Saturn or Shani has earned the reputation of being the Lord of Obstruction in astrology.
The influence of Saturn is considered ominous in Indian astrology. Its power to interfere with a person’s life is also feared.
Shani or Saturn is one of the most important planets in the zodiac. Astrologers believe that the beneficial influence of other planets fail when Shani happens to cause an obstruction. This is more evident during the period of seven and half years when Saturn transits in close proximity of the moon in one’s birth chart.
The position of the moon in the zodiac sign at birth is called the rashi or the moon sign. Each zodiac sign constitutes a 30-degree arc, which results in the 12 zodiac signs completing the zodiac belt of 360 degrees in 12 months.
When Shani enters the sign prior to where the Moon is placed in the birth chart, it begins its reign of seven and half year over the subject of that nativity. Saturn takes about two and half years to cover a 30-degree belt, and when it leaves the sign that follows the moon sign of the subject, it would have spent seven and half years in close proximity to it. This period is called the Sade-Sati.
Legend and lore
Shani is also known as Krura-lochana – the evil-eyed one. It is believed that Shani’s gaze can spell disaster even for the most influential and powerful. Ancient Indian myth and folklore is replete with stories depicting the negative influences of this planet on the subject of its attention.
Of various stories that are mentioned in Hindu mythology, one involves how Lord Ganesh got his elephant head, and is attributed to Shani. It is said that Shani being a faithful devotee of Lord Shiva was meditating in the Himalayas to be close to his Lord.
When Parvati, Shiva’s consort, gave birth to Ganesh, she distributed sweets to Shiva’s ganas – his followers. Goddess Parvati also asked Saturn to see and bless the child. Shani however averted his gaze and sought forgiveness for not looking at the child, pleading that his gaze was inauspicious.
Parvati, ignored his pleas and asked him to bless the newborn. As soon as Shani layed eyes on the child, the newborn’s head got blown to bits. However, the young child was brought back to life when the head of an elephant was attached to his decapitated body. To make up for this, the Gods bestowed Lord Ganesha with the title of the Remover of Obstacles.
Another celebrated myth about Saturn is mentioned in the Ramayana. When King Ravana succeeded in getting control over all the nine planets or Nava Graha, he installed them face downward on the nine steps that led to his throne.
Each morning, he would step on their back to ascend his throne, insulting and causing them anguish. One day, the sage Narada came to Ravana, and on seeing the state of the nine planets asked Shani, how he could bear such an insult being the mightiest and the most feared of the planets. Shani replied that because he was laying face downward he was helpless and that he would be able to avenge himself if he could cast his gaze on Ravana.
During his visit, Narada was shown around the magnificent palace of Ravana. After the tour, the proud king asked Narada for his opinion. The wise sage replied that everything was perfect with the exception of one thing.
That being that Ravana should have the pleasure of subduing the nine planets. And he suggested if they were to lay face upward, he could get the pleasure of seeing the discomfort on their faces as he stepped over their chests. This suggestion appealed to the mighty king and he quickly ordered his staff to turn the nine planets around on their backs. As soon as that was done, Shani’s malefic gaze fell on Ravana and his reason abandoned him. This was the beginning of the end for King Ravana.
Within a few months he kidnapped Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, which ultimately led to Lord Rama’s invasion of his kingdom. Ravana and his entire family was killed – during the seven and half year cycle of Shani.
There have also been several instances in present times, where rich and successful entrepreneurs have been reduced to penury and at times, the most humble and bankrupt have acquired riches and fame during Saturn’s period.