Archive | July, 2009

The story of the root cause of Grahanas (Solar Eclipse of 22nd July)

23 Jul

There was an eclipse on 22nd July 23, 2009. Exploring the Indian Mythological roots of eclipses, the story goes as given below.
In Indian Mythology there is a myth behind the formation of the eclipses. It was decided by Devatas (gods) and Asuras (demons) to extract amruta (the eternity granting nectar) by churning the ocean.
During the churning of the ocean, many items that came out including poison, kamadhenu (the unlimited food provider) etc. At the end, after the amruta was extracted by churning the ocean, devatas and asuras quarreled for it. Lord Vishnu then took the avatar of Madhumathi and asks asuras to sit on one side and the asuras on the othe other side. Enticed by the beauty of Madhumathi (Lord Vishnu’s avatar) they accept it and do so. But an asura smelled the trick and disguised himself as God and sat between Surya Devata (the Sun God) and the Chandra Devata (the moon). Madhumathi starts distributing the amruta to the devatas and the asura from her Kamandalam (a pot with a spout used to serve liquids). In the process she serves amruta to the asura also disguised in the form of a devata.
Only when Moon god and Sun god signaled, Vishnu realized that it is an asura but by that time the amruta had been swallowed by the asura. The asura runs away frightened, but Lord Vishnu follows him and uses Vishnu chakra to cut the head of the asura from the body. But because the asura had already swallowed the amruta, he does not die. The head part of the asura is called as Rahu and the body is called as Ketu. However, Vishnu curses Rahu and Ketu to be two planets along with the seven other planets already present. As per astrology these planets symbol inauspicious time for living beings. And it is also said that because of the anger at Sun and Moon gods, Rahu and Ketu swallow/eat parts and whole of Sun and Moon, causing the eclipses. These days when Rahu/Ketu eat Sun or Moon periodically partially/fully manifest as eclipses.