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Pooja for Saturn at Vaidyagrama

Explanation of the padmam [flower] model that was drawn for the pooja.
{Translated from the Malayalam talk of Praveen Namboodiri by Pullat Das Menon}
Today more than normal we have a larger gathering of people for todays pooja for the graha
Shani or Saturn [it is wrong to translate graha to a planet, though Saturn is a planet in Astronomy]
because many fears Saturn and his effect on their lives. So we have a large attendance today to seek
his blessings. However Shani is not someone we should fear so.
As per astrology Shani is that which maintains dharma [can be loosely translated as a
combination of right action, code of ethics and non-violence towards all living creatures] in the
world. If we experience only pleasure or happiness in our lives we will forget the higher purpose of
our birth and our lives become just for the purpose of pleasure. Once every so often reminding us of
the pain/sadness and responsibilities of our lives is done by Shani. The karakan significater of
dissolution is Shani. Shani is never a trouble maker. We make him to be a trouble maker in our lives
by unnecessarily fearing him. When we think that all we want is just pleasure & happiness, pleasure
& happiness, pleasure & happiness in our lives, Shani becomes a trouble maker! But our lives are not
like that. Human life is a mixture of pleasure/pain and happiness/sadness. So in our lives we need to
face from time to time some difficulties. To face these troubles face on, strongly and with resolve is
the teaching that Shani is giving us. It is Shani that provides this mixture and keeps reminding us,
helping us, to see the higher principles of life. Like the karaka of Dharma, Shani is also the karaka of a
number of things in life such as transformation, dissolution and death. Since people generally
associate these aspects with loss, the mere mention of Shani invokes fear in people. Dissolution is
not destruction. Rather it is the ending of things so that a new beginning can happen. In our
concepts destruction is the last event of creation Pralaya -, everything else is actually dissolution.
So Shani is never the karaka for destruction. When too much adharma appears in life or too much
seeking after pleasure, Shani brings about a reduction in these to help us remember the reality of
life. The role of Shani is thus to bring balance to our lives. To achieve this balance we need the above
mentioned transformation and dissolution in our lives.
It is Shani that helps us to think about aging or about the elderly. Growing old brings about in us a
maturity. It is when we achieve such maturity that we are able to face death without fear and with
resolve. Therefore Shani is thus also the karakan of maturity/discrimination. Similarly prana, the
causation of our entire life has been given to Shani. When there is prana in our body is when we
become alive. It is with this live body that we recognise and learn the truths in creation. So the entire
significater of our life is also Shani. Similarly the ability for us to think of all that which has tamasic
nature or that causes difficulties in life or that which we hate in life has been given to Shani.
We have incorporated all these concepts in the pooja we did today. We do all pooja in two ways, via
the homa as prescribed in the Vedic Rites and via the ritual as prescribed in tantra. In the vedic rites,
we create fire and in it we do pooja for Shani using 108 branches of the plant shamatha/shami/vanni
[prosopis cineraria] a tree with thorns that has been associated for Shani. With these 108
branches of the tree and using Shani mantra we have done the homa. In addition we have made
havis the term used for the materials that are offered during a homa or yajna -o using a mixture
of ghee, black sesame seeds and black gram [urud dal]. The Ayurveda herb prescribed for Shani is
the kacholam aromatic ging er - (Kaempferia galanga) plant. The medicinal water in which the

bulb/rhizomes has been soaked will soon be offered to the fire. Similarly we are using the black
sesame seed to make the wick which you will all soon be offering. Black dress is prescribed for Shani
and you can see that many attending this pooja are wearing cloths made of black cloth. You have
seen the dominance of the colour black everywhere today. The jewel for Shani is indra neelam
sapphire - which is also present. We have tried to use as much of blue/black flowers which are
associated with Shani. We have managed to obtain a few which has also been used in the flower
offering. So as per vedic rites, in what all manner we can pay homage to Shani graha, we have done
so here. We have also used many of the mantras sacred words of Shani. We have incorporated
dance and music associated with Shani as well.
The padma flower/model that has been drawn here for the pooja incorporates all the above
mentioned concepts.

