While astrology is quite popular throughout the world, the teachings of astrological yoga are not well known within the modern model of yoga. It is within the greater ancient traditions of yoga that astrological yoga is quite common. In reality, astrological yoga is one of the oldest facets of yoga known to humanity with the earliest known references appearing within the Rg Veda itself. Of these astrological yogic teachings, a fair amount of attention is given to Rahu-the north node of the moon. But in reality Rahu warrants a great deal more focus then it is often afforded. Along with its south node companion known as Ketu, Rahu indicates profound karmic effects manifesting within each individual; in fact I am not aware of anyone that escapes Rahu and its karmic influences. While both Rahu and Ketu are viewed as planets, in reality they are nodes of the moon and more correctly are viewed as shadowy planets as opposed to physical planets, even though they operate and embody the shadow realms within our lives.
Within the yoga and astrological tradition, Rahu and Ketu are commonly associated with the serpent. Rahu represents the serpent’s head and Ketu represents the serpent’s body; as such they are equated with the ‘path of the serpent’ which is the spinal column. While the qualities and attributes associated with each of these shadowy planets are rather expansive relative to karma Rahu represents karmic challenges within our life; whereas, Ketu can represent karmic accomplishment. As nodes of the moon they indicate the spiritual journey within the mind in relation to karmic challenge and karmic opportunity. To explore this more, there are three important facets that should be explored and understood by every student of spirituality:
Chandra is commonly known as a deva or form of divinity which represents the mind. For our purposes it would be more correct to say Chandra is a form of light within the mind. This light within the mind is a reflection of the souls light, commonly known as the deva Surya or the sun. Rahu is the karmic challenges within the mind, but may also indicate physical challenges as well. Ketu could be more associated with the karmic accomplishments within the mind and body. Ketu can be commonly viewed as skills and accomplishments from previous lives. While this is a rather simple example of an in depth subject, it does illustrate the practical application of these three within each person’s life.
As 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 accruing karma 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 namely soul or God. It would equally true to say that one’s spiritual journey is a journey from the factors or coloring that obscures the perception of light into the light of 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 which is an epitaph for Rahu. One might say it would be reasonable to assume that Svarbhanu is a personification of Rahu. Literally the term Svarbhanu means ‘radiant splendor’. Obviously this seems 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 remember 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.
Of course the eclipse has a more practical application for students of yoga and spirituality. Rahu spreads and conceals the sun or light (soul) 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 can be described as a restless and worried mind. Vikshipta is a lack of concentration or distracted mind. Mudha is a stupefied mind. Rahu not only resonates with but is rather powerful in these initial three levels of the mind indicating powerful karmas that must be resolved. This indicates that 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 that is 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. Giving birth to a variety of delusions within the mind as to spiritual accomplishments or in extreme cases thinking they are God or the next savior for humanity.
Within the world, Rahu blocks the light of consciousness through the seductive inclination toward mass trends and consumerism. This trend is literally 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. The influence of Rahu would no doubt bring 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.
Learning to understand and address Rahu is rather important for all students of spirituality. This is best accomplished through an examination of the Vedic Astrological chart, as Vedic Astrology is the astrology of yoga. Under the guidance of the chart one can take steps to try and address or modify the karmas associated with Rahu. One must remain mindful that modification of karma is not an easy task, and may require years, decades or lifetimes to modify some karmas, while others cannot as easily be modified or will require complete resolution of the karma. Rahu can be quite malefic in some charts, therefore, it is important to work with a teacher knowledgeable about Rahu from a yogic and astrological stanpoint.
To learn more about Astrological Yoga read my book ‘An Introduction to Astrological Yoga’.
For information on a Vedic Astrological reading please visit the astrology page.
Yogi Baba Prem does offer more advanced training to a limited number of student's in Astrological Yoga, and can offer programs to get one up to speed to study Astrological Yoga if needed. Note, these training programs take considerable time and involve the cultivation of numerous skills, therefore they are intended for committed serious student's. Email us for more information.
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