Shani is one of the "Navagraha ”which are the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology, or Jyotish. Shani is embodied in the planet Saturn. Shani is the Lord of Saturday; the word Shani also denotes the Seventh day or Saturday in most Indian languages.
The origin of word Shani comes from the following: Shanaye Kramati Sa: i.e. the one who moves slowly, as Saturn takes about 30 years to rotate around the Sun. Shani is also known as Shanaiscarya, Shani Bhagavan, Shaneesvara, Saneesvara, Shaneesvaran, Shani Deva.
Shani is a Deva and son of Surya (the Sun God) and his wife Chhaya (Shadow goddess) and hence also known as Chayyaputra. He is the cousin of Yama,the Hindu God of death. It is said that when he opened his eyes as a baby for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Shani on astrological charts. He is known as the greatest teacher. He is known in Hindu scriptures as the greatest trouble maker as well as the greatest well wisher. He is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and variously mounted on a black vulture or a raven.
The Story of Shani Dev
Once all the Nine Planets gathered together at one place and started talking to each other. Along with talking on many subjects the talk started on "Which planet was the most respectable among them?" They had arguments for long time, but to no avail. So they decided to go to Indra. So they all went to Indra. Indra was in a flux, he could not tell anybody lower or higher as he did not want to be victim of anybody's anger. After a while he said - "I am not very capable to decide this, but there is a king named Vikramaaditya now a days in Ujjayinee, who can tell you this." So, all the planets came to the king Vikram's court.
Vikramaaditya was a very favorite ruler of his times because he was famous for his justice. His court was packed full with many kinds of courtiers. When Vikram saw all the Graha coming to his court, he immediately got up from his throne and offered them Aasan but they did not sit. They said - "We will not sit until we know that who is the highest Graha amongst us?" Vikram also got in a flux hearing this, but he soon gathered himself and thought of a plan. A line of small Aasans went up to the door of the court, so he asked them to sit there and wait till he decides about them.
The throne which was nearest to Vikram's throne, Brihaspati Jee ran there to sit on it, the next throne was taken by Soorya, then Chandramaa, then Budh, Mangal Raahu and Ketu sat. Bhaargav's (Shukra or Venus) position was 8th number, and he was sure that after him Shani will sit, but since that throne was the last and was close to the door, Shani did not sit down there. Vikram had thought that whoever will sit there, he will be full of humility, so he will declare him the highest, but everything was messed up by Shani by not sitting there.
Shani Dev is a very angry Devta. When he did not sit there,all Graha started laughing. Seeing his insult like this he got very angry, he said to Vikram - "You did not do well by insulting me like this. What do you think of me? Why did you want me to sit here in the last? The Moon stays in a Raashi for 2 and 1/4 days; Soorya, Budh and Shukra stay only 15 days;Mangal stays for 2 months and Guru for 13 months; and Raahu and Ketu stays there for 18 months; while I live for 7 and 1/2 years. That is why you should be careful; you will have to bear the consequences of this insult."
Saadhe Saatee on Vikram
The King passed some days without any problem, but then soon the King started his Saadhe Saatee(Shani's 7 and 1/2 years period). In those days a horse trader came there and stayed there to sell his horses. The King also ordered to buy some good horses from him. One horse's name was Bhanvar. The King liked that horse, so he rode the horse. The horse wandered around for a few minutes then suddenly he ran away and disappeared after leaving the King in a dense forest. Seeing this, the King got very surprised. He started wandering in that forest hungry and thirsty.
When the night fell and the King felt very thirsty, he started shouting. A milkman was passing by, he heard his shouts. He came to the King, took him to a nearby river and made him drink its cool water. The King got greatly satisfied, he took off his ring and gave it to the milkman and said - "I live in Ujjain and I have lost my way here, please show me the way." The milkman brought him to the village; there he ate some sweets as he was very hungry. He gave one ring to that shopkeeper also. When the shopkeeper enquired, he told him the same thing, that he had lost his way. Then he talked to the shopkeeper at length. On that day the shopkeeper earned a lot of money so he thought that it was because of this man, so he asked him to come to his house and have food with him.
He offered him his best hospitality, good food, but when he was eating his food, a strange thing happened. Where the King was eating food, there was hanging a seven-chain necklace. Behind it was a picture. Suddenly that necklace got disappeared from there. A maid reported to the wife of the shopkeeper that her necklace was not there. Shopkeeper also heard this so he asked the King, the King showed his ignorance about the necklace. He said - "But there was nobody else there. Tell me where is that necklace?" The King again said - "I don't know anything about the necklace, I don't have it."The shopkeeper then took him to the King. When the King saw Vikram's innocent face, he said, "This man cannot steal anything." and he freed him.
