Note: whether this is true or not is irrelevant, and it has nothing to do with astrology either. The point is the ability of these allegories to take your mind to other realities or conversely giving us a sense of humility as far our understanding of our current reality, and keeping us from losing touch with our Spirit. Take what you believe, discard what you don’t. In Hindu spiritual traditions, you can be in this world and comfortably draw inspiration from a parallel world at the same time.
Shani symbolizes a fundamental law that permeates all of nature. He is the ruler and maintainer of the Law of Karma: the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, as you sow you shall reap. As the embodiment of the Law of Karma, Shani is viewed as a teacher, a strict and stern disciplinarian, imparting the lessons in life, rewarding one if one reflects and learns his lessons, or imposing yet another lesson so that eventually one is forced to reflect, learn, and grow. It’s all about being proactive and avoiding these unnecessary lessons, or being reactive after suffering the lessons. Shani doesn’t let anyone escape from the law of karma. You can only transmute or burn off your karma through genuine yajna, dedicated tapas, or true bhakti).
Gracefully Handling Your Lesson
If you respond to unpleasant situations in your life with a certain calm, repose, focus, you have succeeded. If you respond with agitation, anger, resentment, envy, hatred, jealousy, feel victimized, blow up, blame others, etc… then you have failed… and Shani to impart another lesson (i.e. the universe will restructure itself). Whether one realizes or not, the human spirit, the atman is continuously gravitating towards the param-atman (the Supreme Spirit), by the very fact that it desires for peace, love, trust, beauty, forgiveness… all of which is found only as one evolves spiritually. Anytime there is a hiccup in the evolution, Shani comes and straightens it out, like the calm before the storm.
- Ruler of: Karma
- Keeper of: Time
- Planet: Saturn
- Number: 8
- Day: Saturday
- Sun Signs: Capricorn & Aquarius (mid-December through mid-February)
- Color: Black, grey, or dark blue
- Gem: Blue Sapphire
- Metal: Iron
- Food: Sesame, black sesame, sesame oil
- Vehicle (vaahanam): Crow
- Body Part: Bones, teeth
- Cloths: Old, traditional, sober, and not flashy
- Places: Ancient, old, neglected, deserted
- Direction: West or south-west
- Avatar: Matsya (turtle)
- Animal: Turtle, tortoise
- Mantra: Om Sri Shanaischaraya Namaha (or Om Aim Hrim Srim Shanaischaraya Namaha – औम् ऐं ह्रीं श्रीं शनैश् – चराय नमः )
- Longevity, misery, sorrow, discipline, restriction, responsibility, delays, anything old, ancient, tradition, elders, humility, integrity, wisdom born of experience.
- Proactiveness – Never put aside your problems for a later date. Especially problems that you have caused to hurt yourself or others. Either seek to resolve while it is in front of you, or Shani will orchestrate the Universe to put new problems for you in a different perspective, that is, until you “get it”. You cannot destroy energy, it can only be transmuted from one place/form to another. Same with karma. Your best friend, the Param-Atman, via Shani, will do whatever it takes for you to grow. And why pick on you? your vasanas (residual karma and conditionings; could be anything ranging from negative karma, to your desire to seek Truth in former lives).
- Humility – nothing in life is free, respect and be thankful for that which is given, never forget how it was given. For those who don’t have humility, Shani drives in the point through very hard lessons in life, repeating it as often as needed. Also as bad as lack of humility is false-pride (मद) – such as “I’m proud to be a Indian (or Hindu, Tamilian, American,…)”, considering most of what you are proud of as a culture is what you have inherited (not earned). Be thankful with humility that you’re born into your culture, and be compassionate to others who have been unfortunate not to. One can argue, that’s their karma. That’s not for you to say, it’s Shani’s. Shani is quick to puncture false-pride (and that can be really painful), so it’s better to stand on guard and not have it in the first place.
- Patience – Shani is often caricatured as slowly churning the Universe in the Wheel of Time. Often depicted as a giant sesame seed oil mill (எள்ளுச் செக்கு). He is never in a rush, and appreciates those who are likewise. Don’t be anxious for anything. Don’t look for the fruits, even the smallest effort never goes to waste, you will be rewarded. The greatest reward is that you grow. The Greek word kronos (time, as in chronology) comes from crow, which is Shani’s vimana (the vehicle on which he travels).
- Diligence/Persistence – Do your work sincerely, don’t give up too quickly. That is, if you do a half-baked job, you can’t crib if later something else (your car, computer, surgery,…) doesn’t work the way it should (because he also probably did the same half-baked job). If your car works great it’s because someone did a diligent and dedicated job in building it. It is important that you return this, else eventually nothing will work (and you’ll be blaming the “other” person – and you don’t want Shani grinding you on the wheel of karma to make you realize your part).
