps it in his throat, without swallowing it. Due to the effect of venom, Lord Shiva’s throat turns blue and hence he is often called as the Neelkantha (Neel means blue and Kantha means throat).


The divine pot of Amrita:

After the event of Lord Shiva consuming the toxic foam, churning starts again and finally produces Chaturdasha ratnas (fourteen gems like Airavata, the multi-tusked elephant, Parijaat, a tree in the Paradise of Lord Indra, Kamadhenu, a cow which provides desired object etc).
 
One of the gems appears as a pot of Amrit carried by Dhanvantari, the god of medicine. As soon as Dhanvantari appears with the pot of Amrita, the Asuras forcefully snatch the pot by refusing to give it to Devataas.
 

The Mohini incarnation:

As Lord Vishnu knows that Asuras would refuse to share the Amrita with Devataas after churning the ocean, he incarnates as Mohini, the enchantress, the most beautiful female form in the universe. Overwhelmed by her beauty, Asuras get attracted towards Mohini and agree to share the nectar of immortality with Devataas as per the terms of distribution presented by Mohini. Mohini then asks all Asuras and Devataas to sit in a line so that she can start distributing the Amrita.    
 
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The Mohini incarnation
 
Rahu disguises himself as one of the Devataas and sits between the Sun and Moon to get a share of Amrita. Sun and moon gods soon recognize Rahu as one of the Asuras and tell the act of Rahu to Vishnu who is distributing Amrita in the form of Mohini.


The birth of Rahu and Ketu:

Irked by the act of Rahu, Lord Vishnu severs Rahu’s head with his Sudarshan Chakra or discus, however Rahu manages to drink a drop of the Amrita and becomes immortal. Rahu’s head and his body get separated but both become immortal due to the consumption of the nectar. The head is known as Rahu and the headless body is known as the Ketu.
 
It is widely known since then that Rahu and Ketu constantly chase Sun and Moon for the revenge as they were behind the separation of the head and the body of the demon Rahu. And whenever they succeed in catching the Sun and the Moon they swallow them causing Solar as well as Lunar eclipse. But as Sun and Moon both consumed the nectar, Rahu and Ketu can’t hold the Sun and Moon for long and both emerge again intact.
 
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Rahu and Ketu
 

Quick facts about Rahu and Ketu:

  • Rahu is of Feminine and Ketu is of Neuter gender. 
  • Rahu is significant for spiritual knowledge while Ketu is significant for Moksha or final liberation.
  • Generally astronomy mentions that Rahu represent indulgence and some of its negative effects are mental illness, death of near ones, diseases, heavy financial losses etc.
  • Ketu represents mystic activities, bad company of people, false pride etc and also causes lung diseases, brain disorders etc.  
  • Rahu and Ketu are considered as strong planets astronomically however, they do not have physical existence.
  • As Sun represents body while Moon represents the mind, the effect of Rahu and Ketu incision affects both mind and body of a person.
  • Rahu’s Mahadasha period lasts for eighteen years while Ketu’s last for seven years.
  • Both Rahu and Ketu are friends with Venus, Mars and Saturn
  • Rahu and Ketu are rulers of southwest direction
  • Beej Mantra of Rahu: Om Bhraam Bhreem Bhraum Sah Rahave Namah
  • Beej Mantra of Ketu: Om Sraam Sreem Sraum Sah Ketave Nam
  • The gemstone Gomed (Hessonite) is governed by Rahu while the gemstone Lahasuniya (Cat’s eye is governed by Ketu
  • Worshiping of Bhairava or Lord Shiva as well as chanting Rahu Mantras are often advised as remedies to be performed if Rahu is not well placed in the kundali or horoscope.
  • Worshiping of Lord Ganesha or chanting Ketu Mantras are often advised as remedies to be performed if Ketu is not well placed in the kundali or horoscope.
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