Rahu, the demon planet?
Posted July 15, 2005
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Well as it seems my statements maybe under the category of sentimental, or my intellect may not be in good order by accepting each and every statement in the Srimad Bhagavatam as true, what more can I say.
Canto 8, chapter 9, verses 24-26 give us this information:
Rahu, the demon who causes eclipses of the sun and moon, covered himself with the dress of a demigod and thus entered the assembly of the demigods and drank nectar without being detected by anyone, even by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The moon and the sun, however, because of permanent animosity toward Rahu, understood the situation. Thus Rahu was detected.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mohini-murti, was able to bewilder all the demons, but Rahu was so clever that he was not bewildered. Rahu could understand that Mohini-murti was cheating the demons, and therefore he changed his dress, disguised himself as a demigod, and sat down in the assembly of the demigods. Here one may ask why the Supreme Personality of Godhead could not detect Rahu. The reason is that the Lord wanted to show the effects of drinking nectar. This will be revealed in the following verses. The moon and sun, however, were always alert in regard to Rahu. Thus when Rahu entered the assembly of the demigods, the moon and sun immediately detected him, and then the Supreme Personality of Godhead also became aware of him.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, using His disc, which was sharp like a razor, at once cut off Rahu's head. When Rahu's head was severed from his body, the body, being untouched by the nectar, could not survive.
When the Personality of Godhead, Mohini-murti, severed Rahu's head from his body, the head remained alive although the body died. Rahu had been drinking nectar through his mouth, and before the nectar entered his body, his head was cut off. Thus Rahu's head remained alive whereas the body died. This wonderful act performed by the Lord was meant to show that nectar is miraculous ambrosia.
Rahu's head, however, having been touched by the nectar, became immortal. Thus Lord Brahma accepted Rahu's head as one of the planets. Since Rahu is an eternal enemy of the moon and the sun, he always tries to attack them on the nights of the full moon and the dark moon.
Since Rahu had become immortal, Lord Brahma accepted him as one of the grahas, or planets, like the moon and the sun. Rahu, however, being an eternal enemy of the moon and sun, attacks them periodically during the nights of the full moon and the dark moon.
My point is still this, scripture can be interpreted or misinterpreted, Srila Prabhupada says interpretation is only need when the meaning is not clear, he gives an example: I forget the name of the village, but a statement is given that some village is on the river Ganges, somebody asks how can a village be on water, the necessary explanation is the this means the village is on the "bank" of the river Ganges.
Let's imagine Srila Prabhupada is still here, how would Subhadra-mayi write to him in this regard, asking questions is necessary, doubts are a function of the intelligence, but I do not think it is a good idea to say for example:
"Why wouldn't Srila Vyasadeva give it a religious twist? After all, that was the way society functioned. Everything was geared toward religion. So give the people an anecdote of God being victor over evil, and that's settled" or "I surely hope that we don't base our intellect on the faith that everything in Bhagavatam is literally true with the simple idea that Srila Vyasadeva would not have time to write stories". The Mahabharata was no story, it is a history.
We can also hang ourselves with our intelligence, and miss the point altogether.
You ask what is the purpose of the Bhagavatam:
SB. 1.1.2 "Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavat Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyasadeva [in his maturity], is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhagavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart."
SB. 2.10.1 "In the Srimad-Bhagavatam there are ten divisions of statements regarding the following: the creation of the universe, subcreation, planetary systems, protection by the Lord, the creative impetus, the change of Manus, the science of God, returning home, back to Godhead, liberation, and the summum bonum."
There are so many verses which explain the purpose of it. The only part I know of as allegory is the story of King Puranjana, and as far as I understand, it is because the King which Narada Muni is talking to was to proud to hear directly? Perhaps some of our more scholarly devotees care to shed light on this topic in question!
There are many other parts of the Srimad Bhagavatam one could easily not believe. I rest my case, it may a pointless exercise expecting you and I to think alike, but we must take guidance from the Acaryas, at least I think you will agree on that point. Ultimately we want to go Back to Godhead, and some less important issues in the scripture need not be a cause for doubt, we can gain full faith by following the path chalked out by our predecessors, like the six goswamis and other important acaryas, and in particular Srila Prabhuada.
Speaking of the moon, you know there is one story of a devotee called Purusottama (I think), who was watching the moon landing with Srila Prabhupada, to cut the story short, Purusottama left as he could not accept it when Srila Prabhupada said they had not gone to the moon, so I think we have to cautious in our approach, and use our intellect wisely, ultimately to our advantage.
Ananta Purusottama das