Pankajnath Tiwari :-
Shani Dev, also known as Lord Shani or Saturn, is a significant deity in Hindu mythology and astrology. He is revered as the personification of the planet Saturn and is considered both a giver of rewards and a bringer of challenges. The history and story of Shanidev are deeply rooted in ancient scriptures and legends.
According to Hindu mythology, Shanidev is the son of Lord Surya (the Sun) and his wife Chhaya (Shadow). However, there are various versions of his origin. One popular legend states that Chhaya, feeling neglected by Surya due to his constant attention to his first wife, Sandhya (Twilight), decided to undertake intense penance to gain her husband’s affection. She stood on one leg for several years, facing the scorching heat of the sun, as an act of devotion. Pleased by her dedication, Lord Surya granted her a son named Shani, who possessed great powers.
However, Shanidev’s appearance was quite unique. He is depicted with a dark complexion, indicating his association with the planet Saturn. He has a fearsome appearance, with a crown on his head, and is usually depicted riding a vulture or a chariot pulled by crows. Shanidev is often depicted with four hands, holding a sword, a trident, and making gestures of protection and blessing.
Shanidev’s most famous attribute is his role as a dispenser of justice and the lord of karma. In Hindu astrology, the position of Saturn in a person’s birth chart is believed to influence their life and determine their fortunes. It is said that Shanidev rewards individuals for their good deeds and punishes them for their misdeeds. His presence is often associated with hardships, delays, and challenges. However, it is believed that going through these trials can lead to personal growth and spiritual evolution.
There are several stories and legends associated with Shanidev. One of the most well-known tales is about the curse of Lord Hanuman. It is believed that once, when Hanuman was a child, he mistook the sun for a ripe fruit and flew towards it to catch it. Indra, the king of gods, noticed this and became concerned that Hanuman would disrupt the cosmic balance. He struck Hanuman with his weapon, and he fell back to Earth, injuring his jaw. Lord Surya was furious and demanded that Hanuman be punished. As a result, Hanuman was cursed by Shanidev that his devotees would face hardships and delays in their lives.
Another famous story related to Shanidev is about his encounter with Lord Krishna. It is said that once, when Lord Krishna was ruling in Dwarka, Shanidev approached him and requested to have a glimpse of baby Krishna. As Shanidev approached the baby Krishna, the sight was so overpowering that he fell down at Krishna’s feet. Lord Krishna, being compassionate, lifted Shanidev and blessed him with the power to reduce the malefic effects of his presence during certain periods.
Devotees of Shanidev observe Saturdays as a day of fasting and prayer to appease him and seek his blessings. They often visit temples dedicated to Shanidev, the most famous of which is the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, India. The temple is unique because it does not have a traditional idol; instead, a simple black stone is worshipped as Shanidev.
Shanidev and King Harishchandra: In Hindu mythology, there is a story about King Harishchandra, known for his unwavering truthfulness and adherence to dharma (righteousness). Once, Shanidev decided to test Harishchandra’s dedication to truth and subjected him to numerous trials and hardships. Despite losing his kingdom, wealth, and family, King Harishchandra remained steadfast in his honesty. Impressed by his unwavering integrity, Shanidev ultimately revealed himself and blessed Harishchandra with his lost kingdom and family, ensuring his eternal place in history.
Shanidev and the Oil Merchant: There is a popular story that highlights the compassionate nature of Shanidev. Once, an oil merchant was on his way to sell oil in a distant village. He encountered a man lying injured on the road and decided to help him. The injured man turned out to be Shanidev in disguise. As a token of gratitude, Shanidev protected the oil merchant from any misfortune or harm throughout his journey. The merchant realized the divine intervention and became a dedicated devotee of Shanidev.
Shanidev and Lord Rama: In the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, was exiled to the forest for fourteen years. During their exile, Shanidev appeared before Lord Rama and sought his blessings. Lord Rama, recognizing the power and importance of Shanidev, granted him the title of “Krishnashyamayam,” which means one who appears bluish-black like Lord Krishna. It is believed that this blessing reduced the malefic effects of Saturn for Lord Rama’s devotees.
Shani Jayanti: Shani Jayanti is an auspicious day celebrated as the birth anniversary of Shanidev. It falls on the Amavasya (new moon day) of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha (May/June). Devotees observe fasts, visit temples, recite prayers, and offer special rituals to seek the blessings of Shanidev on this day.
