Thursday, 19 June 2008


Rahula is known to Tibetans simply as Za. He is half serpent and half humanoid. The lower part of his body is coiled and his upper body is dark red and covered with a thousand eyes, all of which glare balefully. In the pit of his stomach is a cavernous mouth which, with the eyes of his upper body, give the feeling that his whole torso is a massive glaring face. He has nine heads, arranged in three tiers of three, each with three bulging eyes. A great breath of sickness is believed to issue from their fanged mouths. From the crown of the topmost head issues the black, cawing head of a raven.
A human skin is draped over his back. His principal weapon is a bow fashioned from a venomous serpent. In his remaining left hand he holds a writhing sea-serpent and the right holds a goad which guides us to righteous action.
According to ancient Indian mythology, Rahu (Rahula) was a titan who disguised himself and tried to steal the nectar of immortality from the gods. The sun and the moon both exposed him to Vishnu who promptly cut off his head. It is believed that Rahu avenges himself by periodically swallowing up the sun and the moon, thus causing eclipses. He is hence known as the Lord of Eclipses. Indeed with its myriad eyes his dark body is reminiscent of the starry night sky. The gaping mouth in his belly symbolizes his swallowing-up of sun and moon.
Esoterically, with his believed links extending into the depths of the cosmos, Rahula is traditionally invoked to avert negative astrological circumstances.

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