(Other Names : Ketu)
Rahu and Ketu, the Two Nodes, are two most terrible planets, born in the race of Asuras. Whenever the Sun or Moon enters the Nodes’ space, those shining ones begin to quiver in fear, for an eclipse occurs whenever these demons conjoin the luminaries. Some say that Rahu expressly afflicts the Moon and Ketu, the Sun. Rahu and Ketu likewise eclipse the lives of living beings and though they spare no one, you can be happy if you worship them regularly. When propitiated, Rahu fills one with mercy and removes diseases and fear of snakes, while a pleased Ketu gives transcendental wisdom.
Ketu is the dismembered body of which Rahu was the head. Some say that a comet is Ketu’s tail made visible. Rahu’s form is like bluish-black smoke, he lives in forests and is fear- inspiring. The ugly and terrifying Ketu, the chief among the stars and planets, is skin to Rahu but is variegated in color and Ketu’s image holds in his hands a sword and a lamp.
Ketu rules earth and turquoise, together Rahu and Ketu rule southwest. Ketu is known as the Crested, the Bannered, the Head, the Chief, the Smoky-Headed and the Appalling.
Rahu and Ketu were split apart at the time of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, which came about as the result of a curse by Durvasa, the incredibly irritable brother of the Moon. This curse by Durvasa caused the glory, luster and prosperity of the Devas to wane, as the Moon had waned when he was cursed by Daksha. Dejected and forlorn, the celestials consulted Brahma, who consulted Lord Vishnu. Vishnu told them, ‘the present time is propitious for your foes the Asuras, but not for you. You will have to bide your time until Time turns in your favor. Meanwhile, make peace with your enemies and cooperate with them to churn the Ocean of Milk, that you may obtain Amrit (the nectar of immortality) thereby. This they did , adding all kinds of medicinal grasses, bushes, creepers and other plants into the ocean and using Mount Mandara for the churning rod and the Serpent Vasuki for the churning stick, the Devas and the Asuras industriously churned the Ocean of Milk.
They removed Halahal poison, celestial horse Ucchaishravas, Airaawat the elephant, Kausthubh gem, Parijat tree, the Apsara, Lakshmi the goddess of prosperity, Varuni the goddess of liquor and at last Dhanvantri the god of medicine arrived, holding in his hand the pot of Amrit (nectar).
The Asuras snatched the pot of Amrit and would have devoured it had not Mohini arrived on the scene. When Mohini displayed to all the most beautiful female form ever seen in the universe, the Asuras was overwhelmed with lust for her. Little did they suspect that She was Lord Vishnu in disguise. She agreed to divide the Amrit between the gods and Asuras only if they would all abide by her actions, irrespective of whether those actions seemed right or wrong. Blinded by their craving for her, the Asuras agreed.
The next day while Mohini moved among the exhausted churners, Rahu disguised himself and seating amidst the gods between the Sun and the Moon, managed to drink a drop of the Amrit.
Seeing the deception, those two effulgent orbs speedily snitched to Vishnu, who severed Rahu’s head with His discus. Since the nectar droplet had by that moment only reached his neck, Rahu’s body fell down dead, but his head lived on, to torture the Sun and Moon for betraying him.
Rahu swallows them with gusto, but since he is now only a head, the luminaries pass through him, and again become visible when the eclipse is ended. Rahu’s body was later revived and became Ketu. Garlic sprang up wherever drops of Rahu’s blood fell to earth; its medicinal qualities are like those of Amrit but it has a Rahu like effect on the minds of those who consume it.