Svarbhanu aka Rahu Ketu and Ksheer Samudra Manthan

Of all the 580+ posts I have written till now, the most read are the ones on Rahu Ketu. And with good reason. These two are the most fascinating forces in the horoscope. If you can understand them, you understand Life, Living and the Beyond. If you analyse the horoscopes of charismatic individuals, Rahu Ketu will always be very strong. From business tycoons to genuine Gurus, they become this by the combined power of Rahu Ketu ie Svarbhanu.

Rahu Ketu are the two parts of the Asur Svarbhanu. The head is Rahu and the headless body is Ketu. These two were created during the Samudra manthan, ie churning of the infinite Ocean of Eternal Happiness or the Ocean of Mahapran during the time of the Koorma avtar, ie the incarnation of Shri Vishnu as Koorma.

There are no ’stories’ in Santa dharma/ Hinduism. These are all allegories, deep philosophy in easy to understand events which may also have actually occurred at some point of time. All our deepest philosophy is intertwined in various stories so that everyone, from children to the philosophers can read the same text but learn different things from it, palimpsests.

Samudra Manthan is a very important allegory in Sanatan Dharm/ Hinduism as it describes what happens in you when you do Dhyan. Your journey from apparent Duality to the Non Dual Reality.

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Briefly Samudra manthan goes like this. (Ref Ithihas, Mahabharat, Adi Parva)

Shri Vishnu gives his Vaijayanti mala to Rishi Durvas to deliver it to Dev raj Indra. He goes to Amravati, the capital of the Devatas and gives it to Indra. Indra holds it casually and the Mala falls from his hands. His elephant Airavat stamps on it. Rishi Durvas gets angry at this insult to the Mala and curses Indra that all ‘prosperity’ from his universe will vanish. Accordingly all types of prosperity, all wealth, all comforts, all gold, food, animals etc, Moon, Airavat himself and all symbols of Shri including the Devi Shri Laxmi herself, unmanifest ie dissolve back into the Ksheer Samudra. There is horrific turbulence, inauspiciousness everywhere.

Indra rushes to Shri Vishnu, asks for help. The solution is to churn the Ksheer Samudra with the help of his half-brother, Asur Raj Mahabali. The Devatas/Surs and the Danavs/Daityas/Asuras are to cooperate for this task. Thus the Ocean would give up its treasures and Shri ie prosperity would return to the manifested universe. Mandar mountain would be the churning rod and Vasuki Nag the churning rope.

On the chosen day Anant Nag uproots the Mandar mountain, sets it in the Ksheer Samudra. Vasuki Nag is tied 3 and 1/2 times around the mountain. 54 Devata hold on the tail part of Vasuki Nag and / 54 Asur hold his head portion. They start churning the Samudra. There is terrible turbulence, lightning, storms, Vasuki Nag breathes out fire as he is pulled, stretched and in pain, the beings existing on the mountain and in the ocean are destroyed, their essences merge into the ocean. Then the mountain also starts sinking into the Samudra. Shri Vishnu manifests his Koorma avtar and stabilises the mountain so that the churning can continue.

Finally the churning starts yielding results, embodiments of prosperity start manifesting from the ocean. Kamdhenu (given to the Rishis), Ucchaishrava (given to Asur Raj Bali), Airavat (given to Dev Raj Indra), Parijat (planted in Swarg), Varuni (given to Asurs), Moon (fixed in the skies), Apsara (went to Swarg), Panchajanya, Kaustubh Mani (both to Shri Vishnu), Sharanga (bow, weapon of Shri Vishnu), Mahalaxmi appeared with the Vyjanti mala (She is Shri Vishnu’s wife).

The churning continues, a poison Halahal or Kalkut manifests, it has the power to destroy everything so Bhagwan Shankar drinks it all and Devi Parvati with her power holds it at his throat. (Thus Bhagwan Shankar is pure white just like white quartz, Sphatik, but with a blue throat, Neelkanth.)

Finally Bhagwan Dhanvantari (deity of Ayurved) appears with the Amrut kalash in his hands. Thus fourteen ‘gems’ of prosperity manifest from the Ksheer Samudra.

Seeing the pot of Amrut, the Dev and Asur start fighting on who should drink it. Shri Vishnu uses his Maya and appears as a beautiful Mohini before them. He offers to distribute it fairly and they agree. Devatas stand on one side of Mohini and the Daitya-s at the another. Mohini starts with the Devatas first with the understanding that the Asurs would be served after them. Asur Svarbhanu goes and stands between the Sun and Moon so gets the the Amrut out of turn. Sun/Surya and Moon/Chandra object to this. Shri Vishnu gets angry with Svarbhanu’s behaviour and cuts off his head with his weapon the Sudarshan chakra. But Svarbhanu has already drunk the Amrut, he has gone beyond death. So his head continues to exist as Rahu and the headless body as Ketu. After this episode, Shri Vishnu further punishes the Asurs by not giving them their share of the Amrut.

