Rahu-Ketu and Eclipse (Grahan)
Rahu and Ketu are nodes in Vedic astrology. Nodes are the points at which the orbit of the Moon cuts the plane of ecliptic (path of the Sun). During the course of the motion, the Moon crosses the ecliptic plane in the zodiac**. Rahu and Ketu are the nodes of the Moon. When Moon crosses the ecliptic while going from south to north of the ecliptic, it is called ascending node or Rahu. Latitude of the Moon at Rahu is zero and will increase above the ecliptic. When Moon crosses the ecliptic while going from north to south of the ecliptic, it is called descending node or Ketu. Again, latitude at Ketu will be zero and it will decrease. So Rahu and Ketu are actually not any physical bodies but are the imaginary points on the plane of ecliptic. As the Sun and Moon move in one direction, these points will move in opposite direction. In other words, we can say that these points move in a retrograde motion. So Rahu and Ketu are always opposite to each other i.e, 180 degrees apart. (Also read: Rahu in Vedic Astrology)
Eclipse or Grahan
Grahan or eclipse is the natural phenomenon happening on the sky. Sometimes eclipses cause havoc for the nature. There will be lot of side effects on mundane matters. There will be some unexpected changes. Eclipses have both positive and negative bearings on human beings.
In the solar system, Earth moves around the Sun and Moon moves around the Earth. The path of the Sun around Earth is called ecliptic. When Moon crosses the ecliptic from south to north is called as Rahu while north to south is called as Ketu. So Rahu and Ketu are called as nodes of the Moon. At these points, the Moon and the Sun get eclipsed on poornima and the Amavasya respectively. There are two types of eclipses: Solar eclipse and lunar eclipse.
Lunar eclipse: A lunar eclipse takes place when the Sun, Moon and Earth are nearly in a straight line and Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth. That means Earth will be in between sun and moon i.e. on poornima.
Solar Eclipse: Solar eclipse takes place when the moon is in between the earth and the sun and also these three planets are approximately in a straight line. It will be a Amavasya day. Here the sun rays will be stopped by the moon from falling on the earth.
Once upon a time, there was a war between Devas (angels) and Asuras (demons). The Devas lost the war and they went to God Vishnu for help. So Vishnu told them to churn the ocean to obtain the nectar so that they will become immortal and powerful. To churn the ocean, they also sought the help of Asuras. Even Asuras wanted to have the nectar. So the churning of the ocean was started with the help of serpant God Vasuki used as a rope with a mountain called Mandara parvatha. Lord Vishnu, in the form of a tortoise, became the base and the churning process began. During the process various things came out. Even poison was also got created. Lord Shiva drank that poison to save the world. In the end, Amrita (nectar) came out and everyone started fighting for this. Seeing this, Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini (beautiful dancer) who mesmerized the demons who were fighting among themselves. She only distributed the nectar among Devatas. Observing this, one of the asura saw the trick of Mohini. So he joined the Devatas and consumed the nectar. While having the nectar, Sun and Moon observed and informed Vishnu. Lord Vishnu immediately beheaded that Asura with his Sudarshana chakra. Since he already consumed the nectar, he did not die but the neck was separated from the body. But both became alive. So his head was later called as Rahu of dragons head and the headless body was called as Ketu or dragons tail. Subsequently lord Vishnu ordered them to be placed in the planetary system.
As per the story, Sun and Moon were responsible for the beheading of the demon. Hence it is said the Rahu treats Sun and Moon as his biggest enemies. That is the reason, conjunction of Rahu with Sun and Moon is bad in horoscope. Also, as per the story, periodically Rahu will swallow the Sun and Moon. That means it will cause eclipse to the Sun and Moon.
Effect of the Eclipse
When eclipse happens in a particular house in the zodiac, the affairs of that house will be affected on individuals and also on mundane matters. Eclipses involving Rahu (north node) will have more impact than Ketu (south node). It is not only during the eclipse, but the impact will be felt some months before and after the eclipse. During this time there can be imbalances in the emotional realm of the life. During eclipse, rajas and tamas gunas will rise. The effects of eclipse are felt not only on human beings, but also on animals.
Do’s and dont’s during Eclipse
- Don’t look direcly at Sun as it can cause damage to eyes. Sun’s radiation at this moment is very harmful to the eyes.
- Don’t drink/eat/cook duiring eclipse. During eclipse, bacteria and harmful germs will rise in food items.
- Do not start any new project during eclipse. It is better to stay indoor and do the sadhana. Meditation can be done at this time.
- Take bath after the eclipse
- Do not use knife or any sharp weapons.
- Don’t touch any idols during eclipse
- Avoid non-vegetarian food and alcohol
Pregnant women should follow them compulsorily as it may cause problems to the baby. Ayurveda recommends pregnant woman should sit or lie on a mat containing darbha or kusha grass.
- It is better time to go inward during eclipse.
- Meditation and other spiritual practices can be done
- Charitable acts can be done such as donating to the poor or helping others in any way
- Mantra and japa can be chanted
- Fasting can be done for whole eclipse day (not recommended for pregnant women)
Mantras during eclipse
- Mahamrityunjay Mantra
- Gayatri Mantra and Aditya hridayam
- Mantras related to the planet, in which house the eclipse occurs
- ‘Om namah shivay’ mantra
- The Santana Gopala mantra for pregnant women