Why does Rahu devour Sun and Moon? (Post No.5648)

Written  by London Swaminathan


Date: 10 November 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London –13-16
Post No. 5648

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We continue with Niti Sataka of Bhartruhari. Let us look at slokas/couplets 28,29,30

Bhartruhari stresses in thse three slokas that one must do commendable things.  The animals and humans are in different groupings because of their difference in actions. If a man goes higher and obtain fame , that will differentiate him from ordinary people and animals.

These slokas are about Fame

परिवर्तिनि संसारे
मृतः को वा न जायते ।
स जातो येन जातेन
याति वंशः समुन्नतिम् ॥ 1.29 ॥

What man is not born again while he passes from one birth to another? But that man is only truly born by whose birth his family attains to dignity.

Bhartruhari says one attains fame by improving the prosperity and dignity of the family.

Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, author of Tamil Veda Tirukkural, says,

If one takes birth in this world one should come with qualities which bring fame; if it is not it is better not to appear al all- Kural 236

He adds,

The gods will honour those who have earned everlasting fame rather than the sages who have attained the abode of the gods – Kural 234



द्वयी वृत्तिर्मनस्विनः ।
मूर्ध्नि वा सर्वलोकस्य
शीर्यते वन एव वा ॥ 1.30 ॥

There are two uses both for a flower bunch (inflorescence) and also for a wise man; they may be exalted on the head or wither in the forest.

Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says

Uththishta , Yaso labha!

Arise! Attain Fame

— Bhagavad Gita 11-33

In Tamil and Sanskrit there are sayigs about men

‘Like a lamp inside a pot’ (may be compared to forest flower)

‘Like a lamp at the top of a hill’ (may be compared to flower on the head of a beautiful woman)

Some wither like beautiful flowers in the forest, without anyone knowing about it.

Others are praised like the flower bunch on the head of a beauty.


Rahu devouring Moon

‘Although there are plantes like Brihaspati who is the head of the devas, yet Rahu with great mighty power never attack Brihaspati and others. He devours Sun (Lord of the Day) and Moon (Ruler  of the Night) during the periods of eclipse’.

सन्त्यन्ये‌உपि बृहस्पतिप्रभृतयः सम्भाविताः पञ्चषास्

तान्प्रत्येष विशेषविक्रमरुची राहुर्न वैरायते ।
द्वावेव ग्रसते दिवाकरनिशाप्राणेश्वरौ भास्करौ
भ्रातः पर्वणि पश्य दानवपतिः शीर्षावशेषाकृतिः ॥ 1.31 ॥

Here Bhartruhari insists one must do great things; difficult it may be but that which brings glory. That is why Rahu, the snake, goes to Sun and Moon leaving other bright objects in the sky such as Jupiter (Brihaspati) or Venus (Sukra).

No use of fighting with a weakling; no use of beating a dead snake; if one needs fame one must take big tasks.

Hindus who calculated the exact time of eclipses thousands of years ago, used to explain the eclipses to lay men as snakes devouring the sun and the moon.  During the eclipse the sun or moon looks like a round ball devored by someone and released back slowly. Rahu’s head was cut off by Lord Vishnu when he tried to steal the Elixir Amruta according to Hindu Mythology.


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