Rāhu (Sanskrit: राहु)() is one of the nine major astronomical bodies (navagraha) in Indian texts. Unlike the other eight, Rāhu is not a real astronomical body but a shadow entity, one that causes eclipses and is the king of meteors.
|North Lunar Node and Neptune|
Rahu: Head of Demon Snake, Konarak Idol, British Museum
|Affiliation||Graha, Asura, Svarbhanu|
|Mantra||Om Viprachitti putra Simhika putra Om Navagraha Rahuya Namah|
|Day||Friday, Rāhu Kāla|
|Mount||Chariot drawn by eight black horses|
|Festivals||Amavasya or Rāhu Kāla|
Rāhu is mentioned explicitly in a pair of scriptures from the Samyutta Nikaya of the Pali Canon. In the Candima Sutta and the Suriya Sutta, Rahu attacks Surya, the Sun deity and Chandra, the Moon deity before being compelled to release them by their recitation of a brief stanza conveying their reverence for the Buddha. The Buddha responds by enjoining Rāhu to release them, which Rāhu does rather than have his "head split into seven pieces". The verses recited by the two celestial deities and the Buddha have since been incorporated into Buddhist liturgy as protective verses recited by monks as prayers of protection.
Rāhu is found in the Puranic genre of mythology. The tale begins in the "remotest periods of prehistoric time, when the gods and titans, churned the milk Ocean to extract from it the Amrita, the elixir of immortality." Rāhu was present at that time and overcome with pride, he tried to catch Mother Laksmi's hair which immediately garnered a reaction from Vishnu. He hurled his discus and beheaded Rāhu.
In film, art and literatureEdit
- Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 77.
- Thomas E. Donaldson (2001). Iconography of the Buddhist Sculpture of Orissa: Text. Abhinav Publications. pp. 214–215. ISBN 978-81-7017-406-6.
- Natubhai Shah (1998). Jainism: the world of conquerors. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. pp. 168–172. ISBN 978-81-208-1939-9.
- Candima Sutta
- Suriya Sutta
- Access to Insight; see the summary in the Devaputta-samyutta section
- Cornelia Dimmitt (2012). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press. pp. 75, 347–349. ISBN 978-1-4399-0464-0.
- Heinrich Zimmer, Myth and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilisation. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1946, p. 176
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