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Species Asura
Gender Male
Affiliation Asura, Two Graha, divided into Rahu and Ketu
Family Simhika (mother)
Planets Neptune and Uranus
Abode Patala

Svarbhānu or Swarbhanu (Sanskrit: स्वरभानु, lit. Splendour of Radiance)[1] is a Hindu Asura (demon) traditionally held responsible for solar eclipses in Vedic mythology. The name is also used as an attribute of the demon Rahu in Puranic mythology,[1] who is also connected to solar eclipses.



Svarbhānu is described as an asura twice in the Family Books of the Rig Veda.[2] Svarbhānu is described to strike the Sun with darkness, overshadowing the sun with darkness.[3] Stella Kramrisch considers this act as Svarbhānu as a deity greater than the sun.[1] The Rig veda further narrates after this, the king of heaven - Indra struck down Svarbhānu and sage Atri found the hidden sun and replaced it in the sky.[2][4] Svarbhanu again appears in the black Yajurveda and the Brahmanas.[2] According to the Brahmanas, Svarbhānu with darkness pierced Āditya (the Sun), whom, however, the gods set free by means of svara (accents).[5]

An assistant of Shukra, the teacher of the asuras and god of the planet Venus, was Svarbhānu, who quaffed the amrita proffered by Mohini, thereby achieving immortality as two beings : his head as Rahu, his body's trunk as Ketu.[6][7]

According to the Mahabharata, Svarbhānu is described to incarnate as Ugrasena, though here, Svarbhānu denotes Rahu. The Sun god Surya is also described by the attribute the "enemy of Svarbhānu".[8][9] Svarbhānu is described to strike both the sun and moon with arrows, the celestial bodies are revived by Atri as in the Rigveda.[4]

According to the text Hari-vaṃśa,[10] Svarbhānu ushered Kalanemi through the galaxy. In a Purana, Svarbhānu is described as son of the goddess Siṃhikā ('Little Lioness').[11]


  1. ^ a b c Stella Kramrisch, Raymond Burnier (1976). The Hindu temple. 2. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 325–6. ISBN 978-81-208-0224-7. 
  2. ^ a b c Wash Edward Hale (1986). Ásura- in early Vedic religion. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 63–6. ISBN 978-81-208-0061-8. 
  3. ^ Mitchiner 1982, p. 258
  4. ^ a b Antonio Rigopoulos. Dattātreya: the immortal guru, yogin, and avatāra. pp. 3–4. 
  5. ^ Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa 2:386; Maitrāyaṇi Brāhmaṇa 4:5:2
  6. ^ Chander 2000, p. 2
  7. ^ B S Shylaja, H R Madhusudan (1999). Eclipse. Universities Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-81-7371-237-1. 
  8. ^ "Sambhava" parvan, Section LXVII
  9. ^ Johannes Adrianus Bernardus van Buitenen (1981). The Mahabharata. 2. University of Chicago Press. pp. 242, 784. ISBN 978-0-226-84664-4. 
  10. ^ 1:47:52
  11. ^ Kāla-Sarpa Yoga


  • J. Sarat Chander : "Ketu and its Forms". 2000.
  • Sukumari Bhattacharji : The Indian Theogony. Cambridge University Press, 1970.
  • John E. Mitchiner : Traditions of the Seven Rishis. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1982.

See also[edit]