Vikram started wandering in that city that a oil presser saw him and asked him if he could work for him. He would give him boarding and lodging. Vikram got ready for it. So the oil presser brought him home. Now the King was driving the bulls to press the oil and the oil presser sold the oil in the market. When the rainy season came, Vikram started singing in high pitch. The city's King lived nearby, so when the Princess heard his singing, she lost her heart to him.
She sent her maid to find out who was singing so sweetly. The maid went and came back with the information that a handsome young man was singing closing his eyes. The Princess left eating and drinking. Her mother came to see what happened to her daughter. The Princess told her that if she would marry, then only to that oil presser. When the King heard this, he got very angry. He called Vikram, cut his hands and threw him in a forest. When the Princess heard this, she became firmer in her ideas, that if she would marry she would marry only to the oil presser whether he is with hands or without hands. Seeing adamancy of his daughter, the King called Vikram, married his daughter to him in a very ordinary way and inhabited them in an ordinary house.
Saadhe Saatee is Over
One day when Vikram was asleep, he saw Shani Dev in dream, he prayed him and asked for his forgiveness. Shani Dev blessed him and said - "Now your Saadhe Saatee is over." And Vikram's both hands grew again. The King did not wake up his wife. When she got up in the morning she found him whole. She got very happy to see this. The King also came to know about this. When he came to see him, he told him also that it was by the grace of Shani Dev. Then he introduced himself to him. Hearing all this he fell on Vikram's feet and asked for his forgiveness.
When the shopkeeper heard this, he also came rushing there and fell on Vikram's feet. He said to him - "Go and see on the peg, I am sure you find your necklace there only." The shopkeeper went home and found his necklace on the peg where it was hanging before.
Vikram asked the King to go back his home. The King gave him a good farewell with many horses, elephants, maids etc.People got very happy to see him coming back in the city. He worshipped Nava Graha and gave the highest position to Shani Dev.
The legend of Shani Dev
Suryadev(son of Brahma) and Sandna (the daugther of Daksha Prajapati) were Shri Shaneshwar's parents.
Sandna and Suryadev had two sons Dakshinadhipati Yama and Shri Shaneshwar and four daughters Tapti, Bhadra, Kalindi and Savitri.
Sandna finding it unbearable to live with the harsh glare of Surya's light, created her own replica and named her as Sanvarna and asked her to behave as Surya's wife and perform all the duties and savour the privileges of a wife. She made her promise that under no condition would she reveal to Suryadev that she was not Sandna and promised to help her when needed.
Sandna went back to her father Daksha. When Daksha saw that his daughter coming back, he advised her that she better live with her husband only. The dejected Sandna did not follow her father's advise and instead transformed herself into a mare and resided in the Himalayas and started penance.
Savarna performed the role of dutiful wife. She also gave birth to five sons and two daughters from Surya. Surya did not have any doubts about Sanvarna.
One day Shanidev was very hungry and he asked his mother to give him something to eat. She asked him to wait till she had made her first offering to God. But Shanidev insisted on serving him first and in anger kicked his mother Sanvarna. She in return cursed him that his leg would break.
Shanidev reported the matter to his father Surya. Surya said," a mother would never curse a son like this." Surya observed Sanvarna closely and found that she was not Sandna. Surya was enraged and asked her who she was. Sanvarna confessed that she was a 'shadow' of Sandna.and that Sandna had gone to the Himalaya for penance.
Surya told Shanidev that Sanvarna was like his mother and her curse would not go in vain. It is therefore that Shanidev has one lame leg.
Another Story about Shanidev
It is commonly believed that many miseries in life are caused due to the displeasure of Shanidev. A local legend given below demonstrates the need to keep Sahnidev propitiated.
