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|North Lunar Node|
Rahu: Head of Demon Snake, Konarak Idol, British Museum
|Sanskrit transliteration||rāhu (The point of intersection of ascending node of lunar orbit with the elliptic plane of earth’s orbit)|
|Mantra||Om Rahave Namaha|
|Mount||Blue / black lion|
|Region||Andhra India; South-West|
In Hindu tradition, Rahu () is the severed head of an asura called Svarbhānu, that swallows the sun causing eclipses. He is depicted in art as a serpent with no body riding a chariot drawn by eight black horses.[contradictory] Rahu is one of the navagraha (nine planets) in Vedic astrology and is paired with Ketu. The time of day considered to be under the influence of Rahu is called Rahu kala and is considered inauspicious. In Vedic astronomy, Rahu is considered to be a rogue planet. The other name of Rahu is Bhayanaka.
As per Vedic astrology Rahu and Ketu have an orbital cycle of 18 years and are always 180 degrees from each other orbitally (as well as in the birth charts). This coincides with the precessional orbit of moon or the ~18 year rotational cycle of the lunar ascending and descending nodes on the earth’s ecliptic plane.
Often Rahu is misunderstood as Neptune during Sanskrit to English translation, however, Neptune isn’t visible to the naked eye and its discovery is attributed to the use of high resolution telescopes in modern astronomy.
Rahu 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 Rahu to release them, which Rahu 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.
In film, art and literature
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 77.
- Candima Sutta
- Suriya Sutta
- Access to Insight; see the summary in the Devaputta-samyutta section
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