Rahu and Ketu become specific enemies of the Surya and Chandra. They ‘devour’ the Sun and Moon from time to time, causing eclipses.

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All these words are in Sanskrit, ie the Devbhasha Samskrutam so have various meanings. Let’s try to understand the cast of characters in Sanskrit. 

  • Ksheer Samudra – This is the ocean of intelligent milky sparkly pran that surrounds us. We are all sealed inside this. The power of the configuration of the horoscope that you have tied yourself with. The conscious power of the sound, vibrations etc. 
  • Manthan – shaking, churning, creating fire by friction, energy created by movement of inward/ Purak and outward/ Rechak breath when you do your Dhyan.
  • Vaijayanti – a kinetic force created by terrifying acceleration and speed
  • Mala – line, streak, garland, crown etc.
  • Durvas – something that is difficult to be tolerated or stayed with
  • Rishi – ray of light, ascetic, seer
  • Indra – individual soul, king of the devata, post here
  • Mandar – connected to slowness, largeness,  firmness, meter of prosody, tree, mirror, heaven etc. Mandar mountain is considered to be a splintered part of the Meru itself.
  • Vasuki – the energy which converts the energies of the Vasu into solidity, ie the power which dulls or slows down pure energy.
  • Nag – cobra, serpentine, of the mountains, created from solidity, metal, stone, name of a pran, elephant, gigantic, cloud, karmic bindings, etc.
  • Anant – fraction, infinite, sky, number 1, silk cord, unending, eternal
  • Koorma – means a turtle, a serpent, one of the pran in the body, a intricate knot or the energy which holds the Kundalini tied to the Muladhar chakra, or an intricate locking mechanism.
  • Vishnu – stabilising or potential energy of Satva gun
  • Laxmi – kinetic or moving energy of Satva gun. The ‘sign’, ie the created universes.
  • Dev – light, excellent, sword, organ of sense, heavenly etc
  • Asur – absence of light, cloud, spirit, sun etc
  • Mahabali – big gift, immense offering, large tribute, great worship, great strength etc.
  • Shankar – the stabilising or potential consciousness of the Tamogun.  
  • Parvati – the active or kinetic awareness of the Tamogun
  • Mohini – energy of illusion, fascination, perplexity, confusion, delusion, attraction.
  • Sudarshan chakra – the energy of perfectly visible time cycles. The perfectly arranged energy which pulls inwards like a whirlpool. It destroys illusions in the sense it makes the cycle of creation perfectly visible.
  • Halahal – poison, snake, the reaction to actions done
  • Kalakut – false knowledge related to time/space, the concept of duality being an untruth, illusion of existence, foundation of time/space, destructive power of time/space, contained time/space
  • Chandra – Moon, water, shining, best, meter of prosody, beautiful, camphor, connected to the power of the Ajnya chakra etc.
  • Surya – Sun, number 12, auspicious, connected to the power of the Sahasrara chakra

Try to think on these meanings, in fact there are even more meanings, and to think on what these energies can mean in the allegory. We, followers of Sanatan Dharma do not follow anything blindly. We think, ponder, try to find the deeper essence of things. 

