Rahu and Ketu took revenge on Sun and Moon – Here’s why

In a contest of one-upmanship, the Asuras and the Devas were battling it out to win the divine nectar (Amrit) to attain immortality and become invincible.

Updated: Mar 09, 2016, 08:37 AM IST
Rahu and Ketu took revenge on Sun and Moon – Here’s why
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On March 9, 2016, a solar eclipse will occur. In India, the eclipse will be visible partially. Though an eclipse is a natural occurrence involving the celestial bodies, it finds a mention in Hindu texts. There are many versions of the legend associated with the Solar and the Lunar eclipses.

In this article, we will take you through a legend which explains why the Solar and the Lunar Eclipses occur.

Here’s an interesting take from the point of view of Indian mythology:

In a contest of one-upmanship, the Asuras and the Devas were battling it out to win the divine nectar (Amrit) to attain immortality and become invincible. This is famously called the Samudra Manthan.

According to one of the legends, the Asuras stole the nectar pot. In a bid to get it back, Lord Vishnu appeared as Mohini, a beautiful woman. As Mohini, Lord Vishnu succeeded in deceiving the Asuras.

Soon after acquiring the pot of nectar, Mohini started distributing it to the Devas. On seeing this, an Asura named Svarbhanu, who learnt of Mohini’s trick, sat amidst the Devas to get a share of the Amrit. He sat in between Surya and Chandra in disguise of a Deva and was lucky enough to consume a few drops of the elixir.

Surya and Chandra could sense trouble and soon informed Mohini about the same. Mohini took her original form and cut off the head of Svarbhanu. But since, he had consumed a fair amount of the nectar, he didn’t lose his life. Brahma granted a boon to Svarbhanu and gave a new lease of life to him.

His head was attached to a snake’s body, while the snake’s head was fixed to his body. Thus two entities were born – the former one came to be known as Rahu and the latter as Ketu.

Rahu and Ketu swallow Surya and Chandra year after year to avenge the defeat. It is believed that these partial and total but temporary disappearances of the Sun and the Moon result in eclipses.