Shani Mahatmya: Shani Mahatmya, also known as the “Glories of Shanidev,” is a sacred scripture that narrates the significance and influence of Shanidev in people’s lives. It contains stories, hymns, and rituals associated with Shanidev, guiding devotees on how to appease him and minimize the adverse effects of Saturn.
Shanidev and the Seven and a Half Years: According to astrology, the period of Saturn’s transit over a person’s birth chart is known as “Sade Sati.” It lasts for approximately seven and a half years and is considered a challenging phase. It is believed that during this period, Shanidev closely observes a person’s actions and rewards or punishes them accordingly. Devotees often perform special prayers, recite mantras, and offer remedies to appease Shanidev during the Sade Sati phase and seek his blessings for a smooth transition.
Shanidev and the Necklace of Nine Gems: There is a legend that describes a celestial necklace of nine gems known as the “Navaratna.” It is believed that this precious necklace was once worn by Shanidev. Each gem in the necklace represents one of the celestial bodies, including the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn (Shanidev), Rahu, and Ketu. It is said that wearing a combination of these nine gems as an astrological remedy can mitigate the malefic effects of the respective planets and bring good fortune to individuals.
Shanidev and Hanuman’s Test: Another story revolves around Shanidev testing the loyalty and devotion of Hanuman, the ardent devotee of Lord Rama. Shanidev wanted to gauge Hanuman’s unwavering devotion and loyalty, so he tried to block Hanuman’s path as he was going to visit Lord Rama. Hanuman, recognizing Shanidev’s presence, expanded his size and threatened to swallow Shanidev. Impressed by Hanuman’s devotion and power, Shanidev acknowledged his unwavering devotion and bestowed his blessings upon him.
Shanidev and Nala’s Ring: In the epic Mahabharata, there is a story of Nala, a skilled charioteer and king of Nishadha. Due to the malefic effects of Shanidev, Nala lost his kingdom, wealth, and even his wife. In his distress, Nala approached the sage Brihaspati, who advised him to wear a ring with the presence of Shanidev. By doing so, Nala was able to overcome his troubles and eventually reunited with his wife.
Shani Temple in Rajasthan: The Shri Shaneshwar Maharaj Temple, located in the town of Shani Shinganapur in Maharashtra, India, is one of the most famous temples dedicated to Shanidev. However, there is also a notable Shanidev temple in the city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. This temple, known as the Shri Dungargarh Shanidev Mandir, attracts numerous devotees who come to seek the blessings of Shanidev and offer their prayers.
Shani Jayanti and Shani Amavasya: Shani Jayanti is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Shanidev and usually falls on the Amavasya (new moon) day in the Hindu month of Vaishakha (April/May). Devotees observe special rituals, fasts, and prayers on this day to seek Shanidev’s blessings and protection. Shani Amavasya, which also falls on the new moon day, is considered highly auspicious for performing remedies and rituals to alleviate the malefic effects of Saturn.
The Power of Shanidev’s Gaze: Shanidev is often depicted with a downward gaze in iconography. It is believed that his gaze has the power to influence and even transform individuals. Devotees believe that seeking the blessings of Shanidev can help them develop resilience, patience, and a deeper understanding of the consequences of their actions.
Shani Mahadasha and Sade Sati: In Vedic astrology, individuals go through different planetary periods or “dasha” based on the placement of planets in their birth chart. Shanidev’s planetary period, known as Shani Mahadasha, lasts for a significant duration and is considered a period of testing and introspection. Sade Sati, which occurs when Shanidev transits over the natal moon sign, is also a challenging phase believed to test one’s strength and character.
Shanidev’s Teachings on Detachment: Shanidev’s presence and influence teach the value of detachment from material possessions and the transient nature of worldly achievements. His lessons inspire individuals to focus on inner growth, spiritual evolution, and detachment from the outcomes of their actions.
Devotees and Remedies: Devotees of Shanidev often undertake various remedies to appease him and reduce the malefic effects of Saturn. These remedies may include recitation of prayers, mantras, and hymns dedicated to Shanidev, performing charitable acts, wearing black or blue attire on Saturdays, visiting Shanidev temples, and observing fasts on Saturdays.
Shani Shingnapur Temple: The Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, India, is one of the most renowned and visited temples dedicated to Shanidev. The unique aspect of this temple is the absence of any doors or locks. It is believed that Shanidev guards the village and its residents, providing protection from theft and other misfortunes. Devotees offer prayers and oil to the self-emerged idol of Shanidev.