Shani Dev for all
Understanding Shani Dev:
First we pray to Gananayaka-Ekdanta-Vardayaka-Vinayaka and ask Him to bless us. Then we will ask for the blessings from the goddess of speech, Saraswati who rides the swans and also holds Veena in her other hand. We also seek blessings from our Guru, who never stops showering us with his divine knowledge. We also pray to Lord Shri Krishna, the supreme godhead, the one who sustains everything and the one who is the final goal of our lives.
I bow down to greet Shanaishchara, one who is slow in motion (Shaniah = slow, charah = move)(Saturn), the elder brother of Yama (the God of Death) and who is the son of Ravi (the Sun). He was born from Martanda (the Sun) and Chhaya. His complexion is blackish, like that of black eye ointment (used as an eye liner, made out of black soot mixed with clarified butter). Shanidev is represented as riding a chariot, carrying a bow and arrow and pulled by a vulture or a crow. He is found wearing blue cloths, blue flowers and sapphire. His favorite colors are black and blue. He is also known as Saura (son of sun-god), Kruradris or Kruralochana (the cruel-eyed), Mandu (dull and slow) and Asita (dark).
In Hinduism, they believe in 4 Yugas of existence. In the Satya Yuga (first Yuga) there was peace and dharma was already established. In the Treyta Yuga (Second Yuga) it became unstable and Lord Shri Rama descended to establish Dharma in this world. In Dwapar Yuga (Third Yuga), it was Lord Shri Krishna who took over the duty of establishing Dharma in this world. Now, in this Kali Yuga (Fourth and Final Yuga), the same authority is given to Lord Shani Dev. All the possible kinds of existence (all three universes) come under the jurisdiction of Shanidev. The kind of power that Shanidev is capable of is well elucidated in the 'Shani Mahtmya' story (following post).
He is the most fearsome and dreaded god. He is known to be responsible for all the pains in life. He is feared by all the souls in all the three universes. His influence can reach and affect anyone, whether they are gods, demons or humans. His power is immeasurable and cannot be surpassed. However, do not be misguided by the destructive ability of Shanidev. He is both immensely powerful and overwhelmingly kind. His kindness knows no bound. He is the one who provides justice to every soul. He gives us the fruits which are the results of the deeds that we sow. When we sow, the deeds grow into a plant, which is called destiny. The destiny bears fruits when the time is right. Shanidev holds the power of bearing these fruits for us. However, Shanidev is only responsible to give us the results. Whether they are good or bad, that depends on us. So when we receive bad results, we should not blame the innocent Shanidev for something which we are responsible for.
To draw you an astronomical picture, our Shanidev, the Saturn, is 9 crore miles away from Earth. His radius is 1,826,000,000 kms (enormous and strong). His gravitational force is 95 times higher (powerful) than that of Earth. Shanidev takes 19 years to complete 1 revolution (slow motion) around the Sun. Saturn's colors are beautiful, strong, influencing and eye-catching (attractive). He is accompanied by 22 satellites in the rings around him. It is clear that the gravitational force of Shanidev is more than that of Earth. Thus, when we think of good or bad thoughts and make plans, they reach Shanidev due to his magnanimous power. And Shanidev being a Just god, never fails in giving justice to everyone. Thus, in astrological terms, good karma will bear good results to self and bad karma will bear bad ones to self. In layman terms, 'what goes around comes around'. Hence, some may think of Shanidev as a foe, but the exact opposite is true. Shanidev is our true friend. He gives proportionate happiness and unhappiness to us according to our karma.
Shanidev gives the proper definition of pain to everyone. On the contrary he is equally kind by nature. He is also known as dayavant (foremost in showing kindness) Shanidev. He casts his dayadhristi (vision giving kind treatment) on anyone who respects him and worships him. Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835) wrote in his musical composition 'Navagraha' (Nine Planets) in sanskrit "Yet O son of Chhaya (shadow) you are the fire who can destroy Time itself and like Kamadhenu, the wish giving cow, you grant us all our good desires with kindness and compassion".
Astro-logic behind Shanidev:
Shanidev appears in everyone's rashi (horoscope) whether they like it or not. He appears every 30 years in life and at least 3 times in everybody's life on Earth (unless they die at earlier stage).This is a cyclic phenomenon and there is no escape out of it. Shanidev's period usually stretches over 7.5 years. It is called sade-sati period.(sade-sati itself means 7 and a half period). In other words it is called as 'payback period'. All the karma that a human does in 30 years, the results are paid back with interest. Thus, good karma over 30 years brings best of times and bad karma over 30 years brings worst of times in this sade-sati period.