- Tradition – Shani is the ruler of all that is ancient, old, and timeless — tradition and wisdom. This also means showing kindness and respect for the weak and the elderly. Also either follow or respect traditions or leave it or give constructive alternative if you feel the tradition is detrimental. Never criticise just for making a mockery.
- Equanimity – Do your work with equanimity. Don’t be too judgemental. Leave it to Shani or whichever denomination of god you like to do the needful. As the saying goes, love your friends, be compassionate to those in need, and be indifferent to your enemies.
- Asceticism – This doesn’t mean becoming an ascetic, but Shani being the ruler of asceticism, rewards and protects those who live simple minimalist lives, as opposed to having material excesses. Like those environmentally conscious and believe in sustainable simple living. People hardly stop to think about the shear mount of greed they have (i.e. not even hesitating to think about the consequences of their actions on the Earth and society at large). As an example, millions of acres of forests and wildlife have been depleted, millions of tons of greenhouse gases dumped into the atmosphere, millions of tons of trash mindlessly dumped. We must learn to share the Earth with all its living inhabitants. Partake only what we need, and don’t abuse our privileges.
- Gossip – Like saying something untrue about someone or complaining about someone behind their back, while putting on a façade of camaraderie in front of them. From a tantric (thought science) point of view, they are both external energies that come and attach to you like a leech (graha-bhutani) and suck vital life-energy (prana) from you. When thoughts (or talk) about others or other peoples thoughts, not only move into your brain, but start living there, and establish front-row seats in your brain, then that becomes extremely detrimental to your well being (physical, mental, and spiritual).
- Every action, even every breath you take, has karmic consequences.
- For every action, there is a reaction.
- As you sow, so shall you reap.
- Face the music (i.e. the consequences of your former actions).
- There is no such thing as a free lunch (i.e. you have to earn it through effort).
- No pain, no gain. You cannot escape karma (just like you cannot escape the laws of physics) You can only transmute it.
There is no escaping the law of karma. You can only transmute it by burning your karma through yajna (sacrifice). That is, explicitly setting aside (sacrificing) other priorities in life to make room for activities for spiritual growth. Even the attempt is a big step. Sacrifice also means slowly simplifying your life by getting rid of material things you are attached to.
For example, when one chooses to live a simple life, when one burns ones desires (of “I want this and that,…”, material and emotional desires) in the fire pit of yoga (then he also burns the pain of not achieving that desire or losing that desire if achieved). Such yajna gifts one with tremendous spiritual energy to focus on and achieve success in all his endeavors. See also desire/detachment.
Bhakti yoga is the path of spiritual growth through devotion. Jnana yoga is through knowledge. Raja yoga (which also encompasses kriya yoga) is through meditation.
Then, there is the path of karma (action). It is the growth you get by learning your lesson by falling down, getting up many times. It is a common denominator to all of humanity. You don’t have to explicitly do anything (like you would need to in bhakti, jnana, or raja yoga). If you are not spiritually inclined, like most of humanity, you’re already subscribed to karma yoga. But it helps greatly if you are more proactive and supplement it by bhakti, jnana, or raja yoga. Shani is not as tough on those who are proactive and explicit in their desire to grow.
For people who want to grow, evolve, the Shani Dasha is not something to be feared, but something to look forward to, as it is a period of learning, growth, and change. It is when Shani teaches you lessons, the hard way… especially for those who have not been proactive in their growth. The less pro-active you are in your growth (mental and spiritual), the stronger the lesson imparted to you. The more pro-active, the less the lessons you’ll face, and may even be the most rewarding, as you’ll be tuned to the pattern of growth, and see each new lesson itself as a reward.
The end of the Shani Dasha is often seen as a relief, with the added bonus of rewards for those who have learned their lessons. If you have not put in any effort on your part to learn from your lesson, to grow, to evolve, then though no new lessons are added, whatever problems you had will not be lifted (as they typically would be at the end of the 7 years).
A Shani Yantra found on Saturn (compare with the Shani Yantra in the photograph of Shanisvaran Lingam above). Coincidence? or have they (the ancients/yogis) shown us once again with their cosmic insight, or is it just another “Jesus on a tortilla”. It’s all about a test of faith, or a poetic license to take your mind into different heights; not really about whether it is true or not.
“This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides,” said Kevin Baines, atmospheric expert and member of Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif in a statement. “We’ve never seen anything like this on any other planet. Indeed, Saturn’s thick atmosphere where circularly-shaped waves and convective cells dominate is perhaps the last place you’d expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is.”
Taken from the following links:
- “The Greatness of Saturn” by Robert E. Svoboda (a retelling of the Shani Mahatmya) is a great book to read for the story of Shani.