Rahu, Ketu (Kethu) and Eclipses

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    Kannan M

    Recollect the days – Your grandfather or mother would have told you on a day of eclipse that Rahu or Kethu, the body less snakes in the sky swallows Sun or Moon – thus causing Eclipses.

    As a child, our first reaction was to get scared. Then comes our education- where we would see some foreigner name – as inventor of how eclipses are caused. The going back home, we will laugh at our grandpas/grandmas. Also we will ridicule Panchang(am) as non-sense.

    But upon deep study of astronomy, you will come to know that how scientifically advanced our forefathers were!!

    Rahu and kethu are examples of advanced astronomical knowledge our Indian forefathers possessed, much ahead of time compared to Western taughts.

    <b> Ok, what are Rahu and Kethu? </b>

    Indian Astrology (based on astronomy) is pure-science. It recognizes 9 celestial things as most influencing earth. They are termed as Navagrahas. But not all of them are real grahas.

    1. Sun (Surya), The star
    2. Moon (Chandra), The Satellite
    3. Mercury (Budh), Venus (Sukra), Mars (Mangal), Saturn (Sani) and Jupiter (Guru) – The planets.
    4. Then Rahu and Kethu (That fall into none of the above).

    Rahu and Ketu are two important points on our universe. To define Rahu and Kethu, we need to assume that earth is stationery. Once you fix the earth, then everything around the earth, including the Sun will appear to move around the earth.

    Yes, Indian Astrology fixes the earth as stationery and builds around that.

    So, the Sun moves around the earth and forms an Elliptic around it.

    The moon also moves around the earth in its orbit.

    Now, from earth, we have two elliptical orbits – One of Sun and other of Moon.

    These two orbits intersect at two points in the universe – One to the North of the earth and another to the South.

    These are intersections at the North and South are called Rahu and Ketu.

    Ok, what are these Rahu and Ketu to do with Eclipses?

    Since, Rahu and Ketu are point of intersections of Sun’s and Moon’s elliptic and Orbit, when both Sun and Moon are at these points at the same time, the three celestial objects – Earth, Moon and Sun happen to form a straight line.

    1. If Sun and Moon are at the same place – Either Rahu or Ketu – moon will be exactly in between the earth and the sun – thus Solar eclipse is caused.

    2. If one is at Rahu and another is at Ketu – Earth happens to be in between, and Sun and Moon come to totally opposite side of the earth – Thus earth will block sun rays from reaching the moon – causing lunar eclipse.

    How simple it is? Now imagine how scientific our Indian forefathers were? Now will you still laugh at Panchangams and Indian Astrology??

    Think twice…



    Nice explanation Kannan.



    In Western astrology, the same points are called as lunar nodes.

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