Shani Dev, an Introduction
Shani Dev is perhaps the most feared divine entity in the Hindu pantheon. He is one among the Nava Grahas, the nine planets that wield a strong influence in the lives of the individuals. It is planet Saturn who is known as Shani Dev. He is the slowest of the planets, who takes the longest time of about 30 years to go around the Sun. Hence, he is also called Shanishchara, the slow mover. Legends regard him as the son of Surya, the Sun God and the brother of Yama, the God of death. Many regard him as the avatar (another form) of Lord Shiva himself. Shani Dev is also known in names like Kroda, Kona and Ara Shani, and also denotes Saturday, the seventh day of the week.
Greatness of Shani Dev
According to mythological accounts, when infant Shani opened his eyes for the first time, the Sun himself was eclipsed. Such was his power and hence, he was given the epithet Ishwara, which means the supreme Lord that only Shiva has, and is called as Shanishwara. Shani is the deliverer of justice, who hands over good results to the virtuous and not-so-good to the otherwise. He represents austerity, longevity, concentration, meditation, discipline, endeavor, endurance and restrictions, and also signifies old age, disease, suffering and even death. Shani does not appreciate dishonesty, gambling, consumption of drugs and alcohol, cruelty to animals, staying unclean and being disrespectful to God and elders. He also has the power for obstruction and destruction, and is regarded as the most malefic planet that is a tough task-master. Hence, while people generally pray to God seeking relief from troubles, they also worship Shani so that he does not trouble them. However, a well-placed Shani in a horoscope can bestow a lot of positives like health, wealth and success.
Astrologically, Shani is said to be powerful in the seventh house of the birth chart, and rules over the two zodiac signs of Capricorn and Aquarius. He is also exalted in the sign Libra and debilitated in Aries. He is said to have obtained all his powers only from the supreme Gods – Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer), and his own immense destructive potential is only for keeping the evil in the world under control. True to his reputation, mythology claims that he has indeed annihilated bad that was found in all forms of lives, and has met out justice.
The planet Saturn’s gravitational pull is stronger than that of our earth. Hence, he gets to know not only of our good or bad deeds, but even of our thoughts, and gives rewards or punishments, accordingly.
Depiction of Shani Dev
The intimidating figure of Shani Dev is dark in complexion. He is depicted as carrying a sword that is considered to be the symbol of his power and might. He is also normally seen as riding or being next to a crow, which is his mount. At some places, buffalo is also shown as his mount.
Efficacy of Shani Dev Maha Mantra
Om Sham Shanicharaya Namah
is the potent Shani Dev Maha Mantra.
This is believed to be a powerful hymn which can please Lord Shani immensely and can help in earning his blessings. It is said that people should face westward and recite this hymn with faith and devotion, at least seven times a day. Also, keeping a sacred yantra for worship and chanting the mantra in front of it for 108 times a day with the help of a rosary of Rudraksha beads is believed to remove all the afflictions of planet Shani and bestow great benefits.