There was a small town and there lived a poor brahmin with his family. He had three daughters-in-law. During the rainy days, he used to get up early in the morning, have his Breakfast and leave for the farm. As a routine, he had entrusted the house-hold chores to the youngest daughter-in-law. It was Shravan Month. On the first Saturday, he told the young lady that today is Saturday, go upstairs, get some food grains, grind them to prepare the roties and kenakurdu vegetables.She followed the instructions. She found that there were grains enough for half a roti. She prepared the food out of this and waited for her in-laws. By the time, Shree Shanidev appeared at the house in the form of a Lepor and told thelady that his entire body is aching, please apply oil and bathe him with hot water and thereafter give me some food to eat. The young lady had a sympathy for him. She applied oil and bathed him. Gave him the food and thus quenched his hunger and thirst. Lepor blessed her. The blessings were that she will never fell short of anything in the life. After some time, the in-laws came home and saw an excellent preparation of food and happily wondered as to how this happened when there was very little in the home.On the next Saturday, the Brahmin told the second daughter-in-law to be at home and left for the farm. Shanidev as usual appeared in the guise of a lepor and requested the lady to bathe and to serve the food, This young lady told him that there was nothing in house to offer him. Shanidev cursed her and said, 'Whatever you have would vanish'. Shanidev left home. The lady went up and found that there was nothing in the pots. The father-in-law came back home and she informed him that there is nothing for the supper. They scolded her. Then she narrated the whole episode. The third Saturday, the Brahmin asked the third daughter in law to manage the home. Shanidev appeared in diguise and requested this young lady to serve. The young lady followed the suit of the second one with a negative approach. The result was that nothing remained in the house. All the family had to fast. The lady was very sad for the incident. Again on the fourth Saturday. The Brahmin entrusted the house to the youngest daughter-in-law and left for the field. Shanidev came as usual as a lap lapor and requested to serve. The lady wholeheartedly bathed him and gave the food to his satisfaction. Shanidev blessed her that all her desires would be fulfilled. He collected the leftover food and vanished. The lady went up again and found ample food grains etc. She cooked a sumptuous supper for the entire family. The in-laws were happy to have the food, they enquired from where she got all the grocery. The lady narrated the story of the lepor. They were quite happy. All of a sudden the father-in-law spotted a bundle of patravali (a leaf in which the food was served). He opened the bundle and found diamonds and pearls in it. He enquired of other daughters-in-law, they informed that the lepor had come to them twice but they did not give him anything. The lepor got annoyed and everything vanished from the house and we all had to fast. The Brahmin offered prayers to Shanidev and asked blessing for all.
Shani and Hanuman
The worship of Lord Hanuman is a panacea for the harsh effects of the 'unfavourable' presence of Lord Shani. In the Ramayana, Lord Hanuman is said to have rescued Shani from the clutches of Ravana and in gratitude, Shani promised Hanuman that anyone who prayed to Him (Hanuman), especially on Saturdays, would be rescued from the "malefic" effects of Saturn, or at the very least, the effects would be softened.
According to legend, Shani is a devotee of Lord Shiva. As mentioned in the "Navagraha Pidahara Sthothram" of "Brahmanda Purana",anybody who chants the following sthothra is relieved from all the ill-effects of Shani.
Suryaputhro Deerghadeho Vishaalaakshah Shivapriyah |
Mandachaarah Prasannathmaa peedam harathu me Shanih ||
One who prays to Lord Vishnu is protected from Shani as he is said to be a great devotee of Vishnu.(It is interesting to note that Hanuman Himself was devoted to Lord Rama, an avatar of Vishnu).
It is also a wide spread belief that one who is an ardent devotee of Lord SriLakshmi Narasimha Swamy or Lord Venkateswara (Balaji) is also always protected by Sri Shani Maharaj.
A common mantra for drawing the support of Shani is: Om Sham Shanaiscaryaye Namah. The following is another mantra for propitiating Shani: Aum praang preeng proung sah Shanaye namah Neelaanjan samaabhaasam raviputram yamaagrajam, Chaayaa-maartandam-sambhootam, Tam namaami Shanaishcharam.
Shrines for Lord Shani
Shani Shingnapur: A important Shrine for Lord Shani is in Shingnapur, in Maharastra,India. Shingnapur is located half-way between Shirdi and Aurangabad. The deity here is "Swayambhu" that is self emerged from earth in form of Black but imposing stone.Though no one knows exact period, it is believed that Swayumbhu shaneeswara was found from time immemorial by shepherds of then local hamlet. It is believed be in existence at least since Kaliyugam.
The story of Swayambhu (=Sanskrit self evolved deity) handed down from generations through word of mouth, goes something like this : When the shepards touched stone with a pointed rod the stone began bleeding. The shepherds were astounded soon whole village hamlet gathered around to watch the miracle. On that night Lord shaneeswara appeared in the dream of most devoted and pious of the shepherds.
He told the shepared that he is "Shaneeswara". He also told that the Unique looking Black Stone is His swayambhu form. The sheppered prayed and asked Lord whether he should construct a temple for him. To this, Lord Shani Mahatma said there is no need for a roof as the whole sky is his roof and he preferred to be under open sky. He asked the shepered to do daily pooja and 'tailabhishekam' every Saturday without fail. He also promised the whole hamlet will have no fear of dacoits or bulglers or thieves.
So, Lord Shaneeswara can be seen even today, in the open yard without any roof above. To this day, there are no doors for any house, shop, temple. It is to be seen to believe that even post office has no door, not to speak of locks. Due to fear of Shani, none of the structures, be it dwelling houses, huts, shops etc situated within one kilometre radius of this Lord Shani temple, have neither doors and locks. No thievery or burglary ever occurred here in this hamlet called Shani Singhapur. Some who have tried to steal have died omitting blood within minutes of their act and before they could cross the boundary. Many others are said have received varied punishments such as long sickness, mental imbalance etc.
