Rahu and Ketu are astrological terms. They refer to points where the Sun and Moon’s paths intersect each other while traversing the celestial sphere. Rahu is called the north lunar node and Ketu the south lunar node. They are always found opposite each other.
History of Rahu and Ketu
There is a story in Vedic literature about a serpent demon Svarbhanu who disguised himself as a god. He did so in order to partake of Amrit , the elixir of immortality. However, after taking a sip, his disguise was found out and his head was severed. But because he had partaken of Amrit—the ambrosial drink gifting immortality—his head survives as Rahu and his body as Ketu.
In the Bhagavata Purana and in the Mahabharata, we learn that his head, Rahu, is depicted in conflict with the Sun, or Surya. And Ketu attacks the Moon, or Chandra. These ancient texts explain that the head of Rahu attacks the Sun and attempts to swallow it, resulting in an eclipse. Since Rahu doesn’t have a body, he cannot digest the sun. Therefore, the Sun slips free and the eclipse ends. Similarly with Ketu and the Moon.
Both Rahu and Ketu are important in another branch of the Vedic literature—Jyotish, or Vedic astrology. Although just mathematical points, or nodes in the celestial sphere, Jyotish regards them as two of nine influential astrological planets, called Grahas.
Jyotish considers Rahu a malefic. Rahu represents the ego and base human desire. Sometimes he represents an obsession or desperation for something. He may typify greed, passion or scheming, or represent dullness, inertia or laziness. Jyotish points out that a strong Rahu influence may make someone want more and more, and at any cost. Then, in the end, people realize what they were chasing does not exist or it doesn’t give expected results.
Rahu indicates worldly desires and is capable of giving great power, fame, political success, money, etc. However, because the desires are insatiable, they may not provide satisfaction from the attainment of those desires.
Ketu is also considered to be a malefic. As a body separated from the head—representing a serpent without a brain—Ketu can produce intense unconscious and impulsive behavior. Ketu may also signify one who goes unnoticed or becomes invisible to others.
Overall, Jyotish considers Rahu and Ketu to represent negative influences in our lives, but they may provide a silver lining. Like all other planets, the influence of Rahu and Ketu depends on their placement in ones astrological chart, and present positioning.
For more information on Maharishi Jyotish, click here.
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