Rahu and the Mind

Rahu and the Mind.

By Yogi Baba Prem Yogacharya, Veda Visharada

While astrology is quite popular throughout the world, the teachings of astrological yoga are not as well known within astrology or most modern models of yoga.  It is within the greater ancient traditions of yoga that the astrological aspect of yoga is quite common.  In reality, the astrological aspect of yoga is among the oldest documented facets of yoga known to humanity with the earliest known references appearing within an ancient group of texts known as the Vedas.  There is little doubt that yoga and astrology are considerably older than is currently realized.  Of these astrological yogic teachings, a reasonable degree of attention should be given to Rahu-the north node of the moon.  Rahu warrants a great deal more focus then it is often afforded.  Along with the moon’s south node known as Ketu, Rahu indicates profound karmic effects or challenges manifesting within each incarnation, Ketu can often indicate karmic accomplishment.  While both Rahu and Ketu are viewed as planets, they are nodes of the moon or more correctly viewed as shadowy planets as opposed to physical planets, they operate and embody the shadow realms within our lives. 

Within the yoga/astrological traditions, Rahu and Ketu would be commonly associated with the serpent.  Rahu represents the serpent’s head, and Ketu represents the serpent’s body.  And, as such they are equated with the ‘path of the serpent’ which is the spinal column or more correctly a stream of energy located in the astral body; this can be associated with the kundalini in some traditions. More importantly, as nodes of the moon, they indicate the spiritual journey within the mind and, to a degree, physical issues relative to karmic challenge and karmic opportunity.  Three important facets should be explored and understood by every student of spirituality:

1.       Chandra.

2.       Rahu.

3.       Ketu.

Chandra is commonly known as a deva or form of divinity which, on one level, represents the mind.  For our purposes, it would be correct to say Chandra is a form of light within the mind.  This light within the mind is a reflection of the atman’s or Purusha’s light, commonly known as the deva Surya, Aditi or the sun.  From an astrological view, Chandra is the moon and a physical reflection of the light of Sun.  From the standpoint of this article, Rahu is the karmic challenges within the mind, but one must remain mindful they may also indicate physical challenges as well.  Ketu could be more associated with the karmic accomplishments within the mind and body, as Ketu can be viewed as skills and accomplishments from previous lives.  While this is a rather simplistic example of an in-depth subject, it does illustrate the practical application of these three planets within each person’s life, and their importance relative to yoga. 

As previously noted, we all have a mind of light, each of us has karmic challenges and areas of specific achievement within this lifetime and past lives, as well as the fact that we are accruing karmic challenge and karmic achievement for future lifetimes.  It would be correct to say that this mind of light is often colored or obscured from the true source of light—Brahman/Purusha or what many westerners might call God. (Though the Vedic/Yogic view of Divinity might be somewhat different from Abrahamic faiths.)   It would equally true to say that one’s spiritual journey is a journey from the factors or coloring that obscures our perception of light into the perception of light as absolute consciousness.  The earliest references to this are found within the Rg Veda itself.  (Note, the Rg Veda is the oldest spiritual text that is still practiced in the world and considered the foundational text or authority for Hinduism and yoga.) 

Within the Rg Veda (5.3.8) is a verse that references an asura known as Svarbhanu. Interestingly, Svarbhanu is an epitaph for Rahu.  It would be reasonable to assume that Svarbhanu is a personification of Rahu.  Interestingly, the term Svarbhanu means ‘radiant splendor.’ Initially, this may appear rather contradictory when one considers the nature of Rahu, but when one begins to understand the nature of Rahu on a deeper level and more expansive way, it seems to fit the illusionary ‘mindset’ of Rahu quite well.   Within this verse, it is revealed that Svarbhanu spreads himself out to obscure the light of the Sun (Surya).  While this is commonly associated with a solar eclipse, one must remain mindful of the obvious;   being that the eclipse is, in reality, a reduction of light and in essence indicates one moving away from the light or spirituality, which explains why ancient cultures generally did not view eclipses as auspicious. 

The eclipse has a more practical application for students of yoga and spirituality. Rahu spreads and conceals the sun or light from the mind, obstructing one’s ability to perceive their true identity.  In other words, Rahu represents a concealing power within and upon the mind.  The verse continues to associate specific powers to Rahu, namely powers of illusion and delusion, linking Rahu with the lower levels of the mind known as Kshipta, Vikshipta and Mudha.  Kshipta is best described as a restless and worried mind.  Vikshipta is a lack of concentration or a distracted mind.   Mudha is a stupefied mind.  Rahu not only resonates with but is rather powerful in these initial three levels of the mind and indicates powerful karmas that must be resolved.  Rahu not only expands in hiding the light during the literal eclipse but rather is a dynamic force within the mind often strengthening thoughts of restlessness and delusion.  It is only with the 4th level of the mind called Ekagrah that one begins to become free from the influence of Rahu to some degree.  In light of this understanding, one can appreciate the irony of Svarbhanu meaning radiant splendor, and the lesson taught in the relationship of this name and its actual function.  Another example of the delusional aspect of Rahu would be when one believes they have perceived ‘radiant splendor’ when in reality they have only perceived a facet of the mind—Rahu.  Regrettably, Rahu can be found giving birth to a variety of delusions within the mind as to spiritual accomplishments or in extreme cases thinking one is God or in a common western context, thinking one is the next savior for humanity. 

Within the world, Rahu blocks the light of consciousness through the seductive inclination toward mass trends and consumerism.  This aspect of Rahu is sweeping the world, as the accumulation of ‘things’ is penetrating even into the most remote regions and societies.  In essence, we are witnessing Rahu spread out and obscure the Sun from the mind of humanity through mass consumerism and materialism.  For this reason, mass trends and mass popularity are the most unreliable indicators of truth and light.  In fact, additional discrimination should be applied toward anything that appeals to the masses, as it will likely have an influence of Rahu strengthening its influence and desirability in the world.  Though admittedly this can be a daunting task in areas of life, especially for the developed world.  There is little doubt that the influence of Rahu brings a ‘shadowy’ energy to many things sought and valued by the masses.  While the ancient texts do not speak in the following terms, I have often thought that we live in a type of Rahu age, as the world appears to be embracing more and more Rahu characteristics.  It is worthwhile to note that there are other aspects of the solar eclipse.  While we have examined the lower but most common aspects, Rahu fails to obscure all light evidenced by the appearance of the Sun’s corona.  For the spiritually adept, this indicates a karmic opportunity to penetrate deeper into one’s understanding of light.    

Learning to understand and address Rahu is rather important for all students of spirituality.  This learning process is best accomplished through an examination of the Vedic Astrological chart, as Vedic Astrology is the astrology of yoga.  Under the guidance of the Vedic astrological chart, one can take steps to try and address or modify the karmas associated with Rahu and the other planets.  One must remain mindful that modification of karma is not an easy task, and may require years, decades or lifetimes to modify, while other karmas cannot be modified easily and often will require complete resolution of the karma itself.


My book, “An Introduction to Astrological Yoga” can start a journey of learning and knowledge regarding yoga and its important relationship with Vedic astrology. 

Vedic astrological readings are available.  Learn more about having a reading and understanding one’s karma.


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Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 


  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.