“The pleasure is all mine”, Rahu says.
“The pleasures of all creation have always been yours,” Diana says with a poorly veiled hint of irritation.
–The Little Light by Dipa Sanatani
Rahu, along with his sister, Ketu are two of the most enigmatic characters in The Little Light. Unlike the other celestial beings, their gift to the Little Light is not obvious and neither can it be articulated precisely.
The book echoes the sentiments of most astrologers when they come across Rahu or Ketu in someone’s chart. As shadow planets, it is hard to pinpoint what they will bring to a person’s life. Just like how neither Rahu nor Ketu are welcome at the Little Light’s planet party, they are often brushed away in astrology, sometimes literally. Legend has it that Lord Rama – one of the incarnations of Vishnu on earth – didn’t have these two shadows on his chart.
As an astrologer myself, I was curious about the development of Rahu’s character in the book. I waited impatiently for him to appear. I was not disappointed. He enters with a flourish, making his appearance as a magnificent Red Dragon. He wears the disdain of the rest of the planets as lightly as an ornament on his costume.
(The rest of this post contains spoilers.)
The Gift of the Dragon
I liked how Rahu and Ketu greet and accept one another in the book. Myth has it that these two were enemies. Traditionally, Vedic astrologers associate Rahu with temptations. He is said to test you by making you overcome any hedonistic tendencies. Ketu is said to be the anti-thesis of Rahu, bringing one closer to God and a spiritual path, while Rahu can drown you in worldly pleasures.
However, I’ve always felt that this explanation is a bit of an oversimplification of their complex relationship. Suffering is good because it makes you remember God and pleasure is bad?
In The Little Light, Rahu doesn’t really speak much of his association with pleasures, barring the opening sentence. Ketu, who makes an appearance as a silver serpent before Rahu, is just as unwelcome as her brother. After all, they aren’t even real planets, just shadows. Shadows who hold a great deal of significance in the life of the Little Light.
Ketu’s gift is rejected by the Little Light, who seems to instinctively sense her association with pain. Most of us would do the same. But she finds that she cannot accept Rahu’s gift without accepting Ketu’s. They are two halves of a whole. They need to work in conjunction to bring their gift to the Little Light.
After all, without the darkness, there is no light.
Rahu finds an unexpected connection with Pirouzeh, another outcast at the planet party. Their connection is beautifully articulated in this passage:
‘Rahu, Pirouzeh and the Guardians of the Lore are the only ones who know first hand how mankind suffers after it is torn away from the Great Light and given free will.’
As a species, mankind has always thirsted after free will, fought valiantly to have the freedom of choice. And yet, when you look back on the long, bloody history of humanity or pause to reflect on the alarming consequences of consumerism today, you have to admit – free will hasn’t worked out very well.
It is a weapon that can cut both ways.
Without the memory of the suffering that human free-will can bring, we would run amok. Memory that needs to be burned onto our soul. This becomes the karma that we carry forward from one lifetime to another. Only when we accept this karma, can we make use of Rahu’s gift of unending potential. Otherwise, we would throw it all away on a party. Or a pity party, depending on your chosen flavour of poison.
Rahu’s interaction with the optimistic Jupiter serves as a nice comic foil to a naturally heavy subject. One might have a great soul mission to fulfil, but a little laughter along the way makes life more bearable. In Vedic Astrology, Jupiter is said to be the planet who keeps Rahu ‘in check’. The heady combination of unexplored possibilities and unlimited free-will could easily result in a train-wreck. At the same time, it is easy to get lost in unending misery and suffering.
Jupiter is known as the moral compass of the Universe because he/she is the closest to the divine. Guru is said to gently point out the way to lost souls by keeping alive the spark of divinity inside them. As it turns out later, despite their banter, Rahu cannot deny Jupiter’s commands.
Jupiter also lightens the burdens of humans through hope. She protects the Little Light by exacting a promise from Ketu to send her friendship in the form of other Little Lights she has known in her previous lifetimes. Karma and Dharma are heavy crosses to bear, but the presence of other lights make it all the easier to carry.
I must confess, the story of Rahu and Ketu left me in deep contemplation on the nature of life and the universe. In so many ways, the book articulates what I have sometimes struggled to express as an astrologer. I do believe it will trigger a lot of self-reflection in those who read it. As the author has put it:
‘Before you can ascend, you must descend.’
About the Author
Vandana Rajendran is a tarot reader and a life-long student of astrology, who loves to let her hair down with a bit of dancing. She is fascinated by mythology of all cultures, especially when it is accompanied by a nice cup of tea. On weekdays, she works for a technology start-up.