The basic concept depicted here is kala chakra the wheel of time. Dharma is maintained through
time. All that has formed in this creation will dissolve/die. At the center of this padma the symbol of
Shani has been drawn, which is the bow. Above and below this bow we have symbolically
represented the devathas deities - of Shani athidevatha/prathidevatha and prajapathi.
Surrounding this are the 8 devathas that we remember through Shani. Shani mainly represents
forest dwellers or those travelling through the jungle or those wandering people/nomads. So the
first symbol is that of vana devatha forest goddess. The next one is gulikan, the son of Shani.
[Gulika also with Shani are meant to curb the ego of every human being and drive towards a state of
feeling enough of human birth and death cycles and forces to the state of seeking moksha or
liberation]. Others are vettakyu oru makan the son born to Lord Shiva and Parvathy when they
had taken the form of a hunter and his wife, the hunter Shiva called Kirada Shivan, Kirada Parvathy,
Vana Shastha the Shastha that travels through the jungle, [As per Brahmanda Purana Shasta is the
son hari hara suthan born to Lord Shiva and Mohini, the female form that was taken by Lord Vishnu
who came to the aid of Lord Shiva to kill the demon Bhasmasura], chitragupta the minister of Yama
and finally that of Kalki, the last incarnation that Lord Vishnu will take to bring about pralaya
universal flood to bring the creation to end.

Another concept included in this padma is from alppam the smallest time to Kalppam the
end of creation or pralaya. The measures of time such as vinaazhika [1/60th of a naazhika] - 24
seconds, naazhika [the time taken by earth to rotate by 6 degrees] - 24 minutes, divasam [day] of 60
naazhikas, maasam [month], samvalsaram [year], yugam [an epoch or era within a four age cycle],
chaturyugam [four yugas combined satya, treta, dwapara and kali which has been various
measured either as 24,000 years a precession cycle of the equinox { According to the Laws of
Manu, one of the earliest known texts describing the yugas, the length is 4800 years + 3600 years +
2400 years + 1200 years for a total of 12,000 years for one arc, or 24,000 years to complete the
cycle. A complete yuga cycle from a high Golden Age, called the Satya Yuga to a Dark Age, Kali Yuga
and back again is said to be caused by the solar system's motion around another star or a grand
center called Vishnunabhi the navel of Vishnu. There is debate as to whether the year represents a
solar year or a year of the demi-gods. In case of later, one need to multiply the numbers by 360}],
manvantaram [71 chaturyugams] and kalpam [4.32 Billion solar years] one half-day of the creator
Brahma. Thus the concept of time has been shown in the padma.
The 24 black petals represent 24 tattvas - principles/categories of existence - through which we are
able to recognize and experience time and dharma. The 24 tattvas themselves are formed by the
three gunas qualities - of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. We are able to know everything on this earth
through these 24 tattvas. Only human being is able to know the world through these principles.
Briefly these 24 principles are originating from Sattva, prana [life force], buddhi [intellect],
ahamkaaram [ego], manas [mind]. We all need life force and intellect and ego to the extend of the
need to have awareness of who we are and mind. From Rajas, the five jnaanedriya sense organs of ear, skin, eyes, tongue and nose. Then there are the five karmedriya instruments/organs of
action mouth, hands, legs, bowels and genitals. From Tamas comes the tanmatras - five subtle
elements - of energy of vibration, or sound (sabda); energy of impact, or touch (sparsia); energy of
light and form, or form (Rupa); energy of viscous attraction, or taste (rasha) and energy of cohesive
attraction, or smell (gandha). Finally, the pancha bhutas - five gross elements of earth, water,
fire, air and ether. These make up the 24 tattvas and are represented through the 24 black petals in
the padma.
Surrounding this you can see 12 red petals which represent the 12
saints/rishis/humans/personalities we consider to be immortals. Of these, seven represents a
different attribute of man, which as long as they live, will exist amongst humanity. "Ashwatthama
Balir Vyaso Hanumanash cha Vibhishana Krupacharya cha Parashuramam Saptaita Chiranjeevanam"
- 'Ashwathama, King Mahabali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishana, Kripacharya and Parashurama are the
seven death-defying or imperishable personalities. The other immortals are Jambavan, Markandeya,
Devapi, Maru, Saptarishis, Bhusunda (Crow),Banasur(son of King Bali) by Boon of Shiva, Alha and
At the very outside we have represented three dieties which are the ones that our teachers have
advised as those capable of escaping or mitigating the effects of Shani. At the left is Hanuman, the
only diety that Shani is not able to affect, at the top is Lord Shiva himself whom we have all been
adviced to pray to for alleviating the effects of Shani. To the right is Lord Ayyapa, the incarnation of
Shasta in Kerala. As per Kerala tradition it is to Lord Ayyappa that we pray for alleviating the effects
of Shani.