The Rahu Ketu axis

The fourteen gems which manifested out of the Samudra manthan are,

  • Sharanga – Chakata bird, peacock, bee, elephant, the bow wielded by Shri Vishnu. The Sushumna of the spiritual aspirant on which he will shoot up the Kundalini like an arrow. The vibrations, energy build up, discernment, purity etc that the aspirants feel in the body/mind as he begins with his intense sadhana.
  • Varuni – liquor, created by the deity Varun, also linked to war elephants or war horses, the power of motion used for destruction. This would be the energy which pacifies or destroys the dissonant energies which get active as the Kundalini gets access to the lower Sushumna. 
  • Apsara – a small creek, outlet into a larger waterbody, small waterbody, nymph, eddies of thoughts. This stage indicates the growth of divinity in the sadhak. Also indicate the turbulence of the mind which occurs during the Dhyan process. As you try to gain the unmani avastha the Manas/ Mind fights back by creating these attractive thought patterns to divert you away from yourself. Apsara is the wave which rises on the smooth surface of the internal ocean. These Apsara are under the control of Indra and reside in Swarg.
  • Kamdhenu – a being/cow that gives the essence of all desires and intentions. It is also considered to be stationed at the Muladhar chakra. Kamdhenu is the Queen of Cows, ie the magnificent power of vowels. The entry to the Sushumna.
  • Ucchaishravas – clearly uttered or heard loud rapid sounds, moving fast upwards, clear flowing precious substance. This is the sound that one hears when the kundalini starts on its journey in the Sushumna. (Shri sukta also describes the rising of the Kundalini). Ucchaishravas is the King of all Horses, ie the most excellent intelligence. Asur Raj Bali rides this as his vehicle.
  • Airavat – lightning, elephant, Devraj Indra rides him, ie control that the individual soul gains over the Muladhar chakra and its intricacies. When the aspirant brings his kundalini to the Swadhishthan chakra.
  • Kaustubh mani – oil, jewel, mudra, jewel which Shri Vishnu wears on his chest. The aspirant as he crosses the Manipur chakra.
  • Panchajanya – The conch used by Shri Vishnu. It means born from the five, condensation of the spread out substance, created using exact measures, crystallization of insubstantial energies, the sound of OM, the Anahata naada, heard when the kundalini crosses the Anahata chakra. 
  • Parijat – connected to the one who has descended, linked to the one who has fully developed, fragrant, of the one who was conceived. This is the fragrance/aura that high level yogis or realised Jivanmukt emanate, ie the power that we sense in their aura. The kundalini has reached the Vishuddhi chakra.
  • Chandra – moon, water, shining, number 1, meter of prosody, gold, etc. It is the radiance that the aspirant sees at the Ajnya chakra. Seeing the Moon at the Ajnya chakra means that the next stage, ie appearance of the Prakruti is going to happen soon. 
  • Vaijayanti mala – The streaks of pure energy seen at the Ajnya chakra as the aspirant starts his way to the Dashangula. Shri Vishnu wears this auspicious garland made of precious flowers.
  • Mahalaxmi – She emerged from the Ksheer Samudra with the Vaijayanti mala got married to Shri Vishnu and went to Vaikunth with her husband. The tremendousness that ‘Laxmi’ really is. ‘Shri’, seated on a lotus indicates the growth of Vivek and Vairagya in the sadhak. Lotus indicates complete control over Time and the cycles of Time. The Laxmi tantra describes what ‘Laxmi’ really is. At this stage the Sadhak has complete understanding of what creation is really all about. She liberates the sadhak from the bindings of the three gun. This is where you are face to face with Devi Prakruti, ie Satvagun too has been crossed. 
  • Dhanvantari, the deity of Ayurved, with Amrut kalash in his hands indicates the aspirant is ‘healed from the taap-traya, ie Aadhyatmik, Aadhidaivik and Aadhibhoutik sources of pain are destroyed. All types of misery caused by his own actions, by the actions of others or the actions of fate/nature are resolved, cured and healed. Dhanvantari is a form of Vishnu, ie Satva gun and is the deity of Ayurved. We are required to do his pujas on Dhantrayodashi, which comes 2 days before Diwali.
  • Amrut – The energy of non-death. The stage of awareness where death, endings, limits, changes, etc do not exist. There is no beginning nor ending, Moksh. It Is.

Thus the 14 gems of prosperity describe the stages of the aspirant during his sadhana till he realises himself, ie Moksh.

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Rahu and Ketu

Asur Svarbhanu was the child of the Asur King Viprachitta and his Queen Simhika. She was one of the daughters of Prajapati Daksha thus a granddaughter of Brahmadev. In Sanskrit, names have meanings and describe the qualities of the persons they are linked to. Names are Titles, not random meaningless ‘proper nouns’. 

These titles in Devbhasha Samskrutam mean the following

Viprachitta विप्रचित्तः – Vipra means a seer, priest, poet, learned, wise, excited, in-motion, holy, inspired, the highest intelligence. Chitta means intention, notice, aim, mind,  appearance, something you long for, memory, thought, wish, knowledge, reason intelligence and also reflection. So Viprachitta is a pure, elevated intelligence in action.

Simhika सिंहिका – is derived from the root word Simha, which means lion, powerful one, hero, musical tone, etc. Simhika is the movement created by an elevated power.

Svarbhanu स्वर्भानुः – The name Svarbhanu is powerful title in itself, it describes the qualities of this Asur who later became Rahu and Ketu.