However, it is also true that Shanidev dislikes to hurt anyone. So, wise ones pray Shanidev with all devotion in order to increase the effects of good karma and split the effects of bad karma. That is, Shanidev can divide the bad results into million parts so that its effects go unnoticeable. Another beautiful way of showing mercy by Shanidev is giving strength to sustain the trouble that he himself gives us. An analogy to this is a person when happens to eat a very spicy food and feels the unbearable spice on his tongue, moans in distress and pain. However, if he puts some sugar on the spiced area of his tongue, the strength to sustain the spice is gained. Notice that the spice has not reduced but the sweet has increased. Similarly, due to Shanidev's grace, it is possible to experience all the bad results, and yet live happily and peacefully by praying and surrendering to Lord Shanidev. This is called 'growing-through sade-sati' period as opposed to 'going-through sade-sati' period. At the end of this 7.5 years, Shanidev conveys his final teachings that anyone who has pride over 'tann (body), mann (self), dhann (money), vachan (speech) and karma' will face the wrath of Shanidev. And in order to teach such divine lessons to the forgetful humans he visits us again after 30 years.
The difference between misunderstanding and understanding someone's actions is getting to know their intention behind them. When one knows the intention of Shanidev, all blurry images will become high resolution ones. Before making judgments on Shanidev based on his actions, let us explore his intentions behind them.
The Kashi section of Skanda-Purana mentions the origin of Shanidev as being born to Suryadev (Sun god) and Goddess Chhaya (shadow). When Shanidev was born his father, the Sun, saw his dark complexion and was displeased. Since the Sun bore ego and pride of being the brightest planet, he was expecting the similar trait from his son. However, the traits of Chhaya (shadow), his mother, were passed on to Shanidev in terms of looks. Sun's reaction to his new born son, Shanidev, was not expected either. This angered Shanidev and he gave a cruel look to his own father, the Sun. The result was devastating. The Sun got infected with terrible skin disease that was never seen before and was not curable with any available medicine. Along with that, the Sun's charioteer turned lame and the horses became blind. However, the main motive of Shanidev was not to avenge the insult. Shanidev wanted to curb the ego inside Sun. Also, if one observes keenly, Shanidev turned charioteer lame and horses blind, not the other way around. Since, charioteer uses his eyes and directs the horses who use their legs to drive the chariot. So, even after such disaster the chariot was perfectly mobile. Shanidev always tries to convey his message and teaches us by showing us a glimpse of despair, not a complete fall down. He gives us struggles but he also gives us an opportunity to come out of the struggles. He is the teacher who teaches life lessons 'the hard way'. Finally, when Sun god became humble and surrendered to Shanidev for his mercy, then Shanidev became compassionate. Shanidev's second look gave Sun his full health back. Also the charioteer and horses regained their organs.
Shanidev is known to test the virtue of his devotees repeatedly. When even under duress, his devotees continue to be loyal to him, he makes them rich and prosperous beyond measures. Shanidev considers egoist personas as his adversaries. He punishes those who perform ill deeds by giving them endless miseries and blesses those who perform good ones by giving them all the progress in life. He acts like a judge in our lives. Shanidev is the first guardian of the human soul in so far as he makes it a point to make people suffer for their sins in their lives, so as to purify and cleanse them of the negative influence of evil they have acquired in the pursuit of materialism. Although, after causing a lot of suffering Shanidev becomes merciful and gives them more pleasure than they suffered pains. This is because after Shanidev's influence falls on someone, they learn to be humble and let go of anger, ego, pride, selfishness, greed, lust, etc., which is the main intention of Shanidev for all his treatment.
How to appease Shanidev:
"Every soul has a personal relationship with God" - Sai Baba. A method of performing service to the Lord Shanidev is relative to individual. The way of pleasing Shanidev for one may vary from that for another one. However, certain services can be adopted commonly by anyone to appease the lord. Fasting is one of them. Sacrificing activities that gives you material pleasure is also a good way to please Shanidev. Other common ways to make Shanidev happy is to worship Hanuman and chant Hanuman Chalisa on Saturdays. Also, praying to Godess Durga Ma will please Shanidev a lot. Give respect to our parents, gurus, elders and voluntarily help the needy. Performing karma-yoga and Seva (service) never go unnoticed by Shanidev.
The procedure for Saturday fasting that I believe in, is as follows:
- Wake up at dawn (around 6 am)
- Perform the daily ablution and take shower with herbs
- Pour sesame or mustard oil on an iron horse shoe (depicting Shanidev)
- Read Shani Mahtmya story in happy mood
- 6 am - 6 pm consume only drinking water (nothing else)
- Remember and pray to Shanidev throughout the day
Shanidev loves our sacrifices. Sacrificing material desires for Shanidev shows our devotion and faith towards him. Thus Shanidev tends to be merciful. So sacrifice consuming non-veg food/drinking/smoking (if you ever do them) on Saturdays at least. Perform community service if possible. Donate money or food or anything that is possible to the needy. Selfless deeds and philanthropy lead us to the path of righteousness and makes Shanidev very happy. A relevant quote that Lord Shri Krishna speaks in Srimad Bhagwad Gita is, "Whatever karma you do, either do it for others or do it for me. Do not do it for self!"
!!~ Om Sham Shanaiscaryaye Namah ~!!
Note: The above information is extracted from various scriptures, stories and blogs on Shanidev and merged. I do not possess the ownership of any piece of information written in the post above.