Many people think that fairy tales, stories, and myths are only for children. Some of us might remember our mother telling us a story or reading a book to us before going to bed when we were kids. One of the happiest events in my early life was learning how to read, so I could read a book or a story whenever I wanted. Stories, well said, and conveyed with a sense of purpose and love, can convey deeper messages than just sharing information or lecturing in a traditional way of studying. They affect our subconscious mind and can even plant seeds for our spiritual development. They can be very healing on many levels.
Many astrology teachers state that understanding the nature and mutual relationships of the 9 planets means to learn the very basics of astrology. This time I would like to share the ancient Vedic story of Saturn and Sun. Saturn is called Shani and Sun is called Surya in Vedic mythology. The story has been told in the old Vedic scripts called Puranas in many versions, and this story might remind you of the very well-known Greek myth of Oedipus. I will share the version that resonates with me the most.
In the story, the Sun God is called Surya and he is married to Sanjna, who was a daughter of a celestial architect, Vishwakarma. They lived happily for a while and had three children together. One of them was Yama, later called “Dharmaraj” or “the King of Dharma”. Surya was a very powerful God, emanating light, warmth, and heat to everyone around him. Sanjna tried putting up with his heat for as long as she could, but after many years in the marriage, she became very unhappy as she couldn’t stand the heat and glare of Surya any longer. Even her complexion became very dark. After many unhappy years with Surya, she decided to leave him. Since she was a good mother and cared very much about her children, she had to come up with a plan for someone to take care of her children, and her plan was very unusual.
She created a clone, a duplicate, a shadow of herself and this duplicate of Sanjna was called Chhaya, which means a shadow. Chhaya already had a dark complexion and agreed to Sanjna’s plan, only under one condition: Chhaya herself should be treated with respect, otherwise she would tell the truth to Surya and their three children. Sanjna was grateful that she could leave. She turned herself into a horse with her extraordinary powers and left to the woods to meditate and be by herself.
After she left, Surya didn’t notice anything different. Chhaya was there and she looked exactly the same way as Sanjna had. Surya and Chhaya even had two sons together, and one of them was Saturn, or Shani in Sanskrit. Everything was going well for a while, until after some time Chhaya started to give more attention to her own children, and neglected the oldest three of Sanjna’s children. Shani, who grew up as a boy with a very dark complexion like his mother, realized that their father Surya was neglecting his entire family, and especially his mother Chhaya. Nobody could communicate freely with Surya or even approach him as a father.
At the same time, Yama was hurt very much and felt neglected by his mother, and decided to complain about her behavior to their father. After so many years, this was the first time that Surya realized that something was wrong. He challenged Chhaya to explain what was going on, but at the same moment Yama got so angry that he kicked Chhaya in her womb, insulting her very motherhood.
Chhaya remembered her promise that she would keep her secret only if she was treated with respect, and so at that moment decided to tell the truth. She said that she was only a shadow of Sanjna, who had been hiding herself in the form of a mare somewhere in the woods, where Surya would find her afterwards.
Shani realized something important at that time: that he was the illegitimate son of Surya, and that he was born within the illegitimate marriage of Surya and Chhaya, Light and Shadow, and that his very nature was one of unhappiness, discontent, and shadow.
While burning with rage and pain, he rejected his father and condemned the way he had treated his mother. In one version of the story, he even kills his father. In another version, he is given a limp and he leaves his home in search of truth and equality. He promised himself that he would never treat another human being the way his father had treated his mother.
We can approach and understand the story of Surya and Shani at many levels. First of all, Sun as the center of our galaxy and the source of light can be considered as the Supreme source of life and the reason why we were born, on the highest consciousness level. Our Soul leads us; it is the inner light that shows us the path. This is the highest meaning of Surya in this story. On a lower level, it represents ego.
We all know how nice it feels to catch some sun after a long winter and we naturally feel drawn to it. But if it is scorching hot, all we want is to find some shade and stay there.
The same applies to human relationships, as people are naturally drawn to people who have that inner light, leadership qualities, and inner vision, but run away from people who burn others with their ego, pride, and arrogance. Ego can be balanced or imbalanced, and imbalanced ego was described in this story.
The first encounter with Surya during life is our physical father. For some of us he was there, but for many people father was absent, not available, distant, left the family, had a strong ego who “knows what is best”, was always busy, or was unknown. Whatever issue was there with the father, the child reacts with dissatisfaction and this brings the shadow to their life, represented by Shani and his mother Chhaya. Shani was born out of illusion, discontent, and dissatisfaction. Fathers who have either a strong or imbalanced ego, usually don’t see the problem at all, they continue with their unconscious behavior until they lose their wife, marriage, and the entire family; the same way as Surya lost Sanjna and hadn’t noticed for years.
What is the spiritual reason for having fathers like this? When we feel pain and loss, we start asking questions like, ‘why is this happening to me’, ‘what is the cause of having a father like this’, etc. This is the beginning of a spiritual search that for many of us started at a very early age. The search for truth is represented by Shani, and many times truth can be painful, but nonetheless remains the truth. Truth comes to us after peeling many layers of ego, stories of family history and conditioning, that are often very similar, no matter what country we have come from.
Often times, there is no better cure or solution to that problem than to leave such a relationship with our father, if the fire is just going to burn us over and over again. But, Shani has one secret; and that is that he represents time, as the slowest moving planet of the Zodiac. He is also known as the God Kronos in Greek mythology, and he teaches us the values of patience, perseverance, and results that come with time after a lot of hard work.
When a child is young, Surya (father) is strong and powerful. When a child becomes more mature and obtains his own life experience, then his power increases, and his father becomes powerless like a child. This is the power of Shani. The Truth of having a difficult father can bring us peace after a long time of searching, introspection, and forgiveness.
Now, let’s move to the next level.
Our family on the global level is the country where we were born. Surya represents father on the country level: kings, leaders, presidents, and governments. Shani is on the opposite side, and represents masses, and ordinary, working people. Surya is power and dictatorship; Shani is democracy and more liberal political views. That old game between people in power and ordinary people has been known for ages and will never end. If I look at the chart of a politician, I first look at Sun and Saturn in their chart. If Sun is prominent, they are hungry for power; if Saturn is prominent, they will fight for masses and ordinary people. Will the Surya type politician ever care for the masses of “Shanis”? No, never, so it’s better to leave that expectation behind.
Since we all have all 9 planets in our charts, let’s remember that they both are a part of us, and a part of our spiritual DNA that our natal chart represents. Even is this story, neither Surya nor Shani was completely good nor completely bad. Vedic astrology teaches us that neither planet is better or worse; more or less important than the other. Surya had a moment of acknowledging his son Yama, and we can call this good; and Shani in one version of the story killed his father, we can consider that as bad.
The lesson here is to understand that we all are Surya and Shani at the same time. They represent the opposite sides in us, but one side can’t exist without another. The duality of this life is the part of our human condition; like day and night, yin and yang. Shani is that part of us that is hidden from the outer world represented by the light of Surya. We all have our subconscious fears, doubts, shadows, insecurities, and darker side that we don’t show in public or in our frequent “selfies” which we post on social media. The more we suppress them, the more they lead to addictions and collective fears that manifest as terrorism, wars, oppression, or the “dark complexion” of our society.
Saturn in Scorpio is the time when all these fears and darkness come out to play, in order to be healed, resolved, or moved to a higher level of understanding. Release them, heal them, ask for help if you need it, and surround yourself with people who will help you and encourage you on that path.
After every storm, the air is cleaner and we see surroundings more clearly.
Therefore, embrace Shani as he is only trying to lead us to Truth, so that our inner light of Surya can shine brighter.