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Saturn In Mythology, Astrology And Astronomy

Saturn is the most feared of the planets used in Vedic astrology. The mythology of Saturn helps a person better understand the traits of Shani/Saturn. Saturn is the farthest of the planets that are used in Vedic astrology. There are many connections between the astrology and astronomy of Saturn. 


The mythology of the planets states that Shani is the son of Surya (the Sun). Surya’s wife Sangya could not bear the intensity of his rays. She replaced herself with her shadow Chaya and left to earth. Surya was unaware of the deception and had 3 children by Chaya. However, Chaya showed more favour to her children than the children of Sangya.

Saturn was injured by Sangya’s children and this is why he walks with a limp. This also makes him the slowest of the planets. This is also the reason why there is no friendship between Saturn and the Sun in Vedic astrology. He is inimical to his father. Astronomically, this is borne out by the fact that Saturn is the furthest from the Sun. Saturn has other names; Saura (on of Surya), Manda (slow), Kroor Lochan or Drishti (cruel eyes), Saptachari (seven eyed one), Pangu (disabled), Konasth (one in an angle) and also Asit (dark).

Lord Shani Dev
Lord Shani Dev


Saturn was born in the Kashyap Gotra in Saurashtra in the year of Vibhav. He was born on a Paush Shukla Navami day. The Nakshatra he was born under is Bharani and the day of his birth was a Saturday. He carries a Dhanush (bow), arrow and Trishul (trident). He is also portrayed with a boon giving Varad Mudra. 

Shani Dev
Shani Dev

Shani Mahatmya

One of the most well-known stories that are told to illustrate the characteristic of Shani is the Shani Mahatmya. It tells the tale of the King Vikramaditya who was listening to a debate by learned people in his court as to which planet was the greatest of them all. He happened to mock Saturn and by coincidence, Saturn who was passing that way heard him. He berated the king for his arrogance and informed him that his Saturn period was approaching. Saturn told him that he should not make fun of others when he happened to be in a great position placed by a divine hand as the same divine hand could reverse his fortunes.

When the period of Saturn did come for the King, he was taken far away from his kingdom. The king was falsely accused of a crime and he was punished so severely that his hands and legs were broken. He then had to work for an oil presser and after great suffering at the end of his Saturn period, Saturn met him. He was pleased with the way Vikramaditya stoically endured his trials understanding that it was the result of his past karmas and also that no man can control his destiny. Saturn offered him a boon and Vikramaditya asked that others may not suffer as he had. Saturn was pleased with Vikramaditya’s selflessness. He restored Vikramaditya to even greater glories than he had before. Listening to this story on every Saturday during the period of Saturn is a remedy for Saturn troubles.

Saturn In Vedic Astrology 

Saturn or Shani is the slowest planet. It is not a materialistic planet and signifies asceticism. It denotes loss and is classified as a natural malefic planet or Graha. Saturn is the ruler of Makar (Capricorn) and Kumbh (Aquarius) Rashis, exalted in Tula (Libra) and debilitated in Mesha (Aries). For the signs of Rishaba (Taurus) and Tula (Libra), Saturn is the Yogakaraka or the most beneficial planet. The planet Saturn gets directional strength or Digbala in the 7th house of the chart. 

Saturn Periods And Significance

Saturn periods are so feared that even the layman has knowledge of them. The most well known Saturn period is the dreaded Sade-Sati or seven and a half years Saturn. It is the period when Saturn transits over the 12th, 1st and 2nd houses from the Moon. The other challenging Saturn period is the Ashtama Shani or Saturn in the 8th house which is for a period of two and a half years. The Sade Sati period usually occurs three times in a person who lives to old age. Saturn aspects the 3rd, 7th and also the 10th houses from itself. Saturn is the Karaka or significator for the 8th house. The planet also signifies old age, time, longevity, death, loss, accidents, sorrow, delay and restrictions.

Saturn - Age And Disability
Saturn – Age And Disability

The Astronomy Of Saturn

Saturn is the most distinctively beautiful planet. Saturn is  725,000 miles in diameter and has a temperature of 279 deg C. It is the second-largest planet. The gravitational force of Saturn is 95 times that of the Earth.

Saturn and Earth Size Compared
Saturn and Earth Size Compared