  • Svar means vowels, a musical note, sound energy, sunshine, bright space , heaven, the air that you breathe through your nose, the number 7, the space between the Sun and the Dhruv Tara (Dhruv is the pole star, he is the top of the celestial Meru).
  • Bhanu means the Sun, master, king, appearance, ray of light, illumination, etc.
  • Thus Svarbhanu would be the conscious intelligence of the very pran/ vital energy you breathe in. The light you see at the top most point of your internal Meru. The radiance of the king.

The intelligence of the time/ space around the Earth where the Sun and Moon apparently travel is called Svah स्वः In astronomy, Rahu and Ketu are the points where the orbit of the Moon around the Earth intersects with the ecliptic ie the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth. The intersection points of the Sun’s and the Moon’s paths of light are Rahu and Ketu. The divine spark ie the Sun is modulated by the Moon and tied to Earth by Rahu and Ketu.

In your sadhana, if you cross the Ajnya chakra and enter the Sahasrar complex you might find Rahu + Ketu in their united form of Svarbhanu lighting your way right till the very top.

You see, we are all beings of light. In my earlier post somewhere, I had asked you to try this simple test. Sit in a pitch black room. Now what do you see? Darkness? Swirls of coloured light? Streaks of light? A network of white light lines? Or a central white dot? What do you see? Do you see anything at all or is it all dark for you? As you do your Dhyan regularly, you stop seeing darkness. You never see anything to be dark. There will be no night to you. ie even in a pitch black room you will see light, even if you keep your eyes open or closed it will always be bright. This brightness depends on the level of your personal evolution, how much Pran you have managed to channelise into yourself. And this brightness is not external, but internal. It is the brightness of your own self. Just that most of us are so blinded by our own karma that we fail to realise it. We grope around in the dark, we are scared of the dark. But you and me, we are indeed beings of light.

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Svarbhanu

Svarbhanu was a royal prince, born to powerful parents. He was powerful, perceptive, highly intelligent, able to see clearly inspite of the highest illusions which hid the reality around him. If you critically go through the Samudra manthan allegory, among all the Sur and the Asur present in the gathering, only Svarbhanu was able to comprehend that the Mohini standing before them was not what she seemed to be. He was not taken in by the illusion woven by the Satvagun. Only he had this clarity, the perception of the reality, despite the enticing allure of the Maya before him. Svarbhanu was able to maintain his senses in the face of Mohini’s illusions and act decisively. He was a risk-taker, not random rash risks but calculated risks where he thought that he could gain. He was going for the highest prize, the Amrut, essence of non-death. He decided to stand between the Sun and the Moon so that their brilliance would mask his aura. This worked and Mohini, ie Shri Vishnu himself, was unable to recognise him as an Asur and he was given the Amrut. But as he started drinking it, the Sun and the Moon realised that he was Svarbhanu and they alerted the assembly, Shri Vishnu then cut off Svarbhanu’s head with his weapon, the Sudarshan chakra (the kinetic energy of time/space used with intention). But Svarbhanu had already drunk Amrut, his awareness was beyond the coils of birth /death. Thus Rahu, the head and Ketu the headless body were created. These two are also beyond death.

Svarbhanu didn’t believe Mohini’s assurance that the Asur-s too would be given the Amrut, (which was perhaps the truth as after his beheading, Shri Vishnu didn’t give them their share of Amrut.) Thus he was the only Asur who drank Amrut and went beyond death.

Rahu is the start of the eclipse and Ketu is the flaming light that one sees at the end of the eclipse. We, the individual souls/ jivatma residing on Earth are always between them, pulled and pushed by them, in our own individual Ksheer Samudra Manthan. Rahu and Ketu are the energies which bind individual soul/ jivatma to karma, ie Earth. 

They are created from the consciousness of the Svah स्वः by the Maya of the Satvagun using the kinetic power of time/ space. (Time is Kaal and Space are the Dasha Mahavidya). 

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Jyotish is used for objective as well as subjective analysis. Personally after so many years (lives) of horoscopes, objective questions like ‘when will I get a job’ are not exciting any more. Any competent astrologer can answer these objective questions using Jyotish as an Apara Vidya. But Jyotish is also a Ved-ang, a tool for self discovery, a Para vidya. As I open my chart, I see that everything which has happened to me, events, feelings, every tiny thing can be seen from the graha as indicators. I realise that I am quite predictable, so is everyone else. This 5-layered body can be easily deciphered using the graha indicators, no mystery here. So who am I really? A puppet, an actor, the director? These sort of questions lead to spirituality and a desire to know Oneself. Every genuine Jyotishi, Tarot card reader, Rune-caster, Aura-reader etc will eventually turn towards the inner self, it is the actual last frontier.

This is then Rahu Ketu or more correctly Svarbhanu at work.