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The Story of Lord Shani

The planets control the entire universe but Lord Shani is the chief controller. He is the significator of our actions (the present and the past). He punishes or rewards us according to our good or misdeeds. He is neither partial nor delays in meting out the results. For us, he is sort of an enigma which a huge mysterious and fear-inspiring aura around him. Let us see if we can demystify him a bit.

The origin of Lord Shani has been discussed in many classical books but in Kashi section of the ‘Skand Puran’, the story of the origin of Lord Shani has been discussed in details.

Sanjana was the daughter of Vishwakarma (the celestial engineer and architect). Sanjana on reaching marriageable age, like all dutiful fathers, Vishwakarma started seeking out a suitable groom for her. In this respect he approached Surya, the Sun God, to accept his daughter’s hand in marriage. Surya accepted and the marriage was solemnized.

A little while into the marriage and Sanjana is troubled by the Surya’s radiation. To shield her eyes from the heat she used to close her eyes as soon as the latter looked at her. This did not go well with the mighty Surya and he cursed her with a son who will be the destroyer of creatures (Ref: Markandeya Purana). Even after this, when Sanjana still kept trembling in his presence, he further cursed her with a daughter who will be fickle and trembling in her course. Thus, Yama and Yami (Yamuna) were born.

 Sanjana eventually decides to leave for her father’s house. She creates a clone (perhaps one of the first documented instances of cloning). She calls her clone “Chhaya” (shadow). She installs Chhaya in her place and instructs her not to leave Surya’s presence under any circumstances, and to dutifully remain there till her return. She also cautions her from telling the truth to Surya The latter does not notice the difference. He takes Chhaya to be his wife and initiates marital relations; Chhaya conceives and delivers a son – Shani (Saturn). Shani is born of dark complexion like his mother, and also inherits Chhaya’s serious and somber countenance. The power of Shani was felt as early as when he opened his eyes for the first time and Surya went into an eclipse.

On the other hand Vishwakarma is not happy with Sanjana’s decision to leave Surya’s house and advises her to return. She then flees to the continent, Uttarakuru, in the guise of a mare to keep her identity safe from her father and husband. She engages herself in ascetic observances.

Yama, Yami and Shani grow up together. Chhaya behaves partially with Yama and Yami, taking more care of Shani. Yama notices the difference. One day, in anger he lifts his leg to strike Chhaya who in retaliation instantly curses him that his uplifted leg will fall immediately. The scared Yama goes to Surya and narrates the entire incident. It is now that Surya suspects something wrong since an unruly son can consider hitting his mother but no mother can ever think of cursing her child. He confronts Chhaya and even threatens her with curse. She does not have any option but to tell the truth.

Surya goes to Vishwakarma in search of his beloved wife who tells him that Sanjana in not with him. He also requests Sun to decrease his effulgence, even if a bit. Surya relents and since then he bears only the sixteenth portion of his radiation. Surya eventually finds Sanjana grazing grass in the form of a mare. He, too, takes the disguise of a stallion and is able to woo her back. The couple returns home happy.

Shani was infuriated with Surya for he was almost about to curse her. He could not tolerate this attitude of his father towards his mother and decided to achieve power more than that of his father. Advised by Surya himself, Shani goes to Kashi to perform the ‘abhisheka’ and worship Lord Shiva by making a ‘parthivalinga’. The unlimited tolerance and great determination of Shani was seen during his ‘tapa’ to please Lord Shiva. He started by giving up on food and took only air as his food. Eventually he left breathing also. He simply kept praying to Lord Shiva who did get pleased by his great penance. As a blessing he made Shani the chief justice amongst all the planets. He entrusted him with the responsibility of meting out appropriate results for all the deeds of all human beings during their lifetime. Lord Shiva also mentioned that this rule will apply to everyone: the lesser gods, sages, demigods, gods, trinities, the humans and every other living beings in all the 7 worlds. Even Sarveshwara (Lord Shiva himself) should not be exempted. Shani agreed and began his duties sincerely and has been continuing ever since.

An example of his sincerity is seen when he actually went to Lord Shiva to afflict him. The latter challenged him that if Shani could find him then he was free to afflict Lord Shiva. Saying this, he immediately vanished while Shani waited patiently. After seven and a half minutes when Lord Shiva returned he said that he was hiding inside a donkey since he was one of the trinities it is not possible to afflict him. To this Shani, with all due respect, said that it was only because of Shani’s gaze that even Lord Shiva had to hide inside a donkey. Lord Shiva was immensely pleased with Shani and gave him the designation of an ‘eeshwar’.

Friends, this is the version I am familiar with which may be lacking in details or may even be a little deviating from original story, since I have not read the original text, and have just a working knowledge of the same. Please feel free to point out the problem areas, if any.  

Ria Apr 28 '16 · Rate: 4 · Comments: 3 · Tags: surya, shani, yama, yamuna, saturn

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