What Are Rahu & Ketu?

What are Rahu and Ketu
By Mrityunjai Ojha


Rahu - Ketu: Reasons By Astrology & Astronomy


Generally, we know Rahu and Ketu are shadowy planets that disturb human life. Astrologers discuss a lot about these two shadow planets or lunar nodes, but many astrologers face difficulty in their application. Astronomically, we know that the Sun is a star and Moon is a satellite, but in astrology we consider them as planets because they affect us. Rahu and Ketu have no physical body, but they are considered as planets.

AstroSage Editor’s Note: 

Lots of people get confused when Sun, Moon, Rahu and Ketu are called planets, as in the modern astronomical terminology these can not be planets. The confusion arises due to the translation of the word ‘graha’ as ‘planet’. In Sanskrit, the word ‘graha’ is made from the root ‘grah’ which means holding or catching. As Rahu and Ketu hold the influence, these are considered Graha. The same is true for Sun and Moon. As modern astronomy lacks a term that can describe this meaning, word ‘planet’ is used as a rough translation. The word ‘planet’ should always used with caution when used in astrology as it doesn’t describes the true meaning.

Most of the classics do not give any lordship to these two nodes Rahu and ketu, though they have been assigned ownership of Nakshatras. Rahu and Ketu are like a black hole in the space, they observe everything that is close to them, they give result as per their placement of houses, signs, planet conjunctions, planetary aspects, Nakshatra (constellation), etc. Due to this nature, we can say that Rahu and Ketu are the most powerful planets in Kaliyuga. They take energy from the other sources and become more powerful like a black hole. We will try to understand what is Rahu and Ketu in both astronomical and mythological way.

Astronomical reasoning: As we know, every planet, satellite, stars is rotating and revolving like Moon to Earth, Earth to Sun and so on. The revolving path of Sun, is called Ecliptic. Moon's path is inclined to the Ecliptic by 05*09. So, Moon crosses the Ecliptic 2 times while revolving around the Earth. Rahu is basically the point of intersection between the revolving Moon and South to North course. It is also known as ‘ascending node’ or ‘the North’. The point where the Moon crosses the ecliptic while travelling from North to South is known as Ketu, the South or ‘descending node’. So, these two intersection points are Rahu and Ketu. These two lunar nodes have clubs of magnetic and gravitational forces. That’s why they rule electricity, magnetic areas, hidden things, hidden disease in human life.

Mythological reasoning: Rahu and Ketu comes into the picture during the churning of the ocean in the Hindu mythology. There is a tale of terrible battle between Gods and demons, both started fighting with each other for Amrit (immortality potion). Gods prayed Lord Vishnu to solve this problem. Lord Vishnu changed his appearance as a beautiful woman “Mohini”. The demons were impressed by this beautiful lady “Mohini”. Mohini (Vishnu) asked deities as well as demons to stand in a queue. One of the demons named “Swarbhanu” understood the secret of Vishnu and he changed his look as a deity and stood in the line of the deities. Swarbhanu also took the Amrit with other deities. The two deities Sun and Moon recognized him that he was a demon. Sun and Moon informed Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu killed Swarbhanu by Sudarshan Chakra in two parts. But till that time Swarbhanu had taken Amrita, so he became immortal. The head of Swarbhanu is called Rahu and rest of the body is called Ketu. Even today, the demon “Swarbhanu” (Rahu and Ketu) takes his revenge from Sun and Moon by overlapping them as a shadow. We know this event as eclipse.

Hope it helps getting some perspective for Rahu and Ketu.


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