Indian Mythology: Saturn

Saturn, one of the many Indian deities, is a god who causes untold misery and harm to human beings.

In Indian mythology, Saturn is a god who causes untold misery and harm to a human being at least once in his life time. The astrologists consider the Saturn-affected period of life as a period of misfortune or torture. For some people this Saturn-affected period is full of risks and diseases. It can cause even death for yet some others. In certain cases it happens repeatedly. The maximum period that Saturn may torture human beings is about nineteen years.

It is believed that Saturn god inflicts his harmful power, not only on human beings but also on divine gods. Even Lord Siva was in the clutches of Saturn for sometime, enduring tortures.

The only gods who did not succumb to Saturn's tricks and tortures are Hanuman, the monkey god and Ganapathi, the elephant faced god. Ganapathi saved himself from Saturn by his wisdom.

Hanuman saved himself by his power and massive strength. Hanuman not only defeated Saturn, but also got a promise from him that he will not trouble any of his devotees. There is a story which describes this incident.

At certain place, there were two temples- one for Ganapathi and the other for Hanuman. These temples faced each other. People came there to worship them.

It is believed that the Saturn god keeps a record of people and gods to be attacked by him, on the basis of status of their stars. In that process he found out that it was time for him to enter the life cycle of Ganapathi. But since Ganapathi was a very senior and powerful god Saturn was humble and polite when he approached him. He assumed the form an old Brahmin, with lots of ash lines on his forehead, garlands of dried rudraksha nuts and hair tied as a ball on top of his head. He came to Ganapathi and informed him the purpose of his visit. Ganapathi was very cunning. He smilingly told Saturn:' I do not wish to disappoint you. But since I do not know you, I do not believe your words. I wish to examine your hands and find out what you say is true or not. Let me have a look at your right palm.'

The Saturn without the slightest doubt extended his right palm to Ganapathi. Then Ganapathi took his pen and wrote on the palm of Saturn: 'tomorrow'. Saturn read it and looked at Ganapathi's face. He smiled, nodded his head and said: "˜Yes, tomorrow'. Saturn believed that he could come tomorrow and enter the body of Ganapathi. He went away happily.

Next day Saturn came at the right time. Ganapathi asked him to look at his palm. Saturn again saw there: "˜tomorrow' Ganapathi reminded him that the condition is to come tomorrow and that he may do accordingly.

Next day also Saturn came, but had to return without success. This continued for a few days. Finally Saturn was fed up and gave the final warning: "˜I cannot wait any more. I am entering your body today'.

Ganapathi replied: 'Great people never break their promises. What is written on your palm? Is it not tomorrow? If you want to catch me today please come after erasing tomorrow."˜

Saturn accepted this argument and tried to erase the word "˜ tomorrow' from his palm, but he could not do it. After all, it was written by Ganapathi, the great scribe. Unless he wishes it cannot be removed.

Seeing the sufferings of Saturn, Hanuman, sitting in the adjacent temple was amused. He laughed very loudly. Saturn felt ashamed and insulted. He wanted to avenge the insult. He referred to his records and found that it was time for him to enter Hanuman's life cycle. Saturn told him: "˜ You need not laugh. You will get the punishment for insulting me: I am entering your life cycle; it is already overdue.'

Hanuman calmly said: "˜ You can do anything with me. But be careful not to get into any unnecessary trouble! Yes, Saturn God, you can come closer and enter my body.'

Saturn approached Hanuman in extreme anger. Hanuman provoked Saturn further by making fun of his agitated mood and the shivering of his body. Hanuman had a divine blessing and power to enlarge his body to any size whenever he wanted. As Saturn approached him, he grew like a huge mountain and caught hold of Saturn's lock of hair. He swayed Saturn from one side to another with fierce speed. Saturn got frightened; he started crying. He appealed to Hanuman; "˜Please leave me; I will not trouble you anymore.'

Seeing the sad plight of Saturn, both Ganapathi and Hanuman laughed loudly. Saturn was continuously pleading of both of them to release him. Hanuman sarcastically asked him; "˜ Why, you don't want to enter our life cycle and pester us?'

"No, No, I will not do any such thing in future'. Saturn continued his pleadings. But Hanuman wanted to get some more assurance from him. "˜ It is not enough if you will not bother only us. There are thousands of our devotees who meditate on us and worship us. You should not touch our devotees also. If you promise that, I will release you.'

Saturn had no alternative but to yield. He promised, three times, as Hanuman wanted, not to trouble any of the devotees of Ganapathi and Hanuman. Then, Hanuman released him and allowed him to go. Saturn thus saved his own life.

From that day, Saturn has never even thought of troubling Ganapathi and Hanuman or the devotees. But, he continues to pester ordinary human beings. To avoid the wrath of Saturn god, people go on worshipping him. One is lucky if one does not get caught by Saturn god!

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