Shanishcharya (Shani)

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Shani (Saturn), as the dark god is popularly known, is the son of Surya, the sun god, and his wife Chhaya. When the Shani dasha (periods) or aspect is indicated in our astrological chart, we become apprehensive and fearful because he is a demanding god. In the scriptures, it is said that Shani renders justice – handing out appropriate rewards or punishments according to our deeds or misdeeds.

Hanuman, in one interpretation, is considered the reflection of Shiva, or avatar of Rudra, a form of Shiva. Another regards Hanuman as the son of Vayu – the god of wind. Hanuman chose Surya as his Guru. He is also popularly known as Sankatmochan – the one who helps vanquish obstacles and troubles that block our path. He is a symbol of power, courage, hope, wisdom and devotion.

This story illustrates how Hanuman wields influence over Shani. It also shows how a person tides over the Shani dasha and uses the trials and tribulations that beset his path, during this dark phase, to grow personally as an individual and emerge wiser.

Story

As a rebellious adolescent, Shani was an argumentative boy always harassing his parents and the people he came across. His mere glance was enough to send people scurrying away from him. There was no way he could be controlled and made to listen to reason. One day, Surya saw that his son was having a heated argument with his mother. In the course of the argument, he saw the boy kick his mother on the shin in a fit of anger. This was too much to tolerate and Surya, severely admonishing his son, asked him to get out of the house. Furious at being upbraided and not one to be cowed down, Shani stomped out of the house – never to return.

Years went by with no word about the whereabouts of Shani. One day, Hanuman came to visit Shani’s parents and, finding Surya in a pensive mood, enquired solicitously as to the cause of his distress. Surya recounted the past incident and was told that Shani had abandoned his house after being reprimanded for his uncouth behaviour. Hanuman, observing the dejected state of Surya and Chhaya assured them that he would find Shani and bring him back. Although thanking Hanuman for his help, Surya was doubtful if Hanuman would meet with any success.

Hanuman flew across the heavens, oceans and earth in his search. At last he tracked him down and now found Shani grown into a well-built, young man. Hanuman coaxed and pleaded with him to return home to his parents, but to no avail. Finding that the soft approach was not working, Hanuman decided to take Shani back to his father, by using his sheer force. A tussle ensued between the two and Hanuman with his indomitable strength tied Shani with a rope and flew away with him to present him before Surya, his father.

The joy of seeing his son after so many years was marred by the unrelenting attitude of his son. Surya, in despair, decided to call upon Shiva. On seeing this, Shani became even more aggressive and offensive. Shiva, who was in deep meditation (samadhi), was rudely shaken out of it. Being aware of Shani’s nature, and seeing the stubborn and rebellious attitude of the young man, Shiva immediately changed his strategy and approached Shani with the query as to what was the cause of his discontent. Shani’s response was that no one loved him. Shiva said he would grant him a boon whereby he would be the judge of the deeds of everyone on earth, with the result they would respect and worship him. However, in return, he had to promise that to those who adhered to his dictates, his glance would always be benevolent. Thus, being pacified and having received this boon from Shiva Himself, the rope-bound Shani was released from his bonds.

Symbolism

Shani
The ruler of the planet Saturn in an astrological chart, causes immensely challenging circumstances that often create great despair in our lives. Yet, at the same time, it presents us with opportunities to grow.

Surya
Sun God, dispeller of darkness.

Hanuman
Symbol of conscious prana – the force of evolution.

Shiva
Cosmic Consciousness

 

The science of Astrology says that planets influence our lives, and their placement in our chart indicates our destiny. Please note that it only indicates, and does not determine our destiny. With the cultivation of constant awareness, we can manoeuvre our way through the difficult phases of planetary influences that may affect our lives.

We are told that when the planet Shani (Saturn) is passing through our chart, our psyche goes into a fear mode, accompanied by despair. We get the feeling that everything will go wrong; the reasoning faculty takes a back seat with the result that any diversity that comes our way gets magnified and propels us toward disaster. Such a behaviour pattern is akin to tying ourselves into knots, which in turn affects our body, mind and spirit. We lose perspective and enter into the blame game, cursing our stars and circumstances. The sheer hint that Shani aspects our chart makes us get into a bind; so, losing our reason and balance, we create a life for ourselves that acts as quicksand and pulls us toward disaster. We refuse to let the light of reason penetrate our mind, with the result our breath is always out of rhythm and this, in turn, affects our health as we further get enmeshed in the web of our negative thought patterns.

Wise sages, realizing the predicament of the human mind that has the tendency to move towards contraction, devised a method by which one could steer it away from a negative, downward slide, towards a more positive direction. They gave us this mantra (sacred chant) dedicated to Lord Hanuman, son of Vayu (the wind god) and the symbol of conscious prana.

 

 

Hunh Hanumatay Rudratmakaaye Hoonh Phatt

When one chants the Hanuman Chalisa composed by Tulsidas, one’s breath automatically moves in a certain rhythm. The regulated, rhythmic breath helps calm the mind and, once the mind is calmed, it allows the light of Surya, which is but our higher self, to filter in and awaken the sleeping consciousness. This helps untie the knots caused by fear, despair and frustration, thus creating the desired balance in the mind and body.

Invariably, when we visit the temple on a Saturday, we are advised (if Shani is in a malefic position in the chart) to first go to the image or statue of Hanuman with an offering of oil (it being the gross form of prana). After this we proceed with our offering towards the deity Shani.

If we look into Indian mythology, mantras and symbols more deeply, we will find that there are coded meanings and lessons to be learnt from them. Different mantras are devised for different purposes; different rhythms of annunciation align the breath to fulfill the purpose for which a specific mantra is being recited. For the lay person, who may not have the time or inclination to introspect and wonder, the ancient rishis devised symbols and set words to a certain rhythm. Thus evolved a system of creating balance within the body, mind and soul that would guide humankind to a higher awareness, and enable it to overcome various obstacles along the way. Once we understand the meaning behind the story of Shani, it helps us face not only the challenges, but also focus our minds on right behaviour and thought patterns. The challenges may remain the same, but our altered perception and our subsequent responses to situations will enable a smoother passage.

– Santosh Sachdeva

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