Myths of Saturn by KOMILLA SUTTON
Saturn myths are in many of the Puranas, prominently in Shiva & Skanda Puranas. Understanding his myths helps us.
To appreciate the quality of Saturn's influence.
Saturn is the envoy of the Gods whose main job is to ask people to account for their karma. Shani's influence comes through his position in the natal chart, the houses he aspects, the dashas & bhuktis and finally through his transits. Studying the myths in the Puranas shows that no one could avoid his influence whether it was gods, kings, demons or humans.
Below are some of the important myths of Saturn that help us in understanding his influence more:
Celebrating the fast of Saturn?
I am sharing a couple of these myths for all to read and understand Shani's great power.
Saturn's influence on Lord Shiva
Saturn was a great devotee of Shiva yet they are two important myths that show his powerful influence on Lord Shiva. The first is connected to the sacrifice of his wife Sati & the second with the birth of his son, Ganesha.
The story of Sati's sacrifice
When Lord Shiva came under the influence of Saturn, he experienced the loss of Sati, the first incarnation of his wife. The story of Sati goes as follows:
Daksha, the son of Brahma, prayed to the Mother Goddess that she be born as his daughter. She agreed on the condition that he would never displease her. He agreed and she was born as Sati. When Sati matured she fell in love with Lord Shiva and married him against her father's wishes. Daksha disliked this alliance as he felt that the ascetic Shiva was not good enough for his daughter. Daksha expected Shiva to pay obeisance to him but Shiva refused to do so as he was the supreme god & most revered of all. According to Vedic tradition if Shiva were to venerate Daksha who was on a lower in stature to the great Shiva, the former would be cursed forever. Daksha's ego did not allow him to recognize the true Shiva. Lord Shiva refuses to pay respect to his Father-in ?law & thereby creating an ongoing feud which caused a lot of sorrow to his wife Sati.
Daksha decided to avenge this humiliation by organizing a yagya in Kankhal near Haridwar. He invited all Gods in heaven and prominent men on earth, with the exception of Shiva and Sati. When Sati heard that her father was holding a ceremony, she wanted to go despite not being invited. Shiva cautioned her that only misery would result of her going uninvited but she was adamant.
Sati demanded an explanation from Daksha as to why she and Shiva were not invited. Daksha said that Shiva, a person who dressed in rags who adorned himself with ashes, skulls and snakes and frequenter of graveyards had no place in this elite gathering. Unable to bear the insult Sati proclaimed that she is giving up her life and in front of an astounded audience she stepped into the sacrificial fire of the yagya.
When Shiva learnt of this, he was inconsolable and in his grief destroyed the yagya and all Daksha's army. Daksha's head was also cut. Then Shiva held aloft Sati's limp body and began the Dance of Destruction or Tandava Nritya. This is the dance that heralds the destruction of the universe.
Guests approached Vishnu who was also present at the ceremony. He realized that it was too late to reason with Shiva. He let loose his chakra or disc like weapon and cut up Sati's body into pieces. The various parts of her body got scattered all over India. Wherever a part of Sati's body fell people built a shrine to the Goddess Shakti, whose incarnation Sati was. Vishnu consoled Shiva and requested him to give back life to the dead. Shiva did so but insisted that Daksha had to be punished for his pride. He cut off a goat's head and attached it to Daksha's lifeless body before making him alive. To this day Daksha is depicted with a goat's head. The ceremony was then completed.
Shani was said to have create all this mayhem in order to punish Daksha for his pride and created inconsolable sorrow for Shiva. Shiva went to Mount Kailash and lived a life of a recluse and ascetic till Parvati the next incarnation of Sati came into the life and brought him out of the sorrow.
Lord Ganesha receives the elephant's head
Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess Parvati invited all the gods including the planetary gods to celebrate Lord Ganesha's birth. After his naming ceremony, the gods - Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, Agni, Varuna, Surya, Chandrama, Mangal, Budha, Brihaspati, Shukra - took him in their lap, had a look at him, gave blessing and gifts.
The last was Shani Deva. He gave his blessings and gifts to the child like others but did not look at the child. His face was turned to the side.
Goddess Parvati said - "Shani Deva, You are dishonouring us by not looking at our child while giving your blessings."
Shani Dev said - "Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, You know when I look at somebody, it brings destruction. So I don't want to bring any calamity by casting my negative sight on baby Ganesha. "
But Goddess Parvati didn't agree that Shani's look was so negative. She insisted Shani Deva to see her child while blessing him. Shani Deva continued to protest but after a long debate and when Lord Shiva also asked, he finally said "Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, I am doing this on your request, so I will not be responsible for the consequences."
He turned to look at baby Ganesha; his head got separated from his body.
Goddess Parvati said - "Shani Deva, What did you do to my child? I asked you only to look at the child not to destroy him."
Shani apologized and said - "Lord Shiva, This is why I always keep my eyes down and never look directly at any body as I know whatever I glance at, I destroy. As you did not agree with me and insisted on me to see baby Ganesha, what can I do now?"
Now Goddess Parvati started crying. Lord Shiva was also upset.
He called his Ganas and sent them to find a newborn child whose mother was sleeping with her back to him; and cut the head of such a child as he felt that a mother who turns back to her children does not really care for them. The Ganas could not find such a child, all the mothers were sleeping close to their children. They found a female elephant sleeping with her back to her child. The Ganas immediately cut the child's head from his neck and brought it to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva immediately fixed it on baby Ganesha's body. The child got alive.
This is just one of the myths of how Ganesha got an elephant's head.
We have to understand this myth as an allegory. Shani's aspect cutting off Ganesha head shows his ability to remove the physical ego of an individual.
Also according to Jyotish Shani's aspect to 3rd , 7th and 10 th houses is more difficult than his placement. The houses Shani aspects, their significations tend to be destroyed or your relationship to them would be. E.g. if Shani aspects the 7 th house, there is going to be destruction of a relationship ? in form of divorce or long separation. It can also lead to unsteady marital relationships. Also Shani's aspects by transit must be considered. If Shani is in Virgo by transit, he will be aspect Scorpio, Pisces and Gemini- significations of these houses can be troubled for the duration of the transit.
—Compiled by Komilla Sutton
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