For the Students of Hindu Vedic Astrology by Dr. A. Shanker

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The Place of Rahu and Ketu in Horoscope

Dr. Shanker Adawal (Jyotishaacharya, PHD, MBA)
Rahu and Ketu, more commonly referred to as the Moon’s nodes are – as every on who has had some exposure to Indian astrology knows- imaginary planets. This conception shrouded in much controversy and totally shunned by the three farther moving planets in the solar system – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The Indian astrologer dismiss these three planets as of inconsequential significance in horoscopy.

While every Indian astrologer feels that the seers and the sages who founded astrology were much more rational in outlook and had an intuitive contemplation of the totality of thing which the contemporary purveyors of scientific subject like physics and chemistry lack, many of their dictums seemingly founded on contemplation are not accepted by those who advocate the rational approach. But even such astrologers have defended the inclusion of the two imaginary planets- Rahu and Ketu- in their horoscopy and base their predictions on a totality which is some cases, seen more incisive than these seers themselves.

To understand whether there is any existential basis for Rahu and Ketu, we must ask ourselves whether there is any rational basis for the enquirer to enquire into time-tested principles. And when one does that, one immediately hit upon the irrefutable fact that the conception of Moon’s nodes is inextricably linked with the similarity that man has drawn of his mind with Moon- the ancient aphorism found in the Purusha Suktam “Chandrama Manaso Jataha.

The Moon, verily is, the mind itself. As the moon has its phases-phases which are associated with a variety of moods, some mood creating conditions that can lead the individual on the path of progress and harmony and some others- that result in disharmony and discord. Whether the mind is a devil workshop or a god’s prophet solely depends on the fact that the particular phase of the mind that has to dominate in an individual become the master to the exclusive of all other phases and with reference to the ruling phase others submit like a servant bowing to the command of the master.

The waxing and waning of the Moon, as it present itself in the night sky with each passing day is in effect a series of command which takes hold on the life principle creating a myriad of phenomena- whether real or unreal- including the commonly pervades whole of the planet earth pulling at and in each other.

Therefore, the Moon can be considered to be a mirror conception of the mind and whether its nature is real or illusory is something that very much depends on the enquirer himself. However, it would suffice to say that “unreal” and “real” are terms which are very relative. People who transcend the illusory of reality and the reality nature of illusion simultaneously become worthy of Moksha or transcending the cycle of reality and illusion. This is what is contained in the ancient prayer- “Asato Ma Sat Gamaya, Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya, Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya”.

To understand this fully, it is necessary to appreciate the fact that what is not yet a reality has the potent force of becoming a reality when the seed of “yet to be” is well watered by the planetary forces. The mind is in effect, neither “here” nor” not there”- it just 18.

Carrying the seed of the preservatory nature of the life principle, the individual begins to act and the action itself becomes the fruition of what the planetary forces set out to do. In reality neither he nor the planetary force are doing anything- it in the mutual perception of misperception (the hypocrisy committed by the eye) of having goaded the enquirer to do something that realty becomes manifest. When the comprehension of relative action ceases to be, the comprehension of life as understood by humanity ceases to be.

It would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that the mind is an illusion as one did in the beginning of civilization that mind is real. It is neither real nor illusory but just IS man can affirm what his mind has gathered from culture and the cosmos or he can, in a sense, conform to the planetary order or break away form it in his most potential form of the unmanfest attained by many seers- which is the birthright of all at the end of creation.

Against this background, one can postulate that it is these two states which man can’t know while situated in the middle that the Moon’s nodes measure-Rahu, the unmanifest, which never led to the fall of Adam but created the illusory thought of the fall and Ketu- the manifest, which never was unmanifest but which just got divided into innumerable number of categories each and carrying the seed of the ultimate destination within oneself, and which by the very nature of the illusion-reality paradigm swings like the pendulum between the forces of the real and the forces of the unreal as it were.

The theory of Karma and the fantastic conception of reincarnation derive sanction from the repeatedly manifesting life principle in its endeavor to go back to the unmanifest state- it is only a difference of perception whether the reincarnation is of individual life forms or is more gross and subtle- through the genes and the force of culture. But the unmanifest state is beyond the comprehension of man for he is product, May the symbol of manifestation – a symbol which known not itself even while possessing the intelligence to shift the manifest from the unmanifest- reality from illusion.

What one is in effect trying to humbly submit is that life starts from a point which seems to be unreal to an individual and does to the real. At every stage, the real breaks free from the unreal which preceded it and the unreal which preceded it and the unreal which is before it. When thing have not yet manifested themselves, illusion reigns the world. When thing are manifest in the middle, some things seem real and some things unreal. When thing are again unmainfest, one realizes that illusion has been the prime mover of reality and that life is nothing but just IS- be it the unmanifested manifest or the manifest unmanifest.


The progressive direction of the manifest from whence it came to where it is bound is what the position of Rahu and Ketu chart out in a horoscope with the two becoming as it were the seed Karmic energy and the ripe Karmic entropy respectively. Rahu is in this context can justifiably be referred to as the Karmic generator and Ketu, the Karmic distributor.

The Moon, therefore, has two distinct phases of manifestation which are measured with reference to its relative movement to the earth and the Sun. these two phases have been recognized by astrology as the Rahu phase and the Ketu phase and elevated to the level of planets- the concentric force representing two vital components of man’s existence- to be, which Rahu faithfully reproduces and not to be, which is Ketu’s field to translate.

To conclude, Rahu and Ketu are extrapolations of the individual’s struggle for existence encapsulated by the famous Hamletian dilemma- To be or not to be. Repeatedly, over the centuries, the Moon has reproduced this in the night sky – on the full Moon day, it is dark- feting and fuming over its not to be. It is only when it realizes that neither its lustier nor its fine tuning is the result of its own efforts that it comprehends the secret of existence which is conveyed by that faithful emissary called Ketu- “be and Make”, like the father of the universe- the remarkable, dutiful and the life-loving Sun which is ever merciful to the tantrums of both the Moon and the Mind.
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