Shani Shingapur is visited daily by thosands of devotees praying for Lord Shaneswara's favour. The place is busiest on Saturdays. Shani trayodasi is considered to be a fourite day for the lord. Similarly Saturday falling on 'Amawasya' (new moon day in Sanskrit, telugu, Kannada, malayalam) is considered to be a fovurite day for the Lord Shaneeswara. Thousands of devotees seeking his blessings throng this temple in thousands.
One of the mantras for Shani raya is
NILAMJANA SAMABASAM RAVI PUTRAM YAMAGRAJAM |
CHAYA MARTHANDA SAMBHUTAM TAM NAMAMI SHANAISWARAM||
Unlike other places of worship, at the shrine in Shinganapur there are no long queues and no waiting period.Devotees need not even wait for a priest. If needed priests are there on Saturdays and Mondays to offer puja and abhishek.
To worship the Lord Shaneshwara in Shinganapur, a devotee has to take a head bath and proceed in wet clothes to the platform where the swayambhu idol of Shani Maharaj exists. The devotee then circumambulates, offers prayers and performs Abhishek-s with water from the holy well in the vicinity and sesame oil. Sacrificial offerings are not permitted here. Any male devotee can go up to the platform wearing a wet cloth but women are enjoined to offer worship without mounting the platform Generally the devotees can perform pooja and abhishek on any day at Shari Shaneshvar tirtha. But the Amavasya or the no day moon which falls on a Saturday is considered to be most auspicious. On this day lakhs of devotees from all corners of the country come to receive blessings of Shri Shanidev. On every Shani Amavasya there is a Yatra.
Shani-Shinganapur lies 6 kilometers off Ghodegaon-an important market place along Ahmednagar-Aurangabad road. Ghodegaon is 35 kilometers from Ahmednagar.
Shirdi has been one of the most popular places of pilgrimage on the national map for long, now Shani-Shinganapur is being hyphenated with it. It has become especially popular with the faithful from Andhra Pradesh. Its importance is growing.
How to reach Shani Shingnapur
BY AIR: Nearest Airport is Pune 160 Kms.
BY RAIL: Nearest Railway station is srirampur.
BY ROAD: Route: Mumbai-Pune-Ahmednagar-Shani Shignapur , Distance: 330 Kms approx. Shignapur location
Shani Devaalayam in Deonar, Mumbai: There is a Shani Temple in Deonar, in Mumbai. The temple is situated east of shivaji Statute at the junction of Chembur, Deonar, Govandi on (Mumbai-Pune-Bangalore) Eastern Express Highway. The Presiding Deity of this Temple is Lord Bhaneeswara. A mighty,7 feet tall imposing beautiful black statue.
Many devotees who have "shani Dosham" or people who are passing through Shani Mahar Dasa throng the temple,for doing 'Tailabhishekam' (Tailam = oil in Sanskrit,Telegu and Malayalam). Nuvvula Nune(Nuvvulu=Sesame; Nune=oil in Telgu)Ellenne (Ellu=sesame; enne=oil in Kannada) is poured with utmost devotion on the head in a manner that the oil covers entire idol while flowing down. This pooja is done to please Shaneeswara.
Shani Dham, Delhi: A Shani temple ShaniDham, is at Fatehpur Beri, about 6 km from Chhattarpur temple & 16 km from the Qutub Minar, at Mehrauli, South Delhi, India. It has got the tallest 21 feet high statue of Lord Shani in the world made of Astdhatu (8 metals) and a natural rock of Shani. Many devotees visit every Saturday to please Lord Shani. The main Poojan for Kaalsarp and Sadhesatti and Dhaiya are done here on Shani Amavasaya, the most auspicious day for pleasing Lord Shani.
According to Vedic Astrology, Shani is one of the nine Navagraha or planets. Shani is considered to be the strongest malefic and a stern teacher who represents patience, effort, endeavour, and endurance; and who brings restrictions and misfortunes. However, afavourably-placed Shani on the horoscope of a person stands for a strong career, healthy life and everything positive for that person. In fact, a well-placed Shani in one's horoscope is something every astrology-believing Hindu hopes for, as no other 'graha' can bestow what a favourable Shani can. Shani placed "unfavourably", on the other hand, denotes troubles in all of the above. Shani is much feared by those Hindus who believe in astrology, as the "malefic" effects of his being unfavourably placed can be quite severe. However, it is to be remembered that any pleasure or pain that befalls a person during Shani's influence is not arbitrary; rather, it is the result of the person's own Karma, now being manifested in the "presence" of Shani. Thus an "unfavourably-placed" Shani brings about the harsh results of one's bad Karma,and vice-versa.